Monday, September 29, 2014

A Promising Start to a New Dystopian Trilogy

Fire Country (Dwellers/Country Saga #4) by David Estes (Self-Published, 2013, 402pp.)

Scrawny, clumsy, head-in-the-clouds Siena lives in fire country, a land where a long-ago catastrophe caused the sky to turn from pale blue to blood red. The average lifespan is thirty years, and mankind has resorted to polygamy to survive. Young people are required by law to start breeding in their mid to late teens, and every three years, teens are paired with new mates during an event known as the Call. This Law is not to be questioned. Or so Siena thinks. An unlikely heroine, she doesn't even begin to question her prescribed role in life until a few months before her Call ceremony. As she prepares to consider her preordained fate as a soon-to-be Bearer, a classmate, Lara, suggests the unthinkable: what would happen if young women rebel against the status quo?

Estes has created a memorable heroine in Siena in this first volume in the Country Saga (sister series to the Dwellers Saga). Although some of the concepts he explores here are a bit cliche (the fire country tribes are too much like Native Americans in some aspects, while their enemies, a notoriously feral all-female tribe, are too much like Amazons), Fire Country still proves to be a promising start to a new dystopian trilogy.

Monday, September 15, 2014

A Touching, Realistic, and Perilous Portrait

Source: Author Website
The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson (Viking, 2014, 400pp.)

After years spent on the road outrunning bad memories, blue-haired teen Hayley Kincaid and her troubled, army veteran father return to their hometown in New York. Having been home-schooled for the last five years, Hayley cautiously re-enters the world of traditional learning, a repulsive realm populated by high school “zombies” (the in-crowd) and a few rebellious “freaks” like herself. Although she impresses few at first with her snarky attitude, she slowly becomes accustomed to her new life, and even gathers a handful of friends (other freaks like herself). In the back of her mind, though, is a fear that no teen should have to worry about: the constant, sickening fear for her father's declining mental health. While the prose lacks the
gritty, lyrical beauty found in Anderson's previous novel, Wintergirls, this newest offering succeeds in painting a touching, realistic, and perilous portrait of a new era of social issues
. Recommended for Ages 15-Up.

Monday, September 1, 2014

An Awesome Addition to the Series

Sacrifice (Daughters of Lilith #3) by Jennifer Quintenz (Secret Tree Press, 2014, 290pp.)

In Incubus, evil incubus Seth succeeded in opening the Seal between the human and Lilitu worlds. Sacrifice begins two weeks later, where we find Braedyn Murphy and the rest of the Guard watching the Seal 24/7. As if things weren’t bad enough, a mysterious new cult has shown up in town, and claimed Lilith as a figurehead for their feminist cause. But are they really a cause for good, or something more sinister?

How would I describe this third installment? In a word: awesome. Seth is a spectacular villain, the kind you love to hate, but also love to read about. Cassie is given a much bigger role when she volunteers to go undercover and spy on the cult, and the interactions between Braedyn and Karayan really adds texture to the latter’s character. Sacrifice has just the right amount of drama and romantic tension to keep the pace flying, with a dreadful climax that will have you glad that there’s a fourth book in the works. Recommended for Ages 16-Up.