Posted in Dystopian, review, young adult

Unravel Me – Tahereh Mafi

“Time is beyond our finite comprehension. It’s endless, it exists outside of us; we cannot run out of it or lose track of it or find a way to hold on to it. Time goes on even when we do not.”

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Blurb: “It should have taken Juliette a single touch to kill Warner. But his mysterious immunity to her deadly power has left her shaken, wondering why her ultimate defense mechanism failed against the person she most needs protection from.”

After rereading Shatter Me and not loving it as much as I did previously, I approached the sequel with trepidation. It took a few restarts because that fear was too much. And after I got passed that, I discovered that I didn’t need to worry at all.

Tahereh Mafi is a superb writer. She has this incredible way of stringing together metaphors to describe feelings that fit every single time. She manages to balance every thread of a story so perfectly that nothing feels neglected.

The narrative choice of crossed out sections continue to show Juliette’s state of mind. It’s an interesting framing that really works well for the character and this story. They are less frequent than Shatter Me and I already know that they continue and change over the course of the series. It’s a great way to show the crucial moments when the protagonist doubts herself.

Unravel Me doesn’t fall to that “second book syndrome” and I think a lot of that is the knowledge that it is now an extended series. At the time of release, it was a trilogy. Now, it’s a six book series. Either way, even in the slow moving sections I was completely hooked.

Unravel Me is a triumph and Tahereh Mafi continues to prove that she is a writer that is going to be around for a very long time.

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Posted in Dystopian, review, young adult

Blood, Ink And Fire – Ashley Mansour

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Blurb: “Imagine a world without books…
In the future, books are a distant memory. The written word has been replaced by an ever-present stream of images known as Verity. In the controlling dominion of the United Vales of Fell, reading is obsolete and forbidden, and readers themselves do not—cannot—exist.
But where others see images in the stream, teenager Noelle Hartley sees words. She’s obsessed with what they mean, where they came from, and why they found her.

Noelle’s been keeping her dangerous fixation with words a secret, but on the night before her seventeenth birthday, a rare interruption in the stream leads her to a mysterious volume linked to an underworld of rebel book lovers known as the Nine of the Rising. With the help of the Risers and the beguiling boy Ledger, Noelle discovers that the words within her are precious clues to the books of the earlier time—and as a child of their bookless age, she might be the world’s last hope of bringing them back.”

*I was sent this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

This book, as mentioned in the blurb, is about the world after books have fallen out of existence. I was nervous going into this because the last book I read about the destruction of books not because the idea of books being harmed in any way is scary to me, but that I read “Fahrenheit 451” and I didn’t enjoy it.

The story follows Noelle who is about to celebrate her seventeenth birthday upon which she will have her immersion. Noelle lives in the UVF (United States of Fell) in one of twenty vales. The four laws of this world are as follows:

  • No valer may leave the UVF without being sanctioned for transfer.
  • Every Valer must absorb Verity’s stream and undergo immersion.
  • Any valer found in possession of the written word, and shares it is considered a traitor.
  • (unstated) Valers don’t discuss treason.

Each home has a stream called “verity” which is a virtual fortress of information. “Verity” prepares those underage for immersion via lessons and generates pictures to the valers of that home.

Noelle likes to play games with her friend John. In these word games, John describes something and Noelle tells him the word for it. John reveals that he is leaving, gives her a map, and tells her to find him before she gets taken for immersion. “Verity” picks up on this and share’s it with Noelle’s family who ban her from seeing John.

Of course, she does what every teen does and runs away, taking her mother’s ID pass to get the train on this little adventure. Noelle meets John’s Grandma who has an actual, physical book and Noelle discovers that she is a reader – the last of a dying breed. Noelle’s actions have devastating consequences. Noelle is forced on the run but determined to fight the people who ruined her life. If only John hadn’t started acting…odd.

This book, from the outside, seemed to have an interesting concept. Given that books pretty much rule my life, it’s terrifying to think about what would happen if they were taken away. It has some current YA tropes running through it that I can see bringing in fans of YA dystopian however, it has a bit of a love interest and some… weird, creepy and irrelevant romance. Things also get very confusing. Even after reflecting on the book when I’d finished (and in fact upon reflection when writing this review) I don’t understand entirely what “Verity” is. And the fact that it wasn’t explained in a way I sort of understood until a good half, maybe even three quarters in, meant I lost my thread and I have to admit, I skim-read the last half.

Noelle was a great character but she was just stuck in the middle of a confusing, not well explained story.
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Posted in Dystopian, review, young adult

New World: Rising – Jennifer Wilson

 

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Blurb: “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.”

*This book was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review*
When I started reading this book, I was initially struck by the unique and interesting way the groups of people were showcased. Rather than drowning the reader with information in a prologue, or first chapter, the groups were shown through sketches.

 

As shown from the images above, it provides a handy reference guide to go back to if you’re confused by any of the tribes. So let me break them down for you.

Wraiths: “the ghosts of the city”, seen collecting victim’s left hands

Ravagers: Hunt people for sport.

Adroits: smart group, set traps that result in high payout, low physical involvement.

Jaciturns – deceptive, have spies in other tribes

Scavengers: thieves

Colons: filthy STOLE FROM HER PARENTS

See? Not as interesting as the beautiful images is it?

The story follows Phoenix who gets through every day with her mother’s last words echoing in her ears: “be strong, survive.” And that’s what Phoenix intends to do. She holds a deep hatred for the Scavengers, who stole her parent’s last belongings, and the ravagers who took her parents lives. She is alone in this incredible dystopian world that Jennifer Wilson has created.

Through Phoenix, the world is explored as she does everything she can to survive. Science changed the world for better and for worse. The wall was built and The Sanctuary created. Those seeking equality and security were welcomed to The Sanctuary and those who sought power were left to Tartarus (which has Greek Mythology connections as Tartarus was the prison for titans).

One night Phoenix travels to a library. While most steal the books to burn them for warmth, Phoenix actually reads them, until she is interrupted by the sound of ravagers and they can hear her. She manages to escape with damage to her leg, but at least she’s alive. She runs outside to look for a safe place only to hear the hunting call of the ravagers. Then she hears screaming – a child screaming. She tries to save her and is captured.

Phoenix is sure her captors are the ravagers although this turns out not to be the case. They call themselves The Subversive and they want answers.

Phoenix was successful in saving the child but it turns out that she is a mute so cannot give The Subversive what they want. After being probed with questions Phoenix has little interest in answering, The Subversive ask her for her father’s notebook so they can unlock the secrets of how she has managed to survive.

The first thing I am going to say about New World: Rising is that a lot of the content is very mature. I was actually shocked by some of what I read purely because I didn’t expect it. So if you’re quite young, I would probably wait a few years before you pick this one up.

Phoenix is your typical dystopian lead that you would categorise heavily in the “strong female” list however, what I loved about this character was that she was flawed. She wakes up every day from night terrors stemming from witnessing her parents deaths. She just felt raw and real to me.

Another aspect I loved was Mouse (the name given to the girl Phoenix saved). She is at a disadvantage as she cannot speak yet the beautiful thing is that she wasn’t cast aside for it. Phoenix helped develop a way for them to communicate using a sign language book and it was really refreshing to see that kind of dialogue taking place.

In contrast, I did have a few issues with this book. The place The Subversive reside is described as a “military bunker” and a lot of the descriptions of it and the reasoning behind The Subversive hiding reminded me of District 13 from Mockingjay and it just felt a bit samey.

The other issue was the romance. I am just so bored with unnecessary romance lately. If it doesn’t add anything to the story, then it doesn’t need to be there. Personally, if I was going off to a war the last thing I’d do is start smooching someone.

These issues aren’t as much with this particular book itself but with reoccurring themes that a spreading out over this genre. And I’m just getting tired of it.

 

All in all, this book was an enjoyable read and I’d like to give a shoutout to Ben over at OfTomes publishing who sent me a copy!
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