Sunday, August 30, 2015

The Rules by Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguié

Genre:  Mature YA Horror

Description (taken from Debbie Viguié's):
Narrated by alternating unreliable narrators, this dark thriller will have readers on the edge of their seats. No one is safe and everyone is a suspect. It’s Saw meets I Know What You Did Last Summer.

Junior Robin Brisset has no idea what she’s in for when she accepts an invitation to one of Callabrese High’s most exclusive parties. And when the trademark scavenger hunt begins, Robin must go against every rule she’s lived by to survive.

August is hosting the rich kid's party of the year.  Only thing is he's seeking vengeance from the snobby kids who contributed to his sister's death last year.  You've got the jocks: those on steroids as well as though trying to succeed on skill alone.  You've got the drama geek, the cheerleader, and the girls who want more in life.  There's also the rock band, the drug user, and the gangster involved in this party.  But one girl, Robin, finds very quickly that she doesn't sync with this in-crowd and she's crashing the party.

The party consists of a scavenger hunt, and whichever team can find all of the clues first wins.  And August's prizes are worth sabotaging other teams over.  But once the clues begin to hit a little close to home and the scavenger items become a little morbid, the teenagers realize there's a vendetta at this party.  And when people go missing, everyone begins to suspect the host.  But he's just as lost as the rest of them.  One by one, they realize someone's out for blood and the prize for the night is your life.

So you know those awful teen horror flicks that have come out in recent years that have been absolutely terrible?  Like in the fact that it makes you ashamed to admit you were ever a teenager?  Pretty much sums up this book.  While trying to keep the who-done-it mystery alive, ridiculous back stories were thrown across the pages.  And they were typically only specific to one or two characters.  So it wasn't really a story you could guess at.  Once everything's revealed in the end, you're left wondering how far back the train derailed off the tracks with this story.

Obviously, I didn't care for this story.  I think there was an attempt to make an awesome story about a novel concept: rules, but it fell short.

Monday, August 24, 2015

The Replaced by Kimberly Derting

Genre:  YA Science Fiction
The Taking Series, Book 2

Note:  This is the second book in a series.  Descriptions below have the potential to spoil the plot in the first book.

Description (taken from Kimberly Derting's website):
Kyra hasn't been the same since she returned from her mysterious five-year disappearance. Now, on the run from the NSA, Kyra is forced to hide out with others who, like her, have been Returned. Yet she is determined to find Tyler, the boy she loves who was also abducted . . . all because of her. When her group intercepts a message that Tyler might still be alive, Kyra risks everything to get him back. But he is being held by a shadowy government organization that experiments on the Returned, and going after him puts the rest of the group in danger. Even if Kyra gets Tyler back, the fight to save him—and the rest of the Returned—is just beginning.

This book picks up right where the first one left: with Kyra eagerly searching for Tyler.  She takes the blame for Tyler's abduction and is anxiously waiting to see if he is okay.  However, the group of Returned she is with have ulterior motives.

Kyra is convinced her group of friends will help her find Tyler and her dad.  But Simon is also convinced Kyra will see the big picture when she's ready for it.  And maybe, just maybe, she'll let go of her high school crush on Tyler.  Natty is ready to help her friend Kyra no matter what it takes.  And Thom?  He's going to protect his group and as long as Simon is out-thwarted, he's okay.  But when the group encounters another group of Returned, all mayhem seems to break loose.  And the social order is thrown into a brick wall.

I feel like this book flows very smoothly.  And while the very premise of the story has everything to do with aliens, we never get to see a cameo of these aliens.  So it's very misconceiving and this story is shrouded more in mystery when it comes to the science fiction aspect.  This story is more of an action-drama where the teenagers avoid the corrupted authority.  But we also find out that teenagers aren't always the best of leaders and at making the best decisions.

After reading this one, I'm not sure I want to read the next one.  Yes, the story is well-paced.  But in the end, I kind of want to know more about the aliens and less about Kyra's drama.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

Genre:  YA Fantasy
An Ember in the Ashes Series, Book 1
Sabaa Tahir's website 

Description (taken from Sabaa Tahir's website):
LAIA is a Scholar living under the brutal rule of the Martial Empire. When her brother is arrested for treason, Laia goes undercover as a slave at the empire’s greatest military academy in exchange for assistance from rebel Scholars who vow to save her brother from execution.

ELIAS is the academy’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias is considering deserting the military, but before he can, he’s ordered to participate in a ruthless contest to choose the next Martial emperor.

When Laia and Elias’s paths cross at the academy, they will find that their destinies are more intertwined that either could have imagined and that their choices will change the future of the empire itself.

Vow your blood and body to the empire.
Keep your heart for yourself.

Laia lives under the Martial Empire in Serra.  After her home is raided and her brother is taken, Laia seeks out help from the rebels.  But they require something in exchange for helping her free her brother.  She must spy on one of the most unforgivable people at the Blackcliff school.  She must learn the commandant's secrets without getting caught and before her brother dies.

Elias has grown up in the Blackcliff school: the school that trains Martials to act on command and without remorse.  He's spent his time planning his escape into dreaming of a life of freedom.  But when a wise old man promises him freedom by entering the trials to become the next emperor, he loses faith in his plan.  And his life begins to weave around and in between Laia's life.

This book contains epic fantasy in an empire that is ruled by ruthless killers.  And we see a lot of opression affecting both the slaves as well as the rulers.  Too bad I couldn't get into this book until the last fifty pages.  I can't really pinpoint what threw me off, but I think I got a little confused with how the classes worked.  Not all Scholars were slaves, but they could become a slave at any time.  And the masks that the Martials wore confused the crap out of me.  There was just way too much death involved to keep my interest.  I questioned whether this book was really meant for young adults.  And then the last fifty pages happened.  Now I want more.

This book has received a lot of high praise.  It is a pretty big book, and I think others will enjoy it.  If you had asked me half way through this book whether I'd read the next one, I'd probably tell you I didn't know if I could even finish this one.  But after that ending?  I kind of want to know what happens next...

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