The Wild Dead by Carrie Vaughn

the wild deadThe Wild Dead (The Bannerless Saga #2)
By Carrie Vaughn
Publisher: Mariner Books
ISBN: 9780544947313
Pages: 272
Genre: Mystery/Dystopia

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A century after environmental and economic collapse, the people of the Coast Road have rebuilt their own sort of civilization, striving not to make the mistakes their ancestors did. They strictly ration and manage resources, including the ability to have children. Enid of Haven is an investigator, who with her new partner, Teeg, is called on to mediate a dispute over an old building in a far-flung settlement at the edge of Coast Road territory. The investigators’ decision seems straightforward — and then the body of a young woman turns up in the nearby marshland. Almost more shocking than that, she’s not from the Coast Road, but from one of the outsider camps belonging to the nomads and wild folk who live outside the Coast Road communities. Now one of them is dead, and Enid wants to find out who killed her, even as Teeg argues that the murder isn’t their problem. In a dystopian future of isolated communities, can our moral sense survive the worst hard times?


My Thoughts

I actually requested The Wild Dead not realizing it was a sequel. This worked in my favor, however, as I immediately picked up and savored the unique post-apocalyptic mystery that is Bannerless (<– start here). My experience with the sequel was one very familiar to its predecessor but somehow even more gratifying.

The skinny..

The Wild Dead continues life on the Coast Road with Enid after she has returned home to Haven (I am omitting a description of the setting as I recommend reading Bannerless first, and if you have then you are familiar). She has recently solved her first murder case and her home is now expecting their first child. When she is called to an investigation with her new partner Teeg to help settle a dispute in a small settlement, another body surfaces. This time it belongs to a young female, an outsider. Teeg is convinced that this is not their case to solve, but Enid sets out to find answers.

“They shifted from investigating one structure at one household to investigating the whole community. This was like expecting a drizzle and getting a typhoon.”

What I appreciated..

  • Vaughn continues to deliver readers a solid mystery in what I can best describe as her own signature style. She serves the post-apocalyptic setting distinctively with the absence of grotesque monsters or beasts but still explores humanity and civilization to rewarding depths.
  • The frontier setting strips away many of the familiar comforts and luxuries we have come to know, immersing the reader into a world that has regressed but not without a retained culture and sense of refinement. Coast Road residents have fought to hold onto certain commodities and materials, and Vaughn successfully tackles the implementation of each (i.e. birth control, vaccines) into this new life.
  • Enid’s character growth is a slow and steady process that evolves at an appropriate and viable pace for the plot and setting. We find her as we would expect her, making the same decisions we have come to anticipate. However, there is also a newfound strength and courage that seems to drive her and for that, she is perhaps even more admirable and memorable.
  • Vaughn’s writing remains succinct and effective, creating a fluid pace that while not fast does succeed in an effortless read.

“Starting a brand-new house can be an adventure. Even when you’re picking up the pieces of an old one.”

Challenges some may encounter..

  • This is a murder mystery, a true whodunnit it at its heart. If you are expecting a high action dystopian story, you will not find it nor the usual sci-fi elements here.
  • There are small moments of graphic material in terms of the actual victim and the topic of miscarriage if briefly discussed.

The Bannerless Saga is a refreshing twist on one of my favorite genres, dystopia. It offers readers something unique in the promise of hope after an economic and environmental collapse. Vaughn dares to explore a positive outcome that shows mankind learning to thrive and live again as a civilization. Enid is a beautiful example of that realization and one that I hope we will see again.

*I would like to thank Mariner Books & Edelweiss for this advanced copy. The quotes included above are from the advanced copy and subject to change. This review is my own, unbiased and honest opinion.

tea cup

 

Enjoy this unique whodunnit dystopian read with your favorite mint green tea.

Grab a Copy: Amazon.com Book Depository

*Disclosure: I use affiliate links and may earn a small commission for purchases made through them. Click here for details.

Happy Reading,

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Suicide Club by Rachel Heng

Suicide_Club_October_17_EDIT_NEW_3.inddSuicide Club
By Rachel Heng
Available 7/10/18
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
ISBN: 9781250185341
Pages: 352
Genre: Sci-Fi/Speculative Fiction/Dystopian

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In this debut set in near future NYC—where lives last 300 years and the pursuit of immortality is all-consuming—Lea must choose between her estranged father and her chance to live forever.

Lea Kirino is a “Lifer,” which means that a roll of the genetic dice has given her the potential to live forever—if she does everything right. And Lea is an overachiever. She’s a successful trader on the New York exchange—where instead of stocks, human organs are now bought and sold—she has a beautiful apartment, and a fiancé who rivals her in genetic perfection. And with the right balance of HealthTech™, rigorous juicing, and low-impact exercise, she might never die.

But Lea’s perfect life is turned upside down when she spots her estranged father on a crowded sidewalk. His return marks the beginning of her downfall as she is drawn into his mysterious world of the Suicide Club, a network of powerful individuals and rebels who reject society’s pursuit of immortality, and instead chose to live—and die—on their own terms. In this future world, death is not only taboo; it’s also highly illegal. Soon Lea is forced to choose between a sanitized immortal existence and a short, bittersweet time with a man she has never really known, but who is the only family she has left in the world.


My Thoughts

Suicide Club is a beautifully crafted tale that rings of a convincing familiarity. It was my cup of tea served with an alarming wake-up call, and I devoured every page of it. However, I will note that I did not find myself comparing this to the work of Atwood nor would I. Too often we attempt to lump female speculative fiction and dystopian writers into a specific category with Atwood and it is not always appropriate, as the themes and political aspects vary greatly. If I were asked to make a comparison, I would be more inclined to say that perhaps this is reminiscent of what Huxley’s Brave New World was addressing.

The skinny..

In a world where the population is declining, death is illegal, and advanced technology has made the possibility of immortality more than a mere dream, Lea Kirino has it all. She has lived her life right. She has achieved career success, a gorgeous apartment and fiancé, and incorporated the perfect balance of a healthy lifestyle and HealthTech™ into her daily routine to obtain the desired social status. She is a “Lifer”.

But when her estranged father who refused to live by society’s laws resurfaces in Lea’s life, everything she has worked hard to achieve is suddenly at risk. Drawn back into his life, she finds herself at the center of an underground network where members of the Suicide Club refuse to conform and accept immortality. They are choosing to live and die under their own conditions. Now Lea will have to make a choice of her own, between the highly successful and “perfect” life she has strived to achieve and one that includes the only family she has left.

“Time was measured in the beating of her mother’s mechanical heart. Thud, thud, thud. Space, in the number of steps taken to cross the room to retrieve the dried meals that arrived at regular intervals.”

What I appreciated..

  • Rachel Heng’s sophisticated prose crafts a hauntingly plausible story that hard to imagine as her first.
  • The New York setting remains ever so distance yet frightening familiar and close to the present.
  • Lea is relatable in her reluctance and fear to sacrifice or lose all that she has worked to obtain, the only life she has known. Her internal conflicts and challenges add an air of credibility that is easy to appreciate.
  • The author provides readers with brief, subtle explanations at times while avoiding unnecessary spoon-feeding or information dumps. This allows the reader a very fluid and immersive experience that transitions beautifully between the alternating perspectives.
  • Rachel Heng elegantly tackles the questions of just how much we value youth, beauty, and life as a society. More importantly, immortality and the costs that accompany it.
  • The ending was poetic and gratifying. Very rarely do I feel as much closure with a conclusion as Heng has offered her readers here.

“Something has to change. In being robbed of our deaths, we are robbed of our lives.”

Challenges some may encounter..

  • I felt that the actual Suicide Club was under-explored and could have added more depth to the prevalent themes within the story.
  • This book addresses heavier elements of death, suicide and human rights that may not be appropriate for all readers.

While we are given small inclinations to the political atmosphere, Suicide Club presents more as philosophical dystopian, addressing the value of life and questioning the priorities of our societies. Rachel Heng challenges current trends and dares to question the true value of life through a bold and thought-provoking character exploration that is poetic and unsettling at its core.

*I would like to thank Henry Holt and Co. & Netgalley for this advanced copy. The quotes included above are from the advanced copy and subject to change. This review is my own, unbiased and honest opinion.

tea cup

 

Serve with a large warm cup of medium-bodied Darjeeling tea.

Grab a Copy: Amazon.com Book Depository

*Disclosure: I use affiliate links and may earn a small commission for purchases made through them. Click here for details.

Happy Reading,

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LIFEL1K3 by Jay Kristoff

lifel1k3LIFEL1K3
By Jay Kristoff
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
ISBN: 9781524713928
Pages: 416
Genre: YA Science Fiction

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On a floating junkyard beneath a radiation sky, a deadly secret lies buried in the scrap.

Eve isn’t looking for secrets—she’s too busy looking over her shoulder. The robot gladiator she’s just spent six months building has been reduced to a smoking wreck, and the only thing keeping her Grandpa from the grave was the fistful of credits she just lost to the bookies. To top it off, she’s discovered she can destroy electronics with the power of her mind, and the puritanical Brotherhood are building a coffin her size. If she’s ever had a worse day, Eve can’t remember it.

But when Eve discovers the ruins of an android boy named Ezekiel in the scrap pile she calls home, her entire world comes crashing down. With her best friend Lemon Fresh and her robotic conscience, Cricket, in tow, she and Ezekiel will trek across deserts of irradiated glass, infiltrate towering megacities and scour the graveyard of humanity’s greatest folly to save the ones Eve loves, and learn the dark secrets of her past.

Even if those secrets were better off staying buried.


My Thoughts

*SPOILER ALERT* I LOVED THIS FREAKING BOOK! Seriously.. I cannot even maintain my maturity while trying to contain the enthusiasm I hold for LIFEL1K3. This was my first encounter with Kristoff’s work *hangs head in shame* but will certainly not be my last. Within mere pages, I knew I was committed and would be dropping everything else in my life like a bad habit. So what happened? A lot!

The skinny..

If I had to sum this up in a few words I might choose something along the lines of “A beautiful collision of Mad Max and YA!”   Eve is a young scavenger with a talent for robotics. Having developed her own robot gladiator Miss Combobulation, she competes in the Wardome for the credits necessary to keep her grandfather supplied with medicine and stay afloat. But when Miss Combobulation is diminished to a heap of junk and deemed OOC (out of commision) during a battle, she loses everything. To add insult to injury, when she finds her life in jeopardy as a result, she discovers she is an abnorm who holds the ability to shut down and interfere with electricity with her mind. Now things have become extremely complicated because she is being hunted by the Brotherhood as a result. It doesn’t seem like things could get much worse for Eve. Toss in the discovery of an android boy named Ezekiel Eve’s world unravels on all ends. Simply put- Read this one because I am not spoiling it for you!

“Rule Number One in the Scrap, remember? Stronger together, together forever.”

What I appreciated loved..

  • Characters – this is quite honestly one of the most ragtag and unlikely but completely compelling ensembles I have ever encountered in a book and they drive this story with incredible force! The real winner here came in the form of Eve’s bestest Lemon Fresh. She stole my heart and ran miles away with it. The relationship established between the two girls is one to be envied and admired on multiple levels. Each individual adds their own layer of depth to LIFEL1K3. Growth and development was on point.
  • Post-apocalyptic plots are nothing new, but this feels incredibly exhilarating and charged! Kristoff takes the familiar and really dresses it up, transforming it into something remarkable. The underlying tropes and themes we expect make their appearances do so but never once feel ordinary. There is a constant element of surprise lingering around each corner, commanding attention.
  • The world building is crisp and ambitious, opening up a new level of possibilities and exploration. We are supplied with a futuristic setting that seems not only possible but tangible. We have been entrusted with the knowledge of what was and what is. It all comes together flawlessly, creating something that is cohesive and immersive while fully supporting the plot. It feels complete.
  • Underneath all of the fun and chaos (because there is a ton!) we still find incredibly valuable messages tucked throughout. Each character holds their own story and secrets. But at the end of the day we are still reminded that life is what we make, we are who we choose to be!

“It’s simple to love someone on the days that are easy. But you find out what your love is made of on the days that are hard.”

Challenges some may encounter.. 

  • Some violence and graphic content with themes of loss (please feel free to contact me if you have questions. I happy to share my experience).
  • Having to wait for a sequel? Because I needed more of these characters immediately!

LIFEL1K3 is a high-octane read full of big heart! It delivers an incredibly fast-paced and fun experience with an unexpectedly emotional core that impossible to put down. It left me holding my breath and begging for more. Definitely a top read of 2018!

*I would like to thank Knopf Books & Netgalley for this advanced copy. The quotes included above are from the advanced copy and subject to change. This review is my own, unbiased and honest opinion.

tea cup

 

Pair with multiple cups of your favorite black tea. You will want to keep up with this one!

Grab a Copy: Amazon.com Book Depository

*Disclosure: I use affiliate links and may earn a small commission for purchases made through them. Click here for details.

Happy Reading,
Danielle ❤

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