Fox on Books

Book reviews, opinions, musings and ramblings. General bookish excitement!

Archive for the category “Dystopian”

The Maze Runner – by James Dashner

maze runnerI’m going to start providing summaries at the top of my reviews, for those who want the TL:DR version. Behold:

“Oh my god just tell me what is happening!” – my brain the whole way through The Maze Runner.

I defy you to read this book slowly. I couldn’t wait to get to the end, although that was mainly so I could have some idea of what just happened! It’s a great YA adventure story, aimed squarely at teenage boys, and a good read for anyone who wants an unputdownable tale.

I was infuriated by the first few chapters of The Maze Runner. Without ceremony, you’re dropped straight into a confusing world full of teenage boys, living in a place called The Glade in the middle of, apparently, a giant maze. Would you have questions? Because both I and our protagonist, Thomas, had A LOT of questions. Such as:

– WHAT?
– Where is this place? WHAT is this place?
– Why am I here?
– Who am I? How can it be that I know my name and understand concepts but I know nothing about my history?
– WHY ARE WE IN A GIANT MAZE?
– Seriously, WHAT?? Let Me Feet Hit the Ground Running:

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Short Stories, or, Review-Palooza!

It’s become clear that I read a lot of books. This year, I’m (still!) averaging one book every three days, across all sorts of formats, including manuscript, eBook, audio book and, of course, my true love, the paper book.

In order to keep them fresh in my mind, and to deliver opinions about them in a somewhat timely manner, I’m going to do bite-sized reviews of a recent selection.

Come along, then:

fathers eggersYour Fathers, Where Are they? And the Prophets, Do They Live Forever? – by Dave Eggers

My second Dave Eggers, this was so intriguing! And whew, what a title. Written entirely in dialogue, Your Fathers is an exploration of America, a comment on a generation, and also a look at one really disturbed guy, spiraling into self destructive criminal madness. Very weird. Very cool.

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daughtersmokeDaughter of Smoke and Bone – by Laini Taylor

Karou’s never been exactly normal. How could she be, raised by Chimeras? She’s always been kept at arms length by those who raised her, but there’s more to Karou’s background – and her future – than she could ever have imagined. And not all of it is good. Even though it suffered from a little bit of too-many-recommendations-itis, this book and its sequel Days of Blood and Starlight left me reeling. Also, Laini Taylor exploded her own world twice in two books! I can’t wait to see what on earth the third book brings.

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unwindUnwind – by Neal Shusterman

In this future society, abortion is illegal. But before a child turns 18 they can instead be ‘unwound’. Every part of their body is used by someone else, so they’re not truly dead. Here, life is at once sacred and cheap. What a cool, freaky concept. And this book delivers – sometimes. It’s not as gripping as I wanted it to be, given the solidity of the premise, but it’ll keep you up at night reliving the brutal unwinding process. *shudder*

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TheFeelGoodHitOfTheYear C CVR SI.inddThe Feel-Good Hit of the Year – by Liam Pieper

I’m not that interested in memoirs unless you’re Stephen Fry (sorry, everyone else). But I absolutely raced through Liam Pieper’s accounts of misspent youth, from his birth in a sort-of hippy commune in the Melbourne suburbs to becoming an accidental teenage drug dealer, to figuring out that life’s more profitable when you’re a little less criminal. (Only a little…)

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So, whatcha been reading lately?

Short Stories, or, Review-Palooza!

It’s become clear that I read a lot of books. This year, I’m averaging one book every three days, across all sorts of formats, including manuscript, eBook, audio book and, of course, my true love, the paper book.

In order to keep them fresh in my mind, and to deliver opinions about them in a somewhat timely manner, I’m going to do bite-sized reviews of a recent selection.

Dear reader, dive in:

What Came Before – by Anna George

whatcamebeforeOof. This was a hard read. Following the spiral of a gradually abusive relationship, What Came Before challenges us to look at what we expect – and what we’ll accept – from those we love. Ambitious and confronting, it’s not for everyone, but is a particularly powerful novel.

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Looking for Alaska – by John Green
lookingforalaskaUK.indd
John Green’s first novel has all the hallmarks of his later work. Teens who act like teens (bright, loyal, apathetic and often a wee bit pretentious), a simple narrative that allows the beauty and poignancy of his prose to shine, and a quietly wrenching third act make this a must read for older teens and fans of this brand of honest, contemporary YA. (Also, have you read The Fault in Our Stars yet? If not, what are you even doing with your life??)

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Words of Radiance – by Brandon Sanderson

wordsofradianceThe Way of Kings (Parts One and Two) and their sequel The Words of Radiance are perfect examples of high fantasy with truly epic scope and huge payoffs. If you’re a fantasy reader, you’d be foolish to go past Brandon Sanderson. He and Patrick Rothfuss are the best current fantasy writers around. I’m repeating myself and I don’t care: Brandon Sanderson is the real deal. He is astonishing, and if you haven’t read him, you’re missing out.

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Wool and Dust – both by Hugh Howey

dusthoweywoolhowey

I’m a little late on this bandwagon but Wool and its sequel Dust are something you definitely want to experience. Howey’s exploration of a possible future after the world has been destroyed by nuclear warfare is sophisticated, claustrophobic and nail-bitingly tense. It’s the kind of sci-fi you’ll rant excitedly about in turn. I listened to these as audio books, and the SECOND I finished Wool I had to find out what happened next. four fox

Have you read any of these? I’ve covered a range of genres – what’s your pick of the above?

Steelheart – by Brandon Sanderson

SteelheartIn a world where people with extraordinary powers exist, what happens when the superheroes are the bad guys?

David knows. He’s seen first hand what having that kind of power has done to the Epics. David was only eight when his father was killed by one of them, a particularly strong Epic called Steelheart. David’s the only person who survived the Epic’s attack on the bank that day. He’s the only living person who has ever seen Steelheart bleed. Ten years later, David hasn’t forgotten the vow he made that day: he will see Steelheart bleed again.

Okay guys. I LOVE Brandon Sanderson’s work. It’s inventive, detailed and consistently brilliant. This means two things:

1) I’m probably predisposed to like any Brandon Sanderson book by now, but also
2) I have incredibly high expectations for his work.

Each new book makes me both gleeful and wary, because I look forward to them SO MUCH that they have the potential to be a huge let down.

Thankfully, Steelheart was not a let down at all! In fact, it might be my favourite Sanderson novel since the Mistborn series. And that, dear reader, is no mean feat. Walk In Like a Fistful of Bottle Rockets:

The 5th Wave – by Rick Yancey

5thNow here’s a book that comes with a LOT of hype. A book that I felt the need to tread cautiously around, in case it couldn’t quite live up to my expectations. A book that, much like Gameboard of the Gods, I can confidently say exceeded my expectations.

I read The 5th Wave slower than usual, because I had such a good experience that I was letting it draw out. Until I reached the latter half – then all bets were off and I raced ahead, determined to get to the bottom of the mysteries! I loved this book! Let me tell you why:

Most days Cassie’s pretty sure she’s the last human alive. Okay, maybe not the last. But she’s got to be one of the few still standing since the Others came.

The first wave killed half a million people. But that was nothing compared to the next three. The Others want to rid their new home of its human infestation. Now, there’s just a handful of survivors – people like Cassie. She’s not the only one out there. But most of the others aren’t human, although they look that way. They’re the fourth wave, the Silencers  – infiltrators sent to hunt down and eliminate the dregs of humanity. (Don’t Wanna Be) All By Myself:

Gameboard of the Gods – by Richelle Mead

gameboardAs you may already know, I’ve been a Richelle Mead fan since the first time I picked up Vampire Academy. What you mightn’t know is that I’ve tried and failed to read her previous adult paranormal fiction. The succubus series really never grabbed me, which was disappointing given how good Vampire Academy is.

I went in to reading Gameboard of the Gods, Mead’s newest novel, a dystopian/sci-fi adult novel that’s the first in her new “Age of X” series, with some trepidation. Ha! Completely unfounded. Gameboard of the Gods is fantastic. Here’s why:

Meet Mae Koskinen. She’s not just any law enforcement officer. Mae is a Praetorian. These elite, enhanced warriors are the pinnacle of the Runa’s armed forces – as terrifying as they are effective. Caught In the Storm:

Waiting on Wednesday: The 5th Wave

New WoW

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly feature hosted over at Breaking the Spine, looking at upcoming books we bloggers are already obsessing about. This week, I’m looking forward to yet another dystopian. I know! But this one comes with huge buzz from Penguin Teen Australia, who have pretty impeccable taste. I can’t wait to sink my teeth into The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey:

5th“The Passage meets Ender’s Game in an epic new series from award-winning author Rick Yancey.

After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.

Now, it’s the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth’s last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie’s only hope for rescuing her brother—or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up.”

(Synopsis from Goodreads.)

So, are you guys ready for the next big thing in YA dystopia? I’m really hoping this one lives up to the hype. Because if so, it should be fantastic!

What are you Waiting On this Wednesday, hmm?

Top Ten Characters (and Literary Figures) That I’d Name My Children After

top ten

Hosted by the awesome folks as The Broke and the Bookish, Top Ten Tuesdays is a weekly meme celebrating all things book.

This week, it’s all about great characters with great names. Names that you like enough to potentially inflict on your children. These are the top ten characters/literary peeps that I’d theoretically name my kids after:

Let me preface this by saying I met a guy called Oberon the other day. Hem. And that’s not what I’m looking to inflict on my theoretical children. (Mostly…)

finalempire

I don’t think I could call my daughter Vin. But I love the name Elend for a boy. Although, again, probably not Kelsier for a boy. Also, have you read the Mistborn series yet? If you love high fantasy with strong characters, a plot that just keeps escalating when you don’t believe it can, and hands-down the best magic system I’ve ever seen – what are you waiting for?! SO GOOD.

Sabriel

I’ve always wanted to call a kid Sabriel. Or maybe Lirael? They’re just lovely names! And the fact that this is a less well-known series means not too many people would get the connection, and I’d just be really cool. Right?!

Crown2

In a series the size of Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time there are going to be a fair few character names to choose from. For my part, I’d be happy with a girl called Egwene or Nynaeve, or even Moiraine (I actually love Moiraine!) But not so impressed with a boy called Rand. Or Perrin. Or even Lan – way too easy to tease people called Rand or Lan!

scent

Avry is an excellent name! For an AMAZING character. And I’d love it – for a girl or a boy. I also think Loren and Quain are awesomesauce names. But I don’t think I could inflict them on a child. Maybe Quain for a girl if I was a little mean…

hunger

Not so much for the Katniss factor. Everybody’s gonna have a Katniss, like all these small humans running around called Hermione. But I think Gale makes a fine boy’s name.

CityofBones

I just like the name Clary – it’s actually a normal name, especially compared to the others on this list, which makes sense as City of Bones is modern urban fantasy. (Make that, kick-ass modern urban fantasy!) Also Jace. Because Jace.

P&P

Again, Austen names are classic (see, I said this list wasn’t going to be all about inflicting childhood scars!). I’d love a Jane, or an Elizabeth, or an Anne – with the ‘e’ at the end. I insist! And I’m back and forth on whether a boy called Darcy is a bit cute or a bit awful – or a bit both…

gameboard

I’m reading the (freaking awesome) Gameboard of the Gods at the moment, and the Praetorian female protagonist, Mae, is just fantastic. Also Mae is a family name, so I could totally get away with that for real! The male lead, Justin, is pretty messed up and great too…

One Day

Because Dexter is a great name for a boy. Dammit, that’s a normal and boring reason. If it helps, I’d be reluctant to do this because of the TV show Dexter. Just a little too creepy for me…

Name of the Wind

Oh, well. Not really, I guess… But I TOTALLY want a kid called Kvothe because Kvothe and The Name of the Wind are both made of awesome and I’d like to think that’d rub off on the child lucky enough to bear his name. A girl called Kvothe might just work, don’t you think??

What names would you like to inflict on give to your future kids? Tell me all about it in the comments!

Waiting on Wednesday: The Program

New WoW

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly feature hosted over at Breaking the Spine, looking at upcoming books we bloggers are already obsessing about. This week, I’m intrigued by a new book coming out at the end of April called The Program, by Suzanne Young.

Program

In Sloane’s world, true feelings are forbidden, teen suicide is an epidemic, and the only solution is The Program.

Sloane knows better than to cry in front of anyone. With suicide now an international epidemic, one outburst could land her in The Program, the only proven course of treatment. Sloane’s parents have already lost one child; Sloane knows they’ll do anything to keep her alive. She also knows that everyone who’s been through The Program returns as a blank slate. Because their depression is gone—but so are their memories.

Under constant surveillance at home and at school, Sloane puts on a brave face and keeps her feelings buried as deep as she can. The only person Sloane can be herself with is James. He’s promised to keep them both safe and out of treatment, and Sloane knows their love is strong enough to withstand anything. But despite the promises they made to each other, it’s getting harder to hide the truth. They are both growing weaker. Depression is setting in. And The Program is coming for them.

(Synopsis from Goodreads.)

I’m not sold on this one, I’ve read a fair few Dystopian novels lately, but there’s something about the premise that’s grabbing me. I’m just going to have to read it and decide if it’s any good!

What are you Waiting On this week? Huh??

Top Ten Favorite Books I Read Before I Was A Blogger

top ten

Hosted by the awesome folks as The Broke and the Bookish, Top Ten Tuesdays is a weekly meme celebrating all things book. This week we’re looking back to those books that started it all. The books you loved long before you could go online to rave about them. The ones you had to rant about in person to your poor (lucky!) friends because they made you the book-obsessed person you are today. Here are the Top Ten books I loved before I was a blogger:

Five

I get that there are problematic themes in Blyton’s work. But to me, Enid Blyton is the crux of my childhood. I can’t count the number of times I read The Famous Five series, The Secret Seven, The Adventurous Four, the Naughtiest Girl and so on. They are classic, wonderful, uncomplicated stories that enriched my young life.

Obernewtyn

Obernewtyn was a series I started reading when I was about thirteen, and I’ve read them a few times since then. Post-apocalyptic before it was cool, Obernewtyn tells the story of a young Misfit girl, Elspeth, who’s been born with powers that she doesn’t understand. Hidden away and mistreated by the authorities, Elspeth learns to fight back. The series isn’t finished yet (!!) but the last book is on its way…

alibrandi

Melina Marchetta was cool WAY before the amazingness that is The Lumatere Chronicles. Meeting the insane, loveable, loyal Italian-Australian family at the centre of Looking For Alibrandi is a must. I studied it in high school and EVEN SO I loved it.

tomorrow

Tomorrow, When the War Began was the Hunger Games of my generation. By which I mean it was the dangerous book we read that our parents worried was too violent for us. Ellie and her friends have ‘gone bush’ for the weekend and by the time they come home there’s a war on, and all their parents are prisoners. What do you do when your home: everything and everyone you love, is threatened? You fight back.

HalfBloodPrince

I’m picking this as my favourite Harry Potter, but I love them as a whole series and a whole experience. I think this generation all grew up with Harry, and while I didn’t need him to rekindle my love of reading, J K Rowling absolutely enhanced my teen experience with Harry’s amazing story.

LotR

Because Tolkien, that’s why. The Lord of the Rings is a brick of a book, a phenomenally imagined world packed with rich, archetypal characters that make it one of the best fantasy novels ever. (“After all this time?” “Always.”) I discovered it as a fifteen year old just venturing into the realm of fantasy reading, and it was love at first read.

Sisyphus

Albert Camus’ philosophy, particularly The Myth of Sisyphus, is fascinating. I love thinking about thinking, about  why things are the way they are, and how they came to be thought of that way. I love the ideas Camus posits in his essays – and I’m not going to go into them here because I’d rather you let his ideas speak to you directly. He does them justice; I can’t!

MoabHow wonderful is Stephen Fry? Whether it’s his accent, his lovely, slightly hoity-toity mannerisms, or the awesomeness that is his show, QI, there’s a lot to love. The most striking element of Moab Is My Washpot, one of Fry’s two autobiographies, is how brutal Fry is with himself. Not just brutally honest: actually almost cruel. I don’t think he has ever felt like a success. And he seems at best bemused by, at worst flummoxed by his popularity. I have such a soft spot for people who are so much more than they believe themselves to be.

anne

Anne Shirley. Who didn’t love the redheaded bundle of energy at the centre of Anne of Green Gables? Growing up, Anne was someone I revisited on more than one occasion. Recently I bought the whole series so I could get my nostalgia on. And I’ll definitely get around to reading them. Soon.

Bridget

I don’t trust people who don’t like Bridget Jones, as a general rule. This ridiculous, manic, endearing, so-very-relatable woman is one of my favourite book people. I hated her obsession with self help books (SO MUCH). I loved her social ineptitude. I despaired for her ability to be happy. I adored her relationship with Mr Darcy Mark Darcy. She’s the best kind of main character.

I’d love to hear about the books you loved before you blogged! Link for me, my pretties, in the comments!

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