[449]: Push (The Game, #2) by Eve Silver

17667947 GOODREADS SUMMARY
Katherine Tegen Books | Hardcover, 341 pages
Publication Date: June 10th, 2014
Young Adult | Sci-fi
Rating 2 out of 5 Stars


Truthfully, I’m in awe.

I’m in awe because of how polarized my reactions were from book 1 to book 2. I remember loving Rush so much, that I didn’t wait to express exactly how much via email to the author. I don’t do that often. I don’t purposely seek out authors just to tell them how much I loved their work. But sometimes, I make an exception. At the time, I felt that Eve deserved to know. But here I am, with the impossible task of bisecting the novel, in the hopes that I’ll be able to pin point the reasons why I did not enjoy this book at all.

My major misgiving with this book is how slow the majority of this novel was – particularly, the middle. It started off fast, as we find them being pulled soon after they realized that Jackson didn’t come back. While they figure out what happened, they also come to a realization that what was  initially an act of betrayal on Jackson’s part to get out of the game, was actually the exact opposite. But they didn’t have much time to rejoice, to wallow – not even a second to be indignified. In a matter of hours, they were pulled again. This time, with a couple of new members. I was ecstatic! Because, yes! I’m salivating at this point. This is what I’ve loved the most about the first book. It doesn’t wait for readers to catch up. It almost feels like Rush drops you right into the game and will not let you breathe until you’ve completed a mission ( I might’ve mention this on my review of Rush as well). Everything was copacetic at this point. But once they finished the mission, and [spoiler] Jackson is safely back from the clutches of the committee [end of spoiler], boredom set in.

I’d say about 40% of the book was spent with the kids being normal: school, hanging out, Jackson and Miki making googly eyes at each other…There’s definitely nothing wrong with that, but that’s not what I signed up for. I wanted the same, if not more, of  what Rush gave me. I don’t want a breather, I want you to push my adrenaline to ridiculous levels. Unfortunately, I had to slog through pages upon pages of..that. 

Part of my problem with this book is Miki herself. She drove me nuts! If she wasn’t over thinking things, she’s being the consummate Catholic: she felt guilt over every single thing that had gone wrong in her life and those of whom she loves. It was irritating. And then, when Jackson was finally at the helm, she starts having second thoughts about following his lead. I get that the author want Miki in equal footing with Jackson, but man. That was why she practically begged and bartered with the powers that be to release Jackson to begin with. Let’s call spades as spades and admit that Jackson was the better leader. He can detach himself from any given situation – good or bad – without getting lost in a haze of guilt. I hate to say it, but Miki took awhile before she realized how important it was to be as cold as Jackson needed to be. He could be an emotionless prick at times but he gets them through dicey situations each time. While Miki, on the other hand, spent too much time overanalyzing things. Just…get to it, girl!

Don’t be discouraged, though. This instalment was book ended with an action that lives up to Rush. Over all, although this was a disappointment, it gives me hope that the next book is going to be the one that bests Rush.

 

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Divided [Dualed, #2] by Elsie Chapman

13649079 GOODREADS SUMMARY
Random House Publishing | Hardcover, 320 pages
Publication Date: May 27th, 2014
Young Adult | Science Fiction
Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars


Book number two of this series has our West with a bounty on her head. Girl just can’t avoid trouble. With a deal she made with a member of the Board, she finds herself back on the streets on the hunt for three Alts whose counterparts were children of members of the Board themselves. Ah yes, the ole you should’ve known not to make deals with the devil. You know he’ll own your soul. In this case, however, our girl couldn’t find it in her to go back to her assassin ways. She just couldn’t kill them. Lucky for her, she’s given a weapon that could either kill them in the most painless way possible, or neutralize the system that tracks them as Alts. She managed to make the first two disappear, off the grid, if I may. The last one, though, is a different matter. Because as soon as she laid her eyes on him, she froze and realize, she couldn’t kill her brother Luc’s Alt. Things just kind of snowballed from there.

Short and sweet, this book was loads better than the first. Because I read them back-to-back, I sort of have a better understanding on the world that Ms. Chapman visualized.

“The Board decided the best way to weed out the weak was for soldiers to have to face down their worst enemies, those who would make the ultimate challenge. Themselves.”

This was more pronounced in the second book, as Alts, idles, originals, or what have you, seem to come to a head as West pissed off a whole slew of people. By the end of it all, it was a clusterfuck of epic fail for our West. Good intentions or not, she became the centre of all the conflicts in this book. Calamity Jane has nothing on West.

If there’s one thing I like about these books, it’s West’s Romeo (Chord). He is willing to overlook a lot for the sake of the girl he loves. I mean, he’s seen West pushed him away in the first book because she couldn’t stand to remember that it was Chord’s Alt who killed her brother. He’d seen her become a striker (killer for hire). And she’d lied to him over and over again. But this guy, man. He’s the real deal.

My two cents:

I insists that you borrow these books. I think the third one will be the best one yet, based on the way the second book ended. You will not be bored here, as it is non-stop cat and mouse action on every page.

 

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Dualed by Elsie Chapman

13401993 GOODREADS SUMMARY
Random House Publishing | Hardcover, 290 pages
Publication Date: February 26th, 2013
Young Adult | Sci-Fi | Suspense
Rating 2 out of 5 Stars


The city of Kersh is the last vestige of peace; walled to keep their people in, and the Surrounders out. In an effort to control its genetically engineered population…fuck. I can’t even make sense of this. The more I sit here and think about the premise of this book, the more I realize how ridiculous it is.

I mean, tell me something: why in the heck would you create two of the same person only to let them duke it out until only one survives? Does that make sense? In this world, twinsies exist. These twins, however share the same DNA codes. I supposed they’re like clones. When they reach the ripe age of majority, they become active; meaning, they have to somehow weed out the weaker of the two clones. Kill or be killed. Once activated, they’re given 31 days to complete the task (assassinate their clones). If, at that time, they managed to avoid each other, something inside of them will detonate. Ergo, both of them will die.

Now listen, you and I both know that I’m a huge champion of all things unbelievable in fiction; but sometimes, it has to make sense. If you’re trying to control the population, why were you making two of the same person to begin with? Once the city is walled, you can almost predict to have that problem on the forefront.

This is the kind of world where violence and death is the norm. The people are not even scared of the government; they are scared of their own shadows. There is very little else that happened in this book; that is, besides the cat and mouse chase between West and her Alt. I also had a problem with her signing up as a cold-hearted assassin. She was soulless, guiltless, and a calculated killer. Though I understand what made her the person that she was, I didn’t understand why she had cold feet as soon as she saw her Alt. I mean, it’s what you trained for the whole time you were at school. It was your way of life. But West froze, and was overcome with guilt…or something. It was almost like the author’s way of dragging on the story for as long as she could. And let me tell you, it was very transparent.

My two cents:

You might be better off borrowing a copy from the library. While it boasts a unique premise, the conflicts and sub conflicts just didn’t make any sense.

 

 

 

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Scan by Walter Jury and S.E. Fine [Review and Giveaway]

GOODREADS SUMMARY13451410
Putnam Children | ARC, 336 pages
May 1st, 2014
Young Adult | Science Fiction
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Tate has lived his life on a strict regiment under the careful watch of his father; so strict, that it’s as though he lives in a military barracks instead of the place that he calls home. He’s always known that he’s being trained for something; he just didn’t know what. He’d silently rebelled by reciprocating his father’s coldness. Through his minute rebellion, he found a way to break in to his father’s heavily secured study where he stores high grade weapons of his invention. It was during one of his break-ins that he finds a hand-held device that would serve as a catalyst for a discovery of an alien invasion years in the making.

For hundreds of years, these aliens have lived amongst us; undetected and indecipherable. As the invasion continues on over the years, the human population is quickly and subtly being eradicated. That’s what a group of “pure” humans are trying to protect. Aside from working to conserve the remaining known human population, they are also trying to find ways to take Earth back. But with so many of them perfectly concealed, and entrenched in numerous government agencies, the group is practically a dying breed. This is when Tate learns about his role and what he needed to do to keep the fight alive. And with the help of his estranged mother and his girlfriend, they will do what’s needed to be done to keep “them” from obtaining a technology that is sure to exterminate human civilization.

The tag team writers of Walter Jury and Sarah Fine penned a Sci-Fi book palatable enough for non-readers like me. It was action from the get go that did not relent until the end. With a tagline like “Mac Gyver meets War of the Worlds”, this book was impossible to resist – and it did not disappoint either. For the romance reader in all of us, this book presents one that is not really forbidden but dangerous for all parties involve. I’m curious to see where it’s headed, but from what I’ve read  so far, it looks to be a bumpy ride.

Tate made a very convincing boy-genius. I appreciated the fact that his intelligence did not all came from text book; at least, the authors didn’t make it seem so. He was book smart, street smart, and yes, smart aleck. He was emotional when it calls for it, fierce and explosive. I enjoyed his point of view. There’s still a lot to be gleaned about the invaders, but nothing is at seems. I feel like a huge twist is in the offing, and I’m really excited to find out.

All in all, this initial offering to what proved to be “Sci-Fi for the masses”, is undeniably solid. A true page-turner in all sense of the word, it features (somewhat) realistic characters and truly engrossing plot.

Thanks to Alexa of Collections and Beth of BookittyBlog for lending me their ARC. Check out their reviews as well. 🙂

Also, enter for a chance to win this copy! Click on the link below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

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The Originals by Cat Patrick

The Originals by Cat Patrick
Little, Brown | Hardcover, 304 pages
May 7th, 2013
Young Adult
Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars

Very cool concept. I’d have liked it more if the author gave it a little hint of suspense. I read it in four hours, tops – which goes to show that it had me by the nose, regardless.

Quick Story:

Clones, Lizzie, Betsey, and Ella Best have lived a third of their lives since they’ve learned they weren’t triplets. They were a product of the only successful cloning hidden from the world. Every day, they take turns living the life of one Elizabeth Violet Best; which was working for the most part, until Lizzie meets Sean Kelly.

Lizzie felt cheated of a life to call her own. When the complication of living one person’s life in three bodies arises, the sisters start breaking the rules set by their mother. Rules that were created to protect them became their shackles. They start doubting the real reason why they couldn’t come out as triplets as they did when they were kids. Little by little, the seeds of doubt sprouted budding leaves of lies that will ultimately reveal who they are and the truth about their own mother.

My Thoughts:

I’ve always had this preconceived notion that clones are like robots; automatons who can’t think for themselves but for what they were initially programmed for. In this respect, the sisters can be likened to those machineries. They did what they were told without questions. It all changed when the heart (and hormones, for that matter) became part of the equation.

I have to admit that I was plagued with questions in the beginning. It started to irritate me that they would live this way when they could easily pass themselves off as triplets. But as I delved deeper into the story, I grew to understand why: they were essentially on the run because they were technically stolen genes. So my first thought was that they will be chased; that there’ll be some bad people who would try to find them, take them for the purpose of experiments. Unfortunately, there were no suspense here. No chases, no men in black. There was a woman, and that was it. Even that turned out to be nothing.

The mother gave me the impression of having some hidden agenda from the get go; that her purpose for totalitarianism-like upbringing holds a different meaning other than for the girls’ protection. In the end, I wasn’t placated – much like Lizzie had some lingering doubts to the bitter end.

I really think this book could’ve used a bit more thrills. I was hooked to the story but it was lacking, somehow. The revelations were anti-climactic, and to be honest, I couldn’t even gather enough “care” in the world to be disappointed.

My opinion? Read it; not for the story itself but for your chance to meet Sean Kelly: the Clark Kent in disguise if Clark Kent fronts an indie band. So dreamy.

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Icons by Margaret Stohl

Brilliant plot dulled by sub-par writing
___________________________________

Icons 
by Margaret Stohl
Little, Brown | Hardcover, 428 pages
In the far distant future, aliens invaded Earth. The invasion wasn’t violent. All they did was stop nearly everyone’s hearts from beating, killing them instantly from where they stood. Almost majority of the population perished save from a few thousands (?).  Humanity’s dependence on electricity and technology was their downfall. Icons – towers fell in major cities of the world. They stood like the all-seeing eye of Sauron. Watching everyone, waiting for flickers and sparks of electricity so they could shut it down again. Life as they knew it, ended on The Day. The Icons were virtually indestructible. Come close to within its sight and it stops your source of power.  Humans die on the spot, ammunitions rendered useless. 
Four children, born with extraordinary powers will have a chance to end the occupation. Love, Sorrow, Rage and Freak – born on the same day, created to defeat a seemingly indomitable foe. 
Margaret Stohl, the other half of the Beautiful Creatures series writing duo, set out to write a book about an alien invasion. Aside from the fact that the Icons came somewhere from space, this book, much like Yancey’s The 5th Wave, didn’t really have physical alien life forms wreaking havoc in its pages. When I started reading this book, I promised myself that I wouldn’t do any comparison. It turns out, I didn’t have to make that promise. There really was no comparison. You can take that as you will. 
This book was such a disappointment. Sparks of brilliance snuffed by pallid writing. Prose that didn’t make sense, prose that left me flustered. Being inside Doloria’s head was painful. She dragged the story line down until I couldn’t stand to read her thoughts. She tried hard to be deep and poetic but only succeeded in inflicting more pain.

Stohl had the barebones but failed to flesh out her characters and story. There were points of interest that could’ve saved this novel. I really didn’t get how the emotional focus could destroy a machine. Really? A mechanical structure powered by a computer? I don’t get it. Why reiterate the emotional bomb when the enemy doesn’t even feel at all?  If it was a fact, that the Icons can kill those with a heartbeat aside from the four teens, then how did the rest of the population survived? How did the teens get their powers? There were so many holes it looked like swiss cheese.

The pitfalls of co-writing a book and then going solo is that your readers will finally know exactly what you’re made of. I’m oddly looking forward to reading Kami Garcia’s solo offering just to see where all the brilliance of Beautiful Creatures came from.

My rating: 2 out of 5 Stars

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The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

Expertly woven, perfectly twisted plot makes this Sci-Fi/Fantasy one of the best
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The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey
Putnam Juvenile | Hardcover, 480 pages
This book has been the subject of many gushing reviews on Goodreads. I was a little intimidated by it just because I saw myself as another outsider among the legions of fans that were tripping all over themselves. The Sci-Fi thing and the alien invasion thing aren’t really my cup of tea. So that only added to my trepidation to read it. But by the end of chapter two, I’m sunk.

The invasion happened like a masterful thief in the night. Humans didn’t know, wouldn’t have known until they actually made their presence known by unleashing the most brilliantly executed form of invasion. It came in five waves: First – an E.M.P blast strong enough to take out all forms of communications, power and every technological apparatus known to man. Cell phones, electricity, planes, and automobiles instantly died. Second – the big one. An earthquake that took out most of the coastal cities all over the world, therefore drowning almost half of the population. Third – pestilence. An airborne Ebola virus that pretty much guaranteed whoever survived the earthquake wouldn’t survive the epidemic. Fourth – the Silencer. Aliens trained to take out every human they see by putting a bullet to their heads. So the “cleansing” was almost complete until the fifth wave, which was brilliant in such a way that it was a form of psychological warfare. But you’ll have to read the book for you to find out.

It was a strategic plan that the aliens had used against humans because they knew how we think and they were always one step ahead. Rick Yancey made it even more credible via his characters. It was enough to make you think that everything you’ve read was entirely possible. And man,Yancey knew plot twists like he invented the concept. It took me a couple of tries before I wrapped my head around it but by the time I figured it out, I was entranced and completely in awe. It was like an M. Night Shyamaylan movie playing out right before your eyes. And love him or hate him, the guy would be the man for the job to bring this book to life. Sorry (not sorry).

The fact that the aliens aren’t your garden variety cone heads with dark onyx eyes only added to the suspenseful element of the book. The author would have you on tenterhooks along with the characters who were anxiously waiting for the fifth wave of the attack.

Cassie was an incredible force of a character. Her stream of consciousness vacillated between fear, anger and determination beyond any of us could ever muster. If you can even believe it, there is a romance in here that will hit you like a speeding freight train. And it’s so sweet and so impossible but lovely in all the ways I love my romances in a book.

After reading this book, I have concluded that sometimes, the hype machine actually knows what it’s talking about.

My rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

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Light [Gone, #6] by Michael Grant

Climactic conclusion that offered no reprieve until the very last page. 
_____________________________________

Light [Gone, #6] by Michael Grant
Katherine Tegen Books | Hardcover, 411 pages
I can’t believe it’s truly over. 
I can’t even begin to tell you how much I perversely look forward to the brand of torture Michael have in store for these kids and now…it’s like I don’t know what to do with myself. I feel like this metric ton of weight have been lifted off my chest; it’s like I can finally breathe for the first time in a long time. And yet, I can’t because I know that if I show a semblance of happiness, I’m betraying a friend or something. But knowing that Sam and Astrid and the rest will finally eat, gorge themselves even, shower with soap and shave and wear clothes that aren’t tattered or splattered with blood…there’s just so many reasons to celebrate.  
I keep thinking to myself, how do you even move on from the nightmare that you’ve known was your life to the normalcy of being a kid again? No more monsters, no more hunger, no more fear. If Sam was lying in clean sheets on a soft bed, would the nightmare begin again as soon as he closes his eyes? Would he take it all in strides because he knows he’d wake up from it anyway as opposed to the reality he once knew?  This series ended not in hushed tones or not even in a bang. It was a nuclear explosion of epic…yeah. 
At the end of the book, I was a little stunned and it took me forever to actually sort out how I should feel. Michael Grant’s sick, sick mind will take you on a dark, inconceivable journey of what will happen if kids were left to fend for themselves and kids with superpowers rule the world, not to mention they had to contend with the monster that was the gaiaphage. 
This book was relentless in its pursuit to terrify, shock, and make you wish you never had that last bite of your lunch because your stomach will roil. I was glad that this series ended but at the same time, I’m feeling bereft. Grant’s FAYZ is not for the weak of stomach least of all for someone like me, who continually spends the first night of her vacations away from her kids worrying and thinking about them. 
Let me say this: the conclusion is everything I’d expected and hoped for but not at all how I envisioned it. The deaths, the blood, the gore…it was too much and too little and most of the time, I felt like an epileptic on a constant watch for signs of episodes. 
My rating: 5 out of 5 Stars. 
Simply put, this book – this series, fucking rocks. 
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Mind Games [Mind Games, #1] by Kiersten White

Thrillingly unapologetic. 
_______________________________

Mind Games [Mind Games, #1] by Kiersten White
Harper Teen, Hardcover 237 pages
No one could’ve known how this story was going to end – except maybe for the author. 
My heart was in my throat and there was this voice inside my head, screaming, no no no no. 

The premise of the book: a group of women with psychic powers – powers varying from empaths, mind readers, and one with an incredibly perfect instincts. Orphan siblings Annabelle and Sofia fell into the clutches of a group of – well, wouldn’t you know it, evil people – who used women with their powers to – I supposed to conquer the universe by doing one evil deed at a time. Forgive me if I’m sounding glib at the moment. Just trust me when I say that I’ve enjoyed this book a lot. 
You should be warned though that the writing will annoy you at times. I found myself reading and re-reading passages just because I thought that Ms White had a tendency to convolute the scenes playing out in the book by oversimplifying and being overly literal with her characters’ discourses and thoughts.  And while this was helpful at times, I have never been more inclined to skip skip skip some of the more often, banal and repetitive thoughts of Annie and Fia. 
The characters here are flawed, disturbed in their own ways and some, horrifying. James is one that I can’t pin at the moment. He’s evil, yes. But I see a speck of goodness in him that had me annoyed the entire time I was reading this book. He was like an itch deep in my tissues that I can’t scratch. I refuse to think he’s genuine but with the way the novel ended, I have to believe he is. 
Interestingly enough, the ending, that would normally drive me to a ranting rampage is actually what I’d loved the most from this book. In my head, I already had the story all played out. In my head, I pray that someone will not get their happily ever after. Which is stupid because I’m such a sucker for those. 

My Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

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So Close to You by Rachel Carter

Publication Date: July 10th, 2012
Harper Teen
Format: Hardcover, 313 pages
RATING: 3 out of 5 Stars

SUMMARY

Lydia Bentley has heard stories about the Montauk Project all her life: stories about the strange things that took place at the abandoned military base near her home and the people who’ve disappeared over the years. Stories about people like her own great-grandfather.

When Lydia stumbles into a portal that transports her to a dangerous and strange new reality, she discovers that all the stories she’s ever heard about the Montauk Project are true, and that she’s in the middle of one of the most dangerous experiments in history.

Alongside a darkly mysterious boy she is wary to trust, Lydia begins to unravel the secrets surrounding the Project. But the truths behind these secrets force her to question all her choices–and if Lydia chooses wrong, she might not save her family but destroy them . . . and herself.

Stunning cover. Interesting premise. Mildly entertaining book.

Do you hear that? That’s the sound of the crushing disappointment in my tone. [Sigh]

This book failed to engross me. The characters were flat with about a foot of range of emotions between them. If you want me to dive into a world you’ve created, you need to convince me. Whole-heartedly. As it is, time travel is one that’s a hard sell, and unfortunately, So Close to YOU didn’t even come within an inch to being believable. I was given very little insight into the parameters of time traveling. All I was told was that there was a bunker where they did experiments and…stuff. I don’t look for a thesis if the book is even edging toward science fiction,but heck, sometimes, I need to know some of the hows. However, I do love the concept of the chain reaction or the domino effect when you change the past and how it would affect the future – not an original concept but it’s still amazing. I thought it was interesting, to say the least. I love the idea that if you change something even minute, it would start a reaction that could possibly wipe your existence in the future. I also wish that the idea that children are more susceptible to time traveling was explored more.

Wes. The boy is a bundle of intense energy on the verge of an explosion. That is, that’s how I perceived him to be. He cornered the market on brooding and heated gazes. [I want to roll my eyes, but even I can admit that I actually liked him.] The problem is, there wasn’t enough of him. The book would marginally be better if he was around more but this role was limited to uhm…brooding, stalking, keeping Lydia in check and more brooding. There’s a lot of…[wait for it]..dark secrets between them, which led to the ultimate disatisfaction and impatience with the book.

I also had a difficult time with Lydia. I couldn’t support her cause to stop what was she was hell-bent on doing. Again, we go back to conviction and I, for one, wasn’t convince that her reason was viable enough. I appreciate the close relationship she has with grandpa but it wasn’t enough to fuel her drive to change the  past. I simply didn’t understand the girl.

I liked the 40’s era and the author gave me an acceptable glimpse of the world back then; the war – the world on the verge of Depression, the women and their roles. However, I primarily used my own imagination without the help of the author. If you want to get the full experience, you’re on your own because her world building was minimalistic.

VERDICT: Over all, this book just didn’t complete the package for me but most would enjoy it. It had the cookie-cutter heroes and romances with a touch of the…sci-fi. A very, very, teensy-weensy touch.

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