Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Review: Article 5 by Kristen Simmons

Title: Article 5
Author: Kristen Simmons site
Format: ARC, 362 pages
Published: 1/31/2012
Publisher: Tor Teen
Source: Received from the publisher for review

New York, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C., have been abandoned.

The Bill of Rights has been revoked, and replaced with the Moral Statutes.

There are no more police—instead, there are soldiers. There are no more fines for bad behavior—instead, there are arrests, trials, and maybe worse. People who get arrested usually don't come back.

Seventeen-year-old Ember Miller is old enough to remember that things weren’t always this way. Living with her rebellious single mother, it’s hard for her to forget that people weren’t always arrested for reading the wrong books or staying out after dark. It’s hard to forget that life in the United States used to be different.

Ember has perfected the art of keeping a low profile. She knows how to get the things she needs, like food stamps and hand-me-down clothes, and how to pass the random home inspections by the military. Her life is as close to peaceful as circumstances allow. 

That is, until her mother is arrested for noncompliance with Article 5 of the Moral Statutes. And one of the arresting officers is none other than Chase Jennings…the only boy Ember has ever loved.

Ember is one of the most annoying protagonists I’ve ever encountered. She was very, very dense. She had to have even the most obvious things spelled out for her. And when she made obviously bad decisions, there didn’t seem to be any motive behind it. Needless to say, she wasn’t very likable.

I feel like Chase’s character was really see-through, and had been done a million times before. He is the muscled and attractive boy next door with a tortured past, that comes back into the picture after a long absence. He’s supposed to be kind of mysterious with a hidden secret, but it’s a very easy secret to guess.

In short, I didn’t really care for either of the main characters.

Plot and Story:
For the most part the plot was alright. It progressed enough to keep you reading. But it wasn’t as balanced between romance and dystopia as I would have liked. Although the things happening in the dystopian world get in the way on occasion, it’s really about whether or not Chase and Ember will get back together after both of them have changed so much. This set up can be appealing to some, but it definitely isn’t for me.

And I wish that the author had been clearer in her descriptions throughout the book. A lot of times it would seem as though the two main characters were alone having a conversation when out of nowhere there would be another character. Or it would seem like Chase and Ember were either riding or sitting in the car, but they were actually hiking. These seem like small inconveniences, but they all really add up and make reading the book confusing. 

Point of View:
Article 5 is written in first person from the point of view of Ember.

Although the premise/synopsis of the book was intriguing, Article 5 left me disappointed. It was a very hard book to finish, especially with such an unlikeable main character. I don’t think I’ll be pursuing a sequel. I give it 2 of 5 stars. 

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Review: Pure by Julianna Baggot

Title: Pure
Author: Julianna Baggot site
Format: eARC, 368 pages
Release Date: 2/8/2012
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Source: Netgalley
Challenge: Ebook Reading Challenge (hosted by Workaday Reads)

We know you are here, our brothers and sisters . . . 

Pressia barely remembers the Detonations or much about life during the Before. In her sleeping cabinet behind the rubble of an old barbershop where she lives with her grandfather, she thinks about what is lost-how the world went from amusement parks, movie theaters, birthday parties, fathers and mothers . . . to ash and dust, scars, permanent burns, and fused, damaged bodies. And now, at an age when everyone is required to turn themselves over to the militia to either be trained as a soldier or, if they are too damaged and weak, to be used as live targets, Pressia can no longer pretend to be small. Pressia is on the run. 

Burn a Pure and Breathe the Ash . . . 
There are those who escaped the apocalypse unmarked. Pures. They are tucked safely inside the Dome that protects their healthy, superior bodies. Yet Partridge, whose father is one of the most influential men in the Dome, feels isolated and lonely. Different. He thinks about loss-maybe just because his family is broken; his father is emotionally distant; his brother killed himself; and his mother never made it inside their shelter. Or maybe it's his claustrophobia: his feeling that this Dome has become a swaddling of intensely rigid order. So when a slipped phrase suggests his mother might still be alive, Partridge risks his life to leave the Dome to find her. 

When Pressia meets Partridge, their worlds shatter all over again. 

At first, Pure seemed to have an interesting assortment of characters. Unfortunately these characters have a nasty habit of behaving out of character, doing things that don’t make sense based on the picture painted of the character. I had really liked Pressia in particular. And El Capitan. I can’t say I cared for Partridge though. Partridge became really uninteresting once he left the Dome. I almost dreaded the parts of the book from his point of view. (Lyda eventually became the same.) Still, even when there were characters I liked, they weren’t consistent.

Plot and Story:
What I’d really liked at the start of the book, were the creepy creatures/ deformities as a result of the bomb. Julianna Baggot has a great voice for creating almost disturbing mental images that are sure to give you goose bumps. But as the story progressed, even this attribute became too much.

There was way too much going on in this book for 368 pages, and that’s saying something. It was like an episode of the 3rd season of Heroes, you almost need to take notes to follow it. The story became too hurried. All of the different twist and turns of the plot, and all of the new information introduced toward the end of the book was just too much for one novel. It almost seemed like the author was trying too hard, and just kept adding and adding to the story until there wasn’t room left for more. What I read was just a review copy and the final version has almost one hundred more pages, so perhaps the end result will be a little more balanced. Though, I’m doubtful.

Point of View:
Pure is written in third person selective multiple, following the POVs of Pressia and El Capitan, who live outside of the Dome, and Partridge and Lyda, who live/lived inside of the Dome. (For more information on different POV types, click here)

Pure had a good start but in the end, left me disappointed. I’m rating it 2.5 of 5 stars for inconsistent characters and an overcrowded plot.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Future Release Review: Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood

Title: Born Wicked
Author: Jessica Spotswood site
Format: ARC, 326 pages
Release Date: 2/07/2012
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Source: Received from the publisher

** I personally think that parts of this synopsis give too much away. Reader beware**

A Great and Terrible Beauty meets Cassandra Clare in this spellbinding fantasy 

Everybody knows Cate Cahill and her sisters are eccentric. Too pretty, too reclusive, and far too educated for their own good. But the truth is even worse: they're witches. And if their secret is discovered by the priests of the Brotherhood, it would mean an asylum, a prison ship—or an early grave. 

Before her mother died, Cate promised to protect her sisters. But with only six months left to choose between marriage and the Sisterhood, she might not be able to keep her word . . . especially after she finds her mother's diary, uncovering a secret that could spell her family's destruction. Desperate to find alternatives to their fate, Cate starts scouring banned books and questioning rebellious new friends, all while juggling tea parties, shocking marriage proposals, and a forbidden romance with the completely unsuitable Finn Belastra. 

If what her mother wrote is true, the Cahill girls aren't safe. Not from the Brotherhood, the Sisterhood—not even from each other.

How it starts:
Set in an altered past, run by a dystopian society where men are in charge and women are oppressed at every opportunity, Cate Cahill has six months before she is forced to declare her intentions to the Brotherhood, the male organization that overthrew the witches 20 years ago. Women are only given two options, join the Sisters or get married. The decision tortures her, how can she keep her promise to her late mother, to look after her sisters. She must protect their secret, lest Cate and her sisters be discovered as witches. The situation is made worse when their nosey neighbor, Mrs. Corbett, convinces their too absent father to get them a governess. When she arrives, Cate can’t shake the feeling that Lena (the governess) is up to something besides teaching French. What are her real motives?

I loved pretty much all of the characters in Born Wicked. There was a very well balanced cast. My only hesitation was for Finn, who may have a little PCD* though I haven’t seen enough of him to really tell.

Plot and Story:
A Great and Terrible Beauty meets Cassandra Clare” really does perfectly describe this book. I love the concept of witchery set in the nineteenth century, and the altered past gave the story an extra twist that made Born Wicked irresistible. It was a really hard book to put down. You’re always left wondering who can really be trusted, what are the characters true motives. All of the twists and turns were timed perfectly. And there are always unanswered questions that will leave you on the edge of your seat in anticipation.  My only complaint is that the timing of Cate and Finn expressing feelings for each other didn’t really make sense to me. It seemed a little forced by the author.

Born Wicked is one of the few books that is deserving of it’s hype. All the different aspects from the characters to the plot just meshed together so well. I could see myself recommending Born Wicked to fans of lots of different genres. (i.e. fans of historical fiction, fantasy, dystopians, ect.) I ate it up, and can’t wait for the sequel. I foresee this series is destined for greatness. May it rise up the Bestseller’s list! I give it 4.5 of 5 stars! I can’t wait to see more from this debut author.

*PCD stands for Perfect Character Disorder. I usually use this term when a character is portrayed as unrealistically perfect. (i.e. always understanding, handsome/beautiful, without fault, ect.)