All Book Reviews by Genre: Dystopian
Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard reminds the reader that anyone can betray anyone. At the beginning of the book, Mare meets Farley, the leader of a group called the Scarlet Guard, a group that strives for equality between those with silver blood and those with red. Later, Mare, a red, gets a job at the royal palace because she talks to the prince, who decides to hire her. On her first day of the job, a freak accident causes her to get the power to create and control lightning. Because only silvers are supposed to have powers, the royal family decides to lie about her backstory and have her become the new princess. Mare and her new fiancé, Mavis, join the Scarlet Guard in order to give reds and silvers equal rights. In the end, Mavis reveals to Mare that he had been using her all along and attempts to kill her, but fails.
Red Queen was a total disappointment. I have heard so many people saying that it is a great book, and I know it was nominated for the Blue Spruce awards, but I don’t see why. It’s like the author combined the plots of Hunger Games, The Selection, and Divergent. I love all those books, but I was hoping for something more unique. It was the most like Hunger Games, with the people in the districts like the reds, and the people in the Capital are like the Silvers. Also, most of the main characters were annoying, unlikable, and impossible to grow attached to. I thought it was fine at the beginning, but it lost my interest as it went on. I thought that the parts with the Scarlet Guard were very boring. The book in my opinion would have been much better without the Scarlet Guard. Also, the book does not provide any information of how their society came to be that way, something that should be included in any dystopian novel. I want to know how the Silvers came to be, and how they got their powers. I didn’t like how they wanted to fight against the silvers because of inequality between reds and silvers, holding all the silvers responsible for what only a few government officials did. Red Queen was hugely overrated, and I will not be finishing the series.
Reviewer in Grade 8
Unwind, a novel written by Neal Shusterman, is a fiction book that is about the adventures of three teenagers that have been chosen to be unwound by their parents. Unwinding is basically the process of cutting apart an individual in order to have each parts of their body to be used to save others. In the book, it is something that parents may decide to do to their child. When a child is no longer such, and becomes an early teen or a teen, the parents may decide to have their children go through this process.
Overall, this book provides a great amount of entertainment, as it is full of thrills and excitement. While reading this novel, one gets to feel like they are going through the struggles and adventures with the main characters.
Despite the book being very adventurous and entertaining, it would not be a good novel for someone younger than middle school to read, as it has very graphic details and contains some gruesome scenes. Overall, this novel is one that I would highly recommend for someone looking to have a fun and fairly short read.
Reviewer Grade: 11
In 2041, what we currently call "the cloud" morphed into a version of AI called "the Thundercloud" that was able to solve all of the world's problems. Death has been basically eliminated - all manner of illness and injury can be cured, and pain is a thing of the past. Thundercloud stops the effects of global warming, and calculates how to best use the world's resources so that no one goes hungry. It's also made government completely irrelevant. However, to stop overpopulation, people called Scythes have to glean, or permanently kill, random members of the population. Scythe follows two teens, Citra and Rowan, as they reluctantly apprentice to become a Scythe.
I think Shusterman has another "Unwind" type of hit on his hands. As the book develops, the seemingly Utopian society gets darker and darker and more dystopian - but really only because of the gleaning. The Scythes have a rich history, and it was interesting to learn about them and their different approaches to gleaning. The book is absolutely at its best when examining humanity and the moral obligations and quandaries that come along with being a scythe - I ended up reading the occasional sentence out loud to my partner, which is something to which I rarely subject him. The ethical implications of gleaning are pretty huge, and the examination of killing and its purpose are what really makes the book a fun read. Also, no surprises here, Shusterman, a National Book Award winner, can WRITE.
I did feel that the book had some premise issues. As the book explains it, your chances of being gleaned, or even knowing someone who has been gleaned, are pretty rare. So why is gleaning even necessary? The book addresses this, but the answer was not satisfactory. I can also easily think of solutions to this problem that don't involve random killing. For example, why not impose some sort of birth limit (people have dozens of children in this version of the future)? Or maybe only those that have children are eligible for gleaning? Or maybe you only get "9 lives". The tenth time you die, it's for real. There wouldn't have been a book without the gleaning, but the book also never managed to convince me that gleaning was a thing that actually needed to happen. I also found it terribly convenient/nonsensical that the Scythes were the only group of people that operated outside of Thundercloud. Like, why? Thundercloud literally solved ALL of humanity's/the earth's problems, but this, life and death, one of the arguably most important problems, we're going to leave up to humans? Mmmmmmmmmmk. Oh, and then Citra and Rowan are eventually pitted against each other, and the rationale as to why makes absolutely no sense. Especially after a certain event transpires, and they STILL are in a fight to the death. It doesn't seem consistent with the rest of the world-building; it felt like a contrived (and unsuccessful) plot device.
Premise problems aside, I really did enjoy the book. If you like near future books, dystopians or ethics, it's definitely worth a read. 3.5 stars.
I was hesitant to read this book because of previous reviews I had read about it and I didn't think it was as bad as everyone said it was. It is a great book and very well written, but if you do plan on reading it then don't read the last 50 pages (They contribute next to nothing with the overall story and just cause lots of tears). The story itself is very, very good. Tris and Tobias have to escape the city and go past the fence. Only once they are out there they find that their whole city was just an experiment to try and fix a mistake made hundreds of years ago by people who didn't know any better.
Tris, and the group she came with, have to save the outside world before they can save their previous home. There is a lot of fighting and struggles because the world beyond the fence is vicious and cruel. Tobias is at odds with himself as he finds out secrets in his DNA, secrets he wasn't entirely ready to know.
Reviewer Grade: 8
This book is about Tris and Tobias trying to stop Erudite. There's a lot of tension between friends and family as the dauntless splits in half. Traitors side with Erudite and the rest take refuge at Candor headquarters. Jeanine Mathews results to murder as she starts to kill dauntless every two days that go by without a divergent turning themselves in. There is definitely a lot of internal struggles with Tris as she tries to overcome her grief with the death of her parents and Will. Her and Tobias have some conflict too as they try to come to an agreement with how to handle the Erudite situation.
Reviewer Grade: 8
I loved this book! It is way better than the movie. It is about Beatrice Prior, a 16 year old girl. In her world there are 5 factions in which most everyone belongs. She is apart of abnegation, the selfless faction, but doesn't feel that she is selfless enough so she decides to switch to dauntless, the brave faction. The book is about how she has to over come her inner cowardice and pass initiation. If she does not pass then she becomes factionless and will spend the rest of her life homeless and begging for food. The only thing that is holding her back is that Tris is divergent and if your divergent in this society then you are basically as good as dead. She has to keep her secret a secret while also managing to remain in a safe place in initiation. It also has some romance as her instructor, Four, tries to help her become better at fighting. The book has a lot of action and keeps you on the edge of your seat through the whole thing.
Reviewer Grade: 8
The One by Kiera Cass is the third book in the Selection series. In this book prince Maxon of Illea has to choose a princess and wife from the Elite. Will Maxon choose America or will he choose another?I would rate this book a four out of five because at some points it was a bit redundant, but the romance between America and Maxon was breathtaking and sucked me in. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes romance and dystonia. I am in eighth grade and I am 14.
This book is the second in the Steelheart series, and it is a great story. It has fantastic characters, great descriptions of locations, and a bunch of plot twists that keep you on your feet. The plot may be confusing at times, but it all makes sense in the end. There are plenty of details that make an appearance in the next book too! Overall, I think this is a very good book.
All Tally Youngblood ever wanted was to be a pretty. Now Tally is almost sixteen years old, and in just a few weeks, she will get the surgery that will make her beautiful. When she meets Shay, a girl with many new ideas, Tally is told about a reclusive group called the Smokies that keep their own faces. Shay, a few days before their birthday, runs away and joins them, leaving Tally to explain to everyone where her friend is. Because of Shay, Tally is forced into a world that she wanted no part of. To become pretty, Tally must betray Shay and all of her new friends. As she realizes the truth behind the operation, Tally starts to enjoy her new life. Uglies, the first book in the series, is a great dystopian book. With an amazing plot, and complex characters, I highly recommend it to anyone that enjoyed Divergent or any of Scott Westerfeld's other books.
Reviewer Grade: 9
What’s Left of Me, a dystopian novel by Kat Zhang, follows the life of Addie and Eva, two souls living in one body while trying to hide their secret from the totalitarian government. In their society, everyone is born with two souls. Eventually, they are supposed to settle by a young age, meaning that the weaker soul would fade away and die. In their world, every hybrid was arrested, never seen again. They (Addie and Eva) never settled, but the government didn’t know. Everyone thought that they had settled at the age of twelve, even their own parents. Eva just lost control of their body. She was still able to communicate with Addie through thoughts. Then, a girl from school told her that she knew their secret and offered to bring Eva back.
Riskily, they agreed. Will they succeed or get caught in the act?
This is a very interesting book. I think I enjoyed the beginning of the novel most, where it talks about what it means to be a hybrid in their society. It really made me think about what it would be like to have another soul in my body, to share everything with her. It made me so curious, I googled if everyone is born with two souls. However, I would not be compelled to pick up the sequel for the book. I did not enjoy it as much as I have other dystopian novels. While amazing and thought provoking at the beginning, it just had a downfall at the end, becoming more confusing and dull as the book went on. The romantic subplot didn’t make very much sense, because that would be very awkward for the other twos would who would have to be dragged into it. Also, it needs to be more descriptive. The setting and protagonist were barely described, leaving the reader with a fuzzy image. The negatives aside, this was a wonderful book. What’s Left of Me is a great book for teenagers, even though it is officially labeled as a young adult novel.
Review Grade: 8
High-Rise (1975) begins with one of the most memorable first lines I’ve ever read, "Later, as he sat on his balcony eating the dog, Dr. Robert Laing reflected on the unusual events that had taken place within this huge apartment building during the previous three months". Laing is a new tenant in a futuristic high rise apartment building on the outskirts of London. The high rise is a microcosm containing restaurants, playgrounds, a swimming pool, and even its own supermarket. There is social order: the wealthiest tenants occupy the building's upper floors with the best views, while the middle-class tenants reside in the lower half of the building, constantly at the mercy of falling champagne bottles from the upper floors. Before long, tensions arise between the tenants of the upper and lower floors. Alternating between Laing and another tenant, Richard Wilder, we witness first-hand the deterioration of ethics and social order within the high rise. Elevators are commandeered, rooms are barricaded, alliances are formed, and blood is shed. Little by little, the layers of human behavior are peeled back, exposing a terrifyingly animalistic core at the heart of the high rise tenants.
My first thought when this book was recommended to me was, “Bees? Is that metaphor? What do the bees stand for?” NOPE. This book is literally about bees. But not in a nonfiction, documentary kind of way. Here we have a novel in which we discover the world of bees personified.
Enter our main character, Flora 717. She was born the lowest of the low: the sanitation worker bee. Ugly, underappreciated, but unlike her fellow floras, she can speak. One of the higher levels of bees, a priestess to the queen, immediately takes notice of her oddities and experiments with her in roles not typical to a flora.
Flora 717 finds herself in almost every aspect of bee life at some point of her journey through the hive, uncovering secrets as she learns, grows, experiences the most profound loss, and transcends to the highest joys. The ordinary life of these black and yellow creatures we see and often fear is re-imagined into a relatable tale that pierces the veil between bees and humans. Though humans play very little role in the book, the bees exhibit many characteristics of humanity.
The tone of this book can be a bit dark at times with graphic imagery, but I highly recommend it.
America Singer has been forced to enter in a competition to win Prince Maxon's heart. There's only one problem: she's in love with someone else. Marked by a brutal social class system, America either has the option to marry within her class or above it. She cannot marry her boyfriend Aspen Ledger, who is a class below her. So, she must enter "The Selection" to compete with a number of other girls for Prince Maxon's hand. Although the characters and plot were complex, I felt this book was lacking something - perhaps the conflict wasn't quite strong enough? I still recommend it for its excellent world-building and characters. (I'd rate this PG-13 for minor language and some romance)
Reviewer Grade: 9
This book is full of love, excitement, and hardship.
Allegiant by Veronica Roth was a disappointment to me. Honestly it was very poorly written. The book is in both Tris' and Four’s perspective, which I usually like, but it was very difficult to distinguish the two. Most books I read, when in different perspectives they think differently and have a different structure of thinking, but Four and Tris have the exact same thoughts all the time. The only difference is that Four tells Tris no, when she wants to do something. This was the worst book in the series, and was extremely slow.
Reviewers Grade: 7
Insurgent by Veronica Roth, the second in the Divergent series, was very well written. I feel the relationship between Beatrice (better known as Tris) and her instructor/boyfriend Four was very well thought out. This book made me yearn to read the last one quickly. The book’s main plot was amazing, and Insurgent was absolutely amazing when it came to the developments of its characters.
Reviewer Grade: 7
Divergent by Veronica Roth was a very interesting story. In her utopian society Beatrice Prior must make a decision that impacts her whole life. When sixteen everyone must choose a faction where they believe they belong, each with their own perspective of why the human race fell. This book is full of suspense and will leave you on the edge of your seat. It, in my opinion, is somewhat a copy of the Hunger Games and The Fault in Our Stars. Reviewer Grade: 7
In Ember, the only sources of light are lampposts. The whole city depends heavily on electricity, and it just so happens to be running out of it. The city is dying, and everyone knows it. When Linda finds a letter, she's sure it's the secret to saving Ember. Unfortunately, it had been chewed up by her baby sister before she saw it. Linda and her friend, Doon, are determined to find out what the letter means.
In the beginning, the novel doesn't say what, exactly, Ember is, except that it's a city, artificial light is the only light there is, and the only food to eat is canned. Because of that, the readers don't really know what the setting is, and that really makes the book mysterious as well as interesting.
There wasn't really anything special about the characters, but finding out what was really going on was fun. It really felt like I was there with the characters, trying to solve the mystery together; Something about the novel made me very emotionally invested in it.
Reading about the environment so familiar to the characters but so foreign to me was fascinating and enjoyable.
The City of Ember, to me, was one of a kind. The sense of adventure I felt when reading it, even though most of the story was in the same setting, was enchanting. I hope this review compels you to read it because it really is a great book.
Reviewer Grade: 8
Jonas lives in a perfect world, but when he becomes the Receiver and is transferred memories from the past, he soon realizes that there are some serious issues with the way his "perfect world" is being run.
It was cool to see Jonas, the main character, grow and develop as a person.
In the beginning, he was as ignorant and naive as the rest of his peers, but he eventually matures and becomes aware of the problems around him.
The way Lois Lowry described surroundings were very clever. For example, (this is a bit of a spoiler) Jonas's world was in only black and white and I didn't realize it for a very long time because the author didn't outright say it; that made me feel Jonas's confusion when he first sees color.
It was really interesting reading about how Jonas's city functioned and what its rules were- it was very different from ours.
The novel gave me a lot to think about; it made me wonder how much bad things we can eradicate until the eradication itself becomes a bad thing. The line between good and evil becomes more and more blurry the closer you get.
The Giver is a nice book to read and I recommend it!
Reviewer Grade: 8
In Allegiant, the third and final addition of the Divergent series, Tris lives in a city of five factions, groups of people who believe in upholding and supporting one personality trait. Dauntless are brave, Amity are kind, Candor are honest, Abnegation, selfless, and Erudite intelligent. In the previous book, a video was sent out to Tris's city asking for people to come from the city out into the world and help the poor, suffering people. Tris and her friends want to go and see what the real world is like, but the factionless (people who failed to be accepted into a faction) took them as prisoners. They escaped and go out beyond the limits of the city. Tris discovers the truth behind her city and what the outsiders plan to do to it.
Will she succeed in saving her friends from a horrible fate, or will she fail and have no friends to go back to? Find out by reading Allegiant. Allegiant perfectly explains the backstory of the city in the books. However, it is very different from the other two books in the Divergent series because it reveals the unexpected truth about the city. Overall, it is a very good book.
Reviewer Grade: 8