Tumble & Fall by Alexandra Coutts

Tumble & Fall by Alexandra CouttsIn only a week, an asteroid will strike the Earth, most likely killing everyone on the planet. Attempts to stop it have so far failed, and people have accepted that in approximately one week, the world will come to an end. Tumble & Fall follows three teenagers as they figure out what to do with the time that is left.

I really loved the idea of this book–it’s a novel about the end of the world, but the focus is more on the characters and their final days, rather than the actual destruction of the world itself. The only problem I had was that I felt that there were too many narrators in this story. I liked the idea of the book following three teenagers, but at times it was confusing. When I first started reading the book I had trouble keeping track of whose family members were who, and even by the end of the story I felt like I kept mixing up characters a bit. The jump back and forth between the three main characters made it harder to connect with each character because I was focusing on trying to remember what had happened to that character when we last saw them and who each of the side characters in their stories were. I feel like this may have worked better with just two main characters–three just seemed one too many.

Caden’s story was my least favorite, and every time his chapter came up I found myself sighing and resigning myself to power through his chapter until I got back to one of the other characters. After reading the entire book, I understand the message that his story sends and I do think it was important, but I did not like the execution of that message. Caden gets kidnapped by his father, who had left Caden, his mother, and sister when Caden was a child. His father is some super rich guy who wants Caden to spend the last week on Earth getting to know him. This whole thing was just weird to me–why did his father need to have him kidnapped by his cronies like in some mob movie? Since Caden grew up wondering where his father was, it’s possible that had his father asked to spend time with him, Caden would have consented. Also, the methods his father uses to try to “bond” with Caden were just bizarre, as was the whole issue with his father’s girlfriend Sophie. The whole plot of Caden’s story just seemed a bit contrived, so much so that I found myself extremely uninterested.

On the other hand, I really loved Zan and Sienna’s stories. Zan had lost her boyfriend ten months earlier, and had been trying to recover from that loss. She finds a receipt in one of his old books that has a girl’s name and phone number, and it is dated the day he died. She becomes suspicious that he may have been cheating on her, and that this perfect person she had built up in her head may have not been so perfect. She embarks on a journey with her boyfriend’s best friend, Nick, to find this mysterious girl and discover the truth. Sienna had also suffered from a loss–her mother had recently died, leading Sienna to become severely depressed. Sienna had tried to kill herself, and ended up in a rehab facility for a few months to recover. Her father picks her up to bring her back to the island so that they can live out the last week as a family, but he breaks the news that he has met someone and they are getting married this week before the world ends. Sienna finds this hard to deal with, and when she meets a boy named Owen that she used to play with as a child, begins sneaking out of the house to be with him. I feel that both Sienna and Zan’s stories sent really great messages. Zan’s story teaches about the power of forgiveness and all of its forms, and Sienna’s sends a message about the importance of family and the many different types of love.

Overall, Tumble & Fall was a good read with some powerful messages about family, forgiveness, and love, though the multiple narrators took a bit away from the story. I liked the way the book ended and how the stories all came together, but I did feel as if certain things were left unresolved.

Tumble & Fall will be released on September 17, 2013.

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Dark Shift by Rick Polito

Dark Shift by Rick PolitoDrake Copeland’s life changed when his mother disappeared and he was forced to go into foster care. When the entire school goes on a field trip, Drake is one of four students who remains behind because he has nobody to sign his permission slip. What starts off as another dull day at school however, suddenly turns into something much different. An experiment left in the science lab causes the entire school to be thrown forward in time, to a time period nearly one hundred years in the future where the world is drastically different. The post apocalyptic world is plagued by all kinds of supernatural creatures, and Drake, his science teacher, and his peers must do their best to survive until they can find a way home.

The idea behind this story was very creative and interesting! Stories about time travel always fascinate me because of the whole complexity of it all. So when I read the plot summary of this book I definitely wanted to give it a read.

I liked the main character, Drake–he has the qualities that a true leader should have and I thought it was interesting that he was able to take charge of the group after being such a quiet kid in school. I liked the humor in this story as well, and loved that the characters were still able to joke about their situation after all they had been through. Each of the kids changes in some way after going through the time lurch and being thrust into a new world, and it seemed like they became who they always were supposed to be. In this new crazy world, they were able to shed the appearances they kept up in high school and were finally able to figure out who they really are.

The new world that they time travel to is full of all sorts of strange creatures, from werewolves and vampires to ghost-like creatures. Everything that has appeared in this future world is a result of the experiment that was left in the laboratory that day, left by Evan Dandridge, a student who was constantly teased for being a nerd but who was actually a genius. I would’ve loved to have had more information about Evan–we are only given a brief glimpse of him at the beginning of the book and I would’ve liked to know more about what led him to making this experiment that would eventually change the world.

Another thing I would have liked to have had more information about is Drake’s mother’s disappearance. When his mother left it obviously had a big impact on him and changed his life dramatically, but other than a brief description of what happened the day she disappeared, we really don’t get much more information. His mother also seems to play a big role in the story as a whole, and I feel like more information about her and and about Drake’s life before she left would’ve made the connection between she and Drake seem stronger and more real.

Overall, Dark Shift was an interesting read with an original story and a ton of action. The ending left me slightly confused (mainly from all the space-time continuum stuff) and full of a bunch of questions which I’m guessing will probably be touched upon in the next book.

Dark Shift was released on May 30, 2013.

Angelfall by Susan Ee

Angelfall by Susan Ee

“I’ve never killed anyone before. What frightens me isn’t that I’m killing someone. What frightens me is how easy it is.”

Angelfall begins six weeks after the angels of the apocalypse destroyed the world, killing millions. Seventeen year old Penryn is trying to keep herself, her mother, and her little sister alive in California where gangs rule the street and food is hard to come by. When they are running down the street to find a new hideout, a group of fighting angels descends from the sky. They rip one of the angels’ wings off and when Penryn tries to help him so that her sister and mother can escape, one of the angels takes her sister. She teams up with the wingless angel, Raffe, agreeing to help him find the angels that took his wings if he helps her find her sister.

As I’ve said before, I am really over the whole angel genre, so I was definitely more than a bit skeptical about this book. I am happy to say that I was VERY pleasantly surprised to discover that Angelfall is not about fallen angels or a boring romance or a weak heroine trying to decide between dark and light. Angelfall is about the apocalypse, and Penryn Young is in no way weak. Her mother sent her to all kinds of self defense courses at a young age so Penryn is able to fight her way to her sister. She is willing to do anything to rescue her, even if it means fighting angels that are many times more powerful than she is.

Raffe is an angel and, like all other angels, he sees humans as lesser beings. Throughout the book his opinion changes as he gets to know Penryn and he begins to realize that there is much more to humans than he previously thought. Without his wings he is much more vulnerable and he has to learn to live like a human until he gets them back.

The romance between Penryn and Raffe did not happen instantly at all, which was great. At first they hate each other and are only working together because of a mutual goal. As they spend more time together and Raffe realizes that Penryn is not a helpless human but a girl capable of fighting alongside him, things change. I loved their relationship and I can’t wait to see where the next book takes them.

Overall, Angelfall was an amazing book and was definitely not your typical angel story! The ending was phenomenal and will definitely leave readers hungry for more!

Angelfall was released May 21, 2011 and is the first book in the Penryn and the End of Days series. The second book is still untitled but is set to be released in 2013.

This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers

“I don’t know how I’m going to do this, move through the hours like someone who wants to still be breathing when I had so firmly made up my mind to stop.”

Sloane Price had decided to end her life. Her sister ran away six months ago and left her with her physically abusive father and she has nobody left in the world. On the day she decides to kill herself, the world as we know it comes to an end. All of a sudden the dead do not stay dead–they rise again to infect the living. Sloane ends up with a group of her peers taking shelter at their high school. However, while all of the other teenagers are fighting for survival, Sloane is just awaiting the moment when the living dead break down the barricades and finally end her life for her.

This is Not a Test is a book about the zombie apocalypse, but it is also about so much more than that. I picked it up because I had heard good things about Courtney Summers and I am a HUGE fan of zombie stuff. I am pleased to say that I was VERY impressed with this book. While this is a zombie book, the zombie apocalypse is really only the setting for a much deeper story. There are scary and suspenseful moments while the kids are all hiding out in the school or running from zombies, but this book also deals with so many deeper issues. Sloane has been abused by her father for years and the only person she was able to rely on was her older sister. When her sister ran away it left her feeling abandoned and betrayed and she no longer saw a reason to live. This book is about survival, but yet Sloane doesn’t actually want to survive. However, the five people sharing her shelter desperately do want to live. They all soon come to realize that while the greatest threat outside may be the zombies, the greatest threat inside is actually each other.

I cannot say enough good things about this book. Courtney Summers has a writing style that is absolutely incredible. After I read this book I decided that I had to read everything else she has ever written because I admired her writing so much. The pacing in This is Not a Test is perfect, the characters have their own individuality and depth, and the overall story is so moving. Throughout the whole book, Sloane is trying to figure out what her reason is for surviving against the odds and where she actually belongs in this new world. I couldn’t put this book down because I was so anxious to find out if Sloane would finally discover her will to survive. I highly recommend this book, even to people who normally don’t like zombie books, because the story is really so much more than just that.

This is Not a Test was released on June 19, 2012 and is a standalone novel.