Dystopia

Flawed

Most criminals fulfill their sentences in prison, but Celestine’s society ridicules and brands those who make distasteful decisions. Celestine believed she wasn’t the type of person who would ever receive a “F” brand for being Flawed.  When a dilemma arises that affects both her logic and emotions, she must decide who she can trust and how brave she will be.

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Flawed by Cecelia Ahern

My rating: 3 of 5

Genre: Dystopian

I was surprised that this novel received an above average rating on Goodreads. Although it had a few notable features, I viewed it as average overall. The main character did not embody a distinct personality showing itself consistently in thoughts or actions. A lack of exploring the setting added discomfort in the plot. They have the technology to get rid of wrinkles and aging, but everything else is the same? Why do certain actions merit lifelong punishment while more explicit crimes carry a finite sentence?  What kept me interested were the emotional scenes full of impact and bursts of description. I appreciate the skill of an author who can use more than romantic relationships to elicit feeling, and the plot moved quickly enough to be engaging.I will have to decide if I should read the sequel. I also was refreshed to find a young heroine of color in a genre with many Caucasian leads.

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Red Queen

Mare’s red blood sentences her to a desperate life of thievery that would likely end on the battlefield. But when an accident reveals a ability only the silver-blooded elites should possess, the King and Queen plan to marry her to their second son. Forced to pretend she comes from silver blood, Mare secretly helps the revolution Image resulthoping to overthrow the unfair order.

 

Red Queen
By: Victoria Aveyard
My Rating: 4 of 5
Genre: Fantasy

The main characters of Red Queen dominate the book because they are crafted complexly, develop throughout the novel, and act realistically. While the plot lulled in the middle, it starts and ends well with diving plot twists and snapping action. Mare’s struggle between the kingdom’s two princes also drew me in emotionally. Aveyard said she modeled the book’s revolution after the frustration younger generations have with the status quo, and even before reading her quote I saw the parallels between worlds. My only complaint is that the biggest plot twist, while shocking, was unbelievable because there was little indication it could occur.
SPOILERS AHEAD: Read this book because I need to vent about Maven’s betrayal, the plot twist I found unrealistic. I was rooting for them to be together, and I’m still upset. As the second son I did have a premonition he would want to ascend the throne, but I thought it would be with the Scarlet Guard’s help.

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7 Best YA Fiction Reads Set in Space

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1. Across the Universe by Beth Revis. Aboard the Godspeed starship, Amy and 100 other cryogenically frozen colonists are on their way to a new solar system. Elder, the only teenager and the leader of the ship’s crew, unfreezes Amy to see someone near his own age. When frozen colonists start to perish, Amy and Elder must discover who is behind these murders. Packed with plot twists, the Across the Universe Trilogy is an unpredictable ride containing realistically portrayed relationships.

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2. Salvage by Alexandra Duncan. When Ava makes a rash decision and ruins her future, she is smuggled to earth where she fights to survive. With the help of family and unexpected friends, she overcomes her past and forms her own identity. Racial and gender discrimination in Salvage artfully illuminates social issues in our society today.

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3. Glow by Amy Kathleen Ryan. A desperate situation aboard the neighboring space vessel Empyrean leads to the capture of the girls aboard Waverley’s ship. Conflict brews on both vessels as the girls face a childless Empyrean crew while the boys must run the ship themselves. Glow features a strong female protagonist in a story woven with themes reminiscent of the darker side of Puritanism.

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4. The Diabolic by S.J. Kincaid.  Nemesis, a genetically engineered humanoid, was made to protect a senator’s daughter named Sidonia. However, she begins to move beyond her biology after taking Sidonia’s place in the galactic court of a power-hungry Emperor. Nemesis now works with a surprising ally to save humanity from its harsh rulers and aging technology. The complex characters and original setting of The Diabolic make it an engaging read.

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5. Cinder by Marissia Meyer. A cruel stepmother feels justified in using the tinkering skills of her cyborg stepdaughter Cinder to support her family through a mechanic’s shop. An incurable disease and threats from the Lunar Queen Levana force young Emperor Kai to look for help. With Cinder’s talents and bravery and Kai’s position, they start a team that grows in members throughout the following books. While the first book Cinder was adequate by itself, the entire Lunar Chronicles is a series full of adventure, featuring new takes on classic fairytales.

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6. These Broken Stars by Annie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner. When a luxury starship crashes, an unlikely pair must survive on a desolate planet. Lilac is the daughter of one of the richest men in the universe, while Tarver has faced hardship as a soldier. Together they uncover secrets about Lilac’s father and learn to understand each other despite their different backgrounds. These Broken Stars contains lyrical writing and a fulfilling romance for those who enjoy that genre.

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7. Entangled by Amy Rose Capetta. What happens when you mix rock n’ roll and The Hitcherhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy? A story about a girl named Cade who uses music to fight the ringing in her head. Cade finds out she has been quantum entangled with boy named Xan. She gathers a motley crew in aid in her search across the stars for Xan. Entangled delivers a fun cast of characters and satisfying conclusion.

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Matched

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Cassia is relived when Xander, her childhood friend, appears onscreen as her assigned spouse, or Match. But another boy named Ky appears onscreen as another Match for her, she questions the foundations of her society

By: Ally Condie

My Rating: 3 of 5

Genre: Dystopian

Riding on the wake of other popular dystopian trilogies, Matched capitalizes on an existing market with a packed plot and improbable love triangle. A few sentences carry weight or are constructed well enough to pause: “Every minute you spend with someone gives them a part of your life and takes part of theirs,” among others. A few themes, like the value of truth or individual choices might have been interesting if further developed, but are mostly overshadowed by the predictable, totalitarian government featured in novels like The Giver. Which comes first when writing a novel, the plot or the characters? In Matched, the characters fade into the breakneck speed of events. Because they hold little substance themselves, it becomes difficult to identify with or care about Cassia, Xander, and Ky.

The book is squeaky clean; a welcome change from authors who add cursing for shock value. However, the way it views anxiety makes me uncomfortable. All citizens carry green pills, or anti-anxiety medication for weekly use if needed. Several times Cassia mentions her refusal to take the pills, that she is strong enough to go without them. Having anxiety does not make a person weak-struggling with something like anxiety or other issues strengthens character instead.

Should you read this? In the same way a grocery store cupcake fulfills your late-night, sweet tooth craving, Matched satisfies a need for romance, action, or just entertainment. But there are likely better books, or better desserts, available to appreciate.

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The White Rose

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After rescuing her friends and escaping certain death, surrogate Violet must decide whom to trust as she flees the city and learns more about Lucien’s rebellion. When a new teacher reveals the true power of the auguries, there may be hope for the lives of the surrogates and a way to end  the slavery and injustice in the Jewel forever in the sequel to Ewing’s The Jewel. 

The White Rose

By: Amy Ewing

My Rating: 2.5 of 5

Genre: Dystopia, Fantasy

The White Rose was a disappointment after the fast-paced plot and delicate world building of The Jewel. The auguries, the mystical power residing in surrogates that enable them to manipulate matter, were allotted a weak and almost laughable explanation. Each character choked out a two page sob story, thrown in during train rides and meal times to evoke sympathy and inspire readers to hate the fictional rules even more (as if murder and slavery wasn’t enough). With realistically balanced emotions and only snippets of backstory, the original version of the cast was relatable, personable, and much more enjoyable to read about. While Violet’s character stayed on course, troublemaker Garnet was drained of personality and teacher Sil molded almost  like a famous elderly Jedi. Ash’s sympathy of Carnelian and frustration with his inescapable reputation did manage to increase his complexity, as a good sequel ought to do with its characters. I still have hope for the trilogy to redeem itself if the story returns to where it best shines-in the Jewel city amongst the glided palaces.

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Shatter Me

 

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A post-apocalyptic regime called the Reestablishment seizes Juliette, a girl with a lethal touch, from an asylum to use for their own purposes. With the help of her long-lost friend Adam, she plans to escape her newest prison and confront her terrifying powers and dark past.

Shatter Me (The Juliette Chronicles)
By: Tahereh Mafi
My Rating: 4 of 5
Genre: Sci-Fi, Dystopia
Read this if you enjoy: Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi, Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo , The Host by Stephenie Meyer
How did I find this book: library spelunking

What struck me most about this book is the unique writing style of the author. Mafi’s prose flows almost like poetry, with brief sentences full of imagery and internal thoughts. Juliette’s emotional struggle with her deadly physical touch is tangible version of the internal conflict we all face between our sin natures and what we know is right.
Admittedly, I like the character of Warner, a young leader of the Reestablishment. I tend to like characters such as Sherlock Homes, Erik from the Phantom of the Opera, Loki, etc., because their psychotic/sociopathic tendencies (yes, I know) make these famous characters complex, unpredictable, and intriguing. However, Adam is rather bland for a main character. He starts out strong, but as the book and series progresses, his character is never fully developed.
The same is true for the dystopian setting called the Reestablishment. While not as central to the plot in the first book, it’s disappointingly unoriginal and uninteresting. Although it never crosses the line, there is some PDA involved that I usually skim through.   The book feels like an X-Men movie, which is not necessarily a negative thing. Juliette is very similar to Rogue, Castle is like Charles Xavier, and so on, but the novel is decidedly its own.

Okay, so should I read this?
If you like the X-Men movies and dystopian novels mentioned above.

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The Heir

 

Eighteen year old Eadlyn has been preparing her whole life to become the next Queen of Illea, but she is completely unprepared for having her very own Selection. Thirty-five suitors try their luck at wooing the future ruler on a reality TV series, attempting to draw the nation’s attention from political unrest.

The Heir (The Selection Series)
By: Kiera Cass
My Rating: 2 of 5
Genre: Romance, Dystopian
Read this if you enjoy: The Selection Series, Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore, The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson
How did I find this book: The series was recommended to me by a friend

1. This will not give away anything from any previous books.
2. I’m sorry if you are a big Selectioner fan, and just because I didn’t like it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it.

Why did I give only two stars to a book from such a famous series? I was impatient and actually purchased The Heir instead of requesting it at the library, something I haven’t done in a year. The fact that I regret spending $12 on a book plays into the low rating I gave the book. You could buy three jars of Nutella for the same amount. Or a better book.
A moment of brutal honesty: Eadlyn is haughty, narcissist, spoiled, and unlikeable for most of the book. “I’m Eadlyn, and no one in the world is as powerful as me,” is her daily mantra. I didn’t feel like her flaws made her more realistic in any way or made sense with her situation. She is a princess with a loving family, luxurious castle, and an exciting future, not to mention thirty-five men falling at her feet.  As a reader, I couldn’t identify with her as a character. If the author had made her more likeable despite her tenedices or given a reason as to why she is so mean, I would have been able to tolerate her.
Brutal honesty over! What I did really like about this book was the depiction of real-life challenges all rulers have to face. Some books have done it better than others, but stories about leaders often contain challenging moral dilemmas, high-stakes situations, and political intrigue. I am also surprised how well-developed the large cast of male characters is.

Okay, so should I read this?
Only if you cried while reading the Selection series. The original trilogy is worth reading depending on your taste.

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