Book Review: Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

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Genre: Literary Fiction, Dystopian

Year Published: 2015

My Rating:★★★★★

This book has easily already made it into my top books of this year. I don’t know why I waited so long to read it, but golly am I glad that I finally did.

This book is half dystopian/half flashbacks to present day. In the dystopian world, the world has previously been ravaged by an almost inescapable disease that killed approximately…like… 99% of the population (scary stuff, no joke). In this post-apocalyptic time, we follow a troupe of theatre actors and musicians who travel the mid-west of the United States performing Shakespeare plays, because “survival is insufficient.” One of the actresses in this theatre group is Kirsten, and her life provides the connection to the flashback moments of the book. She once knew a famous actor named Arthur Leander, and through her memories of him, we are given flashbacks of his life and the lives of his friends and loved ones.

We see struggle in both modern day, and post-apocalyptic times. The author seamlessly connects the past to the present, all the while providing us, the readers, with beautiful writing. Mandel almost makes it seem as though that pre-apocalyptic times were more tragic than post-apocalyptic. To have the ability and success in conveying this, I think, is an immense feat.

Over-arching all of this is the message that life goes on. We live, we die (in either tragic or non-tragic ways), and we continue to move on. We see this with one of the characters we see in the beginning of the story, and don’t see again until close to the very end. The motivation to live, to overcome obstacles created not only by nature, but by other people as well, is the very definition of humanity…and I think this book conveyed just that. It was beautiful and simple, horrifying and complex, everything all at once. Much like what life is…everything. All at once.

Overall, I obviously gave this a 5/5 stars. I’ll leave you guys with some of my favorite quotes from the book:

“Hell is the absence of the people you long for.”

“First we only want to be seen, but once we’re seen, that’s not enough anymore. After that, we want to be remembered.”

“She had never entirely let go of the notion that if she reached far enough with her thoughts she might find someone waiting, that if two people were to cast their thoughts outward at the same moment they might somehow meet in the middle.”

“If you are the light, if your enemies are darkness, then there’s nothing that you cannot justify. There’s nothing you can’t survive, because there’s nothing that you will not do.”

Graphic Novel Review: Bitch Planet Vol. 1 by Kelly Sue DeConnick and co.

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Genre: Dystopian, Science Fiction

Year Published: 2015

My Rating:★★★★☆

I loved this first volume in this new graphic novel (or comic? I’m still not sure about these labels) series. It takes place in a world where patriarchy rules all…and you may think, wait. Isn’t that the world we already live in?

Yes.

And no.

Because this graphic novel takes place in a world where patriarchy is in the EXTREME. Women who have been “disobedient” or have presented any traits that may go against the male-vision of what they consider to be a perfect woman are sent to what is called “Bitch Planet”. It is LITERALLY a whole planet dedicated to keeping the women they deem disobedient off of planet Earth.

I seriously hope that this is not the future of Earth because although it makes for an interesting read, I would not want this to happen in real life (as I’m sure every other woman wouldn’t want it happening as well).

I don’t want to go too much into the plot, but I will say that it is thought-provoking, funny, and at times, even heart-breaking. We, in an Orange is the New Black type of style, get to know individual inmates on Bitch Planet and how they will play a role in the overall story arc. We also get to see the society of this futuristic universe and how men control every aspect of it, which was pretty sickening.

Overall I really enjoyed this first volume. The art is fantastic and the story is intriguing as well. I can’t wait to read the next volume coming out at the end of this month.

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Book Review: Torn by Avery Hastings

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Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian

Year Published: 2015

My Rating: ★★★☆☆

I received an advanced reader copy of this novel courtesy of NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Torn, the second novel in what I assume to be The Feuds duology, wrapped up these two novels quite nicely. Seeing the two main characters, Davis and Cole, separated from one another and put in situations in which they must rely on themselves, for each other’s sake, was very interesting to see and definitely built the characters as participants in their dystopian world.

Although the writing was not particularly great, the story was still conveyed well. Everything was clear and each character was easily differentiated. That being said, I felt as though perhaps the characters were too predictable, and at times cliche. I still find it a little hard to believe that Cole and Davis are devastatingly in love, because their interactions with one another were not carried out over long periods of time and developed as such, at least to the reader’s knowledge.

Everything seemed to work out quite easily for all of the characters as well…too easily. I would have liked to see the characters encounter and deal with more conflict, rather than just constantly worry that they will run into some sort of conflict, but never really end up doing so. The one bit of conflict that I enjoyed and did not expect was at the end when Cole made it through the ropes after what had happened to Landon.

Everyone had a happy ending, and I actually enjoyed that. If someone had died, or if something particularly horrible had happened to one of the characters, it probably would have felt forced. Luckily, that was not the case, and besides what I have mentioned above, the two books were wrapped up pretty decently.

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Book Review: Feuds by Avery Hastings

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Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian

Year Published: 2014

My Rating: ★★★☆☆

I received a digital copy of this book courtesy of the publisher and Net Galley in exchange for an honest review. This is a spoiler free review.

I was really drawn to this book just by the synopsis. Given, it is another dystopian novel about a teenage girl who suddenly falls in love with this teenage guy and they can’t be together for societal reasons…but I liked it. Almost like Romeo and Juliet, except the other people around them are getting sick and dying instead of them. However, I did have a few issues with some of the characters, and in particular their relationships with one another.

First and foremost, Davis and Cole barely know each other. Yet they fall madly in love so quickly that it’s almost scary. They do describe their physical attraction to one another quite often…but I don’t believe that just physical attraction means that you should be together forever. Everyone gets physically attracted to different people all the time. It just didn’t seem realistic.

Also, many of the side characters such as Davis’ step-mom and sister needed to be developed more. I feel like the author tried to create more background for the each of them, but that’s all it ever was. Background. I didn’t sense much emotion or attachment between Davis and them.

The theme of corruption was done pretty well, as the author highlights certain things like the workers going on strikes and the emptiness of the streets without them. It really showed how prominent segregation can be in the world.

In the end, I liked the whole story line. A few things need to be developed further and dived deeper into, but I believe the story suffices as a decent read for YA readers.

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