Tenley “Ten” Lockwood is an average seventeen-year-old girl…who has spent the past thirteen months locked inside the Prynne Asylum. The reason? Not her obsession with numbers, but her refusal to let her parents choose where she’ll live—after she dies.
There is an eternal truth most of the world has come to accept: Firstlife is merely a dress rehearsal, and real life begins after death.
In the Everlife, two realms are in power: Troika and Myriad, longtime enemies and deadly rivals. Both will do anything to recruit Ten, including sending their top Laborers to lure her to their side. Soon, Ten finds herself on the run, caught in a wild tug-of-war between the two realms who will do anything to win the right to her soul. Who can she trust? And what if the realm she’s drawn to isn’t home to the boy she’s falling for? She just has to stay alive long enough to make a decision…~Goodreads Blurb
Typically when the phrase “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover…” is used you expect to find a great story hidden behind a rather crappy cover. In this case, I ended up with a gorgeous cover and a lackluster story. The frustrating thing is that it could have been so good. The idea of two warring afterlives, and a terrifying limbo state, light versus dark, you could even throw in a solarpunk over lunarpunk twist if you wanted. The framework had such potential, but I feel the author just didn’t quite live up to what she wanted to write. The backstory is almost non-existent except to tell us that this is the way it has always been and every once and awhile, the “gods” show up to prove their existence. Did I mention that the some of them have powers from their Afterlives, and they exist in Shells? The sheer amount of paths this could have taken is breathtaking. With the brilliant cover art and the promise of a fresh series, I admit I may have expected too much. Instead of creating a new world for her readers the author has rehashed some old standard tropes, and copped-out with the character development. The standard Brit-Irish accent, dark hair light hair, bad boy good guy battle for the super special girl has been seriously played out and I was hoping for male characters that would bolster and push our lead character to become the great person she is destined to be. Not so much, once again. It was an easy read and luckily I have enough imagination to make up for the bones I was thrown.
Gena Showalter is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of over thirty books in paranormal and contemporary romances, as well as young adult novels. Her series include White Rabbit Chronicles, Angels of the Dark, Otherworld Assassins, Lords of the Underworld, Alien Huntress and Intertwined.
Her novels have appeared in Cosmopolitan Magazine, and Seventeen Magazine, and have been translated all over the world. The critics have called her books "sizzling page-turners" and "utterly spellbinding stories", while Showalter herself has been called “a star on the rise”.
Rowan is a Second Child in a world where population control measures make her an outlaw, marked for death. She can never go to school, make friends, or get the eye implants that will mark her as a true member of Eden. Her kaleidoscope eyes will give her away to the ruthless Center government.
Outside of Eden, Earth is poisoned and dead. All animals and most plants have been destroyed by a man-made catastrophe. Long ago, the brilliant scientist Aaron al-Baz saved a pocket of civilization by designing the EcoPanopticon, a massive computer program that hijacked all global technology and put it to use preserving the last vestiges of mankind. Humans will wait for thousands of years in Eden until the EcoPan heals the world.
As an illegal Second Child, Rowan has been hidden away in her family's compound for sixteen years. Now, restless and desperate to see the world, she recklessly escapes for what she swears will be only one night of adventure. Though she finds an exotic world and even a friend, the night leads to tragedy. Soon Rowan becomes a renegade on the run – unleashing a chain of events that could change the world of Eden forever. ~Goodreads Blurb
There seems to be quite a number of reviews already posted about this book from fans who readily admit that they haven’t even read the book. I can understand their excitement but as someone who hasn’t seen Joey Graceffa’s YouTube channel before reading this book, it does make it difficult to get a read on what others thought of this book. I try to see most of the books I review through other people’s eyes so I can see if I missed something. With Children of Eden, I seem to have missed a few years of daily videos and a fandom that wants to support their creator. I can respect that.
The title page threw me for a second, while the cover lists Joey’s name and calls him a New York Times Best Seller, just underneath it is the name, Laura L. Sullivan. I’m going to go out on a limb and assume that she is his ghost writer. I can’t say that this is a bad book, but it isn’t particularly amazing either. I would call it a good beginner book. There are standard tropes that have flooded the Young Adult and the Dystopian Fiction Marketplace. This seems to be a mashup of the greatest hits. You have some of the Giver, some Hunger Games, some Maze Runner, a bit of Divergent and a few others that have become standard fare. The reason I call it a good beginner book, is that with the simple language and the made up curse words, it can appeal to readers who are just getting into the genre.
There really isn’t anything that can be described as offensive, though some religious parents may find the romance a bit outside their ballpark. I personally found it refreshing even if it stayed in the lines of an odd love triangle. The curse words are made up and while you can insert your choice of bad word, that’s up to you. It is difficult to really decide what to say about this one. On the one hand, it isn’t really all that special, but part of me thinks that the authors’ goal may have been to appeal to the broadest base. In which case, they have succeeded. The next great novel, not so much. So if you have a young reader and you want to ease them into Dystopian fiction without jarring them, this would be a good choice. There are some difficult points that might bring up questions but most of it is basic dystopian fiction. I would recommend this to young readers and would say buy it as a Christmas present or borrow it from your local library.
The Goodreads profile for Joey Graceffa reads: Joey Graceffa is one of the fastest-growing personalities on YouTube. A popular brand ambassador, he has partnered with Topshop, Audible, eBay, and H&R Block. In 2013, between his daily vlogs and gameplay videos, Joey produced and starred in his own Kickstarter–funded supernatural series, “Storytellers,” for which he won a Streamy Award. He also starred in The Amazing Race on CBS and returned in 2014 for the all-star edition. He grew up with his family in Boston before moving to Los Angeles to pursue a career in entertainment.
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. ~Goodreads Blurb.
The hype that surrounded this first book was well placed, the basic components of good Young Adult Fiction were all well placed throughout. I really enjoyed this first book and bought it up from Amazon after borrowing it from the library.
With YA Fiction there is often a need for someone to rebel from either the Establishment or at the least from the way things have always been. Our main character, Mare, fits that to a tee. Though she starts out simply wanting to survive she is quickly thrown into a world very different from her own. From Underdog status to powerful being, Mare rises from the Stilts to the Palace. The fun thing about watching someone rise to the top is that you know that the happy ending isn't going to come in Book 1. Victoria Aveyard, the author, is drawing us into a three book series with a couple of side novellas.
In this story there is no Superman. No one has all the powers and no one has unlimited power. There's no Magic Manic Pixie Girl and definitely no ebony dark'ness dementia raven way.The powers that the Silvers have seems to be held in a genetic sort of way, which leads to a very modern science based genetic coding and mutations. Our main character happens to be one of those mutations and it causes a stir that will change the very system of government. When characters are suddenly raised above their station sometimes you can get characters who automatically change and blend in without thinking about what the change really means. This story not only gave me an underdog story but one that still gave a damn about where she came from rather than simply thanking her lucky stars that she met Cutie #1.
Something that I think really separates this book from a lot of similar themed books is the amount of diversity. When you think Red versus Silver, you might expect that all the Silver blooded folks might be some pale pasty white folks, not in this book. The amount of diversity that covers not only the Silver houses but also the Red folks leaves me in wonder as to why more authors don't write about more than the White bread castle and the less white lower castes. I would like to have seen more obvious couplings than just boy+girl but I will hold out hope in the other books.
My only real issue has to be the standard, girl meets boy, and then meets other boy and now we have to choose who she should end up with. There's about 3 different men in her romantic wheelhouse and to be honest I would rather she come out of this series alive than coupled.
The Author, Victoria Aveyard’s website gives this information about her: I’m a writer repped by Suzie Townsend at New Leaf Literary & Media, Inc. I split my time between my hometown East Longmeadow, Massachusetts and Los Angeles. After graduating with a BFA in Screenwriting from the University of Southern California, I decided to try my hand at writing a novel. My debut RED QUEEN came out of the terrifying, unemployed year after college. The sequel GLASS SWORD released in February 2016.Currently I’m working on the third book in the RED QUEEN series, along with pursuing other projects in literature and film. My proudest achievements are riding a horse in the mountains of Montana and navigating from London to Edinburgh without GPS.
It’s the end of the world, again. This book was a recommendation on Goodreads after I finished Station Eleven. I can see why. If Station Eleven is the light and breezy dystopian novel, than The Water Knife is the dark, heavy cousin. We, as readers, are following three main characters around in this not-so-distant future dystopian setting. The water is running out and those who control it at it’s start can decide who gets water and how much. There’s Angel, like calling a tall man “shorty”,the spy/soldier who kills to keep his boss happy and the water flowing. Lucy, the Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, who has made her fight personal. Lastly, there’s Maria, a refugee who will do whatever it takes to get out and stay out. These three will have to work together if anyone is going to make it out alive.
Water has always been a scarce thing out in the West, and a drought can be life changing. California has been in the news constantly because they are running out of water. When they do get rain they have to worry about mudslides and other disasters. The Water Knife is a wonderful addition to the genre of Dystopian fiction because it doesn’t create a problem, or a disaster to set the stage. Paolo Bacigalupi has taken real headlines and world occurrences to a further point. He doesn’t stretch to the furthest point, i.e polar caps melting lead to Waterworld, but while reading this you can see how we could reach the current degree very easily. Bacigalupi has taken our world and simply looked forward into one of our possible timelines. It scares the readers and it leaves them asking the question: How do we stop this from happening?
There is absolutely no sugar coating in this story. It’s brutal and hard. Wonderfully written and gets inside your head, The Water Knife is a heavy book. You could finish it in one sitting but I would advise you to follow it up with something lighter. There is such graphic and vivid language that it is almost like being there. The worst of humanity is on display while any sort of goodness and light seems to be fleeting and far away. The women all seem to be used or threatened to be raped. The men are mostly all heartless and just out for themselves. There may be a lesson to be learned from that but I like to stick to my belief that the good guy will win and the bad guys get their dues. I am tired of women simply being used as fodder and I had hoped that the author would rise above that particular trope.
Bacigalupi has enormous skill and talent, The Water Knife pulled me in and would not let go until it was finished with me. He writes in a manner that shows in such detail that you could almost reach through the page and touch the scars and injuries of the characters. The combination of different languages and dialects came through and made it feel real, rather than a white washed version of disaster. The clear disdain for journalist who feed off of disasters and the quick turnover of the public’s reactions to our now common 24-hour news cycles, is obvious and surprising as he seems to do the same thing in this story with the graphic manner he describes the violence and then moves on to the next scene.
This book has left me highly conflicted. On the one hand, it is well written and will draw you in. The other hand being, that it is depressing and dark. If you can handle the heavy and the emotional drain of reading this book than you should go for it. I’m going to stick with borrowing this from the library but I don’t think this will ever be a book that I re-read for fun, or buy for myself.
Here’s a bit about the Author from his website: Paolo Bacigalupi’s writing has appeared in WIRED Magazine, High Country News, Salon.com, OnEarth Magazine, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, and Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine. His short fiction been anthologized in various “Year’s Best” collections of short science fiction and fantasy, nominated for three Nebula Awards, four Hugo Awards, and won the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award for best science fiction short story of the year. His short story collection Pump Six and Other Stories was a 2008 Locus Award winner for Best Collection and also named a Best Book of the Year by Publishers Weekly
His debut novel The Windup Girl was named by TIME Magazine as one of the ten best novels of 2009, and also won the Hugo, Nebula, Locus, Compton Crook, and John W. Campbell Memorial Awards. Internationally, it has won the Seiun Award (Japan), The Ignotus Award (Spain), The Kurd-Laßwitz-Preis (Germany), and the Grand Prix de l’Imaginaire (France).
“If there is a nuclear war, I don’t want to live,” comedian David Mitchell said on Would I Lie To You? “I don’t want to come out of a shelter and try and rebuild society. I have no skills...How long, okay, society is destroyed by a nuclear war, how long in this, basically we’re back to the Bronze Age, how long is it going to be before people start pitching panel shows again? It’s going to be at least 2000 years.”
Luckily author Emily St John Mandel has thoroughly disregarded that idea in her book Station Eleven. The idea of a travelling band of nomads recovering after a cataclysm has shaken the foundations of life as we know it isn’t new. Yet she has created this world in which we follow a literal band, The Travelling Symphony, who have paired up with a group of a actors to put on Shakespeare and classical music shows all around North America. In a world where all of the convenience of our modern lives have faded out, we are shown a slice of their lives. Looking through the eyes of different characters and the use of overlapping timelines, we are able to see the before, during and after of the Georgia(country not state) Flu. Though she follows the idea that most people will take care of the basic needs, shelter, food and the like, she inserts the idea early on using a Star Trek Voyager quote: Survival is Insufficient. It isn’t enough to simply live from day to day. We see this in each character as they grow from making it day to day, to actually living. That of course is the whole point. To steal a line from Jurassic Park, "Life will find a way." That's is what we live for, the idea that no matter what life will go on.
Too often dystopian novels are grim and can be overwhelming. The darkness in humanity is always there and it can be focused on, to an extreme degree. The draw of dystopian stories for me is not the end of the world, or the prophecy of what can be, but the spark of life and goodness even though the world is going to pieces around the character’s ears. Station Eleven left me not only wanting more but also with a bit more faith in humanity. The idea that a sickness could spring up at any minute, is a worry that the modern world has always had to face due to overpopulation. Worse might be the leaders of certain faith groups that like to claim that any natural or sickness that kills many people is the work of God. There will always be cults of people in dystopia that believe that they survived not through chance or immunity but because they were better than those who died. We see this in Station Eleven and to the author’s credit she handles the inclusion of this in a brilliant fashion.
This isn’t the perfect dystopian novel, it’s a lovely post-apocalyptic choice but I felt it needed more. We are introduced to several characters that don’t reappear for an indecent amount of time. While I was drawn into the story, there were several times when I was left wondering how it was going to wrap back to certain characters. The ending did leave me wanting more closure, or at the very least the promise of a sequel. Station Eleven might not be for everyone, some might find the connecting story of Arthur Leander pointless and not really needed. While I could have done without it, it did provide a cord of connection between the characters that they wouldn’t have had otherwise. The 1st year after the Flu isn’t really hit upon in a strong way and one character flat out can’t remember what happened. I feel that it would have been easier to connect to the character is I had more understanding of her past. Instead I got a basic Strictly Need To Know block.
I would recommend this book to someone looking for a happy-ish ending and a dystopian novel. There isn’t much graphic violence until the climax, and the characters are obviously affected by their actions and their pasts. This is a nice change from the cold and impersonal killers I’ve had to get used to in this genre. There is a bit of an anti-God feel when it comes to the cults, but just because she didn’t write about a faith based town that wasn’t full on child-bride creepy, doesn’t mean they didn’t exist in her world. Though I checked this one out of my local library, Station Eleven is going on my Christmas list.
Just a bit about the Author: Emily St. John Mandel is the author of four novels, most recently Station Eleven, which was a finalist for a National Book Award and the PEN/Faulkner Award, and won the 2015 Arthur C. Clarke Award, the Toronto Book Award, and the Morning News Tournament of Books, and has been translated into 27 languages. A previous novel, The Singer's Gun, was the 2014 winner of the Prix Mystere de la Critique in France. Her short fiction and essays have been anthologized in numerous collections, including Best American Mystery Stories 2013. She is a staff writer for The Millions. She lives in New York City with her husband and daughter.
Freelance Editor & Reviewer