1984 by George Orwell

Written in 1948, 1984 was George Orwell’s chilling prophecy about the future. And while the year 1984 has come and gone, Orwell’s narrative is timelier than ever. 1984 presents a startling and haunting vision of the world, so powerful that it is completely convincing from start to finish. No one can deny the power of this novel, its hold on the imaginations of multiple generations of readers, or the resiliency of its admonitions. A legacy that seems only to grow with the passage of time.

Animal Farm freaked me out, but the ideas behind it were nothing short of amazing. This book creeped me out, but it’s ideas were nothing short of insane(ly realistic). I read this for extra credit and then did a study guide on it in the beginning of seventh grade. I was blown away by the ideas of it all, and for nights afterward, I would just think about the book before I fell asleep. This book is insane, but at the same time it is not. Haha. Pun. Contradiction. (Ah, well, at least I get it).

This story is closer to our world than many people realize. The situation, in a nutshell:

Once upon a time, there was a man named Winston. He had a job rewriting history. He came to fall in love with a girl who rebels against the government. He, in turn, became involved with the rebellion. He learns about what it means to oppose the government, and just how easy it is for people to become one, single mind. He realizes that the only people with the power to overthrow the government are unmotivated and happy with themselves. This is his story, a story of betrayal, loss, what it means to love another and the sacrifices every hero makes.

Not my best synopsis, but it’ll do. Much better than those synopsis’ like the first one up top. It basically tells you how amazing and mind-blowing it is without really telling you anything about the story. I hate those kinds of synopsis’. It’s like people who didn’t actually read the book is stalling. It’s the same mindset as this:

download

Don’t you just hate that? Someone hands you a flyer you have absolutely no interest in so you want to hand it back but that wouldn’t be ‘socially acceptable’, so you just take it and throw it away three feet from where they were standing. They don’t do it so you have to.

1984 is a cautionary tale on social commentary, what we do and just how close the future is. I mean, when everyone who knows the past is dead, when the history books are rewritten, then who is left who knows what the past really was? That’s even happening in other countries, it’s happened in the past. Books are things to be feared, people. They’re knowledge, and power. I’d highly recommend this book, but it’s not for those who are weak of heart or need instant satisfaction on every page. You have to get about thirty pages in for it to get interesting. Definitely not for younger readers.

pg count for the paperback: 328

My study guide on this book: 1984 study guide

I am Number Four by Pittacus Lore

Nine of us came here. We look like you. We talk like you. We live among you. But we are not you. We can do things you dream of doing. We have powers you dream of having. We are stronger and faster than anything you have ever seen. We are the superheroes you worship in movies and comic books – but we are real.

Our plan was to grow, and train, and become strong, and become one, and fight them. But they found us and started hunting us first. Now all of us are running. Spending our lives in shadows, in places where no one would look, blending in. We have lived among you without you knowing.

But they know.

They caught Number One in Malaysia.
Number Two in England.
And Number Three in Kenya.
They killed them all.

I am Number Four.

I am next.

Does the trailer look familiar? That’s right. The I am Number Four movie. Once upon a time, Michael Bay made a horrible movie and succeeded in fulfilling the stereotype that the books are always better than the movies. Meanwhile, in a few states over, Eli Madison was thinking that that’s probably because directors typically make movies and authors typically make books. (Thought there are exceptions). The end.

Believe me when I saw the book was SO, SO much better. I was pretty disappointed by the movie, but it was okay. At least it didn’t totally blow my mind with how bad it was like the movie director of Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief did. I mean, that movie was like an insult to the book. Without having read the book, I think I would’ve liked the movie for Percy Jackson. But guess what? I’m a die-hard otaku for Rick Riordan’s book.

This was a pretty well-paced book, which I liked a lot about it. The action and suspense were well done and the characters were all pretty-well formed. Especially later on in this series, the characters get a whole lot better. The story itself is interesting, exciting and I had a lot of fun with it.

I think that alien fans and space fans will have some fun with this book at least. Personally, I thought it was pretty cool. The romance between 4 and Sarah I didn’t really like. I don’t think Pittacus Lore writes romance that well. Plus, throughout the whole book, Sarah’s kind of obliviousness I didn’t really appreciate. I thought that Sarah and Sam were much better in the movie than in the book.

I loved the concepts of this story though. The Legacies, the creatures, the space, being driven out of your world, the whole nine kids thing. It was all pretty cool on my part, and I thoroughly enjoyed this series. Can’t wait for the last book!

pg count for the hardcover: 440

Series: Lorien Legacies

Calvin&Hobbes.life

The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson

Once a century, one person is chosen for greatness.
Elisa is the chosen one.

But she is also the younger of two princesses, the one who has never done anything remarkable. She can’t see how she ever will.

Now, on her sixteenth birthday, she has become the secret wife of a handsome and worldly king—a king whose country is in turmoil. A king who needs the chosen one, not a failure of a princess.

And he’s not the only one who seeks her. Savage enemies seething with dark magic are hunting her. A daring, determined revolutionary thinks she could be his people’s savior. And he looks at her in a way that no man has ever looked at her before. Soon it is not just her life, but her very heart that is at stake.

Elisa could be everything to those who need her most. If the prophecy is fulfilled. If she finds the power deep within herself. If she doesn’t die young.

Most of the chosen do.

Okay, so the ‘chosen’ isn’t so great in this book. What really stuck me in this story, despite the fact that it seems like Rae Carson doesn’t know how to write thoughtful, interesting first person narrations, was the heroine. I hated Elisa and the way Rae Carson kind of tied a rope around my neck and dragged me around with this book. She led me to believe one thing and then the next. It’s completely different if the author says something, but then you envision the character a different way in your mind. No, this was in the story, folks.

stillnot gettingreception

 

First of all, you know that feeling when you think something’s happening or you’re just going along minding your own business and then, out of the blue, something happens that makes NO sense? And it’s so annoying, and then it’s getting out of control, and then finally you just get mad so you thrash around a bit and stuff? That’s exactly what happened with this book! The first two pages made sense, and then out of the blue all of this came around and it was getting worse and worse so I eventually just freaked out. I imagine that King Kong was just getting his reception and then all these planes came around. My sincere apologies to King Kong for misjudging you. We’re in the same boat, dude. You’re taking up too much space.

Second of all, Elisa says she is fat and likes to eat. She feels constantly out shined by her prettier, skinnier sister. She clearly uses the words big, bloated sausage to describe herself.

girl of fire and thorns

Does that, in ANY way, shape or form look like a big, bloated sausage? I think not.

Third of all, Rae Carson seems to be unfamiliar with the show, not tell idea. Almost nothing in this story seems to be described by dialog or actions, which is extremely frustrating. Rick Riordan and Suzanne Collins are pros at using show, not tell. Their actions and the conflict they write is beautifully written, masterfully told. This is more than just a little less than their level.

Regarding the half of the book that isn’t about food or Elisa’s love/hate relationship with it, this book is basically Elisa walking from one section of the story to the next. As described in my page Character Development, (https://rea1itylapse.wordpress.com/character-development/) there is  crisis and then there’s conflict. Conflict is long standing. It shows the reader the true character of the well, character, by putting them through a situation that will effectively and mercilessly tear them apart until they make the decision and a lot of times long after they make the decision. Conflict is an argument, a battle with yourself or others, the choice to save one person but not another. Crisis is simply an emergency, a bad situation. It’s easier for beginning authors to write crisis, but not conflict. Conflict is one of the best ways to show the reader about your character. Crisis is a good way to solve a problem. Rae Carson excels at writing crisis. I can’t say the same for conflict.

This wasn’t a book about religion and God. It was a badly-put-together story about someone who has a god. Rae Carson pretty much scrapped all these different things you do in a religion and put them together to make…this. Not only that, but there’s not much of a plot. Inside the plot that there is, there’s a TON of plot holes that drove me absolutely insane. The magic in this story you can hardly call magic. It’s incredibly underdeveloped to the point of exhaustion.

The story only works because Rae Carson wanted it to. She throws around people and and schemes and the story like it’s some toy. Stories are not toys. It’s like throwing Vincent Van Gogh’s Starry Night or Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa and trampling on it and then throwing it into a river. Stories are artworks. Masterpieces. Not to be messed with. I hate authors who mess around with their characters. They throw away lives like they’re worth nothing.

One star. I really wish that this book could’ve been written by somebody else because, to be honest, I was pretty interested in the synopsis. I’ve had a lot of stories like that, where I was just bitterly disappointed in a book where the synopsis was so interesting. Below are two books I would rather recommend then this one. Hope you enjoy those! They were both really good, four star books.

The Queen of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner

I’m not usually a fan of book clubs, particularly because when I read a book, I finish it in a day while every one else in the book club finishes it in two months. But one of the clubs who invited me to join gave me a list that they liked, so I gave it a try. A lot of the books I liked, some of them I didn’t. Here’s one of the most recent ones that I really liked. Keep in mind that the Queen of Attolia is the second book in this series. It’s amazing by itself, and I didn’t even know there was a series, so it’s a good stand-alone, but I liked it so much I think I’m going to read the rest of the series.

Synopsis: hen Eugenides, the Thief of Eddis, stole Hamiathes’s Gift, the Queen of Attolia lost more than a mythical relic. She lost face. Everyone knew that Eudenides had outwitted and escaped her. To restore her reputation and reassert her power, the Queen of Attolia will go to any length and accept any help that is offered…she will risk her country to execute the perfect revenge.

…but

Eugenides can steal anything. And he taunts the Queen of Attolia, moving through her strongholds seemingly at will. So Attolia waits, secure in the knowledge that the Thief will slip, that he will haunt her palace one too many times.

…at what price?

When Eugenides finds his small mountain country at war with Attolia, he must steal a man, he must steal a queen, he must steal peace. But his greatest triumph–and his greatest loss–comes in capturing something that the Queen of Attolia thought she had sacrificed long ago…

pg count for the ebook: 368

Series: The Queen’s Thief

The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley

A Newbery honor book that I really loved, with strong characters and a great adventure plot line.

Synopsis: Harry Crewe is an orphan girl who comes to live in Damar, the desert country shared by the Homelanders and the secretive, magical Free Hillfolk. When Corlath, the Hillfolk King, sees her for the first time, he is shaken — for he can tell that she is something more than she appears to be. He will soon realize what Harry has never guessed: she is to become Harimad-sol, King’s Rider, and carry the Blue Sword, Gonturan, which no woman has wielded since the legendary Lady Aerin bore it into battle, generations past.

pg count for the paperback: 272

series: Damar

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

It’s just a small story really, about among other things: a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist-fighter, and quite a lot of thievery. . . .

Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak’s groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement before he is marched to Dachau.

This book is well-researched, has a good plot, has a good story and, like Fahrenheit 451, tells a story about how vital books are in our history, culture and society. It really makes you think. The characters are thoughtful and incisive, the history put in well. The only thing about this book is that it is NOT for people who just want a fast read.

The story is narrated by Death himself, who carries a notebook that belonged to Liesel after she leaves it. So, in a way, they are both book thieves. Death has a personality in this story. If something bad happens, Death warns you ahead of time. Death is trying to understand the human race as you progress through this book. The descriptions and story inside this book are like unlike anything I’ve ever really read before. Liesel steals randomly at first, and later more methodically, but she’s never greedy. She’s…stealing with a purpose, I guess. To save books. To enjoy them and learn from them.

The concepts in this story are amazing, the outlook that death himself has and the story he tells about Liesel. All stories are different when they are told by different people, and Death’s narration to this story is surreal, poignant and beautifully written. This book is a tribute, an ode, to those people who can keep the part of themselves that defines humanity in the midst of a war. Highly recommended. 4.5 stars.

pg count for the hardback: 550

Graceling by Kristin Cashore

His eyes, Katsa had never seen such eyes. One was silver, and the other, gold. They glowed in his sun-darkened face, uneven, and strange. She was surprised that they hadn’t shone in the darkness of their first meeting. They didn’t seem human….

Then he raised his eyebrows a hair, and his mouth shifted into the hint of a smirk. He nodded at her, just barely, and it released her from her spell.

Cocky, she thought. Cocky and arrogant, this one, and that was all there was to make of him. Whatever game he was playing, if he expected her to join him he would be disappointed.

In a world where people born with an extreme skill—called a Grace—are feared and exploited, Katsa carries the burden of the skill even shedespises: the Grace of killing. She lives under the command of her uncle Randa, King of the Middluns, and is expected to execute his dirty work, punishing and torturing anyone who displeases him.

When she first meets Prince Po, who is Graced with combat skills, Katsa has no hint of how her life is about to change.

She never expects to become Po’s friend.

She never expects to learn a new truth about her own Grace—or about a terrible secret that lies hidden far away…a secret that could destroy all seven kingdoms with words alone.

This was one of the first fantasy YA that I ever read, and I wasn’t disappointed. Honestly, I was really happy I started out with this book. We’ve all read our fair share of fantastically (horrible) YA that was amazingly (bad). In all seriousness though, c’mon. The feeling you get at 3am when you’re finished with a book. Let me demonstrate.

Example: You’re done with a book. You turn to the very back and then let the book fall over so all you’re seeing is the back of it. You grab it, turn it over and stare it for a few seconds, analyzing the over-done cover of the book. You grab one of your favorite YA’s off the shelf, look at both the books, and think, is it really possible for one book to be as horrifically bad as this one, and yet be in the same genre as this book, which is so unbelievably amaz–?

Yes. The answer is yes. Just read some teenage fiction. Otherwise known as “Young Adult”.

There were aspects to this book I didn’t like. For example, the way Katsa acted so lean, mean and tough and then she meets a guy and her character get inconsistent. I liked Katsa as a person, but I didn’t like the way Kristin Cashore swung her around like she was some toy. I hate it when authors do that. Your characters aren’t your characters, they’re your friends. And you don’t push your friends into sudden mood changes, make them do things that don’t necessarily line up with their code, make them prove how tough they are all the time and things like that.

I really like Kristin Cashore’s villians though, and the prose and ideas of the story itself are really interesting, which is why I enjoy Kristin Cashore’s writing. As a fantasy writer, you need to be kind of crazy. Able to envision a new world in the blink of an eye. The ideas presented in this story are actually really cool, with Graces and assassins and Po and Katsa themselves. Kristin Cashore’s villains aren’t necessarily the best I’ve ever seen, but they have good touches to them. Great power, the ability to spark fear in our heroes, a certain craziness that terrifies people, that kind of thing. You know?

The plot line was predictable at times, but that wasn’t a bad thing. The ending caught me off guard, which was also a pleasant surprise. I love stories with good twists to them. This book keeps going on a fairly good pace and is a great adventure. Personally, I’d say that the conclusion/sequel to this book Bitterblue, was better. This is an interesting adventure read that I’d give 3.5 stars to. The companion book, Fire, I would give four stars. Definitely worth a try, but not for everybody. Recommended for girls 12-14

pg count for the hardback: 471

Sequel: Bitterblue

Companion Novel/Prequel: Fire

Overall Series Name: Graceling Realm

Eragon by Christopher Paolini

One boy . . .

One dragon . . .

A world of adventure.

When Eragon finds a polished blue stone in the forest, he thinks it is the lucky discovery of a poor farm boy; perhaps it will buy his family meat for the winter. But when the stone brings a dragon hatchling, Eragon soon realizes he has stumbled upon a legacy nearly as old as the Empire itself.

Overnight his simple life is shattered, and he is thrust into a perilous new world of destiny, magic, and power. With only an ancient sword and the advice of an old storyteller for guidance, Eragon and the fledgling dragon must navigate the dangerous terrain and dark enemies of an Empire ruled by a king whose evil knows no bounds.

Can Eragon take up the mantle of the legendary Dragon Riders? The fate of the Empire may rest in his hands.

So Eragon is the boy, not the dragon–just so we’re clear. How it usually goes when I recommend this book:

My friend: “Hey, so I was wondering if you could reccomend a good dragon book to me.”

Me: “Sure. Have you heard about Eragon by Christopher Paolini? That’s a pretty cool one. It’s about–”

My friend: “Oh yeah, I’ve heard about that one. The blue stone one, right? Something about an empire..and a boy…I’ve always thought Eragon was such a cool name–especially for a dragon.”

Me: “Yeah, well, actually, Eragon is the boy–not the dragon.”

My friend: “Wait, seriously?”

And that’s how it goes, folks. Anyway, this is actually a really great dragon book. So is Dragon Keepers, but the review for that is coming up later. This is a great fiction/adventure/fantasy novel. Anyone who is a Lord of the Rings would truly have an appreciation for this book. I, personally, would give it four stars. It had a lot of a certain charisma and fantasy feel. I really love that about Christopher Paolini’s writing.

And really, what this book is about is Eragon finding his way as he learns what being a Rider, and dare I say being a hero, really means. One of the subtler things I liked about the writing is that when Paolini begins this story, his protagonist is clearly a boy even if by Alagaesian standards he’s only a year from manhood. By the end of the novel, though, Eragon is a man. The writing changes subtly to reflect this important change from beginning to end.

Eragon is literally finding his way too–the novel features a lot of long, perilous journeys and long, dangerous battles. All of which were good to read but did leave me burnt out when I finally made my way to the end of my paperback copy (on page 503). So this book is fairly long, as are all in the Inheritance series, but it was worth it for me. A genuinely enjoyable read with well-formed characters, a nice plotline and a well-though through adventure plot. To be honest, I think Christopher Paolini was too focused on the main characters. This series gets much better as it goes on. A good Fall read.

series: Inheritance Cycle

pg count for the paperback: 503

Rot and Ruin by Jonathan Maberry

In the zombie-infested, post-apocalyptic America where Benny Imura lives, every teenager must find a job by the time they turn fifteen or get their rations cut in half. Benny doesn’t want to apprentice as a zombie hunter with his boring older brother Tom, but he has no choice. He expects a tedious job whacking zoms for cash, but what he gets is a vocation that will teach him what it means to be human.

vocation: a particular occupation, business, or profession; calling. (Thank you, Dictionary.com)

Zombie apocalypse! It’ll straighten out any bratty young sibling you might have! (Well, actually, I’m the younger sibling….so, yeah…) Rot and Ruin is the pretty cool first book of the Benny Imura series. I didn’t like it as much as Enclave, to be honest. But then again, Enclave is one of the only books I’ve ever given five stars to. Nevertheless, I still give this book four stars because I loved the concept, beginning and transformation of Benny Imura.

There were some cool quotes too.

Example: “People need something to blame. If they can’t find something rational to blame, then they’ll very happily blame something irrational.”

and, more poetically:

“There are moments that define a person’s whole life. Moments in which everything they are and everything they may possibly become balance on a single decision. Life and death, hope and despair, victory and failure teeter precariously on the decision made at that moment. These are moments ungoverned by happenstance, untroubled by luck. These are the moments in which a person earns the right to live, or not.”

The action in this book was really great. It was something that I really liked about it. I’d recommend it more for teenage boys than teenage girls, but it’s a great all around read with tons of gore, zombies and violence. I liked that Jonathan Maberry made two intelligent, capable, young tough heroines/allies.

It was well written too, I always give points for that especially after I read Shatter Me. Shatter Me was so, so, so, so, so, so awesome annoying. This was Jonathan Maberry’s YA debut, and I have to say I’m really impressed. I’ve read my share of really good and really bad debuts.

This was a really emotionally charged novel that really pleasantly surprised me. It was heart breaking and heart warming, suspenseful and thrilling. Again, the transformation Benny shows is remarkable, and I loved the way Jonathan Maberry wrote his journey. Through the eyes of 15 yr old Benny Imura, we come to understand that zombies are not just mindless monsters out to gouge and consume humans. We see the tragedy of what they’ve become. 4.5 stars.

pg count for the hardcover: 458

series: Benny Imura