Scythe by Neal Shusterman

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Thou shalt kill.

A world with no hunger, no disease, no war, no misery. Humanity has conquered all those things, and has even conquered death. Now scythes are the only ones who can end life—and they are commanded to do so, in order to keep the size of the population under control.

Citra and Rowan are chosen to apprentice to a scythe—a role that neither wants. These teens must master the “art” of taking life, knowing that the consequence of failure could mean losing their own.

THIS IS A SPOILER FREE REVIEW

I had no idea what this book was about before I started reading it.  I picked it up because it’s a Printz Medal winner, so it had to be good, right?  Yes.  I went in totally blind but it paid off so well.  I absolutely loved how Neal Shusterman took a no-holds-barred look at the role death plays in our lives and explored the problems of immortality.  All of this packaged up with characters to cheer for and a fascinating world.  I can’t wait to have this book for my shelves.

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Rook by Sharon Cameron

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History has a way of repeating itself. In the Sunken City that was once Paris, all who oppose the new revolution are being put to the blade. Except for those who disappear from their prison cells, a red-tipped rook feather left in their place. Is the mysterious Red Rook a savior of the innocent or a criminal?

Meanwhile, across the sea in the Commonwealth, Sophia Bellamy’s arranged marriage to the wealthy René Hasard is the last chance to save her family from ruin. But when the search for the Red Rook comes straight to her doorstep, Sophia discovers that her fiancé is not all he seems. Which is only fair, because neither is she.

As the Red Rook grows bolder and the stakes grow higher, Sophia and René find themselves locked in a tantalizing game of cat and mouse.

THIS IS A SPOILER FREE REVIEW

My main issue with Rook was the way in which the story hit every beat that has been hit a hundred times by hundreds of other stories.  The idea was sound, I thought, but none of the elements of the story seemed to really come together.  The characters came off as puppets, the plot was confusing since I had no idea where information was coming from, and the writing was pretty shy of the mark. Continue reading

Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine

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Ruthless and supremely powerful, the Great Library is now a presence in every major city, governing the flow of knowledge to the masses. Alchemy allows the Library to deliver the content of the greatest works of history instantly—but the personal ownership of books is expressly forbidden.

Jess Brightwell believes in the value of the Library, but the majority of his knowledge comes from illegal books obtained by his family, who are involved in the thriving black market. Jess has been sent to be his family’s spy, but his loyalties are tested in the final months of his training to enter the Library’s service.

When his friend inadvertently commits heresy by creating a device that could change the world, Jess discovers that those who control the Great Library believe that knowledge is more valuable than any human life—and soon both heretics and books will burn…

THIS IS A SPOILER FREE REVIEW

First of all, yes, finally.  This is a book about books but it’s more than just a shiny idea.  Rachel Caine brings the whole package: a dynamic group of characters, a beautifully imagined and well-thought out world, and a swift, electric plot that all wrapped seamlessly together.  A great idea brilliantly executed. Continue reading