The Evaporation of Sofi Snow by Mary Weber

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From the book: “Ever since the Delonese ice-planet arrived eleven years ago, Sofi’s dreams have been vivid. Alien. In a system where Earth’s corporations rule in place of governments and the humanoid race orbiting the moon are allies, her only constant has been her younger brother, Shilo. As an online gamer, Sofi battles behind the scenes of Earth’s Fantasy Fighting arena where Shilo is forced to compete in a mix of real and virtual blood sport. But when a bomb takes out a quarter of the arena, Sofi’s the only one who believes Shilo survived. She has dreams of him. And she’s convinced he’s been taken to the ice-planet.

“Except no one but ambassadors are allowed there.

“For Miguel, Earth’s charming young playboy, the games are of a different sort. As Ambassador to the Delonese, his career has been built on trading secrets and seduction. Until the Fantasy Fight’s bomb goes off. Now the tables have turned and he’s a target for blackmail. The game is simple: Help the blackmailers, or lose more than anyone can fathom, or Earth can afford.”

If you’re like me and you loved Mary Weber’s debut Storm Siren trilogy, don’t expect this series to be the same. It is a completely different world, a completely different genre–but it is just as gripping to read.

It took me a bit to get into the book, because it is so different from her Storm Siren world, but Weber had to build this world, write history for this dystopian Earth society, and give us reason to cheer for or want to strangle her characters (which I absolutely did on both counts). Once I felt at home with the Corps and gamers and ambassadors (and never felt comfortable with the Delonese…), I could not stop reading.

There are so many layers to this story, each one more intense than the one before, and many lessons that can be taught through this book. It could be a great classroom (or dinner table) conversation launcher for issues that we face (or, sadly more often, ignore) in our own society.

But the ending…

 

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*Thanks to BookBub for this pic.

I just have to say, there’d better be another book coming soon! Until then, read it!

Many thanks to Thomas Nelson Fiction and NetGalley for the ARC of this book for review purposes. I was not required to give a positive review. All opinions are my very own! 🙂

 

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The List by Patricia Forde

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From the Publisher: “Fahrenheit 451 meets The Giver for tweens in this gripping story about the power of words and the dangers of censorship.

“In the city of Ark, speech is constrained to five hundred sanctioned words. Speak outside the approved lexicon and face banishment. The exceptions are the Wordsmith and his apprentice Letta, the keepers and archivists of all language in their post-apocalyptic, neo-medieval world.

“On the death of her master, Letta is suddenly promoted to Wordsmith, charged with collecting and saving words. But when she uncovers a sinister plan to suppress language and rob Ark’s citizens of their power of speech, she realizes that it’s up to her to save not only words, but culture itself.”

While The List by Patricia Forde is categorized as a middle grade dystopian novel, I found it to be so much more than that. It is a compelling statement on the power of words to condemn, to incite, to change, to hurt, to heal, to love. Words are one thing that make us human, but they can also be used in horribly inhuman ways. Words can create, and they can destroy. And, as this story points out, if you can control someone’s words, you can control them. When we are not allowed to speak out, we can’t speak up for ourselves. And if we can’t speak up for ourselves, who will?

This is a lesson that young people desperately need: it’s the old “give them an inch, they’ll take a mile” idea. When you give up a freedom (the freedom of speech, in this case), you give those in power permission to take more and more away from you (usually in the guise of protecting you from harm) until you have no freedom left. And this story highlights that idea in a way that young people can understand and maybe even empathize with in some ways. It would be a terrific story to use in a middle grade classroom. I can only imagine the discussions it could spark.

I did enjoy reading The List and would recommend it to tweens and teens, not for its dystopian elements (which were nothing super extraordinary, but were decently well written), but for the greater lessons to be gleaned from its words.

The List will be released in America in August 2017.

 

Many thanks to Sourcebook Jabberwocky and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this book. I was not required to give a positive review. All opinions are my very own! 🙂

The Calling by Rachelle Dekker

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Remko and his team are doing all they can to thwart the Authority and save their fellow Seers from state-sanctioned murder or worse. When they come across an unmarked building outside the borders of the City on one of their scouting missions, they inherently know that something sinister is going on. Then their group is helped by a stranger, and unusual things begin to happen, prompting some of the Seers to become almost paranoid with suspicion. Since he is their de facto tactical leader, Remko needs to decide what is most important to him: fighting to protect his wife, child, and friends, or surrendering his will to the only One who can save them all.

The Calling is the second book of Rachelle Dekker’s Seer Novels. I have not read the first book, The Choosing, but will say that the story stood alone well enough that I could easily understand what was going on. I really wanted to love this book – after all, I’ve been a fan of Rachelle’s father, Ted Dekker, since the beginning of his career. And I’m not saying it wasn’t a good book; I’m just saying that I didn’t love it.

There were things I really did like about the book: she had some beautiful things to say about faith versus fear and finding joy and peace in surrendering to God’s will (and it was during these moments that her writing really reminded me of some of her father’s work). But the overall idea and feel of the book was so like some of those popular mainstream series today (such as the Divergent, Delirium, and Matched series), that I found myself almost confusing the stories in my mind as I read along, making it seem a bit unoriginal and predictable. It was an entertaining story with enough tension to keep me reading, but I’m sorry to say that I don’t think I will go out of my way to read any other Seer novels.

Thanks to Tyndale House Publishers and NetGalley for the free copy of this book for review purposes. I was not required to give a positive review. All opinions are my very own! 🙂