Revolution

Revolution was written by Jennifer Donnelly and first published in 2010. It is a very ambitious novel that blends elements of contemporary, historical and science fiction, presenting the dual stories of an American teenager suffering from the death of her brother, and a French teenager trying to survive the Great Terror. The novel stands alone, so you don’t have to have read any of Donnelly’s other books to fully appreciate it.

Andi Alpers is falling apart. Her little brother – Truman – has been dead for two years, her mother is lost in grief and her father has left them to start a family with a younger woman. Andi knows that she is entirely to blame for all of this and is growing increasingly numb to everything. She is flunking school but doesn’t care. She knows that everyone would be happier if she just wasn’t around.

However, her father’s sudden return derails her morbid plans. To Andi’s horror, he immediately has her mother sent away to a psychiatric institution and insists that Andi accompanies him to Paris over the school break. He hopes that the change will do her good and give her ample time to work on her thesis – a complex work linking an 19th Century French musician to present day acts. Over this time, they will be staying with an eccentric family friend – a Historian known as G who is desperate to prove that a mummified heart belongs to the last Prince of France.

Although Andi is desperate to finish her research and return to her mother, she grows increasingly distracted as she discovers a lost diary belonging to a servant working in the Court of King Louis XVI. The girl – Alex – initially agreed to be a companion for the young prince to move up in society, but gradually grew to view him as a younger brother. Andi keeps reading these increasingly grim accounts of the French Revolution, hoping for the best. However, as G’s research continues, she becomes increasingly fearful as to what Alex’s fate will be…

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Snow Island: Chronicles of a Wererabbit

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for earlier novels in the series. You can read my reviews of these books [here] and [here].

Snow Island: Chronicles of a Wererabbit was written by M.Y. Zeman and is due for release later this month. It is the third instalment of the series, following after Snowball: Chronicles of a Wererabbit (2015) and Snow Bunny: Chronicles of a Wererabbit (2016). Although Zeman does try to bring new readers up to speed with her early chapters, I’d advise reading these books in order if you want to have a full grasp on what’s going on.

Snow and her family are on holiday in Florida when a fortune teller gives her a terrible prediction. Not only do the fates say that she isn’t going to remain happily with Josh, but her very existence has caused a ripple in causality. As John cheated death by saving her as a baby, now someone close to her is sure to lose their own to compensate.

Although shaken by this, Snow is forced to quickly push it to the back of her mind as Josh begins to recover some of his lost memories. His dreams lead them to a mysterious island which has been converted into a macabre holiday resort by persons unknown. On the island, all manner of extinct and mythological creatures roam free. Unfortunately, they are only there to provide sport for big game hunters.

Snow and her family know that they need to do something to shut the resort down, however it will not be easy. Not only are the hunters armed, but many of the creatures are savage and will devour them on sight. It will be the most dangerous mission that Snow has ever undertaken and could certainly be the one to prove the fortune teller’s prediction right…

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Visser

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for earlier instalments of this series. You can read my reviews of these novels by clicking the links below:

Animorphs:  1-5 | 6-10 | 11-15 | 16-19 | 20-22 | 23-27 | 28-32 | 33-37

Megamorphs: The Andalite’s Gift | In the Time of Dinosaurs | Elfangor’s Secret

Animorphs Chronicles: The Andalite Chronicles | The Hork-Bajir Chronicles

For today’s review, I’m going to be taking a look back at the third of K.A. Applegate’s Animorphs Chronicles. These books are designed to be read alongside the main Animorphs series as they help to expand on the universe by giving more background to the different alien races. Today’s novel – Visser – focuses on how Visser One first began the invasion of Earth and is designed to be read directly after The Proposal (book thirty-five of the main series).

Edriss 562 has never been in so much danger. Following a string of mistakes in the invasion of Earth, she has found herself stripped of her rank as Visser One and brought before the Council of Thirteen to answer for her crimes. The charges stacked against her carry a dozen different death charges but the worst thing is that Visser Three is her prosecutor. The Andalite Controller has hated Edriss for as long as she can remember and will stop at nothing to see that she is found guilty.

As the trial progresses, Edriss recounts how she and her friend Essam discovered Earth and took the very first Human Controllers. However, as she is subjected to an invasive memory probe, it quickly becomes apparent that her early years on Earth did not go smoothly. Visser One has many secrets, ones that not even her host is aware of. Secrets that are enough to shock even the most hardened of Yeerk generals.

It’s not long before Edriss realises that she has no hope of being found innocent. The only thing that she can do is make Visser Three seem worse. His incompetence in dealing with the Andalite Bandits has made him look a fool time and time again, but Edriss knows something that he doesn’t – the fact that they’re not Andalites at all. Slowly, she begins to form a plan to use this information to her advantage…

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Animorphs 33-37

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for earlier instalments of this series. You can read my reviews of these novels by clicking the links below:

Animorphs:  1-5 | 6-10 | 11-15 | 16-19 | 20-22 | 23-27 | 28-32

Megamorphs: The Andalite’s Gift | In the Time of Dinosaurs | Elfangor’s Secret

Animorphs Chronicles: The Andalite Chronicles | The Hork-Bajir Chronicles

Welcome again to my retrospective of K.A. Applegate’s Animorphs. In case you haven’t seen any of my previous posts, this is my gradual look back over a popular-science fiction series that ran between 1996 and 2001. The series consisted of fifty-four main books and ten spin-offs, though for the purpose of this review I’m only going to be looking at volumes thirty-three to thirty-seven – The Illusion, The Prophecy, The Proposal, The Mutation and The Weakness. Be warned, there will be spoilers below the cut…

Due to Rachel’s struggle against herself, the Animorphs failed to stop the development of the Anti-Morphing Ray. Now that it’s ready to be tested, the team know that it could reveal that they’re really human and put all of their lives in danger. Their only hope is to fool Visser Three into believing that it’s broken and the only way to do this is to use Tobias. The hawk is his true form and so if the ray is turned upon him, nothing would happen. However, tricking the Yeerks requires for him to first become their prisoner.

Following this, the Animorphs are contacted by the last of the Arn. He wishes to breed a new strain of Hork-Bajir to free his plant for the Yeerks, but to do so he needs to find a cask of armaments that was once hidden by Aldrea. To locate this, he needs to transfer Aldrea’s consciousness into a willing host. However, there is no way of knowing if Aldrea will be prepared to give the person their body back.

Yet some of the Animorph’s biggest challenges occur close to home. Marco struggles to control his morphing power when put under stress by the possibility of his father remarrying, and Jake is forced to make difficult decisions when the team are taken captive by a race of aquatic humanoids. Yet the biggest challenge comes when Rachel is left in charge while Jake takes a vacation. Her reckless plan to show up Visser Three puts the lives of her friends in danger. Just how far will she go before she realises that she is in over her head?
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Young Adult Comics

graphic-novels

I haven’t had time to prepare a proper review for today as I’m currently studying for an exam. Don’t worry though – so long as I pass, everything should be back to normal for next week!

Anyhow, instead I thought I’d use today’s post to talk about something a little different. If you follow me on Goodreads, you’ll already know that I’m also an avid comic book reader. While comics are a bit more mainstream now than they once were, they’re still often looked down upon as being of lesser value than other forms of art and literature. This is quite frankly crazy – as with the novels that I’ve reviewed, the quality of comics can vary quite wildly between titles, writers and artists.

Therefore, I thought I’d use this post to talk about my favourite comics for middle grade and young adult readers. Everything on this list (apart from Nimona) is an ongoing series so you should be able to find them at your local book store, library or comic book shop. I also should note that all of these series are all Western comics. While I do also read manga, these days I’m more of a Western comic book reader and so I’m not up on the most recent Japanese titles to recommend.

Anyhow, let’s start with some Marvel comics!

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Megamorphs #3: Elfangor’s Secret

megamorphs-3

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for earlier instalments of this series. You can read my reviews of these novels by clicking the links below:

Animorphs:  1-5 | 6-10 | 11-15 | 16-19 | 20-22 | 23-27 | 28-32

Megamorphs: The Andalite’s Gift | In the Time of Dinosaurs

Animorphs Chronicles: The Andalite Chronicles | The Hork-Bajir Chronicles

It’s been a while since I looked at one of the Megamorphs books, so here’s a little background. This is a spin-off of K.A. Applegate’s popular Animorphs series. There are four Megamorphs books and they’re characterised by being longer and containing more narrators than a typical Animorphs book. For today’s review, I’m going to be looking at the third of these – Elfangor’s Secret – which was first published in 1999. It should also be noted that this book is designed to be read after The Sickness (the 29th instalment of the main series).

When Elfangor tried to escape the war, he did so using the Time Matrix – the most powerful device in the universe. He knew that if the machine fell into the wrong hands it could be used to alter the history of the world, and so he hid it. Unfortunately, things don’t remain hidden forever. The device has fallen into the hands of Visser Four, and he intends to use it to ensure that Yeerks can easily dominate the Earth.

When the Drode is sent to request the Animorphs’ assistance, they know that something is wrong. The Crayak is their most powerful enemy – why ever would he need their help? Yet it quickly becomes clear that neither side wants to see the Yeerks with such power. The Crayak offers to give them the ability to pursue Visser Four across history, but he will only do so for a price. One of the Animorphs must die.

This is naturally not something that they want to agree to, yet they have no choice. They can’t value one of their lives over those of every human on the planet. Therefore, they begin to chase Visser Four in an attempt to stop him from changing history. However, they know that they must be careful. The Yeerk is not the only threat. Any wrong move that they make could also change the future for the worse…

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Animorphs 28-32

animorphs-28-32

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for earlier instalments of this series. You can read my reviews of these novels by clicking the links below:

Animorphs:  1-5 | 6-10 | 11-15 | 16-19 | 20-22 | 23-27

Megamorphs: The Andalite’s Gift | In the Time of Dinosaurs

Animorphs Chronicles: The Andalite Chronicles | The Hork-Bajir Chronicles

Sorry it’s taken so long for me to post this – life is busy. Anyhow, let’s return to my retrospective look at K.A. Applegate’s Animorphs books. As with previous reviews, please note that there will be spoilers. In case you’ve never heard of it before, Animorphs was a science fiction series for young teens that ran from 1996 to 2001. It consisted of fifty-four main novels, as well as ten spin-off stories. For the purpose of this review, I’m going to be looking at books twenty-eight to thirty-two only – The Experiment, The Sickness, The Reunion, The Conspiracy and The Separation. That’s a lot of ground to cover, so let’s get started!

The Battle for Earth is drawing on and the Yeerks are being forced to grow craftier in their approach. When the Chee come to learn that the Yeerks have taken control of a research lab and meat processing plant, the Animorphs know that they have to infiltrate both to discover why. What they find is a complex plot to change the food supply in order to remove human free will. However, can they destroy the Yeerks’s research without winding up as hamburgers?

Following on from this, the Animorphs are forced to embark on a number of sensitive personal missions. Cassie’s trust is put to the test when she is contacted by a Yeerk who claims to be part of a peace movement. His ally, Aftran, has been captured and will inevitably reveal everything about the Animorphs once Visser Three tortures her. Yet, with all the other Animorphs sick, it’s up to Cassie alone to rescue her and, to do that, she must morph into her worst enemy…

Jake and Marco face crises of a different source when their families are targeted by the Yeerks. Jake must pull out all the stops to protect his unknowing father as Tom tries to either infest or destroy him, while Marco learns that his mother is still alive and is forced to make the impossible choice whether to risk his friends to save her or let her die. Meanwhile, Rachel is forced to face the danger within when she finds herself split in half. With the threat of the Yeerks developing an Anti-Morphing Ray, the team needs to be more focused than ever. But how can they stop it while Rachel is at war against herself?

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The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: Squirrel Meets World

the-unbeatable-squirrel-girl-squirrel-meets-world

Today, I’m going to be taking a look at something a little different. The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: Squirrel Meets World was written by Shannon and Dean Hale and first published in 2017. It’s a middle grade science fiction story, based around the Marvel superheroine of the same name. The novel stands alone, so you don’t need to know anything about the character before picking it up.

Doreen Green is aged fourteen (and well aware that those things rhyme). She likes to think that she’s a typical teenager. She likes making new friends, dancing and talking to squirrels. Okay, well maybe one of those isn’t that typical. You see, Doreen has a secret. She hides the fact that she has a five-foot-long prehensile tale, the ability to talk to select woodland creatures and the proportional speed and strength of a squirrel!

In secret, Doreen has taken to thinking of herself as Squirrel Girl and dreams of one day joining the Avengers. However, she knows that she needs to keep her abilities secrets. Her parents have always told her that if others see her awesome tail, they’ll only be jealous of it. It’s really a shame as Doreen has just started a new school and is struggling to fit in. The only girl who is remotely friendly with her is Ana Sofía, and that’s partially because they both tend to be ignored by the “Somebodies”.

However, when someone starts setting lethal squirrel traps around the city, Doreen knows that she’s hero that Shady Oaks needs. Donning a hood to protect her identity, she starts out her career small by rounding up stray dogs, cleaning graffiti and saving babies. However, it’s not long until she attracts the attention of the Micro-Manager – a brand new super villain who has decided that Squirrel Girl would make the perfect nemesis…

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The Girl in the Steel Corset

the-girl-in-the-steel-corset

The Girl in the Steel Corset was written by Kady Cross and first published in 2011. It’s a science fiction fantasy story, focusing on super-powered individuals protecting Victorian London. The novel forms the first part of The Steampunk Chronicles and is followed by The Girl in the Clockwork Collar (2012), The Girl with the Iron Touch (2013) and The Girl with the Windup Heart (2014), as well as three short novellas that fill in the gaps between them. The version of the first novel that I’m reading from also contains its prequel novella, The Strange Case of Finley Jayne (2011).

It’s 1897 and London is preparing for Queen Victoria’s jubilee. However, Finley Jayne is not in the mood for celebration. Her employer has just tried to force himself upon her, believing her to be as demure as the other maids. Unbeknown to him, Finley hides a dark secret. She has a violent split personality, and her other side is more than powerful enough to beat the man senseless.

While on the run, she’s struck down by a velocycle. The driver turns out to be Griffin King, the wealthiest man in England, who is relieved to find that Finley is unconscious but unharmed. He takes her back to his home to recover, much to the annoyance of his two live-in friends, Sam and Emily. You see, each of them also hides a secret. They all possess strange abilities and realise that the introduction of an outsider to their household could spell danger for them all.

Griffin and his friends form a small secret society in the service of the Queen. They protect the secret of the Organites – microscopic entities with the power to heal any wound – as they know that they will be dangerous in the wrong hands. With a criminal known as the Machinist striking random locations all over London, Griffin knows that they’ll need all the help that they can get. Finley’s strength, speed and heightened senses would make her a valuable addition to the team. If only he could find a way to get her dark half under control…

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Scythe

scythe

Scythe was written by Neal Shusterman and first published in 2016. It’s a science fiction novel with horror elements that is set in a world where humans have conquered death and old age. The book forms the first part of a planned series, though at the time of writing no future instalments have been announced.

There is no one alive who remembers the Age of Mortality – the time when the world was dangerous and the tiniest slip could result in death. People now have the power to live forever, resetting back as far as their early twenties whenever they felt the touch of old age. However, death is required in order to keep down the population. The service is performed by the Scythes – an order of men and women who are permitted to “glean” the chosen – taking their life for the good of all.

When there becomes a need for more Scythes to be ordained, Honourable Scythe Faraday takes it upon himself to train two apprentices – Citra and Rowan. Both of the teenagers are taken from different walks of life and neither is keen to don the cloak and ring of Scythe. Yet this is for the best. Faraday believes that a good Scythe is one that does not want to burden. A Scythe that enjoys killing is nothing more than a mmurderer.

Yet taking on two apprentices is unheard of and not all of Faraday’s colleagues are impressed. It is decided that only one of his students is to become a Scythe and their first task will be to glean the loser. Citra and Rowan began their apprenticeship as allies but soon find themselves as rivals, torn between their friendship and desire to survive…

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