Firedragon Rising

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

Firedragon Rising was written by Mary Fan and first published in 2015. It is a fantasy novella that is set in a world where the magical elite rule over powerless “Norms” with an iron fist. The novella follows on from where The Firedragon (2014) left off and the two stories combined form a prequel to Flynn Nightsider and the Edge of Evil, which was published earlier this year.

It has been three months since Aurelia Sun survived the International Challenge, becoming the first Norm to ever defeat a Fangbeast in combat. Yet she is the only person who knows this. The Triumvirate have done everything in their power to hide her victory, claiming that she was saved from death by a Sentinel. Now she knows for sure that they cannot be trusted. Problem is, they know that she knows.

Following an act of defiance towards Headmaster Everett, Aurelia realises that she has to escape. Helped by both Williams and Connor, she arms herself and steals a motorcycle from the school. Her goal is to reach a safe-house used by the Rising which is hidden deep within the Wasteland. Yet getting there will be difficult, even for her. The Wasteland is filled with supernatural monsters and the Sentinels are hot on her tail. If she is captured, it will likely mean the end for her and all that she holds dear.

However, Aurelia is the Firedragon and is confident that she can defeat anything that stands in her way. Her years of Defender training have taught her everything that she needs to know to go toe to toe with horrible monsters. But it has not prepared her for all the horrors that lie outside of the city. What will she do when she finds herself faced by Dark Enchanters and spirits that are immune to all physical attacks?

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Mortal Engines

Mortal Engines was written by Philip Reeve and first published in 2001. It is a dystopian science fiction novel, set in the far future when cities have become mobile. The novel forms the first part of the Mortal Engines Quartet and is followed by Predators Gold (2003), Infernal Devices (2005) and A Darkling Plain (2006). More recently, Reeve has also published a prequel series – titled the Fever Crumb series – and a film adaptation of Mortal Engines is due for release later this year.

Following the Sixty Minute War, the world fell into chaos. Faced with earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, most cities were transformed into hulking traction engines in order to protect the people who lived within. Now, they follow the credo of Municipal Darwinism. The successful cities are the ones that hunt and devour others, harvesting them for precious resources and slaves. The weaker cities are quick to fall.

As prey becomes scarce, London is forced to venture out into the dangerous hunting plains. Tom Natsworthy is as excited as anyone when she manages to capture the small mining town of Salthook. It even gives him the opportunity to meet his hero Thaddeus Valentine – head of the Guild of Historians. However, his luck soon turns when Valentine is attacked by one of the citizens of Salthook. Although Tom manages to save Valentine’s life, he learns that he is responsible for the brutal scarring of his would-be assassin’s face. And unfortunately this is a secret that Valentine would prefer to remain hidden.

Although Tom survives, he finds himself ejected from London in the company of the assassin – Hester Shaw – a bitter young woman who thinks of nothing more than her revenge. As the two search for a way back into the city, they learn a horrifying secret. The Lord Mayor of London has gotten his hands on an ancient weapon and soon plans to unleash it on the world…

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The Book Knights

The Book Knights was written by J.G. McKenney and first published in 2017. It is a fantasy novel that draws its inspiration from Arthurian legends, set in a dystopian city where reading is illegal. The novel reads as though it is part of a series, though at the time of writing no future instalments have been announced.

Arti Penderhagen’s life is turned upside down when her parents are arrested for the crime of reading and her home is burned to the ground. As she flees for safety, she is taken in by a young pick-pocket called Gal Hadd and offers to teach the orphan how to read in exchange for advice on how to survive on the streets.

Yet Gal’s tips may not be enough to protect Arti. Morgan Le Fay, the CEO of the city, has reason to believe that Arti has the power to thwart her plans to take absolute to control over everything. She sends her chief of police – Mordred – to scour the city for any trace of Arti, and to capture her by any means necessary.

Yet Arti soon finds allies in strange places. When she encounters an elderly librarian named Merl and reads a passage in a book that no one else can see, she learns that she is the one destined to use the magical pen Excalibri to write a better future for the world. However, to do so she needs to get her hands on the legendary Grail Tome, an ancient book in the possession of Morgan Le Fay…

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The Extinction Trials: Exile

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for The Extinction Trials. You can read my review of this novel [here].

The Extinction Trials: Exile was written by S.M. Wilson and first published in 2018. It forms the second part of The Extinction Trials series, following the continuing adventures of Stormchaser and Lincoln as they are forced to return to the dinosaur-infested wilderness of Piloria. The story carries on shortly after The Extinction Trials (2018) left off, so you really need to read the novels in sequence to fully appreciate them.

Stormchaser managed to survive her mission to Piloria and win vital medical care for Lincoln, Kronar and Rune’s families. She knows that she should be happy about that, but something still eats at her. Although the dinosaurs were terrifying, she feels guilty for the role that she played in developing a virus to wipe them out. Much to her surprise, she also finds that she misses Piloria. Returning to the drab and overpopulated Ambulus City is stifling and she yearns for the leafy forests of the dinosaur continent.

Lincoln also has reasons for wanting to return to Piloria. He brought a small pot of Blaine’s ointment back with him which seems to hold the key to curing the blistering plague and saving his sister. Unfortunately, the plants needed to create it do not grow in Earthasia. If only there was some way that he could get back to Piloria to get the samples that he needs to mass produce it.

The chance comes sooner than he could have imagined. The virus has been engineered in record time and the Stipulators decide that the best people to plant it are the survivors of the first trial. Stormchaser, Lincoln and Leif are forced to put their differences aside as they once again face off against the world’s deadliest predators. However, this time they are not alone. The Council have learned that Reban Don is Storm’s father and have exiled him to Piloria. If Storm fails, she knows that the Stipulators will not let her return and she will be forced to live out her days with the man who once tried to kill her…

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Cell 7

Cell 7 was written by Kerry Drewery and first published in 2016. It is a dystopian thriller set in the not too distant future, where the court system has been abolished at all crimes are judged by the general public in the form of a reality TV show. The novel forms the first part of the Cell 7 Trilogy and is followed by Day 7 (2017) and Final 7 (2018).

Almost everyone agreed that the court system didn’t work. How else could you explain why so many high-profile killers seemed to get off scot-free? Everyone could see that the new system was an improvement. Each convict was placed into the Cells, moving each day until they were placed in Cell 7 – the execution chamber. Over this time, their story was broadcasted to the public on Death is Justice – a reality TV show that allowed them to vote on whether they thought that the accused was innocent or guilty. It’s clear that the new system works much better than the old. In over two thousand cases, only fifty have ever been found innocent.

When Jackson Paige is murdered, the whole country is shocked. Jackson is one of the most beloved celebrities, known for his charity work and the fact that he even adopted his son from the High Rises, England’s poorest area. His killer – Martha Honeydew – was born in the Rises and was found holding the gun, declaring her guilt. There is no need to review any evidence. As Martha is placed in Cell 1 the polls start out at 97% guilty and there’s no reason why they would ever shift.

However, Eve Stanton has her doubts. As Martha’s councillor, she is the only person who is allowed to speak with the accused and she has reason to believe that Martha is lying to protect someone. As Eve investigates Martha’s past, she learns that there is more to the case than meets the eye. Jackson Paige is not who he seemed and has some surprising ties to Martha. The only trouble is proving it. How can Eve save Martha from the wrath of the public, when Martha insists that she is guilty?

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The Beneath

The Beneath was written by S.C. Ransom and first published in 2015. It is an urban fantasy story with horror elements that focuses on a teenage girl who discovers the existence of a dystopian community living beneath the streets of London. The novel stands alone, so you don’t have to have read any of the author’s other work to fully appreciate it.

Lily has been having a rough time of it at school. She used to be rich and popular but the her parents lost everything. Now she lives with her Nan and everyone that she used to call a friend has turned against her. However, everything changes for Lily when she saves Aria from being hit by a train.

Aria is more than a little strange. She can’t read and seems confused by everything, from televisions to dogs. Lily soon learns that this is because she is seeing them for the first time. Aria has escaped from the Community – a group of people who have lived beneath London for centuries. In their culture, everything is dictated to them by the Farmer, who is the one person with control of the Crop – a deadly entity that keeps them all safe so long as they obey the Farmer’s strict rules to the letter.

Aria knows that she will be killed if she returns to the Community yet is torn by her sense of duty. She only came to the surface in the first place because she had been sent on a mission by Dane, the boy that she loves. Dane believes that the only person who can overthrow the Farmer lives on the surface but now Aria isn’t sure that she can go through with his plan. What would Lily say if she learned that Aria had only come to the surface to kidnap her?

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How I Live Now

How I Live Now was written by Meg Rosoff and first published in 2004. It is a work of speculative fiction, focusing on the experiences of a teenage girl in rural England as World War III breaks out. The novel stands alone, so you don’t have to have read any of the author’s other work to fully appreciate it. It also won a number of literary awards, including the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize and the Michael L Printz Award.

Daisy is fifteen-years-old and feels as though she has been utterly abandoned. Her father cares more about his pregnant wife than he does for her and has sent her away to live with her Aunt for the summer. Daisy finds this to be a bit of a culture shock at first. Not only has she been forced to trade Manhattan for the English countryside, but she has also got to get to know her four decidedly odd cousins – Osbert, Edmond, Isaac and Piper.

Luckily Daisy is quick to hit it off with her distant family, especially Edmond with whom she develops a mutual attraction. The summer seems to be perfect but everything changes when Aunt Penn leaves to attend a lecture in Oslo for a few days. It is over this time that the first bombs hit London and everything descends into chaos. The teenagers find themselves cut off from everything. Although the war has not reached them, they slowly begin to feel its impact through rationing and power failure to the village.

For a while, Daisy and her family are still happy and continue life as normal. However, that is before the army decide that they need to commandeer their house for a base. The girls and boys are split up and sent to different villages and everything suddenly becomes very real. Daisy and Piper know that they need to escape and find the boys, however how can they hope to do so when supplies are scarce and The Enemy could be anywhere?

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The Extinction Trials

The Extinction Trials was first published in 2017 and is S.M. Wilson’s debut novel. It is a dystopian science fiction story, set in an overpopulated world where humans live alongside dinosaurs. The book is the first part of a planned series and its sequel – Exile – is expected to be released in June of this year.

The continent of Earthasia is in trouble. Its overpopulation is starting to hit critical levels and there is nowhere near enough food, shelter or healthcare to go around. With deadly illnesses beginning to spread, the ruling class of Stipulators begins to turn their attention to the neighbouring continent of Piloria. This place is a paradise of untapped resources and exotic plants but there is one problem. Piloria is overrun with man-eating dinosaurs and every expedition there ends badly.

When the Stipulators announce a trial to decide who is worthy of taking their next expedition, Stormchaser Knux only really takes part for the increased food rations. However, as she starts to do well in the contest, she grows curious to visit Piloria to see if the dinosaurs really are mindless monsters. Lincoln Kreft has a far more serious reason for wanting to take part. Survivors are granted top-class healthcare which is the only thing that can save his sister from the plague.

However, the expedition this time is more dangerous than ever before. The Stipulators need a sample of DNA from the deadliest species of dinosaurs – velociraptors, pterodactyls and tyrannosaurs – and the only way to get this is to steal dinosaur eggs. The person to deliver the most eggs will reap huge rewards for themselves; the rest will be lucky to leave with their lives…

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The Girl Who Dared to Think

The Girl Who Dared to Think was written by Bella Forrest and first published in 2017. It is a dystopian science fiction story, set in a futuristic city where people are ranked based on their attitude and productiveness. The novel forms the first part of The Girl Who Dared to Think series and is followed by The Girl Who Dared to Stand (2017), The Girl Who Dared to Descend (2017) and The Girl Who Dared to Rise (2017). A fifth instalment of the series – The Girl Who Dared to Lead – is planned for release later this month.

Even though the rest of the world has fallen, the Tower still protects the humans that live within. The city is governed by Scipio – an all-knowing AI – who uses complex algorithms to assign everyone who lives there a number based on their focus and optimism. High numbers are desirable as they show that you are a productive and loyal member of the community. However, problems arise when a person’s number drops too far. Threes are required to undertake drug treatment. Twos are put into isolation. Ones are taken away to the dungeons and are never seen again.

Twenty-year-old Liana Castell is horrified when her number falls to a three. She does not want to be dropped from her community as she has always dreamed of being a Knight, but at the same time she has seen what the drug treatment does to people and does not want to lose her sense of self. Things change when she encounters Grey Farmless – a one who has somehow managed to boost his number to a nine in a matter of seconds.

Liana knows that this is impossible and becomes obsessed with finding Grey’s secret. However, the truth causes her to see that Scipio isn’t quite as infallible as people believe. The computer’s judgements have been becoming more extreme but the loyalists still follow them to the letter. When Liana learns what the true duty of the Knights entails, she knows that she needs to get away. But how can she protect her friends and escape when the city itself is against her?

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The Summer Prince

The Summer Prince was written by Alaya Dawn Johnson and first published in 2013. It is a cyberpunk dystopian novel, set in a futuristic Brazilian city after the world was decimated by nuclear war. The story stands alone, so you do not have to have read any of the author’s other work to fully appreciate it.

In the hostile wasteland of Brazil, the city of Palmares Tres exists as a peaceful safe-haven. The beautiful city has been formed from a mixture of western and eastern cultures, and is ruled by a circle of powerful women known as the Aunties. It also allows the use of body mods – upgrades that range from being cosmetic to allowing their user to live for over two hundred years. However, the culture of Palmares Tres is sustained by a dark act. Whenever a king is crowned, he must be ritually sacrificed at the end of his first year.

June Costa is an eighteen-year-old artist who is eager to prove herself. With the help of her friend Gil, she hopes to create the greatest art that the city has ever seen. She is inspired by the story of one of the candidates for the next Summer King – Enki – a young man from the poorest tier of Palmares Tres who loves to express himself through dance. As Enki is crowned as king, June is thrilled to meet him for the first time. However, her joy is short lived as she discovers that he only has eyes for Gil.

However, June and Enki find a connection through other means. Communicating through their art, they plan to create a display unlike anything the city has ever seen. However, Enki pushes June to her limits as he forces her to see the deep-rooted corruption in the city that the Aunties try to hide. June is torn by what she learns. While Enki will be dead within a year, she must live with her actions for centuries. Can she continue down his path, knowing that it will destroy her only chance for a future?

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