Book Review: Fear by Michael Grant

Fear by Michael Grant

Genre: Young Adult, Dystopia

Publishing Info: May 2015 by Egmont Books (first published 2012)

Pages: 576

Star Rating: 3/5

Back Cover Summary:

Welcome back to the FAYZ! This is Book 5 in the series that Stephen King calls a “Driving, torrential narrative.” Night is falling in the FAYZ. Permanently. The gaiaphage has blotted out the sun and the barrier that surrounds the town of Perdido Beach is turning black. It’s Sam’s worst nightmare. With Astrid still missing and Edilio and Lana struggling to maintain order, Sam and his followers need all the courage they can get. As their world descends into darkness, only real heroes will survive. The GONE series is Lord of the Flies for the 21st century. In turns breathtaking, harrowing, and utterly terrifying. Its complex characters and moral dilemmas will delight fans of The Hunger Games, Divergent and The Maze Runner. This is dystopian fiction at its best.

Fear is the fifth book in Michael Grant’s Gone series. We re-join the kids and teenagers trapped inside the FAYZ as they try to survive inside the dome. Now they face a new obstacle – the dome is turning black and will eventually leave the FAYZ in total darkness. This is a suspenseful premise but unfortunately I didn’t enjoy this book as much as the previous ones in the series.

Just like it’s predecessors, Fear is a fast-paced and suspenseful read. I read it in hardly anytime at all. In this book we also get a few scenes from ‘Outside’ so we get to see how the world has reacted to the appearance of the dome which added an interesting perspective. However, I didn’t find it as gripping as previous instalments.

One thing I do love about this series is seeing how the characters grow and change. In the first book, there appears to be ‘good’ and ‘bad’ characters but as the series progresses and you get more insight into all of them, you see how the lines between good and bad are blurred. They are changed and shaped by their experiences in the FAYZ and boy have these kids been through a lot.

I think some of the reason I didn’t enjoy Fear as much is that I’m starting to feel a bit burnt out with the series. It’s starting to feel a little repetitive. Although each book the characters face different challenges and conflicts, some elements are just the same e.g. kids running around a confined area fighting each other with superpowers. It’s starting to feel like it’s being dragged out too long.

One of the characters, Penny, has the ability to make people see and feel hallucinations like they are real. This happens a lot in the book and it was just too much for me. Most of these scenes made me feel very uncomfortable. The things Penny makes people see are really horrible and it was just really unpleasant to read.

Although I didn’t enjoy this book as much as previous ones, I’m still invested in these characters and want to see how everything will end in the final book, Light.

Book Review: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins

Genre: Young Adult, Dystopia

Publishing Info: May 2020 by Scholastic

Pages: 517

Star Rating: 3.5/5

Back Cover Summary:

AMBITION WILL FUEL HIM.
COMPETITION WILL DRIVE HIM.
BUT POWER HAS ITS PRICE.

It is the morning of the reaping that will kick off the tenth annual Hunger Games. In the Capital, eighteen-year-old Coriolanus Snow is preparing for his one shot at glory as a mentor in the Games. The once-mighty house of Snow has fallen on hard times, its fate hanging on the slender chance that Coriolanus will be able to outcharm, outwit, and outmaneuver his fellow students to mentor the winning tribute.

The odds are against him. He’s been given the humiliating assignment of mentoring the female tribute from District 12, the lowest of the low. Their fates are now completely intertwined — every choice Coriolanus makes could lead to favor or failure, triumph or ruin. Inside the arena, it will be a fight to the death. Outside the arena, Coriolanus starts to feel for his doomed tribute… and must weigh his need to follow the rules against his desire to survive no matter what it takes.

It’s been days since I finished reading this book and I’m only just now sitting down to write this review because I just couldn’t decide how to rate and review it. The Hunger Games is one of my all-time favourite series so I was incredibly excited when it was announced there would be a prequel. I was a little bit less excited when they announced it would be about a young President Snow as his origin story didn’t particularly appeal to me. But even so I pre-ordered The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes and read it as soon as my copy arrived. The weird title does make more sense once you’ve read the book.

While The Hunger Games is set during the 74th games, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is set during the 10th games. So the events take place a long time before the trilogy. My favourite part of this book was the world and seeing what Panem was like 10 years after the war. The Capitol is a very different place. Coriolanus Snow was a child during the war and saw poverty, starvation and death. In the year of the 10th Hunger Games, the Capitol is still recovering from the war.

The Hunger Games themselves are very different from the games we know from the trilogy. At this point, hardly anyone watches them, in the Capitol or the districts, because who would want to watch kids murder each other, right? There are no stylists. This is the first year they’ve had mentors. The first year they do interviews. The arena is just an old sports stadium in the Capitol. I found discovering more about the years after the war and the beginnings of the Hunger Games absolutely fascinating.

I didn’t know what to expect from this book. It’s very different from the original trilogy, which is a good thing as it doesn’t just feel like a recycled The Hunger Games. The book is split into three parts. The first part was definitely my favourite. There were some shocking moments in the build up to the games and I was hooked. Then in part two, we see the games themselves. I liked this part, but not as much as the first part. It could have been more exciting and suspenseful. It was interesting seeing the games from the perspective of a mentor, rather than someone in the games like we see in The Hunger Games, but that did mean I felt a little removed from the action. The games would have been more exciting if this part of the novel had quicker pacing. Part Three goes off in a direction I was not expecting, which was good from the perspective that it wasn’t predictable, but I did find this part a bit slow until right at the end. The third part could have been cut down a bit to improve the pacing and increase the tension. I wasn’t as gripped while reading The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes as I was when I read the original books.

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Book Review: Internment by Samira Ahmed

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Internment by Samira Ahmed

Genre: Young Adult, Dystopia

Publishing Info: March 2019 by Atom

Pages: 386

Star Rating: 3/5

Back Cover Summary:

Rebellions are built on hope.

Set in a horrifying near-future United States, seventeen-year-old Layla Amin and her parents are forced into an internment camp for Muslim American citizens.

With the help of newly made friends also trapped within the internment camp, her boyfriend on the outside, and an unexpected alliance, Layla begins a journey to fight for freedom, leading a revolution against the internment camp’s Director and his guards.

Heart-racing and emotional, Internment challenges readers to fight complicit silence that exists in our society today.

Having seen the description for this book, I just had to buy it. The idea drew me in right away because of its relevance. Negative attitudes towards Muslims have sadly become more prominent lately, which is completely unfair. This book imagines what could happen if the situation in America escalated, and shows how quickly things can change. Although I felt it could have been better, this book was also incredibly shocking, as well as moving and heartbreaking.

Rather than being set in a far-flung ultra-futuristic setting, Internment is set in a near future that unfortunately you can really believe could actually happen. I think it being near future makes it more terrifying. So many dystopias are set in a distant future that feels a long way away, like something that wouldn’t happen for a while. But sadly you can imagine this happening now. The book tackles big issues such as Islamophobia and illegal detainment, and it’s so good to see serious subject matter explored in young adult fiction.

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May Book Haul!

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I ended up having a bit of a book buying month in May. Having just finished the second book in George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series (review coming soon), I went out and bought the third book, A Storm of Swords. It’s published in two volumes here in the UK because it’s so long! I’m quite glad they did it that way, as it would be rather heavy to hold!

I’m planning to go to the Young Adult Literature Convention (YALC) in London this July, so decided to do some reading in preparation. When I was looking through the list of authors attending, Rachel Burge’s The Twisted Tree really caught my attention. It sounds dark, mysterious and unique so I’m looking forward to reading that.

I’ve read a few verse novels and enjoyed reading a story told in a different form, so when I spotted The Poet X I made a bit of an impulse purchase. Verse can be a really effective way to tell a story when done well.

Having heard a lot about Internment, I just had to go out and buy it. I’m reading it right now, and so far it’s really good. It’s so relevant to current issues in our society and is actually a terrifying near-future dystopia. I’ll be posting a review when I’ve finished it!

Top 5 Wednesday: Books I Thought I’d Hate But Ended Up Loving

This week we have an interesting topic, as I often find my opinions on a book can change dramatically over the course of the story. I can go from loving it to hating it, or from hating it to loving it. Sometimes books start out strong, but sometimes you nearly give up on them but then they end up surprising you in the end. T5W is a group hosted on Goodreads, if you’d like to participate check it out here.

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Top 10 Tuesday: Creepy Books, Characters and Creatures

For this month’s Halloween freebie, this list contains scary books and creepy characters or creatures. I haven’t read enough horror books to make a list of spine-tingling novels, so I’ve gone for a mixed list of generally creepy things.

Top 10 Tuesday was originally created by The Broke and the Bookish, but as of January has now moved to That Artsy Reader Girl. If you’re interested in taking part click here.

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1) The Haunting of Alaizabel Cray by Chris Wooding – I first read this book years ago and remember finding the Wych-kin scary. There’s something really spooky about this book, maybe it’s also the underlying Jack the Ripper vibes in one of the subplots, but it’s definitely a creepy book.

2) Jonathan in the Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare – I always found Jonathan to be a creepier and more interesting villain than Valentine.

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Book Review: Specials by Scott Westerfeld

81vov3tq3hlSpecials by Scott Westerfeld

Genre: Young Adult, Dystopia, Science-Fiction

Publishing Info: May 2011 Simon Pulse (first published 2006)

Pages: 350

Star Rating: 3/5

Back Cover Summary:

Tally thought they were a rumor, but now she’s one of them. A Special. A super-amped fighting machine, engineered to keep the uglies down and the pretties stupid.

But maybe being perfectly programmed with strength and focus isn’t better than anything she’s ever known. Tally still has memories of something else.

Still, it’s easy to tune that out—until she’s offered a chance to stamp out the rebels of the New Smoke permanently. It all comes down to one last choice: listen to that tiny, faint heartbeat, or carry out the mission she’s programmed to complete. Either way, Tally’s world will never be the same.

 

Specials is the third book in the Uglies series, and the final book in the main trilogy. There is a ‘companion’ novel, Extras, and Westerfeld recently released Imposters, which is set in the same universe. While I enjoyed this book to a small degree, it didn’t blow me away. It didn’t leave me with any significant lasting impression.

The book opens with brilliant writing. Some amazing descriptions really make you feel like you’re seeing the world through Tally’s special super sense eyes. However, this isn’t carried through the rest of the book. That level of description all the way through would be too much, but I’d have expected more. If you introduce the idea that a character has these extra senses, you have to carry that through and show how they see the world with their super senses in the rest of the book too, not just at the opening to get the reader’s attention.

They’re supposed to be specials, superior to everyone else. They might be in terms of their super reflexes and senses, but they still go around doing tricks and acting not much different from how they did before in some ways.

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Top 10 Tuesday: Popular Books That Lived Up to the Hype

This week’s Top 10 Tuesday looks at popular books that lived up to the hype. I could name quite a few books that didn’t live up to their hype, but here are the ones that I think did. We’ll have to leave the ones that didn’t for another day.

Top 10 Tuesday was originally created by The Broke and the Bookish, but as of January has now moved to That Artsy Reader Girl. If you’re interested in taking part click here.

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Book Review: Plague by Michael Grant

81apkuk0bplPlague by Michael Grant  

Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction

Publishing Info: May 2015 by Egmont Books (first published 2011)

Pages: 560

Star Rating: 4/5

Back Cover Summary:

It’s been eight months since all the adults disappeared. Gone.

They’ve survived hunger. They’ve survived lies. But the stakes keep rising, and the dystopian horror keeps building. Yet despite the simmering unrest left behind by so many battles, power struggles, and angry divides, there is a momentary calm in Perdido Beach.

But enemies in the FAYZ don’t just fade away, and in the quiet, deadly things are stirring, mutating, and finding their way free. The Darkness has found its way into the mind of its Nemesis at last and is controlling it through a haze of delirium and confusion. A highly contagious, fatal illness spreads at an alarming rate. Sinister, predatory insects terrorize Perdido Beach. And Sam, Astrid, Diana, and Caine are plagued by a growing doubt that they’ll escape or even survive life in the FAYZ. With so much turmoil surrounding them, what desperate choices will they make when it comes to saving themselves and those they love?

I have mixed feelings about Plague, the fourth book in Michael Grant’s Gone series. If you’re squeamish, there are some scenes in this novel that will really make you want to close the book. Warning: do not eat while reading this. I really shouldn’t have been surprised since the title of the book is ‘Plague’. There are people coughing their insides out or having evil bugs hatching out of them and eating them alive – gross. Let’s not linger on that.

Grossness aside, this is a great book. While the previous books in the series felt quite disjointed to me, this one fit together much better. Each of the individual threads were tied together so nothing felt random or out of place like some of the scenes or story lines in the previous books did. All of the plot elements were heading in one direction, which made this novel gel better.

The power relations and struggles are really interesting in this book and the series as a whole. Dynamics between all the characters is one of the things that keeps pulling me back to this series. It’s great to see how relationships, friendships and rivalries evolve over the course of the story as different problems are thrown at the characters.

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