Tag Archives: Dystopian

Grace Reviews: Not A Drop to Drink by Mind McGinnis

Grace’s Thoughts

Grace is one of the new blog contributors here at YA Booklover blog! You can check out this post to find out more about her.

Did you guys know that 3.4 million people in this world die each year from a water related disease? Clean drinking water is something that many of us in today’s developed world take for granted and probably don’t even think twice about every time we drink, cook, or shower. Water is accessible to us by simply turning on a faucet or by waving our hands by a sink in some super swanky places, but what would happen to civilization if we lost access to that privilege?

Not a Drop to Drink depicts a world where a lack of water is an everyday battle for our protagonist named Lynn. All Lynn knows is the constant worry of watching the water level of her pond drop lower and lower due to lack of rain and the constant threat of strangers desperate to do whatever it takes for some of her vital water. Lynn had grown up tough with her mother, doing whatever it takes to protect their home and pond, even if it meant taking the lives of daring coyotes or people.

Proper world building is absolutely essential for any type of dystopian book to make any sense, and Mindy McGinnis absolutely nails this important aspect. We learn that there was a time before what is known as the Shortage where life was just like ours; worry free with a plenitude of clean water. After the shortage, cities restricted family size and marked up the price of water for their citizens and many flocked to the country where they were faced with even more hardships due to lack of knowledge about how to survive in the wild. Even though Lynn and her mother lived in the Ohio countryside with their own fairly reliable source of water, they still had to spend hours a day purifying their own water due to the fear of cholera that had reemerged and claimed the lives of those who knew nothing about purifying water.

Another aspect of this novel that was so incredibly refreshing was the greater emphasis on family relationships and friendships instead of just romantic relationships. Lynn’s naïveté about romance and men in general was a source of humor in the midst of a survival story, because who wouldn’t be naïve if you had to kill any man who came within a specific range of your only water source? (Lynn’s own neighbor had to give her The Talk at one point,which literally had me laughing out loud!). There was a little relationship thing going between Lynn and another prominent male character later in the story,but there was more emphasis on her relationship with her neighbor Stebbs and with a little girl named Lucy. It was especially heartwarming to watch Lynn transform into someone a little softer around the edges who began to question human character instead of mercilessly shooting people without so much of a second thought.

Not a Drop to Drink is a story about survival without the frills that some other dystopias possess; there were no elaborate rebellions or zombies or genetic mutations that brought civilization crashing down but the simple lack of clean water for everyone. The likelihood of this future made it easy for me to be captivated by the plot and the absence of a love triangle and a strong female character who didn’t need no man to take care of her were major bonuses for me as well. My one and only problem with Not a Drop to Drink is that I felt that the plot dragged a bit in the middle which resulted in what felt like an abrupt ending. I would’ve so much rather have had the ending be less rushed and have not so much “fluff” at some parts that did not really relate to the story line.

Overall

With the rushed ending in mind and new found knowledge about cholera and purifying water, I’d give Not a Drop to Drink 4.5 birds and a strong recommendation to anyone looking for a realistic, no nonsense survival story.

(Awesome water facts courtesy of water.org)

four-half-starsfour-half-starsfour-half-starsfour-half-starsfour-half-stars

On Re-Reading: Catching Fire

CF reread

At the beginning of the year I made it a personal goal to re-read some of my favourite books. Unlike a lot of people who re-read books all the time, I have this weird thing where I NEVER re-read books. Overall I kind of failed at my challenge, considering it’s November and I only re-read 2 books this whole year so far. There’s always December, right? 🙂

The first book I re-read was Anna and the French Kiss, and you can read my thoughts on that here. I thought it would be neat to do another one of those posts because my thoughts do seem to change a lot reading a book for the second time.

Just a note: There are spoilers for the whole trilogy, so if you haven’t read them yet, I suggest you don’t read on.

Seeing as I’m going to the Catching Fire premier on Thursday (omg!) it seemed like a good idea to re-read Catching Fire, which I had been meaning to do ever since I re-read The Hunger Games 2 years ago. So this past week my best friend and I both picked up our copies and re-read the whole thing. I have to say, CF used to be my favourite of the trilogy, but having re-read both Hunger Games and Catching Fire, Hunger Games was more exciting the second time round. When I re-read Mockingjay I’ll give a definitive answer as to my favourite in the trilogy. But nevertheless, CF was still amazing. Just like the first time, I could NOT put it down.

It was really interesting to see things happening, knowing what would happen in the next book. Like Finnick. It broke my heart when they played Annie’s screams as one form of torture in the games, and Finnick went running after her.

Another thing was that when I first read the book, I didn’t know until the end that they were all trying to save Katniss and Peeta, so I didn’t pay attention to all the little details that led to it. But this time, it seemed so obvious. Mags running into the acid fog stuff to save Peeta, Johanna saving Wiress and Beetee for Katniss, and Finnick counting out all the loaves of bread. The original reason Catching Fire was my favourite from the trilogy was because it’s so ingenious… The whole idea of the arena being a clock, the hidden, pre-planned destruction of the arena. It’s just so clever, and re-reading it, I still felt that way.

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed my re-read, and now I’m crazy excited for the movie (although I know I’ll be comparing ever little detail to the book now). Have you guys re-read any of these books lately? Do they still live up to all the hype? Let me know!

PS. Sorry for the awful graphic. I needed to make one in a hurry and that was the best I could do. Clearly a career in graphic design is not for me.

Vlog Review: The Selection by Kiera Cass

Hey everyone, I’m back! I realized that I filmed a vlog review for The Selection by Kiera Cass back in the summer but never posted it, so here it is!

I know this review may come off as rather harsh, but I tried my best not to bash the author at all. These are my honest opinions on the book, just like I always present on my blog. Personally this book was not my piece of cake, as I think you’ll see from watching the video. However, I know many people who loved this book, so please don’t let me deter you if you think you might enjoy it! I think this is one that you really need to decide for yourself, as everyone seems to either love it or hate it from what I’ve seen.

The Selection (The Selection, #1)
The Selection by Kiera Cass

Published: April 24, 2012
Genre: Dystopian meets The Bachelor
Pages: 327
Source: ARC (traded)

For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in a palace and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon.

But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn’t want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.

Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she’s made for herself—and realizes that the life she’s always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined. (Goodreads)

2.5 birds

Not my cup of tea. The birds can have it.

Review of This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers

This is Not a Test

This Is Not A Test by Courtney Summers

Published: June 19, 2012
Genre: Zombie apocalypse meets dark contemporary
Pages: 323
Source: Won

 

It’s the end of the world. Six students have taken cover in Cortege High but shelter is little comfort when the dead outside won’t stop pounding on the doors. One bite is all it takes to kill a person and bring them back as a monstrous version of their former self. To Sloane Price, that doesn’t sound so bad. Six months ago, her world collapsed and since then, she’s failed to find a reason to keep going. Now seems like the perfect time to give up. As Sloane eagerly waits for the barricades to fall, she’s forced to witness the apocalypse through the eyes of five people who actually want to live. But as the days crawl by, the motivations for survival change in startling ways and soon the group’s fate is determined less and less by what’s happening outside and more and more by the unpredictable and violent bids for life—and death—inside. When everything is gone, what do you hold on to?
mythoughts2“This must be what Dorothy felt like, I think. Maybe. If Dorothy was six scared teenagers and Oz was hell.”
-Courtney Summers, This Is Not A Test
This was my second adventure into the world of Courtney Summers. I was especially excited for this one because of the things I’d heard about it, and because The Walking Dead doesn’t return until the fall so this book filled the zombie-void. While I didn’t love love this book, it was captivating and very enjoyable.Sloane reminded me a lot of the other MC I’d read from Courtney Summers (Cracked Up to Be). She seems to have a theme of tough, snarky girl MCs, although Sloane was also a very dark and troubled character. I really liked the contemporary element, because contemp is my staple and I don’t think I would’ve enjoyed this novel as much had it just been flesh-eating madness. Sloane’s back story was eerie, disturbing, and sad. The dynamics between her, her father, and her sister were written so well… even though these were all memories, not actual scenes. So this part of the story made it feel like a dark contemporary, but the part where they’re hiding in a school, running for their lives from zombies was super intense, and very creepy, but not over the top. It was tasteful, if you can say that about zombies.

I loved the romantic twists. You’ve got 6 teenagers trapped in a school for days, weeks… Something’s bound to happen. Again, that tastefulness was there, but everything was also very emotional, as you would be if that was your last kiss before your throat was ripped out by your used-to-be neighbour. There wasn’t as much action as I had expected, because most of the book takes place in the school. But it’s kind of like the kids are all bottled up, and the tension is just building and building toward the final action. I wished it had happened differently, maybe on the zombie’s terms so that it was more exciting, but there were twists and turns nonetheless.

Courtney Summer’s writing is very blunt and to the point. I love that she doesn’t spend pages and pages on fancy description. She says what needs to be said, even if it’s gritty and tough to deal with, which most of the time her books are.

Overall, this book was really different from what I expected. There’s a very complex contemporary plot line that I loved, and it weaves so well into the zombie apocalypse situation. I definitely recommend this book to fans of contemporary or zombie-ish books. It was action packed and rich with good characters and writing, Courtney Summers style.

 4.5 birds

 

Sweet read! Would definitely knock out a few birds for this one, and then some!

Review of Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

Shatter Me (Shatter Me, #1)

Shatter Me (Shatter Me #1) by Tahereh Mafi

Published: November 15, 2011
Genre: Young Adult Dystopia
Pages: 338
Source: Bought

Juliette hasn’t touched anyone in exactly 264 days.

The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette’s touch is fatal. As long as she doesn’t hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don’t fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color.

The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war – and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she’s exactly what they need right now.

Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior. (Goodreads)

mythoughts2

I’m pretty late to read this book, seeing as it was one of the big releases of 2011, combined with all the amazing things I’ve heard about it. Unfortunately, for me, Shatter Me was a bit of a disappointment.

For once in my life I took notes while reading, so I can actually pinpoint exactly what I didn’t like about this book. That being said – I didn’t hate this book. Far from it, actually. I’m still giving it 3.5 stars because even though I found many flaws in the book, I have to admit that the story did capture me, and I didn’t wanted to put this book down. It was fast paced, with lots of action, and I’m pretty eager to read the next book. But… if this book hadn’t been fast paced, I think I probably would have DNF’d it simply because I was unhappy with most of the characters and plot.

Let’s talk about Juliette, our main character. In the beginning of the book, she’s pretty damn pathetic, but you can’t really blame her because of where she is, and what her circumstance is. Then she meets Adam, and when you see her try to do that thing called social interaction, it’s clear that she’s not just pathetic, she’s hopeless. Juliette, how are we, the reader, supposed to know your story if you just mumble things incoherently and repeat everything you hear/think/say? Honestly, the first few chapters could have been about a rock named Juliette for all I know. She was basically non-existent. Then finally as the story progresses, we see so many opportunities for Juliette to become a stronger character – but she doesn’t. Okay, so she finally starts talking, but other than that she was just so whiny. Yes, it must be awful to kill everyone you touch, but that doesn’t mean you can’t look in a mirror!  She literally won’t look at herself because she doesn’t want to see the monster that she is (and then plays the part of Extremely Stunned Girl when people tell her she’s pretty). Was this supposed to show how humble/broken Juliette is? Because it just irritated me.

After reading about Juliette, I’m reminded of Katniss. Not because they are alike, but because they’re exact opposites. I longed for a character as strong and kick-ass as Katniss when reading about Juliette. Yes, there is definitely something to be appreciated in a flawed, broken character, but for me, Juliette was just pathetic. For example, there’s a time when Juliette has basically just escaped with her life, and instead of forming a plan or just being thankful to be alive, she starts questioning whether the love interest actually likes her. It was just so trivial and unnecessary that I wanted to shake her. She actually says that she wants this love interest to say explicitly, and I quote, that “we’re together official, exclusively”. Like he hasn’t proven himself with all he’s gone through for you, Juliette? Actions speak more than words, but Juliette is sulking because between saving her life and making out with her, he never stopped to say they were “exclusive”. Are you kidding me?

I’d like to touch on the writing in Shatter Me, because it’s sort of unusual. It involves a lot of strike throughs and numbers, and at first I thought this was an interesting style, but by the end I had grown tired of it. Some phrases, like, “He’s wrong he’s so wrong he’s more wrong than an upside-down rainbow,” seemed like they belonged on Tumblr rather than in a book. But there was also a kind of flow to her words that kept me reading, and sometimes I would read 50 pages without even realizing it because I just kept turning the pages.

A bit of a side note, but do you remember when A Reader of Fictions discovered the extreme prevalence of The Evil Sentence? Well, turns out they were right. There were two times in this book that Juliette either forgot to breathe or was involuntarily holding her breath. Yikes.

Lastly, I want to say that although it seems I have a lot of negative points for this book, I did not hate it. I really loved Adam’s character, and by the end of the book (although I wasn’t really happy with the ending – it was a bit too cliched and convenient for me) I could see that Juliette was finally moving past her sack of potatoes phase and actually becoming a person. I will read Unravel Me, because I think there’s potential for me to like it more than I liked this one, but if the things I’ve heard about Chapter 62 are true, then I will be very, very angry.

 3.5 birds

Mhm. Okay. Flip a coin. Heads – bird wins. Tails – it’s mine.

Review of Catching Fire (The Hunger Games #2) by Suzanne Collins

Catching Fire (The Hunger Games, #2)

Catching Fire (The Hunger Games #2) by Suzanne Collins

Publisher: Scholastic Press
Release Date: September 1st 2009
Pages: 391
Reading Level: Young Adult
Challenge: 100 Books In A Year
Source: Borrowed
Buy the Book: Catching Fire (The Second Book of the Hunger Games)

Much to her shock, Katniss has fueled an unrest she’s afraid she cannot stop. And what scares her more is that she’s not entirely convinced she should try. As time draws near for Katniss and Peeta to visit the districts on the Capitol’s cruel Victory Tour, the stakes are higher than ever. If they can’t prove, without a shadow of a doubt, that they are lost in their love for each other, the consequences will be horrifying. (www.suzannecollinsbooks.com)

mythoughts2

Out of all three Hunger Games novels, this one is my favourite. By far. Don’t get me wrong – the other ones are FANTASTIC, as you will see if you read my review of The Hunger Games. But this one… This book is truly a work of art. I think the main reason I loved this book so much was because of… well… okay, SPOILER ALERT! Highlight to see: THEY HAVE TO GO BACK TO THE GAMES!!!! AHH!!!! AHH!!!! Sorry, this was a huge moment for me. I kind of predicted it all along, but when it really happened… wow. Wow, wow, WOW. Only a man as evil as President Snow could do that.


Alright, now for a spoiler free moment, let me talk about Finnick. Ah, Finnick – my one and only Finnick. I instantly fell for him. I mean, yes, Peeta is my one true love, but Finnick… Well, there is only one line to describe Finnick – “Want a sugar cube?” Read the book. Understand the magical wisdom of Finnick.

Also, President Snow really makes a lasting and memorable (wink, wink, nudge, nudge) appearance in this book. His character is wildly unforgettable and horrid but somehow still manages to put you in a trance while reading.

And the writing is once again without fail. This book, even more so than it’s predecessor, showcases just how Collins can make such simple words come to life on the page. She makes you feel like you are there with Katniss, going through all her struggles and awful, terrible times.

This series is like a drug. Once you start, you can’t stop! I have absolutely no complaints about this series, and I urge you to pick it up right away! Seriously! Sorry for this slightly crazed and messy review, but I just couldn’t stop spewing about how great this series is! GREAT.

 6 birds

*The Special Rating* Would fight ALL THE BIRDS IN THE WORLD to read this.

Review of Across the Universe by Beth Revis

Across the Universe by Beth Revis

Publisher: Razorbill
Release Date: January 11th 2011
Pages: 399
Reading Level: Young Adult
Challenge: 100 Books in a Year, Debut Author Challenge
Source: Bought
Buy the Book: Across the Universe

Across the Universe (Across the Universe, #1)
A love out of time. A spaceship built of secrets and murder.

Seventeen-year-old Amy joins her parents as frozen cargo aboard the vast spaceship Godspeed and expects to awaken on a new planet, three hundred years in the future. Never could she have known that her frozen slumber would come to an end fifty years too soon and that she would be thrust into the brave new world of a spaceship that lives by its own rules.
Amy quickly realizes that her awakening was no mere computer malfunction. Someone-one of the few thousand inhabitants of the spaceship-tried to kill her. And if Amy doesn’t do something soon, her parents will be next.
Now Amy must race to unlock Godspeed’s hidden secrets. But out of her list of murder suspects, there’s only one who matters: Elder, the future leader of the ship and the love she could never have seen coming. (Goodreads)

My thoughts…

Well. I am actually a little scared to write this review. Because I think I am in the very very small minority of people who did not find this book incredible. Don’t get me wrong, it was good. It just wasn’t amazing.

I think I was so hyped up and excited to read this book because of all the AMAZING reviews I’d been reading for it. And the plot sounded so different… I just… I was ready for something stellar. And I was let down.

My favourite part about the book (and also my least in some ways) is how well Revis described everything. It’s fairly hard for us to imagine a space ship so far in the future, let alone believe everything that goes on in it. But Revis has a gift. She was able to make me feel all claustrophobic and nervous, like I was actually on the ship. That part of this novel, I admit was very great.

And the love between Amy and Elder… while not the most romantic for me, it was cute. But I just wasn’t that attached to Elder. I didn’t like him that much. I could relate a lot to Amy since she is human and feeling the same way about the ship that I was. I felt like I was right beside Amy for her journey, even experiencing her emotions. I looked forward to her parts in the book. But with Elder… I just didn’t have that insta-character connection.

I found the end of the book to be my favourite. I felt like everything was picking up speed and we got to learn so much more about the ship (why yes, it is built on lies and secrets!).

Overall, this book is for sure a worthwhile read. It is quite unique and the writing is great. But personally, I was a tad bit let down. It might just have been that my hopes were too high…  Who knows!

4 birds

As always,
Chloe