Categotry Archives: Apocalyptic


Freefall Book Cover Freefall
Joshua David Bellin
Young Adult Fiction
Simon and Schuster
September 26, 2017

Cam is eager to leave Earth with the rest of the elite 1% until he connects with one of the 99%, Sofie, and joins her in the fight for Lowerworld rights.



I am definitely in the minority with this, but “Freefall” felt blah to me.  There was a good story and good world-building in there, but it feels like it moved at a snail’s pace getting to anything exciting.  I also felt disconnected from the main characters. This is one of those where I can neither recommend nor not recommend it.

This unbiased review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher.


Content Warning:

Language, Sexual Situations, Violence

The Swan Riders (Prisoners of Peace, Book 2)

The Swan Riders Book Cover The Swan Riders
Prisoners of Peace, Book 2
Erin Bow
Margaret K. McElderry Books
September 20, 2016

Treacherous twists await Greta as the stakes get even higher in this stunning follow-up to the “masterful” (School Library Journal, starred review) novel, The Scorpion Rules.

Greta Stuart has become AI. New transmitters have silvered her fingerprints. New receptors have transformed her vision. And the whole of her memory has become one book in a vast library of instant knowledge. Greta is ready to rule the world.

But the new technology is also killing her.

Greta is only sixteen years old, but her new enhancements are burning through her mortal body at an alarming rate. Of course the leader of the AIs, an ancient and compelling artificial intelligence named Talis, has a plan. Greta can simply do what he’s done when the time comes, and take over the body of one of the Swan Riders, the utterly loyal humans who serve the AIs as part army, part cult.

First though, Greta will have to find a way to stay sane inside her new self. Talis’s plan for that involves a road trip. Escorted by Swan Riders, Greta and Talis set out on a horseback journey across the strange and not-quite-deserted landscape of Saskatchewan. But there are other people interested in Greta, people who want to change the world…and the Swan Riders might not be as loyal as they appear…



I’m not even sure where to begin with “The Swan Riders” aside from saying that Erin Bow somehow managed to outdo “The Scorpion Rules.”

I don’t want to write much because almost everything in the book is unexpected. It’s excellent.  Great character development; non-stop plot.  There is also a very healthy dose of existentialism, which is always a plus to me.  A bonus was that it had some parts that scared nightmares into me. In something that very rarely occurs, the story could stop with this book or keep going, and either would be perfect.  I’m hoping for the latter, of course.

I recommend “The Swan Riders” to anyone who enjoyed “The Scorpion Rules.”  If you haven’t read either, please pick up the series if you’re a fan of intelligent dystopias and very diverse books.

This honest review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher.


Content Warning:

Language, Non-Explicit Sexual Situations, Violence, Horrifying Imagery

True Born

True Born Book Cover True Born
True Born, Book 1
L.E. Sterling
Entangled: Teen
May 3, 2016

Welcome to Dominion City.

After the great Plague descended, the world population was decimated...and their genetics damaged beyond repair.

The Lasters wait hopelessly for their genes to self-destruct. The Splicers pay for expensive treatments that might prolong their life. The plague-resistant True Borns are as mysterious as they are feared…

And then there's Lucy Fox and her identical twin sister, Margot. After endless tests, no one wants to reveal what they are.

When Margot disappears, a desperate Lucy has no choice but to put her faith in the True Borns, including the charismatic leader, Nolan Storm, and the beautiful but deadly Jared, who tempts her as much as he infuriates her. As Lucy and the True Borns set out to rescue her sister, they stumble upon a vast conspiracy stretching from Dominion’s street preachers to shady Russian tycoons. But why target the Fox sisters?

As they say in Dominion, it’s in the blood.



I would liken “True Born” to the “Under the Never Sky” series.  Not in plot, but in the guilty pleasure type of enjoyment it provides.  The similarities include that there’s a world that doesn’t make much sense, though I suspect that will be cleared up in future books, and science that is barely explained and is best left unquestioned.

In spite of the things mentioned above, it’s fun. It takes the ideas of plagues, shape-shifters, and religious zealots and mixes them into a good adventure filled with quite a bit of romance.  The language can get a bit flowery at times, but that settles down by about a quarter of the way through.

The characters are intriguing and mysterious, and there is definitely a lot of surprises left in store for readers as the series continues.  I have my theories on what will happen and am anxious to see whether or not I’m right.

I recommend “True Born” to anyone looking for a quick and easy read that doesn’t require too much thought.  It’s the perfect book to read after something depressing and/or heavy.

This review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


Content Warning:

Language, Sexual Situations, Violence

The Devil’s Engine: Hellraisers

The Devil's Engine: Hellraisers Book Cover The Devil's Engine: Hellraisers
The Devil's Engine, Book 1
Alexander Gordon Smith
Macmillan Children's Publishing Group
December 1, 2015

When a sixteen-year-old troublemaker named Marlow Green is trapped in a surreal firefight against nightmarish creatures in the middle of his New York City neighborhood, he unwittingly finds himself amid a squad of secret soldiers dedicated to battling the legions of the devil himself. Powering this army of young misfits is an ancient machine from the darkest parts of history. Known as the devil's engine, it can make any wish come true-as long as you are willing to put your life on the line. Promised powers beyond belief, and facing monstrous apparitions straight out of the netherworld, Marlow must decide if he's going to submit to a demonic deal with the infernal machine that will enable him to join the crusade-if it doesn't kill him first.
From the author of the Escape from Furnace series, here is the opening salvo in an explosive new horror trilogy about an ordinary American kid caught up in an invisible war against the very worst enemy imaginable.



I really wanted to like “The Devil’s Engine: Hellraisers”.  The plot summary sounded promising.  It also sounded very unique.  Unfortunately, the promise of a good book fell flat.

That isn’t to say that parts of the book were not enjoyable.  The first quarter or so was non-stop action.  I wanted to know more about the characters.  Of course, this created an even worse disappointment when the rest of the book moved at a snail’s pace.  Seriously, it could have been trimmed seventy-five pages and nobody would have missed them.

There was a mystery as to what was driving the entire plot, and had the book dropped more clues it would have left me dying to keep turning the pages.  As it was, by the time I got near the end I didn’t care what was going on and as far as I was concerned almost all of the characters could be eaten by demons.  I wouldn’t have cared.  I wouldn’t have even sent virtual flowers to their funeral.

“The Devil’s Engine: Hellraisers” may be a good choice for those who don’t mind an original plot that drags out.  It wasn’t for me, though.  The audience is definitely more mature young adults, so please be careful if you are choosing a book for a gift.

This review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


Content Warning:

Language, Underage Drinking, Violence, Gore, Terrifying Imagery

The Storm

The Storm Book Cover The Storm
Virginia Bergin
Juvenile Fiction
Sourcebooks Fire
October 1, 2015

Three months after the killer rain first fell, Ruby is beginning to realise her father might be dead, and that she cannot survive alone. When a chance encounter lands her back in the army camp, Ruby thinks she is safe - at a price. Being forced to live with Darius Spratt is bad enough, but if Ruby wants to stay she must keep her eyes - and her mouth - shut. When she realizes what is going on - the army is trying to find a cure by experimenting on human subjects - Ruby flips out and makes an even more shocking discovery: she's not useless at all. She is immune to the killer in the rain.



“The Storm” is the sequel to “H2O”, the apocalyptic novel about killer rain.

Ruby is the same as she was in “H2O”, complete with microscopic steps toward personal growth.  Many of the other eclectic characters also make reappearances, with their stories further expanded upon.  This was the best part of “The Storm”.

Unfortunately, the rest of it seemed to lack cohesion.  The story was enjoyable, but seemed to skip around, with the most important parts cut short.  Some of it made no sense at all.  The ending was rushed and felt like it should have been an entirely separate book.  Additionally, there was another case of “Emotional Blackmail” present, bringing in something that was wedged into the plot just to force an emotional reaction from the reader.

If you read and enjoyed “H2O”, then I do recommend you read “The Storm” to find out how it all ends, but be prepared for some frustration.  I hope there is a third, because I have seen the potential of the story and the author’s talent, and it would be a shame for it to end this way.

This review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


Content Warning:

Language, Mild Sexual Situations, Violence, Gore


H2o Book Cover H2o
H2O, Book 1
Virginia Bergin
Juvenile Fiction
Sourcebooks Fire
October 7, 2014

When a strange rain falls bearing a fatal, contagious disease, Ruby finds herself alone with the only drinkable water quickly running out.



“H2O” is an apocalyptic thriller centering around the premise of deadly rain, and I found it quite enjoyable.  For maximum scare factor, be sure to read it during a rainstorm, as I accidentally did.

Ruby, the main character, is pretty much a mean girl everyone knew in high school.  Of course, she doesn’t actually realize that she is mean.  I’ve read some complaints about her character and, while I agree that she is not always pleasant, she is realistic.  She just turned fifteen and from her own story she was never overly mature for her age.  The rain didn’t suddenly make her smarter, more likable, or super brave.  I appreciate the author keeping it real in that way.  She does have some admirable qualities, and she also realizes some mistakes she has made along the way.  It’s definitely a love/hate situation with her.

Along with Ruby, there are many intriguing characters met along the way.  As it is a disaster situation, most of them are not in the story for long, but I believe that is the way things would be in such a situation.  Not every story will get a resolution.

I absolutely loved the premise of the killer rain.  The panic and breakdown in society from the fear of the environment and limited supply of water is a terrifying thought, and the author did an excellent job of writing that.  She also did a good job of invoking the pain and sadness of so much loss of life, which is the basis of my one complaint.  There is one chapter that is totally unnecessary and what I would call emotional blackmail.  I won’t spoil what happens, but while heartbreaking, it did not need to be present, as the author had already given multiple reasons for the reader’s heart to be broken that were actually cohesive with the plot.  Contriving situations to evoke an emotional response from the reader is one of my pet peeves, as it seems there is no trust put in the reader to pick up all of the emotions already present.  I would have dropped it an entire star had I not loved the rest of the book so much, but I still feel the need to point that out here.

In short, if you love a good natural disaster novel and don’t mind having your heart broken, “H2O” is a wonderful choice for upper middle graders and up.

This review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


Content Situations:

Mild Sexual Situations, Violence, Gore, Underage Drug and alcohol Abuse

Coming of Age at the End of Days

Coming of Age at the End of Days Book Cover Coming of Age at the End of Days
Alice LaPlante
Atlantic Monthly Press

Alice LaPlante's acclaimed psychological thrillers are distinguished by their stunning synthesis of family drama and engrossing suspense. Her new novel is an affecting foray deeper into the creases of family life—and the light-and-dark battle of faith—as LaPlante delves into the barbed psyche of a teenager whose misguided convictions bear irrevocable consequences. Never one to conform, Anna always had trouble fitting in. Earnest and willful, as a young girl she quickly learned how to hide her quirks from her parents and friends. But when, at sixteen, a sudden melancholia takes hold of her life, she loses her sense of self and purpose. Then the Goldschmidts move in next door. They're active members of a religious cult, and Anna is awestruck by both their son, Lars, and their fervent violent prophecies for the Tribulation at the End of Days. Within months, Anna's life—her family, her home, her very identity—will undergo profound changes. But when her newfound beliefs threaten to push her over the edge, she must find her way back to center with the help of unlikely friends. An intimate story of destruction and renewal, New York Times bestselling author LaPlante delivers a haunting exploration of family legacies, devotion, and tangled relationships.



“Coming of Age at the End of Days” is a book about depression, other unspecified illnesses, loss, cults, religion as a whole, and what it means to be growing up in the midst of all of these things.  It’s an interesting concept, but the execution left something to be desired.

The character development was actually very extensive.  However, the main character, Anne, was an extremely unsympathetic character.  Depression is involved, along with some other unspecified medical issues that may or may not also be physical.  None of that is ever clarified, but there are definitely clues that something else is going on.  The problem is that these things are presented, along with her home life, as reasons for why she acts the way she does.  While it is true in some of the instances, even if she were completely healthy with a perfect life she would still be the sort of person who is the walking equivalent of nails on a chalkboard.  It’s difficult to become lost in a story when you don’t care much about the main character.

The premise of mental illness and how cults exploit it to gain followers was promising, but the first two-thirds of the book dragged so much that the interesting parts were lost in a sea of banality.  I would have liked to see more details of the cult itself.  The last third of the book moved well and was enjoyable, but it required quite a bit of suspension of disbelief to go with it.  The ultimate conclusion felt as though it were an afterthought.

I gave “Coming of Age at the End of Days” three stars because technically the characters and plot are sound.  It’s the end product that needed some trimming.  Alice LaPlante is a very talented author, but this is definitely not her best work.  I’d give it a pass unless you’re a diehard fan.

This review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


Content Warning:

Language, Sexual Situations, Graphic Imagery, Violence, Self-Harm, Brief Mention of Underage Drinking

Stone Rider

Stone Rider Book Cover Stone Rider
David Hofmeyr
Juvenile Fiction
Delacorte Press

In the vein of the cult classic Mad Max series, crossed with Cormac McCarthy's The Road and S.E. Hinton's The Outsiders, this inventive debut novel blends adrenaline-fueled action with an improbable yet tender romance to offer a rich and vivid portrayal of misfits and loners forced together in their struggle for a better life.

Adam Stone wants freedom and peace. He wants a chance to escape Blackwater, the dust-bowl desert town he grew up in. Most of all, he wants the beautiful Sadie Blood. Alongside Sadie and the dangerous outsider Kane, Adam will ride the Blackwater Trail in a brutal race that will test them all, body and soul. Only the strongest will survive.

The prize? A one-way ticket to Sky-Base and unimaginable luxury.

And for a chance at this new life, Adam will risk everything.



“Stone Rider” is an excellent book that can fit into many genres at one time.  It’s like a western met a dystopian and then decided to create a West Side Storyesque production.  I’ve never read anything like it.

The characters are all interesting and surprising.  At the beginning they may appear to be stereotypical, but as the story goes on their depth is revealed.  However, that is not to say that they are extremely well-developed.  The book is written like the old westerns.  You learn what you need to, when you need to, and the rest of the book is devoted to the action.  This could be seen as a flaw, but I appreciate that the book is designed to be as sleek as the “bykes” used in the race around which the plot centers.

The flow of the book is amazing.  The beginning is a little slow, but only by comparison to the rest of it.  That is because Part I takes the time to set up pretty much all you will learn about the world.  Once you begin Part II it becomes something of a marathon read.  There is never time to take your breath.  Do not begin it if you have something else to do in the next few hours.  There is quite a bit of violence, but that is to be expected in a mostly lawless society.

In short, “Stone Rider” is a fun and exciting read.  In spite of the streamlined storytelling, there are many challenging words to help expand vocabulary for younger readers.  Since this a book well-suited for reluctant readers, that is a huge plus.  Highly recommended for any upper middle-grade reader through to adults.

This review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


Content Warning:

Language, Brief Sexual Situations, Violence


Untaken Book Cover Untaken
J.E. Anckorn
Curiosity Quills Press
March 23, 2015

It turns out that a real alien invasion is nothing like the Sci-fi shows 14-year-old Gracie loves. Not when it's your own family who are swallowed whole by those big silver ships. Not if it could be you next. In her search for her family, Gracie meets Brandon, a high school dropout who would never have been caught dead hanging out with a dork like Gracie before the world ended. Gracie isn't too crazy about Brandon either, but he has one thing she doesn't: A plan. Brandon's uncle has a cabin up in Maine, and If Gracie and Brandon can survive long enough to get there they can hide out until the Space Men pack up their ships and leave. Until the army guys come to rescue them, says Brandon. Brandon is big into army guys. Gracie has to admit that Brandon's Awesome Plan probably would have worked out great if wasn't for Jake. They found 5-year-old Jake, laying half-dead under the remains of someone's ranch house. He's a good kid, even if he won't-or can't- talk. But Jake has a secret, and when Gracie finds out what it is, the fragile new life they've started to forge looks set to break apart. When the people you've been counting on to put the world back together start hunting you down, alien invaders are the least of your worries.



“Untaken” is a new series that makes me feel as though I were given a gift by being allowed to read and review it.  It puts a new take on the apocalyptic theme of an alien invasion, eventually evolving into dystopian territory.

I am going to say this right now, if you see the word “alien” and think it is not your deal, please reconsider and give it a try.  The plot is one of survival, with the aliens being the catalyst for the events but not the central focus of the story.  The true story is what constitutes humanity and how human humans react when placed under unimaginable circumstances and stress.

The central characters are three children: Gracie, Brandon, and Jake.  Their stories are divided into three parts, with the first devoted to their separate lives before and during the initial catastrophic events.  This format serves for developing their backstories and personalities in an extremely detailed way.  It feels like you know the oldest two, Gracie and Brandon, personally before they even meet.  Jake is more of an enigma, and that is a great feature in the story.

While the first part features a lot of action, the second and third parts are more of a slow burn.  I love slice-of-life stories that take their time in building new worlds, and this is one of the best I have ever read.  The writing is compelling and nearly flawless, leaving the reader to sit back and enjoy the book without the burden of superfluous details and a stuttering plot.  It seems to be the beginning of a series, and I hope that is true.  I really want to see what comes next.

I highly recommend “Untaken” to those who are 12 and up and looking for a promising new series.  If you’re a fan of Mike Mullen’s “Ashfall”, it is something not to be missed.  Warning:  Once you start it, you may not be able to put it down.

This review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


Content Warning:

Language, Violence,Mild (Re: Very) Sexual Situations, The Dog Dies (Pardon the spoiler, but that is the one type of spoiler I will always include in the content warnings.)

Endgame: The Calling

Endgame: The Calling Book Cover Endgame: The Calling
Endgame, Book 1
James Frey, Nils Johnson-Shelton,
Juvenile Fiction

Twelve ancient cultures were chosen millennia ago to represent humanity in Endgame, a global game that will decide the fate of humankind. Endgame has always been a possibility, but never a reality…until now. Twelve meteorites have just struck Earth, each meteorite containing a message for a Player who has been trained for this moment. At stake for the Players: saving their bloodline, as well as the fate of the world. And only one can win. Endgame is real. Endgame is now. Endgame has begun. Google Niantic is building a mobile location-based augmented reality videogame inextricably tied to the books and mythology, a major prize will be tied to a puzzle in each book, and Twentieth Century Fox has bought the movie rights. Read the Books. Find the Clues. Solve the Puzzle. Who will Win?



“Endgame: The Calling” is a very unique take on the apocalyptic genre, merging both a story and a puzzle.  The first to solve the puzzle will win a hefty amount, and the gold is actually on display at Caeser’s Palace in Las Vegas.

My review is based on the story itself.  I intend to reread it and try to solve the puzzle at some point.

The story was somewhat slow in the beginning, with so many characters that it was difficult to follow difficult to follow.  Mixed in with a large amount of information clearly meant to be used solely in solving the puzzle, and a very slow revelation of the nature of the story, and I became disenchanted with it.  Having a review copy, I continued to read,  and I really am glad that I did.

The story slowly comes together to make a remarkable and unique plot.  All of the characters take on a life of their own, with complex feelings and backstories, leaving you feeling like you are a part of the “game” they are playing.  Without realizing it, I was emotionally invested in every character’s story.  The ending was a perfect gateway into the sequel, which I very much look forward to.

I recommend this to those who enjoy apocalyptic thrillers, do not mind violence in what they read, and who are willing to play along with the puzzle.  I wish I had from the very beginning, as that would have made it more enjoyable and less difficult to get into.

This review is based on a complimentary copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Content Warning:

Language, Sexual Situations, Heavy Violence