Pawn by Aimee Carter

Pawn (The Blackcoat Rebellion, #1)

Pawn

Aimee Carter
Harlequin Teen
November 26, 2013
Series or Standalone: The Blackcoat Rebellion #1
ISBN: 0373210558
Pages: 343 
Websites:
Rating: 4 Stars 
From the description of this book, I felt like I wasn’t really going to like it. I put off reading it for a long time, as I was worried it just wouldn’t hold my interest. There is a lot of dystopian in the YA market now a days, and some of it just doesn’t click. However, Pawn clicked for me. 
Aimee Carter did an excellent job establishing the world of Pawn. As it is a dystopian, it takes place in a futuristic United States, one that is a distorted version of our current country. The world building did not drag the beginning of the book down like it does in other books of this genre. The world was fully developed, and I found even a scarily possible future for the United States. Each person in society is assigned a number based on how they score on their test; this number determines a persons future. Kitty scores a III, a lower number than expected, which threatens her entire future plans. When faced with the chance to escape from the ranks of the III and be elevated to a VII, the highest rank in the country, Kitty jumps at the opportunity without understanding the consequences.
The main character, Kitty is forced to become Lila Hart after her death. Little does Kitty realize that becoming Lila, becoming a VII, does not make life easier. The Hart family, the leaders of the United States, are a very screwed up family. Corruption, lies, rebellions and secrets are abound, and Kitty is thrust into the middle of a power struggle. Little does Kitty know just how important she is to the Harts as Lila. This screwed up family and political atmosphere had me hooked. I needed to see how all the pieces were going to fall and wanted all the lies unraveled. 
I really enjoyed that throughout the book, Kitty stayed true to herself despite being forced to assume the identity of someone else. While Kitty could have accepted the fact that her life was no longer her own, but instead she stayed true to who she was. Her determination and strength shone through her new exterior as Lila. Kitty could have been followed the instructions given to her by Daxton, Celia, or Augusta, but instead she took charge; she refused to become a pawn to either side. While her life was no longer her own, she still found ways to make decisions for herself despite her circumstances. She made me root for her. I had a few issues with the characterizations of some secondary characters, but I will be interested to see how all the characters develop and grow as the series continues. The romance in the book also felt a bit stale to me, probably because I did not have any connection to Benjy, a character I wished was a bit more fleshed out. 
Pawn was fast paced, filled with twist and turns. The web of lies and deceptions is a messy one, but one that I wanted to get untangled, and Aimee Carter does a good job with revealing the truth throughout the book. The ending was heart-pounding, leaving Kitty in an even more precarious position than I thought possible. I cannot wait to see what other secrets will be revealed in the coming books. Thoroughly engaging and engrossing, with lies and secrets galore, Pawn is a great start to a new series. I look forward to seeing what Aimee Carter plans to do with the rest of the series. 

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

The 5th Wave
Rick Yancey
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Release Date: May 7, 2013
Series or Standalone: The Fifth Wave #1
ISBN: 0399162410
Pages: 480
Websites:
Rating: 4.5 Stars
I stumbled upon the 5th Wave by accident on Facebook as was extremely worried going into this book that it would not live up to all the marketing and hype. From page one I was hooked. It seems like aliens might be the hot new thing in YA (Icons was also about an alien invasion as well), and if all stories were like the 5thWave, I really wouldn’t mind.
Yancey creates a world decimated by an alien invasion. Currently on what the survivors call the 5thwave of the invasion, no one knows who to trust. Anyone can be one of the others. The world that the character live is one full of sadness, hopelessness, and distrust. Cassie, one of the main characters, is all alone, having watched her mother and father die in front of her eyes and watched her younger brother taken away. Cassie has nothing really left to live for but the slim chance that her younger brother might still be alive. In a world so desolate and bleak, it is strange that there is a small glimmer of hope for each character. I couldn’t help but want these characters to survive, despite all the horrors they have seen.
The writing in this book is fabulous. I was captivated from the prologue. I literally put the book down and told my roommate “I have never been that quickly hooked to a book. That prologue was an amazing piece of writing.” While the story jumps around from the point of view of a few characters, it wasn’t really jarring, and all the characters were connected, as the connections between each one slowly comes together over the course of the novel. I would say Cassie’s perspective, which takes up most of the book, was probably the strongest and we got more into Cassie’s mind and emotions than the other characters.
For a long book, almost 500 pages, I flew through it, finishing most of it in one night. While a book that long might feel like it took forever to get through, I didn’t have that issue. The plot rarely dragged, and I didn’t feel like I had to force myself through any of the sections of the book. I was eagerly turning backs to find out more about what was happening and learn more about this finely crafted world Yancey had created it. When I reached the end, I was shocked to find there was no more book left! I cannot wait to see how the next book in this series is as that ending was killer and this book was fantastic.
The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey lives up to the hype. It’s definitely one of my favorite books of the year. This book is full of emotions and managed to provide an entertaining read while also taking a look at what it means to be human. I cannot wait for the next book in this series.

P.S. You guys should check out the 5th Wave and their online marketing. It’s really awesome and I love how it promotes and ties into the book.

Icons by Margaret Stohl

Icons
Margaret Stohl
Publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date: May 7, 2013
Series or Standalone: Icons #1
ISBN: 0316205184
Format: ARC
Pages: 428
Websites:
Rating: 3 Stars
Icons was one of those books that I couldn’t fully get into. I didn’t hate but I didn’t love it, it was mehh. Icons had a lot of potential and I am interested to see were this series goes, but as the first book in a series it felt very jumbled and disconnected.
Icons is set in the not so distant future in a post-invasion world where aliens hold the complete control and most of the population has been killed. As the tagline says “Your heart only beats with their permission.” It is hard for me to describe what sort of world, Dol, the main character, is living in because I couldn’t really get a clear picture of what it was like. This post-invasion world didn’t seem to be fully constructed which oftentimes left me feeling confused. The politics of this world also were confusing. I did not really understand why things were happening, or why the Ambassadors were so bad or what was up with the rebellion faction. I felt I had to struggle to put together the pieces of this world, something that should be clearly developed in the first book of a series.
The characters in the book left me wanting more. I couldn’t connect to any of them. They were all so flat and emotionless, though as children of the Icon, emotionless they shouldn’t be. The romance in the book felt stale, probably because of the lack of depth in the characters. The only character I found remotely interesting was Doc, and he was an artificial intelligence.
The plot was intriguing enough that it kept me turning the pages. There was plenty of action and mystery to keep me interested in finding out more. I really enjoyed how between chapters there would be different artifacts or clips that related to the plot in a  not so clear way until the end. The biggest thing that kept me reading was the mystery of the Icons. Well, that’s not fully answered in this book, but I look forward to finding more out of them.
As a first book in a series, Icons left me feeling confused and wanting more. I expected more from this book than it gave me. I’ll be reading the sequel because the story was interesting enough to make me want to keep reading, but I hope in the next book the world and characters are more developed. I can’t help but compare this post-alien invasion book to another new alien invasion book, The 5thWave by Rick Yancey, and this just falls flat in comparison to that. Hopefully Margaret Stohl can deliver more in the next Icon series book.   

Review: Divergent by Veronica Roth

Divergent

Veronica Roth
Publisher: HarperCollins
Release Date: May 3, 2011
Pages: 496
Source: Borrowed from Danielle B.
Ratings: 5 Stars
Summary (from Goodreads):
In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.
During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles to determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating boy fits into the life she’s chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she’s kept hidden from everyone because she’s been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.
Where to start with this book? Seriously. This is probably one of the best books I have read this year. If it was possible for me to marry a book, I would marry this one.
I was extremely hesitant to start this book because there was so much hype surrounding this book. Usually when there is all this hype surrounding a book saying how awesome the book is I’m extremely wary and often times the book does not live up to the hype. That was not the case with Divergent. If anything, Divergent was even better then all the hype makes it out to be. This book is just awesome in a physical form.
So why is this book awesome? Let’s first start with the plot. I loved this plot. This book is dystopian done right. From the first moment you pick up the book until the very last page you will be actively engaged in the plot. I literally was swept up into the plot of this book, not sure were Veronica Roth would take Tris and Four and the other characters next. I was constantly turning the pages, engrossed in the story. I got so swept up in the action of Divergent that I lost track of time reading this book and was actually shocked when I finished because I did not realize I had just spent hours reading the book. I have to say the climax of this book is amazing. This book had one of the best climaxes in a book with a great twist and great action. The last couple chapters had me literally gasping out loud and even yelling at the book. I was very emotional invested in the plot and was just amazed at everything that happened in the book. I don’t want to spoil the plot for anyone but be expected to be blown away.
Another amazing thing about this book was that Veronica Roth was able to create a realistic future dystopian society. A thing that can make or break a book, specifically a dystopian, is the world building. Veronica Roth is able to successfully create a world where people are separated into five different factions based on different personality characteristics to create a perfect society. Veronica Roth immediately immerses you into Tris’s future Chicago world. The differences between each faction in the society was clearly defined, and the five factions made sense in trying to establish a perfect society. I was really fascinated by the differences between each faction and the decision each person must face when they come of age: stay with your family in the same faction or chose a different faction in which you are better suited for. I loved the whole world of the Dauntless faction and how different it was from the Abnegation faction and the other factions. I just loved the contrast between all the factions.
I really loved the main character of Divergent Tris. She is such a strong, fierce character. I loved that Tris was not afraid to stand up for what she believes in and was willing to make choices based on her heart and decisions even if they were unpopular decisions. Tris was everything you want in a strong female character. Not only was she willing to make difficult decisions she could also kick ass, physically. I loved that she was such a strong female character, making decisions based on what she thought was right, not what society deemed right. And then there is Four. I loved Four. He was awesome and just as strong as Tris. I have a lot to say about him but it’s spoilery and I do not like spoilers.
There is so much more I want to say about this book, but I am worried about spoiling the book and this is not a book you want spoiled. You need to experience everything first hand to get the full effect of how awesome this book is. I am amazed at how amazing this book is. One of the amazing things about this book is that it is from a debut author who is still in her 20s. I’m amazed. This is definitely a stunning debut and I cannot wait for the sequel and to see what else this amazingly talented writer will turn out next.
Everyone needs to go out and buy this book since it is on sale today. I would marry this book if possible, because it is that awesome. I realized I have used awesome a lot in this review, but really there are no adjectives to describe my love for this book. Awesome is the only one that comes close. I am willing to force this book upon random people on the streets and bookstores. That is how much I love this book. I have already forced upon one of my college professors because I love it so much. Everyone go buy this book because it is one of the best debuts of the year, and even possibly, one of the best books in general of the year.
And check out my Fragment Friday where I read an excerpt from the beginning of Divergent.


Also check out the trailer for Divergent here. Divergent by Veronica Roth is on sale now.

Review: Mockingjay *Spoiler Free*

Mockingjay
Suzanne Collins
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Release Date: August 24, 2010
Pages: 390
Ratings: 3 Stars
Summary (from Goodreads):
Katniss Everdeen, girl on fire, has survived, even though her home has been destroyed. Gale has escaped. Katniss’s family is safe. Peeta has been captured by the Capitol. District 13 really does exist. There are rebels. There are new leaders. A revolution is unfolding.
It is by design that Katniss was rescued from the arena in the cruel and haunting Quarter Quell, and it is by design that she has long been part of the revolution without knowing it. District 13 has come out of the shadows and is plotting to overthrow the Capitol. Everyone, it seems, has had a hand in the carefully laid plans — except Katniss.
The success of the rebellion hinges on Katniss’s willingness to be a pawn, to accept responsibility for countless lives, and to change the course of the future of Panem. To do this, she must put aside her feelings of anger and distrust. She must become the rebels’ Mockingjay — no matter what the personal cost.
Like everyone else, I was anxiously awaiting the arrival of Mockingjay.It was my first night at college the night it was released and I downloaded Mockingjay on my Nook since no stores around me where having midnight releases. I stayed up until 5:15am in the morning reading this book and had to be up by 6:30am. Sadly, I felt that staying up that late was not worth it after reading Mockingjay
As the title says, there will be no spoilers, because I know some people still haven’t read it, but I must say, Mockingjay fell extremely short of my expectations. This book, in my opinion, didn’t feel right. Something was off. I felt that this book didn’t belong in a series with the previous two books, everything felt different. What really bothered me was that the characters that we grew to love and to know in the first two books felt extremely different in this book. Interactions between Katniss and Gale and Peeta were extremely awkward and Katniss felt like a different character completely. I understand that the actions from the previous two books impacted Katniss and definitely made the tone of this book darker, but I felt that at times, characters we knew were almost completely new characters.
I was so disappointed in this book. The plot was extremely slow and definitely didn’t have the pacing of the previous two books. I felt a lot of the plot could have been cut or condensed into shorter scenes too, which annoyed me. I felt that Katniss spent way to much time in this books knocked out, asleep, drugged up or moping around. I missed the action and the intense, heart wrenching scenes from the previous books. The emotional impact of this book was severely lacking, I didn’t even shed a tear when certain events happened. The only time I felt like crying was at the end because the book was over. I feel a lot of the deaths/events were overlooked or brushed over, making the event not as sad as it was or should have been.
And now we get to the epilogue. While I don’t wish to spoil the book for those who haven’t read it, I must say that the first thing that popped into my mind when reading the epilogue was “This reminds me of the Deadly Hallows epilogue”. I had the same emotional reaction to it as Harry Potter and if felt eerily similar which bothered me a lot.
I feel that if this novel was not the last Hunger Games novel, I would have enjoyed it a lot more. However, it was the last one in an amazing series, a series of which I am a HUGE fan. I was just sadly disappointed that this was the way Suzanne Collins decided to end such a fantastic series. While Mockingjay was not what I expected and probably my least favorite series in the book, I do respect Suzanne Collins and I understand why she did what she did and why she ended the series the way she did. I just wish that it could have been different. This book was just not up to par with the AWESOME of the previous two novels, however, it is a book I will reread again since it is the conclusion to one of my favorite series. I just wish things could have gone differently and lived up to the awesome I was expecting.