Unbreakable – Will McIntosh

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I really enjoyed this novel. I went through a few books that I started and just couldn’t finish, so I was so glad when I found out that this one was available for Kindle download.

The story follows Celia as she discovers that everything she knows about the world and her life has been a lie. She lives in a walled-in town called Record Village, where all the inhabitants have to compete to break records, like longest to go without sleeping, or holding your breath, or eating hot dogs. When you break a record you and your team get rewarded with food and lodging. If you don’t break the record, then its possible you and your team have to live in squalor. When Celia’s close friend, who has been like a mother to her, needs medication that Celia thinks she can only get beyond the walls of her village, Celia doesn’t think twice about. Problem is, no one has ever gotten out and come back to talk about it.

On her journey she finds new friends, the truth of her existence, her town, and everyone in it. The truth ends up being much more horrible than she could have imaged.

I think this is good novel for anyone who enjoys science fiction or dystopian novels. Will McIntosh is an excellent storyteller that leaves the reader excited for each new chapter.

 

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Life Expectancy – Dean Koontz

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I enjoyed this book pretty much from the first page. The main character is a pastry chef and I love baking and watching baking shows. He also describes himself pretty much how I feel about myself, so it was nice having a main character you could really believe in. All that mixed with the characters dry and dark sense of humor and I was pretty much reading what my family would sound like…if we were pastry chefs with crazy clowns in our lives.

I think one of the greatest things, actually, was how Dean Koontz wove generations into the story, and made the whole thing seem completely plausible. In this book, Jimmy Tock is born on the same night his grandfather died. His grandfathers dying words were predictions of five terrible days for Jimmy that would happen throughout the course of his life. Each time one came true, there was no doubt that the rest would come to pass as well.

Jimmy and his family would face each terrible day as ready as they could; armed with love, common sense, sarcasm, pepper spray and a little creme brulee.

This book spans Jimmy’s life time and each chapter is leads you wanting the next one.

I would recommend this to anyone who loves mystery, Dean Koontz, and suspense. I would probably say if you are afraid of clowns…well this book won’t help your fears.

Station Eleven – Emily St. John Mandel

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It is no surprise that I enjoy reading dystopian fiction. I like it for many reasons, but mostly I enjoy reading what other people think of humanity. You can tell how positive or negative they feel by the world they create when the world as we know it ends.

This novel reminds me a lot of The Stand by Stephen King. The Georgia Flu has taken out 99% of the population. (Capt. Tripps or Project Blue – a man-made super flu – killed off 99% of the population) Society must put itself back together. Instead of having a good/evil that puts the society that is left in two camps. It follows the more likely Glenn Bateman theory of a bunch of little societies popping up and being led by different forms of government. From Socialism to Dictators and everything in between. The way we can experience this, is by following the Traveling Symphony. The members of the group preform Shakespeare plays and play music while traveling around the mostly deserted landscape that used to be America. For 20 years they have done this, but of course, the good people aren’t the only ones that survived and as such, they run into problems trying to find some friends of theirs.

The whole novel sweeps back and forth through landscapes and over time, from before the flu to the present, going from one character to another and bringing the reader into a world where everything is gone. The internet, modern medicine, TV, cold food from the fridge, cooking on a stove, going to drive through for food, flying across great distances, getting in your car and traveling hundreds of miles in only few hours. Families, friends, jobs, useless degrees all gone in the blink of an eye and what remains is only what we are. Musicians, doctors, mothers, fathers, electricians, trying to find ways to find meaning in the new normal.

I think what I enjoyed most about this book was the other reason I like dystopian novels. I feel like most of humanity (not all) is stuck in rut. We live each day going about our business with very little thought to our futures, or even our present. We work, we sleep, we eat, we repeat and for what? Is that living? Or just existing. Two parts of the book stick out for me that make me feel like the author feels the same way. There was a monolog in the middle where a woman is describing her boss and she describes him as: “High-Functioning Sleepwalker” Deep. Because I look around and see a whole lot of “high-functioning sleepwalkers” every day. The second reason is a recurring phrase: “Because survival is insufficient” which is apparently originally from Star Trek. Again – isn’t it true? Just because you are alive doesn’t mean you are living.

Another thing that stuck with me is the way she would make you think about morality – one minute here, the next gone. There was one reflection where one of the characters was remembering making snow ice cream with his mother and brother. “Frank standing on a stool on his wondrously functional pre-Libya legs, the bullet that would sever his spinal cord still twenty-five years away but already approaching” again – deep. Thinking about it makes you think about your life, what events have shaped where you are and what events are still to come.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, even if it took me a long time to read it. I would highly recommend this to anyway one wants to read as good dystopian novel.

 

NK3 – Michael Tolkin

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Every now and then you read a book that reminds you that why you will never become an author. This is one of them. It isn’t so much that the book was amazing or beyond compare, it is simply because the writing was so clever. The character development was non-existent, but the language, the scenery and the overall tone of the book sucked you in. I read the book in two days. After reading it,  couldn’t begin to describe why people should read it, or what I just read even. I just knew that it was a good book and scary in the way that it almost seems plausible.

Not too long from now North Korea develops a virus that wipes out human memory. Everything. Complete blank state. Everything you were, everyone you knew, every memory you cherished gone. Not only that but it did something to our inhibitions and emotions. For example, sex and being naked is completely normal. People have orgy’s in the streets. In some ways, I found this liberating. Imagine if we cast aside our societies view of normal or polite and were more free. People wore what they wanted without regard to “girl clothes” or “boy clothes” , a biker in his former life wore a sexy nurse custom for example. It was that part of the book that I was most drawn to. There was a certain peacefulness to the ignorant bliss they all shared.

The way people spoke to each other was really why the book was so good. He created a way of speaking that never faltered through the entire book. It was almost like a bunch of four year old children babbling and making decisions, so if you can imagine four year old running the world…that would give you and accurate description of the language. There were levels of people, those who, in the early stages of the virus, were rehabilitated, those who sort of got rehabilitated, and those who never did, then there were those who were beyond any sort of help. The first wave of people were people who had some usefulness about them. Electricians, doctors, mechanics, pilots, farmers, etc. They created a place and put a wall up that kept out the people who weren’t verified. (in other words people who had no useful skills in the new world.) No matter what level of rehabilitation people received, no one could remember anything since the virus.

Because none of them have any memory of the way things were, they run the world much like a four year old with all the candy they can eat would. Wine, drugs, and food run freely with no regard as to how more will be made. This spells disaster when, four years after the virus they realize that at some point, the party has to end.

I feel like I am doing a poor job of explaining this novel – but I will say, anyone who loves dystopian novels, interesting writing, or new concepts will probably enjoy this book.

 

The Midnight Star – Marie Lu

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“None of us are saints. We can all do better”

The final installment in Marie Lu’s Young Elites novels. This one I liked better than the second. It was full of action, drama, and it was beautifully written.

I am again assuming that if you are reading this, you have read the first two. While I will try not to give anything away, there is always that a chance.

In this conclusion we find the Elites struggling with their powers. Some have become ill, some have gone mad, while others seem to be fairing okay. One of the Elites, Raffaele is aligned with the other elites powers and senses a deterioration. He concludes that they must give their powers back to the gods or have their powers kill  not only them, but their entire planet. In order to do this, they must make alliances with their enemies. A hard thing to ask to give up your powers, but harder still to travel with people you don’t think you can trust.

This book was a gripping, non stop conclusion to a great series. I can’t wait to see what else Marie comes up with next.

The Young Elites – Marie Lu

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I love a good series, and this one promises to be one. I read her other series, Legends  and really enjoyed, so I already knew I would like her writing style.

The Young Elites takes place after a horrible sickness has taken over the land and killed or disfigured many people. Some people were lucky enough to live without being marked. Those that weren’t so lucky are called malfetto and are seen as something to be embarrassed by. Fathers have a hard time marrying off their malfetto daughters.  Adelina Amouteru is more than just a survivor and a malfetto she is also one of the children that is now in possession of a special gift. She meets up with others like her and they have a plan, put a stop to rein of the King and put the rightful King in his place.

The story takes place in a world like ours, but slightly different and it a time much like our 1400’s…which takes a bit getting used to if you aren’t used to reading fantasy novels. I liked this book (and will of course be finishing the series) because of the strong female lead, the rich descriptions and the character development. I feel like it was well done and keeps the reader engaged. I didn’t feel like it dragged in any parts.

I look forward to reading the rest of the series and seeing how things turn out for Adelina and her friends.

You will know me – Megan Abbott

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This book sucks you in an doesn’t let you go until you turn the last page. Even then, it is one of those books that you keep thinking about it.

How far would you go if your child was destined for greatness? How far would your family go? Your community?  Most of us would never have to answer that question. Most of us have children with ordinary talents who will maybe get a scholarship. The rare few that actually make it to the Olympics – how did they get there? What did they sacrifice? This book takes you into that world where everything is riding on one person, the hopes and dreams of a coach, the inspiration for younger gymnast, the pride and joy of the families, the jealously and bitterness of the parents with ordinary children. It also brings with it a secret, a horrid and life changing secret, that threatens the entire community.

If the book was just about the life of a gymnast it would have a been a good book, but it also weaves a tale of a mystery, a who done it and why. When the whole story unravels, you find yourself asking: would I do the same for my child?

The only complaint I have about his book is that the conversations were choppy. I am sure it lead to the mystery and intrigue of the story, but I found it hard to read at some points. No one asks a questions to their husband only to have them turn away without answering…at least not without a fight. There was a lot of conversations that never went anywhere, and again, I am sure that it helped with the mysteriousness of the story, but as I said, it was hard to digest a few times.

Over all – I really enjoyed this book, and look forward to picking up her other books.