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

Review: On The Edge of Gone

May 4, 2016 in Dystopian, YA

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: On The Edge of GoneOn The Edge of Gone by Corinne Duyvis
Published by Amulet, Abrams on 8th March 2016
Genres: YA, Dystopian
Format: Hardback
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
four-stars

January 29, 2035. That’s the day the comet is scheduled to hit—the big one.

Denise and her mother and sister, Iris, have been assigned to a temporary shelter outside their hometown of Amsterdam to wait out the blast, but Iris is nowhere to be found, and at the rate Denise’s drug-addicted mother is going, they’ll never reach the shelter in time.

A last-minute meeting leads them to something better than a temporary shelter: a generation ship, scheduled to leave Earth behind to colonize new worlds after the comet hits. But everyone on the ship has been chosen because of their usefulness. Denise is autistic and fears that she’ll never be allowed to stay. Can she obtain a spot before the ship takes flight? What about her mother and sister?

When the future of the human race is at stake, whose lives matter most?

It’s the end of the world as we know it. A comet is headed for Earth and those who managed to get a spot on a ship leaving Earth, whether through money, essential skills or via a lottery have long left the planet.  Denise and her mother need to leave the flat to make it to their allocated shelter before impact. Except Denise’s sister Iris isn’t here, and her drug addict mother wants to wait a bit longer before they leave.

Denise is autistic. Dealing with the end of the world is hard enough without these unexpected changes to their survival plans. Eventually Denise persuades her mother that they have to leave, but they are going to be cutting it fine to make it to safety. And where is Iris? Is she safe?

As they make their way along the deserted streets of Amsterdam they happen across a couple in need and stop to help them. It turns out that the couple is Denise’s former teacher Els and her partner who has broken her leg. Their shelter is nearby and though Denise and her Mum won’t be named on the list, Els reckons they will take them in temporarily for the impending impact. So they head off together in the car.

It transpires that their shelter is a private one, and moreover it’s a cloaked ship, the Nassau, preparing for launch at Schipol airport.

As the comet hits, Denise and her mother find temporary shelter aboard the Nassau, but it’s been made very clear that they can’t eat their food, use their water or stay. They are to leave as soon as it’s safe to do so and are sworn to absolute secrecy regarding the ship.

Denise makes it her mission to get a spot on the Nassau for herself and her family. But Iris is missing and her mother is high. She faces a race against time and a battle through what is left of the Earth to make it happen.

This was a really interesting read. It’s not just a dystopian, it’s a hugely diverse dystopian and I really enjoyed it.

I found it refreshing to read a book where the diversity element isn’t the main focus. This is a dystopian novel about the end of the world and it just so happens to have an autistic central character, a drug addict and LGBT themes. Personally, I feel this is the way books should be!

I found the post-comet world really interesting. Encompassed in the story are the technical aspects of what life could/would be like after a comet impact and genuinely the repercussions aren’t things I’ve ever considered!

Exploring the end of the world through Denise’s character was fascinating. Even although the world has been turned upside down, Denise still has to deal with her autism. She has to push through barriers to talk to strangers, deal with them touching her, not knowing about her requirements, lose her normal scheduling, contend with her food issues. It was a really interesting way to educate the reader about autism without being a book that jumps up and down about discussing the issue. Does that make sense? It wasn’t centre stage but it was a large part of the story; it’s who Denise is.

Likewise, the mother’s drug addiction was part and parcel of the story, but it educated too – not only allowing us to see from the point of view of her daughters but also how she was perceived by others.

Without spoilers, this book also touched upon LGBT issues. It wasn’t done in a dramatic way, but again as part of the story, exactly as I feel it should be.

I have nothing but praise for Duyvis and the manner in which she undertook this book. It’s a gripping dystopian and the diversity within its pages made me enjoy it all the more.

four-stars

Recently Read: Atwood & Burnside

September 24, 2015 in Book Reviews, Dystopian, Modern Classics, Sci-Fi

Recently Read: Atwood & BurnsideThe Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
Published by Vintage Genres: Dystopian
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
Goodreads
five-stars

This is the story of Offred, one of the unfortunate 'Handmaids' under the new social order who have only one purpose: to breed.

In Gilead, where women are prohibited from holding jobs, reading, and forming friendships, Offred's persistent memories of life in the 'time before' and her will to survive are acts of rebellion.

- from Goodreads

The Handmaid’s Tale is a book that I definitely feel I should have read before now. What prompted me to finally read it was reviews of Louise O’Neill’s Only Ever Yours, with many people likening it to a YA version of The Handmaid’s Tale. So before I got reading O’Neill’s book I decided it was high time I read Atwood’s first.

Atwood first published this dystopian in 1985. Reading it 30 years later, it’s quite terrifying how prophetic some elements of the book seem to be.

Offred is a Handmaid. Her job in life is to get pregnant and provide the more elite members of society with offspring in a world where nuclear disasters have severely impacted the fertility of its residents. Once a month a ceremony is performed whereby the Commander tries to get her pregnant. His wife is there, wrapped around Offred as part of the ceremony. Should she succeed and provide them with a child she’ll then be moved onto another house to perform the same service.

The story is told from the perspective of Offred, a woman who was formerly married, with a daughter, a job and a home of her own. However, the new regime means that as a woman she’s no longer entitled to this life, nor is she entitled to have money, to walk alone, to read or to have opinions. She also doesn’t know if her husband and daughter are alive or dead.

I found this to be a really fascinating read. From the matriarchal “aunts” who help to enforce the patriarchal regime, to the abolition of writing on signs, replaced instead by images; from the chanting of religious phrases, to the public deaths of those traitors to the regime. It’s a book that’s really rather terrifying and yet simultaneously fascinating. I enjoyed the way the narrative was told, the glimpses into Offred’s previous life as well as the progression of her character, with insights into her thoughts and fears.

Honestly, I really enjoyed this read. I wasn’t so keen on the ending; it felt rather abrupt but I guess that’s in keeping with the unpredictable nature of the story. If you haven’t read it, I definitely recommend it.

 

Recently Read: Atwood & BurnsideThe Dumb House by John Burnside
Published by Vintage Genres: Modern Classics
Format: Paperback
Source: Competition Prize
Goodreads
four-stars

In Persian myth, it is said that Akbar the Great once built a palace which he filled with newborn children, attended only by mutes, in order to learn whether language is innate or acquired. As the year passed and the chidren grew into their silent and difficult world, this palace became known as the Gang Mahal, or Dumb House.

John Burnside explores the possibilites inherent in a modern-day repetition of Akbar`s investigations. Following the death of his mother, the unnamed narrator creates a twisted varient of the Dumb House, finally using his own chidren as subjects in a bizarre experiment. When the children develop a musical language of their own, however, their gaoler is the one who is excluded, and he extracts an appalling revenge.

- from Goodreads

After watching a few BookTubers talk about this book (Jen Campbell being the first of them), I was really intrigued and wanted to read this. Vintage have released some of their modern Scottish classics with new covers and I was lucky enough to win copies of them on Twitter so obviously I started with The Dumb House.

Basically our protagonist’s fascination with a Persian myth about a Dumb House leads him to create and experiment with his own version of the Dumb House, using his children as the test subjects. Keeping them in the basement, he isolates them from all but absolutely essential human contact and records the results. That’s all I’m going to tell you.

This really is quite a disturbing book. Yet it’s very readable; Burnside’s writing is beautiful. I found myself rereading sentences just to absorb the beauty of his writing, while actually screwing up my face in distaste for what was actually happening within the pages of the book.

If you’re in the mood for something disturbing, twisted yet beautifully written then give this a go.

five-stars