30 Days of Horror #9: Battle Royale #HO17 #30daysofhorror

30daysofhorror

Join me for 30 Days of Horror in which we spotlight one horror book everyday until we reach Halloween!

Wow, day 9 already. My book pick for today is another classic, but very different to yesterday’s choice. I’ve gone for the book that was the inspiration behind the classic Arnie film, The Running Man, and the book that really kicked off the whole YA dystopian phenomenon, The Hunger Games.

It is of course, the Bloody Japanese epic, Battle Royale.

Battleroyale

Available in all formats, 617 pages

Published February 26th 2003 by VIZ, LLC

 Koushun Takami’s notorious high-octane thriller is based on an irresistible premise: a class of junior high school students is taken to a deserted island where, as part of a ruthless authoritarian program, they are provided arms and forced to kill one another until only one survivor is left standing.
Criticized as violent exploitation when first published in Japan – where it then proceeded to become a runaway bestseller – Battle Royale is a Lord of the Flies for the 21st century, a potent allegory of what it means to be young and (barely) alive in a dog-eat-dog world.

Goodreads // Not My Review

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Have you read it? What did you think?

Up Next on Horror October:

Top Ten Spooky Autumnal Book Covers

 

Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill #BookReview #YA #Dystopian

onlyeveryoursTitle: Only Ever Yours
Author: Louise O’Neill
Series: N/A
Format: paperback, 400 pages
Publication Details: July 3rd 2014 by Quercus
Genre(s): YA; Sci-Fi/Dystopian
Disclosure? Nope, I bought it.

Goodreads // Purchase

In a world in which baby girls are no longer born naturally, women are bred in schools, trained in the arts of pleasing men until they are ready for the outside world. At graduation, the most highly rated girls become “companions”, permitted to live with their husbands and breed sons until they are no longer useful.

For the girls left behind, the future – as a concubine or a teacher – is grim.Best friends Freida and Isabel are sure they’ll be chosen as companions – they are among the most highly rated girls in their year.

But as the intensity of final year takes hold, Isabel does the unthinkable and starts to put on weight. ..And then, into this sealed female environment, the boys arrive, eager to choose a bride. Freida must fight for her future – even if it means betraying the only friend, the only love, she has ever known. . .

Review

I’d heard so much about this book last year – nearly all of it good – so I was eager to make it a priority in 2016. But quite honestly, I’m not sure what I thought about it. 

Only Ever Yours is a novel that throws out A LOT of questions. I imagine that its aim is to make you question the world O’Neill has built and compare it to our own; to make you wonder if this horrifying vision of the future could ever come true… but for me, it was too unbelievable to get me asking these questions.

In O’Neill’s portrayal of the future, girls are bred rather than born, where they grow up in schools run by ‘chastities’ and are ‘trained’ how to be the perfect woman. They are all beautifully designed, they have a target weight they mustn’t lose sight of, and emotions or outbursts are seen as unattractive and are punishable.

Freida and her so-called friends are in their last year at school which means their whole manufactured lives have been building up to this moment. The Inheritants (the boys) have come to meet them and they will decide the girls’ futures. The three possible outcomes being companions, concubines, or chastities. Quite frankly, each option sounds pretty horrific to me, but of course, they know no different. Becoming a companion is what nearly all of the girls long for.

Argh! There’s too much I want to talk about with this book, but firtstly let me say that I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would. Lots of testimonials say something along the lines of  ‘a horrific vision of a future that could easily come true’, and I think the reason I didn’t love the book is because I don’t believe that for a second.

I mean, I know I’m coming at this book from the perspective of someone who has grown-up in freedom with very little amount of prejudice and inequality – but for me, as a vision of the future it just wasn’t believable. I feel like we’re moving further away from what this book is portraying than towards it. Women are no longer supposed to be perfect, to serve men, to solely be the child bearers…are they? Hasn’t society already come a long way in making that future implausible?

And the same goes for the gay rights – or lack of- in this book. ‘Aberrants’ (gays) have been extinguished by pinpointing the ‘gay gene’ and destroying it somehow. Again, I’m fortunate to come from somewhere where gay rights have come a long, long way in a short space of time, and yeah there’s still further to go before equality is at 100%, but I can’t imagine a future where this would happen, a past perhaps – that I would believe.

I was also really disappointed at how slowly the book moved along. It took so long for it to get to the ceremony and not much was happening in the mean time! And when the book finally did start to wrap-up it was an anti-climax.

I was hoping and praying that at some point Freida and Isabel would either discover that there is an outside world in which life is not like this. That they had somehow been imprisoned and fooled into believing that they were bred not born and there is nothing else but there is. OR that they would start some sort of rebellion…but no. Rage.

Maybe that’s just the Hunger Games generation in me. Maybe I’m completely missing the point? IDK. I am glad I read it, and if this rant makes it sound like I hated it, I didn’t! I just thought it would be…more. Or perhaps I was just victim to the hype-monster again. Who knows! 

unicorn rating 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lazy Saturday Review: Dark Satanic Mills by Marcus & Julian Sedgwick

dark
Title: Dark Satanic Mills
Authors: Marcus Sedgwick & Julian Sedgwick
Illustrators: John Higgins & Marc Olivent
Series: N/A
Edition: Paperback, 176 pages
Publication Details: November 2013 by Walker Books
Genre(s): Graphic Novel; Dystopia
Disclosure? Nope, I bought it.

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Set in a near-future Britain, Dark Satanic Mills tracks a young girl’s journey from the flooded landmarks of London to the vast, scorched and abandoned hills of the north. Framed for a murder she did not commit, the innocent and beautiful Christie has no other choice but to run for her life. Both a cautionary tale and a rip-roaring road trip, Dark Satanic Mills is altogether an intelligent, captivating and thrilling ride – The Wizard of Oz for a new generation, told in exhilarating shades of light and dark.

I’m not a regular graphic novel reader, but I’m a huge fan of Marcus Sedgwick so I was intrigued to see his work in this format.

Dark Satanic Mills is set in future Britain and whilst on the run, protagonist Christie happens upon a document that could unravel the hold the True Church – a kind of religious fascist dictatorship – has over the entire nation.

With the help of do-gooder Thomas, Christie heads to the north, through dark, desolate streets and violent gangs, to spread the truth about the True Church.

I loved almost everything about Dark Satanic Mills. The story was dark and full of action, and I loved that I knew all of the locations in the book, being a northerner myself. The artwork was gloriously grim, and I loved the William Blake references (it’s based on his poem Jerusalem).

The only thing that I didn’t like was that I was left wanting more. Much more! It didn’t feel like a complete ending, which is fine if they continue with the story but I don’t know if that’s on the cards.

This graphic novel will take you on a journey through a scary, broken Britain. A journey to discover the truth. Don’t forget your helmet!

unicorn rating

Dark Satanic Mills is available from Waterstones now.

Horror October: Revisiting The Coldest Girl in Coldtown

HorrorOct2014

This review was originally posted a year ago today, and it was my favourite Horror October read of 2013. I still find myself thinking about it now and again. I want to reread it so bad but it’s just finding the time. Anyway, I thought I would start a tradition of reblogging my favourite Horror October read from the previous year.

And so here it is….

12813630 Tana lives in a world where walled cities called Coldtowns exist. In them, quarantined monsters and humans mingle in a decadently bloody mix of predator and prey. The only problem is, once you pass through Coldtown’s gates, you can never leave.

One morning, after a perfectly ordinary party, Tana wakes up surrounded by corpses. The only other survivors of this massacre are her exasperatingly endearing ex-boyfriend, infected and on the edge, and a mysterious boy burdened with a terrible secret. Shaken and determined, Tana enters a race against the clock to save the three of them the only way she knows how: by going straight to the wicked, opulent heart of Coldtown itself.

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is a wholly original story of rage and revenge, of guilt and horror, and of love and loathing from bestselling and acclaimed author Holly Black.

I think I speak for many when I say that the vampire genre has been somewhat lacking since a certain series, let’s call it Smylight emerged.

Now, I’m not a Twilight hater by any means, quite the opposite, but it has opened up a whole world of shit and lameness when we come to YA Paranormal Romance and of course, vampire lit. I miss the good old days when vampires were actually supposed to be scary (sexy too of course, but scary first and foremost!), and pretty far from ‘normal’.

I miss the days of the more traditional vampire in fiction: Dracula, Carmilla, Lestat. I miss the fucked up worlds of Poppy Brite’s Lost Souls and Robin McKinley’s Sunshine…and here we have it. In The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, Holly Black has taken these sinister and seductive vampires of legend and brought them into a modern, urban world. YES!

Tana is a great protagonist. Prone to inappropriate giggling fits, but other than that pretty awesome. She had it tough when her mum went ‘cold’ which is Black’s take on the vampire infection that has spread from city to city. Once you have been bitten by a vampire, the infection sets in and you begin to crave blood and nothing else. If you can survive without feeding for 88 days the infection passes but y’know, easier said than done.

That’s where the Coldtowns come in. Each city has one, a walled prison in which to quarantine the infected and house the already turned vampires. In Black’s world, the Coldtowns and certain vampires within them have become famous and alluring and they even have live feeds broadcast on TV so everyone can see into the lives of those inside.

Tana wasn’t one of those who dreamed of partying with the beautiful creatures she’d seen on TV, or of living forever but when she finds her best friend infected and chained up with a crazy, weak-looking vampire she knows there is only one place she can go.

Gavriel, the said vampire, is rather messed up which is totally hot. Oh how I’ve missed an insane, unpredictable and brutal vampire character. I’d like to see him and Edward Cullen go at it.

I loved that Holly Black managed to create this dystopian world in the internet age yet hang on to the feel of the traditional vampire. This is is the first novel by her that I’ve read (if you don’t count The Spiderwick Chronicles) and I was deffo impressed. You can tell that she’s a fan of the genre, and for me, she has done it justice. Hurrah!

unicorn rating

Details: Paperback, 432 pages. Published September 17th 2013 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
If you like this try: Lost Souls by Poppy Z. Brite.

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black is available in paperback from Waterstones, where you can also download a free preview.

How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff

how
Title: How I Live Now
Author: Meg Rosoff
Series: N/A
Edition: Paperback, 194
Publication Details: November 30th 2004 by Wendy Lamb Books
Genre(s): YA; Dystopia
Disclosure? Nope, I borrowed it!

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“Every war has turning points and every person too.”

Fifteen-year-old Daisy is sent from Manhattan to England to visit her aunt and cousins she’s never met: three boys near her age, and their little sister. Her aunt goes away on business soon after Daisy arrives. The next day bombs go off as London is attacked and occupied by an unnamed enemy.

As power fails, and systems fail, the farm becomes more isolated. Despite the war, it’s a kind of Eden, with no adults in charge and no rules, a place where Daisy’s uncanny bond with her cousins grows into something rare and extraordinary. But the war is everywhere, and Daisy and her cousins must lead each other into a world that is unknown in the scariest, most elemental way.

A riveting and astonishing story.

How I Live Now has been a long time coming for me. Meg Rosoff has been on my radar for ages, and I really enjoyed her panel at YALC UK, but I’d not picked up one of her books until now.

And woah. I wasn’t expecting that. I kind of thought it was just going to be another YA dystopian romance, but it was so much more.

How I Live Now is about war, as seen through the eyes of Daisy.

Daisy is an American teen, who finds herself in the English countryside visiting her aunt and cousins, as she hasn’t been getting on with her step-mum. And whilst she’s happy to be away from them, there’s also a deep-rooted feeling of abandonment. She is a complex character, with a lot of issues, but I loved her sarcastic, moody personality, it felt very real. She was strong and weak all at the same time.

Daisy’s aunt, who is somehow involved in the government and the war, has to go away, just as bombs go off in London, leaving Daisy alone with her cousins, fending for themselves. But as the war intensifies, and the power is cut off, they are happily cocooned in their farm.

They make fires, gather food, and swim in the lake, and Daisy starts to enjoy herself. It’s like she feels content for the first time in her life, which has a lot to do with Edmund, whom she felt connected to from the moment they met.

I didn’t realise quite how controversial this book was until I read some of the reviews on Goodreads. People are welcome to their opinions of course, but I feel like a lot of them have missed the point. Yes, Daisy has an eating disorder. Yes, Daisy and her cousin, Edmund fall in love, and yes, they have underage sex and smoke cigarettes.

But How I Live Now doesn’t glamourise these things. The point isn’t that these things are OK. After being truly starving, Daisy realises how stupid she was to refuse to eat. It takes a war for her to be able to adjust her thinking, such is the strength of her mental illness.

And as for the romance and the sex, it’s not gratuitous. Daisy knows it’s wrong, she tries to not want Edmund, but they are drawn to each other too much, in almost a magical way. To me, all this says is, you can’t help who you fall for, and I think under different circumstances they would find it hard to be together. But being left to their own devices, the war brings them together, and inevitably tears them apart.

unicorn rating 4

How I Live Now is available in paperback from Waterstones now.

Lazy Saturday Review: The One by Kiera Cass

15844362
Title: The One
Series: The Selection #3
Author: Kiera Cass
Edition: Paperback, 323 pages
Published: Published June 5th 2014 by HarperCollins Children’s Books
Genre(s): YA; Dystopian; Romance
Disclosure? Nope, I bought it, obvs!

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For the four girls who remain at the palace, the friendships they’ve formed, rivalries they’ve struggled with and dangers they’ve faced have bound them to each other for the rest of their lives.

Now, the time has come for one winner to be chosen.

America never dreamed she would find herself anywhere close to the crown – or to Prince Maxon’s heart. But as the competition approaches its end and the threats outside the palace walls grow more vicious, America realises just how much she stands to lose – and how hard she’ll have to fight for the future she wants.

The breathtaking finale to THE SELECTION trilogy will make you swoon!

Oh man, it really did make me swoon. I cant help it, Maxon just does it for me, you guys. He’s cute, just the right amount of insecure but can be assertive and forthright when he needs to be, and hellooooo, about to be King. Hot!

The One was pretty much everything I wanted it to be. The relationship between Maxon and America was cute but not without its problems which is what has been so addictive about this whole series. At times I wanted to shout at them (OK, so I literally did) for moments of stupidity and letting situations and people get between them.

Throughout the series, I’ve found that the growing unease of the land of Ilea has been that extra something to what would otherwise be a throw-away teen romance story, and in book three it all comes to a head as we discover exactly what the rebellion is all about.

I feel like The One threw enough curve balls at me to keep me entertained but let’s face it, it could only end one way, right? It was more about the journey than the outcome for me, and it’s a journey that I want to revisit. Again and again.

I can only think of one thing that annoyed me about this book and that was Celeste. She was so horrible in the previous books but all of a sudden she was forgiven and became part of the girls’ group. Now, I’m all for forgiveness, and people can change, but it all happened a bit too quickly for my liking. Hey ho.

I’m sure I had loads of other things to say about it, but I was so sad it’s over that I couldn’t write a review initially, and now the feeling has passed along with my memory of it (I blame all the wine)…I’ll just have to read it again, shame.

With all of that being said, I couldn’t bring myself to give any of the books in this series 5 whole unicorns. Mainly because of what I like to think of as ‘The Trash Factor’. They’re silly and very cheesy and I love them, but I just can’t. The inner book-snob-who-likes-to-have-no-fun in me is trying to come out there…and I’ve tried so hard to torture her with teenage vamprire fiction over the years! Give up, already.

unicorn rating 4

The One is available now in paperback from Waterstones. You can get 10% off here.

Blog Tour: Infinitude by Ruchi Banerjee (Excerpt & Giveaway)

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Welcome to my stop on the Infinitude blog tour. How stunning is that cover!? Keep reading for your chance to win $80 in Paypal Cash!!! (INTL)

Infinitude Ruchi Banerjee Book Cover
Title: Infinitude
Author: Ruchi Banerjee
Publication date: Published May 5th 2014 by Hachette
Genre(s): Young Adult; Dystopian; Romance
Purchase: Amazon/ Barnes & Noble

Synopsis
The year is 2173. Humans are a near-extinct group herded together in protected sectors. Mira, a regular, self-absorbed, 16-year-old pimple buster, resident of Sector 51, has no clue how drastically her life is about to change when she accompanies her mother on a research project to a distant tropical jungle.

There, Mira discovers a tall, super-intelligent and rather good-looking boy called Neel, who introduces her to a whole new world of mysterious possibilities. But before she can even begin to understand her feelings for him, things take a nightmarish turn . . . Carnivorous mutants are on the prowl. A deadly new breed of the forest, they have Mira trapped.

Rescued by unlikely saviours, she finally learns the ugly truth of her world. Now, Mira must fight not only for her own life but also for humanity itself as she is pitted against a far stronger, smarter and more evolved enemy. Her only hope lies in Neel. But will he be able to overcome the overwhelming odds against them? Will this be the end of the human race? With electrifying action and forbidden love, Infinitude is the riveting story of two young lives caught in a deadly clash of civilizations.

Excerpt

My body stilled as my eyes tagged the dark silhouette covering the doorway. The stranger was a few feet taller than me. His shaved head sloping into distinct ear lobes, a thick neck and broad masculine shoulders. I tilted my head up, to catch a glimpse of his face but it was completely shrouded in the dark. Maybe he realized my predicament because right then he stepped closer.

I instinctively stepped back. My heart skipped a beat as I stared at the face now swathed in moonlight. Massive brow, sparse eyebrows, deep-seated eyes, a broken aquiline nose and a ruddy jaw. Everything was a bit disproportionate. It was not a handsome or even a cute face. It was…menacing. A face you would run away from in a dark alley. But then, there was something there that would make you look back. Just once. Just to be sure.”

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