Linked by Susanne Valenti

27141878 Linked by Susanne Valenti is book two of the Cage of  Lies series. We rejoin Maya, Coal, Hunter, Taylor, Laurie and Alicia (and Kaloo!) where we left off, planning to return to the City and rescue Maya’s and Taylor’s parents.

This book focuses on Maya coming to terms with the new world around her. She is grappling a new family, new responsibilities and new love. Maya stands on the precipice between ‘childhood’ and adulthood and this novel follows that personal growth.

I really enjoyed the exploration of the new supporting characters. Hunter and Alicia are well thought out, well presented and jump off the page. Their personalities are real and their story lines engaging.

Coal is Coal. He is a striking main character and a typical YA love interest. Valenti’s use of restraint with this character especially during his exchanges with Taylor shows her growing skill as a writer of YA fiction.

Taylor is Coal’s solar opposite in this instalment of the series. He is petulant, childish at times, and unable to deal with the adult emotions that are being thrust on him. I found a couple of the exchanges with Taylor frustrating but that is obviously the intention of the story.

The action in this novel propels faster with each chapter to its intense conclusion. It is a gripping finale that will leave any reader wanting to find out what happens.

Valenti’s world building has gone from strength to strength with this novel. I was again impressed with this world that we discover with Maya. I am looking forward to reading the next instalment.

4/5

Chained (Cage of Lies #1) by Susanne Valenti

I was given a copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review.

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Chained by Susanne Valenti tells the story of Maya and her best friend Taylor who live in a post-apocalyptic world cut off from the contaminated world around them. The city is highly organised and built off the efforts of the many in the hopes of improving their standings and being rewarded with luxuries afforded to the rich families and politicians.

During a routine field trip into the outer limits, an accident occurs that irrevocably changes Maya and Taylor’s life. They encounter the brutality of the justice system, the violence without and discover that things may not be as they seem.

I enjoyed this story. For a first novel it is written very well. Valenti has obviously taken great care to ensure that the story flows without interruption or gaping holes. The action is cut and dried and keeps pace to its conclusion.

I really liked Maya. She was strong yet vulnerable, sweet but not naïve. I cared about what happened to her and enjoyed watching her evolve. The supporting cast was strong and I’m not ashamed to admit I fell in love with Kaloo. Read the book and you’ll see for yourself.

This is book one in the Cage of Lies series and it sets the story arc for the next offering. I nope tat the writing continues to gather the momentum it began in book one.

I found this novel reminiscent of Divergent and Maze Runner, with a little Wayward Pines to boot. If you enjoy YA dystopian fiction, check this story out.

3.75/5

Last Light Falling: The Covenant by J E Plemons

I received this copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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If your fate has already been chosen for you, would you change it? Fifteen-year-old Arena Power blindly accepts her destiny in a world filled with tragedy, chaos, and a lingering wickedness that will tempt every man’s soul until the last days on Earth. Set in the United States in the year 2053, America, like most of the world, has undergone catastrophic earthquakes, famine, and an economic collapse, which has rendered the nation hopeless. It has turned to other nations, like Russia and China, to help restore what was once a world power. Unfortunately, the new America has grossly caused civil unrest that will eventually be the precursor to a much bigger war of biblical proportions.

Last Light Falling was a book I was intrigued with from the cover and the blurb. I have been reading and enjoying a lot of dystopian novels of late, so I was keen to get my hands on a copy.

Reading this, for me, was hard work.

I found the narrative to be more telling rather than showing. Our main character is 15 years old and I just didn’t believe half of the things she said, or said she felt. Supporting characters were, at times, cardboard cut outs of cliched characters.

World-building had promise but I was always left asking more questions. Parts of the dialogue didn’t sound like the characters compared to other sections of the book. Additionally, phrasing and word usage sometimes didn’t match the characters.

Going in, I really wanted to like this book. But I found it derivative and unpolished. I won’t be reading any more of the series.

2/5

Insurgent (Divergent #2) by Veronica Roth

Book two in he Divergent trilogy by Veronica Roth, Insurgent picks up where Divergent left off. Our main characters continue on their quest to uncover the truth about their world and who they are.

This book, for me, is a bridging novel. That’s not to say I didn’t like the book, I did. It jumps straight into the action and propels towards another cliffhanger that will lead us into the final instalment.

I felt that certain scenes in the Tris and Four story arc were a bit repetitive. In fact, on occasion I wanted to skim over the scene and return to the action. Upon reflection, this is actually well done. Tris is a teenager. Teenagers are immersed in their emotional growth which usually expresses itself by equal extremes of confusion and passion. After the fact, it’s not nearly as tiresome as I thought it was at the time of reading.

There was so much to remember in Insurgent. So many characters were introduced. The customs of each faction were explored, opening up new worlds to us as readers. This was welcome. It was also an exercise in trying to remember it all! There is no question that Roth spent a great deal of time building this world. It pays off. The reader is never left wondering what something looks like, where it is, or why it is.

I have the final instalment to read next. I’m taking a quick break from YA to read an auto-biography (which I will also review here). As soon as I’m done with it (50 pages to go!) I will be jumping right into Allegiant. I’m looking forward to it.

My confession – I went on YouTube and marathoned BookTube videos. I then bought books via my favourite online store, Booktopia. Many reviews to come 🙂

3.5/5

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Divergent (Divergent #1) by Veronica Roth

Firstly, feel free to correct me if I have categorised the trilogy name incorrectly 🙂

I just finished the second book of the series Insurgent at the airport on Monday and when I came to review it I remembered that I had not reviewed Divergent here. So, I will start with Divergent and then post my review of Insurgent in the next day or two.

Before I go any further, I have NOT read Allegiant yet, so please no spoilers!

Divergent by Veronica Roth is the first in a trilogy about a dystopian Chicago broken into factions. To make it easier, I have listed the five factions below:

. Dauntless (the brave)

. Amity (the peaceful)

. Erudite (the intelligent)

. Abnegation (the selfless), and

. Candor (the honest).

There is a site you can visit to explore these factions and the many worlds of Divergent: http://www.divergentlife.com/p/factions.html.

Our heroine Beatrice Prior belongs to the Abnegation Faction and she lives with her mother, father and brother. She has just turned 16 years old and is now asked to attend a choosing ceremony to decide which faction she would like to belong to.

And so begins a fish out of water story that is a fun, accessible and strong story. Veronica Roth has created an amazing world in the Divergent series and I thoroughly enjoyed exploring it with our main characters. I was also pleasantly surprised by how easy it was to picture the landscape in my mind.

It has drawn parallels with the Hunger Games and, in part, the Maze Runner. However, I think that these three books in themselves take a very popular genre and make it their own.

I was keen to begin Insurgent as soon as I finished Divergent. I found all of the heroes/heroines and many of the villains layered and complex. A few of the darker characters seemed to be a little ‘cardboard cut out’ however this may be due to their impending demise in later books or the necessity to not focus on them in relation to the story.

I liked Beatrice. She was a real character and, in my opinion, believable. She wasn’t acting above her age or below it. And I think that is a testament to Roth’s writing. Her counterpart, Four, is intriguing and broody (which all male heroes in YA novels should be!). His back story (as it slowly unfolds) is interesting and I hope he continues on a growth arc and doesn’t become ‘just the main character’s squeeze’.

I would recommend this novel to anyone interested in YA dystopian novels. A quick comment on the movie – I liked it, I thought it remained as true to the book as it could be under the time constraints. Didn’t picture Eric with blonde hair though 🙂

4/5

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