Pure by Julianna Baggott
In the years following the apocalypse, Pressia lives with her grandfather in a former barbershop. Pressia dreams of life before, because her current reality is filled with horrors. During the Detonations, everyone outside of the Dome was either killed or left horribly scarred and mutated, fused with whatever was nearby. Pressia has reached the age where she is required to join the military, but she decides to face the unknown and flee instead. Meanwhile, inside the Dome, people are whole and trained to be the best they can be. Yet Partridge is not happy. He constantly thinks of his mother who was left outside the Dome during the Detonations. And when Partridge receives a clue that his mother may still be alive, he’ll risk the shelter of the Dome for the dangers of the Outside.
Pressia is a sympathetic girl who, despite her creepy disfigurement of a doll fused to her hand, quickly becomes captivating. Partridge is naïve, but it’s easy to get caught up in his story as well. The massive worldbuilding of this dystopian scene is both disturbing and imaginative. The setting is dark and intense. Full of adventure, suspense, mystery, and a bit of romance – Pure is a much darker young adult, dystopia than others. With an incredibly climactic and dramatic escalation of startling events, this original and gritty story has a satisfying ending that will leave readers wanting more.
Vampirates: Immortal War by Justin Somper
Having discovered their dhampir natures, Connor and Grace Tempest’s unique abilities continue to grow. Connor receives a surprising gift and continues as a pirate in the war. Grace resumes work as a healer, and finds herself torn when familiar faces show up at the Sanctuary. Meanwhile, a war is in full force as Sidorio’s Vampirates have successfully amassed a fleet and continually “recruit” new forces against the Alliance of Pirate Federation and Nocturnals.
The Vampirates saga concludes with this sixth installment. This epic series has amassed a vast amount of characters, stories and relationships. Characters have developed in unexpected ways. And a looming prophecy finally comes to fruition.
I finished this novel with mixed emotions. I’ve grown to love the individual Pirate and Nocturne characters. And though the changes have been difficult, the future still looks bright. Somper has taken his readers on a wild, swashbuckling ride through pirate (and Vampirate) infested waters. This unique series is a fantastic fantasy adventure for all ages, though the darkness and violence does increase throughout the series. Full of high seas adventure, magic, romance, and action – Immortal War is a strong and satisfying ending to an amazing series.
Alienation by Jon S. Lewis
Sixteen-year-old Colt McAlister is joining the CHAOS Military Academy, following in his grandfather’s footsteps and already making a name for himself as a hero for Earth. Colt and his friends Oz and Danielle will be trained to better fight off the looming invasion of the Thule, shapeshifting aliens that are seemingly unstoppable. Unsure who to trust, Colt learns about a secret in his past and a Thule assassin that seems to want Colt dead.
Following the events in Invasion, Colt has learned about a dark conspiracy. He’s also dealing with infatuation for a girl, while dealing with the CHAOS Academy and attacks on his life. But thankfully, the teenage angst takes a backseat to the action and adventure. Lewis’ futuristic world has many fun gadgets, advanced technology, and incredible aliens. Even though the story follows Colt almost exclusively, I would love to see future installments delve more into the Thule and their background and motivations. Right now, they’re still too much of a mystery and just The Big, Evil Aliens.
With plenty of danger, intrigue, and suspense – young science fiction fans should enjoy this fast-paced adventure. Though, reading the first novel, Invasion, is a must to get background on Colt and the Thule. I think I enjoyed Alienation as much as the first, if not more. Non-stop, action-packed thrills and excitement made it impossible to put down. And while there’s a satisfying ending, there is a mild cliffhanger that left me wanting more.
Winterling by Sarah Prineas
Raised by her grandmother, Jennifer (Fer) has never felt like she belonged, preferring the outdoors and the forest. While out exploring, Fer saves the life of what looks like a strange boy. But the boy is a puck, from another land, brought through the Way unknowingly by Fer. Fer desides to follow the puck back through the Way to discover what happened to her missing parents. But the other land is led by a powerful, dark Lady who wants Fer for her own purposes.
Fer is a likeable girl, both brave and trusting. Thrust into a mythical fantasy land of legend, Fer not only wants to find her parents but help the land and the sick creatures she encounters. Fer learns quickly not to trust the evil Lady, as she and the puck never want to answer any of her questions. This gets a bit annoying at times, since the reader wants answers as well. Prineas’ magical world of myth also has unique, fun rules. I enjoyed every bit of her creative characters and fantasy world. Full of adventure, mystery, and magic – Winterling is a highly enjoyable story for all ages.
The Cabinet of Earths by Anne Nesbet
Maya and her family have moved to Paris for a year, because of her father’s job. Maya and her younger brother James are soon introduced to a variety of unusual characters. But most peculiar of all is the old house with a salamander on the door that seems to move. Maya discovers that she has relatives in town with many secrets. And one is the Keeper of the Cabinet of Earths, but the cabinet seems to want Maya for its new Keeper.
I really wanted to enjoy this one. But the Cabinet itself and the plot line were hard to grasp and not explained well enough. The saving grace for me was the characters. Maya and her cousin who is almost invisible, her friend Valko, and the mysterious rich elite who don’t seem to age – these engaging characters kept me involved in the story. This bizarre tale of magic and immortality may appeal to its target audience of middle grade readers, but it the strange plot fell short for me.
The Pledge by Kimberly Derting
Seventeen-year-old Charlaina (Charlie) has a gift that she must hide. In her country, the different classes have different languages. And lower classes are not allowed to know or speak the upper classes languages. Any sort of rebellion could mean death. So, Charlie’s ability to comprehend any language, written or spoken, is incredibly dangerous. One night, Charlie meets an intriguing young man at a club who speaks a strange language and has a mysterious air about him. Meanwhile, the queen is dying and looking for a predecessor. But the vicious queen has a secret agenda.
Derting has created a unique world with the feel of the other popular science fiction dystopias, where countries must be led by queens in order to survive, but with a twist of fantasy and magic. The characters are mysterious and completely engaging. And the mystery and intrigue make the book impossible to put down. With plenty of plot twists and surprises, the story came to a dramatic conclusion. Readers of all ages should enjoy this fantastic coming-of-age story with fast-paced adventure, drama, romance, and suspense.
Temptation of Angels by Michelle Zink
Sixteen-year-old Helen Cartwright’s family has been keeping a big secret from her. When they are attacked suddenly, Helen’s mother sends her through a secret passage with instructions to find two brothers who will keep her safe. Helen and brothers Griffin and Darius are the only remaining descendants of lesser angels charged with protecting the world’s entire history archive with incredible power. In searching for her parents’ killer, Helen discovers that she knows the killer. A traitor has been working with a mysterious benefactor to hunt down the Keepers and kill them all.
Helen is an innocent girl with a kind and forgiving heart. She has fantastic chemistry with two young men, creating a unique love triangle. Though, her attraction to bad boy Raum is more than far-fetched. Set in an alternate past in London, Zink’s fantasy world involves angels and demons. Though the history of the angelic factions is only briefly mentioned, the abilities are explored as Helen and the brothers become avenging angels.
The mood of this remarkable upcoming release is eerie and mysterious. The characters were the highlight of the story, with building suspense that made enthralling reading. Events lead to a grand and satisfying conclusion, but the feel of the book felt like the start of a series. I would like to see the angels and demons factions and their purposes fleshed out more in any future installments. With plenty of teenage angst, romance, suspense, and magic – young fantasy fans will enjoy this fascinating and captivating novel.
Temptation of Angels will release from Dial on March 20, 2012.
Article 5 by Kristen Simmons
Ember Miller lives in a post-war America where devastation has left behind a fascist, military dictatorship. The Bill of Rights is no more; instead, the Moral Statutes are upheld as law by the military. Ember lives in constant fear of the military and her mother’s flighty and irresponsible behavior that could get them in trouble. When suddenly Ember’s mother is arrested in violation of Article 5, Ember is also taken and sent to a reformatory for “rehabilitation.” Ember wants nothing more than to break out and find her mother. But what hurts most is that it seems her former boyfriend may be the one who betrayed them.
Ember is a brave, emotional girl who puts her mother above everything. At seventeen, she will be old enough to leave the reformatory in less than a year, but she doesn’t want to waste the time when her mother’s life may be in danger. Unfortunately, her emotions and fear for her mother outweigh her common sense at times. Ember and Chase (the former boyfriend) are fantastic characters that pull the reader into the story. Their relationship develops throughout the novel, and was the highlight for me.
Simmons’s not-too-distant dystopian world is dark and horrific. The intensity and suspense made it impossible to put down. Ember’s journey is full of adventure, intrigue, romance, and heart-wrenching drama. Though, the major plot twist at the end was obvious, the exciting conclusion was more than satisfying. Fans of the dystopian subgenre should enjoy this fast-paced, poignant thriller.
Article 5 releases from Tor Teen on January 31, 2012.