Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine

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In a world where knowledge is controlled by the Great Library, and it is forbidden to own original books, Jess Brightwell is a book smuggler. His risky work entails stealing the rarest copies of books and delivering them to the highest bidder. If he’s caught, he will be killed. But, in a ploy for inside information, Jess’ father enrolls him in the Library’s school, where, if he survives, Jess will work for the very institution he steals from. Jess must pass the library’s test while somehow keeping his past hidden. If he fails, he will lose his family (and probably his life) forever.

This is definitely a good pick is you like Harry Potter. There’s a ton of action, plot twists, secrets, and an ending that will leave you ready for the next book. I especially liked how the author mixed a fanasy-esque world with sci-fi, all set in a time that might actually exist. It was so interesting to read how the Library took over the collection of knowledge with the best intentions, but then grew so power hungry that it began deciding which knowledge citizens could read. It’s a story that could lead to a great discussion and comparison to our own time. In all, though, this book has great characters, an interesting story, and is definitely for you if you’re looking for your next binge-read series.

*Lonestar, 2016

Rating: 4.5/5

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The Forgetting by Sharon Cameron

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Every twelve years, Nadia’s world forgets. They lose the memories of their past, their families — even of who they are. To remember, members of Nadia’s society must write down their lives in books. Whatever is written in their books is true. But Nadia knows that some things written down are lies. And she knows because Nadia doesn’t forget. When the rest of her world scrambles to rebuild their fractured lives, Nadia remembers everything that happened before the Forgetting. She knows that her real father altered his book to start a new family. And she knows that her mother is losing her mind because of his betrayal. Somehow, Nadia must discover the truth behind the Forgetting, before her remaining family is ripped apart forever.

If you’re a fan of DivergentThe TestingHunger Games, or any other YA Dystopia, this one is a solid pick for you. Personally, I found it to be slower-paced than I usually like my novels, but its premise is a good one. The author does a good job of examining human nature and posing questions about it. What would you do, if you knew everyone was just going to forget? It’s an interesting thought that could lead to a heavy discussion. If you can get through the parts that drag, the ending is a good one.

Rating: 3/5

Scythe by Neal Shusterman

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In a future in which humanity has conquered death, population control is of the utmost importance. A Scythe’s duty is to glean humans, killing them, and thus maintaining the population balance. A Scythe can live forever, but, tasked with the most gruesome of responsibilities, would they want to? Citra and Rowan are chosen to be apprentices to the esteemed Scythe Faraday. Though neither truly wants the job, the possible benefits of the position are too good to pass up. However, throughout the course of their training, the two apprentices find that there is more lurking within the shadows of scythedom than they realized. Citra and Rowan must solve a life or death mystery, or risk losing their own lives in the aftermath.

This is the best book I’ve read in SO LONG. The premise itself is incredible. I could truly see a world in which humanity conquers disease/death, so population control might actually be an issue. Shusterman brings his typical creative writing to weave a complex mystery, complete a variety of twists and turns. If you’re looking for your next sci-fi addiction, this is it!

*YALSA Best Books For Young Adults, 2017

Rating: 5/5

 

 

Everland by Wendy Spinale

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After a bio-attack on London by an evil new German regime, most adults have perished from the deadly virus dropped on the population. The virus also seems to target girls, leaving nearly all of them missing from the city. Gwen and her siblings, Joanna and Mikey, are some of the last children living in the outskirts of what used to be London (now a ruined city called Everland). During a raid, Joanna is taken by the sinister Captain Hans (Hook), who uses the remaining children as experiments. When Gwen meets the charming but reckless Pete, leader of the “Lost Boys” and who claims he can help Gwen escape, can she trust him to help her get her sister back? And, can she find Joanna before the virus kills the remaining children in London?

If the cover doesn’t sell you on this book (because it’s awesome), think sci-fi Peter Pan with Steampunk. For the most part, this book is a super creative take on Peter Pan, and I loved reading how the author incorporated all the elements of the story into her piece. I also loved how Spinale takes time to humanize the “evil” Captain Hook, rather than just allowing him to be a flat baddie. If you’re into fractured fairy tales, love Peter Pan, or are just looking for a unique read, this is it!

Rating: 4/5

For full analysis (including flags and SPOILERS) click here.

Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

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While Illuminae followed the plight of Kady after her escape from a deadly attack on her home planet, Gemina picks up with Hannah, the daughter of the captain of Hypatia. Though Hypatia may seem to Kady to be a refuge, its status as such quickly deteriorates as BioTech realizes Kady may be headed to the ship to tell her story. In response, BioTech sends an elite team of assassins to “neutralize” the threat Hypatia poses, as well as any possible witnesses. In what was supposed to be a boring weekend of public appearances, Hannah now finds herself swept up in a deadly game of cat-and-mouse with the ship’s intruders. With the help of unlikely friends, she must find a way to stop BioTech’s squad before the truth is erased forever.

Wow!! This one is so good!! I have to be honest, it took me an arguably embarrassingly long time to figure everything out in Illuminae (the first book in this series). There were just so many moving parts, so to speak. In this one, though, the plot picks up fast and moves even faster. Think Die Hard in space. It’s great. The best part is that, if you haven’t read Illuminae, you can still probably follow what’s going on in this book. You will, however, want to read it after you’re done. Don’t miss this one if you liked the first one, or if you’re in the mood for a techie, sci-fi, action thriller!

Rating: 5/5

For full analysis (including flags and SPOILERS) click here

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

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Moments after Kady breaks up with her boyfriend, Ezra, their planet is invaded. Struggling to get to safety, Kady and Ezra (though at odds) must work together to survive the attack. Once the two successfully escape their planet on evacuation ships, more information about the attack starts to surface. The attacking corporation, Bio-Tech, unleashed a deadly virus onto the planet during its attack– one that is now incubating inside the humans aboard the evacuation ships. What’s more, the artificial intelligence on one of the ships may have become too powerful for its own good. Told through files, documents, concrete poetry, and images, Illuminae is the story of Kady, Ezra, and the AI, Aidan, during the harrowing escape from their home planet. Their three stories intertwine in surprising ways, all culminating in a raw, dramatic ending.

Wow, wow, wow! I am not a fan of space-fiction at all, so I had mixed feelings about trying this book. I only did because it has such a unique construction. Instead of reading paragraphs, you read transcripts, chats, poetry, and illustrations. Super cool and different. I have to be honest, the first 200 pages or so are a little slow, but push through! The action, twists, drama, and ending are totally worth it. Plus, I loved reading the character of the evil AI, Aidan. He’s the best/worst. Pick this one up if you’re looking for a new series to get sucked into.

*VOYA Perfect 10, 2015

*YALSA Best Fiction, 2016

Rating: 4.5/5

For full analysis (including flags and SPOILERS) click here. 

Winter by Marissa Meyer

 

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The conclusion to Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles series finds Princess Selene/Cinder and friends scheming their way to Luna to attempt to take Levana’s throne. Frustrated at the lack of control she has on Earth, Levana agrees to host the royal wedding on Luna, where she can manipulate the Earthens and secure her borders as she sees fit. Though Cinder sees the wedding as the perfect (and only) opportunity to infiltrate Luna, the crew’s plans are quickly thwarted by obstacles in the Lunar court. Amid a myriad of captures, betrayals, and death threats, Cinder and Co. must pull together with the people of Luna if they have any chance of victory.

Blerg. I had SUCH high hopes for this book and it turned out to be the weakest in the series. It’s not that the book was bad, but it certainly wasn’t as good as I expected it to be given the strength of the earlier installments. For me, way too much was going on in the story. The book is almost 1,000 pages, and I felt a good 300 or so could have been cut. The same conflicts and situations were occurring over and over again. These were exciting scenarios the first time, but I was tired of them by the third or so repeat. Also, Princess Winter was completely annoying. It may not have helped that I listened to the audiobook version of the novel and the reader did this cloying, saccharine voice for her that just grated on me. Even so, Winter did nothing for me as a character, and, aside from refusing to use her gift, she did nothing for herself either. Don’t get me wrong, this book has some GREAT parts and is a very satisfying, well-thought end to the series. But it’s not the strongest piece at all.

Rating: 3.5/5

For full analysis (including flags and SPOILERS) click here.