Review: After Eden by Helen Douglas


After EdenI interrupt my binge of playing Pokemon X and studying for my midterms to bring you this review!

Title: After Eden

Author: Helen Douglas

Genre: YA Sci-fi, Time Travel

Publication Date: November 5, 2013 (Bloomsbury USA Childrens)

Source: print ARC from a swap

Jacket Copy: The day Eden met Ryan changed her world forever. Actually, not just her world. Ryan has time traveled from the future to save the world. In a few weeks, Eden’s best friend Connor will discover a new planet—one where human life is possible. The discovery will make him famous. It will also ruin the world as we know it. When Ryan asks Eden for help, she must choose between saving the world and saving her best friend’s greatest achievement. And a crush on Ryan complicates things more than she could have imagined. Because Connor is due to make the discovery after the girl he loves breaks his heart. That girl is Eden.

Grounded in a realistic teen world with fascinating sci-fi elements, After Eden is a heart-pounding love triangle that’s perfect for dystopian fans looking for something new to devour.

1/5 stars – DNFed after 150 pages/nearly half the book; too ridiculous to bother with

After Eden is a list of cliches turned into a time-travel story. There are the dead parents, how all the girls fall all over themselves for Ryan because there are apparently no lesbians in their part of England or any girls who wouldn’t be interested in him because he’s so sexy, a heroine who doesn’t know she’s beautiful and denies it every time her crush calls her beautiful (fact: I subtract one star if the main character in any YA novel is exactly the kind of girl One Direction sings about in “What Makes You Beautiful”) and the works. This is all the preamble necessary, methinks.

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Review: “Once We Were (Hybrid Chronicles #2)” by Kat Zhang


Once We WereTitle: “Once We Were (Hybrid Chronicles #2)” by Kat Zhang

Author: Kat Zhang

Genre: Alternate History, Sci-Fi, YA contemporary, Dystopia, Biopunk

Publication Date: September 17, 2013 (HarperTeen – North America)

Source: Publisher-provided ARC

Synopsis: “I’m lucky just to be alive.”

Eva was never supposed to have survived this long. As the recessive soul, she should have faded away years ago. Instead, she lingers in the body she shares with her sister soul, Addie. When the government discovered the truth, they tried to “cure” the girls, but Eva and Addie escaped before the doctors could strip Eva’s soul away.

Now fugitives, Eva and Addie find shelter with a group of hybrids who run an underground resistance. Surrounded by others like them, the girls learn how to temporarily disappear to give each soul some much-needed privacy. Eva is thrilled at the chance to be alone with Ryan, the boy she’s falling for, but troubled by the growing chasm between her and Addie. Despite clashes over their shared body, both girls are eager to join the rebellion.

Yet as they are drawn deeper into the escalating violence, they start to wonder: How far are they willing to go to fight for hybrid freedom? Faced with uncertainty and incredible danger, their answers may tear them apart forever.

☆: 4.5/5 stars – Not quite as breathtaking as book one, but still a really, really awesome follow-up to it.

Review: “What’s Left of Me” was definitely in my top ten of my favorite debuts of 2012, and so I was really, really happy to get a copy of this next installment in the series, “Once We Were”. While not quite in frenetic in its pace (except for the last quarter or so), “Once We Were” is a quieter book that reflects on what has happened in book one, and what’s on deck for Addie, Eva, and the rest of the hybrids on the run, as well as delves a little deeper into the differences between Addie and Eva in pretty much every way. So for those that want that non-stop action from book one may be a bit let down, but “Once We Were” is just every inch as good as its prequel – just a little emotionally deeper.

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Review: “3:59” by Gretchen McNeil


15836516Title: “3:59”

Author: Gretchen McNeil

Genre: Multiverse/Alternate Universe, Sci-Fi, YA contemporary

Publication Date: September 17, 2013 (HarperTeen – North America)

Source: Publisher-provided ARC

Synopsis: Josie Byrne’s life is spiraling out of control. Her parents are divorcing, her boyfriend Nick has grown distant, and her physics teacher has it in for her. When she’s betrayed by the two people she trusts most, Josie thinks things can’t get worse.

Until she starts having dreams about a girl named Jo. Every night at the same time—3:59 a.m.

Jo’s life is everything Josie wants: she’s popular, her parents are happily married, and Nick adores her. It all seems real, but they’re just dreams, right? Josie thinks so, until she wakes one night to a shadowy image of herself in the bedroom mirror – Jo.

Josie and Jo realize that they are doppelgängers living in parallel universes that overlap every twelve hours at exactly 3:59. Fascinated by Jo’s perfect world, Josie jumps at the chance to jump through the portal and switch places for a day.

But Jo’s world is far from perfect. Not only is Nick not Jo’s boyfriend, he hates her. Jo’s mom is missing, possibly insane. And at night, shadowy creatures feed on human flesh.

By the end of the day, Josie is desperate to return to her own life. But there’s a problem: Jo has sealed the portal, trapping Josie in this dangerous world. Can she figure out a way home before it’s too late?

☆: 3.5/5 stars – a fun multiverse tale, but could have been better.

Review: The multiverse books just keep on comin’ in YA, and that’s a happy, happy thing. I love reading about multiple dimensions and alternate histories or universes, so “3:59” was definitely on my TBR list. And while it didn’t quite live up to my expectations, it was still a fun book, and I think a lot of people (especially those just getting used to the idea of reading multiverse lit) will enjoy it. If you’re looking for a good rainy day book, or a book to consume in one day, make it “3:59”.

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Review: “When the World Was Flat” by Ingrid Jonach


WhenTheWorldWasFlat-144dpiTitle: “When the World Was Flat (and we were in love)”

Author: Ingrid Jonach

Genre: Multiverse/Alternate Universe, Sci-Fi, YA contemporary

Publication Date: September 3, 2013 (Strange Chemistry – North America)

Source: NetGalley Review Copy/Publisher-provided ARC

Synopsis: Looking back, I wonder if I had an inkling that my life was about to go from ordinary to extraordinary.

When sixteen-year-old Lillie Hart meets the gorgeous and mysterious Tom Windsor-Smith for the first time, it’s like fireworks — for her, anyway. Tom looks as if he would be more interested in watching paint dry; as if he is bored by her and by her small Nebraskan town in general.

But as Lillie begins to break down the walls of his seemingly impenetrable exterior, she starts to suspect that he holds the answers to her reoccurring nightmares and to the impossible memories which keep bubbling to the surface of her mind — memories of the two of them, together and in love.

When she at last learns the truth about their connection, Lillie discovers that Tom has been hiding an earth-shattering secret; a secret that is bigger — and much more terrifying and beautiful — than the both of them. She also discovers that once you finally understand that the world is round, there is no way to make it flat again.

☆: 3.5/5 stars – a great new multiverse book to add to the YA canon!

Review: Yet another multiverse book to add to the YA canon! And it’s pretty great. There are some things that I felt held the book back (hopefully these were edited out, as I read an ARC version), but otherwise, Jonach has put together a relatively suspenseful little book here. I think those just dipping their toes into the multiverse genre pool will do well to start with “When the World Was Flat”.

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Review: “Perfect Ruin” by Lauren DeStefano


17339241Title: “Perfect Ruin”

Author: Lauren DeStefano

Publication Date: October 1, 2013 (S&SFYR – North America)

Genre: YA, dystopian/utopian, mystery, AWESOME

Source: Publisher-provided ARC

Summary: On Internment, the floating island in the clouds where 16-year-old Morgan Stockhour lives, getting too close to the edge can lead to madness. Even though Morgan’s older brother, Lex, was a Jumper, Morgan vows never to end up like him. She tries her best not to mind that her life is orderly and boring, and if she ever wonders about the ground, and why it is forbidden, she takes solace in best friend Pen and her betrothed, Basil.

Then a murder, the first in a generation, rocks the city. With whispers swirling and fear on the wind, Morgan can no longer stop herself from investigating, especially when she meets Judas. He is the boy being blamed for the murder — betrothed to the victim — but Morgan is convinced of his innocence. Secrets lay at the heart of Internment, but nothing can prepare Morgan for what she will find — or who she will lose.

☆: 5/5 stars – an absolute knock out of the park for DeStefano, sealing her fame in the YA canon!

Review: Wow. If you guys thought the “Chemical Garden” trilogy was good, “Perfect Ruin” will absolutely knock your socks off. DeStefano has improved in her craft so much, it was almost as if it were someone else writing – though it did have her familiar prose landmarks here and there. “Perfect Ruin” is the question of the divide between dystopia and utopia, and whether the two really can be the same thing, or if they’re just two sides of the same coin. Can humans as they are now (or at least, by the time Internment exists) really create a fair utopia for all? “Perfect Ruin” delves into these questions and more with a murder mystery and a curiosity that may destroy all of these characters. Absolutely gorgeous, even if you haven’t read the previous trilogy, this is one 2013 release that simply cannot be missed.

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Review: All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill


All Our YesterdaysTitle: All Our Yesterdays

Author: Cristin Terrill

Genre: Time Travel, YA, Sci-fi, Thriller

Publication Date: September 3, 2013 (Disney-Hyperion)

Source: eARC from the publisher via NetGalley

Synopsis: “You have to kill him.” Imprisoned in the heart of a secret military base, Em has nothing except the voice of the boy in the cell next door and the list of instructions she finds taped inside the drain.

Only Em can complete the final instruction. She’s tried everything to prevent the creation of a time machine that will tear the world apart. She holds the proof: a list she has never seen before, written in her own hand. Each failed attempt in the past has led her to the same terrible present—imprisoned and tortured by a sadistic man called the doctor while war rages outside.

Marina has loved her best friend James since the day he moved next door when they were children. A gorgeous, introverted science prodigy from one of America’s most famous families, James finally seems to be seeing Marina in a new way, too. But on one disastrous night, James’s life crumbles apart, and with it, Marina’s hopes for their future. Now someone is trying to kill him. Marina will protect James, no matter what. Even if it means opening her eyes to a truth so terrible that she may not survive it. At least not as the girl she once was.

All Our Yesterdays is a wrenching, brilliantly plotted story of fierce love, unthinkable sacrifice, and the infinite implications of our every choice.

3/5 stars – It’s a quick read despite its length but unfriendly to readers who barely understand science

Though YA sci-fi with lots of time travel and complex science is something I tend to stay away from, All Our Yesterdays was impossible to pass on thanks to all the hype from the publisher and bloggers alike–bloggers who don’t often give glowing reviews like the ones they gave to this book. Besides, everyone’s gotta get out of their comfort zone sometimes, right? The book is sure to be a hit with sci-fi fans and anyone who understand the complexity of time travel as it’s presented in this novel, but people like me with no clue about anything more complex than high school science classes may find themselves lost.

It’s not often I have the time or desire to read a book from start to finish in a single day, especially if it’s over 300 pages. Clocking in at 368 pages, All Our Yesterdays starts out strong and doesn’t let up on the action, drama, and excitement until the very last page. It doesn’t feel nearly as long as it is thanks to that lightning-fast pacing and our narrators’ engaging, unique voices.

Though Marina and Em narrate their story to us, the tale they tell around three people (technically six if you count their present and future selves): Marina, Finn, and James. Each one has their own strong personal conflicts going on both now and in the future, though Em’s and both James’ have the strongest ones of all. Wow is all I have to say on their stuff. WOW.

It’s when we start considering the supporting characters that problems begin to show. Marina and Em are the only female characters to do anything of importance; the others are there to be the stereotypical motherly Mexican maid whose troubling role is never touched on despite class and social commentary elsewhere, be heartbroken, or be characterized as stupid and shallow to make Marina/Em look better. In contrast, most of the men in the novel (a male-heavy book to begin with) are the ones taking action and progressing the plot. That poor representation and use of female characters really put a damper on the thrills.

The science also ended up becoming a problem. Most other reviewers who have gotten to it at this point seem to understand what is going on, but as someone with no clue about science, I was lost. The real test of a sci-fi novel is for someone like me to read it and understand what the book is going on about, but All Our Yesterdays fails that test pretty horribly. All this talk of sentient time and shadows of a person coming back to keep a dead person dead went far over my head even when a character explains it using what he calls small words.

If I wasn’t confused enough already, the ending took what little I did get about the science and threw it out the window like it was going to explode. But if did– then C should be– How did C– But A is– AUGH! *brain explodes* There may be holes there and there may not, but because the science was still so unclear to me, it’s a jumbled mess of something.

And yet despite the scientific mumbo jumbo and female characterization issues, it’s hard to really dislike it. It’s simply too much fun as a thriller and a great way to spend a day! For that, I’ll keep an eye out for other books Terrill writes. If those two core issues are fixed or removed in future novels, there’s no doubt I’ll fall passionately in love with it! But for now, I’ll simply keep crushing on All Our Yesterdays and keep it from the book because I know we’re simply too different to fall in love with each other.

Review: “In the After” by Demitria Lunetta


12157407Title: “In the After”

Author: Demitria Lunetta

Genre: YA contemporary, post-apocalyptic

Publication Date: June 25, 2013 (HarperTeen – North America)

Source: Publisher-provided ARC

Summary: They hear the most silent of footsteps.
They are faster than anything you’ve ever seen.
And They won’t stop chasing you…until you are dead.

Amy is watching TV when it happens, when the world is attacked by Them. These vile creatures are rapidly devouring mankind. Most of the population is overtaken, but Amy manages to escape—and even rescue “Baby,” a toddler left behind in the chaos. Marooned in Amy’s house, the girls do everything they can to survive—and avoid Them at all costs.

After years of hiding, they are miraculously rescued and taken to New Hope, a colony of survivors living in a former government research compound. While at first the colony seems like a dream with plenty of food, safety, and shelter, New Hope slowly reveals that it is far from ideal. And Amy soon realizes that unless things change, she’ll lose Baby—and much more.

☆: 4/5 – two words, people: zombie aliens.

Review: This book was a lot of fun. “In the After” has everything a paranoid post-apocalyptic/dystopian YA novel should have, plus it has a little bit of space opera mixed in for good measure. The only issue I had with this book is how it completely turns into a different creature in the second half the story, which definitely threw me for a loop. This book will definitely keep you on your toes the whole time, and just when you think you have everything figured out? Think again.

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