Tag Archives: dystopian

Book Review, Red Rising by Pierce Brown

Sci-fi world building

Pierce Brown’s dystopian world is built on the brutal power of classes, each with their own color designation, with Golds in charge. Born as a slave in the Red’s mining community, Darrow is set on a course to free the world. A lofty challenge and common plot-line, not unlike Suzanne Collins Hunger Games.

As the story develops, a plethora of characters emerge. Brown had fun creating plot twist after twist. Some changes I anticipated, but many ingeniously altered my expectations, such as Mustang’s allegiance. None were out of character, however.

The action ramps up when Darrow competes in a deadly game against the elitist of Gold youths in order to establish their hierarchy. Obstacles come at Darrow from all directions.

Cliff-hanger chapter ending kept me at night. I forced myself to stop reading mid-chapter, rather than be propelled to the next chapter.

Sci-fi World Building in Red Rising

This novel is often sighted as an example of world building, so I had to read it. Brown creates a multi-layered world with individualized cultures, although his world is built around socio-political issues we know. Slavery becomes a key topic, as does the abuse of power.

Brown endeavors to create not one setting, but three very different aspects of his world. The world of enslaved Reds functions deep within mines. For me, this was the best part of the book, as Darrow shows us his world, from inside a slave colonies perspective.

From there Darrow finds himself a pawn of a ‘carver’ who recreates him physically, but at the premium price of working for the rebellion by infiltrating the world of Golds. The novel really takes off when Darrow competes for his place among the elite of the elite Golds.

Although each world came to life for me, Brown used extensive first person exposition to inform his readers of all aspects of culture and environs. This interested me, because exposition is exactly what teachers advise students not to do when world building. Brown uses his explanations well however. It’s in the details he chooses to tell about settings that keep us engaged.

I’m tempted to continue with the series, but I have got other books on the shelf for now.

Book Review, Red Rising by Pierce BrownRed Rising (Red Rising, #1) by Pierce Brown
Series: Red Rising #1
Published by Del Rey (Random House) on January 28th 2014
Genres: Dystopian, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 382
Goodreads

"I live for the dream that my children will be born free," she says. "That they will be what they like. That they will own the land their father gave them."

"I live for you," I say sadly.

Eo kisses my cheek. "Then you must live for more."

Darrow is a Red, a member of the lowest caste in the color-coded society of the future. Like his fellow Reds, he works all day, believing that he and his people are making the surface of Mars livable for future generations.

Yet he spends his life willingly, knowing that his blood and sweat will one day result in a better world for his children.

But Darrow and his kind have been betrayed. Soon he discovers that humanity already reached the surface generations ago. Vast cities and sprawling parks spread across the planet. Darrow—and Reds like him—are nothing more than slaves to a decadent ruling class.

Inspired by a longing for justice, and driven by the memory of lost love, Darrow sacrifices everything to infiltrate the legendary Institute, a proving ground for the dominant Gold caste, where the next generation of humanity's overlords struggle for power. He will be forced to compete for his life and the very future of civilization against the best and most brutal of Society's ruling class. There, he will stop at nothing to bring down his enemies... even if it means he has to become one of them to do so.

Book Review, Remember Yesterday by Pintip Dunn (Forget Tomorrow #2)

Book #2 of the Forget Tomorrow Series,

Pintip Dunn fills every chapter of Remember Yesterday with driving action.  by Pintup DunnWe quickly learn our heroine’s sister, Callie, committed suicide to stop future memory research. The nation’s leader pushes on, however, with her vision to mold a society with precognition. A society that already knows its future because future selves send information backward in time. The chairwoman’s plans include winnowing out anyone who doesn’t have precognition. The young Jessa commits herself to fulfilling her sister’s wish to stop the project.

Jessa makes an intriguing heroine. She’s dynamic, conflicted and opinionated. Since she and her twin possessed the power of precognition, she believes she has a chance of stopping the research.

The tension of romance muddles Jessa’s perspective, however, when she collaborates with the young scientist, Tanner, to save her sister. Jessa is both aroused and ethically repelled by what Tanner represents to her. But the twist at the end puts their relationship in new light.

Pintip Dunn’s story comes full circle by the conclusion. Fresh imagery make this a fun read. This is the second book of the series, and Dunn leaves plenty of room to continue to story.

Pintip Dunn Wins the  RITA

Although Goodreads readers didn’t classify Dunn’s book in the Romance genre, Dunn won the RITA Award from the Romance Writers of America for Forget Tomorrow in 2016. Dunn placed in many other award lists as well, which recognizes her fresh writing style, intriguing heroines and driving plots.

For a list of 25 great paranormal romances, check out the  Best Fantasy Books website.

Book Review, Remember Yesterday by Pintip Dunn (Forget Tomorrow #2)Remember Yesterday (Forget Tomorrow, #2) by Pintip Dunn
Published by Entangled: Teen on October 4th 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Dystopian, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 400
Goodreads

Follow-up to the New York Times bestselling novel, Forget Tomorrow!
Would you change the past to protect your future?
Sixteen-year-old Jessa Stone is the most valuable citizen in Eden City. Her psychic abilities could lead to significant scientific discoveries, if only she’d let TechRA study her. But ten years ago, the scientists kidnapped and experimented on her, leading to severe ramifications for her sister, Callie. She’d much rather break into their labs and sabotage their research—starting with Tanner Callahan, budding scientist and the boy she loathes most at school.
The past isn’t what she assumed, though—and neither is Tanner. He’s not the arrogant jerk she thought he was. And his research opens the door to the possibility that Jessa can rectify a fatal mistake made a decade earlier. She’ll do anything to change the past and save her sister—even if it means teaming up with the enemy she swore to defeat.

Rebel, Reboot #2 by Amy Tintera; a scifi action adventure

Redd Becker Book Review

Rebel (Reboot, #2)

Tintera writes a griping science fiction action story placed in a dystopian future world. From the start, each scene creates tension and puts the reader on edge. Layer upon layer of subplot intertwine as characters appear. Conflict builds as each character moves toward their goal. 

Rebel is the second book in Tintera’s Reboot series.  As in Reboot, people who die come back to life. In rebirth they are stronger, faster and can quickly regenerate themselves when hurt. Their ability to feel emotions, however, comes under questioned. Normal humans fear them, so the reboots are imprisoned and used as slaves.

Characters in Rebel, Reboot #2

When Callum 22 and Wren 178 escape from the Austin HARC detention facility, they free other reboots and find a reboot reservation where they hope to live in peace. To their surprise, the reservation of Reboots are planning a revolt and revenge on humans that neither Callum or Wren believe is good.

Tintera invests in character development. Two protagonists tell the story from  first person perspective providing empathy to their journey. And true to science fiction the story brings up questions of the ethics of technological manipulations to human lives.

Check out Amy Tintera’s book trailer.

Rebel, Reboot #2 by Amy Tintera; a scifi action adventureRebel (Reboot, #2) by Amy Tintera
Series: Reboot #2
Published by HarperTeen on May 13th 2014
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 340
Goodreads

Wren Connolly thought she'd left her human side behind when she dies five years ago and came back 178 minutes later as a Reboot. With her new abilities of strength, speed, and healing—along with a lack of emotions—Wren 178 became the perfect soldier for HARC (Human Advancement and Repopulation Corporation). Then Callum 22 came along and changed everything.
Now that they've both escaped, they're ready to start a new life in peace on the Reboot reservation. But Micah 163, the Reboot running the reservation, has darker plans in mind: to wipe out the humans. All of them. Micah has been building a Reboot army for years and is now ready to launch his attack on the cities. Callum wants to stick around and protect the humans. Wren wants nothing more than to leave all the fighting behind them.
With Micah on one side, HARC on the other, and Wren and Callum at odds in the middle, there's only one option left...
It's time for Reboots to become rebels.

the Calling by Rachelle Dekker

Redd Becker Book Review

The Calling (Seer #2) byI picked up The Calling because of the cover. I wanted a male hero who struggles with the care of his family. This is that, although Remko also struggles with his relationship to his inner-beliefs.

A band of rebells, the Seers, hide outside their city and conduct gorilla warfare in an attempt to gain personal freedom for their people. The Seer’s enigmatic leader, Aaron, is seldom with the group, but he provides them each with the spiritual strength and guidance they need.

A change in president ramps up the urgency of their rebellion. When scientists experiment using drugs to erase  citizen’s memories and their desire for  freedom the Seers respond.

Remko acts as the Seer’s defense specialist, organizing and carrying out raids into the city to bring others out or to save those arrested by  authority. His conviction to Aaron is in question, but his love for his wife and child commit him to the cause. As the book progresses it is Remko’s internal battle to understand his spirit that drives the story and puts everything in the balance.

The Christian elements of The Calling

The Calling is a Christian action adventure in a dystopian world. There are many elements linking Christianity in The Calling. Their leader Aaron can appear anywhere and any time to provide his disciples emotional support. Love of family is only trumped by love of their spiritual leader. The title itself brings Christianity to mind. But the Christian elements don’t need to detract from the story. Most cultures have similar spiritual and ethical struggles.

For another perspective check out The Artist Librarian‘s review.

the Calling by Rachelle DekkerThe Calling (Seer #2) by Rachelle Dekker
Series: Seer #2
Published by Tyndale House Publishers on March 8th 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Religious, Dystopian
Pages: 441
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Goodreads
four-stars

Remko Brant had never been so sure of anything as escaping the Authority City with Carrington Hale. But bravado comes easy when you have nothing to lose. Now a husband, father, and the tactical leader of the Seers, Remko has never had so much at risk.
As he and his team execute increasingly dangerous rescue missions inside the city, they face growing peril from a new enemy. Recently appointed Authority President Damien Gold claims to be guiding a city shaken by rebellion into a peaceful, harmonious future. But appearances can be deceiving. In order to achieve his dangerous ambitions, Gold knows he must do more than catch the rebels--he must destroy the hope their message represents . . . from the inside out.
With dissension in his own camp--and the CityWatch soldiers closing in--Remko feels control slipping through his fingers. To protect those he loves, he must conquer his fears and defeat Gold . . . before one of them becomes his undoing.

The Rose Society by Marie Lu

Redd Becker Book Review

The Rose Society by Marie Lu

I enjoy how character weaknesses enhance intrigue in The Rose Society by Marie Lu. Lu builds a compelling world with intriguing characters to drive the story.  A complex interplay of relationships enhances the basic plot-line. Just enough backstory provides an understanding of character motives, but not so much to bog the action down.

In Lu’s world young adults affected by a sickness leave them with physical disfigurements and some with enhanced superpowers. They join into bands, calling themselves ‘elites’ and work to save those like themselves. Their powers are not always good. Some elites struggle with the dark sides of human emotions and attempt to control their powers, with varying degrees of success. Adelina, the white wolf, is one of those few. Her power to create illusions enables her to infiltrate the  palace and confront those more powerful, but she develops a taste for murder. Those who follow her are awed, fearful and glad to have such a powerful leader.

Marie Lu shifts POV with good effect

For those interested in writing: Chapter titles denote shifts between POV. Adelina’s 1st person perspective predominates, while several other 3rd person perspectives present alternative perspectives. The shifts are not as smooth as I like, but it’s certainly a legitimate style.

My Rating four-stars

The Rose Society by Marie LuThe Rose Society (The Young Elites, #2) by Marie Lu
Series: The Young Elites #2
Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers on October 13th 2015
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Science Fiction
Pages: 395
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Goodreads
four-stars

Once upon a time, a girl had a father, a prince, a society of friends. Then they betrayed her, and she destroyed them all.
Adelina Amouteru’s heart has suffered at the hands of both family and friends, turning her down the bitter path of revenge. Now known and feared as the White Wolf, she flees Kenettra with her sister to find other Young Elites in the hopes of building her own army of allies. Her goal: to strike down the Inquisition Axis, the white-cloaked soldiers who nearly killed her.
But Adelina is no heroine. Her powers, fed only by fear and hate, have started to grow beyond her control. She does not trust her newfound Elite friends. Teren Santoro, leader of the Inquisition, wants her dead. And her former friends, Raffaele and the Dagger Society, want to stop her thirst for vengeance. Adelina struggles to cling to the good within her. But how can someone be good when her very existence depends on darkness?
Bestselling author Marie Lu delivers another heart-pounding adventure in this exhilarating sequel to The Young Elites.

Marked in Flesh by Anne Bishop, where wolves, vampires and humans meet

Redd Becker Book Review

Marked in Flesh by Anne BishopIf you like dogs or wolves, as I do, this is a particularly fun read. Anne Bishop creates a world where wolves rule – sort of. They shape-shift to human, but their thinking doesn’t mesh with human expectations. A wolf’s perspective creates humor in unexpected encounters. Oh, how species can misinterpret each other.

Bishop’s world building is wonderful. Bishop presents us with an alternate history of the United States, settled by humans from across the ‘Atlantik’, where animals act as nature’s guardians. Everything has a say in how the earth develops: animals, elements, elders, vampires and a new breed of human who receive pictures of the future during altered states. In this universe humans are a lower species, but some of them haven’t figured that out yet.

Anne Bishop writes on many levels

True to sci-fi tradition social commentary is ever-present: environmental issues, greed, power, compassion. While integrating theme, Bishop weaves plenty of subplots through the story and she creates characters with individual motives and personalities.

For those interested in writing: This is a good example of 3rd person omniscient POV. Personally I would like a bit more attention to the main characters. Meg and Simon Wolfgard carry that role, but there are so many characters to care about that it’s easy to lose track of Meg’s thread.

My Rating five-stars

Marked in Flesh by Anne Bishop, where wolves, vampires and humans meetMarked in Flesh (The Others, #4) by Anne Bishop
Series: The Others #4
Published by Roc on March 8th 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal
Pages: 399
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Goodreads
four-half-stars

For centuries, the Others and humans have lived side by side in uneasy peace. But when humankind oversteps its bounds, the Others will have to decide how much humanity they’re willing to tolerate—both within themselves and within their community...
Since the Others allied themselves with the cassandra sangue, the fragile yet powerful human blood prophets who were being exploited by their own kind, the delicate dynamic between humans and Others changed. Some, like Simon Wolfgard, wolf shifter and leader of the Lakeside Courtyard, and blood prophet Meg Corbyn, see the new, closer companionship as beneficial—both personally and practically.
But not everyone is convinced. A group of radical humans is seeking to usurp land through a series of violent attacks on the Others. What they don’t realize is that there are older and more dangerous forces than shifters and vampires protecting the land that belongs to the Others—and those forces are willing to do whatever is necessary to protect what is theirs…

Sapphique by Catherine Fisher, a follow up to Incarceron

Redd Becker Book Review

Sapphique (Incarceron, #2) byI enjoyed Sapphique more than Incarceron. The depth of characters, their flaws and the complexity of relationships enhanced the tension in this sequel.

The protagonist, Finn, Fisher’s protagonist from the first book in the series,) is out of prison. Claudia recognizes him as the prince thought dead, but Finn can’t remember his past. The ‘evil step-queen’ enlists a fake prince to usurp Finn in order to remain in power. Written in third person, each of the characters’ agendas are fully developed. They all come together for the climax.

Finn grapples with his destiny but is tormented by thoughts of those he’s left behind inside Incarceron–the living prison. The magician Bix, Finn’s old partner Keiro and Attia each struggle to find Sapphique’s glove and an exit from prison.

My Rating five-stars

Sapphique by Catherine Fisher, a follow up to IncarceronSapphique (Incarceron, #2) by Catherine Fisher
Series: Incarceron #2
Published by Hodder Children's Books on September 18th 2008
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Adventure, Mystery
Pages: 470
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
three-half-stars

Finn has escaped from the terrible living Prison of Incarceron, but its memory torments him, because his brother Keiro is still inside. Outside, Claudia insists he must be king, but he doubts even his own identity. Is he the lost prince Giles? Or are his memories no more than another construct of his imprisonment?