Just finished reading Fear by Michael Grant and spent a few horrifying days accompanying the kids in the Fayz. If you haven’t read the rest of the series this review may contain spoilers.
I must hand it to Michael Grant, every book I read in this series I finish up thinking how on earth will he come up with something new and every book he amazes me by doing so, yet again. He’s created this amazing, insane and horrifying world. It’s like the X-men if Stephen King wrote it or Lord of the Flies made into a Hammer House of Horror movie. What the hell – I have no idea how this can end – particularly in a way where we all reach the end of the yellow brick road, click our ruby slippers and say ‘I want to go home’. I got a bad feelin about this!
So we start the story, the town is divided – we have the kids on the beach ruled by King Caine and the kids at the Lake looked after by Sunny Sam. They’ve reached a sort of balance. They’re growing food, fishing, working, there’s a bit of internal politics going on, relationships – you could be forgiven for thinking mmmm, now what, as you drum your fingers impatiently. But, you know this calm just isnt going to last. In this instalment the Fayz is like a little island trapped inside a snow globe, everybody is playing nice together, things look calm and it makes for a pretty picture until something or someone tips the globe and then the storm arrives.
Fear – yet again Grant manages to instill more than one meaning into the title of his book. This time we have the darkness – looming and threatening to ruin everything that the children have accomplished in order to survive. Imagine complete and utter darkness. No moonlight, no stars, nothing, just pitch black. You could step off the edge of the road to your death down a deep ravine, you can be hunted by the things that can smell your fear. It’s just so fundamental to most children’s basic fear – the reason why they want to sleep with the door open or have a night light. On top of that we have all your own personal fears – spiders running over your bodies, massive wasps chasing you, worms eating their way out of your body, being buried alive, anything, you name it. Your own inner demons and one particular inhabitant who has the ability to make you live them out in a very realistic way – fear!
So, basically, Grant manages to chuck everyone right out of their comfort zone all over again. The Gaiphage is back with his machiavellian scheming. We’ve got the usual characters and we get to see how they’re developing as they realise just how responsible they are. We also have casualties because Grant isn’t afraid to kill off characters for the sake of the story. Sam has to come to terms with his own fears, his own feelings and his own status. We see Caine have a bit of a change of character, okay, he’s not turned soft and fluffy but I actually felt sorry for him at one point! Yet again, we have the evil baddies – the ones you love to hate and we also have the inspirational ones – breezing in and out at will! On top of this we now start to see things from the other side of the globe – we’re with the parents on the underside. We’re watching what’s going on out there as the secret forces try to figure out what’s going on and just exactly how much of a threat it could be.
I can’t/or won’t say any more. I enjoyed it. Did I enjoy it as much as Plague – not sure. I thought Plague was a bit horrific (in terms of YA anyway!) I definitely didn’t enjoy it more but it was good and I’m looking forward to the conclusion. Anything is possible with Grant. I’m not picturing happiness and joy though!
I have included Fear as part of my Once Upon a Time event – this is a not-a-challenge event being hosted by Carl at Stainless Steel Droppings. Check out the review site here – such a lot of great recommendations! Happy reading.
Plague continues the story of the children in the Fayz and is number 4 of the series. I seem to be on a roll with books at the moment – they’re all good! And Plague is no exception. (Maybe it’s because I’m reading books that are a continuation of series that I already like – or maybe it’s because I have actually started to put down books that I don’t like – shocking, and difficult to do – but I can do it – after all I’d have no hesitation turning the TV off if it was below average so why this need to complete something I’m not enjoying. Life is too short and there are too many good books out there.)
This is a really gripping, fast moving ride. It’s definitely not shy of a bit of horror and it’s probably darker than the first three but I actually think this is my favourite book so far. I will try not to include any spoilers but can’t guarantee not to do so and also would recommend that all of the books be read in order.
Firstly, I think the name of this book is great. Plague – we basically have two kinds occuring in the novel. There is a virus quickly spreading through the children (and taking them down like flies – pun intended *sorry*) and secondly there is a plague of insects. I hope I’ve not given too much away by saying that. I’m not going to elaborate but I will say the first few scenes, where the existence of these new insects is brought to life, literally made me cringe. For anybody who has read the book – if I say the word Hunter – you know exactly where I’m coming from!!
Secondly, Sam gets to go off on a little jaunt in this episode. Water is becoming scarce and a small party secretly take off to scout for more. However, this leaves the town without the protection of their strongest mutant. Still, what can possibly go wrong? Drake/Britney is in captivity and Caine is in his own personal exile…
There is such a lot going on in this installment and it’s all brought together so well in a totally riveting finale. We finally get to hear Petey, we discover a new part of the island (not to mention some goodies), we meet a new character called Toto (who brought a bit of humour to ease the tension) and we sat tense while some of our favourite characters appeared to be dying. On top of that we start to see some of the inner conflict that people are struggling with such as Astrid.
The other great thing about these novels is that you feel for the characters. I like Sam. He’s a lovely boy The boy next door. You just want him to catch a break – and he almost does for a brief snatch of time (I laughed out loud when his fantasy was running through his head and taking over). He feels guilty over some of his decisions and yet he isn’t bad. Conversely Caine never feels bad about his decisions, he is a genuinley ruthless character – but there’s a sort of honesty to him and he was actually quite comical (unintentionally and in spite of himself) in this episode. You know what to expect and he never fails to deliver. Then we have Drake who is just plain mixed up (actually very mixed up in this novel all things considered). Add to this a host of characters, some weak, some more cunning and it’s a great dynamic. I feel so sorry for Orc as well – you get to hear a lot more of his thoughts this time and it’s really quite sad. And of course we have the girls – The Breeze – who is excellent, tough, kick ass, humorous, unafraid. Dekka, loyal and trustworthy and of course Astrid who was a bit tormented in this novel.
It makes me feel as though by trapping this small world in a self contained bubble all of the remaining resident’s behavious has become magnified. The bullies are really nastry, the ambitious really ruthless and the good are striving against all of this to maintain some kind of order.
I think this novel also starts to pave the way for the final two books. There is an interesting element brought into play by the discovery of the secret research huts plus the question of whether or not some of the children would even welcome being rescued or escaping from the FAYZ. After all, some of them have now been through such a lot that they themselves have changed. Plus, some of them are thriving in this new environment and it might not be easy to give that up.
All in all a very compelling must read book.
Lies brings us the third installment of the story of the children at Perdido Beach. (Book No.2: Hunger review posted last year).
In Lies we see the relationships formed in the previous two books start to fray as tensions run high. Sam is no longer solely in charge and the Town Council, with Astrid at it’s head, are trying to formulate laws and regulations to control the Town. Astrid is coming to the realisation that she does make mistakes and Sam, who has not emotionally recovered from the attack he suffered in Hunger is hiding things.
There is no end of action in this book. It’s a total whirlwind of plots, scheming and fighting with a few twists thrown in at the end. It’s not always the gentlest of books to read for sure and MG doesn’t hesitate to sacrifice characters (even ones who you will undoubtedly have come to love!) But plenty of new characters are thrown in for good measure. And, we have a new baddie in Zil who is trying to lead the humans into a revolt against the mutants or ‘freaks’.
I must say that I like MG’s writing style. He makes you care for the characters that you’re supposed to and equally dislike the characters that you’re not. I think he’s created some wonderful people in this series – particularly Sam. He also makes you sit and wonder just what would happen if something like this did ever happen. And he totally throws you off track with all his twists and turns. I have to admit that I had absolutely no idea what was going to happen or how things would be finally resolved. In fact I was sat dumbstruck at the end and had to have a good long recap! (And even after the recap I’m still really intrigued with one of the plot lines – but won’t spoil it).
This is a blast of a book, lots happend and such weird and wonderful things going on – you find yourself saying ‘no way’ at points, but come on, you’re reading a book about a group of children, some with strange mutant powers, living trapped in an adult free bubble with no way out – how much more unbelievable is there??
I have no doubt that fans of MG will be hooked by this book.
In terms of criticism – at points I found it almost too much. I wouldn’t have minded a little light relief occasionally. Some of the experiences that these children are going through are just so exhausting that at points you just think – give them a break!! Also, I think that there are elements in the book that have been added but don’t seem to bring anything particular to the story – although this maybe be resolved in future books. And, a lot of the names you will be familiar with play a much smaller role in this story – even Sam.
Although I don’t think this is my favourite of the three (Gone is still winning out, with Lies being 2nd) I’m in this to the end now – I have to know what happens after all.
Last Sacrifice is the 6th and final installment in the Vampire Academy series of books (although there is to be a ‘spin off’ series based on some of the other characters).
I’ve really enjoyed this series of books – although I don’t particularly recommend that they be read on their own – I think that the whole series needs to be read to give a proper understanding of the lifestyle, history and characters involved. I think RM has down a wonderful job of creating this whole other vampire world that sits secretly alongside our own, a world with a fully developed background, superstitions and myths.
I also enjoyed watching the change in Rose throughout the series. Rose is a great character. She’s tough and can stand up for herself but she’s also devoted to her friends and not afraid to get into any number of situations to help others. She’s not perfect of course and makes a lot of mistakes, some which she deeply regrets, but with the benefit of hindsight I guess it would be a perfect world (or a boring book with very little story involved!).
Anyway, this book starts with Rose in prison, accused of the murder of the Queen (for which the punishment is the death penalty). Dimitri is also being kept under lock and key as not everyone is convinced that he truly is a dhampir again or think he may be a Strigoi spy. Rose’s friends, assisted by Dimitri break Rose out of Jail and she becomes a fugitive assisted by Sydney (the plan being to keep her safely in hiding). Meanwhile, Lissa remains at court and tries to uncover who the real killer is. Of course Rose has no such intentions of playing a sleepy role and embarks on her own search for Lissa’s secret sibling. And so two stories begin to unfold.
I did enjoy this book although not as much as I hoped. Whilst I think that RM has tried to give everyone a happy ending this is never going to be easy – and particularly where a love triangle has been written into the plot. As far as I’m concerned I never had any doubt about who Rose would (or should) end up with but obviously in this case there’s always somebody who is going to be unhappy. That being said there were a few surprises along the route and I never guessed the actual murderer or the final outcome between Rose and Lissa. I guess what I found a little disappointing was the interaction between Dimitri and Rose which wasn’t as gripping as in the previous books and the ending felt a little bit rushed (even though this isn’t a small book). In the last book Dimitri was absolutely adamant that he didn’t want to be near Rose or to speak to her and she was understandably heartbroken and yet here he is at the start of book no.6 helping her to escape from prison and joining her on her road trip/hideout/adventure. Also, it seemed rather obvious that Dimitri’s feelings for Rose had changed and yet I didn’t really have any real understanding or sense of why that was – or more to the point how quickly he’d had a turn around. I think that I might have enjoyed a little less time spent in Lissa’s ‘head’ and a bit more time sorting out some queries between Rose and Dimitri. Although I thought the Lissa element was enjoyable in this book and at last give Lissa a chance to do something for Rose.
This probably sounds more critical than I intended. I think this has been a really excellent series, I think Rose is a great character and I would definitely recommend reading them.
This is the second book in the series picking up the story of Gone 3 months on. Gone is based on the children who live at Perdido Beach. Mysteriously all the adults, in fact anyone of the age 15 or above has disappeared and at the same time some of the remaining children are developing strange powers. The first book introduced us to Sam who, due to his level-headedness has become the Leader of the remaining children – well at least the children who are not living at the Academy. The children at the Academy are led by Caine who already understands his own special powers and wants to make the most of them to take control. And this gives an incredibly basic summary of the first novel.
Hunger, as it’s name implies, takes us three months down the line when all the food is starting to run out and the children are beginning to starve. Sam has unwittingly become the surrogate father to over 300 children (some very young) and is trying to keep things afloat whilst having to arbitrate over ‘silly’ everyday arguments such as which dvd is going to be watched that evening. Basically Sam has so many everyday duties to perform and constant worries to try and overcome that he has very little time to focus on the real problems that are swiftly heading his way. This story sees the further development of the characters and the addition of some new mutant powers. It also sees the breakdown of relationships between the children as the real hunger takes hold with the ‘normal’ children starting to feel resentful of the ones with powers who seem to run the show.
This book is an interesting concept – it reminds me of a cross between Lord of the Flies and the X-Men and demonstrates the way that circumstances can vastly alter a person’s nature, that bad can become good and that heros are sometimes least where you expect to find them. I like the way that MG writes, he makes you care about his characters and he packs in a lot of drama and action. I would think though that this book may not be suitable for a younger audience as MG certainly doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to the fighting and conflict scenes.
The only criticism I would really have is that this is a long book – and I don’t particularly have a problem with long books – but in parts the story does seem to drag a little – and strangely enough not because of a lack of action because there seems to be always plenty going on. I think perhaps some of it could have been edited so that you cut to the chase a bit quicker. It almost feels sometimes that there is so much going on that you become almost bored with it – I know that sounds crazy but perhaps there should have been the odd chapter where things were less hectic. That said the ending is very gripping and I practically raced through it.
I’m looking forward to reading Lies which is already sat in wait however I’ll probably read a few other books first. So many books…