Modern Monsters

Modern MonstersTitle: Modern Monsters
Author: Kelley York
Genre(s): Contemporary Fiction, Love & Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 352
Published by Entangled Publishing, LLC on 2015-06-02
ISBN: 978-1633750029
ASIN: B00P5TU4QG
Format: eARC
Source: publicist

FTC Disclosure: Regardless of how I received this book, this is an honest review based on my own opinions. Read my full disclosure here.

 
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From the back cover...

Vic Howard never wanted to go to the party. He’s the Invisible Guy at school, a special kind of hell for quiet, nice guys. But because his best friend is as popular as Vic is ignored, he went…

And wished he hadn’t.

Because something happened to a girl that night. Something terrible, unimaginable, and Callie Wheeler’s life will never be the same. Plus, now Callie has told the police that Vic is responsible. Suddenly, Invisible Vic is painfully visible, on trial both literally, with the police, and figuratively, with the angry kids at school. As the whispers and violence escalate, he becomes determined to clear his name, even if it means an uneasy alliance with Callie's best friend, the beautiful but aloof Autumn Dixon.

But as Autumn and Vic slowly peel back the layers of what happened at the party, they realize that while the truth can set Vic free, it can also shatter everything he thought he knew about his life…

My Review

One of the first things that struck me about Modern Montsers was the voice, that of a teenage male and something that there is not enough of in YA literature.  And that voice was convincing and empathetic.

Vic is not the stereotypical YA hero and I LOVED that.  His best friend is one of the more popular guys, but he is not.  He has a stutter and, largely because of that, he is rather socially awkward.  He isn’t portrayed as the shy, socially awkward guy who is secretly a brilliant guy either.  Instead, he barely scrapes by academically.  But what he is is loyal and kind, unable to turn his back on anyone that needs help.  Unfortunately, this can also get him in trouble… and it does.

His heart is in the right place and he has the best of intentions when he sees a classmate at a party, drunk and sick.  He helps her and finds a place for her to sleep it off.  Later, she is attacked and his face is all she remembers.  One thing leads to another, and he is suspected of attacking her.  His own mother believes the worst of him, leading to an interesting subplot.  His best friend’s family takes him in, the father defending him, when his own mother can barely look at him.  Then he finds an ally in the most unlikely of places… Callie’s best friend Autumn.

I love Autumn and her role in the story.  She is intelligent and she thinks for herself.  She is skeptical and thoughtful and loyal and she sees beyond the surface, really looking to discover who people are for themselves, not for what others make them out to be.

The interesting thing is that there are almost two main plots in the book.  The mystery of what happened to Callie and the romance.  Neither one overshadowed the other; both of them equally integral to the story and character progression.  The romance was beautiful, often funny, and always sweet.  And the mystery parts of it were twisting and turning.  The story there was intriguing, and all too realistically probable.

There were moments when I just wanted to jump into my book and alternately hug on Vic and throttle his mom and others for how they treated this genuinely nice guy.  The story line was gritty and real, and extremely well handled.

My Recommendation

In it’s own way, this book was beautiful.  Yes, there were story lines of betrayal and assault and neglect, but the emotions behnd it all were what made it beautiful.  There were themes of emotional neglect, peer pressure and pressure from family, themes of bullying and acceptance, friendship and loss.  And all of these things were woven together to create a wonderful story!

Rating Report
Plot
Characters
Writing
Pacing
Cover
Overall: 5

About Kelley York

Once upon a time, Kelley York was born in central California. And it’s there she she still resides with her wife, step-daughter, and way too many pets. Kelley is a sucker for dark fiction. She loves writing twisted characters, tragic happenings, and bittersweet endings that leave you wondering and crying. Character development takes center stage in her books because the bounds of a person’s character and the workings of their mind are limitless.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

Uglies

UgliesTitle: Uglies
Author: Scott Westerfeld
Series: Uglies #1
Genre(s): Dystopian Fiction, Love & Romance, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 448
Published by Simon Pulse on 2006-05-10
ISBN: 978-1442419810
ASIN: B000GCFY0I
Format: eBook
Source: personal purchase

FTC Disclosure: Regardless of how I received this book, this is an honest review based on my own opinions. Read my full disclosure here.

 
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From the back cover...

Tally is about to turn sixteen, and she can't wait. In just a few weeks she'll have the operation that will turn her from a repellant ugly into a stunning pretty. And as a pretty, she'll be catapulted into a high-tech paradise where her only job is to have fun.

But Tally's new friend Shay isn't sure she wants to become a pretty. When Shay runs away, Tally learns about a whole new side of the pretty world-- and it isn't very pretty. The authorities offer Tally a choice: find her friend and turn her in, or never turn pretty at all. Tally's choice will change her world forever...

My Review

My favorite thing about dystopian fiction is their ability to give me a different perspective on our world, culture, and society.  Dystopian novels push me to really consider the world that we live in and see a little bit of our reality in the dystopian world, to see the potential for what our world could become.  Uglies is one of those novels… one that made me really think about some fundamental issues that are present in our own culture.

Every dystopian world is a the result of a utopian effort to eliminate those things considered to be detrimental to society.  For the world of Uglies, that is nonconformity and extremes.  Set about three hundered years in the future, the world is otherworldly high-tech and the government provides everything to its people, even the extreme cosmetic surgery that is a major part of it’s culture.  At 16, each person receives cosmetic surgery that transforms them from an “ugly” to a “pretty.”  Prior to surgery, each person can choose what their future self will look like within the governmentally mandated standards of beauty.  The lines between ugly and pretty are not just visual, but physical as well.  Once transformed, new pretties cross the river to live in beautiful condominiums where, for the time being, their only job is to be beautiful and to have fun.  Later, they will have other operations in conjunctiuon with the passage of time.  Eventually they will have surgery to turn them into “Middle Pretties,” those who are adults with jobs.  And later they move on to become “Crumblies,” our senior citizens.

Tally Youngblood is the protagonist, about to turn 16 and looking forward toi her operation.  Her best friend Peris has already had his operation and she is feeling the strain that comes between Pretties and Uglies.  Shortly before she has her operation, she meets Shay, another Ugly.  They become fast friends, hoverboarding and pulling the pranks that are a part of Ugly tradition.  Shay is different from anyone she has ever known, balking against the surgery.  Tally ignores that, but is forced to deal with it when Shay runs away just before their shared birthday.  When she goes, she leaves Tally a note with cryptic directions that she doesn’t initially understand.  On the morning of her surgery, Tally is taken instead to Special Circumstances… a paramilitary division of the government that enforces the rules.  There she is given an ulitmatum to give up Shay or never get her surgery to become a Pretty.  This is the motivation behind the plot of the novel as Tally discovers things about herself, about her friends, about the world, and about her own feelings.

This is a character-driven novel with important themes to consider.  The concept of identity is a big part of the storyline.  The government has created and mandated these surgeries in order to create conformity.  Extreme individuality is considered to be a disruptive aspect of past societies, creating a standard of appearance that even removes racial markers.  Beauty is dictated by those standards, a nod to the image-obsessed society that we now live in.  But beauty almost loses its meaning among the Pretties, when everyone is beautiful.  Uglies think of themselves as almost temporary, fUlawed.  After all, they will be “fixed” when they turn 16.  Even the personalities and personal dynamics change when they move from Ugly to Pretty, underlying the idea that we are defined by our appearance.

The characters are well-developed and easily relatable in different ways.  Because of the wide range of characters along the Ugly-Pretty spectrum, there were lots of perspectives and thoughts about the world.  Some of the characters made you really think about the choices you might make for yiourself if in their position.  There are undoubtedly things that are tempting about the Pretty part of society, but at the same time, the implications are frightening.  And there are just as many things that are tempting about remaining Ugly (our own reality), as well as the sacrifices.

My Recommendation

This is a fantastic example of dystopian literature, a world with both utopian and dystopian elements.  The implications of a world like the one in this book are a little scary, particularly when compared to the world and culture we live in today.  Fantastic read that will make you think!

Rating Report
Plot
Characters
Writing
Pacing
Cover
Overall: 5

About Scott Westerfeld

Scott Westerfeld is a New York Times bestselling author of YA. He was born in the Texas and now lives in Sydney and New York City. In 2001, Westerfeld married fellow author Justine Larbalestier.

He is best know for the Uglies and Leviathan series, and his next book, Afterworlds, comes out September 23, 2014.

His book Evolution’s Darling was a New York Times Notable Book, and won a Special Citation for the 2000 Philip K. Dick Award. So Yesterday won a Victorian Premier’s Award and both Leviathan and Midnighters 1: The Secret Hour won Aurealis Awards. Peeps and Uglies were both named as Best Books for Young Adults 2006 by the American Library Association.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

End of Days

End of DaysTitle: End of Days
Author: Susan Ee
Series: Penryn & the End of Days #3
Also in this series: Angelfall, World After
Genre(s): Dystopian Fiction, Fantasy & Magic, Love & Romance, Post-Apocalypse, Young Adult
Pages: 344
Published by Skyscape on 2015-05-12
ISBN: 978-1477829707
ASIN: B00QJ26CQY
Format: eBook
Source: personal purchase

FTC Disclosure: Regardless of how I received this book, this is an honest review based on my own opinions. Read my full disclosure here.

 
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From the back cover...

End of Days is the explosive conclusion to Susan Ee’s bestselling Penryn & the End of Days trilogy.

After a daring escape from the angels, Penryn and Raffe are on the run. They’re both desperate to find a doctor who can reverse the twisted changes inflicted by the angels on Raffe and Penryn’s sister. As they set off in search of answers, a startling revelation about Raffe’s past unleashes dark forces that threaten them all.

When the angels release an apocalyptic nightmare onto humans, both sides are set on a path toward war. As unlikely alliances form and strategies shift, who will emerge victorious? Forced to pick sides in the fight for control of the earthly realm, Raffe and Penryn must choose: Their own kind, or each other?

My Review

End of Days is the final book in this amazing series, and I am sad to see it end, so much so that now I have my son reading it so we can talk about it!!  The conclusion was everything I wanted it to be.

It begins just after World After ends and so much has happened that it is hard toi remember that only about two weeks have passed since the beginning of Angelfall.  The character development in this series is pretty intense.  Penryn has no concept of anything superficial, no idea of her own looks.  And I love that those things aren’t even on her radar.  Instead, she is fully focused on her mission, her family, and those she cares about.  In this book, she is not just strong, but straight up badass.  She fights not just for herself and for her own, but the people who need her.  And then there is Raffe.  He has always been true to his angelic ways and rules, but fully capable of thinking independently and standing up when wrong is being done, even if it is against his own.  He, like Penryn, is a fighter for his own.  And this often puts the two of them at odds with one another and herein lies our romantic tension.

One of the things that I love most about this book, and the series as a whole, is that the post-apocalyptic themes have been the focus of the main plot.  The romantic aspect is powerful and beautiful, but subtle.  Not only did I appreciate the idea that perhaps other things should be the main focus, but I found that it added so much anticipation to that part of the story.  That being said, the romance was much more intense in this book and it fed that girlie part of my heart.  Against all odds, they have come to see each other less as angel and human, but as equals.  Despite Raffe’s otherworldly abilities, there are still things that Penryn can do that he cannot and that works for them.

My Recommendation

I truly loved this series!  I love the unique use of angels in the story line.  I loved the characters.  I loved the twists and turns.  I loved the themes woven throughout the novel.  This entire series is one that I highly recommend!

Rating Report
Plot
Characters
Writing
Pacing
Cover
Overall: 5

About Susan Ee

Susan Ee is a USA Today bestselling author of the Penryn & the End of Days trilogy, ANGELFALL, WORLD AFTER, and END OF DAYS. Her books have been translated into over twenty languages, and her short films have played at major festivals. She used to be a lawyer but loves being a writer because it allows her imagination to bust out and go feral.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges: