Posts tagged ‘dystopian’

November 17, 2015

H2O by Virginia Bergin

When I look for books, sometimes my only reason for buying it is that is has a cool enough cover. And that was totally the case for this book series. H20, originally titled “The Rain” has this excellent cover with an ominous intro line.

 “It’s in the rain…and just one drop will kill you.”

I was actually almost to the register, and buying books for my nephews when it caught my eye. So up it went into my book pile, and by the end of the night I had read the whole thing.

H20 is written as the diary of Ruby, which can get annoying if you don’t like stream of consciousness story telling. But if you know me and my feelings about Meg Rosoff, you know that I don’t mind it at all.

Here’s the thing. Virginia Bergin, isn’t nearly as talented at the fine line between the art of a diary written for a story, and an actual teen diary. So that’s where the similarities in the writing style end.

Nonetheless, Ruby’s story caught me. It’s a tale of death, destruction and sloppy stupid teenage mistakes that literally anyone would make if one day, rain started killing people. In fact, that’s how the story starts. She’s at a Jacuzzi party, kissing the boy she’s been wanting to kiss for ages. The the parents get home and see an unsanctioned party with half-nude teens and panic. They’ve been listening to the news and they know that there’s something very wrong with the storm that’s about to roll in. I’ll spare  you the details, but typical teen crap happens, and cute boy Ruby was kissing- goes out in the rain.

That’s when this book finally gets real. The rain does it’s thing, and that teen boy starts to bleed out from the inside. Then begins the stupid idiotic mistakes Ruby makes during this colossal world apocalypse. She tries to save dogs, cats and other little creatures who have been munching on corpses infected with rain. She repeatedly runs out in light, but deadly drizzle wearing flip flops. She wastes precious clean bottled water to dye her hair, and finally she steals makeup from every single store and experiments with it.

She makes countless other mistakes throughout the book, but those are her worst offenses. Regardless, it’s almost refreshing to see a YA protagonist who unabashedly cares about things you’re not supposed to care about during an apocalypse event. This is a teen girl, on her own, there’s literally nothing normal about her situation. So why would we expect her to be like the heroines of other dystopian novels, who are 100% ready to protect themselves and fight. Of all the books I’ve read where the world goes wrong, I honestly think I would react most like Ruby. I probably wouldn’t fight back, or hoard supplies well. I would go find the fastest car I could, and drive it around an abandoned town picking up nail polish and puppies.

That’s not all Ruby does, but you know to find out what happens in a book, you should probably read it. All in all, I give H2O, 3.7 stars. It’s a little slow, some of the writing is sloppy. But if you want something that feels like a genuine reaction to a world ending freak event. It’s worth it. Oh by the way, it has a sequel.

July 22, 2012

Dystopian Needs Diversity

I realized, while reading a yet another dystopian novel, how exhausted and repetitive the story line is in Dystopian young adult fiction.

1) Teen girl is working through issues with society she lives in.

2) She meets mysterious attractive stranger.

3) She fights (or embraces) her instant attraction to him. There’s no sort of mystery with the who ends up with who game, not like old 90’s shows that drag it out FOREVER (can i say Dawson’s Creek?)

4) Somehow this young girl is the deus ex machina in every situation, and she along with her attractive young man save the day.

Every, single, time.  I’m really not going to complain about it much, because it works. But I would really like someone to add new elements to this story. Like say, make the main character a girl who likes loads of guys and battles the feelings she has towards the one guy by finding another one she also really likes. Or, or here’s a wild idea. Make the main character a man. Or even take the world out of the hands of a single teenage girl, make it a group. Let a woman save the world. Or write the story Gatsby style. I don’t care how it’s done, but I’m getting tired of the aforementioned tried and true method.

July 20, 2012

Lightning Strike Survivors Group

Imagine yourself in Los Angeles, when an Earthquake strikes. Not just any earthquake either, I mean, an earth shattering, skyscraper leveling, mammoth of an earthquake. It destroys everything, but your family and home are spared. Weeks later schools open again, providing rations to students who attend and that’s where Struck, by Jennifer Bosworth begins.

Mia Price is a unique young girl who has been thrust into caring for her mother, and her younger brother after the earthquake. Despite this normal role she’s taken on, she has a not so normal addiction: Getting struck by lightning. She’s been struck several times in her life, and despite the scars that cover the majority of her body, she feels a pull to the lightning that occurs in every storm, and she yearns for another strike. The book is interesting to being with, the simple concept of a person who WANTS to be hit by lightning is intense, and (I hate to say it) electrifying.

Then there’s Prophet. Can you guess his role? He’s a religious fanatic who (post-earthquake) has successfully convinced the majority of L.A.’s survivors that he has predicted the rapture. I’ll give the man a bit of credit here. A televangelist, Prophet predicted the earthquake that leveled the majority of the city on national television, seconds before it happened. He’s also predicted a second storm, 3 days from the start of the novel that will end the world as we know it.

As a big fan of the Dystopian, it was great to finally see one that is set in the modern day. The idea of an earthquake happening and leveling the city of L.A. is a plausible reality, and some of the most interesting of the novel are Bosworth’s imagined responses to a natural disaster of that size. Aside from that I loved the way Mia responded to her world. She took nearly everything as a challenge, and never backed down. Once she realized what she had to lose, it was like everything became real for her and she fought. And I LOVE a character that fights. Mia doesn’t just fight against a mysterious force, or against the Prophet, she fights her family, and she fights herself, and that’s what really made this book come alive (though the lightning helped).

July 16, 2012

Insurgent by Veronica Roth

If you haven’t read Divergent (which by the way i really reccomend)…I’m so sorry for the spoilers.

Divergent was interesting, but the climax was where the book really grabbed my attention, you know, the part where they forced nearly the entire population of Dauntless to kill the Abnegation. That kickstarted the series for me, and then I had to know what happened to Tris and Four. Can their relationship survive the civil war that is tearing their life apart? Can Tris actually face what she did while trying to survive? Will Four ever reconcile with his father? Then I also had these other, less character based questions like: What exactly was Erudite’s purpose in killing nearly an entire faction? What secret did Tris’ parents die to protect? What happened to the Dauntless when they realized what they had done?

Insurgent was more or less a full on kamikaze of answers for me. I got unexpected answers, answers that raised new questions, and answers to questions I never actually asked. It was the world building novel, it helped me understand how each faction worked (Tris, Four and their allies get to be around each faction). It also built upon Tris’ character, and the lengths at which she would go to protect people. Insurgent  made the world more real to me. It made it conceivable. There’s a reason that each community developed, and more importantly it sets us up for the bigger question…but I’m not telling you what that is, you’ll have to figure it out for yourself. :]

July 8, 2012

Finding Dan Wells.

So I was just at work, minding my own business, when my boss requested that I clean up the YA section. As you might guess, that’s my favorite part of any work day. I bopped on back to the display, and instead of actually working…I scanned the covers for something interesting. This cover popped out at me:


It looked AWESOME, The girl on the cover didn’t seem to be killing herself or floating in water, she looked strong, ergo my immediate interest. Plus, you can’t beat a dystopian future that has the Manhattan skyline in it. So I devoured it (and not in a literal book eating sense). The female protagonist was brilliant and I was surprised at the amount of actual research that had gone into creating the background for the genetics in the book. The woman who wrote the book (and i assumed it was a woman because the characters voice just sounded so, well, feminine) had to be like a scientist or something, like Kathy Reichs! I was wrong. There’s no other way to say that; Dan Wells, is a man, and doesn’t seem to be a super scientist (but if he is please feel free to tell me!)

After finishing Partials I had this strange hope that there would be a second book in the series already published. Like the first book was just on the NEW book display by chance, or because of a misfile. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case (Fragments will be released in 2013). I set off to find something else by him, and I did.

I Am Not A Serial Killer is about a teenage boy named John Wayne Cleaver who has a particular set of rules to stop his sociopathic tendencies from forming into well, actual serial killer tendencies. He is unpredictable, charming, funny, and strangely, easy to relate too. Wells also takes time to explain why John’s sociopathic tendencies are so strong. Whether it was the family owned mortuary he lived and worked at, or his abusive absentee father, there are highly plausible explanations. The novel was amazing. In addition to having this intensely interesting pyschological profile for his main character, it’s a fantasy/horror novel. Think, demons, murders, and an internal battle between the sociopath identity he denies and the guy he wishes he could be.

I finished it in a few hours and then made my boss get me the next two novels. Mr. Monster, and I Don’t Want to Kill You. They are equally amazing, and I recommend Dan Wells in general as a writer. I’m off to read some more, Hollow City by Wells was released on the 3rd, and I received it from my boss yesterday . Happy Reading!

January 18, 2012

Divergent by Veronica Roth

This is the long and short of Divergent. If you have read the Hunger Games Trilogy in any capacity you will find parallel themes and ideas, and because of that you might not like the series. However there are a few distinct reasons to read Divergent, and then maybe give the rest of the series a try if you feel up to it.
The main character Beatrice is the classic girl under the thumb of her society. In her case unlike Katniss, the society isn’t an evil main government, but a Puritanical faction called the Abnegation who are billed as The Selfless. Now if you think that is a made up word, it’s not. the definition of Abnegation is the act of renouncing or rejecting something, or self denial. She, like any proper teenaged girl feels as if she is being repressed by her society, and envies, despite her teachings, the freedom of other factions, particularly that of the Dauntless. Of course as there is in most dystopian novels, the government gives their young a chance to choose their future, and in Divergent there is an aptitude test that places the young in a neat set of boxes, and gives them the chance to choose one of two factions. Beatrice has her mind made up early in the novel. She cannot stand the life of self-deprecation she is forced to live as a part of the Abnegation, all of which is proven early on in the way she studies herself in the only mirror in her house while her mother trims her hair, or the easy way she lies to others. In a true puritanical style those things are both frowned upon in her faction. So when the aptitude test every student must take allows her choose another faction she takes it.

This is also where the title come into effect. Divergent is the title she’s given. It means that though the majority of the population can only choose between two factions, she can choose between three. For a reason not explained till the end of the novel Divergence is a dangerous thing. That is all that is explained to Beatrice, and to the reader, and it ends up becoming a background feature of the book’s plot-line until nearly the end of the novel. What I found more interesting, and what is essentially made to keep the readers atten

tion, is the character development in Beatrice, her instructor Four, and the Dauntless as a whole.
Beatrice chooses to become Dauntless in the faction ceremony, and it allows the reader an in depth look into the differences between them, her original faction, and the other factions. While the Dauntless are billed as more or less the “Cool Kids” they’re the faction who call themselves brave. Don’t get me wrong on the surface they are. They’re brave for facing their fears, for doing the things that most other people woul

d refuse to do, and most of all they’re brave for defending the colony. However the novel reveals some breaks in the Dauntless ranks that show the cracks in the fundamentals of not just their faction, but the whole society that Beatrice lives in.
I won’t go on, lest I get into the meat of the novel, but that is essentially why Divergent is a

book that should be read. It allows the reader the chance to really get to know the society, and its functions before showing the breakdown. The characters are multidimensional and quite interesting to get to know, and though I didn’t love every little thing about the story; as an overall piece, it’s worth reading. It’s definitely one of those “I read this whole novel in one sitting” books, and the action scenes are also impeccably written

Buy: On AbeBooks

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