Scythe by Neal Shusterman

So Scythe was our September book club pick of the month but because of it’s overwhelming popularity and our busy schedules it was next to impossible to get from the library. So know it is our October book club pick, we bumped our previous October’s out and into 2020. Scythe is the first book young adult dystopian trilogy about a world that has conquered all medical problems even death, to maintain the ongoing population there are Scythes, selected and trained, to “glean” those in their region based on statistics of time passed. I picked this book because I had heard just never-ending hype for this book and series. I really wanted to read it with my mom and sister who hadn’t heard any of the hype and see what they thought.

Personally this year I had a lot of books that ended up being 4 stars simply because of the hype surrounding it and it ended up falling short. Scythe was not one of these books and when I started I truly thought it might be. I was prepared to because truthfully in the first 20% I wasn’t ready and it was everything I had heard. We had two pretty typical teens that were perfectly diametric to each other. An unpleasant situation that neither wanted to be but both wanted to win. It felt familiar.

However, the plot was outstanding. I was surprised at all the twists and there were plot points that I thought would be in book three that came in the first 200 pages. It took very conventional devices and characters and pushed them and switch things up in ways that at least I had seen before.

What I loved was the world building: the way humanity acts when they will never really be at risk, the way different scythes approach their work and cope with their job. It was so well done and so engaging for every character.

What I didn’t like was there were a couple romantic relationships that felt a little unnecessary and out of the blue.

Trigger warnings: death, mass murder, self harm, suicide.

Recommended: For me it was five stars. I think if you miss dystopian or like science-fiction at all you will really enjoy this book.

 

Heartless by Marissa Meyer (mild spoilers)

So August’s book club pick for the month was Heartless by Marissa Meyer. It is a prequel retelling to Alice in Wonderland that explores how the Queen of Hearts came to be. We start with Cath, the daughter of the Marquees of Turtle Rock, who desires to open the best bakery in all of Hearts. Things really spiral from there. Initially I gave this book three stars but it is a book that just attaches itself to your mind. Since I couldn’t stop thinking about it I eventually bumped it up to 4 stars.

The romance is sweet and easy. Marissa Meyer does a great job of writing dissonant thinking patterns in a very believable way. While you may hate what Cath does and it’s wrong and there are other options so it’s frustrating. I always understood how Cath got herself to that point. It is the Wonderland that we all remember from the books, movies, etc. However, because this is Cath’s native land she doesn’t find any of it wonderous it’s all normal to her and that translates well in the writing. The most magical part of the story is the baking the way Cath views her beautiful creations. Truthfully, I would read a cookbook written by Marissa Meyer.

The measure of this story that was despite knowing where all the characters end up I still was rooting for their story to be changed.

Now for the spoilers

Continue reading “Heartless by Marissa Meyer (mild spoilers)”

Watership Down by Richard Adams (spoilers)

So July’s book for our family book club was Watership Down by Richard Adams. Now I’ll be honest I have wanted to read this book for a long time, which is how it ended up on our booklist for the year. However, if it hadn’t been for the book club I probably wouldn’t have ended up finishing the book. It was not by any means a bad book. I just have read a lot of political theory and war books. So initially I gave it a pretty average rating of 3 stars.

Now this was by now means a bad book. It was in fact a really excellently constructed traditional adventure story. It’s got a band of heroes hoping and searching for a new and idealistic future. In traditional fantasy sense the band of adventures are all extraordinary, except for our main hero. Like many who come before him Hazel’s main skill seems to be identifying the talented ones who have gone unnoticed or underutilized.  He is constantly kind and caring and but not Fiver and Bigwig are the actual saviors of the warren.

It was also a traditional fantasy in that it uses a fantstical veil (of rabbits) to discuss political. In this both the feminist struggle of the time and 4 different systems of government (bureaucracy, puppet (colonialism), military dictatorship, and a commune). Because it is through the guise of rabbits and rabbit lore it is all easily digestible. I do get that is a great introduction to political theory without having to talk about the actual theories. Now I think the overall quality of rabbitness does help in this messaging. They are cute, timid, quick decision makers and have real palpable concerns that they communicate well. There is also no romantic or sexual attractions, like 99% of all animals rabbits only have sexual relations for procreation not pleasure. There for Hyzenthlay and Lapine’s struggle was given real consideration for it’s merits and their intelligence and not just in becoming a love interest.

Now typically in books I really like epitaphs at the beginnings of chapers, sections, books. I think they add to the story and give more insight to the what is coming next or set the mood or give general insight to the world. In Watership Down however, it was one of the reasons I thought about DNFing. The quotes are all from notable thinkers about life, community, fairness, etc. and they were all almost exactly what the chapter was about or what Hazel and co. would learn. I felt that I could read the epitaphs and not the book. I understand that is was trying to apply and make these lessons understandable, but it felt more like hey this comes from a really smart places and not… this is life and how all living things can come together and be better.

I like the book. I think it is remarkably well written. But I think if you have read a lot in genre it may be harder to get through.

P.S. my favorite rabbit was Blackberry. He was soooo cute! and quite a scene stealer. Who was your favorite.

Ender’s Shadow by Orson Scott Card (SPOILERS)

So I didn’t write a review of last month’s book club pick Ender’s Game because I felt it was so popular and I didn’t think that I had anything strong to say about it given so much has already been said. Book club got a little dramatic because we drastically disagreed on the differences between the Wiggins.

However, this month’s book was Ender’s Shadow, being about Bean I was pretty excited to read it as he is a fan favorite. He was like a more confident Ender that always a step behind. I ended up giving this book 3 STARS! I ended up being kinda disappointed with my overall feelings of the world after reading this book.

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Vicious by V.E. Schwab (Spoilers)

So Vicious by V. E. Shwab was our April Book club book of the month. This book is a Sci-fi book following two men that 10 years after their senior thesis have become archenemies.; also, superheroes. Now I felt that hype has really effected my reading experience lately, but this is the only book that I really felt lived up to all the acclaim it has received in the book community. .

If you like: superheroes, morally grey characters, and mysteries I strongly believed that you will like this story. It is a science-fiction story in it’s elements but the writing and telling of this story is very much in a mystery/thriller style. What truly makes this book special is the character study. Every character has incredible depth and darkness and is nothing like a character I had seen before; however, all that is coming in the spoiler part of this review.

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Bitter Kingdom Review (Spoilers)

So this is a very late (sorry I started a new job) review of The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson. This was our March book club book. This is the finale of an epic fantasy trilogy so obviously there will be spoilers for a majority of this review. What I will say before that section I will say that this was an excellent book. In terms of scope the world continues to grow and grow. I still have world building questions but that’s okay because they are questions for the real world too. It was an incredible satisfying conclusion, all the story lines had conclusions that made sense but were surprising.

So now for in depth spoilers… Continue reading “Bitter Kingdom Review (Spoilers)”