Tag Archives: westerfeld

The Unidentified by Rae Mariz

The UnidentifiedThe Unidentified by Rae Mariz

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Following along my dystopian kick, I picked this one up after hearing someone discuss it at the ICFA in Orlando. I thought the concept was spot on and it had a combination feel of Monica Hughes’ Invitation to the Game, MT Anderson’s Feed and So Yesterday by Scott Westerfeld.

Rampant consumerism, consumerized education, branded styles, trendsetters and cool hunters, popularity and technology all surround apathetic Kid who is more concerned with making music and just getting by than trying to get noticed by sponsors and get branded. But after she witnesses a disturbing stunt, she starts to do some research. She stumbles upon the UnIdentified–a group committed to staying below the controlling technology and constant feed access of the Game. But Kid has been noticed now, and she stumbles onto something more than a bunch of teenaged rebels.

An interesting read, and some interesting characters. Overall I enjoyed the story arc and the world building, noticing that the focus on the microcosm of the futuristic high school kept the story quote controlled and not overwhelming in regards to world building. However, I was disappointed that the novel ended where it did…it felt sudden and unsatisfying. Realistic, yes, but I would have like a few ends to be tied up. It seems that this might continue into a trilogy, though I don’t think the existing story has enough momentum to do so. So, we’ll see.

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Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld

Behemoth (Leviathan, #2)Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I really enjoy the aesthetics and the world Westerfeld creates in this trilogy. And while I like the characters, Deryn/Dylan’s reveal is taking WAY too long and I am afraid it is going to end up being a little too Fairy Tale-esque for my liking. I hope not, but I can see it heading for that direction. I am relying on Westerfeld to live up to his previous series in terms of a final ending. In terms of characterization, however, the characters in “Behemoth” feel rather flat.

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Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Wow. This was a great read! due out in February, Oliver creates a dystopia free of the disease of love. Each chapter is headed with quotes from the government-issued texts regarding science and religion (which have become one and the same), pamphlets on “The Cure” and the dangers of love.

The confined societies harks to a Hunger Games/Uglies-esque, divided communities. Strangely, at 18 all citizens receive the cure, ridding them of the ability to love; yet all citizens are “matched” with a mate and raise a nuclear family, living in the same house, maintaining a routine. Citizens are closely monitored, the fences electrified and no one allowed in or out. Excessive laughter, singing, hugging, coddling of children is looked down upon as manifested symptoms of the disease.

Olivier brings an interesting concept by painting love as a disease: increased heart rate, flushing, distraction, delusions, sweaty palms, sometimes faint, inability to focus, difficulty breathing, bouts of crying and depression, shirking responsibilities…It sounds legitimate, yet her descriptions aptly describe first love.

In a world where “Romeo and Juliet” is a cautionary tale, how does the main character cope with her deceased mother, who could not be cured despite three attempts…if she gets the cure, her memories will be gone….yet so will the pain. And there is also a boy…

The strength of the novel is the world building. Some of the character’s narration is choppy and needs further development to feel more authentic. But overall this book presents a fascinating concept and follows it through to the end.

Books that are similar:

  • The Giver by Lois Lowry
  • Matched by Ally Condie
  • Feed by MT Anderson
  • Uglies Trilogy by Scott Westerfeld
  • Skinned by Wasserman

Books that I am going to read over break:

  • Matched by Ally Condie
  • Evolution’s darling by Scott Westerfeld
  • Polymorph by Scott Westerfeld
  • Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld
  • Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare
  • Boy Toy by Lyga
  • This Book is Overdue by Marilyn Johnson

Books I HAVE ro read over break:

  • The Outsiders
  • I’ll Get There. It Better be Worth the Trip.
  • Jacob Have I Loved
  • Annie on My Mind
  • The Language of Goldfish
  • The Planet of Junior Brown
  • The Friends
  • Annie John
  • Remembering the Good Times
  • A Separate Peace
  • House on Mango Street
  • (and some more)

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Mockingjay (Hunger Games #3) by Suzanne Collins

Collins, Suzanne (2010). Mockingjay. New York: Scholastic.

I was counting the days for Mockingjay‘s release. Katniss captured my attention in Hunger Games, and failed to relinquish her hold into Catching Fire. So naturally, I reread the first two books of the trilogy in the days prior to the final book’s release. Katniss’ naivete of her desirability, of her survival skills make her an engaging heroine. Katniss has unwittingly stood against the Capitol, not once, but twice and finds herself in the mythical District 13. I knew reentering Katniss’ world that Panem was on the brink of revolution, and Katniss’ involvement as the “mockingjay” and the face of the revolution would play into the trilogy’s resolution. Katniss becomes a pawn in District 13’s revolution against the Capitol, just as she was a pawn for the Capitol in the games. It is her headstrong and heartstrong instinct for survival that motivates her to take further action against both. Despite District 13’s effort merely to use Katniss as a rallying point and symbol, Katniss pushes herself into the action of the rebels against Panem which leads her to the Capitol’s defenses. Rigged like the games using the most advanced technology, Katniss and a group of rebels breach the defenses, but the outcome means more than just the lives of the players, but the lives of all in Panem.

Following  two very successful–and in my opinion unpredictable–novels Mockingjay felt rushed, chaotic and somewhat lacking. Katniss’ character remained consistent and the development of the other characters was authentic and realistic. Katniss’ younger sister Prim, grew from a little girl to be protected into an independent young woman with a purpose. Peeta faced torture and mind-control, making his gallant-can-do-no-wrong characterization much more interesting and developed. On the other hand, Gale’s character and his love for Katniss feel ambivalent and his decisions at the end of the novel feel contrived in order to create a sense of stability for Katniss.

The battle scenes and outwitting of the game-like elements surrounding the Capitol is an inventive way to bring the Games into all three novels; however, the descriptions of the ensuing battles were chaotic, disjointed and not easy to follow. I had to reread passages in order to follow the action descriptions.  Yet the world that Suzanne Collins created is one that seems plausible in the future with a strong government’s ability to develop and use advanced technology, while repressing citizens into poverty in order to keep them subordinate.  This contrasts with the dystopia created by Scott Westerfeld in his “Uglies Trilogy” (which is really four books) where the citizens are able to obtain any luxury and access technology with a virtual system of popularity and community service currency. Plus, once sixteen, all citizens become “pretty” and can get anything they want. Both Collins’ and Westerfeld’s dystopias have strong female heroines who both falter due to a warped friend-boyfriend-heroine love triangle. Why can’t a strong female protagonist exist without being motivated by a male?

Because of the themes and popularity of dystopian novels, hooking readers into this world is easy as showing the book trailer below. Or a read-aloud from pages 213 until 217, which ends with the words “Instead, i watch myself get shot on television.”

A homemade book trailer for Mockingjay:

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Airborn by Kenneth Oppel

Oppel, Kenneth (2004). Airborn. NY: Harpercollins. 501 pages.
Airships. Pirates. Mysterious winged creatures. Told from cabin boy Matt Cruse’s perspective, this Printz honor book follows Matt’s journey on his deceased father’s ship, the Aurora. The Aurora is Matt’s entire world, and when attacked by pirates on a trans-Pacificus flight, the Aurora is injured; Matt and the crew are just able to land the ship on a seemingly deserted tropical island which turns out to be inhabited by one of the mysterious winged creatures that the very insistent first class passenger, Kate, insists upon investigating. Matt and Kate are teamed up to find the creature, to escape another visit from the Pirates and overcome certain class restrictions blocking both of them from pursuing their desired futures.

As a recent convert to steampunk fiction, Airborn satisfied my craving for such Victorian-Industrial-Alternate world that has been building since I have been waiting for Behemoth, the sequel to Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan. While the science in Westerfeld’s world combines the genetic engineering of animals into airships, Oppel’s world aligns more closely with our own—merely multiplying the effects of hydrogen and helium to be more useful in lifting airships. Aside from the awesomeness of alternate science, the characterizations and dialogue between Oppel’s characters feels natural with an understated humor. From mocking the first class passenger’s need for croissants while shipwrecked to the murderous pilot with a great sense of humor, I didn’t feel the hefty 500-page count.
As the first book in the Silverwing Trilogy, this is a great book to recommend to teenagers, since if they like the characters and adventures of Kate and Matt, they can continue with the next two books. The dialogue, as the strongest aspect, presents the best advocacy of this novel. I would recommend reading a small passage to hook readers into picking up this book. The short scene on pages 174-176 is a short dialogue between Matt and his bunkmate, Baz, discussing the passengers’ dilemma at not having fresh croissants. At the same time, the passage suggests the danger of being shipwrecked, counteracted with the levity of dialogue.

To purchase or learn more about the series:


Title Image

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I am currently almost done summer school! Currently I am spending my Saturday evening reading Scott Westerfeld’s “Leviathan”–which I started in November and just never had the time to finish. But it is REALLY good at the half-way marker.

Last evening was my birthday outing at Finale and Harp. I have some fantastic friends, thank you very much.

I am going to continue my reading quest!

More later! Also: I LOVE WALL*E!!! ( And not JUST because Shaun Tan did artistic consultation work…!)

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