Tuesday, June 21, 2011

CBR III Review #74-#76: A Song of Ice and Fire Series by George R.R. Martin

Getting though these three novels was a staggering feat on my part.  The thought of reviewing them makes my head hurt.

CBR III Review #74: A Game of Thrones: A Song of Ice and Fire: Book 1 by George R.R. Martin

A Game of Thrones is a novel that falls into the fantasy genre and is an epic tale of grandiose proportions.  I often found myself confused by names and places but by the time I got to the end of the novel I felt I had a decent grasp of what was going on.  This is a story that will be much more enjoyable the second time around.  This is not a novel you can pick up in read in just a few nights, sometimes if felt a little like homework. However, it was well worth it and once you get used to the characters and terminology the rest of the books fly by.

A Game of Thrones is set up to resemble the Middle Ages or at least a time where who was King was everything. The epic adventure follows the politics of the Iron Throne.  For example, who is in charge, who was murdered to achieve it, what lies were told in the pursuit of the throne.

For those of you watching the HBO series you should know that the series follows the source material very very closely.  A lot of passages and lines are lifted directly from the pages and the series hit all the major plot points with surprisingly accuracy.

If I tried to summarize the book we would be here for ages, but here are a few key points.  Robert Baratheon has been King of the realm for 15 years. He took the throne after overthrowing the Crazy King.  Baratheon, who once a fierce warrior, is now a man who enjoys booze and whores.  He has more interest in bedding young maidens then running his kingdom.  Bartheon also enjoys a certain amount of pomp and circumstance so now the kingdom finds itself badly in debt.  The Hand of the King has recently died (under strange circumstances) so Bartheon travels to Winterfell to ask his best friend Eddard Stark to become his new Hand.

Eddard (Ned) Stark is a man of honor.  He is married to Catelyn and they have several children together. Stark relunctly accepts Batheon's offer and becomes the new Hand of the King, but while he serves the King he discovers evidence of misgivings that could put the whole realm into a war.

The novel is intense and rewarding and I quickly picked up the next two in the series.  I'll be honest I wanted to do this review using only "Stupid Ned Stark" memes from the internet.

Product Details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 2062 KB
  • Print Length: 864 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0553573403
  • Publisher: Bantam (January 1, 2003)
  • Sold by: Random House Digital, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000QCS8TW
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars
CBR III Review #75: A Clash of Kings: A Song of Ice and Fire: Book 2 by George R.R. Martin 

The Seven Kingdoms have been torn apart and now their is no shortage of men claiming they are King.  The Lannisters and the Stark's are still at war and the two families are scrambling to make allies where they can.  Meanwhile, Daenery's has a long and arduous journey to claim back her rightfully throne.  Unfortunately, because of all the internal strife no one is paying attention to the White Walkers (IE crazy zombie bastards) and those who are protecting the wall...and some crazy shit is going down.

Martin's series A Song of Ice and Fire just keeps getting better.  Once you are comfortable with all the key players the next installment in the series reads at a much faster pace. The story is told from 9 main characters and a few supporting characters.  Sometimes its a bit difficult to keep everyone straight but if you loved the first novel then keep on reading!

Martin creates a world that is so wonderfully put together that sometimes you forget it is fantasy.  It reminds me a bit of the world and characters of Harry Potter (just with incest, war, and whores) because of how much detail Martin has created.

Product Details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1803 KB
  • Print Length: 1040 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0553579908
  • Publisher: Bantam (January 1, 2003)
  • Sold by: Random House Digital, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000FC1HBY
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews
CBR III Review #76: A Storm of Swords: A Song of Ice and Fire: Book 3 by George R.R. Martin 

I'll be honest I can't really remember where one novel ends and the other begins when I was reading this series.  Each novel flawlessly leads into the next one, but I will tell you that this novel kicks you in the crouch and laughs at your pain.  All I can say is I didn't see the majority of that happening, but goddamn it was entertaining.


It's really hard to review this novel without spoiling it or the first two novels and with the HBO series being renewed I don't want to spoil anything.  If you enjoyed the first two novels you'll really love this installment, just know it's not for the faint of heart.  I wanted to jump into book 4 but I decided I needed a small break from all these mammoth novels and needed to fill my head up with some more fluff, but I'll be back to review the next two installments in this series.


Product Details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1977 KB
  • Print Length: 1216 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 055357342X
  • Publisher: Bantam (March 4, 2003)
  • Sold by: Random House Digital, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000FBFN1U
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  
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Sunday, June 19, 2011

CBR III Review #71-#73: The Hunger Games Series by Suzanne Collins

CBR III Review #71: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

CBR III Review #72: Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

CBR III Review #73: Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins



To save some time and energy I am just going to review these three novels as a whole. It feels like a disservice to keep reviewing these novels after so many more talented reviewers have reviewed them, but I figure I would just chime in with a few thoughts.

Probably my biggest pet peeve is people who refuse to read the series because they have read Battle Royale  by Koushun Takami.  I've read both The Hunger Game series and Battle Roayle. Besides the fact they both share the idea that children are forced to fight each other to the death the books couldn't be more different. 

For those people out there claiming that Suzanne Collins ripped off Battle Royale maybe you should remember Takami claims that The Long Walk, The Running Man and Lord of the Flies influenced Battle Royale.  Authors use other novels to help build and shape the world they want to create.  I believe any great novelist has done it.

Battle Royale focuses mainly on the killing (and they are horrific) and the killing arena while The Hunger Game series creates and fleshes out a brand new society and governmental structure.  In The Hunger Games the games were used a method of entertainment and punishment over their citizens while Battle Royale used it mainly as a method to curb and control the youth from uprising.


Some minor spoilers:

Getting back to The Hunger Game series obviously the first was my favorite of the trio.  The second novel Catching Fire spends a bit too much rehashing the entire process of getting ready for the games. In the third novel Mockingjay you spend a lot of time wanting Kantiss to stand up and take action, but Kantiss is a beaten, drugged up, exhausted mess of a human.  On the second reading of Mockingjay I appreciated Kantiss's position a bit more.  I believe Collins wanted to show how the games shattered the spirit of even some of the strongest people.  It doesn't matter how many times I read Mockingjay I still cry like a baby the entire last half of the novel.

I've read the whole series twice now and I know I'll be rereading it for a third time when the movie comes out.



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Saturday, June 18, 2011

CBR III Review #70: BIRDS OF PREY - A Psycho Thriller by Blake Crouch, Jack Kilborn and J.A. Konrath

CBR III Review #70: BIRDS OF PREY - A Psycho Thriller by Blake Crouch, Jack Kilborn, and J.A. Konrath

I'm starting to think Konrath and Crouch should permanently team up.  They complement each other so well.  Birds of Prey brings all the sadistic, twisted, serial killers from Konrath and Crouch's novels and puts them in the same story.

Villains included from Crouch's novels:
Orson and Luther from Desert Places, Locked Doors, and Break You
Isaiah from Abandon
Javier from Snowbound

Villains included from Kilborn's novels:
Mr. K from Shaken
Alex and Charles Kork from Whiskey Sour & Rusty Nail

and of course Lucy and Donaldson from Serial & Killers make an appearance.

If you are a fan of their work I suggest checking out their other novels before tackling Birds of Prey.  Birds of Prey is highly entertaining if you have read their previous novels but it reads almost like fan fiction.  If you have never read any of their novels before I think the story would fall flat.

Birds of Prey was written by both authors simultaneously in Google docs with each author raising the bar as they went along.

If you ever wondered what happened to Luther Kite to make him so screwed up the background on him blew me away and actually made me a little sad for the serial killer mad man. I do wish Lucy had gotten a bit more than a shout out, but now I'll always be wary of girls who wear pink crocs and I'll always be a little more cautious around large flock of crows.

Product Details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 652 KB
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004XJ6Y1S
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews
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Friday, June 17, 2011

CBR III Review #69: KILLERS - A Psycho Thriller by Jack Kilborn, Blake Crouch and J.A. Konrath

CBR III Review #69: KILLERS - A Psycho Thriller by Jack Kilborn, Blake Crouch and J.A. Konrath

Kilborn and Crouch have joined forces again after writing Serial and have produced a sequel.  How could that be?  The last time we saw Luck and Donaldson they were chained a truck headed over a mountain side.  Well they survived (barely) and are now they are even more hell bent on killing one another.

Killers is depraved and hilarious.  Donaldson and Lucy are both being detained for their crimes. Both of them have grotesque and horrific injuries and the pain only makes them that more certain that the other person must die.

Killers is only 18,500 words but it's a great novella. Crouch wrote the first part of the novel and then Kilborn wrote the second part of the story.  Then the third part was written simultaneously in google docs.  It helps that Kilborn and Crouch share the same depraved sense of humor that blends so well in horror.

Killers is a worthy sequel to Serial.

Product Details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 310 KB
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004OL2MHU
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews
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Saturday, June 11, 2011

CBR III Review #68: Deadline (Newsflesh, Book 2) by Mira Grant

CBR III Review #68: Deadline (Newsflesh, Book 2) by Mira Grant

Obviously this review is going to contain spoilers for Mira Grant's novel Feed.

Deadline picks up a little less than a year after Feed.  Shaun Mason is slightly crazy.  He constantly is getting advice from his sister Georgia.  The only problem with that is Georgia was murdered at the end of Feed so now Shaun is just hearing voices (well voice).  Shaun is in a great deal of pain after Georgia's murder and Shaun has withdrawn from life. Poor Shaun no longer even gets thrills out of taunting zombies for ratings, but Shaun's own zombie existence comes to an end when a supposedly dead CDC researcher shows up in his home and claims their is a larger conspiracy than the one Georgia died for to uncover.

Deadline is part zombie novel, part murder mystery, part governmental conspiracy, and part medical thriller. The story reads as if Robin Cook and Max Brooks threw their novels into a big pot and stirred until the Newsflesh series came out.

I can't express how much I enjoyed this series so far.  It has had it's problems. For example, I was not too thrilled with how the novel ended (with two different story lines). I felt like it was a cheap trick even if it was a hell of a cliff hanger.  I'll reserve my judgement on the final two chapters of Deadline until I read the final installment in the series when it comes out sometime next year.

Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 624 pages
  • Publisher: Orbit; Original edition (May 31, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 031608106X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316081061
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.5 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  
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Friday, June 10, 2011

CBR III Review #67: My Blood Approves by Amanda Hocking

CBR III Review #67: My Blood Approves by Amanda Hocking

I can probably start and end the review with letting you know it's a vampire love triangle.  That should be enough to make you decide if you want to read it or not.

Alice Bonham becomes involved with Jack and his family after Jack saves her and her best friend Jane from a possible rapist/attacker.  For the record it's impossible to read this novel and not compare Jack and his family to the Cullens.  The only main difference is instead of a werewolf  also vying for Alice/Bella's attention Jack's own brother has a strong connection to Alice. 

Alice doesn't find out Jack and his family are vampires for over half the novel so it starts to drag because it's obvious from reading it what they are.  Amanda Hocking is actually a pretty decent writer and I enjoyed her novel Hollowland, but the inevitable comparisons to Twilight while reading this novel made it impossible to truly appreciate it or enjoy it.  There are three other books in this series so I may pick up at least the second one and see if the story starts to pick up a bit more.

Product Details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 347 KB
  • Print Length: 332 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1453816720
  • Publisher: Createspace; Second Edition edition (March 17, 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003HGGHTW
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars 
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Thursday, June 9, 2011

CBR III Review #66: Where She Went by Gayle Forman

CBR III Review #66: Where She Went by Gayle Forman

If you have read If I Stay I recommend picking up Where She Went. Mia barely survived the crash that killed her entire family. Everyone who was close to Mia had their lives change that day, as well as Mia but she never really understood what her boyfriend Adam was going through at the time. This novel follows Adam three years later after the tragic accident and you find out exactly how the accident created who Adam is today.

Adam is now in an extremely popular band but is extremely dissatisfied with life.  Mia is a cellist graduating from Juilliard and is kicking off a world tour.  Adam's and Mia's paths cross for the first time in 3 years and they both expose the hurt and betrayal they felt after the accident and you find out why Adam and Mia's relationship came to a halting stop.


I really enjoyed If I Stay, so I loved catching back up with Adam and Mia.  It's hard to believe that two people from a small high school in the middle of the country have become renowned musicians but sometimes you have to let believability slide.

Product Details

  • Reading level: Young Adult
  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Dutton Juvenile (April 5, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780525422945
  • ISBN-13: 978-0525422945
  • ASIN: 0525422943
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.5 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  
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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

CBR III Review #65: Wither (The Chemical Garden Trilogy) by Lauren DeStefano

CBR III Review #65: Wither (The Chemical Garden Trilogy) by Lauren DeStefano

Scientist thought they have finally figured out a way to genetically engineer superior children. These  children would not get sick and would be virtually immortal.  They were mostly correct.  The second generation of superior children were stricken with a virus and now females are all dying around the age of 20 and men at 25.  Now women are being kidnapped and sold into marriages so that they will bear children before they succumb to the virus.  Rhine is kidnapped and sold with two other girls to 20 year old Linden Ashby.  On one hand Rhine has been removed from a life full of hardship to one where she is surrounded by luxury, and despite the whole kidnapping thing Linden Asby isn't so bad.  On the other hand she was kidnapped and  Rhine does not want to live her last four years of life as a slave in a polygamous marriage.

As far a heroines go I really enjoyed Rhine as a character, but I never really understood a lot the choices she made.  She seems to waver a lot between trying to escape and staying with her sister wives. I also felt the other characters were fairly well fleshed out, but the world felt undeveloped.  I never really understood why women dying at 20 and men dying at 25 would lead to polygamous marriages.  Wouldn't there just end up being more relationships with older men (from the first generation) and squeamishly younger women for the sake of children. Or shouldn't the novel be more like Bumped and the older generation/government pays these young women tons of money to have tons of children before they die.  The more children that are produced by this generation means more children to genetically test for a cure.  If they can find a cure society can hopefully reverse this horrible disease so humanity doesn't die out.  The premise is an interesting idea, and I'll probably pick up the sequel at some point, but I'm not dying for it's release date to come.

Product Details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 780 KB
  • Print Length: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing (March 22, 2011)
  • Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003UYUOOK
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars

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Monday, June 6, 2011

CBR III Review #64: Room: A Novel by Emma Donoghue

CBR III Review #64: Room: A Novel by Emma Donoghue

This book has been review by so many other CBR III participants I'm not sure if I will had much to add to the discussion. Five year old Jack lives in a place he calls "Room" with his Mother. The room is simply that a room. This room is a very small room where Jack and his mother live, and where a scary man named Old Nick comes and visits them every night.  As the story progresses it becomes clear that his mother was kidnapped by Old Nick before Jack was born and Jack is the product of the repeated sexual assaults she has endured over the years.  The entire novel is told from the perspective of Jack and at times I wish we could have gotten a few chapters from other narrators.  I would have loved to read a chapter on the mother, maybe the cop, and of course the kidnapped daughter, but having the entire story narrated by a 5 year old child was an interesting way to approach the story in a unique way.

The novel reminded me a lot of the the kidnapping of Jaycee Lee Dugard, which I assume the story was somewhat modeled on.  I didn't hate the novel and I didn't love the novel. Overall Room was a quick read with a unique hook that was instantly captivating, but Room slows down in momentum the last quarter of the novel.

Product Details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 503 KB
  • Print Length: 336 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0316098337
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company (September 13, 2010)
  • Sold by: Hachette Book Group
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003YFIUW8
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars
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Sunday, June 5, 2011

CBR III Review #63: Dead Reckoning by Charlaine Harris

CBR III Review #63: Dead Reckoning by Charlaine Harris

I use truly enjoy the Southern Vampire Mystery series by Harris but the last three books have felt a bit more like a chore than the earlier ones.  I honestly think she has grown tired of writing the series but because of the HBO series they have turned into a serious money maker.

Dead Reckoning starts with Merlotte's being fire bombed and Sookie, Eric, and Pam plotting to kill the vampire that is in charge of Eric's area.  Dead Reckoning also focuses a lot on the fairy plot points of the series, and I've found those to be the weakest story lines.   

Dead Reckoning jumps from story to story line a lot which also makes this book in the series feel more disjointed then normal.  In one book we have the fairy family moving in and plotting something, there is a fire bombing, a baby shower, crazy hired assassins, a handful of new characters, attic cleaning, visiting kindergartens, and about 8 other small plots through out the novel. There also appears to be a few continuity problems with the story lines which makes the book slightly confusing.  I'd have to go back and compare the novels but the fairy plot line doesn't seem like it adds up correctly.

I'm not sure if I am going to purchase the next book in the series or not.  I really want to see how the whole series ends, but until she declares a definite ending I may decide to take a break from Charlaine Harris for a bit.

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Saturday, June 4, 2011

CBR III Review #62: Bumped by Megan Mccafferty

CBR III Review #62: Bumped by Megan Mccafferty

I want to capitalize the second C in Megan's name but Amazon claims that is not the correct way.

A virus has hit the united states making everyone past the age of 20 (sometimes younger) infertile.  Couples who can no longer conceive pay teenagers to get pregnant.  When you pay teenagers to get pregant you end up with  a bunch of sex craved teenagers praying they get pregnant. Add that to the fact that the more times they can carry a baby to term before they become older is simply more money in the bank.  I don't know if the novels aim was to mock the "Teenage Mom" generation, but it sure does put it into perspective.

The story follows two long lost twins Harmony and Melody.  Melody is raised by a wealthy New Jersey family.  They insisted that their daughter go "pro", which means a family paid her in advance to have their child and they will choose who she conceives with so that they make sure they receive the perfect child.  Harmony on the other hand is raised in a Pennsylvania compound by the Church. Harmony was raised to enter marriage very early on so that they could procreate and have children before they became infertile.  To Harmony having sex outside marrige is still a sin, but populating the earth is still a priority so one must get married very young at the compound. Problems arise when Melody is finally paired with a genetically superior man hunk that Harmony decides she can try and save by pretending to be Melody.

My main problem with the novel is both twin's personalities grated on me, but Melody's best male friend kept Melody from becoming to much to bare.  Unfortunately, Harmony had no one to balance her out and she mostly just came across as bland pain in the ass.  I would recommend Bumped for poolside read, but if you end up missing it it's not a huge deal.

Product Details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 375 KB
  • Print Length: 304 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0061962740
  • Publisher: Harper Collins, Inc. (April 26, 2011)
  • Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004CFA9K0
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  
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Friday, June 3, 2011

CBR III Review #59-#61: Ugly Series by Scott Westerfeld

CBR III Review #59: Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

I hated this series so I'll keep the reviews short and to the point.  I've reviewed more than few dystopian YA novels on this site, but I've never encountered a writer that I have hated more than Westerfeld.  I was really intrigued by the premise but the premise ended up being just that a premise. The premise is that everyone at the age of 16  under goes a surgery to become "pretty". Pretty is an agreed upon standardized version of beautiful formed by the government.

The Ugly series follows Tally Youngblood a mischievous teenage who is about to turn 16.  Tally as she becomes closer to the surgery date is torn between wanting to become a  pretty and join her best friend who has all ready gone through the surgery or following her new friend Shay to "the smoke" a place that supposedly exist where everyone ::gasp:: stays ugly forever! Cue dramatic music.  Who would want to stay ugly?  Is it because the people who live in "the smoke" know something sinister about the pretty surgeries.  You've read enough novels to answer that yourself, or course there is.

Out of the series Uglies was probably my favorite out of them. This explains why I attempted to keep going.  Uglies, however, is by no means a stellar contribution to dystopian YA.

Product Details
  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 625 KB
  • Print Length: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Simon Pulse; Reprint edition (May 10, 2006)
  • Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000GCFY0I
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  

CBR III Review #60: Pretties by Scott Westerfeld

Tally Youngblood is now a pretty but her brain keeps trying to tell her something is wrong will she listen to it? I can't believe I read another book in the series.  Yes this is my entire review of the second book in the series. I'm technically passed my #54 novels so I'm taking a mulligan. Maybe I'm just too old to enjoy this series.

Product Details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 447 KB
  • Print Length: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Simon Pulse; Original edition (November 11, 2008)
  • Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B001L5BUPM
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars

CBR III Review #61: Specials by Scott Westerfeld

Tally Youngblood is now a Special.  A special is part secret police part government. I'll be honest I stopped reading this novel about half way through.  Maybe that means I shouldn't count it but it pissed me off so much I decided I should get the credit for agony.  Westerfeld picks out his favorite words and uses them over and over and over again.  Seriously I want to track him down and loan him my thesaurus.  If you really enjoyed the first two novels then go ahead and  finish up the series but if you were like me and was always two seconds away from giving up on the series then don't even try to finish up the series out of some convoluted notion of completing something you have started.  It's not worth the headache.

My main point of grievance with the series is the reader never find out what lead to these mandatory surgeries.  The reader never has a complete picture of what happened to society that destroyed it many many years back.  The reader also never truly understand how job functions are taught and how the society manages to function with what seems to be no blue collar workers.  One of things I enjoy most with dystopian fiction is learning how the government has rebuilt itself after some great disaster.  This never attempts to describe the society past or present and it makes the novels feel incomplete.

Product Details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 428 KB
  • Print Length: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Simon Pulse (June 20, 2008)
  • Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B001LFDAIC
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars
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