“Wide awake” David Levithan

Rated 5 stars ***** 2006. Knopf Books. 221 p.

WideAwakeDuncan and his boyfriend Jimmy, along with their friends, have been working hard on the campaign of Abraham Stein hoping he will become the first gay, Jewish President of the United States. Stein wins by 1000 votes, and everyone is ecstatic – except for the governor of Kansas who insists there was election tampering and hopes to have him defeated. With his opponent refusing to concede the election, hoping to have Stein lose votes in the recount, Stein invites Americans to join him in Kansas to protest the behind-the-scenes politics working to take away the people’s vote.

Jimmy fiercely believes in action when he spots wrongdoing, while Duncan hopes silence will make bad things disappear. Their differences of opinion begin to rise to the surface with Stein’s election issues, and the trip to Kansas seems to be the match that could set them off in different directions. With a strong belief in America’s founding principles of “liberty and justice for all,” the two embark on a trip that will forever change the views they hold of their country, its citizens and themselves.

Levithan mixes politics, romance, relationships and history to give readers a dystopian story that, though written in 2006, is eerily prescient of the 2016 elections. His descriptions of the Kansas rally reminded me of the Atlanta Women’s March, where I joined millions of other women across the nation to march in solidarity for civil rights and liberties. It’s impossible to not compare the hateful vitriol spewed forth from the opposition party in “Wide awake” to that emitted by supporters of our current administration.

Eleven years have passed since Levithan took pen to paper, and many things have happened politically – including the election of our nation’s first Black president. One can only hope America will have its own Abraham Stein to elect in the years to come. Thank you David for opening our eyes to its possibility.

Highly recommended for ages 14 and older.

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“Tabula Rasa” Kristen Lippert-Martin

Rated 5 stars ***** ARC. ebook. To be published September 23, 2014. Egmont USA.

TabulaRasaSarah was patiently waiting for her last brain surgery. Finally she would be relieved of all the memories that had been clogging her mind and would be free to reinvent herself as a new person. The hospital she was in had the latest technology and the best nursing care available, so Sarah wasn’t worried. Everything was going to be just fine.

On the last day of her surgery, everything was going as planned until a power failure caused it to be postponed. Within a matter of hours, she’d regained part of her memory, began fleeing for her life from an army of trained soldiers sent to kill her, found herself falling in love with a strange hacker dude, and uncovered heartbreaking memories which revealed a deep, dark secret about her past.

Lippert-Martin’s dystopian, action-packed, thriller adventure will have its readers on the edges of their seats as they eagerly read to find out what will happen next to Sarah. Each cliffhanger chapter ending reveals a new key to the mystery, making it impossible to put down the book until it’s all finished.

Highly recommended for ages 12 and older.

“Dark Days” Kate Ormand

Rated 3 stars *** To be published June 3, 2014. ebook. ARC. Sky Pony Press.

DarkDaysWhat do you do when you have only 15 days left to live? This is the fate that awaits sixteen-year-old Sia as she and everyone in her sector prepare to die. Hundreds of citizens have not been selected by the leaders and airlifted away to safety in the New World so, with the sector surrounded by metal walls, which block their escape; they must all face their fate at the hands of a cyborg army. These will be sent to kill them in 15 days and, since no other sector has survived a cyborg attack, death is inevitable. Sia has prepared herself to die, and is upset her mom won’t accept their fate while her dad seems to be avoiding conversation about it.

When Sia meets eighteen-year-old Mace, her opinion changes as she realizes she could try to fight for her life. Along with a small band of rebels, Sia and Mace plot to overthrow the New World and gain freedom for their sector. Along the way, they will encounter fierce resistance, while learning of the power of love, sacrifice and friendship.

Ormand’s foray into YA dystopian lit is a novel which will inspire conversation about the reasons of selection to the New World versus those who were left behind, slated for death. The semi-open ending left room for a follow-up book, leading me to believe “Dark Days” will become another one of those series books I detest reading.

I will leave it up to those of you who are 14 years old and older to decide if you want to Read it or Not.

 

“The Transfer” Veronica Roth

Divergent, 0.1. ebook. Sept. 2013.

TheTransferMy brand new kindle came in handy to download this very short story giving background information on Four, aka Tobias. Readers will find out details of the abuse he suffered from his father, as well as the confusion and fear he felt as he debated switching from Abnegation to Dauntless.

Roth will continue her mini ebook series with “The Initiate” (#0.2), “The Traitor” (#0.4), and “Free Four: Tobias tells the story” (#1.5).

Twelve and older fans of the popular “Divergent” series will enjoy these “behind-the-scenes” looks at their favorite characters.

“Allegiant” Veronica Roth

Divergent, book #3. 2013. Katherine Tegen Books (HarperCollins). 526 pp.

AllegiantThe factions are in shambles, while Evelyn has turned into a tyrannical leader assisted by her loyal group of Factionless. She is insistent no one behave as a faction but, with no other knowledge of how to live, it is inevitable problems will arise within the city. Tired of having to hide their true selves, a small group forms “The Allegiant,” a group responsible for overthrowing Evelyn and restoring the normal faction way of life.

Tobias and Tris feel torn between their feelings for Evelyn, the change she’s trying to impart and the plan presented by The Allegiant. They like the former feeling of belonging and peacefulness amongst faction members, while also sympathize with the Factionless and their homeless problems. However, they don’t agree with Evelyn’s thirst for power and the rules she’s imposed on everyone.

As members of the Allegiant, they are chosen to go outside the walls which surround their city to find the other society alluded to in the video of Tris’ ancestor in “Insurgent,” and gather support for their plans. Since no one has ever been outside of the city they do not know what will befall them, nor are they aware of the terrible trials they will soon encounter.

In this last book of the popular “Divergent” series, Roth pulls out all the stops. Cowardice, bravery, betrayal, love, and friendships are all put on the line while rumors of war continue to escalate. Tobias, Tris, Christina, Caleb, Peter and many others are tested in ways which will cause even the strongest to cry foul, and will call up howls of protest from her loyal readers aged 12-18.

 

“Insurgent” Veronica Roth

Divergent, book #2. 2012. Katherine Tegen Books (HarperCollins) 525 pp.

DivergentThe scenario of having to shoot Will plays through Tris’ mind over and over again. Unable to forgive herself for his death, she sinks into a world of apathy, depression and fear. Once brave and full of Dauntless courage, she is now afraid to hold a gun or face her own fears. Tobias does his best to shake her out of her self imposed despair, reminding her of the necessity of killing him, but Tris refuses to be convinced and continues to wallow in misery.

While Tris fights with her demons, the world she knew has fallen into complete chaos. Erudite and Dauntless traitors, led by a crazed Jeanine Matthews, are in control. With the Abnegation faction almost gone, and not enough loyal faction members remaining to fight off their hostilities, Tobias decides it best to side with Evelyn, his long lost mother. She is now leader of the Factionless, and her goal is to stop the killings by uniting all Factions.

Meanwhile Marcus, his father, has hinted Jeanine is hiding a secret that will change everything. Tobias sides with Evelyn in calling him a liar, but Tris is convinced he knows more than he’s willing to reveal. Desperate to make a difference, Tris has to call her own allegiances to mind and choose between her love for Tobias and her Erudite search for the truth. Her decision will change everything and everyone, including herself.

“Insurgent” is full of chaos and deceit, as well as plot twists and turns. Readers aged 12-18 will keep turning the pages as they follow Tris from one adventure to another. “Allegiant,” the last book in the series, will answer the many questions Roth deliberately chose to leave unanswered.

 

“Divergent” Veronica Roth

Divergent, book #1. 2011. Katherine Tegen Books (HarperCollins). 487 pp. Also includes Bonus Materials and a sneak peek of Insurgent.

DivergentBeatrice has reached her 16th birthday, and it is now time for her to take the required Aptitude Test to help her choose one of five factions with whom she will spend the rest of her life. Each faction was formed to develop her society’s best traits, so she will now have to decide her future based on her test’s results.

Her faction, Abnegation, has selflessness and plainness as life qualities but Beatrice has never felt these qualities in her very being. She wants to be brave and fearless like the Dauntless, but life with them will mean losing her family. The honest life of Candor, wisdom of the Erudite, or Amity peacefulness are not for her so, despite discovering a secret during her testing that could result in her death if discovered, she decides to leave her family behind and become Tris, a Dauntless initiate.

During her initiation, members of Dauntless are cruel and manipulative while seeming to hide a dark secret of their own. As Tris struggles to make friends and fit into her new world, her fears ease when she meets Tobias. Together they find love and warmth in the midst of pain, but it doesn’t take long for their world to turn upside down. Her secret will soon be revealed, and Tris will have to make decisions that will change her life forever.

“Divergent” is recommended for ages 12-18, and is planned to be released as a movie in March 2014. I’m looking forward to reading its sequel, “Insurgent.”