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Dystopian

Book Review: Cinder

Cinder
Author: 
Meyer, Marissa
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

Cinder by Marissa Meyer is a fast-paced and action-packed book that you can't put down. The book is a futuristic and dystopian retelling of the classic fairytale, Cinderella. This is definitely one of my favorite books. You won't find another science fiction book with as many interesting and diverse female characters. The book has a very exciting plot that kept me on the edge of my seat. In addition to that, Cinder has many amazing characters. I couldn't pick my favorite one. All of the characters are lovable and distinct. Another aspect of the book that I enjoyed was the setting. I loved Meyer’s vision of what the future would look like. She described the setting perfectly. I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in science fiction or fantasy genres.

Reviewer's Name: 
Sophie L.

Book Review: Firefight

Firefight
Author: 
Sanderson, Brandon
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

In the sequel to steel heart fire fight counties to adventures of young teen David. This book is a great drama, romance, and action book. Will David survive to war against epics or will he love one instead. Firefight is my personal favorite book from the series.

Reviewer's Name: 
David

Book Review: 1984

1984
Author: 
Orwell, George
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

Although the year 1984 has long since passed, the reality created in Orwell’s novel 1984 contain aspects that our society is beginning to show. 1984 follows a society where the world is ruled by 3 superstates: Oceania, Eastasia, and Eurasia, each of which have a totalitarian english socialism government. The government of Oceania has surveillance on every citizen through monitors called telescreens that enable them to hear and see what every person is doing and every citizen is required to have a telescreen in
their homes. This enables them to see if the citizens are committing “thoughtcrime” and if they are, the thought police kidnap the person and erase them from existence. Winston Smith is our main character with a quiet rebellion against the totalitarian government of Oceania. He believes that he is an individual and should be allowed to have his own freedom. As Winston tries to avoid being erased from existence and maintain a romance with the love of his life Julia, the government slowly closes in on his treason. This is one of my favorite novels and a masterpiece by Orwell as it shows how a society with a controlling government creates fear and false order for the citizens. Aspects within the novel are present in our own government today, so who is to Orwell’s predictions aren’t slowly but truly becoming a reality.

Reviewer's Name: 
Joe T.

Book Review: Ready Player One

Ready Player One
Author: 
Cline, Ernest
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

I don’t know where to start with this review because there are a lot of different elements of the novel to discuss. The reason why I rate Ready Player One four out of five stars instead of five out of five is the overwhelming amount of 80's references mentioned in literally every line that honestly only further bored the audience. The references to Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Back to the Future, Dungeons & Dragons and more were tolerable because they were iconic - something an individual born 20 years later still understands. Then, Cline writes paragraphs on Atari consoles and Black Tiger or Joust games which just isn’t relate-able for the majority of the audience the novel is targeting (which is why I assume the director replaced the Joust scene with a car race in the movie). But the dominant issue with Cline’s writing is not even necessarily the amount of references but the fact that he explains every single one. At some points, I thought about how I might’ve read a Wikipedia article for the same informational effect. There are plenty of plot twists to contribute to a surprising manner regarding both the characters and the video game - I was never bored with the plot. Ready Player One is one of the many futuristic dystopian sci-fi novels everyone in this generation reads - which is why the 80's references bothered me. I don’t think this is the type of novel most adults born in the 60's or 70's are going to read, yet Cline tries to appeal to them anyway.
Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: 
Isabella W.

Book Review: Thunderhead

Thunderhead
Author: 
Shusterman, Neal
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

Hey y’all. It’s been a while since my last book review, so I’m going to talk to you for a minute about Neal Shusterman’s Thunderhead. Minor spoilers for Scythe will likely occur throughout, given that this is book #2 in trilogy.

Thunderhead is set in a future world of plenty, where death and poverty and illness and war have been eliminated by the Thunderhead, an artificial intelligence developed from what we currently call “the cloud.” Every human has nanites in their blood that reduce pain from any injury, and slowly repair any damage. And if by some unfortunate accident, you happen to die, a drone will recover your body and take you to the nearest facility where you can be revived (your first one’s free!).

However, in order to curb overpopulation, the Thunderhead allows for the Scythes. Scythes are an order of highly skilled assassins (of sorts) who exist to keep humanity’s numbers in check. They maintain a quota of gleanings, permanent deaths for a chosen few to remind people of the mortality that the entire race once faced. Anyone who is gleaned by a Scythe earns immunity for their family for a year.

Book one in the series, Scythe, follows Rowan and Citra, two young teens who are chosen as apprentices to Scythe Faraday, who intends for one of them to become his successor. Their training leads to the widening of schisms within the Scythedom, and soon they find themselves pitted against each other over the right and wrong ways to go about their duties of gleaning.

Thunderhead picks up several months after the events of Scythe, with Citra now serving as Scythe Anastasia, and Rowan operating in the shadows, gleaning other Scythes who he deems to be immoral and corrupt. Dubbed Scythe Lucifer, he lives a life on the run while Anastasia is honored for her rather benevolent take on gleaning (giving her victims a month’s warning, and allowing them to choose the means by which they will die).

This book introduces more perspectives from the Thunderhead itself, giving the reader powerful insight into the all-powerful AI’s thoughts and concerns. We also meet Greyson Tolliver, a young man who has devoted his entire life to serving the Thunderhead, and has his loyalty tested to the extreme. While this can feel like it’s drawing attention away from Rowan and Citra, it contributes to the worldbuilding. And while Scythe had a phenomenal dystopian feeling, there were many questions left unanswered that are picked up in these chapters and monologues.

Now Anastasia and her current mentor, Scythe Curie, have been targeted by a mysterious attacker who seems intent on ending them both permanently, while Rowan grapples with the consequences of his actions as Scythe Lucifer. The Thunderhead muses on the Separation of Scythe and State, lamenting its decision to refrain from interfering with the actions taken by members of the Scythedom, finding clever ways to work around the various safeguards that it has installed in society (and maybe finding out more than it was ever meant to know).

All in all, Thunderhead is a powerful followup to Scythe, a worthy companion and, to my simultaneous joy and rage, the second book in a trilogy. Book three is due in 2019, and I can’t wait to see how this all wraps up.

Reviewer's Name: 
Philip

Book Review: The Circle

The Circle
Author: 
Eggers, Dave
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

When I saw the movie adaptation of this book, I felt like the presentation of this somewhat interesting idea was already dated by about five years. This made me curious if the book was any better. As is probably no surprise to anyone, the book was much better. Sure, the movie cut a few things from the book that I thought were a bit too unnecessary (all the “sex,” that is) or underutilized (the “Calvin” character), but the book really hits at the intensity of the internet-addicted generation. I would even go so far as to say The Circle is the modern version of 1984 .

I’m somewhat torn when it comes to the message presented here. I understand how trying to stay on top of millions of e-mails, and thousands of social media updates can be utterly overwhelming. I also agree that a lot of ideas that seem to be beneficial to society will have the removal of personal privacy as an adverse side effect. However, the vehemence that people participate in the world does bring up a good point about apathy. Granted, I don’t think we should be nearly as extreme in our “oversharing” on social media, but if the majority of success is just showing up, then why do so many people find themselves too busy to even participate? Do they not want to engage with their fellow humans?

I did appreciate how the transition from utopia to dystopia went almost entirely unchecked. The main character’s journey really helped to show how the addicting nature of online interactions and instant feedback can get out of hand. From documenting our lives to searching for information to even searching for love (of which internet dating wasn’t included in the movie), the internet is a powerful place. If anything The Circle highlights how dangerous a true democracy can really be, particularly if the minority opinions are known at each decision point.

A terrifying look into our digital mirror, I give The Circle 4.5 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: 
Benjamin

Book Review: Crossed

Crossed
Author: 
Condie, Allyson Braithwaite
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

This is the second time I read Crossed and after I finished I took to
Goodreads to see some other reviews. What I saw most of were individuals
saying that Crossed was not as action packed as Matched and that the audience
was waiting for the majority of the book for something to happen; for Cassia
to see Xander, to leave the Society, to start searching for Ky, to know what
happened to the Anomalies, to get to the Rising... I was eager too for all of
those things to happen but I did not find the book boring but rather
suspenseful. If the book were boring then the new characters Cassia and Ky
met might be uninteresting but I found myself fretting over Eli, annoyed with
Indie, heartbroken alongside Hunter, and sympathizing with Vick. I did not
think the different groups traveling through the canyon called the Carving
was agonizing in any way except positively - I just wanted to get to the part
where Cassia and Ky met up already but I was also satisfied with the other
events such as the deaths, learning about the tablets, the outing with
Xander, and more. When some others said Crossed was not action packed I think
they meant there was a lack of the Society’s interaction, no one was being
monitored or reprimanded for an Infraction but honestly I was relieved and
not frustrated with that at all. There were still plenty of plot twists
throughout the novel that made up for the lack of the Society and I was
curious about all of them. In fact, because of all the conflict and
unfairness the Society put the characters through in Matched I did not want
the Society in this book at all and was curious to figure out what was beyond
the borders of the Outer Provinces. One thing I will say is that this is one
of those stereotypical dystopian books with a love triangle but the book
begins to give some closure as we see which boy Cassia is leaning towards
permanently. Cassia’s goal besides locating Ky is to locate the Rising (the
name of the rebellion against the Society) but everything is rushed. Her next
task is given to her immediately, none of the major leaders are met, and any
information about the Rising is hardly given at all. The author spends the
entirety of the book in the Carving and the last three pages are introducing
the rebellion. Because of the anticlimactic ending, I rate this book 4/5
stars. I am planning to reread Reached because the lack of a satisfying
ending only made me want to know what happens next more

Reviewer's Name: 
Isabella W.

Book Review: The Circle

The Circle
Author: 
Eggers, Dave
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

The only reason I read this book was because of the movie starring Emma Watson and Tom Hanks but I'm one of those who [for the most part] read the book first before watching the movie because we all know that books are always better and have more details than the movie versions.

I've been on the fence about deactivating my Facebook and Twitter accounts and signing up for Instagram or keeping my blog, Ravelry and GoodReads active since I use Ravelry and GoodReads mainly as online databases for my yarn craft and books respectively so I won't have to create an offline database from scratch and my blog as a way to share things that I enjoy and my book reviews like this one. The Circle by Dave Eggers definitely showed some pros and cons to going "off the grid" to quote Mercer and some pros and cons to being online to keep up with family and friends and social media is good way to reconnect with old friends especially if you have no way of contacting them because your address book hasn't been updated in a long while.

Enter Mae Holland who hasn't used her social media account in a while and ends up working for the Circle, a tech company who is all about sharing [everything] and being social online and offline and unifying everything into one account. I rated this book 4 stars not because it's really good but mostly because the author managed to make me feel something and made me think. When Mae first started working at the Circle, I felt as stressed out and exhausted as Mae felt while learning about her new job and balancing her work-related duties as well as her "social" duties and the constant need to "smile," "frown," and "zing" can be overwhelming for someone like me who likes to moderately share things online. Yes, I do believe that there are things that should be kept private and still do even after reading this book.

I don't think it is healthy to spend so much time online "smiling," "frowning," and "zing-ing" what other people share to the point where you no longer have time to live your life in the real world. And changing your opinions because you don't like getting "frowns" is not being human. Being human is about having different opinions and thoughts and it shouldn't matter if your opinion is unpopular because it is you. The way it is presented in this book is that slowly, everyone in the world is of one mind, one opinion which is already happening in the real world. People get shamed, hated on or bullied online when you express sentiments that are not in line with the sentiments of others. And this mentality should stop.

There are some aspects of unifying databases from this book that I liked the idea of. An example would be medical records that way when you switch medical providers or during medical emergency situations, all your records can be found in one centralized system/location to make it super efficient for the medical team to give you the right medication or treatment as well as if you're unconscious, there's a way to alert your medical/care team to send help. While it is also great to get real time results on polls and surveys, being forced to vote by suspending all electronic/computer/online activities until you've voted is wrong in the sense that people have the right to vote or not vote. Sure it will help a lot if everyone voted but to make it mandatory like what the Circle suggests violates the right to decide whether to vote or not. I'm on the fence about humans getting micro-chipped like most of our pets are micro-chipped because I personally don't want everybody in the world to know where I am. I only want my I.C.E. (In Case of Emergency) contacts to know where I am and that's about it. There's more examples in this book that I'm either on the fence on or completely against the idea of but I have to end it here otherwise, this review will be as lengthy as the novel itself.

Moving on to the general overview of the plot. It's believable to some degree and I can see the parallels to the real world especially on the social media aspect and we are somewhat slowly getting there on the other technological aspects. The pacing of the story is slow to moderate and sometimes it makes you think if there's any point to this whole thing. The whole time I was listening to this book, I was waiting for a really cool plot twist or a big revelation or a big self-discovery, but unfortunately, none of those happened. There was a revelation towards the end but it was a bit of a let down because somehow, at the back of my mind, I already knew that.

As for the characters, I feel like they're not as well-developed as I'd hoped. There's no real depth to Annie, Dan, Jared, the three wise men, Francis, or any of the rest of the characters, including Mae (more on that, later). It feels like these other characters are there to either add drama in the case of Francis, to move the story along in the case of Dan, Jared, the three wise men, etc., and as proof of validation and someone to vent to as in the case of Annie. As for Mae, I somewhat resonated with her in the beginning but as the book progresses, her character became less real and more fake in the sense that the Mae readers liked in the beginning slowly disappeared as she became "one with the hive" err Circle and lost her own individuality. Another thing that was disturbing about Mae was in the end, while visiting her catatonic best friend, Annie, she looks at one of the monitors scanning Annie's brain waves and wonders what Annie's dreaming/thinking about while in a coma and decides that people's thoughts should be accessible to everyone and that "the world deserves nothing less" which to me, is frankly, quite disturbing.

Finally, the narration. Dion Graham did a wonderful job narrating/reading this book even though this book follows Mae's perspective and there's none of that high-pitched voice trying to sound like a woman/girl.

In conclusion, if you are someone who shares everything online then you might enjoy this book and if you are someone who is on the verge of deactivating all of your online and social media accounts, you might find extra reasons in this book to permanently go offline. If you are someone who likes to see characters evolve into a better version of themselves, this book is not for you.

Reviewer's Name: 
Mary Grace C.

Book Review: 1984

1984
Author: 
Orwell, George
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

1984, written by renowned author George Orwell, a pseudonym for Eric Arthur Blair, follows the protagonist Winston Smith set in what Smith believes to be the 80s in London. In fact, Smith is not sure of anything anymore, definitely not the exact year or what happened to his family or who the mysterious dictator called Big Brother is or who his state is at war with. Eurasia, right? No, must’ve been Eastasia... All Smith knows are the mottos of each of the ministries that form the government in Oceania, where London is. WAR IS PEACE. FREEDOM IS SLAVERY. IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH. He is told what to think, what to say, and what to do for nearly every part of his life. His government banks on strict organization and dire consequences for disobeying the rules. 1984 is an interesting read that set the bar for dystopian novels, defining inefficient governments from real life examples.
The novel is more realistic being inspired by Orwell’s hatred for totalitarianism and the events of World War II. I recommend 1984 to anyone curious about examining different types of societies, their standards and how those effect the population. The novel is fairly political and examines rebellion, although not as face paced as typical young adult reads. 1984 allows for an in depth examination of the character’s internal conflicts, Winston is one of the more detailed and complex protagonists because there are many parts where he cannot he sympathized with due to his lesser characteristics. The setting is clearly presented in a more world-building way than just giving out straight information. I was especially pleased, surprised, curious, and angry throughout the progression of the story.
Overall, I did enjoy this book more than most others, but the fact that Winston does not form any significant relationships until the second part and is the primary person talking, I was relatively bored during the middle chapters.
Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: 
Isabella W.

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