The Fireman by Joe Hill

The Fireman by Joe HillThe Fireman
by Joe Hill
Published by William Morrow
on May 17th 2016
Genres: Horror, Mystery, Thriller
Pages: 768
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
From the award-winning, New York Times bestselling author ofNOS4A2 and Heart-Shaped Box comes a chilling novel about a worldwide pandemic of spontaneous combustion that threatens to reduce civilization to ashes and a band of improbable heroes who battle to save it, led by one powerful and enigmatic man known as the Fireman.

The fireman is coming. Stay cool.

No one knows exactly when it began or where it originated. A terrifying new plague is spreading like wildfire across the country, striking cities one by one: Boston, Detroit, Seattle. The doctors call it Draco Incendia Trychophyton. To everyone else it’s Dragonscale, a highly contagious, deadly spore that marks its hosts with beautiful black and gold marks across their bodies—before causing them to burst into flames. Millions are infected; blazes erupt everywhere. There is no antidote. No one is safe.

Harper Grayson, a compassionate, dedicated nurse as pragmatic as Mary Poppins, treated hundreds of infected patients before her hospital burned to the ground. Now she’s discovered the telltale gold-flecked marks on her skin. When the outbreak first began, she and her husband, Jakob, had made a pact: they would take matters into their own hands if they became infected. To Jakob’s dismay, Harper wants to live—at least until the fetus she is carrying comes to term. At the hospital, she witnessed infected mothers give birth to healthy babies and believes hers will be fine too. . . if she can live long enough to deliver the child.

Convinced that his do-gooding wife has made him sick, Jakob becomes unhinged, and eventually abandons her as their placid New England community collapses in terror. The chaos gives rise to ruthless Cremation Squads—armed, self-appointed posses roaming the streets and woods to exterminate those who they believe carry the spore. But Harper isn’t as alone as she fears: a mysterious and compelling stranger she briefly met at the hospital, a man in a dirty yellow fire fighter’s jacket, carrying a hooked iron bar, straddles the abyss between insanity and death. Known as The Fireman, he strolls the ruins of New Hampshire, a madman afflicted with Dragonscale who has learned to control the fire within himself, using it as a shield to protect the hunted . . . and as a weapon to avenge the wronged.

In the desperate season to come, as the world burns out of control, Harper must learn the Fireman’s secrets before her life—and that of her unborn child—goes up in smoke. -- From

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.


I feel like my meager reviewing skills are not up to the task of reviewing this book. I can’t find the right words to say just how much I completely and totally adored this book. There is only one other book I can think of that ranks as high with me and that is The Stand by Stephen King. How “odd” that both are apocalyptic plague novels – and that the men who wrote them are from the same family.

In both books, a deadly pandemic reduces the worlds population by millions. Both feature a pregnant woman who is a survivor of the plague, and also carrying someone who will prove if humanity will perish or not. Both feature a deaf man named Nick (saw what you did there Joe!) and, for me, I just had the same…”feeling…” that I had reading The Stand. I can’t explain it any better than that. It was a feeling and both books made me feel it. And lastly, while both books are dystopian both have an optimism that I can’t help but love. Humanity is dying, long live humanity. Perhaps that is the “feeling” I can’t identify? Do I put these books down feeling more hopeful for our future?

I hope so.

The writing is great. The characters are memorable, root-for-able, and real. The book, while long, does not feel long – which I always find to be quite the accomplishment when it happens. Kate Mulgrew reads the audiobook; which is how I plan to reread this book, and soon! I can’t say more than what is in the summary. I don’t want to say anything more than what I’ve said. The Fireman is one of those books I think one is best reading with little to go on other than, hopefully, my opinion that it is a fantastic book. I hope you believe me. I hope you decide to get it, take it on vacation this summer, and devour it. I’m ready to read it again.

Favorite bits:

“There’s something horribly unfair about dying in the middle of a good story, before you have a chance to see how it all comes out. Of course, I suppose everyone ALWAYS dies in the middle of a good story, in a sense. Your own story. Or the story of your grandchildren. Death is a raw deal for narrative junkies.”

“Death is a raw deal for narrative junkies.”

“It’s so fucking cheap when people say I love you. It’s a name to stick on a surge of hormones, with a little hint of loyalty thrown in. I’ve never liked saying it. Here’s what I say: We’re together, now and until the end. You have everything I need to be happy. You make me feel right.”

It’s easy to dismiss religion as bloody, cruel, and tribal. I’ve done it myself. But it isn’t religion that’s wired that way – it’s man himself. At bottom every faith is a form of instruction in common decency. Different textbooks in the same class. Don’t they all teach that to do for others feels better than to do for yourself? That someone else’s happiness need not mean less happiness for you?”

Reading Notes: On a Long Walk with Stephen King

Reading Notes: On a Long Walk with Stephen KingThe Long Walk
by Stephen King
Published by Signet
on July 1979
Genres: Horror
Pages: 370
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
On the first day of May, 100 teenage boys meet for a race known as The Long Walk. If you break the rules, you get three warnings. If you exceed your limit, what happens is absolutely terrifying...

100 boys. 100 boys, assembled on a hill in Maine. They are from all over the country. They don’t know each other, have never even seen each other before. But they are about to embark on a journey, a journey where only one will come out alive, for they are to walk. Walk until there is only one boy left standing. Along the way, profound things will be learned, friendships will be made, and at the end…does anything really change?

I’m so take it or leave it with King. And it’s not because I don’t think he’s a fantastic writer. I do! I looooooved The Stand. I’m so terrified of The Shining that I am 99.9% sure I will never touch it, even with that proverbial 10-foot pole. I thought Misery was tolerable (I was a teen when I read it, so I really barely remember it). I adored his book On Writing. The movie Pet Sematary threatened my relationship with cats for quite some time and I am a cat. lover. In short, I’m never quite sure where I stand on the guy. Basically he warms by belly in anticipation and chills my blood with apprehension.

So, when I read this book was compared to The Hunger Games, I was unsurprisingly interested and wary.

And, as these sorts of comparisons usually go, I found it remarkably different from The Hunger Games and I was completely okay with that. In many ways, The Long Walk isn’t as political. The reader is never told exactly why these boys walk every year. There is no feeling that they are a sacrifice. There is no visible government, other than the Major and the soldiers who follow the boys, and kill them when they fall. There is obviously a winner and the winner does win a prize (seemingly of a large sum of money). The focus of The Long Walk is more on the boys, their thoughts, their feelings, the process of the long walk and what it does to their minds and bodies. I’ve never really thought about it, but walking, without stopping, at a certain speed, for a long period of time would wear on your body and your mind.

In short, I know I would go completely nuts.

This book was more thought-provoking and interesting than I anticipated and I’m actually really glad I read it. I’m glad Uncle Stevie and I are starting to see things the same way. I appreciated that nothing really changed. No governments were overtly challenged, no minds were changed (except those boys), and the reader can imagine that the same thing will happen next year, and the next, and the next. Sometimes things don’t have to be all wrapped up in a bow and I love the occasionally ending that embraces that. Way to go Uncle Stevie!




Reboot by Amy Tintera

13517455Y’all. I did something the other day I haven’t done in…oh…ages. If ever. I bought, and read, a book…in one day. In one day people. Can you believe that? I surely can’t. And it was this book, Reboot, by Amy Tintera.

Reboot is a zombie book. The word “zombie” is never used in the book, but it is a zombie book, just not in the traditional sense. The zombies in this book are exactly the way they were in life; except better. Stronger, faster, smarter, they don’t get sick, they don’t decay – they are like the ultimate soldier. And, like most YA dystopian books, it is a fast read. Obviously, since I read it in one day! The description from the book summary sums it up neatly; “…this fast-paced dystopian thrill ride…” Yet, I feel that Reboot is more than your typical YA dystopian thrill ride.

Wren Connolly died five years ago. She was dead, from three gunshot wounds to the chest. After 178 minutes, she woke up. Since Wren was dead so long before she came back, she is stronger, less emotional, and heals almost instantly, in a word, she is one of the deadliest Reboots HARC (Human Advancement and Repopulation Corporation) has ever had. Her job? Capturing the sick, the Rebooted, and the criminal from the slums of the Republic of Texas.

Callum, dead 22 minutes, is just the opposite. Having been dead for such a short time left him with more humanity than the desirable, violent, and controllabe, reboots. And all his attention seems to be on Wren. Wren, confused by all this unwanted attention, is caught off guard. In a strange turn of events (for her) she takes him on as his trainer. And what starts as a challenge for both of them, becomes more than either ever dreamed. And I’m not just talking romance here, people.

Wren goes through quite a metamorphosis in this book and really presents Tintera’s skill. Before Callum, Wren is hard as nails, by the book, complete and Total Reboot. After Callum, well…Lenore (from her review at Presenting Lenore) called this the “second rebooting of Wren” which I think is the perfect description for what happens here. Wren learns, or relearns, things long forgotten about herself and, quite possibly, begins to redefine what being a Reboot is. Like most typical YA, there is a central romance, and yes, I was pulling for the couple, but I found Tintera’s play with her characters far more interesting, especially Wren; a delightfully conflicted character. Tintera’s commentary on humanity and what it means to be human, not to mention our treatment of each other, was fascinating. Plus, the romance isn’t all saccharine sweetness. Tintera did a good job of balancing the “hey, I just met you, and this is crazy, but gosh I think I love you” chemistry with all the lovely conflict, without making it too angsty.

In short, I really enjoyed this novel and look forward to the next in the series. Yes, you know it. It’s a series!

Reboot by Amy Tintera
ISBN-13: 9780062217073
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 5/7/2013
Pages: 365
Rating: 4/5

The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau

13326831Remember how I said a few weeks ago that book comparisons make me nervous?

Well, I’m about to make one. And yes, this makes me nervous.

The Testing seems to be the latest dystopian YA “IT” novel, heir-apparent to The Hunger Games. Cia Vale lives with her family in the Five Lakes Colony, one of the few colonies left in what was America after the Seven Stages War. The Seven Stages War left the country is ruins, the land almost completely barren, and the water mostly undrinkable. The few who remain struggle to get the things they need from the ravaged land. Cia’s father and brothers are some of the citizens who work with the land, developing new crops that can flourish and sustain their colony.

Cia, who is graduating from high school, seems to be living her life to go to university, so that she can be like her father. To go to university, however, one must go through a process called Testing. It has been 15 years since anyone from Five Lakes Colony has been picked for testing. She’s hoping this year will be different.

At first, it appears it’s not.

But later, she finds out she has been picked. I’m not going into the politics of what happens with that, as it would be giving away tooooooo much. Let’s just say she gets picked. She goes to Testing.

All of this, before the shift to the Testing, was fascinating to me. I loved the world building, the way the colony worked, the interaction between Cia and her family. It was just too brief. Because this is YA dystopia, and YA dystopia doesn’t take long to GET TO THE POINT.

The point is to get to the Testing. Once there, the book begins to feel suspiciously familiar.

The Testing consists of 4 parts. The first three test basic skills. The fourth. Well. The fourth is where things begin to feel very, very familiar.

Spoiler alert:

It felt like a complete rip off of The Hunger Games. Except with a gun instead of arrows.

Spoiler over.

There is a lot of politics, and of course the environmental message (which actually didn’t bother me), and OF COURSE the romance between the two hometown friends. Which felt very forced and unnecessary to me. Actually, most of it felt forced to me. And derivative. The beginning was so good, I was so into it and all, and then it just went down hill. But, that is too me. I think I’ve read too much YA lately.  But, let me be blunt. If you are looking for another Hunger Games, as much as it makes me nervous to say it, this book is for you. If you’re tired of the formula, but think it sounds good, give it a try! You’ll probably like it (I did LIKE some of it, I’m just disappointed I didn’t LOVE it). If you are really tired of the formula, I’d keep on moving. To me, the book had a lot of potential it just didn’t live up to. I may read the next in the series (because of course, it’s a trilogy). I’m going to wait to read the description before I decide though.

The Testing
By Joelle Charbonneau
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children (June 4, 2013)
336 pages (hardcover)
Acquired from NetGalley
Rated 3/5

Enclave by Ann Aguirre, read by Emily Bauer

Title: Enclave: Razorland #1
Author: Ann Aguirre
Read by: Emily Bauer
Published: April 2011
ISBN: 9781427211200
Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Acquired from the publisher


This dystopian novel has a lot going for it. And little bit NOT.


It is I Have No Idea How Many Years into the future. Humanity has taken to living underground, it was appears to be the subway system of New York City. Humans don’t live long. The age of twenty-one is considered old age. Deuce, our heroine, was born underground. She has never seen the sun, by all appearances has never even heard of it. Deuce is a Huntress. She takes to the tunnels to hunt meat and protect the enclave from what they call “Freaks”. Freaks are, best I can tell, something of a cross between zombies and feral humans. Her hunting partner, Fade, was not born in the enclave. He was found, young and alone, in the tunnels, and the enclave took him in. Deuce is a loyal member of the enclave. Fade, maybe not so much, but, since he’s her partner, she is also loyal to him. Yet, when Fade, and circumstance, make Deuce stand up and take notice, she realizes things are maybe not what she thought.

When Deuce and Fade are exiled from the Enclave, and forced to go “topside”, Deuce learns, well, a lot. More than she ever dreamed possible.


Deuce is excellent. She’s strong. She’s smart. She relies on herself and with good reason. She can kick ass! She’s a little naive (what female character in YA isn’t any more?) and a little too trusting. She is ignorant, but only because everyone in the Enclave (except for perhaps the Word guy) is ignorant.

Fade was weak, especially compared to Deuce. The basics (and this really doesn’t give anything away!) is that he’s two years older than Deuce. He was born above ground (where the people of the enclave believe you’ll burn up if you were to walk up there) and he knew his father. He’s a wicked good fighter, he has a tendency to go feral when fighting, and he’s quiet. He’s fiercely loyal to the few (like, one, maybe two) friends he has.


  • Liked the main girl, Deuce, very much. She was very appealing in a Katniss/Katsa kind of way.
  • The world building, while sometimes a little far fetched (I have a hard time believing that the same world that is so far gone that paved roads are little more than rubble also has canned food that is edible), is also (besides that) rather well done. For instance, I liked that Aguirre made sure to make Deuce very sensitive to the sun and she doesn’t just let that go. Deuce has to worry about the sun constantly and I think that’s very true to how a girl who has only lived underground would be.
  • The story was good, if not as strong as I’d like. I kind of wonder if this isn’t a symptom of an adult writer writing a YA?
  • Strong, fast pace, which is good for the genre
  • The girl knows how to fight!


  • Could improve on character development. I felt Fade was weak; well, really every character was weak besides Deuce.
  • The plot could have been better developed. It is compelling, but I was left wanting more meat in the story (no pun intended), it’s a case of show me, don’t tell me.
  • The “love triangle” was weird. I haven’t mention the other guy. There is ALWAYS another guy. I don’t even remember his name, only that I didn’t like him. I mean, I REALLY didn’t like him. See next bullet.
  • Didn’t like the serial-rapist-and-rape-accomplice-suddenly-turned-good character (THIS is the other guy. I know. Gross.). You don’t just flip a switch on a personality like that. He makes creepy Edward Cullen look like a saint.
  • The world building is a little weird. It feels like the event-that-is-not-defined happened a very long time ago, long enough for streets to be rubble from rain and erosion, yet they can still eat food from cans? That food should be beyond rancid if it’s been that long ago. Not that we would know.
  • Didn’t care for the reader that much. She sounded way too young.


While it had some problems, Enclave was a decent dystopian novel. I am intrigued enough to read the next in the series. I think Deuce is a terrific character and I’m anxious to see if some of the problems I had with Enclave are resolved in Outpost.

Railsea by China Mieville

by China Mieville

Published by: Del Rey
May 15, 2012
Pages: 448
Source: NetGalley (thank you Del Rey!)

Me and this book? We almost didn’t happen. I literally tried 4 times to get into this book during the month of May. And I always quit at the same place; chapter 4. I’m not sure what made me pick it up again that fourth time; I generally only give books 3 chances and usually a little more spaced out than that. Being such a moody reader leads me to do such things, but still, 3 times is usually a good indicator of whether a book and I are going to see eye to eye. Still, about 2:00 am, on the train back from Florida, I had just finished Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend and I knew there was no way in this good, great Earth that I was going to read The Stand at 2:00 am, so I opened Railsea one final time. I scanned back to page one (since it was on my Nook) and I gave a great sigh and plunged in again.

Somehow, with the combination of the hour, the rocking of the train (coincidence? I think not!), the extreme tiredness I was feeling, and the fact that I was miserable with a cold; Railsea and I clicked. I know that sounds somewhat strange, but there you go. I’m strange. C’est ma vie. Bienvenue! All I know is I’m glad it happened because I wound up loving Railsea and I may have a new author crush to boot.

So, I don’t know if you heard, but Railsea is like a re-imagining of Moby Dick. However, instead of chasing a bone-white whale, we’re chasing a bone-white mole. Yes, a mole, a “moldywarpe”, but not like the little moles who tear up our yards and cause us to tear our hair out until we’re bald and bleeding. What? You don’t do this? Anyway, THIS mole is huge. I mean, freaking huge. A huge as a house. Maybe even huger. And instead of the ocean, our sea is rails. Train rails. An ocean of trail rails, hence, the Railsea. The train, the moletrain, Medes is chasing this moldywarpe, called many things but mainly Mocker Jack, and Captain Naphi, a woman with a passion for vengeance and just as determined as Captain Ahab.

Also onboard the Medes is a young man named Sham Yes ap Soorap. Sham is young in many ways, not just by age, and he does a lot of growing up during the course of this story. The reader meets Sham on deck, covered in blood, watching as all the hands on the train dismantle a small moldywarpe. Sham, bless his heart, seems lost, confused, on the train he’s traveling. The cousins who raised him helped him get the position of doctor’s assistant, but he’s no more interested in being a doctor than he is a mole hunter. He figures there’s more to life than chasing moles and riding the railsea. A chance encounter with a derailed train, and a chance discovery onboard that derelict train, sends Sham off on the adventure of a lifetime.

There is so much going on in this book. It took me awhile to grasp that it was (and honestly, I’m still not completely sure) dystopian, and it’s a bleak future. The land is covered in trail rails. There are two levels to the sky; the upsky, where weird, otherworldly creatures fly, where the air is so polluted you can’t always see the tops of mountains, and the downsky, a sliver of breathable air between the upsky and the rails. Many people sell what they call salvage, which is essentially the piles and piles of trash left behind by the people of the past. These salvagers often don’t know what the things they sell actually are, they make up names and uses for unfamiliar (but familiar to us!) things. There is no real discernible government, other one brief appearance by some sort of dirty “train cops.” Then there are all the insanely huge insects, flesh-eating rabbits, and other such monsters trolling around under the ground. Families are not the typical “nuclear” family of old. Families are whoever sticks around, either by choice or by necessity. Sham is raised by two male cousins after his parents die. He makes friends with a brother and sister who have three parents; a woman and two men. As complex and completely strange as all this is, Mieville manages to keep the story on track and, strangely, believable. At least for me.

The real star of the book though, in my opinion, is the writing. Holy rusted metal Batman, but Mieville has a way with words. The prose alone was like feast of words. The plot, as twisted as the rails, which I think was completely intentional. The story splits, about halfway, into three or four different subplots, eventually meandering back together and I couldn’t help but exclaim about halfway through that this was JUST LIKE THE RAILSEA! My joy was strange and complete. I love it with authors play with words, plots, ideas and by golly, Mieville plays like a champion wordsmith. And the characters! I quickly fell in love with Sham. And Captain Naphi? What a puzzle. My favorite, besides Sham, has to be his pet day bat, Daybe. I would have never thought I would find a bat adorable, but I do. Many of the characters are not as well-rounded as Sham, but the are still memorable. I can’t wait to get my hands on more of his books, just to see if he’s always like this. Is he always like this?

A few quotes I noted:

People have wanted to narrate since first we banged rocks together & wondered about fire. There’ll be tellings as long as there are any of us here, until the stars disappear one by one like turned-out lights.

Heaven might not be what everyone thinks it is, but that don’t mean it’s a myth.

Technically, our name, to those who speak science, is Homo sapiens— wise person. But we have been described in many other ways. Homo narrans, juridicus, ludens, diaspora: we are storytelling, legal, game-playing, scattered people, too. True but incomplete. That old phrase has the secret. We are all, have always been, will always be, Homo vorago aperientis: person before whom opens a vast & awesome hole.

“I await your improvements eagerly. & complaining is awesomely helpful. (I hope to add this to my sarcasm vault as soon as possible.)

There was a time when we did not form all words as now we do, in writing on a page. There was a time when the world “&” was written with several distinct & separate letters. It seems madness now. But there it is, & there is nothing we can do about it.

Humanity learnt to ride the rails, & that motion made us what we are, a ferromaritime people. The lines of the railsea go everywhere but from one place to another. It is always switchback, junction, coils around & over our own train-trails.

What word better could there be to symbolise the railsea that connects & separates all lands, than “&” itself? Where else does the railsea take us but to this place & that one & that one, & so on? & what better embodies, in the sweep of the pen, the recurved motion of trains, than “&”?

Okay, enough talking your ear off about this book. I’m afraid I passed tl; dr 600 words ago. I can only hope I managed to convince you to give this modern day adventure story a try.

Tomorrow When the War Began by John Marsden

My Dear Readers,

You know how it seems like everything begins on Twitter?

I read this because of Twitter.

You see, back around the time of last October’s read-a-thon, I saw several of my favorite bloggers discussing the above book and expounding on how much they loved it (and the series). I thought it sounded like a great read-a-thon book and got my hands on a copy.

And promptly forgot about it.

Flash-forward about 6 months, to when I started gathering books for the April read-a-thon. That’s right! I found it again! And this time, I read it. And let me tell you; those girls were so very, very right. Tomorrow, When the War Began is one of the best pieces of YA lit I’ve read, dystopian or not.

The novel begins with the main character, Ellie, and six of her friends (all teenagers) going off on a camping trip in the bush (this takes place in Australia) together for a week or so. When they return, they find things completely wrong. No one is at home. The streets are disserted. Pets and livestock are dead. As they investigate, they come to understand – their country has been invaded, their families have been taken prisoner.

To say more would be to spoil one of the most tightly written, on-the-edge-of-my-seat books I’ve read in quite awhile. The tension between the characters and their situation is palpable. Marsden takes an intense situation and thrusts you inside, making you feel like you’re there. It’s your country that has been invaded, by whom, you don’t know. Your family has been taken captive. You have no idea what has happened to them, if they are alive, being tortured or worse. And that is your dog that is dead, lying on the floor, abandoned, starved, and alone. He makes it all feel horrible. And he makes you want to fight. Tomorrow, When the War Began is a riveting look at how it feels to be the invaded country and makes you think, “what would I do in such a situation?” And it is, in a word, fantastic.

To say I can’t wait to read the next installment would be a gross understatement. I have it. I haven’t forgotten I have it. I am biding my time, for the next read-a-thon. I think I might make it something of a tradition; to read the next in the Tomorrow Series and see how the gang is holding up.

Favorite quotes:

We’d thought that we were among the first humans to invade this basin, but humans had invaded everything, everywhere. They didn’t have to walk into a place to invade it.

People just sticking names on places, so that no one could see those places properly any more. Every time they looked at them or thought about them the the first thing they saw was a huge big sign saying ‘Housing Commission’ or ‘private school’ or ‘church’ or ‘mosque’ or ‘synagogue’. They stopped looking once they saw those signs.

No, Hell wasn’t anything to do with place, Hell was all to do with people. Maybe Hell was people.

iconTomorrow, When the War Began
By John Marsden

Pub. Date: June 2006

Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
Format: Paperback , 277pp
Age Range: Young Adult
ISBN-13: 9780439829106
Source: I bought it mate. 




In a Perfect World

In a Perfect World
In a Perfect World

In a Perfect World
Written by Laura Kasischke
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Harper Perennial; 1 edition (October 6, 2009)
Language: English

It seems like I’ve been reading a lot of end-of-the-world/dystopian type novels this year.  I’m not sure why, other than I love the freaking heck out of them!  I guess there is something appealing about reading about people living in the face of the end or difficult circumstances or things of that ilk.  It’s just fun, people!  Crazy!

Kasischke’s book, In A Perfect World, in another in a proud line of such end of the world tales.  Jiselle is finally the bride, after being the bridesmaid six times.  She has married pilot Mark Dorn – handsome pilot, widower, and father of three.  Jiselle gets to quit her job as a flight attendant and leave behind all the irritation and grumbling from the job.   Ever since the outbreak of the Phoenix flu, passengers have become even harder to handle (and put up with) than ever.  She moves into Mark’s beautiful log cabin and begins to help him raise his three precious children.

Marriage, and instant motherhood, are not all they are cracked up to be.  Jiselle finds she is frequently alone with Mark out on flights and she’s lonely.  She thinks the children hate her.  And the Phoenix flu, once thought of as a passing threat, will change everything about the life Jiselle thought she had into something more life altering – and threatening – than she ever dreamed.

I am sooooo close to finishing this one. I would have finished last night, but we HAD TO carve pumpkins – daughter’s emphasis.  I feel that I can give my opinion on the novel at this point though.  As a parent whose children have had the DREADED swine flu, I can say that this is one freaky read.  The basic abandonment of America by the global community was unsurprising and saddening.  The descent of Jiselle’s own life is depressing when used with this pandemic as a counter point.  This novel is more than a dystopian look at a potential future for our world; Jiselle’s struggle for her identity when faced with the new life she has chosen is also sobering.  It is a power look at the choices women face when entering an already established family especially in those situations when the children dislike the new interference to their lives.  The family dynamic is the main focus of this story and, even though I feel like the Phoenix flu angle takes away from that main focus at times, it still makes for a compelling and interesting story.   If you like a story that focuses on the difficulties of the dysfunctional family dynamic and learning about yourself in new and challenging endeavors with perhaps a little bit of apocalyptic, end of the world as we know it type stuffs, I recommend you grab a copy of In A Perfect World.

From what I hear and what I’ll know in a few chapters, there is a somewhat ambiguous ending, which are either hit or miss with me, but wanted to forewarn you.  If you don’t like those type of endings, you may want to think twice.  I know some readers love them and some hate them.  I can go either way and will probably update this review with a note once I finish it.

Thanks to the publisher for supplying my copy of this book, to TLC Blog Tours for their general AWESOMENESS and you, for reading!  To see other reviews of In A Perfect World, check out these other sites:

Monday, October 12th – Starting Fresh
Wednesday, October 14th – BookNAround
Thursday, October 15th – Book Club Classics!
Monday, October 19th – A Reader’s Respite
Friday, October 23rd – The Book Nest
Monday, October 26th – Galleysmith
Monday, November 2nd – Word Lily
Tuesday, November 3rd – Books on the Brain
Thursday, November 5th – Write Meg

Last one, I swear!

 Another reading challenge??!?!?
Another reading challenge??!?!?

But when Bart at Bart’s Bookshelf was *kind* enough to let me know he was hosting a YA Dystopian Lit Challenge, I just knew had to do it. I mean, YA Dystopian Lit is like my FAVORITE thing. EVER.  Better than a Krispee Kreme donut. Seriously.

Anyway, he’s made it SUPER easy.

So, here I am, starting The YA Dystopian Reading Challenge! Taking place from October 15th through to the end of the year. (So yes, those 24 Hour Read-a-Thon books will count!)

The idea is to have fun with this, and as I know with the year-end rapidly approaching, thoughts will be turning to completing all the other challenges we are all signed up to! So your level of participation is up to you, simply pick a target of between 1 & 4 books to read during the two and a half months of the challenge.

I have quite a few piled up ready to go, including:

  • The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness
  • Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer
  • The Dead and the Gone by Susan Beth Pfeffer
  • Rivers of Fire by Patrick Carman
  • The Dark Planet by Patrick Carman
  • Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
  • Pretties by Scott Westerfeld
  • The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson
  • Tomorrow, When the War Began by John Marsden

And I’m sure there are a few more floating around here.  I am so excited about this one!  I know I can finish this one by the end of the year. Care to join me?

Is there a Dystopian novel you think I should read?

The Maze Runner

Title: The Maze Runner
Author: James Dashner
Publisher: Random House Children’s Books
Pub. Date: October 06, 2009
ARC from publisher
James Dashner website
James Dasher on Twitter

Life has made a very confusing turn for Thomas.  The moment he wakes up in the lift, he doesn’t know his name, his purpose, or where he is.  His mind is a slate wiped clean.  At least he’s not alone.  For as he climbs from the lift, boys of every size, shape and age surround him and welcome him to the Glade – a large, self-sufficient expanse surrounded by tall, stone, imposing walls, and, a maze.  Like Thomas, the other boys don’t know why they are in the Glade, they are simply living day to day, trying to survive.  Day after day, the boys work in the gardens, work with their livestock, and survive.  And they run the maze.  Every morning the stone doors to the maze open, and every night they close.  And every 30 days a new boy comes to the Glade in the same lift that brought Thomas.   Thomas was expected.

But the next day, the unthinkable happens.  The lift delivers a girl. 

Not just any girl – a girl that Thomas is certain he knows and she comes bearing a message.  The end is beginning.  Now Thomas might be even more important than he ever imagined; if only he could unlock the secrets buried deep inside his own mind.

When I requested and subsequently received this ARC, I wasn’t sure what to expect.  I had a tiny blurb to go on.  It sounded interesting, but I had never heard of the author and I wasn’t sure what to expect.  One rainy weekend saw me pick this up, and I barely put it down until I finished it.

I have put off reviewing this for two reasons.  One seems pretty obvious; it doesn’t come out until October. Secondly, I wanted my excitement for this book to have the change to burn down a little bit, but honestly, it hasn’t.  When I finished this book I was convinced it was my favorite book of the year.  It may not quite be my absolute favorite now, but it will definitely be in my top ten.  This is hold-on-to-the-seat-of-your-pants done by a master.  Dashner takes you on a fast-paced adventure of a ride.  He grabs you up in the first pages and doesn’t turn you loose until well after you turn the last page.  In fact, he doesn’t ever let you go because there is one HECK of a cliff-hanger at the end.  And he breaks your HEART to boot.

Not only is the pacing and plotting so great.  The characters, despite their amnesia, are well rounded and well thought out.  I very quickly came to care about Thomas and the other boys (and girl!) and what they were going through.  James Dashner has created a dystopian future that is equal parts fascinating and terrifying.  And more than anything, I just had to know, what the heck was going on!  Dashner keeps you guessing to the very end and then just leaves you with more questions.  Leave your preconceived notions at the door for nothing is as it seems in this universe.  I cannot wait for the next book in this series and think you should go and grab a copy of this on October 6.   Highly recommended, especially to fans of The Hunger Games and other such dystopian young adult fiction.

~ Also reviewed by ~

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