Monthly Archives: September 2012

Enclave by Ann Aguirre

Enclave by Ann Aguirre
259 Pages
Feiwel & Friends, 2011
My Rating: 4/5

 

Description (from Goodreads.com, shortened):

WELCOME TO THE APOCALYPSE

In Deuce’s world, people earn the right to a name only if they survive their first fifteen years. By that point, each unnamed ‘brat’ has trained into one of three groups–Breeders, Builders, or Hunters, identifiable by the number of scars they bear on their arms. Deuce has wanted to be a Huntress for as long as she can remember.

As a Huntress, her purpose is clear—to brave the dangerous tunnels outside the enclave and bring back meat to feed the group while evading ferocious monsters known as Freaks. She’s worked toward this goal her whole life, and nothing’s going to stop her, not even a beautiful, brooding Hunter named Fade. When the mysterious boy becomes her partner, Deuce’s troubles are just beginning.

My Review:

I didn’t know what I was getting into when I read this book, but I enjoyed it quite a bit. It reminded me of the set up of the video game, Fallout 3. Something has happened that has wiped out most of human civilization and we are left with weird mutated ‘Freaks’ that need to be killed (or they will kill you). Separate, secluded territories are all fighting for the same goal: survival. Our main character, Deuce, is a female from one of these secluded territories and she hopes to become a Huntress – someone that protects the territory by killing Freaks. It is an honorable position to have within the social structure, but there are other options such as being a Builder or Breeder. I liked the detail of how the civilization was run day-to-day, and how both the positives and negatives were highlighted.

Of course, this book boils down to survival. There are some great action scenes involving the Freaks with lots of blood, gore, and creepiness. Every survival instinct is kicked in, and luckily, the author seems to know what she is talking about.

I liked Deuce. She was a strong character, but she was also stubborn. At first, her stubbornness was a bit annoying but she was open minded enough to consider different perspectives to alter her opinions. Fade was also a great character, but I felt a bit distanced by him. He definitely has that mysterious edge to him, so I am hoping to learn more about him in the future books.

The pacing was really well done. By the halfway point, a major plot change happened which opened up far more possibilities for our characters. Just like if it were real, as soon as the characters felt like they could relax, you knew something was about to happen.

I liked that we got some answers as to how the world got to be the way it is, but we don’t get all the answers. I am hopeful that in future books we will get more answers about what happened and what will happen. Overall, I recommend this book!

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Wishlist Wednesday (a day late!)

Here is my Wishlist Wednesday post! I put up a video yesterday, which you can watch below. If you would rather not watch the video, then all the information will be below the video.

The Books:

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Switch by Grant McKenzie

Switch by Grant McKenzie
432 pages
Transworld Publishers, 2009
My Rating: 4/5

Description (from Goodreads.com):

How far would you go to save the ones you love? Would you run five traffic lights in a row? Would you rob a store at gunpoint? Would you commit murder?Security guard Sam White’s life falls apart when he arrives home to find his house a burned-out shell with the bodies of his wife and daughter inside. Then he receives a phone call from a man who claims that his wife and child are alive and Sam can still save them. But first, he must complete a few simple tasks. Sam joins forces with Zack Parker whose life has also been ripped apart by the same sadistic kidnapper. Together they plunge into the dark, labyrinthine underworld of Portland, Oregon, and into a race against time to discover the identity of the kidnapper and save their families before it’s too late

Review:

This was a great read. It was full of action, suspense, and heartfelt moments. I liked how the perspective changed between 2-3 plot lines so we got to experience the best of each story.

One of the features of the book is that the protagonist gets a call from the “watcher” and he tells the protagonist to do some sort of violent act. If the protagonist fails, then the “watcher” will kill his family. I liked the creativity behind the acts, but I was hoping for more. I think that was one of my favourite parts about the novel because each scene showed a level of excitement and creativity.

The pacing was very well done. Each chapter zoomed by, but the author still took the time to make it feel realistic. The writing had this same feature; however, it was a bit slow in the beginning where there seemed to be an emphasis on overly descriptive writing.

The way the story pans out makes it feel like any one of us could be targeted next. Who is to say our life is any different? That sense of realism really added to the story for me.

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Favourite Female Characters in Literature

There are some amazing female characters in literature these days. I want to share with you a few of my favourites!

source: avanthropology.blogspot.com

#1 Lisbeth Salander from the Millenium Trilogy (Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Girl Who Played With Fire, & Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest) by Stieg Larsson

When I first came across Lisbeth, I was reminded of a younger version of myself as well as younger me’s perception of what I would be like as an adult. I had an attitude and an interest in Goth culture, not to mention I was crazy into web design and coding. I was confident and determined. So, as you can see, I saw a lot of myself in Lisbeth. When I first read the books this past year, I was instantly reminded of my younger self and inspired at the confidence and determinism that Lisbeth possessed.

“Salander leaned back against the pillow and followed the conversation with a smile. She wondered why she, who had such difficulty talking about herself with people of flesh and blood, could blithely reveal her most intimate secrets to a bunch of completely unknown freaks on the Internet.” 

#2 Marianne from The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson

I love Marianne for her mysterious nature and determinism. She is incredibly artistic and works extremely hard on her sculptures. We are suppose to think she is some nut-job, but when you read between the lines you come to realize she is a genius.  She possesses emotional intelligence and knows all there is to know about love.

#3 Luna Lovegood from the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

Like Marianne, Luna is one of those characters that people brush off as being kooky. Despite her eccentric personality, Luna is a very intelligent and caring person. Her clever mind helped Harry in his quest, and her constant support for her father’s unorthodox newspaper is admirable. She is the oddball of the school but she is likable and interesting.

“You’re just as sane as I am.”

#4 Arya Stark from A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin

Arya embodies feminism to the extreme. She just does whatever she wants without thinking of gender norms (or restrictions, really).  Like others in this list, she is extremely determined, intelligent, and clever. I can’t wait to see what happens to her in the rest of the series.
*Avoiding spoilers for people that haven’t read the books!*

“Fear cuts deeper than swords.”

#5 May Kasahara from The Wind Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami

What an interesting character! She says thought provoking statements that have an air of morbid beauty about them. One of the first times we are introduced to her, she is  reading a men’s magazine in her backyard. She explains she doesn’t go to school anymore, even though she should be in middle school. Despite that, she is an intelligent figure.

“Here’s what I think, Mr. Wind-Up Bird,” said May Kasahara. “Everybody’s born with some different thing at the core of their existence. And that thing, whatever it is, becomes like a heat source that runs each person from the inside. I have one too, of course. Like everybody else. But sometimes it gets out of hand. It swells or shrinks inside me, and it shakes me up. What I’d really like to do is find a way to communicate that feeling to another person. But I can’t seem to do it. They just don’t get it. Of course, the problem could be that I’m not explaining it very well, but I think it’s because they’re not listening very well. They pretend to be listening, but they’re not, really. So I get worked up sometimes, and I do some crazy things.”

Who are your favourite female characters in literature?

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Unwind by Neal Shusterman

Unwind by Neal Shusterman
335 pages
2007, Simon & Schuster
My Rating: 4/5

Description: (from Goodreads.com)

Connor, Risa, and Lev are running for their lives.

The Second Civil War was fought over reproductive rights. The chilling resolution: Life is inviolable from the moment of conception until age thirteen. Between the ages of thirteen and eighteen, however, parents can have their child “unwound,” whereby all of the child’s organs are transplanted into different donors, so life doesn’t technically end. Connor is too difficult for his parents to control. Risa, a ward of the state is not enough to be kept alive. And Lev is a tithe, a child conceived and raised to be unwound. Together, they may have a chance to escape and to survive

 

My thoughts:

This was a really interesting story. It is about these kids that are deemed unworthy of a normal life, so they are due to be “unwound” – a process that is basically about donating organs in the perspective that instead of death, the person lives on forever. A war between Prolifers and Prochoicers resulted in this Bill of Life that says abortions are against the law. So everyone has to live. The story is about these kids that are scheduled to be “unwound” but refuse their fate and are on the run.

First of all, the world building was perfect. The descriptions of the war and the laws were concise, clear, and interesting. They are concepts that are relevant in today’s society.

The variety of characters was appreciated, too. Connor has a temper problem, Risa is musically gifted but is unable to be supported by governmental financial aid, and Lev is a Bible thumper. Three radically different perspectives are intersected and challenged among each other. The minor characters are also well defined enough to the point of being able to develop a strong emotion for almost everyone.

The plot was really good, but had some issues. Everyone is on the run, trying to avoid being caught and unwound. I would have liked to see more focus on the actual skills of survival instead of a few minor examples. There were some great moments that showed their intelligence, but I was hoping for more. I liked the group dynamics vs individual selfishness dichotomies, because they felt like they really reflected human nature. I will admit, I would have gone lone wolf immediately so a part of me was hoping for more individual tips.

The ideas in this book are worth thinking about like organ donation, ethics, prochoice, prolife, free will, slavery, extremists, & many more. How you define “life” is central to how you will react to this book.

Overall, I think this is a great book to read for anyone. My only issues were in the details of survival and individual thought.

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September Book Chat: Books for our Younger Selves

Each month, Misty from TheBookRat.com hosts a discussion topic that many of us participate in. I usually participate via a video response on my YouTube channel, so that will be shown below along with a written description of the topic (just in case you don’t want to watch the video).

This Month’s Topic: Books that we would have wished we had for our younger selves.

The Books:

  • Tiger’s Curse by Colleen Houck
  • Sister’s Red by Jackson Pearce
  • Mermaid by Carolyn Turgeon
  • Cinder by Marissa Meyer
  • The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo – Stieg Larsson
  • Azumanga Daioh Omnibus
  • Death Note series
  • Norweigan Wood by Haruki Murakami

I divided this topic into two time periods of my life – when I was 10 years old and during high school. For my 10 year old self, I would have loved to read more fantasy books that touched on significant aspects of my life. The sibling love in Sister’s Red and the love and devotion in Tiger’s Curse would have been more impactful to me at a younger age. I would have enjoyed Cinder a lot more if I wasn’t as familiar with the story line of Sailor Moon (I found the two stories to be very similar and thus found Cinder predictable), and I think the simple, but beautiful, writing of Mermaid would have been lovely. I did not have much selection for books at that age (read: small town with no bookstores and a terrible library!) so I think these books would have made me really happy.

During high school I went through a really tough period. My mental health was unstable, I was bullied often, and I had very few friends. For this reason, I think reading Norweigan Wood would have been amazing because I could connect so well with Naoko, one of the love interests. Although it has a sad ending, it would have been beneficial to see Naoko (me) from someone else’s perspective. Lisbeth from The Girl With a Dragon Tattoo would have easily been my idol if I had discovered her at that time. I admire her intelligence, determination, confidence, and independence. Those are amazing qualities to expose to a high school girl. In addition, the confidence and intelligence of Light from Death Note would have challenged my mind at an earlier age, also allowing me to have more time to enjoy the series. Lastly, Azumanga Daioh is a light hearted, funny, and cheerful series. I am absolutely positive that a few extra smiles and laughs during high school would have been a tremendous help.

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Anniversary Book Haul

I got some great books! In unrelated news: it is my 4 year anniversary with my boyfriend. Hurray!

 

Books mentioned:

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