Tag Archives: Post apocalyptic

True Grit meets The Road in Beth Lewis’ The Wolf Road

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True Grit meets The Road in Beth Lewis’ The Wolf Road

The comparison between The Wolf Road and True Grit meets Cormac McCarthy’s The Road isn’t far from the mark.  I can easily imagine the Coen brothers adapting this horror of a western set in a post-apocalyptic version of a kill or be killed future. That means that readers will find the setting cinematic in its detail, the characters dynamic in their conflicts, and a story that is equal parts contemplative and bloody minded action.  I gave it five stars, and fellow reviewers on Goodreads are giving it high marks as well.  It doesn’t seem fair to give you a glimpse of this book and then tell you it doesn’t publish until Tuesday, July 5, but it is one that I can definitely say is worth the wait for fans of westerns and the end times.

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Goodreads Summary

True Grit meets The Road in this postapocalyptic psychological thriller–narrated by a young girl who has just learned that her adopted father may be a serial killer, and that she may be his next victim.

In the remote wilds of a ravaged land, Elka has been raised by a man who isn’t her father. Since finding her wandering in the woods when she was seven, he has taught her how to hunt, shoot, set snares and start fires–everything she needs to survive. All she knows of the world outside is gleaned from whispers of a cataclysmic event that turned the clock back on civilization by a hundred and fifty years and reduced governments and technology to shambles, leaving men at the mercy of the elements–and each other.

Everything changes when Elka learns that the man she has been calling father is harboring a terrible secret. Armed with nothing but her knife and her wiles, she decides to escape his clutches and sets out on a long journey to the frozen north in the hope of finding her long-lost parents.

But as the trail of blood and bodies grows in her path, Elka realizes that daddy won’t be letting his little girl go without a fight. If she’s going to survive, she’ll have to turn and confront not just him, but the truth about what he’s turned her into.

My Thoughts

Elka, the narrator is a strong and distinctive voice that is pitch perfect for the duality of her character.  She is both a no-nonsense, determined survivor and a victim seeking redemption and revenge, a mix that has always found favor in westerns.  She isn’t the only character that has a satisfying complexity, either.  Villains and allies have that blend of vulnerability and steel that make the population of this desperate world come alive.  While I found some lulls in the action, the time was used to develop surprising traits and revelations about the people I thought I knew, and I read them as eagerly as I read the bloody and violent battles for survival.  Frankly, I found it hard to put this book down, and I think others will as well.  Language and violence make this more of an adult novel than a YA, but the narrative perspective and the themes make for a story that will hit home with teens despite and perhaps because of the brutality inherent in the tale.

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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A World of Ash – Justin Woolley’s zombies, crazed nuns, and valiant underdog do it all over again

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A World of Ash – Justin Woolley’s zombies, crazed nuns, and valiant underdog do it all over again

If you’ve read the first two books in Justin Woolley’s The Territory series, you won’t want to miss A World of Ash.  The final book in the trilogy is exactly the conclusion I wanted for this series.  If you haven’t read this engaging and endearing series, you have missed out on a quest just as good as the one that stupid Potter boy went on, and this one has zombies.  Start with A Town Called Dust, and proceed with glee.

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Goodreads Summary

Trapped in a city no one knows exists, Squid lies dying as Nim fights for their lives. With every minute, their hope of getting the vaccine back to civilization is fading. From the brink of death and the edge of the world, Squid must once again conquer dangers even more sinister than the undead – the future of humankind depends on it.

But Squid’s efforts will be wasted if Lynn cannot keep the people of Alice safe until he returns, and Lynn is now a hostage of the Holy Order. Forced to face punishment at the hands of the High Priestess, Lynn is at the mercy of the mad cult, as beyond the wall the undead horde continues its relentless approach.

Caught between madness and mindlessness, the odds are stacked against Squid and Lynn. Will they triumph or do they already walk in a world of ash?

My Thoughts

This book really does close the circle on Squid’s evolution, but it does so in way that stays true to the character I have come to love.  While Squid comes into his own, many of the characters were in need of some redemption after book two – I’m pointing at you, Lynn – and this book is really about redemption for this society and for this group of people.  While the character development is important to me, many readers will be looking to see if this installment is up to the action standards we have come to expect.  Yes.  There are several sequences of action that are just as exciting as the battle in Dust, and this time, readers don’t have to wait forever to get there.  Things pick up right where A City Called Smoke left off – you know, at that almost unbearable cliffhanger! Lots of zombies, lots of guns, and a surprising revelation about the cure that Squid has been seeking all happen in just the first chapters.  I did feel like the author chose to skirt a big conflict that he set up in ACCS, and some fans will be disappointed by that because, well, you know people – can’t please everyone.  Glad it pleased me, though.  Overall, I’m really satisfied by this series, and I think other fans will be as well.  Language and situations and interest levels are appropriate for middle school and high school readers.

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

An Inheritance of Ashes – YA that is Wholly Original, a little Strange, and full of Universal Truths

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An Inheritance of Ashes – YA that is Wholly Original, a little Strange, and full of Universal Truths

An Inheritance of Ashes will draw you in with the setting – think post supernatural war America in a future reminiscent of post American Civil War – but the quietly introspective narrator is the real reason you’ll stay.  This book isn’t for everyone, but it is magnificently strange and strangely universal in its characters and theme.

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Goodreads Summary

The strange war down south—with its rumors of gods and monsters—is over. And while sixteen-year-old Hallie and her sister wait to see who will return from the distant battlefield, they struggle to maintain their family farm.

When Hallie hires a veteran to help them, the war comes home in ways no one could have imagined, and soon Hallie is taking dangerous risks—and keeping desperate secrets. But even as she slowly learns more about the war and the men who fought it, ugly truths about Hallie’s own family are emerging. And while monsters and armies are converging on the small farm, the greatest threat to her home may be Hallie herself.

My Thoughts

I really enjoyed this strange and unexpected read.  It was nothing like I expected, but it was such a beautiful story of how perspective can color and cloud everything around you.  While I think the external conflict is really going to be the draw for most readers, the internal conflict is the true heart of An Inheritance of Ashes.  Hallie’s world is in chaos, the result of a war against a god who brings destruction and death in his wake.  This is simply added stress to her already precarious position – she is afraid that she is a disappointment to her older sister, and disappointment could mean she will be forced to leave the family home.  There is just enough detail given about the war and the fall out to make a satisfactory backdrop to a book about what it means to the person you think everyone expects you to be.  I think this book is most intriguing for what it doesn’t say.  There is a lot here that is left up to reader inference and that is so perfect because almost all of the conflicts are centered around miscommunications that could be resolved with conversation.  I really enjoyed the almost eerie atmosphere that is heightened by the isolation many of the characters are experiencing.  It was so different from anything else I’ve read in the YA genre, but I really enjoyed it.  I don’t think this book is going to be a big hit with everyone because it is sort of odd, slow paced, and quiet.  There is action and there is a wildly original supernatural element at play, but the majority of the book was paced to develop characters, and I would classify it as a Bildungsroman. There is also a really honest romance that some readers will find lacking in romance, but I thought it was just about perfect.  While some readers might grouse about a lot of things in this book, I bet there aren’t any who could complain about the resolution – it was just right. Fans of books like All the Truth That’s In Me by Julie Berry will definitely want to pick this book up.  Language and situations are appropriate for grades 7+, but I think it will hold more interest for high school readers or adult readers of YA.

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Mercedes Lackey’s Hunter is my #1 YA Action/Fantasy/Dystopian pick for 2015, and you need to get your hands on it ASAP

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Mercedes Lackey’s Hunter is my #1 YA Action/Fantasy/Dystopian pick for 2015, and you need to get your hands on it ASAP

I’m not going to waste time – you need this book.  It is compelling and different than any other dystopian/action/fantasy book I’ve ever encountered, and I’ve read it four times since I got the ARC in April.  That is impressively weird, even for me.  I adore the first person point of view and the tough, competent protagonist.  I adore the world building and the strange mix of reality TV, gladiator, and myth-gone-wrong that the characters navigate.  I admit that I have a crush on this book, and I think you will, too.  I hesitate to say this because it is kind of a laughable cliche in the YA book world, but if you liked a The Hunger Games, you will probably really enjoy Hunter.

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Goodreads Summary

Centuries ago, the barriers between our world and the Otherworld were slashed open allowing hideous fantastical monsters to wreak havoc; destroying entire cities in their wake. Now, people must live in enclosed communities, behind walls that keep them safe from the evil creatures constantly trying to break in. Only the corps of teen Hunters with lightning reflexes and magical abilities can protect the populace from the daily attacks.

Joyeaux Charmand is a mountain girl from a close knit village who comes to the big city to join the Hunters. Joy thinks she is only there to perform her civic duty and protect the capitol Cits, or civilians, but as cameras follow her every move, she soon learns that the more successful she is in her hunts, the more famous she becomes.

With millions of fans watching her on reality TV, Joy begins to realize that Apex is not all it seems. She is forced to question everything she grew up believing about the legendary Hunters and the very world she lives in. Soon she finds that her fame may be part of a deep conspiracy that threatens to upend the protective structure built to keep dark magic out. The monsters are getting in and it is up to Joy to find out why.

My Thoughts

Joyeaux was raised on the mountain by monks and taught to hunt the magical monsters who torment humanity in a post cataclysm world.  She has her own magic and her hounds to keep her safe, but hunters are rare and by law they are suppose to come to the capital for training as soon as their ability emerges.  Joyeaux has avoided that fate for years but is forced to leave the people she knows, loves, and protects when her uncle is politically pressured to bring her to the Capitol.  Thrust into the intrigue and dangers of a society being held together by half truths and fear, Joyeaux must rely on instinct and her training to survive both the monsters and the humans.  This is the best thing I’ve read this year!  It isn’t very often that I finish a book and then read it again before the week is out, but Hunter is just that good.  It is crazy good.  The original storyline and action kept me glued to the pages, and I was so sad to see it end.  I adored Joyeaux and her matter-of-fact narrative style, a style that gives readers a refreshingly rare female warrior who is tough and capable and brave but who isn’t sullen and emotionally stunted.  The magical systems and world building are clear and thoughtful, bringing in a wide array of mythical and folk tale monsters that most of us have never seen before.  There was a lot of awesome battle and a little bit of romance.  I was completely satisfied with the complexities of the plot and the resolution at the end.  My only complaint is that I will have to wait a long while for the next book — there better be a next book.  Smart, engaging, and unlike anything I’ve ever seen before, Hunter is going to be a big hit with readers of both genders in my high school classroom.  The only thing I think might turn you off about this book is the initial pace. A lot of time is spent helping the reader get settled into this world, but I certainly thought it was important, and I found it fascinating.  I cannot wait to share this book with my students and fellow YA readers. Language and situations are appropriate for grades 7+, but adult readers shouldn’t pass this one up either.  Five Star Perfection.

This book is available in our classroom library, because I ordered it in April!

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

The Fire Sermon – dystopian post apocalyptic YA that is definitely smarter than it first appears.

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The Fire Sermon – dystopian post apocalyptic YA that is definitely smarter than it first appears.

If you like dystopian and post apocalyptic books, The Fire Sermon is one you should consider adding to your To Be Read list.  The premise sounds ridiculous, but this is a pretty smart read, and I’m definitely looking for the second book when it comes out in February 2016.  I paid $13.99 for the ebook, which is beyond reprehensible (curse you, sample read, for pulling me in so thoroughly), but I found an affordable copy of a hardback used on Amazon for the classroom library because it is one I definitely want to share with other readers.

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Goodreads Summary

The Hunger Games meets Cormac McCarthy’s The Road in this richly imagined first novel in a new postapocalyptic trilogy by award-winning poet Francesca Haig.

Four hundred years in the future, the Earth has turned primitive following a nuclear fire that laid waste to civilization and nature. Though the radiation fallout has ended, for some unknowable reason every person is born with a twin. Of each pair one is an Alpha – physically perfect in every way – and the other an Omega burdened with deformity, small or large.
With the Council ruling an apartheid-like society, Omegas are branded and ostracized while the Alphas have gathered the world’s sparse resources for themselves. Though proclaiming their superiority, for all their effort Alphas cannot escape one harsh fact: Whenever one twin dies, so does the other. Cass is a rare Omega, one burdened with psychic foresight. While her twin, Zach, gains power on the Alpha Council, she dares to dream the most dangerous dream of all: equality. For daring to envision a world in which Alphas and Omegas live side by side as equals, both the Council and the Resistance have her in their sights.

 
My Thoughts

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was well written, thoughtful, and gripping. For the most part, it is action packed, with only a lull near the beginning, but it was an necessary lull, so stick it out. Cass is a strong female protagonist whose only liability is her world view, which is actually her strongest asset. There is a romantic element to this story, but I will say it wasn’t blatant in its sensuality, so it isn’t full of hot moments but plays more of the companionship angle. I actually liked the concept of the twins. Though I thought it was going to be a ridiculous when I read the blurb, it worked really well. The ending might have a few readers crying foul, but I thought it made sense. My only complaint is the price. $13.99 for an ebook is ridiculous (yeah, I’m gonna bring that up again), and even though I feel I got my money’s worth, I almost didn’t read it on principle alone. I’m glad I overcame my impulse and read it anyway.
This book is available in our classroom library.

Prophet of the Badlands is a Coming of Age Tale set in a future that is part Mad Max, part Blade Runner

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Prophet of the Badlands is a Coming of Age Tale set in a future that is part Mad Max, part Blade Runner

There has always been something appealing about a post apocalyptic setting for me.  I remember watching and feeling very drawn to the original Mad Max movies as a kid (I swear I had parents; I cannot swear my young parents were actually parenting).  There is something so gripping about a world reduced to waste as a stage for the neverending and elemental battle for good and evil.  The premise of this novel certainly had me envisioning something along those lines, and it wasn’t too far from what I ended up with.  This is an adult book with adult situations, but I still think that lots of YA readers will find it pretty engaging, particularly as the protagonist is quite young.  My biggest complaint was that it felt too long, but I ended up deciding it was a three star read for me.  Lots of other reviewers scored it a lot higher, though, so if this is your genre, it’s definitely worth sampling, and it is currently free for kindleunlimited members.

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Goodreads Summary

For most twelve year olds, being kidnapped is terrifying. For Althea, it’s just Tuesday.

Her power to heal the wounded and cleanse the sick makes her a hunted commodity in the Badlands, a place devoid of technology where the strong write the law in blood. For as long as she can remember, they always come, they always take her, and she lets them. Passed around in an endless series of abductions, she obeys without question―mending those who killed to own her.

After three whole months in the same village, the affection of a young warrior makes her feel almost like a member of the tribe rather than a captive. Her brief joy shatters when raiders seize her yet again; for the first time in six years, being stolen hurts.

A reluctant escape sends her wandering, and she realizes her gift is a prize that causes as much death as it prevents. Her attempt to return to the tribe leaves her lost and alone, hounded at every turn. When a family who sees her not as the Prophet―but as a little girl―takes her in, she finds the courage to use her power to protect those she loves.

A strange man from a world beyond her imagining tests her newfound resolve, seeking to use her power to further his own agenda. Tired of being property, her freedom boils down to one question:

Can Althea balance the sanctity with which she holds all life against the miserable truth that some people deserve to die?

My Thoughts

This is a post apocalyptic coming of age story about a girl whose special healing abilities make her a precious commodity in a dangerous world.  This is a book you read for characters and setting.  There is plenty of action, but the point is really how Althea, the protagonist, must find her place in the world now that she is actually old enough to see it for what it is – a pretty horrible place with very few soft spots to land.  Frankly, it quickly felt like a gauntlet of misery that Althea might never finish running.  While each conflict offers something to Althea’s development and growth, her path could have been more compactly plotted.  Most readers will be glad they stuck out this seemingly neverending journey of horror because the resolution is satisfying, but it takes a long time to get to that elusive ending.  As a character, Althea’s biggest hurdle is the one she herself sees – she is too good and kind, no matter how awful her adversary or situation. There was a clear purpose in the lack of dimension, and most of the secondary characters do have shades of gray, but I think her Pollyanna nature will drive some readers crazy, especially those who equate kindness with weakness.  The setting was what I probably enjoyed the most about this book. It begins with a very Mad Max feel, peopled by primitive tribes and brimming with images of barren desolation. About halfway through, the desert gives way to a gritty and unfeeling city that evokes Blade Runner. While those worlds have been done before, I enjoyed the extensive detail that the author incorporates to make them vividly real for me as a reader.  Ultimately, I found this pretty compelling, and it was an intriguing take on the Bildungsroman.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Prep For Doom by Band of Dystopian is an anthology of panic and pandemic for all you fans of the end times disaster scenarios

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I always insist that I’m not a short story fan, but I just keep picking these anthologies up because I can’t resist them.  This time, it was the hint of chaos and anarchy that comes with catastrophic disaster that had me getting grabby hands.  This book actually felt like one complete work instead of a collection of various writers.  I don’t know how these twenty folks managed it, but bravo.

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Goodreads Summary

From the imaginations of twenty authors of dystopian and post-apocalyptic fiction comes PREP FOR DOOM – an integrated collection of short stories that tell the tale of a single catastrophe as experienced by many characters, some of whom will cross paths.

What begins with a seemingly innocuous traffic accident soon spirals into a global pandemic. The release of Airborne Viral Hemorrhagic Fever upon New York City’s unsuspecting populace brings bloody suffering within hours, death within a day, and spreads worldwide within a month.

An online community called Prep For Doom has risen to the top of a recent doomsday preparation movement. Some have written them off as crazy while others couldn’t be more serious about the safety the preppers could provide in a global disaster. But when AVHF strikes, their preparation may not be enough to save them

My Thoughts

This was a pretty intriguing collection of short stories.  I thought that it was impressive that so many authors contributed to the anthology but it still read like a cohesive work with a consistent tone and style.  I enjoy most dystopian, end times, post apocalyptic settings, so this was a treat for me.  I really wasn’t sure about this collection at first because it started in such an unexpected place, but it didn’t take long for me to see the common thread that tied them all together, and once that was clear, I relaxed and enjoyed.  I did still have a few problems.  I am a straight read-through reader, and I found that approach left me depressed because there really weren’t any happy thoughts for at least the first third of the book.  I knew it would be bad because, well, duh, but there didn’t seem to be enough good things balancing out the horror.  Those hopeful stories do arrive, but it takes a while to see the light at the end of the tunnel on this one.  I also found that this felt really, really long.  And I just looked – yep, almost 400 pages.  I bring these two things up because I think that most readers will find this book goes down better in small doses.  My afternoon read-a-thon was kind of exhausting.  I think that fans of disaster books will enjoy the pandemic and panic this group of writers has cooked up.  Unlike some books of this genre, there weren’t a lot of dull medical conversations or boring science lessons.  It definitely was paced and written to appeal to readers of YA.

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Fire Sermon is a well written YA post apocalyptic book that should be on your radar

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The Fire Sermon is a well written YA post apocalyptic book that should be on your radar

Centuries after the world is devistated by humanity’s weapons, mankind has managed to rebuild.  The technology that was linked with the downfall is shunned, the genetic fallout has shaped the society that emerged, and this civilization is on the fast track to cruel domination.  If you enjoy post apocalyptic tales and you don’t mind a little fantasy, this is definitely a book you should check out.  I didn’t hear anything at all about this book until it popped up on my recommended reads, but there are rumors that Dreamworks has optioned it for a film.  I’m not sure how I feel about that because a lot of what is great about this book is in the prose.  While it doesn’t remind me of anything else I’ve read, I think fans of uprising books like The Hunger Games and Red Rising will be interested.

The Fire Sermon by Francesca Haig

Goodreads Summary

When Zach and I were born our parents must have counted and recounted: limbs, fingers, toes. We were perfect. They would have been disbelieving: nobody dodged the split between Alpha and Omega.

Nobody.

They were born together and they will die together.

One strong Alpha twin and one mutated Omega; the only thing they share is the moment of their death.

The Omegas live in segregation, cast out by their families as soon as their mutation becomes clear. Forced to live apart, they are ruthlessly oppressed by their Alpha counterparts.

The Alphas are the elite. Once their weaker twin has been cast aside, they’re free to live in privilege and safety, their Omega twin far from their thoughts.

Cass and Zach are both perfect on the outside: no missing limbs, no visible Omega mutation. But Cass has a secret: one that Zach will stop at nothing to expose.

The potential to change the world lies in both their hands. One will have to defeat the other to see their vision of the future come to pass, but if they’re not careful both will die in the struggle for power. 

My Thoughts

I thoroughly enjoyed this book.  It was well written, thoughtful, and gripping.  For the most part, it is action packed, with only a lull near the beginning, but it was an necessary lull, so stick it out.  Cass is a strong female protagonist whose only liability is her world view, which is actually her strongest asset.  There is a romantic element to this story, but I will say it wasn’t blatant in its sensuality, so it isn’t full of hot moments but plays more of the companionship angle.  I actually liked the concept of the twins.  Though I thought it was going to be a ridiculous when I read the Amazon blurb, it worked really well.  The ending might have a few readers crying foul, but I thought it made sense.  My only complaint is the price.  $13.99 for an ebook is ridiculous, and even though I feel I got my money’s worth, I almost didn’t read it on principle alone.  I’m glad I overcame my impulse and read it anyway.  I thought the whole concept was pretty smart, and I’m definitely going to be looking for the next book in the series.