Review: Ivon by Michael Aylwin

IvonIvon by Michael Aylwin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A truly unique Adult Dystopian!

For fans of classics such as 1984 and Brave New World. Added bonus if you are a sports fan.

Set in a future London, now called a commune, where society is regimented down to the most minute details, individualism is dead. People are created and raised for what they can contribute to the commune.

The highest attribute is your propensity for sport. The best at sport are the most valued members of society and there is quite a caste system based on this.

This story follows two men: Dusty Noble, the batsman of a generation and one of the most respected and valued men in London, and Ivon, a Welshman raised outside of the commune.

You see, in Wales, they live by the old ways. People have families, homes and still play sport for fun and under their own volition. Considered no more than savages by the people of Perpetual Era London.

Ivon is the son of two high profile people who were forced to leave London after it was discovered that they had feelings for one another. Relationships are not allowed and having too much interest in another is definitely a red flag to authorities.

Growing up in Wales however, Ivon knows nothing about that life. He has an incredible aptitude for sport however, which doesn’t go unnoticed by Dusty when he takes a weekend holiday to Wales.

Ivon ends up heading back to London with Dusty and both of their lives are irreparably changed because of that. The repercussions of this one decision put both men on a path they never anticipated being on. In fact, the final portion of this book is depressing AF but so clever and well drawn out. I was really impressed with this. I thought the writing was excellent and the concept behind the world construction was original and well detailed.

Overall, I thought this is a great piece of dystopian literature. Thank you so much to the publisher, RedDoor Publishing, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I’m sorry it took me so long to get to it as it was a fun read!

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Review: We Set the Dark On Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia

We Set the Dark on FireWe Set the Dark on Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

At The Medio School for Girls, young women are trained for one of two roles: Primera or Segunda. Before you get too excited, these are not highly challenging professions these girls aspire too. No, they are societally designed ‘womanly roles’ within a man’s household. A Primera essentially runs the business aspects of a household, while the Segunda takes care of the more emotional sides, raising children, providing humor and relaxation for the husband.

This makes school a harsh competition, as your performance there affects your future placement within a household. At graduation you are basically selected by an upper class family to marry their son and so goes the rest of you life.

Daniela Vargas has sacrificed a lot to be a student at Medio. Her parents faked documents in order for her to attend. She comes from one of the poorest neighborhoods and her lineage definitely would not make her a desired match for any up-and-coming males.

Dani graduates top of her class and is chosen as Primera for a young man who is slated to soon be running Medio, she knows she has made it. As a member of the Garcia family, the whole world will now be open to her but Dani quickly discovers this assignment isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

The Segunda of the Garcia household, Carmen, is a young lady who was very unkind to Dani at school but with no one else around, the two girls start to develop a relationship. Dani finds herself developing real feelings for Carmen but she isn’t sure if she can trust her. In her new life, she really isn’t sure if there is anyone she should trust.

Set in a wonderfully imagined LatinX dystopian world, providing timely commentary on societal roles, structure and function, this book was everything I wanted it to be. In fact, this book is everything I wanted other books to be that disappointed me.

I’m looking at you: The Belles.

I meshed really well with Mejia’s writing and upon reaching the end figured out, hey, this isn’t a standalone! Very excited for the next in the series.

With secrets and lies, rebellions and undercover agents, a female-female relationship, and so much more, I would definitely recommend this book to other YA Readers!

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Review: Wonderblood by Julia Whicker

Expected Publication Date: April 2018

Firstly, hello bookworld! I have been very absent lately on what I believed to be a 1-week Christmas vacation that has since turned into a 2-week Christmas vacation.  Yes, you read right!  Unexpected 2-week vacation. Due to inclement weather I have been unable to get back home – part of the joy of living on an island!

Okay, back to the topic – Wonderblood by Julia Whicker! I finished Wonderblood late last night and needed to sleep on it before I could formulate my thoughts into a coherent review. Firstly, this is a debut novel for Julia Whicker and although this book did not blow me away, I would certainly be interested in other books (unrelated to this one) that she may write in the future. I enjoyed her writing style a lot which was not just agreeable but at times absolutely lyrical.

At the beginning of the book, literally the first 10 to 15-pages, there was some content that almost made me give it up. It did not grab me at all and in fact certain elements of it turned me off. It is an adult sci-fi novel that is set in a very gritty, very harsh post-apocalyptic wasteland. There are triggers for abuse, child rape, sibling incest and/or sibling molestation; I could see this causing a lot of people to turn away very quickly from this book. If you can get by that, it does get a lot better and I am glad that I stuck with it.

The middle is where I feel the story is at its strongest, with political intrigue and an interesting “religious” system. The story does take place in a future United States, which has had its population decimated by a mad cow-like disease – this story picks up in the aftermath of that although we never learn too much about the chain of events prior to the current action. Quite generally, it reminded me of Mad Max meets The Road.

One of my biggest disappointments for this book was the lack of character development. I came away just feeling blah about all of the characters – there were none that I related too or even felt that I knew enough about to care for in any way. If this were a start to a series (I am not sure if it is slated as a stand-alone or a series), I would not pick up the second book, really because I just do not care what happens to any of these characters. Additionally, I didn’t feel like the atmosphere was strong enough to make up for the lack of character development.

Mainly, I gave this three stars due to the writing style of the author and the unique ideas included in the world she was creating – for example, I loved that the characters worshiped NASA space shuttles and had Cape Canaveral as their holiest of sites – but the execution overall fell a little flat for me. Please note, I was given a copy of this book from the publisher, St. Martin’s Press, in exchange for an honest review. I certainly appreciate the opportunity to read it, comment on it and am excited to hear what other readers think of this story!

The Glory of The Hunger Games

Happy Friyay Bookstaverse!!!  I recently began a reread of The Hunger Games.  By this point, pretty much the entire globe has either read the books, watched the movies, or both.  I read the series for the first time not long after it was published and really enjoyed all of the movies.  By far one of the best adaptations from book-to-screen for a series I have ever seen.

I wanted to reread them in order to refresh my memory as to how close the movies actually are to the books.  I am about a quarter of the way into the first book and it is blowing my mind all over again!  The introduction to the country of Panem, the way it is all controlled by the capital and meeting our kickass warrior princess, Katniss Everdeen (that’s how I think of her anyway) – it is just a delicious reading experience.  I think we all take for granted now how cutting edge this story truly was when it was published in 2008.  It was unique and grabbed people’s hearts and minds, young and old alike.

My favorite aspect of the stories is the competition.  I love stories that have some sort of competition (hency why Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is my favorite in the series); newer examples of this would be Throne of Glass or Warcross.  There is something about it that just makes a story seem that much more harrowing; your favorite hero or heroine on the brink of losing or worse losing their lives in some sort of action-packed death match!

One thing I had forgotten since my first read was the strain in the relationship between Peeta and Katniss going into the Games.  I had forgotten they were not really friends in the beginning and that Katniss feared early on that Peeta had betrayed her to the career tributes.  Reading it again, all I can picture is Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson (and of course Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson and Elizabeth Banks) – they did a really exceptional job casting the movies.

What are your favorite book-to-screen adaptations? I’d love to hear if you thought that they did The Hunger Games well or did you expect more?