Another effed up tale: Dangerous Boys by Abigail Haas [REVIEW]

22907937Title: Dangerous Boys
Author: Abigail Haas
First published in August 2014
Tags: Young Adult, Contemporary, Thriller 

Source: Purchased
Rating:  photo three half_zps8cnkrlqd.png

It all comes down to this. Oliver, Ethan, and I. Three teens venture into an abandoned lake house one night. Hours later, only two emerge from the burning wreckage. Chloe drags one Reznick brother to safety, unconscious and bleeding. The other is left to burn, dead in the fire. But which brother survives? And is his death a tragic accident? Desperate self-defense? Or murder…? Chloe is the only one with the answers. As the fire rages, and police and parents demand the truth, she struggles to piece the story together – a story of jealousy, twisted passion and the darkness that lurks behind even the most beautiful faces…


 

Okay, so last year I read Abigail Haas’ Dangerous Girls. It was one of my favorite reads of the year and I knew I had to get my hand on this one again. I have a thing for stories about messed up teens that mess with your head. The two books are not connected whatsoever despite their similar titles, the only common ground is the fact that they’re both thriller novels about teens where someone’s dead but we don’t know why or how. 

We have the narrator Chloe, who’s just graduated and dreams of getting out of the town and go to college like all her friends. However, her mother suffers from severe depression (which was written very well, I thought) and Chloe realizes she has no choice but to stay home and take care of her. Enter Ethan, a sweet and handsome boy she quickly becomes attracted to. They start dating. And then, enter Ethan’s older brother, Oliver. He’s  what you could call a typical “bad boy,” who seduces and gets under your skin even though he’s a giant jackass. Pretty sure Oliver is a sociopath. 

What we know from the beginning is that Chloe’s pulling one brother out of a burning lake house, while the other one is left to die inside. Now, why were they at the house? Which brother’s dead? Was it an accident or was it murder? 

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Books that mess with your head: Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas [REVIEW]

17623143Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas
First published by Simon Pulse in July 2013
Pages: 388

Tags:
Young Adult, Contemporary, Crime, Thriller
Buy: Amazon | Book DepositoryB&N
 
Rating:  photo five stars_zpsr2o5iiuv.png

Elise is dead.
And someone must pay.

Anna, her boyfriend Tate, best friend Elise and a group of close friends set off on a debaucherous Spring Break trip to Aruba. But paradise soon turns into a living nightmare when Elise is brutally murdered.


Soon Anna finds herself trapped in a foreign country and fighting for her freedom. As she awaits the judge’s decree, it becomes clear that everyone is questioning her innocence. To the rest of the world, Anna isn’t just guilty, but dangerous. As the court case unfolds the truth is about to come out, and it’s more shocking than you could ever imagine…

“Do you love me?”
“You know I do.”
“How much?”
“Miles and Miles.”

WHODUNIT???

This is that kind of book. And it’s so good and so deliciously twisted. The trial seems real, the characters believable, and it will keep you turning pages until you find out if Anna will be freed and who actually killed Elise. 

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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

Tags:
Young AdultDystopia, Science Fiction, Thriller
Source: Purchased
Buy: Amazon | Book DepositoryB&N
 
Rating:  photo three half_zps8cnkrlqd.png

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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ARC Review: The Truth by Jeffry W. Johnston


The Truth by Jeffry W. JohnstonThe Truth
 
by Jeffry W. Johnston
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Publication date: February 2nd 2016
Pages: 240
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Thriller, Mystery
Buy: Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble
Rating:  photo three stars_zpsohkkn6ww.png

Lie, torture, kill—there’s nothing Chris and Derek wouldn’t do for their younger brothers…

When Chris wakes up tied to a chair in a dark basement, he knows that he’s trapped—and why. He shot and killed Derek’s little brother. He had his reasons, but no matter how far Derek goes to uncover the truth about that night, Chris’s story won’t change. It can’t. There is far too much at stake…

Derek is desperate to prove his brother didn’t deserve to die. And if kidnapping his brother’s killer is the only way to the truth, than he’ll go to extremes. But Chris’s truth is far more dangerous than Derek could have imagined, and knowing could cost both their lives…

I received a free ebook copy from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

This is a short, quick and easy read, it took me about 2-3 hours.  It’s a mystery/thriller story as well as a tragedy and it will keep you wondering what the big “truth” is.  

It’s a story about family, sacrifice, and the reveal of said truth. There are two pairs of brothers in this equation: Chris and Devon, and Derek and Caleb. I just realized the characters share initials for a reason. Nice. 

The story starts with Chris waking up tied to a chair in a basement. It’s Derek who’s kidnapped him, and Derek wants to know why Chris shot and killed his little brother only a few days ago. 

The Truth reveals the, well, truths, bit by bit throughout the story. It alternates between “then” and “now” sections, i.e. it switches between Chris talking to his kidnapper and flashbacks to what happened before, during, and after Chris shot Caleb. A lot of the reveals are predictable and I was worried the very final reveal would be too, but I actually didn’t see it coming. Perhaps I should have because I had plenty of pretty wild theories throughout, some much wilder than the actual truth, but for some reason what actually happened didn’t cross my mind. I feel like an idiot, haha. 

The brothers, particularly Chris and Devon, have a Sam-and-Dean-Winchester-esque relationship. At least that’s the association I got almost immediately. Chris is 16 years old, Devon is only 10. Chris is fiercely protective of Devon and always puts him first, forgetting to have fun himself and actually act like the teenager he is. After their father was killed in the line of duty three years ago, Chris ended up taking over that role. Their mother admits that Chris is a “better parent than [she is].”

The book keeps you guessing and it’s fast-paced and fairly intriguing. You read and wonder what the hell Chris could be hiding that he’s willing to lose his fingers for. Still it’s only an okay book. I mean, I didn’t dislike it, but I didn’t love it either. It lacked something that kept me from giving it more than 3 stars. Just that little something that would have made it into a complete page-turner. I can’t really tell you what that is, it might be just me. 

I did want to feel more connection with the characters though. I wish it made me really care about Chris and Devon, Devon in particular. 

There are also some lose-ish ends, like what happened to Rita? What was the purpose of her character outside of being some sort of love interest? I didn’t feel the connection between her and Chris, so to me she didn’t even work as the love interest. She says she said no the first time Chris asked her out (pre-story) because she legitimately wasn’t interested in him, but now she suddenly is? Why? Because he killed someone and she feels bad for him? I wanted just a little bit more there, without the book turning into a romance. The Truth doesn’t really need the romance part at all, but maybe the author felt like he should have at least one female character in the novel who’s not the mother? Possibly. But in that case you should probably avoid making her the love interest only. 

The constant “I know there’s something you’re not telling me” from Derek got a bit repetitive after a while too. I get it, you have to move the plot forward because there is something Chris is not telling Derek, but is there another way to get to that point? Or is Derek psychic? He seems pretty certain Chris is hiding just that one thing. 

That aside, this is an interesting little thriller. It’s easy to read and I admit I was surprised by the ending and I, like most readers, like being surprised. It’s not gory, despite the garden shears, but there are some mentions of child abuse (including rape) so if you need warnings for that then consider this your warning. It’s nothing descriptive or graphic at all though. 

I recommend this book for fans of young adult psychological thrillers/mysteries and interesting sibling dynamics. Don’t expect a masterpiece, but expect to be asking yourself some interesting questions after you’ve read the final page. 

The Truth by Jeffry W. Johnston
Have you read The Truth? Are you going to? 
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Review: The Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey

The Girl With All the Gifts reviewThe Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey
Published by Orbit in January 2014
Pages: 460

Genres: Adult, ApocalypticScience Fiction, Thriller 
Source:
Purchased
Buy: Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble
Rating:  photo four half_zpszfonypqk.png

Melanie is a very special girl. Dr. Caldwell calls her “our little genius.”

Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant Parks keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don’t like her. She jokes that she won’t bite, but they don’t laugh.

Melanie loves school. She loves learning about spelling and sums and the world outside the classroom and the children’s cells. She tells her favorite teacher all the things she’ll do when she grows up. Melanie doesn’t know why this makes Miss Justineau look sad.

I really don’t think it’s a spoiler that this is a zombie book. Like really, it’s implied heavily in the synopsis, plus it’s revealed very early on in the book that we’re dealing with zombies here. 

So yes. Zombie children. But not regular zombies, because these children actually have brain function, which is a far cry from the other zombies roaming about outside. And we’re reading to figure out why that’s the case, among other things. 

I found this to be a really interesting take on the whole zombie thing, I especially liked the how and the why to the epidemic, it made a whole lot of sense. And I’ve actually thought of the same thing before so imagine my delight when I realized someone has actually used it in a book. I liked the ‘normal’ zombies too (i.e. the ones without brain function), I found their nature very intriguing and different from what I’ve seen previously. I hated the word “hungries” though, it sounds so juvenile. But then again, there aren’t many words for zombies left that haven’t been used before. I’ll give it a pass even though I cringed a little every time I read it. 

I really enjoyed Melanie’s relationship with her favorite teacher, the beautiful and kind Miss Justineau. Miss Justineau treats the children like people, which is a rarity. She tries to teach them things and she reads them stories from Greek mythology. It’s not a secret that Melanie has a crush on her, I found that so sweet and lovely. This child would do anything for this woman and my heart can’t take it. Too precious. 

I love you, Miss Justineau. I’ll be a god or a Titan for you, and save you.

The first part of this novel is absolutely amazing. Like the first 130 or so pages? Fantastic. If you’re looking for a book with a gripping start definitely try this one. I hate it when books start slow but this one took you straight into the action and I couldn’t stop reading. The middle part lost a little bit of oomph here and there, but I was still immersed in the plot and the characters.

I enjoyed all the character development, because pretty much every character starts out as a generic stereotype but then reveal deeper parts of themselves as we read on. I grew to really like one character that you wouldn’t think you would ever like in the beginning. 

I was ready to give this book a solid 4 stars until the very last page. Holy shit, that last page gave me actual chills and I had to change my rating to a very strong 4.5. I really loved the way this ended. It was melancholic, tragic, yet beautiful and somewhat hopeful. 

I’d recommend this book to everyone, it’s haunting and gripping and makes you think about what it means to be human. 

Have you read this book? Or are you going to? Tell me what 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
Rating:
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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: Vicious by V. E. Schwab

Vicious by V. E. Schwab
Published by Tor Books
on September 23rd 2013
Pages: 364
Genres: Adult, Science Fiction, Thriller
Buy: Amazon | Bookdepository
Rating:
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In this book we meet two young college roommates and best friends, Victor and Eli, who, through some pretty dramatic research, figure out how to get superpowers. All for the sake of their thesis on Extra-Ordinaries, of course. And then things go very wrong. Flashforward into the future, Victor breaks out of prison to look for Eli, his now arch nemesis, and kill him. And Eli has a terrible plot going on himself. 

THIS BOOK IS FUCKING AMAZING. Excuse my French. It’s that good though, I’m flailing over here just trying to express how much I loved it. I read this book earlier this summer and I’m still in awe. I read it in one sitting, completely hypnotized, and it went straight onto my favorites shelf after I was done. This book has been very hyped up, but for me it definitely lived up to it. 

Not only are the characters great and the plot something I haven’t read before, but Victoria Schwab’s writing style is so beautiful. I fell in love with it right away. 

“Someone could call themselves a hero and still walk around killing dozens. Someone else could be labeled a villain for trying to stop them. Plenty of humans were monstrous, and plenty of monsters knew how to play at being human.” 

This book is about superheroes and supervillains. It’s got the whole “what makes a villain and what makes a hero” thing going on that I really like. Victor is the perfect anti-hero for me, I really liked him as a character, flaws and all. I think he might be one of my favorite fictional characters. And Eli… well. When I read the portion of this book that took place during their college years I imagined these boys kind of like I imagine a college aged Sherlock Holmes (the BBC version). So that tells you a little bit what kind of characters they are: ambitious, kind of arrogant, and dangerously brilliant but with a touch of loneliness and desperation. I loved their relationship and the complexity of it. Where are my Victor/Eli college years fanfics? Someone get on that.

“All Eli had to do was smile. All Victor had to do was lie. Both proved frighteningly effective.”

There were other great characters in this book apart from Victor and Eli and they were all fleshed out and complex. I’m going to mention Sydney especially, a young girl with a truly tragic story. It was heartbreaking to read from her perspective sometimes. And Mitch, bless him, another great character.

Even if you’re not into superheroes I really recommend you try this book. Actually I recommend it to everyone and their mother. I think my mother would like it. It’s fast paced and brilliantly written. I think some of my favorite parts were actually the scenes that described their attempts at getting superpowers, it was so creepy and dark and such a clever idea. When I read it I was actually like “yeah, that makes perfect sense.”

I think this book has great crossover appeal from the young adult genre. If you usually only read YA it wouldn’t be much of a stretch to read this.

Read this book now. Just do it.