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
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“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!

BOOK REVIEW: The Strange Case Of Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde – by Robert Louis Stevenson

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Title: The Strange Case Of Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde
Author: Robert Louis Stevenson

Genre: Classics, Science Fiction, Horror
First published: January 5th 1886
Publisher: Penguin Classics
Finished reading: December 4th 2016
Pages: 96
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“I learned to recognise the thorough and primitive duality of man; I saw that, of the two natures that contended in the field of my consciousness, even if I could rightly be said to be either, it was only because I was radically both.”

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I’m ashamed to admit I have been mostly neglecting the classics this year, and I made a promise to myself to at least read a few before the end of 2016. It was the perfect time to read one of my pending classics on my kindle: The Strange Case Of Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde. I was only vaguely familiar with the story, but this is the first time I’m actually reading the original version of this story. I had a bad experience reading another of Robert Louis Stevenson‘s books, Treasure Island, but luckily I found this classic to be a lot more enjoyable to read. Sure, it took me a while to get into the story, but the second half of Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde was without doubt very entertaining. There is an interesting concept and message behind this story that will definitely make you think. I don’t think it’s my favorite classic ever, but I enjoyed it a lot better than I thought I would.

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Dr. Jekyll has discovered the ultimate drug; a chemical that can separate good from evil and turn him into something else. The sinister Mr. Hyde is born, and is causing trouble all over the city. People wonder who Mr. Hyde is and why Dr. Jekyll would want to interact with such a shady character. But they do not know about the doctor’s secret… Will Jekyll be able to keep Hyde under control?

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I think most people are probably already aware of what this story is about, especially since so many references to it have been made ever since it was published back in the 19th century. The Strange Case Of Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde has an interesting concept and especially the second half is quite enjoyable to read. It took me a while to get into the story though… And I don’t think I will be rereading it any time soon.

ARC REVIEW: The Power – by Naomi Alderman

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Title: The Power
Author: Naomi Alderman

Genre: Science Fiction, Speculative Fiction
First published: October 27th 2016
Publisher: Viking
Finished reading: November 14th 2016
Pages: 288
Rating 4qqq

“The truth has always been a more complex commodity than the market can easily package and sell.”

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

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I requested a copy of this book 100% based on Claire‘s review last month, knowing I most likely wouldn’t regret it since we seem to like the same books in the first place. And I wasn’t disappointed. The Power turned out to be just as strong as she had promised in her review and I can fully agree that this story by Naomi Alderman is without doubt a perfect book club read. It’s a story that will stay for you for a long time; it’s been two weeks since I finished it and I’m still having difficulties putting my thoughts together somewhat coherently. I don’t want to go too much into details to avoid possible spoilers, but the message behind The Power (please forgive the pun!) is just that: POWERFUL. It’s a truly unique and clever example of speculative and science fiction at its best and the story will most likely surprise you. The prose is strong and the plot and plot twists are interesting enough, although the general idea behind this book is by far its strongest feature. Because while the characters might not be that memorable after a few weeks, I’m sure you won’t forget about the essence and underlying message of The Power for a long time. I know I didn’t! This book can lead to some interesting discussions, and I’m personally really curious about how male readers would interprete its message. Recommended!

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The world described in The Power is recognizable enough to our own world, but something vital has changed. Suddenly, teenage girls have immense physical power and they can cause agonising pain and even death. The leading powers around the world don’t know how to react to this sudden change in power, and will soon find out how much this small twist of nature will truly affect the world as they know it.

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I’m glad I was pointed out to this title, because it is without doubt a powerful story that will stay with me for a long time. Naomi Alderman writes about an alternative world, but it’s one still painfully close to our own and it makes you wonder about the true power of… well… power. I don’t want to reveal too much about the plot because I’m afraid it will ruin the surprise, but I can definitely suggest reading The Power if you have the chance!

BOOK REVIEW: Dark Matter – by Blake Crouch

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Title: Dark Matter
Author: Blake Crouch

Genre: Science Fiction, Mystery, Thriller
First published: July 26th 2016
Publisher: Crown
Finished reading: November 5th 2016
Pages: 342
Rating 5qqq

“We’re all just wandering through the tundra of our existence, assigning value to worthlessness, when all that we love and hate, all we believe in and fight for and kill for and die for is as meaningless as images projected onto Plexiglass.”

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Wow, just wow. This book is hands down one of the best books I’ve read this year. I have to admit I was a bit afraid to pick up my copy after all those raving reviews, but Dark Matter has proved to be one of the exceptions and is actually worth all the hype around it. It’s been a while since a story has been able to leave me with a book hangover, and even after a week I’m having problems writing down my thoughts in a coherent way. This review might sound a bit like I’m just fangirling all over the place, but words cannot describe how brilliant this science fiction story is. I should have picked up my copy of Dark Matter as soon as I got it, and I definitely suggest you to do the same if you haven’t read this little masterpiece yet. The characters, the plot, the prose, the worldbuilding, the pace… It just all works perfectly together and the story will pull you right in. In short, this book is a definite must-read!

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The last words Jason Dessen hears before the masked abductor knocks him unconscious are ‘are you happy with your life?’. When he wakes up, he finds himself surrounded by strangers in hazmat suits and strapped to a gurney. Jason doesn’t have a clue what is going on, but the people around him seem to know him well enough. In the world he is woken up to, Jason’s life seems to be completely different. He is no longer married to his wife, his son was never born and on top of that he is no longer a ordinary college professor. Instead, Jason is a celebrated genius who has achieved something that had been deemed impossible. Is this world real or just a dream? And if the home he remembers is real, how can Jason make it back?

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I don’t often hand out the full five stars (this is only book number 12 this year), but Dark Matter definitely deserves the rating and more. It’s without doubt one of the best books I’ve read this year and it simply blew me away. The excellent prose, worldbuilding and fast pace had me hooked from the start and I literally flew through the pages. Dark Matter has a very an interesting concept and deeper meaning that makes you think about the consequences of the choices we make in life. Please read this book if you haven’t already; you won’t regret it!

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.