Publicat în Kim Liggett

The Grace Year by Kim Liggett

Synopsis:

A speculative thriller in the vein of The Handmaid’s Tale and The Power. Optioned by Universal and Elizabeth Banks to be a major motion picture!

SURVIVE THE YEAR.

No one speaks of the grace year. It’s forbidden.

In Garner County, girls are told they have the power to lure grown men from their beds, to drive women mad with jealousy. They believe their very skin emits a powerful aphrodisiac, the potent essence of youth, of a girl on the edge of womanhood. That’s why they’re banished for their sixteenth year, to release their magic into the wild so they can return purified and ready for marriage. But not all of them will make it home alive.

Sixteen-year-old Tierney James dreams of a better life—a society that doesn’t pit friend against friend or woman against woman, but as her own grace year draws near, she quickly realizes that it’s not just the brutal elements they must fear. It’s not even the poachers in the woods, men who are waiting for a chance to grab one of the girls in order to make a fortune on the black market. Their greatest threat may very well be each other.

With sharp prose and gritty realism, The Grace Year examines the complex and sometimes twisted relationships between girls, the women they eventually become, and the difficult decisions they make in-between.

Review:

I started this book. Found it too slow after some pages and abandoned it for a few weeks. Afterwards, I started seeing it mentioned all over the Internet as one of the best new stories you could put your hands on. Got back to it and… couldn’t stop until the ending. At 6AM… Daaaamn, what I was about to miss if I didn’t give it a second chance!

I honestly thought that I’ve read so many Young Adult dystopian novels for the last few years that there’s no chance of any new book of this type to still surprise me or get me hooked up. That’s pretty much what I had in mind when I started The Grace Year and the slow paced beginning didn’t really encourage me to change my opinion. I’m so grateful that I trusted those articles saying that you shouldn’t miss this book!

Slowly, the classical story of the rebellious girl who opposes the traditional and over controlling society starts to grow new and surprising threads and lets you uncover hidden meanings. Perhaps the storyline doesn’t differ so much from other books of this kind. But there’s so much more depth between the pages, so much freedom to choose whatever you wish to understand from it, so much pain and hope and happiness and destruction, all of them entwined together, all of them starting to gradually flow through your blood stream. Moreover, the most important and impressive fights are not the ones with other people or with the horrific system, but the internal ones, with your own beliefs, with everything that you grew up to have faith in and that is slowly shattering behind your eyes.

Your eyes are wide open, but you see nothing.” This is what the story is about. About getting out of your comfort zone, opening your mind and seeing the verity against all odds, letting go of all the pride and certainty that what you know is what the truth really is. Because that’s the hardest fight you could ever win and some of us never do.

The book is violent and bitter, with small moments of hope that sparkle like lost fireflies in the darkest night. Even the ending, although you might call it a somewhat happy ending, is not bringing any miraculous changes. But it does leave traces of hope: of a better life, of a better society, of hidden kindness that lies within the people you wouldn’t expect and in the most unforeseen places. And sometimes, this is the best we can do and the most realistic aspiration that humanity could have.

Publicat în Megan Crewe

The Way We Fall (Fallen World #1) by Megan Crewe

Synopsis:

It starts with an itch you just can’t shake. Then comes a fever and a tickle in your throat. A few days later, you’ll be blabbing your secrets and chatting with strangers like they’re old friends. Three more, and the paranoid hallucinations kick in. 

And then you’re dead.

When sixteen-year-old Kaelyn lets her best friend leave for school without saying goodbye, she never dreams that she might not see him again. But then a strange virus begins to sweep through her small island community, infecting young and old alike. As the dead pile up, the government quarantines the island: no one can leave, and no one can come back.

Those still healthy must fight for the island’s dwindling supplies, or lose all chance of survival. As everything familiar comes crashing down, Kaelyn joins forces with a former rival and discovers a new love in the midst of heartbreak. When the virus starts to rob her of friends and family, she clings to the belief that there must be a way to save the people she holds dearest.

Because how will she go on if there isn’t?

Review:

One of the never ending obsessions that I will always, always have are apocalyptic stories. And from all the world ending scenarios, the killing virus has always been one of my favorites (rivaling with zombie stories probably ^_^). Therefore, the moment I read the description of The Way We Fall, it instantly became a must read. And even if I only rated it with 3 stars, because of some negative aspects that I’ll cover later, overall, I loved reading it.

I haven’t check other reviews yet, but I’m guessing it’s very possible for a lot of people to be disappointed by this book. Contrary to what you might expect when it comes to an apocalyptic novel, The Way We Fall is not really a fast-paced story. The description sounds way more impressive or grand than the actual acts that are taking place in the world of Kaelyn.

Returning to live on an island with her family, the protagonist, a sixteen-year-old girl, has the usual teenager concerns: adapting to the new school, becoming a better person, making friends or getting out of her comfort zone. But what she doesn’t know is that soon, the so-called problems that she has are going to be a joke, compared to what’s coming next. Slowly, without any warnings, an epidemic infection starts making victims on the remote island. And all of a sudden, Kaelyn’s whole world shatters and all the people she loves and cherishes are falling victims of it, one after another. Being separated from the coast and isolated by the government, the survivors must find a way to discover a cure and in the same time, deal with the depletion of resources and with the rebellious groups determined to turn the disastrous situation into a living hell.

The absolute mind blowing fact is how casual and completely non-heroic the whole story is. Every single book or movie that treats the apocalyptic topic will have heroic characters that protect everyone around them, that keep their loved ones safe (and alive!) and manage to magically find the cure that will eventually save the world. But one question that’s always been in my mind is… if something like that would ever happen in reality, how ignorant would we be, how unprepared to deal with this and how easily would we all collapse? We are not heroes, we’d have no support from the governments that are probably incapable to deal with the chaos, we live in our protective glass bubbles that would suddenly explode into millions of pieces. Realistically speaking, we wouldn’t be able to save anybody, not ourselves, not our families or friends, much less the whole world. We’d literally be at the mercy of pure luck or faith, not able to do much except for maybe putting on a breathing mask, avoiding crowded places and some other small, irrelevant and probably useless safety measures.

And that, ladies and gents, that is exactly what happens in Megan Crewe’s novel! None of her characters is a hero. Not any of them is a former CIA, United Nations or FBI employee, to know what to do in case of disaster and to have higher connections that would save them. They are all regular people, with regular lives and with their hands tied up in front of the catastrophe they’re facing. So all they can do is help each other in modest ways, to organize themselves in the chaos surrounding them in order to get the feeling of a purpose, the illusion that they are doing something, whatever they can, however small that is, instead of just doing nothing and waiting to die.

I was surprised and I absolutely adored this new approach on the topic, it’s not something that I remember reading in any other books. The downside is that it doesn’t really offer a thrilling experience. There’s not a lot of action going on, there are very few pages that leave you breathless and craving for more. You can literally put the book down at any given time and then forget about it for several days. Of course you’ll still have a tingle of curiosity, but The Way We Fall is definitely not one of those reads that make you stay awake till 5AM in order to finish it.

There’s not much to say about the characters. They’re mostly colored in black and white, being either the good ones or the villains. Not a lot of substrate, not somebody you’d adore or hate from the bottom of your heart.

Of course, since it’s an YA book, there’s a love story developing and weirdly, it didn’t make me roll my eyes. I understand how, despite the catastrophic events (or actually because of them?), the surviving instincts would be accompanied by the need of fellowship and the feeling of belonging, in order to compete with the growing despair. Plus, there was nothing forced or exaggerated in the romance, no sudden Romeo and Juliet vibe, so the addition of the love story was welcomed.

If you’re ready for a slower and less impressive storyline than the usual end-of-the-world novels that you’re accustomed with, give it a shot. It’s definitely a fresh approach of the apocalyptic stories and if you’re not starting it with huge expectations, you might find yourself hooked on after the first few pages.

Publicat în Kass Morgan

The 100 (The 100, #1) by Kass Morgan

Synopsis:

No one has set foot on Earth in centuries – until now.

Ever since a devastating nuclear war, humanity has lived on spaceships far above Earth’s radioactive surface. Now, one hundred juvenile delinquents – considered expendable by society – are being sent on a dangerous mission: to recolonize the planet. It could be their second chance at life…or it could be a suicide mission.

CLARKE was arrested for treason, though she’s haunted by the memory of what she really did. WELLS, the chancellor’s son, came to Earth for the girl he loves – but will she ever forgive him? Reckless BELLAMY fought his way onto the transport pod to protect his sister, the other half of the only pair of siblings in the universe. And GLASS managed to escape back onto the ship, only to find that life there is just as dangerous as she feared it would be on Earth.

Confronted with a savage land and haunted by secrets from their pasts, the hundred must fight to survive. They were never meant to be heroes, but they may be mankind’s last hope.

Review:

I was looking for a dystopian TV series to watch, and I remembered that I’ve heard about The 100 series, so I decided that the former book addict that was still buried somewhere deep inside of me just cannot start a TV series without reading the book. Even if… well… it’s been a while, to say at least, since I last read something other than Buzzfeed articles.

Heads up: the book and the TV series are pretty much two different stories. They do share some of the characters and the basic plot, but so many things were changed in the TV adaptation that you cannot really judge one of them according to the other. And it’s not the typical case of „the book was better/the movie was better”. It’s just easier to consider them as two… similar, but pretty much separate stories.

So back to the book, since I’m not planning to do any movies reviews anytime soon. Does „meh” count as a review? Or „so-so”? Because overall, this is pretty much the feeling that I got during the whole reading. You probably read the synopsis already so you have an idea about the storyline. After our present world becomes inhabitable, the remaining population moves on spaceships for some centuries, waiting for the Earth to cleanse itself so they can return. Since technology doesn’t seem to advance that much, the best idea to test if Earth is still radioactive or it can be re-inhabited is to send 100 convicted teens on it, in what might be a deadly mission.

The main characters are some of these teens (Clarke, Wells, Bellamy and Glass) and we are carried throughout the story moving from one’s POV to another’s. Which, to be honest, was not the best idea, since their voices are all so similar that in some moments, you almost forget who’s story you’re reading. Plus, their personalities are pretty plain, no salt and pepper, nothing to get your attention and make you really care about them. Don’t get me wrong, there are some chapters that don’t let you put down the book, but that’s basically because of the action twists and not because you’d really give a damn if any of the characters lives or dies. The only one that has a spark is unfortunately the one character that was completely eliminated from the TV series, Glass. Probably because her story develops on the ship and it’s mostly related to the social rules and different classes that were also disregarded in the movie.

And here comes also the part that I truly loved about the book. The small, almost unnoticeable details that the author inserts in order to give you a clearer look of the characters’ feelings. I didn’t find them in all of the histories, but the chapters of Glass are packed with them. Her relation with Luke is so tender, sweet and realistic that it almost eclipses the whole main plot. And I’m not the kind of reader that would choose romance over action, but in this case, I actually found that this specific love story was the best part of the whole novel.

One more thing that I appreciated is the way the spaceship social life was painted. We don’t get a lot of details about why and how the population was separated into classes, given extremely different treatments or having such inequal rights, but I honestly didn’t miss them at all. It was addictive to see how humans behave even in these extreme conditions in the same way they did since the beginning of existence. How privileges extend to a small, powerful group, while the majority is fighting for survival and how contrasting their concerns and pursuits are.

On the other hand, the writer could have described in the same way the mini-society that formed on Earth. Considering the fact that all of the teens were convicted for something, it’s easy to assume that once they landed on an unfriendly and unfamiliar place, the interaction of such a big crowd would be anything but smooth. I feel like the author tried to portray this aspect, but the general image is still blurry and incomplete.

The last few chapters are obviously coming with some major twists and cliffhangers, which is expected since the book is just the first novel of a series. And that also explains why there are plenty of points that were not fully covered, so nothing to complain about that. Probably in the next volumes, the puzzle pieces will fall into a clearer image.

All in all, the book was entertaining enough, definitely not a complete loss of time, but for now, the story doesn’t really shine brighter than so many other YA dystopian novels. It’s mostly just a survival, post apocalyptic story that probably got overrated because of the cinematic attention it got lately.

Publicat în Ioana Visan

Broken people (seria Broken People, volumul 1) – Ioana Visan

Broken people (seria Broken People, volumul 1) - Ioana VisanBroken people

Ioana Visan

Disponibil: Amazon

Numar pagini: 230

*

Sinopsis:

You don’t always get what you want, but if you’re lucky, you might get what you need.

For one week only, an impenetrable castle is open to the public, and Dale Armstrong has come to Bratislava to rob it. When he finds his partner’s arms mangled, he desperately searches for a way to fix him before time runs out. 

Because the war in the Far East is sapping all the allied nation’s resources, only The Nightingale Circus has the spare parts, the power, and the expertise to fix prosthetics and help the injured, but nothing is free.

Unfortunately, Dale doesn’t know about The Nightingale Circus’s side job, but a forced encounter with the most dangerous woman in the city, the Golden Lady, sends him their way. On this roller coaster of crazy twists and flips, schemes and deceit, wishes and dreams, no one can foresee how the aerialist will land. 

Anything is possible in a world of Broken People.

Parerea mea:

De multe ori, atunci cand trece mai multa vreme intre momentele in care parcurg volume consecutive din anumite serii, ajung aproape sa uit cat de mult am indragit o anumita poveste. Asa mi s-a intamplat si cu noua serie a Ioanei Visan, Broken People. Am citit prequel-ul The Nightingale Circus, volumul de povestiri ce introduce in scena membrii circului si evident, stiam ca mi-a placut mult. Insa uitasem CAT de mult! Odata ce am parcurs insa primele pagini din Broken People, mi-au revenit insa toate sentimentele aproape uitate si am cazut parca intr-o transa din care abia am reusit sa ma trezesc cand am ajuns la finalul romanului.

In mod surprinzator, personajul principal al seriei nu face parte din gama acelor personaje deja cunoscute in The Nightingale Circus. Il cunoastem pe Dale, un presupus… mercenar (?)/raufacator(?), aflat in Bratislava pentru a da o spargere de amploare. Curand insa, din cauza unui incident neplacut si spre nemultumirea sa , povestea acestuia se intersecteaza cu cea a personajelor deja familiare din cadrul circului. Iar treptat, ceea ce parea sa fie doar un contact temporar, se transforma intr-o relatie complexa, cu suisuri si coborasuri.

Firul narativ se intinde pe doua planuri, dand nastere unor provocari diferite, insa in timp, acestea ajung sa se amestece si sa se contopeasca intr-un scop comun. Evident, fiecare personaj are o tinta diferita, fiecare se straduieste pentru a obtine un alt premiu. Insa lupta lor este aceeasi si, de voie, de nevoie, sunt nevoiti sa o duca impreuna si sa isi ajusteze treptat dorintele si actiunile in functie de nevoile tuturor.

Minunat construite, personajele iti lasa senzatia ca nu exista un singur protagonist, ca rolurile fiecaruia sunt la fel de importante si ca daca il scoti din joc pe unul singur, intreaga actiune va fi compromisa. Portretele lor sunt aproape la fel de captivante precum actiunea, mentinandu-te curios si cu ochii lipiti de carte chiar si in momentele – rare, ce-i drept – in care actiunea incetineste. Iar relatiile dintre ele, de prietenie amestecata cu suspiciune, cu toleranta, cu exasperare uneori, cu mici frustrari si nemultumiri ocazionale, sunt deopotriva de fermecatoare.

Desi planul de ansamblu iti este dezvaluit inca de la inceput, autoarea reuseste sa isi pastreze nenumarati asi in maneca pe care ti-i divulga pe parcurs si iti mentine astfel interesul la cote maxime. Iar povestea se modifica aproape la fiecare pas, apar constant factori care ii forteaza pe cei implicati sa se adapteze din mers pentru a-si asigura succesul. Mi-a placut mult faptul ca autoarea nu face deloc lucrurile usoare pentru personajele sale, ca treburile nu merg de cele mai multe ori asa cum acestea si-au propus si ca din nou si din nou trebuie sa faca fata unor provocari neasteptate. Sincer, in momentul in care destinul lui Dale ajunge sa se intersecteze cu cel al membrilor circului, credeam ca cel putin aspectul pentru care acesta ii contacteaza initial se va rezolva in doar cateva pagini, aproape pocnind din degete, mai ales tinand cont de abilitatile celor de la circ. Am fost asadar deopotriva contrariata si placut surprinsa de faptul ca socotelile initiale se duc pe apa sambetei, dand nastere unui fir narativ neasteptat de incalcit.

Finalul, departe de a fi cel pe care il banuiam, m-a lasat totusi cu zambetul pe buze, mai ales ca promite o continuare la fel de atractiva a povestii. Si in acelasi timp si datorita faptului ca abia acum, in incheiere, relatia tensionata dintre Dale si enigmatica Golden Lady pare sa se aseze pe un fagas mai clar definit. Iar apropo de asta, un alt punct forte mi s-a parut exact romantismul abia schitat, relatiile timide, ezitante, atat de realist conturate intre mai multe posibile cupluri de personaje si lipsa acelor momente atat de exasperante in alte carti in care personajele se arunca pur si simplu in niste relatii amoroase, fara a se gandi macar de doua ori la modul in care aceasta alegere le va influenta viitorul.

Romanul abunda de mister, de umor, de emotii si tensiune si trebuie sa va spun ca pe tot parcursul lecturii nu am putut sa nu ma intreb de ce dumnezeu o astfel de poveste nu apare mai des pe blogurile de recenzii si in revistele online de literatura din Romania. Pentru ca sincer, este mult mai buna decat multe dintre cartile autorilor straini despre care apar avalanse de recenzii, articole si comentarii in media romaneasca.

Publicat în Richard Matheson

Sunt o legenda – Richard Matheson

Sunt o legenda - Richard MathesonDisponibil la: Targul Cartii

Colectia: Literatura straina

Traducerea: Florin Mircea Tudor

Numar pagini: 384

 

Sinopsis:

Poate ca Robert Neville este singurul supravietuitor al unei molime incurabile care a transformat fiecare barbat, fiecare femeie si fiecare copil in creaturi nocturne insetate de sange, decise sa-l extermine. Ziua, umbla dupa hrana si provizii, disperat sa gaseasca vreun alt posibil supravietuitor…

Dar, de pretutindeni, este urmarit de fiinte spectrale, infestate, care il pandesc in asteptarea unei miscari gresite… Ce, fara doar si poate, va veni candva…

Parerea mea:

Scris in urma cu mai bine de 60 de ani, romanul lui Richard Matheson pare la fel de actual precum volumele cu vampiri publicate in ultima vreme, desi este, alaturi de alte scrieri ale autorului, una dintre cartile care au stat la baza genurilor horror, fantastic si SF. In editia de fata, cea care utilizeaza pe coperta o imagine din ecranizarea din 2007 inspirata de cartea lui Matheson, povestea Sunt o legenda este continuata de o serie de 10 povestiri scurte, tot horror, scrise in diferite perioade ale carierei autorului.

Pentru cei care au vazut filmul din 2007, cu Will Smith si considera ca acesta urmeaza strict firul narativ din roman, trebuie sa stiti ca in afara de ideea ultimului supravietuitor al apocalipsei, fortat sa lupte cu monstrii in care s-a transformat umanitatea, povestile sunt mai degraba diferite. In primul rand, daca in film, Robert Neville este un specialist pregatit in totalitate pentru a supravietui dezastrului si pentru a gasi leacul impotriva molimei, in carte descoperim un om obisnuit, intr-adevar cu ceva experienta militara, dar lipsit de orice cunostinte profunde de medicina care sa il ajute in misiunea sa. Mai mult, finalul este total diferit, iar senzatia mea este ca producatorii filmului au exclus sau modificat exact cele mai importante aspecte ale povestii, cele care diferentiaza Sunt o legenda de orice alte povesti post-apocaliptice clasice. In film, finalul este evident, optimist, in clasica nota hollywoodiana, in timp ce cartea ofera in incheiere un mesaj atat de original si puternic incat senzatia de surpriza nu mi-a disparut nici acum, la cateva zile bune dupa ce am terminat cartea. Diferentele nu se opresc aici, insa cum nu ecranizarea este obiectul meu de interes, nu are rost sa continui pe aceasta tema.

Volumul ni-l aduce in prim plan pe Robert Neville, probabil singurul supravietuitor al unei molime devastatoare ce a transformat fiecare om in viata intr-un vampir si care a ridicat la propriu mortii din morminte. Timp de cativa ani, il urmarim pe Neville transformandu-si infernul intr-un soi de normalitate bizara, in care imposibilul, tragedia si inacceptabilul devin treptat obisnuinta. Neville trece prin toate emotiile posibile, de la indarjire la disperare, de la speranta la renuntare, din nou si din nou si din nou. Infernul in care traieste este intr-un fel dublu, atat exterior, cat si interior, Robert fiind nevoit sa duca lupte atat cu monstrii care il vaneaza noapte de noapte (si pe care el insusi ii vaneaza in timpul zilei) cat si cu propria sa constiinta. Desi reuseste sa supravietuiasca atata vreme, Neville nu este deloc intruchiparea eroului. Face greseli, se abandoneaza in amintiri, in alcool, in contemplarea renuntarii, in sperante false, irealizabile. Dar totodata, dupa o vreme, isi gaseste motivatia de a merge inainte citind rafturi intregi de volume, documentandu-se pe teme stiintifice care inainte nu l-ar fi interesat sub nicio forma, facand experimente si incercand sa gaseasca raspunsuri privind molima care a adus sfarsitul umanitatii si gasirea unui leac impotriva acesteia. Nu stiu in ce masura explicatiile autorului privind originea si evolutia epidemiei sunt plauzibile, dar sunt expuse cu atata precizie si pe un ton stiintific credibil, incat ai tot timpul senzatia ca sunt reale.

In mai mult de trei sferturi din carte, Robert este practic singurul personaj al cartii. Desigur, alaturi de multimea de vampiri – personaj colectiv, pentru ca in general, nu se diferentiaza nici unul din gramada – insa acestia devin mai degraba ceva similar unui zgomot pe fundal, ajungi sa ii privesti ca pe o parte integranta a cadrului mai curand decat drept niste personaje distincte. Cu toate acestea, nu ai nicio secunda in care sa te plictisesti, tensiunea este la limita de sus pe tot parcursul povestii. Exista chiar cateva paragrafe in care suspansul devine brusc teribil de greu de suportat, apar scene care iti taie respiratia si in ciuda faptului ca e imposibil ca Robert sa moara (din moment ce inca mai ai de parcurs niste zeci de pagini), in clipele acelea te temi sincer pentru supravietuirea sa.

Mi-a placut enorm finalul romanului, desi evolutia povestii este total diferita de cea a majoritatii cartilor in care intervine, intr-o forma sau alta, lupta dintre bine si rau. Insa autorul aduce un mesaj diferit, unic si extrem de pertinent, care te scoate din zona de confort insa caruia nu ii lipseste deloc sensul. Este chiar mai satisfacator decat o incheiere clasica, in care eroul ar salva lumea de la pieire, pentru ca intervine o logica impecabila, pe care e imposibil sa o combati.

Cele 10 povestiri care urmeaza dupa Sunt o legenda, trateaza diferite teme clasice ale literaturii horror: vampiri, zombie, magie antica, vrajitoare, entitati malefice, etc. Nu mai citisem de multa vreme ceva horror, asa ca devorat cu sete aceste scurte povestioare. Chiar de la inceput, mi s-a parut ca aduc cumva cu scrierile lui Stephen King, pe care inca il consider unul dintre autorii mei preferati. Iar dupa ce am terminat cartea, cautand informatii despre autor, am descoperit faptul ca Stephen King a marturisit influenta enorma pe care Matheson a avut-o asupra sa.

Multumesc  echipei de la Targul Cartii pentru acest volum. L-am citit cu entuziasm si il recomand calduros nu doar iubitorilor de horror, ci si cititorilor mai putin familiarizati cu acest gen. Este exact tipul de carte care te poate face sa te indragostesti de genuri literare despre care nu ai fi banuit ca te pot cuceri.

Bile albe:

Evolutia total neasteptata a situatiei si faptul ca acest tip de incheiere este extrem de rar ales de catre autori.

Bile negre:

Desi exista explicatii privind evolutia molimei, modul in care s-a transformat intr-o epidemie intr-un timp atat de scurt si felurile in care afecteaza victimele si le modifica organismul, au lipsit detaliile legate de originea bolii precum si cele despre felul in care a reactionat societatea in momentele care au urmat startului epidemiei.

Alte recenzii care te-ar putea interesa:

Razboiul Z – Max Brooks

Molima (seria Molima, volumul 1) – Guillermo Del Toro & Chuck Hogan