When I claimed UNDER THE EMPYREAN SKY for review I had no idea this was a young adult novel. I simply saw Chuck Wendig’s name and, since I absolutely loved THE BLUE BLAZES, I quickly claimed it.
I wasn’t always a zombie fan. It’s taken shows like The Walking Dead and emotionally intelligent books like Sophie Littlefield’s Aftermath series to bring me around to the reality that zombies don’t have to just be about gore and horror (two things that don’t especially appeal to me). CONTAMINATED is a book about tragedy, determination, and devotion in the wake of an epidemic that just happened to turn a large portion of the population into zombies.
VIRAL NATION is a startling dystopian featuring a protagonist with autism who travels through time. It’s a tantalizing mix of Revolution and Minority Report with writing that makes you understand what it’s like to share Clover’s autism, and a story that sinks into your bones from the very first chilling page.
It doesn’t feel like it’s been 10 years since I picked up a copy of Max Barry’s JENNIFER GOVERNMENT on a whim at my local bookstore. I ended up finishing it later that day and Barry found his way to my must-read list. I tracked down a copy of his first novel (SYRUP) and greatly enjoyed COMPANY and MACHINE MAN (though that one was a little odd).
DANCE OF THE RED DEATH is grotesquely beautiful in some ways but also slowly paced and a bit confusing. The visuals and the references to Edgar Allan Poe’s MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH were huge highlights. Much of Prospero’s macabre masked ball reflects the grotesque beauty of this world. Even outside of the ball there are so many instances of horror and death that Araby and her friends face.
High concept YAs are everywhere. In my experience they either work really well (DELIRIUM, THE PROGRAM) or really not (PULSE, THE WARD). REBOOT surprising falls somewhere in the middle. There is a very cool world where resurrected teens are enslaved and forced to police humans. They have heightened senses but a lack of emotion that correlates to the length of time they were dead before rebooting.
The Black City series takes place in a well conceived world fraught with political oppression reminiscent of the Nazi regime (except instead of persecuted Jews there are Darklings aka vampires) with a religious and political leader determined to restore racial purity by any means necessary. The idea of a Romeo and Juliet type romance is fantastic in theory too, but in execution, it unfortunately squanders the potential of this interesting world.
Richelle Mead has proven herself to be a fantastically creative author time and again writing impossible love stories, dynamic characters, and sweepingly epic stories. But GAMEBOARD OF THE GODS, which promised to deliver Mead’s trademark excellence, fell so completely flat and tedious that I can hardly believe it’s the same author.
I’m actually a little embarrassed by how much I liked the first book in The Selection series, because I loathe the entire concept of The Bachelor (and THE SELECTION was described as The Bachelor meets The Hunger Games). I gave it a shot based on a few reviewers who likewise were surprised by how fun the debut was, and honestly, I couldn’t put it down once I started and I had a similar experience reading THE ELITE.
Fans of the Delirium Trilogy, look no further than Suzanne Young’s THE PROGRAM for the next unbelievably heartbreaking dystopian. This book delivers a story with a deeply unsettling premise and a devastating romance. Powerful, provocative, and unputdownable.