2017 Book #70 – The Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey

51an6r+508L._SX325_BO1,204,203,200_Title: The Girl With All the Gifts
Author: M.R. Carey
Date finished: 8/20/17
Genre: Fiction, dystopian, zombie
Publisher: Orbit
Publication Date: June 10, 2014
Pages in book: 403
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: I think I bought this during one of my Book Outlet spending sprees last year

Blurb from the cover:

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 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.

The Girl With All the Gifts is a groundbreaking thriller, emotionally charged and gripping from beginning to end.

My rating:  3.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I read this book for the Terryville Library’s Fiction Lover’s Book Discussion group discussion for this month (August). This book has been on my “to read” list for a little while now so I was glad that someone else in the group picked it. However, I was (somehow) unaware that it was a book about zombies. I’m all for a good dystopian novel but zombies aren’t usually my thing. That being said, I thought this book was pretty good. I honestly didn’t expect to like it after about the first 50 pages but Melanie’s character is so human-like (despite her being a zombie) that I ended up liking the book. There were a lot of interesting pieces of this book, including the creative approach to the zombie infection and how it was developed through the course of the book. I didn’t expect to like this book nearly as much as I did, I would actually recommend giving it a try!

The bottom line: This book was pretty good, better than I expected it to be. Zombie stories aren’t usually appealing to me but I would recommend giving this one a try.

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2016 Book #18 – The Last Girl by Joe Hart

51QUznf0TsL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Title: The Last Girl
Author: Joe Hart
Date finished: 3/6/16
Genre: Fiction, dystopian fiction
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Publication Date: March 1, 2016
Pages in book: 386
Stand alone or series: #1 in The Dominion Trilogy
Where I got the book from: NetGalley NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

A mysterious worldwide epidemic reduces the birthrate of female infants from 50 percent to less than 1 percent. Medical science and governments around the world scramble in an effort to solve the problem, but twenty-five years later there is no cure, and an entire generation grows up with a population of fewer than a thousand women.
Zoey and some of the surviving young women are housed in a scientific research compound dedicated to determining the cause. For two decades, she’s been isolated from her family, treated as a test subject, and locked away—told only that the virus has wiped out the rest of the world’s population.
Captivity is the only life Zoey has ever known, and escaping her heavily armed captors is no easy task, but she’s determined to leave before she is subjected to the next round of tests…a program that no other woman has ever returned from. Even if she’s successful, Zoey has no idea what she’ll encounter in the strange new world beyond the facility’s walls. Winning her freedom will take brutality she never imagined she possessed, as well as all her strength and cunning—but Zoey is ready for war.

My rating:  4.25 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. Also, this book will count towards my “PopSugar 2016 Checklist” reading challenge, marking off the “a dystopian novel” box since this book is a dystopian novel. I feel like I’ve been seeing a lot of buzz about this book over the last month or so and when I saw it on NetGalley (even though I saw it the same day it was published and I’m already swamped) I requested it because the plot sounded so interesting. A dystopian novel where there are only a few women left in the world because of a virus that pretty much only lets new babies be born as boys? Sounds freaking great. And boy it was!
This book centers around Zoey. She doesn’t have a last name because she has never been told what her last name was. This was done purposefully, the staff who have raised her at the ARC are raising her to help the “greater good,” not to be her own person. Zoey is one of a handful of women left at the research facility, the rest supposedly having moved on to the “safe zone” once they graduated at 21. Zoey can feel an evil undertone to her life at the facility though and she knows that everything isn’t what it seems, and that most likely all the girls are being lied to. I don’t want to talk too much about the plot line of the book because honestly its just full of surprises and twists and suspense. I will say that Zoey ends up uncovering what’s really going on there, and she fights back to try and save herself and the other girls living at the facility.
Overall I really liked this book. The plot line was interesting and creative and suspenseful, and though there was a good amount of violence through the story it didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the book. Zoey is a great lead for this book, she learns how strong she is during the story and the reader really gets to see her grow into her own force. The battle scenes in this book are intense and thrilling, you’ll be on the edge of your seat. It isn’t a great comparison because the stories really aren’t that similar, but I could see this being the next Hunger Games-like craze. I am really looking forward to the next book (I’ve already pre-ordered it) which luckily comes out near my birthday!

The bottom line: I have to put a disclaimer in here that there are some pretty violent/gory scenes. In all fairness I am a bit of a wimp when it comes to that kind of stuff but still, was pretty violent for me. It definitely didn’t take away from the story line though, VERY interesting plot and just a crazy creative idea. Loved it and would definitely recommend! Can’t wait for the next one.

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2015 Book #115 – Nirvana by J.R. Stewart

41K9CIKcNGL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Title: Nirvana
Author: J.R. Stewart
Date finished: 11/13/15
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Blue Moon Publishers
Publication Date: November 10, 2015
Pages in book: 201
Stand alone or series: Nirvana series #1
Where I got the book from: NetGalley NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

When the real world is emptied of all that you love, how can you keep yourself from dependence on the virtual?
Animal activist and punk rock star Larissa Kenders lives in a dystopian world where the real and the virtual intermingle. After the disappearance of her soulmate, Andrew, Kenders finds solace by escaping to Nirvana, a virtual world controlled by Hexagon. In Nirvana, anyone’s deepest desires may be realized – even visits with Andrew.
Although Kenders knows that this version of Andrew is virtual, when he asks for her assistance revealing Hexagon’s dark secret, she cannot help but comply. Soon after, Kenders and her closest allies find themselves in a battle with Hexagon, the very institution they have been taught to trust. After uncovering much more than she expected, Kenders’ biggest challenge is determining what is real – and what is virtual.
Nirvana is a fast-paced, page-turning young adult novel combining elements of science fiction, mystery, and romance. Part of a trilogy, this book introduces readers to a young woman who refuses to give up on the man she loves, even if it means taking on an entire government to do so. Are you ready to enter Nirvana?

My rating: 3.25 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. This book tells the story of Larissa Kenders and her husband Andrew. Larissa and Andrew live in the Barracks in the year 2036. This is after “the Extinction,” a time when there are no bees and therefore pretty much no food since bees pollenate most plants. Andrew was killed in a recent “mission” and Larissa is trying to come to terms with this and either figure out how to find his body or move on with her life. It is hard to tell who she should and shouldn’t trust since honestly her friend from childhood is a selfish asshole who she should be able to trust but we as the readers find out some pretty awful stuff about him.
Anyways, so through the book we learn more about what life is like in the year 2036. There are pretty much 3 main places you can live: the Barracks, where the soldiers and scientists live, the Farm where the laborers live (very feudal-like system, the people who live on the Farm are basically serfs) and the Bubble where the “elite” live. This concept reminded me a little of how the Hunger Games government was set up since the Farm labors to provide food for the Bubble, just like the Districts labored to provide for the Capitol. This book also had pieces that reminded me of the Matrix since they often enter into a virtual world where they can do whatever they want and Larissa is trying to figure out what is real and what isn’t since she sees Andrew in this virtual world and also because Serge is a LOT controlling and could have trapped her in a virtual world without thinking twice if it would keep her with him. The book ends with a big twist (won’t spoil it!!) but we’re left wondering if Andrew is alive and what is real and what isn’t.
Overall I enjoyed this book a lot. Anyone who likes young adult dystopian novels will most likely love this book. I hate books that end in a cliffhanger only because I hate waiting to find out what is going to happen and also because I’m left with a lot of unanswered questions at the end of the book which is frustrating for me. To be honest if I had known this was a series I would have done what I normally do and waited until all the books in the series came out and then read them all at once. I guess I will just have to wait for the next book to come out though. There are a few things about the book I didn’t love. Larissa is just a tad too whiny for my tastes but not so much that it ruined the story for me. And I don’t understand why she keeps thinking her sister is going to be worried about her or looking for her. Her sister abandoned her to her pedophile father, why does Larissa think her sister is all of a sudden worried about her? Other than those couple small things I liked the book!

The bottom line: I would recommend this book to people who like dystopian young adult novels with a forewarning that there is a cliffhanger at the end. Good book though!

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2015 Books #52-54 – Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins

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Title: Hunger Games, Catching Fire, Mockingjay
Author: Suzanne Collins
Date finished: 5/31/15, 6/3/15, 6/4/15
Genre: Young adult – dystopian
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Publication Date: September 14, 2008; September 1, 2009; August 24, 2010
Pages in book: 374, 391, 499 (large-print)
Stand alone or series: Series (trilogy to be specific)

Blurb from the cover:

Hunger Games
In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she is forced to represent her district in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before – and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that weigh survival against humanity and life against love.

Catching Fire
Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has won the annual Hunger Games with fellow district tribute Peeta Mellark. But it was a victory won by defiance of the Capitol and their harsh rules. Katniss and Peeta should be happy. After all, they have just won for themselves and their families a life of safety and plenty. But there are rumors of rebellion among the subjects, and Katniss and Peeta, to their horror, are the faces of that rebellion. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge.

Mockingjay
Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has survived the Hunger Games twice. But now that she’s made it out of the bloody arena alive, she’s still not safe. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge. Who do they think should pay for the unrest? Katniss. And what’s worse, President Snow has made it clear that no one else is safe either. Not Katniss’s family, not her friends, not the people of District 12. Powerful and haunting, this thrilling final installment of Suzanne Collins’s groundbreaking The Hunger Games trilogy promises to be one of the most talked about books of the year.

My rating: 4.25, 4.5 and 4.0 stars out of a scale of 5, respectively

My review: This book will be counting towards my goal for the Pop Sugar Reading Challenge 2015 checklist under the “trilogy” check box since it is a trilogy. I know everyone is astounded I haven’t read this series yet given its popularity and the fact that there are now three movies out based on the series with the last movie coming out in November of this year. To be honest when I first heard about the books and even the first movie, I couldn’t get into it. The idea of kids killing kids was so abhorrent to me that I couldn’t imagine how I would end up liking the books. So I avoided it. And then it became wildly (and I mean wildly) popular and I tend to avoid that as well (not really sure why but fads seem to put me off). So we get to this year and after watching the movies for books 1, 2, and Part one of 3 and loving all the movies, I decide its finally time to read the books.
And it turns out I should’ve read them a long time ago. I absolutely loved this series, though I have to admit I cried so hard at the end of the third book that I felt hollowed out and empty when it was over. I’m writing this right after finishing the third book, only giving myself enough time that I can finally see through the tears again. I think the glass of wine helped but I feel absolutely devastated. I loved the series but so many people die in the third book, a lot of people that I really liked too, that I just can’t find the wherewithal to continue forward (to normal people this will sound pathetically crazy, but I know my fellow book nerds will understand). What I thought was weird when I considered it was that I didn’t feel this way in the first two books even though plenty of characters I felt I knew died in those books too. But I think the difference is that I knew people I liked were going to die in the first two books because of the Hunger Games.
I can’t talk about my emotions too much without giving away spoilers but in some ways the third book ended exactly how I wanted it it. I felt almost like the ending was a little rushed though. The whole book was a little confusing, I think because we were seeing everything through Katniss’s fractured mind. I found the difference in Katniss’s voice as it develops between books 1, 2 and 3 very interesting. You can feel her character growing and changing through the series by the way she talks. I loved the series though and I think everyone should read it immediately, if nothing else but to warn us all of what could happen in the future if the government goes all whack-a-doo. Go! Read it now!!!

The bottom line: I would highly recommend that everyone read this series. It will ensnare you and drag you under but it is an excellent series.

Link to author website
Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page