"I spent my life folded between the pages of books." -Tahereh Mafi

Some of my reviews are normal non-spoilery reviews. But some of reviews contain lots and lots of spoilers to help you (and me!) remember what happened when the next book in the series finally comes out. Both review types are clearly marked.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Eternity Cure by Julie Kagawa

This post contains lots of spoilers!!

Allie is looking for her sire Kanin because she can sense that he is in danger. He has been captured by an insane vampire named Sarren. Instead she finds Jackal, the raider king of Chicago who she tangled with in the first book. He is her blood brother, which is why she thought she was tracking Kanin when she was tracking him instead. Even though she hates him, she agrees to team up with him. He's looking for a secret lab that is supposed to be in somewhere in DC. If she helps him find it, he'll help her find Kanin. She's hopeful that Sarren brought Kanin to the lab and that they will find him there.

They find the abandoned lab. Sarren has been there and he has stolen samples of the Red Lung virus. Allie figures out that he is probably headed to the other lab that she knows is in New Covington, where she's from and swore she would never return. Jackal accompanies her back to New Covington. They sneak into the city and find that the human population has been infected with a virus that basically turns them partially into Rabids. They fight off a few and find an uninfected human. They force him to take them to the other human survivors who are holed up in the underground tunnels.

There Allie finds out that the leader of the refugees is Zeke, the human boy that she fell in love with but left in the safety of Eden. He has come to New Covington to find her. He is angry that she has apparently teamed up with Jackal, since he killed his adoptive father. After Allie explains why she's with Jackal, he understands. Zeke is determined that a relationship between the two of them can work, but Kanin always warned Allie away from that sort of thing. 

Zeke decides to help Allie and Jackal get into the inner city, where they believe Kanin is. The plan is to pretend to be random vampires passing through and then sneak around and find and rescue Kanin. However, when they demand to see the Prince of the city, they are taken to his human assistant, who turns out to be Stick, Allie's friend from back when she was human. Stick believes that Allie turned on all their friends, causing their death. So much for anonymity. They are taken before the Prince of the city, who doesn't believe their story about Sarren being evil. But then Sarren attacks everyone, nearly killing the Prince in the process, and then escapes. 

The Prince still refuses to release Kanin, because of his old hatred for him. But in the end, he agrees to release Kanin, but only if they promise to find Sarren. They still believe that Sarren has the cure for the new virus that has infected the city. But before they leave, the Prince gives Kanin tainted blood to drink from. They have discovered that if a vampire drinks from an infected human, they will get sick themselves. So now they have deadline. 

Jackal appears to betray them and leaves. Zeke gets attacked by an infected human and becomes to sick to continue on with them. Allie reluctantly leaves him behind, hoping they can find the cure from Sarren. They are finally able to find Sarren, but he overwhelms them. Jackal is with Sarren, apparently siding with him. Sarren reveals that he has no cure - he simply wants everyone, humans and vampires to die so the world can start over again. Jackal ends up trying to help them and claims that he never actually betrayed them, he just wanted it to seem that way to trick Sarren. Zeke shows up to save the day and Sarren flees. 

Zeke has apparently survived the illness. While he was in Eden, he received lots of vaccines and one of those must have protected him. Allie realizes that his blood is the cure and injects Kanin with it. Kanin recovers. They return to the Prince with vials of Zeke's blood and tell him they've found the cure. The Prince agrees to let them go as long as it works. 

However, during the day, Zeke is captured. Stick admits that he sold him out to Sarren, who in turn critically injured him. They head back to the lab, hoping to find him. Instead they find an old laptop with an audio recording of Sarren killing Zeke. Allie is devastated and vows to never care for a human again. They believe that Sarren is heading to Eden. Allie, Jackal, and Kanin head there to try to stop him. The end scene shows Sarren heading off with Zeke, who is apparently still alive. 

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Taken by Erin Bowman

This post contains lots of spoilers!!

Gray lives in Claysoot, a small somewhat primitive village surrounded by a Wall. Whenever anyone tries to go over the Wall, they are returned dead and burnt. All the males in the village are Heisted at the age of 18. Gray's brother Blaine is about to turn 18. He is Heisted and Gray feels empty. But he does get closer to Emma, a girl that he's been into since childhood. Love is an unusual concept in Claysoot. Boys are "slated" to different girls every month in an attempt to keep the population stable. When boys are taken away at 18, a long-term love is impossible. But they both wish it was possible for them.

Gray finds part of a letter that his mother wrote to Blaine before she died. It seems that she had kept a secret about Gray. Gray gets curious and finally finds out that him and Blaine are actually twins. Gray is also 18 but wasn't Heisted like his brother. His mother knew something was wrong in the town and thought that would be a good way to test the Heist. Gray decides to chance the Wall. He thinks that the fact that he's actually 18 will protect him. Emma follows.

What they find is a future dystopian America. The United States has been divided into AmEast and AmWest who are constantly at war. There are extreme water shortages. They are taken to Taem (the capital city) and Frank, the leader of AmEast. Frank explains that Claysoot was created by an evil man named Harvey. Harvey is a scientist and created Claysoot as an experiment that they are trying to stop. Harvey has taken refuge with Rebels and the Order (the AmEast military) are searching for them. Gray is reunited with his brother Blaine, who has joined the Order along with all of the boys who've been Heisted from Claysoot. 

While wandering around, Emma and Gray see a man being shot by Order soldiers for stealing water. Gray is horrified and begins to get curious. They snoop around and find out that in addition to stopping Harvey, they are also trying to capture/kill Elijiah, who started the Rebels. He committed some minor offense and was going to be executed and instead, escaped to the forest. Gray decides that he was wrong to trust Frank and wants to find these Rebels. The Order finds out and then plans to execute Gray.

Gray is able to escape but runs across an Order camp in the forest where his brother is. The leader figures out that Gray is wanted and tries to kill him, but that's when the Rebels attack the camp. Blaine is shot, but Gray is able to escape with him. They wander around the forest for a few days until being taken captive by the Rebels. The Rebels take Blaine to the hospital. Gray is introduced to one of the captains, Owen, who happens to be his father. 

The Rebels aren't sure whether or not to trust Gray, but eventually he is accepted. They are afraid he's a Forgery - a clone of a Heisted boy. They tell him the truth about Frank. Harvey was not the one who created Claysoot - Frank was. He also created 4 other similar villages in order to harvest soldiers. Each village had a varying degree of resources - A had the most and ended up destroying itself; B, C (Claysoot), and D (Saltwater) were relatively successful; and E which had very extreme conditions and everyone there ended up dying. He enlisted Harvey's help to create Forgeries of the boys so he would be able to have even more soldiers. Frank was only able to make one Forgery from a boy and he wanted Harvey's help to make unlimited Forgeries. Harvey complied until he had a change of heart and escaped to the Rebels.

Gray befriends Bree, a fiery girl from Saltwater (where girls were Heisted instead of boys). He is attracted to her, but remains faithful to Emma, who he had to leave behind when he escaped Taem. One day they find out that the Order is planning on using a disease to infect the Rebels. They must find the vaccine. Gray offers up a plan, which is accepted, that he should pretend to be Blaine (because Frank thinks Blaine is still loyal) and bring Harvey to Taem as his prisoner. There they will find the vaccine and escape back to the Rebels.

Bree goes with them because she knows the way. The plan is mostly successful. Harvey ends up being left behind, which he knew would be a possibility, and is executed. Gray is also able to free Emma, although he finds her in bed with another boy from Claysoot. He is angry but Emma is apologetic and claims that she thought he was dead. He is unsure whether he can forgive her but he brings her with them when they escape. Bree is shot in the escape. While camping in the forest on the way back to Rebels, Bree asks Gray to kiss her and he does (in front of Emma!!). 

When they get back to the Rebels, the vaccine is distributed. Gray continues to ignore Emma, even though she clearly wants him to forgive her. Gray and Bree continue hooking up, but they don't have sex, because Bree doesn't want to get pregnant and Gray thinks that would make getting back with Emma impossible (because he's clearly still entertaining the idea of going back to Emma). 

At the end, the captains decide to send a team to village A,the one that supposedly destroyed themselves. Harvey and Gray saw a video feed of the settlement while in the capital and it appears that there may be people still there. They decide to send people there to rescue them in the hopes that they'll join the Rebels. Gray, Owen, Emma, and Bree are among the team to go.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

MacRieve by Kresley Cole

This post contains lots of spoilers!!

I'm not going to go into all the steps leading up to Will and Chloe's HEA because, as usual, that story is pretty well contained. I'll just highlight the bits that will probably be important in future books.
We meet so many new awesome characters (Ronan, Nieve) and are reintroduced to others (Cassandra, Munro) who I would love to see have their own book. Seriously,  she could continue this series forever with all the awesome characters she's created.

Nix mentions something about the Bringers of Doom as the next big bad. Eek!

Commander Webb (aka Chloe's dad) didn't die when Lothaire fed of him in his book. Webb took some blend of immortal blood and he's now turned into a super-mutt of immortal beings. And he's now decided that he was wrong to try to wipe out Loreans. Instead he now wants to wipe out humans.

The book ends with Munro being captured by Those Best Forgotten,  a group of warlocks who are trying to create an army of turned Lykae. Munro is resisting,  until they bring her a woman he realizes is his mate. They've kidnapped her from her wedding day and potentially another time period. They've infected her with some kind of poison and she'll die unless he tries to turn her. She pleads with him not to because her people hate Lykae but he does anyway.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau

This post contains lots of spoilers!!

Cia is graduating high school. She hopes to be chosen to undergo the Testing, which if she passes, would allow her to go to University. Very few students are chosen to undergo the Testing and even fewer are chosen to attend University. The United Commonwealth has arisen out of the Seven Stages of War (the first stages were man-waged war and the rest were nature warring against us). The country was left with poisoned land and water. The Testing is designed to pick the best future leaders of the country.

Cia is overjoyed when she discovers that she's been chosen for the Testing. Her brothers and mother are proud, but also sad because this essentially means they'll never see her again. Her father is not pleased. He pulls her aside to explain why. He was also chosen for the Testing and ended up attending University. All of his memories from the Testing were wiped clean. But he occasionally has nightmares of what he thinks was his time in the Testing and it appears that it was not pleasant. He believes that many of the testing candidates were killed during the Testing and that some of them were killed by fellow candidates. He warns her to trust no one. 

She must leave the next day and can bring little from home. She heads her dad's warnings and packs things that she believes can help her. She packs comfy clothes and boots, a pocketknife multi-tool, and a Transit Communicator that has a compass and other helpful things. She is joined by 3 other students from her small colony - Zandri, Malachai, and Tomas. The four of them stick together once they get to Tosu City for the Testing. Their group expands to accommodate Nicolette, Will and Gill (twins). Cia quickly realizes that they are constantly being monitored by listening devices and cameras. 

The first round of testing includes written tests. Cia's roommate Ryme cannot handle the pressure and ends up committing suicide. Cia is horrified that the testing officials are not upset by this and instead seem to think it's a good thing that they found out quickly that she could not handle the pressure.

The second round consists of problems that must be solved. There are consequences for wrong answers, such as when they are asked to sort plants into poisonous and edible piles and then made to eat those in the edible pile. Malachai ends up dead after doing something wrong with a communicator they are asked to repair. Will becomes sick from eating a poisonous plant but Cia encourages him not to seek medical help because she believes he'll be punished (killed) for that. He reluctantly takes her advice. 

The third round is an exercise in teamwork. Cia is paired in a group with Roman, Brick, and another girl. They must decide who will complete certain tasks. Once they decide on the order, the first goes through a door, completes said task and then the next can enter and complete their task. However, each task can only be completed once and there is a punishment for completing a task that has already been attempted. Roman goes first and takes a long time, then the girl goes. Cia is supposed to go next, but becomes suspicious. She begins to believe that Roman tricked them into letting him go first, then completed all the tasks so that they would all be punished (killed) for attempting them a second time. She shares her fears with Brick who seems to not believe her. She goes through the door and exits without completing any tasks and eventually, so does Brick. It turns out that was the right choice as they both survive but the girl is never seen again.

In the fourth round, the candidates are placed in a city that has not be rehabilitated and must make their way back to Tosu City, a 700 mile trip that will obviously take weeks. Tomas and Cia make secret plans to meet up with each other. Before departing, they can choose three items to bring, plus their packs from home. Cia chooses a medical kit, a gun, and water containers with purification tablets. Before dropping her at her location, the testing official Michal (who also escorted them from their colony to Tosu City) pulls her aside and tells her secretly that he and others are confident that she can make it. 

After being dropped off at the location, another candidate starts shooting crossbow bolts at her. She is able to escape and meet up with Tomas. They set out together. They run into various obstacles that have been set up for them. They are able to forage and find food and water. They are also able to find two bikes to help them get to Tosu City faster. They run into the body of another testing candidate who has been killed by another. They run into Will. Tomas wants to ditch him immediately, but Cia is sure they can trust him and they hang with him for a few days. 

They are nearly out of water, so Cia agrees to scout ahead, leaving Will and Tomas alone. After she finds water, she is attacked by mutants who she originally thought were bears, but quickly realizes are mutated humans after she recognizes the intelligence in their eyes. She is scratched by one, but kills the other three and is able to escape. Tomas and Will apparently ran into another candidate who they left behind. But Cia is suspicious that more happened - that perhaps they killed this other candidate. Will leaves them soon and warns Cia that Tomas isn't to be trusted either.

Cia has discovered that their testing bracelets have a listening device and she's also discovered how to remove them, so her and Tomas are occasionally able to talk in secret. They are concerned that all their memories will be wiped when they return and Tomas vows to try to figure out how they can keep their memories. They develop a romantic relationship. 

A man on the other side of the fence that marks the testing area offers Cia food and water. He knows who she is and claims that he wants to help her. He tells her that after she returns, they will interview her and give her a truth serum. If she takes it, she may end up giving information that could hurt her family (that her father and his friend, the town doctor, remember parts of their testings; that the former head of the school also remembered parts of her testing and kept students, including her brothers, out of the testing on purpose). He gives her a vial that he says will counteract the serum.

Close to the end, they are attacked by Roman. Luckily Will shows up and shoots him. Unfortunately, Will also turns on them and shoots Tomas. Cia shoots back at Will but he is still able to escape. Tomas survives, but he is too injured to ride or walk the remainder. Cia is able to modify her bike so that they can ride on one and she can pedal for both of them. They are able to make it to the end. Unfortunately, Will has made it too. 

A little over 30 candidates have made it to the end (Zandri is not one of them), but only 20 will be chosen to attend the University. Tomas believes he has found a way to keep from having their memories wiped, but he's unable to give it to Cia before her interview. (but it's possible he still took it himself and retained his memories) Cia decides to chance it and take the vial before her interview. It works and she is able to keep some things from the testing committee. At the end she asks what happened to Zandri and the testing official says she should know, since she has her bracelet in her bag. She's confused but when she checks her bag back in her room, she realizes he is correct. Then she remembers finding a bracelet in Tomas' bag while she was fixing the bike - she had assumed he had taken the bracelet off the bag of the first dead girl they found since she had taken her bracelet from her wrist to remember her. But now she realizes it is Zandri's bracelet - was Zandri the candidate that Will and Tomas had met up while she was searching for water that she fears they might have killed?  While waiting for the results, she discovers that the Transit Communicator has a record function. She leaves a recording for herself of what happened during the testing.

She is chosen for the University, as is Tomas and Will. But her memories are wiped. Her and Tomas still end up spending time together and falling back in love. And at the end, a few weeks after the Testing has ended, she discovers the recording she left for herself on the Transit Communicator.