Friday, August 12, 2011

The Skinjacker Trilogy - Everlost, Everwild, and Everfound

Everlost Description
Nick and Allie don't survive the crash, and now their souls are stuck halfway between life and death in a sort of limbo called Everlost. It's a magical yet dangerous place, where bands of lost souls run wild and anyone who stands in the same spot too long sinks to the center of the Earth. Frightened and determined, Nick and Allie aren't ready to rest in peace just yet. They want their lives back, and their search for a way home will take them deep into the uncharted areas of Everlost. But the longer they stay, the more they forget about their pasts. And if all memory of home is lost, they may never escape this strange, terrible world.
From School Library Journal
Starred Review. Grade 8 Up-Nick and Allie are killed in an automobile accident and meet as they are heading down a tunnel toward the light. They land in Everlost, the space between the living and the end of the tunnel, and meet Lief, from whom they learn that Afterlights cannot walk where the living walk and that they cannot be seen or heard by the living. Allie is determined to go home, so she and Nick set out from the accident site in upstate New York and the safety of Lief's forest for New Jersey. Even though they have been warned about the McGill, a dreaded, evil monster, they slowly make their way, eventually arriving in New York City. There they meet Mary Hightower, who cares for Afterlights in the destroyed World Trade Towers, keeping them safe from the McGill and the Haunter. (In addition to children, buildings and objects can also cross into Everlost if they were much loved.) In their ensuing adventures, they are captured by the McGill and suffer a horrible fate before Nick discovers his true purpose in Everlost. Schusterman has created a world in which nothing is as it seems. As the teens struggle to make sense of this alternate afterlife, they also grow and develop as people. They learn to question those who have put themselves in power, and they begin to see what is truly important. Shusterman has reimagined what happens after death and questions power and the meaning of charity. While all this is going on, he has also managed to write a rip-roaring adventure complete with monsters, blimps, and high-diving horses.
Everwild Description
Everlost, the limbo land of dead children, is at war. Nick the "Chocolate Ogre" wants to help the children of Everlost reach the light at the end of the tunnel. Mary Hightower, self-proclaimed queen of lost children and dangerous fanatic, is determined to keep Everlost's children trapped within its limbo for all eternity. Traveling in the memory of the Hindenburg, Mary is spreading her propaganda and attracting Afterlights to her cause at a frightening speed.
Meanwhile, Allie the Outcast travels home to seek out her parents, along with Mikey, who was once the terrifying monster the McGill. Allie is tempted by the seductive thrill of skinjacking the living, until she learns a shocking secret.
Critically acclaimed author Neal Shusterman writes a book about life, death, and how the choices we make define ourselves in this luminous sequel to Everlost, which Orson Scott Card called "marvelously inventive...and magically beautiful."
From Kirkus Reviews
Everlost is where children go when they die, if they miss their chance to go into the light or are just not ready to transition into the hereafter. It’s a world between, where lost souls search for safety, for permanence or just a feeling of belonging (not unlike real life). Mary seeks to trap children there forever as her loyal—but unwitting—followers. Nick, the Chocolate Ogre, has already discovered how to send these lost souls into the light and is determined to fight Mary before he turns completely into a chocolate statue. Allie can move back to the real world by hijacking the body of a living being, but she can’t move on into the light, even if she wanted to. In this sequel to Everlost (2006), Shusterman has once again created a world that is beautiful and imaginative yet increasingly eerie and grim. Each character grows, developing new aspects of their personality and finding out just how far they’ll go to achieve their aims, whether anyone else likes it or not. Everlost is turning into Everwild, right before readers’ eyes. A fascinating read penned by an expert hand. 
Everfound Review
From Kirkus Reviews

Shusterman ends his provocative trilogy with a rock-solid adventure that manages to examine deep questions of faith and morality.

At the end of Everwild (2009), Nick the Chocolate Ogre had dissolved into a mass of chocolate pudding, Mary Hightower was asleep in a glass coffin waiting to be reborn, Allie the Outcast was strapped to the front of a runaway train and Mikey McGill (formerly the monstrous McGill) was searching for a way to rescue her. The adventures continue, with Mexican Afterlight Jix joining the cast of characters as a furjacker, slipping into the bodies of giant cats as he spies on Mary’s army for the Mayan King. The rules of Everlost are unique, catering to the children who go there upon death and wait until they are ready to go into the light. But even those rules can be overset with the introduction of Clarence, the scar wraith, whose touch can extinguish anyone out of existence—forever. Alliances form and melt as characters decide between their own self-interest and what is right; the shifting third-person perspective gives readers glimpses into everybody’s souls.

Rich in detail, with exceptional characterization and shot through with unexpected (and very necessary) humor, this is an engrossing and thoroughly satisfying ending to a unique saga of life after death.

Unwind by Neal Shusterman

Unwind – A society where unwanted teens are salvaged for their body parts, three runaways fight the system that would "unwind" them. Connor's parents want to be rid of him because he's a troublemaker. Risa has no parents and is being unwound to cut orphanage costs. Lev's unwinding has been planned since his birth, as part of his family's strict religion, he’s a tithe, but he soon finds his place amongst the rogues. Brought together by chance, and kept together by desperation, these three unlikely companions make a harrowing cross-country journey, knowing their lives hang in the balance. If they can survive until their eighteenth birthday, each other’s selfishness, and Roland, they can't be harmed -- but when every piece of them, from their hands to their hearts, are wanted by a world gone mad, except for those that fight against the system, eighteen seems far, far away.
In Unwind, Boston Globe/Horn Book Award winner Neal Shusterman challenges readers' ideas about life -- not just where life begins, and where it ends, but what it truly means to be alive.
2008 ALA Top Ten Picks for Reluctant Readers
2008 ALA Best Young Adult Book list
2010 Japanese Sakura Medal
2008 Bank Street Best Books of the Year
Nevada Young Reader Award WINNER
2010 Washington Evergreen YA Book award List WINNER
WINNER OF 2010 Oklahoma Intermediate Sequoyah Award List
 Nominee for 2010 Oklahoma High School Sequoyah Award List
2009/2010 Texas Lonestar Award List
2009 Texas Tayshas Award List
2009/2010 Virginia Readers Choice Award WINNER2009/2010 Indiana Rosewater High School Book Award WINNER2010 Utah Beehive Award Nominee
2009/2010 Missouri Gateway Readers Award WINNER
2010 Colorado Blue Spruce Young Adult Book Award List
2009/2010 Vermont Green Mountain Book Award
2010 Rhode Island Teen Book Award List
2010 Arizona Grand Canyon Reader Award List
2009/2010 Georgia Peach Award List
2009/2010 Florida Teens Read Award List
2009/2010 Maryland Black-Eyed Susan Book Award List WINNER
2010-2011 One Book for Nebraska Teens WINNER
2010-2011 California Young Reader Medal Nomination
The United Kingdom Coventry Inspiration "Simply the Book" Award WINNER
2009/2010 Kentucky Bluegrass Award List
2010 South Dakota YARP Award List
2011 Abraham Lincoln Illinois High School Book Award WINNER2010-2011 New Hampshire Isinglass Teen Reads Award List
NY Public Library “Books for the Teen Age”
2010 New Jersey Garden State Children's Book Award Nominee
2010 Pennsylvania Young Reader's Choice Award List
2011 Nutmeg Book Award Nominee WINNER
Vermont’s Green Mountain Book Award

This book is unique in its own right and makes your wonder about the possibilities if this was to ever to happen. What would the world really be like if being Unwound was the “normal” thing to do when you’ve had enough of your children? What if you were Storked; would you keep the baby? Could you fight against society and keep them safe or would you follow suit? It would be an easy choice for me, what about you?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Host

The Host is a science fiction/romance novel by Stephenie Meyer. The novel introduces an alien race, called Souls, which takes over the Earth and its inhabitants. The book describes one Soul's predicament when the mind of its human host refuses to cooperate with her takeover.
Melanie is a rebel human left after the invasion of the souls – aliens that are able to erase the spirit of humans or any other life form after placing themselves within said form. Wanderer is a soul who has lived on eight other planets previously, Mel being her ninth body. Wanderer is plagued by Mel’s memories, emotions and senses and quickly learns that she cannot fully claim Melanie's mind. Wanderer cannot control the urge to find Mel’s love, Jared, and remembers a place the her Uncle Jeb once told her about. Wanderer – Wanda - sets out to find the hideaway, with a vague sketch of the path from Melanie's memory. Wanda – Mel – is found by Jeb on the verge of death in the desert. She is taken to the hideaway, a complex of caves in which a group of rebel humans live, After the remaining humans find out that Mel’s body now belongs to Wanda, many of the them believe she should be put to death and attempts are made on her life, most notably by Kyle. Over time, Wanda, becomes a part of the group's routine by working, eating, and becoming an unofficial history teacher by telling stories of her former hosts on other planets. During this time, Ian, Jamie, and many other humans befriend Wanda. A Seeker, still not convinced that Wanderer was killed in the desert, returns in a helicopter, but is unable to find the caves. Ian's brother Kyle attempts to murder Wanda but is unsuccessful. Ian and Jared defend her on several occasions. Ian who is falls in love with Wanda and Jared who still loves Mel.
Jamie, another human survivor, gets an infection and Wanda realizes that she can be used raids for supplies because she trusted by other souls. After injuring herself in order to get treated by Healers, she takes the necessary medicines. Following a raid in which the Seeker is caught and Wes is shot by the Seeker, Wanda decides to reveal her biggest secret: how to remove a soul without killing either the human or the soul, a procedure that Doc had been attempting unsuccessfully. She promises to teach Doc under two conditions: first, they must send the souls to new planets without harming them, and second, Doc must remove Wanda's soul from Melanie's body and bury Wanda, because she does not want to be a parasite any longer. Wanda successfully removes The Seeker and sends her to another planet, and the body the Seeker was in is revived. Ian is enraged at the idea of Wanda ending her life so that Jared can have Melanie back. Wanda has Doc remove her from Melanie's body, believing that she will die, however, she awakens in a new human body whose original owner was possessed as a baby and therefore has no suppressed human personality. Ian and Wanda become partners, leaving Jared and Mel with the same life as before. The book ends with the rebels discovering another group of humans who also have a soul among them. This discovery suggests that humanity and souls together may still have hope for the future.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

House of Night

House of Night is a series of vampire-based fantasy novels by American author P. C. Cast and her daughter Kristin Cast. It follows the adventures of Zoey Redbird, a sixteen-year-old girl who has just become a fledgling Vampyre and is required to attend the House of Night boarding school in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
  1. Marked -
    In Marked, Sixteen-year-old Zoey lives in a world where vampyres have always existed. Zoey now marked by a Tracker to become a fledgling vampyre at a school where she will be trained to become an adult vampyre, the House of Night. But Zoey is not an average fledgling because her mark is filled in and she has been chosen special by the vampyre Goddess, Nyx. Stevie Rea, Damien, Erin, and Shaunee (the “twins”) become her bff’s. She also meets the leader of the Dark Daughters and Sons, Aphrodite, who has a power to see the future. Zoey gets invited to join the Dark Daughters and discovers she has amazing powers given from Nyx. Zoey craves for blood which is unusual for such a new fledgling. She has the affinity to summon all the elements, Earth, Air, Water, Fire, and Spirit. Neferet happens to witness everything that Zoey can do/does and announces Zoey the new leader of the Dark Daughters and Sons.
  2. Betrayed -
    Zoey imprints on Heath after drinking his blood. Zoey gets informed that Aphrodite's visions are nonexistent, but Zoey finds otherwise when she, corresponding to a vision Aphrodite had, is able to save her grandmother and several others from dying on a collapsing bridge. Zoey loses her trust in Neferet after suspicious happenings accure whenever Neferet is involved. Zoey reorganizes the Dark Daughters but Neferet takes credit for most of her new ideas at the first new Dark Daughters ritual. Zoey rescues her human boyfriend, Heath, after being captured by so-called-dead fledglings. Zoey also finds out that it was Neferet who changed the dying fledglings to what they currently are. Neferet tries to erase Zoey's memory, but while no avail.
  3. Chosen -
    Zoey has a hard time keeping up with three boyfriends and eventually decides to break up with Heath but longs for his blood. Zoey and Aphrodite team up in attempts to figure out a way to cure Stevie Rea of her strange condition of being and undead fledgling. Aphrodite is Stevie Rea’s replacement in the Dark Daughters circle for the affinity for Earth. Zoey becomes estranged from her boyfriend while having an affair with school teacher, poet, Loren Blake. Erik walks in on them and tells her besties of her sexual innuendos, they also learn that Stevie Rae is still alive. In an attempt to save Stevie Rae, Stevie Rea angrily attacks Aphrodite after seeing she replaced her in Zoey's ceremony, but as Stevie Rae drinks Aphrodite's blood, Stevie Rae Changes into a different type of vampyre and Aphrodite changes back into a human. Two teachers are murdered and the blame falls on the humans, mainly Zoeys’ stepfathers’ church and Neferet declares war.
  4. Untamed -
    Zoey reunites herself with her friends, under pressure from Aphrodite, who foresaw Zoey's death in a vision due to Zoey being isolated from her loved ones. The High Priestess of all vampyres, Shekinah, is prompted into coming to Tulsa after the murders, and takes a teaching position, as well as Zoey's ex-boyfriend Erik. With Shekinah's permission, Zoey and Aphrodite set up a volunteering contract for the House of Night with Street Cats, a local shelter for cats ran by nuns, whose tolerance for vampyres and their views on religion surprises Zoey. The nuns believe that Nyx is another version of the Virgin Mary. A new student, Stark, enrolls at the House of Night with an ability to hit any target he aims at. His body rejects the Change and he dies. Aphrodite has a vision of an ancient poem. With the help of Zoey's grandmother Sylvia Redbird, Zoey and Aphrodite learn the poem refers to Kalona and the Raven Mockers, an ancient fallen angel who poses great danger to the world, and the Tsi Sgili, a order of Cherokee demons. Sylvia lands in the hospital after a Raven Mocker attack. Nevertheless, Zoey begins her big ritual and presents Stevie Rae to the school and does so with the red fledglings as well. Neferet finally reveals her true intentions and emerges with an undead Stark at her side as he shoots Stevie Rae, making that her blood spill on the earth, and the poem about Kalona's return is complete. Neferet kills Shekinah. Neferet announces Kalona is Erebus and Zoey finds out that Neferet is Queen Tsi Sgili. Raven Mockers gain physical form while Zoey and her friends flee the scene and hide in the tunnels where they know Kalona cannot enter. Zoey vows they will fight Kalona.
  5. Hunted -
    Zoey and her friends help Stevie Rae heal - the arrow did not kill her. Aphrodite lets Stevie Rae feed on her to heal, which forms an Imprint between the red vampyre and the human. Zoey starts questioning that the red fledglings really are good and safe but is denied by Stevie Rea. Zoey and her friends try to figure out the things that just happened at the House of Night. Kalona starts getting into Zoey's dreams to seduce her. Erik and Zoey get back together. After Zoey finds out that Kramisha, a red fledgling, has prophetic powers and can write prophecies in poems, she names her the new Poet Laureate of their group. Kramisha writes a prophecy that says that Night, Humanity, Blood, Spirit and Earth will be manifested and will come together to try to banish Kalona and Neferet from the House of Night. Zoey is attacked by a Raven Mocker and gets very close to death. The elements try to heal her, but all they do is bring on the full calligraphy of the pain. Heath's blood finally heals her again, causing the two to Imprint once more, but this Imprint is even stronger than the first. Zoey's wounds do not completely heal; she is forced to go back to the House of Night with all of her friends, besides Stevie Rae, Erik, Heath and all the red fledglings. Fledglings and the vampyres to turn their backs on Nyx, which Zoey discovers while in class. Zoey successfully persuades Stark to turn back to the good side. He becomes the second red vampyre when he pledges his Warrior's Oath to Zoey and she accepts. Zoey and her friends escape from the House of Night and run way to the abbey of the Benedictine nuns. With the help of Sister Mary Angela, Stevie Rae, Aphrodite, and Grandma Redbird, plus all the red fledglings, the Benedictine nuns and her friends, Zoey banishes Neferet and Kalona from Tulsa.
  6. Tempted -
    Narrated from the views of Zoey, Stevie Rae, Aphrodite, Rephaim, Heath, and partially Stark. Zoey is initially confused over her three outstanding relationships with Heath, Erik and Stark. She dumps Erik he forms a relationship with Venus, Aphrodite's ex- roommate. As Zoey is suffering from nightmares, caused by the immortal Kalona entering her mind while she is asleep, the High Priestess sleeps with Stark, whose presence protects her from Kalona and his mind games. Darius, a Son of Erebus, plegdes to be Aphrodite's and she accepts the Oath. Meanwhile, Stevie Rae finds an injured Raven Mocker named Rephaim and helps him to safety and forms a friendly relationship. Zoey finds out that she is a reincarnation of Kalona’s true love. Stark allows Zoey to drink Heath's blood for he is consort. On their return to the House of Night, they find that another teacher is murdured. Zoey brings upon horrific destruction and the deaths of many vampyres, fledgelings and humans if she is with Kalona and the world will end as they know it, and if she chooses love and Nyx he will die and the world will be safe. It is revealed that Zoey's destiny is to face Kalona alone, meaning that only she can save the world. They fly to Venice to convince the High Council of their enemies' motives. Meanwhile, Stevie Res is injured and feeds off of Rephaim, this leads to their imprint, which shatters her imprint with Aphro. Heath takes a walk after the High Council meeting, he overhears a conversation between Kalona and Neferet, Kalona kills Heath. Because of her imprint and strong bond with Heath, Zoey's soul shatters and she passes into a coma-like state. Zoey and Heath meet in the Otherworld.
  7. Burned -
    Narrated by multiple authors. Stark must find a way to travel to the Otherworld without dying and save Zoey. If her body remains unoccupied by her spirit, it will die in a week. Aphrodite spearheads the plan to figure out how to rescue Zoey,after she is allowed to touch her body. After some research into ancient-forgotten vampyre legends and religion, the Nerd Herd finds out about the eternal struggle between Light and Darkness personified by a Black Bull and a White Bull. Neferet imprisoned Kalona's body in the realm of Darkness and sent his spirit to the Otherworld to ensure that Zoey stays trapped there. Discovered, from ancient scrolls, to travel to the Otherworld without dying they need to know more about forgotten ancient beliefs regarding the two bulls. Stevie Rae accidentally summons the white bull, which is Darkness personified. The bull tells Stevie Rae a way and as payment for giving that knowledge, the white bull extracts his payment in her pain and her blood. Rephaim saves her at the last minute by offering himself. Stevie Rae summons the black bull and saves them both at the price of always staying connected to Rephaim's humanity. Stevie Rae is able to pass on the poem to Aphrodite. According to the poem Stark, Darius and Aphrodite goes to the Isle of Women/Isle of Skye to find Sgaich, an ancient Warrior queen who can help him enter the Otherworld. Stark travels to Otherworld where he slays his Warrior self to become a Shaman and thus reach Zoey. Stark convinces Heath that he has to leave Zoey and move on so that she, in turn, can move on and save the world from Kalona and Neferet. Meanwhile, Rephaim tries to stop Stevie Rea from having sex with Dallas. After Stark talks to Heath, in return, Heath tells Zoey that they will meet again in his next life. After Zoey watches Stark take on Kalona, she is able to pull herself back together and they both return from the Otherworld safely.
  8. Awakened - Zoey and Stark reassure their connection by having sex, which, in turn, heals Zoey completely, Zoey finds out that she wields the ancient magick of the fey and can bring back old fey that serve her elements, prompting Queen Sgiach to ask her to stay on Skye indefinitely and be her successor. Aphrodite and Darius leave Skye, but Zoey and Stark decide to stay longer. Neferet returns to the House of Night. In an attempt to draw Zoey back from Skye. A close friend of Zoey’s is killed. Neferet asks Zoey for forgiveness to regain everyone's trust. Zoey accepts the fake apology, seeing through it. Rephaim is forced to fall out of the sky. Neferet then accuses him of being allied with Darkness and Stevie Rae for being allied with Rephaim, so Neferet orders the Sons of Erebus to kill both of them. Kalona interferes and faces the Sons of Erebus with Rephaim. The two fight, but Rephaim only defends himself rather than attacking the warriors. Stevie Rae asks her friends to cast a circle to stop the battle and save Rephaim. Just when Dragon Lankford tries to kill Rephaim with the help of Neferet, Nyx appears in an apparition and forgives Rephaim. He was given the choice to choose between Stevie Rae and Kalona and ends up choosing Stevie Rae. Nyx alters him permanently for this decision, so from then on; Rephaim would be a raven during the day and a human during the night. Zoey, her friends, and the red fledglings leave to start a new House of Night on their own in the tunnels, with Zoey being the "vampyre queen", Stevie Rae being the High Priestess, Aphrodite being the Prophetess, Kramisha being the Poet Laureate. Towards the end of the book, Neferet cooperates with the white bull and intends on sacrificing Sylvia Redbird, but ends up killing Zoey’s mother to create a Vessel for her as a weapon to use against Zoey. Meanwhile, in the Otherworld, Heath is given the opportunity by Nyx, to be the lost soul in this Vessel or being reborn in the real world or remaining in the Otherworld, he chooses the Vessel. This way, he can help Zoey in the modern world. Zoey has a dream where she learns of her mother's death.
  9. Destined (October 25, 2011)