Posted on Sep 17th, 2013 by audra
In these categories book review, Review, Society's Bookshelf

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Book Title: The Disenchantments
Author: Nina LaCour
Release Date: February 16, 2012
Publisher: Speak

Colby and Bev have a long-standing pact: graduate, hit the road with Bev’s band, and then spend the year wandering around Europe. But moments after the tour kicks off, Bev makes a shocking announcement: she’s abandoning their plans – and Colby – to start college in the fall.

But the show must go on and The Disenchantments weave through the Pacific Northwest, playing in small towns and dingy venues, while roadie- Colby struggles to deal with Bev’s already-growing distance and the most important question of all: what’s next?

Morris Award–finalist Nina LaCour draws together the beauty and influences of music and art to brilliantly capture a group of friends on the brink of the rest of their lives.

I’m almost apologetic with how much I disliked The Disenchatments. This was a book that had been on my to-read list for quite a long time, and finally purchased it on a whim when I saw it was out in paperback. I liked the idea of the storyline, but in execution I really had a hard time with it. I wouldn’t say it was a bad book, but it wasn’t something I was absolutely in love with.

I enjoyed that this book has a strong set of female characters, and it’s also narrated by a guy. In a world of what seems like female dominated YA narration, it was refreshing to have Colby as our narrator and main character. However, I almost feel a bit duped by this book. I was expected a light, fun, road trip read. While the book wasn’t insanely dark by any means, it wasn’t a single bit what I thought it would be like. While that can also be refreshing, it just didn’t work for me with this book.

The adventure the artsy rebel kids go on inside Melinda was intensely fun. It reminded me of the only road trip I’ve been on with friends before. We decided it would be really fun to drive from Virginia to New York City. What I thought would be full of action and adventure ended up being just really touristy and exhausting. I felt Colby’s issues came across as pretty cliche, which stuck with me through a lot of the situations he ends up in.

I’m glad I had the chance to finally read The Disenchantments. It wasn’t what I expected, and I probably wouldn’t read it again, but overall the story pulled me in and for the most part I couldn’t put it down.

Order: Amazon|Barnes & Noble|Indiebound

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Posted on Sep 12th, 2013 by audra
In these categories Review, Society's Bookshelf

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Book Title: Just One Day
Author: Gayle Forman
Release Date: January 8, 2013
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile

A breathtaking journey toward self-discovery and true love, from the author of If I Stay

When sheltered American good girl Allyson “LuLu” Healey first meets laid-back Dutch actor Willem De Ruiter at an underground performance ofTwelfth Night in England, there’s an undeniable spark. After just one day together, that spark bursts into a flame, or so it seems to Allyson, until the following morning, when she wakes up after a whirlwind day in Paris to discover that Willem has left. Over the next year, Allyson embarks on a journey to come to terms with the narrow confines of her life, and through Shakespeare, travel, and a quest for her almost-true-love, to break free of those confines.

Just One Day is the first in a sweepingly romantic duet of novels. Willem’s story—Just One Year—is coming soon!

I was drawn into Just One Day right away from the cover. The expression of our main character, wearing her almost signature watch, gazing outwards mirrors the Allyson we first meet so well. Allyson is on a trip with other recent graduates and her best friend Melanie, traveling through Europe. Allyson usually plays things by the book, so she takes something Melanie says about her to heart and goes off on a whirlwind adventure with Willem, the dashing young man she meets as part of a traveling Shakespeare troupe.

The idea of running off with a boy for just one day in Paris makes even my lesbian heart go all fluttery. Willem has a bit of a bohemian soul to him, and shares his ideologies with Allyson, who he has now named LuLu. My absolute favorite idea in this book is the stain. The idea of love and experience being a stain on your being was so beautifully described and experienced in the pages of this book and I still can’t shake it. I can’t remember a time when a theme from a book stuck with me so long after reading a book. It’s really made me think back on my, somewhat limited, life experiences to see what stains I have.

Allyson’s story is so brutal and heartbreaking and also completely joyous, adventurous and heartwarming. I can’t remember the last time my emotions were this all over the place while reading a book. I had no idea the book was going to take such a turn for the worse and wasn’t prepared for that at all. Honestly, a lot of LuLu and Willem’s Parisian adventure was a bit hard to believe which took me out of the story a bit. It didn’t stay that way for long though and I was sucked back in as soon as her insane day in Paris was over.

A lot of this story really spoke to me. It took me a while to find myself, and it really wasn’t until college that I grew into who I am. I really struggled with who I was versus who my parents wanted me to be.  I was really able to relate to Allyson during her very low points. She was juggling a lot more than you realize and it all comes to a head for her, and it isn’t pretty. At the same time, I felt that her relationship with her mother was a bit cliche and didn’t end up feeling like anything special. On the other hand I really did appreciate her relationship with Melanie. It was interested to see how things played out for the two of them, which mirrored a friendship I had with a girl I’d known since first grade.

I’m so glad I finally read this, and I’m almost glad I waited so long to read it. It just makes my wait time for Just One Year, releasing October 10, 2013 and told from Willem’s point of view, that much shorter!

Order: Amazon|Barnes & Noble|Indiebound

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Posted on Sep 11th, 2013 by audra
In these categories Review, Society's Bookshelf

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Waiting on Wednesday was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine, and gives us a chance to feature a book we’re waiting to read.

This week I’m nervously chewing my nails waiting for Just One Year by Gayle Forman.

The heartrending conclusion—from Willem’s POV—to the romantic duet of novels that began with Allyson’s story in Just One Day

After spending an amazing day and night together in Paris, Just One Year is Willem’s story, picking up where Just One Day ended. His story of their year of quiet longing and near misses is a perfect counterpoint to Allyson’s own as Willem undergoes a transformative journey, questioning his path, finding love, and ultimately, redefining himself.

I really enjoyed the first two books in the Newsoul series, and I’m eager to read the final book in this series.

What book are you waiting on this week?

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Posted on Sep 9th, 2013 by audra
In these categories Review, Society's Bookshelf

7514925

Book Title: Tiger Lily
Author: Jodi Lynn Anderson
Release Date: July 3, 2012
Publisher: HarperTeen

Before Peter Pan belonged to Wendy, he belonged to the girl with the crow feather in her hair. . . .

Fifteen-year-old Tiger Lily doesn’t believe in love stories or happy endings. Then she meets the alluring teenage Peter Pan in the forbidden woods of Neverland and immediately falls under his spell.

Peter is unlike anyone she’s ever known. Impetuous and brave, he both scares and enthralls her. As the leader of the Lost Boys, the most fearsome of Neverland’s inhabitants, Peter is an unthinkable match for Tiger Lily. Soon, she is risking everything—her family, her future—to be with him. When she is faced with marriage to a terrible man in her own tribe, she must choose between the life she’s always known and running away to an uncertain future with Peter.

With enemies threatening to tear them apart, the lovers seem doomed. But it’s the arrival of Wendy Darling, an English girl who’s everything Tiger Lily is not, that leads Tiger Lily to discover that the most dangerous enemies can live inside even the most loyal and loving heart.

From the New York Times bestselling author of Peaches comes a magical and bewitching story of the romance between a fearless heroine and the boy who wouldn’t grow up.

In this re-imagining story set in the Peter Pan universe, we get to see Joi Lynn Anderson’s version of what exactly happened with Tiger Lily. Previous to reading Tiger Lily, my only experience with Peter Pan has been the animated Disney movie, the film Hook starring Robin Williams, and the Peter Pan ride at Disneyland. I have a gorgeous copy of the J.M. Barrie book, but haven’t quite gotten around to reading it. So I honestly have no idea if any of this has been explored in the original story. Either way, I think this worked to my advantage reading it.

I probably wouldn’t have read this one if it wasn’t for a fellow blogger sharing their extreme love for this book. I didn’t think I would really enjoy it as I disliked the way Native Americans were portrayed in the Disney film version. And to be honest the book cover is pretty bland and didn’t really pull me into the story at all. I’m really glad I gave Tiger Lily a chance, as I was immediately sucked into her world and absolutely loved every bit of this book.

Basically, Tiger Lily blew all of my expectations out of the water. I expected the natives to be portrayed poorly as they historyically are (I’m currently side eyeing the Disney adaptation of the Lone Ranger SO hard right now). Tiger Lily steps into the role the other tribal members place on her-as being cursed. She doesn’t have much of a family, only her father Moon Eye and friend Tik Tok. There’s no easy way around it- Tiger Lily has had a pretty miserable life. And what seems like another horrible twist of her fate she becomes betrothed to Giant, who is a rude, messy, dirty, oaf of a guy who, along with his mother, manages to really put Tiger Lily through the wringer. She’s stuck between a rock and a hard place in almost every situation she’s faced with, which was really pretty heartbreaking to experience as I read this book.

In addition to the tribal members we get to meet the characters from Neverland I have seen before, beginning with the book’s narrator, Tinkerbell. I found the narrator of Tinkerbell to be particularly well chosen as she’s able to quietly flit about Neverland without being spotted. This was convenient, but also allowed us to peek a bit better inside the world of Neverland. Anderson was able to so beautifully describe Neverland that I would almost consider it to be a character all its own. In addition to Peter and the Lost Boys we’ve also got the mermaids, Captain James Hook and even Smee. I found Smee to be intensely interesting in this version of events and was probably the character I was most excited for to see on the page.

I found myself becoming profoundly upset with the Englander that Tiger Lily manages to save. I think the experiences that Tiger Lily and the rest of the tribe was a more realistic portrayal of the effect the English Settlers had on our very own Native Americans, and it was especially heartbreaking to see these effects on Tiger Lily’s life. Again, I was skeptical going into this and Anderson created a magnificent story all her own.

This book was heartbreakingly beautiful. I wished this was longer, because I was absolutely heartbroken with this books ending. Jodi Lynn Anderson did the Peter Pan world justice with Tiger Lily, and I’m glad I finally read it (and now you should too!)

Order: Amazon|Barnes & Noble|Indiebound

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Posted on Aug 13th, 2013 by audra
In these categories Review, Society's Bookshelf

13043180

Book Title: Asunder
Author: Jodi Meadows
Release Date: January 29, 2013
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books

DARKSOULS
Ana has always been the only one. Asunder. Apart. But after Templedark, when many residents of Heart were lost forever, some hold Ana responsible for the darksouls–and the newsouls who may be born in their place.

SHADOWS
Many are afraid of Ana’s presence, a constant reminder of unstoppable changes and the unknown. When sylph begin behaving differently toward her and people turn violent, Ana must learn to stand up not only for herself but for those who cannot stand up for themselves.

LOVE
Ana was told that nosouls can’t love. But newsouls? More than anything, she wants to live and love as an equal among the citizens of Heart, but even when Sam professes his deepest feelings, it seems impossible to overcome a lifetime of rejection.

In this second book in the Newsoul trilogy, Ana discovers the truth about reincarnation and will have to find a way to embrace love and make her young life meaningful. Once again, Jodi Meadows explores the extraordinary beauty and shadowed depths of the soul in a story equal parts epic romance and captivating fantasy.

WARNING: This review will contain spoilers for book one, Incarnate. If you have no read this book, do not read further unless you wish to be spoiled!

We pick up pretty close to where Incarnate ended. The residents are essentially picking up the pieces of their life both literally and figuratively after Templedark now that they have to rebuild Heart and bury the many who have died. The worst bit of grief for a lot of the residents come when the first birth after Templedark occurs. The first birth is a Newsoul, which causes more problems for Ana.

I had some problems with Asunder. The cover didn’t pull me in, much like Incarnate. It’s an interesting concept, but it comes off a bit cheesy. Almost like Lisa Frank or something from the 90’s. I really loved this book, but it felt a bit clunky to me. One of my biggest peeves to me was all the music terminology. I felt like there was a disconnect as this didn’t seem as central in the first book.

Like Incarnate, I couldn’t put this book down! I just had to find out where Ana’s story would take her in this book. I felt more connected to the secondary characters in this book than I did in the first one, which was unexpected and wonderful. I loved that many of the unanswered questions from the first book were answered in this one. Of course these were replaced by new questions, but the author kept me on my toes for sure!

The last bit of Asunder felt a bit underwhelmed and had a bit of the middle book charm. I’m eagerly awaiting Phoenix Overture, a novella told from Sam’s perspective, and the third book in the series, Infinite.

Order: Amazon|Barnes & Noble|Indiebound

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Posted on Jul 8th, 2013 by audra
In these categories Review, Society's Bookshelf

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Book Title: Some Quiet Place
Author: Kelsey Sutton
Release Date: July 8, 2013
Publisher: Flux

I can’t feel sadness, anger, or fear. I can’t feel anything. I’ve grown talented at pretending.

Elizabeth Caldwell doesn’t feel emotions . . . she sees them in human form. Longing hovers around the shy, adoring boy at school. Courage materializes beside her dying friend. Fury and Resentment visit her abusive home. They’ve all given up on Elizabeth because she doesn’t succumb to their touch. All, that is, except beautiful Fear, who sometimes torments her and other times plays her compassionate savior. He’s obsessed with finding the answer to one question: What happened to Elizabeth to make her this way?

They both sense that the key to Elizabeth’s condition is somehow connected to the paintings of her dreams, which show visions of death and grief that raise more questions than answers. But as a shadowy menace begins to stalk her, Elizabeth’s very survival depends on discovering the truth about herself. When it matters most, she may not be able to rely on Fear to save her.

Some Quiet Place is one of the most exquisite, unique books I’ve read this year. From the cover to the pages, this book was phenomenal. The cover initially drew me in before I even read the synopsis. It’s thoroughly haunting and beautiful at the same time, much as the actual story as well.

The idea that Elizabeth can’t feel emotions, but also she can see their physical manifestation in the form of people no one else can see was groundbreaking to me. In a world of very similar YA books, Some Quiet Place broke the mold completely. Throughout the book, Elizabeth is put to the task of solving her missing memories after a car accident, along with a bit of game with Fear. Things get out of control when a new element rears its nightmarish head and things come to a head for all involved.

It was extremely refreshing to see such a strong female protagonist without a huge love triangle or angst ridden storyline. Even though Elizabeth couldn’t feel emotion, it seemed to heighten my emotion. Sutton’s ability to pull that emotion from me as a ready was remarkable. Now, there was a bit of a love triangle, but I feel that it was written in a very unique way, which didn’t pull me out of the story like most love triangles do.

Some of the hardships that Elizabeth faces were extremely difficult to read, intensified by Sutton’s fantastic way of crafting a scene. Elizabeth lives in a very cold home, and doesn’t get to experience a traditional loving family that so many other kids have. I do have to say this is one of the reasons I had a slightly difficult time with this book, only that I didn’t realize it was going to be such a dark read. I like to be in a certain headspace when venturing into dark reading spaces such as this, and didn’t really go into this book expecting this.

Some Quiet Place was an emotional, wonderfully developed book that I couldn’t recommend more.

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Posted on Jul 7th, 2013 by audra
In these categories Review, Society's Bookshelf

16075935

Book Title: A Midsummmer Night’s Scream
Author: R.L. Stine
Release Date: July 2, 2013
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends

Get ready for laughter to turn into screams in R.L. Stine’s re-imagining of Shakespeare’s classic romantic comedy A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Everyone knows that Mayhem Manor is cursed. After production on the horror film was stopped due to a series of mysterious deaths, it became a Hollywood legend–which makes it perfect for Claire and her family. If they can successfully finish the film, it should be enough to save their ailing movie studio.

Sure, the old haunted house is creepy, and strange stuff has been happening, but this is Claire’s chance. Her chance to become the movie star she’s always dreamed and her chance to finally convince her friend Jake that she is girlfriend material. Of course, the fact that Jake thinks he’s in love with her best friend, Delia, who is crushing hard on Jake’s friend Shawn, who insists on following Claire around, could be a problem, but Claire is sure she can figure it out. After all, the course of true love never did run smooth.

But once shooting starts, “creepy and strange” morph into “bloody and deadly,” as the lines between film and reality begin to blur…

It’s been a very long time since I’ve read anything by R.L. Stine so it could be that I just had high expectations for this one. Sadly, I was extremely disappointed. I’ve been really into re-imaginings lately, but this was one that just fell flat for a variety of reasons.

We start off with a group of teenagers getting killed in unfortunate circumstance, which becomes the set up that carries the rest of the movie. Claire and her best friend are cast in a horror movie remake thanks to Claire’s parents involvement in the movie industry. However, things start going horribly wrong when the deaths of the first movie start happening on the remake as well.

I think R.L. Stine is very out of touch with teens and this showed in the writing. The party scenes that the teens attend come across extremely awkward to read especially on the topics of sex, drinking and drugs. He really missed the mark on getting the character’s voices down, which made the book hard to read.

A vast majority of the book was too simple. The plot and storyline was a bit jagged and didn’t come across as very well developed. Everything seemed to go  way too quick without a lot of development along the way as the story progressed. I understand where the basis of the story came from, but where the story ended up going was a bit too jumbled for me.

I did enjoy the main character Claire and her best friend Delia. They really made the book a fun and quick read. I honestly probably would have stopped reading this book if it hadn’t been for that small connection I had with them. Overall, the book was a fluffy horror book that perhaps Goosebumps fans will enjoy, but sadly I did not.

Posted on Jul 2nd, 2013 by audra
In these categories Review, Society's Bookshelf

16058610

Book Title: Whistling Past the Graveyard
Author: Susan Crandall
Release Date: July 2, 2013
Publisher: Gallery Books

The summer of 1963 begins like any other for nine-year-old Starla Claudelle. Born to teenage parents in Mississippi, Starla is being raised by a strict paternal grandmother, Mamie, whose worst fear is that Starla will turn out like her mother. Starla hasn’t seen her momma since she was three, but is convinced that her mother will keep her promise to take Starla and her daddy to Nashville, where her mother hopes to become a famous singer—and that one day her family will be whole and perfect.

When Starla is grounded on the Fourth of July, she sneaks out to see the parade. After getting caught, Starla’s fear that Mamie will make good on her threats and send her to reform school cause her to panic and run away from home. Once out in the country, Starla is offered a ride by a black woman, Eula, who is traveling with a white baby. She happily accepts a ride, with the ultimate goal of reaching her mother in Nashville.

As the two unlikely companions make their long and sometimes dangerous journey, Starla’s eyes are opened to the harsh realities of 1963 southern segregation. Through talks with Eula, reconnecting with her parents, and encountering a series of surprising misadventures, Starla learns to let go of long-held dreams and realizes family is forged from those who will sacrifice all for you, no matter if bound by blood or by the heart.

While I’ve seen others compare Whistling Past the Graveyard to The Help, I think it would be closer to The Secret Life of Bees. Bottom line for me? I loved it. Normally I’ve only reviewed young adult books, but I enjoyed this book so much I felt compelled to review it. The cover and title were the first things to draw me in and the story made me fall in love. It looked like it would be a fun lighthearted read.

Whistling Past the Graveyard turns out to be far from lighthearted. Starla is put through quite the ringer as a nine year old. Her mother left when she was only three years old, and her father is off for work, leaving her with her awful grandmother. Starla’s punishments get increasingly worse for smaller infractions, leading her to finally decide to runaway from her. Her adventurous decision nosedives quick when she meets Eula. This book becomes a coming of age story not only for Starla, but also Eula.

It’s hard not to get swept up on Starla and Eula’s worldwind adventure. Susan’s writing is amazing and does a fantastic job of setting the time period of the 60’s in the South. It’s amazing that on one page I could be laughing, and the next, tearing up. Starla is such a wonderful character to read and it was eyeopening to read of her experiences. And Eula? I feel that Eula is easily the star of this story. I can’t ignore the fact that this does have “white savior” tones to it.

Aside from Starla and Eula, Susan’s writing is the star of this show. It has been a long time since I read an adult novel that I loved as much as this one. From the cover, to the title, to the story I was swept up and in love.

Posted on Jul 1st, 2013 by audra
In these categories Review, Society's Bookshelf

Disneylanders cover

Book Title: Disneylanders
Author: Kate Abbott
Release Date: May 12, 2013
Publisher: Theme Park Press

In DISNEYLANDERS, 14-year-old Casey Allison, on the brink of starting high school, struggles to find a new identity on her family’s annual summer vacation, but with the help of an outgoing boy she meets while waiting in line, she discovers that Disneyland is the one place where her overprotective parents let her have the freedom to grow up.

As someone who became a massive fan of Disneyland a bit later in life, I knew I had to read this book as soon as I heard about it. Acacia, Casey for short, is on her annual summer vacation to Disneyland with a couple of big differences. This is her first Disneyland trip before high school. This is her first Disneyland trip without her former bff. This is also her first Disneyland trip where she meets a boy!

Overall this was a magical read that gave me everything I wanted and more. I used to live a mere 20 minutes from Disneyland and was an annual passholder. Getting to visit the parks weekly was an adventure. Now that I live over 1,000 miles from it, I treasure our yearly trips to the park dearly. And getting to read Disneylanders felt like getting to experience one of those trips all over again.

It was easy to get swept up in this book as it flooded back all of my wonderful memories of being at Disneyland. I can’t imagine anything more magical than what happens to Casey. Her adventures on this particular trip to Disneyland was a bit of a life changer for her. She was able to grow up a bit, and get to live outside her parent’s protective bubble.

There were a few things that were a bit irritating. I’ve said before that for some reason I get irritated when every book character has a nickname. For me, it doesn’t really sound realistic. If the character spends 95% of the book going by Casey, why not just have her name be Casey? Also, as a bit of a Disney aficionado, the book was dated slightly due to changes that Disneyland has gone through. Of course this is bound to happen, but it’s been years since the McDonalds fry cart has been there. Finally, as romantic a notion of meeting a boy at Disneyland and flitting about the parks with him on a family vacation, it didn’t feel realistic. I can’t see a mother letting her 13 year old go around unsupervised with a boy she had just met.

Disneylanders was truly a magical read. I loved the cover design and loved getting to reminiscence of my past trips to Disney, and feel hopeful for the next ones to come.

Posted on Jun 25th, 2013 by audra
In these categories Review, Society's Bookshelf

intheafter

Book Title: In the After
Author: Demitria Lunetta
Release Date: June 25, 2013
Publisher: HarperTeen

They hear the most silent of footsteps.
They are faster than anything you’ve ever seen.
And They won’t stop chasing you…until you are dead.

Amy is watching TV when it happens, when the world is attacked by Them. These vile creatures are rapidly devouring mankind. Most of the population is overtaken, but Amy manages to escape—and even rescue “Baby,” a toddler left behind in the chaos. Marooned in Amy’s house, the girls do everything they can to survive—and avoid Them at all costs.

After years of hiding, they are miraculously rescued and taken to New Hope, a colony of survivors living in a former government research compound. While at first the colony seems like a dream with plenty of food, safety, and shelter, New Hope slowly reveals that it is far from ideal. And Amy soon realizes that unless things change, she’ll lose Baby—and much more.

Rebellious, courageous, and tender, this unforgettable duo will have you on the edge of your seat as you tear through the pulse-pounding narrow escapes and horrifying twists of fate in this thrilling debut from author Demitria Lunetta.

In the After, the debut novel, by Demitria Lunetta is stunning, terrifying and completely thrilling. Amy is stuck at home while both her parents are out when the world is attacked and her life is turned upside down. She has to learn how to relive her life so she can survive these new beings. At first, she has glimpses to the outside world and then the television goes. And then she runs out of food, and has to make changes to the life she knew without being killed by Them.

The suspense in this book felt real. At first, I thought things would be super cheesy- especially with a character named Baby. But no, I was genuinely intrigued and pulled into the world Demitria created. Every scene felt so believable, so much that I was there. Until Amy came to New Hope. I had SO many questions. I needed to more about the background of this place. This could be a great stand alone, but I’m hoping there’s more. I need more answers as to how things got the way they did. I need to know more about Amy’s mom and Baby too!

Overall, this was a great debut book and even though it left me thirsty for more, it was a satisfying read filled with all the great elements of a dystopian.