Review: Scythe

March 13, 2018 in Book Reviews, Dystopian, Fantasy, YA Fantasy

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: ScytheScythe by Neal Shusterman
Series: Arc of a Scythe #1
Published by Walker on 1st February 2018 (UK)
Genres: Dystopian, YA Fantasy
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
five-stars

In a world where disease, war and crime have been eliminated, the only way to die is to be randomly killed ("gleaned") by professional scythes. Citra and Rowan are teenagers who have been selected to be scythes' apprentices, and despite wanting nothing to do with the vocation, they must learn the art of killing and understand the necessity of what they do.

Only one of them will be chosen as a scythe's apprentice and as Citra and Rowan come up against a terrifyingly corrupt Scythedom, it becomes clear that the winning apprentice's first task will be to glean the loser.

Scythe has been out in the US for a wee while and I kept hearing great reviews about it, so obviously when it was published here by Walker I snatched up a copy. (I actually ended up with two copies so be sure to enter my giveaway if you are based in the UK.)

The world has evolved to a place where there’s no more sickness, little crime and humans are now immortal. There are no more governments, no war and if you do become “deadish” you are whisked to a revival centre and return as good as new. There are nanites in the blood to stop pain and when you grow older you can ‘turn the corner’ and continue life at a younger age. Basically, it’s a perfect world, which is under the watchful and constant gaze of the Thunderhead – essentially a ‘cloud’ that developed AI and now keeps the world in check.

The only issue with this new world is overpopulation, and so the Thunderhead has developed the Scythedom – the only aspect over which it has no control. Scythes are the only people with permission to take a life – to glean. They are responsible for meeting their quotas and gleaning in a non-prejudiced way that reflects the mortality of the old world. They are simultaneously feared and revered, for as well as being able to take a life they can also grant immunity.

This is such a fascinating concept, one that captured my imagination and I found quite thought-provoking.

We follow two main characters, Cintra and Rowan, who both find themselves with an opportunity to become scythes and thus secure their family’s immunity from gleaning. Taken on as apprentices, they must prove themselves in order to attain the position of Junior Scythe. As they become involved in the Scythedom they realise that there’s more to being a Scythe than meets the eye, with unrest within the Scythedom itself.

I really loved this book – every aspect, from the world building and characters to the storytelling itself had me enraptured. I’m absolutely desperate to get my hands on book 2, Thunderhead, which will be released in the UK in August. In the meantime, I might have to make myself more acquainted with the rest of Shusterman’s work.

Go enter the giveaway now! (ends 15th March 23:59)

five-stars

Review: Spare and Found Parts

February 5, 2018 in Book Reviews, Dystopian, YA Fantasy

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Spare and Found PartsSpare and Found Parts by Sarah Maria Griffin
Published by Titan on 6th February 2018
Genres: YA Fantasy, Dystopian
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
four-stars

Nell Crane has always been an outsider. In a city devastated by an epidemic, where survivors are all missing parts—an arm, a leg, an eye—her father is the famed scientist who created the biomechanical limbs everyone now uses. But Nell is the only one whose mechanical piece is on the inside: her heart. Since the childhood operation, she has ticked. Like a clock, like a bomb. As her community rebuilds, everyone is expected to contribute to the society’s good . . . but how can Nell live up to her father’s revolutionary idea when she has none of her own?

Then she finds a mannequin hand while salvaging on the beach—the first boy’s hand she’s ever held—and inspiration strikes. Can Nell build her own companion in a world that fears advanced technology? The deeper she sinks into this plan, the more she learns about her city—and her father, who is hiding secret experiments of his own.

I received a sampler of Spare and Found Parts a few months ago and must admit I was very intrigued, so I was delighted when Titan Books sent across a finished copy.

Spare and Found Parts is the story of Nell, a teenager living with her father in a post-apocalyptic version of Dublin. A century before, the ‘Turn’ happened, a great sickness that claimed many lives with computers being the source (somehow, I was never entirely clear how). The result is a world where many of the population are missing limbs, eyes – or in the case of Nell herself, a heart.

There are three rules in this post-Turn world

  1. The sick in the Pale, the healed in the Pasture.
  2. Contribute, at all cost.
  3. All code is blasphemy.

It’s a world where even to utter the word “computer” is rebellion.

Nell is approaching the age where she must make her contribution to society. It seems everyone around her has their ideas and talents honed. Her own father is one of the most revered men in the city having created artificial limbs. Her late mother’s contribution is forever in sight, a giant stonework woman. So needless to say, Nell feels the pressure to live up to her parents. In fact, she’d love to surpass them.

Nell is different from those around her. Her heart is clockwork – created and installed by her father. Her life is accompanied by a constant audible ticking, seemingly counting down the days to her contribution.

When Nell finds a mannequin hand washed up on the shore – one of the many relics from before the Turn – she starts to dream of a man more like her. So, she decides to build him.

The start of this book is fairly slow-paced. It’s quite a while before Nell decides to build her creation. However, we do glean a picture of Nell and her introverted personality – so at odds with her best friend Ruby. We’re also introduced to Oliver Kelly who wants nothing more than for Nell to love him.

Ordinarily, I might have found this beginning a bit too slow but actually I was just enjoying Griffin’s writing so much I didn’t mind!

I’m not going to lie; this is a bit of an odd book and consequently, it won’t be for everyone. However, it’s a book that had me intrigued from the very first page.

Nell is certainly an interesting character. I didn’t ever feel completely comfortable with her – but I guess that’s the point eh? Plus I did love Kodak, her stoat. I really liked her friendship with Ruby and her interactions with Oliver made me chuckle.

My favourite character by far though was Nell’s creation, Io. I enjoyed the chapters written from his perspective – the sole android in a world of computer-fearing humans.

I’m still left kind of baffled as to what actually happened at the Turn. I assume that this is on purpose and isn’t just me! I like answers though and I feel I’m lacking them. Also, the Pasture is very vague to me.

For all that the start was slow-paced, I did feel that the end was somewhat fast, abrupt even. I’d have liked more.

All in all, I enjoyed this novel, different as it was. Griffin writes beautifully and I can’t wait to see what she brings us next.

four-stars

Review: Gather The Daughters

July 22, 2017 in Book Reviews, Dystopian, General fiction

I received this book for free from NetGalley, Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Gather The DaughtersGather The Daughters by Jennie Melamed
Published by Tinder Press on 13th July 2017
Genres: Dystopian
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley, Publisher
Goodreads
four-stars

Gather The Daughters tells the story of an end-of-the-world cult founded years ago when ten men colonised an island. It's a society in which men reign supreme, breeding is controlled, and knowledge of the outside world is kept to a minimum. Girls are wives-in-training: at the first sign of puberty, they must marry and have children. But until that point, every summer, island tradition dictates that the children live wildly: running free, making camps, sleeping on the beach. And it is at the end of one such summer that one of the youngest girls sees something so horrifying that life on the island can never be the same again.

I can’t quite bring myself to use the word ‘enjoyed’ to describe how I felt about this book. I mean it’s deeply unsettling but it’s so compelling, I couldn’t put it down!

Melamed’s writing is in itself beautiful, but for me, it’s her telling of the story through multiple characters that really makes this book. You slowly develop an understanding of what’s going on, aided by the perspectives of the multiple daughters.

I’m truly hesitant to reveal too much as I feel it could impact upon Melamed’s storytelling. However, if you’re looking for a book to keep you reading and don’t mind battling that constant unsettled feeling, that deep unease that comes with reading about families, relationships and communities that lie out with the social norm then get reading!

**WIN A COPY**

If you are in the UK the publisher is currently giving away TEN copies over on Goodreads. Here’s the link. Good luck!

four-stars

Review: Defender

November 28, 2016 in Book Reviews, Dystopian, Thriller

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: DefenderDefender by G.X. Todd
Series: The Voices #1
Published by Headline on 12th January 2017
Genres: Dystopian
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
five-stars

In a world where long drinks are in short supply, a stranger listens to the voice in his head telling him to buy a lemonade from the girl sitting on a dusty road.

The moment locks them together.

Here and now it's dangerous to listen to your inner voice. Those who do, keep it quiet.

These voices have purpose.

And when Pilgrim meets Lacey, there is a reason. He just doesn't know it yet.

Defender pulls you on a wild ride to a place where the voices in your head will save or slaughter you.

It’s our world, but not as we know it. It’s been seven years since the voices made themselves known and the population of the world dwindled. Now those that are left fighting to survive.

Pilgrim is a loner. He has survived, fought when he had to, done what needed to be done. However, meeting Lacey, a strong, surprising teenager, changes all that. He finds himself helping the girl to try to find her family and the two of them embark on an eventful, dramatic, action-packed road trip of sorts.

Going into this book I had no idea what to expect. I didn’t know if it would be my kind of read, but let me tell you – IT IS BRILLIANT!

Yes it’s dark, violent and bloody. Yes there’s gore, guns and grief. But there’s also friendship, loyalty, fantastic characters and writing that will keep you hooked from the outset.

I was trying to explain to my husband what I was reading; The Walking Dead minus the zombies was where I began, but honestly this book is so much more than that. It’s clever, multi-layered and mysterious. I feel we’ve just touched the surface of this dystopian world and I can’t wait to read on and learn more.

I mentioned the characters – they are what makes this book for me. Their interactions, banter and humour had me captivated. The progression of their relationships did likewise. I truly cared about our central characters and consequently felt I was embarking on their dangerous journey with them.

There’s so much more I want to say, I *need* to talk to someone who has read this book! The fact that this is a debut novel blows my mind! I’m reeling myself in here though as I refuse to be the source of spoilers! Let me just say though that I finished this book over a month ago and I’m STILL thinking about it.

I feel that this is a series to really be excited about.  Clearly, I’m not the only one as Goldsboro Books have DEFENDER as their December book of the month (an excellent way to get the book a month early)! They have an exclusive sprayed edges limited edition with only 700 copies available. Want to know how much I loved this book? I’ve ordered the special edition. Yup, it’s that good!

 

five-stars

Review: This Savage Song

May 26, 2016 in Book Reviews, Dystopian, Fantasy, Urban Fantasy

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: This Savage SongThis Savage Song Series: Monsters Of Verity #1
Published by Titan on 7th June 2016
Genres: Fantasy
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
five-stars

Kate Harker and August Flynn are the heirs to a divided city—a city where the violence has begun to breed actual monsters. All Kate wants is to be as ruthless as her father, who lets the monsters roam free and makes the humans pay for his protection. All August wants is to be human, as good-hearted as his own father, to play a bigger role in protecting the innocent—but he’s one of the monsters. One who can steal a soul with a simple strain of music. When the chance arises to keep an eye on Kate, who’s just been kicked out of her sixth boarding school and returned home, August jumps at it. But Kate discovers August’s secret, and after a failed assassination attempt the pair must flee for their lives.

 

Kate Harker and August Flynn belong from opposite sides of the ‘seam’, a partition which separates North V-City from South V-City, Verity. It’s a metropolis full of fear and monsters, actual monsters. Monsters that are created as a direct result of evil acts. Acts of violence breed the CORSAI, creatures who live in darkness and claw their victims to death. Murder creates MALCHAI who drink the blood of the victims, while the worst atrocities create the rare SUNAI, who absorb the soul of their victims.

Kate’s father rules the North of the city. He provides protection to those that can afford it, by working with the monsters.

August’s father rules the South, with his FTF army who try to keep the monsters at bay.

For six years there has been a truce between the Harkers and Flynns, but the truce is on shaky ground and the enemies could once again face each other in war.

V.E. Schwab has done it once again – she has left me gobsmacked by her creativity, attention to detail and general awesomeness.

I mean, the creation of monsters as a result of barbaric, evil deeds – brilliant. The creation of three different types of monsters, depending upon the nature of those deeds – genius!

The Corsai and Malchai are dark and terrifying, but it’s the Sunai that really interest me. By playing music they can coax out the souls of sinners, condemning the sinner to death. Moreover, they must ‘eat’ the souls of sinners regularly to avoid going ‘dark’. I find this to be such a beautiful (if creepy) concept. I love that Schwab entwines the majesty of music with the darkness of death.

As for Kate and August, I really like them both. I loved Kate’s battle to be a Harker, her determination to be as ruthless as her father. August’s own battle was a fascinating once, I truly became invested in his character.

Honestly, I want to tell you ALL about this book but I can’t. I won’t. You’ll just need to read it and admire Schwab’s writing and creativity for yourself.

five-stars