Archive for December, 2014

Requiem (Delirium, #3) “Now an active member of the resistance, Lena has transformed. The nascent rebellion that was underway in Pandemonium has ignited into an all-out revolution in Requiem, and Lena is at the center of the fight. After rescuing Julian from a death sentence, Lena and her friends fled to the Wilds. But the Wilds are no longer a safe haven. Pockets of rebellion have opened throughout the country, and the government cannot deny the existence of Invalids. Regulators infiltrate the borderlands to stamp out the rebels.

As Lena navigates the increasingly dangerous terrain of the Wilds, her best friend, Hana, lives a safe, loveless life in Portland as the fiancée of the young mayor. Requiem is told from both Lena and Hana’s points of view. They live side by side in a world that divides them until, at last, their stories converge.”

Lauren Oliver’s final book in the Delirium series was an exciting tale with interesting characters and plenty of action.

This time we get to learn about what happened to Hana after her procedure. Fortunately for her, the ‘cure’ didn’t completely work. Each of her chapters has Hana struggling between her old adventurous self and a new muffled, not really happy person. This Hana suffers from an overwhelming guilt that has her doing risky things for a cured. Oliver gives us a bit of a surprise when we find out why she feels so guilty and how it relates to Lena’s escape.

We get a bit of a plot twist with the arrival of Alex (he returned in book two). Now, we have two boys, Julian and Alex, in love with Lena. Unfortunately, she loves them for different reasons. And, to add a little more drama Oliver gives us an attractive distraction for Alex by the name of Coral. Fortunately, these obvious relationships do not take away from the overall action of the story.

I was delighted to read about a more mature Lena. She has officially joined the Resistance and they are fighting to give people a choice. When her ragamuffin group catches up with a large group of Invalids I immediately pictured images of Woodstock–hordes of people, make shift facilities, poor sleeping arrangements. Oliver doesn’t skimp on the details here at all. The reader gets the full effect. Not only could I visualize the scene, but, I could imagine what it must have smelled like. I could even feel the anger that many of the Invalids, now called homesteaders by those who lived in The Wilds, displayed. How could they not be angry? They were forced to live like animals. They went days without food, proper shelter and even proper hygiene. And, they had people who wanted them dead just because they chose to have emotion.

I really loved the characters in this trilogy. They actually got stronger with each installment. In Requiem we meet Pippa, a strong leader who was a friend of Raven. This is a character that is likable from the very beginning. She had heart and spoke honestly. I wish there had been more time in the story to learn more about her. Writers know that all stories must have good antagonists as well as protagonists. Oliver delivers with Fred Hargrove, Hana’s pair. The more I learned about him the more I disliked him. There was nothing redeemable about a character who could get rid of his father and plot to permanently eradicate the Invalids. Oliver even provides a glimpse of him as a kid. Let me just say that the folks at PETA would hate him too.

The end of the book reminded me of the destruction of the Berlin Wall. As climatic as that event was, the end of Requiem doesn’t compare. It was an okay ending that left me wanting more details. What happens with Hana? Did Fred get his just reward? Oliver does hint, however, at a future for Alex and Lena. And, we get the idea that the demise of the wall is a new beginning.

Fortunately, Oliver does follow Requiem with a few short stories about Alex, Hana, Annabelle (Lena’s mom) and Raven. I thoroughly enjoyed the one about Alex, included at the end of the book. It helped put a little closure on his tale. I’m optimistic that the other tales will do the same.

Although I was a bit disappointed with the end of Requiem, I still recommend the book and the series. You’ll enjoy the story and the characters. I look forward to reading more from Oliver.

Rebellion and No Love

Posted: December 26, 2014 in Book Review

Pandemonium (Delirium, #2)Pandemonium (Book Two of Delirium Series)

“I’m pushing aside
the memory of my nightmare,
pushing aside thoughts of Alex,
pushing aside thoughts of Hana
and my old school,
like Raven taught me to do.
The old life is dead.
But the old Lena is dead too.
I buried her.
I left her beyond a fence,
behind a wall of smoke and flame.”

This book delivered—intriguing story, better character development and finally, some action!

Oliver continues the story of Lena, the main character from Delirium who was infected by deliria. This book picks up right where the first one left off. I loved how Oliver crafted the story. Instead of just giving us a blow by blow detailing we get a flash back – flash forward technique. The flash backs are labeled as “Then”. In those chapters we learn what happens to Lena immediately after entering The Wilds. The flash forward chapters, labeled as “Now”, follow Lena’s life six to eight months after entering The Wilds. This technique, in my opinion, moved the story along. I was always intrigued to either find out what had happened or what was about to happen.

In Pandemonium you will want to know everything that happens with Lena. This time she is stronger, bolder and a little wiser. She’s no longer the naive little girl waiting for her Procedure. Now she abhors it and is fighting to eliminate it from society. Finally!

After living in The Wilds, Lena has learned some valuable skills which she’ll use to save a new character, Julian. He is totally likable from his first introduction. He is described as someone you should probably pity, but, amazingly you don’t. Instead you get the feeling that there is a lot more to him just under the surface.

But, Julian isn’t the only character that you’ll like right away. Oliver brings a new batch of tough Invalids that you’ll admire. They’ve all been through hell and back but are thriving in The Wilds. Even their names are interesting: Raven, Tank, Hunter, Bram.

Once again, Oliver gives great descriptions. The book is vivid with details about The Wilds and even the characters. I loved it!

A word of warning…don’t read this one without having the last book in the trilogy handy! Oliver gives a serious cliffhanger in Pandemonium. I’ll just say that someone you really loved is back.

It goes without saying that I thoroughly enjoyed this installment!

Delirium (Delirium, #1) Delirium (Book One of Delirium Series)

Ninety-five days, and then I’ll be safe. I wonder whether the procedure will hurt. I want to get it over with. It’s hard to be patient. It’s hard not to be afraid while I’m still uncured, though so far the deliria hasn’t touched me yet. Still, I worry. They say that in the old days, love drove people to madness. The deadliest of all deadly things: It kills you both when you have it and when you don’t.”

I have to say that the description and the title drew me to this book. Lately, I’ve been reading a lot of Young Adult/New Adult fiction. I’m an aspiring young adult writer. Call it my research. My favorite reads have been Dystopian stories. Within the first couple of chapters it became apparent that this was a Dystopian romance. Well, I’ve read my share of romance books so, I continued on.

The premise of this tale is that love is a disease to be avoided at all costs. It is the root of all problems, even crime. The America in Oliver’s book has secured borders and a procedure that removes emotion from eighteen year olds. It’s supposed to be ‘the cure’, if it works. Yes, there are some citizens that the cure doesn’t work on even after repeated procedures. The main character, Lena, is actually counting down to the date of her procedure. She’s not trying to escape or avoid it…yet.

Although the story had a slow start, I eventually got caught up in Oliver’s descriptions. She made the settings, in my opinion, leap off the page (sorry for the cliche). I could easily visualize the different areas around Portland. Unfortunately, I was in the middle of the book before I realized that the book was set in Portland, Maine.

I actually enjoyed the character development in the book. In the beginning, Lena was someone that I didn’t care for a lot. I thought she was a poor little girl who didn’t have any experience. She was okay with living in a “Stepford-wife” world. Then she meets a forbidden boyfriend, Alex. By the end of the book, I just wanted her to escape with Alex and have a real life.

The story did provide a little food for thought as well. Oliver’s America had electrified walls around its border with round the clock patrols. I first thought of the wall that used to divide East and West Berlin. With immigration reform in the news, however, I wondered if we could eventually live in a world with locked borders.  That would definitely render America as not being the home of the free.

The fictitious book excerpts at the beginning of each chapter made me think as well. “The devil stole into the Garden of Eden. He carried with him the disease–amor deliria nervosa–in the form of a seed. It grew and flowered into a magnificent apple tree, which bore apples as bright as blood. (from Genesis: A Complete History of the World and the Known Universe).” What a creative way to twist the Bible! The book is full of these wonderful propaganda quotes. Unfortunately, if you put the right propaganda out there, you will always get believers. And, that’s the real story behind Oliver’s book. Events happened and some great master minds decided that love was the reason for the outcomes. Don’t believe everything you see and read people!

Needless to say, I enjoyed Delirium. It is a worthwhile read that I recommend to teens and adults. I hope the next book will prove to be just as interesting.

Keep Reading….

Posted: December 22, 2014 in Uncategorized

Snapshot_20141220 (2) Hi! My name is Shantella Benson. I’m an aspiring young adult writer currently working on my first novel. I’m also a serious bookworm. Years ago, I used to write book reviews for a small minority owned newspaper in Atlanta, Georgia. I got started writing music reviews for my high school newspaper. But, my love has always been the written word.

Right now I’m deep into reading YA/New Adult books. But, I’ll read just about anything including the occasional cookbook! It’s my sincere hope that my blog will help you find books that will open your mind, formulate your dreams and occupy your thoughts!

Happy Reading! Happy Holidays!

from The WordSmithe