Aberrant by Ruth Silver

In the future Dystopian society of Cabal, the government instills equality for all and offers its citizens the perfect system. There is food, shelter and jobs for everyone. The one requirement is to follow the rules without question, including the government's match in marriage and 'The Day of the Chosen', a lottery that randomly selects families to conceive children as natural means hasn't existed in generations. Following her eighteenth birthday, Olivia Parker accepts her requirement to marry her childhood best friend, Joshua Warren, and is eager to start her work assignment and new life when it all comes abruptly to an end as she's arrested and thrown in prison. The only crime committed, her existence. Olivia is unlike the rest of the world born not from 'The Day of the Chosen.' The truth haunts the government and puts her life in grave danger as one simple fact would destroy the perfect system.

With Joshua's help, Olivia breaks free of prison and is forced on the run. Together they set out to find the promised rebel town in search of a new home and new life together. Their situation seems less than promising as they reach the town of Haven. New rules and customs must be adhered to in order to stay. Leaving would mean most certain death in the large expanse of the Gravelands. Time is running out as the government mounts an attack to destroy Olivia and bury her secret with her. Thrown into a world unlike their own, they must quickly adapt to survive

Olivia lives in the Genesis settlement, embarking in the marriage ceremony that may ultimately change her life. Her graduating class of sixteen boys and sixteen girls will be chosen to be matched, the decision entirely that of the government of Cabal. Refusal results in being banished from the community and sent to the Gravelands, where outlaws rape and pillage, if you didn't die of dehydration and starvation first. Luckily Olivia is matched with best friend Joshua, with the two eighteen year old's married and given a home within the village.

In a system where all citizens are supposedly treated equally, the government allocates children by lottery, conceived in a laboratory, making intimacy unnecessary. Olivia and her mother are arrested when the government discovers that Olivia was conceived naturally, therefore making her fertile. In a society where vaccines had taken away a woman's ability to reproduce, Olivia is a rare commodity.

With the aid of Joshua's mother helping Olivia to escape, Olivia's freedom is short lived as the two teens arrive in Haven, controlled by the Rebel Alliance. Her marriage to Joshua being null and void. Believing Haven is the lesser of two evils, until Olivia us given an ultimatum. She has three years to choose a mate, marry and conceive, with any other male besides Joshua. Olivia has long since loved Joshua before the two were matched, and can't imagine her life with any other.

Olivia's safety is now compromised when the Cabal army tanks roll into Haven, the city alight with flames and devastation. Olivia and Joshua need to escape before the government takes them into custody. With only a stolen map, her late father's journal and a borrowed solar powered vehicle, the closest town is four long and debilitating days of travel. But when the two runaway's arrive in the secret town seeking asylum, their new identities raise more than eyebrows in the hostile settlement. They cannot leave, but rather forced to train to join the Rebel Alliance through a series of tests, to determine whether the candidates are worthy of joining and only the strong will survive. 

With so many infractions within the Alliance, her only option is to join or due trying, Olivia believes it may have been wiser to stay in Genesis... But what is it that the settlement in Shadow are not telling her?

Aberrant was good, only as it felt as though it should have been longer. It had the core dystopian components, without the instant love or relationship with the added third wheel, but it left me waiting and wanting the typical anarchy, the feisty uprising and the tension, that sadly never came. It's ideal for teen young adult readers, especially those who enjoyed Ally Condie's Matched series.

The reader will wonder who is the lesser of two evils. The government treats everyone equally, with individuality discouraged. They claim to base choices on what is in each citizen's best interests, who to marry, which couple are to be allowed a child through means of lottery, and their role within the community. The Alliance within Haven aren't the rebellious revolutionaries they claim to be. Forceful and unjust in punishment, implanting tracker chips on those who don't comply, and incarceration for those who dare to ask questions. They also take away Olivia's basic human rights, but Haven was too fleeting to allow for the development of it's residents and characters, one being Joshua's mother. She seemed too pivotal to be skimmed over. 

I loved the twist that the Shadow settlement provided, late within the Alliance training. I would have loved to have seen Haven eradicated altogether, with Olivia and Joshua having found the town through other  means, perhaps back in Genesis.

I really enjoyed the overall concept and storyline, but it felt as though it was hurriedly streaming towards nothing in particular. If it had been drawn out, allowing for character development, more exploration of the actual role of the Rebel Alliance without blurring the lines between different Rebel camps and making them one entire organisation, no doubt I would have given Aberrant a far higher rating.

(Aberrant: Book One)
Written By Ruth Silver
Published 28 / 04 / 2013
240 Pages

Taken by Erin Bowman

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

They call it the Heist.

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

Climbing the Wall is suicide, but what comes after the Heist could be worse. Should he sit back and wait to be taken, or risk everything on the hope of the other side

Turning eighteen isn't a celebrated milestone for the boys of Claysoot, or Grey Weathersby. On the eve of their eighteenth birthday, each boy is taken at the stroke of midnight during a ceremony simply known as The Heist. You cannot escape the village, the wall surrounding Claysoot ensures your compliance and the charred bodies of previous escapees serve as a warning. Boys become men at only fifteen years of age, and encouraged to be promiscuous with as many females in the village as possible. In a tradition known as Slating, the goal being to reproduced and keep Claysoot viable.

After losing his brother to The Heist only mere days prior, Grey finds a kindred spirit in Emma, the snarky daughter of the village healer. Emma doesn't believe the history scrolls of Claysoot, that the village was founded by teens with no memory of how they arrived and why eighteen year old boys are mysteriously taken... Presumed dead. But when Grey finds a letter from his late mother, addressed to his brother, with a theory that threatens to divide the village, Grey knows that the only way he'll seek answers, is to flee over the wall... With Emma close behind.

Navigating through the forest with the fear of being burnt alive, the two runaway's are captured by two men and taken to Taem, a bustling domed city under the rule of Dimitri Octavius Frank, or simply known as Frank. Grey needs answers, and Frank offers his version of the truth. That the world the teens once knew, isn't the reality they had believed it to be. Claysoot being founded by scientist Harvey Maldoon, while a civil war raged beyond The Wall. The country had separated into two parts, AmEast and AmWest, feuding over water resources. AmWest are seen as traitors that have joined forces with Harvey, attacking the citizens of Taem and AmEast, selling weapons and technology in exchange for his safety. While the Heisted boys of Claysoot simply appear in the Taem training field, very much alive.

But Frank isn't all he seems to be. While praising Grey, miraculously escaping and the potential savior for the citizens of Claysoot, but what if the rebel traitors are merely victims? A group of disgruntled citizens banding together against Taem and the Franconian Order, the law instilled by Taem which is punishable by execution... Now Grey's thirst for answers, has him labelled as a traitor.

Grey flees, leaving Emma behind in search for Harvey and his rebellion... And finds more than he bargained for. It seems Clayfoot isn't the only community where children are taken, that Harvey isn't a wanted fugitive, nor the founder of Claysoot. He's merely a scientist of technology and his only crime is that he knows too much. The Rebels are a group of former Taem residents and those from the Heisted communities that have been threatened, abused and victimised at the hands of the Franconian Order. They've chosen not to live under the orders of a cruel and corrupt leader... A far truth from what those in Taem are led to believe.

Bree is a feisty rebel, Heisted from a village where girls are the dominant sex. She moves with stealth, she's tough and doesn't shy away from the truth. Grey can't deny the attraction, but he can't forget Emma and needs to return to free her from the grip of Taem. But when word filters through from the capital, that a deadly virus is set to be released into the rebel camp, the group of revolutionaries take the battle to the doorstep of AmEast... But not everyone will make it out alive.

Taken wasn't at all what I was expecting, and the unexpected is what kept the storyline interesting. It's more or less the typical young adult dystopian, starting as what seems to be survival in a post apocalyptic world, but quickly morphs into a science fiction twist. It has all the elements that readers will expect, harsh regime type government, tyrant leader, a rebellion, war ravaged history and freedom fighters, the plot twists will keep you wanting more.

But sadly it delivered too much more. There were far too many elements to the storyline, with the inclusion of what can only be described as cloning. It didn't seem to serve any purpose in Taken, so I'm assuming that it may be pivotal to the upcoming series releases instead. It left me skimming over those particular dialogues, and unfortunately that's where my interest started to stray. I'll continue with the series, eventually.

(Taken: Book One)
Written By Erin Bowman
Published 16 / 04 / 2013
352 Pages

Birthmarked by Caragh M. O'Brian

In the Enclave, scars set you apart, and the newly born will change the future.

In the future, in a world baked dry by the harsh sun, there are those who live inside the walled Enclave and those, like sixteen-year-old Gaia Stone, who live outside. Following in her mother's footsteps Gaia has become a midwife, delivering babies in the world outside the wall and handing a quota over to be 'advanced' into the privileged society of the Enclave. Gaia has always believed this is her duty, until the night her mother and father are arrested by the very people they so loyally serve. Now Gaia is forced to question everything she has been taught, but her choice is simple: enter the world of the Enclave to rescue her parents, or die trying.
A stunning adventure brought to life by a memorable heroine, this dystopian debut will have readers racing all the way to the dramatic finish.

Gaia is now a servant of the Enclave, delivering newborn children and following in her mother's footsteps. But what starts as a joyous occasion, her first unassisted delivery, turns into a night of terror and interrogation after her parents are arrested and taken. Only told to carry the role of midwife on and serve the Enclave, Gaia must deliver the first three newborns each month to the inner gated city, the children approved for advancement and the mother compensated, with the traditional birthmark tattoo to each chosen baby as taught by her mother. Gaia is still yet to hear word of her parents, her only reminder of their fate being the book and ribbon left to her before her parents were captured. She needs access to the Enclave, but with the scar on the side of her face, blending in will be no easy task among the perfect citizens and chosen children within the city's confines.

After aid from a citizen outside the walls, Gaia quickly realises that the Enclave isn't the perfectly groomed city those in the outer can only yearn for. But when attempting to stop a public hanging of a pregnant citizen captures the guards attention, Gaia once again finds herself being interrogated by the seemingly cold, young Sergeant Leon Grey and a group of imprisoned doctors, forced to serve.

As Gaia studies the ribbon her mother left in her possession, she sees the intricate symbols and patterns, but cannot decipher the code. The Enclave have accused her mother of keeping illegal records of each child she has delivered and forced to hand over the wall, and supposedly Gaia knows where they can be found. But when word filters through that her parents are to be executed, Gaia has no option but to cooperate with the authorities, and Sergeant Grey, who seems to see past Gaia's scars and finds himself wanting to protect her.

Stuck in the holding cell within the Enclave, Gaia needs to escape and free her parents, but everything comes at a price. Finding herself as an assistant midwife, Gaia is able to leave the confines to assist one of the several doctors being held at the Enclave's disposal. Relying on the fickle generosity of Leon Grey and Sargent Bartlett, Gaia escapes and flees to the only person within the walls that can help. She never imagined that Leon would be behind her, leaving against his father's wishes to protect the girl that is a class all of her own. He and Gaia devise a plan to rescue her mother, but they didn't plan in her mother being in such a fragile condition, making a hasty retreat almost impossible. 

Gaia has no choice and flees the palace and the Enclave behind. With the precious bundle and ledgers that she'll be hunted for, but when Leon sacrifices his life and everything he has been taught to believe in for Gaia, she needs to be safe and leave. Leave the only home she's ever known, her sector and the life that will never be the same, and searches for the Dead Forest. A new chance at life, to honor the birthmarked children  that are so cruelly ripped from their parents, and the person that now depends on her most.

Birthmarked is the story of Gaia, who lives within a society that is rebuilding under the watchful eye of the Protectorat, who rules with an iron fist. She lives in the sector slums, due to being scarred as a child, when only the perfect children are taken to live within the prestigious walls of the Enclave. Growing up with only one friend, her parents are both loving and doting on the child that they were allowed to keep, having previously been forced to give two boys to the advanced society. Gaia is training as a midwife, having achieved her first unassisted delivery when she arrives home to find her parents missing... And her fight begins.

Fans of heavy dystopian novels will thoroughly enjoy the Birthmarked series, Gaia isn't an instant heroine, but it's afraid to stand for what she believes in. She isn't the perfect, doe eyed beauty that we find in so many young adult books of the same genre, but she's likeable, she's emotional and she's tough. There isn't instant love between Gaia and Leon, but a genuine attraction to one another. It's isn't quite suitable for some young teens, as the birthing scenes are a touch too graphic.

Really enjoyed it and will be continuing with the series.

(Birthmarked: Book One)
Written By Caragh M. O'Brian
Published 11 / 10 / 2011
384 Pages

SYLO by D. J MacHale Book Spotlight & Giveaway

Does Tucker Pierce have what it takes to be a hero when the U.S. military quarantines his island?

Goodreads Fourteen-year-old Tucker Pierce prefers to fly under the radar. He’s used to navigating around summer tourists in his hometown on idyllic Pemberwick Island, Maine. He’s content to sit on the sidelines as a backup player on the high school football team. And though his best friend Quinn tells him to “go for it,” he’s too chicken to ask Tori Sleeper on a date. There’s always tomorrow, he figures. Then Pemberwick Island is invaded by a mysterious branch of the U.S. military called SYLO. And sitting on the sidelines is no longer an option for Tucker, because tomorrow may never come.
It’s up to Tucker, Quinn, and Tori to uncover the truth about the singing aircraft that appears only at night—and the stranger named Feit who’s pushing a red crystal he calls the Ruby that brings unique powers to all who take it. Tucker and his friends must rescue not just Pemberwick Island, but the fate of the world—and all before tomorrow is too late.

Number One New York Times bestselling author D.J. MacHale brings his brilliant plotting and breathless pacing to SYLO, the first in this ultimate end-of-the-world adventure trilogy.

Purchase from Amazon  Barnes and Noble  and  The Book Depository

D.J. MacHale is a writer, director, executive producer and creator of several popular television series and movies. As an author, his ten-volume book series: Pendragon – Journal of an Adventure Through Time and Space, became a New York Times number one bestseller.
He was raised in Greenwich, CT and graduated from Greenwich High School. While in school, he had several jobs including collecting eggs at a poultry farm, engraving trophies and washing dishes in a steakhouse…in between playing football and running track. D.J. attended New York University where he received a BFA in film production.
His filmmaking career began in New York where he worked as a freelance writer/director making corporate videos and television commercials. He also taught photography and film production.
D.J. lives in Southern California with his wife Evangeline and daughter Keaton. They are avid backpackers, scuba divers and skiers. Rounding out the household are two elderly goldfish and a Kitten, Kaboodle.

Program 13 by Nicole Sobon Book Tour

Two identities. One Body.

17-year-old Emile Reed, may have died, but she isn't dead. Her body now belongs to Program Thirteen, where her every thought, every movement, is controlled. Until Emile begins to find her way back inside of Thirteen's core, where she manages to fend off Thirteen’s programming to reclaim the life that she lost. But Charles McVeigh, the owner of Vesta Corp, isn’t willing to let Thirteen go. And he will stop at nothing to reclaim control of Thirteen's programming. Because without her, McVeigh has nothing.

What makes you human?

Emilie isn't your average girl... Not anymore. After being deliberately mowed down by a vehicle and killed while walking home late one night, her body was taken. She isn't Emilie any more, she's project thirteen.

Created and reborn as a machine, an interactive program in the guise of a seventeen year old girl. She has no recollection of who she was, she can neither feel or recognise emotions, so when an ally from her past reinstalls her memories, project thirteen becomes a hot commodity that the corporation is desperate to find.

On the run with her new sense of self, Emilie stumbles across the lonely and destitute Colton. Colton is troubled and broken, and wants to find the easy way out. With her emotions on high alert, Emilie can't leave him behind and the two strike up an easy friendship. Colton doesn't know what Emilie is, but can see that she's more than your average girl. Discovering that beneath the facade, Emilie doesn't bleed, she has incredible strength, speed and intelligence, doesn't phase Colton. He won't leave her, even if his own safety is at risk. 

The Vesta Corporation will stop at nothing to recapture their greatest asset. It seems that Emilie and Colton have more in common than they first thought.

Program 13 is the story of a girl who had her life cut short at the hands of a corporation, with the vision of creating the perfect being. Emilie has been stripped of her humanity, but once her internal program is updated with that of her former life, memories and emotions, she struggles to maintain her identity.

Well written and young teen fantasy fans will enjoy the science fiction aspect. I kept waiting for more action, craving more as the story progressed, but sadly it never came. I'm assuming that Program 13 is the springboard into the series, concentrating on character development and the history of the Vesta Corporation and what drives the technology. A clean read for the younger audience.

Program 13 
(The Emilie Reed Chronicles: Book One) 
Written By Nicole Sobon 
Published 15 / 08 / 2012

Thank you to Xpresso Book Tours and Ms Sobon
Purchase Program 13 now from Amazon and B and N

You can find Nicole via Her Website  Goodreads  Facebook and Twitter

Article 5 by Kirsten Simmons

New York, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C., have been abandoned.

The Bill of Rights has been revoked, and replaced with the Moral Statutes.

There are no more police, instead, there are soldiers. There are no more fines for bad behavior, instead, there are arrests, trials, and maybe worse. People who get arrested usually don't come back.

Seventeen-year-old Ember Miller is old enough to remember that things weren’t always this way. Living with her rebellious single mother, it’s hard for her to forget that people weren’t always arrested for reading the wrong books or staying out after dark. It’s hard to forget that life in the United States used to be different.

Ember has perfected the art of keeping a low profile. She knows how to get the things she needs, like food stamps and hand-me-down clothes, and how to pass the random home inspections by the military. Her life is as close to peaceful as circumstances allow.

That is, until her mother is arrested for noncompliance with Article 5 of the Moral Statutes. And one of the arresting officers is none other than Chase Jennings… The only boy Ember has ever loved.

Ember lives in a society, rebuilding after the ravage of war. The citizens aren't allowed individuality and must abide by the Moral Statutes, enforced by uniformed soldiers dubbed the Moral Militia, due to their heavy handed tactics. Citizens are cited for indiscretions and once charged, rarely do they return to the community. A knock at the door brings the militia into Ember's home, her mother being charged with having a child out of wedlock. With the new law only passed a week early and Ember well into her teens, surely this is just an oversight. Ember's feisty mother is dragged into custody  separated from Ember, but the sight of him stops her breath, Chase. The former boy next door, the one that chose the militia life over Ember, the boy that broke her heart.

Ember is taken to the Girls Reformatory and Rehabilitation Center, a reform center for girls under the age of eighteen that seemingly have issues following the Moral Statutes. The detention center, run by the Sisters of Salvation, are the Moral Militia's answer to the women's liberation. There is no escape, with the armed guards on a shoot to kill order. Ember knows nothing of where her mother is, or if she's still alive. With no option but to wait the long five months until her eighteen birthday to be released... Until Chase arrives to escort Ember to her trial. Forging her release documents at the request of her mother, she may be free, but she's far from safe.

The journey across the war ravaged land is danger and grueling. Ember's feelings are torn between the sweet, loving boy next door that Chase once was, and the cold and calculated soldier that has returned. But Chase would do anything to keep Ember safe, asked by her mother to keep her safe, Chase is determined to deliver the Moral Militia fugitive to the safety checkpoint, established by the underground movement rebel fighters, the Resistance.

But the enforcing Militia officers no longer provide a fair to the accused, even those who have violated Article Five. If Ember and Chase are found, the two will face certain execution, but Ember won't rest until her mother is safe, or she'll die trying. But she needs to enlist the aid of the dedicated rebel fighters.
The Resistance stands against the inhumane treatment of it's citizens I'm the barren world. The possessions deemed as contraband, the false imprisonment, the measly rations with communities forced to stave, the torture and brutal killings of those seen as possible rebel sympathizers and the unjust killing of falsely accused criminals. The world is broken and the government are repairing it's foundations on laws, torment and brutality... Would you risk your life for justice?

Article 5 was entertaining, but somewhat predictable. An authoritative and cruel government creating a well behaved society where no one is granted individuality, a common theme with Dystopian novels, but the storyline seemed to lose it's way.

What begun as a false imprisonment, a cruel detention center for girls where they are beaten and tortured if they step out of line, morphs into a road trip once Ember has been freed. The action them settles into a strange lull through the bulk of the second half, only to explode once again with only a chapter or two to go. It was good, not great though.

I did enjoy the characters, even the villains, which were difficult to identify. I've noticed with my focus on Dystopian novels this month, reading them back to back, that the majority either fall into the category of being incredible and blow your socks off, or they're safe, predictable and boring.

Sadly, this didn't blow my socks off, but overall, still somewhat entertaining.

Article 5
(Article 5: Book One)
Written By Kirsten Simmons
Published 31 / 01 / 2012 
368 Pages

A Little Birdie Told Me: Jade Character Interview


During the week, I had the privilege of eavesdropping on author Christina Channelle interviewing one of her book characters, Jade, from Christina's contemporary new adult release, Those Four Letter Words. Be warned, she doesn't hold back and can swear like a sailor.

You can find Christina via her Blog  Facebook  Twitter and Goodreads
Those Four Letter Words is available now on Smashwords and Amazon

Christina smiles widely. 'Hi, Jade. It's nice to have you here.'
Jade fidgets in her seat across from Christina and makes a face. 'Well, you kind of forced me here. It’s not like I had any choice in the matter,' she mutters.
Christina pauses, making a face back at her which thankfully, she doesn’t see. She clears her throat. 'Well, then. Let’s move on to the interview, shall we?'
'Whatever floats your boat.'
'What’s your favourite colour to wear?'
Jade looks down at herself wearing her dark jeans and t-shirt, then smirks back at Christina. 'What do you think? Black’s obviously the way to go.'
'Noted. How about your favourite colour?'
She smiles at that. 'Green, of course. It sure as hell isn’t pink.'
'Is there a particular catch phrase you enjoy?'
'Fuck off,' she states.
Christina jumps. 'Excuse me?'
Jade notices her reaction but doesn’t comment. 'Fuck off… My catch phrase. I’ve been newly introduced to fuckery. Like, ‘That’s utter fuckery.’ Yeah… I kind of like that too. Has a nice ring to it.'
Christina look over at her skeptically. 'Okay then. When's your birthday?'
'January 3rd.'
'And how old are you?'
'What would be your motto to live by?'
She pauses, contemplating, then scratches the side of her neck and shrugs. 'I guess to just be. Who gives a shit what other people think. We need to stop stressing about it.'
'That’s awesome,' Christina says, nodding. 'What’s your favourite class?'
'That’s easy. English. I haven’t told anybody except B but I like to write lyrics. He used to help me out a long time ago before… Everything.'

You can see that she's closing up and Christina decides not to delve further, instead asking another light question. 'Favourite band?'
'No Doubt, Linkin Park, Foo Fighters, Rise Against… They’re all pretty sick.'
She didn’t hesitate. 'Drinking. Know it all girls. Country songs.'
'Country songs?'
'I hate country music,' she says deadpanned.
'Right. What about your likes?'
'Coffee flavoured ice cream. It’s the shit.' One side of her mouth curls upward as she murmurs. 'Tattoos… Especially on a certain set of forearms…' she trails off.

She’s obviously daydreaming about someone.
'How about your celebrity crush?' Christina asks loudly.
She winces at the sound of her voice but she clearly has her attention again. 'Adam Levine. He’s my skinny boy crush. Super hot.'
'Vampires or zombies?'
She glances at me like I just called her a slut. 'Zombies, hello? Vampires nowadays have grown quite soft. What happened to all the badasses? Zombies are badass. I like badass.'
You can see it ticking over in Christina's mind that vampires can be badass too. I totally get where Christina's coming from. I can name a few badass vamps. Kaji, Rowan, Adam.
'Love or hate?'

'Both. Can’t have one without the other. It’s what makes the world go round. Am I right or am I right?'
'Right … hobbies?'
'I love to run. And music. They both provide fuel for me. Sometimes I need one more than the other depending on the situation but they’re both equally important.'
'Any quirks?'
'I tend to yank my hair when pissed. As you can tell, I like to swear. Sorry if that offends you.' She actually doesn’t look sorry at all but Christina continues.
'Who do you respect the most?'
'That’s easy. B, my brother. He’s gone through a lot. Likes to hide with that stupid smile of his but I know he still hurts. He’s given up a lot over the years. He’s a recovering alcoholic, you know. But before that he was… Legendary.' You can her eyes becoming glossy, like she’s remembering something from long ago.

I bet Christina can’t wait to interview Bryn.
'Final question of the day...'
I'm surprised Christina isn't shaking her head at Jade. Typical teenager. 'What’s your ideal date?'
She raises a brow. 'Aren’t you sappy? Ideal date, hmm? I’d like to sit outside in the dark and stare up at the sky; look at all the stars. Just talk. My date would have brought me a tub of ice cream. We’d share, of course, one spoon between the two of us. Simple. That’d be the best kind of date. It’s not necessarily what you do, but who you spend your time with. That’s what makes a date.'
'So true,' Christina says, smiling at her. She's not the only sappy one. 'I’m so happy to have had you here today. Glad that we got to know you a bit more.'
'My pleasure.'
'I’m sure we’ll be hearing more from you.'
'Abso-fucking-lutely,' she states with a wink, then gets up and exits the interview room.

Christina sits back in her chair and breathes a sigh of relief.
I bet she's thinking next week’s interview will be so much easier.

Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne

Your mother hollers that you’re going to miss the bus. She can see it coming down the street. You don’t stop and hug her and tell her you love her. You don’t thank her for being a good, kind, patient mother. Of course not, you hurdle down the stairs and make a run for the corner.

Only, if it’s the last time you’ll ever see your mother, you sort of start to wish you’d stopped and did those things. Maybe even missed the bus.

But the bus was barreling down our street, so I ran.

Fourteen kids. One superstore. A million things that go wrong.

Six high school kids (some popular, some not), two eighth graders (one a tech genius), and six little kids trapped together in a chain superstore build a refuge for themselves inside. While outside, a series of escalating disasters, beginning with a monster hailstorm and ending with a chemical weapons spill, seems to be tearing the world, as they know it, apart

Dean's day started like any other, the mad dash to the school bus, finding a seat where he could blend in and go unnoticed, on his way to school where he would do the same. But when a soft plink sound shatters his morning, this day will be anything but. A light hail hitting the packed bus, suddenly turns into deadly chunks of ice falling from the sky, taking the driver by surprise and causing the vehicle to veer out of control. What ensures, is absolute mayhem, with screaming teens fearing for their lives. This is no ordinary hailstorm.

The kids from both Lewis Palmer High and the grammar school in Monument, find refuge within the local department store, Greenway. Once the ice storm subsides, the only adult within the group leaves, to send word where the children are, seeking rescue. But she never returns. The riot grills on the store are activated just in time for an earthquake and the store plunges into chaos. Items breaking, shelves toppling and the worst is still to come. The news network is reporting a volcano demolishing an island on explosion, raining over five hundred billion tons of rock and lava into the ocean. The impact created a mega tsunami, a wave measuring half a mile high and moving at six hundred miles per hour, growing wider as it approached the United States coast. It's what lead to the severe weather pattern across the country, creating storm supercells.
A toxic plume has been released into the atmosphere and it's effects are reliant on blood type, from those who experience hallucinations, to skin blistering, death or impotence with the failing of reproductive organs. But those with Dean's blood type fare far worse, the toxic smoke turning even the mild mannered into homicidal maniacs. They need to seal the store. The teens and middle schoolers work together to survive the initial onslaught of danger and destruction, with only snippets of news from the outside world, via an old television found in the home media department. 

Forming a democratic society, voting Niko the boy scout as their temporary leader, much to the annoyance of arrogant football players Jack and Brayden. Everyone finds a use, from restocking shelves, to preparing meals and tending to the smaller children, trying to survive the apocalypse right on their doorstep, literally. But when two men arrive asking for assistance, they've brought word from the outside world, and life inside the department store sounds so much more appealing. Survivors are being evacuated, heading to Detroit, but how do a group of children make it beyond the parking lot, into the destruction and ruin which was once their city?

They may not have a choice, when a situation escalates quickly within the store and weapons are drawn, one of their own is shot. When one of the unlikely band of survivors takes a hit, the others are determined to reach help, but is there anyone left in town who can help them reach safety before it's too late?

Monument 14 was entertaining for the most part, a little dull at times, but good nonetheless. Dean is our main character who is generally the voice of reason, apart when it comes to fellow trapped teen, Astrid. He's quite boring, quiet and reserved, but the department store group has enough personalities, from child prodigy and Dean's brother Alex, the football stars, the artistic girl, the bossy little miss, the non English speaking child, and the beauty queen. Similar to a post apocalyptic The Breakfast Club.

It's well written, but light on the action. Once the children are safely locked inside, it becomes the story of the democratic community formed within the confines of the store, and the individuality of each character. I would love there to have been potentially more disaster strikes, more clashes and more dire circumstances, rather than everyone seemingly finding their place. I just needed more.

Monument 14
(Monument 14: Book One)
Written By Emmy Laybourne
Published 05 / 06 / 2012
304 Pages 

The Declaration by Gemma Malley

In the year 2140, it is illegal to be young. Children are all but extinct. The world is a better place. Longevity drugs are a fountain of youth. Sign the Declaration, agree not to have children and you too can live forever. Refuse, and you will live as an outcast. For the children born outside the law, it only gets worse, Surplus status. Not everyone thinks Longevity is a good thing, but you better be clear what side you’re on. . . . 


Surplus Anna is about to find out what happens when you can’t decide if you should cheat the law or cheat death.

In the year 2140, Anna shouldn't exist, but being at Grange Hall has taught her and the other leaching Surpluses to become useful. Anna's parents broke the Declaration, by illegally having a child without opting out of Longevity, citizens can either choose to have a child, or be allowed access to the Renewal drugs that ensure they will live forever, their appearance frozen in time. Children born illegally are often disposed of, but in England, Surplus centres were established to train the children to become useful and not the drain on society that most of the citizens believe that they are. Mrs Pincent is the house matron at Grange Hall, where children from birth to sixteen years of age are kept imprisoned, and trained as slaves to the legal population of the world. It's her duty, and pleasure, to break the spirits of the Surplus children, treating them as harshly as possible. The illegal children deserved to live with the guilt of their parents crime, and if they were going to live, then she would see to it that they were made to work.

In a society where adults live forever, there are no diseases or illness. Cancer, heart disease and AIDS have been eradicated, until scientists discovered a way to halt the aging process. Children are feared by adults, with only Surpluses and a few legal children in existence. When a new Surplus arrives at Grange Hall from the outside, Anna can see the determination and spirit in his eyes. He isn't only untrained, but Peter is a glimpse to the outside world, a world in which Anna knows nothing about. Surpluses are trained not to have independent thoughts, not to read or write and certainly not ask questions, it's simply not polite. Anna wasn't allowed possessions, she didn't deserve to own anything in a world in which she doesn't belong.

Peter brings word from the outside world from Anna's parents. Criminals in which she has been taught to despise, working to becoming the perfect Surplus in order to repair the sin of existence. But when Peter talks of an Underground Movement that is fighting the authorities, challenging the Declaration that citizens of the world should not not live forever, that youth was an asset and life should be about creating, not just preserving. Anna's parents had taken Peter into their home and cared for the adopted boy as their own, but no one could replace Anna, taken from her parents as an infant. Peter knows he needs to escape with Anna,but he never imagined that he would need to convince her to leave.

The revolution is coming, pro life advocates and rallying, and the two will receive help from the most unlikely of sources. For the quiet and obedient Anna and the boy who freed her from her oppressive prison, are they too late to find the parents that Anna never truly had?

The concept is brilliant, the elderly living forever and children are a drain on society, they cannot earn their keep and should be eradicated, when in reality, the roles can be argued that the reverse is true. People now forgo having children, either needing to decide at only sixteen years old whether or not to sign the Declaration. Sign, and you'll live forever, trading that of potential children in the process.

But the execution felt amiss. Anna's character was not only brainwashed, but utterly annoying. She will do anything to please, including berating those younger than her at Grange Hall. Her only rebellious thought is of that of a journal she keeps, hiding it within a nook in a bathroom. When Peter allows his capture to rescue her, he refuses to leave, defending Grange Hall, Mrs Pincent and that she wants nothing to do with her parents who were selfish for bringing her into the world. But when Peter's life is in danger, she then decides to flee, no more questions asked and she's willing to sacrifice her life that she staunchly defended, branding Peter a liar.

Actual young adults will enjoy the storyline, but as an adult, I was craving action and the revolution that it barely touched upon. Anna was just too indecisive, too eager to please and far too accepting of life without questioning, and her about face just left me deflated.

The Declaration
(The Declaration: Book One)
Written By Gemma Malley
Published 02 / 10 / 2007
306 Pages

All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terill ARC Review

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.

You have to kill him.

When Em finds the cryptic scribblings hidden in the drain of her cell, she knows she's been there before... Or at least another version of herself. Only Finn in the next cell is keeping her sane, and her only bargaining plea is the documents guaranteeing their lives, from the doctor and the director within the government facility in which they're being held. The present is a war ravaged land, with countries on the attack throughout the world and entire states wiped off the map. If you had the chance to travel back to destroy the cause of the death and desolation... Would you?

With help on the inside, Em and Finn escape, making it back to Cassandra, the underground subatomic particle collider that will send them back four years earlier... When the full conception of travel in the fourth dimension is realised, time travel.

Childhood friends Marina and James are best friends, next door neighbours and if Marina is correct, soul mates with Finn completing the unlikely trio. But when tragedy strikes James's life, again, it sets events into motion that no one could have predicted. James is not only gifted, he's a genius. Gone is the shy, awkward teen boy, he's an intellect, handsome and wealthy, his brother is a congressman and James is determined to make the world a better place. But someone wants James dead, he's being hunted and there is nothing that Marina won't do to ensure James is protected.

Em and the slightly older, future Finn need to stop Cassandra being built.... Again. The two have traveled back fourteen times prior, only to discover they've been unable to alter the outcome. The new world is a very different place, American drone planes attacking China, Israel involved in a nuclear standoff against Syria. Marines with machine guns on street corners, the Californian air raids, the government monitoring phone calls and internet usage, waiting for a keyword that will have you tried and convicted as a terrorist. Time travel should never have been capable, if Em fails again, she'll be taken back to her cell and tortured by The Doctor, over the whereabouts of her only insurance policy... And then power hungry, insane totalitarian government will destroy what little humanity remains.

All Our Yesterdays was difficult to review, without giving away the stunning and shocking plot twists. It's young adult, but the intelligence behind the storyline will leave even adults breathless. More science fiction than fantasy, the time travel aspect is well thought out and like most that dabble with the subject, it isn't confusing and won't leave you with boring and lengthy descriptions either.

I really enjoyed it. It's an emotional ride, but more often than not, will leave you on the edge of your seat. The characters are brilliant and it blurs the lines between heroes and villains. Prepare yourself for a gut wrenching ending that you won't see coming. You'll be left utterly exhausted.

All Our Yesterdays
Written by Cristin Terill
Expected Publication 03 / 09 / 2013

Thank you to the publisher, Netgalley and Cristin Terill
for the opportunity to read and review
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