Cannonball Read IV

A bunch of Pajibans reading and reviewing and honoring AlabamaPink.

Archive for the tag “YA”

Katie’s #CBR4 Review #51: Poison Study by Maria Snyder

Title: Poison Study
Author: Maria V Snyder
Source: library
Rating: ★★★★☆
Review Summary: Complex but easy-to-follow plots, believable characters, and an impressive protagonist – very well done!

This book has so many exciting twists and turns, that I’m checking the standard description to make sure I don’t give anything away! We start when Yelena, about to be executed for murder, is instead offered the position of royal food taster. The catch is that she’s intentionally fed a poison that will kill her unless she shows up every day for the antidote. Although to an extent this attaches her loyalty to the king, Yelena is put into a variety of situations where she has to decide where her loyalty truly lies. And just for an extra challenge, Yelena starts to develop magical powers, the possession of which is punishable by death.

Read more on Doing Dewey.


meilufay’s #CBR4 review #52 (!) The Knife of Never Letting Go (Chaos Walking #1) by Patrick Ness

This is not the 52nd book I’ve read this year but given that I’m about 15 books behind, I thought I should pick a book I really, really loved for the magical 52nd review and this, oh this, it qualifies.

The Knife of Never Letting Go is a YA novel set in a dystopian future.  The narrator, Todd, is the youngest boy in his town – just shy of his 13th birthday, when he will become a man.  He lives in a settlement called Prentisstown, where all the women are dead and everyone can hear everyone else’s thoughts (including the thoughts of any animals) in an ambient cacophony called, appropriately enough, Noise.  The inhabitants of Prentisstown are settlers on “New World” (as opposed to “Old World”) and Todd has been taught that Noise (and the death of the women) was the result of a biological weapon leveled at the humans by a native, competing, species of New World, called the Spackles.  In the opening chapter of the book, Todd is out walking his dog, Manchee (who hilariously talks exactly the way one imagines dogs would really talk), wondering about what’s going to happen at his birthday party, when he will become a man, when he stumbles upon a hole in the Noise.  A silence.  This precipitates a series of events that I will not detail because I do not wish you to be spoiled.

This book is… merciless.  It’s intense.  Like the knife of its title it is wickedly sharp.  It is devastating.  It tackles the issue of the emotional transition to adulthood remorselessly, unblinkingly and with astonishing brilliance.  This book is NOT for the faint of heart.  It’s dark and heartbreaking, but it is also funny, and touching, and REAL.  Above all, it is real.  I *felt* this book.  In fact, I think it will leave a haunting echo in my consciousness for a long time.  (And not just because I plan on reading books two and three in this series IMMEDIATELY.)

The book this reminds me of the most is John Wyndham’s The Chrysalids.  I read that book when I was about eleven and it left a deep imprint on me.  I still find myself thinking about it all the time, and I think the same will be true of The Knife of Never Letting Go (particularly if the rest of the trilogy is as good as this first book).  As with The Knife of Never Letting GoThe Chrysalids is set in a dystopian agrarian settlement, its narrator is a young boy who is telepathic and does not know the full truth about the world he lives in.  His community holds to a fierce, unforgivingly dogmatic version of Christianity, one which has no tolerance for difference or outsiders.  For the narrators of both books, the “fall” from innocence is necessary for survival but has devastating consequences.  In its refusal to back away from how disillusioning the transition from childhood to adulthood can be, The Knife of Never Letting Go also reminds me of Let The Right One In, the 2008 Swedish film about a 12 year old boy who befriends a vampire child.  (I never read the book upon which it was based, or saw the American remake, so I can’t speak to those two versions of this story.)  Like The Knife of Never Letting Go, Let the Right One In is rigorously, refreshingly unsentimental about adolescence.  I’ve personally never really identified with the Harry Potter version of adolescence – my own adolescent experience was far less adorable or heartwarming – and I absolutely love that Patrick Ness respects the intelligence of his reading audience enough to tell this story in an unclichéd a way as possible.

Fantastic.  I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Katie’s #CBR4 Review #44: Glitch by Heather Anastasiu

Title: Glitch
Author: Heather Anastasiu
Source: library
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Review Summary: Very cool idea for a world, but the plot is a little too YA cliche for me to really love it.

In this dystopian novel, humanity has given up the ability to feel emotion or think for themselves. Instead, they are all connected to a network which regulates their activities and decides when they should be deactivated. However, many young adults are beginning to “glitch”, suddenly experiencing emotion and also displaying strange new mental powers. As Zoe struggles to hide her glitches and control her erratic telekinetic powers, she also has to deal with feeling emotion for her family and for boys for the first time.

Read more at Doing Dewey.

Katie’s #CBR4 Review #42: A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray

Title: A Great and Terrible Beauty
Author: Libba Bray
Source: library
Rating: ★★★★☆
Review Summary: Exciting fantasy novel with a gripping mystery, set in a vividly portrayed world, and with relatable characters.

Gemma Doyle is an independent young woman raised in India, struggling with mysteriously prophetic visions and her adjustment to Victorian era England. She is warned to suppress her visions by a strange but handsome young man who followed her from India, but she persists until she is eventually able to enter the world of her visions. This gorgeous world gifts Gemma and her friends with an intoxicating power, one which comes with both dangers and responsibilities.

Read more on Doing Dewey.

Petalfrog’s #CBR4 Review #38: The Harrowing by Alexandra Sokoloff

From Wikipedia, “The Harrowing is a horror novel by Alexandra Sokoloff. It was first published in 2006 by St. Martin’s Press, and is the author’s debut book, following a screenwriting career.” I must say that this little blurb is not remotely surprising, as I kept thinking that the book seemed more like a movie than like a book. I really enjoyed the previous Alexandra Sokoloff book that I read and reviewed this had such great reviews on Amazon that I figured it would be another out of the ballpark hit for me. Well, I must say that Sokoloff has really stretched herself and improved as an author since this debut.

The Harrowing (I really like the name) is a ghost story set in a co-ed college dorm on a grand Gothic-style campus. Five students come together over the Thanksgiving weekend, the only ones to not go home. Robin Stone is the anchor of this story; she is sad, lonely, and briefly suicidal until she meets the other four who decided to stay. Each of the five have a reason for not staying, mostly because of their miserable family lives, and after drinking and getting high in the lounge they decide to play with a found Ouija Board. A spirit named Zachery communicates with them, and quickly creepy things start to happen to the group even after Thanksgiving is over and all the other students return. The group must figure out what type of supernatural force is at work, what it wants, and how to stop it before it kills them all.

I am not certain if this story is meant to be a young adult novel, but it certainly seemed to be designed to appeal to a younger audience. The characters are somewhat stereotypical (jock, nerd, brooding boy, slut, depressed girl), and the glimpses we get at deepening them are variable. The setting is also a bit stereotypical, and some of the dialogue a bit rote. I did enjoy the twist of the character who opened up to the spirit the most, as this is the person we would expect to lead the fight against it. I thought the use of Kabbalah and pulling from the Jewish faith was fairly inspired as many stories of good vs. evil tend to be told from the point of view of the Christian (specifically Catholic) faith. This offered a unique perspective on an ancient archetype and definitely helped grab my interest at a point when it was waning a bit. Some of the imagery is quite powerful, especially as the spirit enters the human world. I think it was a bit of a shame that by the time the story really found its legs and broke away from sterotypes, it hit the climax and ended.

This is a bit nitpicky, but there were also some errors in the story that pulled me out of it. For example, on my Kindle the spelling of “Luis Vuitton” was incredibly distracting. Also, I believe the college is in the U.S., yet mid-terms happened after Thanksgiving when the return from that holiday usually signals the move towards finals. At one point the police are looking for the characters, yet never try to reach them on the cell phone they have. The constant use of the phrase, “the Net,” was also quite distracting since it is a bit old-timey.

I wish that I loved this book more as I have had some truly lovely interaction with Alexandra Sokoloff since I published the review for Book of Shadows. She sent me an e-book (Huntress Moon) and a hard cover (The Price), both of which I am dying to read. I am happy to say that this was a debut, and she was switching a very different style of writing than she had previously been doing (screen-writing), so I am sure there was a huge learning curve to translate ideas and concepts into novel-form. Either way, I still enjoy Sokoloff’s focus on the supernatural and experimenting with it in different ways, and I am excited to read the two books she sent me.

Read the rest of my reviews at my blog!

taralovesbooks’ #CBR4 Review #32: Hollowmen by Amanda Hocking

Cannonball Read IV: Book #32/52
Published: 2011
Pages: 194
Genre: Young Adult/Dystopian/Zombie

***May contain spoilers to previous books in the series**

In the sequel to Hollowland, we fast forward six months from where the previous novel ended. Remy has spent the last six months being prodded and tested by doctors due to her immunity to the zombie virus. She gets a chance to escape when the building is breached by a zombie hoard and heads out in search of her brother, yet again.

Read the rest of the review in my blog.

Katie’s #CBR4 Review #35: Abandon by Meg Cabot

Title: Abandon
Author: Meg Cabot
Source: bought for book signing
Rating: ★★★★☆
Review Summary: In a lot of ways this is a fairly typical YA romance with a strong heroine, but it’s also well written, enjoyable, and made unique by its’ basis in mythology and the heroine’s unique voice.

Like Dead Beautiful, Meg Cabot’s Abandon trilogy is a re-telling of the Persephone myth, although in this case only the starting point of the story really comes from the myth. The Greek gods aren’t part of the story at all and while a lot of elements of the Greek underworld are used, even the basic explanation for the way the Underworld works is different. What is the same is that the lord of the underworld does fall in love with our heroine, Pierce. He does kidnap her, in a way, but in his defense she’s already dead in this version. She manages to escape and is resuscitated by her doctors; which of these events is the cause and which the effect is left for the reader to determine. Unfortunately for Pierce, escaping the underworld doesn’t resolve anything.  She now has trouble fitting back into her old life and still has to deal with the lord of the underworld appearing to “help” her, usually causing her some trouble himself as well.

Read more here…

Katie’s #CBR4 Review #32: Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore

Title: Bitterblue
Author: Kristin Cashore
Source: library
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Series: Graceling|Fire|Bitterblue (you are here)
Review Summary: Unlike Fire, this is definitely it’s own, very enjoyable story with unique new characters.  I loved the first half at least as much as Graceling but the ending was very anti-climatic.

Although Bitterblue follows Fire in publication order, this book is actually a direct sequel to Graceling.  Young Princess Bitterblue has taken over as ruler of Monsea following the defeat of her evil of father.  Despite her advisers’ desire to forget her father ever existed, Bitterblue is doing her best to help her kingdom recover from his crimes.  She eventually begins to sneak out of the castle on her own to learn more about the state of the kingdom.  As she does, it becomes clear that her advisers’ have not been telling her the whole truth and may have ulterior motives for burying the crimes of her father’s reign.

Read more here…

Katie’s #CBR4 Review #31: Dead Beautiful by Melanie Dugan

Title: Dead Beautiful
Author: Melanie Dugan
Source: from publisher for a TLC Book Tour
Rating: ★★★★☆
Review Summary: Fun, enjoyable re-telling of the Persephone myth.  Original enough to be interesting, true enough to the myth to have that extra level of awesome added by the parallels between the two stories.  Well written with each character having a unique voice.

For those of you who don’t know the Persephone myth, a quick recap: Persephone, daughter of the Greek goddess of of the harvest, is abducted by Hades, the Greek god of the dead.  Before she is rescued by her mother Demeter, she eats six pomegranate seeds.  As a result, she is required to spend six months of every year with Hades and her mother is so distraught during those times that she neglects her job as goddess of the harvest and we have fall and winter.  In Dead Beautiful, Melanie Dugan considers the possibility that Persephone wasn’t abducted after all but was just a rebellious teen who fell in love with Hades and didn’t have the courage to tell her mom.

Read more here…

Katie’s #CBR4 Review #30: Fire by Kristin Cashore

Title: Fire
Author: Kristin Cashore
Source: library
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Series: Graceling|Fire|Bitterblue
Review Summary: A little too similar toGraceling and not quite as good, but still an enjoyable read.

Although written second, Fire is actually a prequel to Graceling with only one character in common between the two books.  Like GracelingFire is the story of a young woman coming to terms with her own power, in this case the power to control the minds of others.  Known as “monsters” people with such powers are feared more than respected and Fire (our protagonist) has to decide whether she is willing to use her powers to help prevent the overthrow of the king by rebel lords.

Read more here…

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