Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi“I spent my life folded between the pages of books.”

Juliette is unable to touch anyone without killing them. She has been locked in an insane asylum for 264 days, and has not seen or spoken to anyone in just as long. While she is locked away for possessing an ability that nobody understands, the world is crumbling around her. The Reestablishment has taken over, claiming that they will be able to stop the diseases that are spreading, find food for everyone, and bring the world back to the way it was. When they come to get her from her cell and tell her they are going to train her to become a weapon, Juliette realizes she has to decide between being used or fighting back.

I seriously don’t know why it has taken me so long to read this series. On the one hand I’m mad because I could’ve been enjoying these books for years now, but on the other I’m glad I waited because I was able to read through the entire series in two days now that the final book was just released. Either way, I am so happy I finally picked this series up!

Juliette has basically lived a tortured life. Her own parents thought she was cursed and were only too happy to hand her over to the asylum when she accidentally killed someone with her touch. She hasn’t been touched by anyone or received any kind of affection from anyone ever. She has grown up lonely and depressed, without any real friends. When the Reestablishment comes to get her they expect to find an insane monster, but instead they find a lonely girl with no desire to harm anyone.

Juliette is taken to the headquarters of Sector 45, where she is introduced to Warner, the sector leader who is quite obsessed with her and her ability. He wants to train her to be a weapon, so that the Reestablishment can use her power. Juliette wants anything but this. She has never had any desire to hurt anyone, and the idea of being used as a weapon is the kind of thing she has been trying to stop people from thinking her whole life. Plus, she is distracted by Adam, the soldier Warner put in charge of her, who seems to be on her side.

I really loved the writing style of this book. The writing is beautiful and I felt like I was right in Juliette’s mind along with her. The book has strike outs throughout, as if Juliette is thinking something and then crossing it out and changing her thoughts. It was such a brilliant way to write a story and really gave Juliette a strong and powerful voice.

I was actually really surprised at the pace of this novel. I thought the whole first book would take place in the asylum or even on the military base, but the book progressed much quicker than I expected. I really loved Juliette and I have to say I was definitely intrigued by Warner, even though he seemed like such a monster at times.

Overall, Shatter Me was a fast paced, beautifully written dystopian novel that will leave you anxious to read the next book. I highly recommend reading this one if you haven’t yet!

Shatter Me was released on November 15, 2011 and is the first novel in the Shatter Me series.

Tin Star by Cecil Castellucci

Tin Star by Cecil CastellucciTula Bane and her family are on a colony ship headed to begin life on a new planet. When they stop at a space station, the leader of the colony ship beats Tula to within an inch of her life and leaves her for dead. Her family doesn’t realize and they leave on the colony ship, abandoning Tula on the remote space station. She is saved by an alien named Heckleck, who teaches her the way of things on the space station and helps her to survive.

When three humans get stranded on the space station, Tula finds herself torn between her mistrust of humans and her desire for companionship. She sees the humans as her way off the space station, and perhaps a way to exact her revenge on Brother Blue.

This book had such an original story. There were so many different types of aliens on the space station and we get to learn about a lot of their different customs. Tula is the only human on the station so she must learn the way of these aliens in order to survive. I really admired Tula’s will to survive–even though she is all alone, separate even from her own species, she never gives up and finds a way to make money and create a life for herself.

Tula lives on the station for years and years without seeing another human, so when the three humans crash onto the station, she doesn’t even know how to act towards them. The relationships she developed with the humans were very strange, and the one quality I didn’t like about Tula is that she is extremely manipulative and uses people to get what she wants. She does this with the other humans, telling them what they need to hear in order to get from them what she wants. I understood that she needed to do this to survive, but it also made her slightly unlikable.

Overall, Tin Star was a very original story about a girl who has to grow up fast and learn to survive. I’m interested to see how Tula’s story will continue.

Tin Star will be released on February 25, 2014.

These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner“For a moment the image before us is frozen: our world, our lives, reduced to a handful broken stars half lost in uncharted space.”

Lilac LaRoux and Tarver Merendsen are only two of the thousands of passengers aboard the Icarus, a massive spaceship traveling millions of miles through hyperspace. Lilac is untouchable, the daughter of the richest man in the universe–a man who will do anything to ensure his daughter’s safety. Tarver is a war hero, and has worked his way up from a poor life to one where he is allowed to mingle with the rich. He normally would want nothing to do with a girl like Lilac, but when the Icarus is suddenly yanked out of hyperspace, he finds himself in an escape pod, alone with her. When the escape pod crash lands on an unfamiliar planet, Lilac and Tarver must travel for days in order to find help. They are forced to rely on each other, and when they discover the secret behind the whispers following them, they wonder if it may be better to stay on the planet rather than be rescued.

I have heard so many wonderful things about this book and I am so glad I finally gave it a chance. This is definitely one of the best books I’ve read in awhile. The story was very original–there aren’t many YA books that take place in space other than the Across the Universe trilogy, and Kaufman and Spooner did a great job of world building both on the Icarus and on the planet. The Icarus is a huge spaceliner that sort of reminded me how the Titanic was set up–the lower class was only allowed to stay on the lower decks and was basically locked down there while the upper class stayed on the upper levels of the ship and were privileged to all sorts of luxuries. Tarver had spent his whole life as part of the lower class but now that he is considered a war hero he is given upper class status. He has the odd experience of seeing how the other half lives, and finds it hard to fit himself in their world.

I loved both Lilac and Tarver, and I think the fact that the book alternated between their points of view helped the story. Lilac first comes off to Tarver as a spoiled rich girl who treats everyone as though they are beneath her, but when we get Lilac’s point of view it becomes evident that she is terrified of what her father will do to any man she shows interest in, which is what causes her to snub Tarver. Tarver is a true soldier and hero–even though he thinks of Lilac as a brat, he still does whatever he can to save her life and make sure that they are found by her father’s people, even though he knows he may be punished for being alone with her. They are both really strong characters in their own way–Lilac walks for miles in high heels without complaining as Tarver expected she would–and they end up bringing out the best in each other.

This books is a really beautifully written story about survival and trust, and will definitely keep you turning pages. I loved watching Lilac and Tarver’s relationship change and develop, and how they went from being wary of each other to completely trusting in one another. The sci-fi aspect was really well done also–when Lilac and Tarver are traveling across the planet, Lilac begins hearing whispers that follow them. When they finally discover what is causing the whispers, it is something they never could have imagined and completely changes their view on many things.

Overall, These Broken Stars was an incredible, original, and extremely well written story. This was one of the best books I’ve read in a long while, and I highly recommend it!

These Broken Stars was released on December 10, 2013 and is the first book in the Starbound series. The second book, This Shattered World, is a companion novel set to be released this year.

Inhuman by Kat Falls

Inhuman by Kat FallsAmerica has been completely changed after a war destroyed the country. A wall was constructed, dividing the west and east sides of the country. The east side is full of people suffering from all kinds of mutations and some people are now more animal than human. Crossing the wall is considered forbidden, but some people sneak out to Fetch artifacts from the east. When Delaney Park’s father is nearly caught doing a Fetch and then disappears, she agrees to complete her father’s job in order to save his life.

This book was fascinating!! The science nerd in me loved all of the talk of mutations and the way they were affecting each person. Lane encounters all sorts of different creatures and half-humans on her journey, each more incredible than the next. I also thought it was really cute how everyone names their children after the places that they miss from the eastern part of the country, for example–Delaney Park, Annapolis, and Orlando.

Lane manages to make a deal with Rafe, a boy her age living in the Savage Zone. He agrees to help her with her father’s job but Lane is not entirely sure that she can trust him. At first I wasn’t crazy about Rafe but halfway through the book, he really grew on me. I really liked his interactions with Lane, especially once she realized that there was more to him than meets the eye. I was a bit surprised by the love triangle and it will definitely be interesting to see how that begins to resolve in book two.

The world building in this book was excellent. I loved reading about the America beyond the wall even though it is extremely treacherous and scary. Little settlements have sprung up full of people with and without mutations, yet some entire cities are run by tyrants. It was interesting to read about life outside the safety of the wall and it was evident how much it really affected Lane to see the truth out there.

Overall, Inhuman was an exciting original story that kept me turning pages. The ending was (of course) a major cliffhanger so I am anxiously awaiting the second book!

Inhuman was released September 24, 2013 and is the first book in the Fetch series.

Light by Michael Grant


The kids of Perdido Beach have been living in the FAYZ for a year now. Kids have starved, died, developed mutant powers, and fought countless battles. Now that the barrier has gone transparent and they can see out into the rest of the world, it seems as though the end is near. The kids begin to worry about what will happen to them when the barrier does come down and how they will be treated by the rest of the world. But before they can even deal with those issues, they have to figure out how to stop the gaiaphage, or none of them will make it out alive.

I have been a huge fan of this series for years now, and I was so amazed that each of these books have been better than the last. This series has been six books long and every single book in the series has been amazing. I’ve been anxiously awaiting Light because I’ve been so excited to see how this would all end. And once again, Michael Grant did not disappoint!

This series has such a large group of characters, but Grant does a great job of giving each character their own voice. Each character has their own issues to deal with outside of the group’s issues, and each person has changed greatly since the FAYZ was created. Some people became leaders while others became cowards. But what is amazing is that some characters have changed completely just in the last few books and have become the type of person you never expected them to come. The character growth has always been very nicely done in this series, and in this book especially it seems like each character grew tremendously.

The kids start to realize that the barrier is going to come down soon, and not everyone is happy about it. Sam for instance, was last seen murdering Penny on national TV, so he is almost positive that once the barrier comes down he will be thrown in jail. The people outside the barrier have no idea about the horrors that the kids have faced inside and the things they have had to do to stay alive. Many of the kids have more experience with war than some people in the armed forces. It is hard for Sam and the others to imagine just going back to high school and returning to their lives, because it seems like in the past year they have grown into adults. What I thought was really interesting is that one of the characters asks if the adults had been present in the FAYZ, would they have run things better or worse? This is an interesting question, because while adults may be more knowledgeable about things like medicine and procuring food, adults also do not have the same innocence that many children have.

The kids also have to deal with the gaiaphage, who is growing at a rapid rate and has more mutant powers than any of the other kids. They know they will have to fight, but they are unsure if any of them will make it out alive. The gaiaphage wants to kill them all and seems to actually take pleasure in causing pain. Plus, kids have started starving again because they are all sitting at the barrier talking to their parents rather than working, so there is no food being grown. It’s crazy how much these poor kids have gone through in the past year, but they are still so resilient.

This book wrapped everything up nicely and didn’t leave any questions at the end. We finally get the answers as to why the FAYZ happened and what the gaiaphage actually is, and what Little Pete’s role in the whole thing was. Also, we get the back story of Sam and Caine and why their mother only kept Sam. I really liked the way this ended, and I think Grant really accurately portrayed the way the media would react in this situation.

Overall, Light was an excellent conclusion to the Gone series. I will miss reading about these incredible kids, but I really enjoyed the ending.

Light was released on April 2, 2013 and is the final book in the Gone series.

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.

Sky on Fire by Emmy Laybourne

Sky on Fire by Emmy LaybourneA series of disasters caused a group of students to become stranded in a department store in Monument, Colorado in Monument 14. In its sequel, Sky on Fire, the majority of the students have left the store in a school bus, on their way to find help, while Dean, Astrid, and three of the younger kids remain in the department store.

I really loved Monument 14, so I was very excited to read this book. I liked the way the story was told in this book–since the group has split in two, the book is told from both Dean and his brother Alex’s perspective. This worked extremely well because the reader is able to see what is happening to both groups at the same time. I liked how Alex’s story is told as though he is writing a letter to Dean–this made his story even more personal.

I thought Dean was crazy to stay in the department store initially–especially for Astrid. She seemed to just be using him since her boyfriend left her pregnant and alone, and Dean seemed like an idiot for still trailing after her like a lost puppy. However, I really liked where their relationship went in this book. Dean realizes that she is not the greatest person ever, but he is still able to care about her and take care of her despite her faults. Astrid grows to realize how much Dean cares for her and seems to get more mature as the book goes on.

In the first book we didn’t really see much of what was going on outside of the department store, other than what the kids had seen or heard on the news. In this book, since Alex and the rest of the group leave the store to search for the airport in Denver, we finally get to see what the world outside of the store is like. Depending on what blood group each person is, they have different side effects from the chemical spill. The type O people have become aggressive and are attacking people left and right. Some people have tried to stay in their homes and wait it out but they are beginning to run out of food. Alex knows he has to try his best to find help and go back and save Dean and the others at the department store before it is too late. However, before he can save his brother he must overcome the seemingly impossible obstacles in his path.

Overall, Sky on Fire was a fast paced read that kept me on the edge of my seat the whole time. I can’t wait to see what Laybourne has in store for the next book!

Sky on Fire was released on May 28, 2013 and is the second book in the Monument 14 series.

The Girl with the Iron Touch by Kady Cross

The Girl With the Iron Touch by Kady Cross“It seemed humans, the scientifically minded ones at least, were either tempting death or trying to prolong life. Surely that was an indication of madness.”

Emily is kidnapped by automatons who want her to transplant The Machinist’s consciousness into another automaton so that he will be resurrected. Finley and the rest of the group try their best to find out where Emily is being held, but meanwhile Griffin is being tormented by the Aether and isolating himself from the others. Finley seeks help from Jack Dandy, but must deal with his feelings for her and her feelings for Griffin.

I loved the previous two books in this series so I was really looking forward to this, but I was a little bit disappointed. I absolutely love all of these characters so I enjoyed this book regardless, but I felt like the book was a little bit repetitive of itself. Finley and Griffin kept having the same argument over and over throughout the book and after awhile I was tired of reading the same conversation again and again.

I loved Emily and Sam’s moments in this book though. It was nice to see them both finally realize just how much they care about each other–especially Sam since he was always so surly and aggressive. When Emily is taken, Sam will stop at nothing to find her and his dedication to her was really sweet.

Jack Dandy is one of my favorite characters, and I was glad he played a big role in this book. There isn’t really a love triangle in this book–Jack is mainly just a source of tension between Finley and Griffin–but I love what Jack brings to the group and I love his interactions with Finley. I can’t say I would be happy to see him involved with Finley romantically because I love her with Griffin, but the two definitely have chemistry.

A big focus of this book was Emily and her abduction by the automatons. I love Emily because what she lacks in strength and size, she makes up for in intelligence. While she still needs help from the rest of the group to end The Machinist’s plans, Emily uses her brain to delay his return and the others use Emily’s creations to find her.

Overall, The Girl with the Iron Touch was a fun story but a slight disappointment. I will still be continuing on with the series because I love this group of characters, but I hope the next book will bring something new to the series.

The Girl with the Iron Touch was released May 28, 2013 and is the third book in The Steampunk Chronicles.

Every Day by David Levithan

Every Day by David Leviathan“We all contain mysteries, especially when seen from the inside.”

Every day, A wakes up in a different body. A has gotten used to it over the years, and has learned not to try and form attachments because after the day is over, A will be in a new body. Everything changes when A wakes up as a boy named Justin, and meets Justin’s girlfriend Rhiannon. A falls in love with her, and for the first time wants to stay in one place every day.

This was such a beautiful story! I really loved the message it sent–that love can transcend all boundaries. A is not really male or female, since he/she wakes up in a different body each day regardless of the gender. Since A has never spent an entire life as either male or female, A is able to see all people as equal, regardless of their gender or sexual orientation. A doesn’t find it weird to wake up in the body of a homosexual person, because to A that is no different than being in the body of a heterosexual person. A believes that love is love, and boundaries like gender shouldn’t matter. This was really a wonderful message to send because there are not enough people in the world that can think like this, and hopefully this book will encourage people to look past the differences.

The story itself was very sad. A’s consciousness moves from body to body each day, always staying in the same general area of the country and always in the body of someone A’s actual age. A has never had real parents or siblings, has never had real friends to grow up with, and was never able to have an actual romantic relationship with anyone. When A meets Rhiannon and sees how her boyfriend Justin treats her, A finally finds a reason to stay in one place. A tries to convince Rhiannon that she deserves so much better than Justin, who doesn’t really notice her anymore. At the same time, A tries to figure out a way to have a relationship with Rhiannon, which seems nearly impossible since A wakes up as a different person each day.

I had mixed feelings about Rhiannon herself. She definitely grew throughout the book from being a timid girlfriend in a toxic relationship to realizing that she deserved more, but sometimes the way she treated A annoyed me. I understand it’s hard for her to try and love a different physical body each day but it’s not like it’s easy for A to wake up in a different body each day and try to convince Rhiannon that A is the same person. A is a fantastic character though, and I really admired the way A was willing to do anything to be with Rhiannon.

Overall, Every Day is a beautiful story about a love that transcends all obstacles. I highly recommend this to anyone, even though the ending nearly made me tear up.

Every Day was released on August 28, 2012.

The Madman’s Daughter by Megan Sheperd

The Madman's Daughter by Megan Sheperd“A scream hurled up my throat, but I never heard it. I’d slipped into a welcoming darkness.”

Juliet Moreau lived a life in the high society of London, until her father’s scandal and disappearance left she and her mother penniless. When her mother died from illness, Juliet was left on her own and found work as a maid in the university where her father had worked. While she cleans the laboratory where her father was rumored to conduct gruesome experiments, she becomes determined to discover if the accusations are true. She learns that her father is still alive and living on an isolated island off the coast of Australia. She travels to the island with her father’s assistant, Montgomery, and along the way they pick up a castaway named Edward. While Juliet is drawn to both men, she is forced to realize the extent of her father’s insanity. On the island, he has begun to experiment on animals, manipulating them so that they speak and walk like humans. Aside from her father’s madness, there is a creature killing people on the island–one of her father’s experiments gone wrong. Juliet realizes that she must not only stop her father’s experiments before they go any further, but she must try to escape the island with her life.

The Madman’s Daughter is one of my favorite books of this year so far. It is actually a retelling of The Island of Dr. Moreau by H.G. Wells, which I haven’t read, so I can’t compare the two. The Madman’s Daughter, however, is both a gruesome and fascinating novel that I couldn’t put down. Juliet is a great character–though women aren’t allowed to become doctors during this time period in England, she studies her father’s books in secret and becomes almost as educated in anatomy and physiology as any doctor. She’s not only smart, but also determined and brave. Once she realizes what is happening on the island, she tries her best to stop her father before it is too late.

Juliet is torn between her father’s assistant, Montgomery, and the strange castaway they pick up in the middle of the ocean, Edward. She has always harbored feelings for Montgomery, but when she realizes how much of a hold her father has on him, she is upset that Montgomery allows her father to control him. Edward, on the other hand, seems like the ideal match for her according to her father. He claims to be from a well-to-do family and seems educated, while Montgomery is only an assistant. However, Juliet senses something off about Edward, and while she begins to have feelings for him, she has a suspicion that he is hiding something.

Dr. Moreau is such a complex character. At some points he really does seem to care about Juliet, but most of the time he seems to just be using and manipulating the people around him. He conducts gruesome experiments on animals in his labs without using anesthesia, so the poor animals suffer tremendously. He seems to be willing to do anything for the sake of what he considers to be “science” even if it destroys the lives of those around him. The scientist in me, like Juliet, found it fascinating that he was able to turn animals into humans, but his methods absolutely terrified and disgusted me. Sheperd’s writing made me feel like I was right in Juliet’s shoes, and I my heart was pounding as I read some of the terrifying scenes in the laboratory.

The ending was not what I expected, and I was mad until I realized that this is the first book in a trilogy! Thank goodness, because if that had been the true ending I would have been so upset. The ending was a great lead in to a sequel, and I’m excited to see what Sheperd has planned.

Overall, The Madman’s Daughter was a fascinating and gruesome story that will haunt and terrify many–but in a good way! I’m not sure if I would recommend reading it late at night though…

The Madman’s Daughter was released on January 29, 2013 and is the first in a trilogy. The sequel, Her Dark Curiosity, is set to be released on January 21, 2014.