Dystopian Reviews

Across the Universe

[openbook booknumber=”9781595143976″][rating:3/5]

A love out of time. A spaceship built of secrets and murder.

Seventeen-year-old Amy joins her parents as frozen cargo aboard the vast spaceship Godspeed and expects to awaken on a new planet, three hundred years in the future. Never could she have known that her frozen slumber would come to an end fifty years too soon and that she would be thrust into the brave new world of a spaceship that lives by its own rules.

Amy quickly realizes that her awakening was no mere computer malfunction. Someone-one of the few thousand inhabitants of the spaceship-tried to kill her. And if Amy doesn’t do something soon, her parents will be next.

Now Amy must race to unlock Godspeed’s hidden secrets. But out of her list of murder suspects, there’s only one who matters: Elder, the future leader of the ship and the love she could never have seen coming.

When young adults leave their hometown and go off to college it can feel like they have left the planet. All of a sudden they are in a whole new town with all new people, there are new rules of engagement and you are suddenly expected to act and think very differently. Worst of all many if not all their friends and family, most importantly the ever-present parents, are now gone and they are on their own. In Beth Revis’ science fiction debut Across the Universe she manages to capture all of this perfectly as we follow Amy and her journey aboard the spaceship Godspeed. Unfortunately it is captured too well and that along with a few other hiccups resulted in this book not turning out as well as I hoped it would.

Let me start this off on a positive note, Revis can write really, really detailed and realistic scenes. The book opens with Amy watching her parents be cryogenically frozen and then experience it herself. I have extreme needle phobia, it took forever to get through those pages. Even people who don’t have needle phobia squirm through that first chapter, it is intense and present and real and that kind of talent in a writer is extremely promising. She captures the small ship, the feeling of being trapped, the abandonment all very well and you experience it along with Amy and that is very powerful.

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After The Snow

[openbook booknumber=”9780312641696″][rating:4/5]

Fifteen-year-old Willo was out hunting when the trucks came and took his family away. Left alone in the snow, Willo becomes determined to find and rescue his family, and he knows just who to talk with to learn where they are. He plans to head across the mountains and make Farmer Geraint tell him where his family has gone.

But on the way across the mountain, he finds Mary, a refugee from the city, whose father is lost and who is starving to death. The smart thing to do would be to leave her alone — he doesn’t have enough supplies for two or the time to take care of a girl — but Willo just can’t do it. However, with the world trapped in an ice age, the odds of them surviving on their own are not good. And even if he does manage to keep Mary safe, what about finding his family?

In a post-apocalyptic world, plunged into an ice age after a period of dramatically shifting climate, society is coming unglued. On the outskirts of this society, independent and surviving on their own, lives Willo and his family. They eke out an existence in a world turned cold by hunting, trapping and working what little farm land there is in the very brief spring and summer. Willo has gone half-savage in many ways. He wears the skull of a dog on his head, doesn’t read very much or very well, and spends most of his days out setting traps in the freezing, driving snow with an instinct for hunting honed from growing up in the midst of an ice age. It’s the only world he has ever known.

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Blood Red Road

[openbook booknumber=”9780385671835″][rating:3/5]

Saba has spent her whole life in Silverlake, a dried-up wasteland ravaged by constant sandstorms. The Wrecker civilization has long been destroyed, leaving only landfills for Saba and her family to scavenge from. That’s fine by her, as long as her beloved twin brother Lugh is around. But when a monster sandstorm arrives, along with four cloaked horsemen, Saba’s world is shattered. Lugh is captured, and Saba embarks on an epic quest to get him back.

Suddenly thrown into the lawless, ugly reality of the world outside of desolate Silverlake, Saba is lost without Lugh to guide her. So perhaps the most surprising thing of all is what Saba learns about herself: she’s a fierce fighter, an unbeatable survivor, and a cunning opponent. And she has the power to take down a corrupt society from the inside. Teamed up with a handsome daredevil named Jack and a gang of girl revolutionaries called the Free Hawks, Saba stages a showdown that will change the course of her own civilization.

I was torn on a lot of this book and I feel very much on the outside because so many people I really respect love this book to absolute pieces. I guess I feel like I am missing something because this book didn’t click with me as it does with many others and so I recommend right off the bat to weigh my words with all the positive reviews given and give this book an honest shot. After all I did finish the book and it’s nearly 500 pages long! Also keep in mind I am reviewing the advance copy of the book which is about 50 pages longer than the final copy that went to press so perhaps much of what I didn’t like ended up on the cutting room floor.

So, Blood Red Road is a unique take on the dystopians that have swept the YA genre for the past several years. The book is written in a “poetically minimal” style which is to say the writing is largely spelled out phonetically in an American southern drawl and there are no quote marks to denote speaking versus action anywhere in the text. The phonetic spelling actually reminded me a lot of reading Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. It had a way of bringing you into the world and seeing it more from the characters point of view just because you have a great understanding of the way they communicated and got their thoughts across. That part I loved. I’m being a total kill joy here but the lack of quote marks on the other hand was just frustrating and made reading it a bit of a slog, especially because I was trying to read parts of it aloud to my husband and it just proved frustrating for both of us without that marker showing where speech ends and action begins. I understand where the need for it stylistically came from, but I think the end result, for a 500 page book, was just overkill.

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Robopocalypse

[openbook booknumber=”9780385533850″][rating:5/5]

In the near future, at a moment no one will notice, all the dazzling technology that runs our world will unite and turn against us. Taking on the persona of a shy human boy, a childlike but massively powerful artificial intelligence known as Archos comes online and assumes control over the global network of machines that regulate everything from transportation to utilities, defense, and communication. In the months leading up to this, sporadic glitches are noticed by a handful of unconnected humans – a single mother disconcerted by her daughter’s menacing “smart” toys, a lonely Japanese bachelor who is victimized by his domestic robot companion, an isolated U.S. soldier who witnesses a “pacification unit” go haywire – but more are unaware of the growing rebellion until it is too late.

When the Robot War ignites – at a moment later known as Zero Hour – humankind will be both decimated and, possibly, for the first time in history, united. Robopocalypse is a brilliantly conceived action-filled epic, a terrifying story with heart-stopping implications for the real technology all around us… and an entertaining and engaging thriller unlike anything else written in years.

At first the idea seemed too far fetched and a little hokey. In the style of 1950’s science fiction the by-line on the back read: “They are in your house. They are in your car. They are in the skies… Now they’re coming for you.” But when I cracked open the cover I was immediately sucked into a post-robopocalyptic world where humans and robots were fighting a final battle to determine who would have dominion over the earth. The story from start to finish was intense, horrifying, and kept me turning pages needing to find out what happened next. Robopocalypse is a thriller that keeps an incredibly tight and fast paced plot while managing to span several human resistance groups around the globe. It also manages to both be bone chillingly horrifying in this fight against impossible odds and yet still display rays of hope in the fight for humanity.

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Incarceron

[openbook booknumber=”9780803733961″][rating:5/5]

Incarceron is a prison unlike any other: Its inmates live not only in cells, but also in metal forests, dilapidated cities, and unbounded wilderness. The prison has been sealed for centuries, and only one man, legend says, has ever escaped.

Finn, a seventeen-year-old prisoner, can’t remember his childhood and believes he came from Outside Incarceron. He’s going to escape, even though most inmates don’t believe that Outside even exists. And then Finn finds a crystal key and through it, a girl named Claudia.

Claudia claims to live Outside – her father is the Warden of Incarceron and she’s doomed to an arranged marriage. If she helps Finn escape, she will need his help in return.

But they don’t realize that there is more to Incarceron than meets the eye. Escape will take their greatest courage and cost far more than they know.

Because Incarceron is alive.

This book absolutely blew me away. I wasn’t sure what I was expecting going into yet another YA dystopian novel, especially one about prisons, but this wasn’t it. I was impressed by the depth and drive of the book and am glad this one joined the ranks.

Incarceron contains the story of a boy named Finn trapped in a prison where an entire colony of people have been kept for generations. Unlike the others though he has no memories of his youth there, instead he has flashes of a world completely unlike the prison, a world Outside that some in the prison don’t even believe exists. Meanwhile the warden of Incarceron lives in the outside world where people have deliberately chosen to live in a medieval time era, in the dark ages. His daughter Claudia feels trapped, by her skirts and her time, by her arranged marriage to the prince, by her father most of all who she both fears and loves. When Finn and Claudia both find a key that allows them to communicate they both immediately want to be free of their respective prisons, but doing so unearths more truths in their worlds of lies than either could have anticipated.

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