Kim’s Guest Review of For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund

DarknessMy latest guest review is now up on the Austenprose blog! It’s on a YA/sci-fi/dystopic version of Jane Austen’s Persuasion entitled For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund.

The underlying themes and messages the book conveys are truly astounding.  I highly recommend the read.

You can get to my review by clicking here!

Sam’s Review of The Tube Riders by Chris Ward

So first of all, I am thrilled to be writing this review right now. I love love love books and it is my personal belief that the best part about reading is talking about it with someone else. I think talking about reading makes the experience a lot more meaningful. Us book folk have to stick together right?

I am currently obsessed with Young Adult Dystopic Fiction, so I literally jumped at the chance to read The Tube Riders by Chris Ward. The story takes place in futuristic Mega Britain where a corrupt and terrible leader called the Governor has been ruling for over 40 years. He is hell-bent on bringing Mega Britain to the forefront of space exploration while keeping his country a big secret from the rest of the world.

In the name of the Governor and his space initiative, London has been reduced to a violent slum, which sports very high perimeter walls to keep all residents in. It is a scary place to live. Guns, knives, and screwdrivers are essential tools of survival. People are reduced to doing unspeakable things simply to put food on the table. The citizens live in constant fear for their lives. No one is spared the tragedy of losing a loved one whether it’s due to untimely and brutal death or mysterious disappearance.

Ward’s story centers around a group of misfits called the Tube Riders. The only way that Marta, Paul, Simon, and Switch have found to cope with the dismal circumstances of their lives is by engaging in the dangerous pastime of riding the trains in the Underground. Using a device called a “clawboard,” this group runs after the incoming train, jumps, catches the rail, and then rides and jumps off before the train disappears through the exit arch. Little do they know, this will be the very skill that will save them all later on.

All goes wrong when a rival gang, the Cross Jumpers, show up to their abandoned Tube Station to ambush them. The Cross Jumpers, led by a woman called Dreggo, are jealous of the infamous stories and whispers about the Tube Riders and aim to eliminate them once and for all. In an attempt to flee the Cross Jumpers, the Tube Riders catch a train and hang on for dear life, dismounting at what they think is the next abandoned station.

A case of wrong place, wrong time gets them into more trouble than they are prepared to handle when they witness a government assassination, which they conveniently tape on one of the country’s last contraband digital cameras…

If news of the assassination got out to the public or worse, the world, then Mega Britain would have a revolution and world war on its hands, neither of which the Governor wants.

So, we have The Tube Riders (who are being pursued by the Governor), a team of secret agents, Dreggo and her Cross Jumpers…and because they don’t have enough to deal with, let’s add the Huntsmen. Huntsmen are the Governor’s high tech super killers. Hybrid human/ dog/ computers who have super strength, super smell, and no remorse. Their targets are the Tube Riders. These bloodthirsty beasts will not stop until they bring their prey, and anyone connected with them, to their brutal and  violent death.

What follows is a long game of cat and cat and cat and mouse as the Tube Riders attempt to flee to France with the information of the assassination. The Tube Riders try their best to hold their pursuers off at every turn. Along the way they learn that the assassination they witnessed is only the tip of the iceberg and the Governor’s reign goes much deeper than even the terrible Huntsmen.

I have to admit that I felt very overwhelmed while reading this book. The story weaves in and out of each character, not only the Tube Riders but also the Governor, Dreggo, two agents, a Huntsman, and many other characters we meet along the way. None of these characters were free of baggage, and serious baggage at that. That, combined with the colorful street language and necessity of survival, is enough to make anyone’s head spin.

But, despite the fact that I felt emotionally drained each time I put the book down, I still kept going back for more. It was slow going, but well worth it. At the core this story had a very solid plot, which meant  that no matter how many characters there were or how sad their plight, it was all held together by a cohesive thread. That thread, I think, is that each of these characters were real. Everyone from the sinister Governor to the street wise Switch had elements of both good and evil. These people exist in our world, which makes them all the more interesting. I imagine that there will be another chapter in The Tube Riders series and I for am looking forward to what comes next.

3 out of 5 Stars

The Tube Riders by Chris Ward
CreateSpace (2012)
eBook: 624 pages
ISBN: 1475116500

Special thanks to the author for my review copy!

#36 A Review of Across the Universe (Across the Universe Trilogy #1) by Beth Revis

So it has been a while since either Todd or I finished a book and then shoved it in the other’s face to read it ASAP.  I recently finished reading Across the Universe by Beth Revis; ran through our apartment and thrust it into Todd’s face. “You MUST read this.  It’s science fiction which you love. It takes place in space – you love that. It’s a dystopian novel.”  That’s all it took for Todd to pick the book up and read it.  Here we are now, a few weeks later, both bursting at the seams to spill our guts about this novel/series.

Revis’ Across the Universe takes place centuries from now, on a ship known as “Godspeed” jettisoned from Earth in the hopes that its inhabitants will be able to land and successfully colonize Centauri-Earth, the closest inhabitable planet to our own.  Now over 250 years after her launch, Godspeed is currently populated by roughly 3,000 inhabitants which are organized by their primary job on the ship.  The ship is mainly comprised of “feeders” whose sole job is to provide for those on the ship, whether it be via food, textiles, or other consumables.  “Shippers” are the next stage, whose responsibility is to keep the ship running and take care of its day-to-day activities.  Finally, there is an Elder and Eldest.  The Eldest is the ruler of the people of the ship, and his Elder is second in command.  Eldest is grooming Elder to become the leader of the new generation of the ship, as he is old and will soon be unfit to rule.  Half of the novel is told through the eyes of Elder, and deals with his mixed feelings of responsibility for those on the ship and hatred towards Eldest, who rules with an iron fist.  The other half is told by Amy, a girl who is one of a hundred people who were cryogenically frozen at the beginning of Godspeed’s journey over 250 years ago.  The plan was to reanimate them once the ship landed, and they were picked for their specific skills that would prove useful on the new planet.  Amy is “nonessential cargo”, as she has no specific useful skill set but is the child of two important parents, and thus allowed to be frozen.  Unfortunately, she is unfrozen by an unknown person over 50 years before the ship is scheduled to land.  What will she think of this new race of humans on the ship?  Will Elder be able to come to grips with his duty?  What will he think of Amy?

Todd:  As Kim alluded to before, I’m a huge sci-fi fan.  Admittedly, I will like most novels in this genre regardless, but this particular one was a personal favorite.  The social commentary was spot on, and the story was engaging and made me want to keep reading.  Elder was an extremely likable character, and I felt as if I would have acted in the exact same way if I were put in his shoes.  His interactions with Amy really change the way in which he acts and views himself as a leader.  As the true face of Eldest comes to light, the entire tone changes.  It was a really interesting turn of events that I didn’t see coming and was super surprising.

Kim: I definitely agree with Todd about the characters.  Amy and Elder are now happily situated among my absolute favorite characters ever.  They’re both so intriguing!  Amy is such a strong female character, definitely one young adults can look up to and admire.  She stands for what she believes in, never backing down for fear of anything.  Elder, on the other hand, is so genuinely good.  His heart is 1,000 times larger than himself and he is constantly standing up for those around him.  Besides the amazing characters in this book is a major mystery that is filled with suspense, murder, and betrayal at every turn.  There were so many twists and turns (all perfectly written) that I found myself unable to put the book down until I finished it.  Revis does an amazing job at unfolding each piece of the puzzle in a perfectly timed and thought out manner.

Todd: Kim has a great point.  One of the best characteristics of Revis’ writing is that it’s like an onion.  She slowly peels back layer by layer, adding more complexities to the original mystery.  By the time I reached the end of the novel, life on Godspeed was completely different than it was in the beginning.  Amy and Elder’s character transformations were intriguing and were a great background to the greater story of the peril that those on Godspeed face.  The completely different world that those on the ship live as opposed to the world that you and I know is a point of contention and friction between Amy and Elder, and it’s a great way to introduce the differences in morals as well between Elder’s and Amy’s generations.  Additionally, there is still plenty of potential left for more action and suspense in the other two novels in the trilogy.  The end of the book left a large cliffhanger that sets up an even bigger problem than the one faced in this novel.

Kim: I was thrilled to know that book two of the trilogy, A Million Suns, was published shortly before I finished Across the Universe.  The plight of The Godspeed, Amy, and Elder totally roped me in and I could not wait to continue.  With the amount of mysteries, lies, and deception that were present in book one I couldn’t even fathom what else could happen in the other two books!  Revis is a skilled writer, one whose career you should follow if you’re not already.

Todd’s Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

Kim’s Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

This is my tenth completed review for the Around The Stack In How Many Ways Challenge

Across the Universe by Beth Revis
Penguin Group (2011)
Paperback: 416 pages
ISBN:  9781595144676

#29 A Review of Fever (The Chemical Garden #2) by Lauren DeStefano

With all the buzz recently regarding The Hunger Games movie adaptation, I felt that it was definitely appropriate to review what is fast becoming my favorite new dystopian series, The Chemical Garden Trilogy. (as a side note, if you haven’t seen The Hunger Games yet, do it!)  I’m always interested in new dystopian novels, and the premise plus the awesome cover art drew me into the first book in the series, Wither (see review here).  Naturally I had to continue on, so when book two, Fever, was published at the end of February I jumped at the chance to continue reading.

We are again thrust into the surreal world created by Lauren DeStefano where a genetic mishap ensures that women live to 20 and men live to 25.  We are reunited with Gabriel and Rhine as they make their escape from the mansion and the housemaster Vaughn.  Although one would hope that they would finally reach a safe haven after the terror of the first novel, it is not to be.  Gabriel and Rhine find themselves trapped in a carnival of sorts that employs a legion of young girls against their will.  Just when Rhine thinks that she is beginning to understand her situation and has Gabriel to help her, she is thrown into another period of chaos and terror that shakes her faith in the world in which they live.  Their only beacon of hope is Manhattan, where Rhine’s twin brother Rowan lives and can offer them shelter from the terrors they endure.  The only problem is in getting there.  What will happen to Rhine and Gabriel?  Will they ever be able to reach safety again?

WOW. Just……WOW.  Wither was stellar, leading me to have extremely high expectations for Fever.  I can 100% say that I was not disappointed at all.  Readers are given new locations and new horrors to deal with in this futuristic society that are just as bad as the ones Rhine and Gabriel left behind at the mansions.  I thought that DeStefano did a great job at continuing to bring us a world with multilayered, action packed conflicts.  Just when Rhine and Gabriel think that they’re on the path to freedom and safety, they’re thrust into a world that I think is worse than the one that they escaped from.  The carnival that they’re trapped in is hands down the creepiest location that we’ve seen yet in this series.  The fact that drugs are used to a. keep Gabriel in check, b. the girls of the carnival subdued to “perform”, and c. force Rhine and Gabriel to perform in cages together for the benefit of the crowd is quite sickening.  What makes the carnival so scary is the loss of free will.  Sure, there are times when others in the camp help aid in their attempts to escape, but the time spent there is frighteningly dark and DeStefano does a fantastic job at really getting this darkness right.

I really like the character development in this novel, but most especially with regard to Gabriel.  We only get to see him for small periods of time in Wither, so it was refreshing to learn more of his back story as well as see him grow as a person and a man in Fever.  Rhine, too, grows and learns that sometimes in order to protect the people around her, she must give in to those who make her life hell.  She becomes less selfish and more selfless in Fever, which greatly added to the respect that I have for her as a character and a heroine.  For those of you who are new to the series, I definitely recommend adding it to your to-read pile.  Frightening, fascinating, and completely unpredictable, The Chemical Garden Trilogy is definitely a series you need to jump on board with.

5 out of 5 Stars

This is my eighth completed review for the Around The Stack In How Many Ways Challenge

Fever by Lauren DeStefano
Simon and Schuster (2012)
Hardcover: 352 pages
ISBN: 9781442409071

Life And 100 Films – Charlie’s Film Review of V For Vendetta

V for Vendetta is a 2006 dystopian thriller film, based on the graphic novel of  the legendary Alan Moore and David Lloyd.  The film was directed by James McTeigue and produced by the infamous Joel Silver and the Wachowski Brothers (The Matrix), who are also responsible for the screenplay.

In a non-specific future, London has turned into a totalitarian dystopia.  SEXY AS HELL, Natalie Portman (who shaves her head for this film, and still manages to be as hot as ever) stars as Evey, an average working citizen who is saved by V (Hugo Weaving), a freedom fighter fueled by revenge.  V saves Evey from the secret police and realizes that she might make an amazing ally in his fight against this regime.  Using terrorist tactics, the two are soon under investigation by a detective (Stephen Rea), who is assigned to take on the case to stop V from doing any more damage.

A very interesting fact about this film is that Alan Moore, who was disappointed by the film adaptations of some of his other works (From Hell and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen), decided that he would not view the film upon its completion.  He subsequently distanced himself from the project, going so far as to remove his name from the project entirely.  Personally I think this is bullshit, but whatever because this film is FUCKING AWESOME.

Seen by many political groups as a model of government oppression; V For Vendetta has been effective propaganda in furthering their causes.  The hacker sect “Anonymous” has taken to using the Guy Fawkes mask that V wears as their “mascot” when they appear in public.  The mask and November 5th Guy Fawkes Day are being used in the Occupy Wall Street Protests, as well as the official symbol of International Bank Transfer Day.


As a comic book fan, this movie is one of the best I have ever seen in the genre.  Its tone is very dark and mature, which puts it on a much more serious playing field than say something like Spider-Man.  If you are a fan of the genre, or even movies that make political statements (this one has many, especially subtle ones reflecting the time it was made), then this is for you.  Even though you may not agree with what the film is trying to portray about society and its messages, it’s still an entertaining piece of work.

I highly suggest you check this film out if you haven’t already since it has been around for quite some time. It will be a good comparison piece for you readers, as it has many differences from its graphic novel equivalent in which it’s based on, as this is a more modernized take. (Kim’s review of the graphic novel can be found here) If you enjoy this, then you should check out in both print/film Alan Moore’s critically acclaimed Watchmen, which many say is the greatest graphic novel of all time.

4 out of 5 Stars

V For Vendetta (2006)
Warner Brothers Pictures
R, 132 Minutes

Todd’s Review of The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Cover Image

After hearing countless times that I should try a certain series by Suzanne Collins, I finally gave in and read the first novel in the series: The Hunger Games.  The increasing discussion and buzz surrounding this book as it is soon to become a movie made me interested in giving it a try.  I’ll admit, I am already a big fan of dystopian sci-fi, so I already knew I’d be interested in this book; I was still seriously impressed by not only the scope of Collins’ writing but her ability to make a story that has so many layers and interesting character development.

Our story begins with a continent called Panem, located in what was formerly North America.  Panem is comprised of 12 districts surrounding a central governing state, called the Capitol.  74 years before the start of the novel, a 13th district attempted a coup, which was subsequently put down and the district was destroyed.  In light of this, every year an event called the Hunger Games is held by the Capitol to remind the remaining districts of this insurrection and punish them.  In the games, a male and female teenager from each district, known as tributes, are chosen to battle each other to the death in an arena created by the Capitol.  The sole remaining tribute is showered with praise and gifts, bringing temporary wealth and gifts such as food and luxury items to his or her district.  The winner is also given a large home and is exempt from further participation in the games; the only caveat is that the winner must subsequently act as a mentor to all the other tributes chosen from his or her district in future games.

The novel is told from the point of view of Katniss Everdeen, a 16-year-old from district 12 who enjoys hunting in the woods surrounding her district and lives with her mother and younger sister, Prim.  Although she lives in relative poverty and must hunt every day in order to support her family, Katniss enjoys the relative safety and quiet that the woods provides her.  As the reaping (the yearly selection of Hunger Games tributes) occurs, Katniss does everything in her power to protect her younger sister from being chosen.  Unfortunately Prim is selected despite her attempts, and Katniss is forced to throw herself into the games as a substitute for her sister.  Terrified, Katniss must rise to the occasion and sharpen her survival skills enough to survive in the deadly arena.  To top it off, her co-tribute is a classmate who she never really liked named Peeta, and their mentor is a drunk named Haymitch.  Will Katniss be able to survive in the arena?  Will she be able to get along with her team enough to prepare in time?

When I first heard about this novel, I had serious flashbacks to a movie named Battle Royale, a Japanese movie about a bunch of students sent to an island in a battle to the death.  That movie was both the strangest and one of the most interesting movie’s I’ve ever seen, so I was interested to see how this book turned out.  In short, it takes the brutality and frankness of that movie and turns it to a touching and amazing book that is definitely worth all the hype.  The way in which Collins handles this bloody subject matter is quite good, telling us more about human nature and showing us what happens to relationships under stress rather than focusing on the killings themselves.  Katniss learns more about herself and how much she means to others during the games than she would ever have known if she was never chosen for the games.  Colllins’ character development is superb, making us learn more about ourselves and our own relationships with others through Katniss and her experiences in the arena.  Katniss’ story is one of love, loss, bravery, survival, and defiance.  Her struggle is representative of struggles we all go through ourselves, and we can learn a lot from her story.  All in all, this novel was an amazing read.  It made me think a lot more about myself and what is important to me.  I definitely recommend it as a story of survival and defiance that will make you excited to dive into the rest of the series.

5 out of 5 Stars

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Scholastic, Inc (2008)
Hardcover 384 pages