The Water Wars || by: C. Stracher

Title: The Water Wars
Author: Cameron Stracher
Pages: 240
Dessert: Apple Pie- crisp and flaky.
My Summary: To sum it all up, The Water Wars takes place in a futuristic world drained of Earth's most valuable resource, water. The government and a handful of unimaginably wealthy citizens controls access to what's left of the world's freshwater supply, and have developed artificial means of frugally sustaining life. The book focuses on a zealous teenage girl named Vera, who witnesses something unspeakable before the bus ride to school. The unmistakable act of a boy intentionally spilling water. Through this encounter, he and Vera grow to become something a little closer than friends. But of course, this is until she finds out he has a secret. A secret the world is willing to kill for. Welcome to a future where water is more precious than oil or gold. 

My Review: Everything about this book, even the cover, screamed DYSTOPIAN to me! I was so excited to see The Water Wars lined up on the shelves of Barnes & Noble. This book was released on January 1st, 2011, and even though it's 24 days later, I still wanted to get my review in before the end of the month. Anyhow, I have to admit the entire plot and futuristic feel weaved by Stracher was magical, in a hi-tech sort of way. The world is parched, and the author never forgets to remind us of the all the luxuries we take for granted. (I will relish every moment in a swimming pool from this day forth.) It was something like, a subliminal message to "conserve water". Not that I minded, since I think it's great authors are learning to turn their green messages into best-selling books. As much as I love the cover, it's not enough to cover up Stracher's inexperience in writing young adult literature. Everything seemed fascinating enough until I was halfway through this slim book and realized that I was becoming more and more disinterested. Towards the end of every couple chapters, the same thoughts would pop up:

1. The characters lack depth. It's clear that Stracher tried to portray Vera as the "headstrong and fearless" heroine, but she lacked many elements that would make that type of character phenomenal. Vera possesses a very limited emotional spectrum, ranging from scared to very scared. She's emotionally dependent on her brother, and I think he stops her character from blossoming into an independent young woman. Having a big brother and a lover are very different.

2. The plot does not build up. A 240 page book leaves very little room for bottling up suspense. I found myself skimming the pages from the halfway point all the way through the end. The journey itself was far from cliché, however all the action scenes felt clipped short and not very dramatic. Stracher describes very little of what Vera or any of the other characters feel, except maybe nervous, scared etc. and does not venture far out into any tactical explanation. 

3. The relationships between characters did not transition smoothly. This might have been my biggest pet peeve of all. 

Vera & Kai: Vera and Kai (the boy who spills water) meet and become familiar over a period of two months. Unfortunately, Stracher gives us very few details about their progressing relationship. As a reader, I didn't feel that trust building between them, and after a few pages of finally getting used to the prospect of Kai and Vera becoming more than friends, they suddenly start breathlessly making out.What?!? There was no constant rhythm or even romantic feel to their relationship, it seemed somewhat forced. 

Vera & Will: Sibling rivalries are very common, but Vera and Will are just the opposite. They get a long a little too well, sharing mattresses and even secrets. Vera's relationship with Will, I believe, disrupted the intentional romantic dynamics between her and Kai. Her brother loves her. Kai loves her. There's usually no question that the main love interest is the heroine's significant male figure, but Will seems to take more priority in Vera's life than Kai. 

Vera & Ulysses: Don't worry. It's not a love triangle. Ulysses is the capable leader of a motley pirate crew who see's Vera as a daughter figure. But what confused me was that she was fearing for her life one minute, and then caring for him like a father within the span of 5 pages. I don't see how they grew to be unbelievably close in the length of a chapter. 

4. The ending was weak. Worst of all, the ending was a disappointment. No author or reader wants to hear this, but it  just so happens that I have the unfortunate luck of informing you. It didn't seem like a very thought-out conclusion, and the plot was wrapped up in quick blur of events that didn't seem too important. What happened to the big government battle I was looking forward to? Will they be safe? How will the public react?  I'm not going to spoil anything, but I will end by saying that the story did not leave an impact.

Rate & Recommend?: I wouldn't hesitate to give this book a 2.5 out of 5. The plot, as it remains, is intriguing, but the author executed it poorly. It's sad to see a story of such great potential end weakly. The story lacked suspense and as I usually always love a headstrong heroine, I didn't find myself rooting for Vera. Although I wouldn't go so far as to not recommend this book, I would warn readers not to get their hopes up too high. 


Upcoming Releases

Johnny works after school in a shoe repair shop in a swanky hotel in Miami. He loves shoes and is talented; he even aspires to be the next Manolo Blahnik. But the real reason that he is working so hard is because his dad left when he was a baby and he needs to help his mom pay the bills. At least he has his friend, Meg, who works at the hotel coffee shop, to keep him company.

When beautiful Princess Victoriana comes to stay at the hotel, Johnny is thrilled when Victoriana invites him to her suite. There she tells him that her brother has been turned into a frog, and that she needs his help finding him in the Florida Keys. Johnny thinks she is crazy and does not believe her, until she gives him a magical cloak that immediately transports him to another location. Armed with the cloak and a magical earpiece that can help him talk to other transformed humans Johnny sets out to save the Prince ...

A party game gone wrong unleashes angry spirits on Charlotte’s school.

It's taken a long time for Charlotte Silver to feel like a normal teenager. But now that she's settled into a new school, where she's made friends who know about her parent's infamous paranormal investigations, it feels like everything is falling into place. And what better way to be normal than to go on a date with the popular Harris Abbott? After all, it's not as if Noah is anything more than a friend.

But Charlotte's new life is taking a disturbing detour when Harris takes her to a party where they play a game called One Hundred Candles. It all seems like harmless, ghostly fun. Until the spirits supposedly unleashed by the game start showing up at school. Now, Charlotte. her friends and her family are very real danger, and the door that she's opened into an other realm may yield deadly consequences.

Adam sees 'numbers' - when he looks in peoples' eyes he can see their death-dates, just like his mum Jem used to. Adam has trouble dealing with his awful gift, and when he realizes that everyone around him has the same series of numbers, he becomes deeply afraid of what might happen in 2025. 

 Desperate to find out what could be about to go wrong, Adam spends hours researching possibilities - war, nuclear accidents, killer viruses. He knows something big is coming, but what? And is there anything he can possibly do about it?

Set in the very near future, a wounded New York struggles with the aftermath of a power plant explosion that plunged the city into fourteen days of violence and darkness. Christened "Big Black" by the media, the presumed terrorist attack accomplished what 9/11 couldn't: killing the city's spirit and draining it of its life force. An enormous bug-like dome hastily constructed to keep toxic gases from escaping the site casts a gloomy pall over the city and serves as a bleak reminder of the tragedy. Deprived of all reason for optimism, New York's inhabitants slowly withdraw from human interaction and into the cold comfort of technology. 

Seventeen-year-old Mal returns to the Brooklyn home of his foster parents one night to discover that his older brother, Tommy, has vanished after leaving a strange message on his phone. Mal launches a search for his brother that leads to a foreboding, seemingly unoccupied Manhattan skyscraper; once inside, he makes a careless mistake that reveals hidden cracks in the surface of the world he knows. Meanwhile, Laura, a high school senior is shaken from her quiet suburban life when her parents inexplicably abandon her and two agents from Homeland Security armed with a hypodermic needle show up at her home.

The two teenagers are thrown together with a cynical and bitter high school teacher named Mike, and Jon Remak, a covert agent for a shadowy cooperative. The strangers share little in common, save for one terrifying fact: someone or something has wiped them from the memories of every single person the four have ever known. Only by working together can Mal and Laura hope to reclaim a past that was stolen from them--and start a future no one can take away.

Katie Welker is used to being alone. She would rather read a book than deal with other people. Other people don’t have silver eyes. Other people can’t make things happen just by thinking about them!

But sometimes these special powers make Katie unusual, and it’s hard to make friends when you’re unusual. Katie knows that she’s different but she’s never tried to hurt anyone. Maybe there are other kids out there who have the same silver eyes . . . and the same talents . . . and maybe they’ll be willing to help her.

My first impulse is not to grab her or kiss her or yell at her. I simply want to touch her cheek, still flushed from the night’s performance. I want to cut through the space that separates us, measured in feet—not miles, not continents, not years—and to take a callused finger to her face. I want to touch her to make sure it’s really her, not one of those dreams I had so often after she left when I’d see her so clear as day, be ready to kiss her or take her to me only to wake up with Mia just beyond reach. 

But I can’t touch her. This is a privilege that’s been revoked. 

It’s been three years since Adam’s love saved Mia after the accident that annihilated life as she knew it . . . and three years since Mia walked out of Adam’s life forever. 

Now living on opposite coasts, Mia is Julliard’s rising star and Adam is LA tabloid fodder, thanks to his new rock star status and celebrity girlfriend. When Adam gets stuck in New York by himself, chance brings the couple together again, for one last night. As they explore the city that has become Mia’s home, Adam and Mia revisit the past and open their hearts to the future—and each other. 

Told from Adam’s point of view in the spare, powerful prose that defined If I Stay, Where She Went explores the devastation of grief, the promise of new hope, and the flame of rekindled romance. 


Courtesy of: http://ibbookmarked.blogspot.com/ 


Win A Signed Copy of Delirum

You guessed right! Contest! (The title was a huge giveaway though) This is a great opportunity for all you Lauren Oliver fans (author of Before I Fall) to score on her new book, Delirium!!! She's generously giving away 5 signed copies, so don't miss out!

Visit her blog to enter: http://laurenoliverbooks.blogspot.com/2011/01/delirium-has-just-one-question-for-you.html

We're all anxiously awaiting it's February 1st release date. So in the meantime, watch out for the countdown clock and make space in your bookshelves!


Sapphique || by: C. Fisher

Title: Sapphique
Author: Catherine Fisher
Pages: 462
Dessert: Ferrero Rocher- This book is bittersweet and irresistible, hard on the outside, and soft within.
Website: http://www.catherine-fisher.com/pages/books/sapphique/synopsis.asp

Official Summary: After his escape from the sentient prison, Incarceron, Finn finds that the Realm is not at all what he expected, and he does not know whether he is to be its king, how to free his imprisoned friends, or how to stop Incarceron's quest to be free of its own nature.

So what happened?:  Since a combined 910 pages from both books packs a lot of punch, I'll give you the gist of what's happening in non fantasy terms: Incarceron is a prison that is "alive" in a sense. It thinks, plots, and desires just like like any human, and watches the prisoners within itself through glowing red eyes. Inside the prison, is a teenage boy named Finn who believes that he was not created by the prison. Throughout the book Incarceron, he and several of his friends, Keiro, Attia, and Gildas strive to work their way through Incarceron's ever-changing chambers. Meanwhile, in a world outside the prison, exists a princess-to-be named Claudia. She is the daughter of the Warden of Incarceron, and arranged to be married to a despicable and unmannerly prince. In order to slip out of a loveless marriage, she and her sickly tutor, Jared, devote themselves to unlocking Incarceron's secrets. Through two magic keys, both Finn and Claudia come in contact with each other. Little do they know, their worlds are closer than they seem. Eventually, Claudia discovers a way to enter the prison, but exiting is an entirely new dilemma. Once she arrives, her stay is short-lived, and even with both keys, she is only able to transport Finn and herself back to the outside world leaving Keiro and Attia behind to fend for themselves. Finn is now outside. He can see the stars and feel the warmth of the sun. But all is not well. Claudia has latched onto the idea that he is the lost prince, Giles, to whom she was first betrothed to at the young age of seven. Sapphique begins several months after Finn's arrival to the outside world. Attia is first seen performing a magic act with a crazed magician named Rix, who claims to own the enchanted glove used by Sapphique (a legendary man rumored to have escaped Incareron). Together, Keiro and Attia team up to steal the glove. But there's just one problem, Incarceron wants the glove too. Meanwhile, Finn is not much happier in the outside world than within the prison. He is overwhelmed with guilt for leaving his friends behind, and living up to the expectations of a prince are not easy. He has no recollection of his childhood, and the Queen of the kingdom wants him dead. During his coronation, an elaborate and princely figure halts the ceremony, claiming to be the real Prince Giles. He's the image of a perfect prince, and Finn and Claudia do everything in their power to convince the court that Finn is the true heir to the throne. As the story progresses numerous political plots take place, leaving the realm on the brink of civil war. Keiro and Attia fill up a few chapters with action-packed scenes and close encounters, but eventually wind up in the hands of Rix, who wants revenge. Threats are uttered, swords are raised, but in all this turmoil, Keiro's fluid speech unveils his destiny as Rix, the enchanter/illusionist/magician's apprentice. Back in the outside world, Claudia and Finn flee from the Queen's plans to execute them. Upon arriving home, both she and Finn work profusely to bring her father back from his self-imprisonment inside Incarceron. Accidentally, Claudia and Keiro switch places in both worlds, just as Incarceron is destroying itself. Finn is hopelessly lost, but with the help of Keiro, they are able to negotiate before war completely destroys them all. Inside Incarceron, the Warden, Claudia, Rix, and Attia are plotting against the prison itself. Incarceron's power grows imminent and unpredictable, thus sending waves of uncertainty and destruction to the outside world. However, Fisher has so cleverly incorporated the thread of a third story, Jared's. Claudia's loyal tutor has seen visions of Sapphique, and is convinced that with Sapphique's blessing and bestowed power, he will be able to put Incarceron back in place. All the while, Fisher expresses the theme "size is relative." It is discovered that the entire prison and it's vastness are smaller than the size of a sugar cube in the outside world. Everybody within Incarceron has been collapsed to the millionth of a nanometer. In the end, Jared realizes this, and enters Incarceron. The prisoner's believe that he is their fabled Sapphique who has come to free them. He later creates a door for Claudia and Attia to exit, but the Warden chooses to stay behind in the prison to help restore order.

My Review: Sapphique is the sequel to Catherine Fisher's Incarceron, however it's nearly impossible to understand this complex action-packed fantasy without first reading its predecessor. Fisher is nothing shy of a great fantasy writer, but if you're not patient enough to sit through a 462 page book and reread every other passage to understand the multiple twists, turns, and made-up fantasy words, Sapphique isn't going to be a breeze. Although I do like fantasy, it's quit difficult for me to understand at times, because the author has created a whole new world with unfamiliar terms and imaginative scenarios that are sometimes impossible to picture. This was the case with both Incarceron and Sapphique. I do, however, commend Fisher for her clever relations to science and mythology. I loved the incorporated physics and fairytales, even if they were only a loose rendition. Although this book isn't classified as Dystopian, I found that I was attracted to its dark and futuristic feel. Finn and Claudia's worlds are controlled by a series of rules known as "Protocol" which do not allow common folk access to technology, and they must live their lives according to the determined "Era," which in this case, is a cross between Medieval and Victorian times.This morning while finishing the book up, I wanted desperately to put it down in hopes of finishing some overdue chores. To my excitement, however, every chapter ended with an unexpected twist that manifested itself so cleverly, and I was compelled to move forward, chapter by chapter. Incarceron and Sapphique turned out to be much more brilliant on a scientific scale than I expected, and Fisher's descriptive writing style created a magical atmosphere. However, the ending felt somewhat lacking in a sense that I couldn't decide whether I was happy or sad for the characters. There was surprisingly no romance in the story, but the author portrayed fear, lust, and terror quite perfectly.


Matched || by: A. Condie

Title: Matched
Author: Ally Condie
Pages: 369
Dessert: Tapioca Pudding- This book is light, sweet, and refreshing. 
Website:  http://matched-book.com/

Official Summary: 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 Review: So in a nutshell, Matched is the story about a girl who is torn between two loves, two choices, and two ways of life. She lives in a world where the government chooses everything for it's citizens, and questioning their authority is not an option. Condie's romantic focus is a cliché love triangle we're all familiar with. "Best friend" or "The New Guy I'm Strangely Attracted to?" As the story progresses, it's no doubt whom Cassia chooses, thus ruling out the "Team Edward vs. Team Jacob" option already. To be honest, the society in which Condie places her characters in, is very much similar to that of The Giver by Lois Lowry. It's not as original, thrilling, or romantic as I expected. Right now, a strong heroine is all the rage. Take Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games or Katsa from Graceling for example. Cassia, however, is just your average love-torn teen who doesn't posses any striking qualities. The book's downfall comes from Condie's shallow interpretation of the teenagers. They're difficult to relate to, not crush-worthy, and have a very limited emotional spectrum. As for the Dystopian element, Matched is far from action-packed, suspenseful, and thrilling. Cassia's government takes hold of its citizens not by violence, but by a carefully selected choice of verbal warnings and words. All in all, I felt the concept of this story had much potential, but the author didn't quite capture the intensity of governmental defiance or the forbidden romance quality I was looking forward to.

I would still, however, recommend this to any teenage girl (or guy, if you're into romance). It makes for a great easy teen-read: perfect for car rides or light reading before bed. This story is a great intro to Dystopian literature, and it's  easy to put down and pick up where you left off. Brava to Ms. Ally Condie on her first Dystopian novel, and although I find the story lacking in several aspects, Matched is a solid story with a seemingly promising sequel.