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Book Review: Push by Eve Silver

pushTitle: Push

Author: Eve Silver

Series: The Game #2

Genre: Teen Fantasy

Rating: 2/5 stars

Release Date: June 10, 2014

The Overview: It’s either break the rules or die. Miki Jones lives her life by her own strict set of rules, to keep control, to keep the gray fog of grief at bay. Then she’s pulled into the Game, where she—and her team—will die unless she follows a new set of rules: those set by the mysterious Committee. But rules don’t mean answers, and without answers, it’s hard to trust. People are dying. The rules are unraveling. And Miki knows she’s being watched, uncertain if it’s the Drau or someone—something—else. Forced to make impossible choices and battling to save those she loves, Miki begins to see the Committee in a glaring new light. And then the Game crosses a new boundary, pushes harder into Miki’s and her friends’ lives, and there’s nothing in the rules that can save them now.

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The Review:

I was really looking forward to Push, especially after the awesome direction Rush was headed when it ended. It promised to focus on all the things I enjoyed about the first book and move away from all the things I didn’t. Instead, Push kind of stagnated around all the same issues without much of a story progression at all. Heck, I’d even go so far as to say it regressed a little. I’m disappointed to say it was not the action-packed amazing novel I’d hoped it would be.

I had a lot of issues with the relationship development in the first book – a seemingly smart, independent girl who fawns over a guy despite the fact that she thinks he’s a total asshole – and was hoping the change in direction of the story would get the main character away from that codependent focus. It did not. The first half of the book, which I thought would be packed with adventure and excitement (the good stuff) was like reading one big long soliloquy about how much she hates him, how much she loves him, how much she misses him, and what she needs to do to get him back. Here I am thinking she’d grown enough to stand strongly on her own, but evidently the story couldn’t progress until she smoothed out her love life. Sheesh.

If I had been able to get behind the relationship in the first place, the huge focus on it probably wouldn’t have bothered me so much. I live for a good love story, and even expect it from my YA novels, but in this case, it just didn’t work for me. Even after all this time, I still can’t see a compelling reason why the relationship started and why it’s continuing. It could be just me, though. So if you enjoyed the love angle of the first book, no doubt you will enjoy it here. I just found a lot to be desired.

If this series took place entirely within The Game, it wouldn’t be too much for me. There are thousands of teen drama love stories out there, but only a handful of really cool takes on what it would be like to live in a video game. The concept is still my favorite part of the story, and I think it would have benefited Silver to pour more of her focus into it. As it were, some of the story was set in the alternate existence, but not enough to really progress the main overall conflict of the series (unless the main conflict is the romance, in which case that’s certainly getting enough attention). There was one single ray of hope in the form of an added plot element within The Game – one which I can’t even talk about because it’s a spoiler – and it added a fascinating wrinkle to the story. All I have to say is, if I read on it will be because of that single interesting plot point.

Overall, I hoped for more…. but I seem to be in the minority yet again.

Other books you might like:

by Niki Hawkes

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Book Review: Rush by Eve Silver

RushTitle: Rush

Author: Eve Silver

Series: The Game #1

Genre: Teen Fantasy

Rating: 3/5 stars

The OverviewWhen Miki Jones is pulled from her life, pulled through time and space into some kind of game—her carefully controlled life spirals into chaos. In the game, she and a team of other teens are sent on missions to eliminate the Drau, terrifying and beautiful alien creatures. There are no practice runs, no training, and no way out. Miki has only the guidance of secretive but maddeningly attractive team leader Jackson Tate, who says the game isn’t really a game, that what Miki and her new teammates do now determines their survival, and the survival of every other person on this planet. She laughs. He doesn’t. And then the game takes a deadly and terrifying turn.

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The Review:

Based on the premise of Rush – involving live-action video game battles against invading aliens – I’m actually surprised I hadn’t picked it up before now. I love competitions (I know, you guys are sick of hearing that) and have always wondered what it would be like if the contents of video games were reality. Now, if I were to pick one to bring to life, it probably wouldn’t be a scary shoot-em-up alien game because I’m a wimp, but watching others live it was super intense and exciting!

The sequences that took place in the “game” were my favorite parts of the book. It set a cool atmosphere right from the start, and the way Silver presented it really drew me me into the story. I like the framework behind how everything worked and the rules within the game. It sounded like fun… you know, provided you weren’t actually living it. I enjoyed watching Miki, an ordinary girl, draw on strength she didn’t even know she had in order to adapt and survive. I will say, as much as I enjoyed the action sequences in Rush, I have a strong suspicion the bits found in Push will be even more fascinating. I won’t ruin the plot or anything, but suffice to say Silver set things up strongly for her sequel.

One thing I’m looking forward to in the sequel is going in with more information right up front – which is something that could’ve made Rush a lot stronger. I know you need an element of discovery to keep your readers engaged, but the back-and-forth Q&A in Rush seemed like it went on forever (when you get to the last couple chapters of the book and your main character is still trying to get basic answers – who, what, when, where, why – there might be a problem). I actually think including that information early on and cutting some of the lengthy Q&A sections would have added a great deal to the plot, and perhaps solved some of my dissatisfaction with the reality sequences…

While half of the novel takes place in the game, the rest takes place in reality where teenage drama and romance unfold. I have to say, the teenage drama part was okay, but I didn’t enjoy the love story as much as I thought I would. I hate to admit that I think the problem was an instalove – the sort with no compelling reason why the main character would be drawn to a guy… unless her only criteria was “he was hot.” After the fifth or sixth time she called him an asshole (and meant it), I just couldn’t wrap my brain around why she all of a sudden thought “Ooooooh, I really want to date this guy!”

Now, of course as with any teen drama, the boy she liked was not as awful as the façade he showed the world, blah blah blah, but that doesn’t change his behavior towards Miki, and I didn’t buy in to her sudden fawning, even knowing how these things usually go. Maybe if I was more convinced of their relationship at first, the reality scenes wouldn’t have drug out quite so much, but it is what it is. There is a silver lining though – even though I couldn’t understand the initial attraction, I can definitely see what’s holding the relationship together, so I might be able to enjoy the romance in the second book a lot better.

My rant about the insalove aside (which I swear I’ve never cared about before… I guess the blogosphere is rubbing off on me), the way it was done actually fit in well with the framework of the story, and I can see why Silver presented it that way. All of the story elements worked well together and it was nice to see how one thing built off of another.

Overall, despite a bit of dissatisfaction with the love story, the action scenes were enough to make Rush an enjoyable read. The author left things off in a way that makes me doubly excited to pick up the second book, so there’s hope any issue I had will disappear in the next installment. I’m sure I could find people to recommend this too – it had enough strong points and all the negatives were preferential. It’s definitely different… I think it would be perfect for someone who likes action in books, but doesn’t want all the depressing baggage that comes along with full-blown dystopians/post-apocalyptics.

Other books you might like:

by Niki Hawkes

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Your Pick for Nik! – June’s Review: The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

The Fifth Wave by Rick Yancey

The Fifth Wave by Rick Yancey

Title: The 5th Wave

Author: Rick Yancey

Series: The 5th Wave

Genre: Teen Fantasy

Rating: 5/5 stars!

The OverviewAfter the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.

Now, it’s the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth’s last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie’s only hope for rescuing her brother—or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up.

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The Review:

This book was positively brilliant! I was sold from the one-page prologue (which by the way is the best prologue I think I’ve ever read) and it only got better and better from there.

Writing: As great as the story is, it’s how it was written that makes it such a killer novel. I’ve never read a writing style quite like it – he doesn’t describe characters or settings in the traditional manner, but rather provides tons of drop in details; especially details that are relevant to the POV character. He also phases in and out between the past and the present at first which gave the beginning of the novel a neat dynamic. All of it was told in a cheeky, in-your-face voice that was as relatable as it was jaded. It set the tone right away and let us get inside the main protagonist’s head.  I truly wish I have the chance to meet this author and learned from him some day – the level of masterful writing he showed while crafting this story blows my mind.

Story: This is the kind of story that makes me want to talk about it constantly. The plot was exciting and fresh, the conflicts of each character were raw and gritty, and the basic concept of the story was intricate and fascinating.  Just when I thought I had it figured out, Yancey surprised me; and did so in a way that made me close the book, reeling about what I just read, and resist the urge to call someone and talk about it. Y’all have to read this book… I’m just saying.

There seems to be a theme in this review of things I’ve never seen done before – in this case, it’s Yancey’s take on alien invasion’s.  It blows my mind. I particularly like the fact that I had no idea what the aliens’ motives were and was forced to discover it along with the characters. Nobody on earth knows what the hell is going on or why the aliens have decided to wipe them out, nor why they did so in a series of “waves.” It’s frightening because it’s so plausible – it scares the snot out of me because it’s a shocking look into people’s reactions to such an event – millions of speculations and theories but not one certainty… until the aliens attack, and then there’s just panic and ruthlessness. This book is definitely not an “upper,” lol, so don’t pick it up if you really need something to brighten your day. Not that it doesn’t lack hope, it’s just quite a bit more robust and thought-provoking than your average teen novel.

Setting: Yancey completely immerses you in this post-apocalyptic world. He gives earth a creepy foreboding atmosphere that raises the tension. It’s all subtle. Things like ransacked gas stations, vacant cities, and dead bodies always accompany this type of novel, but the author takes it a step further by reminding readers of the humanity lost with the main character’s outlook on all of these places. While I picture death and destruction all around, the character reminisces what it was like to eat a cheeseburger. While I imagine an empty school and feel despair it all the children that used to fill it, she remembers it as the only place she got to see the boy she has a crush on. While it seems given that everything has a memory, Yancey is the first writer I’ve read who really celebrates those memories to make the reader appreciate, well, everything. It also made the setting deeper, increased my emotional involvement (essential for me to love a book), and made me furious at those alien SOB’s for threatening it.

Characters: I am a huge fan of this main character. She manages to be both cynical and practical and compassionate and sentimental all at the same time. You get the impression that if not for the invasion she would have been a delightful person, but the hardships and necessity of surviving on her own has hardened her for survival. What’s more, she’s funny. There are a lot of sarcastic one-liners in here that made me love her even more. I would like to break down some of the elements I loved about the other characters, but I honestly don’t want to ruin the plot for anyone. Half of the profoundness of this book came from discovering whose perspective we’d be hearing from next. Suffice to say, I enjoyed them all and felt totally emotionally involved in each of their conflicts.

Pacing: Oh, the pacing! I have come to expect a fast-paced tension from dystopian’s and think this book had the same great momentum that made me fall in love with Wells’s Partials. It starts out with a bang and doesn’t let up until you finish the book at four in the morning and are utterly exhausted. The perspective switches took nothing away from the momentum of the story and, if anything, made it more pivotal to keep reading. Obligations had me reluctantly setting the book aside, but when I finally had an evening to pick it up, I was a goner. It had such a great flow with the writing and the story that I completely devoured it as fast as I could. I’d love to go back and reread it slower to fully appreciate its intricacies.

Overall, I spent the first half of the book dreading that the shoe would drop and all of the brilliance I had read so far would amount to nothing. I am so, so happy to report that the quality of this book never falters. I loved it and I plan on recommending it as often as I can.

Recommendations: This is perfect for dystopian fans who like “action” rather than “romantic” post-apocalyptic books. This is also a wonderful showcasing of how to write an exceptional book that grabs people, so I would recommend it to writers wanting to break into the teen market (especially those going for an edgier vibe). Finally, for those of us who haven’t read a really good alien invasion story in ages – our pleas have been answered!

Other books you might like:

Partials Review   •   The Bane Review   •  Divergent Review   •   The Darkest Minds Review

by Niki Hawkes