Release Date: September 14, 2010
Title: Rot and Ruin
Author: Jonathan Maberry
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Available: Barnes and Noble
From the Publisher: In the zombie-infested, post-apocalyptic America where Benny Imura lives, every teenager must find a job by the time they turn fifteen or get their rations cut in half. Benny doesn’t want to apprentice as a zombie hunter with his boring older brother Tom, but he has no choice. He expects a tedious job whacking zoms for cash, but what he gets is a vocation that will teach him what it means to be human.
Thanks to Smash I have a new fondness for zombie books. My favorites will always be the Newsflesh trilogy by Mira Grant – but this one was also surprisingly good. When I think of “zombie” I always think of ick and gore and braiiiiiiiiiiiiins. Because you know – Hollywood. But Jonathan Maberry gives a whole new level to zombie lore.
Plus – it’s not about the zombies. It’s about how society has rebuilt after the zombies rose. It’s about the choices that were made and are still being made.
And I would love to see this book made into a movie. If Hollywood would promise not to screw it up (fat chance, right?).
At first, Benny Imura irritated the snot out of me. He was an entitled little kid (at fifteen) who thought that he didn’t have to work to survive. He hated his brother and thought he knew everything he needed to know about the world.
Kind of reminds me of me at that age.
Finally, he realizes that he has no choice but to join his brother if he’s going to have a job (in this world, you have to have a job at 15 in order to eat). And his world suddenly turns upside down. Tom is one of the most famous zombie hunters in the world, but Benny can’t understand. As far as Benny is concerned, Tom is a coward. But as he goes outside of the fence into the Rot – where the zombies are – and begins to learn how the world really is, Benny begins to understand that things aren’t always as they seem.
And that’s when the real action begins. Kidnapping. Murder. Forced child/zombie fights (for fun).
Benny grows up fast.
If you like zombie books, you’ll like this one. If you don’t – but you like action books – you’ll still like this one. It’s a good one, I promise.
Release Date: September 27, 2011
Title: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer
Author: Michelle Hodkins
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Available: Barnes and Noble
From the Publisher: Mara Dyer doesn’t think life can get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there.
She believes there must be more to the accident she can’t remember that killed her friends and left her mysteriously unharmed.
She doesn’t believe that after everything she’s been through, she can fall in love.
Holy surprising book, Batman!
I knew nothing about this book when I went in- other than the blurb that’s up there. Nothing. Based on that description, I assumed it must be some sort of Contemporary YA novel that would be a good read.
It was much, much more.
I don’t even know how to describe it. My friend Amanda did a pretty good job:
And honestly, that kind of sums it up.
This is one of those books that sucks you in and gets under your skin right away. It kept me guessing, which I always adore when reading a book that has an air of mystery and intrigue about it. I’m still guessing, truth be told. What’s real? What isn’t? I suspect this book has only begun to scratch the surface of a much larger story- one that I absolutely cannot wait to read.
Will everything we think we know- what Mara thinks she knows- be turned upside down? Somehow, I suspect it will.
And I can’t leave without mentioning Noah. Perfect, lickable, amazing Noah. If that’s not enough to intrigue you, nothing will.
Release Date: February 21, 2012
From the Publisher:Rhine and Gabriel may have escaped the beautiful prison of Wither’s mansion, but they are far from escaping danger. First they’re chased for stealing a getaway boat, and then the fleeing pair ends up in the eerie den of Madame, an old woman who collects girls and sells them to the highest bidders. Worst of all, Vaughn, Rhine’s sinister father-in-law, seems to be on her trail every step of the way. Rhine remains determined to get to her brother in Manhattan—but the road they are on is long and perilous.
Now that Rhine has finally regained her freedom, what lengths will she need to go to in order to keep it?
235 pages, Simon & Schuster
When I reviewed Wither, I struggled to give it a rating. There was no such struggle this time around. It’s not often that a second book is better than the first, but this is one occasion where it absolutely is. It didn’t read like a middle book to me. The writing is amazing and the visual imagery had me believing I was actually breathing ash in the air right alongside them.
This was a painful book to read. At every turn something went wrong for Rhine and Gabriel. It caused a physical ache in my chest just hoping that something good would happen (you’ll have to read the book to find out if it did).
This one is definitely much darker than the first, but I think it needs to be. Things always get worse before they get better – and I do have hope that things in this world will get better by the end of the series. It’s been alluded to several times, but I can’t imagine going through all of this – becoming so emotionally invested – for naught. And honestly, despite the dark and cruel nature of the story, it was always laced with hope. That’s what kept me going through the book and what has me dying to read the next installment.
Hope. Sometimes that’s all that keeps you going.
Updated: Feb 22, 2012
Release Date: March 22, 2011
From the Publisher: By age sixteen, Rhine Ellery has four years left to live. She can thank modern science for this genetic time bomb. A botched effort to create a perfect race has left all males with a lifespan of 25 years, and females with a lifespan of 20 years. Geneticists are seeking a miracle antidote to restore the human race, desperate orphans crowd the population, crime and poverty have skyrocketed, and young girls are being kidnapped and sold as polygamous brides to bear more children.
When Rhine is kidnapped and sold as a bride, she vows to do all she can to escape. Her husband, Linden, is hopelessly in love with her, and Rhine can’t bring herself to hate him as much as she’d like to. He opens her to a magical world of wealth and illusion she never thought existed, and it almost makes it possible to ignore the clock ticking away her short life. But Rhine quickly learns that not everything in her new husband’s strange world is what it seems. Her father-in-law, an eccentric doctor bent on finding the antidote, is hoarding corpses in the basement. Her fellow sister wives are to be trusted one day and feared the next, and Rhine is desperate to communicate to her twin brother that she is safe and alive. Will Rhine be able to escape–before her time runs out?
Together with one of Linden’s servants, Gabriel, Rhine attempts to escape just before her seventeenth birthday. But in a world that continues to spiral into anarchy, is there any hope for freedom?
369 pages, Simon & Schuster
I really struggled with whether to give this one a 4 or a 5 – so I settled for 4.5. The writing was amazing, the character development was incredible, and the plot was freshly original. Yet, I found myself able to set it down for long periods of time before I picked it up again (to be clear – “long periods of time” for me = an hour or two). By the end, I was very emotionally invested in Rhine, Gabriel, Linden, and even Cecily and her baby Bowen.
Lauren DeStefano’s mind must be a pretty incredible place. Dystopian novels are clearly the latest fad in YA, yet hers stands apart from the others, not even trying to be like every other book out there. There is, of course, the requisite love triangle (and let me stop for just a moment and say that I think Rhine absolutely should have told Linden the truth about everything that was going on). But while the dystopian nature of this society is certainly a large plot point, it’s the characters and relationships that they build with one another that drive the book. And to me, that’s a huge plus.
Wither certainly has a dark side. There’s death. And a lot of it. There’s deception and murder and threats. Kidnapping. Brute force. But Rhine always has hope, and it effects every person she comes into contact with. Rhine is the kind of person that little girls want to be like when they grow up (not circumstantially of course).
Bottom line? If you want a fresh take on a Dystopian society in a beautifully written book, pick up Wither.
Updated: Feb 22, 2012
Release Date: December 6, 2011
From the Publisher: In the magical underworld of Victorian London, Tessa Gray has at last found safety with the Shadowhunters. But that safety proves fleeting when rogue forces in the Clave plot to see her protector, Charlotte, replaced as head of the Institute. If Charlotte loses her position, Tessa will be out on the street—and easy prey for the mysterious Magister, who wants to use Tessa’s powers for his own dark ends.
With the help of the handsome, self-destructive Will and the fiercely devoted Jem, Tessa discovers that the Magister’s war on the Shadowhunters is deeply personal. He blames them for a long-ago tragedy that shattered his life. To unravel the secrets of the past, the trio journeys from mist-shrouded Yorkshire to a manor house that holds untold horrors, from the slums of London to an enchanted ballroom where Tessa discovers that the truth of her parentage is more sinister than she had imagined. When they encounter a clockwork demon bearing a warning for Will, they realize that the Magister himself knows their every move—and that one of their own has betrayed them.
Tessa finds her heart drawn more and more to Jem, though her longing for Will, despite his dark moods, continues to unsettle her. But something is changing in Will—the wall he has built around himself is crumbling. Could finding the Magister free Will from his secrets and give Tessa the answers about who she is and what she was born to do?
As their dangerous search for the Magister and the truth leads the friends into peril, Tessa learns that when love and lies are mixed, they can corrupt even the purest heart.
528 pages, Simon and Schuster Margaret K. McElderry Books
I have just finished this book and my heart is still in my throat. I found myself having physical and audible reactions to things contained within these pages!
Oh Will. My dear sweet Will. Why didn’t you tell anyone what had happened to you? So much heartache and pain could have been avoided. But knowing what you’ve been through made me love you even more.
And Tessa, are you absolutely blind to what happens around you? I love you, but I want to strangle you. In the end, I think you are too kind for your own good. But would I make the same choices you did? More than likely.
Jem, I don’t understand how you can simultaneously hope for a future and hope for death. I’m looking forward to seeing more of your thoughts in the next installment. Perhaps then I will find more fondness than I have for you now – because now, I think you are selfishly blind despite your overwhelming kindness.
And the rest… I am thrilled with how most things came to pass in this book. Some stories have an ending, others now have a middle, and still others are just beginning. Exactly how the sophomore book in a trilogy should be.
If you loved Clockwork Angel, you will adore this one. It’s definitely better than the last.
Cassie Clare? Can I live in your imagination please? Please and thank you.
Updated: Feb 22, 2012
Release Date: August 31, 2010
From the Publisher: Magic is dangerous–but love is more dangerous still.
When sixteen-year-old Tessa Gray crosses the ocean to find her brother, her destination is England, the time is the reign of Queen Victoria, and something terrifying is waiting for her in London’s Downworld, where vampires, warlocks and other supernatural folk stalk the gaslit streets. Only the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the world of demons, keep order amidst the chaos.
Kidnapped by the mysterious Dark Sisters, members of a secret organization called The Pandemonium Club, Tessa soon learns that she herself is a Downworlder with a rare ability: the power to transform, at will, into another person. What’s more, the Magister, the shadowy figure who runs the Club, will stop at nothing to claim Tessa’s power for his own.
Friendless and hunted, Tessa takes refuge with the Shadowhunters of the London Institute, who swear to find her brother if she will use her power to help them. She soon finds herself fascinated by–and torn between–two best friends: James, whose fragile beauty hides a deadly secret, and blue-eyed Will, whose caustic wit and volatile moods keep everyone in his life at arm’s length…everyone, that is, but Tessa. As their search draws them deep into the heart of an arcane plot that threatens to destroy the Shadowhunters, Tessa realizes that she may need to choose between saving her brother and helping her new friends save the world…and that love may be the most dangerous magic of all.
496 pages, Simon and Schuster Margaret K. McElderry Books
I read this one when it came out last year, but I wanted to re-read it before I read Clockwork Prince next week. I’m glad I did! I remember liking it the first time around, but I really didn’t remember much about the details of the story. And man, what a cliffhanger ending (well, okay not a cliffhanger per se since the main story was tied up neatly, but I WANT TO KNOW ALL THE THINGS)!
When I read it last year, I remember thinking that I preferred Clary and Jace over Tessa and Will… but this reread has really changed my opinion. I voted for – and would again – Clary over Tessa in the YA Sisterhood Heroine Tourney, but Tessa really grew on me this time around. She is strong-willed and sassy, but always willing to see the good in people, despite the face they show. I admire her.
I spent most of the book wanting to smack Will around, and that desire only grew stronger by the end of the book. Why can’t he stop being a stupid boy and just trust someone with his secrets? That’s something that always gets me in many of the books I read – it’s usually oh-so-obvious that if the character would only open up and trust someone and communicate with them, so much heartache could be avoided.
Sounds kind of like real life too, doesn’t it?
I can’t wait to read Clockwork Prince next week – I’ve managed to stay entirely spoiler free (I haven’t even read the publisher’s summary yet) but I’m really hoping that we get some insight into Will’s past. I love this world that Cassie Clare has created, and I love that she is writing two series simultaneously that take place in this world.
“One must always be careful of books,” said Tessa, “and what is inside them, for words have the power to change us.”