The Girl on the Train

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

EVERY DAY THE SAME
Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning and night. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. Jess and Jason, she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.

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And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel goes to the police. But is she really as unreliable as they say? Soon she is deeply entangled not only in the investigation but in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?

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I have a weird OCD habit where I have to mark off where halfway is in the book I’m reading. I really don’t know why I’m so compelled. It usually doesn’t create an issue, except in this case where it revealed the fate of a character. And knowing the fate of that character without any context made me suspect all along that they were the one responsible for Megan’s disappearance. And sadly I was right. So most people talk about the big twist in this book, but for me, it wasn’t really a twist because I was already suspecting that.

Still, this was a great book. I read so much and so often that it really takes a lot for me to have that craving to finish a book. Because 99% of the time I read every night before bed even if it’s just a few pages. So since I know when I get to read the book next, the intervening time doesn’t bother me so much. But with this one it did. When I got to the middle of the book, I was irritated that I had to go to bed because I had work the next day. And then all day long I couldn’t wait to get home and read the rest of the book.

The concept of this thriller was unique in my opinion…Rachel, the narrator, riding the train back and forth to London and observing the people who live in this house. Until one day she sees something bad.

Rachel was a character I wanted to reach into the book and shake. An alcoholic and a person who has trouble leaving things alone, I constantly wanted to yell at her for being stupid. But she didn’t bother me all that much.

I liked that there were actually three narrators for this novel and all of them were women: Rachel, Megan, and Anna. And the three narratives work together to cast suspicion, remove suspicion, cast suspicion, and ultimately reveal the true suspect at the center of the investigation.

I’m planning to see the movie soon. I think Emily Blunt is a good choice for Rachel. Emily is pretty, but in a sort of unconventional way and she has a mournful face that is a good choice to play an alcoholic. I’m not familiar with the other actors and actresses, but am looking forward to seeing how this book was translated to film.

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Magonia

By Maria Davhana Headley

Aza Ray is drowning in thin air.

Since she was a baby, Aza has suffered from a mysterious lung disease that makes it ever harder for her to breathe, to speak—to live.

So when Aza catches a glimpse of a ship in the sky, her family chalks it up to a cruel side effect of her medication. But Aza doesn’t think this is a hallucination. She can hear someone on the ship calling her name.

Only her best friend, Jason, listens. Jason, who’s always been there. Jason, for whom she might have more-than-friendly feelings. But before Aza can consider that thrilling idea, something goes terribly wrong. Aza is lost to our world—and found, by another. Magonia.

Above the clouds, in a land of trading ships, Aza is not the weak and dying thing she was. In Magonia, she can breathe for the first time. Better, she has immense power—and as she navigates her new life, she discovers that war is coming. Magonia and Earth are on the cusp of a reckoning. And in Aza’s hands lies the fate of the whole of humanity—including the boy who loves her. Where do her loyalties lie?

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This book has one of the most beautiful covers I’ve ever seen. Every time I would see a review for this book, it would remind me that I wanted to read it, if only because the cover is so striking. It finally came up as a Kindle deal so I was able to grab a copy of it.

Magonia wasn’t anything like I was expecting, but that isn’t a bad thing. It was billed as Neil Gaiman meets John Green and it is certainly reminiscent of The Fault in Our Stars (Green) and Stardust (Gaiman). Though the actual style of the writing reminded me more of a cross between John Green and Tahereh Mafi.

SPOILERS

I really liked how Aza’s illness was tied into her being Magonian and her lungs being more set up like a bird’s. I also liked how the knowledge about Magonia was plucked out of actual historical references. I liked that Jason, a main character in a YA novel, suffers from anxiety. And I loved the relationship between Aza and Jason.

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Overall, this was a fun and exciting book that kept me reading and not wanting to leave the iPad at home in case I had a few minutes to read a little more. There’s apparently a sequel to this novel that just came out. Advanced reviewers seem to say either they liked it a lot less or a lot more than the first one. Hoping the sequel comes up on Kindle deal soon so I can get it!

 

9 Best Dystopian Fiction Novels

Since I did a roundup of the 9 Best Apocalyptic Fiction Novels a few weeks ago, I had to follow that up with my picks for best dystopian fiction novels.

As I mentioned in the first post, I draw a distinction between dystopian and apocalyptic fiction. To reiterate, in my opinion, a dystopian novel is one that puts forth the notion of a flawed utopia, which usually occurs after a great disaster. You can normally identify a dystopian by the presence of a strong government or ruler.

Merriam-Webster defines “Dystopia” as:

An imaginary place where people lead dehumanized and often fearful lives. An anti-utopia.

One of the first dystopian novels I ever read, and probably the most famous of the few that existed before The Hunger Games started a dystopian YA fad, is George Orwell’s 1984. 1984 definitely sparked my obsession with dystopian fiction. I’d read The Giver and Among the Hidden by that time, but it wasn’t until 1984 that I knew what these types of books were called and thus how to track down more of them to read. And 1984 also kicks off my list of the 9 Best Dystopian Fiction Novels!

9 Best Dystopian Fiction Novels

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1984 by George Orwell

Winston Smith works for the Ministry of truth in London, chief city of Airstrip One. Big Brother stares out from every poster, the Thought Police uncover every act of betrayal. When Winston finds love with Julia, he discovers that life does not have to be dull and deadening, and awakens to new possibilities. Despite the police helicopters that hover and circle overhead, Winston and Julia begin to question the Party; they are drawn towards conspiracy. Yet Big Brother will not tolerate dissent – even in the mind. For those with original thoughts they invented Room 101 . . .

My Take: This is the one that started it all for me. Relatively simple in its composition and ideas, 1984 nonetheless possesses that special something that endures and permeates our culture.

You can read my full review of 1984 here.

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The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

The nation of Panem, formed from a post-apocalyptic North America, is a country that consists of a wealthy Capitol region surrounded by 12 poorer districts. Early in its history, a rebellion led by a 13th district against the Capitol resulted in its destruction and the creation of an annual televised event known as the Hunger Games. In punishment, and as a reminder of the power and grace of the Capitol, each district must yield one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18 through a lottery system to participate in the games. The ‘tributes’ are chosen during the annual Reaping and are forced to fight to the death, leaving only one survivor to claim victory.

When 16-year-old Katniss’s young sister, Prim, is selected as District 12’s female representative, Katniss volunteers to take her place. She and her male counterpart Peeta, are pitted against bigger, stronger representatives, some of whom have trained for this their whole lives. , she sees it as a death sentence. But Katniss has been close to death before. For her, survival is second nature.

My Take: I really enjoyed this series overall. I liked the story, but I also liked that Collins wasn’t afraid to shy away from violence. Once they hit high school, I believe teenagers are old enough to contemplate the big ideas of our world, the pretty and the not-so pretty.

You can read my full review of The Hunger Games series here.

Divergent by Veronica Roth

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In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes exasperating boy fits into the life she’s chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she’s kept hidden from everyone because she’s been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers unrest and growing conflict that threaten to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

My Take: It’s rare these days that a book makes me stop to look up a word, but Divergent made me stop and look up two!! Abnegation and Erudite. This was overall a great series, but I can’t say I saw the direction the third book would take us in and that absolutely shocking death! Also, I’m still a little jealous of how young Roth was when she wrote this and gained international acclaim. Her and Victoria Aveyard.

You can read my full review of Divergent here.

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Matched by Allie Condie

In the Society, officials decide. Who you love. Where you work. When you die.

Cassia has always trusted their choices. It’s hardly any price to pay for a long life, the perfect job, the ideal mate. So when her best friend appears on the Matching screen, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is the one…until she sees another face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black. Now Cassia is faced with impossible choices: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she’s known and a path no one else has ever dared follow—between perfection and passion.

My Take: This was a beautifully written series. Most of the books on this list sacrifice more lyrical prose in favorite of plot and action. The Matched series has plenty of plot, a little less action, and plenty of beautiful writing.

You can read my full review of Matched here.

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Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Ninety-five days, and then I’ll be safe.
I wonder whether the procedure will hurt.
I want to get it over with.
It’s hard to be patient.
It’s hard not to be afraid while I’m still uncured, though so far the deliria hasn’t touched me yet.
Still, I worry.
They say that in the old days, love drove people to madness.
The deadliest of all deadly things: It kills you both when you have it and when you don’t.

My Take: I still haven’t finished this series, I just recently picked up Pandemonium. But this was another book I really enjoyed and I’m excited to see where the series goes. It also inspired by my love for this E.E. Cummings poem: [I carry your heart (I carry it in].

You can read my full review of Delirium here.

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Red Rising by Pierce Brown

Darrow is a Red, a member of the lowest caste in the color-coded society of the future. Like his fellow Reds, he works all day, believing that he and his people are making the surface of Mars livable for future generations.

Yet he spends his life willingly, knowing that his blood and sweat will one day result in a better world for his children.

But Darrow and his kind have been betrayed. Soon he discovers that humanity already reached the surface generations ago. Vast cities and sprawling parks spread across the planet. Darrow—and Reds like him—are nothing more than slaves to a decadent ruling class.

Inspired by a longing for justice, and driven by the memory of lost love, Darrow sacrifices everything to infiltrate the legendary Institute, a proving ground for the dominant Gold caste, where the next generation of humanity’s overlords struggle for power. He will be forced to compete for his life and the very future of civilization against the best and most brutal of Society’s ruling class. There, he will stop at nothing to bring down his enemies… even if it means he has to become one of them to do so.

My Take: This is one of the more recent books I’ve read on my list and one I’ve raved about. I haven’t finished this series yet either, but I will soon.

You can read my full review of Red Rising here.

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The Giver by Lois Lowry

In a world with no poverty, no crime, no sickness and no unemployment, and where every family is happy, 12-year-old Jonas is chosen to be the community’s Receiver of Memories. Under the tutelage of the Elders and an old man known as the Giver, he discovers the disturbing truth about his utopian world and struggles against the weight of its hypocrisy. With echoes of Brave New World, in this 1994 Newbery Medal winner, Lowry examines the idea that people might freely choose to give up their humanity in order to create a more stable society. Gradually Jonas learns just how costly this ordered and pain-free society can be, and boldly decides he cannot pay the price.

My Take:

This is probably truly one of the first dystopian novels I ever read, though I didn’t know it at the time. I often forget about this one when I’m thinking of Dystopian novels. I probably need to do a re-read of this one. I also read Gathering Blue, Messenger, and Son, but I remember The Giver as being my favorite of the four.

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Uglies by Scott Westerfield

Tally is about to turn sixteen, and she can’t wait. In just a few weeks she’ll have the operation that will turn her from a repellent ugly into a stunning pretty. And as a pretty, she’ll be catapulted into a high-tech paradise where her only job is to have fun.

But Tally’s new friend Shay isn’t sure she wants to become a pretty. When Shay runs away, Tally learns about a whole new side of the pretty world– and it isn’t very pretty. The authorities offer Tally a choice: find her friend and turn her in, or never turn pretty at all. Tally’s choice will change her world forever…

My Take:

This is a great dystopian series from the pre-Hunger Games craze. Many books on this list came out in the wake of The Hunger Games mania, but this series pre-dates that. This is by far my favorite series by Westerfield.

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Among the Hidden by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Luke has never been to school. He’s never had a birthday party, or gone to a friend’s house for an overnight. In fact, Luke has never had a friend.

Luke is one of the shadow children, a third child forbidden by the Population Police. He’s lived his entire life in hiding, and now, with a new housing development replacing the woods next to his family’s farm, he is no longer even allowed to go outside.

Then, one day Luke sees a girl’s face in the window of a house where he knows two other children already live. Finally, he’s met a shadow child like himself. Jen is willing to risk everything to come out of the shadows — does Luke dare to become involved in her dangerous plan? Can he afford “not” to?

My Take:

I honestly don’t know if I read this or The Giver first, but this is another series I often forget about. Both because I read it so long ago and because it’s aimed at a bit younger audience. I read all the rest of the books in this series and enjoyed them. I should probably reread this as well.

Anything you would add to my list? Leave me a comment below!

 

Harry Potter and The Cursed Child

By J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne

It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children.

While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.

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Ok so it’s a new Harry Potter! But it’s a play! And J.K. Rowling didn’t write it all by herself! But it’s a new Harry Potter! And J.K. Rowling is one of the authors!

I have to say, Scorpius Malfoy was my far and away favorite character in this book. I think he really made the story shine and really identified it as something that J.K. Rowling had her hand in.

If you’re a big Harry Potter fan, you’ll want to read the story because, really, how could you resist?! Just like I know you’ll be seeing Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them when it hits theaters later this year.

I won’t be discussing plot for those of you who haven’t read it yet, but I really need to go see this play. So if someone wants to donate a roundtrip ticket to London and tickets to the show, I wouldn’t say no! Or you know, if we can just hurry up and get this on tour in America. That’d work, too.

 

 

9 Best Apocalyptic Fiction Novels

No book review this week as I’m still working through two chunkers: Roses by Leila Meacham and The City of Mirrors by Justin Cronin. The latter reminded me that I wanted to do a roundup of my favorite piece of apocalyptic and dystopian fiction, a subject that I read a lot of.

Merriam-webster defines “Apocalypse” as:

A great disaster : a sudden and very bad event that causes much fear, loss, or destruction.

I’ll be doing a separate post on dystopian fiction next week. I personally make the distinction that a dystopian novel puts forth the notion of a flawed utopia, which usually occurs after a great disaster. You can normally identify a dystopian by the presence of a strong government or ruler. Apocalyptic fiction either deals directly with the disaster itself or puts forth a society after the apocalypse that is still reeling from the events and has not yet achieved peace and order, utopian or otherwise.

Mary Shelley’s novel, The Last Man, published in 1826, is considered to be one of the first modern apocalyptic novels. I didn’t love this one so it’s not included in my list, but it’s interesting to note that apocalyptic fiction has been enchanting our hearts and minds for almost 200 years now.

9 Best Apocalyptic Fiction Novels

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The Passage by Justin Cronin

An epic and gripping tale of catastrophe and survival, The Passage is the story of Amy—abandoned by her mother at the age of six, pursued and then imprisoned by the shadowy figures behind a government experiment of apocalyptic proportions. But Special Agent Brad Wolgast, the lawman sent to track her down, is disarmed by the curiously quiet girl and risks everything to save her. As the experiment goes nightmarishly wrong, Wolgast secures her escape—but he can’t stop society’s collapse. And as Amy walks alone, across miles and decades, into a future dark with violence and despair, she is filled with the mysterious and terrifying knowledge that only she has the power to save the ruined world.

My Take: Two words: Vampire. Apocalypse. Add to that that the author holds an MFA from the Iowa Writer’s Workshop and you end up with stunning novel. The passage is the first book in a trilogy, with the third book being the recently released City of Mirrors. 

 

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The Road by Cormac McCarthy

A father and his son walk alone through burned America. Nothing moves in the ravaged landscape save the ash on the wind. It is cold enough to crack stones, and when the snow falls it is gray. The sky is dark. Their destination is the coast, although they don’t know what, if anything, awaits them there. They have nothing; just a pistol to defend themselves against the lawless bands that stalk the road, the clothes they are wearing, a cart of scavenged food—and each other.

The Road is the profoundly moving story of a journey. It boldly imagines a future in which no hope remains, but in which the father and his son, “each the other’s world entire,” are sustained by love. Awesome in the totality of its vision, it is an unflinching meditation on the worst and the best that we are capable of: ultimate destructiveness, desperate tenacity, and the tenderness that keeps two people alive in the face of total devastation.

My Take: I started this novel not knowing what to think, but instantly found my afternoon falling away as I was transported by this incredible novel.

 

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The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.

Now, it’s the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth’s last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie’s only hope for rescuing her brother-or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up.

My Take: I started this book not realizing it was about aliens. I’m a scardey-cat so I almost stopped reading cause I wasn’t sure if I could hang. But I ended up totally loving this book. The 5th Wave is the first book of a trilogy.

You can read my full review of The 5th Wave here.

 

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Gone by Michael Grant

In the blink of an eye, everyone disappears. Gone. Except for the young.

There are teens, but not one single adult. Just as suddenly, there are no phones, no internet, no television. No way to get help. And no way to figure out what’s happened.

Hunger threatens. Bullies rule. A sinister creature lurks. Animals are mutating. And the teens themselves are changing, developing new talents—unimaginable, dangerous, deadly powers—that grow stronger by the day. It’s a terrifying new world. Sides are being chosen, a fight is shaping up. Townies against rich kids. Bullies against the weak. Powerful against powerless. And time is running out: On your 15th birthday, you disappear just like everyone else…

My Take: This was an epic six book series that managed to stay just an engaging in book six as in book one. This book was the right amount of creepy, thrilling, horrifying, and hopeful. A must read.

 

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The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta

What if — whoosh, right now, with no explanation — a number of us simply vanished? Would some of us collapse? Would others of us go on, one foot in front of the other, as we did before the world turned upside down? That’s what the bewildered citizens of Mapleton, who lost many of their neighbors, friends and lovers in the event known as the Sudden Departure, have to figure out. Because nothing has been the same since it happened — not marriages, not friendships, not even the relationships between parents and children.

Kevin Garvey, Mapleton’s new mayor, wants to speed up the healing process, to bring a sense of renewed hope and purpose to his traumatized community. Kevin’s own family has fallen apart in the wake of the disaster: his wife, Laurie, has left to join the Guilty Remnant, a homegrown cult whose members take a vow of silence; his son, Tom, is gone, too, dropping out of college to follow a sketchy prophet named Holy Wayne. Only Kevin’s teenaged daughter, Jill, remains, and she’s definitely not the sweet “A” student she used to be. Kevin wants to help her, but he’s distracted by his growing relationship with Nora Durst, a woman who lost her entire family on October 14th and is still reeling from the tragedy, even as she struggles to move beyond it and make a new start.

My Take: This is one of the first novels I reviewed on Isle of Books almost 5 years ago (gasp!) This novel is very different from the others on the list, notably because life isn’t all that bleak. It’s bleak, sure, but it’s not death-around-every-corner bleak. The best way to describe The Leftovers is a non-religious take on the rapture.

You can read my full review of The Leftovers here.

 

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Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

An audacious, darkly glittering novel set in the eerie days of civilization’s collapse, Station Eleven tells the spellbinding story of a Hollywood star, his would-be savior, and a nomadic group of actors roaming the scattered outposts of the Great Lakes region, risking everything for art and humanity.

One snowy night Arthur Leander, a famous actor, has a heart attack onstage during a production of King Lear. Jeevan Chaudhary, a paparazzo-turned-EMT, is in the audience and leaps to his aid. A child actress named Kirsten Raymonde watches in horror as Jeevan performs CPR, pumping Arthur’s chest as the curtain drops, but Arthur is dead. That same night, as Jeevan walks home from the theater, a terrible flu begins to spread. Hospitals are flooded and Jeevan and his brother barricade themselves inside an apartment, watching out the window as cars clog the highways, gunshots ring out, and life disintegrates around them.

Fifteen years later, Kirsten is an actress with the Traveling Symphony. Together, this small troupe moves between the settlements of an altered world, performing Shakespeare and music for scattered communities of survivors. Written on their caravan, and tattooed on Kirsten’s arm is a line from Star Trek: “Because survival is insufficient.” But when they arrive in St. Deborah by the Water, they encounter a violent prophet who digs graves for anyone who dares to leave.

Spanning decades, moving back and forth in time, and vividly depicting life before and after the pandemic, this suspenseful, elegiac novel is rife with beauty. As Arthur falls in and out of love, as Jeevan watches the newscasters say their final good-byes, and as Kirsten finds herself caught in the crosshairs of the prophet, we see the strange twists of fate that connect them all. A novel of art, memory, and ambition, Station Eleven tells a story about the relationships that sustain us, the ephemeral nature of fame, and the beauty of the world as we know it.

My Take: Starting this, I didn’t expect such a beautifully written novel. I was expecting something on par with the movie, Contagion. But Station Eleven is beautifully imagined and beautifully written.

You can read my full review of Station Eleven here.

 

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Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer

Area X has been cut off from the rest of the continent for decades. Nature has reclaimed the last vestiges of human civilization. The first expedition returned with reports of a pristine, Edenic landscape; all the members of the second expedition committed suicide; the third expedition died in a hail of gunfire as its members turned on one another; the members of the eleventh expedition returned as shadows of their former selves, and within months of their return, all had died of aggressive cancer.

This is the twelfth expedition.

Their group is made up of four women: an anthropologist; a surveyor; a psychologist, the de facto leader; and our narrator, a biologist. Their mission is to map the terrain and collect specimens; to record all their observations, scientific and otherwise, of their surroundings and of one another; and, above all, to avoid being contaminated by Area X itself.

They arrive expecting the unexpected, and Area X delivers—they discover a massive topographic anomaly and life forms that surpass understanding—but it’s the surprises that came across the border with them, and the secrets the expedition members are keeping from one another, that change everything.

My Take: This was a pretty darn creepy book. I almost gave up on it (and by extension, the series) because I wasn’t sure I could hang, but I’m so glad I did. The atmosphere of Area X is just superb…chills you right to the bone.

You can read my full review of Annihilation here.

 

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Blindness by Jose Saramago

A city is hit by an epidemic of “white blindness” that spares no one. Authorities confine the blind to an empty mental hospital, but there the criminal element holds everyone captive, stealing food rations and assaulting women. There is one eyewitness to this nightmare who guides her charges—among them a boy with no mother, a girl with dark glasses, a dog of tears—through the barren streets, and their procession becomes as uncanny as the surroundings are harrowing. As Blindnessreclaims the age-old story of a plague, it evokes the vivid and trembling horrors of the twentieth century, leaving readers with a powerful vision of the human spirit that’s bound both by weakness and exhilarating strength.

My Take: This is a dark, tough, and gritty novel. It should be noted that this novel features a scene of graphic rape that is hard to stomach. But it’s certainly worth a read if you can get through it. There is also a sequel to Blindness called Seeing, which I have not read yet.

You can read my full review of Blindness here.

 

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Left Behind by Jerry B. Jenkins and Tim LaHaye

An airborne Boeing 747 is headed to London when, without any warning, passengers mysteriously disappear from their seats. Terror and chaos slowly spread not only through the plane but also worldwide as unusual events continue to unfold. For those who have been left behind, the apocalypse has just begun.

My Take: No list of apocalyptic novels would be complete without this thirteen book series detailing the events of the rapture and Earth’s last days. This is a Christian series, but it is also imaginative and engrossing.

 

Anything you would add to my list? Leave me a comment below!

A Storm of Swords

A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin

Of the five contenders for power, one is dead, another in disfavor, and still the wars rage as alliances are made and broken. Joffrey sits on the Iron Throne, the uneasy ruler of of the Seven Kingdoms. His most bitter rival, Lord Stannis, stands defeated and disgraced, victim of the sorceress who holds him in her thrall. Young Robb still rules the North from the fortress of Riverrun. Meanwhile, making her way across a blood-drenched continent is the exiled queen, Daenerys, mistress of the only three dragons still left in the world. And as opposing forces maneuver for the final showdown, an army of barbaric wildlings arrives from the outermost limits of civilization, accompanied by a horde of mythical Others—a supernatural army of the living dead whose animated corpses are unstoppable. As the future of the land hangs in the balance, no one will rest until the Seven Kingdoms have exploded in a veritable storm of swords…

Many people say this is their favorite of the entire series….I would say this is the most shocking of the series. If you’ve seen the television series you know…it sucks to be a Stark.

This book manages to be more violent and more shocking than even the others. The world expands still further as Daenerys continues her travels, John presses northward towards Mance Rayder, and the people of Dorne to the south put in an appearance.

I loved having Jamie Lannister as a viewpoint character…such a good choice. Again, we have the awesome Tyrion, Dany, and John as viewpoint characters. I also liked Ser Davos and Sam.

As always, Martin astounds me with his skill at weaving a story, the complexity of the narrative, the deviousness of the characters, and the perfect delivery of dialogue and events.

The series does a great job adapting this book. It covers so much incredible and important material, the book was split into two seasons. The first half just finished airing. It was as well-done as the other, minus the Theon Greyjoy stuff. Random liberties that aren’t exactly advancing the series, but merely just making everything uncomfortable. Torture porn? Ew.

All in all, it’s a good season for a Red Wedding.

Since I’m not talking much about the events of this book, leave me a comment down below about how you liked it. If you don’t want spoilers, I would avoid the comments!

A Clash of Kings

A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin

Time is out of joint. The summer of peace and plenty, ten years long, is drawing to a close, and the harsh, chill winter approaches like an angry beast. Two great leaders—Lord Eddard Stark and Robert Baratheon—who held sway over and age of enforced peace are dead…victims of royal treachery. Now, from the ancient citadel of Dragonstone to the forbidding shores of Winterfell, chaos reigns, as pretenders to the Iron Throne of the Seven Kingdoms prepare to stake their claims through tempest, turmoil, and war.

As a prophecy of doom cuts across the sky—a comet the color of blood and flame—six factions struggle for control of a divided land. Eddard’s son Robb has declared himself King in the North. In the south, Joffrey, the heir apparent, rules in name only, victim of the scheming courtiers who teem over King’s Landing. Robert’s two brothers each seek their own dominion, while a disfavored house turns once more to conquest. And a continent away, an exiled queen, the Mother of Dragons, risks everything to lead her precious brood across a hard hot desert to win back the crown that is rightfully hers.

A Clash of Kings transports us into a magnificent, forgotten land of revelry and revenge, wizardry and wartime. It is a tale in which maidens cavort with madmen, brother plots against brother, and the dead rise to walk in the night. Here a princess masquerades as an orphan boy; a knight of the mind prepares a poison for a treacherous sorceress; and wild men descend from the Mountains of the Moon to ravage the countryside.

Against a backdrop of incest and fratricide, alchemy and murder, the price of glory may be measured in blood. And the spoils of victory may just go to the men and women possessed of the coldest steel…and the coldest hearts. For when rulers clash, all of the land feels the tremors.

I eagerly started this sequel to A Game of Thrones….and wasn’t disappointed. This novel enriches the story, while complicating it still further.

Tyrion and Dany remained my favorite characters. Other viewpoint characters I enjoyed: Theon Greyjoy, John Snow, and Ser Davos. I enjoyed Arya’s storyline, but I find her rather annoying as a character. I know a lot of people love her, but I just don’t.

I loved seeing Tyrion in his new role as Hand of the King and following Dany and John, as they explore the East and the North, respectively. Jaqen H’ghar was another great character introduced in this book. As always, I enjoyed the scheming of the Lannisters.

The tv series also makes a good run of this…the Battle of the Blackwater was amazing.

I don’t want to give away too much, but if you’ve read the first book in the series, you should definitely continue on with this one!

Since I’m not talking much about the events of this book, leave me a comment down below about how you liked it. If you don’t want spoilers, I would avoid the comments!