Seer by Ashley Maker

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the author and my friend Mary Ellen. Thanks! All opinions are my own!

 

Rating: 3.5/5

 

Genre: YA Paranormal Romance/Dystopian/Science-Fiction

 

Recommended Age: 15+ (romance scenes and violence)

 

Pages: 344

 

Author Website

 

Amazon Link

 

Synopsis: When Clare Palmer accepts a scholarship to attend Evergreen, she thinks she’s escaping her insane, estranged father, while also getting the chance to go to the school her late mother graduated from. Instead, she finds herself trapped in a scientifically-enhanced, combat-obsessed society called the Corasha who view her as a dangerous outsider.

Clare views herself as an outsider, too. Unwilling to accept the outrageous claims of those around her, she’s ready to get out of Evergreen at the first opportunity, until unwanted and unstable visible abilities begin to surface, confirming she’s a Seer, a biological anomaly that’s both prized and guarded by the Corasha. The only person who knows about her phasing is Kade, the attractive yet infuriating mentor she’s now indebted to, but trusting him comes with a price her heart might not be willing to pay.

Surrounded by dangerous secrets and hidden agendas, Clare must figure out who she can trust—and fast, because there’s a war coming, and the last thing she wants is to become a weapon in the wrong hands.

 

Oh wow! I don’t think I’ve read a paranormal romance in quite a long time (and I’m not sure if this qualifies as a paranormal romance or if it’s more scifi-y but I’m gonna go with it)… probably since Twilight? Anyways, I went into this kinda blind and I felt for my first trip back into the genre I thought it was really well done. I’m really into conspiracy theories and plots within plots so this one definitely grabbed my attention. I also really enjoyed the world building aspect and the character development.

 

 

However, I did feel that the book had uneven pacing. It was fast in some parts and then tremendously slow in others. The main character was a tad annoying for me and she really didn’t seem to want to figure out what was happening on her own. While this book was very entertaining for me generally, I felt that Clare’s personality really put me off this novel.

 

Verdict: Unique and amazing story within a story that deserves to be read.

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Ozland by Wendy Spinale (Everland #3)

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book through KidLitExchange from the publishing company Scholastic Press in exchange for review and promotion. Thanks! All opinions are my own.

 

Rating: 3/5

 

Genre: YA Dystopian/Fantasy/Retelling

 

Recommended Age: 14+ (violence, slight gore, murder, and poison)

 

Pages: 288

 

Amazon Link

 

Author Website

 

Synopsis: With Everland and Umberland both destroyed, the survivors have taken refuge in a small village tucked within the shadows of the Bloodred Queen’s castle. Doc has found an actual cure for the Horologia virus, while Gwen, Pete, and Alyssa begin plotting the assassination of the queen with the help of Gail, an excellent huntress. But killing the queen won’t be enough. The world has been destroyed and its needs a ruler to set things right again. A ruler who is good, kind, and fair. Someone like the former king of Germany. But he’s dead … or is he?

There’s a rumor that the king has been hidden away in a secret land, where only the worthiest can find him. Desperate to end the war, a plan is hatched that could put everything right again, only before it’s set in motion, the village is burned to the ground, all survivors taken prisoner to the castle. Except Gail.

But is one girl enough to find a long-dead king, kill the wicked queen, and save the world?

 

While I was heavily disappointed with how Umberland turned out I wanted to complete the series, thus I started this book. This book takes place a few months (weeks? Unsure) after the events in Umberland. The book does really well at drawing in your interest immediately with all the death and destruction of this world and it’s amazing to see how twisted a retelling can be. The plot overall was also good and well thought-out as was the steampunk elements of the book.

 

However, I did feel that there wasn’t any character development and that the book was incredibly fast paced. Dystopians are usually slower paced then what we see in this read and the pacing of this book really makes the reader rush through all the elements of this world. The world building in this book was almost non-existent and the writing was a bit confusing to read. I’m not sure if the fault in that was from the multiple POV or because the writing flew by a lot of important items and retelling portions in the book. The book is good overall, but I feel that if this entire series was expanded in terms of world building and character development then I think the series would be better overall.

 

Verdict: Good, but not as good as the original.

Umberland by Wendy Spinale (Everland #2)

Disclaimer: None, I got this on my own accord!

 

Rating: 2/5

 

Genre: YA Fantasy/Dystopian/Steampunk

 

Recommended Age: 15+ (violence, murder, slight gore, sexual references, drug references)

 

Pages: 275

 

Amazon Link

 

Author Website

 

Synopsis: Gwen, Pete, and the others have escaped from Everland. Except the safe haven they hoped to find at Alnwick Castle doesn’t exist. With the Queen of England on her deathbed, Duchess Alyssa has stepped in, but things have gotten worse as the cure Doc created for the Horologia virus has mutated into something even more deadly. The only possible solution he can think of is to go back to the virus’s origin: an extinct poisonous apple.

Legend has it, though, that a tree bearing the apple might be found at the center of an impossible labyrinth hidden deep within Germany. A place no one in their right mind enters. With no other options, Alyssa sets out with only her sword, her wits, and the help of Maddox Hadder, a wild boy who oversees the castle gardens. To get to the center of the maze, she’ll be forced to battle monsters more terrifying than her darkest nightmares.

But can anyone truly survive the madness of the maze? And what if there’s no apple to be found there?

 

I adored the first book in this series and seeing as how Alice in Wonderland is one of my faves I decided to give this book a try. For the most part is was okay. The steampunk elements were still there, the plot was okay, and for the most part this was a pretty good book.

 

However, there were a lot of issues with this book.  For starters, let’s just say that if you’re going to read this book make sure to read the first one right before. The book begins immediately with no backstory information/helpful hints for the reader who might have not read the last book in a bit. The characters are flat and boring, the world building is super confusing and too much of a reach for what this book needed, the continuation from the first book felt super forced, and the plot was awful. I don’t understand what happened between book 1 and book 2, but there’s a stark contrast between the two. I don’t understand what make it possible for any of the events that happen in book 2 to happen in book 2 and I like how the author tried to cram everything Alice in Wonderland into this book. Retellings are supposed to borrow things from their originals, not take everything and recreate it. No one complained when the shoes were turned from silver to ruby and no one complained when Belle became an inventor. Some of my favorite retellings are those that have just some elements from the originals, not everything in it. This book needed a complete overhaul to be as good as the first book, but I wonder if there ever should have been a continuation at all.

 

Verdict: Don’t fix it if it’s not broken.

Brightly Burning by Alexa Donne

Rating: 5/5

Genre: YA Sci-Fi/Romance/Dystopian/Retelling

Recommended Age: 15+ (violence, sexual references, dystopian like horrors, and ice age)

Pages: 400

Amazon Link

Author Website

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book as an e-arc on NetGalley. Thanks! All opinions are my own.

Synopsis: Stella Ainsley leaves poverty behind when she quits her engineering job aboard the Stalwart to become a governess on a private ship. On the Rochester, there’s no water ration, more books than one person could devour in a lifetime, and an AI who seems more friend than robot.
But no one warned Stella that the ship seems to be haunted, nor that it may be involved in a conspiracy that could topple the entire interstellar fleet. Surrounded by mysteries, Stella finds her equal in the brooding but kind, nineteen-year-old Captain Hugo. When several attempts on his life spark more questions than answers, and the beautiful Bianca Ingram appears at Hugo’s request, his unpredictable behavior causes Stella’s suspicions to mount. Without knowing who to trust, Stella must decide whether to follow her head or her heart.
Alexa Donne’s lush and enthralling reimagining of the classic Jane Eyre, set among the stars, will seduce and beguile you

So… I don’t read synopses and I shortly found out after I started reading this book that it was a Jane Eyre retelling. I’m one of those horrible people that hasn’t read many classics (well, I’ve not read the popular classics) but since I was somewhat familiar with Jane Eyre from a YouTube video explaining the highlights of it, I felt I was in a good position to read it. Surprisingly though I didn’t need my limited knowledge of the book to understand what was going on. The book was written so well and so unique given its retelling status. The book didn’t feel like a retelling and unless you were either familiar with the book you wouldn’t notice it was a retelling. The book also expanded from the original story so much and it really made the story its own. The characters in the book were very well developed and what you think is going to happen is completely the opposite of what does. The book did well at doing away at some of the tired old YA clichés. The book also had so many twists and turns that you can’t tell where the book is going. Hands down, one of my favorite Sci-Fi’s to date.

However, I did think that the book could have expanded more on the world building a bit, but once again what we got in the book was really well done and adequate. I need more though and I really hope we get a companion novel to this book. Maybe a Pride and Prejudice retelling? Little Women? White Fang? Wait…

Verdict: Jane Eyre in space is cool. If only Charlotte Bronte thought of it.

Gunslinger Girl by Lyndsey Ely

Rating: 4/5

 

Genre: YA Dystopian/Western/A bit of feminism

 

Recommended Age: 16+ (sexual references, drug and alcohol use, suicide trigger warning, gore, violence)

 

Pages: 422

 

Author Website
Amazon Link

 

Disclaimer: None, I got this copy on my own accord.

 

Synopsis: Seventeen-year-old Serendipity “Pity” Jones inherited two things from her mother: a pair of six shooters and perfect aim. She’s been offered a life of fame and fortune in Cessation, a glittering city where lawlessness is a way of life. But the price she pays for her freedom may be too great….

 

In this extraordinary debut from Lyndsay Ely, the West is once again wild after a Second Civil War fractures the U.S. into a broken, dangerous land. Pity’s struggle against the dark and twisted underbelly of a corrupt city will haunt you long after the final bullet is shot.

 

I don’t think I’ve ever read a Western before this book. And while this book is set in an alternate world where there was a Second Civil War and there is all sorts of technology I’ve never heard of, I’m still going to count this as a Western. Because it’s my review.  I can call it Zamboni and it would be fine. Anyways, we follow Pity in this book who lives in a fragmented America. She’s a part of a commune that basically owns women and their wombs and she is being sold by her father to a man she’s never met to push out babies for him. Ew. Anyways, she runs away and goes on an adventure where she discovers herself. I really liked this book for a lot of reasons, but the thing that stands out the most to me is that Pity is not a typical YA heroine. She doesn’t come equipped with all of these lifesaving powers. While she knows how to shoot guns and is amazing at it, she fails in this book… a lot…. Like a regular person would. She also suffers from self-doubt and PTSD, which make for an interesting and human-like main character. The other characters are also widely diverse and the main love interest isn’t some big protector but a sensitive artist, which reminds me a lot of Peeta from The Hunger Games. The writing was extremely well done and the plot and pacing were as well.

 

However, there were just some things that were downers for me. The science in this book and the world building weren’t that great. They were middle ground, but I wanted to know more and I felt that I wasn’t given a lot of info about these items. There was a huge cast of characters and I easily became confused about them. I couldn’t quite remember who each one was and that became frustrating to me throughout the book. There were also a lot of characters that were introduced but weren’t given a lot of screen time at all. The story also didn’t have a well-defined plot. There were a lot of different little stories that Pity goes through, but from where the book began and where it ended the plot completely shifted. While I’m pleased with the outcome of this book, I’m not sure if others would be.

 

Verdict: Yippiekiyay cowboys!!

The Dead & The Gone (Life As We Knew It #2) by Susan Beth Pfeffer

Rating: 5/5

 

Genre: YA Dystopian/Post Apocalyptic

 

Recommended Age: 16+ (gore, disaster, death, trigger warning for sexual and physical assault)

 

Pages: 308

 

Author Website

 

Amazon Link

 

Disclaimer: None, I bought my own copy!

 

Synopsis: Susan Beth Pfeffer’s Life as We Knew It enthralled and devastated readers with its brutal but hopeful look at an apocalyptic event—an asteroid hitting the moon, setting off a tailspin of horrific climate changes. Now this harrowing companion novel examines the same events as they unfold in New York City, revealed through the eyes of seventeen-year-old Puerto Rican Alex Morales. When Alex’s parents disappear in the aftermath of tidal waves, he must care for his two younger sisters, even as Manhattan becomes a deadly wasteland, and food and aid dwindle.
With haunting themes of family, faith, personal change, and courage, this powerful novel explores how a young man takes on unimaginable responsibilities.

 

While the first book in this series took place from the viewpoint of Miranda, in this book we’re introduced to Alex who also has to make hard decisions, especially in the wake of great family tragedy. The story takes place in New York, which we were told in the first book was massively devastated when the moon was knocked closer to Earth. The book is not so much a sequel to the first book, but more of a companion as it takes place at the same time as the events in the first book. I thought the characters were wonderfully well developed, even down to some of the minute side characters. The plot development and pacing were so well done. I finished the book in a matter of days and I craved more from the book. You can tell the author is also a master at words as she was able to make the book, in the same format as the first, sound so much different but still entertaining at the same time.

 

The only thing I felt was weird was that while the book was still in diary format, the book was not. Alex didn’t journal and the book was from third person perspective, but the diary format in the first book was from first person perspective. It made the book a little funny to read, but it was great to follow along the days that way. I got used to the format after awhile as it didn’t have any real impact on the writing overall.

 

Verdict: If you like dystopian/post-apocalyptic books then this is a must-read for you.

Scythe by Neal Schusterman

Rating: 5/5

 

Genre: YA Dystopian

 

Recommended Age: 16+ (violence, gore, suicide trigger warning)

 

Pages: 435

 

Author Website

 

Amazon Link

 

Disclaimer: None, I bought my own copy!

 

Synopsis: Two teens must learn the “art of killing” in this Printz Honor–winning book, the first in a chilling new series from Neal Shusterman, author of the New York Times bestselling Unwind dystology.

A world with no hunger, no disease, no war, no misery: humanity has conquered all those things, and has even conquered death. Now Scythes are the only ones who can end life—and they are commanded to do so, in order to keep the size of the population under control.

Citra and Rowan are chosen to apprentice to a scythe—a role that neither wants. These teens must master the “art” of taking life, knowing that the consequence of failure could mean losing their own.

Scythe is the first novel of a thrilling new series by National Book Award–winning author Neal Shusterman in which Citra and Rowan learn that a perfect world comes only with a heavy price.

 

Meet the book that made me run out and buy a robe and sickle. I am now a Scythe (in my mind) and I will glean without bias and malice. Seriously though this book was written so intelligently. The characters were amazing and well developed. The plot and pacing were awesome. I can’t recommend this book enough if you love dystopians. I can’t think of anything else to describe how amazing this book was and how beautiful it fits into the dystopian world along side of classics like The Hunger Games and Divergent.

 

However, I do have to say that the book does have some big ex machina moments that made some of the more unbelievable moments in the book solvable out of the blue. However, if you don’t mind these types of things then this book is an enjoyable read.

 

Verdict: Glean without malice and bias. Also go read this amazing book.

Heart of Iron by Ashley Poston

Rating: 4.5/5

 

Genre: YA Sci-Fi/Dystopian

 

Recommended Age: 15+ (violence, gore)

 

Pages: 467

 

Author Website

 

Amazon Link

 

Disclaimer: None! I got this book in my Blu’s Bookish Bag!

 

Synopsis: Seventeen-year-old Ana is a scoundrel by nurture and an outlaw by nature. Found as a child drifting through space with a sentient android called D09, Ana was saved by a fearsome space captain and the grizzled crew she now calls family. But D09—one of the last remaining illegal Metals—has been glitching, and Ana will stop at nothing to find a way to fix him.

Ana’s desperate effort to save D09 leads her on a quest to steal the coordinates to a lost ship that could offer all the answers. But at the last moment, a spoiled Ironblood boy beats Ana to her prize. He has his own reasons for taking the coordinates, and he doesn’t care what he’ll sacrifice to keep them.

When everything goes wrong, she and the Ironblood end up as fugitives on the run. Now their entire kingdom is after them—and the coordinates—and not everyone wants them captured alive.

What they find in a lost corner of the universe will change all their lives—and unearth dangerous secrets. But when a darkness from Ana’s past returns, she must face an impossible choice: does she protect a kingdom that wants her dead or save the Metal boy she loves?

 

 

I’ve heard a rumor in St. Petersburg that this book was a journey to the past, a retelling of Anatasia in space. I couldn’t contain my excitement and read this as soon as I received it! Once upon a December, or in the dark of the night since this is set in space, a young girl and a robot were found floating in space and they floated their way into my heart throughout this story. But the crew they found themselves with are into the whole Firefly thing so they learn to do it too. Anyways, as a retelling I was really surprised how accurate it stayed to the cartoon and legend of Anatasia. It even had a whole “Paris holds the key to your heart” element to the story. But at the beginning of the story you can definitely tell this is an unique story that can hold its own. The book did very well with the character development and the plot. The book never felt stale and the pacing keep the book moving at a well timed speed. The book is in multiple POV, but that let the characters have their own exemplary development.

 

However, the book did have a couple of downfalls. A prologue would have been great in this book and the nightmare of this book was all the spelling errors found on simple words. The book  will kidnap and reunion you with its fast paced scene and character changes and the part where the Ana is reminiscing with Grandma isn’t what I expected, but the finale is what makes this book wonderful and it’s worth a read.

 

Verdict: If you didn’t realize what I did there then make sure to read very slowly, maybe with a song or two playing in the background.

New World: Rising by Jennifer Kay Wilson

Rating: 3/5

 

Genre: YA Dystopian

 

Recommended Age: 14+ (violence, some gore, end of the world jazz)

 

Pages: 318

 

Author Website

 

Amazon Link

 

Disclaimer: None, I got this book in an OwlCrate sub box that I bought with my own money.

 

Synopsis: Worlds collide in debut author Jennifer Wilson’s graphic dystopian series where Divergent meets Mad Max. Since witnessing her parents’ murders at the age of eleven, Phoenix’s only purpose in life has been to uphold her mother’s dying words – to be strong and survive. But surviving outside of The Walls – outside of The Sanctuary – is more like a drawn-out death sentence. A cruel and ruthless city, Tartarus is run by the Tribes whose motto is simple, “Join or die.”

Refusing to join and determined to live, Phoenix fights to survive in this savage world.

But who can she trust, when no one can be trusted? Not even herself…

The first of a trilogy, New World Rising is an epic tale of survival, instinct, trauma, and the extraordinary power of human connection.

 

Another dystopian, another day. This one I wanted to try out because I heard such good things about it, but personally I had some issues with it. The book was decent overall. I felt that the character development was really good and the storyline was interesting. Unfortunately these were the only things I liked.

 

I felt that while the pacing was okay, the beginning of the story dragged on really slow. Nothing really was interesting until over 50 pages into the book. I felt while the world building was really well done, I was left with more questions than answers about why we were in this world and what was happening. I also noticed some plot holes throughout the book. Also insta-love and cliffhangers.

 

Verdict: Overall, this book was good on the surface but when I started digging around the book I felt that this book had a lot of things left to explain.

Defiant by Julian A. Valentini

Rating: 3.5/5

01

Genre: YA Dystopian/Sci-Fi

 

Recommended Age: 15+ (violence and language)

 

Pages: 320

 

Author Website

 

Amazon Link

 

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publishing company (Austin Macauley) in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own.

 

Synopsis: When his sister tests positive for the Defiance Virus, young fisherman, Junas Reilly, tricks the examiners and switches the files documenting her illness. He takes her place like his rebellious father and finds himself thrown into Penance Square, the city turned prison where the worst of society go including the criminal, traitorous, and worst of all, the Defiant. Upon arriving in the Square, Junas befriends those that make him question everything he’s thought about not only the Defiant, but every person he meets. However, making a few “allies” isn’t enough to survive the Square, and the whispers of an impending civil war does nothing to make it easier.

 

I think this year will be known as the year I read ten thousand dystopians. Seriously, I’m like going through these books left and right. This recent read was about middle of the road for me. I liked the concept of this book and I loved the storyline. The plot was intriguing and the world building was pretty well done. For the most part I enjoyed the book.

 

However, I did feel that some of the stuff in this book wasn’t that well explained and that the character development for some wasn’t quite there. I did get confused during some of the more action-y scenes as well.

 

Verdict: A well constructed dystopian that any lover of the genre would want to read.