Tag Archives: dystopia

First Line Fridays – 3 November 2017

First Line Friday’s is a weekly feature, hosted by Hoarding Books – so grab a book off your pile and share the first line

We had just started over the bridge, toward my party, when the famously cheerful “Don’t Jump” Ad clicked on.

All Rights Reserved – Gregory Scott Katsoulis

I’ll admit that I’m a cover whore when it comes to picking books – and a bookcover that had a whole bunch of different words on it, all with various copyright and trademark nomenclature cause my eye. Reading the description (a society where you are charged for every word that you utter after your “Last Day”) made me even more intrigued by the premise. Although, honestly, somedays I think it would be interesting to live in a world when people were limited in what they could say. I know that I’ll be interested to see how the author develops the world and background but I can’t wait to read it.


Posted by on November 3, 2017 in First Line Fridays


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Review – Scythe – Neal Schusterman

Author: Neal Schusterman
Series: #1 in the Arc of a Scythe series
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

A world with no hunger, no disease, no war, no misery: humanity has conquered all those things, and has even conquered death. Now Scythes are the only ones who can end life—and they are commanded to do so, in order to keep the size of the population under control.

Citra and Rowan are chosen to apprentice to a scythe—a role that neither wants. These teens must master the “art” of taking life, knowing that the consequence of failure could mean losing their own.

There is no doubt in my mine that Neal Schusterman writes some of the most through-provoking YA dystopia that I’ve read in recent years. It might not be as viscerally blood and gore like the Hunger Games; but he manages to impact the reader in ways that will make you cringe just from the power of the writing. There is one scene from his first book that I read (Unwind) that to this day makes me shiver when I think of it. When an advertisement for his newest book, Scythe, popped up in my Goodreads feed – it was a done deal that I was going to be getting my grubby little paws on it (and huge thanks to my local library for having such great librarians who buy awesome books like that).

What would you do in a world where there was no death? no cancer, no car accidents? where you could opt to reset your life and start over? where if you did “die” (or go splat) that your body would heal itself? that is the world that Schusterman has written about in Scythe. Yet, in any kind of world, there must be some form of population control and that is where the Scythe’s come in. Scythe’s are those special people who have been trained in the art of taking lives – do they do it by poison, or by beheading, by stabbing or some other form of death. There are even Scythe’s who specialize in mass death…The first book in the Scythe series is the story of 2 teenagers who are apprentices to become a Scythe and their journey through the process.

In typical fashion, Schusterman raises many questions – the main ones for me focused around the idea of causing purposeful death? when you don’t call it murder in the societal sense. How would you pick who to kill? and in what method? how would you ensure that you aren’t focusing too much on any specific gender/race/religion when choosing your victims? In between the training that the apprentice Scythe’s undergoing, is the hint of a revolution in the core of the Scythedom – there is a reason behind the quote – ultimately power corrupts ultimately (John Dalberg-Acton) – what is more powerful than holding the life and death of an entire world in your hands?

I will admit that I was left with many questions after finishing Scythe – but that just means, I’ll have to wait impatiently for the next installment. If you are looking for a thought-provoking dystopia with death being forefront, then Scythe might be the book for you.

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Posted by on February 14, 2017 in Book Review, Review


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Thursday Quotables – UnDivided


Thursday Quotables is a weekly feature hosted by Bookshelf Fantasies. It is a weekly feature where readers highlight a quote or quotes from their current weeks reading. Whether it’s something funny, startling, gut-wrenching, or just really beautifully written.


I wasn’t sure if I was going to do a Thursday Quotables for this week, but after finishing up UnDivided over the weekend, there were enough quotes in there that resonated with me (especially in this time of upcoming political elections) that it just seemed right. As a bit of background, UnDivided is the 4th book in the UnWind Dystology by Neal Shusterman. The premise of this dystopian series is that there was a war known as the Heartland’s War fought in the past, and as a consequence, teenagers started to run wild. So the government instituted a program called Unwinding – which was basically taking an teenager and surgically disembodying them, and the parts were then used for transplants or cosmetic desires. It is set in a time, when all body parts (including portions of the brain) could be easily divided and used. I came across this series a few years ago, when it was only one book (and hadn’t heard that there was going to be follow-on ones) and while horrified in places, also enjoyed the writing style and the questions that Shusterman posed.

“Tools are neither demonic nor divine. It’s all about who wields them.”

“…facts never prevent the ignorant from jerking their knees into the groin of science.”

“In a population of hundreds of millions, such a small number of people is a mere drop in the bucket… but enough drops can make any bucket overflow”

“We must always be careful of the actions we take, for there are always unintended consequences. Sometimes they are serendipitous, other times they are appalling, but those consequences are always there. We must tread lightly in this world…until we are sure of foot.”

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Posted by on November 12, 2015 in Thursday Quotables


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Review – UnWholly – Neal Shusterman

Author: Neal Shusterman
Series: #2 in the Unwind Trilogy

Thanks to Connor, Lev, and Risa—and their high-profile revolt at Happy Jack Harvest Camp—people can no longer turn a blind eye to unwinding. Ridding society of troublesome teens while simltaneously providing much-needed tissues for transplant might be convenient, but its morality has finally been brought into question. However, unwinding has become big business, and there are powerful political and corporate interests that want to see it not only continue, but also expand to the unwinding of prisoners and the impoverished.

Cam is a product of unwinding; made entirely out of the parts of other unwinds, he is a teen who does not technically exist. A futuristic Frankenstein, Cam struggles with a search for identity and meaning and wonders if a rewound being can have a soul. And when the actions of a sadistic bounty hunter cause Cam’s fate to become inextricably bound with the fates of Connor, Risa, and Lev, he’ll have to question humanity itself.

Sometimes there are books that just stick vividly in our minds and even a year or so after reading it – you can recall what happened in certain parts. For me, Unwind, the first book in this trilogy was like that. So I was excited to see the second book come out late last year…I pre-ordered it and everything…and then it sat, gathering dust on my bookshelf. I wanted to read it, but was too scared to, for fear that my memories of Unwind, would be ruined by a not so good second installment (I mean, it had been like 4 years since Unwind came out). Reviews among my friends were split – some loved it, others found it ok, but the majority of the reviews had the word BUT in them…like something was missing and that was concerning to me. However, I finally sucked it up and read it (or I think devoured might be a more appropriate description).

But moving on – the one thing I really liked about UnWholly was how it took the same issue, but looked at it from a wider perspective. While Unwind really focused on the micro-issues of the kids who were subjected to being Unwound, Unwholly focused on them, as well as society. I liked the touches of written ads (very similar to those we see during elections) campaigning both for and against unwinding and the various “groups” who were contributing for/against it. There was also a lot more history involved in this installment.

Plus, Shusterman introduced Cam – who might be one of my favorite characters in the series so far. He is the complete opposite to an Unwind – someone that has been created from parts of kids that were unwound. It was kind of freaky (for lack of a better word)…but he was certainly intriguing.

I can’t wait to read the third book in the trilogy that is due out later on this year and see how he ties up all the bits and pieces. Overall, I gave UnWholly a solid 4 stars.

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Posted by on May 7, 2013 in Book Review


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Classics Challenge – Anthem – Ayn Rand

Author: Ayn Rand

In Anthem, Rand examines a frightening future in which individuals have no name, no independence, and no values. Equality 7-2521 lives in the dark ages of the future where all decisions are made by committee, all people live in collectives, and all traces of individualism have been wiped out. Despite such a restrictive environment, the spark of individual thought and freedom still burns in him–a passion which he has been taught to call sinful. In a purely egalitarian world, Equality 7-2521 dares to stand apart from the herd–to think and choose for himself, to discover electricity, and to love the woman of his choice. Now he has been marked for death for committing the ultimate sin. In a world where the great “we” reign supreme, he has rediscovered the lost and holy word–“I.”

Why I choose this “classic”:
When I was putting together my list of books for this challenge, I knew that I wanted to include some Ayn Rand because her name had been mentioned so often in the 2012 election season. However, the sheer size of Atlas Shrugged and the Fountainhead scared me. But Anthem coming in at only a couple of hundred pages seemed do-able (and to test my mettle, I added fountainhead in one of my other categories). Anthem fit well into my dystopia theme – although the year is unmentioned.

This was a hard review to write – I actually finished the book back in the first week of December, but I knew that I wanted to mull over it a bit before posting my review – like I tend to do with many classics. The first thing that caught my eye/ear when I was listening (yes, this is an audiobook review) was the introduction that was written for the 50th anniversary edition by Leonard Peikoff. Peikoff is a philosopher and founder of the Ayn Rand Institute – he had some interesting things to say, not only about Rand’s philosophical leanings, but her experiences in general in the writing of the book – the fact that she completely re-wrote it prior to its release in the US in the 1940’s as she improved on her writing style. This introduction for me helped set the book and gave some foundation to it, which I think added to my thoughts on it. The most intriguing part of the intro was where Peikoff highlighted the fact that Anthem wasn’t the original name of the book, its working title (and the title I think more appropriate) was EGO…

When I heard that, my ears pricked up, because I realized while there was the ego that we refer to as he’s so egotistical, I thought about the ego theory developed by Freud. I’m not sure which one specifically she had in mind as she was writing the book because I think both could work – so that was an intriguing thought. For a book that was written back in the 1930’s/40’s – I appreciate that she didn’t write a specific year for the setting, just used an undisclosed future – because I’ve found if they set a year, and then you read that book after the setting and stuff hasn’t occurred it takes away from the intended affect.

Some of the themes in this reminded me of ones that have appeared in more recent dystopian fiction – for example, the assigning of jobs has shown up in The Giver (Lois Lowry) and the Matched Trilogy (Ally Condie) – and yet, it had its own uniqueness still. I had to chuckle at the part where he (Equality 7-2521) discovered electricity and when presented with the information, the world council was afraid that with that, the candle-makers would be put out of work…kind of reminded me of working in the federal government where at times there are remarkable amounts of redundancies and you question the need for them, but people continue to argue that they are needed…

I have a hard time figuring out who exactly I would recommend this to, because it wouldn’t be to most of my reading buddies. Maybe anyone interested in philosophy; people who are looking for thought-provoking reads…I shall have to ponder that some more. Would I read this again – I don’t think so, but it was intriguing and now I am kind of curious to see what Rand wrote in the Fountainhead…but i’m not quite ready to read it yet – maybe in the next year or so. Even with my abundance of reading, I need to review my critical thinking skills before tackling it.


Posted by on December 29, 2012 in classics challenge


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Recommend A… Book by a Male Author

Author: Neal Shusterman

Book Description:
The Second Civil War was fought over reproductive rights. The chilling resolution: Life is inviolable from the moment of conception until age thirteen. Between the ages of thirteen and eighteen, however, parents can have their child “unwound,” whereby all of the child’s organs are transplanted into different donors, so life doesn’t technically end. Connor is too difficult for his parents to control. Risa, a ward of the state is not enough to be kept alive. And Lev is a tithe, a child conceived and raised to be unwound. Together, they may have a chance to escape and to survive.

Why I Recommend This Book:
When you look at the variety of YA books available nowadays, there is an abundance of dystopia type books, but for the most part, they don’t get as in depth into the various issues as adult books in the same genre do, with the exception of Unwind. I picked this up randomly based on a new recommendation search engine that I was trying out and was blown away. The level of detail and development that Shusterman put into the world is unlike anything I have come across recently, and there is one chapter that will blow any reader away. A co-worker of mine recently picked it up and asked me if I had read it – I told her yes and then just said, there is one chapter that is soo screwed up, but didn’t say anything more…when she got to it, she knew exactly what I was talking about. This is a book that I hope more kids read – I ended up staying up all night reading it (which made for a very long day at work the next). I can’t wait for the second book to come out in September (after a near 4 year hiatus) and hope that it will live up to the first

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Posted by on July 16, 2012 in Recommend A...


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Review – Burn Bright – Marianne de Pierres

Burn Bright
Author: Marianna de Pierres

Book Description:
Into a world of wild secrets and deadly pleasures comes a girl whose innocence may be her greatest strength.

In Ixion music and party are our only beliefs. Darkness is our comfort. We have few rules but they are absolute . . .

Retra doesn’t want to go to Ixion, the island of ever-night, ever-youth and never-sleep. Retra is a Seal – sealed minds, sealed community. She doesn’t crave parties and pleasure, experience and freedom.

But her brother Joel left for Ixion two years ago, and Retra is determined to find him. Braving the intense pain of her obedience strip to escape the only home she’s ever known, Retra stows away on the barge that will take her to her brother.

When she can’t find Joel, Retra finds herself drawn deeper into the intoxicating world of Ixion. Come to me, whispers a voice in her head. Who are the Ripers, the mysterious guardians of Ixion? What are the Night Creatures Retra can see in the shadows? And what happens to those who grow too old for Ixion?

Retra will find that Ixion has its pleasures, but its secrets are deadly. Will friendship, and the creation of an eternal bond with a Riper, be enough to save her from the darkness?

Listen well, baby bats. Burn bright, but do not stray from the paths. Remember, when you live in a place of darkness you also live with creatures of the dark

Book Review:
When it comes to writing dystopia type books, the world building and understanding why things are the way that they are is key to the plot and the resolution. Unfortunately, in Burn Bright, the world building was just sub-par and that resulted in the book overall, while having an interesting premise, just not being all that intriguing. As soon as I started reading, I felt like I was confused – why was everything dark? Even a simple question like that, from what I recall, was never really answered and my confusion only built from there.

I felt like I never really got to know the characters. Retra was, for lack of a better word, a bumbling idiot – there were many times through-out that I just wanted to reach into the book and beat her about the head. You could tell that she had been isolated all her life because of how she acted, but even then, when you compare her to someone like Tris from Divergent, who had had a similar upbringing and was able to adapt and overcome in various scenarios, Retra essentially remained the same until she wasn’t…and even when she changed her name to Naif, her personality didn’t change.

I kind of think that Ixion was supposed to be a play on a dystopian form of Never Never Land from Peter Pan, but I would prefer to be one of the lost boys with Tinkerbell, rather than partying on Ixion. Overall, I gave it 1.5 stars (but i’ll round up to 2 to be nice), and I likely won’t be continuing the series in the future – too many other good books and not enough time to read them.

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Posted by on July 13, 2012 in Book Review


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