Uglies (Uglies #1)-Should You Read It?

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Genre: Young Adult Dystopian

Rating: 5/5

It has been more than 10 years since I have read this series by Scott Westerfeld. I have now read it for second time, and my opinion is still the same: this book is amazing! The characters are interesting and dynamic, the plot relates to a topic that many tend to talk about today, the writing is superb, and this novel shows people what it means to find who you are and not what society dictates you to be. I grew up with the old cover (right), and I absolutely love that cover, in addition to the fact that you cannot find the first edition in bookstores anymore, unless you happen across one at a used bookstore.

If you are new to the world of Uglies, I share with you some of the well-crafted characters and plot.

Tally Youngblood is an Ugly and she is counting down the days until her 16th birthday, when she gets the surgery to be a Pretty. When she meets a girl named Shay, Tally is excited to have found a friend, but also put off by the girl’s this disinterest in becoming a Pretty. With Shay, Tally learns about natural beauty, that being a Pretty isn’t necessarily all that it’s cooked up to be. But it takes her a long time to discover this.

When invited to run away from surgery day with Shay, Tally denies the opportunity, still excited to become a Pretty. But a Special Circumstance prevents Tally from being allowed to have her long-awaited surgery. Tally is asked by a unique, intelligent group of Pretties, called Specials, to find where Shay went, and to draw the Specials to The Smoke, a hiding place of Uglies who do not wish to conform to the mandates of society.

Upon joining the Uglies of The Smoke, Tally meets David and learns the meaning of true beauty and loving oneself. Upon meeting David’s parents, Tally learns secrets about the Pretty surgery that have her questioning the society she has grown up in. Now Tally aims to fight, to change the dystopia she lives in, a world of perfect beauty where people cannot think for themselves, a world of corrupt societal values.

So why did I read this book again? While there are many many books in my collection that I wish to read again, there are so many books and so little time, making rereading anything an absolute challenge. But this is a book I love so much that I had been dying to reread, to revisit Tally, The Smoke, and Uglyville. To revisit a society that makes you perfect when you turn 16. The time is ripe, whether you are reading this for the first time, the second, or the tenth, because Westerfeld has announced a four book series taking place years after the Uglies series, based in the same world. With one book coming out each year, starting 2018 to 2021, it is exciting for new and old fans of the series alike.

Be sure to check out the Uglies graphic novels as well, which add to the depth and perspective of the world–Uglies: Shay’s Story and Uglies: Cutters.


The Fever Code (Maze Runner Book 5)-Should You Read It?

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Genre: Young Adult Dystopian Fiction

Rating: 4/5

Since The Kill Order was a somewhat lacking prequel to The Maze Runner series, I lowered my expectations for The Fever Code, but this book was interesting and fantastically crafted!

This story gives us the reveal to the mystery that readers have been wondering since reading The Maze Runner: how the maze was built! The novel starts with how Newt was taken from his family, along with his sister, who is also a candidate in the maze trials for group B (the all girl group).

Following this single instance of Newt’s capture, the rest of the story is taken in by Thomas’s third person limited perspective. When Thomas first came in, his name was Stephen, but WICKED used a sort of torturous shock therapy until his brain was ingrained with the name: Thomas.

We get to see a somewhat rushed version of Thomas’s childhood, when he meets Teresa, and how they get involved with the other guys, such as Chuck, Minho, Newt, and Alby. Thomas and Teresa are special, though, compared to the other children. They are the two from group A, designing the maze for the boys to study the killzone (the brain) to fight the Flare. Aris and Rachel are the designers of the maze for group B, the equivalents of Thomas and Teresa.

Once the mazes are built, the children start getting inserted into the mazes to begin the maze trials. Thomas, Teresa, and their buddy Chuck, begin to observe their old friends through the beetle blades. On top of Thomas’s and Teresa’s observational work for WICKED and the maze trials, they find that one of the leading officials has the Flare, and that he has been hiding it from WICKED. Since Thomas, Teresa, Aris, and Rachel are immune to the Flare, Dr. Paige sends them to remove this threat, among other suspected officials who are infected, before the whole facility and their killzone project becomes marginalized! The kids have never killed anyone before, and this mission will test their limits.

Jorge and Brenda, who appear in The Scorch Trials, make an appearance as well, explaining that the mazes are only the first trial, and that once the Gladers find their way out of the maze, all of them will then have to go through the Scorch.

When it is Thomas’s turn to enter the maze, those of us who have read the initial trilogy can figure out the story from there. His thoughts and feelings about going in demonstrate his feelings for WICKED, but Teresa still believes, no matter what, that WICKED is good.

Overall this was a fantastic book. I would recommend it more after having read the whole series first, BUT it could also be read as the first book for new readers going into the series. It was well paced and fun to see the characters in the WICKED facility before they ever entered the maze, and it was also interesting to see Jorge and Brenda and their involvement before Thomas meets them in the scorch. This was a great addition to the series, and it would actually be pretty fun to see another installment, if it can meet up with the standards set by this prequel!

On a side note: Don’t forget to check out Dashner’s worthwhile, internet adventure Mortality Doctrine trilogy, The Eye of Minds, The Rule of Thoughts, and the Game of Lives, wherever books are sold!

Harmony-Should You Read It?

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Genre: Japanese Dystopian Fiction

Rating: 4/5

I have had this book on my shelf for years (I believe I picked it up for a dollar at a used book store). It caught my eye, rightly so, but with so many books to read, this one was not high on my list. That is, it wasn’t until I came across the anime movie of the same name based on the novel by Keikaku (Project) Itoh.

This Japanese dystopian fiction takes place many years in the future, after an event called the “Maelstrom,” an event described with nuclear destruction and warfare that has change the way the world works. Now, people do not see or know violence, and their very lives are governed by the “WatchMe” installed when they become adults, alerting them to health needs and basically becoming an internal camera that can scan people or tap into the web or news at will.

Ruled by the Admedistration, three high school girls–Tuan, Miach, and Cian–aim to kill themselves together to demonstrate that their bodies and will are their own. When one supposedly succeeds and the other two fail, life returns to normal.

The events from high school are written as recollections in the novel while Tuan, now a member of the World Health Organization, begins a new investigation, one she recognized must have some connection to her friend who committed suicide. When over 6,000 people attempt suicide worldwide at the same exact time, including Tuan’s friend, Cian, her friends last words begin the lead to find out who is behind the control of the WatchMe: “I’m sorry, Miach.”

With some organization having the ability to tap into each person’s personal tech to control their will, Tuan must find a way to stop it. When the second wave hits, instructions that people must either kill another person or kill themselves before the deadline, or they will all attempt suicide, is a means of having toe world break free from the utopia and to demonstrate that a person’s free will belongs to the individual, not the government.

Tuan’s search to find out if Miach is alive and behind this leads her to her father’s research, and from there, the truth behind the reason for creating chaos to make the word a place of harmony once more.

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This book was interesting and is worth the read for any fan of dystopian. It was a nice comparison and contrast between American dystopian novels and Japanese dystopian novels. The similarities and differences are interesting to analyze. The anime adaptation was also interesting. It was very well animated with vivid visuals, and it followed the book phenomenally. A must read for fans of Japanese or dystopian fiction.

The Lost Hero (Heroes of Olympus Book 1)-Should You Read It?

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Genre: Young Adult Fantasy/Dystopian

Rating: 3.5/5

This is the first of The Heroes of Olympus series. It features Jason, Piper, and Leo, three new additions to Camp-Half Blood. Don’t worry, Percy appears in the next book! 

When Jason awakens on the school bus next to his girlfriend Piper and best friend Leo, he has lost his memories. On their school trip to the Grand Canyon, the trio is attacked by a Venti (a storm spirit) and Jason finds his gold coin turns into a sword. Using his newfound weapon to fight off the Venti, their coach, Hedge, reveals that he is a satyr and is taken away by the storm spirits. Annabeth Chase, who we may remember from Percy Jackson and the Olympians or Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, arrives in a chariot seeking Percy, after being informed by Hera to find the one who lost the shoe. While Percy is not around, Jason did happen to lose his shoe in the midst of the fight.

When they arrive at Camp Half-Blood, Leo and Piper are almost immediately claimed by their God parents (Hephaestus and Aphrodite), and Jason soon learns he is the son of Jupiter (Roman name for Zeus, and the use of Greek versus Roman names comes into play later). Although Jason is the son of Jupiter, Hera claims he is her champion. Thalia is revealed to Jason as a sister (through Zeus) who has joined the Hunters of Artemis (it was fun hearing about Thalia again). Like Percy, Jason, Piper, and Leo are given a quest: rescue Hera. Their main means of transportation is a great mechanical dragon that the Hephaestus kids built many years prior.

It is soon discovered that their enemies are working for Gaea, who is planning on overthrowing the gods. With some minor setbacks from Aeolus (wind God) and some giants, the trio meets Thalia at a place called the Wolf House, the last place Thalia had seen Jason before he lost his memories, and also the place where Hera is supposed to be. Unfortunately, Hera’s freedom costs the resurrection of the giant Porphyrion, who escapes Hera and the trio by going deep into the earth. This will probably be important in the books to come!

When the heroes return to Camp Half-Blood, Jason’s memories begin to return. He is actually from Camp Jupiter, a Roman camp on the other side of the country, and Hera has switched him with someone important from Camp Half-Blood: Percy Jackson! Hera’s aim is for the camps to become allies, rather than enemies, so that the heroes can save the Gods from Gaea.

While this book sounds pretty darn exciting, I found that it was actually rather slow-paced compared to Riordan’s other series’. Son of Neptune, the second book in the series, is already far more interesting than this book, but that is because the Percy we have grown attached to as readers from the original series is the prominent character, with some new additions of course. The Lost Hero was a good foundational piece and huge set-up for the rest of the series, so even though it was a bit slow-going, it is worth the read the get to know the new characters and the situation that has landed Percy elsewhere.

Delirium-Should You Read It?

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Genre: Young Adult Dystopian Romance

Rating: 3.5/5

In Portland, Oregon 2091, a city surrounded by a great fence, love, or amor deliria nervosa, is a dangerous disease that could lead to chaotic misbehavior and even death. When people hit the age of eighteen, they get the surgery that removes the deliria and its effects from the brain and are later given match options for marriage based on their future jobs in the society.

Magdalena (or just Lena) has been looking forward to the surgery for years, because that means no more curfew or gender-restricted activities. When her surgery is postponed by some renegades from the Wilds, Lena meets the guy behind the plot, Alex, and learns there is much more to the deliria than society admits to.

Her mother having succumb to the deliria (killing herself for love), Lena has been singled out and questioned in her totalitarian society as a suspect that may succumb as well, despite her eagerness for the surgery.

When Alex shows her what love really is, Lena begins to question the rules of the society she lives in, and when he offers to show her the Wilds, she is in awe of how people live in the nuked wastelands outside of the city’s fence. Alex prompts that the fence may not necessarily be there to keep people out, but to keep them in.

When Lena learns that her mother may actually still be alive, she aims to find her, but too late; the woman in question has escaped. Now Lena wants to go to the Wilds to find her, with Alex in tow, and to escape from this society that restricts the freedom to love.

Their escape is challenging and thwarted, and the government will do anything to control its people.

This was an interesting young adult dystopian novel in that it takes love, a concept and need that all people succumb to at some point, and removes it from society. People are segregated by gender until they have the surgery. There is evidence of nuclear warfare, which shows that this is one potential outcome that society may fall to if our country resorts to such methods.

The reason why this novel received a slightly lower score from me is because of the pacing. It took me months to read through the first half because it was very slow and the events were not exciting or enticing to the novel and its society. After Lena ventures into the Wilds for the first time, the novel really picks up from there, and the ending leaves the reader itching to read the second book in the series, Pandemonium.

Overall, I would say this is an interesting novel, especially for teens, to read, because it reflects something that many teenagers think about: love. It allows young readers to think critically about their own relationships as well as regulations in society today, making the novel relevant in more than one way.


The 5th Wave-Should You Read It?

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Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction (Apocalyptic/Dystopian)

Rating: 5/5

Very seldom do I give a score of 5/5, but this book was the first one in a long time that I slammed through due to the contagion of being unable to remove it from my fingertips. I actually watched the movie first. It was one of those things where I saw the trailer, thought it looked awful, looked at the trailer again, read the back of the book, and finally decided to watch the movie. The book is a hundred times better than the movie. Books are always better, as we know, but this was better by a huge fraction for a great number of reasons.

The book is well crafted and Yancey does a pretty good job keeping the characters relatively unique and interesting. The entire concept is very interesting and it has the reader questioning the science behind the ideas. While the idea of the Others is very abstract, Yancey does a pretty decent job, for the most part, giving some kind of scientific explanation first, and then putting the abstract in our heads a bit later.

There are four key characters that have their own perspective chapters. Cassie and Ben have multiple first person chapters, while Evan and Sam have third person focused around them, and they have only one chapter each (maybe two). This is an interesting differentiation because it tells us a lot about possible outcomes for characters with first person importance compared to third.

So what is this crazy, well-crafted, impossible-to-put-down book even about? An alien mother-ship has traveled to Earth and intends on ridding the Earth of humans through various waves of destruction. Given the title of “Others” by the humans, the word is coming to a collapse. In the first wave, a planet-wide electromagnetic pulse makes electronics cease functioning, bringing humanity back to the dark ages. The second wave is generated by the Others displacing a huge amount of water by dropping an immense object from the sky; this causes tsunamis and earthquakes that destroy the greater majority of coastal and island nations. The third wave is a plague generated by the Others to kill off the majority of the remaining humans, leaving only the 3% that would possibly be immune, the strong ones. The fourth wave is an an awakening of Others who were already in humans prior to the arrival. The fifth wave is a MAJOR SPOILER and is the height of the novel. The fifth wave shows how sadistic the Other can be by tricking children into killing human survivors by making them believe they are killing aliens through a special military technology.

The premise of the novel, underneath the alien invasion. features Cassie searching for her little brother, who was presumably taken by the military to a safe place. When all of the adults in Cassie’s camp of survivors are eliminated by the Others (this being her realization of the fourth wave), she knows she must save her little brother Sammy from the military-disguised alien beings.

Along the way, Cassie is shot by a Silencer, an Other that is meant to take out the remaining human survivors. But Evan can’t do it. There’s just something about Cassie that makes him feel human too. Here’s the kicker: Evan is an Other who was “downloaded” into the boy who was once Evan and awakened as the Arrival approached, getting ready for the eradication of the human race. But Evan falls in love with Cassie. She can’t stand this at first, but she eventually lets Evan show her what being and Other really is. His (abstract) explanation of Others is that they are beings made of pure consciousness. They gan live in other beings and take the form of other beings, and yet live for thousands of years because of their mainframe mother-ship. This is the part of the novel that is hard to grasp, but hopefully the second and third book will hopefully give a bit more scientific explanation…or maybe just keep feeding us abstract ideas! Evan shares his “consciousness” with Cassie, and she can feel who he is.

Evan wants to go against his own kind, all for the sake of love.

Being one of the few 5/5’s I have given in quite some time, I would HIGHLY recommend that YES, you should read this book. There is so much more to the characters and the environment than the movie can uphold, and it is the hardship, gore, love, and raw humanity that makes this book worth reading.

Champion (Legend Book 3)-Should You Read It?

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Genre: Young Adult Dystopian

Rating: 4/5

This novel is the third book in the Legend Trilogy, and it is almost as good as Legend and Prodigy, but it has a few instances of lack or dissatisfaction. Also, I would recommend not reading much or any of this review if you have not read the first two novels, because I will be talking about how the previous novel ended and how that affects the path of the third novel.

Before getting into some of the story content, let’s talk about the physicality of the book. Like the first two novels, this novel has colored lettering for Day’s chapters. Book three revolves around the color red (while books one and two were gold and blue lettering). This is a very patriotic choice that really adds to the dystopian view of what our United States could one day be. Another interesting attribute to the novel is the red map on the inside cover (below). While Prodigy had a blue map, it only depicted what global warming did to the United States. Book three brings other nations into the fray and shows a global map of the land mass that still remains after the rising sea level.

Champion gets a bit of a lower rating than is previous novels for a few reason. First of all, the reader is excited to see how this story ends, but the book feels slower, and the events seem to stack in a way that makes the climax rather anticlimactic. the pacing of the last few chapters seems to be rushed through, and could have been expanded on to give the reader a better feeling of the passage of time.

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Prodigy left us with the separation of Day and June. Day has tried to distance himself from June because he learns that the experiments the Republic did on him in the past have started deteriorating his hippocampus,  causing massive headaches that will eventually kill him once that part of the brain was too ruptured.  With this knowledge, Day does whatever he can for the Republic with the time he has left, but the Colonies are invading and will not cease an attack until a cure is found for the mutated plague that has stricken its people.

Day gives up Eden for the plague cure, but he is not patient zero. Someone else was intentionally infected and sent into the colonies, although it was unknown to anyone, and now the Republic must find that person. While Day fights for the Republic, Anden and June seek aid from Antarctica, who will only aide the Republic, once again, if a cure is found first. With Africa’s army backing the colonies, victory for the republic is slim.

The overall fight between the two countries is rather boring and anticlimactic, but the ending is fast. Like I said before, maybe a bit too fast. Day and June have their final moments, but those moments are dragged over an expanse of years where the reader gets very little information on either character during those years. A few of the questions some readers have had were answered (such as Does June end up with Anden or Day?), but while those questions were answered, too much was left blank. Lu could have added a bit more in the lives of the characters in the last ten years of the novel.

Overall, it’s still a book series I wish I had discovered sooner, but I’m glad I discovered it nonetheless!  Despite its minor faults, YES you should read this book. It is one of those book series’ that deserves to be owned and read many, many times.

Marie Lu has a newer series called The Young Elites. While I debated over and over again about whether or not I should give it a chance (because my expectations are extremely high after reading Legend), I finally decided I will give it a chance within the next few months, so look forward to a review of her other work as well!