The Never Dawn

The Never Dawn was written by R.E. Palmer and first published in 2016. It’s a dystopian science fiction story that follows a young worker who lives in an underground commune. The book is the first part of a planned trilogy and is followed by Cloud Cuckoo (2016). At the time of writing, the final instalment has yet to be announced.

It has been over a hundred years since Noah’s people were forced to flee from the surface – from the toxic rain, polluted skies and enemies that would see them destroyed. Under Mother’s guidance, they retreated to the Ark and were divided into four classes – workers, farmers, researchers and prefects. Only by working together could they prepare for a time when it would be safe to return.

Noah has lived his life wanting nothing more than to please Mother. He works hard to build more components than anyone else, determined to one day be remembered like his hero, Moses. He never questions what he is making or where it goes next. He merely performs his role in society because it is what is expected of him. After all, Mother knows best.

However, Noah’s attitude begins to change as he starts to notice Rebekah. Thoughts of the beautiful researcher fill his mind and distract him from his duty, yet he can’t understand why. He finds himself even more confused when his team mate Seth is found guilty of being an agent of their enemies and taken away. Noah finds it hard to believe that someone as sweet as Seth could be corrupt. Yet it must be the truth. It couldn’t be that Mother is lying to them, could it?

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More Than This

More Than This

This book is another difficult one to review and so apologies if this post is a little shorter than normal. More Than This was written by Patrick Ness and first published in 2013. It’s a philosophical science fiction story about a teenage boy who awakes to find himself in an abandoned town. The novel stands alone and so you don’t have to have read any of Ness’s other novels to fully appreciate it.

Seth remembers drowning: the icy chill of the water and the sensation of his bones breaking as he smashes against the rocks. Yet he somehow doesn’t die. He wakes up in an abandoned English town which he soon recognises as the place where his family lived before moving to America. As he explores the barren streets, he’s forced to relive the worst memories of his childhood. Most specifically, the time a terrible incident befell his brother. One that was entirely Seth’s fault.

Seth also starts to remember the incidents that led up to his death: his romance with another boy, the unexpected outing of his sexuality, and how these events alienated him from his closest friends. He starts to wonder if the town is actually Hell, existing to make him relive the lowest points of his life over and over for all time.

However, he soon starts to realise that may not be the case at all. He is not the only person roaming the wasteland. There are other teenagers who have woken up to find themselves in that lonely world and they are being relentlessly pursued by a mysterious being called the Driver. Together, they try to piece together their broken memories to find out if the town is real, if they are dead, or if something else is happening to them…

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The Selection

The Selection

The Selection was written by Kiera Cass and first published in 2012. It’s a dystopian fantasy story about a teenage girl who is selected as a potential bride for a Prince. The novel forms the first part of a series and is followed by The Elite (2013), The One (2014), The Heir (2015) and The Crown (2016). There are also several short novellas that tie into the series, expanding the back stories of the supporting characters.

Like all girls aged between 16 and 21, America Singer has just been invited to take part in a lottery. Prince Maxom has just come of age and the kingdom is holding a contest to decide who his bride should be. The lottery whittles the applicants to a mere thirty-five, all of whom will have the honour of living at the palace while Maxom chooses between them. Most girls would jump at the chance, but America’s heart is elsewhere.

America is eager to marry her childhood sweetheart, Aspen, however the two of them were born into different castes. America is a Five – an artisan – while Aspen is only a Six and therefore can only aspire be a servant. While the divide doesn’t bother America, it weighs heavily on Aspen who can’t stand being unable to provide for his love. He breaks up with her, crushing her hopes and dreams for the future. With nothing left to weigh her down, America listens to her mother’s advice and reluctantly enters the contest.

No one is more surprised than her when she is chosen as one of the thirty-five. America is shocked to find herself whisked to the world of the Ones, surrounded by decadence and beautiful nobility. She also quickly discovers that Maxom is a fundamentally kind person, despite his sheltered upbringing. However when Maxom seems to take a liking to America, the rest of the Selected grow jealous. America is now far from home and surrounded by people who would like to see her fail…

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This Savage Song

This Savage Song

This Savage Song was written by V.E. Schwab and first published in 2016. It is an urban fantasy story, set in a dystopian city divided by turf wars and ravaged by monsters. The novel is the first part of the Monsters of Verity duology, though at the time of writing the second instalment has not been announced.

Ever since the Phenomenon, V-City has been a battleground. Whenever a crime is committed, it gives birth to a different kind of monster – the flesh eating Corsai, the bloodsucking Malchai and the soul stealing Sunai – which in turn take to the streets in search of fresh prey. In the wake of the disaster, two leaders have risen and divided the city between them. Callum Harker has taken the North City, turning it into a haven where the rich can buy their safety. Henry Flynn has control of the South. His territory is less luxurious but his enforcers – the FTF – hunt the monsters who roam the streets.

When Harker’s only daughter, Kate, starts at a new school in North City, Flynn knows that he has a great opportunity to spy on his nemesis. He dispatches August, his youngest son, to infiltrate the school and learn what he can. However, blending in will not be easy. August is a Sunai and is cautious of the fact that he’s not used to being around human teens. To make matters worse, Kate is looking for a way to please her father. Delivering one of Flynn’s three tame Sunai to him would be the perfect way to do that.

Things grow more complicated when Kate is savagely attacked by two Malchai – deserters from her father’s private army – who seem intent on pinning her death on Flynn. She is saved by August and the two run for their lives. However, her disappearance is enough to dissolve the truce between the two families. Kate and August have no choice but to join forces to stop the war but in doing so learn that it’s not just the monsters that they have to fear…

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Glass Sword

Glass Sword

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for its prequel, Red Queen. You can read my review of this novel [here].

Sorry for the delay in this review, it’s taken a bit longer to get over my cold than I expected and I wanted to ensure that I was able to do this story justice by giving it my full attention. Glass Sword was written by Victoria Aveyard and first published in 2016. It’s the sequel to the excellent Red Queen and picks up the story precisely where its prequel left off. Aveyard has also published a collection of two short stories under the title Cruel Crown which are designed to be read between Red Queen and Glass Sword.

Mare Barrow is finally free of her Silver oppressors. She and Cal were rescued by the Red Guard and spirited away to their safe haven. Mare is overjoyed to find that the rebels have rescued her entire family and ensured that they are healthy and comfortable, however her joy is short-lived. The Colonel has taken a severe disliking to Mare and has no desire to help her to find and rescue other Red-and-Silver fighters like herself.

When Mare discovers that the Colonel also plans to trade Cal back to Maven, she knows that she can’t stand by. Mounting a daring rescue, she flees into the night with Cal and a small group of her most loyal allies. She knows that it’s her duty to locate the other new-bloods and bring them together. They each possess powers that are completely unlike anything that the Silvers have ever experienced before, and Mare knows that this will turn the tide of the brewing war.

However, time is not on Mare’s side. Maven also knows the identities of the new-bloods and will stop at nothing to find and kill them all before they can be recruited. The king’s methods are growing increasingly cruel and he desires nothing more than to break the Little Lightning Girl. And it’s working. With every failed rescue, Mare’s heart is steadily growing colder. Will she be able to find the strength to spark a rebellion or will she find herself becoming as big a monster as her enemy?

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Red Rising

Red Rising

Red Rising was first published in 2014 and is Pierce Brown’s debut novel. It is a dystopian science fiction story focusing on a slave trying to incite revolution on Mars. The book forms the first part of The Red Rising Trilogy and is followed by Golden Son (2015) and Morning Star (2016).

In the far future, society is determined by Colours. The highest – the Golds – rule over society as near godlike figures while the lowly Reds live far beneath the surface of Mars where they mine the precious Helium-3 required for terraforming the surface. Their work is exhausting and dangerous but they know it’s for the greater good. When the surface is habitable, they have been promised a position of importance in the new world.

After a family tragedy, Darrow – a sixteen year old Red – comes to learn the truth. The Golds have been lying to them for generations. The surface of Mars has become their paradise and his people are viewed as expendable slave labour. Naturally disillusioned, he finds a place for himself within a terrorist cell called the Sons of Ares. Ares has a dangerous plan – a way to destroy the status quo from within – and Darrow is the perfect teenager to set it in motion.

Darrow undergoes months of painful reconstructive surgery to allow him to pass off as a Gold and takes on a new identity as the orphaned heir of a wealthy family. Using this, he gains a place at the Academy – the first step for Golds who wish achieve the highest rank, the Peerless Scarred. However, the Academy will be more dangerous than anything Darrow ever faced in the mines. The Golds are a ruthless race and aren’t above lying, cheating and murdering to win out over their fellows…

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Raging Star

Raging Star

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].

Raging Star was written by Moira Young and published in 2014. The novel forms the final part of the dystopian Dust Lands Trilogy, continuing Saba’s mission to protect her family and liberate New Eden from the clutches of DeMalo and his Tontons. Raging Star is preceded by Blood Red Road (2011) and Rebel Heart (2012) and I would really advise reading them in sequence as they do not stand very well on their own.

It’s been a month since the attack on Resurrection and Saba’s life has never been more dangerous. She’s a rebel now – one of the Free Hawks reborn – and she’s made it her mission to defeat the Tontons through a series of systematic attacks around New Eden. However, when a bombing mission goes horribly wrong, she finds herself at DeMalo’s mercy once again.

This time, DeMalo’s demand is simple. If she consents to be his wife, he’ll ensure that all of her friends are safely exiled from New Eden. If she doesn’t, he’ll hunt them down and kill them all on the night of the Blood Moon. As this only leaves Saba with seven nights, she joins forces with Jack once again in a last-ditch attempt to spark rebellion within New Eden.

Yet there are added complications. Saba is exhausted and torn between her love for Jack and desire for DeMalo. When Nero goes missing, it also starts to become clear that there’s a traitor within the Free Hawks – one who would sooner make a deal with the Tonton than risk his life in a foolish rebellion. Saba can’t afford to fail but is it really possible to overthrow an entire regime in less than a week?

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Red Queen

Red Queen

Red Queen was first published in 2015 and was written by Victoria Aveyard. It is a dystopian high fantasy novel and is the first part of a planned series. The novel recently won the Goodreads Award for best debut novel. Its sequel, Glass Sword, and a collection of two short prequel stories titled Cruel Crown are due for release in early 2016.

Mare Barrow was born a Red and is therefore destined to live in poverty. Her people are seen as nothing more than slaves for the Silvers – aristocrats who possess God-like powers. The Reds are given no choice to work for them, doing the tasks that the Silvers feel are beneath them and fighting on the front lines of their wars. Refusal would mean instant death.

Naturally, Mare hates the Silvers but still finds herself working in the royal palace as an alternative to conscription. After surviving a terrible accident, she discovers the unthinkable. She too possesses powers – the ability to control electricity – something that no Red has ever done before.

Realising that they must cover this up, the King poses Mare as a lost Silver Princess and betroths her to his youngest son, Maven. Thrust into a world that she barely understands, Mare is forced to learn how to act like a Silver and play their games of betrayal. One false step could mean her death but that’s not the only danger. The Scarlet Guard – a band of Red rebels – have begun a systematic assault on the Silvers and now Mare is in the perfect position to help them oust the King…

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Sugar Skulls

Sugar Skulls

Last week, I reviewed at a novel set in a fascist dystopia. Today, let’s take a look at something a little different.

Sugar Skulls was written by Lisa Mantchev and Glen Dallas and first published in 2015. It is a science-fiction novel set in a city powered by the energy of teenagers. The book is a stand-alone story, so you don’t have to have read any of Mantchev or Dallas’s other work to fully appreciate it.

Cyrene is a prototype city, designed to solve the planet’s energy crisis. People under the age of twenty-one are offered a life of luxury based on their ability to produce energy to power the city grid. Those that provide the most are rewarded with all the credits, alcohol and drugs that they can dream of. Luckily, everyone is implanted with nanomachines that take care of the worst side effects, ensuring that no one suffers overdoses, STDs or unwanted pregnancies.

Vee, lead singer of an all-girl rock band called the Sugar Skulls, is the latest pet project of the Corporation who run Cyrene. Her band is the most popular in the city and Vee’s voice has the power to whip up crowds into a frenzy, producing record amounts of energy. However, Vee is little more than a prisoner. Her overbearing manager, Damon, controls her entire life and she’s just starting to get tired of this fact.

Things change when Vee meets Micah – a young man who found himself permanently severed from the grid when he was nearly killed by an illegal street drug. The two grow obsessed with each other at first sight and soon embark on quest in the name of freedom and justice, to take down a ruthless ring of drug dealers and find out what secrets hide in Vee’s fragmented memories…

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Winterkill

Winterkill

Winterkill was written by Kate A. Boorman and was first published in 2014. It combines elements of a fantasy, dystopian and historical novel to tell the story of a teenage girl coming of age in a remote and highly religious settlement. The novel is the first part of a planned trilogy and is followed by Darkthaw (2015). The final part of the trilogy – provisionally titled Heartfire – is expected to be released in late 2016.

Emmeline’s people have lived in the settlement for eight generations, banding together for safety after they were forced to leave the Western world. They have survived sickness and deadly winters by following their devout Councilmen, who put their faith in the virtues of Bravery, Honesty and Discovery. Anyone who is caught defying these precepts is declared Wayward and executed at the Crossroads to prevent them from causing damage to the community.

As an outcast in society, Emmeline knows that most people expect for her to become Wayward. She is stained – atoning for the sins committed by her grandmother long before she was born. As her sixteenth birthday nears, she knows that she will soon be of the age where she can be bound to a man. She wants nothing more for it to be Kane but when Brother Stockham – the leader of their community – starts to show an interest in her she starts to panic. Wedding the Councilman will absolve her of her stain but can she stand to be married to someone she does not love?

At the same time, Emmeline begins to have strange dreams that call her into the woods – the voices of a long dead race begging her to find them. Yet the woods are out of bounds and if she’s caught exploring them, Emmeline knows that she’ll be declared Wayward for sure. Yet that would be the least of her problems. The woods are also home to a terrible entity called the malmaci. If she ventures too far into the unknown, she could just as easily fall prey to the monster…

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