Wren Reviews: ‘Undivided’

Title: Undivided
Author: Neal Shusterman
Genre: Dystopian, Romance, Science Fiction, Action, YA fiction
Note: This series is complex. I will not go into details for the plot. I think you should read it yourself. This review won’t have all the characters, though. I will put only the three main characters.
Premise:
(Goodreads)
Teens control the fate of America in the fourth and final book in the New York Times bestselling Unwind dystology by Neal Shusterman.

Proactive Citizenry, the company that created Cam from the parts of unwound teens, has a plan: to mass produce rewound teens like Cam for military purposes. And below the surface of that horror lies another shocking level of intrigue: Proactive Citizenry has been suppressing technology that could make unwinding completely unnecessary. As Conner, Risa, and Lev uncover these startling secrets, enraged teens begin to march on Washington to demand justice and a better future.

But more trouble is brewing. Starkey’s group of storked teens is growing more powerful and militant with each new recruit. And if they have their way, they’ll burn the harvest camps to the ground and put every adult in them before a firing squad—which could destroy any chance America has for a peaceful future.

Plot: The plot is action. This one is focused on the characters not trying to survive but trying to fight back. They are taking matters into their own hands. They are determined to save the world.
Lev wants the Chancefolk to step in. Cam wants to release his rewind brothers and sisters. Risa and Connor want to use the organ printer to do something.
And it works. Their efforts aren’t in vain. They work.
Character Development:
Connor Lassiter. Connor is interesting. He’s brave and daring. But he isn’t smart. He acts without his mind and thoughts. He jumps into actions. I think that recklessness is terrible. But Connor is always the soldier. He fights. And I like that fighter spirit.
Risa Ward. I don’t particularly like Risa. She’s interesting. But she is a bit lame. I do like how she acts on her emotions at times. Especially when she tries to protect the people she loves. I hope she gets married to Connor. That would be a sweet ending. Risa would be great with Connor.
Levi Jedediah Calder. I don’t particularly like Lev. He becomes reckless as Connor. He becomes some guy obsessed with the mission he had. He focuses on crazy missions. Finding Wil’s parts pirates. Etching names on his small body. Making people see the truth. These are major undertakings for Lev. I think he bites off too much sometimes. But that makes him interesting. I hope Lev ends up well. Maybe being adopted. Maybe something else. I don’t know. I just wish him well.
Problems: I think that this book has fewer problems than others.
This book has complicated story lines and characters. It’s hard to keep things in line. Sometimes, it’s easier. Sometimes, it’s not. I didn’t like the confusion. It’s hard to keep up at times.
Another problem is the focus on other characters. This story started with Lev, Risa, and Connor. I wanted it to be that way. Sure. It’s important to have Grace’s view. Or Argent’s. But there wasn’t enough of the main three characters. I felt like that was lacking.
Good points: There are a lot more good things.
I like the plot’s action. It’s interesting. I like it. While it switches point of views, you want to read more to know about that character. It keeps you going.
The characters are quite amazing. I like their growth. Lev was a tithe. Now, he’s a representative of anti-Unwinding. It’s quite an amazing change. Everyone in this story changes.
I like the way the story ends. It ends with family and friends and love. For some reason, the love isn’t bad. I like Risa and Connor together. They’re good together. They compliment each other. I like how their relationship is. It’s not all kissing. It’s light brushes and small smiled. Reassuring looks. Winks. The small things you might overlook. But they don’t.
I like how friendship is added. It’s strong connections. Lev and CyFi. Lev and Connor. Hayden and his group. The Graveyard kids. They are all amazing friendships. I also love how family is added. Your parents sign the unwind order. What does that mean? How does it feel? Do you forgive them? Amazing questions.
This story ends well. There aren’t questions. I feel like it ends well. The antagonists are gone. Nelson gone. Juvies gone. Everything ends peacefully. These characters deserve it.
Score: 8/10
Recommended: If you like the series. If you like dystopian. If you like Neal Shusterman.

Wren Reviews: ‘Since You’ve Been Gone’

Title: Since You’ve Been Gone
Author: Morgan Matson
Genre: Realistic, Romance, YA fiction
Premise:
(Goodreads)

The Pre-Sloane Emily didn’t go to parties, she barely talked to guys, she didn’t do anything crazy. Enter Sloane, social tornado and the best kind of best friend—the one who yanks you out of your shell.

But right before what should have been an epic summer, Sloane just… disappears. No note. No calls. No texts. No Sloane. There’s just a random to-do list. On it, thirteen Sloane-selected-definitely-bizarre-tasks that Emily would never try… unless they could lead back to her best friend.

Apple Picking at Night? Okay, easy enough.

Dance until Dawn? Sure. Why not?

Kiss a Stranger? Wait… what?

Getting through Sloane’s list would mean a lot of firsts. But Emily has this whole unexpected summer ahead of her, and the help of Frank Porter (totally unexpected) to check things off. Who knows what she’ll find?

Go Skinny Dipping? Um…
Plot: Emily gets a letter with a list of things to do from her best friend Sloane. E tries to see Mona and drops her brother off. She sees the class president Frank Porter. Her brother Beckett goes to the top of the rock wall. Asked to get down, he does so, but Frank climbs up to meet him. And gets stuck. Beckett helps Frank down. Since she can’t see Mona, Emily goes to the Orchard. She sees Frank there with his friend Collins. She picks an apple as dictated by Sloane’s list. She can’t get home because she’s out of gas. Frank takes her to get gas, meeting a guy named James in the process.
Emily meets Mona and gets a job at Paradise Ice Cream. She meets Dawn a pizza delivery girl. Dawn takes her on her deliveries, but Emily misses the chance to hug a Jamie. She goes to get gas and hugs James, nicknamed Jamie by his grandmother.
She goes on a run and sees Frank. They get together and start running together.
She goes to steal a sign that Sloane loved, but Frank catches her in the act. Emily takes Frank home because he didn’t have a ride back. She sees the house Frank lived in. Together, they share secrets on the waterfront at night.
When Frank almost makes Emily ride a horse, Emily has a mental breakdown. She goes back to her house to Living Room Theater. Her parents do Bug Juice, based off of Emily, with Frank and Emily as the leads. The play is a success, but the two evade a stage kiss. Emily goes back to Frank’s house and kissed a stranger. Who happens to be Collin’s cousin.
She spends 4th of July with her friends. Emily sleeps under the stars with her brother Beckett after her father cancels the camping trip. She goes to a bar as her adult persona Penelope, using her faked ID. She almost gets into a fight.
She almost goes on a pony ride but is stopped because she needs to pick up Lissa Frank’s girlfriend for Frank’s birthday party. Lissa ends up not going to Frank’s party and staying at Princeton summer camp. At the party, she sees Benji the mysterious stranger she kissed as well as her ex-boyfriend Gideon. She sees that Gideon kept her Sharpie tattoo fresh on his arm.
Emily finally rides a horse. To dance all night, she crashes a wedding where Frank is. They share a slow dance before Collins, Frank, Dawn, and Emily go skinny dipping in the Long Island Sound.
Emily and her friends go camping indoors after rain makes it impossible for Frank and Collins to camp outside together. Emily doesn’t bring a pillow which results in her sleeping in Frank’s tent.
She goes to a party in her special backless dress. This party is at Sloane’s house, and Emily is a guest at the party that Frank’s parents had to attend. Emily finds a disposable camera with photos from Sloane on it. On the way back, she kisses Frank. After that, she loses all her friends. Dawn because Dawn was cheated on. Collins because he had to side with Frank. And Frank because he had a girlfriend. Frank appears one day, asking to talk. Emily runs away from him.
She finds out where Sloane went from the photos. And she discovers Sloane needed Emily as much as Emily needs Sloane. She contacts Frank, asking for his help to go to South Carolina where Sloane is. Frank agrees. She confronts Frank, asking him about why he didn’t reply. He explains that he broke up with Lissa. They finally get to South Carolina. Emily and Sloane reunite with them chattering about what happened and why Sloane left. You find out that Sloane’s parents are broke and living with relatives who support them. The two friends meet up.
Frank and Emily head back home. They stop first to Sloane’s special spot. And they kiss.
The story ends there.
Character Development:
Emily. I don’t like Emily. She’s a pretty girl who loses her best friend. Well. I lost my best friend for a while. And I didn’t react that way. (We ended up contacting each other and becoming best friends again.) And I just went on with my life. To me, there were other things. I don’t like her pretty girl, flirty-flirt side of her. I like the change in her, though. She goes from dependent to independent. She ends up not needing Sloane for every waking thing. Which is nice. I like when characters grow independent.
Problems: I think that I’m on the negative side here. I see that many like this book. I didn’t.
This book’s plot went from friendship to romance quickly. The author struggled to hold onto the friendship. But it ended up not working. I think that friendship is stronger than love. That’s why I don’t particularly like best friends turned couple. They might break up and ruin the friendship. I do think there could have been more family and friendship.
The characters aren’t too interesting. They have bad homes. That’s something in common. Frank especially. Almost divorced parents. I relate to that. But barely. I can’t connect to any of them. I don’t care if Dawn was cheated on. Or if Collins is flirty. I do like how Collins has emotional troubles. That’s something I care for. But Emily? And Frank? No love for them.
I didn’t like the way things happened towards the end. The end seemed rushed. A patchwork quilt tossed together hastily. It seemed like a major coincidence that Emily found Sloane’s camera, and found Sloane. I really didn’t like that. She could have traveled the whole state for Sloane. That would have been nice. A road trip. (After all, this author wrote about a road trip.) And anyways…did Dawn and Emily make up? The friendships she built are simply ignored at the end. It’s all Frank-and-Emily.
Good points: I feel like the story doesn’t have many good points. I know I’m on the opposite end of what others think. I just didn’t really like it.
The story had emphasis on friendship. At first. That started to fade when Frank had his birthday party. Things changed from friends to romance and let’s-make-out. I didn’t like that. Romance overtook the importance of friendship. Not a good theme.
The main character changes. For the better. Emily changes to a new person. She ends up a new, braver person. She changes like Cecily in her parents’ play Bug Juice. If you think about it, it’s true. She ends up better. And I like that.
I like Collins. He has emotional troubles. I like that. He has a bit of low self esteem. Something I relate to. Of course, I don’t do things without thinking. But we are similar. Enough. Similar enough.
I like that playlists were in the book. It had some fun formatting. Like with the playlists. And the letter. It was nice to have a reprieve from the typical, Arial font.
Score: 6/10
Recommended: If you like stories about completing a list. If you like realistic fiction with romance and friendship.

Wren Reviews: ‘Love Letters to the Dead’

Title: Love Letters to the Dead

Author: Ava Dellaira

Genre: Romance, YA Fiction, Realistic

 

Premise:

(Goodreads)

It begins as an assignment for English class: Write a letter to a dead person.

Laurel chooses Kurt Cobain because her sister, May, loved him. And he died young, just like May. Soon, Laurel has a notebook full of letters to the dead—to people like Janis Joplin, Heath Ledger, Amelia Earhart, and Amy Winehouse—though she never gives a single one of them to her teacher. She writes about starting high school, navigating the choppy waters of new friendships, learning to live with her splintering family, falling in love for the first time, and, most important, trying to grieve for May. But how do you mourn for someone you haven’t forgiven?

It’s not until Laurel has written the truth about what happened to herself that she can finally accept what happened to May. And only when Laurel has begun to see her sister as the person she was—lovely and amazing and deeply flawed—can she truly start to discover her own path.

In a voice that’s as lyrical and as true as a favorite song, Ava Dellaira writes about one girl’s journey through life’s challenges with a haunting and often heartbreaking beauty.

 

Plot: The story is about Laurel a girl whose sister died within the past year or so. And she has to deal with the grief and the guilty of her role in May’s death.

Laurel is given an assignment where she must write a letter to a dead person. She chooses Kurt Cobian. On her first day of high school, she wears her old, middle school clothes. And is promptly ignored. When she dons May’s old clothes, she is noticed by Hannah and Natalie. With the two, she gets drunk for the first time. And she sees the two kissing. They say that she can ‘join in’ if she likes, which Laurel doesn’t do.

She meets Kristen and Tristan a couple who are polar opposites. She breaks out of her aunt’s house to go see the couple Kristen and Tristan. She is invited to go on a drive with her crush the mysterious junior Sky. (If you care to know, his real name is Skylar.) Homecoming comes near, and Laurel is invited by Evan a guy in one of her classes. She reluctantly goes with him, wanting to go with Sky instead. And Natalie asks Hannah to go to homecoming with her. And Hannah denies. Evan ditches her during homecoming to dance with his ex-girlfriend. Sky comes to her rescue, though. He takes her home, kissing her in his car. (Which is described as having a leather smell. A very strong one.)

Laurel goes to Hannah’s house for a a sleepover. Natalie drives Hannah’s grandmother’s van and gets it stuck in the sand. Hannah is yelled at by her older brother Jason. Laurel goes to a college Halloween party with her friends. There, she becomes Sky’s girlfriend. With her friends and boyfriend, she visits FallFest a place that she used to go to with her family before May died. She takes Sky home to her dad and introduces the two.

Hannah attains a new boyfriend named Neung. Even though she has Kasey as a boyfriend. Natalie and Laurel visit Neung’s home with Hannah. And Natalie cries after admitting she loves Hannah.

Christmas comes closer. Hannah gets a painting of her favorite flower tulips from Natalie. At a Christmas party, Laurel sees Janey a friend from middle school. She tries to avoid Janey, but it fails. She talks to Janey for a bit. (Janey caught Laurel stealing alcohol.) Laurel calls up Sky and kisses him.

Christmas comes. Laurel’s dad does nothing until Laurel strings out lights around her house with the help of her neighbor. Her dad gets into the holiday spirit and gets a tree. During Christmas, Laurel tells Sky she loves him, and Sky says he loves her.

At a New Year’s Eve party, she writes down her intentions for the year and burns it. (All her friends and Sky do this.) Sky breaks up with Laurel, saying she’s sometimes ‘not there’. Laurel remembers some of the details of May’s death. (But we don’t get the whole story until later.) Laurel, in despair, doesn’t attend school for a while. She goes back and tells Hannah and Natalie that Sky broke up with her. And that her sister May is dead. The two console her on the former and explain they knew about the latter. Sky gets a new girlfriend named Francesca, and she confronts Laurel. Laurel plays ‘the dead game’ which is composed of lying in the street and playing chicken with a car. She scares Sky’s girlfriend away by doing this.

Hannah gets a new boyfriend named Blake. Hannah and Laurel go to his house, and Laurel is almost raped by Blake’s roommate. Or so it seems. Some time passes, and Laurel gets in an argument with her mom who lives in California. She doesn’t speak to her mother for a while.

She confronts Sky about why he broke up with her. And how Sky knew about May’s death. Sky explains, saying they went to Sandia together. And that he beat up Paul May’s boyfriend before her death. And that’s how he got kicked out of Sandia. Laurel, Natalie, and Hannah go to a party. Evan almost rapes Laurel, and Laurel catches Hannah and Natalie kissing. As goes most of everyone there. Including Hannah’s brother Jason. Jason hurts Hannah afterwards. The three friends don’t talk for a while until Hannah and Laurel get to talking. Once they talk, Hannah and Natalie talk.

Laurel reveals what happened on the night May died. She reveals that she had been groped, many times, by Paul’s friend Billy when May went on dates with Paul. Laurel explained this to May who went to the edge of a river and…walked off. (It isn’t clear exactly what happened to her. Suicide or not.) Hannah stays at Laurel’s house for a day before staying at Natalie’s. Laurel doesn’t start dating Sky again but becomes his friend. Sky goes over and talks to her dad on occasion.

Laurel finally meets the Jesus Man a guy her aunt had been crushing on for some time. She tells her aunt to stop perusing the man. Her aunt takes heed of Laurel’s advice. She finally makes up with her mom.

School ends. The group Tristan, Hannah, Natalie, Kristin, and Laurel come together and party. Laurel sees Natalie and Hannah acting like a couple. Hannah and Tristan sing at a bonfire to commemorate Tristan and Kristen’s last day of high school. Sky and Laurel get back together. Laurel writes her last letter to May. And she gives her notebook of letters to her teacher.

And the story ends.

 

Character Development: I typically put the main character in these stories. But I wanted to talk about Sky as well. (And not just because of his unusual name.)

Laurel. I don’t like Laurel. Sure. I like the ‘I’m not broken’ parts of her. I like the ‘fixable’ parts. It’s interesting. I like those types of characters. The ones with dark pasts who act like everything is fine. And we all know it’s not fine. She’s not fine. I like that, though, in a character. The parts I hate are the ones obsessed with Sky. Laurel is like Charlie from ‘Perks of Being a Wallflower’. And we all know Charlie loves Sam. But Laurel is obsessed with Sky. I think it’s an unhealthy crush that adds wood to the flame. Not a good thing.

Sky. I feel like he had potential. He could have been a great character. But he isn’t. He is mysterious. That could have been expanded. But it isn’t. I wish it was expanded. I wish Sky was expanded. He had the potential to be more. He’s just ‘Laurel’s boyfriend’. That’s all.

 

Problems: Gosh. This book is ‘Perks of Being a Wallflower’. But it has less deeper meaning.

Let me explain.

This book was romance half the time. The other half was it trying to gain deeper meaning. Which didn’t exactly work all the time.

I didn’t like the romance. It is based on nothing. And Laurel seems to be clinging to Sky. She’s whiny and keeps holding on to Sky. Let go. Just let go. He’s your first ‘love’, but you need to get over it.

Gah. Laurel is a bad thing herself. I think her guilt is an interesting point, but she’s whiney. Sky this. Sky that. She has only the guilty going for her. She is all about Sky. And romance. And kissing. And trying to hook up with Sky. Gag.

The story wasn’t very interesting if you ask me. It’s a bit dull. I rather know what happened and how May died in the beginning. Keeping me waiting was dragging it on. And I don’t like how dramatic it was. No action. At all. I didn’t like that.

The characters seemed a bit dull. I didn’t like Natalie and Hannah. Or Tristan and Kristen. I seem to like almost none of these characters. And I only liked a small part of Laurel’s character. They were interesting. But Hannah overreacted when she was caught kissing Natalie.

And that’s another problem. The lesbian romance wasn’t working for me. I didn’t like it. It didn’t seem real. And, if you ask me, it just isn’t romance. Where is it based off of? And why is it there? Trying to bring in LGBT teens? I just don’t know. I don’t think that it would lesbian romance.

And I feel like these characters are just being…stereotyped a bit. I mean…the polar opposite couple. The guy who is a rocker and the girl who is a study bug. The popular girl who gets everyone. And the loner girl turned around. These characters are overused. There should be some originality. I also think ‘Perks of Being a Wallflower’ is a definite influence. (The author is actually her mentor.) But it seems to copy a  lot from ‘Perks of Being a Wallflower’. Which I don’t like at all. I don’t like books being copied.

 

Good points: There are a few good points.

I like Laurel’s guilt. It makes her a bit less…emotionless. I think that is interesting to give her guilt. But it’s not guilt that I understand. Why does she think it’s her fault? It was May’s fault for standing on the edge. Laurel was just in shock. Not all people react to those things.

Another good thing is the letters. Not the letters itself or the content really. But the letters were interesting. It wasn’t as well written as ‘Perks of Being a Wallflower’, but I liked how Laurel made it to a certain person. But I didn’t like her bringing up ‘you’ or what happened to that person. It was a bit awkward. Especially since I didn’t know some of these singers and poets.

 

Score: 7/10

Recommended: If you like ‘after -insert name of loved one- died’ stories. If you like a girl recovering over a death and hooking up with a guy who has a shady past.

 

Wren Reviews: ‘Far Dawn’

Title: Far Dawn

Author: Kevin Emerson

Genre: Dystopian, Science Fiction, Fantasy, YA fiction, Romance

 

 

Premise:

(Goodreads)

In The Far Dawn, Owen and Lilly are on their own, two of the three Atlanteans left on a journey to find Atlantis and protect it from the selfish greed of their nemesis Paul and Project Elysium. As time grows short and darkness overtakes the planet, Owen must face Paul’s greatest treachery yet. He must choose—does he save the planet, or the people he loves?

Perfect for fans of Star Wars, Percy Jackson, or The Hunger Games, The Far Dawn takes readers on an explosive journey through time and space with heartrending decisions, pulse-pounding action, and fascinating questions of science and ethics alike. Both the paperback and ebook editions include extra content on “where science stops and fantasy starts” in the world of the series.

 

Plot: The story starts off with Lilly and Owen flying in Lük’s craft. They pick up a signal, someone calling for help. They go to the place where the signal originated the Vista and meet Moros/Peter a human being turned digital character inside the Vista a digital utopia. Owen is almost downloaded into Peter’s digital body as a way for Peter to get out. Owen and Lilly escape with the knowledge Peter had. They flee to the mountains. They find Paul there with Evan-turned-Kael/Leech by genetic experimentation. The two save Evan and find the Sentinel the spirit of Rana, Lilly’s ancestor. The Sentinel says that Owen isn’t the Aeronaut. The story turns to the original Three with Owen inside Lük’s head. He sees the Three trying to destroy the Paintbrush of the Gods and failing. The world falls apart in the memory. Owen comes out of the memory and finds that Lilly and Evan are gone, taken by Paul. Rana and Owen go to Antarctica where the original city is rumored to be. They meet a band of military men. They almost save Evan and Lilly, but the Terra is taken. And the world is crushed by ice. Lilly, Evan, and Matheu (or however you spell his name) are killed. Owen survives with Rana’s help. Owen makes coffins for all three and send them out to sea. He is cared for by the military before he leaves to go on a Flotilla to have changes done to him. He gets a bionic eye and a bar code on his finger similar to the ones on the elite. He then goes to an Eden, seeking out passage to Egress the ship in space. He gets on with the Nomads help. He, sadly, betrays them when he gets there. He doesn’t blow up the station. Instead, Owen makes a deal with Paul to have Lilly revived. When about to talk to the Terra, part of his deal, he meets Lilly in her skull. They talk with Lilly making him decide he won’t agree to help Paul. Lük comes in, crashing into the ship using a spaceship he repaired. Rana, Kael’s spirit, and Owen escape the failing Egress. In the ship, they crash into missiles. Owen releases the Terra, saving the world. The Terra returns to the earth and starts healing the broken parts. Owen is revived in the Eden his story began in. Owen sees Lilly, and the story ends.

Character Development: Owen. Owen isn’t a favorite character of mine. Love overtakes all rational thought. And he’s the surprise attack. And he mopes. I don’t like him. He’s simply annoying. I do like that he is human. He mourns. He feels pain. It doesn’t seem like the original Three are not human. Even during the flashback.

Problems: A problem I saw was the world building. I haven’t read this series since the last book, book two. And the world wasn’t defined anyways. LoRad? What? Could there be a section that describes the purpose of these inventions? That would have been good. I like knowing these things. (Either that or it was explained, and I don’t remember.) The romance was a bit much. Kissing every moment. It was nice that Lilly didn’t say ‘I love you’ as if it was ‘pass me the salt’. It was a bit cute that they kept count. It was interesting why they did it. And the fact that they did it at all. I don’t like the romance, though. I don’t like romance in general. And this was part of the ‘general’. The plot, while action-filled, is not too interesting. I don’t particularly like it. It was just okay. The plot was a bit…dull. Betrayal. Fighting. It seems a bit repetitive. I don’t know why I think that. It seems like that happens often enough. Fighting. Betrayal. Loss. It’s becoming common enough.

Good points: ‘Far Dawn’ has certain things I like. Only a few. I like how Owen seems real. He goes through emotional and physical pain. He is real. He feels pain. He isn’t indestructible. When Lilly is dead, he mourns. He builds coffins. He goes on a suicide mission. Knowing he’ll die if he goes through with it. He is real. I like that. I like real characters. The plot is action. Action. Drama. Suspense. Surprises. It’s odd that I don’t like the story, but I have a minor like for the plot. It’s the action that I like. Not the story itself.

 

Score: 7/10

Recommended: If you like the series. If you like dystopian with a supernatural twist.

Wren Reviews: ‘Meritropolis’

Title: Meritropolis

Author: Joel Ohman

Genre: Dystopian, Action, YA fiction, Science Fiction

 

Premise:

(Goodreads)

The year is AE3, 3 years after the Event. Within the walls of Meritropolis, 50,000 inhabitants live in fear, ruled by the brutal System that assigns each citizen a merit score that dictates whether they live or die. Those with the highest scores thrive, while those with the lowest are subject to the most unforgiving punishment–to be thrust outside the city gates, thrown to the terrifying hybrid creatures that exist beyond.

But for one High Score, conforming to the System just isn’t an option. Seventeen-year-old Charley has a brother to avenge. And nothing–not even a totalitarian military or dangerous science–is going to stop him.

Where humankind has pushed nature and morals to the extreme, Charley is amongst the chosen few tasked with exploring the boundaries, forcing him to look deep into his very being to discern right from wrong. But as he and his friends learn more about the frightening forces that threaten destruction both without and within the gates, Meritropolis reveals complexities they couldn’t possibly have bargained for…

 

Plot: The story is action-filled with mutated creatures and an oppressive system for control.

The story starts off with Charley protecting a girl about to be zeroed. This is the action of putting someone outside of the gates that protect the city. Charley is then put in a training program as a punishment to become a Hunter. He ends up training with the High Score girl Sandy who fights like a maniac. He, Sandy, and another High Score go on different hunting trips together. Sven Charley’s friend  is captured. They fight together, working together. They even fight a bion a bull-lion. They take it down with Charley in charge. The result of the killing is Charley’s friend Sven being released. Charley finds a chip inside the bion. Sandy and Charley go into the Tower to investigate. There, they find out it’s a tracking chip or something of that sort. They go back to training before Charley finds out the little girl he saved was zeroed anyways. He attacks the Tower, destroying guards until none are left standing. Charley is jailed. The commander is ordered to let anyone under a Score of 100 to be let out of the city. The people rebel with Charley being freed with help from a portly man who runs the underworld named Chappy. Charley leads the people.  The wall is blown to bits using C4. Invaders attack. Chappy, Charley, and the commander band together to fight back. Animal combinations come too the rescue, looking for the smell of blood and meat. The groups defeat the invaders. But the citizens have to fight back against the animals. Chappy goes into the Tower, letting only High Scores in. Charley has a sudden realization which results in him and Sandy and Sven and the Low Scores joining Commander Orson and Grigor in meeting Commander Orson’s father the instigator of the System.

And the story ends with that cliffhanger.

 

Character Development:

Charley. I like Charley. He’s a fighter. He works for things. He is an intelligent person. He does. He acts. He isn’t passive. I like that. Charley’s personality is something I look for in a character. To me, main characters need to be fighting for a reason, a cause. And Charley does so. I like that in him. Sure, he’s reckless, but he’s that crazy, good kind of reckless.

 

Problems: Meritropolis has many wild animal combinations. Bull-lion. Ram-puma. These, though, are creative yet overly wild. (This is mentioned in the good points as well.)  They doesn’t seem possible. They don’t seem like they will happen.

We also get this odd point of view of an engineer. I don’t think it was entirely necessary. Sure, he blew up the wall, but that doesn’t mean he has to be a point of view. I think it would be fine if he wasn’t a narrator. Even if it’s just a few pages.

Commander Orson has a past. A cruel father. And we don’t get any of that. I wish we had more on his perspective. It would be interesting. You wouldn’t just get Charley’s perspective. You would see the perspective of a ‘bad guy’.

A problem, for me, is the cliffhanger. The plot is actually pretty interesting. It keeps you going. You feel energized. But the cliffhanger just tears you apart. What happens next? Who will survive? What will Orson’s father do? You are left with these questions that don’t explain. Which is disappointing to say the least.

 

Good points: This was, all together, a pretty good book. There were bad parts at times. And there were good parts. It’s hard to say, though, which surpasses which.

A good part is also a problem. The animal combinations were creative. I liked the use of creativity this story had. But it was overly so. A crow-ant? That’s not even humanly possible. No matter what the radiation was. I don’t think these combinations are possible.

Another good point is the main character. I like Charley. He’s interesting. He has a past you don’t know the entirety of. He’s a fighter and gets something similar to the ‘red hot’ Saba (‘Blood Red Road’) gets when she’s ready to fight. He is a doer. He acts. I like that in a character. Especially a main character.

The plot is action. It is entirely action. I enjoyed that. It was fascinating and keeping you on the edge of your seat. You had to know what happened. Charley is such an experienced fighter. I think that’s a good quality in him, and that just adds to the action. He’s no novice to fighting. Hand-to-hand or not.

 

Score: 7/10

Recommended: If you like dystopian books with weird animals. If you like strong main characters.

 

Wren Reviews: ‘The Young Elites’

Title: The Young Elites

Author: Marie Lu

Genre: Dystopian, Fantasy, Supernatural, YA Fiction, Romance, Action

 

Premise:

(Goodreads)

I am tired of being used, hurt, and cast aside.

Adelina Amouteru is a survivor of the blood fever. A decade ago, the deadly illness swept through her nation. Most of the infected perished, while many of the children who survived were left with strange markings. Adelina’s black hair turned silver, her lashes went pale, and now she has only a jagged scar where her left eye once was. Her cruel father believes she is a malfetto, an abomination, ruining their family’s good name and standing in the way of their fortune. But some of the fever’s survivors are rumored to possess more than just scars—they are believed to have mysterious and powerful gifts, and though their identities remain secret, they have come to be called the Young Elites.

Teren Santoro works for the king. As Leader of the Inquisition Axis, it is his job to seek out the Young Elites, to destroy them before they destroy the nation. He believes the Young Elites to be dangerous and vengeful, but it’s Teren who may possess the darkest secret of all.

Enzo Valenciano is a member of the Dagger Society. This secret sect of Young Elites seeks out others like them before the Inquisition Axis can. But when the Daggers find Adelina, they discover someone with powers like they’ve never seen.

Adelina wants to believe Enzo is on her side, and that Teren is the true enemy. But the lives of these three will collide in unexpected ways, as each fights a very different and personal battle. But of one thing they are all certain: Adelina has abilities that shouldn’t belong in this world. A vengeful blackness in her heart. And a desire to destroy all who dare to cross her.

It is my turn to use. My turn to hurt.

 

Plot: This story is an action story. With romance on the side. (Think of the first book ‘Legend’ with the hot-and-heavy but not so heavy in the works.)

The story starts off with Adelina almost being burned at the stake for being a mutated human being. (I would spell the word, but I think I would ruin its musical quality.) She is saved by the crown prince Enzo. He turns out to be the leader of the Daggers a group of the mutated  teens turned superhuman by powers. Adelina meets and befriends Raffaele a consort who can sense other powers. She is tested to become a Recruit for the Daggers and succeeds. She starts training slowly with Raffaele, but she doesn’t end up successfully. She has the potential to do more, though. Adelina sees Teren, the antagonist, at the Fortunata Court where Raffaele works, and where the Daggers hid under. Teren threatens her, saying he’ll hurt her sister if she doesn’t give up information about the Daggers to him. Adelina, frightened, agrees. When the Daggers leave for a horse race, to get closer to the king to kill him, Adelina escapes her ‘prison’ and goes to see Teren. She gives him minimal information, only including a slice of what she knows and faking ignorance. Adelina leaves the Inquisition Tower and sees the horse race the Daggers are at. She sees the Star Thief a Young Elite who can control the minds of animals riding a horse in the race. She finds out that the Stat Thief is a noble girl named Gemma. Gemma wins the race, but Teren orders all of the malfettos (See? I tried.) to not be allowed to enter the races. Gemma is grief-stricken and is almost attacked, but Adelina saves her at the last moment using her powers of illusion. Adelina races back to her ‘prison’ and is picked up by Enzo to train.

Her powers strengthen under Enzo’s tutelage. She becomes a powerful force to reckon with. She asks Enzo to go on her first mission with the Daggers, and he agrees. She goes with them to set fire to the ships during a festival. They succeed, and Teren confronts Adelina in the aftermath. Dante, or Spider, sees them before Enzo duels against Teren. Teren takes off. She celebrates with the other Daggers and the Daggers’ patrons. She kisses Enzo, only to find out that Enzo was, or is, in love with a girl who looked similar to Adelina. She keeps loving him, though, unable to control herself.

She talks to Teren another time and takes Violetta her beloved sister from him. Violetta is discovered to be an Elite with the power to cancel out other Elites’ powers.They race into the streets and see the destroyed Fortunata Court. The sisters hide in the catacombs before coming out and seeking the Daggers. They form a plan to attack. The king is killed by Teren in the night, and the Daggers seek out Teren during the announcement for the king’s funeral. Teren has Raffaele in his clutches. Enzo challenges Teren to a duel on the date of the funeral. The Daggers prepare to wage an all-out war on the Inquisitors. The funeral comes, and the two ex-friends, Enzo and Teren, duel. They fight, and Adelina tries to help. In the end, she hurts Enzo, killing him. She is knocked unconscious by the power draining. She ends up raging when she recovers. Raffaele determines that she and Violetta have to leave the Daggers. The two ends up leaving after Adelina has a mental breakdown. Adelina decides to form her own Young Elite society.

The story switches to the princess of another country. She hears of the news about the king and Enzo’s death. And she prepares her Young Elite army.

The story ends in a cliffhanger without any closure. You don’t know what happens to Adelina. You don’t know what the princess will do. You know she is a Young Elite who can bring back the dead.

This is a good paced plot. It’s interesting and keeps you going.

 

Character Development: There are many characters in this book. Enzo. Teren. Adelina. Violetta. I will name only the narrator. The main one, at least. Which is our White Wolf. Adelina.

Adelina. She is an interesting character. I can’t say if I hate or love her darkness. I might align with those stones like Adelina did. I’m a passionate person fueled by rage. I have an odd connection with Adelina. I can’t say that I love that she falls into darkness. I felt like it was interesting but not amazing. I like anti-heroes as much as the next girl, but I think that Adelina is an interesting case. She isn’t entirely a good or bad person. I can tell there is some goodness in her heart. She loves Violetta. She loved Enzo. I don’t like that she has romance with Enzo. I could tell that was coming. The relationship was awkward and more passion than I wanted or needed. I don’t like the romance between them. I do want to see how she grows. She is weakened at first, but she grows into a powerful Elite. I can’t wait to see her grow.

 

Problems: There seem to be a few problems. Let me say that these are quite minor problems.

The romance is annoying. I knew it was coming. Of course, what author could resist adding in romance to their story? None. It was interesting. I love that Raffaele hints that he loved Enzo. I do like when books add in gay characters. I am a big supporter of gay rights. Definitely.

Another problem? I don’t like the fact that there is nothing about the other pasts. Enzo. Teren. Raffaele. I want to know more about them. I want to know more. Their past is hinted. Who is Raffaele? Why was he a consort? I don’t get that. Consort? How did he end up like that? That can’t just happen. There has to be a reason. There has to be a reason why Teren turned out ‘evil’. There has to be reasons. But this book doesn’t have it. But I know how Marie Lu works. She’ll end up giving out their backstories soon enough. (In the next book perhaps?)

The cliffhanger is just terrible. I don’t like it. I want to know more. I don’t think I can really wait for the next book. Marie Lu, get writing. Come on! I need the next book. Soon. Right now.

 

Good points: This story was fantastic. The plot was amazing. The characters were interesting. Sadly, we didn’t learn enough about Enzo or Teren. I wish I had more of them. They seem to be tortured from their pasts.

I do like Adelina. To an extent. She seems to take darkness too far. But I guess that is how the world works. There are the dark characters. And I like that she’s an anti-hero. I truly do. Anti-heroes are interesting. They have reasons to be dark and ‘evil’. They justify them. And why do they do that? A fantastic question. One I cannot answer.

Another good point is the plot. I know I summed it in the beginning of this ‘good points’ part, but I will expand on it. The plot is not fast or slow. You get more about the character. The plot is interesting. You don’t get too much of anything. You get only a few things since it’s just from Adelina’s point of view. You get to know things from the anti-hero’s perspective. You get to see it in an interesting way.

If you ask me, I think that you should read this book. It’s a good book. I think that if you like supernatural and fantasy elements to Marie Lu’s writing, this is the book for you.

 

Score: 8/10

Recommended: If you like an anti-hero. If you like to have a main character turning to darkness.

Wren Reviews: ‘An Abundance of Katherines’

Title: An Abundance of Katherines
Author: John Green
Genre: Romance, Realistic, YA fiction
Premise:
(Goodreads)
Katherine V thought boys were gross
Katherine X just wanted to be friends
Katherine XVIII dumped him in an e-mail
K-19 broke his heart
When it comes to relationships, Colin Singleton’s type happens to be girls named Katherine. And when it comes to girls named Katherine, Colin is always getting dumped. Nineteen times, to be exact.
On a road trip miles from home, this anagram-happy, washed-up child prodigy has ten thousand dollars in his pocket, a bloodthirsty feral hog on his trail, and an overweight, Judge Judy-loving best friend riding shotgun–but no Katherines. Colin is on a mission to prove The Theorem of Underlying Katherine Predictability, which he hopes will predict the future of any relationship, avenge Dumpees everywhere, and finally win him the girl. Love, friendship, and a dead Austro-Hungarian archduke add up to surprising and heart-changing conclusions in this ingeniously layered comic novel about reinventing oneself.
Plot: We start with Colin leaving his Chicago home. He is getting over being dumped by the nineteenth Katherine. He goes on a road trip, but he ends up in Gutshot when he wants to see the body of Franz Ferdinand. He ends up being a worker for Hollis the owner of the nearby textile faculty. He works with his road trip buddy and best friend Hassan for money by recording people talking about their textile factory work and past for Hollis. He starts working on a theorem to predict the future of a relationship.
He becomes friends with Lindsey Lee Wells who is Hollis’s daughter. He discovers that Lindsey is dating a Colin. He slowly meets the other people in Gutshot. The oldesters in particular.
Hassan starts dating a popular girl named Katrina. He, and Colin, are invited to hunt pigs. They are bitten by hornets and get attacked and muddied. Hassan discovers Katrina having sex with TOC, The Other Colin (Lindsey’s Colin.) Colin starts to get closer with Lindsey. Lindsey and TOC break up. They find out that Hollis is selling land. Lindsey is determined to figure out why. They find out that the textile factory is going under. Colin ends up with Lindsey after a few ‘dates’ and a few trips together. They end up together after Lindsey has an emotional break down.
Character Development:
Colin. I like geniuses. For some reason. I don’t know why. I like them because they are viewed negatively in society. Let me say this. I don’t like Colin. He dates girls left and right. He has the potential to do so much more. He’s just drowned in sorrows over Katherines. Can’t he see that they aren’t good for him? Can’t he just avoid girls named Katherine? Colin acts like a child sometimes. I truly hate that. He acts as if he hasn’t grown up.
Hassan. I love how he plays the part of a funny, ‘chubby’ guy. He overdoes it, though. He acts like he knows better. He is a good friend, though. That’s a good thing. I like how he stands up to Colin when Colin acts like a brat.
Lindsey Lee Wells. I don’t like Lindsey. I feel that she has a bit of low self esteem. She acts like a different person with different people. I like the low self esteem part of her. The part she shared with Colin alone. She seems more real. Then she talks to someone else and ends up acting differently. I don’t like this quick change. It is reality, though, which I like.
Problems: There are more problems than good points
The plot is dull and boring. I didn’t get anything out of this book. The plot had ups and downs, but I didn’t like the small plot twists. They were minor and insignificant. Where is this story going? Where will it end up? I don’t know. The story ends on a confusing note. Where are they going? Who will they pick up? It’s hard to tell with this cliffhanger.
Another problem is the characters. Colin is annoying. He is too obsessed with girls. He isn’t really focused on his studies. When he should. And Hassan? He overdoes the ‘fat boy’ image. I don’t see why he has to overplay it. That makes no sense.
Another problem is the romance. Where is the attraction between Colin and Lindsey? I don’t see it. Colin is a bit passive aggressive to things. He reacts to Lindsey saying things. The only thing that brings anything to the table is at the end in the cave. Lindsey and Colin don’t have any chemistry.
Good points: There are a few good points.
I like the comedy. I typically don’t like comedy books, but this comedy made me laugh anyways. I liked it. It was a good part.
The comedy is one of the only things going for this story. In its entirety.
Another good part is the friendship. This isn’t just a romance. It is about romance, but we get a good friendship. Hassan and Colin are admirable friends. They stay together through thick and thin.
Lindsey was annoying, but she was also real. She is more real than Colin or Hassan. She acts like a different person each time. People do that. It’s every day. And that’s what makes her real. I like realistic characters. You can relate to them better. I like that in books.
Score: 6/10
Recommended: If you like John Green books. If you like realistic fiction with romance and friendships.