Posts Tagged ‘Post Apocalyptic’

Hold Back The Stars

Katie Khan

Carys and Max have ninety minutes of air left.
None of this was supposed to happen.
But perhaps this doesn’t need to be the end…
Adrift in space with nothing to hold on to but each other, Carys and Max can’t help but look back at the well-ordered world they have left behind – at the rules they couldn’t reconcile themselves to, and a life to which they might now never return.
For in a world where love is banned, what happens when you find it?

What are your overall thoughts?

Despite the old adage about book covers and judgment, I’ve admitted more than once that that I’m a sucker for a pretty cover. I was powerless to resist when faced with Hold back the stars. It’s absolutely beautiful. With is hand drawn stars and character silhouette, it perfectly reflects the books content. Some of the stars are picked out in foil so that the stars actually twinkle- total book porn for book magpies like myself.
But even for me, a beautiful cover alone does not a purchase make, the blurb had completely ensnared at high stakes, Sci fi, love story and Hold Back The Stars quickly went from compulsive one click purchase to top of TBR.

While my love for the aesthetics of the book are clear-cut my feelings for the content are a little more complicated. I’m a total sucker for romantic love stories, caught breath, tentative, tension fill touches and impassioned declarations of love totally float my boat. Hold Back the stars is not a romantic love story and my pre conceived notions about the kind of love story I was going to read almost made me quit the story half way though.

Due to the peril the characters find themselves in it is understandable that they would want to look back at the significant events of their relationship and the events that led them to their current predicament. Like in life the significant events are often the more upsetting and unpleasant ones. While I appreciate that this is in keeping with the story and the dramatic device of the looming disaster, as a reader it made connecting with the characters and their relationship harder. If had been shown a few more tender moments of their relationship, it would have been easier to relate to the characters and the choices they made for themselves and each other, however with hindsight I can recognise the authenticity of the authors choices to the story being told and my own preconceptions about what that story would look like.

In the end it was the tension-building countdown that kept me turning the pages and my determination to finish was rewarded with a unique and surprising final third.

What was your favorite aspect of the book?
The concept is what drew me to the story and ultimately it was the concept that kept me reading.

I thoroughly enjoyed the world building. I liked Khan’s unique take on the utopian society and its effect on the individual. The concepts felt well conceived and grounded in logic, in so far as a post apocalyptic utopia can, not just pulled from thin air to act as a dramatic device to get the characters to a certain point.

Who was your favorite character and why?

This is the sticky point for me. As well as my love for fluffy romance the main thing that attracts me to stories and keeps me reading are the characters. For the most part a story can be set anywhere, in any time, be fast or slow paced, contemporary or fantasy, and I will enjoy it if I can relate to likeable characters.

Neither of the protagonists was particularly likeable. In fact, it was my absolute dislike of Max, the male protagonist, and his actions that almost has me giving up on the book midway through.

As a result this wasn’t an easy read for me, however the rest of the book, and the subsequent actions of the characters, made up for this and having completed the book and stepped back to review the story as a whole I can see why the author made the choices she did.

Would you recommend this book?
Yes, surprisingly, despite my inability to really connect with the characters and their love story, I still really enjoyed this story. The dramatic devises held the story together and had me racing to turn the pages late in to the night. The final third of the book surprised and delighted me.

Verdict: Leave your preconceptions on earth to fully enjoy this page turning, unique, concept driven love story.

Reviewed by Caroline

Publisher: Doubleday
Publication Date: January 2017
Format: Hardback
Pages: 304
Genre: Dystopian, Sci-Fi
Age: YA
Reviewer: Caroline
Source: Own copy
Challenge: Debut author
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Under The Never Sky

Veronica Rossi

Aria has lived her whole life in the protected dome of Reverie. Her entire world confined to its spaces, she’s never thought to dream of what lies beyond its doors. So when her mother goes missing, Aria knows her chances of surviving in the outer wasteland long enough to find her are slim.
Then Aria meets an outsider named Perry. He’s searching for someone too. He’s also wild – a savage – but might be her best hope at staying alive.
If they can survive, they are each other’s best hope for finding answers

300 years after the unity and the remains of humanity is divided into two distinct groups. Sealed in self-sufficient pods and cut off from the outside world, the “Dwellers” are dependent on technology, relying on genetically modified food stuff, reproductive technologies and alternative realities. They tolerate the claustrophobic and monotonous conditions by retreating in to the Realms, a “better than real” alternative reality, where they conduct the majority of their social interactions.

While the “Outsiders” live undoubtedly harder lives, struggling to survive with limited natural resources. They make the most of their shortened life spans, celebrating life’s milestones, living in family groups and have physical closeness that the dwellers lack. While the dwellers have become physically weakened by their “cushy” lifestyles, the tribe’s people of the outside world have become stronger, with some Outsiders evolving extraordinarily powerful senses to survive the harsh environment.

Under The Never Sky is told from the alternating third person perspectives of Aria, a pod dwelling songbird and Perry, a battle scared survivor of the outside world. The scapegoat for a teenage prank that went awry, Aria is cast out of Reverie, and un-ceremonially dumped in to The Death Shop (the outside world). With little chance of survival Aria know that her only hope is to find her scientist mother.

The technology loving Dwellers are almost easier to visualise and relate to, with their environment and technologies more familiar to us than the tribal existence of the Outsiders. You can almost understand Aria’s superior attitude toward the primitive “savages” and like Aria you experience the culture shock of leaving the comfortable, controlled technology dominant dome in to the dirty, uncomfortable and harsh outside world.

Perry is undoubtedly a swoon worthy protagonist, my favourite kind of hero, a rugged, self-sufficient exterior hiding inner turmoil and a big heart. Despite being naturally suspicious of Dwellers and initially repulsed by Aria, Perry risks his life to save her. Perry is not just Aria’s protector but he is also a facilitator in Aria’s development in to a confident and strong survivor. Rather than provide Aria with food he teaches her how to find safe berries to eat, rather than stand guard he teaches her how to protect herself.

The Aether, the sky poised to attack, is a constant, omnipresent threat, that you cannot hide from and you cannot fight. A character in its own right, the Aether felt more like a conscious creature than a weather system. While reading I imagined it as a cross between a lightning storm, and a tornado with the intelligence of “the Smoke” from the Lost series. On one hand I am very curious about the origins of the Aether and I hope that Veronica reveals more about this fantastical element in further instalments of the series. But I am also nervous that too much explanation will diminish the tension it creates, like with horror movies, where the sinister threat is somewhat reduced when the monster is revealed.

While I loved Veronica Rossi’s world building, the real joy of Under The Never Sky for me was the development of Aria and Perry’s relationship. Brought up to fear and despise each other Aria and Perry are forced to rely on each other and work together. This coming together through necessity eventually develops in to friendship and later love.

Verdict: For me this was a perfectly paced romance with a perfect ending. The 2013 release of Through The Ever Night cannot come soon enough.

Reviewed by Caroline

Publisher: Atom
Publication Date: February 2012
Format: Paperback
Pages: 375
Genre: Post Apocalyptic, Dystopian, Sci-Fi
Age: YA
Reviewer: Caroline
Source: Borrowed
Challenge: Debut Author
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