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    Fiendishly Bookish has read 3 books toward her goal of 250 books.



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    New Fiendish Review: Wither by Lauren DeStefano

    Book:                    Wither

    Author:                Lauren DeStefano

    Publisher:           Simon & Schuster

    ISBN/ASIN:         9781442409057

    Rating:                  3.5 Stars

    Release Date:    March 22, 2011

    Pop by Lauren’s page here. Read the excerpt.

    Lauren DeStefano’s latest young adult dystopian novel due out in March of 2011 is testament to a world gone wrong -science has wreaked havoc on the genetic code, war has broken out and decimated much of the known world, the polar ice caps have melted, and the center of the known world is now the United States…or at least what is left of it.

    Now men only live until 25 and women to age 20. In order to perpetuate the species until a cure can be found, a sinister practice has surfaced. Girls are being kidnapped by Gatherers and delivered to either brothels or rich families and bonded into marriage with their prospective husbands and sister wives.  The aging First Generation is hopelessly trying for a cure, but with the growing divide between pro-naturalists and the scientists, a cure is too far out of hand.

    At first glance, I wondered is DeStefano’s world enough to draw in readers? Wither’s theme is off-putting…where girls…some very young, are thrust into the role of wife and mother, clinging to each other for support and guidance. It is a theme all too common in this day and age-and at every remote corner of the globe, and Wither brings it home to readers-riding a fine line between adult and YA fiction.

    DeStefano plays this hand heavily in her characters: Rhine Ellery the lead in Wither whose unusual genetic makeup and beauty has targeted her for a House Governor’s mansion after being stolen away from her home and her brother Rowan. There is Cecily who grew up in a government orphanage desperate to escape-even if her route is as a child bride, and Jenna who has done whatever she could to escape the mean streets to survive. Each has a different background but a similar fate…

    Much in the same vein as The Handmaid’s Tale, Wither delivers a similar theme, but there is too little to draw in readers, sparse relief, and hope seems in short supply. The draw between Rhine and Gabriel, her attendant provides a brief respite, and sometimes the uneasy truce between Linden (Rhine’s new husband).  But overall, DeStefano seems uncertain on how to weave the uneasiness between Rhine and Linden. Does she fall for him, her captor? Does she hate him even though he does not know the truth about her abduction? Why doesn’t Rhine tell him the truth? About the true reality of “outside” and how she, Cecily and Jenna were abducted for his benefits? Everywhere is the spectre of Vaughn, Linden’s frightening father who controls every aspect of the estate and those who are held prisoner there.

    Wither is darkly haunting, uncomfortable, and well written. And DeStefano’s story world-building is superficial, not fully explained. But it is not the theme that turned me from DeStefano’s story. True, it is a troubling subject, but the vital component missing was hope. That necessary ingredient has to be present to save the reader from its depressing theme. Without this relief, Wither can be a dark, brooding morass emanating a poignant feeling of being trapped in a gilded cage.

    Part of the 2011 Book Chick City Horror and Urban Fantasy Challenge (yes I know this is a dystopian novel...:)

     A Fiendishly Bookish Review (and one grumpy cat)


    New Fiendish Review: Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

    Book:                      Mockingjay

    Author:                   Suzanne Collins

    Publisher:               Scholastic Press

    ISBN/ASIN:              0439023513

    Release Date:        Out now!!

    Rating:                    4 Stars

    Collins has detoured straight into full-scale revolution with Mockingjay-the final chapter of The Hunger Games series. And the plight of Panem, Katniss Everdeen, District 12 and her band of Hunger Games victors has been thrown to the wind as conflict shadows their every move, rarely letting readers up for air.  

    In these moments we are pensive, forever guessing at the direction that Collins is taking us. Never do we dare think that the road that we've been diverted to is one that will only end with very real casualties-and this is where Mockingjay morphs from a YA dystopian novel into something more perilous.

    Through each page turn, I kept remembering the poem Plato Told by ee cummings, that particular poem reverberating through my head endlessly as well as the lyrics of “Strange Fruit”. Those cautionary, but powerful words portend the tone of this final chapter in Katniss Everdeen’s life. It is as if Mockingjay was the proverbial wolf in sheeps clothing: a raw and harrowing amalgam of world history. Our own.  Like Peacekeeper: Road to Sarajevo cloaked as a young adult novel with a subliminal message to its readers. 

    For fans of The Hunger Games, Collin’s overtly somber tone and stoic ending might derail them, unwilling to follow the long road of a once entertaining but serious tale into a world where hope is diminished and not without very real sacrifice. Will readers follow? Most likely yes, but unwillingly. 

    Mockingjays’ grave finale works against everything Collins started with her series, and sometimes it leaves bitter ashes in the mouth. Palpably the conflict churns between Peeta, Haymitch, Gale, the rebels, and the ongoing inner turmoil that Katniss feels. There are glimmers of hope of love, however fleeting and yes there is the satisfying conclusion with Peeta and Katniss at the very end. But at what price? 

    Mockingjay cannot be denied as a powerful piece, and thoroughly engrossing, but it is a Crazy Ivan nonetheless. Gone is the enigmatic rebel, the leader who launched a revolution and in its place is shadow of her former self. It is clear that Collins is imparting a lesson to her readers and at times it devolves from a thrilling story to cautionary tale.

    The best that can be described for this much-heralded conclusion is that it is a pyrrhic victory of sorts.

     A Fiendishly Bookish Review (and one grumpy cat)


    New Fiendish Review: Grace by Elizabeth Scott

    Book:                Grace

    Author:             Elizabeth Scott

    Publisher:         Dutton|Penguin

    ISBN/ASIN:       9780525422068

    Release Date:    September 16, 2010

    Rating:   3.75 Stars

    Buy: | Amazon | B&N | Borders | Powell’s | Indiebound |

    Find out more about Elizabeth Scott.

    Grace is unsettling in its depiction of a futuristic totalitarian government-its people managed by a maniacal puppeteer. The unsettling part is though Elizabeth Scott places her story in the near future it more uncannily resembles present day-and with it, all the raw intensity of nitro glycerin.

     Spartan in its description-spare and hollow, and forcing the reader to hunt for the plot, Grace is the tale of a young girl destined to be a tool for The People and their insurgent group, the Rories. Not her people. As an outcast and even ostracized by her own family, Grace is destined to be an Angel-a suicide bomber. Reluctantly.

    After botching her suicide mission, Grace finds herself on a ramshackle train loaded with Keran Berj’s soldiers on a treacherous journey. The only thing in front of her is the warped train track through a scorching desert, and the stranger she travels with to an uncertain future-and the possibility of being caught and subject to a hideous public execution.

    As the fist of dictator Keran Berj slowly chokes the life of his constituents, he forces them to walk a high wire of impossible tasks that change daily-for his amusement. This season the law is that women should cut their hair. Last season they were to have it long. He has outlawed the press. No one is allowed to gesture with their left hand. Eyes furtively watching everything. There is no place to hide.

    Grace is so full of despair, resembling a flickering light that is close to going out. The only redeeming factor is Scott has managed to inject hope at the bitter end and through the commiseration between Grace and Jerusha. Her words though sparse, pack a powerful punch-Grace is indeed a moving story, uncomfortably so…but devoid of all the traits that would enable a reader to relate to its lead. What would draw us to Grace? Is it her reluctance to live a life that was planned out for her? Or is it her apathy at botching her mission, but still taking out a few citizens? Or is it her festering question that there is more out there, underneath the layers of programming, there is something that is infinitely her?

    Whatever it is that draws us to Grace she will not likely be forgotten.

    A Fiendishly Bookish Review (and one grumpy cat). 


    New Fiendish Review: Matched by Ally Condie

    Book:                Matched

    Author:             Ally Condie

    Publisher:        Dutton Books/Penguin

    ISBN/ASIN:      9780525423645 (arc)

    Rating:             4.5 Stars

    Release Date:  Nov 20, 2010

    Buy: | Amazon | B&N | Borders | Indiebound

    Check out Ally’s blog.  and webpage 

    Discover more about Dylan Thomas, Tennyson and Thoreau amazing visionaries whose themes are explored in Matched.

    In the not too distant future, in the Province of Oria, every aspect of your life will be controlled-and you will like it. How would you ever know that things were not as they seemed? How would you fight back? Could you? And when it came time for Society officials tell you to shake the red pill out of your container and take it-would you? 

    Will you go gently into that good night? 

    Ally Condie’s jewel, “Matched” immerses you in the world of Cassia Reyes so much so, that you are swathed in the beauty and serenity of her world. Condie captures you and holds you prisoner in her story-you are elated and surprised when Cassia is matched to her logical choice at her Matching Banquet. Also, it looks as if she will be given a great assignment after Second School. Cassia’s future seems set. She’s followed the rules. She’s been a model Society citizen. Everything seems to have fallen into place. After all, isn’t that how the Society has planned it?

    But when Cassia gets a moment to read her matching microcard-that will outline the Matching Guidelines, that will tell her all about her new love, and future husband, someone else’s face pops up. And it’s someone she recognizes. 

    Has the Society made a mistake? 

    That one mishap leads Cassia on bittersweet journey that will take an inordinate amount of courage, awareness, newfound hope, and inner rage, to propel her into a destiny of her own choosing-one that will dangerously deviate from the cloistered protection of the Society, making her a potential enemy of the state.

    Matched is lethal in its simplicity. Its narrative is carefully cloaked in subtlety that portends a sinister and chilling dystopian future-with Ally Condie as its oracle. It is a stunning story that will both mesmerize and haunt you.

    In many ways, the love triangle between Cassia, Ky and Xander takes a back seat in lieu of the overwhelming insidiousness of Condie’s totalitarian vision-its subversive tentacles into the minds, hearts and lives of the Society’s citizens chills me to the bone. This suspenseful fear lingers on throughout the books- causing you to question everything you know. It is an excercise in civil disobedience, dystopian style with an ardent love story at its center.

    Condie’s words summon up an equal measure of bittersweet love and anger. You will feel both, and will not be likely to forget it. Ever. Matched was powerful-and stunning. Simply stunning.

    See what The Compulsive Reader has to say about Matched.

    See what Robison Wells has to say about Matched.

    See what The Cozy Reader has to say about Matched.

     A Fiendishly Bookish Review (and one grumpy cat)


    New Juicy Review: Nomansland by Lesley Hauge

    Book:                          Nomansland

    Author:                       Lesley Hauge

    Publisher:                   Henry Holt (Macmillan)

    ISBN/ASIN:               9780805090642

    Rating:                        Four Stars

    Release Date:               June 22, 2010

    Buy:    | Amazon | B&N | Borders | Powell’s | Indiebound

    Read an Excerpt

    In Nomansland Lesley Hauge explores what it is like to be a young woman in an uncertain dystopian future, devoid of warmth, personal expression, and friendship. For Keller, a Tracker in her small isolated women’s only community, life has been nothing but Foundland and its harsh principals. At an early age the girls are taught to shun tears, decoration, vanity, and most of all friendship. Men are the enemy and the isolation of Foundland must be maintained at all costs.

    But Keller doesn’t always see the world through the eyes of Foundland. There are clues, remnants of the past, from the Time Before that trouble her. Even more so, these relics portray women in another role entirety. When she and a group of her fellow Trackers stumble upon a house from the Time Before, they unearth a time capsule from an age where women existed freely. As they grapple with their discovery, Keller realizes that these artifacts have the power to undermine the community of Foundland and challenge everything she and her fellow sisters believe in. 

    Hauge has managed to juxtapose feminism with a dystopian theme that will force readers to question exactly what is femininity. Is it the rejection of everything that is soft and embracing strength? Without softness, are women still women? Female? What differentiates them from men in Hauge’s cautionary tale? In Nomansland, the rejection of the feminine is taken to the extreme and Keller continually struggles with her own internal battles of what she is-with an identity that has been stripped and supplanted by a totalitarian system. I found Nomansland invigorating and startling to dive into and it fired up themes that readers will muse over long after the book has finished. Leaving readers on a sort of cliffhanger at the end, I am anxious to learn more of Keller’s new journey into the unknown… 

    A Fiendishly Bookish Review (and one grumpy cat)