Fire and Bone Blitz

Fire and Bone
Rachel A. Marks
(Otherborn #1)
Publication date: February 20th 2018
Genres: Urban Fantasy, Young Adult

Music that helped inspire the book here!

“Gossip Girl meets Percy Jackson in the glitz and grit of L.A….”

In Hollywood’s underworld of demigods, druids, and ancient bonds, one girl has a dangerous future.

Sage is eighteen, down on her luck, and struggling to survive on the streets of Los Angeles. Everything changes the night she’s invited to a party—one that turns out to be a trap.

Thrust into a magical world hidden within the City of Angels, Sage discovers that she’s the daughter of a Celtic goddess, with powers that are only in their infancy. Now that she is of age, she’s asked to pledge her service to one of the five deities, all keen on winning her favor by any means possible. She has to admit that she’s tempted—especially when this new life comes with spells, Hollywood glam, and a bodyguard with secrets of his own. Not to mention a prince whose proposal could boost her rank in the Otherworld.

As loyalties shift, and as the two men vie for her attention, Sage tries to figure out who to trust in a realm she doesn’t understand. One thing’s for sure: the trap she’s in has bigger claws than she thought. And it’s going to take a lot more than magic for this Celtic demigoddess to make it out alive.

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EXCERPT:

LILY

I try to hide my shivering as I wait before the altar, in my position as the Bonding begins. Around me, shadows dance over the cairn walls from the restless flames licking up the ram’s body—the sacrifice on the pyre behind me—and the smell of sweat and burnt flesh smother the smoky air.

The King of Ravens paints an alarming image, standing almost naked across from me on the other side of the blood circle. He wears the corona radiata, the golden laurel-leafed crown, on his head of onyx hair. His short beard is neatly trimmed, combed with lavender oil for the ceremony. His sharp silver eyes study me beneath a heavy brow.

I try not to think about the past. Or future. I try not to think about what those hard hands will feel like on my skin when he seals this Bond.

I study the stone floor rather than look in those metallic eyes. I feel them on me, though, the same way they have been for the fortnight I’ve been here preparing for the ceremony. He hasn’t touched me; he’s only brought me gifts and insisted I sit with him beside the greatfire in the evening before he goes out for his hunt. Sometimes I smell him in the hallway outside my rooms. But he never comes in, thank the goddess. The scent of blood is heavy on him in those moments. I’m not sure what I would’ve done if he’d attempted anything.

After this is done, it won’t matter. My bed will be his. As will my life.

A druid walks back and forth behind me, tossing rosemary and lavender onto the pyre after each stanza of his spell. He calls to the wind from the east, he calls to the waters in the west, and he pulls the spirit of flame and earth into the cairn with us, asking the Penta to approve the Bond set to be made between the two most powerful Houses, as he pleads for a blessing from our mothers, Brighid and Morrígan, and thanks the Cast for their permission to seal the Bond between the two very different powers.

A female druid comes to my side with bowl and brush, beginning to paint my skin in blue woad, tracing patterns of knots and runes across my back, then baring my chest and continuing.

The king’s gaze follows the woman’s strokes, and when she’s finished, he raises his chin at me in approval but says nothing. What does he see when he looks at me? My wild copper hair? My simple features? The awkward birthmark just above my heart? I’m round of cheek and hips and not much of a beauty. But however I look to him, I will belong to him.

Determination is set in hard lines on his face, and I wonder if the torque on his neck is working properly. I can see his dark energy lifting in silver and black curls over his shoulders now. It should be tight inside his skin, as mine is. The iron shackle should be holding it in place so that we don’t harm each other in the first merging, before we can get used to the feel of each other’s powers.

The female druid moves to the king next and begins painting the woad in circles over his torso. The druid chanting behind me recites the final section of his spell, walking the ram’s-blood circle painted on the floor. He holds a rowan stick aloft, flicking rosewater over the king and then me as he passes by, mumbling, “A price paid, a covenant sealed, in earth and blood and ash, in spirit and flesh and fire.”

The price is my will, my soul, in payment for the life of the human prince that I took.

In the center of the circle, between the king and me, is an altar with two bowls set atop, one full of salt, one full of rye.

The iron union dagger rests between them.

I stare at it, imagining the blade cutting into my flesh. And I can’t help when my gaze moves to the king. I want to blink and make this moment a dream, perhaps find myself in the thicket with Lailoken, among the bluebells in the Caledonian wood.

I should run from this son of Morrígan, deny him, deny our mothers, and let the world burn. But my heart twists at the thought. I was running from duty when fate took my heart from me, when the prince succumbed to my fire’s will. It was the childish notion of freedom that tore him from me.

Now it’s time to accept my punishment for allowing the humans to glimpse our world. Time to atone.

The druid’s voice fills the room again. “When moon gives birth to stars,” he says, in a droning hum, flicking more rosewater over us with the rowan stick, “let this Bond be sealed in blood.”

My skin prickles with fear as the king takes the cue, reaching out to pick up the ceremonial dagger by the leather-wrapped hilt. I focus on not moving, not making a sound, as I watch him bring the blade to his chest, tip pricking his left breast. A drop of crimson pearls up at the spot.

With a slow hiss of breath, he cuts across.

Dark blood slides down his abdomen in a thick swath of red. “My blood with yours,” he says. And he turns the knife, holding out the hilt for me.

My hands clench into fists at my side, and I force my shaking limbs to still.

I breathe in slowly again. Then I reach out, taking the ceremonial dagger from him, careful not to touch his fingers.

I pretend not to care about the cage I’m about to be locked in. About the pain in my soul from loss, from the goddess Brighid abandoning me to this darkness, pain from the reality of everything in front of me.

I press the tip of the blade to the center of my chest, the point breaking the skin. I look into the silver eyes of the king in front of me. And consider my fate.

One deep plunge to the heart and the pain will end. One plunge.

One.

 

 

Author Bio:

Rachel A. Marks is a cancer survivor, a writer and artist, a surfer and dirt-bike rider, chocolate lover and keeper of faerie secrets. Her four kids and amazing hubby put up with her nerdiness with tremendous grace, even when she makes them watch Buffy or Smallville re-runs for days on end. She was voted: Most Likely To Survive A Zombie Apocalypse, but hopes she’ll never have to test the theory.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest

 

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Heartless by Marissa Meyer

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Title: Heartless

Author: Marissa Meyer

Published: November 8th 2016

Rating: 2.5-3/5 stars (I still can’t decide!)

Goodreads

Long before she was the terror of Wonderland—the infamous Queen of Hearts—she was just a girl who wanted to fall in love.

Long before she was the terror of Wonderland, she was just a girl who wanted to fall in love. Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland, and a favorite of the unmarried King of Hearts, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, all she wants is to open a shop with her best friend. But according to her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for the young woman who could be the next queen.

Then Cath meets Jest, the handsome and mysterious court joker. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the king and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into an intense, secret courtship. Cath is determined to define her own destiny and fall in love on her terms. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.

In her first stand-alone teen novel, the New York Times-bestselling author dazzles us with a prequel to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

Review

This was a weird book for me, because I’m still not completely sure what I actually think of it. The synopsis makes it sound like it could go really well or really badly especially the “she was just a girl who wanted to fall in love” bit, which I was a bit wary of. And it kinda did go both ways, at least a lot more than I’m used to, because there were so many things that drove me crazy about it but I still enjoyed it at the same time (though not enough to distract at all from the things I disliked).

When the story starts Catherine is nothing like the Red Queen we’re used to, apart from her love of tarts, but I still didn’t think she was a good person. I glanced at a few reviews when I was thinking about reading it and it seems that the general conscious is that she’s a very sweet and innocent girl with no hint of what she is to become, so I’m in the minority there. She has a wonderful relationship with one of her servants, Mary Ann, and wants to start up a bakery with her, but she doesn’t really have any other good relationships with anyone else. We’re introduced to another one of her friends, who isn’t really a friend, pretty early on into the novel and one of the first things she does is call her “unbearably attractive” and talk about how she doesn’t like her personality. There a few other instances of this, but for some reason they didn’t immediately turn me off to her. I was interested in her flaws because I thought they might contribute to her acting like the Red Queen we’re all familiar with, but they became too much for me fairly quickly. I struggled to find any truly positive traits in her apart from her skill in baking and occasional spouts of bravery. If anything she became more annoying further into the book and her relationship with Jest and I could never really like her all that much. Though at the same time, despite her selfishness and other negative traits I couldn’t bring myself to hate her because I was trying to figure out how she would become the cruel Red Queen the entire time and it wasn’t that hard for me to see some of her behavior becoming more intense and cruel.

Also I mentioned her baking as a positive trait, but it was actually something that liked me less. She talked about how she was the best baker constant and had overwhelming confidence in her skills, never losing faith in them for a second. I got tired of hearing this pretty fast, but then, to add insult to injury, she began criticizing everyone else’s cooking that she tried. Even if this was somewhat deserved in certain cases I wished she hadn’t been so obvious about it and had calmed down a bit about her love of her own baking. It was something that was necessary to the story, but I think it could have been approached in a better way and helped it to seem more like the positive trait it was supposed to be.

For all of her flaws I had trouble seeing why she was so well liked by the male population. There are only two people who are really vying for her affections but a third who had much less page time also seemed implied from how he insisted he hated her so often and then got kinda flustered when she was brought up (I’m really not sure here?). I don’t understand why they would like her so much? The King seems to be interested in her almost solely because he loves her baking, but I don’t get the impression that they’ve spent enough time together for him to really know her that well let alone to want her as his queen. I liked her relationship with Jest a lot more, they were actually fairly cute together, but it also seemed a little bit forced especially near the beginning. It was a major and weird case of insta-love where they both met once and gained an intense attraction for each other immediately without much reason. I think Cath was interested him partially because of his powers and also because of a weird never really explained dream she had. In Jest’s case I have no idea where the attraction came from. But that’s not to say that I disliked their relationship altogether.

Jest was incredibly sweet to her and had some interesting magical powers that kept me interested in his character. I didn’t really like the way that Catherine treated him or the king though. She would have sweet moments with Jest while at the same time being aware of how the King of Hearts felt about her. As is the case with many books with multiple characters going after the main character it began to feel like she was leading them both on, especially since she was not shy about expressing her lack of interest in the King but neglected to give any indication of this to him. I wasn’t actually particularly fond of the King himself, but I felt bad for him not knowing how she actually felt.

What I really really liked about this book was how things started to get tied together in the later chapters, a large part of why I’m having trouble giving this a definite rating. The majority of the rest of the book didn’t really feel like it had all that much going on in comparison, and was rather slow for me (like the first 70-75% probably). This is also where Cath displayed some more character development, which didn’t change at all for most of the rest of the book, which was really nice to see because it was part of the reason why I wanted to read it in the first place. Though I must admit, it didn’t seem that realistic of a change/development and I felt like there could have been more of a building up of reasons for it. The ending did come across as a bit rushed and I probably would have liked it a bit more if some of the elements and plot points surrounding the last parts of the book were explored in a bit more detail earlier on (even if I did guess one of the more major twists fairly on). I also think that there were some things in that first section that weren’t really necessary and could have been cut out entirely. Overall I did end up enjoying it and I’m interested to see if the author decides to write any short stories or such because there are some characters and other element of the story that I would love to learn more about!
Also, if you’re looking for more Alice and Wonderland retellings, I would recommend Splintered by A.G Howard and I’d love to hear about any others you’ve enjoyed too.

The Merciless by Danielle Vega

 Title: The Merciless

Author: Danielle Vega

Published: June 12th, 2014

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Goodreads 

Forgive us, Father, for we have sinned

Brooklyn Stevens sits in a pool of her own blood, tied up and gagged. No one outside of these dank basement walls knows she’s here. No one can hear her scream.

Sofia Flores knows she shouldn’t have gotten involved. When she befriended Riley, Grace, and Alexis on her first day at school, she admired them, with their perfect hair and their good-girl ways. They said they wanted to save Brooklyn. They wanted to help her. Sofia didn’t realize they believed Brooklyn was possessed.

Now, Riley and the girls are performing an exorcism on Brooklyn—but their idea of an exorcism is closer to torture than salvation. All Sofia wants is to get out of this house. But there is no way out. Sofia can’t go against the other girls . . . unless she wants to be next. . . .

In this chilling debut, Danielle Vega delivers blood-curdling suspense and terror on every page. By the shockingly twisted end, readers will be faced with the most haunting question of all: Is there evil in all of us?

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Library Books I Have to Finish

There are some books that have lived on my tbr list for years, most of them I will probably never read for one reason or the other. I check them out from the library, oh so very excited, and fail to read more then a page, if that. Sometimes they just stay in a pile. I always feel so bad when this happens, after all it’s no fault of the books. I just get busy or read stuff I already have. Anyway, here are two books that I just recently checked out that I am determined to finish.

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Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future by A.S. King

Title: Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future

Author: A.S King

Published: October 14th, 2014

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Goodreads 

In this masterpiece about freedom, feminism, and destiny, Printz Honor author A.S. King tells the epic story of a girl coping with devastating loss at long last–a girl who has no idea that the future needs her, and that the present needs her even more.

Graduating from high school is a time of limitless possibilities–but not for Glory, who has no plan for what’s next. Her mother committed suicide when Glory was only four years old, and she’s never stopped wondering if she will eventually go the same way…until a transformative night when she begins to experience an astonishing new power to see a person’s infinite past and future. From ancient ancestors to many generations forward, Glory is bombarded with visions–and what she sees ahead of her is terrifying: A tyrannical new leader raises an army. Women’s rights disappear. A violent second civil war breaks out. And young girls vanish daily, sold off or interned in camps. Glory makes it her mission to record everything she sees, hoping her notes will somehow make a difference. She may not see a future for herself, but she’ll do anything to make sure this one doesn’t come to pass.

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Indelible by Dawn Metcalf

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Title: Indelible

Author: Dawn Metcalf

Published: June 30th, 2013

Rating: 2.5/5 stars

Goodreads

Some things are permanent.

Indelible.

And they cannot be changed back.

Joy Malone learns this the night she sees a stranger with all-black eyes across a crowded room—right before the mystery boy tries to cut out her eye. Instead, the wound accidentally marks her as property of Indelible Ink, and this dangerous mistake thrusts Joy into an incomprehensible world—a world of monsters at the window, glowing girls on the doorstep, and a life that will never be the same.

Now, Joy must pretend to be Ink’s chosen one—his helper, his love, his something for the foreseeable future…and failure to be convincing means a painful death for them both. Swept into a world of monsters, illusion, immortal honor and revenge, Joy discovers that sometimes, there are no mistakes.

Somewhere between reality and myth lies…

THE TWIXT

Review

This book was originally on my ‘must-read’ list but I’m afraid it just fell a little short to me.

It’s incredibly hard to love a book if you don’t like its main character. Joy was immensely hard for me to like, I struggled to see where she was coming from time and time again. But her reliance on others and tendency to over react just got on my nerves. However I liked her “best friend,” Monica, even less. What kind of friend best or otherwise abandons you right after you’ve experienced a traumatic event? I hope none of my friends ever do that to me, I cant even begin to express how unfriendly I would feel towards them. It would be exceptable, I suppose, if they had a good reason for doing so. Let me just say that Monica had just about the worst reason ever, and Joy just brushed it off, like nothing was wrong.

Ink and Inq were the only reason I ended up enjoying reading this book. Their unique perspectives were intruiging. I especially liked Ink because he saw everything involving humans through fresh eyes. Unfortunetly his lack of experience with humans was probably what drove him to be interested in Joy who I imagine he would have been much better without. Inq I liked a little less than Ink because of some of her immensely strange behaviors that I didn’t particularly agree with. Overall I really enjoyed their opinions and ways of seeing things, but most of the other characters, including Ink and Inq at times, just plain got on my nerves.

John Dreamer by Elise Celine

 Title: John Dreamer

Author: Elise Celine

Published: February 1st, 2014

Rating: 2/5 stars

Goodreads

Andy wasn’t usually sure about much, but she was absolutely certain this was the weirdest day of her life as she stood stranded in the middle of a great white room with six strangers. Well, they were mostly strangers. She could have sworn she’d seen the guy with the green eyes before, and maybe that was why he kept staring at her.
When a man calling himself the Guardian appeared and said they had come to make their deepest dreams come true, they embark on an adventure none of them ever imagined, and the consequences of their actions would change them forever.
“John Dreamer” is the first in a series of books set in the confines of the Great White Room.

Review

*Many thanks to AuthorBuzz for the free review copy via Netgalley*
(MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD)
“John Dreamer” is more optimistic than most of the books I usually read, but that wasn’t what I didn’t like about it. The writing was good as well, but the plot drove me bonkers along side my dislike for the main characters. Alongside six other teens with their six chairs our MC, Andy (or Andrea), finds herself in a strange white room.
What bothered me the most about the plot was it’s repetitiveness. It started off good enough, as I had no idea what was happening but then it took a turn for the worse. One sequence of events begins repeating itself. First one of the teenagers is taken away, then the Guardian shows up acts superior and a task is completed in which someone else disappears. It was predictable every single time apart from the very first time and none of the characters seemed to understand what was happening. They thought many situations were real until the end of said situation and didn’t use what they had learned in the next situation.
Andy, the main character, also fell in love with John Dreamer within eight and a half seconds, a fact she openly admits too. It was insta-love at it’s worst and I felt insta-nnoyed right away. It was in her POV for the entire book as well, so I had to deal with my disliking of her until it randomly changed. It didn’t even change to John’s POV, which might have made a bit more sense, it changed to the bully’s to show his perspective.
In my opinion the way the story was structured and the annoying array of cliches made it a very juvenile read. The author didn’t seem able to make up her mind on what to do at some points, and that being said, I can’t really recommend reading this.

The Orphan Queen by Jodi Meadows

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Title: The Orphan Queen

Author: Jodi Meadows

Published: March 10, 2015

Rating: 5/5 stars (subject to change with full reading)

 Goodreads:

Wilhelmina has a hundred identities.
She is a princess. When the Indigo Kingdom conquered her homeland, Wilhelmina and other orphaned children of nobility were taken to Skyvale, the Indigo Kingdom’s capital. Ten years later, they are the Ospreys, experts at stealth and theft. With them, Wilhelmina means to take back her throne.

She is a spy. Wil and her best friend, Melanie, infiltrate Skyvale Palace to study their foes. They assume the identities of nobles from a wraith-fallen kingdom, but enemies fill the palace, and Melanie’s behavior grows suspicious. With Osprey missions becoming increasingly dangerous and their leader more unstable, Wil can’t trust anyone.

She is a threat. Wraith is the toxic by-product of magic, and for a century using magic has been forbidden. Still the wraith pours across the continent, reshaping the land and animals into fresh horrors. Soon it will reach the Indigo Kingdom. Wilhelmina’s magic might be the key to stopping the wraith, but if the vigilante Black Knife discovers Wil’s magic, she will vanish like all the others.

Jodi Meadows introduces a vivid new fantasy full of intrigue, romance, dangerous magic, and one girl’s battle to reclaim her place in the world.

Review:

Although I may not have been aware that this was going to be an excerpt when I started it, I still ferociously enjoyed reading the twelve chapters offered. Wilhelmina was a perfect heroine for this story. Unlike so many before her, she has set her first priority to reclaiming her country instead of focusing on a boy. This is something I truly appreciate because although I enjoy reading romance, it sometimes has a bit too strong of a place in books defined firstly as fantasy. In “The Orphan Queen” everyone does a really good jog of remembering what their fighting for, and they have a tight knit group that helps to remin anyone who loses track. Among this group is Melanie, a particularly interesting character. Wil’s bestfriend, Melanie is either one of my favorites of the characters or the one I will end up liking the least. She’s very mysterious, kind and protective to Wil and the other orphans. So she comes off a bit like a mama bear at times, but it doesn’t seem like she’s entirely trustworthy at the point in the story at which my sample ended. (which of course just makes me more anxious to read the entire thing) The Black Knife is just the icing on the cake, but I won’t give away the little bit that I know about him. It’s more enjoyable to find that out for your self.

*A review copy of the first twelve chapters was provided on Edelweiss by Katherine Tegen Books.*

Scorched by Mari Mancusi

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Title: Scorched

Author: Mari Mancusi

Published: September 3rd, 2013

Rating: 3/5 stars

Goodreads:

Trinity
Don’t leave me here… It starts with a whisper. At first Trinity thinks she’s going crazy. It wouldn’t be a big surprise—her grandpa firmly believes there’s a genuine dragon egg in their dusty little West Texas town. But this voice is real, and it’s begging for her protection. Even if no one else can hear it…

Connor
He’s come from a future scorched by dragonfire. His mission: Find the girl. Destroy the egg. Save the world.

Caleb
He’s everything his twin brother Connor hates: cocky, undisciplined, and obsessed with saving dragons.

Trinity has no idea which brother to believe. All she has to go by is the voice in her head—a dragon that won’t be tamed.

Review:

With a crazy grandpa obsessed with mythical creatures and a crumbling Museum business, Trinity Foxx has a lot going on. Things only worsen when he brings a beautiful egg he believes belongs to the last of the dragons home. This leaves the two of them with next to no money and Trinity with quite a bit of anger.

This book just barely missed being four star worthy. A number of its aspects got on my nerves.

– Trinity Foxx – The name Trinity gets on my nerves enough by itself, but Trinity Foxx sounds like some preppy girl who thinks she’s above everyone else. Her character was also a bit too dependent on others for my liking. Even though she kept the museum business alive and helped her grandpa with his financial problems she still let herself rely on Connor and Caleb throughout the majority of the novel. For someone depicted as so strong she should have been more willing to make her own decisions.

– The dialogue – These characters are supposed to me in their late teens and they go around thinking and saying things like “I’m the good guy,” he wanted to add. “The one they sent to save your world” and “There were men,” she said at last. “They barged into my house. I freaked out and ran here to hide before calling 911. I think one of them might still be in the house.” The dialogue also indicates that the author is a beginner and not the best author in the over use of “said bookisms.” There were way too many she demanded, he muttered, she hissed, and she joke type dialogue tags as opposed to just saying she/he said, a technique that would have made the book seem more professional. Instead it seems like the author thought the “said bookisms” were necessary and in turn it made the book less interesting, and the characters sounded even younger than they would have with just the more simple dialogue.

Despite its many faults Scorched had a number of characteristics that made up for it’s faults. The number one thing that made me like it was the dragons. I’m pretty much incapable of resisting dragons and these ones were cute (especially Trin’s dragon who we saw most of) and I enjoyed their playful mannerisms. Also Fred the female dragon amused me to no end.

Caleb and Connor also had me constantly entertained. Unlike Trinity they kept me guessing for the majority of the book – with Trin it was more of a fifty/fifty chance she’d follow what either one said – they interacted with the world with much more intuition than Trinity seemed capable of.

Between the dragons and the twins I mildly enjoyed this book. Though it was much too simple for my liking as I was hoping it would do better to mentally engage me in the story. But oh well. If you are in fact looking for a quick easy read with dragons and romance then you will more than likely enjoy this book.

Visit the Mari Mancusi on twitter @marimancusi or at her website here.

The Artful by Wilbert Stanton

22019704 Title: The Artful

 Author: Wilbert Stanton

 Published: May 26, 2014

 Rating: 3.5/5 stars

 

Goodreads:

New York City, 2025: Everything is changed. The city that never sleeps is now a land of death and decay. A rampant virus has taken over and the survivors have become carriers, quarantined from the rest of the world.

Twist and Dodger grew up in the streets, the sewers and underground tunnels – their playground. They aren’t heroes. They just like attention; and stealing meds from the rich and giving them to the poor is their golden ticket.

On their latest raid, they unknowingly steal a cure that puts them square between the ailing Emperor of Manhattan and the war hungry Governor of Brooklyn and forces them on a quest into the darkest shadows of their putrefying world.

Review:

*Thanks to the publisher, Curiosity Quills Press, for the free review copy via Netgalley.*

Possible Spoilers of a Minor Nature

The Artful by Wilbert Stanton has become one of my favorite books of the year so far. It features as it’s main characters Twist and Dodger, two thieves who call themselves the ‘Gutter Punks’ and act like a post-apocalyptic version of Robin Hood. They take medicine from the privileged Tower Babies and give it to the poor, who are forced to live on the streets. Its set in Manhattan and Brooklyn in 2025, anyone who is still around is unable to tolerate the sun’s rays and burn much to easily without shelter and protection. The story picks up when the two boys rescue a girl named Gia and Dodger is injected with a lethal virus only their enemies have the cure to. They’ll have mere days to take back something their other friend stole before Dodger dies a painful death.

Twist was by far my favorite character. Unlike so many scores of YA main characters, he not only saw his flaws but also embraced them. He didn’t whine and moan about his imperfections and he didn’t over or under look them to any extreme. They were simply there and a fact of life.

He also really grew as a main character. In the beginning he resented the fact that everyone thought he was Dodger’s shadow, but it was sort of true, by the end he realized his own strength. He neither needed or wanted Dodger’s assistance because he had become his own person, Dodger’s illness really forced him to see his potential as it was.

One of the things I love about YA books with male main characters is the lack of drama. In particular girl type drama, evil in the clever disguise of words when it’s overused, so I also appreciated how there were no real frivolous type problems in the book. All of the issues the main characters faced were realistic and understandable. It was a lovable novel about the true pains of survival in a futuristic world that has been destroyed through something realistic. But some things still got on my nerves. Whenever Dodger and Twist were separated, Dodger would tell Twist what happened to him while he was gone. That doesn’t seem like a bad thing, but everything Dodger said during those times was a big block of text that told what happened just about word for word with no details omitted. Too many words were used at these times and it happened all at once, leaving the reader with no question as to what happened to Dodger during those times. It got to be quite annoying. Not to mention the whole mystery surrounding why Dodger was sick was too easily fixed, even though the characters had trouble reaching a conclusion it all seemed a bit too simplified by the end.

Although not everything about the book pleased me, The Artful was a pretty enjoyable read which I would recommend to dystopian lovers. In particular those who enjoyed Andrew Smith’s The Marbury Lens, some aspects of it really reminded me of that.