Tag Archives: dystopian

One Trick Pony by Nathan Hale

One Trick Pony by Nathan Hale. March 14, 2017. Amulet Books, 127 p. ISBN: 9781419721281.  Int Lvl: 3-6; Rdg Lvl: 3.4.

The aliens have arrived. And they’re hungry for electricity. In the Earth of the future, humans are on the run from an alien force—giant blobs who suck up electrical devices wherever they can find them. Strata and her family are part of a caravan of digital rescuers, hoping to keep the memory of civilization alive by saving electronics wherever they can. Many humans have reverted to a pre-electrical age, and others have taken advantage of the invasion to become dangerous bandits and outlaws. When Strata and her brother are separated from the caravan, they must rely on a particularly beautiful and rare robot pony to escape the outlaws and aliens—and defeat the invaders once and for all.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: War; Violence

 

Reviews

Booklist (January 1, 2017 (Vol. 113, No. 9))
Grades 3-6. On a ravaged future earth, technology-hungry aliens called pipers scour the planet for salvage, leaving behind a landscape riddled with spherical gouges, as if earth was suddenly Swiss cheese. One cadre of humans is trying to preserve the earth’s culture by scavenging for any remaining technology, but it’s dangerous work, especially when three kids—Strata, Auger, and Inby—stumble on a hidden cavern packed with untouched robots, including a beautiful mechanical horse. Strata’s determined to bring the horse back to their caravan, but their discovery catches the attention of a horde of pipers, and their journey home gets a lot more complicated. Hale imbues his latest with pathos, action, and perfectly timed moments of comedy, but it’s the imaginative landscape, spot-on visual pacing, and confident line work that make this adventure tale really zing. The pipers are a particular treat—they’re elaborate, insectoid creatures with menacing, globular features and pendulous tendrils, ready to grab and annihilate anything they touch. Though it’s over a bit too neatly, the suspenseful chase plot and lively characters will entrance plenty of readers.

Kirkus Reviews (February 15, 2017)
In the future, the extraterrestrial Pipers devour electrical devices while threatening human lives and forcing them to regress to pre-electrical technology. Strata, her brother, Auger, and his wisecracking friend, Inby, find a sleeping robot pony named Kleidi buried in sand one day while exploring some ruins. Waking Kleidi, however, triggers activity and attracts numerous unwanted encounters with the Pipers, huge and terrifying tentacled beings; fleeing, they become lost. While on the run, the group meets a young woman, Pick, from a different tribe, which is hiding from “ferals,” or bandits and outlaws. Together they go on a quest in search of the Caravan—the trio’s mobile home, which houses the remaining digital archives: robots, literature, music, movies, along with all memory of previous human civilizations. Serving as a leitmotif throughout the story is the tale of the “Pied Piper of Hamelin”: the children, in this future, are represented by technology; as Pick explains, “they are stealing our future.” Hale generously offers texture and intricate details in his panels—often zooming in and out and back in—while offering balance with illustrations rendered in black, white, and gray with yellow accents. In this future, humans are divided into clans but do not maintain present-day racial distinctions; all the main characters appear to be children of color. Hale blends adventure, aliens, an apocalyptic future, and folklore into an easy-to-read stand-alone. (Graphic science fiction. 8-12)

About the Author

Nathan Hale is the New York Times best-selling author/illustrator of the Hazardous Tales series, as well as many picture books including Yellowbelly and Plum go to School, the Twelve Bots of Christmas and The Devil You Know.

He is the illustrator of the Eisner-nominated graphic novel Rapunzel’s Revenge and its sequel, Calamity Jack. He also illustrated Frankenstein: A Monstrous Parody, The Dinosaurs’ Night Before Christmas, Animal House and many others.

His website is www.spacestationnathan.blogspot.com.

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King’s Cage by Victoria Aveyard

King’s Cage by Victoria Aveyard. February 7, 2017. HarperTeen, 528 p. ISBN: 9780062310699.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 700.

When the Lightning Girl’s spark is gone, who will light the way for the rebellion?

Mare Barrow is a prisoner, powerless without her lightning, tormented by her lethal mistakes. She lives at the mercy of a boy she once loved, a boy made of lies and betrayal. Now a king, Maven Calore continues weaving his dead mother’s web in an attempt to maintain control over his country—and his prisoner.

As Mare bears the weight of Silent Stone in the palace, her once-ragtag band of newbloods and Reds continue organizing, training, and expanding. They prepare for war, no longer able to linger in the shadows. And Cal, the exiled prince with his own claim on Mare’s heart, will stop at nothing to bring her back.

When blood turns on blood, and ability on ability, there may be no one left to put out the fire—leaving Norta as Mare knows it to burn all the way down.

Sequel to: Glass Sword

Part of Series: Red Queen (Book 3)

Potentially Sensitive Areas: War; Violence; Strong sexual themes

 

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Reviews

Kirkus Reviews (March 15, 2017)
The “lightning girl” who once led a revolution now toils, powerless and imprisoned, in this continuation of the Red Queen series. After turning herself over in exchange for the lives of her friends, Mare Barrow becomes King Maven’s puppet. She waits, locked in a room, her lightning drained by Arvens—Silvers who leach power. But Maven has grander plans for her. And if she wants to keep the newbloods safe, she must comply. Mare broadcasts a lie that she willingly surrendered herself to the king after the Scarlet Guard forced her into servitude. She paints the Scarlet Guard as murderers, paving the way for Maven to offer refuge to newbloods in hopes of amassing an army. Otherwise, he’ll just keep hunting them. Political machinations rumble while both the king and the Scarlet Guard form new alliances. As Mare bides her time, she confronts uncomfortable feelings for Maven—she’s his greatest weakness, but can she kill him? Complementing Mare’s narration, Cameron, a newblood, relates the movements of the Scarlet Guard, and Evangeline, Maven’s betrothed, offers insight into the deadly House Samos. Few bursts of action stir up this slow-burning installment, allowing the dizzyingly large fleet of characters room to gain new depth. Mare’s romantic entanglements shift and sizzle, but the true intrigue lies in the ever expanding war for the crown as the players grow and change games. Aside from dark-skinned Cameron, the principal cast appears to be white, although the caste system based on the distinctions between Red and Silver blood holds more sway in this fantasy world than race. Simmering with internal conflict and well-devised courtly scheming—but readers new to the series had best start with Book 1. (Fantasy. 13-adult)

Publishers Weekly Annex (February 13, 2017)
Leashed like an animal and trotted out as a trophy of war, Mare Barrow passes her 18th birthday imprisoned by King Maven and turned into a puppet of a propaganda machine bent on destroying the Scarlet Guard. In this third installment of the Red Queen series, Aveyard’s frenetic action sequences initially take a backseat to the patient study of Mare’s captivity. But there are still plenty of schemes amid royal fissures and ill-fated rescues, an assassination attempt, and raging battles on multiple fronts to help this story keep pace with the previous installments. A newblood struggling with her deadly abilities and a princess begrudgingly betrothed to Maven narrate a few chapters of their own, but the majority of the tale is again seen through the eyes of Aveyard’s “little lightning girl,” who remains a relatable and deeply flawed heroine. Concluding as hope dwindles that the Reds will ever be free of the Silver crown, Aveyard adeptly sets the scene for a fourth book to follow, amid a war not yet won. Ages 13-up. Agent: Suzie Townsend, New Leaf Literary & Media. (Feb.)

About the Author

Victoria Aveyard graduated from USC, where she majored in screenwriting. She splits her time between Massachusetts and Los Angeles. The genres she’s into include YA, Fantasy, Historical, Adventure, Apocalyptic – “if people are dying, I’m buying”.

Her website is www.victoriaaveyard.com.

 

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King’s Cage on Amazon

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Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard

Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard. February 9, 2016. HarperTeen, 444 p. ISBN: 0765383756.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 770.

If there’s one thing Mare Barrow knows, it’s that she’s different.

Mare Barrow’s blood is red—the color of common folk—but her Silver ability, the power to control lightning, has turned her into a weapon that the royal court tries to control.

The crown calls her an impossibility, a fake, but as she makes her escape from Maven, the prince—the friend—who betrayed her, Mare uncovers something startling: she is not the only one of her kind.

Pursued by Maven, now a vindictive king, Mare sets out to find and recruit other Red-and-Silver fighters to join in the struggle against her oppressors.

But Mare finds herself on a deadly path, at risk of becoming exactly the kind of monster she is trying to defeat.

Will she shatter under the weight of the lives that are the cost of rebellion? Or have treachery and betrayal hardened her forever?

The electrifying next installment in the Red Queen series escalates the struggle between the growing rebel army and the blood-segregated world they’ve always known—and pits Mare against the darkness that has grown in her soul.

Sequel to: Red Queen

Part of Series: Red Queen

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Strong language; Violence

 

Book Trailer

Video Reviews

Reviews

Booklist (December 1, 2015 (Online))
Grades 9-12. Anyone can betray anyone. It’s a lesson that thief-turned-revolutionary Mare Barrow learned the hard way in Red Queen (2015). After she learns the truth about Maven, now the king of the powerful Silver court, Mare and the displaced Silver prince, Cal, flee the city, tenuously joining up with a resistance group. But Mare has learned that she is not the only Red with magical Silver-like abilities, and soon finds herself on a journey to find and recruit the others, determined to form a powerful army, if only she can find them before Maven does. But to do so, she must become a leader willing to make sacrifices, and the cost may be higher than she ever anticipated. While the story of a powerful young woman facing her own darkness is done a bit more effectively in Marie Lu’s Young Elites series, high-stakes excitement and sharp plot twists, nevertheless, make this a fast-paced, exciting read and a thrilling sequel.

Kirkus Reviews (November 15, 2015)
Reborn as the infamous “lightning girl,” Mare struggles to build an army of newbloods to face the murderous new king. After narrowly escaping the burning city of Naercey, Mare and her friends make their way to a secluded island where her family and the Scarlet Guard lie low. Bruised and beaten, Mare quickly realizes she can’t trust anyone, not even her closest friends–maybe not even family. But Mare has a plan: she’s going to track down the rest of the newbloods–Reds with unknown powers that rival the strongest Silvers’–and build an army. She sets out with those closest to her, including Cal, the now disgraced prince. Feeling incredibly alone, she can’t help but gravitate toward him; they share an ache for the person they both believed Maven to be before he became a treacherous king. As her conviction rises, so does the body count, and it isn’t long before Mare becomes eerily like the killer she’s trying so hard to destroy. Though her friends are disturbed by what she’s become, not even they can stop her now. Her quest is fraught with trials and bloodshed, but the action lags; the traps begin to feel too familiar, and the first-person, present-tense narration spares no detail. Tragedy seems to be a certainty before the end, but the spectacle still packs a surprising punch. This too-long heroine’s journey requires that the next volume provide sufficient fireworks to keep readers invested in the planned four-book series. (Fantasy. 13 & up)

About the Author

Victoria Aveyard graduated from USC, where she majored in screenwriting. She splits her time between Massachusetts and Los Angeles. The genres she’s into include YA, Fantasy, Historical, Adventure, Apocalyptic – “if people are dying, I’m buying”.

Her website is www.victoriaaveyard.com.

 

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Glass Sword on Amazon

Glass Sword on JLG

Glass Sword on Goodreads

Children of Exile by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Children of Exile by Margaret Peterson Haddix. September 13, 2016. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 304 p. ISBN: 9781442450035.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 6.3; Lexile: 680.

Rosi must decide what she’s willing to risk to save her family—and maybe even all of humanity—in the thrilling first novel of a brand-new trilogy from New York Times bestselling author, Margaret Peterson Haddix.

For the past twelve years, adults called “Freds” have raised Rosi, her younger brother Bobo, and the other children of their town, saying it is too dangerous for them to stay with their parents, but now they are all being sent back. Since Rosi is the oldest, all the younger kids are looking to her with questions she doesn’t have the answers to. She’d always trusted the Freds completely, but now she’s not so sure.

And their home is nothing like she’d expected, like nothing the Freds had prepared them for. Will Rosi and the other kids be able to adjust to their new reality?

Part of series: Children of Exile (Book 1)

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Discrimination; War; Violence; Criminal culture; Discussion of trauma; Kidnapping

 

Reviews

Publishers Weekly (July 11, 2016)
In this trilogy opener, Rosi and her younger brother, Bobo, are two of many children raised by Fred-mamas and Fred-daddies in Fredtown, a place of equality and harmony. After an agreement is struck, the children are forced to return home to their actual parents. At 12, Rosi is one of the oldest children, charged with protecting the others, including her estranged friend Edwy, who believes the Freds are just as fake as the Enforcers who take them away. When the children reach their real home, Rosi finds life unbearable under cruel parents and extreme poverty, despite the help of a missionary. When Edwy and Rosi work together to determine what happened to the charred buildings and maimed citizens of their new town, they discover severe inequality and a bias against their bright green eyes. Much as in Under Their Skin (2015), Haddix seems to be telling one story before pivoting sharply amid major revelations that shake up everything Rosi knows. Though the messaging isn’t subtle, Haddix gives readers lots to mull over regarding conflict, justice, and prejudice. Ages 10-up. Agent: Tracey Adams, Adams Literary

School Library Journal (July 1, 2016)
Gr 4-8-Twelve-year old Rosi has spent her entire life away from her parents. She, her brother, and the other children from her hometown were brought to Fredtown as infants to be kept safe from danger. This small, structured, and simple community named after the Norwegian word for peace is the only environment the children have ever known. When the Fred-parents abruptly inform the children they will be returning home, questions flood Rosi’s mind but are left unanswered. The children are forced onto an airplane heading to a place that feels foreign, where they are greeted by biological parents who are strangers to them. At first, Rosi is desperate to return to Fredtown. Then she begins to uncover mysteries and question what she’s been told all along. Haddix brilliantly sets up her story, giving readers just enough information to keep them grounded while elevating tension through Rosi’s uncertainty. Fast-paced action, plot twists, and cliff-hanger chapter endings will keep readers on the edge of their seats. Haddix’s tone and language and the absence of graphic violence make this an ideal selection for younger readers eager for a dystopian novel. -Beth Parmer, New Albany Elementary Library, OH

About the Author

Margaret Peterson Haddix grew up on a farm near Washington Court House, Ohio. She graduated from Miami University (of Ohio) with degrees in English/journalism, English/creative writing and history. Before her first book was published, she worked as a newspaper copy editor in Fort Wayne, Indiana; a newspaper reporter in Indianapolis; and a community college instructor and freelance writer in Danville, Illinois.

Haddix and her husband, Doug, now live in Columbus, Ohio, with their two children.

Her website is www.haddixbooks.com.

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Children of Exile on Amazon

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Sunker’s Deep by Lian Tanner

Sunker’s Deep by Lian Tanner. August 16, 2016. Feiwel & Friends, 304 p. ISBN: 978125002179.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 5.3; Lexile: 720.

Sharkey is a Sunker; he was born on a fortunate tide, and everyone on the giant submersible ‘Rampart’ knows it. He’s a hero, a future admiral, beloved by the ancestors. The trouble is, his life is based on a lie, and it’s about to fall apart. Sharkey’s been a fake hero for years, but when the Sunkers are attacked, he must become a real one.

Meanwhile above water, Petrel, Fin and the crew of the ‘Oyster’ have come ashore to defeat the Devouts, a group of fanatical Anti-Machinists who want to reclaim a secret weapon. Now, both crews must work together to fight for their lives.

Sequel to: Icebreaker

Part of Series: The Icebreaker Trilogy

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Discrimination; Violence

 

Reviews

Booklist (October 1, 2016 (Online))
Grades 6-9. This sequel to Icebreaker (2015) finds the girl Petrel, her companions the talking rats Mister Smoke and Missus Slink, the Captain (a mechanical boy with a silver face), and assorted shipmates from the icebreaker Oyster on dry land. Their mission: to bring knowledge back to the world in the wake of the devastation caused by the Luddite Devouts. While the stalwarts are away, the Oyster’s chief engineer leads a mutiny, leaving them stranded. Meanwhile, 200 miles northeast, the Devouts have managed to sink the giant submersible Rampart, leaving only that rapscallion young Sharkey and his small crew of children alive aboard the smaller submersible Claw. The plot will soon bring the two ragtag groups together, but to what end? How can they overcome the more numerous and stronger Devouts, and will the Captain ever find the Singer and the Song that are destined to bring knowledge back to the downtrodden? Adventures abound in this exciting page-turner that will keep readers on the edge of their seats as they await volume three.

School Library Journal (August 1, 2016)
Gr 5-8-Three crises get the action started quickly in this second installment of Tanner’s “Icebreaker” trilogy. There’s mutiny aboard the Oyster, which strands returning characters Petrel, Fin, Krill, and the captain in hostile territory controlled by a radical sect of Anti-Machinists. The friends’ only chance to get back to their ship lies with Sharkey, young captain of a submersible facing troubles of his own: with dwindling resources, he must rescue the last of his people, the Sunkers, from an Anti-Machinist prison. Tanner skillfully weaves the three plotlines together in a tense narrative that not only explores the characters’ often conflicting motives but keeps pages turning. Solid structure parallels key elements from the first volume and clearly lays the groundwork for the next book. The action takes place on land as well as in water, giving readers a fuller picture of the characters’ stark dystopian world. As the previous book was Petrel’s tale, this installment belongs to Sharkey, whose growth from false bravado to true heroism makes him a compelling central character. Suspenseful and thought provoking, this offering stresses the importance of education and knowledge as weapons against fear and tyranny. VERDICT Readers unfamiliar with the first novel may have trouble keeping track of the many characters and alternating perspectives, but fans will relish this return adventure.-Marybeth Kozikowski, Sachem Public Library, Holbrook, NY

About the Author

Lian Tanner has been dynamited while scuba diving and arrested while busking. She once spent a week in the jungles of Papua New Guinea, hunting for a Japanese soldier left over from the Second World War. She likes secrets, old bones, and animals that are not what they seem. Nowadays she lives by the beach in southern Tasmania with her cat, Harry-le-beau, who has his own blog at vampiremice.wordpress.com.

Her website is www.liantanner.com.au.

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