Posts Tagged ‘YA dystopian’

Deviation by Christine Manzari – ReviewDeviation by Christine Manzari
Series: The Sophisticate #1
Genres: Dystopian, Young Adult
Format: eBook
Pages: 436 pages
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four-half-stars

Deviation by Christine Manzari is the first in an independently published YA dystopian trilogy. In Manzari’s world, following a devastating terrorist attack the US government set up the Sophisticates program of human genetic engineering to produce smarter, faster, better soldiers in the war on terror.  The Sophisticates are divided into two groups, the Vanguard who are the intellectual ones, groomed to be the country’s next leaders and the Mandates who are those designed to be physically strong.  We follow the story of teenager Cleo, who is the product of such engineering as she learns more about the truth of her conception.

I really enjoyed this novel.  I felt it was well written with an interesting protagonist, intriguing setting and good character development.

What I liked

Good concept well executed. The basic concept of the genetic engineering was very well done and interesting.  There was the added interest of Cleo’s special abilities and what that means for her.  I look forward to seeing where Manzari goes with this in future books.

Nerds vs jocks.  It was an interesting take that our protagonist who was raised as a Vanguard suddenly finds herself in a school for Mandates.  There is some fun exploration of a fish out of water nerd in a jock environment.

Twist at the end.  I really didn’t see this coming and, with the amount of YA novels I read and my familiarity with the tropes, that’s not easy to do.  Yet it was well within the scope and concept of the world that Manzari has developed – no deus ex machinae here.  Nicely done.

Pacing.  We learn more about the Program and its secrets as Cleo does.  The narrative kept me turning the pages, and I look forward to reading more.

What I didn’t like

Interesting themes not fully explored.  There were a couple of themes that would have loved so have seen developed further.  Some of these include the reaction of non-Sophisticate people who find themselves pushed out of leadership and other prime positions in favour of the Sophisticates.  I would also like to have read more of Cleo’s attempt to deal with the fact that she has never known her parents and her attempts to find out more about them.

However, as this is the first in a trilogy, I’m prepared to give Manzari a pass on this in the expectation that these will be explored further in subsequent books.

As soon as I finished Deviation I immediately went ahead and downloaded book two, Conviction, to my Kindle, which is a good indication of how much I enjoyed this book.

I gave Deviation four and a half stars out of five.

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Through Netgalley I was offered an advanced reader’s copy of YA time travel novel The Here and Now by Ann Brashares.  It tells the story of Prenna James, a time traveller and refugee in our time from a future in which global warming and plagues have left the world devastated.  She and her community of fellow refugees must live by strict rules for their protection and that of those native to their adopted time.  One of these includes refraining from an intimate relationship with a local.  Naturally Prenna meets a boy…

In general, I found The Here and Now to be a very fun, if light, read.  The time travel refugee concept was interesting but so much more could have been done with it.  The whole concept of time paradoxes (you know, the old chestnut, you can’t travel back in time and kill your own grandfather) was ignored and the issue of Prenna’s adaptation to the new society was glossed over.

What I liked

The concept.  The idea of refugees escaping back in time from a devastated future was very interesting.  The list of rules by which they must live is very interesting, too – I did struggle to understand how Prenna could not see their necessity.  The introduction of Poppy and Andrew Baltos added an extra layer to the time travel storyline.

The Prenna/Ethan romance.  I really enjoyed this – I liked the way it was built up and how they supported each other.  

What I didn’t like

Scratching the surface.  I know this is young adult literature, but I felt the book lacked depth.  So much more could have been explored with time travel paradoxes, the whole source of the plague and environmental issues.  I had the impression that Prenna never really understood the need for the rules, and also why the time traveller community was reluctant to become involved in society.  The whole question of who is at the source of the fork in time could have been expanded much more.

All in all though, I did enjoy The Here and Now and gave it three and a half stars out of five.

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The Darkest Minds: Never Fade by Alexandra Bracken is the followup to The Darkest Minds.  This series tells the story of Ruby, a young girl living in a world where most of the children have been killed by a virus but the survivors have been left with supernatural powers.  Ruby is one such survivor with the power to control other people’s minds.  The country has been left devastated by the loss of the children and fear of those who remain.  Ruby and her friends are running from place to place trying to find safety.

I adored both The Darkest Minds and the novella In Time so it was a little surprising that I was somewhat disappointed by Never Fade.  It actually took me several attempts to sit down and read it.  This is the second book in an expected trilogy, perhaps it was a little of middle book syndrome. This also appears to be at the lowest point of our protagonist’s arc, and as such I found it a little depressing.  Ruby is dealing with a lot of guilt, doubt and self loathing in this book which makes it rather a dark read.  I also missed the camaraderie between Ruby, Liam, Chubbs and Zu that was a cornerstone of the first book.

What I liked

The concept.  I continue to love the concept behind the series of the IAAN plague and the survivors’ psychic powers.  Bracken’s worldbuilding is excellent with various groups trying to deal with the fallout of IAAN but not necessarily having the best interests of the survivors at heart.  

The characters.  All of the main characters are engaging and draw you into their story.  Perhaps that’s why I didn’t enjoy Never Fade as much as the other books; I care about Ruby and found it hard to read about her being in such a low place, especially without her friends around emotionally to help her through it.  The same is true of the other main characters.  Liam and Chubbs too are dealing with some issues which means they are not there for Ruby to the extent they were in the first book.  I also loved the new characters we meet – Jude and Vida.  

Brisk pacing.  The action never lets up really; Ruby and team seem to lurch from one crisis to another.

Hooks for the final book.  There is some really interesting setup for the final volume.  I’m really looking forward to reading it!

What I didn’t like

Weakened relationships.  The bond between Ruby, Liam, Chubbs and Zu was one of the cornerstones of the first book and I really missed that from Never Fade.  So much has happened to them and they have done such things since they were last together that their bond is very much strained.  I hope they get their act together for the final book.

Unrealistic recoveries.  At various points in the book certain characters are gravely ill or seriously wounded.  Yet it seems that a day or two later they are up and fighting fit again.  That did jolt me out of the story on several occasions.

All in all, although I didn’t enjoy Never Fade as much as the earlier book and novella, I felt it gave a solid foundation for the final book.  I gave The Darkest Minds: Never Fade three and a half stars out of five.

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My review of Pawn by Aimee Carter

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