Book Review: Red Queen

review-cover-red queenTitle: Red Queen [Red Queen 1]

Author: Victoria Aveyard

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Dystopian

Rating: 4 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

This is a world divided by blood – red or silver.The Reds are commoners, ruled by a Silver elite in possession of god-like superpowers. And to Mare Barrow, a seventeen-year-old Red girl from the poverty-stricken Stilts, it seems like nothing will ever change.That is, until she finds herself working in the Silver Palace. Here, surrounded by the people she hates the most, Mare discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy the balance of power.Fearful of Mare’s potential, the Silvers hide her in plain view, declaring her a long-lost Silver princess, now engaged to a Silver prince. Despite knowing that one misstep would mean her death, Mare works silently to help the Red Guard, a militant resistance group, and bring down the Silver regime.But this is a world of betrayal and lies, and Mare has entered a dangerous dance – Reds against Silvers, prince against prince, and Mare against her own heart.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I enjoyed The Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard. It wasn’t what I expected, but I was pleasantly surprised anyway. As far as the technical aspects of the book go, the writing was flawless. I didn’t run into any obvious typos, grammatical errors, or formatting issues. The narrative was clean and easy to read, and I enjoyed the narrative voice.

This was a YA book, so yes, the storyline and the characters were simple, even familiar, but I’m not going to hold that against it. Was it a ground-breaking novel? No. Probably not… but it was interesting. I liked the characters, I liked the world building – what there was of it – and I enjoyed the romance. Had this been a book geared towards adults, yes, I would have held it to a higher standard. There is no poetry to the narrative voice, the characters aren’t complex, and there’s no simmer to the romance… but this isn’t an adult book. This is a book meant for teens, and for them, I think this hits a lot of the points it needed to. there’s a cute romance, an element of danger, superpowers, fancy dresses, and a very fairytale vibe to the plotline.

Overall, I think this is a good book for the YA crowd, particularly those that are actually teens – but if you’re an adult reading into the YA genre, this may be a bit below your level. Either way, I found it to be a good book, a fast-paced read, and I’m glad to have picked it up.

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Book Review: The Gates of Dawn

review-copy-the gates of dawnTitle: The Gates of Dawn [The Never Dawn 3]

Author: R.E. Palmer

Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian, Science Fiction

Rating: 5 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Banished to the surface, Noah and his team struggle to survive in the harsh climate and forced to make a difficult decision. In their quest to see the first dawn, they make a shocking discovery about their past that could help Noah bring Mother’s cruel regime to an end.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

There are not enough words in the English language to describe how much I’ve enjoyed The Never Dawn series by R.E. Palmer, or this latest addition to it. These books came across my desk from a relatively unknown author—and it was by sheer whim that I decided to pick them up for review. I am so glad that I did.

I adored this book. It was such a fantastic conclusion to one of the best YA Science Fiction Dystopian series I may have ever read. Though a bit darker than the two books that came before it, The Gates of Dawn by R.E. Palmer sucked me into the story right away and didn’t let up until the last page. I was saddened to put this book, and this series, down when the last sentence was read. I’ve grown to love and care for the many characters within its pages. I cheered when they triumphed, and gasped, disheartened when they were thwarted. There were many aspects of the story that surprised me and left me scrambling to read on to discover what would happen next. The ending, in particular, wasn’t one I saw coming—but at the same time, I’m not upset by it. Although it wasn’t the ending I expected or even wanted, it seemed fitting for Noah’s story. I read this book aloud with my daughter, and she fought tears the entire last chapter and epilogue of the story.

It broke our hearts, and I think we both agree that this series is one of the best series we’ve read between us. If you enjoy YA Science Fiction, or Dystopias, you need to pick up this book, and this series. It is so well crafted and well voiced—trust me when I say that you will not regret it.

Free Fiction Friday #79

Hello, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to Free Fiction Friday #79! For those of you who are new to this blog, or who may have missed out on the previous Free Fiction Fridays—every Friday I post an article containing 10 fiction e-books that are 100% FREE on Amazon at the time of posting and an additional 5 that are roughly of the same genre, and on sale for less than $5.

I try my best to make sure they are all 4+ stars, have over 40+ reviews, and are 100 pages minimum—so you can have a hand-picked list of the best-of-the-best to choose from and enjoy over the long weekend (while I do more important things, like laundry). I try to switch up the genres every week, and this week our theme is: YA Dystopian!

 

THE FREE

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THE BARGAINS

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Book Review: Configured

review-cover-configuredTitle: Configured [Configured 1]

Author: Jenetta Penner

Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian, Science Fiction

Rating: 5 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

In the future love will make you a traitor.

120 years after a virus decimated earth’s population the survivors thrive in safety, away from the death and destruction of the Outerbounds. Divided into three levels of intellect, Citizens focus solely on duty.

Due to her advanced intelligence, seventeen-year-old Avlyn Lark is separated from her twin brother at birth and raised by adoptive parents. She gains privilege, the ideal future. He dies. Avlyn barely knows him yet remains linked to his memory.

But following a string of rebel intrusions on the city, Avlyn receives a cryptic message and begins seeing visions of her dead twin. The mysterious radical who urges Avlyn to join their fight becomes her link to answers. Freedom.

Opportunity awaits, but if she says yes will she lose it all?

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I thoroughly enjoyed Configured by Jenetta Penner. Although it was yet another dystopian in an already saturated market, there were aspects to Avlyn’s story that were very new.

As far as the technical aspects of the book are concerned, Configured was exceedingly well written. The narrative flowed well, there were no obvious technical mistakes, and I easily got sucked into the story from beginning to end.

The characters were interesting and likable. Avlyn and her love interests were, of course, my favorites—complicated would be an understatement. The romance was one of the draws of the book for me (I’m all about that romantic tension!)

Overall, it was a good, solid start to the series, and I greatly enjoyed it. If you’re a fan of Young Adult Dystopian reads, this is definitely a book you’re going to want to pick up. I honestly don’t have anything to complain about with Configured, and I can’t wait to delve further into the series!

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.