Category Archives: Dystopia

The Forest of Hands & Teeth

The Forest of Hands and Teeth

The Forest of Hands & Teeth by Carrie Ryan

Series: The Forest of Hands & Teeth #1

Genre: Dystopia, Romance, Zombies, Horror Young-Adult

Published: July 2009 by Gollancz

The Plot

In Mary’s world there are simple truths. The Sisterhood always knows best. The Guardians will protect and serve. The Unconsecrated will never relent. And you must always mind the fence that surrounds the village; the fence that protects the village from the Forest of Hands and Teeth. But, slowly, Mary’s truths are failing her. She’s learning things she never wanted to know about the Sisterhood and its secrets, and the Guardians and their power, and about the Unconsecrated and their relentlessness. When the fence is breached and her world is thrown into chaos, she must choose between her village and her future—between the one she loves and the one who loves her. And she must face the truth about the Forest of Hands and Teeth. Could there be life outside a world surrounded in so much death?

The Review

 The Forest of Hands & Teeth was an interesting read for me. I don’t read that many zombie books nor do I really read that many dystopia type books, so I was curious to what Ryan would do. Frankly I had a very much love/hate relationship with this book. I agonized reading it over the plot direction, the decisions of the protagonist Mary and the heartbreak and then I’d put it down and yearn to read more. Quite clearly Ryan has a book that hooks and that cannot remain down for long, or not infinitely anyway because she makes you want this book resolved.

I’ll begin with Mary our protagonist who we follow for the story. She is selfish, annoying, deluded and most of all she is blinded by the unknown that she cannot see what is before her until it is lost. I would have enjoyed this book a lot more if within the first two chapters she had been bitten by a zombie and rampaged around and eaten everybody. Unfortunately, I am sorry to disappoint you, this does not happen for one second. She is not bitten, nor does she rampage… as a zombie at least. Still, the plot wouldn’t quite be the same which does hold some real strength. It’s just Mary was not a character I liked nor one I tried to like after she failed to impress me.

One point that is not in Mary’s favour that probably didn’t help me is the world she lives in. The Sisters who are basically nuns control the village, they are the law, the leaders and they have the knowledge and the secrets. The Sisters are rather creepy and whilst they lord over the village, they surprisingly make it a very sexist society. Do not expect to find women’s rights being waved in your face because the Sisters have a plan for women. Have them married, get them to have babies, have them care for the babies, have more babies and so on until they die… This is the basic plot of what the Sisters expect from the women of the village and for those that fail to do that… well… who knows if their history was ever written down or they join the Sisters.

“You are a Bound woman now, Mary. And you have a duty to your  husband, to God and this village. It is time to own up to that duty, Mary. It is time you stopped playing by the fences.”

Despite the Sisters forcing the women into such roles, they were a fantastically creepy, twisted and mysterious group of women who I was definitely curious about. Without a doubt Ryan has created a warped group of ‘do-gooders’ who believe they are working for the best of the village and it fits generally into the typical expectation of a post-apocalyptic/dystopia novel that somebody must be attempting to ‘save the race’ although badly. However, I thought that Ryan took a rather original tone to the Sisters and they didn’t seem to feel like they’re own living breathing entity that I could generally see existing in the world.

I have to admit, I found that there were some very cute moments in this novel and despite the rather heart-breaking and torturous moments of the novel, the deaths and all the zombies and gore, I thought Ryan interspersed a few moments to detract from the depressive tone of the novel. And the perfect way to do this is bring a fluffy bundle of puppy!

“The dog tumbles to the floor and runs in a few circles and then comes and wiggles over my feet, its tail sweeping items off a low table nearby. “A wedding present for  you, Mary,” he says, dipping his face a bit as if embarrassed.”

Now there are two main men in the novel. Harry and Travis. Yes.. I see your thoughts travelling directly to a big ol’ love triangle.

chains of love

This actually pretty much perfectly sums up the relationships in The Forest of Hands & Teeth and it makes me tempted to not really call it a love triangle because Mary never really loves one of the love interest and the one she is in ‘love’ with, she never truly commits to for most of the novel. The moments in which we do have romance though touched me and I found myself awwwing a little bit.

“He pulls my face toward him, his lips brushing mine, and then he places my head against his shoulder. His arms wrap rightly around me and I understand how he needs me. I curl against his body, let him twirl his fingers through my hair.”

The Forest of Hands & Teeth is not a happy novel, I didn’t find that it was full of fun and joy, but it does make you think. I despised the main character and that was probably what detracted from my enjoyment the most. The plot whilst in large had moments of predictability was surprising and engaging and did serve to have a few unexpected plot twists that made me flip through the pages a little faster. I don’t think there is anything astounding about this novel, but it has enjoyable moments and it’s not too long. I recommend a rainy day when you have lots of free time. This novel like Mary’s brother managed to redeem itself largely by the end and I think I’ll be reading the sequel since it’s not from Mary’s point of view. I’ll leave you on a quotation I liked from the book.

“I want to believe in hope.”

~ 3 / 5 BOOKS ~

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Filed under 2009 Publication, 3 Books, Carrie Ryan, Dystopia, Gollancz, Hardback, Horror, Paranormal Reading Challenge, Romance, Young Adult, Zombies

Blood Red Road

Blood Red Road

Blood Red Road by Moria Young

Series: Dust Lands #1

Genre: Dystopia, Young-Adult, Romance

Published: June 2nd 2011 by Scholastic

The Plot.

“I ain’t afeared of nuthin.”

When Saba’s brother is stolen, red rage fills her soul.

She races across the cruel dustlands to find him.

Saba can trust no one. Even the boy who saves her life.

She must silence her heart to survive.

Blood will spill.

The Review.

Blood Red Road is a novel I have seen everywhere! It seems to just keep popping up in the world of YA books and blogging alike and when I saw a copy in my library I just knew I had to get my hands on it. It didn’t disappoint me, although it was entirely not what I expected. I’m not sure what I thought would happen going into the novel but it blew me away on a whirlwind of different, rather brutal scenes that kept a fast-paced, emotional and exciting plot. It touched on friendship, family, trust and a destruction in the world that is the undertone for most dystopia/post-apocalyptic novels.

Firstly I’m going to start with the most distinctive part of Blood Red Road and that being the writing style. I have read a few reviews that rant about grammatical correctness and the language being hard to get into and unreadable, but frankly I adored it. Now I realise it won’t be for everyone, but I immediately fell into the character and style of Saba and it only enabled me to connect so much more to her as a character. I found that it distinguished the novel into a unique light that makes it different from other dystopia novels of its age and I like Young’s daring to step outside the boundaries of grammatically correct fiction because whilst I always appreciate a well-written novel, Blood Red Road brought with it rough edges that really reflected the brutality of the world. Another element to why I enjoyed the language so much is because it reminded me of something rather archaic and old world that I loved. The interesting concept to wrap your mind around is the lack of differentiation between speech and Saba’s thoughts, but it quickly becomes easy to pick up and fall into reading.

It was all set in the stars the moment the world began. The time of yer birthin, the time of yer death. Even what kinda person yer gonna be, good or bad.”

Young brings you in rather steadily I felt to this language style because the further the novel develops, the more Saba seems to slip into the “yer” and “kinda” that truly encapsulate her character. Moving on to Saba’s character she annoyed the hell out of me, she was stubborn, ungrateful and refused to believe she could be wrong, but in a way she reminded me of myself in the fact that I can’t be wrong and I think that’s what made her relatable; her faults. I don’t want to read about a perfect character and she certainly wasn’t, but she developed with her band of friends and family that she acquired (the friends, not the family) over the novel and seeing her character change before you eyes, especially when the novel was narrated through her eyes was really enlightening. I also liked that she was tough and feisty because she wasn’t prepared to let other people fight her battles and whilst this at times could be a flaw to her desire to conquer the world on her own, I did love her for it. Saba has to be one of my favourite heroines because she was smart, feisty, full of faults, but at the heart of her she cared and that was what pushed her forward.

My choice of next character is a crow, Nero. Not just any crow. I have never quite found myself enamoured with a crow and when I see them flying and swooping about their send shivers down my spine with their circling and caws. However Nero was a crow that crept into my heart in his smart behaviour and his loyalty to Saba. The dynamic of their relationship was interesting and I never thought Young would be able to develop a crow in such a manner that he could be almost like a person. He is an integral part to the novel and as such, he appears on the cover I have. I rather like the simplicity and effectiveness of this cover with the stark black of Nero and the red blood splatter that covers the words with the road in yellow to symbolise the dustlands. It’s incredibly effective in portraying the novel.

The next character I’m going to look at is Jack… It took me a while to get my head around this boy and like Saba I was wary. I felt at every moment he was going to break my heart in some way and he was exceedingly complicated. And the fact that I didn’t like his character to start with, or how he treated Saba. I thought he was unfair and he behaved in a way that he had no right to, but then when you really looked, he helped her and I liked that my opinion of him changed by the end of the novel. I could appreciate him as a sexy love interest and a brooding hero, but he didn’t capture my heart. I followed the rather torturous romance between these two and watched it break my heart and I wanted to shake them both, but I didn’t feel invested in loving Jack like I have done with so many previous love interests. There was just something about his character that didn’t settle with me.

“Jack’s voice comes from behind me, makes me jump.

He ain’t got a chance when you smile at him like that.

I turn around. He’s closer’n I thought. My stupid heart skips a beat. He leans against the wall with his hands in his pockets.

The plethora of secondary characters really build to the novel and develop Saba as a character because of her multiple settings she picks up new people along the way. Across all of this, I like how Young builds up the character basis gradually and she doesn’t bombard us with them all at the start. In fact we start with very few characters with Lugh, Emmi, Saba and their father. By the end we have many, many characters we have met from Proctor John, Mercy, Ash, Epona, Helen, Mrs Pinch, Ike, Tommo, DeMalo and just keeps on going and I loved the layers that Young added to the novel with all these characters. And she doesn’t leave us without a little bit of heartbreak, so I warn you, tissues may be needed because indeed Blood Red Road is plenty bloody!

The biggest problem I probably have with Blood Red Road is the lack of knowledge about the world. Why is it in this state? What happened? Why is everything dustlands? Why is the mystery? Since this is only the first novel in what I believe to be a trilogy, I hope Young will go on to answer my questions that give actual depth to the setting of Blood Red Road. However, I think for a first novel she has sufficiently  set the environment and has got me hooked enough that I am dying to get my hands on the next book in the series!

Overall, I really enjoyed the novel and found that I’ll be eager to get my hands on a copy. I’ll be interested to see more of Lugh, the twin brother that Saba definitely placed on a pedestal in this novel because obviously he occurred very little in this one and I’ll be looking out for the development between Saba and Jack. I think Young has a fantastic idea going and I’m excited to read more from her in her unique style and bravery to not shy away from brutality of the world.

4 books

Extra Nerdy

Moria Young originally developed Blood Red Road when thinking about climate change, the limited resources of our environment and the change in human civilizations. She planned to set the world in an ice district and still in the future, however the only remains of that novel are the futuristic setting and the names, Saba, Lugh and Emmi so we can certainly see she’s come an awful long way! And one of her biggest influences being one of my favourite musical films, The Wizard of Oz. How awesome?! More information about the origins can be found here.

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Filed under 2011 Publication, 4 Books, Dystopia, Moira Young, Paperback, Romance, Scholastic, Young Adult

The Immortal Rules

The Immortal Rules

Title: The Immortal Rules

Author: Julie Kagawa

Series: Blood of Eden #1

Genre: Young-Adult, Vampires, Dystopia

Published: April 24th 2012 by Harlequin Teen

Plot:

In a future world, Vampires reign. Humans are blood cattle. And one girl will search for the key to save humanity.
Allison Sekemoto survives in the Fringe, the outermost circle of a vampire city. By day, she and her crew scavenge for food. By night, any one of them could be eaten.
Some days, all that drives Allie is her hatred of them. The vampires who keep humans as blood cattle. Until the night Allie herself is attacked—and given the ultimate choice. Die… or become one of the monsters.
Faced with her own mortality, Allie becomes what she despises most. To survive, she must learn the rules of being immortal, including the most important: go long enough without human blood, and you will go mad.
Then Allie is forced to flee into the unknown, outside her city walls. There she joins a ragged band of humans who are seeking a legend—a possible cure to the disease that killed off most of humankind and created the rabids, the mindless creatures who threaten humans and vampires alike.
But it isn’t easy to pass for human. Especially not around Zeke, who might see past the monster inside her. And Allie soon must decide what—and who—is worth dying for.

Review:

This book has had an awful lot of hype surrounding the story, and I had a lot of expectations riding on this book after I’d heard about it. It DID NOT disappoint me in any way! It is an OH MY GOSH book.

I have to start with the vampires of this book. They are not the sparkly, insta-love, friendly vampires. They have fangs, they are all grit and raw action and they have no morals. I adore them! Humans are literally blood cattle and nothing changes that view, not even our main girl becomes all preaching of humans being the greater population. They are the food and they stay that way! The vampires stick to their nature and for that alone this story could rock into the five stars! These vampires really are REAL vampires. You can’t get anymore gritty than these.

Then we have the rabids, they remind me of zombies and are similar in a way. These are epitome monsters that don’t hold back. If you watch ‘The Walking Dead’ they remind me of those zombies because these rabids are not something with a thought, they are following a desire for blood and they will kill.

Allie, she was nice, maybe a little annoying for the first part of the story and then she rocketed into ‘wowdom’. She became a realistic, gritty character who faced hardship, had real emotions and I just all around fell behind her and supported her. Kagawa has made a realistic teenage protagonist that isn’t dumbed down. She is an independent thinker who is kick ass enough as her own female lead without a guy to lean on.

Zeke. He was sweet, a little naive, but brave and kind. You couldn’t help but feel he was cute and get a little enamoured with him, but he didn’t have enough substance for me. We had a real connection to him and his love built for Allie and was entirely realistic. It was heart-breaking and emotional to read, but utterly realistic! Zeke overall was an easy character to like and he was everything a leading male should be, but ultimately I fell for Kanin in the first few chapters of the story. He was intelligent, witty, tormented and he had this aura that screamed masculinity.

Kagawa doesn’t hold back on the gore and brutality of a dystopia world that I think some dystopia authors can lack and I think this is part of the excitement of her story because it makes it RAW and powerful!

This book is descriptive without it taking away from the fast pace of the plot. There is plenty of action to keep your entertained and angst is certainly in buckets full. But it’s not cheesy. I found myself near tears at certain points, but I am rather emotional. Not only is it descriptive, but it doesn’t fall into simplifying language, it really attempts to stretch one as a reader, which I think is vital for young readers of today.

Without a doubt I can say, this is a refreshing addition to the young-adult genre. This is definitely the type of book young people should be reading. It’s exciting enough to keep them interested and of a great quality that makes it one of the best books I’ve read in a while. To me, this holds in the ranks of Harry Potter and I only hope the story can continue to be so fantastic in the rest of the series to come!

It’s fantastic and I cannot help but gush!

My Rating:

5 books

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Filed under 2012 Publication, 5 Books, Dystopia, Harlequin Teen, Julie Kagawa, Paperback, Romance, Vampires, Young Adult

Glitch

GlitchTitle: Glitch

Author: Heather Anasasiu

Series: Glitch #1

Genre: Young-Adult, Dystopia, Romance, Futuristic, Science-fiction

Expected Release Date: August 7th 2012 by St. Martin’s Press

Plot: In the Community, there is no more pain or war. Implanted computer chips have wiped humanity clean of destructive emotions, and thoughts are replaced by a feed from the Link network. When Zoe starts to malfunction (or “glitch”), she suddenly begins having her own thoughts, feelings, and identity. Any anomalies must be immediately reported and repaired, but Zoe has a secret so dark it will mean certain deactivation if she is caught: her glitches have given her uncontrollable telekinetic powers. As Zoe struggles to control her abilities and stay hidden, she meets other glitchers including Max, who can disguise his appearance, and Adrien, who has visions of the future. Together, this growing band of glitchers must find a way to free themselves from the controlling hands of the Community before they’re caught and deactivated, or worse. In this action-packed debut, Glitch begins an exciting new young adult trilogy.

Review: I thought this book was very unique!

The idea of lacking emotions was a concept I struggled to understand and fully comprehend to how it could work in this situation of a society, never mind a love triangle. However, once I began reading the book, the story begins to unravel and the situation becomes clear of how emotions can develop and the innocence behind it is really profound!

My main issue with the emotion came when I realised the novel was from a first person narrative. I didn’t understand how a lack of emotion could be interpreted through a first person narrative, but surprisingly for the moments where emotion is not present or at the back of Zoe’s mind, it works effectively with the clean cut, and factual statistics of the surrounding area.

The novel takes a real look into society and its hierarchy and how we realistically can move to this direction. I felt the novel distinctly set up a history that could provide the resulting society and its functioning. The idea of a V-chip to control the people and how their history has been manipulated is much more believable than certain dystopia novels and although the idea does border on science-fiction it works effectively to balance the two.

The characters: Zoe. Zoe is the girl we follow through the novel and we’re fully centred into her mind. I liked how we managed to uncover more than Zoe did about herself. Despite being in first person narrative, it works and it added to the excitement that Anasasiu created. I’ll admit I’ve yet to read a first person narrative where we’ve known more than the main character in the sense that Glitch allows us. Zoe is a character we watch mature and grow into her own self and kick-ass heroine by the end! She stands for what is right and what she believes, something at times we fear she may allowed to be trampled down by the bossy boys who surround her. However she pulls herself back from teetering on the edge where at times she’s in fear of being swallowed up by the commandeering presence of other characters.

The boys. They were interesting enigmas on their own and each offered very different traits that gave a good contrast. I felt despite the society they were from, we could still place them within our society as everyday people we know and this allowed the book to drop again to a realistic level. They added to the excitement and twist and certainly added an ever present friction and tension in the books that built the anticipation. However, having said that Max is a character I found I could not like in any way, shape or form (literally!). I tried to like him and he even seemed like he would hold redeeming qualities, but by the end of the story all hope was lost on his character.

The love triangle is something I think some people may feel like its been overdone before. To me, the love triangle was not what I expected and it’s made clear once you get into the space of the characters and understand the way they work, it becomes much more clear why the love triangle is required in this situation. I immediately sided with one of the boys, which cleared up any conflicting emotions one can sometimes feel with a love triangle.

I have to admit this story made me a little weepy in places because the turbulent emotions Anasasiu takes us through are certainly extremes and they had me clutching the edge of my seat and reaching for a tissue over the situations Zoe managed to get herself into. This book manages to play on all the emotions and never allows you to fall into a sense of comfort. There are twists and turns at every corner! Predictable this book is not!

The only other dystopia novel I’ve read is ‘The Hunger Games’ and this was nothing alike! However I enjoyed this book with equal vigour and devoured it eagerly. I will very much be looking forward to buying a copy to install on my book shelf! So while I urge you to flock and pick up this book, stick with the book because certain parts are better than others!

Rating:

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Filed under 2012 Publication, 4 Books, Dystopia, E-book, Futuristic, Heather Anastasiu, Romance, Science-Fiction, St. Martin's Press, Young Adult

The Hunger Games

The Hunger GamesTitle: The Hunger Games

Author: Suzanne Collins

Series: Hunger Games #1

Genre: Dystopia, Young-Adult, Romance

Released: October 31st 2008 (Scholastic Inc.)

Plot: Katniss is a 16-year-old girl living with her mother and younger sister in the poorest district of Panem, the remains of what used be the United States. Long ago the districts waged war on the Capitol and were defeated. As part of the surrender terms, each district agreed to send one boy and one girl to appear in an annual televised event called, “The Hunger Games.” The terrain, rules, and level of audience participation may change but one thing is constant: kill or be killed. When Kat’s sister is chosen by lottery, Kat steps up to go in her place.

Review: WOW.

This book has left me stunned for words. It sounds simplistic and sometimes even predictable from the blurb but is nothing of the kind. It’s intense and the tension is incredibly unbearable. I found myself flipping page after page just to get to the next and discover what would happen.
The relationship that developed between Peeta and Katniss is exciting and you’re really placed into the mind of Katniss and the feelings she’s experiencing.

A good book to me is one that you retain lasting emotions and makes an impact on you, even just for a short amount of time. For me, this book was more than just a good book, it was amazing! It has had a profound effect on me and dystopia novels really make you look at the world we live in. I generally refrain from reading dystopia novels because of the intensity they bring and the everlasting effect they leave, but I couldn’t avoid this book.

It may seem predictable in the sense that it’s from a first person perspective and Katniss should survive, but there are so many twists, turns and unpredictable routes that leave you on an edge at every step.
For the first part of the story, the pace is rather slow and sedate with the tension ever mounting. This is our chance to connect with the characters and establish a relationship. Suzanne Collins does this really well making the characters likeable and realistic so you can relate. The first person perspective aids this and when you witness everything through the eyes of Katniss, if leaves you incredibly torn.

Several chapters into the second part and this is when I could not put the book down. To put it down was a physical pain to not know what would happen next. This was the type of book I happily stayed up all night reading to reach the end, which it has been a while since a book has made me do that.
The final part makes you think the conclusion is nigh, but the tension is ever present. The story was so exciting it gave me a real adrenaline rush when the pace picked up and things began to get wild.
I had mixed expectations when going into reading this book, one friend had raved about the fantastic plot line and excitement, while another told me it was too predictable. I found my vision clouded with a slightly critical eye, but once I past the first part, I could no longer view the book harshly. For me, when my opinion was changed around from expecting the expected to find something unexpected, this left me speechless. I admit parts are as predicted and everything isn’t perfect, but the book is well rounded and a good piece of literature.

A review for this book is hard to put into words with the feelings it has left behind. A novel I would recommend to every person out there. Not only are the plot, characters and dynamics of the story thrilling, the book is well written and the evolution from todays society is clear to see!

I think the heroine is believable and I cannot imagine the horrors and everlasting effects this kind of trauma would leave. For me, I read lots of romance mixed with different genres, but it was oddly refreshing to see it take a back seat to the plot of the story and Katniss’s role in the games. This story contains real, deep political issues that Katniss as a persona and Peeta both challenge in simple and obvious ways and it’s highly effective.

This books raises the question of our own humanity and how far will we let reality stretch. Definitely a book not to assume the worst of before reading.

Rating:

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Filed under 2008 Publication, 5 Books, Dystopia, Paperback, Romance, Scholastic, Suzanne Collins, Young Adult