Requiem

Spoilers! If you haven’t already, you simply must read Lauren Oliver’s Delirium and Pandemonium before continuing with this post. It may also be a good idea to read the Delirium novellas–Hana, Annabel, and Raven–as they give a lot of insights into the minds of some pretty major characters in this trilogy. Also, I would recommend reading Requiem, the final book in this series, in a padded room. It’s either going to drive you crazy, or you’ll want to throw the book across the room. The padding may also muffle the sounds of your cries of anguish. You’ve been warned.

For those still reading this post, I assume you’ve gathered that I just finished Requiem, the third and final book in Lauren Oliver’s Delirium series. Like Clockwork Princess a couple of weeks ago, it took me longer than anticipated to get through this book. Again, I wanted to prolong the drama, but I’d also heard from a couple of people that the ending would drive me insane, and I was trying to put that off…even when the book’s events were keeping me up at night. Well, I finally finished the book this morning, and the ending did make me go a little nuts, but it was also kind of satisfying. (I’m sure other readers out there will disagree with me on the last part of that sentence.) I feel like I’ve been through a lot with Lena, Alex, Hana, Raven, Julian, and the others, and I needed at least some measure of closure with these characters and their captivating stories. (In some cases, I got a little more closure than I would have liked.)

I don’t want to tell you too much about this book because I don’t want to spoil the reading experience for those who are just discovering this series or those who are finishing up as I was. I will say, though, that Requiem is told in two viewpoints:  Lena, on the run in the Wilds, figuring out how to balance her feelings for Julian and Alex, wondering if the cure would have provided her more freedom than her current situation, and still fighting for a better future; and Hana, facing marriage to the future mayor of Portland, a man who isn’t as great as he would appear on the surface, wondering what happened to his first wife, and trying to cope with the startling possibility that her “cure” wasn’t entirely successful. At first glance, it would seem that these two viewpoints are wildly different, but, as the story progresses, the lives of these two former friends once again converge. Both are facing war on seemingly different sides, but both of these girls long for the freedom they experienced as children. They must discover, though, just what they’re willing to sacrifice to be truly free.

I probably gave way too much away in the previous paragraph, but there’s still a lot in this book to be discovered. Lena’s journey is nothing short of heart-breaking. The same can be said for everything that Hana goes through. I haven’t even touched on what happens to Alex, Julian, Raven, Annabel, and several other important characters–some we’ve seen before, and some who are brand new in this story. This book is by no means a happy-go-lucky tale, but when we’re talking about revolution, I guess that’s to be expected. Lives are lost, love is found, and the war for freedom is coming to a head. Will the resistors be successful? Or will the establishment finally succeed in wiping them out and finally putting an end to amor deliria nervosa, the disease we would call love?

Even though I’m still trying to figure out how I feel about how Requiem ended, I do think that it’s a fitting finale to this wonderful series. The first book, Delirium, is on the 2013-2014 South Carolina Young Adult Book Award nominee list, and I hope that teen readers who take the time to read the first book see things through to the bitter end. If you’re looking for a way to get readers interested in this series, casually mention that fans of the Hunger Games or Ally Condie’s Matched series will love it. That should do the trick.

*There is a fair amount of totally justifiable cursing and violence in this book, so be careful when recommending Requiem to middle grade readers. Like any other YA book, know your readers, and be aware of who can handle mature language and situations.*

If you’ve got a first edition of Requiem, you’ll definitely want to check out a short story about Alex at the end of the book. It provides a lot of information on this fascinating character and goes a long way in explaining his past and his attitudes in this entire series.

For more information on Requiem, the entire Delirium series, and any other books by Lauren Oliver, visit her website at http://www.laurenoliverbooks.com/. This site also provides links to the author’s Facebook and Twitter pages as well as her blog. Enjoy!

Pandemonium

Warning:  Read Delirium by Lauren Oliver before proceeding!!!

Yesterday was, in a word, wretched.  My students (and teachers) are so ready for Spring Break that I think all of us have mentally checked out.  Add to that a shocking and upsetting announcement at yesterday afternoon’s faculty meeting, and I was ready to go home and pull the covers over my head until summer.  The only thing that saved yesterday from being a complete wash was finishing Pandemonium, the second book in Lauren Oliver’s amazing Delirium series.  For a little while, I was able to escape into someone else’s problems (and Lena has problems that make mine pale in comparison).  I finished the book last night at around 7:00, and I spent what was left of my evening thinking about what happened and how it could impact Lena’s life in the next book.  So thank you to Lauren Oliver, who helped me to escape for a while.  Isn’t that what the best books do?

Pandemonium is told in two different time periods: “now” and “then.” “Then” is what happened immediately after the events of Delirium. “Now” is, of course, what Lena is currently going through. It’s kind of cool to see how the events of the past impact Lena’s present.

After escaping into the Wilds–without her beloved Alex–Lena is near death. Her salvation comes in the form of a group of people who will grow to be her new “family.” They will help her heal, force her to move on, and show her how to survive in these new and frightening circumstances. But Lena can never forget what–or who–brought her to this point, and she’ll soon have the opportunity to fight back against the corrupt system that believes love, or amor deliria nervosa, is a disease that must be eradicated at any cost.

As Lena battles against the system she once believed in wholeheartedly, she finds herself entangled in a plot that has the power to change everything.  She’s forced to unite with an enemy to survive, and her relationship with that “enemy” becomes very complicated.  If she’s friends–or possibly more–with someone she’s sworn to hate, what will her friends and allies think?  What will society think?  What would Alex think?

Lena is more confused than ever.  She doesn’t know who to trust or what anyone’s true agenda is, but she is sure of one thing.  She will fight for those she loves.  It might mean certain death.  It might mean losing the friends who’ve helped her survive.  It might throw the country–and her own life–into complete turmoil.  But Lena will do what she must.  Even if it kills her.  Maybe love is a disease.  If it is, Lena wants no part of the “cure.”  Find out just how far Lena is willing to go–and what the fallout will be–when you read Pandemonium, the gripping sequel to Lauren Oliver’s Delirium.

I am fully aware that I haven’t come close to capturing how great Pandemonium is.  I tried my best not to give too much away, especially for those who have not read Delirium yet.  (I’m not sure I’ve succeeded there either.)  Pandemonium is a great addition to the wealth of young adult dystopian literature out there, and I eagerly anticipate the third book in this trilogy, Requiem, due out in February of 2013.  There’s also a short story that gives readers a view of Hana’s experiences in Delirium.  It is, naturally, titled Hana, and is available as an eBook.

For now, dear readers, I will leave you.  I am preparing myself for an epic night for anyone who treasures young adult fiction–especially dystopian fiction.  That’s right.  I will be at the midnight premiere of The Hunger Games.  I’ve been looking forward to this for a while, and, if the early reviews are any indication, I will be one very happy movie-goer.  Have an awesome day, and “may the odds be ever in your favor.”

Legend

It’s my 300th post here on Knight Reader!!!  Let’s all pause to do the dance of joy before I get to my latest read…

Okay, now that we’ve gotten that out of our systems, we can move on to the real reason for this post.  I just finished a truly outstanding book that will appeal to fans of The Hunger Games, Divergent by Veronica Roth, Ally Condie’s Matched series, and other notable dystopian literature.  The book is Legend by Marie Lu.  I finally picked this up a few days ago after several librarians and bloggers recommended it, and I was hooked from the first page. 

Legend takes place in what I can only assume is the not-too-distant future, in an America that is divided and engaged in a civil war.  Two young people are being drawn together by death, secrets, and lies…and neither of them knows who to trust.

Day is the most wanted person in the Republic of America (formerly known as the west coast of the United States). He’s considered a traitor and a threat to the government…and he’s fifteen. Day knows that the Republic is keeping secrets from the people, and he’s doing his best to thwart their efforts. He’s also trying to keep his family safe from the plagues that kill more and more people every year.

June is a fifteen-year-old on the brink of becoming one of the youngest military officers in history.  She is a prodigy committed to her country, her duty, and her brother, Metias.  She has a few issues with following rules, but she is secure in what her future holds…until one night changes everything.

When June’s brother is murdered and the blame falls on Day, the lives of these two young people become entangled.  June goes on the hunt for her brother’s killer, and Day is still searching for a way to protect his family.  Eventually, their paths cross.  Neither is prepared for the immediate chemistry between them.  And neither is prepared for the fallout when their true identities come to light.

June thought she knew everything about Day, her brother’s death, and the Republic, but her time with Day, things she witnesses, and cryptic messages from her brother are causing her to question everything she knows.  What is the Republic’s true agenda, and can she and Day figure things out before one (or both) of them meet the same fate as Metias?  Read Legend by Marie Lu to discover how far a corrupt government will go to make sure its secrets stay secret.

I cannot say enough about Legend.  I am shocked that this is Marie Lu’s first novel.  It is truly amazing, and it definitely gives paranoid people like me something to worry think about.  In my opinion, this would be a great read for anyone interested in government and how much power one should be allowed to have over its people.  (When I was reading, I kept seeing images of Hitler’s rise to power.  It’s not that much of a stretch to think that it could happen again.)

This wonderful story has already been optioned for a movie (like so many great young adult books) by CBS Films, and director Jonathan Levine is already attached to the project.  If done right, Legend will be amazing on the big screen.  Marie Lu’s writing makes Legend a “movie in my mind,” so I look forward to seeing if Hollywood’s version lives up to the one in my imagination.  (This rarely happens, but a girl can dream.)

Legend is gripping, fast-paced, and full of suspense and intrigue.  It is fairly violent (as is most dystopian literature), so keep that in mind when recommending it to young readers.  This is a book, like The Hunger Games, that will appeal to male and female readers, and it will not limit itself to young adult fans. 

If you’d like more information on this amazing first book in the Legend series (the second is due out sometime this year) and author Marie Lu, visit http://marielu.org/index.html and http://www.legendtheseries.com/.  I hope you enjoy this book as much as I did!

Crossed

Warning:  You MUST read Matched before proceeding…preferably immediately before.  (I read it a year ago, and I was amazed by how much I forgot.)  Crossed is the second book in Ally Condie’s Matched series, and you will be completely lost if you don’t know (and remember) what happened in the first book.

As you’ve no doubt gathered, I just finished reading Crossed by Ally Condie, my first YA novel of 2012. I’ve been looking forward to reading this book for a while. I just wish I’d had the time to reread Matched prior to starting this one…but I didn’t, so there you go. Crossed continues the story of Cassia and Ky, characters we came to know and love in Matched. In Crossed, the two are determined to find each other, but it turns out they are separated by more than just distance…

Both Cassia and Ky are now on the fringes of Society.  Ky has been sentenced to certain death in the Outer Provinces.  Cassia is working her fingers to the bone in a camp, never knowing when or where she’ll be moved next.  For both of them, the only way out is to escape to the Carving, a treacherous place where the Society rarely ventures. 

Both Ky and Cassia find their moments to run–with one or two helpful companions–but are they really running toward the same thing?  Yes, the Carving is where they’re both headed, but what then?  When they reunite (and I’ll call spoiler alert and say that they will), will Ky and Cassia have the same vision for their future?  Can they survive the Carving long enough to even have a future?  And what (or who) will appear to change everything?  Even though Ky and Cassia truly love each other, will it be enough to see them through the tough times ahead?  Read Crossed by Ally Condie to find out.

Like many second books in a series, Crossed felt kind of like a “bridge” book to me.  I loved the first book, and I’m sure I’ll enjoy seeing how the story wraps up in the third, but this book didn’t live up to the hype in head.  I wanted it to be so much more.  Don’t get me wrong.  It was a good book, and I’ll recommend it to my friends and colleagues, but I didn’t think it was as wonderful as the first book.  I really hope the third book helps to change my mind about this one.

Speaking of the third book, it doesn’t have a title or cover yet, but I do know it will be released sometime later this year.  I’ll post more information as I receive it.  In the meantime, you can learn more about the Matched series at http://matched-book.com/.

Partials

I feel like my latest read should come with a warning label.  Something like Caution: If you are prone to paranoia or think nearly everything is a government conspiracy, this book will only make your condition worse.  Since I am a teensy bit paranoid, I’m even more so after finishing this book, Partials by Dan Wells.  I read the advance reader’s edition (the final product is due out on February 28, 2012), so some things may change, but I think the general tone of the book will definitely remain the same.  Partials took me on a roller coaster ride, and I think fans of science fiction and dystopian literature will be as captivated and disturbed by this book as I was.

Even the beginning of Partials is ominous:

“When our ancestors were attacked at Pearl Harbor, they called it a day that would live in infamy. The day the Partials attacked us with the RM virus will not live in anything, because there will be none of us left to remember it.”
-President David R. Cregan, March 21, 2065, in a presss conference at the White House. Three hours later he hanged himself.

Our story begins twelve years later. The year is 2079, and nearly the entire human race has been wiped out by a deadly virus known as RM. The few known survivors, those immune to the virus, reside in East Meadow, Long Island, and their hope for a cure is dwindling.  The Partials, the biologically engineered soldiers who released the virus, haven’t been heard from in over a decade.  The Senate controls nearly every aspect of life, and their Hope Act requires every woman eighteen years of age and older to become pregnant in the hope that a baby immune to RM will be born.  Rumor has it, though, that the Senate is about to lower the Hope Act age to sixteen.  A rebel group known as the Voice is determined to thwart the government of East Meadow at every opportunity.  In the middle of it all is Kira…

Kira Walker, a sixteen-year-old medical intern, is growing tired of seeing babies born only to die hours later when RM attacks them.  She knows the cure is out there, and she is determined to find it.  But what can she, a mere intern that no one listens to, possibly do that no one else has done before?  She can study the very beings that released the virus in the first place–the creatures no one has seen in years, those immune to the virus in all its forms.  Kira can capture a Partial.

As Kira tries to find a way to do something that no one has ever attempted, she is met with resistance–from the government, from friends, even from her own unsettled mind.  But she is determined, and she eventually–with a lot of struggling, some law-breaking, and the help of some loyal friends–reaches her goal.  She has a Partial to study.  His name is Samm, and Kira is unprepared for how human he actually is.  Kira is learning things from Samm that turn her entire world upside down.  What if the Partials didn’t release RM?  What if Partials are the key to the survival of the human race?  What if the Partials need humans as much as humans seem to need them? 

Kira doesn’t know if she can trust Samm’s information, but she is also learning that she can’t trust her government, either.  Kira knows the Senate wants total control of the people, and they will use fear–of Partials, of RM, of the Voice, even of Kira–to maintain that control.  Kira’s only choice to prevent civil war is to find a cure.  But how can she find a cure when the only society she’s ever known is on the verge of self-destruction?  When she doesn’t know who she can or cannot trust?  When everything in her life is turning upside down?  In this twisting, unpredictable world, how can one young girl–who may be more important than even she realizes–save humanity before all hope is lost?  As she’ll soon learn, “the only hope for humanity isn’t human.” 

This book took me on quite a ride.  It started with a bang, and it ended on a cliffhanger.  I was on the edge of my seat throughout the book.  Partials is action-packed and will appeal to female readers who want a kick-butt, Katniss-like character, and it will appeal to male readers who enjoy reading about war, fighting, blowing stuff up, and super-soldiers.  (I know this is a bit stereotypical, but it’s also kind of true.)  Like I said above, fans of science fiction and dystopian fiction will definitely find something to enjoy in this book, the first in an anticipated series.  If you like reading about government control, conspiracies, killer viruses, rebellion, and teenagers who think they know everything (and sometimes do), you should check this one out.  Partials will be released to the masses on February 28, 2012.

Shatter Me

What do you get when you combine the awesomeness of X-Men with the best in dystopian fiction?  Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi.  This book–which will be released on November 15th–gives readers a glimpse of what life could be like in the future, especially for those with “special” abilities.  If a government used fear as its major source of control, what would they do with a girl who could kill with a single touch?   Would she be locked up to protect the masses?  Or would those in power find a way to use her “gift” against their enemies? 

Juliette hasn’t touched anyone or been touched in almost a year.  She’s learned that her touch is something to be feared.  She has the power to kill, even when she doesn’t mean to.  But none of that matters.  She’s locked up and has no hope of things ever changing…until she gets an unexpected new roommate.

When Adam enters her cell, Juliette feels a connection.  She knows him from somewhere, but he doesn’t seem to recognize her…or so she thinks.  The two grow closer, and Juliette finally feels like she’s found a friend.  But things are about to get extremely complicated.  One night, soldiers come for Juliette.  They beat both her and Adam.  Juliette is taken to Warner, a leader of the Reestablishment, where she’s informed she is to be a weapon against the resistance…whether she wants to be or not.  Juliette doesn’t know what will happen to her or what has happened to Adam, but she soon finds out.  Adam is one of the soldiers keeping watch over her.  Was he just playing at being her friend, or is being a good soldier his true act?

As Juliette learns more about what Warner wants her to do, she also finds ways to grow closer to Adam, despite his position as a soldier.  And when it becomes clear that Juliette’s deadly touch has a somewhat different effect on Adam, their bond grows even stronger.

Soon, Juliette and Adam will have to make a choice.  Will they take their chances with Warner and his mad quest for power?  Or will they find a way to escape so that they can be together?  Is that even an option when a war is brewing and Juliette is considered the ultimate weapon?  Can she find a way to use her powers for good?  Read Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi to learn the truth.

Shatter Me is a bit different from your standard dystopian fare.  Yes, the government is in total control, and there’s a rebel resistance.  (Sounds kind of like Star Wars, doesn’t it?)  Yes, there’s a romance brewing between the two main characters.  Yes, the heroine is conflicted about what she must do.  But, in this book, the heroine has SUPERPOWERS!  (Can Katniss Everdeen claim that?  I don’t think so.)  Juliette is very much like Rogue from the X-Men, and I totally dig that!  Throw in battling a corrupt government, and I think we have a winner.  Not to mention that the writing in this book is outstanding.  I love that we get to experience the thoughts that Juliette doesn’t want kind of like this and feel how crazy her situation is driving her.  I was going a little insane myself when reading this book, but I also felt Juliette’s burgeoning sense of hope that her life might not be as shattered as she once thought.

I hope you’ll enjoy this book as much as I did.  Again, Shatter Me will be released on November 15th, and you can pre-order through Amazon or other fine retailers.

If you’d like more information on this book or author Tahereh Mafi, visit http://www.taherehmafi.com/.  In the meantime, here’s a teaser trailer for this amazing book.

*This review is based on an advance reader’s edition.*

Delirium

Knight Reader is pleased to bring you the first book in yet another dystopian trilogy, Delirium by Lauren Oliver.  Dystopian fiction is hot right now, but I think this new series is unlike any you may have come across before.  In the world Lauren Oliver has envisioned, love is considered a disease, and if one wants to be part of society, one must be cured of this sickness, known as amor deliria nervosa.  Can you even imagine a world without love?  Well, Oliver has in this gripping book, and it’s a sobering look at what the world could be like without love–and all those other messy emotions–in it.

Lena is looking forward to receiving the cure.  She’s seen first hand what the sickness can do to people, and she wants no part of it.  She wants to be matched up with her government-approved mate, given her government-approved job, live where the government tells her, and have the life she’s told she should have.  She doesn’t want to end up like her mother–driven to suicide by the disease, amor deliria nervosa, better known as love.  Lena is already considered something of an outcast because of her mother’s actions.  Now, she just wants to be normal…and she’s only ninety-five days from the procedure that will cure her of any desire to love.

A lot can happen in ninety-five days.  Lena can learn more than she ever wanted to know about the government and society that supposedly protects her.  She can taste a little freedom.  She can rebel.  She can fall in love.  That’s right.  Just weeks before she is schedule to be “cured,” Lena meets a boy who changes how she sees everything.  He opens her eyes to what’s really going on around her, and Lena realizes how truly powerful–and dangerous–love can be and how far one might be willing to go to keep it.

But how can Lena hope to live with love in her life?  Nearly every aspect of her existence is controlled by the government and those who think emotion leads to war, crime, and resistance.  She knows any rebellion, no matter how minor, is met with severe and cruel punishment.  Is she strong enough to break free from everything she’s known, every expectation she’s ever had for her life, no matter what the consequences may be?  What will she do for love?  What would you do?  Read Delirium by Lauren Oliver to discover how love can be both the worst kind of insanity and the ultimate salvation.

I first picked up this book because I loved Before I Fall, Lauren Oliver’s previous novel.  Even though Delirium was totally different from Before I Fall, the writer’s talent comes through in both books.  I cared about the characters, I was engrossed in both the plot and setting, and I was eager to turn the page.  I can’t wait to read more from this wonderfully talented author, and I’m thrilled that Delirium is just the first book in a series (which is kind of a relief considering how the book ended).  I’m not sure yet when the second book will be out, but you can be sure that I will be on the lookout.

For more information on Lauren Oliver and her amazing books, visit http://www.laurenoliverbooks.com/.