Tag Archive | YA

The Boundless


NEW this week…

The Boundless by Kenneth Oppel


4 of 5 stars

On the greatest train ever built, teenaged Will teams up with a traveling circus to save the train from bandits.

Something shifts inside Will, like a door opening.  Maybe it was meeting the circus girl, maybe it was the view of all these new mountains like a gateway to a new and dangerous world — but he feels like his whole life is about to be upended.

Fans of the Airborne series will absolutely adore The Boundless.  Will’s got the strength and courage of Matt Cruse, and Maren is similar to Kate de Vries in her spunk and devil-may-care sense of independence.  And, just like in Airborne, the heroes are working together on a fantastic piece of transportation — this time, the world’s longest, biggest train, that spans over seven miles long and contains over 900 cars.  The picture of the train itself is awesome and fabulous, and the world outside the train is just as exciting and unknown, with great beasts and mythical dangers lurking at every turn of the track.

Some may argue that this story follows a plot a bit too similar to Airborne, and, in fact, it did seem to take me a bit to get into the story simply because of that.  At one point, I wondered why the author didn’t just have Matt fly himself over to America, have Kate join the circus, and plop them both on a transcontinental train.

Overall:  A fun alternate history adventure in the same vein as Airborne


The Guard

GuardThe Guard by Kierra Cass

Pub: Feb 2014

The events of The Elite as told by Aspen. (If you have no idea what I’m talking about, you’re probably not going to care about this book.)

Opening lines:

“Day off,” I mumbled, pulling the blanket over my head.

I figured if I’m going to finish out The Selection series (if nothing else, to see Celeste get her comeuppance), I’d better keep up with the novellas along the way. Let me tell you right off: there’s really no need.

What I liked: Seriously, I didn’t hate this novella. It was a quick read, and probably would be a really good catch-up for anyone who’d read The Elite right away and wants a quick recap before The One.

What I didn’t like: That’s all it was. I can’t think of a single thing in this novella that hadn’t already been established in The Elite. I was hoping for some sort of inside info — WHY he says Maxon is a good actor, for instance or what REALLY happened when the king and prince were supposedly in New Asia, even more about what happened when America ran away from the rebels. Something! Anything! Needless to say, I was pretty disappointed.



Enclave (Razorland #1) by Ann Aguirre

In a Freak(zombie)-filled post-apocalyptic world, Deuce comes of age in her underground civilization and must team up with outsider Fade when her Enclave exiles her.

I was born during the second holocaust. People had told us legends of a time when human beings lived longer. I thought they were just stories.

I’ve taken a break from YA dystopian/post-apocalyptic stories, but I happened to see this one again the other day and figured it’s been long enough since my last foray into the genre that I’d give it a whirl.

What I liked: An underground society… zombies… I really liked the enclave aspect and exploring what it’d be like to live underground. The world-building in this first part was really neat, and reminded me a bit of The City of Ember, which I’ve always really liked.

What I didn’t like: Love triangles annoy me, and this one shouldn’t have even been an issue, considering the ‘third wheel’ was kind of a creep. Also, the second half becomes more violent and it ends on a cliffhanger, which I’m not really fond of either.

Heads up: Violence, gore, rape, and other things with the potential make your skin crawl

Overall: Not for the squeamish, but a good read for those still interested in YA dystopian/paranormal stories

Anyone But You

AnyoneNEW this week!

Anyone But You: A Modern-Day Spin on Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet by Kim Askew & Amy Helmes

Teens from two feuding Italian restaurants in Chicago fall in love and, in order to be together, must uncover the source of their families’ hatred for one another.

Opening line:
I took a deep breath and backed through the swinging stainless steel door, leaving the chaos of the kitchen and entering the hushed, dimly lit dining room.

As the third book in the Twisted Lit series (which includes Exposure: A Modern-Day Spin on Shakespeare’s Macbeth)the authors once again take some basic elements and themes of Shakespeare’s plays and works them into a modern-day scenario that teens can relate to.

I loved the idea of two feuding restaurants, and although I saw the *twist* in the 1930s/40s backstory coming a mile away, it answered a question that Shakespeare never did — the question of how this feud began in the first place.  Interesting take on it, for sure!

There is a bit of insta-love, but you can hardly fault the authors for that in this particular case, and — although I don’t want to spoil anything — the modern-day characters don’t go nearly as overboard with proving their love as the original Shakespeare characters!



Nightmare by Robin Parrish

Pub: 2010

The daughter of renown paranormal investigators goes looking for answers after seeing her missing friend’s face in a amusement park haunted house.

Opening line:

Doesn’t matter who you are or what you believe. Everybody has a ghost story.

This book was different than what I had expected, and in some ways, that was neat. The even-numbered chapters follow the main character Maia and her friend Jordin as they investigate various haunted real-life locations around the United States, which I found interesting (though I’d also already read a lot about these places from other sources). The odd-numbered ‘present-day’ chapters follow Maia and Jordin’s pastor-in-training-boyfriend as they try to figure out what happened to her. Let’s just say, it gets rather sci-fi and way weirder than I had expected.

Maia, as a narrator, was a bit hard to love. As someone exposed to the paranormal her whole life, she was a bit of a know-it-all and I didn’t really buy into her motivations for her actions. The ending, like I said, got a little weird, but I thought it was an interesting book that brought out some good thinking points about angels and demons, ghosts, and the paranormal.



UnSouled (Unwind #3) by Neal Shusterman

Pub: Oct 15, 2013

Connor, Risa, and Lev–the most notorious teens-on-the-run–hunt down a woman whose science made unwinding possible and who may have the answer to its undoing.

Opening line:

“They signed it. The Heartland War is over.”

There’s so many things to love about this series: the crazy-complex world-building in a society where everything’s gone completely amok, the complicated characters who are each so distinctive and authentic, and the tough questions it raises about people and their worth. Though his Skinjacker Trilogy still tops my personal favorites list, the Unwind Dystology is definitely worth a place on your shelf.

That being said, I’d have to say this is the weakest of the series thus far. It suffers from the typical second-book-in-a-series symptoms, despite it actually being the third. Basically, there’s a lot of back story, a lot of characters wondering how to fix things and plotting and having their best-laid plans twarted, but not a whole lot that’s actually fresh. It’s a setup for the final book in the series, and if you weren’t one of us hard-core Shusterman fans who ran out to get the book right away, I’d have to say my advice to you would be to hold off until the fourth is published (sometime in 2014) and read them both together, because really, this read like the first half of a much larger book.

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