Category Archives: Teen Book review

Written for those moody angsty kids (and some of my favorite stuff)

Book Review: Shutdown

Book: Shutdown
Author: Heather Anastasiu
Recommend: A strong ending to an excellent series!

I wish that more people knew about this one. Honestly, it is one of those series that just hasn’t gotten the attention it deserves. This is the third and final book and it kept me on the edge of my seat most of the time.

I have to say that my favorite thing about this series is not the main character. Don’t get me wrong, Zoe is a strong character but Adrien really makes this series work for me. I really enjoy the complexity and struggles with this character, especially after what happened to him in the previous book. I also LOVE how the author handled the issue. She didn’t miraculously solve it for the characters, she made them deal with the whole thing even though it was the harder thing to write.

I honestly think that the biggest flaw is the same one that I see creeping up over and over again in YA fiction, the predictable ending. We knew what was going to happen and how it was going to end long before you got there as a reader. Authors need to create a more creative ending. Really.

I loved this book and am sad to see this series end. It is definitely worth picking up this series which starts with Glitch. Check it out πŸ™‚

Final Rating:

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Book Review: Awaken

Book: Awaken
Author: Meg Cabot
Recommend: Worth finishing the series but only just…

I loved the first two books in this series. It was actually fun to read which was shocking considering how much the author usually annoys me. However, this book seemed to have far too much going on with no breath between any action sequence – at all. The author was attempting to go for fast paced and exciting but it became so frenzied that it toppled over and caused me as a reader to become annoyed and detached due to the fact that it never slowed down. This one needed to be longer and not quite so easy to predict.

It wasn’t all negative though. the story was decently pulled towards a reasonable conclusion and I find it satisfying to reach the end, even though I was not even remotely as enamored with the characters as I had been. I also think that it would have been better if I had read them as a complete set instead of having to wait for book three. By the time it came out, I was so far removed from the first two that it was hard to get back into it.

Not a bad read but nothing that made me super excited to check out.

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Weekly Reader No. 1

So, I have this problem. I’ve been reading tons and tons of books and feeling very guilty about not writing reviews on all of them. After all, what is the point of book blogging if I read and don’t blog?? However, I’ve been on a major reading binge ever since school got out and the idea of sitting down to write reviews on all the amazing (and some not so amazing) books that I’ve been reading, just seemed like a bit much. Also, when I read this way I get a huge backlog of book reviews. So I’m going to try posting things that I’ve read from week to week on Mondays. If I feel like a book needs a lengthy review, I’ll write it but most books are going to get a few sentences. For the purposes of this format, we are going to go to a simple five-star rating system (regular reviews will still use the regular blog system).

 

89507-hp5The week started with a reread of the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. I used to reread all the time. I love the thrill of going back to something familiar. It’s like visiting an old friend from college. You rehash the same stories with a joyful air knowing exactly what will happen. You catch greater nuance and discover things you never knew but it still has a comfort level that a new book simply misses.Β  This time through the books, the complexity of the relationship between Harry and his muggle family stood out to me most. Petunia and Dudley in particular.Β  I do wish that we had seen Dudley standing on platform 9 and ΒΎs during the epilogue. It would have been poetic justice.Β  I love going back to visit this world and will always wish that Rowling would go back to her magical world. While I’m excited to read her latest, nothing will ever quite compare to Harry Potter. Rating –Β  β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…

 

I had a bit of book hangover after reading that series. I couldn’t seem to pick up anything for a couple of days. Finally I settled down and dove into VIII by H.M. Castor. A fictional retelling of the life of Henry the VIII which was exactly the kind of thing I needed to get through my Harry Potter book hangover. So often historical fiction about his reign comes form the point of view of one of his many wives. It was interesting as the author strove to get inside his brain. I think what I found most interesting was all of the politics that went on with his first marriage. This book would be a great starting point to create interest about Henry the VIII. Rating – β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…

 

I have a love/hate relationship with Charles de Lint. I love some of his stuff and simply can’t get through other things he writes. I think it’s largely me. I’ve picked up some of his Newford stuff and loved it. However I tried to get through Dreams Underfoot, the first book and I simply couldn’t do it.Β  Sadly this one went back in my library bag, mostly unread. I might return to it at some point. I think I just picked it up at the wrong time. I hesitate to rate it right now but I rate everything so… Rating – β˜…

 

I’m not a judge a book by it’s cover kind of girl, but this one is lovely.

I’m not quite done with The Chaos of Stars by Kiersten White but should finish in the next hour or so.Β  I have a feeling I know exactly where this book is going and I think I’m going to enjoy getting there. I love the idea of looking at Egypt’s mythology as the focus. So far the main character is very enjoyable to read and the author captures the idea of not fitting in anywhere in a somewhat simplistic but sincere manner.Β  While it is definitely light reading, it is entertaining. Rating – β˜…β˜…β˜…

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Book Review: The Elite

Book: The Elite

Author: Kiera Cass

Recommend: If you are a fan of angst, this one is for you – if not, run far and fast!

I hoped. I really did. I was all ready for something somewhat simple. I hoped actually that it wouldn’t turn into this big huge fight over the prince but I knew that it would have to be that. I mean why else would you write a book like this honestly? This one feels much more like a reality TV show and less like a classic story except for a scene stolen from Anna and the King (or The King and I – whichever you prefer). I get all the conflict. I really do but I was hoping that I wouldn’t have to go through all that angst. I really wanted something simple and sweet instead of catty, conflicted and confusing.

Honestly at this point in the story, one of the main players is feeling completely unnecessary. I really wish this character would just disappear, even though I know he or she won’t because they are too central to the plot. While I really enjoyed this one, there were some times through the book that it almost went flying across the room.

The big negative for me was the change in the prince. Yes, I get that we are seeing past his veneer in some ways but I feel like it could have been handled in a much more graceful manner. He does redeem himself throughout the book but there are also points where America’s conflict feels somewhat forced. I also think the story could have gone on just fine without a couple of scenes that made me want to hurl a little.

I would say the biggest strength of this series is the complex storyline that they author is able to balance while still focusing on the small group of main players. I am rather annoyed with the second book but in a way that will make me rush to get the third installment, The One, in my hands as soon as I can. I’ll be hunting down this one as soon as possible.

Final Rating:

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Book Review: The Selection

Book: The Selection

Author: Kiera Cass

Recommend: Surprisingly yes!

Okay, I’ve heard about this book from fellow reviewers and when I heard the main character’s name I simply couldn’t get over it and decided that I wouldn’t read this one even though there was a ton of buzz about it. An author who can’t even come up with a decent name was not about to take up my time. However, when I had a close friend tell me that I simply had to read it despite the name, I reluctantly picked it up and I’m so glad that I did!

With hints of the Biblical story of Esther combines with reality TV, this series has a fresh new spin that has been lacking for quite a bit of the YA I’ve read lately. The main character is truly conflicted and is trying to figure out who she is and what she is capable of. I love how this character really struggles with what she she do in a way I haven’t seen in much YA recently. There really isn’t an obvious choice and I have picked a boy that I’m hoping to win for the first time in a long time because it’s not obvious what her choice will be.

The only real weakness with this book is the names. They really are painful but after a while they can be avoided.

This is definitely one to pick up if you are a YA fan.

Final Rating:

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Book Review: Monument 14 Sky on Fire

Book: Monument 14 Sky on Fire

Author: Emmy Laybourne

Recommend: This was interesting but a bit thin in both length and depth of material.

I loved the first book in this series even though on paper it sounded like almost every other dystopian novel I had read. So when I heard about the second book in the series I knew I had to get my hands on it as soon as possible so I put in for a reserve. Well, it came out and I read it and was sadly disappointed. It had nothing on the first book and was a pale imitation.

First of all, the first book was on the shorter side. The second book hardly qualified as a full book. While this definitely furthered the plot, it seemed rushed. The author seemed to have been forced to write this one on a very short timeline or the editor overdid it and cut far too much. I was hoping for a strong follow-up and instead got a pale imitation instead. Not worth the time and I don’t think I’ll be finishing this story.

Final Rating:

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Book Review: The Infernal Devices Series

Books: Clockwork Angel, Clockwork Prince, Clockwork Princess

Author: Cassandra Clare

Recommend: This series was better than the original three books and I didn’t think that was possible.

Okay, it is no secret that I love everything that I’ve read from this author. Her original series, The Mortal Instruments is one of my favorite YA series I’ve read. This series actually might be better than the original material.

This series centers around Tessa Gray, a girl who has no idea who or what she is when she is taken by the Dark Sisters and forced to use a skill she didn’t even know that she had. it puts her in the path of the shadowhunters as they work together to stop an evil force that the Nephillim alone cannot defeat.

Okay, this has to be with, without a doubt, the best love triangle I have ever seen. In most books we see two guys fighting over one girl. In this one, it is three people who love each other completely but don’t want to hurt anyone in the process and yet Tessa must choose. (I know – spoiler but it’s YA so this plot point is fairly predictable and therefore I don’t feel too bad about it). At the end of the first book, I was certain which way I wanted it to go. By the end of the second, I had completely flipped and by halfway through the third I was so confused that I somehow wanted both to end up with the girl even though it wasn’t possible.

With one of the best book ends I have read in a very long time, this series had me on an emotional roller coaster ride that I never wanted to get off. In fact, I have a serious book hangover from this series. I’m trying to read another book right now and I just can’t seem to get into it and it is all Cassandra Clare’s fault. There is no question that these books will be joining my extensive library the second I have the cash to purchase them.

I will say that while Clare is able to suck me into her world every time I read one of her books, this is not the case for everyone. In fact a couple of my close friends have tried to read her stuff and hated it completely. They simply don’t like her writing style and find that sometimes it can feel like she is trying too hard. So much so that they couldn’t even finish City of Bones. However, I have many other reader friends who love this series as much as I do. In fact, the moment I finished, I had to text one of my friends just to let her know how much I loved it by the time I was done. Definitely a whirlwind that is worth riding.

Also, I just found out that a movie is coming for this series!! I can’t wait πŸ™‚

Final Rating:

Need more than one copy!!

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Book Review: The Enemy

Book: The Enemy

Author: Charlie Higson

Recommend: A scary thrill ride of a book – worth checking out.

Okay, I can basically sum this one up in one statement. This is a zombie version of Lord of The Flies with the royal family thrown in for good measure. Was it a fun read? Oh yah. Was it anything ground breaking or new? Nope.

If I were to come up with one thing that was strongest with this book was the ensemble of characters. It has been a while since I’ve read a good ensemble book. The characters were well-balanced out and the conflict was balanced out. I think it was the only thing that separated this from a lot of the books with a similar storyline. Add in a sanctimonious power-hungry villain and it made for a fun read. I don’t know that I’ll keep reading this series but I can see the appeal.

Definitely worth the read if this is your kind of book.

Final Rating:

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Book Review: Magisterium

Book: Magisterium

Author: Jeff Hirsch

Recommend: Absolutely! This is book is much better than his debut!

This is the second book I have read by this author and when I read the synopsis I could tell that this was the book he really wanted to write. His first book was intended to really get his name out there so that something this original stood a chance. Don’t get me wrong, The Eleventh Plague is a good read but it pales in comparison to this one.

Mageisterium is the story of a world divided. Glennora has grown up in Collisium and dreams of traveling to the stars, leaving everything behind her. She has been told that the world beyond the border is a nuclear fall out zone where nothing can survive. However, when her father’s latest invention forces her over that line, she find out that everything in her life has been a lie and nothing is quite what it seems.

Okay, besides the fact that it is really hard to remember that Glenn is actually a girl, this book is amazing. Without giving away too much, it was not at all what it seemed to be and that was a wonderful thing after having read one too many dystopian novels of late. This one will suprise you and will be a fun ride. There are some places where it is somewhat predictable, like I knew immediately who the evil queen was going to be – no question and rolled my eyes when I was right on but it really didn’t detract from the story at all. The author had an intersting solution to the problem and it didn’t all tie up in a nice neat bow at the end.

While this is not the best thing I have ever read, the author’s inventiveness makes it a memorable and worthwhile read. I see this one joining my library very soon.

Final Rating:

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Book Review: Splintered

Book: Splintered

Author: A. G. Howard

Recommend:Β If you like the darker side of Alice in wonderland this one might be for you.

I have always been a fan of a darker imagining of the Alice in Wonderland tale. I love the recent version that was directed by Tim Burton and played the crazy dark American McGee version of the story on my computer. When I saw this book and figured out what it was, I simply couldn’t pass itΒ  up.

Alyssa is a descendant of Alice Liddell, the girl who would become the inspiration for Alice in the Lewis Carroll classic tale. Every woman in her family has gone insane due to the literary ties and Alyssa knows that since she is already hearing the voices of the bug and flowers, she will eventually join them unless she does something. However, things are not at all what they seem and when you’re dealing with Wonderland, that shouldn’t be very surprising.

Twisted, dark and unexpected is exactly what to expect when reading a book based on Alice in Wonderland which is exactly what you get with this one. Overall, this was a mad rush through the original story with lots of twists and turns where the Carroll tale didn’t have things quite right, much in the style of the Burton version of the story.

There were a couple of places in the story where things slowed down a bit or were a bit hard to grasp due to the completely nonsensical nature of it all. I would say that the ending also needed a bit more clarification and the last couple of lines were cheestastic (my word again – I know) however none o fit was so distracting that I wanted to put this one down.

Definitely worth the read if you are an Alice fan.

Final Rating:

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Book Review: Dualed

Book: Dualed

Author: Elsie Chapman

Recommend: This was a thrill ride that never addresses how completely wrong the whole idea behind it is…

I’ve been toying with picking this one up for quite some time now. I found the concept bold, daring and original. What if there were two of you but only one version could live until adulthood? What if you had to kill the other in order to survive? I was really worried that this was going to be executed poorly but the writing is good and the main character is complex enough for the reader to feel connected with. It was an enjoyable if not bloody read.

My big issue with this one was that they never really addressed how wrong the society was and that something should be done to fix it. The idea of kids killing other kids is never questioned except for the fact that some people cheat in order to stay alive. Or the idea that people would even want to have children when they would be forced to kill someone else or die in the attempt. A society that condones murder as a way of life and yet the author never goes on the record to attempt to fight the system. To be fair, I have heard that there is supposed to be a follow-up book. which will give the author another chance to do that but without it, it made the book feel incomplete.

This one was entertaining but nothing to write home about.

Final Rating:

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Book Review: The Forest of Hands and Teeth

Book: The Forest of Hands and Teeth

Author: Carrie Ryan

Recommend: This one started strong and then fizzled out…

Okay, I have heard nothing but rave reviews about this one on a multitude of YA fiction sites and so when I saw a copy sitting at my library, actually available, I snatched it up as quick as I could. This book started out with a bang and kept me reading straight through to the end. Even with the pacing though there was a major problem that simply couldn’t be overlooked which basically ruined the whole end of the book for me.

Okay this one is a zombie book if you couldn’t tell from the title. The forest is filled with them and they are stuck in a town with only a fence separating them from the moaning flesh hungry mob, which has been done in quite a few of the other zombie books I have read and so I won’t go into my issues with this idea. The main character Mary seems to get pushed into impossible decision after impossible decision time after time without a break.Β  I was really with this character though up until the climax of the book. She got the boy she wanted and – was still miserable. While I celebrate the idea that having a boy isn’t the end all be all of life and even knowing this was probably written in direct response to Bella Swan‘s seeming dependence on Edward Cullen this plot point was completely uacceptable to me due to the fact that it made the main character completely and totally inconsistent. Now, you cant say she was growing as a character but a character who had grown like that wouldn’t make the choices that she makes in the next few scenes. From this moment on, the character goes from being completely solid and really interesting to read to a bland plot driven cardboard cutout character.

So while this book had a lot of really go things going for it. I simpy don’t think I’ll be able to finish this series.

Final Rating:

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Book Review: Infamous

Book: Infamous

Author: Sherrilyn Kenyon

Recommend: Yep. This series is still going strong. I can’t wait to read book number four!

Okay, I have to admit this series has really gotten me excited about reading YA fiction again. I was getting completely burnt out but knew I had to get through this series because it had been sitting on my to be read shelf for what seemed like forever. I now wish I hadn’t waited so long to read them and I can’t wait to get my hands on the next book.

In this one Nick is fighting to figure out how to keep himself from becoming Ambrose. He desperately knows that he doesn’t want to be evil incarnate and yet, it was what he was born for. Fighting your birthright is not something that comes easy, especially to Nick. I think the best part of this character is that he makes mistakes – all the time and they are not the predictable make a mistake so the character doesn’t seem too perfect kind of mistakes. No, this character makes huge mistakes and there are actual consequences for them.

I am really enjoying the idea that people are not made up of what you see on the outside. Bubba has to be one of the most complex and interesting characters I have ever read in YA fiction. I would read a book based just on his back story. (Hint hint Ms. Kenyon – not that someone like her would ever read my blog).

I will say that if you have issues with paranormal fantasy, this book might not be the cup of tea for you. We are dealing with all kinds of mythology and Christianity tossed together in a strange mix so this might not be for every teen reader.

The only negative about this book is that there is a point near the end where everything goes a bit wonky for a while and it’s a bit confusing becaus so much happens so close together without a breather in between that it is hard to keep up with and that’s coming from a girl who has no problem keeping track of all of the characters in War and Peace. So , just be warned there might be a bit of rereading involved near the end. Also the minor annoyance of a slight Scooby Doo moment at the end of the book annoyed me slightly because I hate when the random character shows up and their only job in the whole book is to take the fall. Yep. Happens at the end of this one.

Overall a really fun read and I really want more.

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Book Review: Invincible

Book: Invincible

Author: Sherrilyn Kenyon

Recommend: It’s a fun read if you are into paranormal fiction.

Hurray for a sequel that doesn’t stink! I like how this author keeps the story moving through the whole length of the book and unlike her adult material the action doesn’t seem to wane after a while only to build to the climax. She had created a great balance of interest and plot development in just the right proportions to keep the reader interested and informed. Nick is finding out more about his world and begins to figure out who Ambrose is in this one. Also there is a crazy undead football coach trying to kill him in a way that is quickly becoming far too familiar for this character.

The only issue I have with this one is that he is supposed to be working for Kyrian but I think he’s showed up at work a grand total of two times in the two books I’ve read. I get why he hasn’t been there but it would be good to see him actually do the job that he is getting paid an obscene amount of money for. Other than that this is a fun read. I’m actually rather disappointed that I didn’t get book four yet. I see a library trip in my near future (like immediately after I finish the third one).

Final Rating:

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Book Review: Infinity

Book: Infinity

Author: Sherrilyn Kenyon

Recommend: If you like paranormal fiction this one is an interesting read, although not for everyone…

This author is well-known for her Dark hunter series, which I haveΒ  read a couple of books out of, although I have to say I end up skipping over quite a bit of the books due to their adult content. So, while I have read enough to understand what is going on, I will say that I know little about some of the storyline due to the fact that I haven’t read the whole series. This series is a YA one and so it is much cleaner which I appreciate (aside from the main character’s mother’s occupation).

The story centers around Nick who is fighting to live a life that is better than the one he grew up in. His mother’s only wish is that he would grow up to better himself. However, there are a ton of people who seem to want the exact opposite for him. Some want to see him become a corrupt and powerful force of evil as he grows up.

I really enjoyed this one. I enjoyed a trip into the paranormal that wasn’t trying to be a ripoff of Twilight. Hurray for originality and an interesting storyline. Worth a read. Can’t wait to get into the next book in this series and with four already out, I know I’ve got a significant amount of reading ahead of me as long as this stays as good as the first book was.

Final Rating:

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Book Review: Code

Book: Code

Author: Kathy Reichs and Brendan Reichs

Recommend: It was a fun read, if not a bit reminiscent of a Bones plot twist.

In the latest installation of the Virals series, we have our first signs of romance overshadowed by a deadly game that no one wants to play.

This book honestly reminded me of the Gravedigger arc on Bones combines with the arc where Brennan’s grad student, Zach helps a cannibalistic serial killer. Toss in a dash of the Saw series and you basically have the plot for this book. While I think the story is a great read, I am starting to see less and less originality from this author and her son, who joined her for the third book in this series.

While I really enjoyed the frantic pace and the way these character are written, I don’t see myself rereading these anytime soon.

Final Rating:

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Book Review: Virals

Book: Virals

Author: Kathy Reichs

Recommend: Definitely! Worth a read.

I must admit that I have never read a sing book by this author before but I am a big fan of other characters she has created, namely those for her adult books about Temperance Brennan which was the inspiration for one of my favorite TV shows, Bones. While the Bones books are on my eventual reading list, I was able to get a hold of all three books that are in the YA series thus far and couldn’t help but dive in. I was fairly certain before I cracked the cover that I would enjoy these books.

The plot is refreshingly original, the main character is a lot of fun, if not a bit too much like her Aunt Temperance. This one had a bit more meat to the plot line than many YA books and for once, romance isn’t the main character’s major motivation. For some reason most YA authors feel the need to shove romance down their reader’s throats but this author refreshingly leaves it alone.

The story made a lot of sense and somehow, even though it dealt with superhuman capabilities, it remained within the realm of believability. I can’t wait to see where the author takes it next!

Final Rating:

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Book Review: Seizure

Book: Seizure

Author: Kathy Reichs

Recommend: Fun read, especially if you’re a Goonies fan.

Book one of this series was a great jump start and book two jogged along at a pleasant pace. In the second book from the Bones creator, Tory and her friends learn that the University is getting ready to shut down their parent’s research facility down. Tory and the gang learn of a hidden pirate treasure and go after it to save their homes.

Besides being a blatant Goonies rip-off which even the author freely admits to, it has a great sense of fun and adventure that is not easy to duplicate.

I will say that besides a bit of swearing these books are some of the most tame YA I’ve run across in a while. While that should make me run, I actually really appreciate the fact that this author isn’t pushing the lines of what is acceptable. I would actually feel more comfortable handing these to a teenager than a lot of the stuff that is being passed around as teen acceptable lately.

If nothing else, this book gave me a serious craving to watch Goonies for the millionth time.

Final Rating:

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Book Review: Revolution 19

Book: Revolution 19

Author: Greg Rosenblum

Recommend: Definitely. One of the more original works I’ve come across lately.

This book has all the basic elements of dystiopain YA right now. Family in distress, slight romance, and seemingly insurmountable odds. This is where its similarity to everything out there ends though. This is more like The Matrix minus the machines meets I, Robot if the robots had won, The general plot was original and fun to read. A bit more desperate than most YA fiction.

The biggest flaw was the ending. I have said it once and I will say it again, the series is not always necessary and in many times painful. This could have ended at the end of this book. I already know how they will defeat the bots and his mother’s fate and yet we are going to have to suffer through at least two more books in order to confirm it.Β I think that authors need to stop being greedy when a series doesn’t make sense. Stop with the formula and simply write your story. Don’t try and make into a money grabbing machine. So many of the series that are out right now simply didn’t need to be series. They could have been finished in twenty more pages. Now, some need the length of multiple books to get there, but this one simply just doesn’t.

Overall, this was a great book and I think I’ll read the follow up.

Final Rating:

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Book: Taken

Book: Taken

Author: Erin Bowman

Recommendation: I think I’ve read too much YA lately to be fair to this book or this author..

I have decided that I need to go on a YA diet. I have been reading way too much of this stuff because it has gotten to the point where they are all sounding the same. Taken is the story of a society where the boys disappear at at eighteen never to be heard of or seen again. When the main character Gray goes searching for answers he finds much more than he ever though possible and that his whole life is a lie.

Dystopian fiction? Yep. Love Triangle? Uh huh. Super predictable plot? Yep.

I think that this book had quite a bit of potential. However it was sadly ruined by plot holes and uneven characters. The main character Gray was somewhat inconsistent, but Emma was the worst. There were so many places in this book that I wanted to roll my eyes and send an email to the writer expressing my annoyance because the decisions were for the convenience of the plot and not true to the characters. I honestly found the whole book somewhat annoying but not so much that I didn’t finish it.

Final Rating:

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