ARC REVIEW: Riven – by Belina Crawford

Title: Riven
(The Hero Rebellion #2)
Author: Belinda Crawford

Genre: YA, Science Fiction, Fantasy
First published: October 4th 2016
Publisher: Odyssey Books
Finished reading: April 29th 2017
Pages: 250

Instead, she reached out to touch her mum’s mind. And ran smack-bang into a mawberry-flavoured wall. She glared at Fink.

He twitched an ear. Manners, he thought to her.

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by the author in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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Riven is the second book of The Hero Rebellion series I started reading last year. It’s also probably one of the few YA sci-fi/fantasy series out there that is 100% romance free thanks to the fact that the author Belinda Crawford probably dislikes cheesy romance as much as I do. I enjoy reading the genre and tend to tolerate the romance since it seems to go with it, so not having to deal with it in The Hero Rebellion is definitely a rare treat. This story focuses on the worldbuilding of Jørn instead and is stuffed to its limit with action and more action. As soon as you start reading, you find yourself right in the middle of the action and that won’t stop until you reach the last page. The worldbuilding is interesting and I love the idea behind it; the Jørn creatures and the many street races are probably my favorite part of this series. The main character Hero’s powers and colorful ‘thought’-speaking can get a bit confusing if you are not used to it (it took me a bit longer to get used to this time), but there is no doubt it is one of the most original features of this sci-fi world. Riven ends with a cliffhanger that definitely makes me want to find out what happens next… Because there is still much to learn about Jørn and the main characters. I did feel the plot wasn’t as interesting as in book one, but that just might be because part of it was a preparation of what is still to come. If you enjoy the genre and like me are allergic to romance, this one is just for you!

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WARNING: Possible spoilers! Please don’t read this summary if you haven’t read the first  book yet. I’ll keep the summary super short but it’s impossible to keep it completely spoiler-free…

Hero Regan is a telepath and the first of a new subspecies of human; an experiment to try and find a way for the human race to survive on Jørn. But something seems to be wrong after all that happened lately. Her brain is acting up, and that might just be directly related to the ‘bad thing’. Her genetically engineered companion Fink is acting up as well… And even though she already has too many things to deal with, the Librarian once again needs her help to save the world and it doesn’t seem like she has a choice in the matter. Will Hero be able to deal with all of this?

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Riven is without doubt an action-packed and entertaining sci-fi read and the best part is that it’s 100% romance free. I struggled a bit more to get used to the whole ‘thought-talking’ and ‘colored/scented thoughts’ thing, but it is without doubt a very original concept. The plot itself wasn’t as strong as in Hero, but it did sound promising for the things that are still to come. I will be looking forward to book three!


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BOOK REVIEW: Never Fade – by Alexandra Bracken

Title: Never Fade
(The Darkest Minds #2)
Author: Alexandra Bracken

Genre: YA, Dystopia, Paranormal
First published: October 15th 2013
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Finished reading: April 10th 2017
Pages: 507

“Sometimes you’re the one speeding along in a panic, doing too much, not paying attention, wrecking things you don’t mean to. And sometimes life just happens to you, and you can’t dodge it. It crashes into you because it wants to see what you’re made of.”

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After reading and enjoying the first book back in January, I made a promise to read both sequels as soon as possible. It took me a bit longer than expected, but I finally picked up book number two this month… And I have to say that unfortunately Never Fade doesn’t live up to the first book at all for me. While I enjoyed The Darkest Minds even though the plot isn’t all that original anymore, I found Never Fade to be overlong and at times even on the border of boring. The writing style was as good as ever, but it sure took me a lot longer than expected to finish this one… And that is probably due to the fact that both the plot felt a bit thin and some of the characters started to annoy me. Basically, the sequel is about Ruby trying to find someone and messing up along the way, with various people betraying her or not being what they seem to be. Which might still be interesting, but it mostly felt like a ‘copy-repeat’ plot to me instead. Warning: this feeling might also be caused by the fact that Ruby started to frustrate me with the whole ‘I’m dangerous/I can’t be around others/I need to be alone’ thing. It does have a pretty explosive ending though! All in all not what I was expecting at all and yet another series that suffers from the ‘weak-sequel-syndrome’… I will still be reading the final book some time soon though, and I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed In The Afterlight will make me enjoy this series again.

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WARNING: Possible spoilers! Please don’t read this summary if you haven’t read the first  book yet. I’ll keep the summary super short but it’s impossible to keep it completely spoiler-free…

Ruby never wanted her abilities in the first place and doesn’t like using them, but now she’s in the Children’s League she is forced to use them on a daily basis. She has to go on dangerous missions and get the truth out of their enemies, and she only agrees because it’s a way to keep the others safe. But then she finds out something that will change everything… And this new secret mission might just be the most dangerous one yet.

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I was really looking forward to this sequel, especially since I enjoyed The Darkest Minds that much. Unfortunately Never Fade turned out to be another case of ‘weak-sequel-syndrome’. I actually struggled to continue at points as the plot just felt too drawn out; I feel that a similar story could have been told with 150-200 pages less and would probably have been a lot more entertaining. This has nothing to do with the writing style itself though, because Never Fade is without doubt well written. It’s one of the reasons I’m still hopeful for the third book!


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ARC REVIEW: The First City – by Joe Hart

Title: The First City
(The Dominion Trilogy #3)
Author: Joe Hart

Genre: YA, Dystopia, Science Fiction
First published: March 28th 2017
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Finished reading: March 24th 2017
Pages: 444

“There’s always hope, but change is the most difficult thing in the world for human beings to do. There is safety in static. Change is the great disrupter, even when it is for the good.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and Thomas & Mercer in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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The First City is the third and final installment of The Dominion Trilogy I started reading some time last year. I remember not being completely convinced by the first book, especially because of the not-so-original dystopian plot and annoying main character, but I enjoyed the second book a lot better. This improvement was probably the main reason I decided to request a copy of the third book, although I don’t like leaving series unfinished either. Unfortunately, I don’t think The First City continued the same line of improvement seen in book two. In fact, I had a really hard time finishing this third book… Like I said before, I never liked the main character Zoey, but in The First City she is becoming amost impossible to tolerate. I have even seriously considered DNFing it at various points… Her self-centered, annoying and whiney dialogues and actions made this read into a true struggle. An example? Her thoughts are basically all about how she is only putting others in danger and that she should do everything alone; sacrificing herself for the greater good; just put that on repeat indefinitely and you get the idea. Luckily the other POVs were slightly better and that’s probably why I decided to see it through. The plot yet again isn’t all that original and I’m not sure if everything is completely credible, but the ending was satisfying enough even though a bit cheesy. All in all the best of this series definitely came a bit early.

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WARNING: Possible spoilers! Please don’t read this summary if you haven’t read the first  two books in this trilogy yet. I’ll keep the summary super short but it’s impossible to keep it completely spoiler-free…

It’s the 2030s and the world Zoey has grown up in hasn’t been an easy one for women. Little girls stopped being born suddenly years before, and the natural balance could never be restored. Zoey grew up in a research center (ARC) along with other girls, the investigators experimenting on them and trying to find a way to save the world. A lot of things have happened since then and Zoey is about to get a very shocking message: she might be the key and only hope for salvation.

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Like I said before, I mostly decided to read the final book of this trilogy because the second book was such an improvement. Unfortunately the main character didn’t change her way in The First City, and I ended up spending most of my time having my patience tested to its limit. It’s a shame a character can influence my feelings about a story in this way, but claiming otherwise would not have been honest. Also, the plot in general sounds too much like your typical dystopian story and some of it was farfetched, but Hiraku’s POV did add a little something extra to the plot.


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BOOK REVIEW: The Darkest Minds – by Alexandra Bracken

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Title: The Darkest Minds
(The Darkest Minds #1)
Author: Alexandra Bracken

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Dystopia
First published: December 18th 2012
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Finished reading: January 21st 2017
Pages: 499
Rating 4qqq

“The darkest minds tend to hide behind the most unlikely faces.”

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I still can’t believe it took me more than TWO years to finally pick up my copy of The Darkest Minds. I’ve been wanting to start this series for ages, but somehow I always ended up picking up a different title instead. But no longer. Now I’ve finally read the first book of this series Alexandra Bracken has me hooked. No more escape for the sequels, because I will be reading them VERY soon for another dose of my favorite Psi characters. I can definitely undestand what all the hype is about now… Sure, the plot isn’t all that original with its dystopian world where kids and teenagers develop a ‘superbrain’ and special powers. But it WAS written back in 2012 so I definitely kept that in mind. And more importantly, this story was just way too entertaining to worry about  the originality in the first place. I liked the main characters and their development, although little Zu is probably my absolute favorite. Ruby on the other hand can come over as a bit whiney at points, but I guess she did have some complicated memories to deal with… Another great feature of The Darkest Minds is without doubt the writing style and pace. The prose was so enjoyable to read and the story itself reads like a train. All in all a promising start of what has all the signs of being a great series!

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When Ruby woke up on her tenth birthday, something about her had changed even though she didn’t realize it at first. She found out soon enough when her parents locked her up in the garage and called the police instead of celebrating Ruby’s birthday with her. Instead, she was sent to the Thurmond camp along with all the other children who survived the mysterious disease and showed signs of having the new frightening abilities they could not control… And life at Thurmond is tough. Ruby is now sixteen and one of the dangerous ones. They put her in the wrong group when she arrived, saving her life at first but putting her in danger if the truth comes out. She has to escape, but that will only be possible with help from the inside…

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Like I said before, I feel really bad about not picking up this series earlier. As I already suspected, I really enjoyed reading The Darkest Minds and I will be reading the sequels (or at least the second book) next month without fail. Both the writing style and character are easy to like and even though the plot might not be all that original, I enjoyed diving into this dystopian world anyway. Recommended for YA dystopian fans!


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ARC REVIEW: Americosis Vol. 3 – by Haydn Wilks

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Title: Americosis Vol. 3
Author: Haydn Wilks

Genre: Short Stories, Science Fiction, Dystopia
First published: September 21st 2016
Publisher: Dead Bird Press
Finished reading: January 6th 2017
Pages: 60
Rating 3,5qqq

“Disuse. Disrepair. Despair. Three words that sum up the country three-and-a-half hundred million Americans are now living in.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by the author in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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I read the first two parts of this ongoing short story series by Haydn Wilks some time last year, and in the month in between I had forgotten just how weird and messed up they were. Because there is just no other way to describe Americosis other than call it absolute MADNESS. This third part follows yet again the various different storylines and is literally packed with action and descriptions of this crazy dystopian world. A bunch of different things are happening all at once in this extreme version of the US: a weird sexually transmitted disease taking over, aliens, time travel, violent attacks… The writing is very explicit and direct, and the sheer crazyiness of it all just draws you into the story straight away. The Savior bit of this third volume didn’t feel as strong as the previous two, but maybe it just was because he didn’t feel as present. If you are looking for something different and fullblown crazy dystopian, definitely check the Americosis volumes out. Slight warning: it is an ongoing series and the volumes have no proper ‘ending’, so you will be left wondering what happens next after each volume.

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Things are just getting more and more out of hand… Detroit is currently burning, and crazed buck naked freaks with crescent moon scars carved into their cheeks are everywhere, attacking people and biting whole faces off. The police and government are having a hard time keeing things under control… Is the madness finally winning? And what about the Savior and Libby, currently stuck in a time loop and lost in the desert?

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Americosis is without doubt the most crazy and messed up series I’ve been reading to this date. It is so full of madness and crazy events that the story is starting to grow on you, although I wish each volume wouldn’t stop right in the middle of the action without proper ending. The cliffhangers do help making you wonder just by how much the madness will increase next time… This story isn’t for everyone and you have to be in the mood to absorb such a high dose of crazy, but the right person will fall in love with the Americosis volumes.


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BOOK REVIEW: This Savage Song – by V.E. Schwab

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Title: This Savage Song
(Monsters Of Verity #1)
Author: Victoria (V.E.) Schwab

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Dystopia
First published: June 7th 2016
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Finished reading: December 5th 2016
Pages: 464
Rating 5qqq

“I mean, most people want to escape. Get out of their heads. Out of their lives. Stories are the easiest way to do that.”

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I think I have mentioned my love for Victoria (V.E.) Schwab‘s books once or twice already this year, and I still don’t know what took me so long to finally pick up this copy of her newest novel and first book of a new series This Savage Song. People kept telling me I should just read this one and that I would love it as much as the other books I had already read, and they were totally right. A Darker Shade Of Magic is still my absolute Schwab favorite, but this one came in a close second! Brilliant, just brilliant. The prose is just excellent and I love LOVE the worldbuilding. Like in Shades Of Magic, the worldbuilding isn’t all that complicated, but this simplicity just WORKS. The idea of Verity with its three types of monsters is intriguing, and I LOVED the main characters August and Kate. Both the dynamics between the characters and their development is very well done and I can’t wait to read the sequel next year. It’s going to be a long wait for sure… V.E. Schwab has definitely proven to be worthy to be in my TOP 10 of all time favorite authors!

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The world has become a dangerous place and the the violence in the city of Verity has begun to breed actual monsters. Kate Harker and August Flynn are the heirs to this divided city… And they are both in danger. All Kate wants is to be as ruthless as her father, who has made a deal with the monsters and makes the humans pay for his protection. And all August wants is to be human and play a bigger role in protecting the innocent, but he is actually one of the monsters. The two finally meet as August is giving the task to keep an eye on Kate, who has just been kicked out of her sixth boarding school and returned to the city. Nobody can know about his secret, but it’s a hard one to keep…

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I have to admit I’m having a hard time writing something coherent about this book. I feel like a fangirl blabbering all over the place, but This Savage Song is just THAT good. The worldbuilding is quite simply, but excellently done and it makes it really easy to just dive into this story and relate to the main characters. Both Kate and August are well developed and I loved their characters, although August is my absolute favorite. I love the idea of the different monsters and the plot is excellent as well… The story doesn’t end with that big of a cliffhanger either, but I will definitely be waiting impatiently for the second book. It looks like it will be a duology, so I will be rereading this little masterpiece before the sequel next year. And in case you haven’t guessed it yet, I can more than recommend this book!

ARC REVIEW: The Final Trade – by Joe Hart

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Title: The Final Trade
(The Dominion Trilogy #2)
Author: Joe Hart

Genre: YA, Dystopia, Science Fiction
First published: September 13th 2016
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Finished reading: August 28th 2016
Pages: 339
Rating 3,5qqq

“You can’t keep bearing all the weight. In the end, if you try to save everyone you’ll only lose yourself.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and Thomas & Mercer in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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I have to admit I had my doubts about this series after finishing the first book, The Last Girl, mainly because it didn’t really seem to stand out from all the other YA dystopian series out there. But I’m glad I decided to give the sequel a go, because it by no means suffers from the so-called ‘weak-second-book’ syndrome. In fact, I thought The Final Trade was actually a lot better than the first book and I will be looking forward to the third book. The sequel reads a lot faster and not just because of the new plot twists. I even liked Zoey a little better, although she is still annoying and too much like the typical strong, self-sacrificing female main character. The whole Fae Trade angle makes for a great twist though and Wen is without doubt an interesting characer as well. In short, I suggest giving The Final Trade a chance even if you have read The Last Girl and aren’t sure if you want to continue the series. It’s without doubt worth the try and a strong sequel to what was maybe an average start. It does have a mayor cliffhanger ending though… You’ve been warned.

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WARNING: Possible spoilers! Please don’t read this summary if you haven’t read the first book in this trilogy yet. I’ll keep the summary super short but it’s impossible to keep it completely spoiler-free…

After all that happened to her, Zoey is no longer the woman she once was. She has returned from the brink of death and now wants to learn the truth about who she really is. Together with the others she wants to find the families they never knew… And when Zoey learns of personal records stored in an Idaho missile silo that may contain useful information, they all decide to tag along and help recover it. The mission is quite dangerous though and they they will most likely discover information that will stray them from their original path…

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I’m glad I decided to give this sequel a go, because I ended up enjoying The Final Trade a lot better than the first book. It does have a cliffhanger ending and Zoey’s character is still quite annoying and not so original, but I liked the new plot twists and the prose read a lot faster. I will be looking out for the third book for sure; recommended to those who enjoy reading the genre.