Friday, November 25, 2011

Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi

It starts with four teenagers breaking the rules. They want to experience something real for the first time. Everything is virtual in the city of Reverie, the people spend their time in the realms where anything is possible. But it's not real. Aria just wanted information about her mother, who was abroad and hasn't been in contact for days. Then the boys started the fire and they started to attack.

Aria is saved from the fire by an Outsider. Unfortunately, she is blamed for the fire and the security breach. They drop her off in the outside, known as the Death Shop (How awesome is that, by the way?). The Death Shop contains horrors ranging from the savage people to cannibals to the deathly aether storms. It should be a death sentence.

In the meantime, the Outsider is named Perry. Perry is trying to save his tribe by convincing them to move to this fabled land where there aren't any aether storms. He is constantly undermined by his brother, Vale, the current Blood Lord of the tribe. Perry would love nothing more than to defeat Vale and become Blood Lord in his place. He will never do that because he took an oath to his nephew, Talon.

One day, some Dweller (Aria's people) ships attack and kidnap Talon. Perry sets off to save his nephew. He encounters Aria, and it is hatred at first sight. She fears he is a savage, as all outsiders are. He doesn't know how to deal with her and the strangeness of her smell (He can smell what people are thinking, it's super-hard to get all these details in!). Regardless, they soon see how a partnership can be advantageous, and they set off together.

On their epic journey, Perry and Aria learn to like, and eventually like like each other. It's adorable as heck. Perry is gruff, but does incredibly sweet things like make her some shoes after her feet are wrecked by walking so much. Aria is an admirably tough girl who never complains about her blisters. I expected a romance from the get-go, and this was one of the sweetest, most lovable romances I have ever read.

As with pretty much every Teen book I read lately, this one ended way too soon. I would love to be able to actually have some closure with a book, without waiting for the next installment. That's more of a general gripe for the industry. Under the Never Sky was an exciting quest story, a lovely romance, and an all-around good read. I'm looking forward to the next book.

I received an ebook of Under the Never Sky from Netgalley. It will be published January 3rd, 2012.

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

When I was younger, I thought that there was something incredibly romantic and exciting about Jack the Ripper. In college, I did a research paper on the subject for an English class. I learned that Jack the Ripper was pretty much some guy who killed prostitutes and cut out their organs. That's not so romantic.

In The Name of the Star, Jack the Ripper is terrorizing present-day London. Copy-cat killings are showing up on the same days they did back in 1888, and the victims are being killed in the same ways. The weird thing is that the killer didn't show up on the CCTV (Cameras that record practically everything in London; It's a thing in the book, and apparently real as far as Wikipedia can be trusted). At last someone catches a glimpse of the killer, a student named Aurora (Rory for short).

Rory is an American studying at Wexford Academy. She feels intimidated by the courses and by the newly learned field hockey. The book starts with Rory going to classes, getting acquainted with her roommate Jazza and romantic interest Jerome. The turning point comes when she and Jazza sneak over to see Jerome while the campus is on lockdown. Jack the Ripper is poised to strike very close to Wexford that night, so everyone is on alert. While climbing back into the dorm, Rory sees a strange man, a man who doesn't belong. This man is obviously the new Jack the Ripper. To make the whole situation weirder, Jazza can't see him.

Not to give anything away, but the book takes a very different turn from that point. The boarding school shenanigans before were very fun. I was a little sad when they ended after the Big Secret came out, but all that stuff is entertaining as well. I'd almost like to read it a second time to see if I should have spotted the Big Secret earlier, or at least clues to it. Regardless, The Name of the Star is a very entertaining book about a girl who goes to boarding school and deals with challenging courses, new friends, a potential boyfriend, and of course MURDER. I have this almost irrational fondness for the book, so please don't get angry with me if you don't agree.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Dark Inside by Jeyn Roberts

For a book that starts out with so much action, I have a great admiration for Dark Inside. The chapters are narrated by four different characters, and they are all fleshed out people. You actually care about the characters and want them to survive.

We start out with an earthquake. It shakes something loose inside certain people. They snap, and they start murdering other human beings. Don't worry, this isn't any zombie infection. Nobody will eat you, they just want to bash in your skull or tear you apart, piece by piece.

Our four characters start out separate but end up in the same place. Mason was pulled out of school early because his mother was in a car accident. Soon after, someone set off a series of bombs and killed off his classmates. Aries was on a bus that overturned, killing her best friend and wounding most of the people inside. A mysterious stranger named Daniel helps her get to safety, but he seems to know more about what's going on than he should. Michael witnesses a case of road rage gone horribly wrong, then sees the police shoot the perpetrator. Clementine is attending a normal town meeting when some of the citizens show up with guns. Her mother makes her leave the room, right before these people she has known her whole life start to open fire on the crowd.

Dark Inside was full of action and suspense, though it was occasionally a little too graphic for my taste. Again, I enjoyed getting to know the characters instead of just having them shoved at me. It's also interesting to read about the parts of a post-apocalyptic type novel that you don't usually get. The characters don't have any electricity or running water, so they end up eating lots of junk food and they end up greasy and dirty. The author, Jeyn Roberts, has a degree in psychology, which seems interesting given the subject matter. Some chapters are narrated by Nothing, which seems to be humans who have changed. It might just be in my head, but I attribute the character development and the insights into "the enemy" to the author's psychology background. It all sounds like it comes from someone who knows people fairly well.

I received my copy of Dark Inside from Simon & Schuster Galley Grab. It's available now.