Mindwalker by A.J. Steiger (Book Review)

Publisher: Oneworld Publications
Page Count
: 400

Do you know that feeling when you see a book on NetGalley and you’re like “Sure, that sounds interesting. Let’s request it!” but then you find out it’s a sequel and now you are forced to quickly read the first book to understand what’s going on in the other one? If you have never experienced this, count yourself lucky! It has happened so many times to me and mostly I don’t care, but when it comes to dystopian worlds, I like to get the full picture and not just feel lost along the story. I don’t feel like I could fairly review it otherwise. So, long story short, I accidentally requested (but really blame the publisher because they didn’t state it correctly) the sequel to this and now read this as fast as I could.

I haven’t read dystopians in a while now, but this felt as generic as they come. Bright young girl learns that the system she believed in isn’t as fair as it’s made out to be while also being entangled in a sort of love triangle – sound familiar? I felt like the relationship had a real Katniss-Peeta-Gale-dynamic to it, which means one of the boys was a Gale, which in my language means he never was a real prospect for the MC’s love anyway.

The concept of eradicating all mental health issues sounded interesting at first, but it soon became very disturbing. They literally put collars on people who have a problem at controlling their temper. In addition to that, they basically hand out suicide pills to the poorer population, because they don’t want to help those people like they do with the upper class. No, those folks can get their memories erased whenever something bad has happened. I do see the benefits of not having to remember e.g. being raped, but they also discuss how the memory wipe affects the person’s personality. Our memories and the things that have happend to us, may they be good or bad, make us into the people we are. They change us and wiping your mind clear of these events will forever make you a different person too.

There were some interesting theories thrown in the mix, but I found the execution very poorly. Lain, the main character, was annoyingly idealistic. I simply couldn’t understand why she believed she wasn’t monitored or why she acted against her gut feeling when it came to the character of certain people in her life. She was one of those special unicorn kind of girls, the one who has no friends at all, is super smart and has two handsome guys lusting for her from afar. I just felt like I have dealt with a character like that a million times before.

The beginning of the sequel seems promising in terms of them mixing things up with the narration, but I will see if I can enjoy it more. This definitely won’t make it into my favourites list for now.

Fazit: 2.5/5 stars! Could have been better executed.

Have you had trouble with NetGalley requests as well? Have you read this series and feel different than me?

Gambit by C.L. Denault (Book Review)

Gambit

Publisher: REUTS Publications
Page Count
: 556

**I was provided with a copy via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review**

The first book of the month is already done and I am quite proud and also extremely happy because I fell a little bit in love with Gambit. Who am I kidding? I absolutely adored it!

The world building was just fascinating. At the beginning you feel like you stumbled right into an Outlander novel, with everyone riding around on horseback and people talking with a Scottish accent. Yet, as you continue you find that this is just the life in the Outlying Lands, but the Core is even more advanced in terms of technology than we are now. Gambit is a speculative dystopian novel and while some people do have incredible powers and there is a very obvious divide between rich and poor and a rebel force that fights them, it does not feel like the generic dystopian set up at all. This is also mostly due to really great characters.

Willow is a headstrong and beautiful young girl, who has powers beyond anything the land has seen. But she isn’t perfect. While she does have a certain tendency to charm all the men in her life, she is both – vulnerable and strong. She knows that she has a temper and makes mistakes, but she always tries to make amends. Similarly complicated was her male counterpart Reece. It was incredibly difficult to like him at first and he definitely has secrets that are yet to be discovered. I knew that I shouldn’t condone his behaviour, especially his violent streaks, but I couldn’t help but like him. His actions are never glorified and that surely made all the difference!

Even besides those two, there is a variety of people that I still need to find out so much about. There are relationships I don’t understand, motivations I cannot yet comprehend. Everything in Gambit just left me endlessly curious! It didn’t end with a cliffhanger, but it definitely was only the start to what surely will be an action-packed and intriguing series. I wanted to give plus points for a character having my name (Katja), but then I hated her … well, ONE DAY someone will write about a kind person called Katja and she won’t be Russian and I will be happy.

Now there is only one question left: WHEN IS THE NEXT BOOK COMING OUT?

Fazit: 4.5/5 stars! An intriguing start for the Prodigy Chronicles and I cannot wait to read more!

5stars

Have you heard of Gambit? Do you want to read it too?

Ghetto by M.L. Sparrow (Book Review)

Ghetto - D2BMy name’s Sunny Grace Beaumont. Branded SGB/2/6895/03.12.93. Only child, self-taught computer geek and cancer survivor. Oh, and did I mention my dad’s the President? As you can imagine that’s sometimes a little problematic, especially when I want to sneak out. But it never got me into quite as much trouble as the night I ventured into the Ghetto – don’t ask me why I was there in the first place… it was stupid. Everyone knows that the Ghetto is where hardened criminals are sent to live out the remainder of their lives. At first the men that kidnap me are just as I’d imagine, mean and thoughtless, but slowly I begin to have doubts.

I meet a guy. His name’s Sin, he has no Brand – a crime punishable by death – and he’s the rebel leader. I should hate him… but I don’t. Instead he opens my eyes to a whole other side of the Ghetto, where people are innocent of the crimes they’re accused of and helpless children suffer dreadful poverty. Is it possible that I’ve been lied to my entire life… that the governments been deceiving everyone? And how can I challenge the law my own dad is adamant to uphold?

Page Count:
 227

**I was provided with a copy by the author in exchange for an honest review!**

When I first read the blurb for this book, I was instantly intrigued. I’ve read my fair share of YA Dystopians, but this one seemed to fit right in line with what I like. It sounded familiar in some ways and new in so many others – I was sure to give it a try. And my gut feeling didn’t betray me! Despite the quick rundown in the summary above, we get eased into the story very nicely. The world-building is well done, without being too over the top or overly complicated, which I can definitely appreciate.

Sunny, the main character, is good girl with a rebellious streak. She is smart and talented, but you instantly know that she is in trouble and definitely out of depth when she enters the Ghetto. From this point on things change fairly quickly. You realise that the system isn’t working and that a lot of people have innocently been convicted. It is nearly impossible not to feel for the people of the Ghetto and their terrible fate and Sunny soon turns from captive to accomplice.

That was the most fun for me to read really! There is this slow part where she realises she doesn’t feel trapped anymore, that she enjoys the company of some of the people and at one point even that she doesn’t want to leave anymore. It’s the same thing that makes the romance so charming. She seriously considers her developing feelings being some sort of Stockholm Syndrome at first and it’s so adorable and funny to see her relationship with Sin, as well as with his men and Maya, develop. All those characters, they just grow on you so fast! Sin especially didn’t really seem like a person who could warm my heart in the beginning, but the more I found out about him, the more I liked him.

There are a couple twists and turns I didn’t see coming and the final pages were gripping, because I had no idea how everything could be resolved. Ghetto is one of the books where I am grateful to have gotten a happy ending though. Especially with dystopians where the whole system is corrupt, I often wonder if something could realistically be changed in the following years and we thankfully become a great conclusion to that question of mine.

Ultimately, I don’t really have anything to complain here! The only thing I sometimes could have done without was the slang spoken in the Ghetto, but that’s just me not being a native English-speaker and sometimes feeling like it disrupts my reading – because I definitely know that a differentiated slang from the city to the Ghetto is a sign of great world-building.

Fazit: 4/5 stars! A thrilling read that will make you want to change all the injustice in the world.

4stars

Now, if you want to check out an excerpt of the story yourself to see whether you want to read it, too, you can head over to M’s website: http://mlsparrow.wix.com/mlsparrow! And if you have already read it for yourself, tell me all about your thoughts in the comments!

Red Rising by Pierce Brown (Book Review)

redrisingThe Earth is dying. Darrow is a Red, a miner in the interior of Mars. His mission is to extract enough precious elements to one day tame the surface of the planet and allow humans to live on it. The Reds are humanity’s last hope.
Or so it appears, until the day Darrow discovers it’s all a lie. That Mars has been habitable – and inhabited – for generations, by a class of people calling themselves the Golds. A class of people who look down on Darrow and his fellows as slave labour, to be exploited and worked to death without a second thought.
Until the day that Darrow, with the help of a mysterious group of rebels, disguises himself as a Gold and infiltrates their command school, intent on taking down his oppressors from the inside. But the command school is a battlefield – and Darrow isn’t the only student with an agenda.

Publisher: Hodder Paperbacks
Page Count: 382

I started this book not knowing what to expect. Seen as Pierce Brown was crowned hottest YA author by Buzzfeed (Yes, this is for real! Check out the post here!), I guess I just assumed that Red Rising would be a Young Adult dystopian novel … well, I am not so sure now. Despite the main characters being teens, I think this is a very adult book.

You cannot imagine how “gorydamn” hard it is for me to write this review right now, because this book took me completely by surprise and swept me off my feet. I can’t say that it was love at first sight though. The book itself is separated into several parts and it starts out with a lot of information, just to negate everything we thought we knew in the second part. The world-building is really complex with it’s own unique vocabulary that needs some time getting used to. Like Districts in the Hunger Games and Factions in Divergent, we now have Colours that separate the people – Red being the lowest and Gold being the highest in the hierarchy. There were also tons of references to Greek and Roman mythology, which I really loved, which I thought gave the story a very distinct voice.

Right from the beginning everything is very dark, cruel and unjust. A lot of things are already considered given from the get go, but at the same time so many very emotional things happen that you aren’t yet ready for. I think that maybe there wasn’t enough time to get to know everyone properly for some of the tropes to really hit you with their full force. However, as I went on I found myself unable to put the book down. There was this raw rage, the sense of injustice, an incredible amount of scheming and the pure confusion about who to trust. My whole body tensed up at times, almost shaking from the intensity with which I had to know how the story continues.

I really have to give it to Pierce Brown for creating such complex characters, each of them having a unique motivation, likable and dislikable traits. Darrow is a strong hero, but he is also human and therefore makes mistakes. He is incredibly relatable in his struggle between getting vengeance and justice for his people, but he is far from being the only great character! I changed my mind about so many people several times throughout the book, feeling my heart crack every single time there was another betrayal or death. So many people die! I was emotionally exhausted by the end.

In the end, I can only give it 4.5 out of 5 stars because of it’s slow start. Other than that I utterly loved it and cannot wait to continue with the series!

Fazit: 4.5/5 stars! People who like dystopian novels in the slightest bit HAVE TO check it out!

5stars

Do you know what I am going to do now? I am going to order Golden Son, that’s what! Have you read Red Rising? What’s your take on it?

Reborn City by Rami Ungar (Book Review)

reborncityZahara Bakur is a Muslim teenager recently moved into the gambling town of Reborn City. After her parents are killed by gang violence, Zahara is forced to join the Hydras, an interracial gang whose leaders have supernatural abilities. As the violence in Reborn City escalates and Zahara becomes closer to the Hydras, including the quiet but stern Rip, she finds herself drawn into a dark conspiracy involving the origins of the leaders and the shadowy corporation that rules over Reborn City.

So, I should probably start at the beginning. Rami Ungar is a friend and fellow blogger, who I met through our shared love for Doctor Who! He is a self-published author and more than once the topic of me checking out his work has come up. I always felt like he was more at home in the horror genre, which everyone knows isn’t my thing at all, but he suggested I check out Reborn City, since it should be more up my alley. Now here we are! Reviewing the work of friends is never easy for me, but I am going to try my best to put my thoughts in coherent sentences!

What I Liked

  • Reborn City puts an emphasis on people being prejudiced towards certain races or religions. It is really blunt at talking about all kinds of racism, while offering the reader a diverse cast of characters and I can definitely appreciate that! Also, it’s a topic that seems very current to me. With the refugee crisis still going on, it’s in fact a global topic, seen as people freak out and get ridiculously paranoid and xenophobic lately.
  • The backstory of the characters was really intriguing and very satisfying once you found out how everything ties together! I think without the Epilogue, there would have been a couple of unanswered questions, but all in all Reborn City could be a standalone. However, now it is open to a sequel and does kind of make you wonder what the gang will be up to next.
  • Even though I have to admit that it took me a while, I really liked the characters in the end. I think the backflashes helped most with that because often you only got glimpses of emotions which made it difficult to bond for me.
  • I loved all the superpowers!! Some of them I recognised from other superheroes and others were completely unique. It was great to find out about them and to see how differently they could be used.

What I Didn’t Like

  • I don’t know if that was because I am not a native English speaker or not, but I did not handle the gangster lingo well. I would have much rather preferred “normal” English with a couple of slang words thrown in, than them having sort of their own language – even if it does completely make sense in that particular setting!
  • It bothered me a little how naive Zahara was about joining a gang and then how lenient they were with her. Also, I would have really liked to know more about her first two weeks with Hydra since she really seemed to take to some of the members, but I couldn’t quite get where that connection was coming from. As I’ve mentioned above, bonding was sometimes a little difficult for me, but I think it would have been easier if I had read about some actual bonding (this excludes Ilse and Zahara – I get their friendship!).
  • I am not a big fan of violence. I get why it was there and why it was necessary, but it already started out really intense and I think that those sort of stories just aren’t the most enjoyable for me to read.

Lastly, I am sorry but I have to mention one more thing. I am a cover snob! I will admit to that freely and while I can guarantee you that Rami has many talents, I think the cover needs a lot of work. But since I don’t want to be a hypocrite, here’s my suggestion for how it might look better (please take into account that I am no tech-wiz either and that I am well aware that it could need some cleaning up):

RebornCity1

Fazit: 3/5 stars! Reborn City wasn’t a bad story at all and quite the page turner in the end, but I think that other people can appreciate it more than I did!

Do you think you would enjoy Reborn City? What’s your take on my cover suggestion? Share your thoughts below!

Red Queen Review

Sorry for the hiatus, but I read this book last week and I was just so infatuated with it that I decided to share it with you – also, because I don’t know what else to write about. Here comes my review of Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard! Spoilers can not be entirely avoided if you want to go into this book blank, although I will not give away the grand finale!

Red Queen is Aveyard’s debut novel and a brilliant one at that. I am still not entirely confident that I have the vocabulary to express my admiration for the book. It often made me think of other stories I love, such as the Hunger Games, weirdly enough Divergent and for some reason also the Shatter Me Series or was it just X-Men … In the end I simply figured it’s a mix of all the dystopians I have ever read and liked. (The description says it’s a mix between Graceling and The Selection Series, but I cannot testify to that, as I’ve not yet read those books. But they are on my list!) While it may not seem that way, it’s something really good that the Red Queen reminded me of other stuff. If you read as many books of the same genre as I do, things are bound to repeat themselves, be it in the set-up, the characteristics of the main protagonist or the love triangle/square/hectagon/whatever other shape possible. Aveyard managed to still capture me, so she must’ve done something right.

But let’s get to the actual plot of the book. The world is divided into people with red blood and silver blood, of which the reds live in crowded cities, have to work all day and are generally poor. The silvers on the other hand are like gods, they are rich and famous, some of them are even royalty and there is a reason for that: they have powers that no red possesses. Their abilities range from controlling elements, animals and their fellow human beings to superstrength and invisibility. But then there is Mare Barrow, red-blooded and a thief, but also gifted with a power like no silver has ever seen. She can control electricity, but oddly enough she can also create it. That doesn’t just make her special, but also dangerous, which is why the royal family decides to sell her to the public as a long lost silver princess. Yet, Mare never wanted to be one of the silvers, she hates them too much for that, so instead she helps plot a revolution to throw them off their throne.

The book is full of action and twists (oh my, that twist at the end!!!), but also love, duty and family. It has more serious topics, such as politics, race or in this case blood-type, war and the responsibilities that come with ruling over people. Then again it is also such a lovely, light and fast read. It took me a couple of chapters to really get into it, but then I couldn’t put the book away. The powers of the silvers were really cool and I loved that Mare was special, but not in a way that meant she could just defeat everyone else because of that. Instead she had to work and train hard to get stronger. I thought the teen-romance would be too much, but it really wasn’t the main focus of the story, which was a relief. Instead I was really torn the entire time and didn’t know who to trust. Everyone just keeps betraying everyone. Aveyard managed to write a gripping yet really quick read. I am devastated that I have to wait an unknown period of time until I can finish the trilogy, for you just want to know what will happen next.

I hope my enthusiasm for the book came across. If you want to discuss in the comments, I am all for that!

Shatter Me Series

The Shatter Me Series by Tahereh Mafi consists of three main books called Shatter Me, Unravel Me and Ignite Me, but also two companion novellas which are called Destroy Me (the POV of Warner at the end of book one) and Fracture Me (the POV of Adam at the end of book two). The novellas can be bought in one book called Unite Me. Did I confuse you enough with that? Good! Then we’ll go on with the plot of the books.

The series is about a girl called Juliette, who can’t be touched by anyone, because her touch inflicts an indescribable amount of pain and can be lethal. Of course, this means Juliette has lived her entire life in isolation, too afraid of hurting the people around her. Shunned by society, you’d think that Juliette turned out to be bitter and angry person, but she’s not. In fact, she never once fought back! And that’s what the book is about! Sure, it does involve a heck of a lot of romance and superpowers and stuff, but it is mainly about the transformation of Juliette from a whiny and crying girl to a confident woman.

This book series was nothing like I expected! It took me a little until I got into the story, but then I couldn’t stop reading. The style of writing is unusual and oh, all the things left unsaid. Things, that Juliette doesn’t even allow herself to think. The writing also changes as she gets more confident – it was beautiful!  I laughed and I was surprised, it really gripped me!

Everything that happened; I’m sometimes still so overwhelmed! After the first book, sort of everything started to collapse and I did not see it coming how much the characters would change throughout the series.  At some point, though, I really felt like I was reading this sort of dystopian version of X-Men. Juliette somewhat reminded me of Rogue and there are also people who can turn invisible and who can control things with their mind – I get that those are like standard superpowers, but still, something really reminded me of the mutants and their restistance.

In the end, I would say that Unravel Me and Ignite Me were better than Shatter Me, but of course, that’s just my opinion. I also enjoyed reading the companion novellas, although I felt as if Fracture Me revealed much more about Adam than Destroy Me did about Warner. I can already see people building teams, which I find very unnecessary for this book, but who cares. I like all the guys, but especially Warner and Kenji, because Adam seriously started to piss me off in the end.

I would have liked to read a little epilogue about what happened to the earth after the finale, but you can’t have everything. I am excited to hear that 20th Century Fox bought the film rights, before the book was even released. Let’s hope they don’t drop that one, like they did with Legend.  Did you read the series? What did you think about it? If you haven’t read it, do you think you might check it out?

UPDATE 6/19/2015

So, Tahereh Mafi just announced that after the movie didn’t happen, ABC Signature Studios now optioned the TV rights for the series. I actually think that a Shatter Me would work better on TV so I am massively excited about it! You can watch the full announcement and her fellow writer and husband Ransom Riggs talk about his book (Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children) getting adapted by watching polandbananaBOOKS (aka Christine Riccio) video here.