This final novel in the Word$ Duology packs a powerful message. In his Dystopian Cautionary Tale, Gregory Scott Katsoulis makes evident why equitable access to unbiased information is one of the most important rights we have as Americans. Our Public Libraries, schools, and neutral media sources protect us from unchecked corruption and the complete domination of society by the wealthy few.
In Access Restricted, society is an Oligarchy in which the average person will, at some point in their life, be forced into slavery. The sick part of this is, it is 100% legal. The Affluents own the rights to all words and gestures. In order to communicate, every one must pay the Rightsholders. For those who cannot afford this, it means indentured servitude to pay off their "debts."
Speth Jime, a 16 year old poor girl from the Dome of Portland, has had some success in fighting against this regime. In the first novel, All Rights Reserved, she delivered a powerful blow to the oppressive rulers of theUnited States of America East through her silence and rage. However, that victory was only one small battle in a much bigger war. In this second novel, that one strike isn't enough. The entire societal construct must be destroyed.
Speth and her friends have to find a way to take down the corrupt ruling family, The Rogs, and make their way to the freedom of Tejico. This plan will involve danger, torment, and major sacrifice, with a small chance of survival.
Speth never asked for any of this but, like it or not, she is the face of the revolution. She is the Silent Girl.
Review by Mrs. Sanborn
This is the most terrifying book I have ever read!
Imagine a world in which every word and every communicative gesture is owned and considered Intellectual Property.
In this Dystopian novel, Freedom of Expression no longer exists. Once a person reaches the age of 15, s/he is made to wear an electronic cuff that tracks, and charges him/her for, any kind of communication. You can say nothing for free, not even your own name.
In this society, the wealthy people own the rights to words. Anytime a word is spoken by anyone, the Rightsholders get paid. They have so much money that they can say almost whatever they wish. They can afford lawyers to sue over any trivial inconvenience. In this society, lawyers are more powerful than government or law enforcement. The poor are crippled by debt and have little to no power.
On Speth Jime’s last day as a 14-year-old, her life is fairly bleak. This is the day she loses her right to speak freely. This is the day the government begins to charge her for her every word.
Not that her life was happy before this day. Years before, her parents were taken away into debt collection. Her older sister has had to work to support Speth and their little brother, Sam. And- since they have been orphaned by debt, the siblings live under the control of a cruel and petty Guardian named Mrs. Harris.
However, the final straw for Speth, on her “Last Day”, is witnessing her “boyfriend,” Beecher, committing suicide. This sends Speth past the point of no return. She feels as if she has to do SOMETHING. She cannot envision herself in a powerless future.
So, instead of making the obligatory public speech advertising retail products at her “Last Day” party, Speth does something shocking. She stares at the crowd and makes the sign of the zippered lips. Speth chooses silence.
In a world where speech is not free, silence is revolution.
Review by Mrs. Sanborn
This book is AMAZING. Such a page turner!
Tomi Adeyemi successfully creates a fantasy world richly steeped in culture and lore.
In Orisha, there are two types of people: Kosidan and Diviners. Throughout history, these two groups have struggled with finding peace. Diviners are born with pure white hair and, when they turn 13, they become powerful Magi. Kosidan do not possess magic. This difference has been the cause of violence, abuse of power, hatred, jealousy, and finally- genocide.
The Raid was the final attempt at destroying magic. King Saran wanted vengeance for the death of his family, so he sent his guards to murder every living Magi. Only the Diviner children were spared. Though they were spared, the King loathed them and stripped them of many of their rights. They were called maggots by the nobility and were often unjustly tortured and prisoned.
Zelie Adebola is a Diviner. She will never be a Magi so long as magic is dead. But, can magic truly be dead if the Diviners live?
This is a story with a powerful lesson. The tale proves that it is our choices that make us who we are- not the groups we are born into. There can be no blanket judgments of groups of people as if a certain “tribe” is all bad or all good. We are the sum of the decisions we make and the actions we take.
Making assumptions about people based on their “tribe” and then acting unjustly towards them based on those assumptions- leads to the downfall of peace and civility. This is true for Kosidan and Diviners and, as the Author’s note points out, is all too true for groups in our own reality, such as Law Enforcement and the African American community.
I am EAGERLY looking forward to the next installment of this series. I HIGHLY recommend this read!
Review by Mrs. Sanborn
Good guys. Bad Guys. Superheroes. Villains. It's that easy. Isn't it? Actually, no.
In this book, as in the real world, the answer to the Good Guy/ Bad Guy question is not clear-cut. There is a varied spectrum of good and evil - and there are many reasons for the choices people make.
In this dystopian story, Prodigies are people who are either born with or develop abilities that are superhuman. Historically, they were treated inhumanely: Tortured, ostracized, even killed for being "super." After centuries of this oppression, some of the Prodigies rose up and formed a group called The Anarchists. These Anarchists fought for Prodigy freedom by tearing structured society apart. However, without a government and infrastructure, the world became feral, wild, and prey to the evils of organized crime. Villain gangs of criminals reigned fear and violence upon the world. They discredited the cause of the Anarchists and made life a living Hell.
However, not all Prodigies were Anarchists or Villains. There were those who saw a way to protect Prodigies from hatred while maintaining order in society. They called themselves The Renegades and they vowed to right the wrongs and protect all people- prodigy and non-prodigy alike.
They were supposed to stop the villain gangs. They were supposed to protect. However, when 6 year old Nova Artino's home was broken into and when her family was held at gunpoint by a villain gang member- no Renegade came. No Renegade swooped in to stop the horrific violence. And 6 year old Nova, a young prodigy who could make people fall deeply asleep with just her touch, would never forget.
The Renegades soon grew very powerful and formed The Council. They eventually reclaimed order and reestablished law. Prodigies from all over the world would compete to be selected to join them. Those who were chosen would become the world's Superheroes. And all Superheroes are pure of heart, right? All superheroes know what is best for society, right?
Nova Artino doesn't think so.
Nova believes in free will. Nova believes in letting people learn to take care of themselves. Nova thinks it is dangerous to depend on others for protection. A young Anarchist, raised by her Uncle, the leader of all the Anarchists, Nova thinks the Renegades need to be knocked from their high-horses. After all, they never helped her.
However, Nova isn't the only Prodigy to have suffered great loss. Adrian Everhart, a Renegade, and son of Council Members, lost his mother, the Renegade called Lady Indomitable. Adrian believes that the Renegades are the best solution to the world's problems. However, he struggles with all the rules and codes that get in the way of expediently exacting justice. No one really knows how his mother was killed and this frustrates Adrian. How can justice be served with so much red tape in the way?
Can the son of a Renegade and the niece of an Anarchist find a common path? Not if Nova can help it. She plans to hide in plain sight, earn their trust, and then show the Renegades the truth of her power. She plans to be their Nightmare.
Really fun story! There's just the right amount of comic book vibe, action, romance, and mystery. The characters are layered and endearing. Looking forward to the sequel in November.
4 out of 5 stars
Review by Mrs. Sanborn
The Glass Sentence by S.E. Grove is the perfect book for a Middle School library collection. The story has adventure, mystery, a touch of history, science fantasy, and just a tiny smidgen of romance. I enjoyed the book from cover to cover.
In the year 1799 as we know it, something inexplicable happened. The continents of this earth all shifted into different time periods in history. Instead of an entire world living in the year 1799, different areas were in different ages. Canada became prehistoric. Parts of Europe reverted back to the Middle Ages. Yet all of these ages began to exist simultaneously on the earth. It was called "The Great Disruption."
With the world completely transformed, Exploring and Cartology (mapmaking), become highly regarded. Almost 100 years after "The Great Disruption," one of the most famous Cartological families in this new world is that of Sophia Tims.
Sophia's parents are Explorers. Her uncle is renowned Boston Cartologist, Shadrack Elli. When Sophia was just a small girl, her parents went off on an Exploration trip and never returned. Sophia was left to be raised by her uncle Shadrack, whom she adores and admires. Though eight years have passed since they kissed her goodbye, Sophia holds out hope that her parents will one day come home.
In the meantime, much is changing in Boston in 1891. The government wants to close the borders of "New Occident" (what we would call the United States prior to westward expansion) and deport all foreigners from different ages back to their own lands. This greatly concerns Sophia because, if the borders are closed, how will her parents ever return to her?
Shadrack and Sophia decide that they must travel to find some answers before the borders are closed forever. Sophia goes off to buy supplies for their trip and returns to find that her home has been ransacked and her uncle has been kidnapped. Feeling truly alone in the world, Sophia decides to take matters into her own hands and sets off to find her uncle.
What Sophia doesn't know is that there are plots, mysteries, and phenomena happening around her and she is the key to them all. With the help of a foreign boy named Theo, some friendly Pirates, a Botanist, Librarian, and a Chocolatier, Sophia has to find her uncle and unravel the mystery of his kidnapping before time itself betrays her.
5 out of 5 stars
Review by Mrs. Sanborn
My advice to you before reading this book is this: 1. READ it first, don't listen to the audiobook. and 2. Read the jacket flap so you have a clue as to the premise of the book.
I did not do either of these things.
So, I plunged into the audiobook version of Jane, Unlimited having NO idea what the book was about. This was fun because I was actually surprised by the unusual plot direction of the book, but also mildly confusing because the genre of the book changes 5 times! Art Heist Mystery? Murder Mystery? Romance? Science Fiction? Fantasy? Yes yes yes yes and yes.
That being said, Kristin Cashore is one of my favorite YA authors, and Jane, Unlimited did not disappoint!
Jane, a young woman who was raised by her very recently deceased Aunt Magnolia, is invited to Tu Reveins, a grand mansion on a private NY island. The heiress to this estate is Jane's former tutor and a casual friend. Normally, Jane would have refused such an invitation but, before her death, Aunt Magnolia made Jane PROMISE to accept an invitation to Tu Reveins if she ever received one. A weird request, but Aunt Magnolia was an eccentric woman.
What Jane doesn't know is that Tu Reveins is more than a mansion. It is a place of infinite possibilities. It is a place where your choices dictate reality- and reality cannot be taken for granted. You could find love, death, adventure, horror, or joy depending on how you play the hand you are dealt.
There are many, many mysteries and Jane is more deeply involved than she could have ever suspected.
I am probably going to re-read this one in text form. I have unanswered questions which I may have missed the answers to by listening to the audio. I feel like there is room for a sequel to this story- but I do not know if that is the path Cashore has chosen. Regardless, Jane, Unlimited is a thrilling journey I highly recommend.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Review by Mrs. Sanborn
Click here to hear what Kristin Cashore has to say about her book.
The 60 Minute War destroyed most of the world. Societies have risen and fallen and risen from the ashes of that catastrophic event. Thousands of years later, and the world is dominated by two factions: Tractionists and Anti-Tractionists.
Tractionists believe in Municipal Darwinism. They believe that only the strong should survive and the weak are theirs for the taking. They live in mechanical cities, nomadic machines that are ever-moving, and ever-consuming the cities that are smaller and weaker. When they devour smaller cities, those cities are scoured for parts and resources, and their people become enslaved. It is a ruthless, merciless, existence. Municipal Darwinists believe that, to live on the ground, the actual earth, is primitive, inferior, and backward. They believe that finding Old Tech from before the 60 Minute War is the path to power. Domination is all they understand.
The Anti-Tractionists live on the Earth. Many of them use air travel to get about. They believe that Municipal Darwinism will lead to extinction- a world completely devoid of resources. Most of the Anti-Tractionists live behind an impenetrable wall in beautiful cities, far from the reach of Predator Cities. They fight against Municipal Darwinism through an army called the Anti-Traction League.
In The Mortal Engines, Book 1 of The Predator (or Hungry) Cities Quintet (or Chronicles), we are introduced to characters from both sides of the Traction debate. Katherine is the daughter of the Head Historian from the Predator City of London. Her father, Valentine, is a Municipal Darwinist of the highest degree. She is raised with wealth and privilege. Hester Shaw is an orphan from an Anti-Tractionist family that lived on Oak Island. Her parents were murdered in front of her and their killer left a terrible scar across Hester's entire face. She has lived in poverty, seeking revenge, for most of her life. Tom is also an orphan. His parents were flattened in a freak accident. He is an apprentice to the Guild of Historians in London. He has been raised to think that Municipal Darwinism is the one true way.
Fate brings these teens together, challenging everything they think they know about right and wrong, good and evil, and the way the world should be.
Philip Reeve has created a unique, multi-faceted, engaging universe in his Hungry Cities Chronicles. Peter Jackson has brought this amazing world to the big screen. The Mortal Engines movie will be released in December of 2018. Here is the trailer which can be found on Philip Reeve's website: http://www.philip-reeve.com/
5 out of 5 stars
Read it? Loved it? Read the prequel series, Fever Crumb!
Imagine a world in which death is no longer a natural threat. Disease has been conquered. Almost all wounds can be repaired. The ecosystem has been balanced. The economy is fair and almost irrelevant. Life is easy and orderly. How? Well, certainly not because of humanity. In this reality, all the functions of the world are handled by a cognizant artificial intelligence called The Thunderhead. The Thunderhead is benevolent, paternal, and incorruptible. The only thing the Thunderhead cannot do is regulate population numbers. That is the one thing left to humankind.
In order to be sure that the AI called the Thunderhead did not become a killing machine, humanity formed what is called the Scythedom. A Scythe is a carefully selected, highly trained, deeply revered assassin whose function is to regulate population by "gleaning" a quota of people every month. ("Gleaning" is a sugar-coated way of saying "killing.") Scythe's are meant to be impartial, unemotional, just, and humane. However, they are still human and humans are all susceptible to corruption.
The Thunderhead is not permitted to interfere with the Scythedom. It is the only facet of existence that the Thunderhead is barred from overseeing. However, the Thunderhead loves humanity, and it knows that the Scythedom is rotting with debasement. The Thunderhead is powerless to assist in the current construct. However, all rules have loopholes. If the humans can manipulate those loopholes, certainly the Thunderhead can too.
Neal Shusterman's second Arc of a Scythe novel, Thunderhead, is a uniquely fascinating take on a society born from the demise of the world. The characters are layered with differing levels of morality, depravity, and hope. This is not your average teen dystopian novel, which lean towards grand acts of heroism and doomed romances. This is a vision of tomorrow like we have never seen before.
Recommended for ages 12+
Review by Mrs. Sanborn
Turtles All the Way Down by John Green
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Invasive thoughts, Irrational routines, Persistent worries: We all suffer from these to some degree. But what if you lost the ability to quiet the inner voice? What if your routines, became obsessions? What if your worries became so all-encompassing that they prohibited you from functioning in normal society?
Aza Holmes is an intelligent, attractive, compassionate young woman in high school. She lives with her widowed mother. She misses her father. She prefers quiet, and predictability in life. However, Aza's best friend, Daisy, is a completely UNpredictable force of nature.
When Aza and Daisy learn about a missing Billionaire and a potential reward for his whereabouts- Daisy hatches a scheme to get rich. This type of excitement fuels Daisy.
Aza, having once been friends with the Billionaire's son, Davis Pickett, gets reeled right in to the plan. But the excitement that inspires Daisy, triggers Aza.
Aza doesn't process stimuli the way Daisy, or other typical teens do. Aza has to really make an effort at "normalcy." She cannot silence invasive thoughts. She cannot defy her compulsions. Aza has Mental Illness- and that makes adolescence even more of a challenge.
Typically, Aza is able to quell the obsessive compulsions through the use of medication, therapy, self-care. However, when she is introduced to new stressors, new experiences, new GERMS, she loses that control.
This is especially true of her experiences with Davis Pickett. Davis not only thrills Aza- he unravels her.
Turtles All the Way Down is a book about...
...love and loss...
... Mental Illness...
...a mysterious disappearance...
...expensive ancient reptiles...
Turtles All the Way Down is a book about learning to accept, nurture, and forgive YOURSELF. It is a story of evolution, regression, and enlightenment and understanding that life is a spiral- not a straight line.
Review by Mrs. Sanborn
Imagine a Virtual Reality Game so realistic that the entire world is obsessed with it.
Imagine being able to alter everything you see just by wearing a special set of lenses. People walking down the street look like their avatars, walk impossible pets on leashes, and have game statistics floating over their heads. Game points can be exchanged for merchandise, just like real money. Illegal gambling on games has taken center-stage in the Organized Crime world. The game is the center of all society.
The game is Warcross.
Emika Chen is a teenage girl living on her own in New York City. She has no parents, she isn't in school, and she is up to her eyeballs in debt. So, what's an orphan- turned- hacker -with- a- criminal-record supposed to do to feed herself? She becomes a Bounty Hunter.
The police are so overwhelmed with crime these days that they have asked regular citizens to help them catch criminals. Emika is very good at this and keeps hoping for the next big score to help get her out of debt.
Emika is also REALLY good at hacking. So good, in fact, that she has discovered a way to hack the ultimate game. Emika can hack Warcross. What happens when Hideo Tanaka, a 21 year old billionaire and the creator of the world's most popular game, discovers that a teenage girl has hacked his empire? Well, her life is changed forever.
This unique and fast-paced first installation of what promises to be an engaging new series is difficult to put down. 4 out of 5 stars. Perfect for ages 12+.
Review by Mrs. Sanborn