Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Review: Skinned by Robin Wasserman (7/10)

Title: Skinned (#1 in Skinned Trilogy)
Author: Robin Wasserman
Publisher: Simon Pulse (US), Simon and Schuster (UK) (2009)

Lia Kahn was perfect: rich, beautiful, popular -- until the accident that nearly killed her. Now she has been downloaded into a new body that only looks human. Lia will never feel pain again, she will never age, and she can't ever truly die. But she is also rejected by her friends, betrayed by her boyfriend, and alienated from her old life.
Forced to the fringes of society, Lia joins others like her. But they are looked at as freaks. They are hated...and feared. They are everything but human, and according to most people, this is the ultimate crime -- for which they must pay the ultimate price.
At first I was seriously sceptical about this book. I was a few chapters in and seriously hating Lia with a passion. Then the plot kicked in and I battled to put the book down.

Skinned is simply written with complex characters who bring depth to a book that has a serious social message attached to it. It is a futuristic spin on conflict between two vastly different social groups and the struggle for acceptance through the eyes of a deeply flawed individual. It raises questions about what is really possible and if scenarios like the ones addressed in this book would really happen should we be able to download our minds into a mechanical body should our organic ones expire.

A similar idea was presented in The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson, however I enjoyed Skinned more. The story was far more captivating.

My only real issue was the abrupt ending of the book. Sure, I get that this is the first in a trilogy, but does it have to be so sudden and rushed?

I do have the next book in the series, Crashed, and hope that it continues directly where Skinned left off and deals with unanswered questions. Otherwise I will be a very upset reader. I actually hate trilogies and miss the days when a story was told in a single volume.

Otherwise, this is a good read!

The next two books in the series are linked below:

I also suggest picking up Daniel Waters' Generation Dead series for an undead approach to the theme of social acceptance.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Review: All These Things I've Done by Gabrielle Zevin (9/10)

Title: All These Things I've Done
Author: Gabrielle Zevin
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (US) PanMacmillian (UK) (2011)

In 2083, chocolate and coffee are illegal, paper is hard to find, water is carefully rationed, and New York City is rife with crime and poverty. And yet, for Anya Balanchine, the sixteen-year-old daughter of the city's most notorious (and dead) crime boss, life is fairly routine. It consists of going to school, taking care of her siblings and her dying grandmother, trying to avoid falling in love with the new assistant D.A.'s son, and avoiding her loser ex-boyfriend. That is until her ex is accidently poisoned by the chocolate her family manufactures and the police think she's to blame. Suddenly, Anya finds herself thrust unwillingly into the spotlight--at school, in the news, and most importantly, within her mafia family. (taken from Amazon.com)

 Firstly, the above blurb is far better than what was printed on the back of my UK copy of this novel. Wow. I am glad that I didn't base my entire opinion on that. It basically made out that the book revolved around Anya and the assistant DA clashing over her relationship with his son, Win (by the way, his full name is Goodwin. Everytime I read his name I would shout "Win!" in my head like some pom-pom waving cheerleader. I never said I was normal. If I was normal, I wouldn't be obsessed with YA paranormal/dystopian novels and like strawberry milkshakes simply because they are pink.). The book has so much more depth than that!

While Win (WIN!) does play a key role, Anya's relationships with her family and best friends are also dealt with. Anya's growth and development are unusual in YA novel and makes this, sadly, a unique read in that respect.

I adored the writing. It was concise and the world Zevin creates around her characters is unique and compelling. It is clever to set a novel of this nature in the future becuase then the rules become your own as an author. Anya is aware that she is the narrator and, sometimes, has little asides to the readers. It reminds me a little of Jane Eyre in that respect.

This is the first in the Birthright series and, obviously, ends with a cliffhanger. Be warned. You will want more. I was tempted to just start the whole thing from the beginning again. If my TBR pile wasn't so epic, I just might have.

All These Things I've Done is incomparable to anything else currently on the YA market. Read it and let me know what you think.

(Forthcoming reviews include Tiger's Curse (Book 1), Switched (Trylle Trilogy)
and Paranormalcy. )

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Review: Cinder by Marissa Meyer (10/10)

Title: Cinder (Book 1 in the Lunar Chronicles)
Author: Marissa Meyer
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends (US)/ Penguin (UK) (Jan 2012)

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . . .

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.
 I had been waiting in anticipation for months ever since I spotted the cover of Cinder on a fellow blogger's site. The whole idea of a cyborg Cinderella really appealed to me. I was suprised to find it so soon after its release (we South Africans usually have to wait a bit before new books can be found in our stores, but this seems to be improving).

I devoured Cinder in four hours, most of which was on a flight between Johannesburg and George. I COULD not put it down.

Cinder herself is a spunky heroine, the romance is deliciously understated and the plot has ample twists to keep even the reluctant reader turning pages. I found no fault in Cinder's world and the technological and mechanical details were wonderfully executed. The dialogue is snappy, realistic and consistant for each character.

As a side note, the chapter headings and cover are stunning. I adore the presentation of the book. It is timeless. I really hope they keep the look of the covers for the next installements and not change the design, as many publishers are prone to doing.

Cinder is the first in a four book series which will go as follows:
2. Scarlet (2013)
3. Cress (2014)
4. Winter (2015)

I have read on several sites that Scarlet is going to focus on a new character and be based on Red Riding Hood, which means that the other two books would very probably be based on other fairy tales too. I am sad that the wait between each installement is so long! Why do publishers and authors torture us readers so? Why?

Friday, February 10, 2012

Review: Chasing Brooklyn (10/10)

Title: Chasing Booklyn
Author: Lisa Schroeder
Publisher: Simon Pulse (2010)

Dear Lucca,
I’ve read six comics. I still can’t go back to sleep.
I had a horrible dream. I don’t even want to talk
about it.
Daddy told me after Mom moved out, I could
wake him up if I ever needed anything. But then
I’d have to tell him about the dream. He’d worry
about me. Probably think this thing with Gabe is
getting to me. And then who knows what he’d do.
Anyway, what could he do for me, besides give me
a hug and tell me to go back to sleep? He can’t do
anything for me. Not really.
So I guess I’ll read about Tom Strong some more.
 recently read a review online about him where
someone said, “Tom Strong stands for goodness,
purity of heart, tolerance, and family.” No wonder
I like him so much.
Love always,
Brooklyn (Extract from Chasing Brooklyn - Lisa Schroeder 2010)

Chasing Brooklyn is the companion novel to Lisa Schroeder's I Heart You, You Haunt Me.

Brooklyn, even a year after the death of her boyfriend, Lucca, is still mourning his loss. Not even days after the anniversary of his death, a mutual friend of theirs, Gabe, passes away, sending Brooklyn spiralling into depression and sadness. This is compounded by Gabe appearing in terrifying dreams.

Nico, Lucca's brother, starts recieving clear messages in various forms that he should help Brooklyn.

As their shaky friendship forms, both Nico and Brooklyn find themselves dealing with their grief and new feelings for each other.

I adored this book. I was a bit skeptical about it, as it is written in verse and I hadn't attempted a novel in this style before. It suited the raw emotions and story perfectly. In fact, I cannot fault this book at all.

I found Chasing Brooklyn to be a refreshing, quick read. While it has paranormal elements, the characters and their emotions are so real.

Basically, go and read it. Now. That is all.