Fox on Books

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

Archive for the tag “Apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic fiction”

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:

– 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?
– Seriously, WHAT?? Let Me Feet Hit the Ground Running:

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
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


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?

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?

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.


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??

Divergent – by Veronica Roth

divergentIn Beatrice’s world, after years of bitter fighting, the five factions were developed to prevent further wars. Each faction values certain traits, believing that cultivating a chosen way of thinking will mean there is no more conflict.

In Abnegation, they look not to themselves but to others, and value selflessness above all. The Erudite seek knowledge, hoping that with understanding they may gain wisdom enough to avoid fighting. The Amity are concerned with kindness to others, believing that a kind heart cannot engage with violence. Candour means honesty, even brutal honesty. If you admit everything about yourself, the good and the bad, you are not hiding, and have no reason to fear. But fearlessness is the true domain of the Dauntless, where bravery, or the ability to continue on in spite of fear, is valued most. Bravery also means standing up for those who can’t.

Born into Abnegation, Beatrice has always struggled to find the selflessness that seems to come so naturally to her family. On her Choosing Day, she makes a decision that will affect the rest of her life. If only she knew how much.

Now, the newly named Tris is an initiate of Dauntless. Surviving their brutal initiation will require more than physical and mental training – she will have to contend with other initiates who equate bravery with bullying, and figure out what she’s beginning to feel for one of her instructors, Four. Most importantly, Tris must discover what that word she’s only heard in whispers has to do with her. What is Divergent? Why is it special? Why is is dangerous?

Warning: spoilers after the cut! I Don’t Wanna Be Anything Other Than What I’ve Been Tryin’ To Be Lately:

The Bridge – by Jane Higgins

ImageThis YA novel won the Text Prize in 2010. I read it a couple of months ago but am just getting to the review! Here it is:

In a post-apocalyptic world, you’re born into one side of a war. Cityside, the mysterious ISIS is in charge. Their task is to keep the hostile Southsiders at bay and on their side of the bridges. Citysiders know how important it is to defeat the savages; the war has been raging for years and taken thousands of lives. Nik, Dash and all their friends grew up wanting to help – and if they’re deemed intelligent enough they might be picked to be a part of ISIS, where they can really make a difference. It seems like a given that Nik will be chosen; he’s got the best grades in his class. But when the recruiters come, he’s publicly shunned, and ISIS starts asking Nik hostile questions about his father, someone he’s never known. Dystopia Done Well:

Shade’s Children – by Garth Nix

ImageYes, another Nix already – I’m continuing my preparations for his impending arrival at our store next month! I’ve never read Shade’s Children before, so thought this would be the perfect opportunity.

One day, a child woke up in his bed to discover that his parents were gone, Not only his parents, though – everyone’s. In fact, every person over the age of fourteen had disappeared. All the children left behind were soon rounded up into the Dorms where they lived until their Sad Birthday, the day when their brains and various other body parts would be ripped out and used to make one of the Overlord’s creatures. Another monster to die as part of the Overlords’ armies as each Overlord strives to win that year’s tournament.

That’s just the way it is now. But a few – so few – children escape the dorms, and if they’re incredibly lucky they survive long enough to be found by Shade, the only person in the City who can offer any protection from the creatures. Shade isn’t human, not quite; he’s what remains of a human in Artificial Intelligence form, with a human personality – and Shade wants freedom from the Overlords just as desperately as the children do. But how many of the children under his protection is Shade willing to lose in pursuit of that freedom? And is he any better than the Overlords if he’s playing with the children’s lives in such a similar way? My, How the Creepy Have Prospered:

The Hunger Games – by Suzanne Collins

I read the Hunger Games a few years ago and loved them! But with all the (deserved) movie hype I re-visited the series, here’s my view:

In Panem, the Capitol does not look kindly upon even the thought of rebellion. To remind the 12 Districts under its rule of this, each year 24 youths between the ages of 12 and 18 are taken as tributes to compete for their lives in the Hunger Games. The tributes are trained, rated, and paraded in front of the enthusiastic crowds of the Capitol who gather to cheer for their favourite to live and the others to be killed – because only one tribute leaves the arena alive.

This year, Primrose Everdeen is the chosen female tribute for District 12, until her older sister Katniss volunteers to take her place. Katniss and Peeta Mellark, the District’s male tribute, travel to the Capitol to fight for their lives in every sense of the word. Their relationship both in and out of the arena may be their only hope for survival. And above all else, Katniss Everdeen is a survivor.

This thrilling book is fast paced and tautly written, immediately drawing the reader in. Katniss is not your average heroine, but rather a distinct character: prickly and tough with moments of vulnerability made all the more poignant by the effort she puts into hiding them. The obligatory love triangle is present but is secondary to the narrative, which instead focuses on the tributes and the Games. Not your average book by any measure, The Hunger Games surpasses its designation as YA Fantasy and becomes a topical examination of our society’s potential for corruption and redemption, and the ability of a few individuals to change the Game in which they find themselves.

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C’mon, hands up, who else loves the Hunger Games?

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