Dystopian

Review: Lizard Radio

Cover of "Lizard Radio," featuring a scale-like pattern of circles in varying shades of green with the silhouette of a large lizard and a short-haired person.
Image from Pat Schmatz

Title: Lizard Radio

Author: Pat Schmatz

Genre: Dystopian

Trigger Warnings: Gender-based violence, loss of a parent, death

Back Cover:

Fifteen-year-old Kivali has never fit in. As a girl in boys’ clothes, she is accepted by neither tribe, bullied by both. What are you? they ask. Abandoned as a baby wrapped in a T-shirt with an image of a lizard on the front, Kivali found a home with nonconformist artist Sheila. Is it true what Sheila says, that Kivali was left by a mysterious race of saurians and that she’ll one day save the world? Kivali doesn’t think so. But if it is true, why has Sheila sent her off to CropCamp, with its schedules and regs and what feels like indoctrination into a gov-controlled society Kivali isn’t sure has good intentions?

But life at CropCamp isn’t all bad. Kivali loves being outdoors and working in the fields. And for the first time, she has real friends: sweet, innocent Rasta; loyal Emmett; fierce, quiet Nona. And then there’s Sully. The feelings that explode inside Kivali whenever Sully is near—whenever they touch—are unlike anything she’s experienced, exhilarating and terrifying. But does Sully feel the same way?

Between mysterious disappearances, tough questions from camp director Ms. Mischetti, and weekly doses of kickshaw—the strange, druglike morsel that Kivali fears but has come to crave—things get more and more complicated. But Kivali has an escape: her unique ability to channel and explore the power of her animal self. She has Lizard Radio.

Will it be enough to save her?

Review:

I was going to wait to review this book until I had it sorted out in my head, but I’ve been thinking about it and I don’t think I’m ever going to sort it out. So heads up for a somewhat confused review written by a somewhat confused reviewer.

After I finished reading this, I tried to explain it to my fiance, which involved me giving a tangent-filled, disorderly, and increasingly agitated account of the events of Lizard Radio that ended with him completely baffled and me not even sure what I was trying to say. This book is hard to describe and hard to even wrap my head around.

Let’s start with Kivali. She’s right in the gray area between bender (transgender) and not, but chose not to transition. (In this world, transgender people are fine as long as they choose to transition before age 10.) I think bigender would be the best way to describe her, but I’m not really sure since she never gives herself a gender label. But anyway. She grew up with her guardian, Sheila, telling her that she was left behind by the saurians, a race of lizard-like aliens (I think?), and she kinda believes it. At least, she identifies strongly with lizards, to the point where she believes she has a lizard skin protecting her and occasionally has trance-like states where she feels like she actually is a large lizard. She also has lizard radio, which is like a psychic/trance thing where she gets visions of lizards and they talk to her … okay, it’s really hard to explain in words. My fiance suggested she could be schizophrenic – on one hand, it would fit, but on the other, so much weird stuff happens that some sort of supernatural/alien explanation almost feels like it makes more sense.

I thought Sully was going to get more page time than she did. She got quite a bit in the beginning as Kivali was falling for her, but in the middle and end not so much. For most of it, the romance angle was more Kivali dealing with her feelings than actually interacting with Sully. But she also had a close friend in Rasta and grows a friendship with Emmett and Nona, so it’s not like she was alone.

Then there’s the world. It’s some variety of dystopian world where the government has a lot of power and the value of community and working together are heavily emphasized – to the point where children between 15 and 17 are sent off to camps (like the CropCamp Kivali gets sent to) to learn how to get rid of their own individuality to become a community while learning a trade that will benefit society. But you don’t actually get a lot of the world. The story starts when Kivali gets to CropCamp and ends when she leaves, so all you really get is a microcosm of the world, ruled over by Ms. Mischetti, governed by gongs that announce when you can do things, and subject to strict regulations.

This book leaves you with so many questions. Is Kivali human or actually a saurian? What is lizard radio? How does this world even work? Is there a supernatural/alien explanation or is Kivali just absolutely insane? What is actually going on here? The plot is slow to start, and in the beginning the questions are what keep you hooked – how does this work? What does that word mean? But there aren’t answers. There aren’t ever answers. The questions are just left hovering in the air like the tension between two people who love each other but know it’s better for both of them if they just walk away.

This book is weird. It’s strange and unsettling and doesn’t make any sense – but at the same time it’s fascinating and beautiful and makes perfect sense. It’s dystopian without any of the grit. It’s paranormal without any actual paranormal events. It’s nonsense, but it’s fascinating, engrossing, wonderful nonsense. It’s a dystopian novel and a fever dream and Alice in Wonderland if Alice was part lizard and Wonderland was an agricultural camp.

I don’t have the proper words for what this book is. It’s one of those books where if someone asked if you liked it, you’d answer with “Well, it was interesting.” But it’s also one you can’t stop thinking about. As I told my fiance after finishing it, “Sometimes you finish a book and you just have to lay on the floor about it.” And I don’t know what more to say about Lizard Radio than that.

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Dystopian

Review: UnWholly by Neal Shusterman

UNWHOLLY by Neal Shusterman, reviewed at JalynEly.com
Image from Neal Shusterman

Title: UnWholly (Unwind #2)

Author: Neal Shusterman

Genre: Dystopian

Format: Paperback

Warning: This book is second in a series, so this review will probably contain spoilers of the previous book. If you haven’t read Unwind, read this at your own risk.

Back cover:

Thanks to Connor, Lev, and Risa—and their high-profile revolt at Happy Jack Harvest Camp—people can no longer turn a blind eye to unwinding. Ridding society of troublesome teens while simultaneously providing much-needed tissues for transplant might be convenient, but its morality has finally been brought into question. However, unwinding has become big business, and there are powerful political and corporate interests that want to see it not only continue, but also expand to the unwinding of prisoners and the impoverished.

Cam is a product of unwinding; made entirely out of the parts of other unwinds, he is a teen who does not technically exist. A futuristic Frankenstein, Cam struggles with a search for identity and meaning and wonders if a rewound being can have a soul. And when the actions of a sadistic bounty hunter cause Cam’s fate to become inextricably bound with the fates of Connor, Risa, and Lev, he’ll have to question humanity itself.

Review:

As I’ve mentioned before, I was a huge fan of Unwind and super excited when I found out there were three sequels. I bought this browsing through Barnes & Noble last December, and finally got to it as I’m cleaning out my bookshelves to go home for the summer.

I’d grown to like Connor, Risa, and Lev pretty well through Unwind, but UnWholly followed a completely different set of characters. There was Cam, the kid made entirely of unwound parts, who was trying to figure out where he belonged and what he wanted; Starkey, the AWOL unwind, who couldn’t look beyond his own lust for power; and Miracolina, the Tithe who, unlike Lev, never decided she wanted to live.

And then, about a third of the way through the book, Connor, Risa, and Lev showed up as point-of-view characters. So the story was being told from six perspectives, and personally, I don’t think Connor and Risa’s did much except make me frustrated with human nature and add relationship drama (because they have some sort of almost-relationship thing…)

The main plot, I think, was getting rid of Unwinding once and for all. But none of the characters really focused too much on that. Cam wanted to fit in. Sharkey wanted to be in control. Miracolina wanted to get unwound. Connor wanted to protect the kids at the Graveyard. Risa was helping him and also upset that he didn’t seem to care about her anymore. Lev had legal problems from his clapper past and was also trying to help save Tithes.

So the “stop unwinding” goal didn’t get very far. It mostly ended up with a lot of conflicts and violence. A LOT of violence. Not unnecessary, I guess, considering the world, but sometimes very gory.

Overall, the story was okay. I don’t think I’ll be continuing the series, just because it seems like it’s headed towards more violence, less plot, and more frustration with selfish human nature. I really enjoyed the first book, but I think this is one of those cases where a series is too much.

The Unwind Dystology:

  1. Unwind
  2. UnWholly
  3. UnSouled
  4. UnDivided
  • UnStrung (#1.5)

Report Card

For more on my grading system, check out this page.

UNWHOLLY scored a 3.4 (A-) and a final verdict of "Okay to Read"

Dystopian

Review: Legend by Marie Lu

Legend
Image from Marie Lu

Title: Legend (Legend #1)

Author: Marie Lu

Genre: Dystopian

What was once the western United States is now the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic’s wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic’s highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country’s most wanted criminal, but his motives are far from malicious.

From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths – until the day June’s brother is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family’s survival, while June seeks to avenge her brother’s death. But the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets.

Yes, I know I’m way late to this party. And I’m kind of ashamed at myself about it. I bought Legend on summer vacation two years ago. It’s only now made it to the top of my reading pile, and that’s because I’m trying to clean out my stuff before I leave for college next month.

Day was awesome. He had some fantastic abilities which sometimes bordered on unbelievable. I could ignore that, though, because he’s exactly the kind of character I love – a good guy criminal who puts the government in fits because they can’t catch him or even figure out what he looks like.

June was pretty fun, too – she was Day’s equal, but working on the other side of the law. The story is half her perspective, so even though she’s Day’s worst enemy, I could see her upbringing and beliefs and like her equally well, for different reasons – her boldness and tenacity, as opposed to Day’s street smarts and good heart.

The plot was an engaging split between half June’s semi-political mess and military stuff, and half Day’s criminal underworld and struggle to survive. It was a great balance – June’s plot didn’t get boring, and Day’s didn’t get repetitive. There’s quite a few twists and turns, and while I can’t say I guessed any of them ahead of time, none of them really caught me by surprise, either. (Of course, I’m really good at predicting plots – you might not have that problem.)

Pretty much my only problem with this story was June and Day could be a little too perfect. Don’t get me wrong, I love characters with crazy-awesome bordering-on-impossible skills. I just like them better when they fail a couple times, just so it doesn’t feel like they’re invincible.

So what originally led me to buy this book is I read somewhere that it was heavily influenced by Les Miserables – and Les Miserables may be my favorite classic book ever. Through pretty much the first half of the book, every time I sat it down I started looking for Les Mis parallels. I found some, but not as many as I expected. Which was okay, because it was an enjoyable read in its own right.

This is one of those books where I highly enjoyed the story, and I’d certainly love to read the next book, Prodigy. But I’m not a.s.a.p., buy-it-right-now excited about it. I definitely intend to read the next book – but it may have to wait until next summer.

The Legend trilogy:

  1. Legend
  2. Prodigy
  3. Champion

Report Card

For more on my grading system, please see my About page.

LEGEND scored a 3.7 (A)

Dystopian

Review: Pretties

Cover of "Pretties," featuring a masculine face next to a feminine face with only half of each person's face showing
Image from Scott Westerfeld

Title: Pretties

Series: Uglies #2

Author: Scott Westerfeld

Genre: Dystopian

Warning: This book is second in a series, so this review will probably contain spoilers of Uglies.

Back Cover:

Tally is finally pretty. Her looks are perfect, her clothes are awesome, her boyfriend is hot, and she’s super popular. But beneath all the fun – nonstop parties, high-tech luxury, total freedom – is the nagging sense that something is wrong. Then a message arrives from Tally’s ugly past, and she remembers what’s wrong with pretty life. Now she has to choose between fighting to forget and fighting for her life – because the authorities don’t intend to let anyone with this information survive.

Review:

After enjoying Uglies so much, I had planned on reading Pretties much sooner than this. But apparently someone else wanted it, too, because it only recently came back to the library. As soon as I found it, though, I snatched it right up.

Since I read Uglies so long ago, I don’t really remember enough to compare the two, but I loved Tally in Pretties. When she was a pretty-minded airhead, I didn’t mind following along to explore the high-tech luxury of New Pretty Town. But once she snapped out of it, she was fantastic. Brave and loyal and refusing to give up, even when it got really, really hard. Plus, I love it when characters have an interesting past, and Tally’s adventures in Uglies made her a minor celebrity.

Zane wasn’t even mentioned on the back cover. He was a pretty who discovered on his own that something was wrong and managed to half-fix it himself. And once he and Tally became friends, I loved their friendship. He was mysterious to most people, but he could be really sweet and supportive, and also reckless – which made him really fun. If he was a real person, I would love to have him for a friend.

I hated Shay. It must have been the pretty surgery, because I don’t remember anything like this from ugly Shay. She was an airhead pretty in the beginning, but then she became aloof and mean and I’m not sure she was quite right in the head. I alternately hoped Tally would get through to her or she would get shot in the head.

Plot, plot … I feel like I’m going to give everything away. There’s basically two parts to the story. The first is in New Pretty Town, and the second is once they leave. In New Pretty Town, it was almost like a spy story – trying to stay “bubbly” (the pretty word for high emotion that can override the brain lesions) without letting on to anyone that they knew. Plus secretly enlisting their social circle to do “bubbly-making” stunts and help other pretties overcome their lesions. Then once they escaped, it was part survival and part finding out more the Powers That Be are doing (and not get caught).

And oh my gosh, that ending! I think I said the same thing about the last book, but dang. Scott Westerfeld doesn’t have to worry, I’m hooked! (Even if the covers are awful.) I remember why I wanted to continue this series. Hopefully I won’t have to wait as long to find the next book, Specials.

The Uglies series:

  1. Uglies
  2. Pretties
  3. Specials
  4. Extras
Dystopian

Review: Allegiant

Cover of "Allegiant," featuring a background of red clouds with an ocean wave curling in a complete circle above the title text
Image from Veronica Roth

Title: Allegiant

Series: Divergent #3

Author: Veronica Roth

Genre: Dystopian

Warning: This book is third in a series, so this review will probably contain spoilers of the first two books, Divergent and Insurgent.

Back Cover:

The faction-based society that Tris Prior once believed in is shattered—fractured by violence and power struggles and scarred by loss and betrayal. So when offered a chance to explore the world past the limits she’s known, Tris is ready. Perhaps beyond the fence, she and Tobias will find a simple new life together, free from complicated lies, tangled loyalties, and painful memories.

But Tris’s new reality is even more alarming than the one she left behind. Old discoveries are quickly rendered meaningless. Explosive new truths change the hearts of those she loves. And once again, Tris must battle to comprehend the complexities of human nature—and of herself—while facing impossible choices about courage, allegiance, sacrifice, and love.

Review:

I wasn’t a massive fan of Divergent or Insurgent, but the plot was exciting enough to entice me to pick up Allegiant. I didn’t even bother to read the back cover, just dove in.

I somewhat-kinda-usually-mostly liked Tris. At times she was fun, or daring, or impulsive, or caring. But at other times she was so emotional – miserable or confused or furious. The latter happened much more often than the former, and I liked the former better.

Tobias was pretty bland. That’s really the only way I can think to describe him. I didn’t hate him. I didn’t love him. And honestly, I didn’t care about him. He just felt flat. I mean, he wasn’t a cardboard character – he had emotions and facets to his personality – but he didn’t jump off the page like some characters do.

Part of why I wasn’t a huge fan of the characters this time around is because there was way too much grief and angst going around. This book killed off more characters than the other two (which is saying something) and I think that messed with the surviving characters so much I just got bored.

Tris and Tobias alternated narrating this book, and honestly, I wasn’t a big fan of it. Their voices were frustratingly similar, and I couldn’t put it down in the middle of one of Tobias’s chapters because I’d get hopelessly confused when I picked it up again and thought I was hearing from Tris. After finishing the book, I can understand why they both narrated. I just didn’t like it.

The plot felt like an end-of-series plot – in a good way. A lot of stuff was revealed pretty quickly. It was interesting to discover, because it really wasn’t what I was expecting at all. (Veronica Roth has the unique idea thing down.) And since most of the big reveals are pretty early in the story, I shouldn’t say anything about the hostile takeover plot to avoid spoilers.

The ending (don’t worry, no spoilers) is what I call a WHAT THE FREAKING HECK?! ending. I hate it when authors kill off characters just to affect the reader. If I can get to the end of a book and want to scream in the author’s face, “IT DIDN’T HAVE TO END THAT WAY! THEY COULD HAVE LIVED!” that author immediately goes on my killing-off-characters-for-no-reason blacklist. Which is where Veronica Roth has now ended up.

So, ending aside did I enjoy the Allegiant? Not as much as I wish I could have. I think it might have been me more than the book, but something just didn’t quite click with me. (Or it could have been my plot psychic-ness warning me of what was to come.) Whatever the reason, I am not a fan. Not an anti-fan, either, but not a fan.

The Divergent series:

  1. Divergent
  2. Insurgent
  3. Allegiant
Dystopian

Review: Dualed

Dualed book cover
Image from Elsie Chapman

Title: Dualed

Series: Dualed #1

Author: Elsie Chapman

Genre: Dystopian

Back Cover:

The city of Kresh is a haven, but the price of safety is high. Everyone has an Alternate, a twin raised by another family, and teens must prove their worth by eliminating their Alt before their twentieth birthday. Survival means higher education, a high-paying job, marriage, and better everything. West Grayer has trained as a fighter, preparing for the day when her assignment arrives and she will have one month to kill her Alt. But a tragic misstep shakes West’s confidence. Stricken with grief and guilt, she is no longer sure she is the best version of herself, the one worthy of a future. If she is to win, she must stop running not only from her Alt, but also from love…though both can destroy her.

Review:

I picked up this book more on the premise – a city where evey adult is a killer and every kid has to kill their identical twin – than anything. I wasn’t too thrilled about the “shaken confidence” part or the romance, but I liked the premise enough that I picked it up anyway.

West was interesting. Reckless and boneheaded at times, definately, but she had her heart in the right place, even if her plans were a little flawed. She also had very strong, sometimes confusing emotions – which I can relate to, even though I’ve never had to worry about killing my genetic double. I can’t say I agreed with all her decisions, but I liked her in spite of her issues.

At first, I thought Chord was just West’s brother’s friend. But then I wasn’t sure. I think they might have been friends…? I was never real clear on what their relationship was like before. And that made the romance feel fake and a little forced. It was a nicely done romance, and I think it would have been just fine if their previous relationship would have been clear. (I actually think Chord being a minor character in terms of page time helped this, since the romance part in the first three quarters of the book was West trying to work out her emotions.)

The plot was as good as I expected it to be. It was dark, bloody, chilling, and absolutely amazing. I still find it strange, though, that the biggest element of the plot wasn’t even mentioned in the synopsis. Thst just made it all the more fantastic when I found it – it was an amazing plot element that fit right in with the death-obsessed world.

One huge detail that bugged me was the killing system. It’s mentioned that most families have only two kids. So, say there’s 100 couples. Each of those couples has two kids: 200 kids. Each of those kids has an Alt, so only half of them survive: 100 kids. They grow up, get married, and there’s 50 couples – half as many as there were a generation ago. Add in accidental deaths and collateral damage in Alt killings (I forget what they called that), and I would think the population would be down to 1 in just a few generations.

Another detail that didn’t sit quite right with me was the society’s focus – or it could have just been because of West’s focus, I’m not sure. But I felt like the society was more focused on the killing of Alts than anything about the kids who weren’t ready to kill their Alts yet or adults who had already killed theirs.

Dualed is one of those books where I never doubted what the ending was going to be, and I don’t think it was just because I tend to guess these things. Most of the kill-the-Alternate-West plot was waiting for West to get to the program. It wasn’t a big deal for the most part, but every once in a while it got on my nerves.

I loved Dualed when I looked at the big pictue of the plot and characters. But there were a few details that didn’t sit quite right with me. It was good enough that I’d like to read the sequel, Divided, but I think straightening or clarifying a few things would have made it much better.

The Dualed series:

  1. Dualed
  2. Divided
Dystopian

Review: Beyond New Eden

Beyond New Eden book cover
Image from H.S. Stone; used by permission

Title: Beyond New Eden

Author: H.S. Stone

Genre: Dystopian

Back Cover:

Eve 142 has lived her entire life in the domed city of New Eden, home to the only surviving humans after the War. Like all of the inhabitants of New Eden, Eve 142 is a clone. Together with the other clones, dubbed the Adams and the Eves, she leads a safe, predictable existence. But when she causes a tragic accident, her life changes. As punishment, she and her counterpart, Adam 142, are banished from New Eden. At first, Eve 142 considers their punishment a death sentence because she grew up believing the world outside the dome was uninhabitable. She is wrong.

Review:

I’m a big dystopian fan, even though it can be hard to find an original one. Beyond New Eden looked original, and so I decided to try it.

Eve 142 had a mild personality. She was quiet and smart and not the kind to make waves – a lot like all the other Eves and Adams in New Eden. She was a nice girl, a little naive in some things, but not an outstanding personality.

Adam 142 was…well, a lot like a male version of Eve 142. Similarly quiet and not controversial, but a little (only a little) more willing to take risks than Eve. Sweet, but also not super memorable.

And although the bland personalities weren’t great, I appreciate it. People in New Eden were raised to have peaceful, bland personalities. Eve and Adam 142 were completely indoctrinated, like everyone else. So even though they weren’t remarkable personalities, if they had been, it would have seemed really out of place.

The plot was excellent, too. It wasn’t straight dystopian – I’d call it a cross between dystopian and post-apocalyptic. The city of New Eden itself had dystopian elements, but the outside survival was more post-apocalyptic. And I have to admit, I had a hard time guessing what would happen next. There were so many twists and new things for Eve and Adam to discover.

The idea, too – the clones, the way the city worked, everything – was fascinating and well-thought-out. Even the little details fit neatly in with the rest of the world. I could almost see something like that happening.

This was an Indie book, so I was impressed with the writing. I didn’t find any grammar or punctuation issues, and I was looking. If I hadn’t known this was an Indie book, I wouldn’t have guessed – and that’s a good thing.

Overall, Beyond New Eden was interesting and creative. I think a sequel would drag a good story on too far, but I wouldn’t object to reading something else by H.S. Stone.

I received a free review copy of Beyond New Eden from the author. His generosity in no way influenced, or sought to influence, this review.

Dystopian

Review: Uglies

Uglies book cover
Image from In The Next Room

Title: Uglies

Series: Uglies #1

Author: Scott Westerfeld

Genre: Dystopian

Back Cover:

In Tally’s world, your sixteenth birthday brings an operation that turns you from a repellent ugly into a gorgeous pretty and catapults you into a high-tech paradise where you only job is to have fun. Tally will turn sixteen in just a few weeks, and she can’t wait to turn pretty. But Tally’s new friend Shay isn’t sure she wants to turn pretty. She’d rather risk life on the outside. When Shay runs away, Tally learns about a whole new side of the pretty world. The authorities give her the worst choice she can imagine: find her friend and turn her in, or never turn pretty at all.

Review:

I had planned on reading Uglies at some point, but I cannot figure out why I picked it up now, when I have a shelf and a half backlog of books to read.

But whyever I decided to read it, I’m glad I did.

Tally was completely indoctrinated in the world’s pretties/uglies divide. I liked that it gave an insight into most of the uglies’ mindset. I could relate to the desire to be pretty. But I wasn’t a huge fan of Tally until about a third of the way through the book.

I wasn’t the hugest fan of Shay at the beginning, either. Her rebel attitude contrasted so much with Tally’s belief in the system that it almost didn’t seem believable. It was explained later and made perfect sense, though,and I liked her much better after that.

There was a whole bunch more to the plot than I expected. After reading the back cover, I thought it would be about Tally trying to find Shay. Not so much. The biggest plot point, the Smoke, wasn’t even mentioned on the back cover. I won’t say too much, to avoid spoilers, but expect to be surprised.

And after that ending, I have to read more!

One thing I just have to mention is the world. It’s brilliantly thought-out, with fascinating technology and social systems…and, well, everything. If there wasn’t a corrupt government in control (isn’t there always in dystopian?) it’d be a cool futuristic world to live in.

I loved Uglies. I’m kicking myself for starting a new series with so many books to read yet. Because now I have to go find the next book in the series, Pretties, as soon as I can.

The Uglies series:

  1. Uglies
  2. Pretties
  3. Specials
  4. Extras
Dystopian

Review: Insurgent

Insurgent book cover
Image from Veronica Roth’s website

Title: Insurgent

Series: Divergent #2

Author: Veronica Roth

Genre: Dystopian

WARNING: Insurgent is second in a series, and this review inevitably contains spoilers of book one, Divergent.

Back Cover:

Tris’s initiation day ended in tragedy. War now looms as the conflict between the factions grows. And in times of war, sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge, and choices will become even more irrevocable – and even more powerful. Transformed by her own decisions and by haunting grief and guilt, radical new discoveries, and shifting relationships, Tris must fully embrace her Divergence, even if she does not know what she may lose.

Review:

I’ll admit it – I was a little leery about reading this book. I enjoyed Divergent, but the factions were my favorite part. After the end, I wasn’t sure I’d like Insurgent as much.

I decided against rereading Divergent because it was so long, but as I started Insurgent, I began to think I should have. Names were tossed around in a you-already-know-this-person way – which I probably should have, but it’s been so long since I read Divergent, I didn’t remember.

Tris was okay. She spent a lot of time focused on her guilt and grief – which, don’t get me wrong, is understandable. I get it. But by page 300, I was ready for her to forgive herself and move on, already! I’m not saying it’s unrealistic, I’m saying Tris beating herself up every other page lost its impact after a while.

Tobias came across as a little flat to me. He’s a handsome guy who likes Tris and has a tragic past. And…that’s about it. The “likes Tris” part seemed to be the emphasis. It wasn’t actually a huge deal, though, since a lot of the emotional plot was tied up in Tris’s guilt.

Except for Tris’s emotional issues, I enjoyed the plot. It was jam-packed full of suspense when there wasn’t action. Most of the twists caught me off guard, which I always like. And there were plenty of secrets and surprises.

I feel like this review is too short for an over 500 page book. But I don’t think there’s that much to say – at least not without spoilers. Most of the plot is wrapped up in some secret or other.

I wasn’t a huge fan of the characters this time around. But the plot was enough to keep me interested. Book three, Allegiant, comes out in October. After the end of Insurgent, I think I’ll read it. Not because I’m in love with this series, but because I want to know what happens next.

The Divergent series:

  1. Divergent
  2. Insurgent
  3. Allegiant
Dystopian

Review: Skylark

Skylark book cover
Image from Down The Rabbit Hole

Title:  Skylark

Series: Skylark #1

Author:  Meagan Spooner

Genre:  Dystopian

Back Cover:

For fifteen years, Lark Ainsley waited for the day when her Resource could be harvested and she would finally be an adult.  She expected to get a small role in the regular, orderly operation of the city within the Wall.  She expected to do her part to maintain the refuge for the last survivors of the wars.  She expected to be a tiny cog in the larger clockwork of the city.  She did not expect to become the city’s power supply.

For fifteen years, Lark Ainsley believed in a lie.  Now she must escape the only world she’s ever known…or face a fate more unimaginable than death.

Review:

I first heard about this book so long ago, I don’t even remember why it caught my attention.  Maybe because it sounded like a pretty unique dystopian.  However it happened, though, it ended up on my TBR list, and was my random pick when I got around to ordering books.

Lark was not the strong, bold heroine I usually go for.  Of course, that was understandable – living within the Wall her whole life, even the sky scared her.  But for the most part, I didn’t mind her.  In fact, once she got over the “Oh, everything’s so terrifying!” attitude, I really enjoyed her.

I can’t say much about Oren – the boy who helped her outside the Wall – without giving away a huge spoiler.  But a lot of his personality quirks were explained in a way that even though I probably should have expected, I didn’t.

Usually there’s some more characters to discuss, but in this book, not really.  There were a handful of city people in the beginning, and another set of characters in the end, but nobody who was in enough of the book to mention.

I really enjoyed Skylark‘s take on the standard dystopian – in fact, all the magic involved made it feel like a cross between dystopian and fantasy.  And I loved learning about the world and how it worked.

My main problem was that the second quarter of the book was a little slow.  The beginning, with Lark finding out that the city wanted to use her as a power source, was interesting.  But once she escaped, the story kind of trudged along.  I almost gave up on it.  But I’m glad I didn’t, because it picked up at about the halfway point and got much, much better as it went on.

I do feel that there’s room for a sequel without dragging the story on too long, but I wasn’t overly captivated with Skylark.  It wasn’t bad, mind you, it just wasn’t fantastic, either.  The jury’s still out on whether or not I want to read the sequel, Shadowlark, which comes out in October.

The Skylark series:

  1. Skylark
  2. Shadowlark
  3. Lark Ascending