Saturday, June 12, 2010


In a society where unwanted teens are salvaged for their body parts, three runaways fight the system that would "unwind" them.

Connor's parents want to be rid of him because he's a troublemaker. Risa has no parents and is being unwound to cut orphanage costs. Lev's unwinding has been planned since his birth, as part of his family's strict religion. Brought together by chance, and kept together by desperation, these three unlikely companions make a harrowing cross-country journey, knowing their lives hang in the balance. If they can survive until their eighteenth birthday, they can't be harmed -- but when every piece of them, from their hands to their hearts, are wanted by a world gone mad, eighteen seems far, far away. In Unwind, Boston Globe/Horn Book Award winner Neal Shusterman challenges readers' ideas about life -- not just where life begins, and where it ends, but what it truly means to be alive.

This book contains scenes that honestly hurt me inside, disgusted me with human nature and made me want to cry. I recommend you start this book with a specific mindset, open-minded and not awaiting cute little fluffy scenes. This is not a cute and fluffy book; it is harsh, it is raw, and unless you know what to expect, it can even be a painful read. That is mainly why I tagged it as horror, as well as science-fiction. Reading it all in one sitting can be too much. I know I had to stop sometimes, unable to read on without giving what I had just learned a little thought. Or a whole lot of thought.

This book sports one of the most nerve-racking scenes I ever read, one that made me cringe in my sleep and lose a little faith in humanity by its cruelty. It’s a hardly even a graphic scene; the little that is said, though, is sufficient to let my own mind create a horrible mental image. This and the final scenes of Feed by M. T. Anderson have the same effect on me: they leave me weeping.

In spite or because of this, Unwind manages to be one of the greatest books I’ve read in a long time. It has detailed, likeable characters who all sport different characteristics even though they are all, somewhere deep inside, the same. Shusterman even manages to make me feel sorry for some of the bad guys sometimes.

The world created in Unwind is terrifying. The very thought of being allowed to “unwind” your child, sell all his parts to people who want new ones, is chilling. Certainly one thinks one’s own parents would never do that to them, but what if they did? What if they sold your heart, lungs, legs, eyes, brain, your everything, because you’re getting on their nerves, making them mad? Personally, I could never do anything of the sort to my kin, but the very thought that some could makes me mad, and sad.

The ending made me very happy. It’s a good ending, and I like good endings. Bad ones are too painful; bad ones suggest there is no hope. Though I would love another book, I think this one finished very well and doesn’t necessarily need a sequel. In fact, I’m afraid a sequel would screw up the whole thing.

Sadly, the present-tense writing style sometimes got on my nerves and made me rather frustrated. It felt quite strange at times, and though I think it was used to create a feeling of urgency, it didn’t quite succeed with me.

Unwind is an amazing book, a definite must-read for everyone out there who has the guts to do so. If you do, brace yourself for this one. It has well-constructed characters that I was attached too. It has an original plot and story, and the whole Bill of Life concept is unforeseen. A terrifying book that manages to open our eyes a little more to the world around us and to what we might become.

Unwind by Neal Shusterman
Rating: 9,6/10

P.-S.: My brother tells me there is going to be a movie about Unwind. I don’t know if this is the truth, or simply a rumour, but I will try to find out for you lot. If there is a movie, I will definitely go see it as soon as it comes out, if only to make sure it gives justice to this amazing book.

Beryl's review:

I won't repeat all Aithen said, because I loved Unwind equally. It perhaps didn't have the same effect on me as it did on Aithen; I didn't react as emotionally as she did. Nonetheless, it was a great book, great plot, a must read.

I think the only lack in this book are the descriptions. I know that this book was meant to open our eyes on feelings, actions, and consequences, but I disliked the fact none of the characters were described. I ended up imagining their looks by myself. This is only something that annoyed me. It's not a detail that should turn down people to read this book. There's way more attention on the feelings and personalities than on the physics, and that's good.

Read this book. That's all I can say.
Rating: 9,6/10

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Maze Runner

When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his first name. He has no recollection of his parents, his home, or how he got where he is. His memory is black. But he’s not alone. When the lift’s doors open, Thomas finds himself surrounded by kids who welcome him to the Glade, a large expanse enclosed by stone walls.

Just like Thomas, the Gladers don’t know why or how they got to the Glade. All they know is that every morning, for as long as they could remember, the stone doors to the maze that surrounds them have opened. Every night, they’ve closed tight. Every thirty days a new boy is delivered in the lift. And no one wants to be stuck in the maze after dark.

The Gladers were expecting Thomas’s arrival. But the next day, a girl springs up—the first girl ever to arrive in the Glade. And more surprising yet is the message she delivers. The Gladers have always been convinced that if they can solve the maze that surrounds the Glade, they might be able to find their way home . . . wherever that may be. But it’s looking more and more as if the maze is unsolvable.

And something about the girl’s arrival is starting to make Thomas feel different. Something is telling him that he just might have some answers—if he can only find a way to retrieve the dark secrets locked within his own mind.


This was a very fast read; I started it the day after I finished Boneshaker, and finished it two days later. It was absolutely impossible to set down, and is gifted with one the greatest science-fiction plots I’ve ever read.

The story starts with Thomas, who, one morning, wakes up to find he doesn’t remember anything about himself except his name. Also, he’s in a dark elevator, and he is quickly going up. The very first sentence seems to have a pull, wanting you to read more, and faster, in order to understand everything that is going on.

Sadly, I didn’t feel much attached to Thomas, because he was a rather typical hero. Courageous, fair, intelligent, though luckily not a beautiful and mysterious sue, he was a little too close to the perfect man to make me completely happy with his character. But the other characters were very good, and I liked them much more than I liked him. Newt was one of my favourite characters, and Minho wasn’t very far behind. I also really liked Gally, even though he was a “bad guy”. Honestly, I kind of thought Thomas was annoying, but I could pretty much ignore him most of the time and concentrate on the extraordinary plot.

The story was very original, one of the most original I’ve read in a long time. A bunch of boys are stuck in the middle of a maze, the Glade, and are trying to get out of it. They have a whole community going on, with farms and stuff, and their whole life revolves around solving the maze, and getting out of the maze before nightfall. Indeed, during the night, horrible creatures called Grievers roam the maze in search of lost boys to eat. The Grievers were disgusting things, seemingly unbeatable, and I hated them passionately and was rather afraid of them throughout the book.

The whole mystery and secret behind how the boys got to the Glade, and who put them there, and why, and why their memory was erased, was mesmerizing. I couldn’t wait to get explanations about everything, like all the characters in the book. Also, I loved the many little clues that were disseminated in the novel, and I was very glad to see my predictions were only half right.

Only one thing seriously irked me: the telepathic communication between Thomas and Teresa. It wasn’t even necessary to the story, and it added a touch of cliché to the novel. This is negligible, though, since it never occurred very much anyways.

Finally, I think this book was, in some aspects, a little similar to Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card. I really loved the whole Ender saga, and I’m certain anyone else who did will like this book too. Overall, this was a terrific piece of science-fiction. I think it deserves more recognition, and definitely more reads.

I find it quite hard to say as much about good books than about bad books; therefore I will end this short review now and tell you to go find The Maze Runner and read it. I just can’t wait for the sequel.

The Maze Runner by James Dashner
Rating: 9,3/10


Utterly disappointed. This book was just, so boring.

The characters were a joke. Thomas is your common gary-sue and hero that is there to save the day and that knows how to do everything and can deal with everything. His voice was weak and and made the entire story seem unoriginal. I didn't care for any of the other characters, perhaps maybe for Minho because he was actually entertaining, but really, I couldn't relate to anyone deeply enough to enjoy the read.

The plot seems very original, but I think it could have been better. There could have been more to the maze, more mystery, more SOLVING and more riddles. I don't know, but it wasn't enough. The resolution also wasn't amazing. And the Grievers, the evil creatures who eat the little kids? They didn't seem scary enough to me. Really, a lot of elements in this book were plain and flat.

Just as Aithen said, telepathy between the common guy and common girl; blah.

I browsed through the last 100 pages because I was so bored and couldn't take it on anymore. The story never did hook me up, picked up very slowly, and I was very annoyed at first when things were explained only, like, 200 pages after they were supposed to be explained. Aithen though it was mysterious and made you keep reading. I was just annoyed and irritated and it was no fun.

It could have been a great book if the characters were interesting and didn't speak some wannabe-cool slang ('shunk-face' and 'klunk') and if there was way more action and mystery and something to cling to in the story. No really, I disliked this to the point of not finishing it. I could have gladly just been told the spoilers and skipped this read.

For once, Aithen's and mine's reviews are very different. Consider this book wisely before picking it up. If you're more like Aithen, you'll like it. More like me, you won't. I'm not discouraging anyone to read it. I just think that this book is the kind of book you either like, or don't. In my opinion, it could have been much much better.
Rating: 6,4/10

Monday, June 7, 2010


In the early days of the Civil War, rumors of gold in the frozen Klondike brought hordes of newcomers to the Pacific Northwest. Anxious to compete, Russian prospectors commissioned inventor Leviticus Blue to create a great machine that could mine through Alaska’s ice. Thus was Dr. Blue’s Incredible Bone-Shaking Drill Engine born.

But on its first test run the Boneshaker went terribly awry, destroying several blocks of downtown Seattle and unearthing a subterranean vein of blight gas that turned anyone who breathed it into the living dead.

Now it is sixteen years later, and a wall has been built to enclose the devastated and toxic city. Just beyond it lives Blue’s widow, Briar Wilkes. Life is hard with a ruined reputation and a teenaged boy to support, but she and Ezekiel are managing. Until Ezekiel undertakes a secret crusade to rewrite history.

His quest will take him under the wall and into a city teeming with ravenous undead, air pirates, criminal overlords, and heavily armed refugees. And only Briar can bring him out alive.

This, my dear friends, this is what I call a great book. With its brand new take on the zombie apocalypse, amazing characters and a refreshingly original plotline, it has everything a book needs to be good, grand, a must read.

Do you think you ever encountered a kickass female character? Yeah, so have I. But Briar, one of the main characters, sets all new standards for “kickass”. She is the wife of the deceased, evil scientist who brought the zombie plague upon mankind, she lives in the slums of Seattle, she works all day in a disgusting factory, yet still somehow manages to raise her son alone and not go completely crazy from the stress. Then, when her son Zeke runs off to meet the zombies and she has to retrieve him, she does everything, and I mean everything, in her power to find him. She has an incredible background that is very detailed, and her character is extremely consistent throughout the book.

As my friend (the one who lent me this book) said so well, don’t mess with an angry mom looking for her boy.

The background story of Briar, her father and her husband was only very slowly explained, subtly revealing a few parcels of information every two chapters or so. It was detailed and added a whole lot of suspense to the novel, and contributed to keep me hooked. Sadly, I had more or less guessed rather important parts of the story in the first few pages of the book. I hate to admit it, but some parts of the subplots were immensely predictable, while other ones were so far-fetched I’d never have guessed it, since there weren’t any clues at all to let one even try to guess. This made for a somewhat irregular book at times, but overall, it was great.

Since the very first pages, I was hooked. It kept me reading almost constantly, to the detriment of my rather urgent schoolwork (unlike Beautiful Creatures, which was a slow and very painful read).

The whole concept of a gas that turns people into zombies (called rotters in this novel), and not the bite of a zombie, was excellent. I also liked how it was a very heavy gas, and could therefore be contained in a bowl-like city, with hundred-foot tall walls to keep the gas inside. The zombies themselves were always wonderfully described, and even I was ever so slightly disgusted by their appearance.

Also, the action scenes were memorable, and always realistic and very well written. I absolutely loved how well the weapons were described, too, and all the innovative ones that were created by characters of the book.

In my opinion, there was only one major drawback: historically speaking, the city of Seattle, with its buildings and numerous populations, where the story takes place, didn’t concord with what truly happened in our world. Though I understand the reasons for which the author did this, I would’ve preferred something more accurate.

Boneshaker is a remarkable book that all zombie-lovers out there should most certainly read. But liking zombies isn’t necessarily a must, since its rich characters, plot, and story can hook anyone. Its steam punk feel is also a definite plus. I recommend it for anyone looking for a fun and intelligent read, and anyone who likes action and adventure alike.

Boneshaker by Cherie Priest
Rating: 8,8/10