Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Quake by Patrick Carman

Series: Pulse Trilogy (bk. 3)

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

Subjects: paranormal, psychic ability, supernatural, telekinesis

Setting: Portland, Oregon. About 47 years in the future

POV/Tense: 3rd person POV omniscient

Age/Grade Level: Teen

Length: 358 pgs.

HC/PB: Hardcover

List Price: $17.99

Publisher: HarperTeen: Katherine Tegan

Summary/ product description: “In the year 2051, Faith can move mountains…

Faith Daniels and Dylan Gilmore are in love, and they have a special ability called a pulse: they can move things with their minds. They're caught in the middle of a deadly war with two other pulses: Clara and Wade Quinn, who have joined forces with Hotspur Chance, the most wanted man in the world.

At the start of Quake, Faith and Dylan are holed up in a spectacular abandoned mountain lodge (once used in the film The Shining 71 years before), and their Intel friend Hawk leaves them in the middle of the night, in spite of a newly blossoming love with a girl named Jade. Hawk’s plan is to penetrate the Western State and make contact with a sleeper cell working on the inside that will give them valuable information about Hotspur’s violent plan.

But while Hawk is searching for answers on the inside, Faith and Dylan are still fighting on the outside. In a series of hair-raising battles, the second pulses duel it out, only to raise the body count on both sides. During the battles, Faith and Dylan discover an even great strength: the power of their combined love. Together, Faith and Dylan might just be able to save the world with a quake that is big enough to change the course of history.”

My Review:  Quake is the final book in the Pulse trilogy. It’s also by far the best in the series. I enjoyed the first book. The sequel was kind of boring and jumped around too much. This book is set in Oregon (Portland mostly, which is where Grimm is set!) and the characters are much more interesting and the dialogue is a lot funnier. I really enjoyed the references to pop-culture (or nerdy retro stuff) and literature.

I really enjoyed the new character, a thirteen-year-old named Jade. She had a crush on Hawk. Hawk is probably my favorite character. I would love to have a little brother whose super smart and could hack thing. Hawk is like Cody from Unremembered by Jessica Brody. Hawk likes real books and old movies. Usually you’d think a hacker would like only techie stuff. Dylan also like sci-fi movies.

My favorite thing about this series is probably the Pulse abilities. Telekinesis sounds like an awesome ability. Especially since Faith and Dylan can use it to fly. It’s also dangerous if used recklessly. This book also references old technology and our current technology and compares it to their futuristic technology. The tablets they use sound very cool. This book is not a true-dystopian, but it sometimes feels like one. The idea of the entire population of the US being concentrated into two states feels a little claustrophobic. It was done to help the environment supposedly, but it’s a bit extreme.

Now that this series is over, I hope that Patrick Carman has something else in the YA sci-fi/fantasy department cooking. I recommend this series to fans of Shatter Me, Blackout by Robison Wells and Darkest Minds.

Cover Art Review: I like the city illustration and the mountain floating in the air. It’s actually a scene in the book, so even better.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Salt & Stone by Victoria Scott

Series: Fire & Flood (bk. 2)

Genera(s): Dystopian Sci-fi/Thriller

Subjects: survival, rainforests, deserts, animals, races, contests, adventure

Setting: Ocean & snowy mountains

POV/Tense: 1st person POV present tense: Tella Holloway

Age/Grade Level: Teen

Length: 313 pgs.

HC/PB: Hardcover

List Price: $17.99

Publisher: Scholastic Press

Summary/ product description: “What would you do to save someone you love?

In Fire & Flood, Tella Holloway faced a dangerous trek through the jungle and across the desert, all to remain a Contender in the Brimstone Bleed for a chance at obtaining the Cure for her brother. She can't quit--she has to win the race, save Cody, and then fight to make sure the race stops before it can claim any more lives. In the next legs of the race, across the ocean and over mountains, Tella will face frostbite, sharks, avalanche, and twisted new rules in the race.

But what if the danger is deeper than that? How do you know who to trust when everyone's keeping secrets? What do you do when the person you'd relied on most suddenly isn't there for support? How do you weigh one life against another?

The race is coming to an end, and Tella is running out of time, resources, and strength. At the start of the race there were one hundred twenty-two Contenders. As Tella and her remaining friends start the final part of the race, just forty-one are left--and only one can win.”

My Review:  Salt & Stone is the exciting sequel to Fire & Flood. The first book was set in a rainforest and a desert. This book takes us across the sea and through the mountains. This is not the final book like I originally thought. There will be a third book. The series is thrilling and full of survival. The narrator, Tella, is funny and quirky. This book is Hunger Games meet Survivor meets Pokémon, but set in modern times instead of the future. The Pandoras are genetically engineered animal that can help the contenders survive. The Pandora are so much like Pokémon in that they came out of eggs and they have abilities. They can’t put their Pandoras away, though.

Tella now not only has Madox (a fox that shape-shifts), but a bear she calls Monster, and later gains a iguana. The whole point of this race (The Brimstone Bleed) is that the winner gets the cure to the disease infecting their loved one. Guy (what an odd name, unless you are Guy on the food network) is Tella’s love interest. His Pandora is a lion (M-4). Guy’s goal is to win and get invited to work for the Brimstone Bleed people and take down the race. Tella agrees to help is she wins.

 Now in the ocean ecosystem, Tella, Guy, Harper, Olivia, Braun, Jaxon and 3 newer characters board a pirate ship and set out on a course that it more difficult that the previous challenges.  Crossing the ocean has different survival challenges. There are storms and sharks and other dangers. Once in the mountain part of the race they get their first trues taste of what it truly means to be freezing. Victoria plays with worst-case scenarios, both the cliché and unthinkable ones. A few contenders even perish due to unforeseen events.

This book is both fun in scary. I enjoyed it much more than the Hungers Games. Tella is more relatable than Katniss since she’s a contemporary girl and like to throw in some pop-culture and acts more feminine. Although, she gave into the cliché acts of cutting her hair like most dystopian heroines (Katniss kept her hair in a braid atleast). Tella reminded me of Tris from Divergent at times to. She shows some selfless, reckless bravery even at times. She also seemed to have a deep connection to her Pandoras. Tella’s empathy may not be a superpower (even if I was hoping that she was special), but her faith in the Pandoras made them better companions.

I recommend this series to those who like Pokémon/Digimon/Yugio or other creature-battling animes, and survival books like The Hunger Games & Under The Never Sky, and books about games or contests.

Cover Art Review: This cover is not better that the previous cover. Sure, I love the blue but so many covers have eyes on them! I wish that put the animals on the cover.

Monday, March 23, 2015

The Prey by Tom Isbell

Series: The Hatchery (bk. 1)

Genera(s): Dystopian Sci-fi

Subjects: fugitives, resistance to government, survival, post-apocalyptic, adventure

Setting: Western and Central USA

POV/Tense: Rotating, 1st person POV(past tense): Book, 3rd person POV(present tense?): Hope

Age/Grade Level: Teen

Length: 404 pgs.

HC/PB: Hardcover  

List Price: $17.99

Publisher: HarperTeen

Summary/ product description: “A hot debut trilogy and a riveting story of survival, courage, and romance in a future where creating a master civilization is the only thing prized, no matter the method. After the Omega (the end of the end), 16 year old guys known as LTs discover their overseers are raising them not to be soldiers (lieutenants) as promised, but to be sold as bait because of their Less Than status and hunted for sport. They escape and join forces with a girls’ camp, the Sisters, who have been imprisoned and experimented on for the "good of the Republic," by a government eager to use twins in their dark research. In their plight for freedom, these heroes must find the best in themselves to fight against the worst in their enemies.”

My Review:  I expected more from this book. I thought it would be more unique, but it turned out to be too similar to other dystopian books out there. It was still a good read. It was easy with good pacing. The characters were okay. The boys all went by nick-names. The main character is called Book because he’s smart. There’s names like June Bug, Cat, K2 and Four Fingers. The main girls are twins Hope and Faith.

I wanted more world building. The book does explain that there was a nuclear attack in the past and that some people have been affected by the radiation. The government that rose from this is like any other dystopian government in which they hate people who are different in some way. They call these people Less Thans and they treat them poorly or just plain kill them. Book doesn’t realize that the boys around him are being raised and educate to be hunted down for sport.

The book tried to hard to be like other dystopian book. It’s not exactly the Hunger Games other than the there is survival stuff and they do learn to use a bow and arrow, but it’s not the thrilling kind of action you’d expect. The setting partially feels like the Scorch Trials, the second Maze Runner book. A desert and crazies? Maybe the author read some James Dashner too? They travel though the Rockies or Sierra Nevada mountains too. And the plains.

The book switched from Book’s first person POV (past tense) and Hope’s 3rd person POV (present tense?), which is an interesting choice. Maybe the author didn’t know how to write in 1st person in a girl’s POV. There’s very little romance. Maybe it’ll develop in the next book. I will probably real the next book. I just wish there was a twist, like aliens or something. I recommend this to fans of dystopian survival books like the Hunger Games or Maze Runner.

Cover Art Review: I love the title treatment with the stone texture and barbed wire. The lasers made me think there was more sci-fi stuff, but it’s more like a sniper-laser. The canyon is a nice photo.