ARC Review: Illuminae by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman

IlluminaeTitle: Illuminae

Authors: Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman

Series: The Illuminae Files #1

Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers

Release Date: October 20, 2015

Genre: YA, Sci-Fi, Romance

Source: E-Galley from the publisher through NetGalley

I received a free egalley of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affects the integrity of my review.

LOTS OF SHOUTY CAPS HERE. HERE’S YOUR SYNOPSIS:

This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do.

This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto one of the evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again.

Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.

1. Let’s start simple: the layout of this book is so insane.

This is told through a dossier of documents. There are interviews, instant messages, recorded conversations, and reports from different individuals. At first, it’s a little weird, but as soon as you get used to it, you wonder how you’ve read books any other way. This was the strangest layout I’ve ever seen but that is NOT a bad thing. It’s amazing. It immerses you so much into the story that you feel like you’re a part of it. There are diagrams of the ships, maps, posters from the ships, etc. When I first heard about this layout, I wasn’t entirely sure if I would like it. However, this is so in your face that you can’t help but fall into it. This book is genius.

2. This book features one of the most bad ass females I’ve seen in awhile.

Kady Grant is a bad ass. I was unsure about her at first, until I read the opening interviews from she and Ezra. She is telling the interviewer how she stole a truck (btw, that is NOT spoiler-y!). He kind of scoffs at her to which she responds, “‘I am frequently underestimated. I think it’s because I’m short.'” (page 15 in the ARC). I honestly slow clapped for Kady because YES. Not because she’s female, BUT BECAUSE SHE’S SHORT. I laughed for a long time. This book is full of witty one-liners that kind of catch you off guard. Kady is also an insanely clever hacker. I love this about her because it’s so rare that you see a female MC who is also good with technology. Not only GOOD, but GREAT. She hacks into files that the most experienced hackers on her crew can’t get to. She is scary good and she is the heroine of this entire story. There is some romance, but she never swoons. She just kind of accepts that she has these feelings and runs with them. She will do anything for Ezra and he will do anything for her. More on that later.

3. The romance is adorable and I am never really one for romance.

Ezra and Kady keep in contact while they are on different ships. Kady is able to hack into the messaging system and talk to Ezra in 7 minute bursts. From this, their romance blossoms again (remember – they broke up the day their planet was invaded). Sometimes, I feel like a lot of YA romances aren’t believeable because they happen so quickly. In this situation, they were dating, they broke up, then they realized that they still love each other. It built slowly and consistently. They had a history which makes their romance all the more believeable. I think this is why I didn’t mind the romance and even liked it a little.

4. This book combines three of my biggest fears: space, airborne diseases, and AI that starts to think on its own.

The entirety of this book takes place on three ships in space outrunning another ship that is chasing them from Kady’s planet. Space scares the crap out of me and I never want to visit, ever. So any books that take place in space really freak me out. Seriously, I can’t even watch movies that take place in space. Airborne diseases is a recently developed fear of mine. Ever since the zombie apocalypse fad started, I’ve been petrified of diseases floating in the air, inhaling them, and dying or becoming undead. Airborne diseases are insanely terrifying, especially since everyone would be infected. Everyone. So, with that, there is an INSANE disease in this book called Phobos Beta. I won’t tell you much about it except DON’T LOOK AT ME. Now, the Artificial Intelligence fear may seem weird, but just hear me out. Artificial Intelligence is there to make our lives easier, but it could also form a mind of its own. Who knows what could happen if a robot started thinking it had feelings and making decisions by itself?! Haven’t you ever seen the Disney Channel Original Movie Smart House?! Anyway, Illuminae explores this possibility and it is absolutely terrifying. All I’ll say is: beware the black pages.

5. The bravery and sacrifice in this book is incredible.

I could never imagine sacrificing myself for somebody else. Call me selfish, but it’s true. Kady and Ezra are constantly sacrificing their safety and sanity in order to help the thousands of people on their ships. After Kady’s planet is attacked, the ships they are on are filled to capacity with refugees. These refugees are then – for the most part – turned into soldiers with no combat training. Or really, any training at all. They’re just thrown into saving the ships. If it were me, I would be scared out of my MIND and would rather cower in a corner than take up arms against an unknown enemy. Every person who sacrifices themselves in this book is a much braver person than I am, for sure.

6. The character development is so strong, it’s ridiculous.

Each of the characters we see a lot of in this book goes through an insane amount of growth in the little time we’re with them. We see a lot of characters – not just the MCs – go through a metamorphosis. While we do see Ezra and Kady transform, we see a lot of the captains and higher ups in the military go through changes as well. By the end of the book, I felt like these characters were my friends. I haven’t read a book with character development this solid in a REALLY long time.

OVERALL: FIVE STARS!!!! I want to give this book every star in the universe, it was seriously so good. It’s a 600 page masterpiece that I finished in about 24 hours. Seriously. I know this review is pretty vague, but that’s on purpose because I don’t want to give anything away. You need this book in your life. Be warned, though. This book ruined me for other books. It took me two weeks to start and finish another book after I was done with this. This book comes out on October 20, 2015 so click the link below to preorder! Plus, I don’t know how long this will last, but if you preorder, it’s UNDER TEN BUCKS for this fantastic masterpiece! Go! Gogogogo!!!

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ARC Review: The White Rose by Amy Ewing

The White RoseTitle: The White Rose

Author: Amy Ewing

Series: The Jewel #2

Publisher: HarperTeen

Release Date: October 6, 2015

Source: E-galley provided by the publisher through Edelweiss

I was provided a free galley of this book from the publisher. This in now way affects my review.

I loved The Jewel so much. It really surprised me how much I love it since I usually stay away from books like that. The ending ripped my heart out and this one was pretty much no different (ripping my heart out-wise). IF YOU HAVEN’T READ THE JEWEL, PLEASE DO NOT READ ANY FARTHER. GO GET THE JEWEL AND READ IT NOW. I DO NOT WANT TO SPOIL ANYTHING FOR YOU FROM THE FIRST BOOK, OKAY?! YOU’VE BEEN WARNED!!!!!! Here’s your synopsis from Amazon:

Violet is on the run—away from the Jewel, away from a lifetime of servitude, away from the Duchess of the Lake, who bought her at auction. With Ash and Raven traveling with her, Violet will need all of her powers to get her friends, and herself, out of the Jewel alive.

But no matter how far Violet runs, she can’t escape the rebellion brewing just beneath the Jewel’s glittering surface, and her role in it. Violet must decide if she is strong enough to rise against the Jewel and everything she has ever known.

1. The world is still spectacular.

In the first book, we’re introduced to the Jewel. We don’t see much else of the world other than the Smoke and the Jewel. I love how this island is built in a circle, with the different parts of the community in the rings of the circle. I think this is so interesting, because the farther out you go from the Jewel, the worse the environment gets. The Jewel is the pinnacle of wealth and excess. In this book, since Violet is on the run from the evil Duchess of the Lake, we get to see a lot more of the environment. We heard a lot about the Smoke from Ash in the first book and in this one, we get to see it. It’s eye opening and sad. Then, we get to see the Farm, which I really liked. I could totally live there. I loved seeing more of this place, since it was pretty limited due to Violet’s imprisonment in the Jewel with that horrible hag.

2. Ash is so wonderful and I love him.

Even though I kind of found Ash and Violet’s romance pretty stupid, I ended up liking him a lot more in this book. A lot of the action happens because of him (since Violet refuses to leave the Jewel without him). Poor Ash. All he wants to do is help the cause of rebellion and he can’t really do much. However, I think he handles this really well. He could lash out and be a total jerk, but he just keeps his head down and waits for his opportunity. He pulls some really stupid stunts while they’re on their way to the Farm and they almost get caught a bunch of times because of him. I mean, they’re looking for him because everyone believes he raped Violet. He’s got a recognizable face – yet he still puts his face out there! A few times, I definitely wanted to punch him. He ends up being an asset, though.

3. Violet and Raven’s friendship makes me feel the warm fuzzies.

So when we last saw Raven, she had this vacant look about her. I thought she had undergone a lobotomy, she was acting so weird. We know that Violet gave Raven the serum that Lucien gave to her to give the illusion of death. Well, it works! Violet refuses to leave the Jewel without Raven, because she knows what awaits her if she has the baby. We find out what happened to her, which is absolutely horrible. I mean, I knew the royalty was evil, but I didn’t know HOW evil they were. *shudder* Anyway, their friendship only grows in this book and it’s so wonderful to see. They realize all of the things that the Auguries and the royalty have been hiding from them and they forge an even stronger connection than they had before (if you can imagine that).

4. This book shows us heroes in the most unlikely of places.

I’m not going to reveal the big one (even though you know this within the first page or so), but people help Violet who you never thought would end up helping her. Other than this particular person, we meet Lucien’s Society of the Black Key. In the Society are a network of people. Lucien always tells Violet to “ask for the key.” At first, I was super confused by this, until I saw a key. Within the Society are so many different kinds of people – all with code names. The ones you meet range from little kids to old spinsters and they pop up in extremely unlikely places. I really loved how the resistance was everywhere and so willing to help Violet.

5. Violet wakes up to find who the heck she actually is. It’s terrifying and awesome.

I had no idea that the Auguries were holding the surrogates back from so much. I’m not going to tell you what, but just know that the surrogates should be feared – not controlled by the baby sick royalty.

6. Last point, I swear: Violet really womans up in this book and I liked that much more than the Violet in the first book.

Violet handles herself so well. She is brave and selfless and she really impressed me. She goes through so much more in this book than she did in the first, and she doesn’t let it break her. There were too many times in the first book that I just groaned and rolled my eyes and yelled, “woman up! Make the best of it and find a way out!” Not so in this one. She really comes into her own and I adored her so much more.

OVERALL: 4 STARS!! The ending was a punch in the gut, but I called it too early, so it wasn’t as much as a surprise as I wanted it to be. But it still hurt so bad. Anyway, I really loved the balances of power shifting in this book and I can’t wait for the next one. If you’re as excited as I am, click the link below to pre-order! This comes out on October 6, 2015 so go go!

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ARC Review: A Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnis

A Madness So DiscreetTitle: A Madness So Discreet

Author: Mindy McGinnis

Series: Stand alone

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books

Release Date: October 6, 2015

Genre: YA, Historical, Thriller

I was provided an egalley of this book for free from the publisher through Edelweiss. This in no way affects my opinion of the book.

I love Mindy McGinnis. I am thoroughly convinced she is my spirit animal. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that her words astound me constantly. This had me hooked from page one, seriously. Here’s your synopsis from Amazon:

Grace Mae knows madness.

She keeps it locked away, along with her voice, trapped deep inside a brilliant mind that cannot forget horrific family secrets. Those secrets, along with the bulge in her belly, land her in a Boston insane asylum.

When her voice returns in a burst of violence, Grace is banished to the dark cellars, where her mind is discovered by a visiting doctor who dabbles in the new study of criminal psychology. With her keen eyes and sharp memory, Grace will make the perfect assistant at crime scenes. Escaping from Boston to the safety of an ethical Ohio asylum, Grace finds friendship and hope, hints of a life she should have had. But gruesome nights bring Grace and the doctor into the circle of a killer who stalks young women. Grace, continuing to operate under the cloak of madness, must hunt a murderer while she confronts the demons in her own past.

1. Grace is such an interesting character. Being inside her head was a little nuts for me.

Grace is put into an insane asylum because she’s a high society girl who is also pregnant. She is put in the asylum until she gives birth – the excuse being that she is on a European tour. Even though Grace herself isn’t “insane,” she is around actual insane people daily. The orderlies and doctors – even though they know why she’s there and are getting paid handsomely to treat her well – treat her just like another patient. And, if you know anything about early insane asylums, you can imagine how horribly these people were treated.Grace is an ideal patient, except for the fact that she will not speak to anyone. However, her severe mistreatment catches up with her and she eventually lands in the dark, dank cellars where she meets Falsteed – a patient himself who helps her through her literal darkest time. Falsteed introduces her to Dr. Thornhollow and the dominoes fall from there. Grace’s mind is not broken. She has a LOT of family issues, yes, but she is almost painfully intelligent and clever. She’s able to remember insane amounts of details and can figure things out just from observation. I loved that fact that she wasn’t just some poor little rich girl. She fought for what she wanted, even if it wasn’t what you expected her to want.

2. This book took a really weird turn for me. Grace kind of reminded me of a young, female Sherlock Holmes with Thornhollow acting as her equal.

In this time period, it’s strange to see a man like Thornhollow recognize the cleverness and intelligence in a woman, let alone a woman in an insane asylum. I really liked this aspect of the book not only because it was unexpected, but because they both had a lot to teach each other. Thornhollow is a fantastic doctor, but he has problems recalling tiny details while Grace is able to listen extremely close and remember crazy details.

3. I adored the friendship in this book so much. It gave me the warm fuzzies.

When Grace gets to the second asylum with Thornhollow, she sees how life could be if the patients in Boston were treated humanely. The rooms are comfortable and spacious and the patients who don’t cause problems are basically able to roam free. This is how she meets Nell and Lizzie. These two are firecrackers and totally different. Nell is a syphylitic and probably a tid bit of a nympho (which, being the time it is, is the reason she’s in an asylum). Lizzie talks to something she calls String. String tells her anything and everything – this scared her father, so he stuck her in the asylum.Nell and Lizzie show Grace what it’s like to have true friends, not friends who are chosen for her in her high society life. They are full of life and want to know everything about Grace. They are a perfect trio and warm my heart.

4. THERE IS NO ROMANCE. NONE.

As a girl who generally avoids anything romantic in my reading, this made me really excited. There was definitely potential for romance between the attractive Thornhollow and Grace, but it never happened. Bless you, McGinnis! Anyway, the lack of romance left the story open for the actual story, which I LOVE. This book was so full of meticulous details and crazy awesome creepiness that there was absolutely no need for romance.

5. This book was beautifully written, true to Mindy McGinnis’s past two novels.

This woman astounds me. I met her at the Vegas Valley Book Festival and she is also a wonderful person as well as a brilliant artist. Her words are so gorgeously woven together – I am in awe of her, completely. The world building in this book was brilliant and I could see everything SO clearly in my head. McGinnis has astounded me from the first time I discovered her and I don’t know how her writing could improve at all, since I think it’s so perfect. Wow, I’m such a fangirl.

OVERALL: 5 STARS!!! I love how this book explored what is truly considered sane and what one person will do in order to escape two horrible lives that were forced upon them. The family dynamic is heartbreaking, the research that went into archaic lobotomies was both disgusting and insanely accurate, and the writing brought tears to my eyes at some points. This book not only has a gorgeous cover, but is written beautifully to match. Click the link below to preorder this – it comes out on October 6th, 2015!

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