Random Musings by Frodosco

Posts tagged “Dystopia

Beasts of the Field by James A. West: Frodo’s Review

Beasts of the Field

Summary From GoodreadsBeasts of the Field

They are building a better world.
No more hunger.
No more poverty.
No more corruption.
Utopia is within our grasp—and there is no escape.

———————————————————————————————————————————

Beasts of the Field is a gritty way of depicting how easily the government, or any large power, could control us. Human susceptibility, inner darkness shown on the outside for all humanity to see, that is what this book depicts. It is freaky, jarring and it works so well because of how plausible the scenario really is. Using a game to control the population would never be easier than in today’s society where seemingly everyone has a phone capable of playing games on them at all times. West doesn’t hold back in shedding light on how humanity might react if we were faced with a supposed utopia, one that might not be morally sound and that wasn’t optional. Human primal urges are on full display in Beasts of the Field.

One thing you should know going into Beasts of the Field is that it uses a lot of points of view, and I mean a lot. It can be confusing, though I think that may be intentional since the book itself is built on a premise of pure chaos. Even the powers that unleashed the game might not be able to control the results so it is only fitting that the reader be as confused as the characters within. Anyway, back to the point I was trying to make, so many POVs. They are all interesting, the character each twisted in their own unique way, and each is vital to the story/plot somehow, but keeping track of who you are listening to and what’s going on is a feat. So if you aren’t into that sort of read I’d look elsewhere. I enjoyed it though, it made my brain get a workout.

The action in Beasts of the Field is really intense. You jump from one crazy display of human ferocity to the next and watch as the characters try their best to survive, and really try to understand what is going on, with varying levels of success. There are different tactics used, from going on the offensive and attacking the “enemy”, to hunkering down and trying to hide and even just attempting to escape. It’s pretty fascinating to “watch” and I was just as curious to see what would work as the characters were.

There isn’t too much else to say about the book. It’s creepy but thought provoking, gory but rich in depth and I really enjoyed it. I know West wasn’t going to release this book because it isn’t “mainstream” but I am really glad he did and that he’s allowing this side of him out to the bookish masses. I can’t wait to read more of his work that is in this vein. Definitely check it out and thanks as always for reading! ^.^

Goodreads 2013 Reading Challenge #115/200

Four Smiling Frodos w Background


Day 74: The Burning of Cherry Hill by A.K. Butler

Day 74

Summary From Goodreads

It’s 2159. Zay Scot is a fourteen-year-old boy raised on a secret island in hiding from a government he doesn’t know exists. After more than a decade of avoiding detection, his fugitive parents are brutally kidnapped and he is thrust into a dizzying world centuries more advanced than the one he left behind.

The skies over the United North American Alliance are pollution free. Meals are healthy and delivered to each home. Crime is nonexistent. Medical treatment requires only the scan of your wrist. Poverty, need, and hunger are things studied in history class.

But Zay soon finds himself a fugitive, escaping the brute force of a government always a whisper away. Now he must choose between peace and freedom, and if the journey doesn’t kill him, what he finds might start a war.

———————————————————————————————————————————————————-

YEAH

That’s essentially how I felt as I was reading The Burning of Cherry Hill in terms of enjoyment. I was so lucky to receive an eBook copy in exchange for an honest review from the author and am happy to say it was wonderful. I don’t know if I can describe exactly how much I enjoyed it so I’ll let this gif do it for me:

Let Me Love You

Zay and his sister Lina are on this crazy adventure to try and save those they care about with Zay having to be not only a strong big brother for Lina, but also rapidly having to learn what it is to be an adult and how to live with some of the decisions he has to make. He tries to keep his emotions in check as much as possible but they do get the better of him at times and that’s when Lina shows how truly amazing she is and how strong she can be for him. They make quite a pair. I loved them both, especially Lina with her quirky sense of humor and how she almost always manages to have a smile on her face, especially when she knows Zay needs to see it. I really didn’t have any problems or find any flaws with either character, and the supporting cast was just as solid. A+ on this part for sure.

As for the plot, well it was solid, but there were a few minor issues, mostly with believability. Look, I understand that you have to give some leeway when it comes to books like this (dystopian, teens as main characters trying to overcome the impossible, etc.) but it did draw me out of the story when it happened which was unfortunate because of how amazing it was. Some examples: one of their friends (an adult) just happens to be able to free them from their first bad situation, when they are on the run at one point another ally pops out of nowhere and helps them survive and escape, or near the end a certain guard gives a very helping hand. While these didn’t cause major issues for me, I still was loving the story, they kept it from being “perfect” so there’s that. Other than those issues there was plenty of action, drama, a tiny bit of romance and a killer ending. You can’t get much better than that!

As a dystopian it was no surprise to see it questioning some directions society could go given the current way of things. I found these instances intriguing and while I don’t know that the government would go as far as the one in The Burning of Cherry Hill, the questions were interesting none the less. There are questions on how much control should be used in different areas, how far we would go as a people to survive or prosper, how greedy we may become when opportunity presents itself and what freedom costs. It’s really impressive how well Butler disguises some of these in what otherwise is an epicly entertaining read aimed seemingly at YA, though adults would enjoy it in my opinion.

I Love You So Much

The writing is fantastic, the pacing was perfect, blending action and drama as well as inserting information naturally without any info dumps. I thoroughly enjoyed The Burning of Cherry Hill, and while some of the events that took place are heart-wrenching, I ended the book with a satisfied smile on my face. I highly encourage readers that enjoy any genre, not just dystopian, to check it out. Thanks as always for reading and come back tomorrow for Day 75!

Goodreads 2013 Reading Challenge #74/365; Monthly Key Word Reading Challenge #3/12 – Key Word – Hill (Qualifies for Mountain)

Four Smiling Frodos w Background


Day 49: Enclave by Ann Aguirre

Day 49

Summary From Goodreads

WELCOME TO THE APOCALYPSE

In Deuce’s world, people earn the right to a name only if they survive their first fifteen years. By that point, each unnamed ‘brat’ has trained into one of three groups–Breeders, Builders, or Hunters, identifiable by the number of scars they bear on their arms. Deuce has wanted to be a Huntress for as long as she can remember.

As a Huntress, her purpose is clear—to brave the dangerous tunnels outside the enclave and bring back meat to feed the group while evading ferocious monsters known as Freaks. She’s worked toward this goal her whole life, and nothing’s going to stop her, not even a beautiful, brooding Hunter named Fade. When the mysterious boy becomes her partner, Deuce’s troubles are just beginning.

Down below, deviation from the rules is punished swiftly and harshly, and Fade doesn’t like following orders. At first Deuce thinks he’s crazy, but as death stalks their sanctuary, and it becomes clear the elders don’t always know best, Deuce wonders if Fade might be telling the truth. Her partner confuses her; she’s never known a boy like him before, as prone to touching her gently as using his knives with feral grace.

As Deuce’s perception shifts, so does the balance in the constant battle for survival. The mindless Freaks, once considered a threat only due to their sheer numbers, show signs of cunning and strategy… but the elders refuse to heed any warnings. Despite imminent disaster, the enclave puts their faith in strictures and sacrifice instead. No matter how she tries, Deuce cannot stem the dark tide that carries her far from the only world she’s ever known.

————————————————————————————————————————————————————

Enclave is a thrill ride from beginning to end. Fast paced action with danger lurking around every corner will keep you on your toes and the new discoveries will leave you with a sense of wonder just as great as the characters within experience. From the dark tunnels, to the new enclaves and the feared and oft-mentioned “topside” Enclave there are new worlds seemingly around every corner.

Deuce is a kick-butt, no nonsense type of character. She’s stubborn and fiercely loyal once she places her trust in someone or something but she’s also quite ignorant of life outside her enclave. At least at first. She has to be tough and with that sort of mindset since she is a huntress, a role that requires a mix of bravery and a steely resolve.

Fade is this mysterious entity. All you know about him in the beginning is that he lived in the tunnels, without the protection of any enclave for years prior to joining Deuce’s, and supposedly he’s even lived “topside”. While his outer shell seems designed to keep people away, probably due to the frightening things he’s had to face in his life in the tunnels, he’s also quite the softy. He cares about people in a way that surprises both Deuce and the reader at the same time. He’s gentle when he can be, and steadfast and devoted to those few he bonds with, including Deuce. He’s a very likable character.

The romance between the two is understated in a good way. It’s something you can see building naturally (no insta-love, hooray!) and through non-romantic actions. They bond, they grow to trust one another and rely on each other and that eventually makes them closer than either of them probably thought possible. It isn’t all encompassing and it doesn’t become the focal point of the book which is fantastic.

The various “worlds” that are created here, both the underground and topside, are wonderfully done. Neither of them is some sort of paradise waiting to be basked in, they each have trials to face and obstacles to overcome. The strict regimen of the underground, specifically the enclave, is offset by the wildness of topside where no rules seem to be present at all. It’s hard to say which would be worse, one polar opposite or the other, but both are equally fleshed out to perfection. The fear you take from the underground is one of the system you believe in not being at all what it seems, and from topside what it would be like with no system at all, anarchy at it’s worst.

Enclave was the perfect blend of all these things and more. As far as Dystopia books go this easily jumped to the top of the list, my previous one if you remember was Divergent and I’d have to put Enclave head and shoulders above that one. I can’t wait to read Outpost and I’d recommend Enclave to anyone, fans of Dystopia and a good read in general. Thanks as always for reading and come back tomorrow for Day 50!

Mount TBR Challenge #38/150+; 2013 TBR Pile #38/50; Goodreads 2013 Reading Challenge #49/365; Seriously Series Reading Challenge #17/44

Five Smiling Frodos w Background


Day 23: Divergent by Veronica Roth

Day 23

Summary From Goodreads:  

In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue–Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is–she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are–and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes exasperating boy fits into the life she’s chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she’s kept hidden from everyone because she’s been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers unrest and growing conflict that threaten to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

————————————————————————————————————————————————-

Now this is everything you can want in a dystopian. By the way, as I write this I may or may not be ordering Insurgent. >.>

I haven’t read that much dystopian yet though I have enjoyed what little I have for the most part so I’ll probably delve further into the genre in the near future. Divergent, at least for now, is going to be the model for what I want a dystopian book to be, it was wonderful. Part of what I like so much about it is that it is after war had happened and changed the world as we know it but at the same time there was potential for even more damage to be done despite the adjustments made. It focuses on how there are those of us that truly would never be happy with how society is functioning even if we could live in the type that we chose. Nothing would be enough. There are also the struggles between loyalty to those who are like-minded and your family, despite their potentially conflicting views. Which is stronger, blood or similarities, views?

I love the development of the main character Beatrice, or Tris as she renames herself. She figures out who she really is for the first time and because she really didn’t know what her true beliefs were because of her upbringing it feels real. She is finding out along with us which makes the connection between reader and MC easier and deeper. Tris discovers what values are important and also how people with different viewpoints can see themselves as having those same values but in a different way, focusing on different elements of them. The bravery of a Dauntless and the selflessness of an Abnegation are not always so different when closely examined. Also, the relationship between Tris and the guy she falls for (I won’t say who for the few people who haven’t read this) is done perfectly. Seriously this is how you do romance people, no insta-lovey stuff, slow buildup, friends before and what not, yes please may I have some more?!

I’ve already touched on the world that is created but just to reiterate it is terrific. The separation of people by their views/characteristics/beliefs isn’t necessarily a new one, but Divergent executes that possible world beautifully and let’s the reader see what problems might arise but also what potential good it might bring if done right. Of course, like with Divergent there are certainly issues that will repeat themselves because of how some people are, but there are great things to take from it. The world as we know it is divided and seemingly only holding back from mass chaos because it would mean mutual destruction at some level, maybe this kind of divide could work, it’s hard to know.

One issue I have seen some of my fellow bookish bloggers have is the length and pacing of Divergent, though it tends to be more pronounced with Insurgent. I obviously have only read Divergent at this point, but as far as that one goes I thought the pacing was excellent. If Roth hadn’t provided us with as much detail as she did the struggles and triumphs of the characters wouldn’t have meant as much, it fleshed out the world and to me at least it was done wonderfully. I loved Divergent and I can’t wait to read Insurgent as soon as I can get my grabby hands on it! Thanks as always for reading and come back tomorrow for Day 24!

Mount TBR Challenge #20/150+; 2013 TBR Pile #20/50; Goodreads 2013 Reading Challenge #23/365; Seriously Series Reading Challenge #9/44

Five Smiling Frodos w Background