The Beneath

The Beneath was written by S.C. Ransom and first published in 2015. It is an urban fantasy story with horror elements that focuses on a teenage girl who discovers the existence of a dystopian community living beneath the streets of London. The novel stands alone, so you don’t have to have read any of the author’s other work to fully appreciate it.

Lily has been having a rough time of it at school. She used to be rich and popular but the her parents lost everything. Now she lives with her Nan and everyone that she used to call a friend has turned against her. However, everything changes for Lily when she saves Aria from being hit by a train.

Aria is more than a little strange. She can’t read and seems confused by everything, from televisions to dogs. Lily soon learns that this is because she is seeing them for the first time. Aria has escaped from the Community – a group of people who have lived beneath London for centuries. In their culture, everything is dictated to them by the Farmer, who is the one person with control of the Crop – a deadly entity that keeps them all safe so long as they obey the Farmer’s strict rules to the letter.

Aria knows that she will be killed if she returns to the Community yet is torn by her sense of duty. She only came to the surface in the first place because she had been sent on a mission by Dane, the boy that she loves. Dane believes that the only person who can overthrow the Farmer lives on the surface but now Aria isn’t sure that she can go through with his plan. What would Lily say if she learned that Aria had only come to the surface to kidnap her?

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How I Live Now

How I Live Now was written by Meg Rosoff and first published in 2004. It is a work of speculative fiction, focusing on the experiences of a teenage girl in rural England as World War III breaks out. The novel stands alone, so you don’t have to have read any of the author’s other work to fully appreciate it. It also won a number of literary awards, including the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize and the Michael L Printz Award.

Daisy is fifteen-years-old and feels as though she has been utterly abandoned. Her father cares more about his pregnant wife than he does for her and has sent her away to live with her Aunt for the summer. Daisy finds this to be a bit of a culture shock at first. Not only has she been forced to trade Manhattan for the English countryside, but she has also got to get to know her four decidedly odd cousins – Osbert, Edmond, Isaac and Piper.

Luckily Daisy is quick to hit it off with her distant family, especially Edmond with whom she develops a mutual attraction. The summer seems to be perfect but everything changes when Aunt Penn leaves to attend a lecture in Oslo for a few days. It is over this time that the first bombs hit London and everything descends into chaos. The teenagers find themselves cut off from everything. Although the war has not reached them, they slowly begin to feel its impact through rationing and power failure to the village.

For a while, Daisy and her family are still happy and continue life as normal. However, that is before the army decide that they need to commandeer their house for a base. The girls and boys are split up and sent to different villages and everything suddenly becomes very real. Daisy and Piper know that they need to escape and find the boys, however how can they hope to do so when supplies are scarce and The Enemy could be anywhere?

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The Extinction Trials

The Extinction Trials was first published in 2017 and is S.M. Wilson’s debut novel. It is a dystopian science fiction story, set in an overpopulated world where humans live alongside dinosaurs. The book is the first part of a planned series and its sequel – Exile – is expected to be released in June of this year.

The continent of Earthasia is in trouble. Its overpopulation is starting to hit critical levels and there is nowhere near enough food, shelter or healthcare to go around. With deadly illnesses beginning to spread, the ruling class of Stipulators begins to turn their attention to the neighbouring continent of Piloria. This place is a paradise of untapped resources and exotic plants but there is one problem. Piloria is overrun with man-eating dinosaurs and every expedition there ends badly.

When the Stipulators announce a trial to decide who is worthy of taking their next expedition, Stormchaser Knux only really takes part for the increased food rations. However, as she starts to do well in the contest, she grows curious to visit Piloria to see if the dinosaurs really are mindless monsters. Lincoln Kreft has a far more serious reason for wanting to take part. Survivors are granted top-class healthcare which is the only thing that can save his sister from the plague.

However, the expedition this time is more dangerous than ever before. The Stipulators need a sample of DNA from the deadliest species of dinosaurs – velociraptors, pterodactyls and tyrannosaurs – and the only way to get this is to steal dinosaur eggs. The person to deliver the most eggs will reap huge rewards for themselves; the rest will be lucky to leave with their lives…

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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 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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Cloud Cuckoo

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for The Never Dawn. You can read my review of this novel [here].

Cloud Cuckoo was written by R.E. Palmer and first published in 2016. It is the second novel of The Never Dawn series and falls between The Never Dawn (2016) and The Gates of Dawn (2017). As the book carries on directly where its prequel left off, you really need to read them in sequence to have any idea of what is going on.

When Noah wakes up after his night of exploration with Rebekah, he immediately knows that something is wrong. Mother must have done something to his memories as he can hardly remember what he saw. Stranger still, he seems to have missed a day in which all of his fellow workers were rewarded with a great celebration, yet all of them seem to believe that he was present for it.

When Mother immediately summons them to the square, Noah starts to feel worried. It seems that the prefects have not discovered Moses’s journal and now everyone must be punished. As Mother ushers them into the previously unseen lower levels, the Purges begin. Anyone who steps out of line – or is implicated by their fellows – is dragged away to the Trench, never to be seen again.

As Noah tries to remain inconspicuous, he realises that his days may be numbered. The stress of the Purge is pushing him close to breaking point and, even though his memories are still muddled, it’s clear that Barnabas is suspicious of him. If he does not think of something quickly, the entire rebellion could be in great danger…

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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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