Posts tagged ‘dystopian’

September 1st, 2013

The Elite by Kiera Cass; Review
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by Madeleine Rex

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Title: The Elite

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Author: Kiera Cass

Published: April, 2013

Number of Pages: 323

Rating: 5/5

Synopsis:

The hotly-anticipated sequel to the New York Times bestseller The Selection.

Thirty-five girls came to the palace to compete in the Selection. All but six have been sent home. And only one will get to marry Prince Maxon and be crowned princess of Illea.

America still isn’t sure where her heart lies. When she’s with Maxon, she’s swept up in their new and breathless romance, and can’t dream of being with anyone else. But whenever she sees Aspen standing guard around the palace, and is overcome with memories of the life they planned to share. With the group narrowed down to the Elite, the other girls are even more determined to win Maxon over—and time is running out for America to decide.

Just when America is sure she’s made her choice, a devastating loss makes her question everything again. And while she’s struggling to imagine her future, the violent rebels that are determined to overthrow the monarchy are growing stronger and their plans could destroy her chance at any kind of happy ending. [From Goodreads

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Quote:

It’s the most wonderful and terrible thing that can ever happen to you… You know that you’ve found something amazing, and you want to hold on to it forever; and every second after you have it, you fear the moment you might lose it…

Love is beautiful fear.

Review:

I love this series so much. It’s a “light” read, but there’s more than meets the eye. The fun of the Bachelor/Cinderella story is balanced by the more serious nature of the dystopian world and the mounting “dissatisfaction” with the monarchy therein. The Selection (Review

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) set the stage for this, but The Elite takes the hints and whispers of a near uprising and turns them into violent acts and riots. The climax is on its way, and for that reason, I can’t stand the idea of waiting till May 2014 for the final book in the trilogy.

Of course, if you’re not into the social commentary side of things, there’s still much to have fun with in The Elite. However, as most second installments are, this book is riddled with trouble and conflict, all in preparation for what I’m sure will be a fantastically stressful climax.

With conflict comes irritation, in my opinion. There’s no way that every character can handle conflict gracefully (or even rationally), so it’s inevitable that some become a nuisance. The cast of The Elite is no exception. I found that America dug her hole deeper and deeper as the book progressed, particularly in the ever-maddening love triangle area, but, as usual, she proves that her integrity can’t be shaken so easily and that, despite her mistakes, she intends to make things right.

In fact, America’s development is one of the most exciting elements of the book. As she becomes more and more aware of the strife that strains her country, she is simultaneously forced to consider the idea of becoming the princess and being in a position of power. The combination of the two means that she has the potential to do great things for Ilea, but America soon realizes that being princess (or prince) does not guarantee the freedom to do what one believes is right. It may mean sacrificing her beliefs and idly standing by as people are taken advantage of – whatever it takes to have the favor of the King.

Did I say I was going to talk about the “fun,” lighthearted stuff? Sorry. Haha.

There is a lot to be found in the pages of this book. The challenge to win over Prince Maxon continues, but only a handful of girls remain. Every girl steps up her game, perfecting her strategies, and, because of the nature of the competition, this is always at another girl’s expense. So, of course, there are ample opportunities for drama.

However, as many of you know, that sort of drama is less fun and more torturous for this wordbird. Yet, I can’t resist a complicated love story. What girl doesn’t like to watch the development of a relationship, against all odds? I’m Team Maxon all the way, and although I couldn’t stand the stressful moments in their relationship, I mean “couldn’t stand” in the most ridiculous, girlish way, which translates into: I had so much fun.

So, yes, this series brings out the silly girlishness in me, but it can appeal to people looking for “heavier stuff.” I appreciate that they’re easy reads, but I always enjoy a more serious aspect, and The Elite supplies both. I recommend this book to anyone looking for a fast-paced read that combines lighthearted fun with a thought-provoking dystopian world.

P.S. I finally claimed Wordbird on BlogLovin’. Check it out! Follow my blog with Bloglovin

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August 19th, 2013

The Selection by Kiera Cass; Review
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by Madeleine Rex

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Title: The Selection

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Author: Kiera Cass

Published: April, 2012

Number of Pages: 327

Rating: 5/5

Synopsis:

For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in a palace and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon.

But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn’t want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.

Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she’s made for herself—and realizes that the life she’s always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined. [From Goodreads

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Quote:

If you don’t want me to be in love with you, you’re going to have to stop looking so lovely. First thing tomorrow I’m having your maids sew some potato sacks together for you.

Review:

This is the most enjoyable YA book I’ve read in a long time. I missed that feeling of urgency you get when a book excites you so much that you just cannot wait to know what happens. You can’t read fast enough, and you wish you could just “inhale” the book and have it over with. The Selection gave me that feeling. It’s not a literary masterpiece, it’s not a Pulitzer prizewinner, but it’s fun, it’s well written, and I’m so glad I read it.

America Singer is a very likable character. I know people say that all the time. What does it mean? In this case, it means that I always understood her motivation, admired her morality, and found her funny, quirky, and very real. I would want her as a friend, particularly if I were a part of The Selection. Her loyalty and willingness to be herself are the qualities I admire most, as they’re ones I hope to develop. They, along with her sense of humor, are what make her stand out in The Selection, and standing out is hard to do when you’re up against 34 beautiful women, most of whom have more money, better looks, and higher rank than you.

Though the Bachelor-meets-Cinderella element is fun, the most intriguing aspect of the book is Illea, the country that consists of what was once the United States and Canada. Within Illea is an eight-caste system, the details of which have been posted on Kiera Cass’s website, here

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. This system is both fascinating and disturbing, and America’s situation (spotty employment, hardly enough food, etc.) as a Five makes the dysfunction of Illean society evident, though I wish the hardships of her life had been discussed in more detail. It isn’t long before she’s the only five left in the competition. The tension surrounding the caste system, not to mention the frequent rebel attacks and the many clues that there is more behind the rebels’ anger than meets the eye, provides the book with a seriousness and gravity that it would otherwise lack.

One of the most controversial elements to the caste system is the way it limits interaction. There is no way a Five would ever interact with a One, let alone a member of the royal family, as anything more than a nameless employee – if it weren’t for The Selection. Similarly, very few people marry below their caste, and America’s mom would never hear of it. However, America has fallen in love with a Six, Aspen, and has met with him as often as possible – past curfew – for years. This forbidden love becomes more of a problem when she is selected and even more of a problem when America must reluctantly admit to herself that Prince Maxon is not the stuck-up jerk she expected him to be.

In other words, yes, there’s a love triangle.

I’ve made my feelings about love triangles quite clear, and I’ll admit that this is the most frustrating part of the series for me. I’m Team Maxon all the way, and my silly anxiety over who America will choose is eating away at me. However, this love triangle is less maddening than some, as America seems to have greater control over her heart and senses than many female YA protagonists, and for that, I’m grateful.

Overall, The Selection is addictive, entertaining, and a delightful addition to the world of dystopian YA. It’s a fairy tale in a dystopian world, and what could be more fun than that?

P.S. I finally claimed Wordbird on BlogLovin’. Check it out! Follow my blog with Bloglovin

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May 8th, 2012

Legend by Marie Lu; Review
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by Madeleine Rex

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Title: Legend

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Author: Marie Lu

Published: November 29th, 2011

Number of Pages: 336

Rating: 4/5

Synopsis:

What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic’s wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic’s highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country’s most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem.

From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths – until the day June’s brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family’s survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias’ death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets.

Full of nonstop action, suspense, and romance, this novel is sure to move readers as much as it thrills. [From Goodreads

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Quote:

You should have taken me with you,” I whisper to him. Then I lean my head against his and begin to cry. In my mind, I make a silent promise to my brother’s killer.

I will hunt you down. I will scour the streets of Los Angeles for you. Search every street in the Republic if I have to. I will trick you and deceive you, lie, cheat and steal to find you, tempt you out of your hiding place, and chase you until you have nowhere else to run. I make you this promise: your life is mine.

Review:

Legend is the sort of book that grips you from the first chapters. Unfortunately, it also is the sort of book that feels as though it is simply background for books to come.

I found that I sympathized with both characters, but Day was the one who truly hooked me. Every action he took was one I could understand, whether it was the right one or not, and I approved of his motivations a bit more than I did June’s. It was June’s development as a character that drew me to her. It’s evident from the beginning that she has to go through enormous changes, and I am particularly happy with the outcome.

The world created in Legend does not vary much from a classic dystopian society. You are constantly aware of the class differences, especially between the two main characters, and that, to me, was the most prevalent thing that set this world apart from others. I’ll admit that classes are an issue in most dystopian books, but I have never noticed them so clearly. I enjoyed this aspect now that I’ve taken more history classes and can relate their experiences to those I’ve read about in my textbooks. The issue of class separation is an ongoing one for mankind, and this book illustrates that.

Obviously, it’s been a while since I’ve read this, but I’m trying to remember all that I can in order to write a review. One thing I’ve never forgotten is the relationship between June and Day. It’s destined to be a disaster from the start, considering how and why they meet, but you can’t help but hope that it will evolve into something stronger and better. This is one of the primary reasons I’ll be reading the sequels. I want them to work together without tension, distrust, and suspicion.

There’s a secondary character I absolutely cannot ignore: Tate. She’s a darling, strong girl that first Day, and then June, find themselves attached to. She’s a beautiful young thing with a very old soul, and the book would not be the same without her.

The plot moves along at a steady, though not very fast, pace. Naturally, the most exciting bits were toward the end, when things seemed so dark and a terrible end so inevitable that my heart started pounding. Lu did a fantastic job of making me excited to read the rest of the books, particularly because I have a feeling that they will continue to become darker, more action-packed, and suspenseful. Not to mention the fact that June and Day still have a lot of developing to do.

Lu manages to surprise you with a handful of lines that are intriguing and poignant. I love being taken by surprise in the middle of the page by a thought that strikes me. Both June and Day have thoughts of that sort, and those were by far the best parts of the book.

I’d recommend it to people who are die-hard dystopian fans, like myself, but not to those who don’t enjoy dystopian in general. You need to have a taste for it in order to really enjoy Legend. The alternative to not reading it is going out and finding other dystopians and learning to love them, because I can assure you that, however average some of them may be, they have a way of inspiring you to consider the world and people around you, and they also tend to have heart-wrenching romances and incredible action scenes (a few perks). Give the genre a shot before tackling Legend.

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