Wednesday, September 30, 2015

BOOK REVIEW: Believarexic by J.J. Johnson

I received the ARC for Believarexic by J.J. Johnson from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. The scheduled publication date is October 1, 2015. 

In 1988, when she was fifteen, JJ Johnson was hospitalized for treatment of bulimarexia, a combination of bulimia and anorexia. During her ten-week stay, JJ had to eat everything on her tray, and took classes like "Assertiveness Training," "Depression Management," and "Body Image Workshop." She gained weight, but her path toward health was a constant struggle. In her heart, JJ knew-she knew-that she would be a happy, healthy adult one day.

This was such a powerful book. Part memoir and part novel, this is the story of the author's time spent in an eating disorder treatment facility in 1988. Jennifer knows she has a problem. She starves herself and also makes herself throw up. The first few chapters are told in journal format and is told in verse. It is powerful stuff when she compares her eating disorder to a monster. It's actually interesting that the beginning of the book is told in third person format, but then she gradually switches to first person as she spends more time in the treatment facility. 

She tells her parents she has a problem, but they don't believe her. They think she is making it up to get attention. Jennifer's pain and anxiety are so easily felt. And when she checks into the hospital, she meets a wide variety of doctors and nurses and patients, some helpful in her recovery and some not. When she enters the treatment facility, she immediately wonders if she even wants to get better and she wonders if she did the right thing. The nurses don't trust her and she feels like she is in prison. There were several times where she assumed she would be treated differently because she voluntarily checked herself in. It is evident very early that Jennifer suffers from more than just an eating disorder; she also drinks way too much and she suffers from depression. I could relate to Jennifer in so many ways. I have struggled with disordered eating in the past and I always told myself it wasn't as bad as it could be, just like Jennifer. Jennifer knew she needed help, but she also couldn't help comparing herself and her health to other people. Her parents did that as well. They thought that because she was functioning and getting straight A's, she must not be sick. But most people will tell you that perfectionism is a major personality trait in people with eating disorders. The actual treatment plans and journal entries that Jennifer inserted from her stay added a realistic overtone to the novel. I do believe that the fiction part of the novel comes through in some of the characters and some of the timelines. I loved Jennifer's therapist, Dr. Prakesh and her secondary nurse, Chuck. I also thought it was a nice touch that the author didn't mention any weight numbers throughout the book. I know the author did this so that people with disordered eating would not be triggered by these numbers. I have to be honest and say that I probably would have been triggered myself by the numbers.

One problem I did have was with Jennifer's primary nurse, Sheryl. The patients called her Nurse Ratched behind her back. Now I am not sure if the Nurse Ratched character was fictionalized or just exaggerated, but some of her actions seemed so incredibly unrealistic to me. I know that you can't really trust the patients in the eating disorder clinic (at first), but she was so extreme about EVERYTHING. She made one girl eat more than what her calorie requirement said she had to; she yelled at them for playing cards after dinner and said they were avoiding their feelings; she yelled at two of the girls for dancing and singing to a song and said they weren't supposed to be exercising. It was just one thing after another and it seemed like some of the doctors and nurses knew what was going on with her. Some of her behavior did make sense towards the end of the book, but I felt like the staff should have stepped in way earlier and should have done something about her. Another issue I had was that the pacing kind of off at the end. I felt like the ending got wrapped up a little too fast. 

Buy/Borrow/Skip: Buy this one. I do think it is worth reading.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday - Young Adult/Adult Crossover!

This is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. They feature a different top ten list every week. This week's topic is a Young Adult/Adult Crossover! 

I am a huge fan of Young Adult fiction and I have become even more of a fan since I started blogging. But I do have quite a few Adult Fiction novels that I don't show nearly enough love for. So today, I am going to give Adult recommendations for some of my favorite Young Adult novels.

1. If you liked The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, you may like All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr.
While All the Light You Cannot See wasn't as emotionally devastating as The Book Thief, it still packed an emotional wallop. When the Nazis invade Paris, Marie-Laure is the bravest little girl. And she is blind! She is just as amazing as Liesel in The Book Thief.

2. If you liked The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma, you may like The Barter by Siobhan Adcock.
The Walls Around Us was kind of weird and definitely had creepy and sinister undertones. The Barter actually gave me chills. The Barter was more of a ghost story/love story, but both books had very paranormal elements. And both books were pretty damn good.

3. If you liked Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver, you may like Sister by Rosamund Lupton.
Both books deal with a missing sister and both books have crazy twists. I know some people found the twist to Vanishing Girls a bit predictable (I didn't), but the twist in Sister was crazy shocking. It still scares me when I think about it. And it makes me want to reread it.

4. If you liked To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee, you may like The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grisson.
Both of these books deal with very intense racial issues. The Kitchen House is about an orphan white girl who comes to be a slave for a rich family. She becomes friends with some of the black slaves, but she is still set apart by the color of her skin. This was a crazy good book and very suspenseful.

5. If you liked All the Rage by Courtney Summers, you may like An Untamed State by Roxane Gay.
Okay, so we all know that All the Rage is very raw and emotional. An Untamed State is that times a thousand. It was one of the best books I read last year, though it was difficult to read at times. In An Untamed State, the main character is kidnapped in Haiti and is held captive for three days. The first half of the book focuses on the attack and the second half focuses on her recovery from everything she went through. Just a note: the stuff she went through is disturbing, to say the least. But it is just as important a read as All the Rage.

6. If you liked Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman, you may like I Shall Be Near to You by Erin Lindsay McCabe.
While I Shall Be Near To You doesn't quite have the violence that Vengeance Road does, it still features a bad ass heroine. In Vengeance Road, Kate pretends to be a man so she can seek vengeance for her father's death. In I Shall Be Near To You, Rosetta pretends to be a man so she can fight alongside her husband in the Civil War. Pretty ballsy, right? 

7. If you liked Only Ever Yours by Louise O'Neill, you may like The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood.
There is a reason why Only Ever Yours has been compared to The Handmaid's Tale. It is such a close tie for the contest of most disturbing world. But both books deal with futuristic worlds in which women have zero rights and are treated like objects.

8. If you liked The Fault In Our Stars by John Green, you may like Inside the O'Briens by Lisa Genova.
Did you cry during The Fault In Our Stars? Then you will sob like a baby during Inside the O'Briens. I know I did. In TFIOS, Hazel is dealing with a terminal illness. In Inside the O'Briens, the focus is more on family. The main character, Joe, is diagnosed with Huntington's disease, which has no cure and will eventually kill him. His children have to make the difficult decision about whether to get tested for the gene that causes Huntington or not. This is an emotional roller coaster of a book.

9. If you liked Made You Up by Francesca Zappia, you may like Dancing On Broken Glass by Ka Hancock.

Both of these books deal with mental illness in very different, but profound, ways. In Made You Up, Alex is dealing with her schizophrenia while also dealing with high school. Dancing On Broken Glass tells the story of a marriage between a woman with a devastating family history of cancer and a man with Bipolar disorder. They both make the decision to never have kids and (surprise, surprise) she gets pregnant. The things that Lucy must deal with because of her husband's continuous institutionalizations are heartbreaking and this is a very emotional read.

10. If you liked Charlotte's Web by E.B. White, you may like The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein.
Charlotte's Web was such a sweet (yet sad) book from the pig's POV and I do think we all fell in love with Wilbur. In The Art of Racing in the Rain, prepare to fall in love with the dog Enzo. This is a book about the ups and downs of Enzo the dog, from his point of view. I read this one for the second time earlier this year and I cried just as much as the first time. There is actually a hopeful message at the end too.

Have you read any of these crossovers? Do you primarily read young adult or adult fiction?

Also, don't forget to enter my Banned Book Week Celebration Giveaway! Enter to win the banned book of your choice!

Banned Book Week Celebration and Giveaway!

Happy Banned Books Week!
I really love Banned Books Week. It is a way to acknowledge all the wonderful books that people try to ban and it brings to light the dangers of censorship.

When I was looking at all the top banned lists to see which books have been banned and which ones I have read, I realized that the lists were just giving me more books to add to my TBR pile. The fastest way to get me interested in a book is to tell me it's banned. That just makes me want to read it even more . . . probably not the reaction people are going for when they ban books.

Don't you wish there was a banned book section in the library??
I would be all over that!

I have written a couple of posts on this subject:

Some Girls Are Removed From Optional Reading List

These are just a few of my favorite banned books.
And it's not one of my favorite of the banned books, but I want to comment on the irony of Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury being banned. Seriously . . . a book about a government banning all books being banned. That's insanity!

Looking at this list of some of my favorites, I can see a pattern. Most of them are specifically geared towards young adults. And even the ones who aren't targeted towards that audience may be required school reading. It seems like adults don't think kids can handle the tough subjects. The more stories I read about parents' trying to get books banned from their kid's schools, the more grateful I am for my own parents. My parents never, ever policed my personal reading choices or my required reading for school. They trusted that reading a book about bullying wouldn't cause me to become a bully and reading a book about drug use wouldn't cause me to turn to drugs. When I was in junior high and high school, I was a fan of romance novels and V.C. Andrews. And if you know anything about V.C. Andrews, you know that all of her books contain a certain amount of incest and alcohol abuse. And yet, I didn't turn into an alcoholic and I didn't try to have sex with a family member.

Now on to the giveaway . . . I am giving away the banned book of your choice! (no, you do NOT have to choose a banned book shown above!)

Any book that has been banned at any time can be chosen. That is a lot of options, right? You can certainly choose from my list of favorites. Or maybe you could choose The Kite Runner Khaled Hosseini or Looking for Alaska by John Green or Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher or The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky or Twilight by Stephanie Meyer or The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie. You can go here to see the different lists of banned books for more ideas.

The giveaway is international, as long as The Book Depository ships there free of charge (find that out here!) If you prefer, I will send a Kindle edition via Amazon gift. (Please note: You may only chose ONE of these options!)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The giveaway runs until October 5, 2015. I will randomly choose a winner on October 6, 2015. If I don't hear from a winner within 72 hours, then I will choose another one.

Good luck!!

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Stacking the Shelves

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews. This is where we talk about the books we have acquired over the week, whether they be physical or ebooks, borrowed, purchased or ARCs.

Thanks to NetGalley for these ARCs!
Believarexic by J.J. Johnson

Dead Ringer by Jessie Rosen

These are a few that I purchased over the last week.

Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone

Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson

Have you acquired any new books this week?

Thursday, September 24, 2015

BOOK REVIEW: The Big Lie By Julie Mayhew

I received the ARC for The Big Lie By Julie Mayhew from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

A shocking story of rebellion and revelation set in a contemporary Nazi England. Jessika Keller is a good girl: she obeys her father, does her best to impress Herr Fisher at the Bund Deutscher Mädel meetings and is set to be a world champion ice skater. Her neighbour Clementine is not so submissive. Outspoken and radical, Clem is delectably dangerous and rebellious. And the regime has noticed. Jess cannot keep both her perfect life and her dearest friend. But which can she live without?

Okay, I have to admit that when I first saw this premise, I mistakenly thought this would be a story set in England during WWII. I have never been so happy to be wrong. No, this was Nazi England set in 2013. It was so scary to see what would have happened if Hitler had never been stopped.

The book had me hooked from the beginning. Jessika is a "good girl." She follows the rules and rarely questions authority. Her friend, Clementine, is a different story. Clementine was rebellious and always questioned everything. The author did an incredible job if building this world. First of all, it was kind of interesting the way they brushed over the Holocaust during WWII. According to the Nazis in England, all the Jewish people ran away to America and were never seen or heard from again. And everyone in England is extremely distrustful of Americans, to the point that they don't even allow any Americans on English soil. America was not in this story at all and I kind of loved that. There was so much Nazi propaganda and racism that it gave me chills. I know that people have felt this way in the past (and some still do), so maybe that's why it was so chilling. 

The author was so adept at showing Jessika's confusion that was even confused about some of the stuff happening. The reason for this confusion was due in large part to the author's subtlety. I could see that Jessika was struggling, not just with her sexuality, but with her parents and the rules set by her country. She begins questioning everything she was ever taught and I felt so sad for her. Everything that Jessika is told, she wants to believe. The reader sees and hears everything that Jessika does and she is not told everything, so the reader becomes as confused as Jessika. You kind of have to read between the lines at the author's subtlety to figure out what exactly is happening. Jessika begins to develop feelings for Clementine and is thoroughly confused about her sexuality. Her sexuality is another one of those things that you have to read between the lines . . . in the beginning, anyway. She kissed Clementine, but then also started a relationship with the young man. All of Jessika's struggles and fears were very, very subtle. There were times when she seemed genuinely attracted to this young man. But then something would happen and you would wonder if she had feelings for him or if she was just with him because it was what was expected of her. 

The story kind of falls apart towards the end though. There came a time at about the 70% mark when the story just becomes dull. Nothing much happens. The last thirty percent of the book drags and then the ending seemed so hasty and rushed. I was not a fan of the ending at all and if not for that (and the slow pacing of the last part of it), the book might have gotten a higher rating for me. 

Borrow/Buy/Skip: I would say borrow this one. It is an engaging book to read with some very disturbing themes. I just don't know if it's worth spending the money on it.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Courtney Summers' Round Up of Reviews

Ever since I first read All the Rage and Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers, I have been a bit obsessed. I set out to read everything by Courtney Summers that I could get my hands on. I think I have succeeded so I wanted to post a review of all the books I have read by her.

When “Perfect” Parker Fadley starts drinking at school and failing her classes, all of St. Peter’s High goes on alert. How has the cheerleading captain, girlfriend of the most popular guy in school, consummate teacher’s pet, and future valedictorian fallen so far from grace? Parker doesn’t want to talk about it. She’d just like to be left alone, to disappear, to be ignored. But her parents have placed her on suicide watch and her counselors are demanding the truth. Worse, there’s a nice guy falling in love with her and he’s making her feel things again when she’d really rather not be feeling anything at all. Nobody would have guessed she’d turn out like this. But nobody knows the truth.

Courtney Summers can write about messed up girls better than any author I know. Now this is one of her books that I liked the least . . . but considering the fact that I still gave it four stars on Goodreads, I still liked it a lot. I could relate to Parker a lot because she was always pushing people away and she really just went downhill after witnessing a traumatic event. When what she saw was revealed, I understood why she felt so guilty. I guess I still didn't understand just why she had to push everyone away to do it. Or why she wanted to deliberately get bad grades. That, I didn't get. Still a great book though with flawed characters that you can't help but love.

It’s the end of the world. Six students have taken cover in Cortege High but shelter is little comfort when the dead outside won’t stop pounding on the doors. One bite is all it takes to kill a person and bring them back as a monstrous version of their former self. To Sloane Price, that doesn’t sound so bad. Six months ago, her world collapsed. Now seems like the perfect time to give up. As Sloane eagerly waits for the barricades to fall, she’s forced to witness the apocalypse through the eyes of five people who actually want to live. But as the days crawl by, the motivations for survival change in startling ways and soon the group’s fate is determined less and less by what’s happening outside and more and more by the unpredictable and violent bids for life—and death—inside. 

After reading this book, I have come to the conclusion that Courtney Summers can do no wrong. This is so different from her other books. I mean, it's a zombie book, for crying out loud. But man, it is so much more than a zombie book. Sloane is dealing with an abusive father and the fact that her sister ran away from home months before everything happened. She is depressed and just feels like giving up. This book is so intense with the zombies and with six teenagers trapped in a school, there is bound to be conflict. There is a bit of romance, but it's not the flowery or romantic kind of romance. It's the kind of romance that happens when six people are trapped together and you just want to feel something besides fear. Yeah, this book is a total roller coaster. And whatever you do, don't look away from the last fifty pages: the intensity factor is tripled at the end.

In this gripping sequel to This Is Not A Test, Rhys and Sloane are headed for a safe haven when they get separated along the way. Rhys is determined to reunite with Sloane until he discovers people who might need him more--people who offer him the closest he'll get to everything he's lost, if they can just hold on long enough. Rhys thinks he has what it takes to survive and find the girl he lost, but in a world overrun by the dead, there are no guarantees and the next leg of his journey will test him in unimaginable ways.

This book was more of a novella; it's only 100 pages. But in those 100 pages, Courtney Summers has ripped out my heart and torn it to shreds with absolutely no remorse. Don't listen to the title; there is no calm in this book. There is just tragedy and endless danger and heartbreak.  This book is actually told from the POV of Rhys. I wasn't sure how I felt about it at first, but I grew to love him. He and Sloane are trying to make it to a safe haven when they get separated. This boy has so much resilience and determination and yet, he is still at heart a teenage boy. Honestly though, I am not sure I would have the same determination to survive that he does. There is way more zombie action in this book and some of it is gruesome. Actually, much of it is gruesome. Think of it as a book version of The Walking Dead. And just like The Walking Dead, no one is safe. No one. And that ending . . . . WHY?!? I am still blown away by it. I am pretty sure there will be no sequel to this one and that is just as tragic. Who knew that Courtney Summers could write an apocalypse novel that is just as good as her contemporary stuff?

Fall for Anything
When Eddie Reeves’s father commits suicide her life is consumed by the nagging question of whyWhy when he was a legendary photographer and a brilliant teacher? Why when he seemed to find inspiration in everything he saw? And, most important, why when he had a daughter who loved him more than anyone else in the world? When she meets Culler Evans, a former student of her father’s and a photographer himself, an instant and dangerous attraction begins. Culler seems to know more about her father than she does and could possibly hold the key to the mystery surrounding his death. But Eddie’s vulnerability has weakened her and Culler Evans is getting too close. Her need for the truth keeps her hanging on… but are some questions better left unanswered?

While this book lacks a little of the intensity of her other works, it is no less emotional and gripping and raw. Eddie's grief throughout this book is heartbreaking. She meets Culler, a former student of her father's. My jerk detector went off big time when he was introduced, but I understood why Eddie gravitated towards him so much. She was desperate for answers about her father and would have attached herself to just about anyone who she thought could give her those answers. I just wish he didn't turn out to be such a monumental jerk. Eddie didn't need that. I liked her friendship with Milo. It was sweet and deep and a little complicated. Eddie's feelings were all over the place, which made them all the more real. One minute, she would be upset that people were talking about her dad. But then she would be upset because everyone was acting like nothing had happened. Courtney Summers does an amazing job creating characters that are real and completely honest. The ending to this one was a bit open ended, but that is the way it is in real life. Sometimes you just don't get the answers that you want.

Buy/Borrow/Skip: I just think you should buy all of her books. Really. Every single one is amazing.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday - Fall TBR

This is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. They feature a different top ten list every week. This week's topic is books on my Fall TBR.

Below are some ARCs that I will be reading this Fall.
1. If You're Lucky by Yvonne Prinz

2. How To Be Brave by E. Katherine Kottaras

3. Romancing the Dark in the City of Light by Ann Jacobus

4. Hardwired by Trisha Leaver and Lindsay Currie

5. Y Negative by Kelly Haworth

These are books that I either own or plan to own soon. So many preorders coming up!

6. The Rose Society (Young Elites #2) by Marie Lu

7. Dumplin' by Julie Murphy

8. The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oakes

9. Ice Like Fire (Snow Like Ashes #2) by Sara Raasch

10. Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass #1) by Sarah J. Maas

What books are on your Fall TBR?

Friday, September 18, 2015


Oh man, you guys . . . I kind of love living in Italy.

There is so much to see and so much to do! Living in Naples, my husband and I decided to take a little road trip to Tuscany and parts of Umbria. We stayed at a little farmhouse in Orvieto, which was only three and a half hours away.

This was the view from the farmhouse where we stayed. Talk about relaxing.
I do think we maybe packed one too many hillside towns into our visit, but it's hard to complain when we could see things like this.

We saw San Gimignano, Montepulciano, and Pienza.

We saw amazingly beautiful countryside.
We visited Perugia and Assisi.
We visited an antique market in Arezzo.

And we saw Civita di Bagnoregio, also called "the dying town."
Next time we go, I think we will spend a little more time relaxing at the farmhouse. I would have liked to chill by the pool and read while enjoying the view. But I am so thankful that we have the opportunity for there to be a "next time."
And as you read this post, my husband and I are going on another weekend trip. On Monday, we will be celebrating our seventh wedding anniversary! I really can't believe it has been that long. We will be spending this weekend at a bed and breakfast on the Amalfi Coast, which is one of the most beautiful spots in Italy. Love it!

Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, September 17, 2015

BOOK REVIEW: Fairest: Levana's Story (The Lunar Chronicles #3.5) by Marissa Meyer

This is a book review for Fairest: Levana's Story (The Lunar Chronicles #3.5) by Marissa Meyer.

Fans of the Lunar Chronicles know Queen Levana as a ruler who uses her “glamour” to gain power. But long before she crossed paths with Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress, Levana lived a very different story – a story that has never been told . . . until now. 

If it hasn't been said before, I will say it now: Marissa Meyer is a GENIUS. Yes, you heard me right . . . a GENIUS. How else can you explain her wonderful tale that actually makes me feel sorry for Levana? Yes I know she is a super villain, but this book tells her story and she didn't start out that way.

The book does explain how Levana got her scars and why she never lets anyone see her true face. She starts out as the lonely  second daughter to an evil queen. Her sister, Channery, takes the crown when their parents are killed and then produces an heir, Selene. There were mentions of several characters from the first books and it was nice to hear how their stories started as well. Meyer does a remarkable job of showing how lonely Levana is and how desperate for love. When she becomes obsessed with a palace guard at the young age of fifteen, I ached for Levana and the disappointment I was sure would follow.

Because of her obsession with the guard and the obsession with gaining control over the entire universe, Levana does some questionable things. Okay, okay, she does some evil and loathsome things. But Meyer's genius comes in when she can still make me feel sorry for Levana, even at her lowest. This is a prequel so I know what happens and just how much destruction Levana can bring. That doesn't stop me for rooting for Levana to change. And as evil as Levana was, I was still rooting for her to find love and a happily ever after. But alas, that was not meant to be. This was such an engaging, awesome book! I cannot wait for Winter!!!

Buy/Borrow/Skip: If you love this series and love fantasy, buy this one!!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

BOOK REVIEW: The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow

I received the ARC for The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. The scheduled publication date is September 22, 2015.

A world battered by climate shift and war turns to an ancient method of keeping peace: the exchange of hostages. The Children of Peace - sons and daughters of kings and presidents and generals - are raised together in small, isolated schools called Prefectures. There, they learn history and political theory, and are taught to gracefully accept what may well be their fate: to die if their countries declare war. Greta Gustafsen Stuart, Duchess of Halifax and Crown Princess of the Pan-Polar Confederation, is the pride of the North American Prefecture. Learned and disciplined, Greta is proud of her role in keeping the global peace — even though, with her country controlling two-thirds of the world’s most war-worthy resource — water — she has little chance of reaching adulthood alive.  Enter Elián Palnik, the Prefecture’s newest hostage and biggest problem. Greta’s world begins to tilt the moment she sees Elián dragged into the school in chains. The Prefecture’s insidious surveillance, its small punishments and rewards, can make no dent in Elián, who is not interested in dignity and tradition, and doesn’t even accept the right of the UN to keep hostages. What will happen to Elián and Greta as their two nations inch closer to war?

I have mixed feelings about this book. There were a few things I liked and a few things I didn't. The concept was kind of awesome. I thought I hated it at first, but then somehow I became all for it. Basically, the Children of Peace are children of kings and generals and they are hostages at a school. They spend their entire childhood prepared to die for their parents. Basically, these hostages are used as a deterrent for war. If two people go to war, their children die. And it doesn't even matter who declares war on whom: as Talis says, he doesn't take sides. This is supposed to inspire everyone to negotiate and use war as a last resort and it generally works for the most part.

With a concept that exciting, you would think I wouldn't be bored. But I was. I was bored for probably the first 30% of the book. The pacing was just so slow and it wasn't even due to awesome world building. As a matter of fact, I still have a lot of questions about the AI's and how they came to power and what happened. There were a couple of sentences that alluded to what happened, but they were very brief. There were several characters that were actually machines and I didn't even know this at first. I would be picturing a human person and then bam! The author would throw out a detail that indicated they were machines. But I honestly have no clue what these machines look like. 

Most of the beginning of the book was introducing us to the characters and the author didn't do a great job with that. There were about six or seven Children of Peace that the author focused on. The only problem was that I had no emotional connection with any of them and I couldn't even tell them apart. They all followed the rules of the school blindly. That's about the extent of what I knew about them. Not to give anything away, but something does happen to one of the Children later in the book and I just didn't care. 

I was kind of confused about Greta. As a main character, she was kind of bland (just like the rest of them). Maybe it was the cult mentality or whatever. I did start to like her towards the end of the book. But I didn't understand why she was the leader of the group. All of the otter Children listened to her because she was royalty. But the other Children were kids of royalty or high ranking officials too. So why her? When Elian shows up, there is something about him that she is drawn to but I didn't get it. He was super rebellious against the system, despite all the torture that was inflicted on him. Greta kind of falls for him instantly and then starts to realize how crazy a system it is. I guess I don't understand why Greta refused to see the torture that was happening right under her nose until Elian. I know that the point of the story was to root for Greta to live. But she spent about 60% of the book being prepared to die if necessary and willing to be strong in the face of death. How am I supposed to root for her to live if she spent most of the book being okay with dying? There was a love triangle, kind of. It seemed like Greta made her decision fairly quickly, even though she continued to make out with both of them. Weird. That was a subplot that didn't really need to be there, but this is a YA novel and as such, a love triangle is absolutely necessary. <Insert eye roll here> I did like the other person she was with more than Elian. They just had a bit more personality. 

I really liked Talis. He was the main AI guy, the writer of The Utterances (which us basically their version of the Bible or something) and general controller of the world. He was very sarcastic and kind of funny. Honestly, he seemed more human than machine. I guess I expected that as a machine, all emotion and humor would be kept out of his interactions. 

Here is an example of the sarcasm: "About time, people, said the Utterances. I can't save the world by myself, you know."

I honestly don't know if he was supposed to be a villain or just a very strict father figure. I think I would have preferred the book from Talis's POV. Now that would have made for an interesting book.

While the first 30% of the book was a bit boring, last half of the book is what kept me turning the pages. There was a lot of action and I actually grew to like Greta. She grew a backbone at some point and I did admire her determination and strength. I know there is going to be a companion book to this one at some point and I think there is enough here to keep me reading. Maybe the next one will be from Talis's POV?? I really want more of him.

Buy/Borrow/Skip: Borrow this one. It's an interesting read, but maybe not worth spending the money on it.