Young Adult ficiton

All posts tagged Young Adult ficiton

Cinder – Marissa Meyer

Published November 27, 2013 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl.

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

What did I think?:

Time for some more of my guilty pleasure – YA fiction! This book came along with a recommendation by my sister @ChrissiReads although her favourite of the two is the second in the series, Scarlet. This fascinating debut novel by Marissa Meyer is set in a future, dystopian world where humans co-exist with androids (which seems a very handy thing to have as a friend or personal assistant) and cyborgs. Loosely based on the fairy tale Cinderella (clue’s in the title!) our heroine Cinder works as a mechanic in New Beijing, managing a small stall where her customers bring her their mechanical equipment failures. Her home life however is not so successful, as she undergoes daily battles with her wicked guardian/stepmother, and is forced into completing chores and earning the funds to keep this womans bills paid, fund her luxury household technical items and keep her stepsisters in beautiful ballgowns.

It is a fairly miserable existence for poor Cinder until a chance encounter with Prince Kai, the heir to the throne who brings in his battered but beloved old android, in the hope that she may be able to fix it. One other important thing to note about this book is that Earth is in the middle of a fight against a serious and deadly plague-like illness which is claiming too many lives without hope of an imminent cure. Currently, Prince Kai’s father has succumbed to the disease and the young heir must deal with the loss of his father along with a threat of war from the Queen of the other-worldly,vicious and very “persuasive” Lunar peoples. As Cinder is hurled into this messy business, she uncovers secrets she could never have imagined, and discovers more about herself than she could have ever believed.

For a debut, I thought this was an incredibly accomplished piece of YA fiction. I loved the science-fiction elements and the imaginative ideas twisting around this new digital world, where communications are transferred at the speed of lightning, individuals are identified by an ID chip in the wrist and alien races have the power to control our minds. Although Cinder was the only character that was explored in any real depth, I enjoyed the role that others played although my favourite had to be the intimidating and demanding Queen Levana of the Lunar People, whose dominating presence and magical trickery made the story a joy to read. It is also refreshing to read a re-telling of the classic Cinderella story where nothing is ever black and white, and there are surprises and twists around every corner. Why is there so little information about Cinder’s early life? How did she become a cyborg? Bring on Scarlet, I say!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

3-5-stars

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The Bone Dragon – Alexia Casale

Published June 15, 2013 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

Evie’s shattered ribs have been a secret for the last four years. Now she has found the strength to tell her adoptive parents, and the physical traces of her past are fixed – the only remaining signs a scar on her side and a fragment of bone taken home from the hospital, which her uncle Ben helps her to carve into a dragon as a sign of her strength.

Soon this ivory talisman begins to come to life at night, offering wisdom and encouragement in roaming dreams of smoke and moonlight that come to feel ever more real.

As Evie grows stronger there remains one problem her new parents can’t fix for her: a revenge that must be taken. And it seems that the Dragon is the one to take it.

This subtly unsettling novel is told from the viewpoint of a fourteen-year-old girl damaged by a past she can’t talk about, in a hypnotic narrative that, while giving increasing insight, also becomes increasingly unreliable.

A blend of psychological thriller and fairytale, The Bone Dragon explores the fragile boundaries between real life and fantasy, and the darkest corners of the human mind.

What did I think?:

I got this book free from NetGalley, many thanks to the publishers at Faber and Faber. When we first meet Evie in this novel she is recovering from an operation to mend her ribs, damaged in a horrifying way. The doctors let her take home a fragment of one of her bones that had to be removed, with which the help of her Uncle Ben, she carves into a beautiful dragon. Although at the start a lot of information is not provided, the reader can deduce that Evie is a profoundly unhappy little girl, who has been through a traumatic time, but is now loved completely and unconditionally by her adoptive parents, Amy and Paul who have had a sad loss of their own – their little boy, who died in a car accident along with their brothers wife.

Evie wishes upon a star that her dragon becomes real (because how cool would it be to have a dragon for a pet?!), and her wish comes true. The dragon (who has no name) takes her out of her own sad situation metaphorically and literally and she begins to view the beauty in the environment around her. The dragon becomes her strength and her shoulder to cry on, and imparts useful words of wisdom along the way. But there is a darker side to this tale…. not only is Evie’s past so tragic that it fills the reader full of emotion for her, but the dragon becomes a useful means of exacting revenge on those who deserve it.

This was a stunning, gripping piece of work that I couldn’t believe fell into the realms of YA, as it’s been a while since I’ve read a YA book with such passion and beauty. The magical undertone I’m always a bit of a sucker for, but it was the style of writing and the blend of both the information you are given and that which you have to work out yourself, that had me hook, line and sinker. My favourite characters were Evie, her Uncle Ben and the Dragon (obviously!) which were beautifully realised and completely compelling. I got slightly annoyed by Evie’s adoptive mother Amy at times, as her over-protectiveness got slightly grating, but this was something so slight, it’s hardly worth mentioning. The only other thing is that the copy I received had words stuck together on every single page, which made reading a bit laborious at times, but is not the fault of the author, and did not spoil my enjoyment of this rich and captivating tale.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

Specials – Scott Westerfeld

Published April 17, 2013 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

“Special Circumstances”: The words have sent chills down Tally’s spine since her days as a repellent, rebellious ugly. Back then Specials were a sinister rumor — frighteningly beautiful, dangerously strong, breathtakingly fast. Ordinary pretties might live their whole lives without meeting a Special. But Tally’s never been ordinary.

And now she’s been turned into one of them: a superamped fighting machine, engineered to keep the uglies down and the pretties stupid.

The strength, the speed, and the clarity and focus of her thinking feel better than anything Tally can remember. Most of the time. One tiny corner of her heart still remembers something more.

Still, it’s easy to tune that out — until Tally’s offered a chance to stamp out the rebels of the New Smoke permanently. It all comes down to one last choice: listen to that tiny, faint heartbeat, or carry out the mission she’s programmed to complete. Either way, Tally’s world will never be the same.

What did I think?:

This novel is the third, and some may say final, installment of Scott Westerfelds fabulous young-adult dystopian series. The first book was “Uglies,” which I loved, the second “Pretties,” slightly disappointing, and now I’ve finished the third offering “Specials,” which was a run back up the ladder of expectations, in my opinion. And you kind of have to read them in order, as the author offers lightning sharp plot and character personality changes – and believe me, a lot changes.

Now Tally has been made “Special,” she has non-breakable bones (they are made of ceramic which I thought was quite “breakable” but I’ll choose to gloss over that), sharp reflexes, and some very handy little nanos that repair her body super quickly which makes her quite resilient to most injuries. In other words, she is a dangerous weapon to be used with caution, and appears to have undergone a bit of a personality transplant as well – but this is due to the mad futuristic scientists fiddling with her brain endowing her with a bit of cruelty and a huge superiority complex.

The action is fast paced and I found it difficult to put the book down, at times I was wondering in which direction the story was heading, but the author always managed to come up with something interesting to keep me entertained. Couple of minor annoyances… the terms they referred to themselves as i.e. “Tally-wa” or “Shay-la,” started to grate on me after a while. Also, if word of the book for “Pretties,” was “bubbly,” the word for this book would definitely be “icy!” These are just minor things however, the story is just far too intriguing and enjoyable to grumble about. I’m looking forward to reading the fourth book – “Extras,” which is apparently not part of the Tally story but takes part in the same world with perhaps a cameo appearance from the lady in question. I’ll let you know once I’ve read it but I have to say Scott Westerfeld is definitely a YA talent to watch out for.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0