The Girl Who Dared to Think

The Girl Who Dared to Think was written by Bella Forrest and first published in 2017. It is a dystopian science fiction story, set in a futuristic city where people are ranked based on their attitude and productiveness. The novel forms the first part of The Girl Who Dared to Think series and is followed by The Girl Who Dared to Stand (2017), The Girl Who Dared to Descend (2017) and The Girl Who Dared to Rise (2017). A fifth instalment of the series – The Girl Who Dared to Lead – is planned for release later this month.

Even though the rest of the world has fallen, the Tower still protects the humans that live within. The city is governed by Scipio – an all-knowing AI – who uses complex algorithms to assign everyone who lives there a number based on their focus and optimism. High numbers are desirable as they show that you are a productive and loyal member of the community. However, problems arise when a person’s number drops too far. Threes are required to undertake drug treatment. Twos are put into isolation. Ones are taken away to the dungeons and are never seen again.

Twenty-year-old Liana Castell is horrified when her number falls to a three. She does not want to be dropped from her community as she has always dreamed of being a Knight, but at the same time she has seen what the drug treatment does to people and does not want to lose her sense of self. Things change when she encounters Grey Farmless – a one who has somehow managed to boost his number to a nine in a matter of seconds.

Liana knows that this is impossible and becomes obsessed with finding Grey’s secret. However, the truth causes her to see that Scipio isn’t quite as infallible as people believe. The computer’s judgements have been becoming more extreme but the loyalists still follow them to the letter. When Liana learns what the true duty of the Knights entails, she knows that she needs to get away. But how can she protect her friends and escape when the city itself is against her?

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The Summer Prince

The Summer Prince was written by Alaya Dawn Johnson and first published in 2013. It is a cyberpunk dystopian novel, set in a futuristic Brazilian city after the world was decimated by nuclear war. The story stands alone, so you do not have to have read any of the author’s other work to fully appreciate it.

In the hostile wasteland of Brazil, the city of Palmares Tres exists as a peaceful safe-haven. The beautiful city has been formed from a mixture of western and eastern cultures, and is ruled by a circle of powerful women known as the Aunties. It also allows the use of body mods – upgrades that range from being cosmetic to allowing their user to live for over two hundred years. However, the culture of Palmares Tres is sustained by a dark act. Whenever a king is crowned, he must be ritually sacrificed at the end of his first year.

June Costa is an eighteen-year-old artist who is eager to prove herself. With the help of her friend Gil, she hopes to create the greatest art that the city has ever seen. She is inspired by the story of one of the candidates for the next Summer King – Enki – a young man from the poorest tier of Palmares Tres who loves to express himself through dance. As Enki is crowned as king, June is thrilled to meet him for the first time. However, her joy is short lived as she discovers that he only has eyes for Gil.

However, June and Enki find a connection through other means. Communicating through their art, they plan to create a display unlike anything the city has ever seen. However, Enki pushes June to her limits as he forces her to see the deep-rooted corruption in the city that the Aunties try to hide. June is torn by what she learns. While Enki will be dead within a year, she must live with her actions for centuries. Can she continue down his path, knowing that it will destroy her only chance for a future?

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The Scratchling Trinity

The Scratchling Trinity was written by Boyd Brent and first published in 2017. It is a middle grade fantasy novel which focuses on a young boy’s discovery of a time-travelling secret society. Although the novel reads as though it is the first part of a series, at the time of writing no further instalments have been announced.

Max Hastings thinks that his luck has finally come in when he wins a prize – a lifetime membership to the Ancient Order of Wall Scratchings – in a school draw. He heads off to Manor House in London to receive his prize, only to discover that no such organisation exists. Max is quick to realise that the Order actually operates in secret beneath the building from a magical pocket dimension called the Cusp of Time. It is here that he learns that he is really a Scratchling, and is destined to help others like himself.

You see, it has long been known that when a child is in danger, they only need to scratch a message onto a wall and help will find them. This is the job of the Ancient Order of Wall Scratchings – to dispatch a young agent to the required point in time to save a life and change the past. However, they must act fast. A rival organisation called the League of Dark Scratchlings is forever working against them and their motives are far less altruistic.

It’s not long before Max is sent on his first mission – to rescue an orphan named Eric Kettle from a boarding school in 1840. With the help of a veteran Scratchling named Ellie Swanson, he must avoid the headmaster’s cruel henchmen and reach Eric before it is too late. If he fails, Eric will starve to death or, worse still, be brainwashed and corrupted by the Dark Scratchlings…

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The Night Before Krampus

The Night Before Krampus was written by Peter Johnson and first published in 2017. It is a festive horror story which focuses on a small town with a dark past. Although the novel reads as though it could be the first part of a series, at the time of writing no future instalments have been announced.

It is two nights before Christmas and a young boy named Christoph has started to notice that something strange is afoot. His mother has left to visit his grandmother, a woman who she has not seen in years. His teacher has vanished and been replaced with a woman obsessed with European mythology. The local miser has been seen running through the streets in his underwear, claiming that the dead have returned for him. However, the strangest thing of all is the ghostly encounter that he has while hiding in an abandoned house.

The spectral vision reveals to him that three members of his community once committed a terrible crime. While they believed that they had gotten away without punishment, they did not count upon their victim laying a curse across their bloodlines. The festive season has become a time for revenge and the settling of old scores. Christoph and his friends must rely on help from unexpected sources if they wish to survive to see Christmas Day.

For you see, an old wolf is slowly making its way towards the town. The curse has been calling to it for a long time and now is finally the time for it to strike. The ancient creature draws with it a number of others, some good and some bad. Amongst these monsters are a pair of Krampus. These demons have been summoned to serve a specific purpose, however one of them is starting to grow tired of his traditional role…

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The Death Cure

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

The Death Cure was written by James Dashner and first published in 2011. It forms the final part of The Maze Runner Trilogy and is preceded by The Maze Runner (2009) and The Scorch Trials (2010). Dashner has also released two prequel novels set in the same universe: The Kill Order (2012) and The Fever Code (2016). As The Death Cure carries on precisely where The Scorch Trials left off, I would strongly advise reading these books in sequence to fully appreciate them.

WICKED promised a cure, yet Thomas has been betrayed again. Abandoned in solitary confinement, he is left to fear that he will succumb to the Flare. When the Rat Man finally comes for him, it is with an unexpected proposition. The scientist claims that WICKED is very close to discovering the cure, but for the final round of tests they will need to restore the memories of all of the survivors.

As Thomas is reunited with the surviving Gladers, he realises that he can’t stand to be used again. With the help of Minho, Newt, Brenda and Jorge, he escapes the facility and flees to the safe haven of Denver. It is there that they discover the Right Arm – a small band of rebels who share their hatred of WICKED. Finally, Thomas realises that they have a chance at toppling their enemies and ensuring that the trials are stopped forever.

However, it will not be easy. The Flare is spreading fast and not all of Thomas’s friends are immune. It’s not long before the Rat Man seeks Thomas out and reveals that he has been selected as the Final Candidate. If he complies with WICKED, the rest of the world could be saved from the terrible disease. Thomas needs to make a choice, and quickly. He could well be the key to saving the world, but is the Right Arm all that it seems and can WICKED be trusted?

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Shadow Girl

Shadow Girl was written by Liana Liu and first published in 2017. It is a work of contemporary fiction which focuses on a teenage girl’s experiences while tutoring the eight-year-old daughter of a wealthy businessman. The novel stands alone, so you don’t have to read any of the author’s other work to fully appreciate it.

Mei has always striven to be a good girl. Since her father walked out on them and her brother turned to drink and petty theft, she has taken it upon herself to do everything that she can to make her mother’s life easier. Since she has always had a way with children, Mei spends her free time tutoring youths to help pay the bills.

When Vanessa Morison, wealthy wife of a famous business man, hires her to be the summer tutor for her daughter, Mei is initially reluctant. The job will mean leaving home for two months to live with the Morisons on their vast island estate. However, Vanessa is offering to pay her a fortune and Mei really can’t pass up the opportunity to earn so much money.

However, Mei might have bitten off more than she can chew. The Morisons are not the easiest people to live with – especially Vanessa’s stepson, Henry. Eight-year-old Ella is also not what Mei was expecting. The girl is shy and withdrawn, and it’s not long before Mei learns why. Ella is visited every night by the disturbed ghost of Eleanor Arrow – a previous inhabitant of the mansion. It’s not long before Mei also begins to see the spirit. Could it be that Eleanor is real, or is she just a symptom of a bigger problem on the island…

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Shadowblack

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for Spellslinger. You can read my review of this novel [here].

Shadowblack was written by Sebastien de Castell and first published in 2017. It is the second part of the Spellslinger series and is preceded by Spellslinger (2017). The third instalment – Charmcaster – is expected to be released in May 2018. As Shadowblack carries on shortly after its prequel left off, I would advise reading them in sequence to have any idea of what is going on.

Kellen is finding it hard to adapt to life as an outlaw. Reichis’s attempted heists just seem to get him beaten up and Ferius hasn’t even tried to teach him the ways of the Argosi. Despite everything that his family did to him, he still finds that he longs to return to his people but even that is impossible. The Jan’Tep have placed a death warrant on his head and it’s unlikely that they will lift it unless he can find a cure for his shadowblack.

Things take an unexpected turn when Kellen meets another Argosi on the road. The newcomer calls herself the Path of Thorns and Roses and has some kind of history with Ferius. She is also in the process of escorting Seneira – a blindfolded girl who is not blind – back to her father at the Academy of Teleidos.

The mission seems simple enough, but unexpected dangers lie in wait in the desert city. The shadowblack is spreading and it’s not just magic users that are in danger. As Kellen and his friends search for the source of the outbreak, he meets Dexan Videris – a spellslinger who claims that he has a way of curing the disease. Kellen could well have found his ticket back into Jan’Tep society, but in making a deal with Dexan he could damage his friendship with Ferius beyond repair. Is the spellslinger telling the truth, or is he somehow connected to the spread of the shadowblack?

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The Last Namsara

The Last Namsara was first published in 2017 and is Kristen Ciccarelli’s debut novel. It is a high fantasy story which focuses on a princess who must slay an ancient dragon to earn her freedom. The story forms the first part of the Iskari series, and its sequel is expected to be released in Autumn 2018.

Asha is the Iskari – hated and feared by the people of Firgaard due to a terrible accident that half-destroyed the city and left her brutally scarred. An accident that was entirely her fault. As penance, she now hunts the dragons that infest the surrounding lands. Although people may never truly trust her, they can’t deny the fact that she is the most skilled dragon slayer in the land. However, no one knows that she lures the creatures by speaking forbidden stories.

However, Asha’s time as a dragon slayer is coming to an end. In just seven days, she is to wed Jarek – a vicious and controlling military commander. Once Jarek is her husband, Asha knows that she will be forced to obey him or face his rage. Everything seems hopeless until her father – the Dragon King – offers her a chance to break off the engagement. If Asha can kill the oldest of the dragons – Kovu – her father agrees to grant her the freedom that she craves.

However, the hunt will be the most dangerous of her life. Kovu is ancient and powerful, and nothing but the deadliest of stories will lure him. However, as political tensions within the city begin to threaten her hunt, Asha finds her fate entwined with that of one of Jarek’s slaves. Will Asha succeed in her quest, or will she meet the same tragic fate as the heroines in her stories?

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Renegades

Renegades was written by Marissa Meyer and first published in 2017. It is a science fiction novel, set in a city where a faction of superheroes protect the innocent. The novel forms the first part of a planned duology, though at the time of writing no future instalments have been announced.

The Age of Anarchy almost tore society apart. Lead by the powerful Ace Anarchy, a band of super-powered “prodigies” sought to overthrow the status quo and earn freedom for their oppressed people. They were eventually defeated by the Renegades – a group of prodigies who believed in law and justice. Now, the Renegades control Gatlon City, doing their best to use their powers to fight crime and give a better quality of life to all people who live there.

Nova revered the Renegades, until they failed to save the lives of her family. Ten years later, she has taken on the mantle of Nightmare – a prodigy with the power to put anyone that she touches to sleep. When her attempt to assassinate a high-ranking Renegade fails, Nova and her fellow Anarchists realise that they need to be cunning to defeat their enemies. Giving Nova a false identity, they enrol her in the Renegade Trials in the hope that she will be accepted and become their spy on the inside.

Nova quickly gets accepted onto a team run by Adrian – otherwise known as Sketch – who has the power to make his drawings come to life. Adrian also has a secret. He has used his power to create himself a bio-mechanical suit of armour and moonlights as a vigilante called the Sentinel. Adrian has a personal vendetta against Nightmare and will stop at nothing to capture her. Will Nova be able to deceive him for long enough, or will he realise her true identity long before she can take down the Renegades?

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Sky

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for Sea. You can read my review of this novel [here].

Sky was written by Sarah Driver and first published in 2017. The novel forms the second part of The Huntress Trilogy and is preceded by Sea (2017). At the time of writing the release date for the final book in the series – Storm – has yet to be announced. As Sky follows on exactly where the previous story left off, I would strongly advise reading the books in order if you want to have any idea of what is going on.

Mouse may have found the Sea-Opal, but now Stag has the map. If he figures out how to read it, the remaining two Storm-Opals will be his and all of Trianukka will be lost under a sea of ice. Mouse knows that is her duty to get the map back from him and continue her quest but she is starting to doubt that it can be done. Even with the help of Sparrow’s magic and Crow’s shape-shifting power, they are still just three children against Stag’s savage army.

As the group try to plan their next move, they find themselves captured by draggle-riders from one of the Sky Tribes. Mouse soon learns that the riders are fighting an endless war against their sworn rivals, the Wilderwitches. As the group flees their mountain stronghold, Mouse slowly begins to understand the importance of her quest. If she can’t unite the clans of Sea, Sky and Land once again, they will eventually destroy each other.

Fuelled by a new resolve, Mouse sets about to retrieve her map and find the next opal. However, it will be far from easy. Although she has made new allies within the Sky Tribes, Stag’s power is growing stronger by the day. Having brutally slaughtered the whales, he now turns his attention on hunting the Sea Wraiths. Will Mouse be able to stop him before he damages her home beyond repair?

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