All the cliffhangers

16101054SYLO, by DJ MacHale (2013)

Opening line: “It was the perfect night for a football game. And for death.”

Oh boy. Let’s talk about a cliffhanger. Right from the very beginning.

Ninth-grader Tucker lives in a peaceful island town off the coast of Maine where no one is concerned with much more than lobster festivals and football games. In fact, it’s at one such Friday night game that the star of the football team drops dead moments after making a spectacular touchdown. Then later that night, Tucker and his best friend Quinn are out on a bicycle joyride to work off the weirdness of the evening, when they experience something out of this world. A strange shadow giving off an eerie melody hovers just off the cliffs where Quinn and Tucker watch, before it explodes.

And that’s only the beginning of the crazy mess. Soon the President is putting the island under a quarantine and a special military unit called SYLO has taken control of the island. But no one is giving them any answers. And the answers they are giving don’t make any sense. As aggravating as this is for Tucker, I swear it was just as aggravating for me, especially when we reach the end of 400 pages with still no answers. This may appeal to fans of Maze Runner, as I got the same sense in that one and had to keep reading the whole gosh darn series, despite the fact that I didn’t really like it. I liked this one more, but still find it annoying that I am compelled to read the remainder of the series to figure out what the hell is going on. If someone wants to spoil it for me, that’d be fine.

1.5 stars

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My debut Debut: A dystopia, duh.

Article 5, by Kristen Simmons (2012)

Two and half months into the new year, and I have finally scratched my first debut author off my list. Only 11 to go. And I have to say, it was a good one start with. Because I think this is one people are going to be talking about.

Ember’s world fits right in with the ever-growing pile of YA dystopias out there. And I don’t know what it is about this genre, but I can’t seem to help but love every single one of these I read. Who cares if they all function around the same basic premise (Sometime after some crushing WWIII event, in what used to be America that is now run by a totalitarian or military government, a scrappy teenage female will have to conquer all sorts of external forces beating her down while simultaneously confronting her internal turmoil caused by a certain male(s) of her past/present), I’ll eat it up anyway. And so do so many other readers out there. Well, here’s another one for your pile. Find and devour accordingly:

Ember Miller lives with her single mom, somewhat under the radar of the Moral Militia, as she affectionately calls the military government. That is until officers of the MM (more officially termed the Federal Bureau of Reformation) knock on her door and drag her mother out of the house and into custody for violating Article 5 of the Moral Statutes (having a babe out of wedlock). Oh, and did I mention that one of the arresting officers was none other than dear old Chase Jennings, former best friend and flame. After this particularly traumatic encounter (all within chapter 1, mind you), Ember is carted off too, crossing state lines to be deposited in a rehabilitation center for girls taken from their homes for similar violations. Needless to say, Ember wants to spend as little time as possible at the center, as her only goal is finding her mother and getting them to safety. Unfortunately, there is little possibility of this without the help of her recent back-stabbing ex-boyfriend.

Say what you want about predictable plot-turns and generic gender roles, I really don’t care. I love a good heart-thumper, and this one fits the bill. The ending leaves plenty of space for what will likely be at least a trilogy, as they all are.

2 stars