Precisely one million souls exist, reincarnated over and over again. Then one night, a soul dies and the temple goes dark. She never comes back. Ana is born in her place, the first new soul since the beginning. Many people believe her existence is a threat and the woman who birthed her considers her a ‘no soul’ without any right to exist. At the age of eighteen, Ana leaves her care and sets out on a quest to discover the truth of her origins. Many stand in her way, but she also meets Sam who teaches her about kindness, friendship, and even love.
It is fascinating to be in Ana’s point of view as she hungers for a longer life than the mere span of seventy years and struggles with the feeling of being insignificant because she may only have one lifetime. The fast-paced story sprinkles touches of history throughout the book so that everything makes sense but is never an information dump. Ana is a likeable character, maybe not to deep in contrast with the people around her but she can’t be–they have all lived several lives compared to her mere eighteen years. Sam and Ana’s relationship is a prominent thread in the story, but dragons, sylphs, and the mysterious Janah make it much more than a romance.
I definitely recommend this book, and am excited to see what happens in the rest of the trilogy.
When chemical warfare was inevitable, vaccinations were provided for those most at risk: the very young and the very old. The result was children (Starters) left at the mercy of senior citizens with a life expectancy of at least 200 (Enders). Renting her body out for some greedy old person to enjoy isn’t something Callie wants to do, but with laws prohibiting anyone under the age of nineteen from working she doesn’t have a lot of options. She is the only one who can provide for her seven-year-old brother now that their parents, and everyone else their age, are dead.
Lissa Price’s creepy world is horrifying (Enders ‘borrowing’ Starters bodies to relive their youth, children without older relatives starving on the streets or institutionalized) and plausible (vaccinations given first to the young and the old, society’s desire to live longer, and our obsession with retaining a youthful appearance).
The plot zips along in a series of stake raising events and the twists and turns are so well executed that even when you see it coming it still sends a shiver down your spine. The story is never bogged down with needless back story, but there is enough information sprinkled in that readers have a feel for the way the world is now and how it came to be. I also loved the story language — and that there wasn’t too much of it. A handful of slang words (Starters, Enders, Zing) gave the story a unique feel but was never confusing or overwhelming. Character development was a little weak, but the plot, action and mystery was strong enough to carry that.
The hook at the end — awesome! Can’t wait to start on Enders!
What’s Left of Me by Kat Zhang
“Addie and I were born into the same body, our soul’s ghostly fingers entwined before we gasped our very first breath.”
Zhang brings to life an alternate America where borders are closed, and everyone is born with two souls. Sometime in early childhood, the recessive soul fades away to nothing. Addie and Eva start out like everyone else, but though Eva weakens, she never disappears. Hybrids that don’t settle are destined to a life of institutionalization, so the sister souls pretend that Addie is an ‘I’ instead of a ‘we’ and Eva’s voice is only heard in the mind of the body Addie controls. Another Hybrid approaches them with the tantalizing glimpse of a life they didn’t think possible, but the consequences if they are discovered are deadly.
Emotions, actions, and conflict propel richly developed characters through this fast-paced story. The relationship between Addie and Eva is complex and original, and there are haunting bits of dialogue between Addie and Eva, with ‘I’, “she” and “we” woven masterfully in. Two characters speak from a single body without any confusion, which is particularly admirable because the point of view character is Eva, the recessive soul. Kat Zhang brings readers through the climax without that annoying to-be-continued feel, but still leaves them longing to know what comes in the second book of the series.
What’s Left of Me can be classified as ‘dystopian’ or ‘post-apocalyptic’ but easily stands out from other books in the market for its originality and Zhang’s exemplary writing style. I can’t wait to start on the sequel!
YA Dystopia at its finest, with mystery, danger, romance and sacrifice.
“Grace Somerfield was the first to die. The first in my fourth grade class, at least.”
From the very first line, Bracken paints a vivid picture of the broken world the main character, Ruby, lives in. At the age of ten, children either die or develop strange abilities that make them a menace to society. Parents ship their surviving children off to ‘rehabilitation’ camp, and the President of the United States manages to persuade America that he needs to stay in office long after his two terms have come and gone.
Sound a little farfetched? Then you haven’t heard Bracken describe it.
A fast-paced plot and life like characters ensure that readers will keep turning pages. Even in this first book, it is already evident that Ruby’s character is growing as she overcomes the obstacles thrown at her. Liam, Chubs and Zu might be secondary characters, but they are developed in a way that readers know exactly who they are, and still want to know more. A strong ending and a powerful hook guaranteed that I couldn’t wait to start on the second book.
The Darkest Minds is the first book in Alexandra Bracken’s Darkest Minds series. More information about the author can be found at the website listed below.
The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
Every thought is known by all, but secrets still are kept…
The Noise germ killed every woman in Todd’s town and enabled the survivors to hear each other’s thoughts. Todd’s upcoming birthday and the rituals that follow will make him a man, but until then, his only companion is a dog that he never wanted in the first place. Todd stumbles across something he did not believe existed, a human girl. He quickly realizes that even though he can hear the thoughts of everyone in his settlement, secrets still exist. This one might cost Todd his life.
It took me a couple of chapters before Todd’s dialect stopped bothering me. As his character developed, I couldn’t imagine the mostly illiterate boy speaking any other way. Each character in the book has a distinctive voice, but my favorite was Todd’s dog, Manchee. It is a perfect representation of how I imagine a dog talking if they actually could. There is some violence in the book, but the overall meaning of the story justifies it. The novel fits in the young adult dystopian category, but the idea is fresh and original. I can’t wait to start on the sequel.
The Knife of Never Letting Go is the first book in Patrick Ness’s Chaos Walking series. More information about the author can be found at the website listed below.
The Scorch Trials by James Dashner
Manipulation, intrigue and deception. Will the trials ever end?
The Glader’s have escaped the maze and are supposed to be safe. While they are asleep, though, everything changes. Sun flares and a disease known as the Flare have all but destroyed the real world, and this is where their new trial begins. They have two weeks to cross the most devastated section of earth’s surface, battling the environment and the insane and murderous victims of the Flare, to a place that is supposed to be safe. WICKED has ensured that the journey will not be easy, if it is possible at all.
The epilogue in The Maze Runner let us know that the Glader’s were far from being safe, and the The Scorch Trials starts off by throwing the characters into immediate danger. While some questions are answered, many more are raised as is appropriate for the middle book in a trilogy. If you enjoyed The Maze Runner, this book is a must read, and the end ensures you will not hesitate to start on the third book.
The Scorch Trials is the second book of a trilogy by James Dashner. More information about the author can be found at the website listed below.
The Maze Runner by James Dashner
Solving a constantly changing maze might be impossible, but failing to solve it is deadly.
Thomas wakes up in a box with no memory of his life before. The only thing he recalls is his own name. When the box opens, Thomas finds himself surrounded by a group of boys. Like him, they do not remember anything of their former lives. The walls surrounding the Glade open every morning to reveal an ever-changing maze, and close every night. Fearsome creatures called Grievers hunt the maze, but the boys still explore it, trying to find a way out. The first ever girl arrives in the Glade day after Thomas and everything changes. Escaping the Glade is more urgent than it ever has been, and Thomas might be the one who has the answers.
A fascinating premise, a unique story world, and a lot of action are the things that sold this book to me. Thomas was not quite as strong as I would have liked, but that is often the case in trilogy’s…he has two more books to grow. The beginning of the book raised many questions and gave remarkably few answers, which is perfect for a book where the protagonist has amnesia. I can’t say much about the ending without giving something away, but the Epilogue made me start on the second book right away.
The Maze Runner is the first book of a trilogy by James Dashner. More information about the author can be found at the website listed below.