Dualed

Dualed (Dualed, #1)Dualed by Elsie Chapman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Genre: Dystopian, Scifi
Publisher: Random House
Series: Book one of Dualed

There are no spoilers in this review.

I was sent this by the publisher a while ago, but that has in no way impacted my opinion.

The city of Kersh is a safe haven, but the price of safety is high. Everyone has a genetic Alternate—a twin raised by another family—and citizens must prove their worth by eliminating their Alts before their twentieth birthday. Survival means advanced schooling, a good job, marriage—life.

Fifteen-year-old West Grayer has trained as a fighter, preparing for the day when her assignment arrives and she will have one month to hunt down and kill her Alt. But then a tragic misstep shakes West’s confidence. Stricken with grief and guilt, she’s no longer certain that she’s the best version of herself, the version worthy of a future. If she is to have any chance of winning, she must stop running not only from her Alt, but also from love . . . though both have the power to destroy her.

I’ve said it before and I’ll probably say it again, Dystopia is not up my alley. That being said, I actually liked Dualed, enough that I may be tempted to go out and get the sequel one of these days.

Its an interesting concept, killing your ‘alt’ that certainly takes Survival of the Fittest very seriously. I’m just not sure how realistic it is, how desperate people must have been to agree that they all need to be murders, and to risk having children that will either grow up to murder or be murdered.

One of my biggest problems with it is the same as my problems with Me Before You: its predictable. Either because the title of hte second book gives something away, or because there is a second (or third) book at all gives something away.

Overall

If you like Dystopian you should definitely read this. Its a very different book, I’ve never read anything like it even within the dystopian genre.

If dystopia isn’t your favorite genre (like me!) you may still want to read this, because its so unique. I know my biggest complain with the dystopian genre is the predictability and reused storylines, and yes this is another ‘fight to the death’ storyline, but its not a typical one.

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Expiration Day

Expiration DayExpiration Day by William Campbell Powell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Genre: Dystopian, Scifi
Publisher: Tor Teen
Series: None

There are no spoilers in this review. 

This was sent to me (a long time ago, mind you) by the publisher. This has not impacted my review.

What happens when you turn eighteen and there are no more tomorrows?
It is the year 2049, and humanity is on the brink of extinction….

Tania Deeley has always been told that she’s a rarity: a human child in a world where most children are sophisticated androids manufactured by Oxted Corporation. When a decline in global fertility ensued, it was the creation of these near-perfect human copies called teknoids that helped to prevent the utter collapse of society.

Though she has always been aware of the existence of teknoids, it is not until her first day at The Lady Maud High School for Girls that Tania realizes that her best friend, Siân, may be one. Returning home from the summer holiday, she is shocked by how much Siân has changed. Is it possible that these changes were engineered by Oxted? And if Siân could be a teknoid, how many others in Tania’s life are not real?

Driven by the need to understand what sets teknoids apart from their human counterparts, Tania begins to seek answers. But time is running out. For everyone knows that on their eighteenth “birthdays,” teknoids must be returned to Oxted—never to be heard from again.

I will confess that when I first saw this book I thought, “Ugh, another dystopian novel” and kept putting it off. I finally picked it up, got oh-so hooked, and finished it in a day. The writing style from the beginning is funny and witty and I found myself invested in the main character, Tania.

Parts of the book were a bit creepy, what with not knowing which of the kids were real and which were fake, and just the idea of robot kids is a bit distressing to me. But at the same time its a great look into

Characters

Tania: The narrator and main character, who narrates the book to her diary as if she’s writing for an alien in the future. She’s pretty sure that she’s one of the last real children on Earth, because people have mysteriously become infertile. Couples who want children but can’t have them get creepily realistic robot children known as Tekniods. Tekniods are so real that people don’t always realize they’re fake – until they have to return to the factory around their 18th birthday. Understandably, this world has a high divorce rate right around the time people’s children reach 18 and tragically ‘die.’

Ginger Mop aka John: is another kid that Tania is pretty sure is real. He’s a hacker, fighting back against the government who’s hiding things from the people. He helps Tania learn to do that as well, and helps her find herself.

Siân: Tania’s best friend, is a little obnoxious, but that may be because she’s a suspected fake robot child. She has a heart though, and doesn’t abandon Tania even after a major metaphorical bombshell is dropped. She had me happy crying before page fifty.

Overall

This is one of the best dystopian books I’ve ever read, and thats coming from someone who doesn’t even like that genre. Any fan of Dystopia/Sci-Fi should definitely pick this up.

A warning though, if you don’t appreciate good Shakespearian and Mythology references this may not be the book for you. Prior knowledge is not essential, and Tania would make a good teacher.

Buzz Kill

Buzz KillBuzz Kill by Beth Fantaskey

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Genre: Mystery, YA
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Purchase: Book Depository

This review contains no spoilers.

This is a part of my Alphabetical Book Goal.

I received this book (several years ago) from the publisher. This has not affected my review.

Putting the dead in deadline
To Bee or not to Bee? When the widely disliked Honeywell Stingers football coach is found murdered, 17-year-old Millie is determined to investigate. She is chasing a lead for the school newspaper – and looking to clear her father, the assistant coach, and prime suspect.

Millie’s partner is gorgeous, smart-and keeping secrets
Millie joins forces with her mysterious classmate Chase who seems to want to help her even while covering up secrets of his own.

She’s starting to get a reputation…without any of the benefits.
Drama-and bodies-pile up around Millie and she chases clues, snuggles Baxter the so-ugly-he’s-adorable bassett hound, and storms out of the world’s most awkward school dance/memorial mash-up. At least she gets to eat a lot of pie.

I love mysteries. Like Millie (the main character) I grew up reading and idolizing Nancy Drew. Yes, you read that correctly, this book is unashamedly about a Nancy Drew Fangirl and it’s beautiful. Her motto is “WWND” (what would Nancy do?). Unlike some books that are written “for fans of ____” this one is written about (and by) a fan. It kind of made me think of Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell.

The murder its self is very well written and thought out, and for a YA book I came across a surprisingly few number of errors in terms of how the police handled everything. (Unfortunately a lot of authors don’t know much about real crime scenes and seem to get a lot of their info from shows like CSI and Bones which are very incorrect). I could definitely believe in the circumstances as they were presented.

There is a lot of suspense. A lot. I loved it. You never really know what’s going to happen next and it’s almost impossible to “be a step ahead” or figure out the murder before Mille does, which is always a benefit in a mystery novel.

Overall

If you love Nancy Drew then you should definitely check out this book!! I think any lover of mysteries could read this and enjoy it. There is some romance, but’s its not too bad and never seems to distract from the story itself. It’s a great book for teenagers, though, and a higher reading level than most of the Nancy Drew books (but if you want to try it I’d never discourage you from reading outside of your usual level).

 

The Testing

The Testing (The Testing, #1)The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Genre: Sci-fi, Dystopia, YA
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Series: Book One of The Testing Trilogy

This review does not contain spoilers.

This was published as a part of my Alphabetical Books Goal.

I was sent this by the publisher two years ago, but this does not impact my review. It is my honest opinion.

Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Isn’t that what they say? But how close is too close when they may be one and the same?

The Seven Stages War left much of the planet a charred wasteland. The future belongs to the next generation’s chosen few who must rebuild it. But to enter this elite group, candidates must first pass The Testing—their one chance at a college education and a rewarding career.

Cia Vale is honored to be chosen as a Testing candidate; eager to prove her worthiness as a University student and future leader of the United Commonwealth. But on the eve of her departure, her father’s advice hints at a darker side to her upcoming studies–trust no one.

 
But surely she can trust Tomas, her handsome childhood friend who offers an alliance? Tomas, who seems to care more about her with the passing of every grueling (and deadly) day of the Testing. To survive, Cia must choose: love without truth or life without trust.

I liked this more than I thought I would. When I first picked it up I was sure that I would hate it – after all, it basically sounds like the plot of the Hunger Games, and even back when I read it I was already sick of the Dystopian Genre. However, I forced myself to go into it with an open mind and was pleasantly surprised: I didn’t manage to guess all the plot twists! (After I’ve read a few books in a genre I tend to be able to guess a lot of the plot. It’s a struggle for those of us who read too much.)

Cia Vale, the main character, was very-well written. She had just as many strengths as she did flaws, which is always a nice change from the Perfect Female Characters that are becoming more and more common.

The main reason I gave it three stars, is because I really didn’t get into it as much as I do to some of what I read. I’m not a huge fan of dystopia itself, and it was too similar to other Dystopian novels like Divergent or The Hunger Games in terms of the “train a kid to fight to the death” or “only the strongest can survive in the bleak future.” But if you love dystopia more than me, or don’t feel its as over done as I do, you might find yourself liking it more.

Overall

Until very recently I had forgotten about this book, but when I was going through my shelf for things to read for my Alphabet Goal I saw this and remembered it. I re-read parts of it while writing the review and now I want to go out and read more books in the series.

I think fans of Dystopia will get the most enjoyment out of this book (obviously), but any lover of action/adventure will too.

First Light

First Light (Forever After Series, #1)First Light by Michele Paige Holmes

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Genre: Fantasy, Fairytale Retelling, YA
Publisher: Mirror Press

This review contains no spoilers.

I was given this book in exchange for an honest review through the website Ebooks For Review. This has not affected my review in anyway, and I was not paid to write my review.

Seventeen-year-old Adrielle doesn’t believe in magic; she merely possesses it, though no one has ever mentioned that her unusual gifts—exceptional speed, a flair for fire, and an intimate knowledge of flora—aren’t things she was born with. When Adrielle starts a fire that burns down the family home, she must deal with both her grief and her siblings’ hurtful rejection.

While journeying to far away Tallinyne, in search of her older, estranged sister—the only relative who might take her in—Adrielle is separated from her escort when the carriage is beset by thieves. Alone, she is thrust into a dangerous and unfamiliar world where she encounters fairies and gypsies, a wild boar, a drunk cook, and an evil queen whose curse is sweeping death across the land. Adrielle also finds love, falling hard for a kind, funny, handsome—and completely unavailable prince.

From the glowing pearls tucked beneath her mattress and keeping her awake at night, to Queen Nadamaris’s curse that seems to thwart Adrielle’s every effort, Adrielle struggles to navigate a world of magic she never imagined, where people she knows and loves are not always what they appear to be. With the glowing pearls—and her fondest desire—within her grasp, she is forced to make a choice no girl should ever have to—satisfying her own heart or saving the kingdom.

I think I lost count of the sheer number of fairytales and folk stories that were referenced or directly involved in this story. However, they were all well-woven into the plot and none of them screamed at being out of placed or distracted from what was going on. They all worked together to create the landscape in which the story took place.

Additionally it was a very solid book, I while I didn’t give it five stars – because I felt as though there was something missing (I’m just not sure wha) – I can very easily say that it deserved everyone of its four stars. The story was well told and each of the characters fit perfectly inside it. But there was just a little spark that a five star book requires was missing.

The basis of the story is very tragic, a girl who is blamed for the accidental deaths of both her parents, and so she is shunned by the people she grew up with, which leads her to leave her home in search of a new start. Along the way she meets a delightful and varied cast of characters, who are all well-written and unique in their own right. There is a love story, naturally, and I won’t spoil it, but I will say that is it a very sweet love story.

My biggest complaint, and perhaps the reason I could not give it more stars, is the predictability of the story. It is a fairytale after all, and follows a lot of the ‘traditional’ paths that such stories take. There were many plot twists that I figured out well before the main character (or other characters), and seemingly before the author wanted me to.

Overall I’d reccomend this to anyone who likes fairytales or romance books. I think perhaps it would be best with younger readers – middle grade – because it is very clean, with only one minor reference to ‘wedding nights’ and I just wasn’t sure that it seemed to be intended for older readers. But don’t let that discourage you. I’m at the higher end of the ‘teen’ age range and I liked it!