Review | The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey

How do you rid the Earth of seven billion humans? Rid the humans of their humanity.

Surviving the first four waves was nearly impossible. Now Cassie Sullivan finds herself in a new world, a world in which the fundamental trust that binds us together is gone. As the 5th Wave rolls across the landscape, Cassie, Ben, and Ringer are forced to confront the Others’ ultimate goal: the extermination of the human race.

Cassie and her friends haven’t seen the depths to which the Others will sink, nor have the Others seen the heights to which humanity will rise, in the ultimate battle between life and death, hope and despair, love and hate.

3 cupcakes

It’s been quite a while since I’ve read The 5th Wave, so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from The Infinite Sea. As a result, I found the first ~2/3 of The Infinite Sea to be rather confusing, especially since nothing seemed to be happening in terms of plot progression. Thankfully, the latter portion captured my interest a bit more, if only because of the many twists, turns, and promises of desolation and desperation that it contained.

The Infinite Sea consists of multiple shifts in perspective, including Cassie, Poundcake, and Ringer. I wasn’t a huge fan of Cassie – her infatuation with Evan Walker was more annoying than it was in the first book, as it seemed to plague her every thought, so I was glad that her narration only took up a small portion of the story.

Ringer’s narration, on the other hand, took up the majority of the book. At first, I wasn’t too fond of this switch: she was very straight-forward and distant in The 5th Wave, so I loved seeing the reasons for this coldness. Ringer is determined, intelligent, and very, very angry, so I can’t wait to see where she goes next.

My favourite POV definitely belonged to Poundcake, even though it was absolutely heartbreaking to read about his backstory and the reasoning behind his nickname.

As with The 5th Wave, I loved the themes that Rick Yancey chose to explore. Over the course of the novel, I found myself thinking intently about the importance of hope, the nature of humanity, and the instinct to protect the young against all costs. More than that, though, I loved how these philosophical musings were tied into the aliens’ grand plan, even if they did raise more questions than answers.

Overall, I’m incredibly conflicted about The Infinite Sea. Although there were several aspects that I really enjoyed, it felt rather unfocused and seemed to contain more filler than substance. Here’s hoping that the next book is much better.

Review | Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl.

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

3.5 cupcakes

Cinder started off very slowly for me – to the point where I was terrified that I’d be the black sheep who just couldn’t get into this well-loved series. Thankfully, the pacing got better as the story went on, and I quickly found myself immersed in this book.

I love fairytale retellings, so I’m quite surprised that it took me so long to give Cinder a try. It definitely draws inspiration from the original Cinderella story, however the creative liberties that Marissa Meyer took (which weren’t limited to cyborgs, a futuristic setting, and the Lunars) gave it a fresh, original feel.

Cinder is a wonderful protagonist. Despite the fact that Cinder’s a cyborg, she’s incredibly relatable – her insecurities are balanced by her strength and determination, and she’s incredibly intelligent and resourceful. As in the original Cinderella tale, Cinder faced prejudice and abuse yet didn’t break in the face of this adversity.

The secondary characters were crafted with just as much thought. From the handsome Prince Kai to the cold, somewhat terrifying Queen Levana, these characters all had distinct personalities. Iko and Peony, in particular, were two of my favourites: the cheeky android and adorable sister were not only loveable, but they also helped humanize Cinder by showing off her softer, more vulnerable side.

My only complaint is that the plot “twists” weren’t exactly a surprise; in fact, I had guessed the main one within the first 50 pages. While a certain amount of predictability is expected in retellings, it somewhat detracted from the mystery component of the story.

Overall, I can certainly see why this series has so much hype surrounding it; this unique twist on a beloved fairytale was really enjoyable, so I can’t wait to see where Cinder’s story goes next.

Book Review: The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.

Now, it’s the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth’s last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker.

Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie’s only hope for rescuing her brother—or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up.

3.5 cupcakes

The 5th Wave is exactly how I like my post-apocalyptic worlds: dark and with high stakes. There’s this prevailing feeling of hopelessness that, coupled with the intrigue of what the 5th Wave could possibly contain, certainly makes for an intense read.

This creepy factor peters off towards the middle of the book when our protagonist, Cassie, forgets that survival should be her main priority and falls into an unfortunate case of instalove with Evan. Not only is the romance severely lacking in chemistry, but it also serves to weaken Cassie’s character and any previous admiration that I had for her. Any suspicions that Cassie (rightfully) had about Evan were swept out the window whenever he so much as smiled at her, causing the plot to drag in many places, and ruining the effect of the subsequent plot twist (if it can be called that, given that I had guessed it fairly early on).

I wasn’t really able to connect with any of the characters. While I appreciated having multiple perspectives, the fact that they weren’t labelled led to a bit of confusion on my part, since Cassie and Zombie sounded quite similar; if it weren’t for the fact that they were in much different settings (and of different genders), I wouldn’t have been able to tell their voices apart. I really enjoyed seeing the world through Sammy’s eyes: the naive voice of a child brought much-needed light-hearted, aww-worthy moments to the story.

Some of my favourite parts of The 5th Wave were the philosophical musings on moral ambiguity and the notion of humanity. It posed some questions that I’m still considering: what does it mean to be human? Is humanity something that one can gain or lose?

Overall, I enjoyed The 5th Wave for the most part; if it weren’t for the romance, I feel as though I would have loved it just as much as everyone else. That being said, I’m still looking forward to reading The Infinite Sea , if only to see how much more intense the alien invasion can get.

Book Review: The 100 by Kass Morgan

In the future, humans live in city-like spaceships orbiting far above Earth’s toxic atmosphere. No one knows when, or even if, the long-abandoned planet will be habitable again. But faced with dwindling resources and a growing populace, government leaders know they must reclaim their homeland… before it’s too late.
Now, one hundred juvenile delinquents are being sent on a high-stakes mission to recolonize Earth. After a brutal crash landing, the teens arrive on a savagely beautiful planet they’ve only seen from space. Confronting the dangers of this rugged new world, they struggle to form a tentative community. But they’re haunted by their past and uncertain about the future. To survive, they must learn to trust – and even love – again.

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After hearing friends rave about CW’s adaptation of The 100, I thought that I should give it a try. Its plethora of action scenes and relationship drama made me understand why it was optioned, but unfortunately it was nothing more than a quick, shallow read.

The 100‘s first failing is its world-building, or lack thereof. The details of the ship, how it came to be, and the Gaia Doctrine are incredibly vague. Any explanations that are mentioned were so brief and minute that they failed to answer any of my questions, so I would have loved if there was an extra hundred pages or so to elaborate upon this world.

What disappointed me the most, though, was the fact that the romantic aspects of the plot took the forefront over more important matters, like trying to survive on a potentially dangerous planet. Wells and Glass love their respective partners more than anything else, including their own lives, and their POVs are continually filled with romanticized thoughts. And, to make matters worse, there’s the beginning of a love triangle, and many, many poor decisions made in the name of love. Including my absolute favourite line: “To save the girl he loved, he’d have to endanger the entire human race.”

Despite the fairly similar thoughts, it wasn’t difficult to tell the characters apart – which was nice, considering there were four distinct perspectives to deal with. I wasn’t able to connect or empathize with any of the characters, as none of them felt three-dimensional or real. I suppose that Bellamy irritated me the least, since he at least had a backstory that wasn’t centred around romance, and his unfailing support for his sister was quite nice to read.

Overall, The 100 didn’t contain a lot of substance, but I can certainly see it making a decent television show.

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Waiting on Wednesday (August 6)

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Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly book meme hosted by Breaking the Spine, which spotlights upcoming releases that are eagerly anticipated.

This week, I’m waiting on The Body Electric by Beth Revis, which is set to be published in October 2014.

The future world is at peace.

Ella Shepherd has dedicated her life to using her unique gift—the ability to enter people’s dreams and memories using technology developed by her mother—to help others relive their happy memories.

But not all is at it seems.

Ella starts seeing impossible things—images of her dead father, warnings of who she cannot trust. Her government recruits her to spy on a rebel group, using her ability to experience—and influence—the memories of traitors. But the leader of the rebels claims they used to be in love—even though Ella’s never met him before in her life. Which can only mean one thing…

Someone’s altered her memory.

Ella’s gift is enough to overthrow a corrupt government or crush a growing rebel group. She is the key to stopping a war she didn’t even know was happening. But if someone else has been inside Ella’s head, she cannot trust her own memories, thoughts, or feelings.

So who can she trust?

loved the Across the Universe series, so I’m incredibly excited to give The Body Electric a try – especially if what I’ve heard about Amy and Elder making brief appearances is true. The whole idea of entering peoples’ dreams and altering memories reminds me a bit of Inception or Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and that gorgeous cover needs to be on my bookshelf ASAP.

Which books are you waiting on? Leave me a link or a list to your Waiting on Wednesday post below. 3

Waiting On Wednesday (June 25)

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Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly book meme hosted by Breaking the Spine, which spotlights upcoming releases that are eagerly anticipated.

This week, I’m waiting on A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray, which has an expected publication date of November 4th, 2014.

Every Day meets Cloud Atlas in this heart-racing, space- and time-bending, epic new trilogy from New York Times bestselling author Claudia Gray.

Marguerite Caine’s physicist parents are known for their radical scientific achievements. Their most astonishing invention: the Firebird, which allows users to jump into parallel universes, some vastly altered from our own. But when Marguerite’s father is murdered, the killer—her parent’s handsome and enigmatic assistant Paul—escapes into another dimension before the law can touch him.

Marguerite can’t let the man who destroyed her family go free, and she races after Paul through different universes, where their lives entangle in increasingly familiar ways. With each encounter she begins to question Paul’s guilt—and her own heart. Soon she discovers the truth behind her father’s death is more sinister than she ever could have imagined.

A Thousand Pieces of You explores a reality where we witness the countless other lives we might lead in an amazingly intricate multiverse, and ask whether, amid infinite possibilities, one love can endure.

I’ll admit that the gorgeous cover drew me in at first, but the promise of parallel universes intrigued me enough to add this to my wishlist. I’ve only read a few of Claudia Gray’s books in the past (read: my vampire obsessed days) and don’t remember much about them, so I’m excited to rediscover her writing!

Which books are you waiting on? Leave me a link or a list to your Waiting on Wednesday post below. 3

Book Review: These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner

It’s a night like any other on board the Icarus. Then, catastrophe strikes: the massive luxury spaceliner is yanked out of hyperspace and plummets into the nearest planet. Lilac LaRoux and Tarver Merendsen survive. And they seem to be alone.

Lilac is the daughter of the richest man in the universe. Tarver comes from nothing, a young war hero who learned long ago that girls like Lilac are more trouble than they’re worth. But with only each other to rely on, Lilac and Tarver must work together, making a tortuous journey across the eerie, deserted terrain to seek help.

Then, against all odds, Lilac and Tarver find a strange blessing in the tragedy that has thrown them into each other’s arms. Without the hope of a future together in their own world, they begin to wonder—would they be better off staying here forever?

Everything changes when they uncover the truth behind the chilling whispers that haunt their every step. Lilac and Tarver may find a way off this planet. But they won’t be the same people who landed on it.

A timeless love story, THESE BROKEN STARS sets into motion a sweeping science fiction series of companion novels. The Starbound Trilogy: Three worlds. Three love stories. One enemy.

My Rating: 5 cupcakes

When I saw that These Broken Stars was being described as “the Titanic in space,” I was expecting a love story set on an uncrashable spaceship. While I can certainly see the parallels – star-crossed lovers on board the Icarus, which is unexpectedly pulled out of hyperspace – These Broken Stars was so much more than that.

These Broken Stars is very much a character-driven story. Readers are immediately introduced to the two leads who couldn’t be more different: Tarver, the young war hero, and Lilac, the spoiled daughter of the richest man in the galaxy. Both of these characters are flawed but likeable, though it did take me a little bit longer to warm to Lilac, and I really enjoyed reading their inner monologues through the dual POVs we were given. Over the course of the story, circumstances cause both of these characters to grow and change, though I was most impressed with Lilac’s character development: as she learns to survive on an unknown planet, she transforms from an entitled society girl to a caring, considerate young lady that I grew to adore.

Of course, as the synopsis suggests, there is an element of star-crossed romance that is present in the story. Thankfully, it wasn’t insta-love; instead, Tarver and Lilac’s relationship slowly progresses from reluctant allies to a tentative friendship to a swoon-worthy romance.

At its core, though, These Broken Stars is about survival against all odds. While this may not make for a lot of action, mysterious “whispers” and unexpected twists kept me reading until the early morning. And all of these strange happenings culminated in a breathtaking conclusion that left me eagerly awaiting the sequel.

Overall, I really enjoyed These Broken Stars. This beautifully written, character driven story was unputdownable, and I can’t wait to see where the story goes next.

Book Review: When the World Was Flat (and we were in love) by Ingrid Jonach

Looking back, I wonder if I had an inkling that my life was about to go from ordinary to extraordinary.

When sixteen-year-old Lillie Hart meets the gorgeous and mysterious Tom Windsor-Smith for the first time, it’s like fireworks — for her, anyway. Tom looks as if he would be more interested in watching paint dry; as if he is bored by her and by her small Nebraskan town in general.

But as Lillie begins to break down the walls of his seemingly impenetrable exterior, she starts to suspect that he holds the answers to her reoccurring nightmares and to the impossible memories which keep bubbling to the surface of her mind — memories of the two of them, together and in love.

When she at last learns the truth about their connection, Lillie discovers that Tom has been hiding an earth-shattering secret; a secret that is bigger — and much more terrifying and beautiful — than the both of them. She also discovers that once you finally understand that the world is round, there is no way to make it flat again.

An epic and deeply original sci-fi romance, taking inspiration from Albert Einstein’s theories and the world-bending wonder of true love itself.

My Rating: 1 cupcake

When the World Was Flat (and we were in love) was one of my more anticipated reads of 2013. Between the lovely cover, the intriguing title, and a synopsis that promised me a science fiction story based on actual theories, I was certain that this would become one of my new favourite stories… but, unfortunately, it fell rather flat and I was not in love with it.

I wasn’t enamored with any of the characters in this book. None of their relationships were really developed that much, and were instead defined by labels that our judgmental main character, Lillie, doled out: there was Sylv, the slut (and while they didn’t come right out and call her that, they definitely frowned upon her sexual freedom); Jo the tomboy; Melissa, the popular mean girl; and Lillie’s absent mother. The only one to escape this labeling was Tom, but he also came across as rather one-dimensional.

The relationship between Tom and Lillie seemed to cover almost every cliche in today’s YA scene: a mysterious, hot, new boy takes interest in a girl with self-esteem issues, they have a connection that can’t be explained, and all of a sudden they’re in love / soulmates . Their relationship really wasn’t developed very well – just like all of Lillie’s other relationships – so by the time that the “big reveal” of why Lillie was drawn to Tom came about, I didn’t care enough to be surprised or intrigued.

My main problem with this book, however, was the lack of science fiction aspects. Parallel dimensions and string theory were discussed at times, but the main focus of the book seemed to be the instalove-fueled romance between Tom and Lillie. As a result, I was left with more questions than answers in regards to many of the scientific theories mentioned: if a decision can cause a parallel universe to form where you chose to do the opposite thing, does this happen with all choices? If not, how do you know which choices will do this? If every scenario has multiple potential outcomes, does that mean that there is an infinite number of parallel universes? And so on. I would love to say that all of these were touched upon more than once – and during an infodumpy conversation between Lillie and Tom, of all places – but since the scientific theories fell to the wayside once the romance began, many of them were left unanswered.

Overall, When the World Was Flat (and we were in love) was a huge disappointment. It held my interest just enough to keep me from marking it as a dnf, even though I was tempted to on many occasions.

Book Review: All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill

“You have to kill him.” Imprisoned in the heart of a secret military base, Em has nothing except the voice of the boy in the cell next door and the list of instructions she finds taped inside the drain.

Only Em can complete the final instruction. She’s tried everything to prevent the creation of a time machine that will tear the world apart. She holds the proof: a list she has never seen before, written in her own hand. Each failed attempt in the past has led her to the same terrible present—imprisoned and tortured by a sadistic man called the doctor while war rages outside.

Marina has loved her best friend James since the day he moved next door when they were children. A gorgeous, introverted science prodigy from one of America’s most famous families, James finally seems to be seeing Marina in a new way, too. But on one disastrous night, James’s life crumbles apart, and with it, Marina’s hopes for their future. Now someone is trying to kill him. Marina will protect James, no matter what. Even if it means opening her eyes to a truth so terrible that she may not survive it. At least not as the girl she once was.

All Our Yesterdays is a wrenching, brilliantly plotted story of fierce love, unthinkable sacrifice, and the infinite implications of our every choice.

My Rating: 4.5 cupcakes

If the government had the ability to travel in time, what would our society look like? Would international crises be averted or would the world quickly fall into a totalitarian regime? All Our Yesterdays takes the latter standpoint, and creates a scarily realistic picture of how time travel is not just neat – it’s a threat to all of us. The mechanics of how this type of time travel would work and all of its associated paradoxes were so well explained that I found myself wondering if such a thing could actually happen.

The characters were so beautifully written and complex, and all had such distinct voices. I admired Em’s resilience, Finn’s uncanny ability to make anyone smile even in the darkest of times, James’ determination to do the right thing… even Marina, who first appeared shallow and allowed a boy to define her actions, managed to grow on me. The relationships between the characters are so artfully manipulated throughout the course of the story that all of the character development that occurred was more than plausible given the circumstances. While some of the growth was subtle, much of the character development was tied into a simple, but important, question: how similar is the person you are now to the person you will become?

Overall, All Our Yesterdays was an amazing debut. Although it functions well as a stand-alone, I look forward to more adventures in time with these characters.

ARC Review: After Eden by Helen Douglas

Eden Anfield loves puzzles, so when mysterious new boy Ryan Westland shows up at her school she’s hooked. On the face of it, he’s a typical American teenager. So why doesn’t he recognise pizza? And how come he hasn’t heard of Hitler? What puzzles Eden the most, however, is the interest he’s taking in her.

As Eden starts to fall in love with Ryan, she begins to unravel his secret. Her breakthrough comes one rainy afternoon when she stumbles across a book in Ryan’s bedroom – a biography of her best friend – written over fifty years in the future. Confronting Ryan, she discovers that he is there with one unbelievably important purpose … and she might just have destroyed his only chance of success.

My Rating: 2 cupcakes
After Eden was a quick, easy read with a believable and interesting sci-fi premise. Unfortunately, that’s about all this book had going for it.It started off rather slowly, possibly due to the fact that I didn’t really have any connection with the characters. Eden was a fairly bland character; she had little personality to begin with and once Ryan was introduced, she quickly fell straight into a puddle of instalove. She was jealous, insecure, and really oblivious, so reading her narration could be slightly painful at times. Ryan, the new boy at school, was just… there. Sure, he was mysterious and the mission that he was on was kind of interesting, but he didn’t have much of a personality. And Connor, the best friend, drove me crazy. He spent most of the book pining over Eden, who never noticed that he was interested despite being told many times by Ryan. This would have been acceptable behaviour if he didn’t spend the entire book arguing with Eden merely because he was jealous; for two people who claim to be best friends, it was often hard to tell that they even liked one another.

Once Eden discovered Connor’s yet-unwritten autobiography, the plot began moving at a much quicker pace. I really liked the sci-fi aspects of the story: the constellations and time travel were explained quite well and the reasons why Ryan came back were interesting.

Overall, After Eden was a disappointing read. The concept behind the story was interesting, but unlikeable characters and too much instalove made it difficult to enjoy.

I received an advanced copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.