All Book Reviews by Genre: Dystopian

Thunderhead
Shusterman, Neal
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Citra and Rowan have diverged into lawful and lawlessness. Since Citra was selected to become a scythe she began to glean with Scythe Curie meanwhile Rowan went off the grid. Though there had been rumors of a Scythe gleaning other Scythes, who became known as Scythe Lucifer. Fighting the corruption of the Scythedom in their own ways, Citra and Rowan continue to learn what the mortal age world was like.

This book is better than the first book, “Scythe” because the Thunderhead excerpts between chapters add more complexity and depth to the story. Also inmthe first book the perspective switches were a lot less climatic, both main characters were in relatively similar situations. In this book the different perspective adds more suspense to the book, and perspective. The side characters were not static in this book, a lot more about them is reveled in this book. “Thunderhead” also had good foreshadowing that was sometimes a bit too obvious. The main thing this book lacked like the first book of the series was detailed descriptions. It almost makes the book seem more like a movie because it’s all action. Overall though I would recommend it to those who read “Scythe” and want to continue the series since this book is better.

Reviewer's Name: McKenzie
Scythe
Shusterman, Neal
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

In a world where AI, artificial intelligence, known as the Thunderhead controls the world and has gifted humanity immortality, it gave humans the responsibility of death. Immortality is possible with the nanites embodied in cells to help cells replenish forever. Scythes are the only people that kill or nicely put glean. Citra and Rowan are selected by a scythe to apprentice and the discover the reality of human nature and the burden of death.

I think this is a good book, conceptually it’s definitely a step up from your typical dystopian book but it isn’t my favorite book for other reasons. There is a guy and a girl main character and they have to defy the expectations of society, creating romantic tensions which is pretty typical. The book lacked detailed descriptions which would have enhanced the action by creating more suspense. The biggest reason it is not my favorite is smalldetails that are don’t logically make sense. With the all knowingThunderhead it would make sense that technology would allow teleportation and other advancements. All these little details ultimately make the book only 4 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: McKenzie
The Toll
Shusterman, Neal
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The Great Resonance has occurred and everyone has become unsavory, meaning they can’t communicate with the Thunderhead. That is except for one person, the Toll. Since no one can speak to the Thunderhead no one knows why they have become unsavory leaving the world in confusion. What most people don’t know is Endura the Scythe ring of islands sank when all the systems failed, or were instructed to fail. The leaders of the Scythedom drowned and Citra and Rowan are nowhere to be found.

The other books in the Scythe series had somewhat obvious endings while in “The Toll” I really didn’t know how the series would end which created a nice suspense in the book. Just when I thought things couldn’t get worse or the characters Citra and Rowan things get worse. The excerpts from the Thunderhead and the founding Scythes created a lot of foreshadowing and had each founding Scythe had a unique voice and quirks which was a nice detail. This book still lacks detail of the setting, clothing, and appearance of the characters like the other two books in the series but in this book it especially lacked detailed emotion. There was a Romeo and Juliet like relationship between Citra and Rowan, they were each other’s weakness, and would save the other even it meant sacrificing themselves. However the emotion and reasoning on why they are so in love is unclear. Other than training as apprentices together and kissing once in the first book the author doesn’t really describe why or how they fell in love. This book had
a lot going on at once it was hard to understand how much time had passed or what was happening when. Overall the theme of this series is advancements don’t make humans lose their humanity, no matter how perfect a world there will be those who chose corruption and power, and those who chose to live a simple quiet life.

Reviewer's Name: McKenzie
The People of Sparks
DuPrau, Jeanne
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This is the second book of Ember. The book is about the people of Ember emerging to the surface. The people of Ember find the city of Sparks. The Ember people and the Sparks people have quite a bit of conflict. In the end the book resolves itself.

Reviewer's Name: Jaime
Four: The Traitor
Roth, Veronica
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

“Four the traitor,” is one of four stories told by the perspective of Tobias Eaton aka Four. This book take place two years after “The Son.” Within that time he’s been keeping busy with spying and keeping in touch with his mother. While spying on Mac and Jeanine he learns of their devious plan to take over Abnegation. All though the book isn’t as detailed and goes though his feelings and adventures like Beatrice is a pretty good book.

Reviewer's Name: Miguel
Book Cover
Collins, Suzanne
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

If you're like me, you've been looking forward to the new Hunger Games prequel, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, since its announcement last year. After all the anxious waiting and counting down the days, I found that this new novel, focusing on future villain, Coriolanus Snow, is not as good as the original trilogy but still holds its own and has its place in Collins' universe of Panem.

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is a villain background story. The main character-- for I certainly would not call him a protagonist, even 65 years earlier-- is Coriolanus Snow, future tyrant president of Panem and one of the most despised villains in all of young adult dystopian literature. Here, Snow has an ego, he has big plans, dreams and ambitions for the future of his country. Coriolanus is an orphan after the war that spurred the Hunger Games. The Snow household is broken down and poor, and Coriolanus lives with his grandmother and fellow orphaned cousin, Tigris (yes, that very same Tigris from Mockingjay that Katniss and her squad hid with while in the Capitol. This connection is one of the most interesting in the book, because here, Tigris and Coriolanus are best friends as well as cousins, always looking out for one another and sharing a tight bond. The obvious deterioration of their relationship is never addressed in the book, and I desperately want to know what went sideways between them now.) Coriolanus is a student at the Academy, a high school, and is chosen as one of the 24 best and brightest Capitol students to mentor a tribute in the 10 Hunger Games.

One important thing to note and understand about this book is that the Hunger Games are very very different from where we join them 65 years later. The tributes are abused and starved. The arena is not high-tech or glamorous. The television viewership is low. Most people do not even watch the games at all. All of that changes after this book, I would presume.

Coriolanus, who is hated by the leader of the Academy, Dean Highbottom, is consequentially assigned to mentor District 12 female tribute, Lucy Gray Baird. Lucy Gray is the true protagonist of this novel, and a strange one at that. She is part of a 'Covey', a traveling musical family who got stuck in District 12. She is strange to Coriolanus and the other Capitol children. She is musical, cunning, and not to be underestimated.

One of my wishes for this book is that there would be a romance between Lucy Gray and Coriolanus. There was, and unfortunately, it did not live up to my expectations, which greatly added to my minor issues with this book. Collins greatly crafted a love triangle in the original Hunger Games trilogy, and I was so excited for more of that great romance that made you root for two people to end up together. The romance between Coriolanus and Lucy Gray seemed disjointed, rushed, and absurd. It almost seemed like Coriolanus was using Lucy Gray, which of course is false since he had nothing to gain from loving a poor girl from District 12.

Coriolanus prepares Lucy Gray for the arena while some Hunger Games traditions are introduced-- the betting, mutts and TV host and interviews are all started in this book. The Head Gamemaker at the time is Dr. Gaul, a psychotic and mutation-obsessed woman who takes interest in Coriolanus. Readers should expect to be creeped out and disturbed by Dr. Gaul throughout the novel.

Drama unfolds before the Games even begin, and there are many, many characters and side plots introduced and finished before the Hunger Games even begin. The actual part of the Hunger Games was my favorite part of the novel. Collins truly is a master of writing stories set in the arenas. I will not spoil who wins the 10th Hunger Games, but expect to be surprised by the turn of events right after the Games conclude.

My only other problem with this book is it actually felt like three books instead of one. Like the rest of the series, it is divided into three sections, and each felt like it's own standalone story. The third section Iread very fast. The first was very slow. And the middle was the best, with the arena and Hunger Games.

One of the things about this book that I enjoyed tremendously is that it does not paint Coriolanus as a hero, even back then. He is still cunning and a little evil, especially at the surprising ending. Coriolanus is never written as a good person. Instead, the good people around him are at his disposal.

Another thing to note is the literalness of the title. There are all three-ballads, songbirds, and snakes, in this novel. It is in no way symbolic or metaphorical. There is a lot of music, for Lucy Gray, and to add a lighter tone. I liked the inclusion of all the music, though it was a little strange to have so many songs included in full, with all their lyrics and everything. There are several songs from the original trilogy in this book, The Hanging Tree among them, and I enjoyed the inclusion of those.

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes does not feel like a Hunger Games novel. It feels like a companion to Collins' original trilogy, but not directly connected to that world. That being said, it is a very compelling and originally imaginative story, that only suffered from a few disjointed elements. This prequel does not quite live up to the original beloved stories of The Hunger Games, but comes very close and presents a new take on Suzanne Collins' world of Panem.

Reviewer's Name: Allie S.
Book Cover
Collins, Suzanne
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This book is fantastic! The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes adds a whole new level of depth to the Hunger Games Series main antagonist, Coriolanus Snow, and to Suzanne Collins' dystopian world. This novel shows the journey of Coriolanus Snow from an eighteen year old boy trying to find his place in the world to the ruthless president in the Hunger Games Trilogy. I could not put this book down. It is the perfect addition to a fantastic series. I highly recommend this novel for any teenaged reader or fan of the Hunger Games Series.

Reviewer's Name: John B.
The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes
Collins, Suzanne
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is the story of Coriolanus Snow and how he becomes who he is in the Hunger Games Trilogy. It is the tenth hunger games and Coriolanus has been given the job as mentoring the girl tribute from district 12. The other mentors are Coriolanus's classmates and they all have the chance to win a spot at the university, something that Snow has wanted for years. This book follows Coriolanus through the games and after where the reader gets to see why and how Coriolanus Snow becomes the president that we all love to hate. I thought this book was fantastic. Collins does a great job connecting this book to the trilogy, which is why I suggest rereading the other books before you start this one because there is little things that could go unnoticed if it has been awhile. It gave a new perspective on the games than the trilogy so it does not feel repetitive and like a rip off version of the first book. If you have read or are about to read the Hunger Games I definitely would give this a try as well.

Reviewer's Name: Emma
Genres:
The Giver
Lowry, Lois
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

This book is very interesting because of many things. There are very strict rules in the community. The changing of age ceremony is the best part. The main character gets a job nobody thought would happen. This changes his whole perspective of the community. In the end, it ends happily.

Reviewer's Name: Jaime
Little Brother
Doctorow, Cory
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Little Brother is a book about what happens when in an attempt to keep citizens safe after a terror attack the government terrorizes it's own citizens. The government jails and torture teens in an effort to find terrorist. One of the teens they torture is a rebellious computer whiz and hacker name Marcus. Marcus is broken and humiliated while being detained and interrogated by home land security. When he is released he vows to get revenge.

Reviewer's Name: Rayn
Oryx and Crake Book Cover
Atwood, Margaret
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

"Oryx and Crake" follows the character Snowman who is seemingly the last surviving human on Earth as he recounts the events that led up to his dystopian present. In this speculative fiction novel, animals are genetically modified to harvest organs for human transplant and spliced together to create fantastical hybrids like “rakunks” that are part racoon and part skunk. In addition, a new human breed is created to be physically flawless and void of normal human characteristics like envy or jealousy. This incredibly thought-provoking book challenges the reader to think about our present, and the choices we make that may lead us down a similar apocalyptic path. For example, it forces us to question how far are we willing to go with genetic modification. Although Atwood deals with serious topics in this book, she addresses them with such humor and over-the-top situations that the book is remarkably enjoyable. Furthermore, the characters of Oryx and Crake are some of my favorite literary characters.

Reviewer's Name: Caitlyn Z.
The Giver by Lois Lowry
Lowry, Lois
2 stars = Meh
Review:

I read this book in my eighth grade L.A. class and surprisingly it stuck even though I thought it was boring and had a hard time comprehending most things. The book does have a PG-13 vibe where it does carry some “sexual content”, but it’s basically about a really strict and emotionless society. A society where everyone was equal which sound really boring. I’m not going to lie that this was the most boring part in the book, learning about how strict it is and how love is forbidden kinda lame. The only interesting parts were when the main character would rebel against the society’s values by expressing his emotions, finding love and most importantly running away so he could give baby Gabriel a less uncompromising and more unconfined life. The most annoying part of the book is the ending not knowing what happens to Jonás and Gabriel. (The movie was better)

Reviewer's Name: Miguel
Divergent
Roth, Veronica
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

In a city with no contact to the outside world, everyone is divided into factions. In this world Beatrice needs to navigate doing what is right and what she wants while being different. In this book being different is dangerous and deadly, so she must keep it all secret. This book can keep you reading and interested in. This book is easily one of my favorite books because of how well written it is and the amazing plot The book is very easy to visualize and keep up with. I recommend this book to anyone who loves action, romance and suspense.

Reviewer's Name: Jana M.
Boneshaker
Priest, Cherie
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Boneshaker is the novel that kicks off Cherie Priest's "Clockwork Century" series - one of the most widely acclaimed book series in the Steampunk genre. Boneshaker explores an alternate history of the United States during the Civil War era. The plot centers around Briar Wilkes, the widow of the infamous Leviticus Blue - inventor of the titular boring machine that he was commissioned to create, in order to retrieve the vast veins of gold that are hiding under the thick ice of Alaska in the midst of the Klondike Gold Rush. During a devastating test run, the Boneshaker destroys the foundations of a good portion of Seattle, killing many, and releasing a dangerous gas that turns survivors into zombies. Leviticus disappears, and walls are erected around Seattle to contain the "blight" gas, and the "rotters". Briar does her best to survive and raise her son Zeke in the "Outskirts" of Seattle, suffering the prejudice shown to both of them, due to her husband's actions. Zeke is convinced that he can prove that his father was innocent, and that the destruction was purely unintentional, so he journeys beneath the wall, into Seattle to find the evidence he needs. Unlike Leviticus, Zeke's
grandfather (Maynard Wilkes) is revered as a folk hero, having lost his life in the exodus of Seattle, freeing inmates from the prison. Zeke feels this may help him if he runs into trouble within Seattle's walls. When Briar finds Zeke gone, and what his intentions are, she arms herself with Maynard's accoutrements and catches an air ship over the wall, to search for her son. Separately, Briar and Zeke find people who help to save them from being devoured by the "rotters", and attempt to aid them in their respective searches. Briar learns of the mysterious Dr. Minnericht who seems to run the
doomed city within the walls, and that many are convinced that he is in fact, Leviticus Blue (something she doesn't believe). When events draw Briar and Zeke both into Dr. Minnericht's stronghold, it seems the heart of the mystery
will be resolved with this fateful meeting.

Boneshaker is an epic foray into a dystopian alternate universe, and readers of various genres, are sure to find many wonders to be fascinated by in this version of Washington's famous "Emerald City".

In addition to physical book and audiobook formats, Boneshaker can also be downloaded and enjoyed at home, in either ebook or eaudiobook form.

Reviewer's Name: Chris W.
Red Rising
Brown, Pierce
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

It is difficult to review a book like Red Rising without noting the heavy comparisons to The Hunger Games. Perhaps this speaks to the strength of The Hunger Games’ format, but there are almost too many parallels to ignore. Dystopian class-separated society? Check. A skilled lower-class individual who defies the odds? Check. Violence and a romantic subplot? Check and check. About the only difference between the two is that Red Rising takes place on Mars and over a few years instead of a week or so. Of course, it’s hard to tell the timespan since important details always seem to be missing from the first-person narrative.

If anything, I’d peg Red Rising as the gritty, over-violent, and over-sexualized version of The Hunger Games. If The Hunger Games appeals to girls and women, Red Rising should appeal to boys and men. A lot of the content in this book felt a bit over the top and unnecessary to the plot. Granted, the action was pretty well written, and at least a few of the characters seemed to have their distinct personality. I didn’t care for the more “aware” portions of the prose, as they seemed out of place in a “look how flowery I can write this simple scene” sense.

Another split from The Hunger Games comes in the form of the main character. While Katniss subjected herself to the brutality selflessly and sacrificially, Darrow was solely focused on a simple-minded goal: vengeance. Consequently, while I could understand Darrow’s motivation, it failed to have many nuances. It ended up being so repetitive that I rolled my eyes every time he brought up his past. Still, there were a few good twists and some great character development through this volume. There’s enough of setup at the end of this book that I’m curious where Golden Son takes the story.

A male-oriented knock-off of The Hunger Games, I give Red Rising 3.5 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin W.
The Hunger Games
Collins, Suzanne
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Within a corrupted society where children battle to the death in the annual Hunger Games for entertainment, lives a bold young woman named Katniss Everdeen. Katinis loves her little sister more than life itself. So when her sister PrimRose Everdeen is drawn for the Hunger Games, Katniss does the unheard of and volunteers and tribute in place of her sister. Katniss volunteered without hesitation so when she is sent to the capital along with the other selected person for her district Peeta Mellark she is prepared to fight. She knows that she is going to be sent right into the games and that she has to win it and come out alive to look after her sister. Along the way with the help of her bow and arrow she becomes one of the most unlikely candidates to perform so well in the games, her underdog ness strikes the outside world in hope and in rebellion. This book is by far one of the best that I have ever read, it is so riveting and engaging and has not only action
but romance. I have read every book in the series and I loved every page of it. I would recommend this book to anyone. It is by far one of my top ten favorite books.

Reviewer's Name: Madison S.
The Finisher
Baldacci, David
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Within the dystopian of Wormwood lives Vega Jane, a strong and very independent woman. When Vega was young, she saw her mother leave the village. No one had ever left Wormwood. Why would anyone leave there wasn’t anything outside of the town? However, Vega knew that the leaders of Wormwood were lying to her. The elders/leaders told her that her mother was dead and that no one survives leaving Wormwood. Vega knew she had to figure out the truth, she was at the end of her wits. She was tired of the constant scrutiny she was under for being a girl, she didn’t have a voice and she wasn’t respected by the men in Wormwood. Vega was really set into action when her friend Quentin Hermes goes missing but leaves clues behind to find her. Determined to uncover the truth to her towns dark past, she follows the clues left behind leading her closer to the truth. This book, while it was not my favorite, had a cool plot and was easy to follow.

Reviewer's Name: Madison S.
The 5th Wave
Yancey, Richard
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The Fifth Wave by Ricky Yancey is an awesome and thrilling book, that dives into a world in which aliens exist. The human race at the brink of extinction must learn to fight and hide in order to survive the invasion. A young teenager Cassie, has lost her mother and father and now must find a safe place to live and return to her younger brother. But when Cassie finds herself in the midst of a battle with a “silencer”, what they call the aliens, she fears she might not make it. Then a strange and mysterious man from a nearby farm saves Chloe after she was shot by the “silencer” and nurses her back to health. In order to find a way to protect her younger brother and stop the silencer’s invasion Cassie must trust this suspicious farm boy, who looks almost identical to the silencer that shot her. This book has not only has a lot of action and intrigue but has a sweet turn of events within it. It kept me glued to each page and I could not put it down. I would definitely recommend this book, it's one of my favorites!

Reviewer's Name: Madison S.
Book Review: The Towering Sky
McGee, Katharine
2 stars = Meh
Review:

"The Towering Sky" by Katherine McGee tells the story of five teenagers in 2119. Living in a futuristic Manhattan tower in which your floor displays your power, a mystery/romance story is bred. This book was perfectly okay. The writing wasn't half bad, and the characters ,well half-baked, were not unrealistic or arrogant. However, as reading this book, the third and final of a series, without reading the first two, was extremely confusing. At first I had not realized that this book was part of a trilogy, and thought the writing was purposefully confusing. Though I don't know if this book would make more sense after reading the first two, the pacing was quite fast, though the plot moved slow, which created a strange vibe while reading. In general, I would not recommend this book. However, if you have read the first two and liked them, go ahead and give it a go.

Reviewer's Name: Anna C.
Book Review: Fahrenheit 451
Bradbury, Ray
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Fahrenheit 451 follows the story of a fireman, Guy Montag, who lives in a dystopian society. His job as a fireman is to locate all books around the city and burn them. Books are banned from any individual and is considered to be an inferior type of entertainment in comparison television, which are more supported by the public. As Montag continues to burn more books throughout his job over time, he deals with a variety of external factors that changes his brainwashed and disillusioned perspective to considering books and their significance to society. Being a firemen in this dystopian society, Montag must deal with a plethora of barriers that are blocking his way before he can truly understand the importance of books and to keep them.

Fahrenheit 451 is an intriguing book that takes a different approach in a dystopian society. Instead of implementing a militaristic and governmental style, Bradbury uses firemen which encapsulates a unique and captivating plot line. Fahrenheit 451 demonstrates a story that everyone can enjoy, especially for those who enjoy reading dystopian novels. Bradbury effectively relates character development of Montag to the series of events that occurs. This coherent relationship that virtually happens side-by-side further produces a sense of immersion for the reader.

Personally, I enjoyed Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 novel. It is considered to be one of his best, and most iconic books that he has written to date. I highly recommend any average reader to consider reading Fahrenheit 451. The book is not too long, but it will still produce an immense amount of quality and satisfaction in the end.

Reviewer's Name: Nam T.
Awards:

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