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.

ARC REVIEW: The Last Girl – by Joe Hart

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Title: The Last Girl
(The Dominion Trilogy #1)
Author: Joe Hart

Genre: YA, Dystopia, Science Fiction
First published: March 1st 2016
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Finished reading: August 9th 2016
Pages: 386
Rating 3qqq

“There are prisons of all kinds, Zoey, they take every shape imaginable. They aren’t just concrete, and steel, and stone. They’re everywhere. And even when you’ve escaped one, there’s always another waiting. But you must remember that the first step to freedom doesn’t always start with picking a lock.” He reaches out and touches her temple. “It begins here.”

*** 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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When I first heard about this book, I thought the blurb sounded really promising and I immediately decided to add it to my wishlist. And while I still think it was quite an interesting read, unfortunately The Last Girl by Joe Hart didn’t turn out to be as good as I thought it would be. I can’t exactly put my finger on the why, but it probably has to do with the fact that it was quite a slow read and the prose didn’t seem to grab my attention. It’s not like the story wasn’t well written or anything and I liked the worldbuilding and dystopian elements, but it kind of missed that little something that would turn it into something extraordinary. The same goes for the main character. Zoey is without doubt a very powerful female character with strong survival skills, but her character just sounded all too similar to other main characters of your typical YA dystopian story. Her character development in this first book is interesting, but the story in general doesn’t really add anything new to the genre or stands out from other books of the genre. The Last Girl is still an enjoyable story to read though… Especially since it’s one of the few YA dystopian books with almost no romance and not a sign of a love triangle. Definitely a miracle when it comes to the genre!

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After a mysterious worldwide epidemic, the birthrate of female infants is almost down to zero. Nobody seems to know why this happened and how to solve this problem; medical science and goverments are at a loss to control the chaos as they try to figure out what to do. Twenty-five years later there is still no cure, and an entire generation grows up with fewer than a thousand women left on earth. Zoey and some of the surviving young women are housed in a scientific research compound and protected from the chaos and rebellion. They have been isolated from their families, treated as a test subjects and locked away. They don’t resist, since they have been told that the virus has wiped out the rest of the world’s population anyway. But Zoey suspects something is wrong. And even though captivity is the only thing she has ever known, she secretly dreams of being free… And that dream just might come true one day, although she probably doesn’t realize what consequences that freedom will bring.

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I was really looking forward to The Last Girl, but unfortunately it didn’t turn out to be as good as I thought it would be. The story had a lot of potential and is still a pretty good read, but it showed a lot of similarities with other typical YA dystopian stories and didn’t quite stand out. I did really appreciate this story has almost no romance and NO love triangle, which was really refreshing after reading one too many YA series with this annoying trope.

BOOK REVIEW: Rot & Ruin – by Jonathan Maberry

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Title: Rot & Ruin
(Rot & Ruin #1)
Author: Jonathan Maberry
Genre: YA, Horror, Dystopia
First published: September 14th 2010
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Finished reading: July 25th 2016
Pages: 468
Rating 4qqq

“Often it was the most unlikely people who found within themselves a spark of something greater. It was probably always there, but most people are never tested, and they go through their whole lives without ever knowing that when things are at their worst, they are at their best.”

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Zombie stories are normally not really for me, but I’ve become less prejudiced after I finished and loved The Girl With All The Gifts earlier this month. So when I was browsing Riveted and saw I could read Rot & Ruin for free (until August 1st), I decided to jump right in. Especially since I have had this series by Jonathan Maberry on my wishlist for a long time in the first place. I’m glad I decided to give Rot & Ruin a go, because I ended up really enjoying this story despite my reservations for zombie stories. The dystopian worldbuilding is interesting and I liked the idea of the separation between the relatively safe town and the ‘wild’. The descriptions of both the zombies and the world itself are well done; the zombies are slightly humanised (especially by the older brother Tom) and that was certainly refreshing. There is a lot of action (and shouting!) involved in the story, making it into a fast-paced read and without doubt entertaining. Another bonus: there is almost no romance in Rot & Ruin, which is rare in a YA fantasy/dystopian series. Although I’m having the suspicion there might be more in the sequel… Because there sure were some pretty obvious hints at possible romantic developments and even a love triangle. I’m glad there wasn’t any in the first book though and the ending was quite satisfying (even though the final fighting scenes were not that credible). All in all Rot & Ruin is an interesting, entertaining and fast-paced zombie read that will appeal to fans of the genre.

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Benny Imura grew up in this zombie-infested, post-apocalyptic America and doesn’t know any better; his biggest worry being his need to find a job before his time is up and his rations are cut in half. His older brother and zombie hunter Tom does remember the time before the First Night though… As he saw their father turn into a zombie in front of them and had to run with little Benny. Benny still feels Tom is a coward and when Tom offers him to be his apprentice, Benny refuses. But he cannot seem to get another job that interests him, so it seems like he will have no choice but to accept his boring brother’s offer. But when he goes outside for the first time to see how his brother does his job, he encounters a whole different reality. Benny realizes he has been wrong about a whole lot of things in life, including his brother…

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It kind of came as a surprise, but Rot & Ruin turned out to be another exception to the rule and I really enjoyed this zombie and action-packed story. It’s well written and the worldbuilding is interesting, and I liked the fact that the zombies are slightly humanised and the bounty hunters are the actual bad guys. The fact that there is almost no romance involved is a huge bonus as well… At one point I thought this was going to be a repeat experience of The 5th Wave (cheesy romance scenes ruining an excellent story), but I guess I was wrong. If you enjoy reading the genre, I can definitely recommend Rot & Ruin! The sequel is already on my wishlist.

BOOK REVIEW: The Girl With All The Gifts – by M.R. Carey

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Title: The Girl With All The Gifts
Author: M.R. Carey
Genre: Horror, Dystopia, Science Fiction
First published: January 14th 2014
Publisher: Orbit
Finished reading: July 15th 2016
Pages: 460
Rating 4,5qqq

“It’s not just Pandora who had that inescapable flaw. It seems like everyone has been built in a way that sometimes makes them do wrong and stupid things.”

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I know, I know… I should have known. This book has been recommended to me too many times to count and it’s been on my wishlist for a long time, but I was a bit wary since I’m normally not into stories with zombies. Now I’ve finally read The Girl With All The Gifts, I kind of want to kick myself for waiting this long, because I absolutely loved it! This book written M.R. Carey has shown me I can actually love a zombie story and I love his version of the ‘hungries’ and the special ‘children’. The story is well written and fast-paced, and I loved the many detailed descriptions of the dystopian world the characters have to survive in. Speaking of the characters: I LOVE Melanie! She is such a well developed and intriguing character and she is without doubt one of the reasons this story simply worked. Then again, the character development of all important characters is really well done. The plot was interesting and I personally liked how M.R. Carey decided to end the story. I would love to read a sequel though! So many possibilities… This book is highly recommended and worth the try even if you normally don’t like zombie stories. Trust me, you might be surprised by how much you will enjoy it anyway!

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Melanie is a highly intelligent girl and without doubt very special; there is nothing ordinary about herself or her daily routine. Melanie lives in her cell and waits every morning to be collected for class. Two people then strap her into a wheelchair while Sergeant Parks keeps his gun pointing at her the whole time. Why exactly this is necessary Melanie doesn’t know, but most people seem to be wary of her and her classmates. She loves school though, and learning about the world outside. Her favorite teacher would be Miss Justineau, and the days she is in class are Melanie’s favorites. Though whenever Melanie talks about her dreams and future, Justineau becomes sad… Because unlike Melanie, her teacher knows what the world really looks like.

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I’m so glad I finally decided to read The Girl With All The Gifts, because it’s without doubt an excellent read. The plot and plot twists are really interesting and I liked how the story ended. The detailed descriptions and character development made it really easy to enjoy reading this book and Melanie is without doubt one of my new favorite characters. The Girl With All The Gifts is a horror story and it has zombies, but that is not all that there is to it. I can’t go into details because that might spoil the story, but I can say that I would definitely recommend this book!