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Book Review: Z for Zachariah by Robert C. O’Brien

Z for za

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Ann Burden has been living on her own for nearly a year when a man tumbles into her valley. This might not seem too unusual, except that the world was desecrated by a nuclear war. This stranger and Ann, may very well be the last people on Earth. As she turns sixteen, a crucial year for any teen, her life revolves instead around her safety.

As the two between comrades of this radiated world, Ann hopes for a positive future. But how much can someone trust a stranger even if they are the last on the planet?

What a great vintage YA! This is a fantastic example of how I wish modern YA would explore with main female leads. IT’S NOT ALL ABOUT THE ROMANCE YEAH? Ann is a brilliant female character, full of thought, logic and bravery. She rocks! Power to girls everywhere for learning how to rework a tractor when electricity doesn’t exist! She is flawed with her caring, but that’s a good thing in the end. Ann just never gives up and is a beacon of hope. Ah, how there needs to be more characters written with strength like Ann Burden!

As this is vintage YA, it’s riddled for discussion. The male character Mr. Loomis is a textbook example on why men in power just end up killing everyone. Just because he’s a man doesn’t mean he actually knows what’s best. I mean seriously, a scientist that believes he knows more about farming than an actual farm girl? Pla-LEASE. I bet this book makes a lot of men uncomfortable. Losing control is not easy for anyone, but as men are usually in that position, seeing his deterioration provides a humbling experience for everyone including myself.

I was on edge with each chapter. Even with the simple plot I didn’t know what was coming next. It’s short and well written and stands as an excellent example of why we as humans should never let science grow out of control. In the end, the Earth will always find a way to be the victor. 

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Breathe by Sarah Crossan

Breathe Cover

Simply smashing cover!

Breathe Info

The Earth is nearly deprived of oxygen. Pockets of Pods grace the world. Run by the company Breathe, only the wealthiest can afford air to practice sports. These are known as Premiums. Tattooed with a circle behind the ear Quinn has never known a live where one struggles to breathe. Opposite of his best friend Bea, an auxiliary who can barely afford air for her family, they plan a trip out of the pod. It’s just two friends going away for the weekend but that all changes when Quinn sees Alina.

With eyes so green they could be trees themselves, she’s the poster child for the rebellion against Breathe. There’s more to this organisation that neither Quinn nor Bea have any understanding of. On the run, Alina escapes the Pod with Quinn’s help, but it’s his attraction to this mysterious girl that opens up the barren world. There’s just one problem: their limited air supply. For Quinn and Bea, what seems like a wild goose chase will change their lives forever.

I was really excited to read Breathe, I have waited ages for it to be published, and I am so very lucky my local library has a newly published section for Young Adult books. The chapters are each told by one of the characters, Quinn, Bea or Alina. The differences in voices are spectacular, mainly because I disliked Quinn right from the beginning. Alina and Bea are strong, sure footed female voices, whereas Quinn is a typical male idiot for the most part. However, Quinn shows growth throughout the book and this was one of the reasons why I kept reading. 

In a world that could easily be our future, I found myself being short of breath as I was reading. Who would want to live in a world where air is limited? How could one company be so rest assured that there would always be enough oxygen? As the book continues there are deeper, more adult questions that pop up. This isn’t just a romance, there is some real scientific concern hidden within the creative genre. I want to know how the rest of the world is faring with hardly any air and I can’t wait for the second book to get published. If you’re looking for some excitement and science fiction pondering, look no further for Breathe with have you gasping for breath once you reach the last page!

Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Delirium CoverDelirium Details

Lena Haloway is less than six months away from getting the procedure known as ‘The cure’. In a world that is surrounded by the all-knowing government, people receive the cure as soon as they are eighteen. Love is a disease that makes one crazy, dangerous and out of control. Everyone is fearful of catching ‘deliria’. Her mother committed suicide because of it; her sister nearly suffered the same fate. Lena is determined to stay in line, receive her cure with accompanying marks and be paired for immediate marriage after college graduation. It’s just as life is supposed to be.

It’s during her evaluation that something changes in Lena. Unable to vocalise her practiced answer, she nearly loses everything, but an unforeseen distraction causes her test to be invalid. It’s also when she meets Alex: a nineteen-year-old boy that bares the mark. He’s cured, providing Lena with a security blanket for their friendship. If he wasn’t, she could be hauled away to the Crypts for being seen with him. Being too busy following all the rules, there’s to more to Lena’s world that she’s never noticed. As the bubbles of her life gradually pop, she’s going to have to make a choice: To love, or to die.

I have to be honest, I much preferred Delirium to Oliver’s Before I Fall. Lena is an excellent example of how effective brainwashing can be. I see this book as a spooky foretelling of America’s future. Living in a country that’s known for its ‘Big Brother’, I found myself wondering how far is too far for a society to be looked at?  I can’t imagine a world without free speech or the freedom to love whomever you want. And yet, there are many passages where this easily could have taken place in a modern day America.

This is a story about growing up, falling in love and discovering what is important in life. People are different; a large population cannot conform to one simple ideal. History has proven this and Delirium takes advantage of human nature the right way. What would the world be like if we weren’t allowed to love? What would happen to a society if they found a way to love again? A fast paced read with a love story of Romeo and Juliet, I’m really hoping my local library will have the second book available! (Just checked – it’s a disappointing no.)

Many thanks to the publisher Hodder & Stoughton for sending me two copies from their social media campaign! 

Blood Red Road by Moira Young

Saba lives with her twin brother Lugh, little sister Emmie and her Pa. They live a quiet life with only one neighbour across the vast but dried up Silverlake. That is, until the men came and took Lugh away, killing Pa in the process.

Saba will never stop looking for Lugh. Leaving Silverlake she travels across the death trap Sandsea hoping to find the men that have taken him. But trouble is at every turn when one-steps away from their safe haven. The rest of the world is a scary place and Saba will have to decide who to trust and where to go, because time is running out for Lugh.

Please note that one of the genres I have added, I have created myself. I’m finding that a lot of the YA I’m reading are starting to fall into the same genres. I chose ‘Endless’ because what Young has mastered is a world in a post-apocalyptic environment that hasn’t been done before: Endless areas of sand and danger at every turn. It’s our Earth after we have destroyed it. It’s written in a phonetic type style, but as our heroine Saba has never been educated to our standards, she makes up words for things that haven’t been assigned a name in her lifetime.

If you’re able to get over the writing style (it’s slightly difficult to push through but the more you read the easier it gets), you are going to be blown away like I was. Finally, Saba, a take-charge girl who will do WHATEVER it takes to get her family back together! She’s strong, resourceful and flawed at the same time. I couldn’t guess what was going to happen next but trusted Young to keep me reading. Blood Red Road really is a fantastic read (hello – there’s a girls only Amazon type power group – seriously cool). There is some romance, which brings it back to typical YA. I don’t know how the second book is going to go. There is so much in this debut novel. For an escape of the daily commute or for an engaging Sunday morning, pick this up and you’ll have difficulty putting it down.

(Just read it now and tell me what you think in the comments)

Contact by Chris Morphew

Contact begins minutes after the first book ends, with Peter as the narrator.

Peter’s life continues to get worse. Sure moving to Phoenix was great at the beginning, but ever since the latest community member Luke arrived everything’s spun out of control. Now he’s discovered that the leader of the town, Shackleton has created ‘Tabitha’, a plague that will destroy the world’s population in 80 days.

As Peter fights for his feelings against Luke over Jordan, the adults in power are ordered by Shackleton to place the three under strict watch. Regardless, the trio are determined to find the source of the ringing phone. If there are working phones in Phoenix, they just need to find one to be able to contact the outside and call for help. The stakes are raised as the teenagers engage in a dangerous tug of war against Shackleton. They’ll have to decide what’s more important, saving the world or saving their lives…

He’s done it again! Morphew’s ability to continue with the thrills and the mystery is executed brilliantly. I loved his idea of switching point of views with the three characters. I found Peter to be more likeable than Luke, and his sense of humour in trying to be romantically involved with Jordan was an engaging touch.

This book has more action, and some gore that jars the readers back to the seriousness of the world coming to an end. Perhaps the best part about the second book is how there are still many more questions to be answered. Why are all the people brought to Phoenix? What truly is Shackleton’s point of exterminating the rest of the population? What if the project doesn’t goes accordingly to plan? The only criticism I have is that I want the disaster to happen already, but at the end of this book there’s still 70 days to go. I’ll keep reading, because Morphew has stepped up the game in book two, so I can only wonder what’s to come in book 3 Mutation

Day 29 – 30 Day Book Challenge

Honestly, I don’t know if people hate The Host, I just know that I don’t like Stephanie Meyer’s writing from Twilight. It’s been a while since I read the book but it was my beginning of reading dystopian and enjoying the genre. Aliens take over and the world comes to an end. Yet people continue to survive. I liked it because there’s a part of me that’s on the alien’s side, although if it happened during my lifetime I would change my view. I liked it and how uncomfortable it made me feel. Don’t judge me too harshly over this.

Day 28 – 30 Day Book Challenge

It’s a symbol that didn’t exist until the series was created. Now it’s a symbol of great sadness and revolution. One word that has created a book title that stands for everything despite not even being real. That’s why I love it.