Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten YA Dystopian Books I'd Never Want to Live in

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. If you want to participate, click here. This week's theme is Bookish Worlds I’d Want to/Never Want to Live in.

I decided to focus on the second option, places I would not want to live, which is essentially dystopian. Below is a list in order of the top ten worst dystopian settings to live in, all found in YA books.

1. The Fifth Wave by Rick Yancey
An alien invasion at the end of the world. What could go wrong? 

2. The Vault of Dreamers by Caragh M Obrien
I would never, ever, ever, want to live in a place where people poke around in my head while I sleep and spy on my dreams. That is so creepy and haunting. 

3. The Living by Matt De La Pena
 Just the fact that everybody is dying from a disease is awful, but if I actually lived where the main characters are for the majority of the book, I'd be stuck at sea, and all my friends would be dying.

4. H20 (The Rain) by Virginia Bergin
  This is one of the most scariest settings. If I get wet, I die a gruesome, painful death.

5. The Program by Suzanne Young
 I do not at all want to live in a world where emotion is not allowed and a hint of sadness makes government officials wipe my memory. 

6. Dualed by Elsie Chapman
I do not want to live in fear about my evil twin who will try to kill me and have to constantly watch my back. That's way too much anxiety.

7. Article 5 by Kristen Simmons
 I think this one is obvious; it would be awful to live in the middle of a war with no food, water, or shelter. 

8. Glitch by Heather Anastsiu
I want to have my own emotions, and my own thoughts! Not to mention the fact that the idea of having a piece of technology in my body is quite weird and scary.

9. Gone by Michael Grant
If I had super-powers, maybe I'd make a difference and try to help and make peace. If I was one of the kids who don't, well, death is imminent. 

10. Breathe by Sarah Crossan
 Regardless of whether or not I live in a safe, protected dome, there are no trees and there is no air on Earth!

What books would you never want to live in?

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

The Six by Mark Alpert

The Six is the first book in a YA trilogy about terminal illness and artificial intelligence. Adam has muscular dystrophy, and in less than a year his life will end. He spends his days in virtual reality computer games where he can be free, run and move like he used to. Adam's father created Sigma, an artificial intelligence program. When it became dangerous, Sigma was locked away. But it escapes and hacks into Russia's nuclear base, threatening to bomb the major cities of the world. Adam's father and the military create a top-secret operation for six terminally ill kids to sacrifice their bodies and be uploaded in weaponized robots that can do everything Sigma can.

I loved this book! I've read many books with robots taking over and humans vs technology, but I've never read anything like this! Humans sacrificing themselves to become a machine is a brave feat, and their adventure of transforming their minds and bodies was fascinating to watch! It would be really amazing as a movie.

Honestly, I have no clue what I would do if I was given this choice, but I do know that this book made me think. What does it mean to be human? Especially for Adam's mother, who believes that Adam won't be her son anymore if he's not connected to his body. On the other hand, it's one's thoughts and beliefs that make them human. For these kids, their internal conflict of who they are is huge, not to mention what the world would think of them. I loved that over the course of this book Sigma actually experiences emotion of its own, sparking another debate similar to the one in Willful Machines.

I love how The Six shows the challenges of living with disability and terminal diseases, not just the physical side of it, but the isolation and loss of relationships and independence. These kids are still just kids, forced to take on a challenge that the old military guys can't handle. Adam and the other teens don't have relationships, and are forced to work as a team and actually interact with each other. They are under so much stress, and the bonds that the characters end up forming are extraordinary to witness. 

I highly recommend this book, and I cannot wait to read the next book, The Siege!

Title: The Six
Author: Mark Alpert
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Pages: 400
Series: Yes, Book 1
Rating: 5 Stars

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Pivot Point by Kasie West

Pivot Point is the first of two YA books about seeing the future. Addie is a Searcher, meaning that she can search the future. This comes in handy, because she can ensure that the choices she makes are correct. However, there is no correct choice when she is forced to choose which parent to live with. Either stay with her mom in the Compound or leave with her father to live with the normal people, and not use her abilities. Told in alternating chapters of the future with her mom or with her dad, Addie is forced to realize that any future will have its flaws. With tragedy on both sides, she must choose between her own happiness or the protection of her friends.

I have always wanted to see the future! My first thought after reading the synopsis was that I was jealous of her ability. If I could see both outcomes, it would be really easy to decide, right? Not for Addie. With loss and fear on both sides, there is no good option. If I was faced with that decision, I don't know what I would do. I think that her decision at the end of the book is controversial. I personally believe that Addie is extremely strong and brave.

Having two parallel story lines was really fresh and unique. At first, I was not sure about reading two different stories, but they are alike more than I thought, especially towards the second half of the book. It was very interesting to see how the two parts overlap and intersect each other. I really enjoyed the concept of the "normal" people, and how they live. Even though the book is fantasy, it really felt realistic, which I liked. This book is also insanely dramatic, containing a murder-mystery that shocked me. I had a lot of fun guessing what was going to happen, especially when the two stories overlapped.

I highly recommend this book! I am excited to read the sequel, Split Second!

Title: Pivot Point
Author: Kasie West
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 343
Series: Yes, book 1 of 2
Rating: 5 Stars

Monday, May 14, 2018

Crazy by Han Nolan

Crazy is an inspirational YA realistic fiction book. Jason's mother is dead, and his father's insanity and hallucinations have taken over, leaving Jason by himself to care for his father. He is determined to tell nobody because his father needs him. Simultaneously as his father's condition deteriorates even further, Jason is forced to join a support group at school where he discovers friendships that will inspire him to finally have the strength to get help for his father.

Crazy is one of the most emotional books that I have ever read! The book enforces the importance of asking for help and standing up for what you believe in. Many people are afraid to ask for help or are ashamed that they need it, but this book clearly illustrates the power of friendship and support that can be provided. I believe that hope is the most powerful asset that Crazy has. Through the sad times and the angry times, and the almost-giving-up times, hope still shined through, inspiring optimism.

The themes of family, love, and friendship were very important. The family dynamic has completely switched. Jason is now the father and the father is now a child, the son. Jason's protectiveness of his father was inspiring and heartbreaking. I cannot imagine the weight on his shoulders and how fast he had to grow up, and how isolated his life was. Jason's external and internal conflicts were so emotional and contradicting. On one hand, the house is broken (literally) and completely falling apart, he is emotionally and mentally drained. On the other hand, he loves his father and wants everything to remain how it is, because it was safer and easier for him. I loved his character development and how he came to realize the importance of friendship and how he did not want to be alone anymore. 

This is a book that nobody can forget! I highly recommend this book!

I am also very interested in reading another book of the author's, Dancing on the Edge, as well as If I Should Die Before I Wake about a girl who hates all Jewish people who travels back in time to live the life of a Jewish girl.

Title: Crazy
Author: Han Nolan
Publisher: Harcourt Children's Books
Pages: 352
Series: No
Rating: 5 Stars

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Accomplice by Eireann Corrigan

Accomplice is a YA realistic fiction book about two teens who stage a kidnapping to get into college. The guidance counselor at Chloe and Finn's school told the students that colleges are bored of the same students, and kids must stand out in extreme ways. Chloe gets the idea for a publicity stunt to stage her own kidnapping. After a while of hiding Chloe in the basement of Finn's grandmother, Finn will "find" Chloe and all the colleges will want them due to their unique (and fake) college essays. However, the girls are way in over their heads, and things will have to get way worse before they can be better.

My biggest frustration with this book is how Finn and Chloe don't have moral compasses. Finn has more morality than Chloe, but they are both despicable. Chloe strikes me as a Barbie doll, a naive girl greatly concerned only with how she looks. She is blind to emotion and to the others around her and never stops to think about her actions. Finn shows remorse and moral values, but nowhere near enough for me to care about the characters.

Finn has a lot of internal and external conflict, and shows much more intelligence than Chloe, but sadly dug herself deeper and deeper in a hole until there was just no way out. There was no change, no huge revelation, no lesson learned. I had hoped for a transformation, but this story is just sad and disappointing with no meaning at all.

I strongly, strongly dislike the college counselor. That woman should be fired, and gave the students discouraging talks (in all capital letters) which paints a harsh, unrealistic, and anxiety-provoking picture about college. If you decide to read this, please, please do not do anything insane to prove that you are worth college or lie to make yourself look better.

I do not recommend this book.

Title: Accomplice
Author: Eireann Corrigan
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Pages: 304
Series: No
Rating: 1 Star

Friday, May 4, 2018

The Boy From the Basement by Susan Shaw

The Boy From the Basement is a YA realistic fiction book about a young boy escaping his abusive past and his fears. 12-year-old Charlie lives in a home where he is condemned to the basement of his home, his "punishment," according to his father. He does not know how to read, what numbers are, and has never been outside, just hurt by his father while his mother just stood by and watched. When Charlie is afraid of a spider, he accidentally goes outside and embarks on a journey of finding love and learning to heal.

This book is quite short, 198 pages, but full of emotions and intense scenes that will move you to tears! I loved the symbolism of the spider and what it meant to Charlie, as well as his mentality of "punishment."

The Boy From the Basement is very sad and inspiring. Unfortunately, it is a true story for many kids in the world. The character development of Charlie is extraordinary. He wants his parents back, and for the longest time he doesn't understand that what he went through is wrong. He is afraid of his father, but loves him, too. He goes from blaming himself to realizing that he can be independent and gains a self-worth and confidence that is incredible and inspiring.

This book should be required reading in school. I can think of so many essays to write, from symbolism to basic characterization. I think that this book could be eye-opening for some people and it is also educational about psychology and really shows the power of positive thinking and self-esteem. It teaches coping skills, especially about fear and how to change your thinking. Readers can take away from this book the fact that life can always get better, and that even taking tiny steps can still be huge progress.

I highly recommend this book, and I cannot wait to read another book of the author's, Black-Eyed Susie!

Title: The Boy From the Basement
Author: Susan Shaw
Publisher: Dutton Books
Pages: 198
Series: No
Rating: 5 Stars

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard

35297353A Quiet Kind of Thunder is an inspirational YA romance book. Steffi has Selective Mutism, mostly due to her extreme anxiety. Rhys is deaf, and cannot hear. Because Steffi knows sign language, she is assigned to help him adjust to the new school. Soon, they fall in love, and together try to find who they are and prove to themselves that they can be independent and brave.

I love inspirational stories about overcoming hardships, which is why I picked up this book. I did not expect how beautiful romance could be, and I was pleasantly surprised. I do not know how to describe the happiness and butterflies in my heart while I was reading this book. I guess you could call it A Quiet Kind of Thunder, how the characters describe being in love. I love it when the names of books come from somewhere, and this came from the most sincere, loving place.

This book has changed some of my viewpoints on romance, and I will be more open to reading more romance books in the future. I have shied away from the majority of true romance books for a while, and I honestly am not sure why. But wow, this book moved me and enlightened me with an new appreciation for love and a happiness for the rest of the day.

I enjoyed how the book tackled some of the stigmas and assumptions made about the Deaf community and how they are viewed, as well as the cruelty that Steffi faces at school every day. A Quiet Kind of Thunder teaches that one is not defined by their struggles. The book is an inspirational journey of Rhys and Steffi finding their own language, being comfortable in their own skin, and beating social anxiety.

The best way I can think of to describe this book is comparing it to a cupcake. The icing is the sweetness, loving, kissing, and heart-melting parts. But as you dig deeper there is the cake, the foundation built on communication, strength, and courage. The wrapper is the part that pulls the story together, the emotions of crying, laughter, and anger. This is an inspirational story that is intense and romantic at times, but also lighthearted and funny, too.

I highly recommend this book!

This book is for older readers because of a few intimate scenes.

Title: A Quiet Kind of Thunder
Author: Sara Barnard
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Pages: 400
Series: No
Rating: 5 Stars
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