Southbury Teen Review Blog

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The Darkest Minds February 20, 2013

Filed under: Books — Jessie @ 4:42 pm
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The Darkest Minds
Alexandra Bracken

The United States has recently fallen victim to Idiopathic Adolescent Acute Neurodegenation, IAAN, a disease that targets children between ages 8 and 13. Those that haven’t died have been left with psychic abilities and are now considered dangerous to be around. In order to protect the country, the government has created camps to rehabilitate the survivors. When Ruby turned 10 she was sent to Thurmond Camp where she has spent the last 6 years being “rehabilitated” and trying to hide her abilities. Everything changes when a rebel group breaks Ruby out of Thurmond when they learn that she is really an Orange. Once out of Thurmond, Ruby does not know who to trust and sneaks away from the rebel group and meets up with a group of runaways from another camp. Together they begin looking for the legendary Slip Kid who may have the answers to their problems and be able to keep them safe.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I read this book but the premise looked interesting. A disease that kills off so many of the country’s young population and leaves the survivors with unnatural abilities sounds plausible in a not too distant future. I liked that the kids all had different abilities but they were focused into 5 main categories. There was no sugar-coating in this book and violence and death were very real. I hate to compare it to The Hunger Games but it was very similar in that there is so much violence and even though the characters cling to a small bit of hope, there does not seem to be a happy ending in sight.

Ruby started off as a timid character because she was so afraid of her abilities but she learned to trust herself and become more confident. Lee was a great love interest. He is kind, loyal, and protective and never gave up on what he believed. I really liked Chubs, he was brutally honest and a little standoffish but he grew into a great character by the end and I really started to understand feel for him.

One of my big issues with dystopian novels is the world building but Bracken did a really good job building Ruby’s world. We learn what was the cause of the problems, IAAN, and what happened to get them where they were then, the government setting up camps for the surviving children to “rehabilitate” them. Overall this book was very good. It was interesting and definitely action packed however, because of all the violence, this book is not suitable for all readers.

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Virals by Kathy Reichs February 15, 2013

Filed under: Books — Heather @ 1:45 am
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viralsTory Brennan, the fourteen-year-old grand-niece of famed forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan, has arrived in South Carolina to live with her father.  A father she’s just met. Tory never knew her father until after her mother’s death. Kit didn’t even know he had a child until Tory arrived on his doorstep. But here she is.

Just like her famous aunt, Tory has a brain for science and a nose for mystery.

Exploring the grounds of a top secret medical experiment lab on the island, Tory and her three friends stumble onto Coop, one of the wolf-dog pups, caged for what looks like an experiment.  Designated as having a type of parvo virus, the kids free the pup and flee.  Haven’t they seen any of those end of the world virus movies?  It always begins with the well-intentioned release of some infected animal.  That’s not the case this time, but what Tory unleashes will definitely have consequences.

I don’t want to give away any more of the plot, but I will tell you Virals is a fast-paced thrill ride of a book.  Mystery, science fiction, action…this one has it all.  You’ll be on the edge of your seat, flying through the super short chapters.  I began reading and looked up to find myself on page 200!  No need to worry if you’re not familiar with Kathy Reichs’ other books.  Virals is a strong stand alone novel.  Fans of forensic mysteries, the Bones series and James Pattersons’ work are in for a treat.  I welcome Tory Brennan and the rest of the Virals to the shelves with resounding applause.  Look for the second book in the series, Seizure.

 

The Last Free Cat by Jon Blake February 14, 2013

The Last Free Cat - Jon BlakeJade finds a stray cat in her backyard and tries to convince her mother to keep it.  Sounds pretty normal, right?  Wrong.  This is the not-so-distant future where cats are highly regulated after an outbreak of cat flu.  Now only the super wealthy can afford to buy a registered cat from few companies holding monopoly over the breeding industry.  Never one to follow the rules, Jade keeps Feela, the mysterious feline, hiding her from the authorities.  After all, harboring a non-registered cat is punishable with ten years in prison.

After the death of her mother, Jade needs to find a safe haven for Feela.  With the assistance of Kris, a spunky and intelligent homeless boy, Jade attempts to rescue Feela.  And while she’s at it, she may as well bring down the whole cat breeding conspiracy.

The Last Free Cat is definitely a page turner.  Once I began following Jade’s adventures,  I couldn’t put the book down.  Jon Blake has given us a unique look at dystopian society while commenting on government, animal breeding, and authority.  Or am I just reading too much into this?  Doesn’t matter.  This is a great read.

 

Sapphire Blue

Filed under: Books — Jessie @ 11:05 pm
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sapphire blueSapphire Blue (Ruby Red Trilogy #2)
Kerstin Gier

Gwen learned that she was the last time traveler in the Circle of Twelve in the first book of this series, Ruby Red.  In Sapphire Blue, she continues to travel in the past to discover why Lucy and Paul stole the second Chronograph while also trying to figure out what all the prophecies about the Circle mean and if Gideon really does love her.

The entertaining Gwen is back with a new ghostly friend, a gargoyle/demon named Xemerius, who helps her keep tabs on Gideon and the Guardians.  While the Guardians are doing their best to keep Gwen in the dark as to the inner workings of their society, Gwen takes matters into her own hands and together she, her friend Lesley, and Xemerius further their research about the Guardians and Count Saint-Germain.  The book only covers a few days in our time, but Gwen elapses and travels to different time periods during these days.  I loved when Gwen traveled back to attend the soiree, although she had some lessons in proper soiree behavior from Charlotte and her teacher, Gwen stayed true to herself and gave a wonderful performance at the party.  Gwen also meets her great-grandfather during one of her elapses which brings about some new questions.  And of course we have Gideon, the oh so perfect love interest who is so sweet and charming towards Gwen one minute and a complete jerk the next.  It’s hard to decided if I want him and Gwen to be together with everything he does and yet by the epilogue I was back on his side.

I thought the book was pretty fast-paced and enjoyable but as with the first book it was a little confusing to follow the interactions and characters, especially Count Saint-Germain and the Guardians, and there are lots of questions that still need to be answered.  We still don’t know what will happen once all 12 time travelers are read into the chronograph or why Lucy and Paul stole the chronograph.  And what is Gwen’s role in all of this? This book does end in a cliffhanger which is annoying since the third book will not be out in english for a while.

 

Scarlet February 13, 2013

Scarlet (Lunar Chronicles #2)
Marissa Meyer

Scarlet picks up right where Cinder ended, Cinder is currently in prison but Dr. Erland has just left her with new prosthetics and a lot of new information.  Cinder has just been told that not only is she Lunar, but she is the missing Princess Selene of Lunar.  Dr. Erland has given her two tasks; escape from the prison and then join him in Africa.  In true Cinder fashion, she escapes from prison but she picks up another prisoner on her way, “Captain” Carswell Thorne. Together they manage to reach Thorne’s stolen spaceship and leave New Beijing.  We also get introduced to a couple other new characters, Scarlet Benoit, who is looking for her grandmother, and Wolf, the mysterious street fighter that is helping Scarlet get her grandmother back.  This book alternates between Cinder and Thorne’s escape, Scarlet and Wolf’s quest and Kai’s dealings with the ever persistent Queen Levana.

Cinder is just as great as before but she really has trouble accepting her true identity.  Once she escapes prison, she heads to France to find Michelle Benoit who may have the answers to Cinder’s past.  Cinder is also equipped with a brand new cyborg hand which has cool new features like tranquilizer darts and she is not afraid to use them!  I really liked the comedic Thorne, when he first meets Cinder he explains how he started a soap protest in prison because the soap was too drying for his skin!  He brings a great sense of humor to the plot.  Scarlet and Wolf were also great characters, Scarlet is very strong and a fighter.  She will not let anything stop her from finding her grandmother.  Wolf is very animalistic and mysterious but he also has a gentle side that he shows especially when he is with Scarlet.  There were times when I wanted to hate him but I couldn’t.

Just like in Cinder, this book follows a quick pace with lots of action.  There are the elements of the traditional fairytale but Meyer still manages to add her own twist to them to make the story great.  The only thing I did not like was the ending! Warning, there is a major cliffhanger that will leave you wanting the next book now!

 

Cinder

Filed under: Books — Jessie @ 3:32 pm
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Cinder (Lunar Chronicles #1)
Marissa Meyer

Cinder is a cyborg girl living in New Beijing with her stepmother and two stepsisters.  When a deadly plague infects her sister, Cinder must work with the handsome Prince Kai to find a cure while unraveling her mysterious past.

I normally don’t read fairytale retellings but this one caught my interest. The idea of a cyborg Cinderella is inventive and refreshing.  Cinder is a mechanic who lives with her stepmother and two stepsisters.  Cinder is under appreciated by her stepmother Adri in part because of her cyborg status.  Adri is constantly reminding Cinder of her lower rights as a cyborg.  But Cinder finds ways to fight back and rebel against Adri which just makes her an even better character in my opinion.  Plus, she has a lot of great enhancements as a cyborg including a built in lie detector, a secret compartment in her leg, and the internet in her head.  I really liked Prince Kai too, of course he was incredibly handsome which didn’t hurt, but he was also genuinly nice to Cinder.  It will be interesting to see where their relationship it going to go.

  There never seemed to be a dull moment throughout the book.  Between Adri’s eveil schemeing, the deahtly Plague, and the terrifying Lunar Queen Levana, Cinder is alwys trying to overcome some obstacle.  Some parts of the story were predictable but I had expected that with a retelling of Cinderella.  Even the predicable parts had a futuristic twist to them that was exciting.

Cinder is a strong and likeable character and I enjoyed following her on her adventure.  Overall I really enjoyed this book and I can’t wait for the next one!