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Book Review: Swarm by Scott Westerfeld & Co.

Swarm by Scott Westerfeld & Co.

Title: Swarm

Authors: Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan, and Deborah Biancotti

Series: Zeroes #2

Genre: Teen Fantasy

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

The Overview: They thought they’d already faced their toughest fight. But there’s no relaxing for the reunited Zeroes. These six teens with unique abilities have taken on bank robbers, drug dealers and mobsters. Now they’re trying to lay low so they can get their new illegal nightclub off the ground. But the quiet doesn’t last long when two strangers come to town, bringing with them a whole different kind of crowd-based chaos. And hot on their tails is a crowd-power even more dangerous and sinister. Up against these new enemies, every Zero is under threat. Mob is crippled by the killing-crowd buzz—is she really evil at her core? Flicker is forced to watch the worst things a crowd can do. Crash’s conscience—and her heart—get a workout. Anon and Scam must both put family loyalties on the line for the sake of survival. And Bellwether’s glorious-leader mojo deserts him. Who’s left to lead the Zeroes into battle against a new, murderous army? -Goodreads

The Review:

Zeroes was an interesting YA read – I liked the concept, the writing voice(s), and the characters (all but 1, anyway). What I didn’t like was that the events within it seemed a little inconsequential. In Swarm, I found that much needed substance in the second half of the book and, incidentally, liked it better.

It finally utilized that “good vs evil” vibe, diving further into each teen’s magical abilities, bringing in that fine distinction of moral boundaries. I thought it was quite creative, even if it is an old concept. The characters are definitely the selling points behind the series so far. The authors did an excellent job diversifying and representing minorities (and not in a “token” way, by any means). I’d love to see more such diversification in books, and was pleasantly surprised to discover it here.

All that said, it was still a good 75% in before I felt truly emotionally invested in the story. So here I sit, now fully invested after all that effort, looking out for the release of the final book (Nexus) which should be released sometime in September 2017. The trouble is, there’s not even a cover, much less a solid date. This is the epitome of my luck – as soon as I decide I want to know what happens next in a series, its outlook becomes shaky.

Overall, this wouldn’t be my first recommend of the genre, but at the end of the day I liked it and was kept interested the whole way through. For subject matter and language, I would only hand this to older teens (and adults like myself who refuse to grow up).

Other books you might like:

by Niki Hawkes

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Book Review: Zeroes by Scott Westerfeld & Co.

Zeroes by Scott Westerfeld

Title: Zeroes

Authors: Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan, and Deborah Biancotti

Series: Zeroes #1

Genre: Teen Fantasy

Rating: 3/5 stars

The Overview: Don’t call them heroes. But these six Californian teens have powers that set them apart. They can do stuff ordinary people can’t. Take Ethan, a.k.a. Scam. He’s got a voice inside him that’ll say whatever you want to hear, whether it’s true or not. Which is handy, except when it isn’t—like when the voice starts gabbing in the middle of a bank robbery. The only people who can help are the other Zeroes, who aren’t exactly best friends these days. Enter Nate, a.k.a. Bellwether, the group’s “glorious leader.” After Scam’s SOS, he pulls the scattered Zeroes back together. But when the rescue blows up in their faces, the Zeroes find themselves propelled into whirlwind encounters with ever more dangerous criminals. And at the heart of the chaos they find Kelsie, who can take a crowd in the palm of her hand and tame it or let it loose as she pleases. Filled with high-stakes action and drama, Zeroes unites three powerhouse authors for the opening installment of a thrilling new series. -Goodreads

The Review:

I’ve been eyeballing this book for a while. I’m a fan of Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies series and thought the premise (teens with special abilities – a concept that never seems to get old) sounded right up my alley. And I liked it!

Before diving in, I wondered if the name Zeros was a coincidence, or if they were trying to pay a cheeky nod to the show Heroes. I’m not sure which is the case, but there were many similarities between the two. The introduction of several gifted characters that slowly revealed their ties to one another was the biggest common thread, although the show did this more expansively.

The beginning was great – I found myself hooked immediately. Where Heroes was broader in its conflicts, I found Zeros more narrowly focused. Almost to the point where I wasn’t sure I cared, to be honest. All the troubles in the book were created by the characters’ actions (which felt inconsequential in the whole scheme of things). I actually thought most of the drama would come from other gifted teens on the “wrong” side of morality, which was very much not the case. In a way, it’s good that it wasn’t totally predictable, but at the same time, fixing screw ups isn’t quite as compelling as good vs. evil.

Even so, what kept me reading were the characters and how cool their powers were. I’m always drawn to the most mysterious character, so Anonymous – the Zero who people can’t remember, was my favorite. But they were all compelling in their own way. That said, I didn’t actually like all the characters. The first one introduced had an interesting power, but the more I learned about him, the more of an ass he turned out to be. There’s not really one main character in the book, but readers have a tendency to latch onto the first one introduced as an indication that their plot-line is going to be the most important. I don’t hold the entire book responsible for the dislike of one character, and actually liked the bit of antihero variety it added to the story, but at the same time if I could just punch him in the face I’d feel a lot better…

Overall, Zeroes was a decent 3 star (I liked it) book, but not the best I’ve read in the genre. That said, I’m definitely still picking up the second book and look forward to what the future holds for these interesting characters. There are so many directions the authors could take next, and I’m excited to jump on for the ride.

Other books you might like:

by Niki Hawkes

Niki’s Book Recommendations

If you liked: The Hunger Games By Suzanne Collins

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Then you might also like:

42Title: Partials

Author: Dan Wells

Series: Partials #1

Genre: Teen Fantasy

This is my top recommend for books similar to HG. It has an excellent fast-paced plot, interesting characters, and compelling conflicts. It is also written beautifully, landing itself as my favorite book of 2013! Read full review

divergentTitle: Divergent

Author: Veronica Roth

Series: Divergent #1

Genre: Teen Fantasy

What I loved most about the HG (aside from how well it was written) was the unique concept behind it. Divergent also had a highly original plot that actually kept me up into the night (I hardly ever sacrifice sleep for books anymore). Read full review

aTitle: Delirium

Author: Lauren Oliver

Series: Delirium#1

Genre: Teen Fantasy

Although this dystopian novel focuses more on the romanic element, the overall arc of the plot and general writing style are quite similar to the Hunger Games.

a1Title: Uglies

Author: Scott Westerfeld

Series: Uglies #1

Genre: Teen Fantasy

This series was one of the first dystopian books on the market, and no doubt an inspiration to many writers. I loved the idea, I loved the world, and I loved the characters. This is a must-read classic for any dystopian lover. Read full review

a2Title: Matched

Author: Ally Condie

Series: Matched #1

Genre: Teen Fantasy

Like Delirium, matched is more focused on the romantic aspect of the story rather than fast-paced action, but it’s still an excellent dystopian novel in its own right. Its kind of a cool mix between Fahrenheit 451 and the HG. Definitely geared more towards women.

a1Title: Ship Breaker

Author: Paolo Bacigalupi

Series: N/A

Genre: Teen Fantasy

Ship Breaker reminded me a lot of the HG because it had a similar overall feel to the story.  It sounds weird, but it made me somehow nostalgic of Suzanne Collin’s work, and was such a good story I remember it vividly several years later. It definitely made me want to read some of his other fantasy novels.

Well, there you have it! My top picks for books like Hunger Games. Let me know if I’m missing any really good ones! :)

Book Review: Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

Title: Uglies

Author: Scott Westerfeld

Series: Uglies #1

Genre: Teen Fantasy

Rating: 5/5 stars!

The Overview: Tally Youngblood is about to turn sixteen, and she can’t wait for the operation that turns everyone from a repellent ugly into a stunningly attractive pretty and catapults you into a high-tech paradise where your only job is to party. But new friend Shay would rather hoverboard to “the Smoke” and be free. Tally learns about a whole new side of the pretty world and it isn’t very pretty. The “Special Circumstances” authority Dr Cable offers Tally the worst choice she can imagine: find her friend and turn her in, or never turn pretty at all. The choice Tally makes changes her world forever.

 The Review:

Although the market has been flooded with futuristic post-america settings, I’m of the opinion that this trend first began with the “Uglies” trilogy. It’s fantastic and one of the most entertaining series in the entire genre. Scott Westerfeld really knows how to tell a good story.

This is one of those books that sticks with you. I’ll talk a bit about how much I liked the writing style, but the overall concept was my favorite element of this series: To remove the favoritisms that arise from appearances, society decided to make everyone gorgeous. At sixteen, all people undergo major surgery and begin their privileged, materialistic lives. As a young girl about to undergo this procedure, Tally Youngblood decides there might be more to life than pretty faces and endless parties. As the series progresses, it digs deeper into this society, revealing that not everything is as perfect as it seems.

The author has an engaging writing style that keeps you riveted throughout the story. Adding to that, he is incredibly creative, and often used a subtle touch with certain setting and language elements that just made the story that much more dynamic and interesting. I liked it so much, I bought the sequel before I was even halfway through it.

Definitely in my top 10 favorite teen books of all-time, Uglies is well worth picking up, especially if you’re a fan of the teen genre. What’s more, every last customer and coworker I’ve talk to about this series share my thoughts – this is a trilogy that’s worth reading!

by Niki Hawkes

Other books you might like:

  • “Partials” by Dan Wells
  • “Delirium” by Lauren Oliver
  • “Matched” by Allie Condie
  • “Skinned” by Robin Wasserman
  • “Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins