Book Review: The Torturer’s Daughter (Internal Defense #1) by Zoe Cannon

Title: The Torturer’s Daughter (Internal Defense #1)

Author: Zoe Cannon

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Genre: Young Adult, Dystopia

Published: 22 October 2012

Format: E-book, 274 pages

Synopsis: “When her best friend Heather calls in the middle of the night, Becca assumes it’s the usual drama. Wrong. Heather’s parents have been arrested as dissidents – and Becca’s mother, the dystopian regime’s most infamous torturer, has already executed them for their crimes against the state.

To stop Heather from getting herself killed trying to prove her parents’ innocence, Becca hunts for proof of their guilt. She doesn’t expect to find evidence that leaves her questioning everything she thought she knew about the dissidents… and about her mother.

When she risks her life to save a dissident, she learns her mother isn’t the only one with secrets – and the plot she uncovers will threaten the lives of the people sh

It’s easy to be a hero when you can save the world, but what about when all you can do is choose how you live in it? THE TORTURER’S DAUGHTER is a story about ordinary teenage life amidst the realities of living under an oppressive regime… and the extraordinary courage it takes to do what’s right in a world gone wrong.” (Taken from Goodreads)

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Book Review: Taken by Erin Bowman

Title: Taken

Author: Erin Bowman

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½

Shelf: Read-in-2013, Young-Adult, Dystopian, 3.5-out-of-5, Released-in-2013, Debut Author, DAC Challenge, Kindle-eBook, Edelweiss-Review

Publication Date: 16 April 2013 by HarperTeen

Synopsis: “There are no men in Claysoot. There are boys—but every one of them vanishes at midnight on his eighteenth birthday. The ground shakes, the wind howls, a blinding light descends…and he’s gone.

They call it the Heist.

Gray Weathersby’s eighteenth birthday is mere months away, and he’s prepared to meet his fate–until he finds a strange note from his mother and starts to question everything he’s been raised to accept: the Council leaders and their obvious secrets. The Heist itself. And what lies beyond the Wall that surrounds Claysoot–a structure that no one can cross and survive.

Climbing the Wall is suicide, but what comes after the Heist could be worse. Should he sit back and wait to be taken–or risk everything on the hope of the other side?” (Taken from Goodreads)

– – – –

In Claysoot, a town enclosed by a wall with black mist on the outside, boys disappear as the clock strikes midnight on their 18th birthday. This is known as being ‘Heisted’. On the day after his older brother is Heisted, Gray discovers a peculiar secret that sets the story rolling.

Taken was overall a very enjoyable read. I found the dystopian town very engrossing from the beginning, although many questions do arise from it. Things like how they keep time, how they managed to learn to read and write without many materials and so forth. I did manage to push these thoughts aside though as Gray’s story was very engaging. From the start, the reader is thrust into the mind of this character who’s rash and stubborn. We’re shown someone that hits girls when he loses his temper, slams doors and is overall a little selfish. That, we learn, is the main protagonist. While he’s not entirely loveable, his natural instinct to follow his gut does highlight his character and helps him during his journey.

Gray’s adventure is very fast paced as he learns new information in each place he ends up. He and his ‘girlfriend’ Emma, escapes Claysoot and is brought to Taem, a domed city run by a man named Frank who explains his cities (AmEast) is continuously being attacked by AmWest who’ve lost once during the civil war between them two. Gray ends up in Taem for a little while, meeting Frank and being mesmerised by his fatherly gestures. /SPOILER/ What I really didn’t like about Frank was how bad of a villain he turns out to be. And by bad, I mean he just didn’t seem as evil as people make him out to be. I think Bowman tried to show his evil ways through rash death penalties and his organised armies … but for me, it just doesn’t work right. I don’t hate him as I should, and while I don’t support him, I just really didn’t care whether he won or lost his battles. /SPOILER/ I really would have rather learned more about the beginnings of the civil war between AmEast and AmWest … what brought it about and how the hell did Frank manage to dome a whole city? 

What I did care about a little was the love triangle. Ha, yes, there was a love triangle and I managed to care a little. This might be because it was written much better than the supposed one with a male protagonist in The Maze Runner by James Dashner. And speaking of which, much of this story is quite reminiscent of The Maze Runner. But I thought it was executed much better. While TMR was just full of weird scenarios and questions upon questions, Taken actually answers some of these questions. I’m so happy Bowman didn’t find the need to keep questions unanswered until the second installment.

Gray has liked Emma, a clinic worker’s daughter, all his life. While he manages to escape from Taem, Emma gets left behind within the city as he heads for the mountains where the Rebels of Frank’s Franconian Order is supposedly hiding. There, he meets Bree, a strong-willed girl – a complete opposite of Emma. While reading from a male’s perspective is a little different to the vast majority of female-led dystopians on the market, the two love interests pretty much take on the same feel. They’re obviously opposites of each other – I mean, how else will Gray otherwise fall for two people. I think the triangle played out well here because it manages to build Gray’s character. Rather than it being the centre of the story, it sits to the side but helps Gray realise how selfish he is worrying about it when there are people dying everyday due to the war. While it’s nice to read about some romance, it was much better to learn that this love triangle plays a bigger part than for no reason but to hook readers.

Taken was a very enjoyable read and I’m highly anticipating the second book. I hope Bowman manages to fill in some inconsistent holes scattered throughout the story, but other than that, a wonderful debut novel!

THANK YOU: HarperTeen on Edelweiss for providing me an electronic ARC for an honest review.

Book Review: What’s Left of Me (The Hybrid Chronicles #1) by Kat Zhang

Title: What’s Left of Me

Author: Kat Zhang

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Shelf: Read-in-2012, Young-Adult, Science-Fiction, Dystopia, 4-out-of-5, Released-in-2012, Kindle-eBook, Netgalley-Read

Synopsis: “I should not exist. But I do.

Eva and Addie started out the same way as everyone else—two souls woven together in one body, taking turns controlling their movements as they learned how to walk, how to sing, how to dance. But as they grew, so did the worried whispers. Why aren’t they settling? Why isn’t one of them fading? The doctors ran tests, the neighbors shied away, and their parents begged for more time. Finally Addie was pronounced healthy and Eva was declared gone. Except, she wasn’t . . .

For the past three years, Eva has clung to the remnants of her life. Only Addie knows she’s still there, trapped inside their body. Then one day, they discover there may be a way for Eva to move again. The risks are unimaginable-hybrids are considered a threat to society, so if they are caught, Addie and Eva will be locked away with the others. And yet . . . for a chance to smile, to twirl, to speak, Eva will do anything.” (Taken from Goodreads)

– – – –

I didn’t expect to like this book as much as I did, especially with a plot that moved along so slowly. But wow, I’m so glad it blew my expectations out of the water! More than once, this book ignited questions about humanity that resulted in momentary lapses in reading time to try and resolve. It was odd to think about having two souls in your body that co-existed together and was able to watch what either one was doing – in a sense it was similar to siamese twins, but with their minds and thoughts conjoined.

I found Eva to be a very well constructed character – and props to Zhang for writing from the perspective of the recessive soul that existed only as a remnant of most people’s memories. I found Zhang’s writing to be strong and flawless, and Eva’s voice resounded so well within the pages.

The relationship between Addie and Eva was written wonderfully too. They behaved as sisters would – they fought and they supported each other. What made it so different to normal sibling relationships is that both souls shared the same body, thus if one kissed someone, the other had to experience it too. This once again made me think – while hybrid souls are solely science-fiction, what about conjoined twins within our normal world? How does it work when one twin has a physical relationship with their partner? How does the their twin react? What happens when one gets married? I’m really interested in finding out after reading this book.

***SPOILERS***

What irked me about this book (and kept me from giving it 5/5 stars) were some of the side characters and the pacing. Hally/Lissa was a character that I couldn’t invest in. Hally appeared for the majority of the first part of the book, while Lissa seemed to replace her in the second. While Hally seemed to reappear a few times, it seemed this happened sporadically, as if Zhang only just remembered that Hally still existed. There was no explanation as to why Lissa seemed to take over their body once they got to the hospital. These soul switches were executed better with Devon/Ryan – and I understood why they switched around, especially when Eva finally gained control of her and Addie’s body again. However, I’m still confused as to how Eva could tell when Devon or Ryan was in control … they shared the same body, so it’s not like there were little differences to their faces like twins may have.

The second thing that irked me was the pacing of this book. I found the plot to be extremely slow, but then BAM, Eva tells me that only a day or two has passed since the time she was admitted into the hybrid hospital. I’m surprised for a bit and then the plot continues to move along at a snail’s pace. Luckily, it does speed up towards the last fifth of the book, which I think redeemed itself. But now that I think about it, Addie and Eva only lived in that hospital for 5-7 days before they escaped to live with their rescuers … where they hell are their parents? Surely they couldn’t have forgotten about the girls in less than a week? And don’t get me started on Hally/Lissa and Devon/Ryan’s parents. Did they not even bother to fight for their children? It seemed a little too easy that they would let someone take away their only two children to a completely different state without putting up a fight.

***SPOILER***

While there were negative aspects of the book, it didn’t really hinder my overall enjoyment of Eva and Addie’s story. I thought the entire story was very though provoking and extremely creative and original. There were light aspects of romance, and luckily it didn’t make up the plot – huzzah! I am definitely intrigued about this series and will most likely pick up the next book as soon as it comes out. I do recommend this book to anyone that likes a dystopian read that is original and not powered only by romance!

THANKS TO: HarperCollins Australia for the read on Netgalley

Book Review: The Maze Runner by James Dashner

Title: The Maze Runner

Author: James Dashner

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Shelf: Read-in-2012, Young-Adult, Science-Fiction, Dystopia, 4-out-of-5, Released-in-2009, Kindle-eBook

Synopsis: “When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his first name. His memory is blank. But he’s not alone. When the lift’s doors open, Thomas finds himself surrounded by kids who welcome him to the Glade—a large, open expanse surrounded by stone walls.

Just like Thomas, the Gladers don’t know why or how they got to the Glade. All they know is that every morning the stone doors to the maze that surrounds them have opened. Every night they’ve closed tight. And every 30 days a new boy has been delivered in the lift.

Thomas was expected. But the next day, a girl is sent up—the first girl to ever arrive in the Glade. And more surprising yet is the message she delivers.

Thomas might be more important than he could ever guess. If only he could unlock the dark secrets buried within his mind.” (Taken from Goodreads)

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