This probably really is a four star book for me, except that I had very high expectations that were not met, and I think that soured it a little. That’s the problem with excellent buzz sometimes.
Things I liked: the blur between fantasy and science fiction. The book reads like a fantasy in many ways, but the ultimate explanations appear to have more of a scientific basis. It’s hand-wavey science, but still ultimately science fiction rather than magic juice. I thought Ethan and Mallory both dealing with difficult parenting situations was well done, especially how awkward those interactions could be. I particularly liked the scene where Mallory realizes how much she could emotionally manipulate her mother, but then chooses not to.
I also felt that some of the characters were very one dimensional. All of the Wylies except for Will were caricatures of greedy, malicious, not-very-nice people. Young Harry never felt like a real person to me.
There were a lot of loose ends left dangling, so I can only assume that this book was the first in a planned series.
There was a lot that I enjoyed but thinking about too hard just doesn’t make sense.
SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER
There is a strong implication that Mallory’s mother is Nora, and that it’s possible her father is Harry. How does the rest of the town not clue in on that? In the past hundred years how has no one found the barrel of water on the roof? Giving the water to Will at the end seemed a little forced, since Ephraim no longer believed the water was anything special. Watching someone bleed to death, my first reaction would not be to give them a glass of water. I thought Ephraim’s sudden change of mind about the water and stubborn refusal to believe otherwise seemed a bit forced as well.
This was a surprisingly philosophical book. Elana wrestles several times with herself over what the best move should be when her gut reaction differs from her ethical code. Yet somehow the moralizing and discussions never seemed didactic or trying to win me over (though they did occasionally go on too long or were repeated once too often. Not a lot, mind you, this was a very well-written book, but it was there.)
In terms of characterization, this book was very finely done. We only ever really know four characters: Georyn, Elana, Jarral (not sure of the spelling, since I listened to the audiobook) and Elana’s father. There is one other major character, Evric, but he is off screen for half the book and the half that he is there we only ever see him through Elana’s eyes. This is true of her father as well, but since he is a large part of Elana’s discussions we can understand him. He was slightly flawed as a character in that he was far too patient and understanding. I was willing to write that off to some extent, though, because that is essentially his job, and he is highly trained at empathizing with others and then using his understanding to further his goals. If he wasn’t on the side of the righteous, I would accuse him of being highly manipulative. Actually, I still accuse him of that, I just understand why he takes the actions he does.
I loved this book, and I wish I had read it as a child because I think I would have loved it even more. As an adult, I loved that the huge romance was a tragic one. It’s so frustrating to read so many contemporary books where the “forbidden love” is always overcome and the teenagers involved always throw caution to the wind. Not here. Georyn and Elana both acknowledge that it would be impossible to join each other’s worlds. Rather than make the other person miserable for the rest of their lives, they choose to separate. (Well, maybe “choose” is too strong a word.) I was blown away that.
Melody is eagerly (mostly…) awaiting the moment that she has been preparing for through the past several years: the day her sperm donor will be announced and she can finally join the ranks of her schoolmates in “pregging for profit.” In a world where The Virus has rendered everyone over the age of 18 infertile, teenage pregnancies are highly encouraged, with the resulting babies given up for adoption immediately – if not presold ahead of time. A well-handled bump can mean a free ride to college, a car, all sorts of perks, and Melody’s parents have been grooming her for years for this opportunity. But Melody didn’t count on an unexpected visit from her long-lost identical twin sister Harmony…
There were times when I doubted the plot, and a few places where the characters didn’t seem to be acting consistently, but I was willing to overlook most of the flaws because I thought the world building was absolutely fabulous.
The slang Melody uses was pitch-perfect in that it was not quite like anything people say today but was close enough that it seemed like a logical progression for twenty years from now, plus was always understandable. “Neggy” for instance, needed no explanation even though it was completely made up.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the world in which Melody and Harmony live. I’d love to see how other people are reacting to this mess of a world. I think it’s a great sign that the world-building was on target when I’m spending so much time thinking about all of the stories that could still be told about this made up universe.
The book was not perfect. There was more than one “Wait, s/he’s doing *what?*” moments. Characters are allowed to be unpredictable, but a complete 180 doesn’t makes sense when we don’t see it coming and there’s no real explanation. There were a few places where I felt the presence of plot holes looming, but I didn’t let them get in my way for the most part.
Recommended for teens who like dystopian fiction, speculative fiction, or quick light romances.
When Beatrice reaches the age of 16 she, like all others her age, is given a test to determine which of the five factions she most fits into. Although the choice of which faction to join as an adult is hers alone, the test can help to solidify a choice. To Beatrice’s surprise, her results are inconclusive. She’s divergent – capable of fitting into several of the factions. This makes her dangerous to the people in charge, and she desperately hides her divergent nature. Joining a faction and renaming herself Tris, she tries her best to fit in with her new surroundings, but danger lurks around every corner and Tris must fight for her life while wondering who to trust.
This book was fast-paced and a quick read that kept me turning the pages. I never really doubted whether Tris would end up with the mysterious young man she becomes attached to, but then I can’t think of the last time I was ever in doubt reading this sort of young adult book. There were several aspects that made me question some of the underlying logic of the factions, but they are spoilers, so I won’t detail them here. In the end, I would recommend this book to fans of dystopian young adult fiction. There is enough action that boys would most likely be interested, but it is clearly being marketed to girls.
Rigg has spent all of his 13 years living in the forest with the man he calls father. His father spends that time teaching Rigg not just how to trap the animals they skin for a living, but also how to speak multiple languages, the basics of physics, and as much history as Rigg can cram into his head. He’s also taught Rigg as much as he can about Rigg’s unusual ability to see the paths of all the living creatures. Much of this information Rigg can’t see the use of, but when Rigg’s father dies unexpectedly, telling him to seek out the sister Rigg didn’t know he had, the teachings of his father are suddenly a matter of life and death.
Rigg accidentally stumbles across another unique ability: with the help of a friend, he is able to not just travel through time, but to change the past as well. It will be up to Rigg to master as many of these talents as possible as he soon finds himself in a dangerous position: half of the empire wants to crown him king, while the other half wants to kill him.
I enjoyed this book, and the fast pace made me want to stay up late to finish each chapter … and then the book. Overall, I recommend it, though there were a few quibbles, mostly with character development, or the lack thereof. There are several tragic events that I felt the characters did not spend enough time grieving, and the characters remained basically unchanged throughout the story. However, the tight focus on plot and the excellent world-building easily carry the story.
Thirteen year old Ben and his younger sister Rachel are having the most boring summer ever. It has done nothing but rain, rain, rain – even more than usual in an already pretty wet area of England. But when the rain finally stops and the children run out to play in the mud, they find that the water has washed away some old debris, revealing a mysterious hatch. Exploring their new find, Ben and Rachel stumble across an old bunker containing two cryogenically frozen children and their puppy, perfectly preserved from 1956.
At first Freddy and Polly can’t get over all of the changes from the last fifty years. But it quickly becomes apparent that trying to pass for contemporary middle schoolers is the least of their problems. Not only do they need to solve the mystery of why their father disappeared, making it impossible for him to return to unfreeze his children after the experiment was over, but it appears that shadowy government figures in both England and Russia are determined to track down the previously frozen children! Freddy, Polly, Rachel, and Ben are going to have to use all of their skills – both modern and 1950′s-style – to outwit their pursuers.
Frozen in Time is by Ali Sparkes.
Cassia has lived her entire life in the Society, and is grateful for the many ways in which the authorities make life easier for all citizens. Using advanced computer models, the officials match each person not only to the perfect job, but also to the perfect person: anyone who wishes to get married is Matched.
Since it is unusual for Matches to come from the same City, Cassia is both shocked and thrilled when she is partnered with her best friend Xander. But when she tries to access the datacard she has been given, another face flashes in front of her. The officials insist it is a mistake, that the other boy, Ky, is not even eligible to be Matched, for mysterious reasons. Cassia tries to believe them, but as she is driven by curiosity to spend more time in Ky’s company, she starts to realize that Ky, like Xander, is special to her.
This book was more than just a teen love triangle. In fact, that aspect of the book was fairly tame, as it seemed obvious to me who Cassia was going to end up with. Rather, this is a book about choices, about who should get to make the choices, and the reasons why we might allow others to make our choices. I liked that even at the same time that Cassia is questioning the way the Society is run, she also acknowledges the ways in which it achieves worthwhile goals such as safety and prosperity for all. So many dystopian societies are portrayed as completely corrupt and evil, leaving the reader to wonder why the citizens would ever participate. Here the author makes it clear that for most people the Society is providing them with exactly what they want, what they need, and what makes them happy. It’s only the outsiders, the people like Cassia, that are beginning to feel the constraints of a world that is slowly sinking.
Daniel expected the kids in his new town to be different from his old friends. What he didn’t expect was that the kids in Noble’s Green can fly, walk through walls, or become invisible. At first Daniel is thrilled to have super friends, even if he can’t help being jealous. But along with super-strength, the kids have a super-secret, and it’s not very pleasant: on a super-kid’s thirteenth birthday their powers disappear completely, along with any memory of ever having been special. It’s up to Daniel, the one without powers of any kind, to figure out how to stop his friends from losing their powers … and possibly their lives!
This was an excellently done super-hero story. If I sometimes found it hard to believe that the parents of a super-kid wouldn’t find out about the child’s power (the super-strong toddler and invisible kindergartner spring most quickly to mind), I was willing to suspend my disbelief.
As in any superhero story there are a lot of action scenes. But more than an action-packed romp, this story is a mystery. Why do the kids lose their powers? Where did the powers come from? Who is the enemy and who is a friend?
The only sour note was the bullies. There are rotten kids in the world, yes. But not every school has to have a truly nasty kid. The bully kids are presented as so horrible, and rather dim, that I find it hard to believe that they are able to keep the secret. Even with the other kids actively working to keep them in check, there is simply too much opportunity to create havoc and dominate those around them. But this was only one minor concern, and one that it seems nearly every book with a school scene suffers from.
Lilly is a fisher, making her living in the drowned marshes of what used to be Great Britain. Her life is hard, but she is content. Then the raiders come. Egged on by the technophiles of Greater Scotland – the only ones that have not rejected technology after the great Cataclysm that destroyed the climate and caused the seas to rise – the raiders are after a jewel. Instead, they steal the Prime Minister’s daughter. When she is in a position to steal the jewel, Lilly sets out with her seacat to bring the jewels to the raiders and ransom the seven-year-old Prime Minister’s daughter.
Of course, nothing is ever that easy. This is a rollicking tale that rarely lets up on the action. Yet at the same time there is some strong character development, at least for some of the characters. The raiders as a whole are not terribly well developed, but the young raider Zeph sees a lot of growth and change over the course of the book.
This will appeal to anyone who enjoys action and adventure, as well as science fiction. Even some historical fiction fans might enjoy it, since although the setting is in the future, it is a future in which there is little or no technology.
Avery tries hard to be dull. He wants his parents to stop having to worry all the time, to stop having to work extra hours at work to pay for the damaged property that seems to follow Avery around in a cloud of delinquency. But the destruction isn’t because Avery’s a bad guy, it’s because he’s still getting used to his own strength. It’s not generally normal to be able to bench press a car, or fly. Avery is many things, but dull is not one of them.
When Avery is approached first by an older woman, Cherchette, with powers who claims she wants to help him, and then by a group of teenagers with powers who claim that Cherchette is creepy and not to be trusted. But life is never that simple, and Avery has to make his own decisions about who to trust and what to do with his superpowers.
This was an entertaining, if slightly predictable, superhero/superpower story. The powers were not terribly surprising. Super strength, flight, ice, genius, even the cat girl; these are mostly standard superhero fare. The power of stickiness was a nice, not overly done touch. But a book does not have to be entirely new and shocking in order to entertain, and this book manages to come through on that front. I am looking forward to the sequel that was heavily foreshadowed at the end.