Category Archives: dystopian

Colony East: The Toucan Trilogy Book 2 by Scott Cramer #Review

In November of last year I was offered the chance to read and review the first book in this series, Night of the Purple Moon. I loved it. So I was excited to be offered the chance to read and review the second book a couple of weeks ago.

Scott Cramer has delivered a fantastic and moving sequel to that first book.

If you haven’t read the first book (go read it – now!) you can read my review here which will give you the background.

Colony East picks up almost exactly where we left off. Abby and Jordan have gone to get the pills that will save their lives and must journey back to the island to deliver them. Again the incredibly stark contrasts between the choices that each child left alone makes are startling and thought provoking. Abby and Jordan do make it back to the island but the cost of that journey is hard to quantify.

We then fast forward a year. The pitifully few remaining adults are trying to “rebuild society” and have 3 small enclaves on the North American continent into which they have brought the few children they deem worthy. The rest of children are left to fend for themselves.There is also a new threat in threat in the form of a mutated form of the sickness that killed the adults.

Abby and Jordan are both almost 2 years older than when we first met them. They have both lost people they had grown to love and in the process done more growing up than I can personally fathom. Their younger sister, Toucan, has grown up as well and shows quite brilliantly the innate resilience of children. She and the other youngest survivors do not carry the heavy burden of memory and loss that the older children do. Instead they are learning to thrive and succeed in this new world.

Colony East actually refers to one of these adult developed enclaves. Some inspiration was obviously drawn from many of the dystopian worlds that have been created before – but it never feels derivative or like it is overtly copying any of them. The adults have a plan and quite naturally while intentions maybe good – execution and results are not.

Along with further exploring this devastated world from the children’s point of view, we also begin to see it from the view of the few adults left. The contrasts between the two are massive and telling. Cramer manages to comment on modern society and preconceptions while not feeling preachy in the least. An impressive feat all by itself. Managing to do this in a beautifully written and youth friendly novel is breathtaking.

I look forward immensely to the third in this series and hope to read more from this author.



I was provided a copy of this book for the purpose of review.





The Stone Guardian by Danielle Monsch #review

The start of this book is a bit chaotic and confusing – and while I feel that was on purpose – it did make it a little difficult to get into the story.

Danielle Monsch has imagined a world where our earth has collided and combined with another dimension in which many of the creatures and races we had thought to be myth actually exist.

The main story takes place 26 years after this event.

Larissa is a 26 year old young woman born at the very moment of this cataclysmic merging of two realities. Her father and 4 brothers are all police in the same town. This town is supposedly protected by magical wards from many of these new mythical races.

And as to be expected – there is something about Larissa that makes her different and special – that she is of course unaware of.

The Stone Guardian from the title is actually a Gargoyle. He is the leader of the secretive and feared gargoyles and is called Terak.

Terak and Larissa are drawn into a life or death mystery about what makes her special and how it relates to the end of the world.

And there is a love story. Between the Gargoyle and the human.

And that would be ok – if it wasn’t so awkwardly  portrayed.

Monsch does not seem comfortable writing about and expressing sexual thoughts and situations – so you end up with 2 twentysomething adults expressing their sexual desires and wishes like gawky teens in the middle of puberty. And they are both virgins. I don’t know if this is a nod to the ridiculous Twilight series or some misplaced nod to old fashioned Christian values – either way it gets in the way of what is basically a decent and interesting story – and that is unfortunate.

A good concept, some decent writing and the start of intriguing characters are bogged down by the fact that the author can’t decide whether she is writing a YA novel or more mature adult fiction.

If she can make a decision and embrace it – and leave out the awkward sex scenes – this series could be alright.

I was provided a gratis copy for review.

#Review: Darwin’s Elevator by Jason Hough

The Darwin Elevator by Jason M. Hough, is a dystopian novel set in a not-so-distant 23rd century. Although the book title is glaringly based on the setting for most of the novel – Darwin, Australia, it’s not difficult to suss out the underlying meaning – humanity’s fittest fighting to survive against a potential threat from the Builder (an always-present threat from subhumans), and the insidious always-present threat from itself – in that order, most of the time.

In his novel, Hough blends several science fiction doomsday scenarios – and he does so with the virtuoso ease of Stephen King. First, unknown aliens, called the Builders, arrive and build an elevator to space, which is anchored in Darwin, Australia (aliens want something from us, but we don’t know what – check!) A wealthy magnate utilizes the elevator to create space stations which can grow food and which house scientists and beautiful people (humans are in space for long periods of time, and it’s not the cramped Mir – check!) Humans quickly fall prey to a disease which either quickly kills, or destroys all reasoning capacity, rendering such people “subhumans” – almost-animals, with one emotion amplified (zombies – check!) Third, some people survive. During this time of crisis, the elevator reveals its function – the elevator generates an aura which covers only a certain part of Australia. The aura arrests the progression of the virus, and people remain humans. Conveniently, a portion of the population is immune to the virus (including the protagonist). Most of the survivors are left to a meager, hard living on the ground, with entire countries – continents – left unreachable (survivalists – check check check!)

The novel, which is first in a series, perfectly sets the scene to a world on the brink of madness. People below send water and air to the space stations above. The space stations, which house the governing body, send food below. The scavengers venture as far as possible and strip the crumbling infrastructure for resale and use. And, because the situation is not already dire, the aura starts failing and the subhumans become aggressive. The aliens may come back. And the survivors-below are restless for a chance at leadership and power.

This is one of the best modern science-fiction novels that I have read. The scientific advances are believable, and the individual characters are well developed. There is no deus ex machina. The dialogue is witty and mostly avoids the pitfalls of heavily-stilted dialogue found in most male-protagonist sci-fi novels. And, unlike most zombie plots, which require humans to be as stupid as possible in order for the virus to spread, there are no dumb-dumbs who wander out behind a dark movie theater and try to hug a homeless man who turns out to be a zombie, and ahhh everyone is infected, help! This doesn’t happen here. The virus is airborne, and humans seem to quickly eliminate the infected.

Anyone who is interested in the survivalist novels, science-fiction novels, and zombie-novels, should definitely grab this book. It’s exciting! Read it!

5 stars.

#Review: The Returned by Jason Mott. 3/5 stars #thereturned

The Returned
The Returned by Jason Mott
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I really love stories whose premises involve mysterious resurrections and worldwide chaos as the result. This story is not your typical story of the rise of the undead, so if you’re expecting horror or zombies, search elsewhere.

This story intrigued me from the get-go and I was committed to loving it. But the reality of my reading experience is that I was bored and the pages turned were turned in the fervent hope that something really cool that could explain the return would be there. It never was.

Reading the author’s epilogue and his inspiration for the story, I found a completely different story potential than what this book actually is. Way too much time is spent on the details of the makeshift prison. Too many details I wanted to see explained or at least explored were simply passed over. Why are there unending numbers of Returned? What are the details of their stay, their behaviors, their disappearances? Things that were very lightly brushed upon, but never a satisfying in-depth look.

I enjoyed the characters and their development. I could sense the tension between Harold and Lucille, and I could taste the disappointment in the pastor and his wife’s marriage. It was all very palpable and it’s ridiculously clear that Jason Mott is a talented writer.

But I was left with the heavy burden of unresolved questions and dissatisfying resolutions.

I think Mr. Mott should write a story based on the dream he wrote about in the epilogue and build on that premise instead of the overanalyzed mishmash of details we were served in The Returned.

Nonetheless I am looking forward to the tv adaptation!

I was provided this book free of charge in exchange for an honest review.

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#Review: The Runner by W.J. Davies @wjdaviesauthor – 4/5 stars!

The Runner
The Runner by W.J. Davies
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Runner by W.J. Davies is a Silo story based on the world created by author Hugh Howey in Wool.

This is the first fan fiction in the Silo world that I’ve read, and I enjoyed it very much. Ace and Mick are our central players in the story, and the author does a really good job of touching on the basic but core points of silo living without being redundant (for those of us who have read the parent story). We are given very little information about their history, and I appreciate that Davies gets right to the meat of the story of these two.

The Runner touches on a topic that is contemporary for us in a lot of ways. A forbidden relationship never explicitly solidified in the text, but existent nonetheless. Judgment and shame are foisted upon them by individuals and the systems that oversee silo life alike. IT feels comfortable completely erasing the written history of their relationship, and a nosy old woman in the bazaar feels comfortable enough to tell Ace how disgusting she thinks he is. All in all, attitudes that we are just barely beginning to bury in our real world, mirrored in this microcosm silo life. It pulls me closer to Ace and Mick, whose love story begs to be told.

Of course the story touches on the subject of cleaning and the slight glimmer of hope that the bleak world up top and outside may change, and the realization for the silo citizens that they may not be alone.

Hopefully we get more from this author… I’m curious to know what happens next.

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Wool – Part One by @hughhowey #Free on Amazon for a limited time!


Thousands of them have lived underground. They’ve lived there so long, there are only legends about people living anywhere else. Such a life requires rules. Strict rules. There are things that must not be discussed. Like going outside. Never mention you might like going outside.

Or you’ll get what you wish for.


What the press is saying:

Boing Boing’s Official Review: “This story is terrific. I was completely immersed, watching Howey slowly paint a picture of a society gone wrong through the eyes and discovery of some truly compelling characters.”’s Official GeekDad Review: “Howey is among a growing list of authors who are making successful careers of publishing without the assistance of agents and traditional publishing houses. The traditional argument has been that if a book couldn’t find a publisher it probably wasn’t worth reading. However, just as iTunes changed how consumers found music and the way in which bands made their bread, ebook readers, and in particular the Kindle, are changing the ways in which authors find their readers and make a living. All of this means the old assumptions about indie books no longer hold true, and readers need to be prepared to adjust their expectations accordingly. The Wool Omnibus is a great book and deserves recognition as a full fledged contribution to the science fiction genre.”

#Review: Wool Omnibus (Wool #1-5) by @hughhowey #dystopian

Wool Omnibus
Wool Omnibus by Hugh Howey
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Listen, whatever you’re reading – STOP. Put that book down, buy this one and read the hell out of it.

Sometimes I forget how good books can be. I plod through books sometimes, feeling like I’ve read 100 pages when I’ve read only 10. I put the book down and six weeks later remember I am supposed to finish it.

Not this one. Not Wool.

Hugh Howey is an exceptional storyteller. Wool is ridiculously well-written and engaging, all the while desperate, bleak, and suffocating. Trust me – these adjectives all belong together in a single sentence. My husband even says to me, “I can already tell you how this story will go. Everybody THINKS the outside is toxic and uninhabitable, but they’ll come to find out it’s livable..” Not only is my husband WRONG like a wrong person on Wrong Day, but Howey shames him by demonstrating his talents by weaving hope into this dystopian wonderland.

Quick synopsis – in a post-apocalyptic setting, remaining generations of humans and some animals (dogs, bunnies, and rats are mentioned) are existing below-ground in a cylindrical structure buried very very deep into the Earth’s surface. Population control is strict and brutal. For every birth there must be a death. Birth control is implanted in the very-young. Howey has masterfully created a culture and its norms within the walls of the silo, and things are status quo for the reader for only a very short period of time. Things quickly start to unravel, and the wool begins to retreat from their and our eyes…

Read this book, seriously. Begin the journey that is Wool, and you won’t regret it.

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