Sunday, June 2, 2013

Reviews: Upcoming Releases

Over the past couple weeks, I’ve been lucky enough to have access to DRCs (Digital Review Copies) of books that are going to be released this fall. I have already devoured two, with many more on my reading list. Here are my reviews of two great YA books that are coming to a shelf near you!

The Shade of the Moon: Susan Beth Pfeffer
Release date: August 13

There was something about this book that entranced me, as I devoured all 300 pages in just one day. However, there were some aspects that disappointed me as well.The Shade of the Moon is book four in the Last Survivors series, and was preceded by Life As We Knew It, The Dead and the Gone and This World We Live In. It’s been three years since the third in the trilogy was released, and when this story picks up with Jon, Miranda’s younger brother, it’s been two years since the tornado that devastated their plans at the end of This World We Live In. Now, Jon lives with his stepmother Lisa and half brother Gabe in the Sexton clave but the rest of his family (his Mom, sister Miranda and brother-in-law Alex) is stuck in rundown White Birch outside, where food, wages and fairness is hard to come by. Relations between those living inside the clave and those who work for them from White Birch are ridden with tension, and when riots erupt during a soccer match, Jon and his family are caught on opposite sides.
            The plot was well-written, keeping me on the edge of my seat. However, I did feel that the romance of this book, the love between Jon and Sarah wasn’t fully developed, as I struggled to feel their passion. Sarah is a doctor’s daughter and member of the clave who argues for fairness and tries to stand up for the people of White Birch. Her character was strong and uncompromising, which was a great offset to Jon’s feigned indifference to some of the clave/community relations. But I do wish the beginning of their romance was explored more thoroughly as to be more believable. Also, Jon’s family in White Birch seemed to lack a presence in this novel. I understand that Jon’s position inside the clave made his a powerful story when the riots began, but as a reader I missed Miranda and Alex, who were the main characters of the previous three books. I won’t spoil the ending, but I felt like it was a well-written conclusion but open enough to allow for a variety of (hopefully happy) futures for Jon, Sarah, Miranda, Alex and Gabe. Even with the touches of disappointment, I was satisfied with this conclusion and am glad that I read it.

Tandem: Anna Jarzab
Release date: October 8

Days after finishing this book, I was still thinking about it. I was still thinking about the spectacular, heart-wrenching ending, and still struggling to decide just how much I loved this book. The concept (parallel universes) is something I’ve never seen/read before, and I was incredibly intrigued right from the beginning. The story takes place in Aurora, which is a planet similar to Earth except that history diverged during the Revolutionary War when, on Aurora, George Washington was killed prematurely. So even though Aurora has Shakespeare and Homer and the inhabitants speak English, the United States is the United Commonwealth of Columbia and the Kingdom of Farnham, both monarchies. At the start of this story, Princess Juliana of the UCC is kidnapped and the General reaches into Earth for her analog (who looks exactly the same but is otherwise different). Sasha, with the help of handsome bodyguard Thomas, is forced to fill in for Juliana and even host her betrothed, Callum the Prince of Farnham. But when Sasha discovers Juliana left of her own accord and the General turns on Thomas, Callum and her, it appears Sasha may be stuck in this parallel universe forever.
            As I mentioned, the premise of this story is amazing, creative and (in my experience) one-of-a-kind. The story was well-organized, and I especially adored Thomas’ strong yet mysterious character as well as the set up of a love triangle (Sasha/Thomas/Callum) which I hope will be explored further in the sequels (as this is a planned trilogy). I have to admit that Sasha, the main character, was slightly more dramatic and whiny than I usually prefer, but since she was thrown into another world without warning, I suppose she’s allowed to be a little over emotional. Also, I noticed in some scenes there was more telling than showing, and I do prefer the latter. I had high expectations for this novel (as I’ve been anxiously awaiting it for months) and I would say that those expectations were fulfilled. Tether, the sequel is due out in just about a year, and I am already eager to get my hands on it!

Happy June!

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