Review: London Eye by Tim Lebbon

 

Title:  London Eyes

Book One in the Toxic City Series

Author:  Tim Lebbon

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

The Hunger Games meets the X-Men in an exciting postapocalyptic debut

Two years after London is struck by a devastating terrorist attack, it is cut off from the world, protected by a military force known as Choppers. The rest of Britain believes that the city is now a toxic, uninhabited wasteland.

But Jack and his friends—some of whom lost family on what has become known as Doomsday—know that the reality is very different. At great risk, they have been gathering evidence about what is really happening in London—and it is incredible.

Because the handful of London’s survivors are changing. Developing strange, fantastic powers. Evolving.

Upon discovering that his mother is still alive inside London, Jack, his sister, and their three friends sneak into a city in ruins. Vast swathes have been bombed flat. Choppers cruise the streets, looking for survivors to experiment upon. The toxic city is filled with wonders and dangers that will challenge Jack and his friends… and perhaps kill them. But Jack knows that the truth must be revealed to the outside world or every survivor will die.


Review:

I am a little torn about how I feel about this book.  It was slow to pick up, but once the action started, it didn’t let up.  Until that ever unpopular with me brick wall of an ending.  This one screeches to a halt, without even the slightest hint of resolution or completeness.  Even worse, the ending opens up multiple story threads that need to be explored in the next installment.  While I don’t mind series, I do not like all of these non-conclusions.  Nothing is wrapped up, and the story lurches to a stop just as things were getting really, really interesting.  It’s like waiting in line at Cedar Point to ride the Gatekeeper, getting to the front of the line, and being told that the ride has to close due to inclement weather.  Come back next year for your anticipated thrill ride.  I am so not a fan of these kinds of endings.

London Eye is being billed as Hunger Games meets the X-Men.   Once Jack and friends enter the forbidden, toxic city of London, they are met with one life-threatening misadventure after another, and Jack is willing to risk his own life to discover the fate of his parents.  They were in London during the terrorist attacks that left it an empty husk of itself.  The only people left alive, everyone is told, are horrible monsters. The city has been completely shut off, with no electricity or access to fresh food.  People can not travel in or out without being picked up by the Choppers.  When Rosemary, an old woman with healing abilities, offers to sneak Jack and his friends inside, he jumps at the chance.  He needs to know what happened to his parents, and he won’t rest until he finds out the truth.

Beside the ending, my biggest complaint with London Eye is the pacing.  It is much slower than I’ve become accustomed to in YA dystopian novels.  If I didn’t like Jack and his younger sister Emily so much, I don’t think I would have stuck it out.  The story doesn’t pick up until about mid-way, and it ratchets up to crazy sauce (in a good way), the last 25 pages.  Which made the non-ending even more of a let-down.  I am getting to the point that I don’t even want to start a series until most of the books are already out, due to my ever growing levels of impatience.  With the deluge of titles hitting store shelves every week, I sometimes feel that my reading needs would better served if I held off on series until they are complete.  I am still stinging over the increasingly long wait times between GRRM’s A Song of Ice and Fire novels. Yes, I am one of those entitled readers who expects closure from every book I read.  I like endings, and I need closure. 

Jack and his friends don’t believe the government’s spiel about what happened in London the day the terrorists attacked, releasing Evolve, a biological weapon that sickened and killed most of the city’s residents.  Those who survived were changed, turned into dangerous monsters.  Jack knows in his heart that his parents are still alive, and he just wants to find them and bring them home.  He has been struggling to raise his younger sister, and he knows that they both need their parents.  His friends Sparky and Lucy-Anne also want to discover the fates of their relatives who were in London during the attacks.  When Rosemary shows up, they throw caution to the wind and agree to make the dangerous, forbidden journey into London with her.

As far as the world-building goes, I found it a mixed bag.  I liked the idea of a deserted London, where enhanced humans hide from the vicious Choppers, a government body that captures and dissects the Irregulars in a vain attempt to discover what makes them tick.  As Jack and his small party infiltrated the empty streets, however, I didn’t get a sense that it was all that dangerous to sneak from safe house to safe house.  It wasn’t until the end, during a bloody encounter with the Choppers and the terrifying Superiors, that I felt invested in the danger of the story.   Prior to that, it seemed to me that if you just kept your head down and crept around like a mouse, you wouldn’t draw much attention to yourself and you could just lay low, so I didn’t buy into the hazards of being trapped in the ruins of London.

While I didn’t feel completely engaged in the plot until the end, I am invested enough now that I want to see what happens next.  A sense of urgency and a clear and present threat to Jack’s continued survival was finally, firmly, engaged at the end.  I wonder how he will save all those he cares for, and fend off the Choppers and the terrifyingly powerful Superiors.  I do feel, though, that this book and next could have been combined for a more complete and finished story.  Your mileage will more than likely vary.

Grade:  C+/B-

Review copy provided by publisher

Review: The Dead-Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan

 

 

Title: The Dead-Tossed Waves

Author: Carrie Ryan

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Gabry lives a quiet life. As safe a life as is possible in a town trapped between a forest and the ocean, in a world teeming with the dead, who constantly hunger for those still living. She’s content on her side of the Barrier, happy to let her friends dream of the Dark City up the coast while she watches from the top of her lighthouse. But there are threats the Barrier cannot hold back. Threats like the secrets Gabry’s mother thought she left behind when she escaped from the Sisterhood and the Forest of Hands and Teeth. Like the cult of religious zealots who worship the dead. Like the stranger from the forest who seems to know Gabry. And suddenly, everything is changing. One reckless moment, and half of Gabry’s generation is dead, the other half imprisoned. Now Gabry only knows one thing: she must face the forest of her mother’s past in order to save herself and the one she loves.

 

Review:

I am trying to finish up some series that I started reading, and Carrie Ryan’s zombie series is at the top of the list.  I love the world-building; zombies have been decimating the human population for decades, cutting off the remaining human settlements.  Life revolves around not getting eaten by zombies.  A bite will turn a normal, healthy human into a slavering, mindless monster.  Walls and fences have been erected around the towns and villages to keep the creatures out, and Gabry’s mother, who lives in the lighthouse, must patrol the shoreline and dispatch any of the undead that the tide brings in.  Gabry is content with her life; she obeys the rules, helps her mom, and tries to stay out of trouble.  This makes one giant lapse in judgment on her part almost inconceivable.  Bowing to peer pressure, she sneaks over the wall to go to the old roller coaster, putting herself, and her entire village, at risk.  Gabry and her friends are, predictably, attacked by a zombie, and the consequences of her breaking the rules will have repercussions she could never have guessed at.  It sends her on a harrowing race through the Forest of Hands and Teeth, in search of her past, and in search of the truth.

While I love the deadly, menacing world where Gabry lives, I was not so enamored with Gabry herself.   I found her so shallow and immature, and I could not relate to her.  Even after the disastrous outing beyond the Barrier,  a willful act that destroys most of her generation of teens from Vista, she tells herself that she wouldn’t change a thing about that night, because then she and Catcher would never have brushed their together.  Wait? What?!  Most of her friends are either killed or turned into zombies, or are going to be banished from the village, and that’s okay, because why? She and her crush, Catcher, brushed lips together.  They don’t even share a proper toe-curling kiss! No, they brush lips, and that life-altering experience was worth the cost of several lives, including her best friend forever, Cira.  This made no sense to me, and made me dislike Gabry intensely.

When The Dead-Tossed Waves centered on Gabry and friends race to elude the undead and the Recruiters, I enjoyed this book.  As long as Gabry was reacting to all of the near-death situations she is constantly confronted with, I thought this was a tense, exciting read.  As soon as Gabry started her endless internal monologues, I was jarred out of the story and wished she would just. Stop. Talking!  to herself.  I think that I felt this way because she established herself to me as a self-possessed, self-involved, and selfish woman who always put her own desires ahead of everyone else’s.  When her mother makes confessions about her past, Gabry rejects her, condemning her for lying to her.  This bothered me because Mary’s whole life revolved around making a safe, secure home for Gabry, which was something that she didn’t really have when she was a girl.  For Gabry to abruptly turn her back on her mother, to let her venture off into the Forest by herself, I just couldn’t forgive her for that.  Gabry had already crossed the Barrier several times by herself, which was strictly forbidden, yet she was willing to let Mary go alone.  She was too scared to go with the woman who loved her and raised her, but she was willing to put herself in harm’s way if a cute boy was waiting for her?  That just didn’t say much about Gabry’s strength of character, and since I didn’t respect her, I had a hard time liking her.  She does come around by the end of the book, but it was a little too late for me.

That said, I did enjoy aspects of the book.  I just didn’t not like the protagonist.  I’m disappointed that I didn’t enjoy The Dead-Tossed Waves more, and  I am hoping that The Dark and Hallow Places will be more up my alley. 

Grade: C+

Review copy ordered from Amazon

Excerpt: Altered by Jennifer Rush

Jennifer Rush is a Michigan author, and her debut novel, Altered, will be in stores in January.  I can’t not share the excerpt that I found today!  Here’s more information about Altered:

When you can’t trust yourself, who can you believe?

Everything about Anna’s life is a secret. Her father works for the Branch at the helm of its latest project: monitoring and administering treatments to the four genetically altered boys in the lab below their farmhouse. There’s Nick, solemn and brooding; Cas, lighthearted and playful; Trev, smart and caring; and Sam . . . who’s stolen Anna’s heart. Reserved and always controlled, Sam does everything with purpose.

When the Branch decides it’s time to take the boys, Sam stages an escape, killing the agents sent to retrieve them. Anna is torn between following Sam or staying behind in the safety of her everyday life. But her father pushes her to go, making Sam promise to keep her away from the Branch, at all costs. There’s just one problem. Sam and the boys don’t remember anything before living in the lab—not even their true identities.

Now on the run, her father’s warning in her head, Anna begins to doubt everything she thought she knew about herself. She soon discovers that she and Sam are connected in more ways than either of them expected. And if they’re both going to survive, they must piece together the clues of their past before the Branch catches up to them and steals it all away.

Check out the excerpt, and if you like it, a pre-order link is included below.

Altered Excerpt

Liked what you just read? You can pre-order using the link below

Waiting On Wednesday–Level 2 by Lenore Appelhans

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

Yeah, yeah, everyone seems to be waiting for Level 2 by Lenore Appelhans.  Me, too!  I’m officially tossing my hat into the waiting pile.

In stores January 2013

    s

In this gripping exploration of a futuristic afterlife, a teen discovers that death is just the beginning.

Since her untimely death the day before her eighteenth birthday, Felicia Ward has been trapped in Level 2, a stark white afterlife located between our world and the next. Along with her fellow drones, Felicia passes the endless hours reliving memories of her time on Earth and mourning what she’s lost—family, friends, and Neil, the boy she loved.

Then a girl in a neighboring chamber is found dead, and nobody but Felicia recalls that she existed in the first place. When Julian—a dangerously charming guy Felicia knew in life—comes to offer Felicia a way out, Felicia learns the truth: If she joins the rebellion to overthrow the Morati, the angel guardians of Level 2, she can be with Neil again.

Suspended between Heaven and Earth, Felicia finds herself at the center of an age-old struggle between good and evil. As memories from her life come back to haunt her, and as the Morati hunt her down, Felicia will discover it’s not just her own redemption at stake… but the salvation of all mankind.

What are you waiting on?

This Week’s New and Notable Young Adult Releases–October 9

There are a couple of big buzz titles this week.  Velveteen, Mystic City, and Valkyrie Rising are at the top of my wish list.  What’s on yours?

Click the covers for the Amazon product page.

All You Never Wanted by Adele Griffin (Oct 9, 2012)

After by Ellen Datlow (Oct 9, 2012)

Samurai Awakening by Benjamin Martin (Oct 10, 2012)

The Bridge by Jane Higgins (Oct 9, 2012)

Bushman Lives! by Daniel Pinkwater (Oct 9, 2012)

Guardian  (A Halflings Novel) by Heather Burch (Oct 9, 2012)

Jepp, Who Defied the Stars by Katherine Marsh (Oct 9, 2012)

The Katerina Trilogy, Vol. II: The Unfailing Light by Robin Bridges (Oct 9, 2012)

My Own Revolution by Carolyn Marsden (Oct 9, 2012)

Mystic City by Theo Lawrence (Oct 9, 2012)

The Opposite of Hallelujah by Anna Jarzab (Oct 9, 2012)

Paradise by Joanna Nadin (Oct 9, 2012)

Romeo Redeemed by Stacey Jay (Oct 9, 2012)

A Thunderous Whisper by Christina Gonzalez (Oct 9, 2012)

Time Between Us by Tamara Ireland Stone (Oct 9, 2012)

Valkyrie Rising by Ingrid Paulson (Oct 9, 2012)

Velveteen by Daniel Marks (Oct 9, 2012)

What Happens Next by Colleen Clayton (Oct 9, 2012)

Demon Eyes (Witch Eyes) by Scott Tracey (Oct 8, 2012)

Foxfire (An Other Novel) by Karen Kincy (Oct 8, 2012)

The FitzOsbornes at War (The Montmaray Journals) by Michelle Cooper (Oct 9, 2012)

Cover Shot! The Elite by Kiera Cass

Cover Shot! is a regular feature here at the Café. I love discovering new covers, and when I find them, I like to share. More than anything else, I am consumed with the mystery that each new discovery represents. There is an allure to a beautiful cover. Will the story contained under the pages live up to promise of the gorgeous cover art?

I’m not too enamored with the dress, but I love the title font and graphic for The Elite by Kiera Cass.  Are you reading this series? What do you think of this cover?

In stores April  2013.

     

Not available

This Week’s New and Notable Releases–Part 1

There are a ton of awesome releases this week, so I split the adult list into two parts. First up are the PNR/UF and Fantasy titles. So many of these are on my wish list! What’s on yours?

Check back tomorrow for new romance releases.

Click on the covers for the Amazon product page.

 

Dark Currents: Agent of Hel by Jacqueline Carey (Oct 2, 2012)

Daughter of the Sword: A Novel of the Fated Blades by Steve Bein (Oct 2, 2012)

Death’s Rival: A Jane Yellowrock Novel by Faith Hunter (Oct 2, 2012)

Ember’s Kiss: A Dragonfire Novel by Deborah Cooke (Oct 2, 2012)

Ghosts of Memories: A Vampire Memories Novel by Barb Hendee (Oct 2, 2012)

Ironskin by Tina Connolly (Oct 2, 2012)

London Eye (Toxic City Book One) by Tim Lebbon (Oct 2, 2012)

Mate Claimed (Shifters Unbound) by Jennifer Ashley (Oct 2, 2012)

Mortal Ties (Lupi) by Eileen Wilks (Oct 2, 2012)

Phantom Shadows (Immortal Guardians) by Dianne Duvall (Oct 2, 2012)

Revelation (A Novel of the Seven Signs) by Erica Hayes (Oct 2, 2012)

Savage Hunger by Terry Spear (Oct 2, 2012)

Skarlet: Part One of the Vampire Trinity (Vampire Babylon Trilogy) by Thomas Emson (Oct 2, 2012)

Three Parts Dead by Max Gladstone (Oct 2, 2012)

Werewolf in Denver: A Wild About You Novel by Vicki Lewis Thompson (Oct 2, 2012)

Wicked Whispers (Castle of Dark Dreams) by Nina Bangs (Oct 2, 2012)

Courting Trouble by Jenny Schwartz (Oct 1, 2012)

Mark of the Witch (The Portal) by Maggie Shayne (Oct 1, 2012)

Wild Hearts in Atlantis by Alyssa Day (Oct 2, 2012)

Waiting On Wednesday–Solstice by P J Hoover

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

I am such a sucker for post-apocalyptic books!   I don’t know that I would be setting off on the adventure of a lifetime in a pair of shorts and a tank top, but Solstice by P J Hoover looks intriguing anyway.

In stores June 2013

 

Piper’s world is dying. Each day brings hotter temperatures and heat bubbles that threaten to destroy the earth. Amid this global heating crisis, Piper lives under the oppressive rule of her mother, who suffocates her even more than the weather does. Everything changes on her eighteenth birthday, when her mother is called away on a mysterious errand and Piper seizes her first opportunity for freedom.

Piper discovers a universe she never knew existed—a sphere of gods and monsters—and realizes that her world is not the only one in crisis. While gods battle for control of the Underworld, Piper’s life spirals out of control as she struggles to find the answer to the secret that has been kept from her since birth.

What are you waiting on?