Hello lovelies and happy Sunday! Time for some reviews. I hope you all had a great Christmas. Have a very Happy New Year.
The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I received this book from Disney Hyperion to read for an honest review. I want to thank them for sending it to me. Receiving this book for free in no way influenced my opinion or review.
Blurb from Goodreads:
When Ruby woke up on her tenth birthday, something about her had changed. Something alarming enough to make her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. Something that gets her sent to Thurmond, a brutal government “rehabilitation camp.” She might have survived the mysterious disease that’s killed most of America’s children, but she and the others have emerged with something far worse: frightening abilities they cannot control.
Now sixteen, Ruby is one of the dangerous ones.
When the truth comes out, Ruby barely escapes Thurmond with her life. Now she’s on the run, desperate to find the one safe haven left for kids like her—East River. She joins a group of kids who escaped their own camp. Liam, their brave leader, is falling hard for Ruby. But no matter how much she aches for him, Ruby can’t risk getting close. Not after what happened to her parents.
When they arrive at East River, nothing is as it seems, least of all its mysterious leader. But there are other forces at work, people who will stop at nothing to use Ruby in their fight against the government. Ruby will be faced with a terrible choice, one that may mean giving up her only chance at a life worth living.
I'll start with the cover. Simple and to the point, I think. If you read the book, you'll completely understand the use of the Psi symbol on the cover. I like that the color scheme involves on two primary colors. And I really love how the symbol color makes it look like fire. The barbed wire around the bottom and top are perfect in conveying the message of the main characters really being trapped (which you'll understand more when you read the book as I don't want to spoil anything). I have a physical copy of this book and I love the feel of the cover. It's that soft paper. Job well done with the cover.
I really wasn't sure what to expect as far as the storyline was concerned. I knew it was kind of a dystopian type read, but I wasn't expecting the supernatural Xmen feel that this book gave. Since I love Xmen type stuff, this one was right up my ally. I love how the characters all have some type of power. I also love how the author chose to use a color system for character classification according to "how dangerous" they were: red being the most dangerous of all. Any story that involves people who are oppressed in some way by the government and choose to fight back is always a good read for me. With all the dystopian reads out there now, it's hard to find one that is different, and this certainly did the job for me. And the fun thing was you went into the story completely blind, without knowing the United States was slowly breaking down and without knowing why it was. And the author's world building is fun and different, giving the reader the opportunity to put the pieces together, rather than bore you with tons of explanations and descriptions.
Bracken's writing is crisp and clean. It flows and there are no awkward breaks or places to misunderstand what is going on. She unfolds details in subtle ways and allows the reader to work on building the puzzle within their own mind. She perfectly depicts the darkness and loneliness the characters are experiencing in a world that has pitted people against them for being different.
The characters are well thought out in this book.
I really love the main heroine, Ruby. I didn't find her to be too annoying with her teen angst and self-pitying as I do with other female main characters in YA books. No annoying whiny voice. She tells us her story and the stories of the other characters through her eyes. And she is as much a mystery to herself as she is to us. As she learns, we learn. As she grows, so do we. She is very relatable and certainly shows the innocence and naiveté of a character who has not been "out in the world" to learn.
Liam, well, he's sweet and good looking. Totally patient and unconditionally loving. He's nice to a fault and protective to his own detriment. He's funny and also mysterious. You can't help but fall for him. And watching him slowly fall for Ruby is great. He has a huge heart and is what you would certainly call one of the good boys.
Chubs and Zu are terrific supporting characters. Chubs is intelligent and a bit non-trusting. But he slowly grows to accept Ruby and it's great to watch their friendship blossom. And I love how Zu conveys all her thoughts through her actions, as she doesn't speak a word the entire book!
Clancy, well, I won't say much about it because it will give away the story. But I knew from the start he just was not what he was cracked up to be. And I could not bring myself to trust him at all.
One thing I loved about this book is that it did not revolve around the romance between the two characters. There is no insta-love, which is such a nice treat and far turn from so many other dystopians I have read recently. Sure, it was there, lingering until you are just about to explode if the characters don't give in to each other, but it's not the main theme. The main theme is focused on the character's experiences as they work their way through their powers and learn from each other along the way. And the pace is perfect, fast where it needs to be and slow where you would not expect it to be. And Bracken doesn't hold back on the heartbreak but does give you hope that at some point it will be mended.
If you enjoy books like The Hunger Games, Divergent, and Delirium, you will love The Darkest Minds. AS a matter of fact, this book reminded me of one of my favorite reads of the year, Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi (although there is MUCH less romance in this book than Shatter Me).
I am really looking forward to the next book in this series. Thank you again to Disney for providing me with this totally awesome book! 5 out of 5 stars!
Reaper by L.S. Murphy
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I was given an eARC of this book from J Taylor Publishing to read and give an honest review. Receiving this book for free in no way influenced my opinion or review.
Blurb from Goodreads:
There's no way sixteen year old Quincy Amarante will become the fifth grim reaper. None. Not over her shiny blue Mustang. Her Jimmy Choos. Or her dead body.
She’s supposed to enjoy her sophomore year, not learn about some freaky future Destiny says she has no choice but to fulfill.
It doesn’t take long for Quincy to realize the only way out of the game is to play along especially since Death can find her anyway, anywhere, anytime. And does.
Like when she’s reassuring her friends she wants nothing to do with former best friend Ben Moorland, who’s returned from god-knows-where, and fails. Miserably.
Instead of maintaining her coveted popularity status, Quincy’s goes down like the Titanic.
Maybe ... just maybe ... that’s okay.
It seems, perhaps, becoming a grim reaper isn’t just about the dead but more about a much needed shift in Quincy’s priorities—from who she thinks she wants to be to who she really is.
So, when I first read the blurb of this book there was no way I was not going to get myself a copy. When J Taylor offered a copy for review, I jumped at the chance to get my hands on it!
The first thing that drew me to this book is the cover. I mean, how can you not be intrigued by a girl holding a scythe? Then I read the blurb and just loved the concept of the reaper. I have only read one other book that involves a reaper so I loved that I had a chance to read another!
Let's start with the characters. Quincy is very interesting. She's popular to the point that people want to be her, stare at her as she walks down the hallway and can have any guy she wants. However, she finds herself attracted to people that don't fit the popularity profile and that threatens to turn her into something other than she's worked so hard to be. She is self-centered to the point that she doesn't see much past who she is. She is also full of teen angst. I love how she grows during this book, finding her true self and realizing that popularity is not all it's cracked up to be. She's annoying yet you feel badly for her because she has a hard time seeing past her own nose. There were many times I wanted to smack her and say "wack up you idiot" right to her face. But I guess her learning and growing was the premise of this story. You certainly see her struggle throughout the book, which I liked.
Ben, well, he is just sweet and caring and sexy. He's certainly the kind of boyfriend any girl would want. And he's sexy as all heck. But he lingers in the background because he really thinks he's not worthy of the love he wishes he could have from Quincy. And he's outcast as the bad boy, the one who was locked up in juvi and the one who has done many bad things. But is this really who he is, or is it who people think he is?
Forsyth drove me a bit batty. I was annoyed with how cryptic he was. I was annoyed with the fact that he just kind of seemed to lead Quincy into situations where she wasn't understanding what was going on. But I realized that his job was to help her understand what she needed to learn and realize why she needed to learn it.
The supporting cast of characters are interesting enough. The range from girls who latch on the boys who are much worse than anyone could ever imagine them to be. Some are mysterious, some are oddly easy to figure out. But all in some way influence Quincy's growth during this story.
The story. I loved the idea of this story: how grim reapers become what they are. However, I did find that the story focused much too much on the romance aspect. Until about 75% through, I was thoroughly confused as to what was going on with the reaper part of the story. Then I realized that the author probably did this intentionally. She wanted you to try and find out what would happen, and why things were set up the way they were set up. So, while I was annoyed a bit about 50% through the book, and wanting to have more of the paranormal aspect, the last 1/4 of the book made up for it all. I actually teared up, having to hold back the water works at work because I wasn't supposed to be reading the story. But I could not force myself to put it down. I had to find out what would happen. And what did happen was totally unexpected.
The author has an easily readable writing style. It flows well and certainly keeps you interested. I love all the self-talk that quincy does. I loved Quincy's voice, although I did find her teen angst to be a bit annoying at times.
All in all this was an enjoyable story. At first, I was annoyed with the fact that the story focused a lot on the romance. I was expecting it to be more of a paranormal read. I had points where I was ready to put it down because the main character was brooding so much. But in the end, I really enjoyed the story and I realized that the author had to bring us through the main character's teen angst to help her grow and become who she needed to be. While it took me a while to connect with Qunicy, in the end I understood her very well.
If you like romance mixed with paranormal this is the story for you. it is haunting and beautiful and a definite tear jerker in many parts.
4 out of 5 stars from me.