Sunday, May 31, 2015

The Remedy by Suzanne Young

Series: The Program (bk. 0.5) Prequel Duology

Genera(s): Near-future Dystopian Sci-fi/Romance/Thriller/Realistic

Subjects: death, love, mental disorders, suicide, mystery

Setting: Oregon, Portland area

POV/Tense: 1st person POV, present tense: Sloane

Age/Grade Level: Teen

Length: 401 pgs.

HC/PB: Hardcover

List Price: $17.99

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Summary/ product description: “Quinlan McKee is a closer. Since the age of seven, Quinn has held the responsibility of providing closure to grieving families with a special skill—she can “become” anyone.

Recommended by grief counselors, Quinn is hired by families to take on the short-term role of a deceased loved one between the ages of fifteen and twenty. She’s not an exact copy, of course, but she wears their clothes and changes her hair, studies them through pictures and videos, and soon, Quinn can act like them, smell like them, and be them for all intents and purposes. But to do her job successfully, she can’t get attached.

Now seventeen, Quinn is deft at recreating herself, sometimes confusing her own past with those of the people she’s portrayed. When she’s given her longest assignment, playing the role of Catalina Barnes, Quinn begins to bond with the deceased girl’s boyfriend. But that’s only the beginning of the complications, especially when Quinn finds out the truth about Catalina’s death. And the epidemic it could start.

My Review: The Remedy is the prequel to The Program. I haven’t read many prequels before. This prequel will have it’s own sequel. This book is very different from what I’m used too. For one, it read like a contemporary/realistic book, though the main character have a very odd job. She had to pretend to be the deceased person. Act like them, dress like them and look like them.

I spent most of the book waiting for something interesting to happen. I was often bored. I loved the The Program and The Treatment for their psychological thriller feel. This book felt more like a contemporary drama. It wasn’t till about page 300 till it got more interesting. The last 30 pages or so are where it really gets you. I’m sure I’ll enjoy the sequel more.

The characters were okay. Quinn’s narration was typical. Not very special. I like the characters Deacon and Aaron more. Both of these guys had some fun dialogue with Quinn. Deacon was a sexy charmer and Quinn’s ex boyfriend, but still friend. Aaron was her partner. Both Aaron and Quinn are closers, and Deacon used to be. Quinn’s been a closer for 11 years. A young kid with a hard job like that is unimaginable. Almost unethical. There’s a lot of ethical issue broth up and grief plays an important role.

This book was hard to categorize. It has some mystery. It doesn’t fit into “dystopian” like the other books. I can’t really compare it to any thing but The Program. Quinn is different from Sloane, but the narration is similar. The event are very different. Suicides are less prevalent since this book occurs before the epidemic. I’m not sure if this is set years before the Program. It could be only like two year, or it could be 10. I have no idea. If you enjoyed the Program, then try this prequel.

Cover Art Review: Not too crazy about the photo cover.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

The Memory Key by Liana Liu

Series: Standalone

Genera(s): Dystopian Sci-fi/Mystery

Subjects: memory, technology, death, grief, near-future

Setting: A town called Middleton. Somewhere in the middle of the U.S. Kansas?

POV/Tense: 1st person POV, present tense: Lora Mint

Age/Grade Level: Teen

Length: 356 pgs.

HC/PB: Hardcover

List Price: $17.99

Publisher: HarperTeen

Summary/ product description: “In a five-minutes-into-the-future world, a bereaved daughter must choose between losing memories of her mother to the haze of time and the reality-distorting, visceral pain of complete, perfect recall.

Lora Mint is determined not to forget.

Though her mother’s been dead for five years, Lora struggles to remember every detail about her—most importantly, the specific events that occurred the night she sped off in her car, never to return.

But in a world ravaged by Vergets disease, a viral form of Alzheimer’s, that isn’t easy. Usually Lora is aided by her memory key, a standard-issue chip embedded in her brain that preserves memories just the way a human brain would. Then a minor accident damages Lora’s key, and her memories go haywire. Suddenly Lora remembers a moment from the night of her mother’s disappearance that indicates her death was no accident. Can she trust these formerly forgotten memories? Or is her ability to remember every painful part of her past driving her slowly mad—burying the truth forever?

Lora’s longing for her lost mother and journey to patch up her broken memories is filled with authentic and poignant emotion. Her race to uncover the truth is a twisty ride. In the end, Liana Liu’s story will spark topical conversations about memory and privacy in a world that is reliant on increasingly invasive forms of technology.”

My Review:  I had no idea what kind off book this would be going into it. I really expected more sci-fi stuff, but what I got was a story set about 50 years in the future in which people had memory keys implanted into their brains as a precaution to Vergets disease.

The story did not feel futurist at all. It may as well been set in contemporary times because this memory key was the only technological innovation that was not something we had today. Maybe this disease had prevented other technological advances from being developed. Maybe it’s more of a alternate history story. I’m not sure. There’s no mention of tablets or smart phones. There’s a library with normal computers. There’s really not much world building. I’m disappointed in this, but I still enjoyed the story for the most part.

The narration was pretty fast paced. It was written in first person, present tense and wasn’t overly complicated or wordy. Sometimes there was too much repetition, but it worked. The flashback caused by the malfunctioning memory key cut into the story way too much, but not all were irrelevant. They fit into the plot. The plot was about a memory centered around the events before her mother’s death, and implicated that she may have been murdered or taken. The mystery story overtakes any sci-fi elements.

Some other interesting point on this story are the characters. Lora is half Chinese (Though the country is never specifically mentioned). Her mom’s parents immigrated to America. Her mother’s sister Aunt Austin is a congresswoman. Lora’s father is an “absentminded” literature professor. Lora’s best friend is Wendy and she’s always setting Lora up with her date’s friends. Lora used to have a crush on Wendy’s brother Tim. At the beginning of the book Lora meets a boy named Raul and later dates him. So there’s so romance, but it’s not a big part of the story.

This book has similarities to other near-future dystopian or sci-fi stories out there. I recommend this to those who enjoyed Elusion by Claudia Gabel, Uninvited by Sophie Jordan, Minders by Michele Jaffe, on Unwind by Neal Shusterman.

Cover Art Review: I love the hand rendered title treatment. The color scheme is nice. The cover is simple and clean.  

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Maximum Ride Forever by James Patterson

Series: Maximum Ride (bk. 9) Final Book

Genera(s): Dystopian Sci-fi/Action Adventure

Subjects: genetic engineering, mutants, post-apocalyptic

Setting: Various locations around the world

POV/Tense: 1st person POV, past tense: Max

Age/Grade Level: Teen

Length: 383 pgs.

HC/PB: Hardcover

List Price: $19.00

Publisher: Hachette: Little, Brown

Summary/ product description: “THE NINTH AND ULTIMATE MAXIMUM RIDE STORY IS HERE! Legions of Max fans won't be disappointed by this encore episode in the beloved series about the incredible adventures of a teenage girl who can fly. As Maximum Ride boldly navigates a post-apocalyptic world, she and her broken flock are roaming the earth, searching for answers to what happened. All will be revealed in this last spectacular "ride"- a brand-new grand finale featuring all of the nonstop action, twists and turns that readers can rely on in a blockbuster Patterson page turner!

My Review:  This is my absolute favorite series. Maximum Ride is the book that got me into YA back in 8th grade (2006 I think). This has got to be maybe the third so-called finale in this series. It could have ended just fine after book 3 (Saving The World and Other Extreme Sports). The 4th book (Final Warning) was kind of pointless. Nevermore seemed to wrap things up, but left us with too many unanswered questions. 

I know people think this book is JP just beating a dead horse with a stick, but I was happy to find out that there’d be another book. I’m a loyal fan. I’d been dying to read it ever since I heard about it. (I preordered it even, but preorders never come the day of release.) So, now I’ve read it and know that this ending leaves no room for more books. The flock gets a proper ending to their story.

Full of twists and tear-jerkers, this is a ride that you won’t forget. It has all the feels. You may need tissues, just a warning. There is so much I want to say about this book, but I’d just spoil everything. I’ll try to be vague as possible. So, Armageddon happened at the end of Nevermore. Basically, an asteroid hit the Earth, Like the one that made the dinosaurs go extinct. A giant tsunami hit the island that the flock and other mutants were living on and volcanoes are set off too. Basically, all the mega-disasters of other dystopian series combine and practically destroy the world.

The flock are pretty much the only survivors on the island and set out to see what else survived. What they find of world wide destruction. City inundated with water or destroy in bombings. Some guy who calls himself the Remedy is sending “Horsemen” (enhanced mutants or androids) to kill survivors and search for the flock. The flock members split up to find out what’s going on in various places around the globe. There is a lot of flying and fighting mutants and Horsemen.

Angel is trying to gather survivors to fight. Angel is also being a bit dictator-ish. She still believes that Fang is going to die. Some familiar faces return. Some can be trusted, some have bad intentions. Bad stuff happens. Really cool stuff also happens. A surprise that I never saw coming happens too. And it happens a bit different than what happened to the Max in the Lake House book. That’s about all I can disclose. I probably said too much.

So, now it’s over. I can’t wait for the online mini-series. I hope it’s free to watch. I wish they’d make a movie, but those rarely turn out the way you want them too. There’s a script in the B&N exclusive edition. Anyone who part of the MR fan club should get it. This series has come a long way. I remember writing fanfic and making fanart back when there were only three books. I mean, look at these: Maximum Ride Fan Art 

I also did this blog sort of like Fang’s Blog, only with OCs. My character was Star, but she wasn’t like Fang’s Star. Mine was an angel with light powers. 

I had a message board too. Those were the good ole days. I’m a college student and Max is still a relatable character. The flocks are like family. My fictional family. And I’m going to miss them. But thankfully there are other great YA series out there calling my name. Thank you James Patterson for bringing these characters to life.  

Cover Art Review: Not feeling the cover at all. Very generic James Patterson-y cover. I liked the Nevermore cover because it at least has wings on it. Max in not a dress kind of girl.