When Katniss Met Bella… Or Something?

The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawaimmortal rules

Book Description: (from Amazon)

In a future world, vampires reign. Humans are blood cattle. And one girl will search for the key to save humanity.

Allison Sekemoto survives in the Fringe, the outermost circle of a vampire city. By day, she and her crew scavenge for food. By night, any one of them could be eaten.

Some days, all that drives Allie is her hatred of them. The vampires who keep humans as blood cattle. Until the night Allie herself is attacked—and given the ultimate choice. Die…or become one of the monsters.

Faced with her own mortality, Allie becomes what she despises most. To survive, she must learn the rules of being immortal, including the most important: go long enough without human blood, and you will go mad.

Then Allie is forced to flee into the unknown, outside her city walls. There she joins a ragged band of humans who are seeking a legend—a possible cure to the disease that killed off most of humankind and created the rabids, the mindless creatures who threaten humans and vampires alike.

But it isn’t easy to pass for human. Especially not around Zeke, who might see past the monster inside her. And Allie soon must decide what—and who—is worth dying for.

It’s official, Interwebs… I have gone to “The Dark Side.” While my primary preferred method of reading is definitely real physical books, I have to admit to installing the Kindle and iBooks apps to our iPad, and making liberal use of both lately.

A great deal of my reading this winter has been of the smut variety… Two Nora Roberts Trilogies, in fact. While they may be wonderfully escapist and make great entertainment for the time I spend on the elliptical, I don’t find myself particularly inspired to write reviews about them. If you’re looking for a fun diversion during the rainy spring months, don’t hesitate to check out the Irish Born trilogy and The Inn Boonsboro Trilogy. I particularly enjoyed my time spent with the feisty Concannon clan in County Clare.

The one perk of having an e-reader is that I can finally make use of the fantastic resources out there for book bloggers, and can finally make good use of having signed up for Netgalley. In preparation for the release of The Eternity Cure (on April 30!!), Netgalley had The Immortal Rules available for download this month. I’m really not sure how I let this one slip under my radar… Perhaps it was a bit of YA Fatigue, and seeing yet another angsty-face cover didn’t make me inclined to give it a second look during my book-buying jaunts?

In any event, I am SORRY Julie Kagawa. I will never stray again. Plus, great call on the new paperback cover. It is bitchin’.

For the first time in a few months, I’ve found myself talking about a book and its heroine. As I mentioned, I was starting to weary of the YA dystopian heroine, who all too frequently falls in and lets her story happen TO her. Allie Sekemoto is the exact opposite of this, and would belong more in the company of Katniss Everdeen than Bella Swan. In attempting to explain this book to Army Boy, I actually referenced both characters.

“It’s like… The Hunger Games meets Twilight… only Allie is Edward… and the world is more like The Passage, with crazy vampires running around killing indiscriminately instead of being veggie-vamps or whatever the Cullens were…”

Allie is an UnRegistered living in the vampire city of New Covington, where every day is a struggle to stay alive and to remain under the radar of the city’s vampire officials. After finding a cache of food one day, Allie brings her gang outside the city walls, with disastrous results for all involved.

Forced to leave her old life behind, the reader is caught up as Allie learns about her new life from her sire, and struggles to come to terms with being what she most despised. She’s got spunk, and is determined not to lose her humanity, no matter how difficult that may become. Her loyalty to the human race could be her undoing, and her affection for Zeke continually tests her. She’s a character that the reader both admires and empathizes with, because at heart she’s still a scrappy teenaged girl who allows herself to care too much about the “wrong” people.

Best of all, Julie Kagawa doesn’t write “down” to her audience. She doesn’t rely on some of the clichés that running rampant through the YA genre right now (Love Triangle, I’m looking at you!), and instead gives us a story that’s both epic in scale and personal for Allie. I’m thrilled that I was able to go right into The Eternity Cure.

Five out of Five Kitanas.

FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book via Netgalley for review.

TxtingMrDarcy Reads: “Bite-Sized” Edition

Well hello,  Interwebs!  Oh, I’ve missed all of your lovely faces! We’re finally back in working-computer business here at the Casa, so my brief hiatus is over. I’ve been reading like a fiend (thanks to some downtime in training classs… which is now over, le boo.), and not able to write nearly as many reviews as I’ve read, so I wanted to crank out a couple of mini-reviews to get myself caught up.

Hopefully I can get back on the ball and return to my regularly scheduled posting.

“Tigers in Red Weather” – Lisa Klaussmann

I admit to primarily choosing this book because of the setting- I have a soft spot for anything that takes place on Martha’s Vineyard. Having spent time there during the summers as a little Brooke, there are very few places that I love more. Just the name can evoke so many wonderful memories. Something about being able to picture the environment so clearly in my head makes the story come a live that much more vividly. There’s something about the New England Islands that gets into your blood and stays there, as one of the characters astutely remarks: “I think it’s in the genes, salt water. Whether you like it or not.” There’s a certain blue to the sky and bite to the air that you can’t find in any other places, and it’s the perfect setting for this fever dream of a novel.

The thing that’s so remarkable about this book is the plotting- Lisa Klaussmann nails it, introducing her characters and their motivations gradually, so the build to the climax is gradual and allows the feeling of dread to build up beautifully. Something  in the characters’ world is verrry wrong, and you will keep breathlessly turning pages to find out what it is.

Five out of five perfect martinis.

“Crossed”~ Ally Condie

It took me quite a while to be motivated to pick up the second book in this series, and now I remember why. It’s just mediocre. The writing wasn’t good enough to keep me caring about the characters, and the plot was far too commonplace- “two characters in love are on a journey to find each other, testing their limits and taking most of the book before they find each other only to immediately get in a fight and eff it up. And then they make up and unforeseen circumstances separate them again. Look out for the love triangle!” Yawn.

Two pages of poetry.

“Uglies/Pretties”~ Scott Westerfeld

I have no idea why I didn’t pick up this series until now. I honestly think that I was put off by the covers/titles enough to avoid them completely. “Uglies” was a pleasant surprise- Tally lives in a dystopian society in which you are “cured” of being ugly at age 16. She’s missing her best friend Peris, who was two months older than her, and is spending her days killing time until she can have her operation. She meets a new friend Shay, who opens Tally’s eyes to the possibility of remaining “ugly”, and questioning a society that places so much value on appearance. When Shay escapes to the wild, Tally is recruited to find her or risk being “ugly” forever.

Oh, and then “Pretties” happened… and the YA curse appeared and made me lose interest in reading the third book. Tally has finally become Pretty, and spends her nights partying with all of her new Pretty friends. She’s been reunited with Peris, is bff with Shay, and has caught the eye of the mysterious Zane. Everything seems pretty perfect until she meets a mysterious masked stranger at a costume ball, and she remembers her real reason for becoming “Pretty.” The rest of the book struck me as convoluted and a bit overdramatic.  See my issues with “Crossed” above. 😉 A potentially fascinating subplot is introduced, only to be interrupted by the ending. Which I  haaaaaaaaaaated.

Uglies: Four out of five hoverboards.

Pretties: Three out of five bungee jackets.

“Day After Night” ~ Anita Diamant

After “The Red Tent,” I’ll read anything written by Anita Diamant. While this book didn’t quite grab me the same way, her talent with historical fiction can’t be denied. Based on a true story, the book follows four women who have survived the Nazis only to be kept in a British detainment camp in Palestine. Each character reveals her experiences during the war slowly, gradually coming to terms with the reality of being one of the “lucky” people who survived when everyone they cared about was lost. Watching them gradually find joy again was both hopeful and bittersweet, and simple moments caught me completely off guard with their emotional depth.

Four out of five loaves of challah.

TxtingMrDarcy Reads: “Blogging Killed the News Media”* Edition

Plot Summary (from Amazon) : The year was 2014. We had cured cancer. We had beat the common cold. But in doing so we created something new, something terrible that no one could stop. The infection spread, virus blocks taking over bodies and minds with one, unstoppable command: FEED.

NOW, twenty years after the Rising, Georgia and Shaun Mason are on the trail of the biggest story of their lives-the dark conspiracy behind the infected. The truth will out, even if it kills them

Soundtrack: “Song 2”~ Blur

This seems like the perfect track to ramp over a hoard of zombies on a motorbike to. ‘Nuff Said.

Best Enjoyed With: An Ice-cold Coke

WOW. Just WOW.

After reading the end of this book, I had to come in and share the whole thing with Army Boy, because I was having trouble wrapping my head around it. It was that powerful. Mira Grant proves that you can achieve a true horror novel with subtlety, and having some of the worst scenes happening “off-screen.”

Shaun and Georgia Mason are given the chance of a lifetime when they’re picked to be the media coverage inside the Presidential Campaign of Senator Peter Ryman. There are a few differences to our current political climate, however.

One: The country is overrun with Zombies. Scientists simultaneously developed a cure for the common cold, and one for Cancer. When introduced, those beasties mutated to bring about the apocalypse in the form of Kellis-Amberlee, a virus that causes the dead to reanimate.

Two: Due to number one, everything is done completely differently in the United States. Blogging has exploded as a viable form of news, because it’s frequently the quickest to pick up a potential story and run with it. No filters or network affiliations, just the truth. In a harrowing time, that’s exactly what people want most.

Sean and Georgia are two thirds of a blogging team (the third being their friend Buffy, fictional writer and tech-guru extraordinaire) who are chosen to present the inside scoop on Senator Ryman’s campaign. Little do they know, they’re entering dangerous territory even by daredevil Shaun’s standards.

I don’t feel like it’s too much of a stretch to compare this book to one of my post-apocalyptic favorites, “The Passage” by Justin Cronin. Mira Grant’s world is realized just as fully, and I found myself wondering what the characters were up to each time I had to put the book down. And oh the characters- Georgia is steely and super-saavy, even when diving into the shark-tank of politics. She’s my new favorite to join my zombie apocalypse Justice League of Awesome and Not Dying. (I so did not just make that up off the top of my head.)(Yes I did.)  Shaun wouldn’t be out of place on an episode of Jack-Ass, and the other staff of After The End Times are brought to life just as vividly.

Through the course of the political campaign, you get a real feel for the changes that have taken place across the country. There are nods of humor (Georgia and Buffy [real name Georgette] are both named after George Romero, considered one of mankind’s heroes for preparing them for the apocalypse via his cinematic work. Apparently “George” was the new “Katie” after the dead started rising), some truly harrowing scenes with the infected and some intriguing descriptions of the various necessary technical advances. Grant also doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to picking off her characters, something that when done well can be incredibly effective.

If you’re looking to start a new post-apocalyptic series, and in the mood for some zombie mayhem, this would definitely be the choice for you.

Four and a half super savvy bloggers.

*-And seriously, after the coverage of the Olympics, can you blame it?

TxtingMrDarcy Reads: “TB isn’t just for Opera anymore!” Edition

 Wither~ Lauren DeStefano

Plot Summary: (From Amazon) At age sixteen, Rhine Ellery has four years to live. Thanks to a botched effort to create a perfect race, all females live to age twenty, and males live to age twenty-five. While geneticists seek a miracle antidote, the world is crumbling: Orphans roam the streets, crime and poverty have skyrocketed, and polygamy abounds.

When Rhine is kidnapped and sold as a bride, she vows to escape. But then her husband, Linden, exposes her to a world of wealth and decadence she never knew existed. Even if she can’t quite hate her husband, though, she knows to fear her father-in-law, an eccentric doctor bent on finding the antidote and who may or may not be hoarding corpses in his basement lab. At the same time, Rhine is growing dangerously close to Gabriel, a house servant. Will she be able to escape the mansion—before her time runs out?

Soundtrack: “Fever”~ Michael Buble

I came across Wither a few years back, was totally hooked by the premise, and then promptly forgot about it. Fortunately, thanks to Emily from Emily’s Reading Room, it found its way back to me in her Dystopian Grab Bag. The month of May has been FULL of dystopian lit for me (From Divergent, to Ashfall, to Wither and The Selection), and shockingly I’m still not tired of it. Seeing the way each author creates their individual dystopian world never fails to fascinate me, whether it’s from a natural disaster or the more insidious failure of human nature itself.

Wither falls firmly in the latter camp. Scientists believed that they’d found the cure to all the ailments plaguing humankind, only to realize that they’d unwittingly implanted all children with a genetic time-bomb that would lead to certain death at age 20 or 25.

I got on Goodreads the other night to updated that I’d finished the book, and was immediately shocked by all of the negative reviews. People were TEARING up Lauren DeStefano’s world-building in this one, and it totally shocked me. Especially with the current popularity of “Code Name Verity” by Elizabeth Wein, I was having trouble grasping why people didn’t immediately characterize Rhine as the Unreliable Narrator. Everything that we’re told about what the world has become comes directly from her, and her limited experience and exposure.

We don’t know why the entire world except for the United States is flooded. (My current theory: It probably isn’t.)

We don’t know what mutation is causing the premature death of all children born after the miraculous First Generation.

Why weren’t people’s life cycles changing to adapt to their shortened life expectancy? Um… Cecily delivers her first child at age thirteen. That seems pretty young to me. I don’t doubt that elsewhere people were voluntarily entering into marriage at a younger age, but Rhine’s personal experience is that of being kidnapped and forced into marrying a House Governor.

Everything that we are told is a reflection of Rhine’s experience. To immediately jump to the conclusion that DeStefano sucks at worldbuilding seems unnecessarily harsh to me.

In case you can’t tell, I really enjoyed this book. There were just enough futuristic elements to allow me to suspend disbelief and immerse myself in the story. What a creepy story she’s chosen to tell, too- three teenaged girls kidnapped and forced to marry a total stranger with no hope of escape. From that point on, their role is as brood mares primarily, and research subjects when they eventually pass on.

DeStefano doesn’t shy away from the gruesome implications of the virus that the characters are living with, or the sexuality implicit in a polygamous marriage. Throw in the isolated creepy mansion setting, and you’ve got a futuristic gothic tale with some hints of Margaret Atwood. Rhine is fiercely loyal to her brother, and spends most of the book plotting how to return to him, though she occasionally realizes that it might not be so bad to live out the rest of her limited life in comfort. Seeing her relationship with her sister wives develop is touching, though there’s always an uneasy feeling of “trust no one.” (Maybe that’s a result of watching too much X-Files lately too, who knows?)

Either way, I will definitely be reading the next installment.

Four out of Five June Beans.