For Darkness Shows the Stars (For Darkness Shows the Stars #1) by Diana Peterfreund
Review Source: ARC from ARCycling
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Summary (from Goodreads): It's been several generations since a genetic experiment gone wrong caused the Reduction, decimating humanity and giving rise to a Luddite nobility who outlawed most technology.
Elliot North has always known her place in this world. Four years ago Elliot refused to run away with her childhood sweetheart, the servant Kai, choosing duty to her family's estate over love. Since then the world has changed: a new class of Post-Reductionists is jumpstarting the wheel of progress, and Elliot's estate is foundering, forcing her to rent land to the mysterious Cloud Fleet, a group of shipbuilders that includes renowned explorer Captain Malakai Wentforth--an almost unrecognizable Kai. And while Elliot wonders if this could be their second chance, Kai seems determined to show Elliot exactly what she gave up when she let him go.
But Elliot soon discovers her old friend carries a secret--one that could change their society . . . or bring it to its knees. And again, she's faced with a choice: cling to what she's been raised to believe, or cast her lot with the only boy she's ever loved, even if she's lost him forever.
Inspired by Jane Austen's Persuasion, For Darkness Shows the Stars is a breathtaking romance about opening your mind to the future and your heart to the one person you know can break it.
For Darkness Shows the Stars is an interesting book. It wasn't particularly good, but I couldn't put it down! I didn't really like Elliot that much, but I really wanted her to succeed. The romance wasn't my favorite, but I would have been crushed if they didn't get a happy ending. So it was a book full of contradictions for me and I wasn't sure how I was going to rate it until the very end. And in all honesty, I'm letting my emotions do more of the rating on this one than my brain. And sometimes, I think that's ok. So while For Darkness Shows the Stars wasn't technically great for me, I actually really enjoyed it.
Here are a few faults I found with the book: 1) There seemed to be a few holes in the world building. I wasn't totally satisfied with the explanation of the Reduction or how the Posts came to be or why the Luddites felt that taking care of the Reduced equaled keeping them as slaves. 2) Kai and Elliot were mostly just bitter, Kai was mean, and they rarely had any honest conversations with each other. I didn't feel much chemistry between them at all. 3) The writing was a bit choppy. Paragraphs and ideas didn't always seem to flow well from one to the next. 4) I was hoping for more of a discussion relating to the slavery issue in the book, especially towards the end when Elliot has more of an opportunity to change what goes on at the estate. But it is never addressed. Nor is the class structure. The Reduced and CORs are slaves, Posts that have run away are workers, and the Luddites are land owners. There is talk of a rebellion, but it never comes. Elliot talks about taking care of the Reduced and Posts on her estate, but she never offers them their freedom. I wanted more from her when it came to this.
The reasons I still gave it four stars? The letters. I'm really just a huge sucker for letters. I think it's the honesty that comes out in letters, the raw emotions, the truth, and the lack of wishy-washy feelings that really get me. A character can spend the whole book flipping back and forth on their feelings but they sit down to write a letter and it all comes out. I don't know why or if that's really the reason, but letters (and diaries) just pull me right in. And this book was no different. The look we get at the past relationship between Kai and Elliot through their letters was the best part of the book for me. It's where I felt the most emotions, learned the most about them, and wanted the most for them. The rest of the story was good enough and the supporting characters were interesting (Felicia, Dee, Ro, even Benedict offered something to the story), but without the letters I'm not sure it would have been enough.
All of that said, I really enjoyed the book and gave it four stars. I'm excited to read the next one, Across a Star-Swept Sea (based on The Scarlet Pimpernel), though I wish we could get more of Kai and Elliot. The way this book ended was how I liked to see them, what I had wished they had been in more of the book. But I'm sure the next one will be enjoyable with or without them. Because even though I had problems with the book, I still really enjoyed it and look forward to more stories from Peterfreund.
Also noteworthy, I have not read Jane Austen's Persuasion, which this book is based on, so I cannot comment on how they compare but I definitely want to pick it up and give it a chance now!
Requiem (Delirium #3) by Lauren Oliver
Review Source: eARC from HarperTeen via Edelweiss
Publication Date: March 5, 2013
Rating: 5/5 Stars
Summary (from Goodreads): They have tried to squeeze us out, to stamp us into the past.
But we are still here.
And there are more of us every day.
Now an active member of the resistance, Lena has been transformed. The nascent rebellion that was under way in Pandemonium has ignited into an all-out revolution in Requiem, and Lena is at the center of the fight.
After rescuing Julian from a death sentence, Lena and her friends fled to the Wilds. But the Wilds are no longer a safe haven—pockets of rebellion have opened throughout the country, and the government cannot deny the existence of Invalids. Regulators now infiltrate the borderlands to stamp out the rebels, and as Lena navigates the increasingly dangerous terrain, her best friend, Hana, lives a safe, loveless life in Portland as the fiancée of the young mayor.
Maybe we are driven crazy by our feelings.
Maybe love is a disease, and we would be better off without it.
But we have chosen a different road.
And in the end, that is the point of escaping the cure: We are free to choose.
We are even free to choose the wrong thing.
Requiem is told from both Lena’s and Hana’s points of view. The two girls live side by side in a world that divides them until, at last, their stories converge.
Okay, wow. First of all, I'm so happy I was given the chance to read and review this book for HarperTeen. This has been one of my most anticipated books since last year when I finished Pandemonium. It has been one of my favorite series and I am so happy to say that the finale did not disappoint me at all. To be honest, Pandemonium wasn't my favorite. I'm not a big fan of Julian, nor was I particularly happy with their relationship. I understand that Lena needed to move on from what happened in Delirium, but I didn't want it to be real or for her to move on. Because I wasn't ready. But Pandemonium was a great set up for understanding what was happening for the series as well as all of the changes Lena was going through. So in the end while I didn't love Pandemonium, I did appreciate it. But this is supposed to be about Requiem. I just mentioned Pandemonium to say that while I was highly anticipating Requiem, I was also extremely nervous. I know Lauren Oliver has no problem toying with the emotions of her readers and I seriously had no idea how Requiem's story would end. But I'm here and happy to report that, for me, it was perfect.
I'm not going to do a rundown of events for Requiem. I don't want to spoil too much for people who haven't read the earlier books and I don't want to spoil Requiem either. I do know that the ending of this book has so far divided fans of the series into two groups: those who love it and those who are disappointed with it. I, obviously, fall into the 'loved it' group and I'll explain why a little later. First I just need to say that I love Lauren Oliver's writing and Requiem was no different. There were parts of the book that I didn't love. It took a little bit for me to like reading Hana's POV. Those chapters seemed to drag the book down a little in the beginning. But as she developed and the story got deeper, I ended up enjoying seeing her side just as much as Lena's. And that surprised me because I read Hana's novella and I didn't think my feelings about her could be changed. But they were and I ended up loving the whole journey this book took us on.
As for the polarizing ending I do want to explain why I loved it so much. I don't want anyone to completely write off this book just because the ending might not be what you want. For me, I felt that even though we might not have gotten the end of the story that we wanted for the characters that we love, we got so much more. We got hope and love and choice. We got possibilities and bravery and life and risks. We got the promise that there is something else out there past the 'end' of this story, something better for the characters than we've seen yet. We don't get the nicely wrapped-up-with-a-pretty-bow happily ever after, but we do get to see the characters hoping for something better and being brave enough to fight for it. We get to see that fear doesn't stand in their way of moving forward. That the possible future of freedom and choice is worth the risks that come with the fight. And that's what this whole series is about, that you can't be truly happy without sometimes being unhappy. You can't feel love without feeling hate sometimes. You can't feel good without the bad. But the good always makes up for the bad. The possibilities are always worth the risks. “He who leaps for the sky may fall, it's true. But he may also fly.” (Delirium) Requiem reminds us that while we may be reading about Lena and Alex and Julian and Hana, all of their struggles and battles are relevant to our lives as well. We need to remember that love is worth the risk of getting hurt. That freedom must constantly be fought for. I thought the end of this book was beautiful and I hope you will all read it.
Final Thoughts: I really wish I could do this book justice. I loved Delirium so much and I feel like Requiem really tied the whole series together and brought Lena's struggle with herself and her initial desire to feel nothing and go through life so easily to a wonderful close with her believing that choice and freedom to love, and feel hurt, are worth much more than security and walls and feeling indifferent to everything. I loved her journey and am so glad that Oliver wrote it for us. At this point I'm just gushing, so I'll wrap it up by saying that I highly recommend Requiem if you have loved the Delirium series. And if you haven't started the series yet, go do it now! I gave Requiem five stars and while I hope that you all will love it as much as I did, I know some of you will be disappointed. I really hope you'll give it a chance, though. It was a beautiful book full of intense emotions and thought-provoking moments.
Summary (from Goodreads): Since she'd been on the outside, she'd survived an Aether storm, she'd had a knife held to her throat, and she'd seen men murdered.
This was worse.
Exiled from her home, the enclosed city of Reverie, Aria knows her chances of surviving in the outer wasteland—known as The Death Shop—are slim. If the cannibals don't get her, the violent energy storms will. Then Aria meets an Outsider named Perry. He's wild—a savage—and her only hope of staying alive.
A hunter for his tribe in a merciless landscape, Perry views Aria as sheltered and fragile—everything he would expect from a Dweller. But he needs Aria's help too; she alone holds the key to his redemption. Opposites in nearly every way, Aria and Perry must come together to survive. Their unlikely alliance forges a bond that will determine the fate of all who live under the never sky.
I feel like I should be saying, "Why didn't anyone tell me about this book sooner?!" But I can't because everyone did tell me about this book! I was just the stupid one that never read it. Until now. Now I can finally say that I've read it and I understand why everyone is in love with it! I enjoyed this book so much. It's definitely moved onto the favorites shelf for me. I hope if you are a fan of dystopians, or YA romances, that you've either read this book or are planning on reading it soon.
My favorite thing about this book, besides the romance, was Aria. She was a perfect female lead. She was strong, brave, smart, and willing to accept that she is wrong about some things. But she's also funny and kind and caring and loyal. She works hard when she needs to, even after coming from the Realms where almost no one does hard labor anymore, and she wants to learn how to survive when in the outside. She doesn't want to be helpless and she does everything she can to accomplish the goals she has and the promises that she's made. She wasn't a pushover or a brat or a know-it-all or extremely emotional or a damsel in distress or anything else annoying. She seemed real and well-rounded and I really enjoyed learning about her, following her story, seeing her change, and seeing her grow.
My second favorite thing about this book was the romance. Ah, the romance. Oh, Perry. Two people who should never have met and fallen in love, but did. And they are so good together! Seriously though, the romance was done really well. It felt natural, not forced at all. Aria and Perry just gradually grew closer over the time they spent together, meaning more and more to each other and getting to know each other better. Sure they were spending time together under unnatural circumstances, but the progression of their relationship felt completely natural and real. Plus, Perry was so sweet with Aria. If you've read it then maybe you changed your mind about him around the same time I did. When he explained to Aria about how she wasn't dying, I thought I was going to die (both from embarrassment for Aria and for the sweetness of Perry). But holy cow, a man who would explain that to you, be happy about it, and help you deal with it is a keeper! (Though I did wonder why she was so confused by what was happening and also know exactly what it was as soon as he said it. But oh well.) I think the whole romance was developed very well. And I also now know why people talk about ALL THE FEELS with this book. Seriously, if you're looking for a YA book with a well-developed honest feeling romance, don't miss Under the Never Sky! Seriously.
One little itty bitty part that annoyed me a tiny bit was the whole rendering thing. Why can't people just love people because they love them? Why does there always need to be something that connects a person to another? Can't people just want to protect each other and know each other and be with each other because they want to? Instead they have to be rendered or imprinted upon or one of many other explanations in YA literature. Although to be fair, rendering is much less creepy than imprinting to me. It basically just means that you now not only know what the person is feeling but you feel it to. It's just a deeper connection to someone else, not necessarily romantically, just more intuned to them than someone you aren't rendered to. What did you guys think about this part? I know it's just a nit-picky thing, but it also made me pause while reading so I could roll my eyes.
Final Thoughts: I loved this book. I'm so glad I finally picked it up and gave it a chance. I was a little worried it would turn out like Divergent, a book everyone talks about and loves but that was just okay for me. But I'm happy to report it wasn't. I loved it. Plus, the characters are fantastic (even the secondary characters add a lot to the story), the romance is very satisfying , and the writing is beautiful. I felt so many emotions during this book I can't even begin to list them all. I highly recommend this book if you're a fan of YA dystopians or YA romances. I gave Under the Never Sky five stars!
Just a little advice: I've already read Through the Ever Night, too. If you haven't read Under the Never Sky yet (why haven't you read it yet?!), get both books so you don't have to wait to find out what happens. I promise you you won't want to wait after reading Under the Never Sky to read more about Aria and Perry. And, in case you were wondering, Through the Ever Night does not disappoint either!
Summary (from Goodreads): Benson Fisher thought that a scholarship to Maxfield Academy would be the ticket out of his dead-end life.
He was wrong.
Now he's trapped in a school that's surrounded by a razor-wire fence. A school where video cameras monitor his every move. Where there are no adults. Where the kids have split into groups in order to survive.
Where breaking the rules equals death.
But when Benson stumbles upon the school's real secret, he realizes that playing by the rules could spell a fate worse than death, and that escape--his only real hope for survival--may be impossible.
If you've read any of my reviews or followed this blog for a little bit, you probably already know that I'm a big fan of the science-fiction genre, especially when there is a bit of dystopia mixed in with it. I'm also intrigued by male POV's and am always on the lookout for new books. With all of that said, it's surprising to me that I didn't pick this one up sooner. I first noticed it when I was checking out it's sequel, Feedback. I hadn't heard of either at that point, but they sounded interesting. Then Variant showed up one Sunday on Arcycling and I knew I couldn't pass it up. I'm so glad I got the chance to read this book. And now I'm going to tell you all the reasons why I think you should read it too!
Variant introduces us to Benson, a teenage orphan who has lived in the foster care system since he was a young child. He's been bounced around to about 30 different families in his short life and is ready for something more permanent. When he happens upon information about Maxfield Academy, a boarding school that specializes in helping kids from less fortunate backgrounds, he doesn't hesitate to apply. He's excited to be accepted with a full scholarship and packs up his belongings and is gone from his old life. But as soon as he arrives at Maxfield, something feels off. He's dropped off my a woman, who doesn't even go inside, and immediately gets spooked by a couple of students who say there's no way out of the school. The school is surrounded by fences with barbed wire, full of video cameras, and there are no adults anywhere inside. He soon learns the rules of the school as well as the best way for him to survive it. Maxfield is closely monitored, rules are very strictly enforced, and all students must play their part. When Benson learns the truth about Maxfield, he must decide who he can trust and figure out how to get out.
My Likes: This book was so gripping! Such a great example of suspense and the true feeling of terror when you have no one but yourself. The students had already split themselves into gangs before Benson arrived and he didn't exactly fit in well right off the bat. By the time he learns the secret of Maxfield, he's made quite a few enemies and very few friends. And the secret leaves even more questions about who he can trust. Since Benson grew up without family and bounced around different homes, he's used to being on his own. But trapped inside the school makes him wish he had someone he could turn to. And Robison Wells does a fantastic job of creating a feeling of true isolation in Benson and the terror of being alone and misunderstood and not trusted. It was perfect for the dystopian society he created for his story!
I also really enjoyed Benson as a character and a narrator. Male POVs can be pretty hit or miss for me. I think it's hard when a woman tries to write a male narrative and I think sometimes the male main characters can be a bit unemotional and hard to connect with. But Wells allowed Benson to feel and communicate and show real emotions without creating a weak, whiny, emotional wreck or a completely logical, robotic, problem solver main character. I think we got the perfect balance in Benson and I really felt for him and wanted him to be the hero I felt he deserved to be. Of course, I can't give anything away. So I won't tell you if he is or not. But I will say that if you're looking for books with a male POV, give Variant a try.
My Dislikes: There really wasn't anything I disliked about the book. But I will say that I was a tiny bit disappointed in a part that I think was supposed to have been a big reveal and somewhat shocking just wasn't. It was a bit too predictable. It was after finding out the real secret behind Maxfield, just an extra part to the story. So the main reveal is still very surprising, don't worry about that. But this other part, I just kind of expected it. And I wish that the characters had expected it too. It just felt a little off that none of the rest of the characters suspected the second part at all when it seemed obvious to me. So, like I said, nothing reallly that I disliked. Just a little disappointed that the characters didn't anticipate this one part like I had.
Final Thoughts: This book was so good! It was a very fast, very gripping read. If you are a fan, at all, of science-fiction/dystopians, you should read this one. The main character, along with the set-up, created such a feeling of isolation and anxiety, I couldn't put the book down. I had to know what was going to happen to Benson and see if he would ever escape Maxfield. I wanted to know if the other students were kids he could trust. They were all initially presented with such specific characteristics and belonged to certain gangs, who would he end up trusting? And what was the secret? Why was he trapped in a school with no teachers or adults of any kind that would kill you for breaking the rules? It really was an awesome read. Just the right amount of action, character development, intrigue, suspense, and even a tiny tiny bit of romance. It was a sort of mash-up of Lord of the Flies, The Maze Runner, and Divergent all in one. I thoroughly enjoyed it and gave Variant 5 stars.
Summary (from Goodreads): Since the age of three, sixteen-year-old Evelyn Winters has been trained to be Daughter of the People in the underwater utopia known as Elysium. Selected from hundreds of children for her ideal genes, all her life she’s thought that everything was perfect; her world. Her people. The Law.
But when Gavin Hunter, a Surface Dweller, accidentally stumbles into their secluded little world, she’s forced to come to a startling realization: everything she knows is a lie.
Her memories have been altered.
Her mind and body aren’t under her own control.
And the person she knows as Mother is a monster.
Together with Gavin she plans her escape, only to learn that her own mind is a ticking time bomb... and Mother has one last secret that will destroy them all.
I loved this book. It was so refreshing to read a book that just drew me right in a wouldn't let me go. Every new page had more action, more twists, more destruction, and more gore. I don't even think I can begin to explain the plot without providing spoilers. I'm happy to have learned every new piece of the puzzle along the way just as I did. Any other way would have made the book much less exciting. So I'll give a brief description, without spoilers, and follow it up with some of my favorite parts of the book.
My Summary: Evelyn Winters is sixteen and lives in Elysium, an underwater utopia created by Mother to escape the horrible, self-destructive Surface Dwellers on land. She is known as the Daughter of the People, a sort of pretty face of the society who keeps in closer contact with the people than Mother and was adopted by Mother and chosen for her genes to reproduce and help provide Elysium with a genetically perfect next generation.
One day, however, a Surface Dweller stumbles into Elysium and things begin to fall apart. The Surface Dweller seems different to Evelyn than they have always been described to her. He's not crazy or violent. He's scared and helpless and injured. So Evelyn helps him. When he is captured, she visits him in the prison under the guise of extracting information about how he got into Elysium for Mother, but in turn discovers truths about herself she hadn't known before and forms a bond with Gavin. She sets in action a plan that she hopes will save both of them from their very unfortunate futures.
My Likes: It's hard to say likes when really I loved this book. By the end of the first chapter, my jaw was on the floor. I was shocked! The book takes no time in building up the story, it just dumps you right into the middle of it. And I loved that! We learn what we need along the way, most of it just as Evelyn does. As the summary says, her memories and mind have been messed with, so what she thinks and does isn't always under her control. And we get to figure it out alongside her. I don't think it could have been done better. The action, the mind games, the Mother character, the romance, the dystopian aspects of the story, the lead-up to the end, I loved it all.
I don't want to give anything away, especially about that first chapter, but it all just blew my mind! I'm so grateful when authors trust the readers to be able to follow along and keep up with a story without having to spell it all out. Sometimes I want to be surprised and shocked and allowed to stumble through the story thinking about different outcomes and sometimes being wrong, just like the main character. I don't want to be told what's happening in a book, I want to experience it along with the characters and I got that from this book.
My Dislikes: The only thing, and I mean the only thing, that wasn't my favorite about this book was that a couple of the moments of action felt like they occurred just to have something happen. There were a couple of times when the action scene just came out of nowhere, felt a little dropped in, like there wasn't a real reason for it other than to just have some more action. But to feel that only a couple of times when the book is literally action from cover to cover, it feels okay to me. Most of the action led from one thing to the next and felt right. I'm willing to overlook the couple that didn't quite seem to flow as well since the rest of the book was awesome.
My Overall Feelings: Again, I loved this book! I loved the nonstop action. I loved the characters. Evelyn and Gavin were a perfect pair on the run. Evelyn was wonderful as a protagonist that doesn't understand what's happening to her and her world. And we, as the readers, get to experience all the revelations she goes through right along with her. This book is the perfect combination of science-fiction/dystopian/psychological thriller. If you're a fan of those genres, I would definitely give this book a try. Also, be prepared for lots of gore. This book doesn't shy away from blood and guts. If you get to the end of the first chapter and hate it, don't read any more. I promise. You won't like the rest of the book either. But if you jump out of your chair like I did, you're going to love it. It reminded me a bit of the Mara Dyer series by Michelle Hodkin, with tons of twists and turns, shocking moments, and plenty of mind/memory issues. If you liked those, I'd give this one a try. I gave Renegade by J.A. Souders five stars.