The New Dark

The New Dark cover

Author: Lorraine Thomson

Series: The Dark Times

Genre: Dystopian/Fantasy

Publisher: Bastei Entertainment

Pages: 221

 

Sorrel lives in a world with no power, little food, and limited people and entertainment. She is fairly content in her walled in village, though, where everyone works together to get by. She has her mother, her siblings, and the boy she likes seems to have chosen her back. Things seem to be ok, for the most part, until the day that the mutants came. They ripped her family from her, and took David and several other kids from the village as hostages. Sorrel sets out on a journey that she may or may not survive, determined to get David and her youngest brother, Eli, back from the mutants, or die trying.

I really enjoyed this Thomson novel. It has been a while since I have read a dystopian, so it was fun to journey back in to a dystopian land. The world-building was well done in this book. The only real issue that I had with it, is that we don’t really get any type of a back-story at all as to what lead to this new era. It would have been nice to have gotten some hint as to the past issues that lead up to the now. That may very well be a personal preference, though, and did no really detract from the visualization of the current world. The main players are all well developed, if not always likeable. Likeability in the mc’s is certainly not something that is a must-have for me to enjoy the book, although I do need to understand their motivation, which was evident in this case. One thing that this book has, that I was not expecting, was the added bonus of making me consider morality: Who truly were the “good” and “bad” beings, in this case? Was it the humans or the mutants? Were any of them truly good or bad, or is it a matter of the position that you can place yourself in to see their point of view the most easily? I was not expecting that out of this novel at all, but it was certainly there. I always enjoy it when a book can make me consider things a bit deeper. The only other criticism that I found was that it did drag a bit in some parts, although it picked back up soon after, so it was not an issue to push through those areas. Overall, this was a good start to, what will be, a new trilogy. I’m looking forward to the next installment.

 

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An Ember in the Ashes (Book 1)

An Ember in the Ashes cover

Author: Sabaa Tahir

Series: An Ember in the Ashes

Genre: Fantasy/Dystopian

Publisher: Razorbill

Pages: 464

 

In a world built in the image of ancient Rome, no one challenges the Martial Empire. The penalty for such is death, most likely after a period of torture. The Scholars have been forced in to poverty and/or slavery after the Empire overtook them. Martial parents look forward to the day when their children have the chance to be accepted in to Blackcliff, the school which trains them to become Masks, the enforcers and assassins.

Laia is a Scholar girl, living with her grandparents after her parents (who were Scholar Resistance leaders) were caught and killed by the Masks. They live a peaceful existence, even though they are in poverty, by caring for the ill and making jam. That is until the Masks show up at their house to arrest her brother for treason. They kill her grandparents, arrest her brother, and burn their house down. With her whole family gone, Laia turns to the Resistance to help her rescue her brother before he is killed. Their price: she must go undercover as a slave to the Martial Empire to get information for them. Once inside, she meets Elias- the most skilled soldier in Blackcliff. Although highly trained and skilled, all Elias wants is to be free. He has no desire to be a Mask for the Empire. After a series of harrowing events, Laia and Elias find that they must depend on each other if they are to survive.

An Ember in the Ashes is a wonderful and engaging high fantasy that will leave the reader hungry to know what happens next. The world building is top notch, and the character development continues to grow throughout the story. Each of the characters, even the secondary ones, are like slowly peeling an onion. Each layer becomes stronger as you find out more about them. As the first in the series (thankfully there are more to come!), this novel will leave the reader hungry to find out what happens next!

Into the Still Blue (Under the Never Sky, Book 3)

Into the Still Blue cover

Author: Veronica Rossi

Series: Under the Never Sky

Genre: Dystopian/Sci-Fi

Publisher: HarperCollins

Pages: 400

 

In the conclusion of the Under the Never Sky trilogy, Aria and Perry must somehow unite the Dwellers and the Outsiders if their plan to make it to the Still Blue is to succeed. Sable and Hess are just as determined to make it to the Still Blue, and have abducted Cinder in their effort to do so. Aria and Perry now that time is running out to rescue Cinder and make it to the Still Blue before the aether storms trap them, but will they make it?

I enjoyed the conclusion to this trilogy, although I must say that the second book in the trilogy was actually more gripping than the conclusion. Don’t get me wrong, this novel was a good read and was very entertaining, it just didn’t grab me and hold me the way that Through the Ever Night did. It was a bit….predictable in many ways, but still fun. It ended the way that it should have, and I am now a Veronica Rossi fan.

 

Through the Ever Night (Under the Never Sky, Book 2)

through the ever night cover

 

Author: Veronica Rossi

Series: Under the Never Sky

Genre: Dystopian/Sci-Fi

Publisher: HarperCollins

Pages: 368

 

After being forced to separate at the end of the first book, Aria and Perry are finally reunited in the desert. Aria has spent much of their time apart with Roar, training both her battle skills and their shared gift. Perry has gained a group of faithful followers, and has become the Blood Lord of the Tides. When Aria accompanies him back to the Tides, though, they are not a fan of her due to her being a Dweller. Events stemming from this, as well as a deal that Aria had to make in order to save Talon, force her to steal away in the night with Roar without Perry’s knowledge. When Perry finds out, he knows that he has to stay with the Tides rather than follow after them, and do his duty as Blood Lord. They all have a goal, a mission, to accomplish separately before they can come back together.

The second book in the series was actually more interesting than the first, in my opinion. The world and character building continued to improve, as did the relationship building. Several relationships were strengthened in this book, as well as those that completely fell apart. The story line got even better, as we watch Perry try to figure out the best way to be a leader to what is now his tribe and keep his relationship with Aria together at the same time. Aria seems to have settled in to the world outside of Reverie now, and she is trying to find her way as and prove herself to be more than a Dweller. More interesting characters are introduced that should play an interesting role as he story progresses. I think that the last book in this trilogy will be quite interesting to see how it plays out.

 

Under the Never Sky (Under the Never Sky, Book 1)

under the never sky cover

Author: Veronica Rossi

Series: Under the Never Sky

Genre: Dystopian/Sci-Fi

Publisher: HarperCollins

Pages: 400

 

Aria has lived her entire life in the enclosed city of Reverie, where the only glimpses of a world outside of hers that she has seen have been artificial ones through her smart eye. That is, until a horrible event finds her exiled from her protected city and thrown in to the land known only to her as The Death Shop. She knows that she is sure to die out there, as her immune system is not made to withstand the world outside of the carefully controlled environment of Reverie. Perry has lived his life as an Outsider, a Savage. He is a gifted hunter for his tribe, where his brother is a blood lord. He is marked, meaning he has special abilities. When he and Aria meet, he is on a mission of redemption, after his nephew was taken while in his care. They soon realize that they can help one another, if they can stand each other long enough.

This is the first book in a trilogy, and it is a promising start. It has some interesting elements to it: the enclosed pod-like cities, the ether in the skies, etc. The characters were well developed and the world building was great. It read fairly quickly and only dragged in a couple of places. I am interested enough to read the next book in the trilogy to see what happens to Aria and Perry, as they continue on their journey. If you’re looking for something quick to pick up, this may be a good one to grab!

Birthmarked (Birthmarked, Book 1)

Birthmarked Cover

Author: Caragh M. O’Brien

Series: Birthmarked

Genre: Dystopian

Publisher: Roaring Book Press

Pages: 368

 

Gaia is a young midwife outside the wall, where she is required to bring the first few babies that she delivers each month to those inside the wall to “serve the Enclave”. They call this advancing” the babies. One night, after delivering one of these babies, she returns home to find one of the older midwives waiting for her to deliver the news that her parents have been taken inside the wall and imprisoned. She also gives her a ribbon that belonged to her mother that she is to destroy. When she makes her way to her home, she finds a guard member waiting to question her. Gaia tells the guard member that she knows nothing. He eventually leaves. She then sneaks inside the wall to find out what happened to her parents. She ends up imprisoned herself, after saving the baby of a woman that was hanged. And so the story goes on…

This book was not awesome. It wasn’t really bad, but it wasn’t great. The story doesn’t feel really well built, especially for a dystopian novel. We know that something happened to make the world end up this way, but we don’t know what. We know that these people inside the wall have figured out a way to have all of these resources to survive, and that they feel that the people outside of the wall are leaching off of them, but we don’t know why. Where did these people from outside of the wall come from? Did they just appear, or were they the ones that were already lower caste than the others whenever whatever this event was happened? The characters also seem to fall a little flat for me. There really isn’t enough time building them for the reader to get a sense of who they are. Things just sort of happen without a lot of explanation or build up. It wasn’t really bad writing, but maybe just poor development. It was also a bit drug out for what actually happens in the story. Then it ended kind of abruptly. I’m really not even interested enough to read the next book in the series, which is rare for me. I will say that there are many five star reviews of this novel, so others, obviously, really enjoyed it. It just wasn’t what I typically look for in a good dystopian read.

The Eleventh Plague

Eleventh Plague Cover

Author: Jeff Hirsh

Genre: Dystopian

Publisher: Scholastic

Pages: 288

After a war with China caused a plague to be unleashed, resulting in the collapse of America, Stephen and his family are scavengers. They roam the land looking for anything that they can find to trade. When his grandfather dies, and an injury results in his father lapsing in to a coma, Stephen finds himself in Settler’s Landing. While most are welcoming, one boy and his influential father believe him to be a threat and want him gone. He finds himself drawn to Jenny, the rebellious adopted daughter of the family who took him in. She is also a bit of an outcast, not only because of her actions, but because she is Chinese. A prank that they play on the boy and his family late one night has devastating results for the entire settlement. Will this result in another collapse?

While I won’t say that this was one of my very best reads of the year, it was an enjoyable quick read. It was well written, and the characters were pretty well developed. It had a good, clear plot point, and a nice little plot twist that you don’t really expect. Overall, I would say that it was a pretty good book, and good if you want to grab something that reads pretty quickly.