Archive for the ‘dystopian’ Category

Title: The Rising Storm

Author: Ceri A. Lowe

Genre: YA Dystopian

Opens: On the day the storms started, Alice Davenport watched the collapse of her world from nine floors above the city, through her living room window.

Blurb: 15-year-old Alice Davenport was a loner and an outcast before the Storms swept away everything she knew. Saved from the ravaged remains of London by the mysterious and all-powerful Paradigm Industries, her fierce independence and unique skills soon gain her recognition from the highest levels of command. But their plans to rebuild civilisation from scratch mean destroying all remnants of the past – no matter what, or who, gets left behind. Decades later, 15-year-old Carter Warren is woken from the Catacombs after years of cryonic sleep. He’s determined to do whatever it takes to climb the ranks to Controller General – until he realises the Industry’s control methods have become harsher than ever. Barricades make sure nothing from the Deadlands can get in to the Community – and no one can get out. Both Alice and Carter are forced to confront an impossible question…would you dare to risk it all for the perfect world?

My Thoughts: THE RISING STORM is the first book in the new Paradigm Trilogy – and what a great scene setter it is. The good things about Dystopian novels is that it frees the author to follow their own particular ideas on how dreadful a society can be – so there is no right or wrong to world building. So the challenge is to place characters in your world that the readers are going to relate to, who they are going to care about. Ceri A. Lowe produced not just one, but two main characters who had me cheering them on sometimes, and tut tutting when they missed something that I felt was obvious. Carter and Alice take it in turns to tell us the story of the Paradigm Society from very different viewpoints – how the society is currently, and how it was at the beginning.

The books open with a prologue – Carter is sent to the freezing chamber and he thinks this is a good thing as he has high expectations for his future role – while at least one other thinks it is a bad thing and asks for it not to happen. The reader immediately feels compelled to ask two questions – why are they being frozen? Followed by – why is one happy with the idea and the other isn’t? Cue Alice and our witness to the end of the world.

Alice is alone in her flat when she witnesses the devastation of the first catastrophic storm. While it is not really stated – storms start to increase and cyclonic winds now batter Europe on a regular basis – global warning has hit. Millions of people are killed – either in the storms or in the floods that occur as a result of the torrential rain. Paradigm Industry has sensed somehow this is going to happen, and they have set themselves up a fortress/ark to protect survivors until everything settles down. Alice is among those rescued. Alice is alone as her dad died before the book started and her mother is prostituting herself to pay the rent and bills. Her mother disappears in the first huge storm. Inside the safety of the fortress, the rescued population are no longer allowed to read or listen to music as it is these recreational activities that lead to the downfall of the world. Alice is a tough little cookie as a result of fending for herself so it makes sense that she has the smarts to rise up and become a responsible member of the system – and one of the chosen few to go out and scout once the floods die down. Films are made of these scouting expeditions to be shown to the populace.

Decades later we meet Carter. Carter has been groomed from birth to one day be the leader. He belongs to one of the original families – sort of the high society of the community. There are also lesser beings called Lab-made – test tube babies – which are second class citizens. He had been frozen as a 15 year old to be brought back as a candidate to be Controller General. While he’s been frozen the political climate has changed and there’s rebellion developing. He also finds out he is a father of twins, and he has to go through a series of test to prove he has what it takes to be leader. As the story progressed – the past and the present being propelled forward by the two storytellers – the links between the past and present are gradually revealed. While they never meet, Carter is aware of Kate as she narrates the scouting films.

I have to be honest did get a little confused once or twice – but that didn’t prevent me from loving the story and looking forwards to seeing what happens. There are some questions that haven’t been answered – but I am guessing there are going to be more revelations in the subsequent books.

For more about the author – Click Here

B – Great – I really enjoyed reading it and it is a book I will be recommending to all my friends who like this genre.

With thanks to Bookouture and the author via Netgalley for my copy to read and review.


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Title: Skyfire

Author: Skye Melki-Wegner

Genre: YA Fantasy

Opening line: ‘…The sky catches fire at midnight…’

Blurb: – What if you achieve everything you’ve dreamed of – and it turns into a nightmare? Danika and her crew of refugees finally reach the Magnetic Valley. Will it be the safe refuge and land of freedom they had imagined? When a runaway girl is shot down before their eyes, Danika and her friends realise that this new land is no paradise. They must try to fit in at all costs – even if revealing their secrets will mean a death sentence.

My thoughts: SKYFIRE is the third and final book in the ‘Chasing the Valley’ series and an amazing end to an edge of the seat adventure, the first two books are ‘Chasing the Valley’ and ‘Borderlands’ both terrific reads. SKYFIRE picks up where ‘Borderlands’ left off and the opening line tells us that the sky over in the legendary safe haven of Magnetic Valley where they’re finally heading is on fire. Danika, Lukas, Maisy, Teddy and Clementine have arrived at the entrance of the valley after using a centuries old smugglers song to guide their way. Now expecting a beautiful refuge from oppression it is a bit disconcerting to discover that instead of walking into a green and pleasant land they find themselves in a burnt out landscape of blackened rocks. In the distance, on the other side of the valley, they can see a forest and decide to head that way over the barren landscape – as you would when there is a bad king on your heels wanting to kill you. They end up in the village of Vindurn, where they are told that admission to Magnetic Valley is determined by their magical gifts. Depending on your gift you live in the village as a lowly peasant, the capital as a privileged member of society, or die. At night the only safe places to be is in the city or high up in a tree house anyone on the ground is killed in noxious fumes. The ruler of the valley is Lord Farran who expects respect, does not encourage questions and rarely appears in public. What is he hiding up in his isolated well-guarded volcano laboratory where he conducts explosive experiments? It is apparent that Magnetic Valley residents are just as oppressed as those in Taladia, however, unlike Taladia, Magnetic Valley has devised alchemy to the nth degree and the heroic group soon realise that the two nations are going to go head to head and the result will be the end of the world as they know it. Something has to be done.

I have loved the ‘Chasing the Valley’ series, an edge of the seat fantasy dystopian adventure. All of the main characters are realistic, well developed and grow in emotional strength as the series progressed. Each book in the series has been a ripping adventure with excellent pacing that never lets you go for a minute. People die, as they would in a struggle to overthrow cruel oppression, but there is hope and there is laughter among the tension. The final ending wrapped up all the loose ends and left me saddened at having to say goodbye to my new-found fictional friends. I heartily recommend this series.

For more about the author – Click Here

B – Great. I really enjoyed reading it and it is a book I will be recommending to all my friends who like this genre.

With thanks to Random House and the author via Netgalley for my copy to read and review.

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Title: The Garden of Darkness

Author: Gillian Murray Kendall

Genre: YA Dystopian

Opening lines: ‘…Clare and her father and stepmother survived long enough to leave the dying city in their neighbour’s small Toyota…’

Blurb: The Garden of Darkness explores the journey of two teens and some other orphaned children who temporarily have survived a disease that seems to infect all but one adult. Their families dead from the pandemic SitkaAZ13, known as PEST, 15-year-old cheerleader Clare and 13-year-old chess club member Jem, an unlikely pair, are thrown together and realize that, if either of them wishes to reach adulthood, they must find a cure. A shadowy adult broadcasting on the radio to all orphaned children promises just that — to cure children once they grow into Pest, then to feed them and to care for them. Against a hostile landscape of rotting cities and of a countryside infected by corpses and roamed by voracious diseased survivors, Jem and Clare make their bid for life and, with their group of fellow child-travellers growing, embark on a journey to find the grownup they believe holds the cure. Their only weapon is Clare’s dog, Bear. But Clare and Jem, as well as their followers, are hampered by the knowledge that everything in this new child-led world had become suspect—the love of diseased adults, alliances, trust, hope. As Clare and Jem learn to stitch wounds, skin deer and survive in the ashes of the old world perhaps it is no surprise that they begin to find that friendship is as redemptive as anything they seek—that friendship has its own kind of healing power. And, at the end of their journey, in the face of the ultimate betrayal, they discover that out of friendship can come love.

My thoughts: THE GARDEN OF DARKNESS is very, very dark…not a book to read at night before you go to sleep. I can vouch for this because for the first time in a very long time my heart was pounding and I felt very, very upset at what I was reading. The ‘baddie’ in this story is heart wrenchingly bad; It is wonderful when you are so sucked into a story that you are so at one with events. Despite the, at times, overwhelming darkness of the story the actual plot was very believable – an out of control virus wipes out everyone over the age of 18. Everyone is infected as spots on their tummies ascertain, but until kids turn 17/18 the virus just lies dormant. Surviving children gather together for survival – some don’t even get to do that and there is a heartbreaking scene of a young child dead in its house not because they had the virus but because it was left all alone and was unable to care for itself. There is also something worse than dying, being a Cured. In the last days there were announcements that there was a cure which sent hundreds of affected people to receive the vaccination. The result was not death, but the total breakdown of their sanity – the recipient became a stark crazy lunatic with no remembrance of what they were like before and an urge to kill. Children did what they had to do to survive, sometimes what they did were unpleasant, such as kill an animal to eat, or kill a Cured. In fact this portrayal of the children is a huge plus in this story because there is growth in all the characters; a cheerleader and a chess player can work together against all odds to create a life out of the tragedy. At the same time the characters are realistic – these are children – a little girl IS going to be distracted by a toy rather than food, cleaning a toilet? Well not so much. Neither are the children stupid though – there has to be something wrong with the only surviving adult who is offering them help – stranger danger kicks in. The little band of survivors makes their way to his location hoping for the cure and at the same time scared of what they might find. As the book progresses his intentions become clearer as his story of life in his haven is interspersed with that of the little band. The end is very reasonable – of course there is a cure but it comes too late for adults – there had to be a cure otherwise there would be no future, as each of the children reached the age of 17/18 the virus would bloom and they would die. At the end there are a few loose ends, however, having said this, if you think about it, the end is really the new beginning. THE GARDEN OF DARKNESS is a very good read for teens and adults alike, it is about survival against all odds and creating family to replace those who are lost. Believable characters, a great story and a feeling that you have travelled to hell and back with Clare, Jem and the others by the time you reach the end. Oh and keep an eye out for Dinah – so terribly sad.

B – Great. I really enjoyed reading it and it is a book I will be recommending to all my friends who like this genre.

With thanks to Rebellion/Ravenstone and the author via Netgalley for my copy to read and review.

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Title: The Last Shot

Author: Michael Adams

Genre: YA Dystopian

Opening lines: ‘…My gun’s aimed at Jack…’

Blurb: Sixteen-year-old Danby has survived the technology driven end of the world, the Snap, but now she’s caught in a desperate battle for her own survival…and for the future of the world. After facing heartbreak in Shadow Valley, Danby is determined to have her revenge on Jack. She knows that if Jack is dead then her little brother Evan and hundreds of other minions will be free of his control. Or will they? What if she’s wrong – about everything? Very soon she has blood on her hands, and Danby has to take a side in a deadly battle that’ll decide the future of the world. And as allies become enemies and foes turn into friends, she’ll have to embrace methods so dark that the price of survival may be her very soul…

My thoughts: THE LAST SHOT starts with a gun being aimed and a trigger squeezed. This is not the last shot that the book is named for; but is in fact it is the start of many. If the first book in the series, The Last Girl, was about the horror of the world as we know it ending, then THE LAST SHOT is about the horror of surviving the end of the world. You would think if you were one of a few hundred left alive in the world that you would all work together to survive – but no. As human nature dictates while most people just want to be safe, others want to rule; some will rule wisely and fairly…and then there are the others.

Set in and around Sydney Australia, The Last Girl explained how the world ended in a snap and Danby decided to take her little brother, Evan, and go to her mother’s mountain retreat in the nearby Blue Mountains. Along the way she meets two very different men, Nathan and Jack. Both have plans on how to rebuild the world out of the devastation. Nathan’s ideas she agrees with but is not sure how it will work in reality. But Jack’s version terrifies her. THE LAST SHOT opens with Danby at her mother’s retreat in the Blue Mountains. She thinks that Jack has betrayed her, but her brother’s life is under Jack’s control to ensure her good behaviour. Danby has no idea where Nathan is but needs to find him, save her brother, and then do something about Jack, not necessarily in that order. For the first couple of chapters Danby spends time thinking through her alternatives, plotting and planning until she decides the answer is to kill Jack. But even that is not straight forward as is she is not sure that he is really as evil, and he does appear to really like her. OK so he is into mind control, in fact what he does is much more than mind control, each person he brings out of the their post-snap vegetative state becomes an extension of him. If one of his ‘people’ reads a book on how to fly a helicopter – they all know how to fly a helicopter; one learns to plant crops – they all can plant crops. But each is the mind and eyes of Jack; in fact he is the centre of a huge collective mind, a puppet-master if you will, with hundreds of minions that do his bidding without even knowing that they are being controlled. But Jack doesn’t believe he is bad, he genuinely believe he is doing the right thing and if he has to slaughter innocent people to achieve his goals then that is what he must sadly do.

‘…Jack nods. ‘Right–you’re reading, writing, researching, surfing websites, messaging people, talking on the phone, listening to music and watching videos — whatever. Point is your brain’s multitasking and your fingers and arms and muscles and bones are making it all happen seamlessly. You’re not even aware of them. You’re hardly thinking about any of it. What I’m doing with my guys is like that. Just bigger. Their brainpower and physical energy accounts for ninety-nine point nine-nine per cent of what needs to be done. The other bit’s me, when it needs to be. Does that make sense?’…”

THE LAST SHOT follows Danby through the hell that follows once she decides which side to stand on. It has action, drama, horror, anguish and lots and lots of explosions. Michael Adams does not gloss over the horror of apocalyptic scenery. It’s there descriptively in your face; there are dead bodies everywhere along with the decay that inevitably follows. Dead decaying people, dead decaying animals, rotting food – BIG Yuk – but so how it would be! After a bloody showdown Danby is on the run with her unconscious brother, the now found Nathan and an ever dwindling posse of escapees. A week ago Danby was a typical teenager, now she and her friends have to be a cold-blooded killers – or be killed.

“…I glance at my fellow fugitives in the glow of the fire: black-streaked, white-eyed, faces fearful but fierce. Whoever any of us were a week ago, we’ve now become people we could never have imagined…”

The pace starts of slow, as Danby meditates on which course to take then decision made, the pace picks up and then after the showdown the pace just doesn’t stop until the very last page; and WOW – what a last page. It is a last page that is a whole year away from being concluded. A last page that has my mind whirling with possible scenarios and wondering what is really going to happen. A wonderful, wonderful cliff hanging ending that had me screaming with the unfairness of it all – one of the best I have ever come across, if there was a literary prize for great endings this would win it hands down! It’s only ten months now until 2015 and the release of The Last Place the final book in the trilogy. I can’t wait, I will wonder, I will ponder and I will have no idea which way Michael Adams is going to jump with the ending of the final book – will there be a happy ending – or not? Will the readers be left stunned, amazed and not a little shocked? I guess all will be revealed. I could not put THE LAST SHOT down less than 24 hours after getting my hot little hands on it I had finished it. I laughed, I cried, I gasped in horror, I recoiled in disgust, and jumped in genuine fright. By the time I got to the end I knew that once again I’d been in the hands of a master storyteller and I just did not want to be released.

Rating: A – Excellent Stuff – a real page turner and hard to put down. I carved out extra reading time just so I could finish it. This book got carted into the bathroom with me, read over meals, read at work, and/or kept me up late at night. If this author wrote a shopping list, I would happily read it.

For more about the author – Click Here

With thanks to Allen & Unwin and the author for this copy to read and review. Allen & Unwin recommended retail price is $19.99.

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Title: The 5th Wave

Author: Rick Yancey

Genre: YA Dystopian

Opening lines: ‘…There will be no awakening…’

Blurb: After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one. Now, it’s the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from the beings that look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie’s only hope for rescuing her brother–or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up.

My thoughts: There is something for everyone in THE 5TH WAVE – suspense, adventure, mystery, terror, drama, sadness, warfare and yes, even a little love. Before I picked it up I saw blurbs that described THE 5TH WAVE as being “…The Passage meets Ender’s Game…” well as I have never read Ender’s Game and I thought it was nothing like the Passage, I can only say I am surprised that Harry Potter comparisons were not thrown in as well. When will people judge each book on its own merit rather than comparing it to other ones! Alien invasion stories are nothing new, but for me they are always scary propositions. What I liked about this invasion is that these aliens had actually invaded us years before the mother ship turned up so publically; they are already here and in human form. As far as Earth is concerned, when the giant spaceship arrives it is the first contact and it certainly is the worldwide focus of human attention, inciting political mayhem and fear among the people. Then the 1st wave struck. A massive global electromagnetic pulse which destroyed all electronics in one foul swoop, killing hundreds and thousands of people. When the 2nd wave hits a few weeks later, three billion people are killed in a single day. The aliens manage to trigger massive earthquakes and along with the resulting tidal waves every person living within 100 kilometres of the ocean die. At the end of the second wave Cassie, her brother Sam and parents are still alive. Her mother dies in the 3rd wave when the remaining human population are hit by ‘Red Death’ a disease spread by specially infected birds – it had a 97% mortality rate. When the 4th wave hits that’s when people realise the aliens have been here for years. The aliens, living in humans, now start to hunt the humans that are left. Cassie, Sam and their father go to a military camp for protection – but Cassie realises something is not quite right and it is here that Sam gets loaded onto a yellow school bus with other children to be taken to a safe place she promises shell come and find him. Cassie manages to hide as her father and all the other adults are blown up. Now Cassie is on her own with the 5th wave on its way. Or is it? Could it be here already?

THE 5TH WAVE came highly recommended however it really didn’t completely deliver what I expected and a couple of things took the edge off the story for me. The first half of the book I was thinking wow – I was actually shaking in fear as the scenario scared me so much. It was only when I got to the second half of the story after Sam gets on the bus, that author Rick Yancey lost my undivided attention and I found my eyes glazing over on more than one occasion. This was mostly because of the endless military action which just does not excite me. While I can understand the concept that Yancey was wanting to evoke, and even though I can cope with a fictional war in small doses, this went on and on and on, page after, page after relentless page. The one other let down was when the story perspective changed. It took a while for me to click that another character was now relating the story. So it broke the flow of the story while I had to try and think whose eyes I was seeing the story through now. Having said that I did enjoy the story, I liked that these aliens had obviously been planning their invasion for a long time and they chose to torment humans rather than wipe them out with one big bang.

Rating: B – Great. I really enjoyed reading it and it is a book I will be recommending to all my friends who like this genre.

For more about the author – Click Here

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The Giver by Lois Lowry

Title: The Giver

Author: Lois Lowry

Genre: Children’s Dystopian

Opening lines: ‘…It was almost December, and Jonas was starting to be frightened…’

Blurb: Jonas’ world is perfect. Everything is under control. There is no war, fear or pain. There are no choices. Every person is assigned a role in the Community. When Jonas turns twelve, he is singled out to receive special training from The Giver. The Giver alone holds the memories of the true pain and pleasure of life. Now, it is time for Jonas to receive the truth.

My thoughts: The Newbery Medal winning book, THE GIVER, is the first in a quartet of books. The main character in this book is Jonas who lives in a highly regulated society. At first it seems like his society is a utopia as there is no fighting, hunger or suffering and every stage of their lives is highly organised from a child’s arrival in the production unit, then to being assigned to a family unit, a job and eventually to the elder’s centre where they wait until they are released with a glorious celebration of life. Everything is the same, everyone is nice, and there are no emotions. Each December there is a whole of community gathering where babies are assigned to their parent unit, and each child is officially welcomed to their new age group. This year Jonas is leaving the elevens and is going to enter his twelfth year this is where each twelve is assigned their position in society; this could be anything from birth mother to elderly carer. Jonas is selected to inherit the position of "Receiver of Memory" the person who stores all the past memories of the time before Sameness, in case they are ever needed to aid in decisions that others lack the experience to make. He meets the Giver who then proceeds to pass the memories onto Jonas and life is no longer the same as everyone else, he now understands love, pain, colour, hunger and war.

“…The worst part of holding the memories is not the pain. It’s the loneliness of it. Memories need to be shared…”

Lois Lowry has very skilfully created an intriguing world and thought provoking story. Gradually the reader begins to realise that there is something wrong with this perfect world, that instead of being a utopia it is in fact a dystopia where everybody is forced to comply to a rigid set of rules for their own good. The goal of the society is sameness because if there is no differences then there will be no conflict. Any location outside their community is classified as ‘Elsewhere’ and to be feared. As a book lover I was saddened to see that books were not available to anyone – no books no knowledge outside what was made available. One of the first things Jonas gets access to is books, as they are part of the memories he has to keep.

“…How could you describe a hill and snow to someone who had never felt height or wind or that feathery, magical cold?..”

THE GIVER has been challenged and banned despite the fact it was considered worthy of an award. However I am not a supporter of this book being banned. This is a coming of age story as Jonas gains enlightenment from receiving the memories and then decides to do something to change the current conditions. Not a decision to be made lightly – but then what he experiences is not to be taken lightly either. Despite the society he is living in this is a 12-year-old boy, his voice wouldn’t even have started breaking. THE GIVER brings up some controversial issues such as euthanasia, infanticide, and suicide (to name but a few) it is up to the reader to decide what stand they want to take on such subjects and encourages them to think about the issues that they have read. Aimed at older children and above it is a very good introduction to the idea of suppressive governments. Good literature makes its reader think and THE GIVER certainly leaves you thinking long after you have turned the last page.

Rating: B – Great. I really enjoyed reading it and it is a book I will be recommending to all my friends who like this genre.

For more about the author – Click Here

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Title: Red Queen

Author: Honey Brown

Genre: Dystopian

Opening lines: ‘…I had come to know every line in my brother’s face …’

Blurb: Deep in the Australian bush, Shannon Scott is holed up in a cabin with his brother, Rohan, waiting out the catastrophic effects of worldwide disease and a breakdown of global economies. After months of isolation, Shannon imagines there’s nothing he doesn’t know about his older brother, or himself – until a mysterious woman slips under their late-night watch and past their loaded guns. Denny Cassidy is beautiful and a survivor. Her inclusion into cabin life brings about the need for a new set of rules. Dynamics within the cabin shift and soon loyalties are split, and trust is shattered. Before long, all three find themselves locked into a very different battle for survival.

My thoughts: RED QUEEN was Honey Brown’s debut novel and walked off with the 2009 Aurealis award for best horror novel. The Aurealis Awards were established in 1995 by Chimaera Publications, the publishers of Aurealis magazine, to recognise the achievements of Australian science fiction, fantasy and horror writers. Now I have to confess that I have always associated the genre of horror as books that contained horrific people-killing monsters of various types; but found out horror is actually defined as intended to scare, unsettle, or horrify the audience. RED QUEEN certainly did all three for me!

A deadly virus called ‘The Red Queen’ has killed millions of people around the world and survivors are holed up in various isolated spots shunning contact with other people. Rohan and Shannon are two brothers who have retreated into rural Victoria to a cabin that has been set up by their father in anticipation of a nuclear war. The two brothers are totally different characters, Shannon is the dreamer and Rohan the tough hunting, shooting, fishing bloke. Rohan is hard line and runs their little shack with non-negotiable rules, threats and guns; Shannon is often quite scared of his older brother. You can imagine their horror when a young woman manages to gain access to their home and remain undetected until the evening she just appears in the lounge room. The arrival of Denny changes everything between the two brothers and the reader just can’t figure out what is actually going on, what Denny is up to. Whatever it is she seems to be playing a very dangerous game. Is she a good guy or the enemy, Shannon doesn’t know and can’t figure it out, Rohan just uses and abuses her, and gives no indication of his thoughts. The tension builds as information is released by Honey Brown drip by drip – and it is the not knowing that builds the tension. There are some disturbing, but not surprising sex scenes, as well as some horrific violence and cruelty. But none of it is explicit and in your face, just a few words and the idea of what is happening is in your head without assaulting your mind. Without even realising you are on the edge of your seat Honey Brown manages to keep up the suspense until almost the very end when everything finally comes out in the open and truths are revealed.

Honey Brown’s writing is brilliant – there is not so much focus on the Red Queen virus other than it is out there and is the reason for isolation and the danger that the introduction of an unknown person represents. Her descriptions of the Australian bush that surrounds the cabin are so clear that you can see, hear and sadly sometimes smell the action. RED QUEEN is my first Honey brown book – and it will not be my last.

Rating: B – Great. I really enjoyed reading it and it is a book I will be recommending to all my friends who like this genre.

For more about the author – Click Here

Red Queen by Honey Brown is book # 9 for AWW2014

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The Elite by Kiera Cass

Title: The Elite

Author: Kiera Cass

Genre: YA Dystopian Romance

Opening lines: ‘…The Angeles air was quiet, and for a moment I lay still, listening to the sound of Maxon’s breathing…’

First of all THE ELITE is aimed at teens – the sort of teens who love watching shows like Beauty and the Geek, The Batchelor, Who wants to marry a millionaire and their ilk. A group of beautiful women all battling to be the top female and win the heart of the hapless male bimbo.

So if anyone is expecting an in-depth thesis on how dystopian societies work they are going to be sadly let down. If you are looking for a light read, with a touch of growing awareness that something is not right with society then you will be much happier.

THE ELITE picks up from where ‘The Chosen’ left off, thirty-five girls came to the palace to compete in the Selection now all but six have been sent home. Only one will get to marry Prince Maxon and be crowned princess of Illea. America Singer has made it to the final six girls all competing to be Prince Maxon’s bride. Her past boyfriend, Aspen, is still vying for her attention while America runs hot and cold over her feelings for the Prince. This lack of decision lasts all through the book and actually irked me – she pushes him away then sulks when he pays attention to one of the other girls. What is expanded on though is the history of Illea and how it came to be the segregated society it is today. The reader also gets to see how other countries of the world view Illea when there is a cultural visit from two different lands. The rebel attacks intensify and during one raid America learns that the rebels are seeking something believed to be hidden in the palace. So we have a potential queen with friends from foreign lands and closer to hand rebels, this could prove interesting for the final instalment! America also gets the chance to stand up and tell the nation what activity they would like to pursue should she become a queen; she picks a doozy of a plan and although popular with the people she makes a dangerous new enemy.

I continue to enjoy the series, the first two books have both been a light read and totally different to the dark angst ridden societies in other teen dystopian books. Maxon has made up his mind who he wants to marry and says she only has to say the word and he’ll send the other girls home. Of course blow hot, blow cold America won’t give him a firm reply. As a sign of his love for America Maxon reveals many secrets, and one in particular is quite horrific and involves scars. America is quite naïve and doesn’t always stop to think about the possible interpretation and repercussions of her actions. Some of this lack of thought stems from her not knowing what she wants – which is very realistic considering her age. I did think though that the lack of communication between America and Maxon was really infuriating, and because there was this lack of communication going on then, of course, America made some stupid decisions and then whined about it. And don’t get me started on Aspen – I would have him shot at dawn if I could. Nasty, selfish boy, he is certainly old enough to be aware of the consequences of his attentions and still continues to endanger the girl he professes to love! Still America is slowly growing as a character and I think she shows the potential to do really well and maybe become the One. All will be revealed in the final book in the trilogy due out in a few months – I have ‘The One’ on preorder and can’t wait.

Rating: B – Great. I really enjoyed reading it and it is a book I will be recommending to all my friends who like this genre.

For more about the author – Click Here

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Title: The Last Girl

Author: Michael Adams

Genre: YA Science Fiction

Opening lines: ‘…”The Content Planet.” Dad lifted the book from its reindeer gift bag… ‘

Synopsis: It is Christmas day and instead of lolling around in a diabetic haze of too much food, too much alcohol and way more lollies than is healthy the world as we know it comes to an end. In a split second all humans become telepathic, the desire to be connected via smart phones and the internet has resulted in a massed mind meld. Instantly a person can hear what everyone else if thinking – what your husband really thinks of his gifts, your boyfriend is actually gay, the man flying your plane once trained as a suicide bomber and your wife is having an affair with your neighbour. But not just one person’s thought invade your mind, thousands of thoughts invade and you can’t shut them out, they can’t be turned off or put into sleep mode. You now experience car crashes, train derailments and plane crashes as well as the utter chaos and violence that break out around you. In a snap the whole world changes and information overload takes on a whole new meaning. Eventually the overload is too much and one by one people become catatonic, they go into shut down mode. But who wakes these people up before they starve to death, die of dehydration? There are survivors – people like Danby who can hear people – but can’t be heard. She is not alone, but not everyone is pure of heart, some survivors have an ulterior motive.

My Thoughts: I really, really enjoyed THE LAST GIRL. A long-time fan of YA Dystopian stories I expected it to be ‘same old, same old’ but was pleasantly surprised, very pleasantly surprised. Although THE LAST GIRL is a YA ‘end of the world as we know it’ scenario the end of the world is not caused by nuclear holocaust, global warming, alien invasion or zombie/mysterious virus – refreshingly it is our increasing reliance on computers and social networks that does us all in!

Devolving into massive violence once minds have melded is not a far-fetched scenario as you would think. Already there are an increasing number of nasty people on the Internet who feel that they have the right to flame and troll anyone who disagrees with them feeling safe in their anonymity – imagine if they were in your mind – or trying to save you. Set in Sydney Australia, parts of the book are not for the squeamish as author Michael Adams spares nothing when he describes the carnage of a dying city. Everything he describes is very plausible which makes it all the more terrifying. 16-year-old Danby tells us the story, after the snap has occurred she decides to take her little brother and go to her mother’s mountain retreat a 100 kilometres away. The roads are blocked by thousands of cars and surrounded by millions of people who are in a coma. Two different men, Nathan and Jack, with two different ideas on rebuilding, come into her life. Only one she agrees with, but doesn’t totally trust – the other plain frightens her. These three main characters are very real, they make decisions and they deal with the consequences. THE LAST GIRL is the first of a trilogy and sets the scene for book 2 ‘The Last Shot’ which is due out in March 2014 and I aim to be front and centre to get my hands on it.

Rating: A – Excellent Stuff – a real page turner and hard to put down. I carved out extra reading time just so I could finish it. This book got carted into the bathroom with me, read over meals, read at work, and/or kept me up late at night. If this author has more work, I will certainly read it.

For more about the author – Click Here

With thanks to Allen & Unwin and the author for this copy to read and review.

Allen & Unwin recommended retail price is $19.99

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Title: Floodland

Author: Marcus Sedgwick

Genre: Children’s Dystopian

Opening lines: Zoe ran. Harder than she had ever run in her life.

My Thoughts: My biggest complaint about FLOODLAND is that it is too short and as a result it suffered from not being able to give enough information to the reader to totally be at ease with what was going on. Ten-year old Zoe lives on Norwich. No, that’s not a typo – Norwich has become an island as the ice caps melted and sea levels rose inundating much of Britain and the rest of the world. Supplies were running out and six months previously when the boat came to drop off supplies for the last time Zoe’s parents make it out but she is left behind. Zoe now has to fend for herself in a settlement which is growing smaller each day, while the people become more savage and desperate. Zoe finds a boat and rows off to find her parents. Half way to what’s left of the mainland she comes across another small isle that is dominated by huge Cathedral. A grimy, miserable and unpleasant place the young population is starving and under the thumb of a thug called Dooby. They call themselves, the Eels and do battle with at least two other groups called Cats and Horses. When I say do battle I mean heads being chopped off and torturing of ‘spies.’ Zoe is forced to stay on the island when her boat is hidden, and life is very, very dismal. However Zoe is a gutsy little girl and survives long enough to find her boat, make an ally and to escape in the middle of a battle and continue off to find her parents. FLOODLAND is unrelentingly miserable and dark with a lot of unanswered questions. I found the end to be a bit of an anti-climax after all the drama building in the first ¾ of the book. I understand Zoe is only 10 so should only have the understanding of a 10-year-old; and the book is aimed at older children rather than adults; but I still would have liked the book to be longer to give more of a background because even young kiddies like to know why! Despite its bleakness the story itself is very good and has a very believable plot it’s just that Zoe is all over the place as far as her character goes and on top of that it seems like the story starts and ends in the middle. FLOODLAND is Marcus Sedgwick’s debut novel – and he has gone on to write 32 more, this is my first experience of his work.

Rating: B – Great. I really enjoyed reading it.

For more about the author – Click Here

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Debora M. Coty

Inspirational Speaker and Author




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