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

 

 

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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

Zeroes by Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan, and Deborah Biancotti

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The Zeroes, a group of teens born with unexplained special abilities, formed in order to test and hone their unique powers. However, what should have been a band of superhero friends soon turns ugly when the darker side of their powers takes control. After the group splits, one member, Scam, finds himself in a sticky situation. His superpower voice landed him with a bag full of gang money and entangled him in a bank robbery. Will his friends band together again to save him? And what will they do about the new girl Scam meets in the robbery, one with a power none of them has seen before?

Think “super friends”, but with completely original superpowers. For example, Scam can use a very persuasive voice without even trying (it literally just flows out of his mouth) and Flicker is blind but can see out of other people’s eyes. It’s so cool. Mix in some friendship drama, a bank robbery, and a couple of rescue missions and you have the plot of this book. Though it took a bit to pick up, this was a great read. The plot moves SO quickly and there are some pretty cool twists at the end. I feel like there are infinite possibilities for future books in this series, so stay tuned if you like this one. I’m definitely excited for the story to continue!

Rating: 4/5 

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.

Matched by Ally Condie

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Finally seventeen, Cassia is able to find out who her match is — the person the Society has decided is the perfect person for her. Surprisingly (perhaps relievingly so), Cassia is matched with her longtime friend, Xander. Cassia is overjoyed that her match is someone she already knows so well. But, when Cassia looks at the data the Society officials gave her about her match, another face appears before her eyes — Ky Markham, an outsider new to the Society. Cassia knows that it’s impossible to have two matches, and she’s told that the match with Ky is a horrible joke. But, now that the seed is planted, Cassia can’t stop thinking about Ky, the mistake, and whether the Society’s rules are truly the right way to live.

Aside from this book basically being The Giver, it’s a decent read. If you’re a fan of dystopian/evil society books, Matched is a solid choice (and I heard it gets better as the series progresses). While there’s not a lot of action, there is a good amount of personal drama/suspense, romantic tension, and the book ends on somewhat of a cliffhanger. If you’re looking for a new sci-fi series, give Matched a try — if only to wonder how Condie didn’t get sued.

Rating: 3/5

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

Cress by Marissa Meyer

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The third installment in Meyer’s re-imagined fairy tale series finds Cinder united with allies Scarlett and Wolf, still a fugitive from Earth and desperately trying to stop Queen Levana’s plans. This time, Cinder seeks help from a Lunar programmer, Cress, who has been trapped in an orbiting satellite for most of her life. But Cinder’s and Cress’ plans for escape and rebellion take a deadly turn, leaving the group in shambles. The rebels must find their way back to one another and rescue Emperor Kai before Levana’s plans come to fruition.

I LOVED this book! I wasn’t super enthused with the second book, Scarlet (mostly because I didn’t care for Scarlet that much), but this one was SO much better. Cress is just amazing! She’s funny, smart, and her lovesick obsession with Thorne is heartbreaking and cute at the same time. Definitely don’t miss this one if you’re a fan of the series!

Rating: 4.5/5

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

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

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In the second book of the Lunar Chronicles, Cinder finds herself trapped in prison and scheduled for execution at the hands of Lunar queen, Levana. What’s more, she was recently told that, not only is she Lunar, but she is (allegedly) the lost Lunar princess, Celene. In another part of the world, Scarlet Benoit is searching for her grandmother. She finds a mysterious stranger, Wolf, who claims he wants to help, but the more involved he becomes, the more complicated Scarlet’s path gets. Scarlet finds that her grandmother has secret ties to the Lunars, a discovery that only confuses her more. As Scarlet attempts to connect the threads of her grandmother’s past, Cinder struggles to break out of prison and find the truth in her identity. Unbeknownst to each girl, their paths will soon cross in most unexpected ways.

Can’t lie — this was NOT my favorite book in this series. I LOVE Cinder, but Scarlet was just so boring to me.  I really needed less of her chapters. Once their paths start to intertwine, things start to pick up and get much better, but it takes a while to get there. However, as much as I was bored with Scarlet, I loved reading the parts with Levana. She’s just so evil! I’m very excited to see what happens with her in the next books. It will be quite satisfying to see Cinder bring her down. So, while I wasn’t impressed with this one, I care about the characters enough to keep going.

Rating: 3.5/5

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