Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Cover-to-Cover Commuting: Wither review

I decided to give Wither by Lauren DeStefano a try based on a friend's positive review of the audiobook.  Here are my own thoughts on it.

Also, while I did not finish this review in a timely manner, the review itself is timely for the book: It's been nominated for YALSA's Teen's Top Ten 2012 list!  If you're a teen, you can vote.

Checkouts: Information not available; obtained through inter-library loan
Typical reader: Teen girls who are into dystopian romance
Source: MelCat inter-library loan

Synopsis: After medical science in the future world goes terribly wrong and invariably kills young adults, teen girls such as protagonist/narrator Rhine are kidnapped and married off to repopulate the world.  Rhine yearns for freedom and to be reunited with her twin brother, but also bonds with her sister-wives, the help, and maybe even her wicked husband.

My Goodreads rating: 4 stars

Wither offers up quite a different world, with fairly adequate world-building.  In Rhine's world, most of the globe was not only devastated by war, it was obliterated; apparently, the rest of the world is covered in ocean thanks to the superior weaponry owned by the North American superpower.  On the medical side of things, cancers and most other diseases have been wiped out.  An engineered generation of perfect humans thrived, and continue to do so as they live healthily into their 70s at present.  Unfortunately, the succeeding generations do not fare so well.  Women die at 20, and men at 25, of some horrific "virus."  Without exception.

Is all of this true?  That is a bit questionable, especially about the ocean-shrouded world.  But that is what Rhine knows, and she's the narrator.  Perhaps the holes will be filled in as the trilogy progresses.

This is definitely a book enhanced by its audio edition.  Angela Lin really won me over to this book.  She's so emotional, and reading the text alone probably wouldn't have captured the feelings as well as her voice did.  The voice acting added so much flavor.  And it got me past issues I might otherwise have with this sort of book, like the love triangle.

Yup.  There's a love triangle.  That blight of YA chick lit.  At least here it's understandable.  Rhine is trapped, forced to marry her captor.  She falls for a manservant, Gabriel.  Gabriel loves her, too.  But so does her captor/husband, Linden.  And as she learns that maybe he isn't so bad after all, she starts to feel a bond with him, too.  I can be generous and attribute it to inevitability through proximity.  She does spend a lot of time with both of them, and gets to know their softer sides.  (Or, I can be cynical and call it Stockholm Syndrome.)

This novel has some mature themes, though the issue of sex is skirted a bit.  Minor spoiler, but Rhine never consummates the marriage with her husband in the course of the book.  The other wives do, though, and the reader can expect the characters to deal with pregnancy, birth, and child-rearing.  There's also the matter of death (though that is a common theme in YA these days), and of medical science gone wrong.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Yay for YA: Endlessly review

There's quite an irony in naming the last book in a trilogy, the end of the story (as sworn by the author herself), "Endlessly."  But perhaps it's optimistic, that we readers will love it endlessly.  That optimism is met with my feelings about this final book about Evie.

My previous reviews in this series:
Paranormalcy (book 1)
Supernaturally (book 2)

Checkouts: Definitely coming soon to the school library
Series checkouts: 5
Typical reader: Fans of the series
Source: ARC from Snowbound Books

Synopsis (Spoiler-free!): Evie is a busy girl, with a new IPCA director after her, plenty of people to rescue in various ways, and a weird request from the paranormals in her life that she's not sure she wants to fulfill.

My Goodreads rating: 5 stars

I thought this was a great end to Evie's story!  I've read a few reviews that said that this book went on endlessly, and was too long and drawn-out.  Um, who do you want to not get rescued by Evie?  It seemed to me that everything was necessary.  Even the part where (minor spoiler) Reth prolongs Evie's trip to the realm of the Unseelie Court to show her all that the bad faeries do, which Evie felt to be superfluous and solely for Reth's own goals, was pretty important in the long run.

I've enjoyed Evie's personality and growth throughout the series.  This trilogy has consistently been an excellent blend of serious and fluff.  It's amused me and pleased me.  It avoids the pitfalls of a lot of YA paranormal romance, in not having a love triangle and being sensible about the stalker-y but good-looking ex-boyfriend.

This finale to Evie's story was really good, and I look forward to what else Ms. White will produce in the future.  Flood and Stone, expected next year, seems particularly promising; the daughter of Ancient Egyptian gods sounds right up the alley of my mythology fans.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Cover-to-Cover Commuting: Heist Society

As I journey through the land of audiobooks with my new commute, I'm finding the vista sorely lacking in listening options for young people.  Maybe it's just the libraries that I frequent, but I'm hard-pressed to find many audiobooks on CD for teens.  (There are a good number available digitally through the libraries, but listening to my MP3 player in the car seems akin to talking on the phone - not a good idea.)

What I'm finding in the sparse collections, however, are really quite good.  See my previous review of Harlan Coben's Shelter.  Or, continue reading this to find out about Heist Society by Ally Carter.

Checkouts: 5
Typical reader: Readers of mysteries
Source: The school/public library

Synopsis: Katarina Bishop, an experienced but young thief, needs to steal priceless art pieces back for a mobster who was robbed of them and blames her father

My Goodreads rating: 4 stars

I really enjoyed the narrator for this book.  Angela Dawe has a wonderful voice, in clarity, range, and pleasantness.  Each character is unmistakably portrayed with a unique tone, matching his or her age and sex well.  And accents!  It really is quite admirable, how such a variety of accents, dialects, and languages are handled in this audio recording.  Who needs a full cast?

The story is somewhat akin to that of Robin Hood.  At her core, Katarina tries to be a good person, and use her skills to return priceless artifacts to their rightful owners.  But she's still a thief.  And she and her crew of fellow teen thieves do some outrageous (albeit mostly believable?) things.

Sorry this review is a bit short. I listened to this a few weeks ago, plus my memory for the spoken word instead of what I read isn't the greatest. Expect my audio reviews to be more on the short side.