‘Outwalkers’ by Fiona Shaw is a powerful book about the love of a boy for his dog in a bleak dystopian future

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“The Outwalkers” by Fiona Shaw is a tough read, but not because it’s not a fabulous story. In fact, the book is intriguing from the first page and emotionally heartrending to the last. It’s dark and depressing, but at the same time it’s filled with hope and the promise of a better world. My heart beat a bit faster from the beginning to the end of the book — I was that worried about the main character, Jake, and his incredibly loyal and wonderful dog Jet.

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‘The Final Six’ by Alexandra Monir Is a Too-Possibly-True to Miss Reading Dystopian Novel

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The world Alexandra Monir creates in “The Final Six” is one that is all too believable. Climate change has caused the sea levels to rise, and tsunamis have devastated coastal cities. Rome is underwater and people live on the top floors of tall buildings. Whole populations in large cities have drowned when tsunamis rushed in to engulf everything.

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‘Unearthed’ by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner Is a Thrilling Young Adult SciFi Ride

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It’s being billed as a cross between Indiana Jones and Star Wars, and “Unearthed” by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner comes close. It’s the story of a future Earth when climate change has destroyed much of our planet. Scientists on Earth find a message from an extinct alien race that explains how to build a portal to Gaia, another planet, where the astronauts find a piece of technology that powers a clean water supply for all of Los Angeles. Then the astronauts are killed while exploring one of the temples there.

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‘Fate of Flames’ is fabulous fantasy for young adults

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“Fate of Flames” by Sarah Raughley is the first book in the series “The Effigies.” It’s a story about an alternate world much like ours, but one in which evil creatures, Phantoms, have appeared to plague humankind. At the same time, four girls have suddenly gained powers that help them fight the Phantoms.

When one of the girls with the power dies, another is created — seemingly at random.The girls are called Effigies, and for obvious reasons, they become famous.

The story begins with high school student Maia, the most recent girl to receive the power. She hasn’t told anyone, even the uncle with whom she lives. Since her parents and twin sister died in a fire, Maia has had trouble making friends. She feels guilty that she lived while everyone else died. Ironically, the power she gets from the Effigy who died is the power of fire.

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‘The Fate of the Tearling’ by Erika Johansen is the fabulous last book in the inspiring ‘The Queen of the Tearling’ trilogy

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The trilogy that began with “The Queen of the Tearling,” continued with “The Invasion of the Tearling,” now ends with “The Fate of the Tearling.” The books seem almost prescient — especially the last book.

The world in the trilogy is a new continent where a group of people live together. They are those who left a world filled with violence, the rich and the rest — who lived horrible lives, to follow a visionary, William Tear, to a better place. But the “better place” is not better.

In fact, the world in which Kelsea, the Queen of the Tearling lives, is one in which “… there are drugs, there is an extremely corrupt Church (in this book the author shows just how corrupt), and there is unmitigated evil.”

Kelsea often has visions of the past. She sees the pre-crossing world through the eyes of Lily, William Tear’s lover, who was in an abusive marriage. In this world, the rich become even richer, the poor and marginalized become even more so, and women are deprived of their rights. Lily is married to a wealthy man, but he is — or becomes — weak and cruel. Because of her society’s anti-female rules, there is nowhere for Lily to go, and she has no means of escape from her awful marriage.

In this book, Kelsea has visions of a different character from the past. She is someone who was there at the beginning of the new world. Through her eyes, Kelsea sees the beginning of unrest in the small colony. She sees the cause of it, and the reader is left wondering whether mankind is capable of the utopia William Tear envisioned.

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‘Glass Sword: Kneel or Bleed’ by Victoria Aveyard is 2nd in the ‘Red Queen’ YA series

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“Glass Sword” is the sequel to “Red Queen” by Victoria Aveyard. This second book in the series continues the tale of the powerful silver-blooded people who have basically enslaved those whose blood is red and who lack the super-abilities of those with silver blood. The protagonist is Mare, whose blood runs red although she has abilities that are equal to those of a silver-blooded person.

In this sequel, Mare has escaped from the prison of Maven, the king, who had cruelly betrayed not only her but his half-brother, the older brother who should have been king. Now she, Cal (the true king) and others with her special abilities are trying to locate and save other red-blooded people who have special abilities. It’s a race against Maven, who also has the list of people and is out to kill them before Mare can find them. Continue reading

‘Inhuman’ by Kat Falls: First in a fascinating, exciting YA dystopian trilogy

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Rating: 5 stars

“Inhuman” is Kat Falls’ first foray into young adult literature. She certainly hits a home run on her first try. “Inhuman” is the story of a future where genetic modification has gone horribly wrong. A virus has killed millions and turned millions more into feral, mindless savages.

A wall west of the Mississippi River divides the country into the infected (or at risk of being infected) and those who live west of the wall and are safe and virus-free. Lane, the teen-aged protagonist, is a kind person who believes in the innate worth of all living beings. From the first page, the reader knows that even though Lane lives on the safe side, she is fascinated by the wall and what lies over it.

When her father is away on one of his mysterious business trips, she is arrested and told that she must find him. What happens next changes not only everything she had learned about the Feral Zone, but changes her life.

The story moves quickly, and the reader is hooked immediately. Lane’s character is real — smart and spunky, courageous and compassionate, curious and caring. On her adventure, she meets two guys who are complete opposites — but both are very attractive.

Rafe, a guy who had grown up in the Feral Zone, is hardened by living with the very real threat of being bitten by a feral person and contracting the virus. He wears his scars from fighting the crazy creatures like medals. Everson, a soldier, grew up in the safety of the west. He has no scars, but he is intelligent and well-trained, and he wants to find a cure for the virus.

Falls is a very talented writer. She creates a menagerie (literally) of fantastic (as in fantasy) creatures that will allow readers to imagine beautiful — and sometimes horrendously ugly — mixtures of humans and animals, and animals and other animals.

While the idea of a country ravaged by plague, wild areas, and a brave hero venturing into dangerous lands on some important mission is not new, Falls manages to make it her own. Her characters are unforgettable, her creatures imaginative, her story compelling.

Like many authors, Falls is kind enough to provide an ending to the first book while still making it clear that the story continues. This reviewer cannot wait for the next book in the series.

Please note: This review is based on the final hardcover book provided by the publisher, Scholastic Press, for review purposes.