Category Archives: Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic

Pulse: The Trial by RA Crawford

In a society ruled by women, a group of human girls working toward becoming PULSE soldiers must prove their worth in a deadly trial no human has ever survived before. And if the barely uninhabitable planet they drop on doesn’t kill them first, the other women just might.

I received an ARC or review copy of this book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.

TitlePulse: The Trial 
Author: R.A. Crawford
Series: Pulse? Series still TBA
Publisher: CreateSpace
Publish Date: December 2016
Genre: YA Dystopian
Source: Provided by the author.

Publisher’s Description: Forty of Earth’s most dangerous women compete to become warriors in the interstellar empire known as PULSE. They must endure a Trial on a death-planet filled with monsters and betrayal.

Only three will survive. And the war hasn’t even begun.

It’s a future like you’ve never seen before: one populated by amazing (and often unfriendly) aliens and a Humanity that is 100% female. A paradise in some ways, a prison in others, this handful of extraordinary women must fight to stay alive in a brutal universe, enduring an onslaught of deadly challenges, just to join the fight against a star-spanning threat they can scarcely imagine.

THE TRIAL is the first in an action-packed adventure series for all ages, crammed with creatures, combat, courage … and some of the most fascinating new characters you’ve encountered in years.

Join PULSE! See the universe! You might even survive…

Kat Mandu says…

Pulse follows two young girls, Stella and Faye, not to mention a myriad of other women (both alien and human) as they work to become enforcers for PULSE, an intergalactic space organization that goes from planet to planet and frees women from “the evil” of men (and men in general). They’ve been training for ten years, which is nice because in order to become soldiers, they must first pass a brutal trial on a wicked planet full of dangerous terrain, deadly enemies, and harsh conditions. From the moment they jump off the spaceship and have to fall to the surface, to the final confrontation as they attempt escaping, Stella and Faye have to be at their best to succeed – or else perish like every other human before them.

This is action-packed and full of fight scenes between the girls, monsters, and human nature. It’s reminiscent of the violent competitions in the Hunger Games, especially since the story is narrated by you guessed it, all women. These girls are tough and fierce, and Stella and Faye make a great duo. I liked the bonds between them and how tested their relationship became in the darkest moments of the trial.

However the writing just didn’t do it for me.

For one, I don’t mind descriptions of certain battle scenes and etc, because you’ve gotta have great visuals, yes? However this was often way too verbose in places, making you wonder what was actually happening in between three full paragraphs of unnecessary details. I found myself struggling to follow along.

Another thing is that I didn’t understand the narration. I’ve read several third-person perspective books, but none have been this chaotic. The thing that irked me the most was the shift to characters that weren’t important to the story line. For example, at the very beginning, you hear from Stella’s mother – but why? What role does she have to play in the set up, beyond offering “mental” support for Stella at random and infrequent moments? Switching to characters who don’t play a valuable role is a waste of space. Why did we have to hear from Haley right before Stella went to fight her in hand to hand combat? I felt that switching so often distracted from what the story was trying to say. I wish it would have stayed within the confines of Stella/Faye’s head (and I guess, Koot at times).

Sadly, I could not connect with any of the characters at all. I liked that they had various personality traits but I just didn’t feel for any of them, despite their situations.

I didn’t understand the unrealistic battle between Stella and Haley either. The girls have been rivals for quite some time now and they can’t stand each other. Okay, that works. A little high school drama never hurts anyone. BUT IS THAT A REASON FOR WANTING TO KILL EACH OTHER? My god no. This was my final sigh moment, even though I continued to read it. How could someone go from simply hating someone for stupid reasons – Haley often beat Stella in combat, for example – to wanting to kill them? Nope, nope, nope. It just went to an extreme level that was just…again, unnecessary.

I also missed the actual world-building. A world ruled by all women? Okay, that’s awesome. Now why? Do I need to know every detail of how the world came to be? No, I mean, even Divergent and Hunger Games had very vague reasons on how their worlds ended up like that. But these girls are going through all this trouble – this life-threatening trial – to prove themselves. Okay? Why? To free women, okay, that’s a good reason, but it’s not enough for me. Are men savages in this world? Are they corrupt? Why are these women fighting to prove? That lack of information just doesn’t work for me.

Despite all this, Pulse is not a bad story. I mean, I’ve seen the reviews on Goodreads and a lot of people really love it. I liked the action and the excitement but the rest was not for me. 

Other recommendations…

…you might try The Gender Game series by Bella Forrest, Man Hunt by K. Edwin Fritz, and The Monster Within Idea by R. Thomas Riley.

Perfect by Cecelia Ahern

I received an ARC or review copy of this book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.

AuthorCecelia Ahern
SeriesFlawed, Book 02
Publish Date: April 4, 2017 Feiwel & Friends
Genre: YA Distopia
Source: Provided by the publisher

Publisher’s DescriptionCelestine North lives in a society that demands perfection. After she was branded Flawed by a morality court, Celestine’s life has completely fractured–all her freedoms gone.

Since Judge Crevan has declared her the number one threat to the public, she has been a ghost, on the run with Carrick–the only person she can trust.

But Celestine has a secret–one that could bring the entire Flawed system crumbling to the ground. A secret that has already caused countless people to go missing.

Judge Crevan is gaining the upper hand, and time is running out for Celestine. With tensions building, Celestine must make a choice: save just herself or to risk her life to save all Flawed people.

And, most important of all, can she prove that to be human in itself is to be Flawed?

Possible spoilers beyond this point.

Luna Lovebooks says…

I really enjoyed this duology. It is an interesting mix of dystopian novels and, in a way, a look at today’s society. It examines the idea that to err is human and runs wild. There were a few twists that I didn’t see coming and some that were obvious (at least to me). The ending was the uplifting “wow” that I was hoping for, and I may or may not have teared up. While the ending did wow me, I also felt it was a little too neat. There are a few unanswered questions, like what will become of the Guild, but for the most part, events just happened to fall into place.

Celestine’s character really grew. She went from believing that she was perfect to realizing that to be human is to be flawed, often in more ways than one. I also respect her for realizing that even if her verdict was overturned then she could never be the person she was before. You know standing up for a whole group of people may have contributed to my respect just a little. 😉

Carrick was my absolute favorite and I am glad Celestine ended up with him. The whole thing where Art came back into her life and had her brain all in a fuzz wasn’t necessary to me. I do understand the feelings were still there, but it just wasn’t necessary.

This was an enjoyable read and it has earned its place – among many of my review books – on my shelf. I give it 4 strawberries.

Our reviews in this series…

Other recommendations…

Brave New Girl by Rachel Vincent, the Everlife series by Gena Showalter, and The Last Harvest by Kim Liggett.

I received an ARC or review copy of this book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.

The Burning Light by Bradley P. Beaulieu and Rob Ziegler

In this awesome dystopian sci-fi, Colonel Chu is on the hunt for “Light” junkies – and now she’s about to encounter Zola, a woman who the Light itself has focused on. In an epic showdown of telepathy, guns, and a mysterious force that may spread to every mind in the desolate city, it’s Chu versus Zola. But who says either one will win?

Title: The Burning Light
AuthorBradley P. Beaulieu and Rob Ziegler
Publish Date: November 1, 2016
Genre: Science Fiction
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s Description: Disgraced government operative Colonel Chu is exiled to the flooded relic of New York City. Something called the Light has hit the streets like an epidemic, leavings its users strung out and disconnected from the mind-network humanity relies on. Chu has lost everything she cares about to the Light. She’ll end the threat or die trying.

A former corporate pilot who controlled a thousand ships with her mind, Zola looks like just another Light-junkie living hand to mouth on the edge of society. She’s special though. As much as she needs the Light, the Light needs her too. But, Chu is getting close and Zola can’t hide forever.

A thrilling and all-too believable science fiction novella from the authors of Twelve Kings in Sharakhai and Seed.

Possible spoilers beyond this point

Kat Mandu says…

This is absolutely fascinating. The world-building is incredible – a futuristic setting with dystopian theme and sci-fi feels, it takes place in a forlorn New York that’s been flooded. Now Melody Chu and her military team, all connected by telepathic thought, are on the hunt for a group of Light-junkies and zealots, scouring the old, run-down skyscrapers for all their hidey holes.

The Light is a mysterious force that some see as a plague, infecting the telepathic minds of some of the greatest people (including Chu’s sister, Joy, and Zola) and turning them into addicts who are disconnected from the main mind channel that connects about a hundred or so minds at once.  Zola knows the Light is dangerous, but that doesn’t make it any less appealing as she works to understand what it wants from her.

Chu has lost her sister to it – and Zola ended up escaping just as Chu came for her. But now Zola’s on the run, trying everything she can to stay hidden while still trying to get a fix. But then Chu finds her and her lover, and there’s a lot of loss that comes from the battle on the physical and mental planes.

I loved it. The language is unique and it took me a bit to really flow into, but I liked this strange world and the people who inhabit it. Both Chu and Zola have their own unique background and reasons behind seeking out the Light and I love the flashbacks that tell their stories.

I’ve read quite a few reviews about people not liking the fact that “the Light” is not explained. Is it a religious being? A high that is brought on by the ultimate belief? Or is it just a strange force connected to the telepathic link everyone seems to share, whether they’re connected to the main channel or by the Light?

I find I don’t need an answer to this. After all, do we have all the answers about religion? No, everyone has their own opinions on faith and how it works. I love that this “Light” is both terrible and great, and that it’s a mystery to everyone who yields it or doesn’t.

Overall, I recommend this short story (I actually found it through TOR’s online magazine) to anyone who is a fan of unique sci-fi worlds and badass female characters.

Other recommendations…

…you might try  KJ Parker, Justine Musk, Jack Campbell


Flawed by Cecelia Ahern

This story is an intense mix of human rights issues that have come up over history and the Scarlet Letter. You can’t aide a Flawed person but when that conflicts with the right thing to do, Celeste’s world is turned upside down.

Title: Flawed
Author: Cecelia Ahern
Series: Flawed #1
Publish Date: April 5, 2016
Genre: YA Dystopia
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s DescriptionYou will be punished…

Celestine North lives a perfect life. She’s a model daughter and sister, she’s well-liked by her classmates and teachers, and she’s dating the impossibly charming Art Crevan.

But then Celestine encounters a situation where she makes an instinctive decision. She breaks a rule and now faces life-changing repercussions. She could be imprisoned. She could be branded. She could be found flawed.

In her breathtaking young adult debut, bestselling author Cecelia Ahern depicts a society where perfection is paramount and flaws lead to punishment. And where one young woman decides to take a stand that could cost her everything.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.

Luna Lovebooks says…

Likes: The concept of this book intrigued me. A future where everyone is perfect. One step out of line and you are branded flawed and basically treated as an outcast. You can only eat certain meals, you have a curfew and a special place to sit on the bus, and people hate you. I like the real world context that this novel has, not just in today’s society, but from looking at our society’s past as well. I liked the way the characters and the society of this novel start to rebel and divide.

Dislikes: Celeste at times was very naïve. And for being a logical person, she missed a few ques that were very obvious to me. While I had no issues with the events in the book some may consider them graphic or even triggering. The ending was more of a “What?” moment than a cliff hanger.

Other recommendations…

The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner, Flashfall by Jenny Moyer, Bubble World by Carol Snow

Resistance by Mikhaeyla Kopievsky

In this brilliantly written dark dystopian, readers meet two sides of Anaiya 234 – and discover her mission will forever change her identity.

I received an ARC or review copy of this book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.

AuthorMikhaeyla Kopievsky
SeriesDivided Elements, Book 01
Publish Date: January 20, 2017, by Kyrija
Genre: Dystopian/Post-apocalyptic
Source: provided by the author

Publisher’s DescriptionIn a future post-apocalyptic Paris, a rebellion threatens to upset the city’s perfectly-structured balance and plunge its citizens into anarchy.

The Announcer calls my name, but she does not speak to me. This macabre spectacle has nothing to do with me. And everything to do with them. This is all for the thousands below – the compliant citizens of Otpor, the witnesses to my Execution, the silent and transfixed. This is their moment. Their reconditioning.

Two generations after the Execution of Kane 148 and Otpor’s return to Orthodoxy, forbidden murals are appearing on crumbling concrete walls – calling citizens to action. Calling for Resistance.

The murals will change the utopian lives of all citizens. But, for Anaiya 234, they will change who she is.

A Peacekeeper of the uncompromising Fire Element, Anaiya free-runs through city’s precincts to enforce the Orthodoxy without hesitation or mercy. Her selection for a high-risk mission gives Otpor the chance it needs to bring down the Resistance and Anaiya the opportunity she craves to erase a shameful legacy.

But the mission demands an impossible sacrifice – her identity.

With this accomplished debut offering, Kopievsky presents a dark dystopian tale with complex characters, exquisite world-building and high tension. Divided Elements (Book 1) – Resistance is a welcomed addition to the intelligent speculative fiction tradition of Philip K. Dick, Margaret Atwood and Rupert Thomson.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.

Kat_Mandu_100Kat Mandu says…

In Anaiya’s world, people are divided by various traits based on the four elements. She is part of Fire – impulsive, energetic, determined, and for the most part, unfeeling. As a Peacekeeper, it’s her duty to make sure none of the elementals in her world step out of line – after all, orthodoxy is key and heterodoxy is considered wrong and punishable by death. This set up reminds me a lot of Divergent and fascinates me because it has its own unique spin.

Resistance begins with writings painted on the walls of her city, several of which Anaiya is the first to discover. When the government in charge orders her and the other peacekeepers to action, the goal is to put a stop to this heterodoxy, this “resistance.” In order to do this, Anaiya must go undercover and follow a lead that the Air element is behind the vandalism and therefore, rebellion. But first, she must shift her “alignment” of fire to the most dangerous element: air.

After her transformation, Anaiya finds herself discovering things about herself she never knew or felt before. She dreams and discovers a passion for music and creativity. She feels love, compassion, and anger. And she remembers it was how her mentor, Kane 148, became the “traitor” people still fear – and how his story may become her own.

This is a fast-paced read full of creative world-building, complex characters, and vivid writing.

There’s a scene early on that, though I wasn’t fond of what was actually happening, really hits home with how dark the story will be and sets up the feel for the remainder of the book. It describes a female dog in labor, who gives birth to pups that won’t survive because they were in the wrong place. It’s sad and graphic, but that’s what really made me see the story in the light it was supposed to be in.

badge5v5I really like the character of Anaiya, who is young and determined to prove herself, especially since her mentor was executed for heterodoxic crimes. I like how after her alignment changes, her relationships do as well, including the one with Niamh, her sometimes lover, sometimes partner in the field.

All in all, this is a great book. Can’t wait to read the rest of the series.

Other recommendations…

Recommended for fans of Suzanne Collins, Veronica Roth, and Bella Forrest.

I received an ARC or review copy of this book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.