Unwholly
Young Adult / May 28, 2017

Unwind #2. Author: Neal Shusterman. Summary: Thanks to Connor, Lev, and Risa—and their high-profile revolt at Happy Jack Harvest Camp—people can no longer turn a blind eye to unwinding. Ridding society of troublesome teens while simltaneously providing much-needed tissues for transplant might be convenient, but its morality has finally been brought into question. However, unwinding has become big business, and there are powerful political and corporate interests that want to see it not only continue, but also expand to the unwinding of prisoners and the impoverished. Cam is a product of unwinding; made entirely out of the parts of other unwinds, he is a teen who does not technically exist. A futuristic Frankenstein, Cam struggles with a search for identity and meaning and wonders if a rewound being can have a soul. And when the actions of a sadistic bounty hunter cause Cam’s fate to become inextricably bound with the fates of Connor, Risa, and Lev, he’ll have to question humanity itself. (Published summary) Content Review: Sexual Content: “Dad’s late nights at the office aren’t really at the office. They’re with Nancy.” // “I would love to be your first. You can do that, right? I mean… you’re complete, right?”…

Unsouled
Young Adult / May 27, 2017

Unwind #3. Author: Neal Shusterman. Summary: Connor and Lev are on the run after the destruction of the Graveyard, the last safe haven for AWOL Unwinds. But for the first time, they’re not just running away from something. This time, they’re running toward answers, in the form of a woman Proactive Citizenry has tried to erase from history itself. If they can find her, and learn why the shadowy figures behind unwinding are so afraid of her, they may discover the key to bringing down unwinding forever. Cam, the rewound boy, is plotting to take down the organization that created him. Because he knows that if he can bring Proactive Citizenry to its knees, it will show Risa how he truly feels about her. And without Risa, Cam is having trouble remembering what it feels like to be human. With the Juvenile Authority and vindictive parts pirates hunting them, the paths of Connor, Lev, Cam, and Risa will converge explosively—and everyone will be changed. (Goodreads summary) Content Review: Sexual Content: Man threatens rape, non-graphically. Character says he’s impregnated three girls. Scene with male teen hanging out with three girls with his shirt off – they’re all acting in a flirtatious,…

Undivided
Young Adult / May 9, 2017

Unwind #4. Author: Neal Shusterman. Summary: Proactive Citizenry, the company that created Cam from the parts of unwound teens, has a plan: to mass produce rewound teens like Cam for military purposes. And below the surface of that horror lies another shocking level of intrigue: Proactive Citizenry has been suppressing technology that could make unwinding completely unnecessary. As Conner, Risa, and Lev uncover these startling secrets, enraged teens begin to march on Washington to demand justice and a better future. But more trouble is brewing. Starkey’s group of storked teens is growing more powerful and militant with each new recruit. And if they have their way, they’ll burn the harvest camps to the ground and put every adult in them before a firing squad—which could destroy any chance America has for a peaceful future.(Goodreads summary) Content Review: Sexual Content: Girl/boy sleep together (in the innocent way) but after a brief non-explicit conversation in which they decide not to have sex. / “Whatever he wants, he knows she will oblige… but the fact that he can have it so easily makes it so much less desirable.” / Some kissing. / Character ‘rewards’ one of his lackeys with a girl (talks her…

Unwind
Young Adult / April 11, 2017

#1. Author: Neal Shusterman. Summary: Connor, Risa, and Lev are running for their lives. The Second Civil War was fought over reproductive rights. The chilling resolution: Life is inviolable from the moment of conception until age thirteen. Between the ages of thirteen and eighteen, however, parents can have their child “unwound,” whereby all of the child’s organs are transplanted into different donors, so life doesn’t technically end. Connor is too difficult for his parents to control. Risa, a ward of the state, is not enough to be kept alive. And Lev is a tithe, a child conceived and raised to be unwound. Together, they may have a chance to escape and to survive. (Goodreads summary) My Thoughts: Shusterman has pulled off the impressive feat of writing a book that directly addresses multiple present-day problems without being boring or preachy. It’s an action-packed dystopia – I couldn’t put the book down. The dystopian element of unwinding is distinctly disturbing, and this is exactly the point. Content Review: Sexual Content: Light kisses. Character says “I’m not like my dads – my compass points to girls”. Boy corners girl in a bathroom and threatens to further assault her, before backing off when another…

Scythe
Young Adult / February 15, 2017

Arc of a Scythe #1. Author: Neal Shusterman. Summary:  Thou shalt kill. A world with no hunger, no disease, no war, no misery. Humanity has conquered all those things, and has even conquered death. Now scythes are the only ones who can end life—and they are commanded to do so, in order to keep the size of the population under control. Citra and Rowan are chosen to apprentice to a scythe—a role that neither wants. These teens must master the “art” of taking life, knowing that the consequence of failure could mean losing their own. (Goodreads summary) My Thoughts: Scythe was interesting, but it didn’t live up to the standards I’d been expecting. The concept was novel: a world so advanced that death has been virtually eliminated, and mankind has taken that role upon themselves. Our two main characters, a boy and a girl, provide contrasting arcs as they are sent down very different training paths, one under an abusive, unethical master and the other under one of the ‘good scythes’. However, because this is Neal Shusterman, I was expecting a heavier emphasis on the practical and ethical results of the worldbuilding, and possibly more unexpected twists. Instead, I got…

Soldier
Young Adult / January 31, 2017

Talon #3. Author: Julie Kagawa. Summary: The price of freedom is everything. When forced to choose between safety with the dragon organization Talon and being hunted forever as an outcast, Ember Hill chose to stand with Riley and his band of rogue dragons rather than become an assassin for Talon. She’s lost any contact with her twin brother, Dante, a Talon devotee, as well as Garret, the former-enemy soldier who challenged her beliefs about her human side. As Ember and Riley hide and regroup to fight another day, Garret journeys alone to the United Kingdom, birthplace of the ancient and secret Order of St. George, to spy on his former brothers and uncover deadly and shocking secrets that will shake the foundations of dragons and dragonslayers alike and place them all in imminent danger as Talon’s new order rise. (Goodreads summary) My Thoughts: Feels like this series has gone downhill. Talon was a fun action-romance with a twist, and it worked well that way. But now Julie Kagawa is combining dystopia with romance, and as so often, it doesn’t work. Ember is agonizing over her love-triangle choice while she ought to be thinking about her plans, her loyalties, her brother….

The Forgetting
Young Adult / January 26, 2017

Author: Sharon Cameron Summary: What isn’t written, isn’t remembered. Even your crimes. Nadia lives in the city of Canaan, where life is safe and structured, hemmed in by white stone walls and no memory of what came before. But every twelve years the city descends into the bloody chaos of the Forgetting, a day of no remorse, when each person’s memories – of parents, children, love, life, and self – are lost. Unless they have been written. In Canaan, your book is your truth and your identity, and Nadia knows exactly who hasn’t written the truth. Because Nadia is the only person in Canaan who has never forgotten. But when Nadia begins to use her memories to solve the mysteries of Canaan, she discovers truths about herself and Gray, the handsome glassblower, that will change her world forever. As the anarchy of the Forgetting approaches, Nadia and Gray must stop an unseen enemy that threatens both their city and their own existence – before the people can forget the truth. And before Gray can forget her. (Goodreads summary) My Thoughts: Definitely an interesting premise with room for lots of discussion. I didn’t feel like the scope of the actual story…

Extreme Makeover
Young Adult / January 25, 2017

Author: Dan Wells. Summary: Lyle Fontanelle is the chief scientist for NewYew, a health and beauty company experimenting with a new, anti-aging hand lotion. As more and more anomalies crop up in testing, Lyle realizes that the lotion’s formula has somehow gone horribly wrong. It is actively overwriting the DNA of anyone who uses it, turning them into physical clones of someone else. Lyle wants to destroy the formula, but NewYew thinks it might be the greatest beauty product ever designed–and the world’s governments think it’s the greatest weapon. (Goodreads Summary) My Thoughts: Not the type of story I ‘enjoy’, with characters I disliked and ethics I could not agree with, (as you might imagine the situation brought the worst out in people) but the apocalyptic concept was clever. Dan Wells took an odd scenario (DNA-rewriting lotion) and took it through all the logical, and perhaps less-than-logical, permutations the greed of man would convert it to. Content Review: Sexual Content: “This is a very tight industry,” said Sumy. “Everyone in health and beauty is in bed with everyone else,” (this is presumably metaphorical). Man approached by hookers on the street. Some fairly intense kissing, man thinks of/wishes for sex. World-leaders…

The Jewel
Young Adult / November 25, 2016

The Lone City #1. Author: Amy Ewing. Summary: The Jewel means wealth. The Jewel means beauty. The Jewel means royalty. But for girls like Violet, the Jewel means servitude. Not just any kind of servitude. Violet, born and raised in the Marsh, has been trained as a surrogate for the royalty—because in the Jewel the only thing more important than opulence is offspring. Purchased at the surrogacy auction by the Duchess of the Lake and greeted with a slap to the face, Violet (now known only as #197) quickly learns of the brutal truths that lie beneath the Jewel’s glittering facade: the cruelty, backstabbing, and hidden violence that have become the royal way of life. Violet must accept the ugly realities of her existence… and try to stay alive. But then a forbidden romance erupts between Violet and a handsome gentleman hired as a companion to the Duchess’s petulant niece. Though his presence makes life in the Jewel a bit brighter, the consequences of their illicit relationship will cost them both more than they bargained for. (Published summary). My Thoughts: You know, I thought the dystopia dichotomy was doing quite well, if a little trite, until the completely unnecessary romance…

The Roar
Young Adult / October 23, 2016

Author: Emma Clayton. Summary: A pair of twins have been separated, one thought dead, but both still feel a link with the other. It proffers unexplainable information as strange things start happening on one side of The Wall – and on the other, the second twin is imprisoned, furious with knowledge of deceit and trickery but unable to react. My Thoughts: The Roar seems almost aimed for middlegrade rather than YA, with a simpler and more ‘tell’ style of writing and a correspondingly simple premise/explanation. No doubt its dystopian aspect is what bumped it up. Still, an enjoyable read. Content Review: Sexual content: None. Language: Frag/fragging Violence: Plane fight, two planes are destroyed. Virtual reality games in which airplanes are destroyed. Robot fish and seals are killed. One character is shot in the thigh. One boy nearly strangles another. Mind control via implants. Love Triangle: No.