Review: Win, by Vera Nazarian

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Win by Vera Nazarian
Published by Norilana Books on July 11, 2017
Series: The Atlantis Grail, #3
Genre(s): fiction, dystopia, fantasy, romance, science fiction, young adult
Format & Pages: e-book, 949
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The Games are Forever!
It’s one thing to Qualify and Compete…
Now she must Win.

Gwen Lark, nerd, geek, and awkward smart girl, is among the lucky ones. She’s one of several million teenage refugees to escape the extinction-level asteroid barreling towards Earth and reach the ancient colony planet of Atlantis.

But Atlantis is a strange new world with higher gravity and a blazing white sun, where nothing is as expected. The new arrivals from Earth will now belong to the majority class of non-citizens who face a lifetime of hard work and limited rights.

To make matters worse, Gwen’s rare and powerful talent […] is viewed as a potential weapon to be exploited by the Imperator, as well as a threat to the Kassiopei Imperial Dynasty and its uncompromising control over the people of Atlantis.

A last-minute heartbreak prior to arrival turns to joy, when Gwen receives a declaration of love from an unexpected source. The Wedding date is set, but before she can be joined with her true love, she is forced to compete in the brutal and deadly Games of the Atlantis Grail to save herself, her family, friends, and everything she cares about. Once again, her intelligence, quick thinking skills, resilience, and creativity are challenged to the breaking point.

The Games are monumental, intricate, lethal . . . and the Games are Forever.

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Review: California Bones, by Greg Van Eekhout

California Bones, by Greg Van Eekhout

California Bones by Greg Van Eekhout
Published by Tor Books on June 10, 2014
Series: Daniel Blackland, #1
Genre(s): fiction, dystopia, fantasy, young adult
Format & Pages: hardcover, 304
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When Daniel Blackland was six, he ingested his first bone fragment, a bit of kraken spine plucked out of the sand during a visit with his demanding, brilliant, and powerful magician father, Sebastian.

When Daniel was twelve, he watched Sebastian die at the hands of the Hierarch of Southern California, devoured for the heightened magic layered deep within his bones.

Now, years later, Daniel is a petty thief with a forged identity. Hiding amid the crowds in Los Angeles—the capital of the Kingdom of Southern California—Daniel is trying to go straight. But his crime-boss uncle has a heist he wants Daniel to perform: break into the Hierarch’s storehouse of magical artifacts and retrieve Sebastian’s sword, an object of untold power.

For this dangerous mission, Daniel will need a team he can rely on, so he brings in his closest friends from his years in the criminal world. There’s Moth, who can take a bullet and heal in mere minutes. Jo Alverado, illusionist. The multitalented Cassandra, Daniel’s ex. And, new to them all, the enigmatic, knowledgeable Emma, with her British accent and her own grudge against the powers-that-be. The stakes are high, and the stage is set for a showdown that might just break the magic that protects a long-corrupt regime.

Extravagant and yet moving, Greg van Eekhout’s California Bonesis an epic adventure set in a city of canals and secrets and casual brutality–different from the world we know, yet familiar and true.

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Review: Lux and Lies, by Meg Collett

Lux and Lies, by Meg Collett

Lux and Lies by Meg Collett
Published by Meg Collett on May 2, 2017
Series: Whitebird Chronicles, #1
Genre(s): fiction, dystopia, science fiction, young adult
Format & Pages: e-book, 256
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Mr. Robot meets UnReal in a story of celebrities and anarchists, reality shows and evil corporations, romance and self-discovery.

Nineteen-year-old Wren Iver is nothing more than a dying girl with cancer, but when megastar Sloan Lux dies right before filming starts on the year’s most anticipated reality show, producers scramble to secretly replace her—with Wren. She’s swept into Hollywood and promised a cure by VidaCorp, the nation’s richest pharmaceutical company, for simply replacing Lux. It’s a deal Wren can’t refuse.

The decision could get her killed, because she isn’t the only cast member with ulterior motives.

The Whitebirds, a social anarchist group, has infiltrated the show, and they’ll stop at nothing to use Sloane Lux’s fame to derail VidaCorp’s efforts to legalize their controversial, life-changing drug—a drug that might kill more people than it saves. Caught in the middle of a game between a powerful corporation and ruthless anarchist group, Wren will do anything to survive.

Will Wren secure the drug she needs to survive, or will she become another casualty in the anarchists’ fight against VidaCorp?

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Review: Son, by Lois Lowry

Son, by Lois Lowry

Son by Lois Lowry
Published by Houghton Mifflin Books for Children on October 2, 2012
Genre(s): fiction, dystopia, young adult
Format & Pages: e-book, 225
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They called her Water Claire. When she washed up on their shore, no one knew that she came from a society where emotions and colors didn’t exist. That she had become a Vessel at age thirteen. That she had carried a Product at age fourteen. That it had been stolen from her body. Claire had a son. But what became of him she never knew. What was his name? Was he even alive? She was supposed to forget him, but that was impossible. Now Claire will stop at nothing to find her child, even if it means making an unimaginable sacrifice.

Son thrusts readers once again into the chilling world of the Newbery Medal winning book, The Giver, as well as Gathering Blue and Messenger where a new hero emerges. In this thrilling series finale, the startling and long-awaited conclusion to Lois Lowry’s epic tale culminates in a final clash between good and evil.

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Review: The City of Mirrors, by Justin Cronin

The City of Mirrors, by Justin Cronin

The City of Mirrors by Justin Cronin
Published by Ballantine Books on May 24, 2016
Genre(s): fiction, post-apocolyptic, science fiction, dystopia
Format & Pages: paperback, 599 *This copy was an ARC giveaway won from Goodreads
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In “The Passage” and “The Twelve“, Justin Cronin brilliantly imagined the fall of civilization and humanity’s desperate fight to survive. Now all is quiet on the horizon but does silence promise the nightmare’s end or the second coming of unspeakable darkness? At last, this bestselling epic races to its breathtaking finale.

“The world we knew is gone. What world will rise in its place?”

The Twelve have been destroyed and the hundred-year reign of darkness that descended upon the world has ended. The survivors are stepping outside their walls, determined to build society anew and daring to dream of a hopeful future.

But far from them, in a dead metropolis, he waits: Zero. The First. Father of the Twelve. The anguish that shattered his human life haunts him, and the hatred spawned by his transformation burns bright. His fury will be quenched only when he destroys Amy – humanity’s only hope, the Girl from Nowhere who grew up to rise against him.

One last time light and dark will clash, and at last Amy and her friends will know their fate.

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Review: The 5th Wave, by Rick Yancey

The 5th Wave, by Rick Yancey

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey
Published by Speak on February 10, 2015 (first published May 7, 2013)
Genre(s): young adult, science fiction, dystopia, post-apocalyptic
Format & Pages: paperback, 457
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After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.

Now, it’s the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth’s last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker.

Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie’s only hope for rescuing her brother—or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up.

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Review: Compete, by Vera Nazarian


Compete by Vera Nazarian
Published by Smashwords Edition on August 14, 2015
Genre(s): science fiction, young adult, dystopia, fantasy
Format & Pages: e-book, 517
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It’s one thing to Qualify…
But do you have what it takes to Compete?

With Earth about to be destroyed by an extinction level asteroid, teenage nerd, geek, and awkward smart girl Gwen Lark, and a few of her friends and loved ones, barely Qualified for rescue onboard one of the thousands of ark-ships headed to the ancient colony planet Atlantis.

Now faced with a year-long journey in space, life in a wondrously alien environment, and many tough life choices, Gwen must decide who or what she will become. Fleet Cadet or Civilian? Friend or lover? Average or extraordinary?

Can she make new friends? Can she trust the old ones, such as Logan Sangre, her sexy high school crush and an Earth special operative?

Time and time again, Gwen’s uncanny ability to come up with the best answer in a crisis saves her life and others. And now, her unique Logos voice makes her an extremely valuable commodity to the Atlanteans — so much so that her enigmatic commanding officer Aeson Kassiopei, who is also the Imperial Prince of Atlantis, has taken an increasingly personal interest in her.

Before the end of the journey, Gwen must convince him that she has what it takes to compete in the deadly Games of the Atlantis Grail.

It’s becoming apparent — the life of her family and all of Earth depends on it.

COMPETE is the second book in The Atlantis Grail series.

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Review: Qualify, by Vera Nazarian


Qualify by Vera Nazarian
Published by Smashwords Edition on December 22, 2014
Genre(s): science fiction, young adult, dystopia, fantasy
Format & Pages: e-book, 587
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You have two options. You die, or you Qualify.

The year is 2047. An extinction-level asteroid is hurtling toward Earth, and the descendants of ancient Atlantis have returned from the stars in their silver ships to offer humanity help.

But there’s a catch.

They can only take a tiny percent of the Earth’s population back to the colony planet Atlantis. And in order to be chosen, you must be a teen, you must be bright, talented, and athletic, and you must Qualify.

Sixteen-year-old Gwenevere Lark is determined not only to Qualify but to rescue her entire family.

Because there’s a loophole.

If you are good enough to Qualify, you are eligible to compete in the brutal games of the Atlantis Grail, which grants all winners the laurels, high tech luxuries, and full privileges of Atlantis Citizenship. And if you are in the Top Ten, then all your wildest wishes are granted… Such as curing your mother’s cancer.

There is only one problem.

Gwen Lark is known as a klutz and a nerd. While she’s a hotshot in classics, history, science, and languages, the closest she’s come to sports is a backyard pool and a skateboard.

This time she is in over her head, and in for a fight of her life, against impossible odds and world-class competition–including Logan Sangre, the most amazing guy in her school, the one she’s been crushing on, and who doesn’t seem to know she exists.

Because every other teen on Earth has the same idea.

You Qualify or you die.

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Review: The Word Exchange, by Alena Graedon

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The Word Exchange by Alena Graedon
Published by Anchor on April 8, 2014
Genre(s): fiction, dystopia, mystery, thriller
Format & Pages: e-book, 384
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A fiendishly clever dystopian novel for the digital age, The Word Exchange is a fresh, stylized, and decidedly original debut about the dangers of technology and the power of the printed word.

In the not-so-distant future, the forecasted “death of print” has become a near reality. Bookstores, libraries, newspapers, and magazines are essentially things of the past, as we spend our time glued to handheld devices called Memes that not only keep us in constant communication but have become so intuitive that they hail us cabs before we leave our offices, order takeout at the first growl of a hungry stomach, and even create and sell language itself in a marketplace called the Word Exchange.

Anana Johnson works with her father, Doug, at the North American Dictionary of the English Language (NADEL), where Doug is hard at work on the last edition that will ever be printed. Doug is a staunchly anti-Meme, anti-tech intellectual who fondly remembers the days when people used email (everything now is text or videoconference) to communicate—or even actually spoke to one another, for that matter. One evening, Doug disappears from the NADEL offices, leaving a single written clue: ALICE. It’s a code word he devised to signal if he ever fell into harm’s way. And thus begins Anana’s journey down the proverbial rabbit hole…

Joined by Bart, her bookish NADEL colleague, Anana’s search for Doug will take her into dark  basements and subterranean passageways; the stacks and reading rooms of the Mercantile Library; and secret meetings of the underground resistance, the Diachronic Society. As Anana penetrates the mystery of her father’s disappearance and a pandemic of decaying language called “word flu” spreads, The Word Exchange becomes a cautionary tale that is at once a technological thriller and a meditation on the high cultural costs of digital technology.

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