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Monthly Archives: March 2011

Unwind by Neal Shusterman

Book: Unwind by Neal Shusterman

Published by: Simon & Schuster, November 2007

Genre: Young Adult

Format/pages: Hardcover 335 pages

Format read/Source: Audiobook from library

Date read: March 5 2011

Rating: 4 / 5 Stars

Synopsis from Goodreads:

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:

UNWIND is one of the more powerful and disturbing dystopian novels I have read. Many other dystopian books have tackled the theme of reproduction rights, but this book takes it even further, and also poses thought provoking questions regarding population control, organ donation, morality, and religion. The idea is that in the future abortion is illegal, but a parent can choose to “unwind” their child between the ages of 13-18. The “unwinds” have all their body parts harvested and donated. There are so many unwind-body parts available that most surgeons just choose to do organ replacements rather than trying to fix an existing organ.

There are a few reasons why a parent may choose to unwind their child, and we follow the lives of three such characters in the book. First, Connor is somewhat of a troublemaker at school and his parents have given up on him. He finds his unwind paperwork and decides to go AWOL to avoid the harvest camp. Next, Risa has grown up in a state-run orphanage. She is well behaved, however her talents as a musician are unexceptional. The state budget simply does not have the money to keep everyone. Finally, Lev, is the tenth child in his family, and for religious reasons was raised to be a tithe.  Lev has grown up all his life with the realization that he was born to fulfill his destiny as an unwind. On their way to harvest camp, the three teens find themselves thrust together as they try to survive.

The characters go on a dangerous journey to try to avoid being unwound. If they can stay hidden until they turn eighteen, they are safe. On their adventures we meet other kids who have gone AWOL. The burden of running and hiding has caused the teens to be mistrustful of one another, and different faction’s and bullying behavior develop. With many lives at stake, tensions run high.

This story gripped me with the first pages. The story is chilling and provides a lot of food for thought. The characters are strong and sympathetic, fully formed beings. The story is told in multiple points of view, and I liked reading each character’s perspective. The book is fast paced and delivers a thrilling and horrifying story.

I listened to the book in audiobook format. The reader does an excellent job of portraying the different character’s voices and conveying the appropriate mood of the story. Some of the scenes are very difficult to read and made my stomach churn as I was listening to the story.

The book has a satisfying ending on it’s own, but also leaves itself open for a sequel down the line. This is the first book I have read by this author, but I am intrigued to read more. Recommended for mature readers and dystopian fans. UNWIND is a book you won’t soon forget.

For more information:

Goodreads | Amazon | Author’s website

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Afterlife by Claudia Gray

Book: Afterlife (Evernight #4) by Claudia Gray

Published by: HarperTeen, March 8, 2011

Genre: Young Adult

Format/pages: Hardcover 368 pages

Format read/Source: ARC courtesy of NetGalley

Date read: October 11 2010

Rating: 4 / 5 Stars

Synopsis from the author’s website (includes spoilers for books 1-3)

Bianca and Lucas have always believed they could endure anything to be together. When a twist of fate not only transforms Bianca into a ghostly wraith, but also turns Lucas into a vampire—the very creature he spent his life hunting—they are left reeling.

Haunted by his powerful need to kill, Lucas can turn to only one place for help… Evernight Academy. Bianca is determined to remain with him. But with the vampire leader of Evernight waging a war against wraiths, her former home has become the most dangerous place she could be, despite the new powers her transformation has given her.

A battle between wraiths and vampires looms, and Bianca and Lucas face a terrifying new reality. They’ve overcome every obstacle life has thrown at them, but is their love strong enough to survive the challenges after life?

My Thoughts:

The Evernight series has always set itself apart in the world of YA vampire books. From the first book on there have been many surprises in this series that have kept it interesting. Keeping the series at four books feels right for the story. I don’t feel short-changed or that the series has been dragged out for too long. The author certainly does not shy away from controversial plot twists and has kept the suspense going strong. The last book HOURGLASS was a rollercoaster ride for her characters, as Bianca and Lucas found themselves becoming their own worst nightmare. AFTERLIFE is an exciting finale to the series, with the usual twists and turns. The conclusion provides answers and ties up all the loose ends. The ending is satisfying overall and in keeping with the series.

Appropriately the final book returns back to the series’ roots and back to Evernight Academy. Lucas needs some help adjusting to being a vampire and Evernight is just the place for him. In addition to supporting Lucas, Bianca also has her own path to follow. Bianca is adjusting to her new existence and her new wraith superpowers that make her the hope and envy of all the wraiths. She is also trying to maintain her relationship with Lucas now that he is a vampire. She hopes her parents will welcome her back even though she is now a wraith. Old favorites such as Balthazar, Vic and Ranulf are also at Evernight to provide their usual support and humor.  Mrs. Bethany is up to her old tricks, and we find out some of her history that provides some insight into her behavior.

This book is evenly paced and kept my interest throughout. It builds nicely on the tension from the last book and kept me on the edge of my seat trying to guess the outcome for our favorite characters. The action builds to an exciting, yet bittersweet conclusion. I recommend this series for fans of YA paranormal series set in boarding schools. It is a fast-paced series full of surprises with plenty of action and romance. You can read the first book, EVERNIGHT, for free for a limited time here courtesy of HarperTeen.

It softens the blow to know that a spin-off book will follow featuring none other than Balthazar. BALTHAZAR is due to be released in March 2012. While you are waiting for Balthazar, the author also has a standalone book coming out about werewolves on the Titanic titled FATEFUL, due in September 2011.

For More Information:

Amazon | Goodreads | Author’s website

Monthly wrap-up: February 2011 & ATU giveaway winner

First up, in February I had my first book giveaway for a copy of Across the Universe by Beth Revis and some signed author swag.

The randomizer chose the winner: Sarah T.

Congrats Sarah! The book is on it’s way to you.

Thanks everyone for entering the giveaway and look for more giveaways in the future!

Next, onto the Monthly wrap-up: February

February was a busy month filled with some sickness and traveling, but I managed to read 9 books this month:

I read 1 audiobook, 3 adult fiction novels, 4 YA Dystopian books, and 1 YA fiction.

I bought a few books, but mainly tried to use the library this month. I’m surprised to see I did not read any books on my kindle this month. I have plenty of kindle books to get through so I will need pick up the kindle in March.

February books read: 9

Pages read: 2972

Avg page count: 330

January books read:

1. Dead Beautiful by Yvonne Woon (audiobook 2/1) Bought

2. The Fates Will Find Their Way by Hannah Pittard (read 2/2) ARC courtesy of Harper

3. The Oracle of Stamboul by Michael David Lukas (read 2/7) ARC courtesy of Harper

4. Entangled by Cat Clarke (read 2/8) Bought

5. Delirium by Lauren Oliver (audiobook 2/9) Bought

6. Birthmarked by Caragh M. O’Brien (read 2/16) Library first, then bought

7. The Unidentified by Rae Mariz (read 2/21) Library

8. Grace by Elizabeth Scott (2/26) Library

9. The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan (2/27) Library

Five star books read in Febrary: Delirium, Birthmarked

Reading Challenge Updates:

Read 100 Books in a year: 20/100

2011 Debut Authors:  6/20

YA Historical Fiction: 0/15

Contemps: No change this month, still 3/19

Dystopian: 6/15

WordPress PostADay/PostAWeek challenge: I blogged 4 times a week consistently in February.

In February I focused on reading dystopian books. In March I am looking forward to reading some historical fiction, including The Vespertine, Dark Mirror, and Chime.

Hope everyone has a great month of reading ahead! What were some of your favorite books read in February? What are you looking forward to reading this month?

 

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