Book Review: Specials by Scott Westerfeld

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81vov3tq3hlSpecials by Scott Westerfeld

Genre: Young Adult, Dystopia, Science-Fiction

Publishing Info: May 2011 Simon Pulse (first published 2006)

Pages: 350

Star Rating: 3/5

 

Back Cover Summary:

Tally thought they were a rumor, but now she’s one of them. A Special. A super-amped fighting machine, engineered to keep the uglies down and the pretties stupid.

But maybe being perfectly programmed with strength and focus isn’t better than anything she’s ever known. Tally still has memories of something else.

Still, it’s easy to tune that out—until she’s offered a chance to stamp out the rebels of the New Smoke permanently. It all comes down to one last choice: listen to that tiny, faint heartbeat, or carry out the mission she’s programmed to complete. Either way, Tally’s world will never be the same.

 

Specials is the third book in the Uglies series, and the final book in the main trilogy. There is a ‘companion’ novel, Extras, and Westerfeld recently released Imposters, which is set in the same universe. While I enjoyed this book to a small degree, it didn’t blow me away. It didn’t leave me with any significant lasting impression.

The book opens with brilliant writing. Some amazing descriptions really make you feel like you’re seeing the world through Tally’s special super sense eyes. However, this isn’t carried through the rest of the book. That level of description all the way through would be too much, but I’d have expected more. If you introduce the idea that a character has these extra senses, you have to carry that through and show how they see the world with their super senses in the rest of the book too, not just at the opening to get the reader’s attention.

They’re supposed to be specials, superior to everyone else. They might be in terms of their super reflexes and senses, but they still go around doing tricks and acting not much different from how they did before in some ways.

I never really understood why Dr Cable let Tally and the others be ‘Cutters’, separate from the other Specials. It was supposed to be some kind of special experiment, but there was never really any explanation so I never understood Dr Cable’s purpose in letting the Cutters become some kind of special clique. The presentation of cutting to become ‘icy’ is also problematic, and could have been dealt with in a better way, especially considering this is aimed at a teenage audience.

One of the biggest weaknesses of this book, and the series in general, was the main villain/antagonist, Dr Cable. While I do think the main conflict explored in the series is an internal one – Tally’s fight to overcome her tampered brain – if you’re going to include an antagonist, they can’t just be a vague figure. They have to be at least a bit fleshed out, even if they don’t physically feature in that many scenes. Dr Cable had no character, I had no idea why she was doing what she was doing, what her motivations were, what had made her into that ‘antagonist’. We don’t need a whole back story, especially when she doesn’t have a physical presence in many chapters, but they need to have some character and personality.

Dr Cable seemed to have no character at all. She was a very unconvincing villain, just because I didn’t know anything about her. It’s like she was a token baddy. Just there because a story needs a villain. There wasn’t as much suspense in the last section of Specials because Dr Cable wasn’t very intimidating, she wasn’t a good villain. She was bland and uninteresting, and that just sucked the tension out of the ending. Without any spoilers, the ending of Dr Cable’s story fell flat because I didn’t have any interest in her character to begin with. There’s a great twist towards the end, but it just falls flat.

Overall I enjoyed parts of the series, but it didn’t wow me. The concept was great. I loved the idea of what the world would be like if people were made to look the same through an operation, and how controlling people through messing with their brains as a way to stop them fighting each other and destroying the planet. However, each book felt a bit repetitive. Somehow, this final book just wasn’t a satisfying enough conclusion to the series.

Read my reviews of Uglies and Pretties to see what I thought of the first two books in the series.

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Top 10 Tuesday: Longest Books I’ve Ever Read

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This week’s Top 10 Tuesday caught my attention as I know I’ve read a lot of long books, but I wasn’t sure which was the longest.

Top 10 Tuesday was originally created by The Broke and the Bookish, but as of January has now moved to That Artsy Reader Girl. If you’re interested in taking part click here.

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I’ve sorted this list by order of pages according to Goodreads for ease (where possible for the edition I read), or I could spend ages deciding what is ‘longest’. The Lord of the Rings is listed as one book partly because the edition I own has it in one volume, but largely because this is how J. R. R. Tolkien intended it.

It’s no surprise to find most on this list are high fantasy, nor that a long classic made it into the top ten. There is also more than one book from some series – Paolini’s Eragon series clocks in three books, while Jordan’s Wheel of Time series has two in this list.

  1. The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien – 1,178 pages
  2. Inheritance by Christopher Paolini – 849 pages
  3. A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin – 806 pages
  4. The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan – 800 pages
  5. Brisingr by Christopher Paolini – 764 pages
  6. The Great Hunt by Robert Jordan – 705 pages
  7. Eldest by Christopher Paolini – 682 pages
  8. City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare – 638 pages
  9. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J. K. Rowling – 617 pages
  10. Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens – 608 pages

What are the longest books you’ve read? Share in the comments!

TV Review: Bodyguard

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Aired: 26 August – 23 September 2018 on BBC

Created by: Jed Mercurio

Written by: Jed Mercurio

Starring: Richard Madden, Keeley Hawes, Sophie Rundle

Genre: Drama, thriller

Rating: 4.5/5

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Image: BBC

It’s the show everyone seems to be talking about, and the most-watched, as it had the biggest BBC drama overnight viewing figures since the Doctor Who Christmas episode of 2008. The big question is – is it worth the hype? The answer to that question is simply yes. This review will be relatively spoiler free, so don’t worry about seeing any in this post. If, however, you decide not to read on for fear of spoilers, take one thing away: go and watch this show.

Bodyguard follows the story of David Budd, who is assigned to protect the Home Secretary, played by Keeley Hawes. The story is set in London in a time when the terrorist threat to the UK is very high. The plot unfurls across six episodes, and maintains high tension and mystery throughout. Tension and suspense drives the thrill of this series, and boy does it have bucketfuls of suspense. There are lots of twists and turns with conspiracies, and I found it totally unpredictable in the most exciting way.

I liked that it wasn’t too violent. So many TV shows these days have unnecessary violence. There was one scene where rather a lot of blood got splattered about, and David Budd does seem to regularly walk about with injuries and blood on his face. But the suspense is built from tense scenes, rather than violence, which I really liked. Nothing felt rushed. The slow build of scenes meant that suspense took the forefront in this series.

I’ve talked a lot about the suspense, but another thing that makes the show great is the characters. The main character, David Budd, is an Afghanistan war veteran suffering from PTSD now working as a protection officer. Richard Madden did a great job at portraying his character, and aside from the main conflicts, another part of the story was seeing David’s developing relationship with his wife (whom he is separated from) and children.

It’s great to see the number of female characters in important positions. Not only is there the Home Secretary, but there are three key female characters within the police force, including the Head of the Metropolitan Police Counter Terrorism Command.

I haven’t quite given Bodyguard five stars, instead leaning to a 4.5 rating. Why? When I have heaped praise upon it? There was one scene in the last episode that seemed a little unrealistic to me. There were a couple of others things that were maybe little plot holes. But other than that, I can find little criticism for this show.

It was unpredictable, thrilling and totally worth watching. Although the main plot was resolved, there were a couple of loose ends that weren’t tied off, potentially leaving it open for another series. As it has proven so popular, I wouldn’t be surprised if we haven’t seen the last of Bodyguard.

Top 10 Tuesday: Books By My Favourite Authors That I Still Haven’t Read

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There are so many books I have enjoyed, but haven’t read any more works by the author. I really should read the books on this list.

Top 10 Tuesday was originally created by The Broke and the Bookish, but as of January has now moved to That Artsy Reader Girl. If you’re interested in taking part click here.

1) Leigh Bardugo, Six of Crows – I finished the Grisha trilogy this year and now I’m looking forward to diving into another of Bardugo’s series.

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2) Cassandra Clare, Clockwork Prince and others – I feel very behind on Clare’s books. I still haven’t finished the Infernal Devices series and she keeps bringing out more and more novels.

3) Patricia McKillip, many, many books – one of my favourite novels is Ombria in Shadow. I’ve read a few of McKillip’s other books but there are still many on my shelf I have yet to read.

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4) Chris Wooding, Silver – The Haunting of Alaizabel Cray is one of my favourites. I also enjoyed Poison and Storm Thief, but have yet to read Silver.

5) Jay Asher, The Future of Us – Thirteen Reasons Why is another favourite of mine, but I’ve never read any of Asher’s other books.

6) J. R. R. Tolkien, The Silmarillion – I’ve heard this is a little more heavy-going than The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, so I haven’t got round to reading it yet.

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7) Lauren Oliver, Ringer – I’m hoping the sequel to Replica will be as good as the first in the series.

8) Gayle Forman, Where She Went – Having only read one of Gayle Forman’s books – If I Stay – which I absolutely loved, I really should have read more books by her. Top of my list would be the sequel to If I Stay, but I’d like to read other books by her too.

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9) Ashley Maker, Seer – Under the Trees is a great book and I’ve had Seer on my Kindle for a little while now. I really need to get round to reading it!

10) Thomas Hardy – Tess of the D’Urbervilles is one of my favourite classics but I have yet to read any of his other novels.

Book Review: The Rose and the Dagger by Renee Ahdieh

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9780147513861The Rose and the Dagger by Renee Ahdieh

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Retellings

Publishing Info: April 2017 by G. P. Putnam’s Sons (first published April 2016)

Pages: 422

Star Rating: 3/5

 

Back Cover Summary:

In a land on the brink of war, Shahrzad is forced from the arms of her beloved husband, the Caliph of Khorasan. She once thought Khalid a monster—a merciless killer of wives, responsible for immeasurable heartache and pain—but as she unraveled his secrets, she found instead an extraordinary man and a love she could not deny. Still, a curse threatens to keep Shazi and Khalid apart forever.

Now she’s reunited with her family, who have found refuge in the desert, where a deadly force is gathering against Khalid—a force set on destroying his empire and commanded by Shazi’s spurned childhood sweetheart. Trapped between loyalties to those she loves, the only thing Shazi can do is act. Using the burgeoning magic within her as a guide, she strikes out on her own to end both this terrible curse and the brewing war once and for all. But to do it, she must evade enemies of her own to stay alive.

The saga that began with The Wrath and the Dawn takes its final turn as Shahrzad risks everything to find her way back to her one true love again.

 

Perhaps I shouldn’t have been surprised that this book didn’t blow me away, considering my fairly neutral reaction to the first book. But I felt invested enough to read the sequel.

It was very slow at first. A quarter of the way in very little had happened. I’m not talking about a lack of action. Action scenes aren’t required to move the story. The problem was that nothing happened to move the plot forward. About a third of the way through it started moving a bit but was still plodding. Perhaps some of the problem was Shazi and Khalid being apart, the spark their relationship created in the first book was missing as a result of them being apart for the first third of the novel.

After a slow start, it picked up half way as more magical elements were introduced to the story and Shazi and Khalid find out how they are going to break the curse on him. This gives them a more defined goal to drive their next actions which made me more engaged in the book.

While the first half was too slow, it picked up from the midpoint and I really enjoyed the second half. There were many twists which kept me glued to the pages. A character death made me shed a tear so I must have felt invested enough in the characters to care about their fates!

The first book explored one set of characters at the palace, then this second novel focused more on Shahzad’s friends and family, but that meant some of the characters from the first book felt left behind. They were there, but there wasn’t enough development of their characters, and since I had been invested in them in the first book, that was disappointing. A friendship between two of the characters that had been rocky during this book wasn’t really resolved which was also disappointing.

Overall, while I feared I wouldn’t enjoy it at first, the second half was much better, and if not for the slow first half and some things being left unresolved, I would have given it four stars. Too many threads were introduced and then left behind as the plot moved along. An important thread seemed to be introduced with Artan and his family but that subplot was abandoned in the second half and I was left with too many unanswered questions. Despite this, I’m glad I read the duology, and I would read more from Renee Ahdieh in future.

You can read my review of book one, The Wrath and the Dawn, here.

Top 10 Tuesday: Bingeworthy TV Shows/Amazing Movies

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I really need to watch more TV shows! In the past, I didn’t watch TV that much, but when I went to uni and lived alone, being able to watch whatever I want meant I started watching more TV. This list is a mixture of shows I loved and shows that were strangely addictive even though they were fairly average.

Top 10 Tuesday was originally created by The Broke and the Bookish, but as of January has now moved to That Artsy Reader Girl. If you’re interested in taking part click here.

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Once Upon a Time – This show peaked in the middle, with series 3 my favourite, but still very bingeworthy.

13 Reasons Why – This is the most addictive show on this list. There were things I didn’t like about the show, lots of things I did. Somehow it just pulled me in and I had to watch the next episode.

Arrow – The first season I found a bit slow and repetitive, but season 2 was a big improvement and I binged that. Still need to watch the rest of the seasons, hopefully it carries on being good.

Downton Abbey – I didn’t watch this when it was originally aired in the UK, but got the box set a couple of years ago when I realised I really did have a soft spot for period dramas. I didn’t take me long to get through all the seasons.

Reign – The topic was which are bingeworthy, not what the best shows are. I sure binged this show, even though it really was awful at times. Season 2 was particularly cringeworthy, from what I remember.

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The Expanse – The second series of this in particular was really addictive, but I haven’t yet had an opportunity to watch series three. I was really disappointed when it was cancelled so am very much relieved it was picked up and it looks like there will be a season four.

The Musketeers – What’s not to like? All three series of this show are brilliant and I was sad when it came to an end. At least it makes great re-watching material!

Frequency – It became a bit repetitive, but I still kept wanting to come back and see the mystery solved. Every episode seemed to end with a massive cliff-hanger.

Jessica Jones – This applies to the first series more than the second, which although I liked, didn’t have the same intensity and drive as the first series. David Tennant made a brilliant villain in season one and is part of what made it such a bingeworthy programme.

Poldark – Do I need to say anything? As much as the relationships are a big part of this show, I also like how it explores rural Cornwall life and the disparity between rich and poor.

What TV shows did you find bingeworthy? Recommend me some shows in the comments!

Book Review: Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

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beforeifall_movieeditionBefore I Fall by Lauren Oliver   

Genre: Young Adult

Publishing Info: Kindle edition (first published 2010)

Pages: 484

Star Rating: 3.5/5

 

Back Cover Summary:

For popular high school senior Samantha Kingston, February 12—”Cupid Day”—should be one big party, a day of valentines and roses and the privileges that come with being at the top of the social pyramid. And it is…until she dies in a terrible accident that night.

However, she still wakes up the next morning. In fact, Sam lives the last day of her life seven times, until she realizes that by making even the slightest changes, she may hold more power than she ever imagined.

 

After I finished reading this book I really had no idea how I would approach writing a review for it. I went through so many different emotions as I read it. There were times when I hated, times when I loved it, times it made me sad, times I was frustrated by it. It was a rollercoaster.

The main character, Sam, was really irritating. At first I found that annoying, but then I realised she couldn’t be a nice person at the start, could she? How could there be a redemption arc (which is what Oliver seemed to be going for) if Sam was a good person from the start? So I accepted that I didn’t like her character, thinking that she would grow on me as she developed.

However, for most of the book she was still annoying. She was just so selfish. When she realised she was living the same day over and decided to do something good it wasn’t because she wanted to help the other person, it was because she thought it might be her ticket out of this endless loop. And even in the last section of the book, although she didn’t seem quite as selfish, I didn’t get the feeling she was doing the ‘good’ things totally selflessly. Maybe that’s the point though. Maybe if her character had done a complete arc from popular mean girl to selfless good girl in seven days I would have thought she changed too quickly or would have found it too cliché.

All of the characters were painted really vividly, even if I didn’t like all of them. Even characters who featured only a small amount felt like real people not just anonymous faces. The friendship between Sam and her friends was portrayed especially well.

There were so many threads and characters, Oliver did a great job of weaving them together, and showing how Sam doing a different thing on the next iteration of the day impacted on something that happened to another character. The concept of repeating the day over is so interesting and I think the author did write that aspect of the book well.

I did like how scenes are really fleshed out. Often scenes are skimmed over in books where there is a more fast pace, but in Before I Fall Oliver took the time to paint scenes and make them really pop.

While I like ambiguous endings and think they can be really effective, with this one I was disappointed there weren’t more answers. I didn’t know what to think or feel at the end. It’s the sort of book where some ambiguity would work, but it was as ambiguous as you can get and for some reason I was left feeling unsatisfied. There wasn’t really any explanation of what is happening to Sam, where she is, she’s dead but where is she and why is she reliving this day? For redemption of some kind perhaps, but why, how? Maybe I just wasn’t in the mood for an ambiguous ending.

I’m not sure if this is science fiction or supernatural or spiritual sub-genre or something else entirely, but I liked that it wasn’t a straight contemporary, that its focus was on issues explored in YA contemporary but used the repeating day to explore those issues.

I’ve seen it compared to If I Stay and Thirteen Reasons Why, and I can see why. The comparison of life-after-death with If I Stay is obvious, and it tackles bullying and high school culture like Thirteen Reasons Why. But for some reason, I didn’t like it as much as those two. If I Stay is one of my favourites, it turned me into an emotional wreck because it was an amazing book but so sad and gave me so many emotions. Thirteen Reasons Why, although very different, also left a big impression. Before I Fall isn’t as memorable for me. Although, I think maybe I’d enjoy it more if I read it again, that I would fall in love with it more if I returned to it in a few years time. Like If I Stay and Thirteen Reasons Why, it is thought-provoking and moving, but it didn’t have as much impact and I think I need it to re-read it to fully appreciate its nuances.

Top 10 Tuesday: Popular Books That Lived Up to the Hype

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This week’s Top 10 Tuesday looks at popular books that lived up to the hype. I could name quite a few books that didn’t live up to their hype, but here are the ones that I think did. We’ll have to leave the ones that didn’t for another day.

Top 10 Tuesday was originally created by The Broke and the Bookish, but as of January has now moved to That Artsy Reader Girl. If you’re interested in taking part click here.

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1) The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

This book had been out a little while before I picked it up and there seemed to be so much buzz around it. I found out why when I read it. Not everyone loves this series, and I get that, but I devoured this book.

2) Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

The second book in the trilogy is my favourite and I really was glued to this one. I loved it so much I read Mockingjay straight after, which is something I very rarely do.

3) Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

I couldn’t help but mention each of the books in The Hunger Games series separately because they each deserve their own spot on this list.

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4) Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling

I generally try to avoid mentioning Harry Potter because it could be included on so many lists, but this is one it really belongs on and can’t be missed off.

5) A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin

Now, there was so much hype for this I wasn’t sure I wanted to read it, but I’d had it on my shelf for years and decided to give it a go earlier this year. Despite being a chunky fantasy, it was somehow a page-turner for me. Maybe it was all the characters, or the writing style, I’m not sure, but this one really lived up to its hype.

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6) Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

There’s always a good word for Clare’s Infernal Devices series so I hoped the first book would live up to that hype. Fortunately, it did, and I can’t wait to read the rest of the series.

7) Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Although I found the final book in the trilogy a little disappointing, the first book was totally absorbing. I loved the world Bardugo had created.

8) Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

I read this book long before the television show came out, and really would urge people to read it. The show is very different from the book and expands on it greatly. The novel is shorter and more focused on Clay and Hannah.

Book Review: If I Stay by Gayle Forman

9) If I Stay by Gayle Forman

I think I cried a lot of the way through reading this book. Somehow, it just brought out so many emotions. It received a rare 5 stars from me.

10) Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

I nearly didn’t put this on here, because I didn’t enjoy the second book, Pretties, as much, but I had to look back and remember how much I loved Uglies at the time I read it.

What books have you read that lived up to their hype?

 

Film Review: Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again

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Film Review: Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again    

Release date: 20th July 2018

Director: Ol Parker    

Starring: Amanda Seyfried, Lily James, Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, Stellan Skarsgĺrd, Julie Walters, Dominic Cooper, Christine Baranski, Josh Dylan, Hugh Skinner, Jeremy Irvine, Alexa Davies, Jessica Keenan Wynn, Andy Garcia, Meryl Streep and Cher    

Runtime: 114 minutes

Genre: Musical, Romance  

Watched in: 2D

Rating: 4/5 stars

The much anticipated sequel to Mamma Mia!, ten years on from the original film, carries the same spark and barmy hilarity as the first. Five years later, Sophie is getting ready to open the hotel on the island that her mother dreamed of, while the story of Donna’s three love affairs many years earlier is told in flashbacks.

If you loved Mamma Mia!, you’ll probably love the sequel. If you didn’t like the first, this probably isn’t the film for you. The plot is a little flimsy, but really that’s not the point. This is a feel-good film and it definitely ticks that box.

Lily James was brilliant as the young Donna and it was great to see all the younger versions of the original cast. Now we know what happened on the island all those years ago! I wondered if it were really necessary to see the prequel side to the story, but I actually loved watching the story of young Donna. The returning cast also did a great job at reprising their roles in the sequel side to the plot.

The return of songs Mamma Mia and Dancing Queen were very welcome, as they are two of my favourites. Those who were disappointed Waterloo didn’t make the main movie first time round will be pleased to see it included as a main musical number in the sequel. Being too young to have grown up with ABBA, it was nice to have some of their less well-known songs included in this film, as I was introduced to some new ones I hadn’t really heard before.

As with the first film, there are some slightly odd and barmy sequences but that’s the charm of these films. So much of it is silly and cheesy but I couldn’t help smiling most of the way through. There are some very funny moments that made the whole theatre laugh aloud. On the flip side to that there were some sad and touching moments (I will admit I may have shed a tear or two).

At the end I was left smiling and wanting to sing ABBA songs and dance through the streets – except this is the UK we’re talking about and I’d probably have got some funny looks. If you want a feel-good film that doesn’t take itself too seriously and will leave a smile plastered on your face for the rest of the day, this is the movie to see.

Book Review: Plague by Michael Grant

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81apkuk0bplPlague by Michael Grant  

Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction

Publishing Info: May 2015 by Egmont Books (first published 2011)

Pages: 560

Star Rating: 4/5

 

Back Cover Summary:

It’s been eight months since all the adults disappeared. Gone.

They’ve survived hunger. They’ve survived lies. But the stakes keep rising, and the dystopian horror keeps building. Yet despite the simmering unrest left behind by so many battles, power struggles, and angry divides, there is a momentary calm in Perdido Beach.

But enemies in the FAYZ don’t just fade away, and in the quiet, deadly things are stirring, mutating, and finding their way free. The Darkness has found its way into the mind of its Nemesis at last and is controlling it through a haze of delirium and confusion. A highly contagious, fatal illness spreads at an alarming rate. Sinister, predatory insects terrorize Perdido Beach. And Sam, Astrid, Diana, and Caine are plagued by a growing doubt that they’ll escape or even survive life in the FAYZ. With so much turmoil surrounding them, what desperate choices will they make when it comes to saving themselves and those they love?

I have mixed feelings about Plague, the fourth book in Michael Grant’s Gone series. If you’re squeamish, there are some scenes in this novel that will really make you want to close the book. Warning: do not eat while reading this. I really shouldn’t have been surprised since the title of the book is ‘Plague’. There are people coughing their insides out or having evil bugs hatching out of them and eating them alive – gross. Let’s not linger on that.

Grossness aside, this is a great book. While the previous books in the series felt quite disjointed to me, this one fit together much better. Each of the individual threads were tied together so nothing felt random or out of place like some of the scenes or story lines in the previous books did. All of the plot elements were heading in one direction, which made this novel gel better.

The power relations and struggles are really interesting in this book and the series as a whole. Dynamics between all the characters is one of the things that keeps pulling me back to this series. It’s great to see how relationships, friendships and rivalries evolve over the course of the story as different problems are thrown at the characters.

There is so much complexity in all of the characters and they continue to develop in this novel, which I am glad about since that is something that was lacking in the first two books. Some of them did annoy me a bit in this book, but they have been through hell so I can maybe forgive them for being irritating. Nobody’s always nice. Nobody’s always perfect. Toto – a new character – added some much needed humour to what is a very grim series. Not laugh out loud comedy – that would be kind of out of place – but enough to give me a wry grin and break up all the disaster, tragedy and death going on left right and centre.

There are some issues in this series with presentation of female characters. At times they are presented as weak and needing saving or protecting. At the beginning of the series as well there seemed to be an imbalance of lead male/female characters. However, the more I think about it and further the story goes on, there are some really good things. There are a long list of female characters who are strong for one reason or another – Dekka, Brianna, Dahra, Lana and more. Brianna saves Caine’s arrogant butt in this book which made me figuratively punch the air – I wouldn’t do that literally…. Dahra is someone who I feel gets forgotten about, but she’s running a hospital practically on her own, trying to learn as much as she can from textbooks, and is the one who figures out they need a quarantine to stop the plague spreading. So while there are some problems, there are also some really great parts to the presentation of female characters in this series.

There was no let-up in this book. It was packed with lots of action and suspense and the ending was so mysterious and intriguing. I’m still really not sure how this series is going to end, and that’s one of the things that keeps me reading. It’s unpredictable and I want to see how this tangled web is going to be resolved.