Book Review: Cloud Cuckoo

review-cover-cloud cuckooTitle: Cloud Cuckoo [The Never Dawn 2]

Author: R.E. Palmer

Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian, Science Fiction

Rating: 5 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Following their shock discovery, Noah and Rebekah reluctantly return to the lower levels of The Ark. Isolated and apart once more, Noah struggles to remember what happened at the surface and suspects Mother has altered his memory.

But Noah’s attempts to unite the workers to rebel are halted when Mother begins The Purge. Her cruel, relentless trials bring Noah to breaking point as he fights to survive when faced by his worst fears. Forced to accept Mother’s terms after a month in Re-Education, Noah finally learns the truth about his people’s past that leave him determined to defeat her once and for all.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

Cloud Cuckoo by R. E. Palmer was a great addition to the Never Dawn trilogy. Often after a good book, subsequent books in the series don’t always live up to the quality or the hype of the first book, but in this case, that definitely wasn’t true. My daughter and I read this book together and often found ourselves reading for several hours at a time, often into the wee hours of the morning. We were sucked into Noah’s world.

Technically speaking, much like the first book, I was given a copy that had quite a few typos/errors in it, but again, these didn’t bother me. None of the errors were jarring or subtracted from the story in any way. The writing was clean, concise, and easy to follow, and the story moved at a good pace. It was constructed in such a way that by the end of every chapter, I couldn’t keep myself from continuing on into the next chapter. I was drawn in.

Much like the previous book, the characters were a delight and the world building was expansive and well constructed. One of my favorite parts of this particular book, however, was the change in scenery for Noah. We got to see new parts of the ship. We got to spend more time with characters we hadn’t previously gotten to. There were the same old mysteries, but also a lot of new ones as Noah found out more and more about his world and the people in it.

Overall, I loved this book. I love this series, and my daughter would easily say the same. R.E. Palmer has become one of my new favorite authors. If you enjoy YA or dystopian stories, I would highly recommend you pick up this series and give it a try. You will not regret it. I am so excited to see what the third book has in store for us when it’s released!

Book Review: Immurement

review-cover-immurementTitle: Immurement [The Undergrounders 1]

Author: Norma Hinkens

Genre: Science Fiction, Young Adult, Dystopian

Rating: 4 Stars

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Description / Synopsis:

The earth’s core overheats. The sovereign leader vanishes. A young girl is the survivors’ only hope …
What little land is habitable is patrolled by cutthroat gangs of escaped subversives, but that’s not the greatest threat facing sixteen-year-old Derry Connelly, her brother Owen, and a ragged band of Preppers holed up in a bunker in the Sawtooth Mountains. Mysterious hoverships operated by clones are targeting adolescents for extraction.

Owen, is one of the first to disappear. To save him, Derry must strike a deal with the murderous subversives, and risk a daring raid to infiltrate the heart of the extraction operation.

But will the rookie leader falter when forced to choose between her brother and a clone who ignites something inside her she didn’t know was possible?

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

There’s so much that I want to say about Immurement by Norma Hinkens that it’s been hard for me to take it all and bundle it up into an organized review. On one hand, the book had a lot of problems—some of them big problems—but on the other hand, it was a very solid read, and depending on how much certain aspects of the plot bother you, this may be a fantastic read, or a very “meh” one for you.

Technically speaking, the book was well written. There were maybe two typos in the whole book (missing words in sentences mostly), but nothing so big as to make me pause for more than a second. It was still easy to understand the narrative and what was happening, even with the errors. The narrative itself was well paced, the sentences flowing easily, and I liked the main character. She was interesting and placed in a very stressful situation that had me wanting to read more to find out how she was going to handle everything the author threw at her. The book was action-packed and kept me reading straight through in just a handful of hours.

But there were some pretty serious problems with the book as well. This was by no means a new plot. I saw bits and pieces of plot ideas thrown in from an array of dystopians I’ve read before—and I’m not saying that’s necessarily bad. I love dystopians, and there are very few original ideas out there anymore…but by the same token, I wish there had been more to this particular book that had made it stand out as something new to the genre. I won’t point out other series or authors, but I can say that the plot of this book was extremely similar to another dystopian series I’ve read, just minus a space-related central theme. The familiarity made me sit back and go “oh. okay.” rather than “wow! what’s going to happen next?”

One minor problem for me was the lukewarm romance sub-plot between Sven, Jakob, and Derry. There was no sexual or romantic tension in this love triangle, and although the author kept reassuring the reader that Derry had feelings and chemistry with Sven and Jakob… I wasn’t feeling it. It just didn’t seem genuine.

Another minor problem was the obvious casting of the dog, Tucker, as a plot device. I know, I know. It’s a dog! So cute! But it seemed like he knew an extraordinarily absurd amount of commands and hand signals for a dog that belonged to a pair of teenage suburbanites. When Derry got lost, the dog jumped in and showed her the way. When Derry couldn’t decide if someone was good or bad, the dog would give his opinion. Other than chime in to keep the plot moving by solving complications for Derry, the dog didn’t seem to exist for any other reason.

To be honest, some parts of the book left me with a rather “meh” feeling, but when it came down to it, I still liked it. Maybe it wasn’t as exciting or innovative as I’d hoped, but it was interesting, at parts, engaging, and I’m glad I read it. I’m interested in continuing with the series and seeing how the second book unfolds. Right now I can’t imagine this dragging on for a third book, but maybe the author will surprise me. If you’re looking for a decent dystopian read to while away an afternoon, I recommend you give this a try.

Book Review: Escape

review-cover-escapeTitle: Escape [Alliance 1]

Author: Inna Hardison

Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian, Science Fiction

Rating: 3 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

What if everything you knew about the world around you was a lie, and the very people you were taught to fear were your salvation, your escape?

Meet Amelia, raised in the safety of a Replenisher compound, a protectorate for the few Alliance females who can bear children. In two months, she will have to choose a mate and begin her duties, except it doesn’t happen like that.

When she witnesses a Zoriner boy fall over the wall of the compound, the very wall designed to keep those like her safe from those like him, the injured boy becomes her burden and maybe, if she lets him, her escape from the life she is meant to have, and the key to unraveling of the many secrets and lies on both sides of this conflict and each other. This is the very beginning of her journey.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I wanted to like Escape by Inna Hardison, but to be honest, I had to push—really push—to get through it.

As far as the technical bits go, the book was pretty well edited. I only ran into one error in the entire book—which is pretty damn amazing. The characters were complex and interesting, the plot, while not a new concept, was well-detailed and engaging. The world building was well thought out, and the pace of the narrative was pretty steady throughout.

… but the narrative voice lacked soul and a sense of fluidity. Regardless of how much I liked the plot, the world building, and the characters, I just could not get past the oddly detached way that the narrative was written. It was like the author had sucked out every sense of genuine emotion or fluid language and replaced the narrator with an alien creature that had only the barest understanding of how human’s see the world. The story was told, events happened as they should, but every bit of beautiful prose, colorful description, and tension was shoved into a box and hidden in some dark recess out of sight. And the worst, most unbelievable thing happened… the escape scene that I can only assume this book was named for, was completely left out. One minute the characters are plotting their escape, and the next, they’ve already escaped and are on the run. I could only sit back and wonder how on Earth the most important scene had been skipped over.

Honestly, it was exhausting to read through. I did make it to the end of the book, and I can tell you that I liked the story and the characters… but I don’t know that I’d read it again, and I probably won’t continue on with the series. I’m just not a fan of narrative that dry.  If you like dry, maybe even quirky dystopian, you may appreciate this book, but I don’t think it’s going to be the right book for every dystopian reader.

Book Review: Before The Dawn

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000037_00037]Title: Before The Dawn [The Ending 4]

Author: Lindsey Fairleigh & Lindsey Pogue

Genre: Post Apocalyptic, New Adult, Science Fiction, Romance, Dystopian

Rating: 4 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

A year ago, the Virus killed off most people in the world.

A year ago, strange things started happening to those who survived. Some of them transformed into something dark and sinister, while others evolved, becoming something more, something beyond human.

A year ago, Dani and Zoe were lost. They traversed the country to find one another, losing some of the people dearest to them along the way. They fought for their right to simply live, uncovered long-buried secrets, and discovered irreversible truths. And after everything Dani and Zoe have been through—even with the battle wounds that they bear—they’re still not safe.

It’s time for the struggling to end, for survivors to take back their lives, their families, their safety. It’s time to really begin to live, and to do that, they must wait for the first rays of dawn.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I can honestly say that I was somewhat surprised by this book. I’ll admit, the third book in the series was probably my least favorite, and reading the third and fourth book in the span of just a few days had me a little burned out. I went into the fourth book full of trepidation that it was going to be yet another long drag through a narrative where very little happened. Luckily, that wasn’t so.

Let me first say that the writing in Before The Dawn was pretty damn flawless. I didn’t notice any obvious typos, awkward sentences, or grammatical errors. Not a single one—which is pretty amazing. The narrative flowed smoothly at a nice pace throughout, and other than a few short moments at the beginning of the book (Anna’s sections of the book weren’t my favorite), I didn’t feel the need to skim.

The characters were unique and complex, and though I sometimes had difficulty throughout the series telling Dani/Zoe and their respective J-named boyfriends apart by tone, I enjoyed their company. Their world was rich, fraught with danger and uncertainty, and unlike the previous book, had some pretty great action oriented moments. This was probably one of my favorite books in the series thus far—it may even be my favorite. The story felt wrapped up by the end, and though it had it’s stab at an HEA ending, it wasn’t perfect—which kept it from falling into the familiar romance genre trope that often ends with everyone pregnant, married, and all the bad guys defeated. Okay, so maybe there’s a smidgen of trope involved, but it was pulled off really well.

Overall, I really enjoyed the book, and I think it was a fantastic ending to the series. I would highly recommend it to anyone who’s been following the series thus far—including those who, like me, may not have enjoyed the third book quite as much.

Book Review: Different

ww-11Title: Different [Tainted Elements 1]

Author: Alycia Linwood

Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, Romance, Dystopian

Rating: 3 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Eighteen-year-old Moira, an air elemental, never thought that waking up with an unusual blue fire on her arm would turn her life upside down. Determined to figure out why she has an element she shouldn’t have, her parents take her to a secluded island to keep her safe from anyone who might want to experiment on her. There she meets Noah, a boy who seems to know a lot about her elements. As he introduces her to a group of a new kind of elementals who are more powerful than anyone could have imagined, she doesn’t know if she can trust them, especially because the group’s leader, Jaiden, has an extremely dangerous ability. But when her parents get kidnapped by a mysterious man, she has no choice but to turn to Noah and Jaiden for help.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

It was hard for me to settle on a rating for Different by Alycia Linwood. The plot was interesting, the characters engaging, and the hint of romance had me shipping some pretty crazy couples… but the book had some pretty major flaws despite all its positive qualities.

The pacing was ridiculously fast. One minute the main characters was meeting a group of strange teens she didn’t trust, the next she was giving them hugs. At times, the book became confusing because of how fat the plot was moving, and it almost seemed as if the story started mid-book. So much information was being doled out so quickly that before I even had time to breathe, the plot was in full swing. By the time the book was at the midway point, it felt as if it should have been over.

To make matters worse, and maybe because the pace was so quick, the characters actions and the authors choices didn’t always make sense. At one point, the main character faked a bar fight to get some bad guys to show up at a specific location, and immediately after she feigned confusion that reports were coming in of the bad guys searching bars. Stranger yet, it turned out that one of her friends was doing exactly what she had pretended he was up to in order to lure the bad guys in—he was causing trouble in a bar only two blocks away! It felt at times as if the author hadn’t planned the story out well, and the coincidences just weren’t believable. Things that should have been important were resolved easily, and relationships jumped ahead quickly. I had a hard time appreciating the story.

Does that mean I didn’t like the story? No. I liked the world building (what little there was0. I liked the characters, even the hint of romance. I think the book just suffered from a case of bad execution. I wish the author had spent a little more time fleshing things out and plotting things through.

This book isn’t going to be for people who like incredibly detailed and well-plotted stories, but if you want a quick paced YA with magic and it’s fair share of drama, you may appreciate it, as I did.

Book Review: Poison

review-cover-poisonTitle: Poison [Wind Dancer 1]

Author: Lan Chan

Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopian, Young Adult, Fantasy

Rating: 5 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Since the night her mother was murdered, sixteen-year-old Rory Gray has known one truth: There are no good Seeders.

In post-apocalyptic Australia, the scientists known as Seeders have built a Citadel surrounded by food-producing regions and populated with refugees from the wars and famine. To maintain their control, the Seeders poisoned the land and outlawed the saving of seeds.

It’s been six years since Rory graced the Seeders’ circus stage as the Wind Dancer and still the scars on her body haven’t healed. Even worse are the scars on her heart, left by a Seeder boy who promised to protect her.

Now the Seeders are withholding supplies from Rory’s region for perceived disobedience. Utilising the Wanderer knowledge she received from her mother, Rory must journey to the Citadel through uninhabitable terrain to plead for mercy.

However, the Citadel isn’t as Rory remembered. The chief plant geneticist is dying and rumours fly that the store of viable seed is dwindling. The Seeders are desperate to find a seed bank they believe Rory can locate, and they will stop at nothing to get it.

To defy the Seeders means death. But Rory has been close to death before–this time she’s learned the value of poison.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAYE ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I thoroughly enjoyed Poison by Lan Chan. The first book in the series, and my first foray into Lan Chan’s writing, I wasn’t sure what I was getting into when I picked up this book, but I soon discovered the amazing action-packed adventure of Aurora Gray.

As far as the technical side of the narrative is concerned, the book was extremely well written. I ran into no more than two or three errors in the entire book (which is pretty damn good considering this was an ARC from NetGalley). The sentences were well structured and easy to follow, the narrative kept a steady, fast pace, and I didn’t stumble over awkward phrases, tense, or POV problems. Setting wise, Poison forayed into a unique dystopian world, set in a far future Australia. The world building was easy to pick up and detailed in a way that seemed expansive without bogging me down with too much terminology or explanations. I was engaged with the story from the very beginning and had trouble putting it down. It was that good.

The characters were both complicated and unique, and though some of them weren’t particularly nice, I can’t pick out any that bothered me or irritated me in any way. I liked even the characters who avidly worked to thwart Aurora in her quest to reach and then survive the Citadel. I think out of all the characters, though, Aiden and Aurora were definitely my favorite. There was a chemistry between them both as rivals, friends, potential lovers, and enemies that I ate up with a spoon. Even when they were bickering I loved the dynamics of their relationship—and honestly, I’m still not sure which side Aiden stands on… Aurora’s, or the Seeders.

Overall, I really enjoyed the book and I’m extremely glad that I picked it up on a whim. It was everything I love about YA Dystopians without any overly whiny characters. If you’re looking for an action-packed YA Dystopian that’s heavily situated in fantasy and world building (and NOT zombies for once), I’d highly recommend that you give this book a try. It isn’t heavy in romance, so if you’re looking for a book with more story and less teenage angst, this may be the book for you. I know I’ll definitely be heading on into the rest of the series. This one is going on my keeper shelf.

Book Review: Chimera

review-cover-chimeraTitle: Chimera [Universe Eventual 1]

Author: N.J. Tanger

Genre: Science Fiction, Young Adult, Dystopian

Rating: 5 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

On the verge of extinction, the Stephen’s Point colony must take desperate measures to save themselves. Without communication or resupply from Earth for the last fifteen years, the colony has but one chance to survive: restore the ancient starship Chimera and train a young crew to pilot her. The fate of the entire colony rests on the shoulders of a pair of misfits: Theo Puck, a sixteen-year-old hacker with a gift for speaking to machines, and fifteen-year-old Selena Samuelson, a brash but talented pilot with a dark secret in her past.

To Theo, the Mandate to crew the Chimera seems like a game—one he isn’t invited to play. A brutal murder changes everything. Left with no choice, Theo has to complete the Selection training and make it aboard the Chimera or face terrible consequences.

Selena wants to do what she does best—fly. Piloting her father’s ore trawler is the only life she’s known before a horrifying accident strands her aboard the Hydra, the station responsible for rebuilding the Chimera. Forced into the Mandate testing against her will, Selena encounters an unexpected ally, forever changing the way she sees the Chimera and herself.

Forced to make brutal choices in order to survive, Theo and Selena’s fates intertwine. But behind the scenes, someone else sets into motion events that could destroy everything they’re fighting to protect.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

Science Fiction isn’t generally my favorite genre. I tend to get lost in the technobabble of the fictional science. I’ll admit, going into Chimera by N.J. Tanger, I was a little lost. I didn’t sink into the story right away—it didn’t last long, though. By the end of the first chapter, I was engrossed in the story.

The characters were unique and full of depth. They led very different lives from one another, and they each had separate motivations for wanting to get on board the Chimera. They felt more like real people than characters. Though I have the feeling that the author hasn’t even barely begun to scratch the surface of the plot behind this series, the book was filled with suspense, mystery, action and adventure. The world building, like the characters, was intricate and well fleshed out.

Honestly, other than the short period of time where I sat back and wondered at the complexity of the book sitting before me, I have nothing to complain about. There were no obvious technical problems with the narrative. The characters were logical and well-dialogued. Overall, I really enjoyed the book. If you’re looking for a solid start to a brand new science fiction series, I’d highly recommend that you check this out. I can’t wait to get a hold of the rest of the series.