The Ones We’re Meant To Find by Joan He #bookreview #scifi #YA

One of the most twisty, surprising, engaging page-turner YAs you’ll read this year—We Were Liars meets Black Mirror, with a dash of Studio Ghibli.

Cee awoke on an abandoned island three years ago. With no idea of how she was marooned, she only has a rickety house, an old android, and a single memory: she has a sister, and Cee needs to find her.

STEM prodigy Kasey wants escape from the science and home she once trusted. The eco-city—Earth’s last unpolluted place—is meant to be sanctuary for those commited to planetary protection, but it’s populated by people willing to do anything for refuge, even lie. Now, she’ll have to decide if she’s ready to use science to help humanity, even though it failed the people who mattered most. 

I saw reviewers raving about this book on Goodreads and a few blogs. Being a sci-fi fan, I had to request it.

While this cover is beautiful, it doesn’t scream sci-fi/dystopia to me. I honestly assumed it was YA contemporary until I read the description, and I’m afraid it may be targeting the wrong group of readers. The worldbuilding is the big standout for me in this novel. Earth is overpolluted and nearly uninhabitable, and citizens have taken to living in ecocities in the sky. If you rank high enough, that is. Most people don’t and have little chance of getting in. Oceans are poisoned and natural disasters occur frequently, killing millions. Time is running out.

Told in alternating POVs between Cee and Kasey, discrepancies in their stories arise early in the book. By Cee’s count, she’s been on the island three years. Kasey says she’s been missing only months. The mystery about what exactly is going on will keep readers turning the pages, but I have to admit I guessed it early. I’ve probably read too many sci-fi books, and I came across a similar premise in another novel a few years ago that clued me in.

If contemporary fans pick this up, I suspect the strong bond between the sisters will be the draw for them, and it’s a driving force in the plot. Cee loves life and is carefree, while Kasey is more at home in a science lab working alone. With me being more a fan of sci-fi than contemporary, the relationship aspect didn’t appeal to me as much.

It’s a grim story, but comes with stunning plot twists that have surprised most readers and complex worldbuilding. If you’re a fan of sci-fi/dystopia who enjoys mysterious puzzles or like reading novels with strong sibling bonds, this book may captivate you.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.  Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

The Infinity Courts by Akemi Dawn Bowman #bookreview #YA #fantasy

Eighteen-year-old Nami Miyamoto is certain her life is just beginning. She has a great family, just graduated high school, and is on her way to a party where her entire class is waiting for her—including, most importantly, the boy she’s been in love with for years.

The only problem? She’s murdered before she gets there.

When Nami wakes up, she learns she’s in a place called Infinity, where human consciousness goes when physical bodies die. She quickly discovers that Ophelia, a virtual assistant widely used by humans on Earth, has taken over the afterlife and is now posing as a queen, forcing humans into servitude the way she’d been forced to serve in the real world. Even worse, Ophelia is inching closer and closer to accomplishing her grand plans of eradicating human existence once and for all.

As Nami works with a team of rebels to bring down Ophelia and save the humans under her imprisonment, she is forced to reckon with her past, her future, and what it is that truly makes us human.
From award-winning author Akemi Dawn Bowman comes an incisive, action-packed tale that explores big questions about technology, grief, love, and humanity. 

This is my first time reading this author, and I requested this book from NetGalley because of the stunning cover and wonderful reviews of her backlist.

Nami’s life is just beginning. She graduated high school, college is on the horizon, and she’s at the beginning of a romantic relationship with her best friend of several years. Then she finds herself in the wrong place at the wrong time, and her life is cut short after a spontaneous act of bravery.

What an original spin on the afterlife. Ophelia, a virtual assistant used by many people, including Nami, is Queen of Infinity. Kind of makes you want to be nicer to Alexa and Siri when they can’t help you. There are also four territories, each ruled by a prince (Ophelia’s sons). Soon after dying and arriving in Infinity, Nami is taken in by a group of rebels fighting against Ophelia, and that’s when she started to annoy me. In spite of being a newcomer, she’s convinced she knows better than those who’ve been around much longer, and she jumps into situations headfirst before completely thinking things through. Many times. She has a strong moral compass and brings up thought-provoking questions about coexistence, forgiveness, and second chances, but the big picture eludes her at times. The supporting characters are well-drawn, and I especially enjoyed strong leader Annika and the mysterious Gil.

I wish I’d gotten to know a little more about Nami before her death – her interactions with family and friends, likes/dislikes, etc., but she’s thrown into the afterlife almost immediately. With heavy inner monologue, this is a lengthy read at nearly five hundred pages, and I found myself skimming over sections that were pretty similar. Just when Nami begins to understand what the rebels have been telling her, she’s blindsided. That ending? Didn’t see that twist coming – not even the shimmer of a hint. That alone upped my rating, but I’m still not sure how I feel about it.

With unique worldbuilding (who knew they had royal balls and wars in the afterlife?), political issues, and dystopian themes, The Infinity Courts will appeal to fantasy fans looking for a different landscape.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.  Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Dustborn by Erin Bowman #bookreview #YA #postapocalyptic #TuesdayBookBlog

Delta of Dead River sets out to rescue her family from a ruthless dictator rising to power in the Wastes and discovers a secret that will reshape her world in this postapocalyptic Western mashup for fans of Mad Max and Gunslinger Girl.

Delta of Dead River has always been told to hide her back, where a map is branded on her skin to a rumored paradise called the Verdant. In a wasteland plagued by dust squalls, geomagnetic storms, and solar flares, many would kill for it—even if no one can read it. So when raiders sent by a man known as the General attack her village, Delta suspects he is searching for her. 

Delta sets out to rescue her family but quickly learns that in the Wastes no one can be trusted—perhaps not even her childhood friend, Asher, who has been missing for nearly a decade. If Delta can trust Asher, she just might decode the map and trade evidence of the Verdant to the General for her family. What Delta doesn’t count on is what waits at the Verdant: a long-forgotten secret that will shake the foundation of her entire world.

Postapocalyptic ranks as one of my favorite genres, and I’ve been wanting to read this author for a while. And behold that gorgeous cover!

In Delta’s world, water and food are scarce. The Wastes is barren and unforgiving with sweltering daily temperatures. Geomagnetic storms and dust storms are regular occurrences and can last for days. After her pack (the community of people she’s lived with for years) is taken, she sets out on a quest to find them. It’s not an easy journey, and the odds are nowhere close to being in her favor. For most of the book, nearly every decision she makes is based on saving her pack (which includes her mother) from the General. Anyone could understand her motive, but her pack is introduced briefly at the beginning of the story, and they have very little interaction with Delta. I never felt like I knew them, which made it difficult for me to care about them as much as she did.

Delta is clearly a survivor, but she’s so blinded by her need to find her pack she doesn’t see the consequences of her actions or the domino effect they could trigger. Luckily, she meets some characters along the way that help her see the broader picture and put things into perspective. By the of the story, she’s undergone a tremendous amount of growth and has a wonderful character arc.

There’s a jaw-dropping plot twist I doubt most readers will ever see coming – possibly a couple. One is such a gamechanger I wish more time had been spent on it. With Dustborn being a standalone, I think it could easily have been made into a duology to delve deeper into this significant development. I sure wouldn’t have minded reading another book set in this intricately crafted world.

Dustborn gives off some Mad Max and Waterworld vibes with a splash of Western, so if you’re a fan of those movies this could be the novel for you. It’s a dark, brutal adventure that hooked me from the beginning.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.  Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Escaping Eleven by Jerri Chisholm #bookreview #YA #dystopian

In Compound Eleven, the hierarchy of the floors is everything.

My name is Eve Hamilton, and on my floor, we fight.

Which at least is better than the bottom floor, where they toil away in misery. Only the top floor has any ease in this harsh world; they rule from their gilded offices.

Because four generations ago, Earth was rendered uninhabitable—the sun too hot, the land too barren. Those who remained were forced underground. While not a perfect life down here, I’ve learned to survive as a fighter.

Except my latest match is different. Instead of someone from the circuit, my opponent is a mysterious boy from the top floor. And the look in his eyes tells me he’s different…maybe even kind.

Right before he kicks my ass.

Still, there’s something about him—something that says he could be my salvation…or my undoing. Because I’m no longer content to just survive in Eleven. Today, I’m ready to fight for more than my next meal: I’m fighting for my freedom. And this boy may just be the edge I’ve been waiting on. 

I’ve been a fan of dystopian novels for years, and I’m glad they’re making a comeback. With the MC being a fighter, I felt shades of Katniss from the description.

Saying Eve is a strong female protagonist is an understatement. She’s fierce, physically strong, confident, and occasionally independent to a fault. In her world it’s easier to keep your head down, accept your station in life, and not hope for anything more. But Eve isn’t much of a follower and doesn’t necessarily believe everything she’s been told about the world above. She’s also more curious than most cats I’ve met.

There are a number of tropes in this book, but some of them are necessary components for what happens later in the plot. When Wren steps in as the possessive-I’ll-fight-your-battles-for-you boyfriend, Eve lets him know in no uncertain terms she doesn’t need his help. The problem is that sometimes we all need help, but her flaw is not realizing it and refusing to ask for it in certain situations. A beautiful ex-girlfriend who hasn’t quite accepted the breakup is also in the mix, but serves a purpose. I’d hoped for more information about Wren. Hints are dropped about his backstory and a statement is made that I’d have serious questions about if I were Eve, but they weren’t addressed. I have to assume more details will be revealed in the next book.

With an immersive, fast-paced beginning, I was immediately caught up in the story, but there’s a long lack of action in the middle. In the last 20%, the plot moves at a break-neck pace, and those developments bumped up my overall rating.

Escaping Eleven is gritty, violent, and dark, but those aspects fit Eve’s and Wren’s world. It’s an enticing debut, and the next book will absolutely be on my TBR.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.  Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

I’ll probably be delayed getting to comments. I’m out of town and dealing with iceberg speed Wi-Fi.

The Key to Fear (The Key #1) by Kristin Cast #bookreview #YA #dystopian

To Health.
To Life.
To the Future.

We are The Key.
‘No touching today for a healthy tomorrow.’

Elodie obeys The Key. Elodie obeys the rules. Elodie trusts in the system. At least, Elodie used to…

Aidan is a rebel. Aidan doesn’t do what he’s told. Aidan just wants to be free. Aidan is on his last chance…

After a pandemic wiped out most of the human race, The Key took power. The Key dictates the rules. They govern in order to keep people safe. But as Elodie and Aidan begin to discover there is another side to The Key, they realise not everything is as it seems.

Rather than playing protector, The Key are playing God.

Reading a book about a pandemic wiping out most of the human race may not be everyone’s cup of tea right now, but the blurb hooked me right away.

What would the world look like if touching was forbidden?  The world-building is impressive, and it’s obvious the author put a lot of time into creating it.  Everything from personal pods to procreation techniques is covered.  Citizens don’t date – they’re matched by The Key based on compatible genetics and given jobs determined by assessment tests.  Everything is sterile and impersonal – free choice is practically nonexistent.  What I missed was more information on how the pandemic came about and when and how The Key came into power.  A little more backstory would have filled in some blanks.

I liked that conformist Elodie and rebellious Aiden are polar opposities – the rule follower and the rule challenger.  Early on, it’s clear that Elodie doesn’t exactly obey all the rules, and I liked that about her.  It didn’t come as such a shock when she began questioning things.  The insta-love between them really wasn’t necessary for the plot – I think the story would have worked fine without it, but that’s just my opinion.

Pacing was an issue for me as not a lot happens in the first half of the story.  Around the 80% mark, things take off to the point that the ending feels rushed, but it’s a good place for the next book to begin.

If you’re in the mood for a dystopian set post-pandemic, The Key to Fear is a timely read with well-developed characters.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.  Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

#BlogTour Road Out of Winter by Alison Stine #bookreview #dystopian #apocalyptic #TuesdayBookBlog

In an endless winter, she carries seeds of hope

Wylodine comes from a world of paranoia and poverty—her family grows marijuana illegally, and life has always been a battle. Now she’s been left behind to tend the crop alone. Then spring doesn’t return for the second year in a row, bringing unprecedented extreme winter.

With grow lights stashed in her truck and a pouch of precious seeds, she begins a journey, determined to start over away from Appalachian Ohio. But the icy roads and strangers hidden in the hills are treacherous. After a harrowing encounter with a violent cult, Wylodine and her small group of exiles become a target for its volatile leader. Because she has the most valuable skill in the climate chaos: she can make things grow.

Urgent and poignant, Road Out of Winter is a glimpse of an all-too-possible near future, with a chosen family forged in the face of dystopian collapse. With the gripping suspense of The Road and the lyricism of Station Eleven, Stine’s vision is of a changing world where an unexpected hero searches for a place hope might take root.

Obviously, this is an unusual book description – which is one of the reasons I requested it.  The other is that I grew up in the Appalachian Mountains and was curious to see how a story like this would play out in that area.

Wylodine is a wonderful protagonist – strong, determined, scarred, and soft-hearted.  If you find yourself in an apocalyptic-type of event, you could do worse than hooking your wagon to hers.  Mostly shunned by the community because of her family business, then being practically abandoned by her mother, with the exception of one good friend, she’s alone when everything starts to go off the rails in her town.  In order to survive, going it alone isn’t the best option right now, and she soon comes across people she learns to trust and depend on.  Finding your people is a strong theme in this story – like-minded folks who do what they can to form a community and care for each other.  Tragedy can bring out the best in people, but it also draws power-hungry individuals on the wrong side of the morality scale, and Wil and friends run across some of the worst mankind has to offer.

The abrupt ending took me by surprise – I even wondered if pages were missing – so a sequel may be a possibility.

To say I enjoyed such a dark, heart-breaking, grim story sounds odd, but Road Out of Winter is also well-written, compelling, and hopeful – it would be an excellent book club selection.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.  Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

ALISON STINE lives in the rural Appalachian foothills. A recipient of an Individual Artist Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), she was a Stegner Fellow at Stanford University. She has written for The Atlantic, The Nation, The Guardian, and many others. She is a contributing editor with the Economic Hardship Reporting Project.

Buy Links: 

Harlequin 
Barnes & Noble
Amazon
Books-A-Million
Powell’s

Social Links:

Author Website
Twitter: @AlisonStine
Instagram: @AliStineWrites
Goodreads

Blackthorn by Terry Tyler #bookreview #postapocalyptic #dystopian #TuesdayBookBlog

The UK, year 2139

One hundred and fifteen years ago, a mysterious virus wiped out ninety-five per cent of humanity.

Blackthorn, the largest settlement in England, rose from the ashes of the devastated old world. It is a troubled city, where the workers live in crude shacks, and make do with the worst of everything.

It is a city of violent divisions, crime, and an over-populated jail block―until a charismatic traveller has a miraculous vision and promises to bring hope back to the people’s lives.

Blackthorn falls under Ryder Swift’s spell, and the most devoted of all is the governor’s loyal servant, Lieutenant August Hemsley.

Twenty-one-year-old Evie has lived her whole life in the shacks. She and disillusioned guard Byron Lewis are two of a minority who have doubts about Ryder’s message. Can they stand against the beliefs of an entire city?

This book is set within the world of the Project Renova series, but can be read as a standalone.  Backstory regarding what happened in the world during that series is explained so the reader can easily follow along.

Since I’ve read the Project Renova series, I adored the mention of some of those characters – but I also enjoyed meeting these new ones.  Evie is a delight – feisty, independent, and smart.  She doesn’t automatically drink the Koolaid like most of the folks in Blackthorn – she’s skeptical, asks questions, and has a good head on her shoulders.  Female readers will be enraged at the way some women are treated in Blackthorn.  It’s scary to think society could regress to that point after a postapocalyptic event.

This author has a talent for character development, and the story is primarily character-driven.  I enjoyed the changing POVs between Evie, Byron, and Hemsley, whose character arc is especially riveting.  Ryder is charismatic and personable, and perfect to carry out the role he’s been given – but you just never quite trust him.

Blacktorn is a compelling and thought-provoking read I found difficult to put down.  As I mentioned, this is a standalone book, but after finishing it, don’t be suprised if you find yourself purchasing the Project Renova series.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author.  Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

The Death Code (Murder Complex #2) by Lindsay Cummings #bookreview #YA #scifi

With short, fast-paced, alternating point-of-view chapters, The Death Code starts several weeks after The Murder Complex ended. Zephyr keeps the secret about Meadow close—that if she dies, The Murder Complex will be destroyed, too. Meadow, desperate to find her brother, father, and little sister, is determined to fearlessly fight to the end, even if it means sacrificing herself and her friends, new and old. The Death Code introduces a memorable cast of secondary characters and delivers a vivid and scary thrill ride read.

The final book in this duology is just as compelling as the first.  Pacing is a strong point – some of the chapters short, others longer, from two different POVs – and moves the story along briskly.  Meadow angered me several times, either because of the way she treated certain people or how selfish she could be occasionally – even by the end, I hadn’t completely forgiven her.

I was reminded of The Hunger Games with some of the challenges these characters face while in the forest.  The author really puts them through some trials and tribulations – be prepared to have your heart twisted and then stomped.

Some reviewers don’t seem to be thrilled with the ending, but I felt like it was appropriate for the characters and their situations.  Not every ending comes with a bow on top.  If you enjoy fast-paced sci-fi thrillers that will leave your head spinning, add this series to your list.

Subject A36 Release Day! #YA #scifi #NewRelease #dystopian

It’s finally here – Subject A36 has been released into the world!  The blog tour continues through tomorrow (schedule below) – make sure to register for the giveaway.  Thanks to all of you who have shared on your social media, commented on blogs, and dropped by to read excerpts and get to know my characters – I appreciate each and every one of you.  It takes a village, and I’d send all of you Valentine’s treats if I could.

I’ll leave you with buy links and one more pic of Asher and his team.

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Black Rose Writing

February 13th

Book Dragons Not Worms (Spotlight) https://bookdragonsnotworms.blogspot.com/?m=1
Misty’s Book Space (Review) http://mistysbookspace.wordpress.com
Rea’s Reads (Review) https://reasreads.wordpress.com/
On the Shelf Reviews (Spotlight) https://ontheshelfreviews.wordpress.com

February 14th

Reads & Reels (Review) http://readsandreels.com
Port Jerricho (Spotlight) http://www.aislynndmerricksson.com
Cocktails & Fairy Tales (Spotlight) https://www.facebook.com/CocktailsFairytales
Jaunts & Haunts (Review) https://jonathanpongratz.com/
Jessica Belmont (Review) https://jessicabelmont.wordpress.com/

#Subject A36 Blog Tour! #NewRelease #YA #scifi

It’s finally here – release week for Subject A36!  Shannon from R&R Book Tours has arranged a fantastic, week long blog tour.  Along with spotlights, excerpts, character pics, and reviews, there will also be giveaways – a signed copy (US only) and ebook (international).  The schedule is below – hope to see you at some of the stops along the way!

February 10th

B is for Book Review (Spotlight) https://bforbookreview.wordpress.com
Sophril Reads (Spotlight) http://sophrilreads.wordpress.com
My Bookish Blitz (Review) http://www.mybookishbliss.com
The Faerie Review (Review) http://www.thefaeriereview.com

February 11th

Lunarian Press (Spotlight) https://www.lunarianpress.com/
The Magic of Wor(l)ds (Spotlight) http://themagicofworlds.wordpress.com
Tranquil Dreams (Spotlight) https://klling.wordpress.com/
James J. Cudney (Review) https://thisismytruthnow.com/

February 12th

The Bookworm Drinketh (Spotlight) http://thebookwormdrinketh.wordpress.com/
Didi Oviatt (Spotlights) https://didioviatt.wordpress.com
Tsarina Press (Spotlight) https://www.tsarinapress.com
Life’s a Novelty (Review) https://lifesanovelty.blogspot.com/

February 13th

Book Dragons Not Worms (Spotlight) https://bookdragonsnotworms.blogspot.com/?m=1
Misty’s Book Space (Review) http://mistysbookspace.wordpress.com
Rea’s Reads (Review) https://reasreads.wordpress.com/
On the Shelf Reviews (Spotlight) https://ontheshelfreviews.wordpress.com

February 14th

Reads & Reels (Review) http://readsandreels.com
Port Jerricho (Spotlight) http://www.aislynndmerricksson.com
Cocktails & Fairy Tales (Spotlight) https://www.facebook.com/CocktailsFairytales
Jaunts & Haunts (Review) https://jonathanpongratz.com/
Jessica Belmont (Review) https://jessicabelmont.wordpress.com/