Ridiculously Bad, What a Trainwreck: Shatter Me by Tehereh Mafi [REVIEW]

13455782Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
First published in November 2011 by HarperCollins
Tags: Young Adult, Dystopia, Romance

Buy: Amazon | Book Depository | B&N 

Source: Purchased (eBook)

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Juliette hasn’t touched anyone in exactly 264 days.

The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette’s touch is fatal. As long as she doesn’t hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don’t fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color.

The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war – and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she’s exactly what they need right now.

Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior.

I’m the most sporadic blogger ever right now, I’m sorry about that. I really need to get to reviewing all these books I’ve been reading these past few months though, so here’s to trying.

I apologize in advance to everyone who loves this book and/or this series. Nothing against you, just a lot against this book.

I read Shatter Me in June, so it’s quite a long time ago, but even though I don’t remember every detail of the plot (it wasn’t memorable to begin with) I still remember how reading it made me feel.

As you can probably tell by the rating, I couldn’t stand this book. I hated it in that trainwreck kind of way, you just can’t look away because it’s that terrible. It’s so terrible that it made reading it hilarious. This might be one of the funniest books I’ve ever read. The writing style cracked me up several times, I still can’t believe what I read was real.

The metaphors. Oh god the metaphors. The writing style in general. So awful. You just can’t make this shit up. Some find it poetic, I found it pretentious, over the top, and fake deep. Most of the time they do not even MAKE SENSE!!! For a metaphor/simile to be good it HAS TO MAKE SENSE.

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Satire at its best: Beauty Queens by Libba Bray [REVIEW]

9464733Beauty Queens by Libba Bray
First published by in May 2011 by Scholasic Press
Tags: Young Adult, Dystopia, Satire

Buy: Amazon | Book Depository | B&N 

Source: Purchased

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The fifty contestants in the Miss Teen Dream pageant thought this was going to be a fun trip to the beach, where they could parade in their state-appropriate costumes and compete in front of the cameras. But sadly, their airplane had another idea crashing on a desert island and leaving the survivors stranded with little food, little water, and practically no eyeliner.

What’s a beauty queen to do? Continue to practice for the talent portion of the program–or wrestle snakes to the ground? Get a perfect tan–or learn to run wild? And what should happen when the sexy pirates show up?

Welcome to the heart of non-exfoliated darkness. Your tour guide? None other than Libba Bray, the hilarious, sensational, Printz Award-winning author of
A Great and Terrible Beauty and Going Bovine. The result is a novel that will make you laugh, make you think, and make you never see beauty the same way again.

I’ve said before that this book isn’t going to be easy to review without it turning into a fully fledged essay on feminism, satire, and dystopian societies. I’ve literally had this review in my drafts for months because I have no idea how to write it. I’ll just have to try to convey to you how good I think this is in a semi-eloquent manner.

If you’ve read the synopsis, it should be quite clear that this book is satire. And it’s really good satire. It looks critically at the beauty industry, sexism, racism, and overall it criticizes society’s treatment of women, young girls in particular. It also satirizes reality TV, consumer culture, and politics. For example, in the book we find out how this one key ingredient used in cosmetic products is also a powerful explosive.

Not only is the whole book spot-on, it’s hilarious and incredibly important.

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Space wars and rogue AIs: Illuminae by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff [REVIEW]

young adult scifi booksIlluminae by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
Series: The Illuminae Files #1
Published by Random House in October 2015
Pages: 599

Young AdultDystopia, Science Fiction, Thriller
Source: Purchased
Buy: Amazon | Book DepositoryB&N
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This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do.

This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again.

Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.

The spoilers in this review have been hidden, so you can safely read without being spoiled, if you so wish.

This book is hard for me to review, because I can’t really figure out what it is that made this book not get five stars from me, and instead 3.5. Maybe I’ll figure it out as I write. Let’s see… 

I really love books written in alternative formats, with pieced together information found-footage style. I love it and if you know more books like that then please let me know. Illuminae, as you all probably know, is a dossier consisting of interviews, chat logs, emails, reports, wikipedia articles, etc., about the Kerenza disaster (the main character’s planet). At times you have to turn the book upside down to read, which is another thing I enjoy (House of Leaves anyone? Oh boy.)

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For the nerds & geeks: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline [REVIEW]

20603758Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Published by Random House in August 2011
Pages: 374

Young AdultDystopia, Science Fiction
Source: Purchased
Buy: Amazon | Book DepositoryB&N
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In the year 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he’s jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade’s devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world’s digital confines, puzzles that are based on their creator’s obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them. When Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade’s going to survive, he’ll have to win—and confront the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.

There is a chance you will really love this book if you A) love video games B) consider yourself a misunderstood nerd/geek or C) love 80s pop culture & games. Even if you don’t do or like any of these things you will probably still enjoy this book, because it’s awesome. I know I got very few of the 80s references, being a 90s child, but that didn’t bother me. (Though when I got to the Pac-Man part I was like AHA! I KNOW PAC-MAN. 10 POINTS FOR GRYFFINDOR)

If you’ve ever played Second Life, the OASIS is kind of like that. Just way more immersive and real. It’s kind of like Second Life + Oculus Rift + a suit that makes you actually feel things inside the virtual reality + a smell tower that makes you smell the virtual reality. Oh, and + Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory where Halliday is Willy Wonka and the OASIS is the chocolate factory.

People in this book literally live their entire lives inside the OASIS, they even go to school and get married there. You don’t even need to get out of the house, you can go to a restaurant in the OASIS, order a pizza, and that order will transfer to a the pizza place near you in the real world and they’ll deliver to your door. Amazing. 

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Review: The Private Eye by Brian K. Vaughan

The Private Eye by Brian K. VaughanThe Private Eye (Deluxe Edition) by Brian K. Vaughan
Published by Image Comics in December 2015
Pages: 300
Genres: Adult, Graphic Novel, Mystery, Crime, Dystopia
Buy: Amazon | Book Depository
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I received a free ebook copy from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

This review was written for the Dystopia Reading Challenge

The Private Eye is a series of ten issues that, as far as I understand it, were originally posted online but has now been published in hardback. It’s horizontal, I love that. 

You might recognize the author as the author of Saga, which is a well known sci-fi graphic novel series. I’ve read the first four volumes of Saga and I love it a lot, so when I saw this on Netgalley I couldn’t resist. I ended up not loving it as much as Saga, but I really enjoyed it. 

The story is a hardboiled detective story merged with a dystopian future in which everyone has a secret identity. This came about after “the cloud” burst 60 years ago and exposed everyone’s deepest and darkest secrets. So now there is no more internet, no more smart phones, and everyone uses masks and fake names to hide who they are. 

“Look, nobody knows if it was an act of war or an act of God, but for forty days and forty nights, everything just poured right out for the whole damn country to see. Every message you thought was safe, every photo you thought you deleted, every mortifying little search you ever made… it was all there for anyone to use against you. People lost their jobs, families were torn apart, blah fucking blah.”

Just imagine everyone knowing your complete browser history, and more. Yikes. 

Our main character is P.I., an unlicensed private investigator, who suddenly gets a visit from a mysterious woman who has a case for him (in true hardboiled style). When his client winds up murdered, P.I. gets dragged into a dangerous conspiracy that threatens the newfound world-order. 

Okay, so I loved the plot of this. It took me a little while to get into it, but when the ball started rolling I got sucked into it and finished it in one sitting. The premise is great, I love how current it is (in the sense of the theme of privacy and the internet) at the same time as it’s so incredibly wacky. They’ve really gone all out with the whole secret identity thing. No one’s going to know who you are dressed as a giant fish. 

The Private Eye

One of my favorite things about it was probably the characters, especially P.I.’s grandfather, who is basically from our generation. He’s slightly senile (or just deeply in denial) and keeps trying to get onto the internet and turn on his old iPhone, to no avail. I feel his pain. He’s also not a fan of the younger people’s obsession with anonymity. I love him because I’m always wondering what kind of things our generation will sit and grumble when we complain about “today’s youth” when we’re in our 80s. 

The Private Eye 

I also liked Mel, P.I.’s assistant. She’s a young girl who can’t wait to be 18 so she can get rid of her charm bracelet (that shows she’s underage) and finally get a “nym” (fake name) and a mask. 

Like Saga, this comic is wonderfully diverse, both racially and sexually. P.I. is a black man who’s previously been in a relationship with a man. Whether or not he’s gay or bi or whatever I’m not sure, but I was delighted to see that. This is coming to be one of my favorite things about Vaughan’s stories.

Also like Saga, this is in no way a “clean” graphic novel. There’s violence, blood, nudity (though not that much) and swearing. I don’t mind it at all, it adds to the grittiness of the story and makes it realistic by not shying away from anything.

I’ve seen a lot of people are iffy about the ending. I’m not sure how I feel about it yet, but I didn’t necessarily hate it. I think I kind of liked it. 

I really recommend The Private Eye, it’s fast-paced, highly interesting, and the really colorful art captures your attention. If you don’t read too fast you’ll notice fun little things like the characters standing in front of Madonna’s memorial, which predicts she’ll die in 2017. Hm.

The Private Eye by Brian K. Vaughan
Have you read The Private Eye? What do you think? 
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Review: The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness

19547856The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness
Series: Chaos Walking #2 (Completed trilogy)
Published by Walker Books in 2009
Pages: 536
Genres: Dystopia, Young Adult, Science Fiction, Thriller
Buy: Amazon | Book Depository
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Book 1: The Knife of Never Letting Go review

If you haven’t read The Knife of Never Letting Go then I don’t know what to tell you because there will be spoilers here. I don’t recommend reading this review if you have plans to read the first book but haven’t yet.

Let’s start with a brief summary. 

The novel starts off directly after the first one and we find Todd imprisoned by President Mayor Prentiss and Viola being healed by the women, led by Mistress Coyle, of New Prentisstown Haven. Todd and Viola are separated and desperate to find each other again, but they both fall victims to the manipulative forces of the two opposites sides in the civil war now breaking out on New World.

It is a novel about war and resistance, of bombings, terrorism, and genocide, and yet it is very much a psychological thriller compared to The Knife of Never Letting Go‘s action-packed cat-and-mouse adventure. I love me some psychological thrillers and dramas, but I found the first half of this book to be a bit slow at times, thus the slightly lower rating than the previous book. Don’t despair though, because shit went down in the second half and the first half did have some really interesting parts, namely Todd and Davy Prentiss’ work with the thousands of captive Spackle. I loved reading about that, it was awful and heart-wrenching but so interesting. 

One of the really interesting things about this novel is how Ness approaches the topic of war. He makes sure both sides (Mayor Prentiss’ and Mistress Coyle’s) are realistic in the sense that no side is completely good. Both sides do terrible things, both sides get a lot of innocent people killed, and Todd and Viola both have to struggle with that, wondering whether or not the other has been a part of the horrible things the other side has done. 

The novel is told from both Todd and Viola’s perspectives this time around and we are told when the POV changes so it’s no problem keeping up. Todd and Viola also have different fonts, which was a nice way to ensure you don’t forget who’s speaking since it uses first person.

The character development here is great too. Ness made the highly unlikable Davy Prentiss Jr. likable, so much so that towards the end he reminded me so much of my all-time favorite fictional character and that just punched me right in the gut. DON’T PLAY WITH MY EMOTIONS LIKE THAT. 

And of course Ness ripped my heart out in the end once again, as if Manchee wasn’t enough. Goddamn it. I’m still not okay. If you’ve read it you probably know what I’m talking about. 

Patrick Ness is so good. I don’t even know what it is exactly, but he’s so good. There’s something about this series that just comes to life in my head when I read it, I see everything. It’s like a movie and it’s beautiful. I’m usually good at visualizing what I’m reading but I don’t know, this just comes to life in a completely different way. I’m swear I can ever hear the background music when I’m reading. 

Go read this series, it’s great. I don’t dare to think about what’s going to happen in Monsters of Men, which is no doubt going to be an even bigger war with probably two more opponents. 

Have you read this book? What did you think? 

Review: The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
Series: Chaos Walking #1 (completed trilogy)
Published by: Walker Books
on May 5th 2008
Pages: 497
Genres: Dystopia, Young Adult, Science Fiction, Thriller
Love Triangle? No
Buy: Amazon | Bookdepository
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I listened to this on audiobook (11 h 55 m), narrated by Nick Podehl

Todd Hewitt is about to turn thirteen, which makes him the youngest in Prentisstown, a small town with only men. Where all the women went is a mystery Todd doesn’t know the answer to, all he knows is that the only place women exist anymore is in the imagination of men. That already sounds creepy enough, but to complicate matters further everyone can hear each other’s thoughts because of something called the Noise germ. Just before he turns thirteen and becomes a man, something terrible happens that forces Todd to flee from his town (the only one on the whole entire planet as far as he knows) with only his dog for company. Though fleeing is difficult when the people coming after you can hear your (and your dog’s!) every thought.

And then Todd meets a girl. 

The Knife of Never Letting Go is first and foremost a survival story. If you’ve read Ness’s More Than This already then you know he writes excellent survival stories. 

“The Noise is a man unfiltered, and without a filter, a man is just chaos walking.”

The last time I listened to an audiobook it was probably in my parents’ car on one of our vacations when I was younger. So I don’t usually listen to audiobooks, but I stumbled upon this one and decided to just sit down and listened to it because I’d wanted to read the book for a while, but my book store didn’t have it and shipping from amazon is too expensive to me. So, I decided to go for it and I actually really, really enjoyed the ride.

The writing style in this trilogy is very much oral. A lot of words are written how they are pronounced (stayshun for station etc) and there is an accent even in the narration, like “yer” for “your”. This made the book very suitable for audio, because actually hearing the accent instead of trying to make it sound right in your head (it always sounds stupid when I try) was very beneficial to me. I also know that this writing style can be annoying to some. If you’ve tried to read this but got distracted or annoyed by the writing then I really recommend trying the audiobook because the story is worth it. I was very amused by the way the narrator said certain things. “Sheeeeep.” 

As for the story itself, phew, what a roller coaster, the plot is definitely something I haven’t read before. I liked being confused about what was going on and what had happened in the past, I love having to wait before I figure out what is going on. The story was fast paced, something was almost constantly happening, and it kept me on the edge of my seat. Then I realized another perk with audiobooks. You know when you’re reading something really thrilling and suspenseful and then your eyes betray you and flicker to the bottom of the page or paragraph and you accidentally spoil yourself? You can’t do that with audiobooks, you’re constantly surprised. No need to block the bottom of the page with your hand to avoid ruining the scene. 

There are sad parts, happy parts, heart pounding parts, it has everything I look for in a book. The characters are believable too, especially Todd. And Manchee, the dog. Sweet sweet Manchee. 

I’m really looking forward to reading the next two books. I found physical copies at the library, so I’m going to try that now when I have the voice of the character in my head. I don’t have to imagine what the accent might sound like anymore, so I think I can read the rest of the two books without feeling distracted.  

I recommend this book to everyone, especially if you’re into dystopian fiction, survival stories, or just generally like a darker read. You have to be able to stomach a bit of gore  (not that much) and children in life-threatening situations.