My very first Bookcon-ARC-review is here! I’m not sure why this book ended up being the first one I read, especially as I managed to snag ARCs of some of my most anticipated fall reads (Gideon! The Beautiful! And many more!)… But somehow, this one ended up on top of a pile while the others were safely stowed in Book Beaus and packed – and I do have to say, the suvivalist story proved a great escapist read for the journey back.
STAR RATING: 3/5 ✶
PUBLICATION DATE: 04/06/2019
SUMMARY: Teenager Tom Calloway is an introverted grump forced to go on a school trip to Costa Rica against his will. However, their plane ends up crashing in the jungle, and he and a group of his classmates are the only survivors. In order to stay alive, he has to face his strengths and weaknesses, and help lead the group to safety – and, worst of all, maybe even make some friends on the way!
OPINIONS: While there wasn’t much substance to this novel – as you might be able to tell from reading my reviews, I’m a sucker for social issues and equality in my reading fodder – I did enjoy myself a lot. It was a fun read and I felt for the characters in their perils. The characters are all well-written teenagers, with appropriate flaws and struggles, naivety, and a realistic sense of immortality despite having just encountered danger and death. Because, let us be honest, we are never more immortal than when we are teenagers. Despite that, the author does not hesitate to kill off his characters when they encounter the dangers of the jungle and survivalism, such as venomous snakes or heatstroke.
Ultimately, the story has the expected happy ending, where some of the kids, such as Tom, learn from their experiences, and others very expectedly do not. As such, it is a satisfying read, but not a book that I expect to be rereading or recommending all that often.
— DISCLAIMER: I received a complimentary copy of this book through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. Many thanks for this opportunity! —
Have you noticed the new design? The move’s not perfect yet, but I’m super excited to have moved over to a real homepage rather than a preset wordpress blog! As I’m not that skilled in matters of webdesign, many thanks are due to my friend Lucas of Loew IT & Design who helped my ideas come to life. He even diligently helped me arrange some of my favourite books for the banner (though we needed way more than we thought and at some point I just pulled out random stacks – have fun guessing which books belong in which category). I hope this helps me be better about posting regularly again, though my health is looking better again, which should help as well. I’ve been at Bookcon this past weekend and managed to grab lots of ARCs that I’m super excited to read and review for you! I’ll do a haul post later this week once I’m back home.
STAR RATING: 4/5 ✶
PUBLICATION DATE: 01/03/2019
SUMMARY: This is the first book in a very unusual duology, dealing with very current issues through a futuristic magic plague and it’s repercussions on the American South. Seventeen-year-old Noam is pulled into the complicated mechanics of government and resistance after he survives this plague and develops magic. He has to navigate his own issues of grief and loss with the greater good and find out which side he can trust.
OPINIONS: Now, first of all, this book charmed me by its love song to good whiskey. If I had to choose one kind of alcohol to survive the apocalypse, it would be good Scottish whiskey, with large amounts of peat, and various degrees of smoke. While I don’t necessarily condone the teenage characters using it to forget their problems, they do have one thing right, whiskey, like tea, has a tendency to make everything better. And Victoria Lee would probably agree with me when I say that Noam and Dara deserve every scrap of goodness they can cling to in the midst of this story.
I think the reason why this story hit me so hard, is because, at it’s heart, it is about humans, their relations, and how they manipulate each other. Without giving away too much of the plot, an unexpected twist at the end leaves Noam reeling to decide what is real, on top of the political machinations already dominating the story. And to me, this is much scarier than a magical plague that kills most it infects. Not knowing what to believe, not knowing what is happening, not being able to trust either side of the movements. Chaos. It’s scary because it’s real. It’s scary because it could happen to us. The magical plague is scary and interesting, and congrats to Victoria for inventing a fascinating system of magic, but it is not the main take-home message of the story. It is the metaphor used to show how our society could deal with segregation and difference, and how our society might develop in the near future…
Victoria writes this story beautifully and poignantly, with well-crafted, complex characters who are not afraid to show their flaws. Noam and Dara dare to fall in love in the midst of chaos, despite – or perhaps because of – their individual issues. However, there are very few female characters of importance in this story, and none of the central actors identify as female, which I was a bit disappointed about. Especially in a book as diverse as this, the lack of women really stood out to me.