The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for earlier instalments of this series. You can read my reviews of these novels here:

The Hunger Games | Catching Fire | Mockingjay

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes was written by Suzanne Collins and first published in 2020. It is a prequel to the popular The Hunger Games Trilogy and focuses on a young Coriolanus Snow as he mentors a tribute in the 10th Annual Hunger Games. Although it is set 64 years before the original trilogy, I would strongly recommend reading The Hunger Games (2008), Catching Fire (2009) and Mockingjay (2010) first to fully appreciate what is going on.

Coriolanus Snow is the heir of the Snow family, but since the war his family have sunk into poverty. In order to provide for his Grandmother and cousin, Tigris, he needs to win a grant to study at the Capitol’s university. Failure to do so will mean that they will certainly lose their apartment. Luckily, an opportunity has arisen. Coriolanus has been selected to mentor the District 12 tribute in the upcoming Hunger Games. If he makes a good impression, he will certainly secure the funding that he needs.

While Coriolanus does not expect that his tribute, Lucy Gray Baird, will win the games, he is pleased when her talent for singing makes her a star in the Capitol. Desperately, he seeks a way to use this to his advantage and come out on top with popularity alone. However, as Coriolanus spends more time with Lucy Gray, he comes to realise that he actually wants to her to win. Although Lucy Gray does not look like much when compared to some of the stronger tributes, he begins to plan a strategy that will allow her to defeat them by any means necessary.

Yet his victory will not be easy. Hampered by the psychotic Gamesmaster and his association with Sejanus Plinth, a classmate who is oddly sympathetic with the Districts, Coriolanus must use all of his wits and cunning to succeed. If he cannot win a place at University, how will he ever succeed in his ambition of one day ruling Panem…

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Final 7

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for earlier instalments of this series. You can read my reviews of these novels here:

Cell 7 | Day 7

Final 7 was written by Kerry Drewery and first published in 2018. It is a dystopian science fiction novel, set in a world where all executions in the United Kingdom are publicly aired as part of a reality television show. The novel forms the final part of a trilogy and follows on directly from where Cell 7 (2016) and Day 7 (2017) left off, so I would strongly recommend reading the novels in sequence to have any idea of what is going on.

Although Martha and Isaac have both escaped from Cell 7, things could not be worse for them. Now known as the Rises 7, Martha and her allies have been branded as terrorists due to the explosion at the Cells. Eve has been imprisoned and is awaiting her trial by media, while the Government has used the chaos as an excuse to erect a wall to separate the Rises from the more affluent areas of London.

As Martha waits to see if Isaac will survive his injuries, she begins to put a new plan in motion. With the assistance of an investigative journalist and the Prime Minister’s aide, she searches for a way to reveal Reynard’s deceit to the country. Only by proving Death is Justice is corrupt – and that this corruption stems from the Prime Minister himself – can Martha find a way to destabilise the system before Eve meets her end.

However, things are now more difficult than ever before. As the system starts to crumble, Reynard becomes more dangerous. The police are replaced by his own private guard and any revolutionary activity is given an instant death sentence. Martha will have to work harder than ever if she is to convince Britain that the system – and the man behind it – do not have their best interest at heart.

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The Toll

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for earlier instalments of this series. You can read my reviews of these novels here:

Scythe | Thunderhead

The Toll was written by Neal Shusterman and first published in 2019. It forms the final part of the Arc of a Scythe Trilogy, now set in a grim world where life and death are controlled by one power-hungry psychopath. The novel follows on directly from where Scythe (2016) and Thunderhead (2018) left off, so I would recommend reading these novels in sequence to fully appreciate what is going on.

In the wake of the great tragedy of Endura, the world has rapidly changed for the worst. Thunderhead has gone silent, declaring everyone except for Greyson Tolliver as unsavoury. Any supporter of Scythe Curie has either gone to ground or been culled. Citra is missing and presumed dead. Scythe Goddard has declared himself as the first Overscythe and taken to revising the governing rules of the Scythes, removing gleaning quotas and permitting Scythes to act on their personal prejudices towards certain races or religious groups.

The only hope for the world lies with Faraday and Munira, who have headed deep into Thunderhead’s blind spot to find the legendary fail-safe – something with the power to put an end to the Scythes. However, when they find themselves marooned on the island with no way of activating the fail-safe, it seems that any chance of stopping Goddard is lost. Fortunately, Thunderhead has not given up on them. Within weeks, boats of workers also start to dock on the remote atoll. They have been instructed to build something huge – something that could save the human race. Trouble is, no one knows what it is.

On the other side of the world, several other groups work tirelessly to stop Goddard. A salvage crew rescue Citra from the ruins of Endura and use her as a mouthpiece to reveal Goddard’s crimes, and Greyson re-imagines himself as the Toll – the chosen prophet who can unite the Tonists against their enemies. Yet will they be enough to stop Goddard when 80% of Scythes in America support his regime?

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The Girl Who Dared to Descend

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for previous instalments of this series. You can read my reviews of these novels by clicking the links below:

The Girl Who Dared to Think | The Girl Who Dared to Stand

The Girl Who Dared to Descend was written by Bella Forrest and first published in 2017. It is the third instalment of The Girl Who Dared series, following Liana and her friends as they continue to investigate systematic corruption within the Tower. The novel is preceded by The Girl Who Dared to Think (2017) and The Girl Who Dared to Stand (2017), and followed by The Girl Who Dared to Rise (2017), The Girl Who Dared to Lead (2018), The Girl Who Dared to Endure (2018) and The Girl Who Dared to Fight (2018). Due to this, I would strongly recommending reading them in sequence to have any idea of what is going on.

Although Devon is dead, Liana is in more trouble than ever. She has now been captured and awaits trial for her part in his murder. Worse still, she does not even have Grey to comfort her. His injuries are so severe that Leo now inhabits her lover’s neural net, controlling his body while he repairs the damage to Grey’s mind.

Yet, Liana soon learns that she has allies in high places – ones that are capable of controlling Scipio and making it seem as though her crimes were actually in service to the Tower. However, they want something from her in return. The Knights will now need to hold a Tourney to determine their new Champion. Liana and her friends must enter this contest to ensure that a resistance sympathiser – Ambrose – is the one chosen.

It seems like a simple task, but danger lurks behind every corner. Unknown legacies will stop at nothing to ensure that Ambrose is killed before he can advance too far, and Ambrose himself is reluctant to accept the help of a band of criminals. Worse still, they are no closer to discovering who has been hacking into Scipio in the first place. How can Liana protect someone if she does not know how deep the conspiracy goes?

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The Darkest Minds

The Darkest Minds was written by Alexandra Bracken and first published in 2012. The novel follows the story of a group of teenagers with strange powers, who are forced to flee across America in search of a safe haven. The book forms the first part of The Darkest Minds series and is followed by Never Fade (2013), In the Afterlight (2014) and The Darkest Legacy (2018).

When Ruby was ten, a mysterious disease swept across America. Parents were forced to watch helplessly as a majority of their children died of Idiopathic Adolescent Acute Neurodegeneration. However, the fate of the survivors was far worse. The children were left with terrible powers, ranging from hyper intelligence to pyrokinesis. Terrified by the implications of this, the government quickly set up rehabilitation camps, spinning them as places where the children could be cured. The truth was that they were little more than prisons.

Ruby has lived in Thurmond since she was ten years old and hides a terrible secret. On the day that she was sorted, she saw into the doctor’s mind and realised the danger of seeming two powerful. Using her powers, she made him believe that she was just a Green – someone who possessed a photographic memory. She is now forced to be super careful to ensure that no one realises that she is actually an Orange – someone with the power to change memories and control minds.

Yet all of that is about to change. When Ruby’s secret is revealed, she is forced to accept the help of a mysterious doctor in order to escape the camp. Yet, once outside, she soon learns that her rescuer’s motives may not be that altruistic. As she runs away, she soon finds herself in the company of a small group of teenagers who are in search of the “Slip Kid” – someone with the power to protect them. Yet could this all be too good to be true and, in this dangerous world, is there anywhere that is truly safe?

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Atlantia

Sorry for the delay in posting this one. I’m currently studying for an exam so please note that my reviews may be a bit sporadic over the next month or so. All being well, normal service should resume at the start of July…

Atlantia was written by Ally Condie and first published in 2014. It is a dystopian science fiction story set in a world where people have been forced to retreat to an undersea city. The novel stands alone, so you don’t have to have read any of the author’s earlier work to fully appreciate it.

When the air grew too polluted to breathe, people were forced to make a terrible sacrifice. Some chose to remain above, working hard and dying young. This ensured that their loved ones had all they needed to survive below. Atlantia – the underwater city – is beautiful and those who live there know they are blessed. Yet still some from every generation must still choose to travel to the surface to ensure that Atlantia can continue to be.

Rio has dreamed of being the one to make the sacrifice. Atlantia has always felt too claustrophobic for her and she longs to see real trees. However, when her sister Bay chooses to go above, Rio realises that she will never get her chance. One member of each bloodline must always remain below. Not only has Bay doomed Rio to a life under the sea with no explanation, but she has also left her all alone.

Yet Rio will not accept her fate and begins to desperately search for a way to get to the surface. Yet she soon discovers that she must hurry. Something is going wrong with Atlantia and if she does not leave soon, she may not get another chance. To make matters worse, she has a terrible secret. She is a Siren – one blessed with the ability to control others with their voice – and there are certainly those who would use this to their advantage…

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Only Ever Yours

Only Ever Yours was written by Louise O’Neill and first published in 2014. It is a dark dystopian science fiction story which is set in a world were women are genetically engineered to please men. The novel stands alone, so you don’t have to read any of the author’s other work to fully appreciate it.

freida is an eve who has just entered her sixteenth year. That means that it is finally time for her to graduate and be accepted into one of the three areas of society appropriate for females. frieda has always dreamed of being chosen as a companion – one who will become a wife and bear as many sons as she can to the husband who chooses her. The alternatives are to become either a concubine (one who will please any man who so desires her services) or a chastity (those who are undesirable to all and therefore teach the next generation of eves).

The problem is, freida’s ranking has been slipping. As she struggles with a sleeping disorder, her weight increases above the window that is deemed acceptable and, for the first time in years, she finds that she is not one of the top ten. This is a huge problem for her, as only the most attractive and obedient girls will be lucky enough to become a companion.

While freida works to improve her image and become attractive again, he notices that her friend isabel’s standards are slipping. While she was previously top ranked, isabel’s huge weight gain has completely knocked her off the leader-board. freida desperately wants her friend to see the error of her ways but can she really risk her own image by associating with someone so hideous? With the graduation ceremony only months away, any mistake could cost freida her future…

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Day 7

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for Cell 7. You can read my review of this novel [here].

Day 7 was written by Kerry Drewery and first published in 2017. It forms the second part of the Cell 7 trilogy, following Cell 7 (2016) and preceding Final 7 (2018). As the novel picks up exactly where the previous instalment left off, I would really recommend reading them in sequence to have any idea of what is going on.

Martha has been found innocent and freed from Death Row but it has come at a terrible cost. To save her, Isaac admitted that he was the one who shot Jackson Paige. Now, he has taken her place in the Cells and will certainly be executed in seven days. After all, how could the public possibly declare him not guilty when he has openly admitted to the crime?

As Martha returns home with Eve and Max, she quickly learns that all of her efforts have been for nothing. All copies of her evidence against Jackson have been destroyed and the public now believe that she is simply a liar. She may have escaped execution but her trial-by-public continues, helped by reports that she is dangerously unstable. It seems that someone at the top wants Martha to go away and will gladly hurt her allies to achieve this.

On the run and wanted by the authorities, it seems that there is little that Martha can do to save Isaac. However, she is then approached by an unexpected person who claims that they can help. Patty – Isaac’s adopted mother – claims that she has her own reasons for wanting Isaac to go free and can provide Martha with the means to save him. However, can Martha trust her or is this just another trap?

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The Extinction Trials: Rebel

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for earlier instalments in this series. You can read my reviews of these novels by clicking the links below:

The Extinction Trials | The Extinction Trials: Exile

The Extinction Trials: Rebel was written by S.M Wilson and first published in 2019. It tells the continuing story of Stormchaser and Lincoln, as humans are forced to populate Piloria for the first time. The novel forms the final part of The Extinction Trials trilogy, following on shortly after The Extinction Trials (2018) and The Extinction Trials: Exile (2018) left off. Because of this, I would recommend reading the novels in sequence to fully appreciate what is going on.

For six months, Stormchaser and Reban have been forced to work together to survive in the jungles of Piloria. Although the viruses seem to have wiped out the tyrannosaurs and pterodactyls, it has had the reverse effect on the raptors. These creatures seem to be growing more powerful by the day – larger, faster and dangerously intelligent. It takes all of Storm and Reban’s skill to stay one step ahead of the deadly predators.

Meanwhile on Earthsia, Lincoln’s kindness has had terrible consequences. The plants that he brought back from Piloria have saved everyone from the blistering plague. However, it soon becomes clear that this disease was the only thing controlling the population. Now, there are too many mouths to feed and not even the Stipulators have the power to quell the riots.

Loading up the last two boats with a collection of politicians and labourers, the humans have no choice but to take their chances on Piloria. However, most people are completely unprepared for life on the dinosaur continent. It will take all of Storm and Lincoln’s skills to educate the frightened survivors on how to live in the savage lands. However, Silas still struggles to keep his position of power. The former Chief Stipulator has other ideas about how they must survive, ones that could have fatal consequences…

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Flynn Nightsider and the Edge of Evil

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for earlier instalments in this series. You can read my review of these novels by clicking the links below:

The Firedragon | Firedragon Rising

Flynn Nightsider and the Edge of Evil was written by Mary Fan and first published in 2018. It is a fantasy dystopian novel, set it a world where anyone who is unable to use magic is a second-class citizen. The novel is technically the first instalment of the Flynn Nightsider series, although Fan did previous publish two short prequel novellas – The Firedragon (2014) and Firedragon Rising (2015) – which tell Aurelia’s backstory.

Despite being a powerless Norm, Flynn Nightsider lived a pretty happy life. That is, until the night when his mother was cruelly slain in front of him by a monstrous draugr. Since then, he was taken in by the Academy with the other orphaned Norms. Although they are kept safe from the monsters, Flynn knows that he will never amount to anything. Secondstringers like him will never receive the preferential treatment enjoyed by the Enchanters – the students who are able to use magic.

When Flynn and his best friend Brax learn that their Headmaster may be hiding an illicit secret – one that potentially concerns Flynn’s mother – the two know that they need to flaunt every school rule and break into is office. However, things are quick to go wrong. When they accidentally cause a magical explosion, the boys find themselves “black bagged” and hauled away as traitors. It is obvious to everyone that something strange is going on. While the explosion had seriously injured Brax, Flynn had somehow walked away unharmed.

Although the Triumvirate immediately sentence Flynn to death for his crimes, there are other people who have noticed him and taken an interest. The Rising – a secret rebellion against the tyrannical triumvirate – certainly have use for someone who could well be immune to an Enchanter’s spells. However, they are not the only ones. The Defiants – a group of Enchanters lead by the powerful Tydeus Storm – would also stop at nothing to get their hands on him. And the Defiants are known for their mastery of dark magic, so whatever plans they have for him cannot be good…

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