[693]: The Chemist by Stephenie Meyer

Bella Swan has left the building.


The Chemist
by Stephenie Meyer

Stephenie Meyer has had years to come up with a book that will make her relevant again. The Host, a futuristic utopian novel, gave us a glimpse of what it would be like if she distanced herself from YA and into the alleys of Adult Science Fiction. That book was a winner. I don’t care what anyone says. I don’t care if you’re a seasoned reader of Sci-Fi and you’re scoffing at me right now because of my statement. The Host was phenomenal. I was chomping at the bit and waiting patiently for her next novel. So with nary a fanfare, The Chemist stole into our shelves quietly. And in my case, at the airport bookstore on my way to San Diego.

Unfortunately, this is one of those instances where I got excited for a whole lot of nothing. Because with all its promise of “a gripping page-turner,” this was an absolute snoozer. As much as I’m a big fan of protagonists on the run from big, bad government, Alex didn’t incite any thrills as one that goes by her days looking over shoulders.

Ms. Meyer also failed to show me all the hows and the whys Alex found herself the subject of ire by the very people she worked for. If she was as good a chemical torturer that she made herself to be, why then would her bosses want to get rid of her? How did she become a liability? And then, out of nowhere, they wanted her back in the fold. I smell a setup.

Her reinstatement had her tailing a man who was going to unleash a deadly virus to the American public. But soon she’ll find out that it was only a cover up for something much bigger. Predictably enough, a romance developed between her and her victim (yawn). One of the things that frustrated me while reading this book was I couldn’t, for the life of me, figure out why in the hell would this man fall in love with her when she caused him immeasurable pain?! It was one of the most fucked up Stockholm Syndrome romance if there ever was one. It was at this time when I realized, man or woman, I don’t like reading about doormat characters. Bella Swan drew flak for her passiveness in Twilight. And while I commend Ms. Meyer for the role reversal of sorts in this book, I really couldn’t stand how weepy and eviscerated the male character was (name’s not coming to me at the moment). A classic case of an inexplicable instant-love.

Not to worry, though. All is not lost. You’ll fall in love with the German Shepards trained as lethal but loveable guard dogs. You’ll probably wonder if Alex sells her poison-laced jewelry at the home shopping network. You’ll probably even find Alex’s no non-sense attitude charming, provided that you don’t find her cold and calculating while she’s inflicting pain on her victims. But she’s smart, and she’s not all, kill, kill, kill. Underneath her hard exterior lay a conscience – which is inconvenient for an assassin like her. If you ever thought that Twilight was too passionate or too romantic, you’ll more than likely consider The Chemist the exact opposite.

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[692]: Born A Crime by Trevor Noah

A personal and political account of what it’s like to grow up in South Africa.


Born A Crime
by Trevor Noah

It is sometimes weird to see him at the desk where Jon Stewart used to slay conservative politicians and pundits alike. In all honesty, I’ve never really acclimated to seeing him there. I’m a big fan of Jon Stewart. He is the one who got me interested in American politics after all. Satire or not, The Daily Show was even more educational than any other cable news on air.

When I learned that Stewart was quitting and was being replaced by this unknown comedian, I was saddened. Because I knew things will never be the same. I’m not gonna lie, I have not watched a single episode of the show ever since he left. Aside from snippets shown on their Facebook page, I’ve never actually sat through a full episode. So when the opportunity to read and review this book came my way, I had to grab the chance. Because I wanted to know a little about this man. I wanted to know how a South African comedian charmed his way into the annals of a sometimes entertaining, more often frustrating American political satire arena.

During the presidential election campaign, he’s become more prominent because he assumed Jon Stewart’s role with great gusto. He was funny and candid; harsh and honest. But as I observed him during the few moments that I’ve seen his shtick, there’s still a bit of him that’s a little uncomfortable. Like, he couldn’t fully play the role of a man commenting on the absurdities of the American politics and life. Like he doesn’t belong.

 I’ve never seen his comedic act before hosting The Daily Show, but it is more or less in this book where he recounts the tales of growing up during and after apartheid. And the stories are funny, sometimes bleak, and in turns, alarming. He tells us that because he was born out of wedlock and a “half-white”, “half-black”, he didn’t really find acceptance.

The only way he could spend time with his Swiss-national father was away from the scrutiny of the public. And because he’s light-skinned, they sometimes resorted to pretending his mother was his nanny. His world was inside the gates of their home because his grandmother feared he would get abducted. He spent most of his time alone but he claimed he was never lonely. He read a lot of books and was perfectly comfortable being in the company of himself. Language, he learned early on, was the key to hiding the fact that he didn’t belong in either white or black community. Because if he could speak a variety of languages, kids could respect him.

If you spoke to me in Zulu, I replied to you in Zulu. If you spoke to me in Tswana, I replied to you in Tswana. Maybe I didn’t look like you, but if I spoke like you, I was you.”

His mother was, by all accounts, the constant figure in his life that made him the man that he is. A woman who never lost faith in her God no matter the odds. The woman who took her kids to three churches on Sundays, whom at one point, threw Trevor off the bus, then jumped with his brother in her arms, to get away from an inevitable rape, and worst, death. She was a woman with conviction who knew what she wanted even if it meant a lifetime of ridicule and persecution because she’d “born a crime”, a half-white child whose Swiss-German father could never really own him. And amidst poverty, hardship, and violence, raised Trevor and his brother with the same dreams and hopes as any loving mother would do.

“For my mother. My first fan. Thank you for making me a man,”

he writes in his dedication. It is true that without his mother and her defiant spirit, he’d never be where he is right now. One of the biggest South African exports, a boy who grew up in small towns and one who was always looking for a place to belong.

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[691]: The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney

Squabbling siblings, family drama, and the inheritance that will either bind them closer or pull them further apart.


For what its worth, The Nest was an easy book to digest. It took me a day or so – tops to finish reading. But for all its promises of  a “warm and funny” read, this book was everything but.

Perhaps it’s that I couldn’t, for the life of me, sympathize with the financial plights and exploits each one of them were going through. Or maybe it’s because I see myself commiting the same blunder upon knowing that they’re bound to receive a big winfall  (spend the money before I even get my share). Whatever it was, it just didn’t do much for me.

After the death of the Plumb patriarch, the siblings learned of an inheritance that will come once the youngest (Melody) turns 40. Over the years, and through the conscientious effort of the family lawyer, the inheritance grew to a ridiculous amount. But in just one night, the money all but disappeared. The Nest, in essence, is the story of a family who depended way too much on this inheritance that when they realize there’s barely any left, watched their own families and relationships fall into ruin. It’s a cautionary tale about what comes of spending the money before you even have it in your possession. While the  inheritance was growing into a vast fortune, the siblings were accumulating debts left and right.

I’ve read my fair share of books containing themes of “rich people problems”. Some of them are ridiculous and funny, and most are honest and trite. The Nest, I found, was uninspiring. The wry, self-deprecating humour I’ve come to expect from rich people dealing with their dysfunctional problems just wasn’t there. If anything, this book’s supposed “underlying” serious tones overpowered what was meant to be a funny read.

But the good thing about this book is the author’s choice of setting. What would be a more perfect backdrop for a group of cynical people than New York City? The hub of success and failure; affluence and slum; culture and society’s decline. It’s very diverse, alive and full of character in itself.  It’s manic and somehow perfect in a way that parallels the Plumb’s anxiety for their troubling future.

I did, however, find that they were very forgiving of Leo (the oldest) even if he was the selfish prick who ruined marriages and lives. And in that sense, I guess the great message of this book is that you can’t pick and choose whom to love. Family is family, and no matter how much you want to smother your sibling in their sleep, the thought of wearing an orange jumpsuit gives you nightmares for days to come.

 

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[690]: You by Caroline Kepnes

20821614 A look inside the mind of a loveable psycho.


You
by Caroline Kepnes

Ah, I get it now. I get your fascination with Joe Goldberg. For months I’ve avoided reading this because I was scared I would hate the character so much. Admittedly, Joe is morbidly hard to hate. He’s a cunning character who convinces, even the hardened reader the he’s nothing to be scared of. He’s reliable in that respect. Because I was lulled into a state of complacency – even convinced, for a time, that his victims were at fault. How sick is that?

Practically everyone in this book is messed up. They all seem to be on the precipice of madness themselves. I mean, Beck herself admits that she’s sick for the things she did to the men that walks into her life, all the while using her convenient excuse that her sickness stems from her daddy issues. Peach, Nicky, and OMG, even Karen Minty – especially Karen Minty – each one of these characters brought a certain brand of sociapathic tendencies to the table.

What did Joe ever see in Beck? I mean physically, she’s attractive, sure. But after she played Joe a number of times, why couldn’t he move on? Joe’s obsession with Beck confounded me. But after a while, I don’t think reasons matter for someone like Joe. As soon as he set his sights on Beck, it was game over. And Joe is a very meticulous character. He may be lacking in college education, but he was exposed to boundless knowledge through his work at the bookstore. The bookstore was his life, the books his companion. It’s a little disturbing to think that books, coupled with loneliness can lead you to demented thinking (see: Misery by Stephen King). And this couldn’t be truer in Joe’s place. He grew up in the care of a bookstore owner who’s probably a little deranged himself. I wish the readers knew more about him so that we may know what made Joe the person that he was.

Joe more often justifies all the things he’s done to his victims as an act of compassion (like a good sociopath could). His calm mannerisms is disturbing, to say the least. But that’s a true marksman of a psychopath, isn’t it? I love that this novel was set in New York – a city so overpopulated that if one goes missing, no one would be the wiser. I also think that the age of social media played the perfect role as a necessary evil that helped Joe in hiding his crimes. It’s scary how easy it was for him. Made me want to change my passwords to everything.

You know what’s even sicker? I’d hoped he’d get away with it. I’d hoped that he finds a nice girl, move to North Dakota and forget all the things he’s done to his victims. That’s how good he is.

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[689]: Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

28587957Understanding the difficult racial climate in America.


Small Great Things
by Jodi Picoult

I read this over a month ago now and still to this day, I’ve yet to find the right words to convey my every thought and feeling that can perfectly show why this is probably one of the most importatnt book you’ll read given the racial climate in the US. My emotions were only ramped up soon after the elections and news about violence towards Muslims, LGBTQ, and African Americans spread all over the world. And as the normalization of the Nazi movement (otherwise known as Alt-Right) soon becomes apparent, I was filled with equal amount of fear and rage to what this presidential election brought.

This is one of those books that I read with my eyes half wide-open. I was too terrified to see the full picture, but I knew I was giving it a disservice by not paying attention. I couldn’t help myself. The thought that the Nazi movement was making a resurgence scared me. And all the while, I was comforting myself with the thought that I was, after all, only reading a work of fiction. But here we are. And this is now. America has a president-elect that normalized hate, manipulated the unducated, and turned half the country from the truth and the democratic process. He has the support of the KKK and the Alt-Right Nazis. But you won’t hear him enthusiastically disavowing these movements whose creed is based on racial hate. Nope.

Small Great Things came into my life when I didn’t think blatant, in-your-face racism was a possibility. It’s about an Ivy League-educated nurse with 20 years of experience who found herself the ire of a White Supremacist couple. While she was tasked to take care of their newborn son, they ordered the hospital administration that under no circumstances would she be allowed to touch their baby because of the colour of her skin. She’s an African-American woman who worked hard all her life to better herself and to never become a statistics. All that changed when she was forced to make a choice between the order she was given and saving a baby boy’s life.

Jodi Picoult wrote with the best intentions. She wanted a conversation, a perspective, and a challenge for her audience. She does succeed because this book is very timely. Who woud’ve thought that a book that she’s started years ago would come at a time such as these?

I often find myself at a loss for words and somewhat hesitant to comment on how realistic an author’s portrayal was of characters that are people of colour. I’m not an expert so I’m not going to sit her and pretend she was dead-on in immortalizing Ruth, her sister Adisa, and their mother. She went into this armed with research and interviews, sure. But unless I stood in their stead, I wouldn’t know. Unless I’m stupid enough to use a second hand account (which I’m not).

I’ve learned a few truths about racism in this book. I’ve learned that you can be the most educated person in the world, or the most experienced in your craft, but at the end of the day, all that mean squat when confronted with bigots of the world. I learned that there are two kinds of racism: passive racism and active racism and that the difference is  subtlety and your willingness to show the world your hate. This book made me think about all the ways I’ve become a participant – consciously and unconsciously – in the act of racism by simply not saying a word whenever someone makes a joke about another person’s race. This book is probably a great introduction to read if you want to understand the difficult racial climate in America. It paints a disturbing picture, but it’s not a broad stroke.

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[688]: A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

18774964 A perfect mix of heartwarming and heartbreaking.


A Man Called Ove
by Fredrik Backman

Ove hasn’t found anything to smile about lately. What was once a very regimented man, is now an even more terrifying old man to encounter. He lives by his own strict rules and there’s no swaying him into any grey area. Needless to say, he doesn’t do well with changes, either.

One day, when a family of mixed race moved in beside him, his life was turned upside down. He thinks the husband an incompetent idiot, the kids bothersome, and the woman (of Iraqui descent), a pest. Their chaotic life couldn’t be more different from Ove’s disciplined existence.

Ove is a man of a few words. He doesn’t waste them on perfunctory dialogues – not even carefully thought out ones. He’d rather the world leave him alone so he can live out his days in peace. In truth, he’s just biding his time until he can see his Sonja again. But the entire universe will conspire against him. What follows is a series of event that will give him a reason to stay, a reason to live, and a reason to love again.

What is it about Swedish-translated novels that make me feel all the warm and fuzzies? Ove is the perfect example of a hard man to like but the characters and events of the story somehow soften him to the eyes of the readers. I think it’s because everyone around him forces him to deviate from his normal self. They give him layers that no one knew existed, not even his dead wife or himself. The world sees him as an angry, old coot but deep inside, his upbringing remains the thing that will always make him human. His mom died when he was just a boy but his father made sure he grew up to be a conscientious, kind-hearted man. It also helps that he held his father to the highest esteem so he emulated him all his life. This was better exemplified when on their vacation in Spain, and even though there was a language barrier, he helped the townspeople to the best of his abilities. He went around fixing things and making sure their problems disappear.

If you’ve seen the video for this novel-turned-to-film, you would know that ever since his wife died, he hasn’t found a reason to live. So everyday since making a decision to follow Sonja, he’s been trying to kill himself. Of course, all his attempts end up in the most comical way possible which makes this book sad and funny at the same time. All around him people and circumstances did their best, though, unconsciously, from doing what he’s set out to do. Until he finally admitted defeat by telling his wife that “killing oneself isn’t easy.” At the end of the day, Ove’s big heart was the thing that will give him what he’s been asking for.

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[687]: A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

22822858 A lifetime of self-inflicted cruelty, and abuse suffered in the hands of others.


A Little Life
by Hanya Yanagihara

This modern day classic was not the easiest novel to read. In fact, the author seemed determined to give her readers the most horrendous time possible while reading her book. I don’t do well with angst; so most of the time, I was taut with tension. Bracing myself for the horrible account of what made Jude, Jude. 

I read somewhere that while she was writing this book, she had a fight with her editor about just how much she’s willing to put her readers through. And I’m not gonna lie, about halfway through the novel, I didn’t think I was going to make it. Jude St. Francis’ life is far from little, as the title would suggest. He might’ve felt like he was insignificant at times, but he was the centre of his family’s and friends’ universe. You’ll never meet a more broken character than Jude. But I’m not going to enumerate all the ways this man has suffered. I don’t want to scare the pants out of you. Besides, I’ve already given you a tidbit into his life with my intro, so I don’t think you need to know more.

Let me tell you this, though: This book is brilliant, amazing, and horrible all at once. It’s the kind that will force you to take breaks because everything is horrific, yet grotesquely beautiful. It does not offer comfort or joy to anyone brave enough to read it. But what it gives you is a sense of satisfaction. Like finishing a long suffering marathon you did not train for. And even though you wanted to quit in the midst of the race, it’s physically impossible. Because it’s too late. Your body is screaming at you to cross that yellow ribbon. In as much as your heart, your soul – everything about you becomes so inevitably invested in the story that the idea of quitting hurts more than not knowing what happens next.

Jude St. Francis only ever known of unhappiness and heartbreak literally all his life. It started when he was abandoned, half-naked, by a dumpster when he was a baby. And in here, the reader would question whether or not he was better off freezing to death. Because his life of torture and abuse began when he was taken in by the “brothers” of a monastery. He eventually escaped, but he was far from saved. Things got bad to worst; so bad that at some point, he wished he could go back to the monsters in that monastery. He was only 14 when the man he thought was his saviour pimped him out. And here is where I stop. I can’t go on rehashing all the terrible things that was done to him or what he’s done to himself. Like I said, I struggled all throughout this novel. But try as I might, I couldn’t stop. And now, I’m exhausted, beaten-up and all cried out.

Blessedly, it does have its moments of joy but the angst far outweigh it all. In as much as he lacked any healthy relationships growing up, he found himself loved during his adulthood. There were his friends from college that lasted decades: Willem who looked after him all his life; JB with whom he had a difficult friendship but was there with him the longest; Malcolm who made sure he has everything he needed in his own way; Andy who knew everything that had happened to him and have cared for his medical needs till the end. The author explored all the nuances and complexities of Jude’s relationships with the people around him. Not all of them were healthy, but it highlighted the kind of character Jude was.

At times, I felt Jude’s stories of abuse seem excessive. So I would step back and take a breather to compose myself; to think of why it was wholly necessary not to gloss over facts. Yanagihara was far from exploitative. She just has this uncanny talent of flaying her characters until they’re inside out. Jude is not the easiest character to like at times. His self-flagellation was excruciating to read. I wanted to yell at him; shake him until he saw sense. I wanted him to love himself as much as he loved Willem or Andy or Harold and Julia. And yet, I also wanted to take him home and watch over him like I’d watch my own child. I know with full clarity that I share the same feelings about Jude amongst those who cared for him. They loved him whole-heartedly, yes. But nobody really understood his propensity for destruction.

 

 

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[686]: Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood

28588073
Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood
Knofp Canada | October 11th, 2016
Source: Paperback ARC from publisher
Adult Fiction
Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars


When Felix is deposed as artistic director of the Makeshiweg Theatre Festival by his devious assistant and longtime enemy, his production of The Tempest is canceled and he is heartbroken. Reduced to a life of exile in rural southern Ontario—accompanied only by his fantasy daughter, Miranda, who died twelve years ago—Felix devises a plan for retribution.

Eventually he takes a job teaching Literacy Through Theatre to the prisoners at the nearby Burgess Correctional Institution, and is making a modest success of it when an auspicious star places his enemies within his reach. With the help of their own interpretations, digital effects, and the talents of a professional actress and choreographer, the Burgess Correctional Players prepare to video their Tempest. Not surprisingly, they view Caliban as the character with whom they have the most in common. However, Felix has another twist in mind, and his enemies are about to find themselves taking part in an interactive and illusion-ridden version of The Tempest that will change their lives forever. But how will Felix deal with his invisible Miranda’s decision to take a part in the play?


This is Margaret Atwood’s interpretation of The Tempest for the Hogarth Shakespeare series. I’ve been trying to keep pace with every instalment and have made it my goal to read all the books. The operative word here is “try”. As in I’ve tried reading Shylock is My Name by Howard Jacobson but I had a rough time. I had to set it aside, unfortunately. I’ve mentioned it before that the reason why I was excited about this series of books is because it allows plebian readers such as myself to appreciate Shakespeare indirectly. Kinda like osmosis. We all know Shakespeare has his own trademarked language; one that’s hard to interpret. So these books are heaven-sent.

BUT. But. Margaret Atwood’s and Howard Jacobson’s contributions left me floundering. Their writing chops went beyond my comprehension which is so depressingly bad. How am I supposed to elevate my reading and comprehension skills if I can’t follow along with their writing? Atwood and Jacobson are a couple of prolific and award-winning writers. I feel awful for not being able to enjoy their takes on Shakespeare’s The Tempest and Merchant of Venice, respectively. Gah.

In any case, Hag-Seed follows the story of Felix Phillips; the aritistic director of a Shakespeare company who suddenly found himself out of a job. He was, for the most part, a difficult person to work for. He’s eccentric, with an unorthodox method of directing a play. When he was unceremoniously relieved of his job, he goes into hiding. He bided his time for 12 years; planning, scheming until he can go back to doing what he loved.

When an opportunity arises in the form of teaching literacy to inmates, he grabbed at the chance and spun it in a way that he can teach and direct at the same time. It was brilliant, really. His chance at revenge to the same production company that wronged him.

I really wanted to like this. Ultimately, and as much as I can appreciate why Atwood is a genius, her writing went over my head. I’m embarrassed to admit that. But I have accumulated a small selection of her books.  She has a mastery of language all on her own – which was a problem of mine with Shakespeare’s work, to begin with. No matter how beautiful her prose is, I’m not the right reader for her books. It also doesn’t help that I’m not familiar with The Tempest. There is something wholly intricate about it that bears studying. Given time, I think I will be able to catch up. Unfortunately, that’s not today, and it’s not this book.

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[685]: One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid

27189194 One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Stand Alone | Adult Contemporary Romance
Washington Square Press | Paperback, 327 pp.
Publication Date: June 7th, 2016
Source: Bought
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars


In her twenties, Emma Blair marries her high school sweetheart, Jesse. They build a life for themselves, far away from the expectations of their parents and the people of their hometown in Massachusetts. They travel the world together, living life to the fullest and seizing every opportunity for adventure.

On their first wedding anniversary, Jesse is on a helicopter over the Pacific when it goes missing. Just like that, Jesse is gone forever.

Emma quits her job and moves home in an effort to put her life back together. Years later, now in her thirties, Emma runs into an old friend, Sam, and finds herself falling in love again. When Emma and Sam get engaged, it feels like Emma’s second chance at happiness.

That is, until Jesse is found. He’s alive, and he’s been trying all these years to come home to her. With a husband and a fiancé, Emma has to now figure out who she is and what she wants, while trying to protect the ones she loves.

Who is her one true love? What does it mean to love truly?

Emma knows she has to listen to her heart. She’s just not sure what it’s saying.


With incredible trepidation, I finally succumbed to the peer pressure and took this book off my TBR shelf. I was a little wary of the story, to be honest. Going in, I knew that a love triangle was in the offing. Most of you who has recommended this book probably tried to placate us in some way. That the irritation we will feel for that unfortunate relationship dynamic will be temporary, albeit heightened. Well, I’m glad y’all talked me into reading this. If you’ve ever seen someone in tears while vacuuming, then you can imagine the state I was in while listening to the audio book. I cried when one of her loves disappeared. I cried when her other love gave her the freedom to choose. It was very emotional, with a love triangle that I didn’t think I could stomach let alone appreciate.

I get it now. Taylor Jenkins Reid writes with incredible introspective into relationships. And this after only reading one book. It wasn’t just about the delicate relationships between three people who found themselves in a precarious situation. One that could spell heartbreak for a lot of people involved. She also wrote about a family with realistic dynamics. Readers will see the ever changing kinship between sisters; one that started out as fragile as sibling relationships go but would eventually strengthened with the passing of time. In this book, family is everything. Emma’s family was there to help her pick up the pieces when her husband disappeared; and they were there when her fiance decided to give her time and space.

As for the dreaded love triangle, I say hike up your skirts and just dive into it. It will hurt for a bit but the ending will be nothing short of a joyous reward.

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[684]: Metaltown by Kristen Simmons

28118037
Metaltown by Kristen Simmons
Tor Teen | September 20th, 2016
Source: Publisher, Finished Copy
Young Adult Fiction | Steampunk
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars


Metaltown, where factories rule, food is scarce, and hope is in short supply.

The rules of Metaltown are simple: Work hard, keep your head down, and watch your back. You look out for number one, and no one knows that better than Ty. She’s been surviving on the factory line as long as she can remember. But now Ty has Colin. She’s no longer alone; it’s the two of them against the world. That’s something even a town this brutal can’t take away from her. Until it does.

Lena’s future depends on her family’s factory, a beast that demands a ruthless master, and Lena is prepared to be as ruthless as it takes if it means finally proving herself to her father. But when a chance encounter with Colin, a dreamer despite his circumstances, exposes Lena to the consequences of her actions, she’ll risk everything to do what’s right.

In Lena, Ty sees an heiress with a chip on her shoulder. Colin sees something more. In a world of disease and war, tragedy and betrayal, allies and enemies, all three of them must learn that challenging what they thought was true can change all the rules.

An enthralling story of friendship and rebellion, Metaltown will have you believing in the power of hope.


I have not had the most successful reading experiences with Kristen’s books in the past. Because I’m a romance reader first and foremost, I often found the lack of romance a detriment. Colour me surprised when Metaltown changed all that.

As what you’ve probably already know, this book is a brutal take on a world of absolute desolation. With a metal industry in the background, and a ruling caste intent on enslaving the poor, it was not the easiest book to get through. What it has an abudance of, however, are stories of survival and determination from the cast of characters. There’s something to be said about the torturous struggle the characters go through. I, as a reader, was able to feel a deeper appreciation for their successes – no matter how big or small. And because the world is not especially pleasant, you can say the characters have strong hearts and even stronger stomachs.

Kristen Simmons knows how to create a world out of the deepest despair you can imagine. There was never a doubt about that going into Metaltown. In fact, I braced myself for what was to come. This time around though, I savoured every single sliver of glittering metal shavings. It’s so effectively visceral that you can almost smell and taste the iron in the air.

Metaltown took me by surprise. It may  have started a bit slow at first, but once you get past that hurdle, it’s smooth sailing from there. If you like to read about underdogs exacting due justice to those who’ve wronged them, this book might give you a bit of satisfaction. I enjoyed the gritty world – no matter how difficult it was at times. I especially love Ty. She’s a spunky girl with a big heart even if the person who was supposed to watch her back treated her unfairly on more than one occasion.

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