24 June 2013

Blog Tour: Shutdown by Heather Anastasiu &Giveaway

Release Date: July 2nd, 2013
320 pages
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin

The battle is all but over, and hope seems to be lost. Zoe and her fellow Resistance fighters are on the run, having lost their home, their protection, and their leader. They are outnumbered and outmatched by the powerful corporation that controls the world, and the cruel Chancellor is inches away from completing a scheme that would kill most of humanity. Zoe's only remaining option is to chase the impossible dream of upending the Link system, freeing the world from the hardware that controls their thoughts and emotions, and hope it will trigger a revolution.

The plot requires a nearly impossible mission to infiltrate the dangerous Community, and it is a task that Zoe must unfortunately complete alone. With challenges and surprises at every turn, nothing goes according to plan. Adrien's visions of the future now show two possible outcomes: one in which they succeed, and one in which humanity falls. It all lies in Zoe's hands.
Shutdown was a fantastic conclusion to this captivating series. One of the things that surprised me the most about this trilogy is that every book was so much better than its predecessor, you could really feel the development not only in the characters but also in the plot and in the author's writing as well. Even though I had already enjoyed Glitch a lot (it received a 5-star review), Shutdown was even more fun to read and I would give it a better rating in a heartbeat, if my rating system didn't only go to five stars.

The story picks up where Override left off. The plot keeps its pace throughout it, there was always going on that you won't want to read this during finals' week (like me!) since you won't be able to put it down. Seriously. However what captivated me the most wasn't the final battle, but the problematic with Adam. The end was really well-written and meant to be, I couldn't have imagined a better ending and also the way the last battle was resolved was also surprising (in a good way).

The characters have developed so much since Glitch. Zoe is a great main character, fierce yet emotional, but mostly she is realistic. But Adam was most certainly the show-stealer in Shutdown. I've never read a novel in which a character changes so drastically and that was most refreshing. I think I even enjoyed Adam more as a character after the kidnapping because he was just unexpected. He was something completely unique and less similar to all the other YA boys. And as I always say about Anastasiu's series, the side characters complement the story well in a x-men (awesome) kind of way.

I'm very happy that I was able to read an Advanced Reader Copy of this marvellous novel and also very satisfied with how things ended (you won't be disappointed!). My favorite scenes were those between Zoe and Adam, since it was very captivating to see the romance bloom again. I'll certainly pick up other novels by this author because Anastasiu showed me that she can write remarkably well with many unexpected and refreshing twists and turns. A great conclusion to an even great series!

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09 June 2013

ARC Review: Rush by Eve Silver

Release Date: June 11th, 2013
352 pages
Publisher: HarperTeen

So what’s the game now? This, or the life I used to know?

When Miki Jones is pulled from her life, pulled through time and space into some kind of game—her carefully controlled life spirals into chaos. In the game, she and a team of other teens are sent on missions to eliminate the Drau, terrifying and beautiful alien creatures. There are no practice runs, no training, and no way out. Miki has only the guidance of secretive but maddeningly attractive team leader Jackson Tate, who says the game isn’t really a game, that what Miki and her new teammates do now determines their survival, and the survival of every other person on this planet. She laughs. He doesn’t. And then the game takes a deadly and terrifying turn.

Rush is a thrilling and original novel. I wasn't expecting it to like it so much, so maybe that's why it exceeded my expectations so much; or most probably, the novel just really is this good. The mystery surrounding the plot and the characters was also one thing that captivated me from the beginning, I wasn't sure what to expect and many twists and turns were completely unexpected, therefore this novel was like a small box of surprises.

You die and you get stuck in a game-like reality, in which you fight against aliens to protect the world; plus if you die there, you die in real world too, period. Let's just start by saying that this plot is completely unexpected, original and well, freaking awesome?! Furthermore, the author is a suspense-meister. There are so many secrets and mysterious details surrounding Miki's new reality, which makes the novel more alive and difficult to figure out. There are small problems that come with this territory, since the description of this reality wasn't so full of detail, therefore the world-building was a bit lacking. I do have higher hopes for the sequel, though.

The characters were the best part of the novel. Miki was a great heroine, kick-ass and strong, full of curiosity (even a bit too much) and intelligent, and I loved that she was half-Asian! But the show stealer was Jackson Tate. You don't know anything about this guy, but he just has this allure and you can't help but like him. It's a character full of unexpected secrets, and those are almost always the best to read about. The many other secondary characters were a bit obscured by my (and Miki's) obsession with Jackson, although they were fitting and complemented the story really well.

Rush was the novel that most surprised me in 2013 up until now. I read the whole thing so fast and now I can't get my hands fast enough on the sequel. That's the downside of ARCs, since I have an even longer wait till the next one comes out. But I'm certain that it will be worth it. The ending was a huge cliffhanger and I can't wait to see which direction the author will take regarding the plot and the characters. Hopefully it will also be a small box full of surprises.

A huge, huge thanks to HarperTeen for providing me with a copy of this worderful novel for review!

05 June 2013

ARC Review: The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau

Release Date: June 4th, 2013
336 pages
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children

Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Isn’t that what they say? But how close is too close when they may be one in the same?

The Seven Stages War left much of the planet a charred wasteland. The future belongs to the next generation’s chosen few who must rebuild it. But to enter this elite group, candidates must first pass The Testing—their one chance at a college education and a rewarding career.

Cia Vale is honored to be chosen as a Testing candidate; eager to prove her worthiness as a University student and future leader of the United Commonwealth. But on the eve of her departure, her father’s advice hints at a darker side to her upcoming studies--trust no one.

But surely she can trust Tomas, her handsome childhood friend who offers an alliance? Tomas, who seems to care more about her with the passing of every grueling (and deadly) day of the Testing. To survive, Cia must choose: love without truth or life without trust.

If I could pick some novels that can satiate fans of The Hunger Games trilogy, The Testing would certainly be one of them. Sure there are many similarities, but also many differences that make The Testing special in its own way. With compelling characters, a plot full of action and a captivating romance, this is a dystopian novel you won't want to miss!

With a captivating plot, The Testing will leave you completely breathless, and I don't mean that because of the writing (which is amazing as well) but because this novel just doesn't have one moment of boredom. You will be sucked right in and you won't stop until you get to the end of it. And the ending, well, it's a big cliffhanger. So what's the Testing? The Testing is a way to filter the people who get to go to university and later have a great career. But what happens to those who fail the Testing? This and many other questions will be raised throughout the novel, making the sequel (this is a trilogy) a must-read. Charbonneau does have a way to write that will pique anyone's interest.

The characters were also amazingly well-developed. Cia is a worthy main character, almost reaching Katniss standart of awesomeness in a heroine. She is strong, intelligent and really confident (she must be to be chosen for the Testing). But throughout this novel you could see how she developed and changed because of the Testing mostly, and that was a decisive factor. I love when authors can write characters that are realistic, showing how their personalities or emotions change because of certain events. Her relationship with Thomas was also well-written. After reading the whole book, I'm still not sure which character Cia should or shouldn't trust.

The Testing is a promising beginning to a most probably enthralling trilogy. I, for one, can't wait to get my hands on the sequel and I'm even more incredibly lucky to have had the oportunity to read this one before the release date (although my review is bit late). I would certainly recommend fans of the Hunger Games or the Divergent trilogy to read this amazing novel. I'm sure you will enjoy it as much as I did.

Huge, huge thanks to Houghton Mifflin Books for Children for providing me with a copy for review!

03 June 2013

ARC Review: Gameboard of the Gods by Richelle Mead

Expected Publication: June 4th, 2013
464 pages
Publisher: Dutton Adult

In a futuristic world nearly destroyed by religious extremists, Justin March lives in exile after failing in his job as an investigator of religious groups and supernatural claims. But Justin is given a second chance when Mae Koskinen comes to bring him back to the Republic of United North America (RUNA). Raised in an aristocratic caste, Mae is now a member of the military’s most elite and terrifying tier, a soldier with enhanced reflexes and skills.

When Justin and Mae are assigned to work together to solve a string of ritualistic murders, they soon realize that their discoveries have exposed them to terrible danger. As their investigation races forward, unknown enemies and powers greater than they can imagine are gathering in the shadows, ready to reclaim the world in which humans are merely game pieces on their board.

Despite having a plot that's all over the place, Gameboard of the Gods will keep you completely hooked. I just couldn't put it down, even though I didn't enjoy the story so much. That's saying something about Mead's writing. Gameboard of the Gods was entertaining and interesting enough, however I had expected so much more from this writer that I've heard so much about and maybe that was the problem.

I'm so conflicted about the plot! I liked it but I know there were some huge problems with it. Foremost the world-building was a bit weird, too many unexplainable things. I get that religion was banned but I didn't understand why (how did it come to that?). And I thought the reason that the Decline happened in the first place was a virus, but then religion illogically takes the blame. Then, there were the castes that were also highly illogical and against the RUNA's own rules. Nevertheless I enjoyed the premise about Justin and Mae working together to catch this murderous cult and how this was executed was also really captivating. But for me, the other plot lines weren't necessary to make this novel more interesting, it only succeeded in making it the more complicated and unlikable.

The characters were mostly interesting enough. Justin was a really charismatic character, he was just full of himself and that was entertaining to read. His relationship with Mae was also a nice addition to the series, since it's more mature and yet still full of complications and ups and downs, yet I would have liked for it to be less downs and more ups. Mae was a difficult character for me. At times, I really enjoyed her presence but in others (most of the time), I just wanted her to disappear. Tessa was a worthless character, she was nice and all but I still don't understand her role in the story. At least, I don't think that her story was worthy of its own POV in the novel.

Gameboard of the Gods is a more mature read, I would rather put it in the New Adult section than in the YA genre. The plot was a bit over the place, as mentioned; I would have enjoyed it more if the author had just concentrated the story on just one story line. There were too many details that could have been left out, in my opinion the whole caste thing could have been left unmentioned. The most interesting aspect of the novel was the religious problems and how they tried to uncover the cults and I guess that the Gods trying to possess people was also an interesting premise. Nonetheless Mead succeeded in captivating me throughout it and that's the reason this novel will be receiving a three stars rating. I was eager to get to the end of the novel and now I am certainly expecting the sequel to know how things will play out.

Huge thanks to Dutton Adult for providing me with a copy in exchange of an honest review!