Category Archives: Dystopian/Futuristic

Blog Tour: Escapement (Neumarian Chronicles #1) by Ciara Knight

Ten years after the great war of 2185 the queen’s reign is threatened by uprisings and fear. In celebration of my sixteenth birthday it is my duty as princess to sacrifice a slave to be initiated into the ruling council, solidifying my mother’s empire. When my own erratic powers surface I’m captured and tried for treason. Slaves hate me, my mother wants me executed, and my only chance of survival rests in the hands of a young man, Ryder Arteres, whose sister I sentenced to death.

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This is a stop on a blog tour hosted by Xpresso Book Tours. Check out the rest of the schedule here.

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Excerpt of Pendulum (Neumarian Chronicles #3):

 

Ryder tipped my chin up and pressed a kiss to my forehead. At feeling his suppressed desire and longing, I nuzzled his neck, seeking more, wanting to touch him, not through his uniform but his bare skin.

Shh. You need sleep. Nightmares have been keeping you up. You’re exhausted. Wish I could be there to hold you through them, but we should arrive at the ENR base soon. It’s been too long.” His hand slipped to the nape of my neck. “Once we reach land, no one will keep us apart.”

Heat surged to my face and I leaned into his hands. “Nightmares? How did you…oh, your sister. Great. Guess Raeth can’t keep a secret.” I knew Raeth only told her brother out of concern, but I’d still chastise my best friend when I got back to my room.

She just confirmed what I’d felt through our bond.” Ryder drew a circle around the tip of my nose with his. “What you been dreaming’ about?”

His closeness weakened my resolve to keep it from him. He’d think I was crazy.

Tell me,” he urged, brushing his lips across mine in a feather-light touch.

My breath hitched and the memories of beatings and torture faded when his thumb glided down my cheek. “It doesn’t matter. Kiss me.”

His lips claimed mine with a too long-suppressed urgency. He needed and wanted me as much as I did him. If we didn’t make it to land soon, they’d have mutiny on their hands.

I inhaled his scent, absorbing it into my soul. Even after all this time beneath the sea, a hint of Earth remained and I savored the aroma. He’d always smell the same to me. A musky, earthy smell, with a hint of freedom. The aroma wrapped around my body like a shield of strength.

Steps thumped down the corridor and he broke the kiss. “Tell me. Before we have to go.”

I panted and shook my head. From the moment we’d met, he twisted me up inside until I’d share whatever he wanted to know. “Images mostly. My mother, my father. I never see his face, but I see hers.” I suppressed a shudder. “None of it makes sense. It’s almost like I feel physical pain, but I can’t see the memory.”

Ryder’s eyes narrowed. “What’s Gordon been doing to you during those sessions?

Gordon? Nothing. He’s been helping me remember things. He says I’ve been reprogrammed. He’s trained in opening the mind back up and he thinks I could remember something that would help the rebellion.”

Ryder glanced down the hall. “Maybe so, but I don’t like you suffering. Mighty easy for him to push you into helping. But you need to know when to back off. You been training so much and been working with Captain Gordon, you haven’t gotten any rest.”

Maybe that’s because I don’t want to.” I stared up at him. “I’m frightened, Ryder. Terrified my mother’s programmed me into being some kind of weapon.”

I won’t let that happen.” He kissed me again then rested his forehead against mine. “We, just the two of us, need to find some time alone.”

I struggled to stay calm, to not let my frustration and jealousy out. I failed. “The last time I tried to take some time off, you were busy with Mart and her training. Can’t you train with someone else, like me? Why does it always have to be her?”

Jealous?” The side of his lip quirked up into a teasing grin.

Yes! “No! No more than you are of Gordon.”

He straightened, his hand moving down from my neck to my lower back. “Let’s not do this. It’s late. I don’t want to argue.” Hugging me, he lifted me into the air until I was at eye level then he nuzzled my neck. “Rather do other things with you than fight.”

A giggle slipped from my lips.

Love that sound.” Ryder nipped my earlobe.

What sound?”

You happy. Someday, we’ll go to that Resort Territory of yours,” Ryder slid his nose down the side of my neck, “where we can laugh all day.” His tongue traced the path his nose had just made. “Swim naked in that lake of yours.”

A guard stomped along the metal grate floor and halted a few meters away. “Hey, you two. Lights out in five. Don’t make me throw you in the brig.”

My head still spun from Ryder’s words. He gently lowered me to the ground. My knees shook, but I managed to remain upright.

Ryder scowled.

Now,” the guard ordered, his face grim and determined.

Ryder growled low in his chest then kissed my cheek. “Until later,” he whispered.


About the Author:

Ciara Knight writes to ‘Defy the Dark’ with her young adult speculative fiction books. Her most recent Amazon best-seller, Escapement, book I of The Neuamrian Chronicles, released to acclaimed reviews securing a Night Owl Top Pick and five stars from InD’Tale Magazine.

When not writing, she enjoys reading all types of fiction. Some great literary influences in her life include Edgar Allen Poe, Shakespeare, Francine Rivers and J K Rowling.

Her first love, besides her family, reading, and writing, is travel. She’s backpacked through Europe, visited orphanages in China, and landed in a helicopter on a glacier in Alaska.

Description Review: The Mirror Empire (Worldbreaker Saga #1) by Kameron Hurley

On the eve of a recurring catastrophic event known to extinguish nations and reshape continents, a troubled orphan evades death and slavery to uncover her own bloody past… while a world goes to war with itself.

In the frozen kingdom of Saiduan, invaders from another realm are decimating whole cities, leaving behind nothing but ash and ruin.

As the dark star of the cataclysm rises, an illegitimate ruler is tasked with holding together a country fractured by civil war, a precocious young fighter is asked to betray his family and a half-Dhai general must choose between the eradication of her father’s people or loyalty to her alien Empress.

Through tense alliances and devastating betrayal, the Dhai and their allies attempt to hold against a seemingly unstoppable force as enemy nations prepare for a coming together of worlds as old as the universe itself.

In the end, one world will rise – and many will perish.

 

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Source: This book was reviewed at Bibliotropic on August 11.

Review:

I think this sounds like a rather intriguing novel. First and foremost, we have a recurring catastrophic event that extinguishes nations and reshapes continents—I, quite frankly, would like to know what kind of even reoccurs like that.

Second, we have a smattering of characters that have been hinted at: an orphan, an illegitimate rule, a young fighter, and a half-dhai general. I’m curious about how these characters end up relating to each other, and I am hopeful that we’ll get a fair amount of good intermingling of character development and tangled plots.

This description clearly is in the camp of “give just enough information to pique the reader’s curiosity,” rather than spelling out the general plot to let you know what you’re getting yourself into. Most importantly, this makes me ask questions:

  • What is the recurring catastrophic event?
  • What happened to cause an orphan to need to escape death/slavery?
  • What is her bloody past?
  • Why is the world going to war with itself?
  • How are invaders possibly decimating whole cities (all right, that’s not the best kind of question to make me ask — to decimate is to reduce by 1/10th; by definition you can’t decimate a whole city)

Obviously this list goes on, but in my opinion it’s a good sign that your description poses those kinds of questions in that quantity. I feel like I have a reason to read the book and that I might actually gain something out of taking the time. I mean, I don’t even know who/what the Dhai are other than that have allies and seem to be one faction of a war in an alternate/futuristic war. Yet it still sounds interesting.

Yet even as this description poses questions, it is still packed full of information. We have a world clearly wracked with war, but also with some other catastrophes that have made living conditions very difficult. We have some relatively fresh ruling races/people. We have a host of characters, and we know that a group called the Dhai are somehow in the spotlight. And this is all conveyed very concisely, which is a tough thing to do. I mean, in one sentence (the third paragraph) we are introduced to several characters as well as the nature of social roles we’ll be exposed to while reading this book.

This was not an easy description to write, and it’s evident to me that care was taken in doing so.

The Immortal Crown (Age of X #2) by Richelle Mead

Gameboard of the Gods introduced religious investigator Justin March and Mae Koskinen, the beautiful supersoldier assigned to protect him. Together they have been charged with investigating reports of the supernatural and the return of the gods, both inside the Republic of United North America and out. With this highly classified knowledge comes a shocking revelation: Not only are the gods vying for human control, but the elect—special humans marked by the divine—are turning against one another in bloody fashion.

Their mission takes a new twist when they are assigned to a diplomatic delegation headed by Lucian Darling, Justin’s old friend and rival, going into Arcadia, the RUNA’s dangerous neighboring country. Here, in a society where women are commodities and religion is intertwined with government, Justin discovers powerful forces at work, even as he struggles to come to terms with his own reluctantly acquired deity.

Meanwhile, Mae—grudgingly posing as Justin’s concubine—has a secret mission of her own: finding the illegitimate niece her family smuggled away years ago. But with Justin and Mae resisting the resurgence of the gods in Arcadia, a reporter’s connection with someone close to Justin back home threatens to expose their mission—and with it the divine forces the government is determined to keep secret.

 

Rating: 5/5

Mead has truly excelled at creating a vivid and believable world in the Age of X series. I was impressed y the depth of detail and easy mechanics by which the world (and supernatural activity) functioned in the first book, Gameborad of the Gods. Now, never one to disappoint, Mead has stepped it up another notch.

Highlighting the escalation tensions as the gods vy for position in the mortal realm, this book solidly establishes some of the key power-players that had only been hinted about previously. Now we have just enough pieces of the puzzle to have even more questions arising about what;s going on.

More importantly, some of the flexibility of newly forming religions and rigidity of the more established religions provides ample opportunity for Mead to illustrate not only the cultural developments of the post-Decline world, but how religion, and even a dearth of religion, play a key role. We’ve also seen some development in how the gods are able to interact with mortals, though I’ll leave those details for you to discover on your own.

I’m also, as always, thoroughly pleased by Mead’s character development. Justin and Mae both independently grew in their own personas as a result of the circumstances they each faced while visiting Arcadia. Likewise, their relationship with on another was further fleshed out, if only as a result of them each finally realizing what we, the readers, already knew. Tessa’s role in all of this intrigues me — as a character she went through her “teenage rebellious stage” in this book, then pushed past it and regained her senses. She’s developing nicely and learning an awful lot about herself, but I haven’t quite decided how she fits in the larger picture yet — I have a sense she’s going to be a catalyst for something major though.

One of the things about Mead’s characters that I’ve always appreciated is their diversity of personality. It’s easy to fall into the trap of having one or two major “types” of that most of your characters fit into. Not only within this series, but across all of Mead’s books, each character is always definitively unique. I think it takes a lot of skill to make that uniqueness clear on paper. Perhaps even more to the point: that’s a lot of voices that must be floating around in her head.

If you haven’t read this series at all yet, it’s definitely worth the time. Highly recommended.

Mockingjay (The Hunger Games #3) by Suzanne Collins

Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has survived the Hunger Games twice. But now that she’s made it out of the bloody arena alive, she’s still not safe. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge. Who do they think should pay for the unrest? Katniss. And what’s worse, President Snow has made it clear that no one else is safe either. Not Katniss’s family, not her friends, not the people of District 12.

 

Rating: 4/5

I have to admit that I had mixed feelings about this book , which is how I felt about the series in its entirety if I’m being completely honest. I absolutely loved the first book—so much so, in fact, that on my first evening ever setting foot in Germany, a country I had longed to visit for years, I stayed in my hostel room until I finished reading The Hunger Games. It took me over a year to get around to reading Catching Fire, however, and when I finally did I was disappointed. I hadn’t really expected to be as amazed as I had been with The Hunger Games, but there was some part of me who wanted to continue to be blown away. That said, I can’t say that I really expected to like Mockingjay, since I anticipated the trend to continue.

I felt that most of the book was largely predictable, and this bothered me immensely. Things happened the way I expected them to happen—this was mostly due to the fact that Collins set up the plot in the previous two books so clearly as to leave little room for twists. Upon finishing the book, I think that was intentional. Katniss was finding the course of events to be fairly predictable, and when her worldview shifted toward the end of the series, so did ours in a rather dramatic turn of events. It was surprising to us because it was surprising to her. While I didn’t particularly care for what happened or the fact that I was fairly bored until then, I can’t deny the craftsmanship of the writing to be able to pull it off so fluently.

On the note of feeling bored: this was intentional for reasons other than predictability too, from what I can tell. This book is clearly an exposee on Katniss’ healing process. The events of the narrative and the direction of Katniss’ thoughts make it seem as though she is healing, but I think she is just still numb, and the writing is crafted to match that. This is something that impressed me with Collins’ writing from the very beginning, and it was particularly evident in The Hunger Games as Katniss’ character grew more and more hardened. I think there was an effort on Katniss’ part in Mockingjay to come back out of that hardness, but she just succeeded in digging the hole deeper, so to speak. I’m impressed with Collins’ ability to portray that emotion (read: emotional scarring) in her narrative of Katniss’ character.

I’m not even going to talk about the love triangle with Katniss, Peeta, and Gale. It annoyed me. Particularly in its conclusion in the epilogue—on that note, quite frankly, I don’t think the epilogue was really all that necessary …

Now my number one complaint: I think Collins’ point, if there was truly a point, was made in The Hunger Games incredibly successfully. I know that the plot continued out into the trilogy, but the meaning behind the story was already done and gone. There wasn’t as much keeping me interested. There were no new insights in the later books, just the resolution of the plot which followed a rather inevitable direction with some relatively minor deviations.

For all of my complaints, Collins is still an incredible writer, and I have to give her credit for it.

(Thanks R. A. Stark for talking me through some of these points while I was reading it and losing my patience. Your insight was greatly appreciated.)

Gameboard of the Gods (Age of X #1) by Richelle Mead

In a futuristic world nearly destroyed by religious extremists, Justin March lives in exile after failing in his job as an investigator of religious groups and supernatural claims. But Justin is given a second chance when Mae Koskinen comes to bring him back to the Republic of United North America (RUNA). Raised in an aristocratic caste, Mae is now a member of the military’s most elite and terrifying tier, a soldier with enhanced reflexes and skills.

When Justin and Mae are assigned to work together to solve a string of ritualistic murders, they soon realize that their discoveries have exposed them to terrible danger. As their investigation races forward, unknown enemies and powers greater than they can imagine are gathering in the shadows, ready to reclaim the world in which humans are merely game pieces on their board.

Gameboard of the Gods, the first installment of Richelle Mead’s Age of Xseries, will have all the elements that have made her YA Vampire Academy and Bloodlines series such megasuccesses: sexy, irresistible characters; romantic and mythological intrigue; and relentless action and suspense.

 

Rating: 4/5

This book was really great, to be honest. It took me a terribly long time to read it because life has been, well, life, and truthfully this isn’t the kind of action-packed or suspenseful novel that forces me to turn to the next page no matter what else is going on. And my review is going to be really short because I’m at music camp (which is amazing) and I’m squeezing this in between breakfast and rehearsal.

In a nutshell: take everything I like about the Georgina Kincaid series (except Seth) and put it into a futuristic almost-dystopian novel with tons of explicit references and allusions to various gods from “real” and, presumably, concocted mythologies. Mmm, yummy! What more could a girl want?

The characters all popped, as was expected at this point. The POV is always third person limited, but we bounce around between characters a fair amount. What I really liked about this was how it gave us multiple perspectives on the society Mead has created without having to be heavy-handed with it. And it was very elegantly pulled off, with each character having a distinct enough voice that I always knew who was “talking.” This is a skill I have been trying to work on myself.

But it’s not the characters that made this book for me, as was the case with some of Mead’s other books. I absolutely love this world—it is so cleanly put together and I just love the concepts of religion and society presented here. In the true fashion of futuristic/dystopian novels, it resonates with some of the more popular issues in politics today.

(And my laptop battery is almost out, so I’m going to wrap this up now!)

 

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