Concentr8 – book review

Concentr8

In a future London, Concentr8 is a prescription drug intended to help kids with ADHD. Soon every troubled teen is on it, in order to keep the ‘undesirable elements’ in line. 

Troy, Femi, Lee, Karen and Blaze have been taking Concentr8 as long as they can remember. They’re not exactly a gang, but Blaze is their leader. They’re not looking for trouble, but one hot summer day, when riots break out across the city, they find it.

This is a book about how we label children. It’s about how kids get lost in the system, and it’s about how politicians manipulate them.Read More »

Breakdown – book review

Breakdown

Breakdown is an intriguing and captivating book, written by Sarah Mussi.

The year is 2084 and nuclear radiation has poisoned the country. Society has been ripped apart. Starvation and power shortages are two things that are certain in this unstable world. For Melissa and her Nan, survival is only possible if they find enough fuel to cook on and if they safely barricade themselves inside their home by curfew each night.

After dark, feral dogs and violent gangs reign the streets. The have no mercy. So when Melissa falls into the hands of a powerful gang, she doesn’t think she will survive. But then Careem, the leader of the gang, realises she might be more valuable as a ransom victim. Though he never expected his gang to be beguiled by Melissa’s tales of the paradise hidden in Scotland valleys. Apparently only Melissa knows the way there. But Melissa is hiding a secret that could cost her everything, including her life. She has never been to Scotland in her life, let alone the mystical valley there. Will Melissa’s stories be enough to keep her alive so that she can escape – or will they only get her killed?

*

Although Breakdown wasn’t one of the worst dystopian books I’ve read, I felt let down by it. One of the things that makes a successful dystopian book are solid foundations. The reader needs to feel as though they fully understand this new, post-apocalyptic world so that they can feel fully immersed in the story. That just didn’t happen in this book. It felt like this book was trying too hard to be unique in its setting and the layout of this world, and by doing that, it felt overcomplicated and messy. I would have been happy with a somewhat simple world that I could feel as though I understood. This book just intertwined two worlds; anarchic dystopia and totalitarian dystopia. This book would have felt more planned out or structured if it followed only one of these paths. Because it didn’t, I felt like the things that were going on in this society was pretty vague and I never really understood how this society was not able to function and why it came to be that way.

I felt like one of the reasons I didn’t really get into this book as well as I would have liked to was because of the beginning. From the start of the book, I was confused. There didn’t feel as though there was much stable world-building at the start of this book, which means that I was desperately fishing for answers for the majority of the first half of this book. I felt like I was crawling through the dark, looking for missing pieces of the puzzle. It just wasn’t working for me. If this world had been developed in depth more, I would have been given the time to get to know the characters better and thus would have enjoyed this book more.

One thing that I liked about this book was the inclusion of Greek mythology. I definitely wasn’t expecting that when I picked up this book and I really liked those parts of the book. I felt as though this was the one thing that made this book slightly different to every other dystopian I’ve ever read. I also really enjoyed reading the metaphors in this book and the bigger messages it contains, such as how people cause destruction because of their greed. The messages that this book contained about how people cause death and destruction while trying to pursue wealth or success or a warped happiness.

Melissa was one character that I felt connected to. I loved watching how she used manipulation as a key tool for her survival. It was very interesting to watch how she weaved stories and made everyone believe her to help keep herself alive. I felt as though Melissa really matured throughout the book and it was great to see how she always tried to assert herself, no matter what. Her determination and bravery in these times were really great to read about. In this way, she was a character that I admired. Her journey to find a part of the idealistic freedom that she had heard of was a fascinating one to follow and I really enjoyed getting to know her as the book progressed. Lenny and Tarquin were also two characters that played an essential role in this book. I felt as though I got to know these three characters well throughout the book and I liked seeing their interactions and how certain situations changed the dynamics of the friendships that were formed over the course of the book.

Overall, this book was interesting, although this dystopian world could have been developed more initially. I felt as though this book became more intriguing the further the book progressed, but the ending felt a little rushed. I’ve give Breakdown by Sarah Mussi a score of 7 out of 10. This isn’t the best dystopian I’ve ever read, but it was all right and passed the time.

Thank you to Hot Key Books Australia for providing with this book in exchange for an honest review.

Endgame: The Calling – book review

Endgame - The Calling

The Calling is the first book in the new dystopian series called Endgame, written by James Frey and Nils Johnson-Shelton.

The creatures that came to Earth twelve thousand years ago gave the people of Earth rules to live by. When these creatures left, they told the people of Earth that they’d be back. And when they came back, a game would be played. That game would determine the future of the human race. It is known as Endgame.

There are twelve original lines of humanity. Each of these lines has to have a Player prepared at all times. They have trained for generations. When the game starts, the Players will have to find three keys which are all hidden somewhere on Earth. The only rule of Endgame is that there are no rules. Whoever finds the keys first wins the game. Who will survive? Who will win? This is Endgame.

*

I really didn’t enjoy reading The Calling. From the moment I picked it up, I just had a feeling it would be one of those books that claim to the ‘the new Hunger Games’ and they aren’t even half as good at The Hunger Games. I hoped this book would at least try to be original. There were some unique elements in this book for sure. Obviously, otherwise it would just be plagiarism. I had mixed feelings about the plot. This book is over four hundred pages and I didn’t find myself getting a good grasp on the concept even once the book had ended. So, aliens? Endgame? I still don’t even know what I read. All I know is that there was teenagers who had to kill one another because they’re a part of some sort of ‘game’ run by a higher power. Sound similar? It sure does to me.

The start of this book was confusing, to say the least. For the entire book, we read from different points of view. I kid you not, we read from about eight different points of view. Imagine reading The Hunger Games from the points of view of half of the kids in it. I didn’t know who I was supposed to feel in support of and who I was supposed to hate. I’m making a lot of references to The Hunger Games here, but imagine reading from Cato’s point of view and not knowing whether he was supposed to be the person you root for or not. Anyhow, I ended up rooting for Sarah. She was a girl with a bright and happy future with her high school sweetheart until Endgame began. I suppose I felt connected to her the most out of everyone in the story because she was the one I felt most sorry for.

However, I really didn’t like how Sarah kind of cheated on her boyfriend. She was supposed to be the character we liked, well, I’m assuming, but that made me not really like her anymore. She got together with another guy from Endgame and although they are kind of cute together, I was so angry that she’d do that to her sweet high school boyfriend.

So this book begins with a bang – quite literally. That made me really interested in seeing what was going to happen. But after that, I felt like not much happened or that too much happened. The scenes were either too dull and boring that I found myself trying to stay awake, or there was too much going on and I felt like I’d have to reread the scene to understand what was going on. I thought it might just take me a while to get involved in the story because of the writing style, but this book was just too jumpy and I couldn’t get a good hold on it.

This book was constantly moving locations where the story was set and that was a little hard to follow. This book was kind of like an Amazing Race type thing and this would have been cool if we didn’t have so many airport scenes or if going to different places actually affected the story. I felt like some scenes were written just for the sake of filling up space.

I got to the end of this book and I was literally thinking, What did I just read? Couldn’t have this book been finished in 200 pages? I felt like this book dragged on in too many places and it would have benefited from being a little more concise to keep readers interested and intrigued. There was also the inclusion of random numbers or phrases or letters on some pages. An example of this is: ‘The sun rises in the West’. Was that mean to be from the book that they had to read and get clues from or something? What am I even talking about? See, I don’t have a good grip on this storyline whatsoever. Maybe I should reread this book, but I doubt I will. Once was enough for me.

I won’t be reading the next book in this series. I didn’t feel emotionally-invested enough for that. By the end of the book, I didn’t care what happened to the characters. Overall, I don’t think this was the type of book for me. Usually I really like dystopians. I wouldn’t recommend this one. If I really had to rate this book out of 10, I’d give it a two. If you’ve read this book, please let me know what you thought!

Shattered – book review

Shattered by Teri Terry

Shattered by Teri Terry is the thrilling conclusion to the absorbing dystopian series, Slated.

Kyla is on the run from both the government Lorders who erased her memory and the terrorist who tried to use her. With a new identity, Kyla escapes to a remote mountain town to try and reunite with her mother who she was separated from. She desperately seeks to fill the blank spaces of her life before she was Slated and she hopes that everything will finally piece itself together.

But even hiding in the wilderness, Kyla realises there is no escape form the Lorders. Someone close to her might be one of them, and her birth mother is keeping secrets of her own. Kyla is finally about to discover who she really is and who she wants to become.

I loved reading the conclusion to one of my favourite series and I thought Shattered wrapped everything up perfectly! This book leapt right back into the action from where Fractured ended. Even though it was a while since I had read the last two books in this series, I found that this book reintroduced me to this dystopian world and I knew exactly what was going on. But I was worrying for a little while if this book would be able to wrap things up nicely. So many things were going on, and it didn’t feel overcrowded or anything, but I was wondering how everything could possibly work out in the last hundred pages or so. Luckily, everything ended quite nicely. I used the word ‘quite’ because although I felt as though the ending might have been a tiny bit rushed, I felt satisfied with the ending this series was given. The pacing was perfect and I loved how so many things were going on, but I could always understand what was happening and I wasn’t bored at any point in the book. This is one of my favourite dystopian series and I’m so happy it ended so well.
Like the other books in this series, I loved the writing. Everything flowed and nothing felt clunky or unbelievable. The descriptions were stunning and I could clearly picture everything that was going on. This book had my heart beating so fast and loud at times that I expected the whole neighbourhood to hear it. Shattered also had me shedding a tear or two. Everything seemed so realistic and I loved every second of reading it. This book definitely took me on one massive rollercoaster of a ride!
Again, I loved the characters. I got to meet a few new people in this book, and I really enjoyed getting to know them all. No two characters in this series is every the same and I know I can rely on having interesting and unique characters to read about. I absolutely loved Kyla in this book. The determination she has in this book in inspiring. After everything Kyla has been through, I’m pleased things worked out for her in the end. She’s become so much more courageous throughout this series and the doubtful and sometimes fearful girl we met in Slated has definitely been replaced with a brave young woman. I also loved watching the relationships between characters evolve, especially the one between Aiden and Kyla.
I was so happy to see that in the end, every question I had was answered. Although things are wrapped up pretty quickly in the end, I still loved it. This is such a great series and it definitely stands out from all the other dystopian books out there. The ideas are refreshing and the things that go on are really believable. Ultimately, this series is about discovering who you are and learning how to be yourself when you feel everything has been taken from you. I’m so happy that Kyla has fulfilled her journey to unlock the secrets of her past. This book has so many mysterious and thrilling moments and I absolutely loved reading it. I’d give Shattered by Teri Terry a score of 9 out of 10. If you haven’t picked up this series yet, I highly recommend it!

The Glimpse – book review

The Glimpse by Claire Merle

The Glimpse is the first book in its series, written by Claire Merle.

In the future, society is split into two groups based on the results of a DNA test. The ‘Pures’ and the ‘Crazies’. The ‘Pures’ are the people who are allowed to live with society. Outside lives the mentally-ill ‘Crazies’. When 17 year-old Ana find out that she is a person with the disease and will enevitably become Active, her whole life turns upside down. She’s been living the luxuary life as a Pure, but as soon as the authorities find out what she really is, they will banish her from her safe Community.

Ana’s only hope is to get joined to Jasper. Jasper comes from a rich an influential family and despite knowing Ana’s ‘condition’, he still wants to be with her. The authorities tell Ana that if she joins Jasper before her 18th birthday, she can stay in the Community until she becomes Active. If Jasper changes his mind, she will be outcast and forced to live among the other ‘Crazies’. Ana allows herself to hope that she will live a normal life… until Jasper disappears.

Finding Jasper is Ana’s only hope. So she sneaks out of the Community to find him. Ana discovers some shocking truths that change everything she has grown up believing in.

I was very excited to start reading this book. From its synopsis on Goodreads, it sounded really intriguing. However when I began reading it, I found it confusing and this dystopian world took a while for me to understand how it all worked. The chapters seemed disjointed and it was hard to understand what was going on. But I persisted in the hope that this book would get better. I understand that some books are hard to get into, but then they are amazing. I’ve read quite a few books like that. I really hoped that this would be the case with this book because I wanted to know how this messed-up society worked and how the protagonist was going to fix it. The more I found out about this future society, the more I didn’t like it. In this version of the future, society is split up into two groups: Pures and Crazies. The ‘Pures’ are the people who are ‘normal’ and don’t have a mental issue, as determined by a test every person must undergo. The ‘Crazies’ are the people with a mental illness. There are three main mental illnesses, labelled the Big 3. These are schizophrenia, depression and anxiety. The book says that 40% of people is Active or ‘Crazy’, a Sleeper (someone guaranteed to become Active at some point) or a Carrier of the genes responsible. I’ve talked to a few people who have read this book and some of them found it offensive. I can see where they’re coming from because the people with a mental illness are called ‘Crazy’ and are portrayed as people who are lower than the ‘normal’ people who are ‘Pure’. However, I didn’t find this book that offensive. I understand that people might have a problem with this book because of the way it talks about people with mental illnesses, but we all need to keep in mind this is just a book and it’s set in a dystopian future. All dystopian futures are meant to be bad in some way, that’s what makes them so exciting to read about. Personally, dystopia is one of my favourite genres to read. I get that some people think that this book took things a bit too far by calling mentally ill people ‘Crazy’, but I know this isn’t real and the author had no intention of making people angry over this. As I kept reading this book, I realised that I would rather be a ‘Crazy’ and live my life the way I wanted, rather than live as a ‘Pure’ in a world where everything was controlled.
One thing I liked most about this book was the part when a character (I won’t say who and I promise I won’t spoil anything J) went to a place where all the mentally ill people go. This was by far my favourite part of the book and the most engaging part to read. I just got so furious with the way these people were treated. I love it when a book can make me feel such strong emotions. This part of the book reminded me a bit of The Program by Suzanne Young, which I absolutely loved, which was probably why I liked this part in the book. Another thing I liked about this book was Cole. Cole was funny and simply likable. I kept reading mainly to see how things would work out with him and a certain person. I found it hard to connect with Ana in the beginning, but as the story progressed, I came to feel for her a bit more. There was nothing too special about her as a character, but I could follow her story with mild interest.
Unfortunately, this time the bad things outweigh the good things about this book for me. The main thing that I didn’t like about this book was that everything was drama drama drama non-stop. Everything happened right after one big thing had just ended and it seemed the main character was constantly being put in the line of danger. Okay, that sounds like it should be a good thing. Trust me on this, there was so much going on that I couldn’t catch my breath, but not in a good way. It seemed that sometimes there was just drama for the sake of drama. Have you ever heard that the main character should be climbing a metaphorical tree with metaphorical rocks being thrown at them along the way? Well that’s how a novel should work. With this book, the main character was scaling a metaphorical skyscraper while the metaphorical King Kong kept flicking the person off the side of the building. Sound like fun? Uh, no. Things were just so busy that we seemed to loose sight of what the really important task of the book was. Halfway through the book, I even forgot what the point of this book was. That’s not a good thing. I also really didn’t like the ending of this book. I know that there’s a second book in this series, but really? After all I’d gone through and that’s the ending? I was waiting for the revolution and I wanted to know how this messed-up world was going to get sorted out. But no. Do I have to read the next book for that? Unfortunately, that won’t be happening. Overall, I didn’t really enjoy reading this book. There were aspects of it that I enjoyed, but this book wasn’t for me. I’d give The Glimpse by Claire Merle a score of 4 out of 10. If you know you won’t get offended by parts of this book and if this sounds like something you’d enjoy, go for it. Tell me what you think!

Thank you to Allen & Unwin Australia for providing me with this book in exchange for an honest review.

While We Run – book review

While We Run book

Fast-paced and thrilling, While We Run is the second book in the When We Wake series by Karen Healey.

Abdi Taalib had received a music scholarship to come to Australia. When he met the beautiful Tegan Oglietti, his world turned upside down. Because Tegan is no ordinarily girl. Tegan died in 2027 and had been cryogenically frozen, only to wake up 100 years later, in Abdi’s time. Now, all that the pair wants is for things to return to normal so they can get on with their lives. After discovering the secrets behind Australia’s cryonics project to the world, Tegan and Abdi are on the run. They don’t know who they can trust. But worse than that, they soon discover that the lives of thousands of people may be in their hands…

I really enjoyed reading While We Run. This book was told from Abdi’s point of view, so this was really new and exciting. Abdi is a really thoughtful, diplomatic character that takes time to think things through and tries to see both sides of the equation. Tegan preferred to take action rather than think about consequences. It was really interesting being inside Abdi’s head because I loved to find out how he processes things and how he made decisions. It was very different as well, because Tegan would always express her emotions and clearly display what she was feeling, whereas Abdi would attempt to keep his anger inside him. I really liked reading this book from Abdi’s point of view, however sometimes I would get a bit confused because When We Wake was told from Tegan’s point of view. Sometimes Abdi would say something about Tegan and I’d have to be like: Hold on. I’m in Abdi’s head, not Tegan’s. Abdi, Abdi, Abdi! And sometimes I would think I was looking at an issue from Tegan’s point of view because I was so used to her point of view in When We Wake. The main reason why I liked this book was because of how action-packed it was. There was never a dull moment and I was on the edge of my seat the whole time. From the very beginning, there was non-stop drama. The whole book was extremely fast-paced. I felt that if I even blinked, I would miss something. This isn’t the type of book you can just skim over and get the idea of it. Some books don’t require you to think too much as you read them, but this one definitely does. I had to read this book slower than I normally would have because I simply needed time to process what was going on. One second, the characters would be in one place, a second later, they’d all be in a different place surrounded by different people. I found that if I wasn’t paying enough attention, I would miss something. This book was extremely action-packed and exciting from beginning to end.
I absolutely loved the start of this book. I was eager to know where Abdi and Tegan would be after what happened at the end of When We Wake. I thought it was the perfect start to this book. In the beginning, Abdi and Tegan are prisoners of the government and are forced to feed lies to the public. It was horrifying how they were being treated and at some points I cringed because of how brutally and awfully they were treating Abdi and Tegan. I hated how they were being treated, but at the same time, I loved how Karen Healey was able to make me feel so much hatred towards the government because of how Abdi and Tegan were being tortured and were suffering. Another part about this book that I loved was how it was set in the Australian countryside for the majority of this book. I loved how I could say I’d been to the places that Tegan and Abdi were going to. It made me feel even more connected to the storyline and to the characters. Like the last book, I loved all of the characters and I especially loved to hate some characters. Every character was different and dealt with situations differently. I liked how none of the characters were dull or unoriginal.
There was only one thing that I didn’t like about this book. It was that people of all different religions and sexual orientation in this book were talked about as though their religion or sexual orientation was their defining factor. I didn’t like how the author felt like she needed to keep pointing this out about people. This book does a good job of treating everyone fairly, I just felt as though we didn’t need to be constantly reminded of this fact. It’s good that it should be mentioned to show the reader that people who may considered to be different in our times are fully accepted in the future, although this shouldn’t be the defining point to a person. We shouldn’t need to keep pointing out these differences about people, the same as we wouldn’t need to be constantly reminded of one’s hair colour.
Overall, I really enjoyed reading this book. It was extremely fast-paced and I loved the plot. I’d give While We Run by Karen Healey as score of 8.5 out of 10. I definitely recommend reading this book if you have read When We Wake. If you haven’t read When We Wake yet, this is a really good series to get into!

Thank you to Allen & Unwin Publishers Australia for providing me with this book in exchange for an honest review!

Allegiant – book review

Allegiant - Veronica Roth

Allegiant is the third and final book in the phenomenal Divergent series by Veronica Roth. Allegiant is both dramatic and heart-breaking… An unforgettable read.

Once Tris’s home, the faction-based society is shattering. Fractured by betrayal and violence, the city she once lived in is hardly recognizable. Tris’s only hope is to explore the world outside the fences that surround the city.

Tris and Tobias believe the outside world will bring a peaceful and simple life, away from painful memories of their past. But the world outside is the complete opposite of what they’d hoped for. Everything they thought they knew about the world was taken away from them, replaced with the knowledge of how their society actually began and how the factions were created. Tris found out her entire life was based on a lie…

In the world outside the place Tris once called home, the pair are faced with impossible choices that will change their world completely.

Firstly, I have mixed feelings about Allegiant. Allegiant was told from two points of view: Tris’s and Tobias’s. Before I read Allegiant, I was really excited to be able to read from Tobias’s point of view. But when I actually got to read them, I saw that there isn’t a lot of difference between Tris and Tobias’s characters. The way they reacted to certain situations were really similar and I often forgot whether I was reading from Tris’s point of view, or whether I was reading from Tobias’s. I also sometimes found Tobias a bit annoying. He had so much self-doubt and I felt like he was a completely different character to who we met in Divergent. I guess reading from Tobias’s point of view made me realise how insecure he felt about what was revealed about himself. But then again, I felt like Tobias’s chapters were just more boring versions of Tris’s chapters and I wanted to be reading from Tris’s point of view again. I felt like Tris was still the same strong, independent character we met in Divergent. However, I felt like Tris was much more selfless in this book than the others in the series. In Divergent, Tris said ‘I am selfish, I am brave.’ But Tris is one of the most selfless people in the entire book, if not the most. I loved Tris’s strong and determined character. And then, inevitably, the end of the book comes along. When I got to the end of this book, I was devastated. I was thinking, Why, Veronica Roth?! WHY?! I was in shock. This wasn’t the way I thought the Divergent series would end. I put my faith in Veronica Roth to make an ending I would be happy with. I trusted Veronica Roth with my whole love of Divergent to not ruin the last book in the series. I never expected this to happen. I turned the last page of Allegiant with tears of both sadness and anger streaming down my face. Is this series still my favourite series? I asked myself. Divergent will always be one of my favourite books, and I loved most of this series, it’s just the ending of Allegiant has left me so emotionally wrecked that now whenever I think of Divergent, I only remember the heart-breaking end to this series. I guess, up until about half way through the book, I was thoroughly enjoying Allegiant. I absolutely loved the twist in the plot and I couldn’t believe that everything I thought I knew about this series was taken away from me. I loved how everything was turning out. I knew I would have to read this series again to fully understand everything. I found out what it meant to be Divergent and how their city was formed, along with the factions. I was fascinated to learn all about the history. I found that some chapters in Allegiant were unnecessary. Those chapters weren’t boring or bad, but I just felt like they weren’t needed in the story and I didn’t benefit anything from them. In saying that, the rest of the book was pretty good. It wasn’t nearly good as Divergent, though. In Divergent, I felt as though everything was happening all the time and it was really fast-paced. In this book, I felt that there weren’t as many things going on until the end. The main thing I liked about this book was that there were countless twists in the plot that I never saw coming. I still love the way Veronica Roth writes and how she makes me feel so much when I read the Divergent series. I liked Allegiant, but I wasn’t really happy when I finished it. However, I think that emotions should be felt in stories, and so for that I’d give Allegiant by Veronica Roth a score of 8 out of 10. If you haven’t read Allegiant yet, I warn you, everything you think you know about this series will be turned upside down. You’re in for one thrilling, emotional roller coaster and I wish you the best of luck dealing with the aftermath of reading this book. This book will change how you see Divergent forever…