Tag Archives: dystopian

Book Review: The One Safe Place

The One Safe Place by Tania Unsworth

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Published by Algonquin Books in 2014

This book caught me off guard…The description mentioned zombies, which made me groan. And we’re at a stage, where dystopian books are a dime a dozen, but this books is much more thoughtful than that. It’s a hard book to describe in a short space, but it’s an excellent read that teens will love!

Devin lived on a farm with his grandfather, growing what they needed. Climate change caused people to turn on each other, focused more on individual survival than teamwork. Devin and his grandfather were lucky, because they had their farm away from the city. After his grandfather’s death, Devin goes to the city and realizes what a struggle life has become. No one can be trusted. Then he meets a girl named Kit.

Soon after, Devin is approached by a boy that is taking kids to a children’s home. He will be fed, clothed, and want for nothing. Devin, not wanting to turn his back on his new friend, states that he will only go if Kit can come too. They go, but it turns out there may be a sinister nature to this home. They quickly learn that they can’t leave, because they are providing a service to their elderly visitors to the home. The ladies in charge are allowing the elderly to swap minds with the kids, so they can relive their childhood. How can the kids escape?

Since this book was advertised as a dystopian (with the word zombie in the description), the reader is looking for signs of a stereotypical dystopian with other well established works in mind. Unsworth, does a good job of focusing on the characters instead of the situation. Climate change is the reason society became disconnected, but she doesn’t make it too extreme. Zombies don’t make an appearance in the book, but the characters start acting listless and erratic. Fans of Neil Shusterman’s Unwind series will enjoy this book. This book brings something new to the table without excluding younger readers.

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Book Review: The Neptune Project

The Neptune Project by Polly Holyoke

The Neptune Project

Published in 2013 by Disney Hyperion.

Nere has always struggled with her breathing. Her vision is terrible and she struggles breathing where she runs too much. Her mother works with dolphins, and both women are able to communicate telepathically with the dolphins.

In the middle of a government crackdown, Nere finds out that she and some of her friends were genetically altered at birth to be able to breathe water, which explains why their lungs are so weak. Her mother finishes the procedure and Nere and her friends Lena and Rorby go underwater. As they say goodbye to her mother, government officials come and attack. The teens escape, but just barely.

Shortly after their harrowing escape from government officials, they meet up with another band of teens that are a part of the Neptune Project. They team up to work together to reach the colony that Nere’s father is building. Along the way, the meet more teens and work with Nere’s dolphins to stay alive. In addition to all of this, they have to survive sharks and other marine predators.

It wouldn’t be a dystopian book without a love triangle. Nere does a good job of realizing in the beginning, that she has to survive before she can worry about relationships. Unfortunately, one of the members of the group she works with has other ideas and keeps using his telepathy to steal into Nere’s deepest thoughts. She tries to state that there are boundries that cannot be crossed, but he doesn’t seem to care. Another group member, Tobin, the medic, is also having chemistry with Nere, but he is focusing on waiting until they are safe before trying to start a relationship.

This book has lots of action, each character has a distinct personality, and even with the love triangle, there is only kissing.

Book Review: The Princess in the Opal Mask

The Princess in the Opal Mask by Jenny Lunquist

Published by: Running Press Teens, 2013

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Fans of “Matched” will love Elara and Wilha in Princess in the Opal Mask.  Elara has always lived as a servant in the Ogden household. She’s never known her family. Life may not always be sunshine and roses, but the Ogden’s manage to put on great appearances when their benefactors come with the money to support the orphanage. Elara has learned that life is a stage and that how you manage situations can be the difference between a beating and a bowl of food.

Across the kingdom, Wilha is the masked princess. She has always yearned for the love and approval of her father, the king. Her mother died shortly after childbirth, and many say that it was because she looked upon Wilha’s face. Wilha’s title of the masked princess is not a ceremonial title, she wears the mask at all times. Some think the sight of Wilha’s face will heal, others believe it wil curse. Wilha doesn’t know what to think.

The Ogden’s manage to get tickets to the maskerade ball in the capital. Just before they leave, Elara’s teacher sees her and gives her a book that is supposedly from her mother with the warning to trust no one. Once they get to the capital, Wilha is doing an appearance and someone makes an attempt on her life. At the same moment, someone hits Elara over the head and she awakes the dungeon.

She awakes and is informed by the king’s advisors that she and Wilha are twins seperated at birth. One of their ancestors were born as twins, and the younger one was resentful and overthrew her sister. To prevent that from happening again, Elara was taken away from the throne, and they promised to marry Wilha off as soon as she was old enough.

The advisors tell Elara that Wilha is being married off to the neighboring kingdom, but they have a history of being warlike. To guarentee Wilha’s safety, the first visit will last 3 weeks and Elara will pretend to be Wilha, and Wilha will pretend to be a servant. Shortly after, the girls will switch back and Elara will go back to life with the Ogdens.

The journey to the neighboring kingdom seems a little off. Shortly after their arrival, they are locked in their quarters. Wilha discovers a secret passage and abandons Elara. Elara now has to pretend to be her sister, meet her future family, and interact with her future husband.

Life is not sunshine and daisies for Wilha, she gets taken in by a kind innkeeper and given a job in an embroidery shop. She starts getting wind of something coming. Should she try and stop it, should she go back and warn Elara, or should she enjoy her newfound freedom?

Overall, this is a great story that teens will love. This is especially great for fans of Allie Condie and Suzanne Collins. This is a fast paced story, with lots of action and plot, but not a lot of description. The world building gets a little confusing because all the locations are fictional, and the names all sound similar. The characters are well liked and each main character has a distinctive voice.

Quotes: “Both the old woman and the young queen understand that the right words, spoken at the right time, can become more powerful than a thousand swords. The right words can scatter like seeds. They are watered by rumor and grown by time. Until one day, they become legend.” (pg. 9)