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

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

 

 

The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle by Janet Fox

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In the days of the deadly Blitz on London, Kat and her younger siblings are sent to a country boarding school to escape the danger. Housed in an ancient and mysterious castle, the school is unconventional to say the least, and the children immediately begin to notice inexplicable happenings. Strange noises haunt the nights, and the children are locked in their rooms at night to keep them “safe”. What’s more, Kat finds evidence that the school may be housing a German spy. Though completely unconvinced of the ghost story theories put forth by the other children, Kat has trouble explaining much of what happens at Rookskill. Working together, the children will have to solve the complex mystery of the castle, before it’s too late.

This one is a mix of historical fiction, supernatural fiction, and sci-fi, and it’s amazing! I’ll take a story about a haunted castle any day, so I was more than excited to read of the children’s adventures in the spooky hidden rooms. The book also does a nice job with the historical fiction aspect. It isn’t difficult to understand what is going on with the history, and it certainly isn’t boring. I can’t say too much without spoiling the plot, but suffice it to say that if you’re looking for a ghost story with a bit of unexpected sci-fi mixed in, look no further. My one complaint about the book was that the author arguably had too many plot twists going on, but that also made for an exciting read!

Rating: 4.5/5

 

 

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.

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. 

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.