Book Review: Scythe – Neal Shusterman

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Title: Scythe (2016)
Series: Arc of a Scythe – Book 1
Author: Neal Shusterman
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Dystopian Fiction
Extent: 448 pages
Release Date: November 22, 2016
Rating: ★★★★☆

Goodreads Description

In a world where disease has been eliminated, the only way to die is to be randomly killed (“gleaned”) by professional reapers (“scythes”). Citra and Rowan are teenagers who have been selected to be scythe’s apprentices, and—despite wanting nothing to do with the vocation—they must learn the art of killing and come to understand the necessity of what they do.

Only one of them will be chosen as a scythe’s apprentice. And when it becomes clear that the winning apprentice’s first task will be to glean the loser, Citra and Rowan are pitted against one another in a fight for their lives.

Review

So, funny story: I started writing this review quite a few weeks after finishing it, fully intending to give it a half-star lower than what I ended up, and as I was writing, I realised just how much I really enjoyed this book. The flaws I thought were flaws began to minimise, while things I loved expanded and took centre stage. Somehow, Scythe is the book I always wanted to read but never knew I wanted to read. Interesting, isn’t it, how a book can do that to you? 🤔

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Book Review: A Torch Against the Night – Sabaa Tahir

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Title: A Torch Against the Night (2016)
Series: An Ember in the Ashes – Book 2
Author: Sabaa Tahir
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian Fiction
Extent: 452 pages
Release Date: August 30, 2016
Rating: ★★★☆☆

Goodreads Description

After the events of the Fourth Trial, Martial soldiers hunt the two fugitives as they flee the city of Serra and undertake a perilous journey through the heart of the Empire.

Laia is determined to break into Kauf – the Empire’s most secure and dangerous prison – to save her brother, who is the key to the Scholars’ survival. And Elias is determined to help Laia succeed, even if it means giving up his last chance at freedom.

But dark forces, human and otherworldly, work against Laia and Elias. The pair must fight every step of the way to outsmart their enemies: the bloodthirsty Emperor Marcus, the merciless Commandant, the sadistic Warden of Kauf, and, most heartbreaking of all, Helene – Elias’s former friend and the Empire’s newest Blood Shrike.

Bound to Marcus’s will, Helene faces a torturous mission of her own – one that might destroy her: find the traitor Elias Veturius and the Scholar slave who helped him escape… and kill them both.

Review

I’ve been looking forward to this book ever since I finished An Ember in the Ashes, a book that I thought was amazing: fast-paced, action-packed, and equipped with multi-layered characters. In light of that, unfortunately, A Torch Against the Night turned out to be somewhat underwhelming for me.

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Book Review: An Ember in the Ashes – Sabaa Tahir

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Title: An Ember in the Ashes (2015)
Series: An Ember in the Ashes – Book 1
Author: Sabaa Tahir
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian Fiction
Extent: 446 pages
Release Date: April 28, 2015
Rating: ★★★★☆

Goodreads Description

Laia is a slave. Elias is a soldier. Neither is free.

Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.

It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.

But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.

There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.

Review

I’m always really wary of reading hyped books–my expectations tend to soar, which means that when I do get to these books, they usually end up disappointing me. When I first picked up An Ember in the Ashes, I was worried it’ll be just one of those over-buzzed books. Thankfully, I was soon proven wrong.

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Book Review: Red Queen – Victoria Aveyard

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Title: Red Queen (2015)
Series: Red Queen – Book 1
Author: Victoria Aveyard
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopia
Extent: 383 pages
Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Goodreads Description

This is a world divided by blood – red or silver.

The Reds are commoners, ruled by a Silver elite in possession of god-like superpowers. And to Mare Barrow, a seventeen-year-old Red girl from the poverty-stricken Stilts, it seems like nothing will ever change.

That is, until she finds herself working in the Silver Palace. Here, surrounded by the people she hates the most, Mare discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy the balance of power.

Fearful of Mare’s potential, the Silvers hide her in plain view, declaring her a long-lost Silver princess, now engaged to a Silver prince. Despite knowing that one misstep would mean her death, Mare works silently to help the Red Guard, a militant resistance group, and bring down the Silver regime.

But this is a world of betrayal and lies, and Mare has entered a dangerous dance – Reds against Silvers, prince against prince, and Mare against her own heart…

Review

Red Queen reminds me of The Hunger Games, especially the first few chapters, and The Selection (although I DNF-ed it because I can’t really stand special snowflakes). Later on, the world-building reminds me of X-Men (the movie franchise). The overall concept? A bit of Red Rising. I’m not saying that Red Queen is a rip-off, not at all, but it does use very similar plot devices to other dystopian YA out there and therefore doesn’t bring anything new to the table.

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Book Review: Melophobia – James Morris

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Title: Melophobia (2015)
Author: James Morris
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopia
Extent: 265 pages
Rating: ★★★★☆

Goodreads Description

The time—now; the place—America, but in a world where the government controls all forms of art and creativity. Any music sowing the seeds of anarchy is banned—destroyed if found—its creators and listeners harshly punished.

Merrin Pierce works as an undercover Patrol officer assigned to apprehend a fugitive musician who threatens the safe fabric of society, only to confront everything she thought to be true – her values, upbringing, job, and future.

Can love survive in a world without music?

Publisher’s Weekly called it “a convincing alternative history novel and…an accomplished coming-of-age love story that asks big questions about freedom and expressiveness in the face of oppression”.

Review

A world without music! I grew up playing two different instruments, so this one really struck a chord—pardon the pun—with me. When Patrol officer Merrin Pierce is tasked to go undercover to find The Source and stop him from illegally creating and sharing music with the public, her world gets turned upside-down. Truths are revealed. Secrets are uncovered. Past hurts resurface.

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