Partials by Dan Wells (3 stars)

Partials by Dan Wells

 

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780062071040
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 2/28/2012
  • Pages: 480
  • Sales rank: 27,894
  • Age range: 14 – 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.60 (d)
  • I’ve been on apocalyptic trip lately; I think the last 5 YA books that I have reviewed have been an “after the world ends” novel. This will be the last one in this category for a little bit I think. I enjoyed Partials, but it was way longer than it needed to be.
  • Summary: Kira is a medic working in the maternity ward. She’s only been there for a little while and has already seen the death of several babies. Since the Partial war and the release of the plague virus RM, new births have not been possible. The only survivors have some immunity to RM, but the babies do not. The council is doing all that they can to increase the chances of survival for the human species, but their actions have consequences. The HOPE act has been put into place forcing all women over the age of 18 to become pregnant as often as possible. This has caused unrest in the community, and a new group called the Voice has begun to rebel. As the council begins to contemplate lowering the age of pregnancy to 16, the Voice pushes harder blowing up buildings and generally causing unrest. Kira also has an idea on how to research a new cure for RM. She wants to go into New York city and capture a Partial to test on. Backing up slightly, a partial is a manufactured humanoid that was developed to be a war machine. They look exactly like a human, but are virtually unstoppable. After their job was done in the war, they ended up turning against humans and causing the Partial war. At this time, RM was released and wiped out most of the human race. Fast forwarding again, Kira and a group of friends travel to Manhattan to get a test subject to cure RM and save the human race.

    My thoughts: I already said this, but this book was REALLY long. Overall, it was not that there was a lot of pages, it just seemed like there were several story lines that were introduced and then solved. I am very certain that this is going to be a serial book, so why shove so much in the first one? Kira is a likeable character. She is very intelligent and trusting. I like the fact that she reveals prejudice and fights against it. I think that is a very positive message throughout the book. I don’t like how the adults are all bad or killed off. Any time that a new adult was brought up, you could bet that they were evil or going to die. After the first couple of pages, this was evident.

    —-SPOILER ALERT—-
    I wanted the book to end once the kids escape with the Partial. I felt like that was a natural end to all of the adventures that they had gone through. Then, the development of the activities that happen with the other Partials could have been detailed within their own book. I would have liked to have more insight into the Partial world once Kira is captured, but if it was incorporated into this book it would have been upwards of 700 pages. This is really what drew me away from the second part of the book. There were just too many beginnings and ends for me.

Rating: 3 stars.  I liked it, but would have preferred it to not go on as long as it did.

 

2108: Eyes Open by K.L. Glanville (4 stars)

2108: Eyes Open

By: K.L. Glanville

 

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781612222103
  • Publisher: Luminations Media Group, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 4/28/2012
  • Pages: 280
  • Sales rank: 1,171,816
  • Age range: 10 years
  • Product dimensions: 5.25 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.59 (d)

Summary:  It is the year 2108.  The world has gone through an alien invasion, but New Zealand has become the home of those that are naturals and holdouts.  Naturals are those that don’t want anything done to their bodies.  They don’t want bionic additions, tattoos, or to even wear synthetic materials.  Jewel, our heroine, is a natural.  We meet her as she tries to figure out how to get her dad moving so that she can get restrictions taken off of her aerokopa (just like my students trying to get their parents moving so they can get a car).  She is very inquisitive, but also aware of her social status.  This leads her to question things, but also to worry too much about who she is seen with.  Her dad seems to want her to become friends with some Holdouts, but she doesn’t understand why.  She is constantly pointing out how different and weird they are.  She doesn’t understand their beliefs, so she thinks they are crazy (nutmeg to be exact).  This same type of feeling does not occur when she randomly meets a bionic (humans that have intermixed with the aliens) out on the river.  She helps him and starts to talk to him.  She is worried initially that he may be a spy, but he gives her gifts and gains her trust.  Who wouldn’t trust a hot guy that gives you the ability to breath underwater and play with dolphins?  From this bionic, she learns about the troller ship that her dad is worried about, some of the bionic technology, and she develops a bit of a crush.  When she invites him to go to a costume party as her date, she may have gone a bit too far with this friendship.  Is this bionic really to be trusted?  When problems start occurring at the party, a dock blows up, and a kidnapping occurs, it is hard to figure out who the good and the bad guys are.  What is poor Jewel to do?  Perhaps curiosity really did kill the cat.

My thoughts:  I’m not usually a big science fiction reader unless it is mainly a dystopian.  2108 is not really a dystopian.  It is an apocalyptic type novel that has some issues, but the utopian aspect is not really there.  Glanville does an excellent job of world building.  You are immediately thrown into the world, but Glanville slowly unveils more and more of Jewel’s life and surroundings.  Some of this is done through the question sessions with Jewel and the bionic, but most of it is just as if you were seeing things through Jewel’s eyes.  I do believe that the world building and descriptions are the best part of this novel.  The action moves quickly, but when problems occur Jewel doesn’t seem to have as much of an attitude as I would have thought.  She seems to lay down and fall into hopelessness quicker than I would have liked.  This is not necessarily Glanville’s flaw, just not what I wanted.  The other aspect that I did not like about the book is that there are clear prejudices between all of the social groups/races.  That’s fine and builds some of the tension between characters, but I never feel like anyone learns that the other group isn’t all bad.  People pretty much fit the stereotypes that Jewel sees and that is a let down to me for a young adult book.  I always want their to be acceptance as a large theme.  I’m hoping in future books I will see that.  Overall, I’m giving this 4 stars because science fiction should be based off of world building, action, and exotic characters.  This book has all of those aspects.  I’m just waiting for the overall lesson to be learned.

 

Dead is a Battlefield by Marlene Perez (4 stars)

Dead is a Battlefield

by: Marlene Perez

4 Stars

 

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780547607344
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 3/6/2012
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 57,499
  • Age range: 12 – 17 Years
  • Series: Dead Is…(Spin-Off) Series
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 6.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

 

Summary: This is book 6 in the Dead is series. I have not read any of the previous books, but it was not necessary. Jessica Walsh is the newest heroine in this series. She is starting her freshman year at Nightshade high. If you don’t know much about Nightshade, it is a town that seems to be filled with paranormals. I understood that a lot of the people and town history were explained in previous books, but there is enough description throughout the book to never make me feel lost. Regardless, Jessica wants to have a normal high school experience. She was miss popular while she was younger, and she is hoping to continue life as normal with her best friend in high school. A new boy has become the singer of a local band that happens to be one of her favorites. Jessica hears how hot he is, and her best friend and her bum a ride from her best friend’s sister to see the bands first concert. Everyone is right, the new singer is HOT!!! However, Jessica is stubborn enough to not be one of the lovesick girls that throw themselves at him. This helps because she also meets and becomes friends with his sister. At the same time, a new store is coming to town. A creepy boy hands Jessica and her friends a flyer introducing it, then hands out a few samples of free perfume to some of the girls at school, including Jessica’s best friend. Jessica doesn’t get all the fuss, but everyone else is dying to get their hands on a special bottle of perfume from the new stores. Tingling sensations on Jessica’s arm demand attention, and through an unlikely twist, Jessica finds out that she is a virago, woman warrior. From there, new training begins, zombies run a muck, and love is in the air. How does Jessica become the new hero in Nightshade? What will all of the girls do about the new singer and Edgar? It’s time to find out by reading through this quick book. Hurry up before book 7 pops up.
My thoughts: This is a fun beach/pool read. The 7th book is expected to come out in September, so laying out by the pool and reading through this is a pretty good idea. If you are like me, you will read it in a day and be satisfied with reading it. It’s nothing to be jump up and down excited about, but it’s fun and keeps you moving. My high school teenagers (juniors and seniors) weren’t rushing me at the door to be the next to read this, but I handed it off to our librarian and she had several freshman that were “dying” to read it. Yes, that was a silly pun. I would say that younger teens and adolescents will be even more excited with the series because of how quickly the stories move. They are interesting, just not very deep. This is not a book that you are going to have to think about, it tells you exactly what is going on without a lot of hidden aspects. Even the overall zombie plot is out in the open. I was a little frustrated that Jessica took so long to figure it out. I’d hope that a younger reader would enjoy the mystery a little longer than I did.

Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin (4 Stars)

Masque of the Red Death

By: Bethany Griffin

(4 Stars)

  • ISBN-13: 9780062107794
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 4/24/2012
  • Pages: 319
  • Sales rank: 1,333
  • Age range: 14 years

Summary: This is a cross between a steampunk and dystopian novel. Araby is the daughter of a scientist who “saved humanity” by creating a mask that could save someone from catching the plague. We follow her through several bumps in her otherwise numb existence. At the beginning, Araby goes to The Debauchery Club with her friend April. The first love interest, Will, is a bouncer of sorts who checks every patron one at a time to ensure they are not sick before they enter the club. It is a very exclusive club owned by the prince, who is April’s uncle. The two girls drink and Araby finds her way to a drug dealer who sticks her with a syringe that leads her into oblivion. She ends up waking up at Will’s home. He didn’t think it would be good for the club if there was a dead girl found inside, but as the story progresses we find out that he was intrigued with her long before he took her home. The city that the club and Will’s home is in is called the lower city. It is filled with crime, disease, and danger. Will walks Araby back to the upper city where she lives in the prince’s old penthouse at the top of the Akkadian Towers. She believes that she is in love with Will and wants to help him. She does this by sending him food and attempting to get a mask for the younger brother that he cares for. However, there is a rebel group that is terrorizing the city. They have destroyed churches, and just when Araby wants to order a mask, they blow up the mask factory as well. This brings the second love interest, Elliot, out of the woodwork. Elliot is April’s older brother. He meets with Araby in a secret location and talk her into his version of a rebellion to take the city back from the prince and make everything better. From her, Araby is led into several dangerous encounters with people she wouldn’t have ended up around without the help from the two boys. Will she survive the death of the plague, the new sickness (the Red Death has to show up somewhere you know), the betrayal from those she trusts, and the general chaos of the city, or will she finally succumb to her need to feel numb and give in to the temptation of death and not dealing with anything?

My thoughts: I’m always drawn in by pretty covers, and this one is gorgeous! It caught my eye months ago as bloggers began talking about it. I was lucky to snatch myself a copy because it was in such high demand. At the beginning, I did not like the story. April is annoying and Araby is not much better. It was like having Gossip Girl in a pretty cool setting. Griffin does an amazing job at world building, and that is what kept me reading. The setting and the ancillary city came alive to me. I could picture everything. It was this that haunted me throughout the day when I wasn’t reading. I found myself wanting to pick the book up more and more because I wanted to see where Griffin would take me, and the characters became a means to get there. It took about 100 pages for me to start liking Araby. I believe that is when she stops being so numb and starts thinking about the world around her. From that point on, I couldn’t put the book down. I know it shouldn’t take 100 pages for someone to get into a young adult novel, but it felt worth it to me. The fact that Griffin gave me so much background on the place and people that surround the main characters made me feel like I knew them better as the action began to unravel. It has also made me feel like the second book will grab me faster. My suggestion, if you are not immediately sucked in, is to lose yourself in the setting as I did and let yourself be intrigued by it as you would for a science fiction novel. My hope is that you will end up liking the book as much as I did.

Lexapros and Cons by Aaron Karo (5 stars)

Lexapros and Cons

By: Aaron Karo

5 Stars (more if I had any)

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780374343965
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Publication date: 4/10/2012
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 177,288
  • Age range: 14 – 17 Years
  • Lexile: HL620L

Summary: Chuck Taylor is in his final year of high school, and he has finally come to the conclusion that he has OCD (thank you internet). It’s not the “I have a little OCD too” OCD, it’s the check the stove to make sure it is off multiple times even though no one has used it, wash your hands even if they aren’t dirty, turn your locker lock fourteen times until it feels right, pee and pee again before bed, and he keeps a tally record of how often he masturbates OCD. Yes, he literally keeps a tally mark of each time he masturbates! Chuck knows that these things are ridiculous, but if he does not follow through with each compulsion he can’t go on with his day. From this revelation, several things happen:
1. His mom sends him to a shrink. The shrink prescribes Lexapro and CBT. At first Chuck is hesitant, but the new girl in school provides some motivation.
2. The new girl in school, Amy, is amazing! She’s hot, smart, and so cool. She also asks Chuck to tutor her in Calculus so that she can pass the AP exam. A friendship ensues, but he can’t possibly let her know how crazy he is.
Chuck, who obsessively wears Cons in colors that match his mood, travels through the last part of his senior year with the ups and downs in having a crush on a girl and trying to make her his girlfriend, trying to get over his compulsions, fights with a best friend, and generally dealing with teenage issues and life, in this hilariously written novel by Karo.
My thoughts: This was one of my favorite books of the year. I’m not sure why, but lately I have enjoyed male protagonists much better than females. This may just be a stage I’m going through. Chuck literally made me laugh out loud, usually while in a quiet high school classroom. The very second I closed the book when I was done; it was immediately snatched up by one of my high school students because I was laughing so hard reading it. There were so many times where Chuck is trying to be so cool and something happens that just overwhelms him. He’s stubborn and tries so hard to control himself that the tension in the story builds usually resulting in an absurd expulsion that Chuck has to work himself out of. I can’t recommend this book enough. I definitely want more! Could there possibly be a Chuck goes to college version? Pretty, pretty please!

 

Slide by Jill Hathaway (4 Stars)

Slide by Jill Hathaway

4 Stars

 

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780062077905
  • Publisher: Balzer + Bray
  • Publication date: 3/27/2012
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 89,289
  • Age range: 14 – 17 Years

Summary: Everyone believes that Vee is narcoleptic, but when she passes out, she actually slides into the head of other people. If she is touching something that the other person had an emotional connection with, then she slides into their mind and sees the world through their eyes. She slides into her teacher right before she makes out with the bus driver, she slides into another teacher sneaking a drink before class, and she slides into her old best friend right before something terrible happens to her. In order to keep herself from sliding, she tries to take caffeine pills to keep her awake, but it doesn’t always help. One night, she slides into the mind of a killer as they are writing a fake suicide note for Vee’s sister’s best friend. Vee wants to tell someone, but the last time she said anything, she was sent to a therapist and no one believed her.

Now there are other murders and Vee doesn’t know who to trust. Her best friend Rollins is acting strange, the new boy in town is snuggling up to her, and her sister is depressed. How can she solve a few murders, keep her family intact, and figure out life as a teenager?

My thoughts: I really liked the premise of this book. I enjoyed the relationship between Vee and Rollins and the caring aspects of family ties between Vee and her sister. The sliding aspect was interesting. Each time she slides, you get a short snapshot of life through the eyes of another character. It’s like having multiple narratives told through points of views of minor characters. I also wish she would have told these little bits in first person point of view. It would have been interesting to see these switches and I think I would have gotten more into the action of sliding if I was experiencing it with Vee instead of her just telling me about it. Overall, I wanted so much more. I really wanted this book to be longer, because I felt like the author could have given me more description that would have helped me lose myself in the novel. I wanted more description on how Vee found out about sliding, her relationship with Rollins, her mother, and then how she moves through the mystery. It was a very good book, and a quick read, but I wanted it to be longer and more in-depth.

 

Cinder by Marissa Meyer (5 Stars)

Cinder: The Lunar Chronicles Series #1

By Marissa Meyer

 

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312641894
  • Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
  • Publication date: 1/3/2012
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 720
  • Age range: 12 – 17 Years
  • Lexile: 790L (what’s this?)
  • Series: Lunar Chronicles Series, #1
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.50 (d)
Summary: A play on the Cinderella story, Cinder is a cyborg in New Beijing. Cyborgs are basically second class citizens, so her adopted mother treats her like dirt. The great thing about Cinder is that she is an expert mechanic, so she has some freedom to run her own booth at the market. While she is working, the prince, Kai, drops in to have her fix his android. It is apparently a matter of national security. Shortly after the prince leaves, there is a plague sighting in the market which closes everything down. Once Cinder gets home, she walks in to find her two stepsisters getting brand new dresses for the ball. The slight shift from the Cinderella story is that one of her stepsisters is actually a sweetheart. After the fitting, Cinder and her stepsister go to the junkyard to find spare parts. While there, Cinder’s sweet sister breaks out in spots, showing that she has the plague. This is one of the turning points of the story. After this, Cinder’s life is sold into plague research and she finds out all sorts of new things about herself. It still has aspects of the Cinderella story, but strays more to make Cinder an intriguing character that you can’t wait to find out about. Her relationship with Kai blooms with short, interspersed run-ins, and the villain presents herself. The villain is Queen Levana of Luna. She wants to marry Kai to become empress, and will do just about anything to have those wishes come true. If needing to know what happens between Levana, Kai, and Cinder doesn’t make you interested in reading, then you need to know that there is a killer of a cliffhanger at the end. It is wrapped up enough that you don’t think the book was worthless to read, but definitely makes you crave the next installment of the series.

My thoughts: I’ve already strayed into my thoughts a bit. I really enjoyed this novel. I was skeptical going in and had put it off for a while. I’ve read a lot of re-imagined fairy tales and some are just not worth the attention. This one definitely is. It strays away from the typical tale enough that you don’t really know what is going to happen, but stays close enough to the tale that the fairy tale elements are in place. The good thing about me putting it off is that I have less of a wait for the next novel. There are only two criticisms that I have.
First, there are parts that are extremely predictable. Cinder’s true identity is like a neon sign flashing above her head. I can’t imagine any reader being surprised about who she turns out to be. This didn’t both me that much. There are a lot of very predictable novels that are still entertaining.
The second bit of criticism bugged me more. There is not enough world building for me. The setting is described a little, but part of the fun of science fiction and fantasy is being transported into another world. I was disappointed by how glossed over the setting was. Luna and the Lunars are barely described. Also, Earth has changed and I want to know what I should be thinking about while the story is going on. I think that Meyer spent more time developing Cinder and her personality than the world around her. Since Cinder is a very good character, this holds the novel together, but I’d like to care more about the surroundings in the future books. There are four more and I’m not sure that just loving Cinder is going to hold my interest through the story if I can’t fully picture where I am.

* 5 Stars