Posts tagged ‘dystopian’

November 5th, 2011

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi; Review

by Madeleine Rex

Title: Shatter Me

Author: Tahereh Mafi

Published: November 15th, 2011

Number of Pages: 352

Rating: 5/5


Juliette hasn’t touched anyone in exactly 264 days.

The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette’s touch is fatal. As long as she doesn’t hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don’t fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color.

The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war– and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she’s exactly what they need right now.

Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior.

In this electrifying debut, Tahereh Mafi presents a world as riveting as The Hunger Games and a superhero story as thrilling as The X-Men. Full of pulse-pounding romance, intoxicating villainy, and high-stakes choices, Shatter Me is a fresh and original dystopian novel—with a paranormal twist—that will leave readers anxiously awaiting its sequel. [From Goodreads]

Official Review Sent to HarperTeen*:

Tahereh Mafi’s debut novel, Shatter Me, is brilliant and has made Mafi one of my favorite Young Adult authors. The premise itself is thrilling and freshens the slightly diluted dystopian genre, but it was Tahereh Mafi’s absolutely magnificent prose that enshrouded me in happiness from page one. Ideas and thoughts that are already interesting – and border on profound – are relayed in such a mesmerizing way that very few readers will be able to resist.






But it deserves capitals. It even deserves bold words and italicized ones. Shatter Me is by far the best dystopian book I’ve read this year. In fact, it’s one of the best YA books I’ve read this year. I swear it has some sort of power, some sort of magical force that stretches its hand out from the pages and wraps you in its fist. From the very first page, I was mesmerized by the unusual format and voice. Tahereh chose to mirror the voice in the format. Many of the lines are slashed out, so the reader knows they were thought by Juliette, but she’s repressed them. In moments of panic, Tahereh left out punctuation entirely. Whatever she chose to do for any given line was perfect and amplified the feelings expressed by the words. It was one of the most entertaining things I’ve ever seen in a book.

There were dozens of other wonderful things about Shatter Me. The most important of which was Juliette. She was so great! I love it when I have almost nothing negative to say about a heroine. Juliette is a tortured soul, but she’s so thoughtful. She has such a beautiful personality and sees the world in 4D. Everything is deeper through her eyes. I can promise you that, if you’re going to love Shatter Me (and you should), you’ll know it by the end of the first chapter.

And Juliette isn’t the only hook. The world Tahereh’s created is mind-boggling. Juliette is not the only tortured thing in the book. Her entire world is. Really. It’s a mess. However, that leaves tons of progress to be made in the series. This series has so much potential to be as magical (in feeling) as Harry Potter, as heart-wrenching as Delirium, as action-packed as The Hunger Games, and as well written as, well, the best written book in the YA genre.

And did I mention a romance more perfect than almost any other in dystopian books? I don’t know if I should tell you who this dream romance involves… I think it’s better to see as few spoilers as possible and preorder the book. All you need to know is this: You’ll need a lot of chocolate to comfort you from heartsickness when you remember that this boy is officially off-limits due to the facts that 1) He’s taken and 2) He’s fictional. Feel free to sob.

The only other person I want to mention is the villian. I loved him! He’s so fantastically weird and twisted and awesome. He’s perfect and just the sort of bad-guy you want to pop up around every corner.

The final word? Shatter Me is the ridiculously awesome novel heart-throb you’ve all heard it is. Mark the 15th on your calendar. Take a sick day and read.

*Thanks A TON for the ARC!

July 26th, 2011

Divergent by Veronica Roth; Review

by Madeleine Rex

Title: Divergent

Author: Veronica Roth

Published: May 3rd, 2011

Number of Pages: 456

Rating: 5/5


Beatrice “Tris” Prior has reached the fateful age of sixteen, the stage at which teenagers in Veronica Roth’s dystopian Chicago must select which of five factions to join for life. Each faction represents a virtue: Candor, Abnegation, Dauntless, Amity, and Erudite. To the surprise of herself and her selfless Abnegation family, she chooses Dauntless, the path of courage. Her choice exposes her to the demanding, violent initiation rites of this group, but it also threatens to expose a personal secret that could place in mortal danger. Veronica Roth’s young adult Divergent trilogy launches with a captivating adventure about love and loyalty playing out under most extreme circumstances. [From Goodreads]


I believe in ordinary acts of bravery, in the courage that drives one person to stand up for another.

It is a beautiful thought.


I can’t believe I haven’t reviewed this yet! Although it’s probably a good thing. Perhaps the weeks have given me enough time to cool down and contain my gushing. We shall see.

I’m always a little wary of books around which there is lots of hype. When people are shouting a book’s praises from the rooftops, your expectations skyrocket – as does the potential the book has to disappoint you immensely. It can hardly be said there was hype around Divergent – it was more like an epidemic. Everyone had to get their hands on this book, and I was no exception. I bought it the minute I saw it on shelves, and let me tell you: it did not disappoint.

There’s something about the book that is very The Hunger Games-esque, which is a massive compliment. It’s set in a similarly corrupt world, though it certainly thrives, and the main character is being held back from her true potential. The government has a specific and unarguably flawed way of doing things that is based on a group of values that are actually admirable. At first glance, the world in which Tris lives looks ideal, as most dystopian worlds do, and it is not until Tris’s journey is really underway that the reader becomes aware of the dangerously high likelihood the world has of destroying itself – imploding, one might say.

I find dystopian worlds fascinating anyway, but the one Veronica Roth has created is undoubtedly one of my favorites. I love the idea of a world founded on ideals that should maintain a healthy community. The specific ideals in this book are represented by five factions: Erudite (Knowledge), Amity (Peace), Abnegation (Selflessness), Dauntless (Bravery), and Candor (Honesty). Having grown up in Abnegation and now approaching her 16th birthday, Tris has to face a difficult decision: should she show loyalty to her family and remain in Abnegation, or chose to leave them forever in favor of a different faction? When the test that is supposed to help her with her decision-making by giving her an idea of which faction she would thrive in tells her she is Divergent, Tris finds herself hitched with a heavy and, apparently, deadly secret. When forced to chose a faction, Tris decides to join Dauntless.

I loved the premise, but it wasn’t until I became really invested in the characters – about a third of the way through the book, I’d say – that I found the story riveting. The other kids Tris meets, but particularly Four, are fantastic. The friendships that come about are unlikely and wonderful, and the enemies she makes might be even more fun. Most fun, of course, is the romance. I love the stinkin’ romance in this book! The way it’s developed and evolves is so gripping and tantalizing that there was no way I was going to set the book down for a minute. I’d stay up late, repeatedly allowing myself “one more chapter”. The boy with whom this romance blooms is deliciously complex and such a richly deep character that he could hold the book on his own.

Other features of the book that I appreciated were the different ways in which facing one’s fears are incorporated. The definition of dauntlessness/bravery is a focal point. Is it making rash decisions that put your “out there” in dangerous situations, being absolutely fearless, or maintaining your calm and doing what is necessary despite your fears? This question is “discussed” both through the characters’ actions and their actual dialogue.

The book also focuses on right and wrong and the basis on which a peaceful society is built, as most dystopian books do. Throughout the entire book, Tris and her pals are forced to confront difficult situations that test their integrity, faith, and bravery. In fact, they’re forced to test all the values on which their society is based. There’s also the issue of what is wrong with their apparently perfect world. Gosh, I could go on and on!

Veronica Roth’s writing carries the book seamlessly, and I was completely lost in Tris’s character. The action scenes are handled well, as is the more pleasant tension between Tris and the love interest. Once this book is really on its way, which, as I said, is about a third of the way through, there’s no stopping it – despite how you might want to, considering the fact that it’s pretty evident the world’s about to go turn to ashes. It’s nearly 500 pages long, and let me tell you – it’s not long enough!

The only drawback, aside from the rather slow beginning, was the fact that I never quite understood how their world got to be the way it was, but I hope that both the past and the future are expanded upon in the next book. I cannot wait for the next installment, as I’m sure it will be equally astounding. This series has epic potential.

June 29th, 2011

“You’re still reading dystopian?”

by Madeleine Rex

I can’t tell you how many times my mom’s asked me this question.

Now, my mom’s not much of a reader herself (this may be hard to believe, but she really is far too busy to read), but she does host a book club with me and forces herself to listen to my bookish jabbering. Therefore, she’s heard plenty about various dystopian societies. I can’t seem to quit leaping at dystopian novels, despite the fact that many of them are rather similar.


There’s simply something fascinating about a world that is a twisted and demented version of the one we’re living in. Even without the elements of fantasy, dystopian worlds manage to be just as fantastical, but in a more relatable way. The more connections I can make between our world and the one in the book, and the easier it is to understand the path that was taken to get from one to the other, the more mesmerizing and terrifying the dystopian world is. A few miscalculations, a few conniving people, a few natural disasters, and we’re there, living in a world even more dysfunctional than the one we’re living in now.

However, I’d have to say that the reason I haven’t had my dystopian fix is the same one that motivates me to read almost anything: characters. No matter what genre, and no matter how bland the world, a colorful cast of characters can steal my heart. All I’m really asking for is the opportunity to love a few more people – to make friends and enjoy their company. When I read, my ultimate desire is to be invested in the lives of fascinating people. Dystopian is a genre that accommodates intriguing worlds, horrific realities, and, if the book is good, characters with whom I can fall in love.

There are many irresistible dystopian novels out there, and their strengths vary. Some are written by adept and talented authors whose prose enchants me. Others are set in worlds so corrupt and abominable that I can’t help but read them and savor the horror. And the best of them are homes to people I adore.

Here are a few dystopian books that I’ve enjoyed and recommend, particularly to those that are skeptical about the value and appeal of the dystopian genre:

Divergent by Veronica Roth [5/5]

Wither by Lauren DeStefano [5/5] (Review)

Delirium by Lauren Oliver [5/5] (Review)

Matched by Ally Condie [5/5] (Review)

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins [Can I say 10/5?]

Awaken by Katie Kacvinsky [4/5] (Review)

What are you still doing here? Shouldn’t you be reading?