Author: Lauren DeStefano

Book Review – The Peculiar Night of the Blue Heart by Lauren DeStefano

September 15, 2016 Bonnie Book Reviews, Middle Grade, Read in 2016 1 Comment

I received this book free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review – The Peculiar Night of the Blue Heart by Lauren DeStefanoThe Peculiar Night of the Blue Heart by Lauren DeStefano
Published by Bloomsbury USA Childrens on September 13th 2016
Pages: 208
Genres: Fantasy
Format: ARC
Source: the Publisher
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: Wither, Perfect Ruin, Burning Kingdoms

three-stars

Lionel is a wild boy, who doesn’t much like to be around other people. He’d rather be a purring cat or a wolf stalking the woods.

Marybeth is a nice girl. She doesn’t need to be told to comb her hair or brush her teeth, and she’s kind to everyone at the orphanage . . . Lionel most of all.

Different though they are, Lionel and Marybeth are best friends in a world that has forgotten about them. So when a mysterious blue spirit possesses Marybeth—and starts to take control—they know they must stop it before the real Marybeth fades away forever.

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‘Lionel already understood. He could make the chickens lay eggs and he could reason with the most stubborn of foxes. But he had learned years ago that humans were more dangerous than the things that stalked about the wilderness.’

Lionel may be a wild boy and Marybeth may be a nice girl, but these two 9-year-olds are one another’s only friends in a world where they have no one else. Lionel and Marybeth, along with six other orphans, live in the care of widowed Mrs. Mannerd who more than has her hands full. Much of their free time is spent traversing the woods surrounding the house where Lionel especially feels most at home due to the fact that he himself feels more animal than human. He likes to feed the wild animals from his hand and refuses to eat at the dinner time, preferring instead to eat beneath it. Marybeth is a perfectly normal little girl that manages to soothe the rougher edges of Lionel’s wildness. During one of their excursions in the wilderness, Lionel tells Marybeth of a blue fox that he’s currently trying to get to trust him, but to no avail. When Marybeth spots the blue creature from her bedroom window one night, she rushes to get a look at it only to find that it’s not a fox at all but something that ends up possessing and changing Marybeth.

This was such an endearing tale of friendship that will touch hearts of all ages. Lionel and Marybeth are the unlikeliest of duos, however, their friendship becomes vital to both of them. Their friendship helps Lionel to reacquaint himself with his emotions and come to terms with his loneliness at the orphanage which Marybeth also deals with similar feelings of isolation. When Marybeth is no longer Marybeth, having been inhabited by the ghost, it’s up to Lionel to take charge like he’s never had to before in order to help his friend solve the mystery of who this ghost is. The mystery and paranormal aspects were curious yet left me with more than a few questions (unlikely to be a problem with the appropriate age group) but the real story here is the friendship and the lesson in mortality.

The Peculiar Night of the Blue Heart is yet another unexpectedly sinister Middle grade adventure from DeStefano. The bleak undertones are paired well with a message of hope and a mystery that will keep any reader in this age group speculating. Lauren DeStefano has definitely found her niche in the Middle Grade genre.

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The Cats of Tanglewood Forest by Charles de Lint [Purchase//Review]
The Thief of Always by Clive Barker [Purchase]
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman [Purchase]

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Early Review – Burning Kingdoms (The Internment Chronicles #2) by Lauren DeStefano

March 7, 2015 Bonnie Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2015, YA 1 Comment

I received this book free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Early Review – Burning Kingdoms (The Internment Chronicles #2) by Lauren DeStefanoBurning Kingdoms by Lauren DeStefano
Series: The Internment Chronicles #2
Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers on March 10th 2015
Pages: 320
Genres: Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
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Also by this author: Wither, Perfect Ruin, The Peculiar Night of the Blue Heart

two-stars

Danger descends in the second book of The Internment Chronicles, from the New York Timesbestselling author of The Chemical Garden trilogy.

After escaping Internment, Morgan and her fellow fugitives land on the ground to finally learn about the world beneath their floating island home.

The ground is a strange place where water falls from the sky as snow, and people watch moving pictures and visit speakeasies. A place where families can have as many children as they want, their dead are buried in vast gardens of bodies, and Internment is the feature of an amusement park.

It is also a land at war.

Everyone who fled Internment had their own reasons to escape their corrupt haven, but now they’re caught under the watchful eye of another king who wants to dominate his world. They may have made it to the ground, but have they dragged Internment with them?

The Internment Chronicles series

Perfect Ruin (The Internment Chronicles #1) by Lauren DeStefano {My ReviewPurchase}
No Intention of Dying (Novella) (The Internment Chronicles #1.5) by Lauren DeStefano {Purchase}

Returning to the story of Morgan Stockhour, a resident of Internment, who has now crash landed on Earth with no feasible way of returning home. With her is her betrothed, Basil, her best friend, Pen, her brother, his wife and Celeste, the princess of Internment who was a stowaway. Shortly upon their arrival, the group learns that Earth isn’t necessarily the safe haven they had hoped for and is actually in the middle of a war that unknowingly involves Internment.

In this middle installment, we’re given a brand new environment to understand but rationalizing won’t come easy. Here on Earth, Kings rule even though it seems like the setting is sometime in the 1920s. There are speakeasies and silent movies but then out of nowhere, a mermaid is spotted. The world building is focused on much more in this installment but with all the descriptions given it’s still not fully explained.

The characters themselves and their various backgrounds are delved into more in this installment. Morgan still acts as narrator, but considering there isn’t much of a plot going on, for the most part, her narration managed to drag this story down even more. Regarding the lack of plot, the characters spend a lot of time sitting around waiting for something to happen. Inevitably, drama gets stirred up, a love triangle develops and friendships are tested. This could have all been an interesting addition to this dystopian tale, however, that would require you to have been invested in these characters from the very beginning of this trilogy and I, unfortunately, was not.

Burning Kingdoms is the second installment in The Internment Chronicles and it definitely suffers from a slower pace and lack of plot. For me, it’s been frustrating with how unsatisfying I’ve found it considering the potential behind the interesting concept. The final story may provide some satisfaction but I think I’ll be calling it quits.

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Book Review – Perfect Ruin (The Internment Chronicles #1) by Lauren DeStefano

February 28, 2015 Bonnie Book Reviews, Read in 2015, YA 1 Comment

Book Review – Perfect Ruin (The Internment Chronicles #1) by Lauren DeStefanoPerfect Ruin by Lauren DeStefano
Series: The Internment Chronicles #1
Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers on October 1st 2013
Pages: 356
Genres: Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: Wither, Burning Kingdoms, The Peculiar Night of the Blue Heart

two-stars

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Chemical Garden trilogy: On the floating city of Internment, you can be anything you dream. Unless you approach the edge. Children’s Literature says “shades of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World and George Orwell’s 1984 inspire DeStefano’s sci-fi/murder mystery page-turner.”

Morgan Stockhour knows getting too close to the edge of Internment, the floating city and her home, can lead to madness. Even though her older brother, Lex, was a Jumper, Morgan vows never to end up like him. There’s too much for her on Internment: her parents, best friend Pen, and her betrothed, Basil. Her life is ordinary and safe, even if she sometimes does wonder about the ground and why it’s forbidden.

Then a murder, the first in a generation, rocks the city. With whispers swirling and fear on the wind, Morgan can no longer stop herself from investigating, especially once she meets Judas. Betrothed to the victim, Judas is being blamed for the murder, but Morgan is convinced of his innocence. Secrets lay at the heart of Internment, but nothing can prepare Morgan for what she will find—or whom she will lose.

Morgan Stockhour is a resident of Interment, an island that has been separated from Earth and now floats above it in the sky. Internment possesses the ideal conditions of a Utopian society until the shocking murder of a young girl leaves everyone feeling unsafe.

‘You have all heard the warnings about the edge. We have been told its winds are a song that will hypnotize us, and by the time we awaken from the trance, it will be too late.’

The warnings to not peer over the edge, to look down on Earth’s people, have been drilled into all residents since before anyone can remember. Those that chance this danger are known as Jumpers and Morgan’s brother Lex is counted among the few to have survived, except he is now blind. Here lies my first issue. We end up meeting another of these ‘Jumpers’, a young girl, yet she ends up with a mind that isn’t “quite right” (something sounding a lot like epilepsy). No reasoning behind the differences in their injuries is given. But you’d think an island floating in the sky would have severe winds especially near the edge and you wouldn’t be able to be anywhere close to it.

The world-building is spent mostly on the culture of these people, rather than explaining the actual reasoning behind why an island just randomly detached from Earth and floated to a still livable position in the sky and not straight out into space. But basically, the way the society works is there’s the evil group of leaders, a King and Queen, that seek to control all aspects of the resident’s lives including arranged marriages from birth. And then it goes off on a typical tangent with the evil plot being discovered and the subsequent plan to escape/overthrow those evil doers. It was hard to get a feel for the time period this is set in. The society seemed technologically advanced yet had the feel of a medieval type era with its arranged marriages and King/Queen rulers. But you would think it’d have to be set in a distant past since one would expect the people on Earth to fly up and make contact with the ‘island people’, no?

The slow, meandering pace of the introduction was an interesting first look into this strange society and could have worked were it not for the continued slow, meandering pace even after the murder mystery aspect was introduced. Even during moments when you would expect a certain level of excitement or tension were made inexplicably dull. Unfortunately, what could have been an interesting dystopian tale turned very predictable and far from original.

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Book Review – Wither (The Chemical Garden #1) by Lauren DeStefano

October 24, 2011 Bonnie Book Reviews, Read in 2011, YA 0 Comments

Book Review – Wither (The Chemical Garden #1) by Lauren DeStefanoWither by Lauren DeStefano
Series: The Chemical Garden #1
Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers on March 22, 2011
Pages: 384
Genres: Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic, Romance
Format: eBook
Source: Library
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: Perfect Ruin, Burning Kingdoms, The Peculiar Night of the Blue Heart

one-half-stars

What if you knew exactly when you would die?

Thanks to modern science, every human being has become a ticking genetic time bomb—males only live to age twenty-five, and females only live to age twenty. In this bleak landscape, young girls are kidnapped and forced into polygamous marriages to keep the population from dying out.

When sixteen-year-old Rhine Ellery is taken by the Gatherers to become a bride, she enters a world of wealth and privilege. Despite her husband Linden’s genuine love for her, and a tenuous trust among her sister wives, Rhine has one purpose: to escape—to find her twin brother and go home.

But Rhine has more to contend with than losing her freedom. Linden’s eccentric father is bent on finding an antidote to the genetic virus that is getting closer to taking his son, even if it means collecting corpses in order to test his experiments. With the help of Gabriel, a servant she trusts, Rhine attempts to break free, in the limted time she has left.

I had major issues with the dystopian situation this book found itself in. The virus and evolution of everything seemed too far-fetched for me. The more YA books I read, the more I’m finding that there are books out there labeled as YA that young adults should not be reading because of the topics… this book being one of them.

Spoilers ahead..

Girls hide inside their houses at night scared of being kidnapped by ‘Guardians’ and sold into prostitution or sold as child brides to men who can afford them. The opening scene was a group of girls that had been kidnapped, three were ‘approved’, the rest were shot. The approved child brides are taken to the mansion of their future husband where they are promptly married to 21-year old Linden. One of the brides is only 13 years old. Sure this happens and sure this is real; however, there are some topics that just shouldn’t be glamorized and geared towards young adults.

I didn’t think it would be possible, yet I did manage to finish it. I can understand the story, I understand that these kind of things do happen in this world… but it was one of the worst books I’ve ever read.

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