Review: Under the Never Sky

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Aria is a teenager in the enclosed city of Reverie. Like all Dwellers, she spends her time with friends in virtual environments, called Realms, accessed through an eyepiece called a Smarteye. Aria enjoys the Realms and the easy life in Reverie. When she is forced out of the pod for a crime she did not commit, she believes her death is imminent. The outside world is known as The Death Shop, with danger in every direction.

As an Outsider, Perry has always known hunger, vicious predators, and violent energy storms from the swirling electrified atmosphere called the Aether. A bit of an outcast even among his hunting tribe, Perry withstands these daily tests with his exceptional abilities, as he is gifted with powerful senses that enable him to scent danger, food and even human emotions.

They come together reluctantly, for Aria must depend on Perry, whom she considers a barbarian, to help her get back to Reverie, while Perry needs Aria to help unravel the mystery of his beloved nephew’s abduction by the Dwellers. Together they embark on a journey challenged as much by their prejudices as by encounters with cannibals and wolves. But to their surprise, Aria and Perry forge an unlikely love – one that will forever change the fate of all who live UNDER THE NEVER SKY

The first book in a captivating trilogy, Veronica Rossi’s enthralling debut sweeps you into an unforgettable adventure

Like the synopsis, the book holds this strange, choppy writing style. It’s a little hard to get through in the beginning, but about a third of the way through the action picks up, the characters start to develop, and the writing style starts to gel. There is a lack of world building in this first installment, but the bond that starts to form between Aria and Perry, as well as the mysteries of the Aether, the senses some inherit, and the strange lives led within the Pods keep this an entertaining and enjoyable read.

The character development is really the star of this book. It’s so well done and believable. There is no intsa-love, or 180 flips of characters beliefs, but a gradual shedding of ignorance and mutual shows of empathy and understanding. Our characters are faced with the one thing they are raised to mistrust – each other – and it’s really interesting watching them move past preconceived notions to see each other as people and learn to respect and care for one another.

Overall, this first book has poor world building, but the depth of the characters made up for it, or at least distracted from it. This is all about the characters growing, forging bonds, and setting us up for the real drama that will follow in the other two books. And while this sometimes doesn’t work, the characters are fantastic enough to pull it off in this kickoff to a fun and swoony series.

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Review: Nil on Fire

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Despite Rives and Skye’s attempt to destroy Nil, the island remains. And back in this world, Nil won’t let Skye go. Haunted by a darkness she can’t ignore, Skye wrestles with Nil nightmares that worsen by the day and threaten to tear her apart. As the island grows in power, Skye fights to keep her mind intact. Soon Skye realizes that to finally break free of Nil, she must end Nil’s vicious cycle once and for all–and she can’t do it alone.

Who will return to Nil, and in the end, who will survive? In this thrilling final installment of the Nil series, the stakes have never been higher: everyone’s fate hangs in the balance, including Nil’s own–and Nil will fight to the death. When the full force of the island is unleashed, Skye faces an impossible choice, a cruel one she’d never imagined she’d have to make. As the island’s clock ticks away, one Nil truth becomes painfully clear: only one side can win.

Losing isn’t an option, but winning will cost Skye everything.

I had issues with this finale. I remember enjoying the second book well enough, but I was so annoyed by Skye in this last book. And Rives. And the “All you need is love” ideal that seemed to drive them. Ya, it worked in Harry Potter, but this was not HP.

I did really enjoy the new characters on the island, and I think if the book had focused more on them, and used Skye as more of a support character, I would have like this a lot more. I just felt like Skye and Rives said and did and thought the same things over and over again. Their story, like that of Charley and Thad, was pretty resolved in one book. If Matson had stuck to her ‘new protagonist but old characters still play a role’ style it would have worked a lot better.

Nil as a character also underwhelmed me in this. The split personality it exhibited was interesting, but I still found myself skimming its segments, along with a lot of Skye and Rives appearances as well.

Overall, I felt like it was too repetitive, and could have been wrapped up in the second book since we didn’t really focus too much on the new characters. I also thought it was a little dramatic with Nil and it’s reasons or whatever.

Honestly, this series got worse for me the farther I got into it. I’m glad I finished the story though and reached a solid conclusion.

Coming This Week: June 27

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Last week was pretty mellow for me, so I got a ton of reading done, and it was great! My parents are coming up this week for the long weekend, so I won’t get as much done, but it will be lots of fun anyway! And there will be some museum visiting, and we all know I love that.

Anyway, this week look for book reviews on:

Last week I introduce NIl on Fire a bit, and hinted that I was less than in love with it. As this seems to be my year of re-reads, I also picked up Under the Never Sky again, but noticed I had never posted about it on here, so it gets it’s first debut here!

Revisiting: Nil

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Goodreads Synopsis:

On the mysterious island of Nil, the rules are set. You have one year. Exactly 365 days–to escape, or you die.

Seventeen-year-old Charley doesn’t know the rules. She doesn’t even know where she is. The last thing she remembers is blacking out, and when she wakes up, she’s lying naked in an empty rock field.

Lost and alone, Charley finds no sign of other people until she meets Thad, the gorgeous leader of a clan of teenage refugees. Soon Charley learns that leaving the island is harder than she thought . . . and so is falling in love. With Thad’s time running out, Charley realizes that to save their future, Charley must first save him. And on an island rife with dangers, their greatest threat is time.

I remember really enjoying this book when I first read it. I actually read the last book in the series, Nil on Fire, before I went back to this. Because, as you will find out next week, I was not thrilled by NoF, and wanted to make sure this was a singular issue, and not a series issue.

It was certainly a finale issue, as I liked Nil Unlocked, and still found this first installment entertaining, cute, and with a good balance of swoon and survival. One of the other aspects that I really enjoyed was the secularness of the ‘mystery’ being solved in this first book. The whole point is to get off the island, and to use the clues Charley has found to figure out the best way to achieve that. The further into the series we got the secrets of the island just got a bit out of hand in my opinion, and by the end of it I was just a little too stretched out.

Also, I think this first book works really well as a stand alone. The characters story is resolved in the end and the island will just keep being – a sort of ending with few enough what-ifs to still give me closure.

Re-reading this one had me contemplating re-reading the second one again, but I think I need a break before I give that one another try, I am too irritated with Skye from the last book still to talk to her again this soon.

Review: The Last Star

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Goodreads Synopsis:

The enemy is Other. The enemy is us.

They’re down here, they’re up there, they’re nowhere. They want the Earth, they want us to have it. They came to wipe us out, they came to save us.

But beneath these riddles lies one truth: Cassie has been betrayed. So has Ringer. Zombie. Nugget. And all 7.5 billion people who used to live on our planet. Betrayed first by the Others, and now by ourselves.

In these last days, Earth’s remaining survivors will need to decide what’s more important: saving themselves…or saving what makes us human.

I have been a lover of this series from the beginning. The first book left me aching for more, the second left me in a tail spin of revelations and emotions. So it’s only suitable that the finale leaves me with a sense of broken victory.

Yancey has done so well with this series, keeping it focused on the issue at hand – the extinction of humanity and the efforts of those left to save it – while giving us a great cast of characters who illustrate all of the various shades of what humanity means. While faced with these challenges his characters also give us raw emotion, humor, and a maturity that is able to avoid the ‘special snowflake’ trope.

Honestly, I should have re-read The Infinite Sea, but I didn’t want to wait that long to get into TLS, and I thought it would all come back to me. Well, I remember Ringer’s experience the best from the sequel so I was good with her, but I have to admit I was a bit lacking in the events of Cassie/Evan/Ben. However, since the revelations of the second book were so huge, I was still on track with the goals of this last installment.

Once we get familiar to the new setting and how our characters have been handling their short recuperation time, this book launches into a fast paced and twisty-turny series of events that lead to the only resolution possible, but one that I didn’t see coming till too late. I think Yancey handled his ending perfectly. Unlike other authors this felt right, it felt like the only answer, and it felt real. I also loved the epilogue, it gives us our characters trying to continue to fight this deep seeded distrust the war has embedded into society, while attempting to create a new bubble of humanity within their group. Nothing is tied up in a neat little bow, the war is still going on and it will for generations, but everything is resolved.

Honestly, a perfect ending to a practically perfect series.

Coming This Week: June 20

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Hope everyone had a good Father’s Day weekend, and did things with Fathers, or talked to Fathers, or at least sent them a text.

So for this weeks books look for:

I’m sure for a lot of you The Last Star was on your TBR lists this year, and it was a great finale in my opinions. Nil I think is still a pretty unknown book, but one I certainly think shouldn’t be overlooked!

Review: The Hunt

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Goodreads Synopsis:

The Maze Runner meets Scott Westerfeld in the second novel in this gripping and romantic YA series about teens abducted from Earth by an otherworldly race—from Megan Shepherd, the acclaimed author of the Madman’s Daughter series.

They’ve left the cage—but they’re not free yet.

After their failed escape attempt, Cora, Lucky, and Mali have been demoted to the lowest level of human captives and placed in a safari-themed environment called the Hunt, along with wild animals and other human outcasts. They must serve new Kindred masters—Cora as a lounge singer, Lucky as an animal wrangler, and Mali as a safari guide—and follow new rules or face dangerous consequences. Meanwhile, Nok and Rolf have been moved into an enormous dollhouse, observed around the clock by Kindred scientists interested in Nok’s pregnancy. And Leon, the only one who successfully escaped, has teamed up with villainous Mosca black-market traders.

The former inhabitants of the Cage are threatened on all fronts—and maybe worst of all, one of the Hunt’s Kindred safari guests begins to play a twisted game of cat and mouse with Cora. Separated and constantly under watch, she and the others must struggle to stay alive, never mind find a way back to each other. When Cassian secretly offers to train Cora to develop her psychic abilities—to prove the worthiness of humanity in a series of tests called the Gauntlet—she’ll have to decide fast if she dares to trust the Kindred who betrayed her, or if she can forge her own way to freedom.

While the first book in the series stays close to the questions of insanity we saw in Shepherd’s first series, this book moves beyond that to test the mettle of all the characters we got to know in The Cage. I really enjoyed watching them move beyond the various forms of madness they all experienced in the first book. They each draw a new strength from what happened to them in the habitat and in the aftermath of escaping. This brings us such a broader sequel, no longer is the only focus on their habitat and the 6 of them, but on the overall treatment of humans in this Kindred world, and what they are willing to do about that.

It seemed to me Cora was having a much harder time in this installment than the rest of the characters, but she did have them most emotionally scaring ramifications from the events of the first book. It was interesting watching her try to navigate who to trust in this round, and how willing she would be to forgive, and to work beyond herself and her 5 habitat buddies. For me Lucky really became the hero of this book, he finally took on the role of moral guide that he had failed to do in the first book. However, everyone really stepped up their game. I loved watching Leon become a central pillar to the gang and their success, watching Rolf and Nok mature, and seeing more of Mali under all her mysterious layers.

I loved Cassian from the beginning of this series, he is such an interesting character. Well, he just gets better in this, in my opinion. We see more of him uncloaked and see how similar he really is to the humans he is fighting for. I loved that he and Cora finally united, and am so eager to see where their relationship goes based on how this ended. There are so many new possibilities/challenges introduced in the last couple chapters and I have no idea how the entire cast is going to be able to achieve all their goals.

Can’t wait for the 3rd book!