Tag Archives: YA Adventure

Inside Out – Maria V. Snyder
Book Reviews
April 21, 2010 posted by Katie

Inside Out – Maria V. Snyder

Keep your head down. Don’t get noticed. Or else.

I’m Trella. I’m a scrub. A Nobody.

One of thousands who work in the lower levels, keeping Inside clean for the Uppers. I’ve got one friend, do my job and try to avoid the Pop Cops. So what if I occasionally use the pipes to sneak around the Upper levels? Not like it’s all that dangerous – the only neck at risk is my own.

Until I accidentally start a rebellion and become the go-to girl to lead a revolution.

I should have just said no…

Trella’s life is a never-ending pattern. Work the even shifts, 10 hours on, 10 hours off. Cleaning the air-ducts with her cleaning troll. Turn troll on. Follow troll. Turn troll of, move to the next duct. It’s a life that she has known for years. One that has made her hate the scrubs around her. It’s in the ducts that Trella can get her peace. No one else around, just her and the metal. And when you have a life with no friends, it’s easy to see why Trella chooses the ducts over the taunts and hostile glances of the other scrubs around her. All except one – Cogon. Everyone is friends with Cog, and it’s impossible not to be.

Cog had been looking for Trella. He has a new prophet he wants her to meet. An Upper who did something so wrong that he was cast into the Lower levels to be forgotten. Yet Trella has her suspicions. This Upper knows too much about her, is asking for too much and promising too little. Yet it’s the kind of thing Trella can’t resist. A chance to prove why she is the queen of the pipes. For the prophet claims he has information on the location of Gateway. The portal to Outside. Yet, they are hidden. In his old apartment, which just happens to be in the restricted section of the Uppers. Scrubs aren’t meant to access the Uppers, and Trella is probably the only who has found a way around.

Against her better judgment, Trella goes looking for the prophet’s disks, knowing that if she is caught, she has no hope of ever returning to the Lowers. Yet as she continues to delve further into the secrets of Inside, she realises maybe everything isn’t exactly as they have been told. After a chance meeting with an Upper who doesn’t turn her in, Trella embarks on a path more dangerous than anything she has tried before. Along with Riley, Cog and the prophet, Trella embarks on the path to discovering the true location of Gateway. A location that every scrub has heard of, but few believe exists. Yet there is a cost, more deadly then Trella could ever imagine.

As more and more scrubs and Uppers alike start to become involved, it is only a matter of time before one of them will be gone forever…

Inside Out is the start of a new series from bestselling author Maria V. Snyder. I have been a large fan of Snyder’s work, and was interested to see how Inside Out would live up to her, in my opinion, most well known work, the Study Series. From the first chapter, the writing and perspective of Trella captured me. Trella was a character that was so clearly defined that I knew we were on for an adventure. Trella develops from a girl who doesn’t trust anyone around her, into a young woman who is confidant in what she needs to do to protect those around her. Trella goes through her rough moments, her self doubts and battles her inner demons on why is she helping to do something she swore she didn’t believe in? Yet without the help of Cog and Riley, Trella would not have been able to achieve anything. For Cog teaches her how to see those around her for more than just mindless scrubs, and Riley convinces Trella that not all Uppers are the same, that there are people who she can trust.

The development of the social constructs of Inside is completely thought out and impeccably detailed. Each and every aspect of society is there, rules that must be obeyed or fought against. Social hierarchy, illegal activities and the ever alluring promise of Outside. The world is complete in a way that lets you get completely lost in the actions of Trella and her friends, lets you believe that their situation is possible. Extremely well written in a way that leaves you needing to read the next page, Snyder has constructed a work that I see as the beginning to a new and fantastic series.

Publication date: 2010

Pages: 315

Rating:: ★★★★½

Teaser quote: My heart dropped into my stomach and ran laps. Lieutenant Commander Karla and three Pop Cops followed my supervisor. The LC’s smug expression and the terrified fury on my supervisor’s fact told me all I needed to know.

Without hesitating, I ran.

Vampire Academy – Richelle Mead
Book Club Read
April 8, 2010 posted by Katie

Vampire Academy – Richelle Mead

Only a true best friend can protect you from your immortal enemies…

Lissa Dragomir is a Moroi princess: a mortal vampire with a rare gift for harnessing the earth’s magic. She must be protected at all times from Strigoi; the fiercest vampires – the ones who never die. The powerful blend of human and vampire blood that flows through Rose Hathaway, Lissa’s best friend, makes her a Dhampir. Rose is dedicated to a dangerous life of protecting Lissa from the Strigoi, who are hell-bent on making Lissa one of them.

After two years of freedom, Rose and Lissa are caught and dragged back to St. Vladimir’s Academy, a school for vampire royalty and their guardians-to-be, hidden deep in the forests of Montana. But inside the iron gates, life is even more fraught with danger…and the Strigoi are always close by.

Rose and Lissa must navigate their dangerous world, confront the temptations of forbidden love, and never once let their guard down, lest the evil undead make Lissa one of them forever…

Rose and Lissa are best friends; the kind that knows each other’s every thought. Well, Rose does. For she is linked to Lissa. They share a bond closer than that of two normal friends. It’s this bond that might have kept them alive for the last two years. That, and Lissa possess magical powers, even if she isn’t very good with them. But all that is about to change, on that one night when the guardians from St. Vladimir’s Academy are about to catch up with them. Lead by Russian guardian Dimitri Belikov, Rose has no chance, yet that doesn’t mean she gives up without a fight. Rose never gives up without a fight. Before they left the Academy, Rose was well known for her sarcastic tongue and tough personality. It had gotten her into trouble many times before.

Yet on her return to St. Vladimir’s, Rose finds that her quick temper is only one of the things she needs to watch. She’s placed on probation, meaning no social outings outside of normal class duties. She has extra training sessions with one Dimitri Belikov. Her freedom is gone, and she hast to start over, something that everyone will take a while to get used to.

But with these extra practice sessions that she originally dreaded, comes something Rose wasn’t expecting. For Dimitri Belikov isn’t what anyone suspects. Rumours frequently state that Dimitri is a god. A sexy badass Russian god who is more than likely the best guardian on campus. As Rose soon finds out, that reputation isn’t without reason. For Dimitri is relentless, constantly challenging Rose beyond her comfort zone, challenging her to find something more than herself. Yet Rose has something else she is struggling with. Against all her better judgment, she finds herself falling for her mentor. Something strictly forbidden in the Dhampir world.

First, Rose is a student, Dimitri her teacher. Second, that teacher is seven years older than her. But most importantly, everyone knows Dhampir’s don’t have relationships with other Dhampir’s. It would distract them from their job – protecting the Moroi at all costs. Lissa’s life could depend on Rose’s concentration. What Rose doesn’t know, is how soon her concentration is going to be tested.

Vampire Academy is the first novel in the series of the same name by author Richelle Mead. As her first foray into the world of Young Adult fiction, Mead has done so spectacularly. Her world is fresh and new. Vampires with routes in firmly established mythology, set in a contemporary society with characters that you wish you were friends with. You won’t find any sparkling vampires here. These vampires are living and real. They drink blood for survival from willing human donators. They enjoy a connection with the elements, each one giving of a different strand of magic that is infused in the spirit of each Moroi. Then there are the Dhampir’s – something not seen before yet equally thought up and developed. The social structure is defined, the places and locations real. There is a quality here that lends itself to every action having a reason and a thought behind it.

Add into that unreal characters. Rose is everything you could want in a female protagonist. Strong, independent and willing to fight for what she believes in, a streak which can sometimes get her into trouble. She is sarcastic, feisty and loyal, laying her life on the line for her best friend time and time again. Dimitri is another example. Strong and fearless, sexy and beautiful. He is the force that makes Roes realize just how serious her training needs to be. He is the one that finally gets through to Rose. Christian was a pleasant surprise to me. I liked his character and the way he cared for Lissa. He is someone that I hope to see more of in future novels. Finally, Lissa. This is the one I wasn’t completely sure about. She is Rose’s best friend, and for that, she keeps Rose sane. Yet, there were times where I saw a selfish streak from Lissa, the need for her to be taken care off. Lissa doesn’t really stand up for herself, though perhaps this is to do with partly how she was raised.

In all, a fantastic first book. This series I highly recommend to anyone who enjoys and is a fan of good urban adventure. A great read, and sure to get you hooked on the rest of the series!

Publication date: 2008

Pages: 332

Rating:: ★★★★½

Teaser quote: “Wow.” I hadn’t thought Dimitri could be any cooler, but I was wrong. “ You beat up your dad? I mean, that’s really horrible…what happened? But, wow. You really are a god.”

He blinked. “What?”

“Uh, nothing.”

Molly Fyde and the Parsona Rescue – Hugh Howey
Book Reviews
February 20, 2010 posted by Katie

Molly Fyde and the Parsona Rescue – Hugh Howey

When Molly gets kicked out of the Naval Academy, she loses more than just another home, she loses the only two things that truly matter: flying in space and her training partner, Cloe. A dull future seems to await, until a marvellous discovery changes everything.

Her father’s old starship, missing for a decade, turns up halfway across the galaxy. Its retrieval launches Molly and Cole on the adventure of a lifetime, one that will have lasting consequences for themselves and billions of others.

What starts off as a simple quest to reconnect with her past, ends up forging a new future. And the forgotten family she hoped to uncover becomes one she never foresaw: a band of alien misfits and runaways – the crew of the starship Parsona.

Ever looked up into the sky at night and imagined yourself flying around the stars off on some other-worldly adventure? Well, this is Molly’s reality. Or will be. Molly is a navy cadet. And don’t be fooled into thinking the Navy is what we understand the Navy to be. Yes they drive ships, but not the standard H.M.A.S. vessels of today’s waters. Molly and her fellow classmates are learning to pilot starships. Sure they are still in training but running a full visual simulator is darn close to the real thing, right down to the G-force experienced.

But in a standard-procedure simulator test, something seems to go wrong. For Molly and her pilot Cole fail and fail miserably. And as much as they try to convince their superiors otherwise, no-one believes them. For Molly and Cole’s simulator was tampered with. Every procedure runs fine, except the ability to arm and fire weapons. Without weapons, they have almost a no-chance at survival. Cole suspects sabotage. With both of them for examination, it will be Molly that the blame is laid at. Particular since Cole was technically ‘killed’ early into the simulator run and it is so much easier to blame the girl.

For Molly, this means expulsion. No more training, and no more hope of becoming a Naval officer. Resigned to a life at a normal high school, everything suddenly seems less for Molly. If loss of her only home, her connection to her past and her best friend that she can’t stop thinking about wasn’t enough, Molly is an outcast in her new school, merely because she is different. That is, until she gets an opportunity of a lifetime. Her father’s ship has been found. And as the legal owner, Molly is the only one who can go and collect it.

And a seemingly straightforward mission is the start of a whole new adventure that even Molly couldn’t begin to fathom…

Molly Fyde and the Parson Rescue is debut novel from Hugh Howey and the first in the Molly Fyde series. The thing that grabbed me from the first page of this novel was the believability in writing and character. The plot just flowed effortlessly, from describing the complexities of hyperspace, simulation flying and other world social structure to the simple dialogue between two best friends struggling to find what they mean to each other. There aren’t many authors who can get you completely lost in a story, but Howey was one of them. For me, I just wanted to know what would happen next, what the next twist in the story would be. As a credit to the author, I never saw the ending that was coming. It makes you easily want to read the next book in the series as soon as you can.

The characters of Molly and Cole were another highlight to the novel. Reading from Molly’s point of view as she struggled through countless personal and emotional challenges left me caring about what happened to her. The history and connection between Molly and Cole as a pair was believable, and the tension that built up added to the story, instead of taking away from it as so many teen-romances can be known to do. That being said, Molly does have her fair share of moments where I just wanted to knock some sense into her and tell her to get over the small dramatics that really seemed unnecessary.

All in all though, a highly engaging read that I would recommend for anyone who is or was a fan of space adventure.

Pages: 258

Publication Date: 2009

Rating:: ★★★★☆

Teaser quote: By the time they arrived at the Palan system, he must’ve had eighteen hours of uninterrupted rest. No bathroom breaks. No food. No flirting. Molly couldn’t understand how he contained himself. Even from the last.

The Crowded Shadows: A Moorehawke Trilogy novel – Celine Kiernan
Book Reviews
February 12, 2010 posted by Katie

The Crowded Shadows: A Moorehawke Trilogy novel – Celine Kiernan

New friends. Old enemies. Who can you trust?

Alone for the first time in her life, Wynter Moorehawke travels unprotected in bandit-infested mountains, searching for missing Prince Alberon.

But every tyrant and bully who has ever threatened the kingdom is gathering to Alberon’s table, and the forest is alive with spies and wolves. Within these crowded shadows, Wynter remains determined to find the Rebel Prince and heal the rift that has come between King and Heir….

Abandoning her father in the time of his greatest need, Wynter is alone. Completely and utterly alone in an unknown forest, with unknown enemies all around her, Wynter is trying to find her way to Alberon, the rebellious son and heir to the throne. Needing to dodge all manner of bandits and rebel enemy groups, Wynter almost doesn’t make it. Threatened with rape by a bandit who has tracked her, Wynter uses all her skill to get away, only to be tracked by a different group of rebel outcasts. That is, until she is saved but the most random of luck.

For who should she run into but Razi and Christopher who are on the same mission she is?

For they have deceived the King into believing that they were on their way to separate parts of the country – Christopher to return home and Razi to study medicine. Yet neither of them are where they are meant to be, and Razi’s decoy was discovered beaten beyond recognition. With the whole kingdom believing that he is dead, Razi is free to move around freely for the first time in years.

Razi and Christopher would both like to see Wynter return to the castle – especially once they learn that her father has finally succumbed to his illness and has passed onto the next life. But Wynter won’t have a bar of it, and since she is the only one with the knowledge of the exact location of Alberon camp, Razi and Christopher have no choice but to let her accompany them.

As they once again begin the perilous trek to find Alberon, the growing attraction between Christopher and Wynter is clear to all that see them, even if they seem hesitant to admit it to themselves. And a trip wouldn’t be a true adventure without a few more complications. Camped in their way, and their best chance to find Alberon is the bear-tribe of the Merron people – Christopher’s adopted culture.

When one of noble lady’s take a fancy to Razi, it seems that everything is going to be easy than they expect. That is…if they survive the visit to the Merron people. When the customs and language of the People are so different to anything Razi and Wynter have experienced before, there is only so much that can happen before tempers start to fray and lives hang in the balance.

For every step that Razi, Christopher and Wynter take could be leading them closer to a path that doesn’t leave them alive…

The Crowded Shadows is the second novel in Irish author Celine Kiernan’s Moorehawke Trilogy, and delivers a continuation of the characters, story and settings that I fell in love with in the first novel. The characters once again develop at a completely believable rate that as a reader I could identify with – the trials that Christopher and Wynter go through together and separately and the reactions and behavior that Razi displays at different points of the novel enriched the story to a point that I couldn’t put it down.

As we discover more history behind Razi, Christopher and Wynter, the complexities that Kiernan wove into the first novel, built upon and I suspect continue to develop in the final novel, play out in the actions and personalities of each character – we find out why Razi has a temper, how Christopher lost his fingers and Wynter’s true name.

However, this novel does have a slight filler feel to it, with a lot of character development but not much plot advancement, at times hardly seeming to move. As the only drawback to this brilliant work, The Crowded Shadows was an enchanting read that has me wanting the final book in the series now.

Pages: 510

Publication date: Ireland 2009, Australia 2010

Rating:: ★★★★☆

Teaser quote: Snatching her to him suddenly, he held her against his chest, his scarred hand covering her eyes as though he wanted to hide her…

Monsters of Men: A Chaos Walking Novel
News
December 5, 2009 posted by Nikki

Monsters of Men: A Chaos Walking Novel

The third novel in Patrick Ness’ Chaos Walking trilogy, Monsters of Men, has an official cover! Take a look:

On his blog, Patrick had this to say about the cover:

“Like the others, this just gives a slight impression.  The book itself will be black and the white printing will be on clear acetate sleeve like The Knife of Never Letting Go and The Ask and the Answer, with the Noise stretching all over the spine and the back, too.  Wait ’til you see it for real, it’s awesome.

The US cover is also underway, and I’ll debut that as soon as I can (it’s looking pretty great, too).”

At yaReads, we’re very excited about the release of this book. So what do you think? Love, or hate?

Eragon – Christopher Paolini
Book Reviews
December 2, 2009 posted by Katie

Eragon – Christopher Paolini

What was once your life is now your legend.

When Eragon finds a polished blue stone in the forest, he thinks it is the lucky discovery of a poor farm boy. But when the stone brings a dragon hatchling, Eragon soon realizes he has stumbled upon a legacy nearly as old as the Empire itself.

Overnight he is thrust into a perilous new world of destiny, magic, and power. With only an ancient sword and the advice of an old storyteller for guidance, Eragon and the fledgling dragon must navigate the dangerous terrain and dark enemies of an Empire ruled by a king whose evil knows no bounds.

Can Eragon take up the mantle of the legendary Dragon Riders? The fate of the Empire may rest in his hands.

Eragon is a simple country boy. Born and raised in the small village of Caravahall, Eragon believes that his destiny is simple – to follow in the footsteps of his father, farming the land for a living, marrying a simple country girl and seeing no more of the Empire than as far as the next town. Yet there is something different about Eragon. He doesn’t look like his father, and he is the only villager game enough to go hunting in the mountainous forest known as the Spine. Creepy and menacing, everything in the spine belongs to the King. When Eragon sets off to go hunting one night, his whole life is about to change.

Thousands of miles away, three elves from Ellesmera are desperately trying to outrun a Shade and his Urgal companion. An almost impossible feat when that Shade is Durza, filled to the brim with demonic spirits. Arya, leader of the elves, is carrying a stone more precious than her own life. In a last attempt to not let this stone fall into the hands of Durza, and in turn the King, Arya sends the stone by magic to Caravahall. But not everything goes as planned. The stone does not go to Caravhall where it was meant to, but lands in the Spine, in the exact position where Eragon is hunting.

Bringing the stone back with him to his father’s small homestead, Eragon soon discovers that the stone, in fact, is an egg. A dragon’s egg. An egg that isn’t meant to exist. And when more of his world starts falling apart – the death of his supposed father, the town being invaded by the King’s soldiers, and the betrayal by the local butcher – Eragon works out what they are looking for. Him. With the company of Caravahall’s mysterious storyteller who knows more about dragon’s than anyone else, Eragon sets out on a mission to find the only people who can help him – the last remnants of the freedom fighters, known only to members of the Empire as the Varden.

Along the way Eragon must learn how to protect himself and his dragon if they want any chance of survival. Eragon becomes proficient with the sword, refines his archery skills and is schooled in the Ancient Language – the basis of all magic. With each step, Eragon is carving out his own destiny and creating a legend. A legend that the King will stop at nothing to destroy.

Eragon is the first book in the Inheritance Cycle by author Christopher Paolini, and while at first glance has many similarities to Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings – the same three races, development of a language and an epic quest to defeat a dark overlord – the depth of the characters and the style interactions between the three races creates a fresh, new world that creates an epic fantasy for a younger generation. To me, I loved Eragon. It captured me from the fast-paced and intense prologue to the climatic ending that has you right in the thick of the action. Paolini’s style captivates the imagination, including just the right about of description to leave the settings and action up to the reader’s interpretation.

I love books that keep you reading, that are easy to read and aren’t a chore. Eragon defiantly fell into this category for me. Anything that I can fall into the world of the book and feel that it is reality for a short space of time, to me is a success on the part of the author.

Fast-paced and action-packed, Eragon does not disappoint.

Rating:: ★★★★☆

Life Swap – Abby McDonald
Book Reviews
November 23, 2009 posted by Katie

Life Swap – Abby McDonald

Can changing places change their lives?

Two girls on opposite sides of the globe both want a quick getaway. The answer? They switch places through a last minute global exchange program. The catch? It’s a direct swap. They swap classes, accommodation and universities. No exceptions. Feminist political theory for film studies. On-camps accommodation for an share-apartment. A university where attendance is expected to one that doesn’t take a roll.

Tasha’s life seems to be coming to pieces. After the disastrous ‘hot-tub incident’, Tasha’s parents wont even talk to her. She can’t go anywhere without being recognised – for all the wrong reasons. She’s desperate to get out. To go anywhere. Emily thought she was on-track. Every aspect planned until she is dumped by her boyfriend for being too studious and up-tight. Every step of her life has been because it is the right decision for the future. The future that her parents what for her. Until now.

Tasha winds up in Oxford, England. Not something you would expect of a typical beach going, class-skipping and all round party girl from America. Finding herself wadding Ugg-deep in feminist theory, Tasha just wants people to see her for who she really is. Not who they all think she is. Yet when the whole university seems out to get her for her rather different views on feminism, blending in seems to be an impossible feat. Emily heads to the University of California, Santa Barbara. Suddenly she is in a world that is the opposite of organisation, planning and preparation. From a class size of three to a lecture hall of 200, Emily is in for a semester of film critiquing, script re-writing and filming. However, her ‘English’ image of perfection and organisation seems to be alienating the rest of the student body against her.

Before long, the two girls make contact from opposite sides of the globe, each offering the other tips and strategies on how to fit in, navigate the difficulty of love and figuring out who they really want to be. Can Tasha and Emily help each other before they each make the best or worst mistake of their lives?

First off, I loved this book. It was extremely well-written and captivating from the first page until the end. Life Swap is debut novel from Abby McDonald, who is a recent graduate of Oxford University providing an excellent platform to satire the collage experience. McDonald’s spin on what could have potentially be seen as stereotypical characters gave a fresh new insight into the way different cultures work and operate against each other. The language choices are fresh and real – McDonald knows how to talk in the language of a teenager, and it transfers into the truth and reality conveyed in Life Swap. With interesting plot developments for both characters and an equal division of both characters story, McDonald manages to create two diverse universe’s that operate in sync with each other. For me, the characters where real people that I could relate to.

I saw a reflection of myself in both Tasha and Emily’s actions, and were able to relate to the choices and situations that both characters found themselves in. From Tasha trying to re-gain some sense of pride and belief in herself after a past mistake that the world wouldn’t forget, to Emily trying to let loose and relinquish her almost obsessive-compulsive to have everything this in her life organised. Emily’s defiance of her parents in the face of, for once, choosing to do what she wants and the events that influence this decision was an interesting look for me, and I feel that many young adults who read this book will relate to it in the same way.

Life Swap was a joy of an adventure that had you laughing, crying and cringing with every decision made.

Rating:: ★★★★★