October 14, 2012 § 2 Comments
By Gennifer Albin
Narrated by: Amanda Dolan
Audio- Unabridged 10 hours
Publisher: AudioGO Ltd
Release Date: 10/16/12
Crewel takes place in a futuristic society where people and events are woven with strands of time by Spinsters. Spinsters are generally girls chosen by their talent at weaving by the Guild in Arras. These girls are taken from their homes and families and then reside within the Guild where they practice weaving time with matter. Everything in Arras is controlled by the Guild through the spinsters such as harvesting food, childbirth, and even when and how someone dies.
Adelice is unique in Arras society in that she is able to weave the strands of time without a loom. From when, as a child, she first discovers this ability, Adelice’s parents work fervently to teach her how to cover it up so that she is not selected by the Guild who they do not trust. When, at her testing, she is among those chosen to be come a spinster, and is singled out among the others at the Guild, Adelice finds herself not knowing who she can trust.
The audio was read by Amanda Dolan who does a fairly good job narrating this rather tedious story. At times I thought she may have went a little overboard making some of the characters sound patronizing and condescending, but for the most part I enjoyed her narration.
While Crewel certainly has an original storyline even for a dystopian, there was far too much of the society that simply pushed the bounds of believability too far for me. For example, if Adelice and the other spinsters were controlled by this sinister Guild, why didn’t they just weave things differently? It was made very clear in the story that the spinsters were the only ones powerful enough to control their reality, I don’t understand the power this Guild had over the spinsters. Also, Adelice experiences some traumatic events very early on in the story, but she seems to just kind of accept them without much emotional impact and goes about her business. She put much more thought and energy into the awkwardly contrived love triangle than she did into events that would have devastated the average teen. But then Adelice is also exceptional in EVERY way, which was yet another issue I had with the book.
For the most part, I enjoyed the writing style. I didn’t have to struggle through the audio and finished fairly quickly for a 10 hour audio. But for me, the characters were flat and lacked authenticity and the world building was confusing and left more questions than answers. The sudden ending left me feeling a bit perplexed. It just sort of cut off without any resolution at all. It wasn’t so much a cliffhanger as it simply felt unfinished.
While Crewel just wasn’t for me, there are many people who really enjoyed it. Check out Sam’s review at Realm of Fiction for another perspective.
2 out of 5 stars
October 10, 2012 § 4 Comments
Author: Kat Zhang
Series: The Hybrid Chronicles
Published September 18th 2012 by HarperCollins
What’s Left of Me explores what it might be like to be an unwelcome guest in your own body, within your own mind. In this world, each body is born inhabited by two souls. By age 7, most children have "settled", meaning the recessive soul has faded away leaving only the dominant soul. When this doesn’t happen, those left with two souls past puberty are considered hybrid. Hybrids are considered sick and dangerous and are sought out by the government to be hospitalized and corrected.
Addie is the dominant soul in this story, Eva the recessive. They have spent the past few years pretending that Eva has faded until a schoolmate finds out their secret. The schoolmate, Hally, and her brother Devin are also secretly hybrids as well as being foreign which means they are distrusted in the current political climate. Eva wants to trust them but Addie isn’t so sure, the consequences if their secret were revealed could be deadly.
The story is told from Eva’s point of view and was at times very poignant as I was forced to consider what it would be like having to constantly live in my own head pretending that I don’t exist to the outside world. The relationship between Addie and Eva felt genuine and the feeling between the two was expressed beautifully in the dialog they shared. With two souls inhabiting the body of each of the characters, you would think that the story would be confusing. Surprisingly, it was not. Each soul had their own individual voice and were easily identified.
I think that Eva was an especially well written character. Her great longing to be acknowledged, her loneliness, and her genuine love for Addie was expressed with poignancy and emotion and I found myself continually drawn to her.
I enjoyed the unusual storyline, the relationships between the characters, and the beautiful writing that compelled me to continue reading late into the night. If I have one complaint about What’s Left of Me it is that I would have liked to have had more information about the world and why children were born with two souls and why not settling is considered so dangerous.
Rating – 4 of 5
November 9, 2011 § 20 Comments
Author – Tahereh Mafi
Publisher – Harper Collins
Date – November 15, 2011
Shatter Me introduces us to Juliette as she sits in solitary confinement in what seems to be a mental asylum, counting the days (264) since she’s seen, heard, or been touched by another human. The world outside those four walls (with 14 cracks) has gone insane, people starving to death, whole species of animals no longer exist, and the people in power call themselves the Reestablishment. The Reestablishment…these are the people who drug her away to this place for a murder she didn’t mean to commit, to a fate she’s sure she deserves, to be trapped by her guilt as much as by the prison walls. The power she holds within her very skin is one she doesn’t want and she will do anything to disprove the notion that she is a monster, even though she herself believes it. She maintains her tenuous hold on sanity by writing in her notebook and refusing to allow herself to acknowledge the thoughts that sometimes overwhelm her. When she awakes one day to find herself with a cellmate, her entire world begins to change.
The writing style of Shatter Me was like none I’ve read before, both haunting and at times a bit overwhelming. Written in an almost lyrical or poetic prose, Juliette’s inner thoughts and feelings were often uncomfortably intense, which would be understandable considering the situation she was in. Many of her words/thoughts were written and then struck out, as if she were refusing to allow herself to acknowledge those thoughts. I thought this was a powerful way to show how she was struggling to hold onto her sanity. As she began to have more human interaction, the strikethroughs became less common. It was such a fascinating progression. While, for the most part, I thought the writing was beautiful, there were also times when it felt like overkill and it became a bit tedious. Overall though, I enjoyed the unique imagery and the flow of the words.
“I always wonder about raindrops.
I wonder how they are always falling down, tripping over their own feet, breaking their legs and forgetting their parachutes as they tumble right out of the sky toward an uncertain end. Its like someone is emptying their pockets over the earth and doesn’t seem to care where the contents fall, doesn’t seem to care that the raindrops burst when they hit the ground, that they shatter when they fall to the floor, that people curse the days the raindrops dare to tap on their doors.
I am a raindrop.
My parents emptied their pockets of me and left me to evaporate on a concrete slab.”
The story itself was intense and reminded me very much of Xmen. Juliette’s power is reminiscent of Rogue and many of her characteristics also reminded me of Rogue from Xmen. The plot was action packed and thrilling. The villain, Warner, was out of his mind and made an even more effective bad guy because of the hint of a hidden past that may explain why he is the wicked boy he’s become. Happily, this did not become a love triangle since Warner is simply too psychotic to engender much sympathy from Juliette. The interplay between Juliette and Adam was extremely well done. This is a romance that I can believe. Things between them tend to get pretty steamy a couple times, but Mafi reins it in and manages to keep it PG. The ending also reminded me a lot of Xmen and has me incredibly excited about the sequel.
Overall, I think that Shatter Me has lived up to all the hype. Most readers will enjoy the intense and original writing style as well as the exciting premise, a steamy romance, and a villain you love to hate. In the sequel, I hope to see more details about the dystopian world and how it became that way and more about the two factions, the Reestablishment and the people who are not ready to succumb to that tyrannical rule and of course more Adam and Juliette! I would recommend Shatter Me to readers who enjoy dystopian or post-apocalyptic fiction, fans of Xmen, and anyone who enjoys a thrilling YA adventure.
I somehow ended up with two ARCs of Shatter Me so I decided to give one away to one of my lucky readers. I will be shipping this myself so this will be US only. You do not have to be a follower to enter but following is appreciated! Extra entries for sharing the giveaway on Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, etc. (leave me the link) and for commenting on yesterday’s discussion question located here.
You have from today (November 9) until Monday (November 14) at 11:59 PM to enter. Winner will be announced on Shatter Me’s release date, Tuesday November 15. Simply fill out the Rafflecopter form, if you have any problems please email me. Good Luck!!
September 17, 2011 § 1 Comment
|Connor, Risa, and Lev are running for their lives.
The Second Civil War was fought over reproductive rights. The chilling resolution: Life is inviolable from the moment of conception until age thirteen. Between the ages of thirteen and eighteen, however, parents can have their child “unwound,” whereby all of the child’s organs are transplanted into different donors, so life doesn’t technically end. Connor is too difficult for his parents to control. Risa, a ward of the state is not enough to be kept alive. And Lev is a tithe, a child conceived and raised to be unwound. Together, they may have a chance to escape and to survive
Unwind is one of the most incredible dystopian novels I have ever read. I literally had to sit and think about what I had just read once I reached the end, and believe me, I had not put the book down for a second until I did reach the end. I would describe Unwind as an intense and insightful journey into the darker side of human nature.
It seems that our society is so willing to put a price tag on anything, marketing, buying an selling, determining value based on monetary worth. Shusterman just takes that next step and has us imagine if society were to decide to buy and sell life itself. Society, of course, put a pretty face on it, calling it Unwinding, or living in a “divided state” and justifying it by saying that the kids will technically still be alive since every single body part is harvested and used. It may seem, at first, that this is a farfetched concept but I don’t think that it is. I think that people might be surprised at just how many parents would be willing to sell out their own kids in this way. Shusterman presented these parents so very realistically, so self righteous and judgmental, so willing to lie to their kids and to themselves to convince them that what they were doing was justified since it was socially acceptable. Then the first time they were confronted with the results of the horror they perpetuated on their own children, they would be offended as if they were the victims.
Shusterman did an incredible job building the tension and suspense. As I got further and further into the book, it became progressively more difficult to read, almost uncomfortable. It was so amazingly perceptive, I could really feel what these characters must have been going through as they struggled to survive, on the run from those who wanted to harvest their body parts because, according to society, their lives were not worth enough to allow them to continue to live. I was so impressed that the author took a volatile controversial subject like pro life vs. pro choice and based the premise around this debate but did not in any way come off as preachy. After reading the book, I still don’t have an inking where he stands on the issue. That in itself is impressive.
The actual act of “Unwinding” is horrific, terrifying, and I found myself still thinking about it as I fell asleep that night. This is definitely the kind of book that sticks with you. One reason I believe dystopians like this are so scary yet so compelling is because they are so utterly plausible. So many things are treated as a commodity to be bought and sold, its not a far leap of the imagination to think that one day even life could be treated that way too. If you think I’m wrong, watch an episode of Jerry Springer or Maury Povich. Thats not exactly harvesting body parts, but its still life being exploited as a commodity, for others entertainment and enjoyment. Like I said, its not that far a stretch of the imagination to go from that to Shusterman’s futuristic society.
Shusterman shifted effortlessly from one point of view to the next. Normally, this style of writing would have driven me nuts, but in Unwind, it wasn’t a problem. I can’t imagine the book being as effective without the alternating POVs. It definitely worked in this instance without being the distraction one would think it would be. The actual famous quotes he added throughout the book added to the plausibility of the plot.
Each character brought something different and important to the story. Even the secondary characters played such an integral part of the story, there wasn’t any introduced that wasn’t absolutely essential and each one had their own story, their own depth. Troubled teenagers making stupid, impulsive decisions but were still so endearing because of their genuine fear and confusion about what was happening to them. Some of their stories were heart wrenching and more than once I found myself teary eyed.
There were a few flaws of course. The notion that harvested body part can retain any level of consciousness goes too far past believable for me, but I guess this is ultimately a fantasy novel so some things do not need to be in the realm of scientific possibility. That was just one small aspect of the book that didn’t work for me. Everything else was perfection.
I simply cannot recommend this book enough. I know that there is no way my jumbled review did this book the justice it deserved but beleive me when I say this is one you don’t want to miss. Especially if, like me, you are a fan of dystopian themed fantasy.
Rating – 5