Young Adult Book Review – The Eye of Minds

The Eye of Minds by James Dashner

The Eye of Minds by James Dashner

Title: The Eye of Minds

Author: James Dashner

About: Michael is a gamer who spends most of his time on the VirtNet, which offers total mind and body immersion into a virtual reality world. And his hacking skills just serves to enhance the many gaming options such as fantasy worlds and war games, or even just hanging out with friends. However, recently one hacker has been going beyond the limits of reasonable hacking. He’s been trapping players inside the world, while in reality they have been declared brain-dead. Still, no one knows what he wants. The government, knowing they need a hacker to catch a hacker, has been watching Michael and his friends. However, accepting their top-secret challenge could mean an end to everything they’ve known as they go off the grid, diving into secret areas they never knew existed. And the risk could even include death.

This is one of the few books I never finished. Plot? Sounds really interesting. I’ve always been interested in books involving virtual reality areas or such, and this one seemed to match just that. However, I was quickly disappointed right in the first chapter.

I can’t say much for the characters as I did not have enough time to form an opinion over how well-developed they are. They could be amazing.

I flipped through the book when I first picked it up and was thrilled to see no swearing. (Keep in mind that it was a glance, there may be some I missed.) I was incredibly excited, but in the first chapter, it went awry. Michael has to convince a gamer not to commit virtual suicide. It’s just a part of his duty. However, they describe in detail how this gamer, Tanya, peels open her head to pull out the chip that’s the link between this world and her mind in the real world. It was quite disturbing and a bit gory. And then she ends up jumping off the bridge as well, ending her life in both worlds. Oh, man. That was gross. And the reason I stopped reading.

Overall, this may have been a good book if I had continued. However, I do not care for descriptive violence in such a fashion. Besides, if they did it once, it’s likely something similar will occur later on. I wouldn’t recommend this book unless you delight in blood, which I hope you don’t. Either way, you probably shouldn’t read unless you are at least fifteen or sixteen, though I’d say not at all anyway. Something else I noted later is that this is the same author of the Maze Runner trilogy, which I read a while back. Quite similar in this sense – interesting plot, a bit too disturbing to be worth it.

 

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Young Adult Book Review – The Shadow Society

Title: The Shadow SocietyTheShadowSociety

Author: Marie Rutkoski

About: Darcy Jones was five when she was found abandoned outside a Chicago firehouse. She has no memories of her life before coming there and feels like she doesn’t belong anywhere. However, she had no way of knowing that she came from an alternate world where the Great Chicago Fire never occured and that she’s a Shade, one of the deadly creatures that terrorize the population by their ability to ‘ghost,’ or turn invisible besides a shadow. Darcy starts to have haunting memories when a new boy starts attending her high school. Conn, the new boy, confuses her by first looking at her like she was his enemy, and then changing to seem to really like her. Then he betrays her and she realizes that she can’t rely on anything, even herself. Darcy decides to sneak into the Shadow Society and reveal the Shades’ latest terrorist plot. What she uncovers will rock her world forever…

Review: I have to admit, I really enjoyed this book. I haven’t read anything quite like it, and it certainly has unique characters and a great plot. Although I read it over a span of a few days (due to school), I was always looking forward to reading the next page and figuring out what happened next. The small exerpt on the back of the book sort of turned me off due to its content, where Darcy’s foster mother throws a knife at her. Once reading it, though, it turned out to be a bit different than what it first seemed like.

Darcy, despite the fact that I don’t care for the name, was a pretty cool character. She has a strong fondness of art and loves to paint, even painting all the walls with all sorts of different things in her room while she stays in the Shadow Society. Her vulnerability at times really appealed to me and drew me in, making me feel for her and hope that she’d get out of whatever problem had just risen to meet her. She has a very, very strong phobia of fire, which caused interesting moments at times, like when she ran out of her bedroom with the intent to rescue her friends from their burning apartment… only to realize that it was just a small flame in a fireplace that was being watched over by one of her buddies, Raphael. Conn, well, has a fluctuating personality, to put it mildly. One minute he’s sweet and almost acts like a little kid, and the next he’s betraying Darcy… during a kiss. Of course, their romance was inevitable… Anyway, once he found out more about her, he even told her he’d quit his job for her despite the fact that he had worked toward his position for his whole life. Like Darcy, he was part of the child care systems (a.k.a. he was an orphan). Also, he’s a terrible cook. There are quite a few other characters that didn’t play very major parts that I’ll just touch on. Darcy’s three best friends were Jims, Lily, and Raphael. Jims is a bit of a science fiction nut, and is always talking about different alien things. He’s also a huge video game addict. Lily is… interesting. She’s an artist, like Darcy, which is how they met. She dyes her hair different colors and is a bit of a rebel. I didn’t like her too much mainly for a reason I’ll mention later. Raphael seems nice, and he has a bit of a crush on Darcy that he’d never admit. He wants the best for her, though, even if it means she loves Conn instead of him. Taylor is a girl who came along with them for a short time. She’s a snob who only really seems to care about clothes and makeup, though it’s possible she has a nice side that’s hidden away. Orion is a Shade who is in love with Darcy. However, he’s a bit of a jerk and gets very demanding if she doesn’t give in to what he wants. He also has no sense of personal space/privacy. Savannah is a Shade who dislikes Darcy at first, but gets to be quite fond of Darcy after a while. Marsha is Darcy’s foster mom who is a bit… odd… but nice. If I was in the foster system, I wouldn’t mind having her for a foster mother. There are a lot more characters that I didn’t cover, but I should probably move on…

Huge bonus was that I cannot recall them swearing much, if at all. It’s possible that one or two are slipping my memory, but the language is quite clean. There are no scenes hinting at sexuality besides Darcy and Conn sleeping on a couch together. Trust me, it goes no further than SLEEPING. As mentioned above, there are so many well-developed characters, and a very good, unique, and interesting plot. I really liked pretty much everything about it. It certainly kept me guessing on what was going to happen next.

However, there’s a little bit of description of torture in one part, though it is quite vague and only gives you the general idea of what happened. Also there’s one scene where Darcy follows Conn into a locker room and, although she turns away, he undresses without knowing she’s there. There’s also a scene of memory where it describes a small amount of when an entire hospital is gassed and a huge amount of people are killed, from the elderly to the newborns. As I said above, I didn’t like the character Lily because she’s a smoker. It might just be me in that, but I didn’t like that much. There’s only one scene where she’s smoking, and she offers it to Darcy who refuses it. There’s also the terror described when Darcy is surrounded by fire, but really there isn’t too much to say here.

All in all, I really, really loved this book. I think anyone into fantasy would also enjoy it. I’d probably recommend this book to people 13 or 14+, as I think they’ll be the ones that would enjoy and understand it more. Really, though, if they’re mature, it could probably go down to perhaps 12. It also might come in handy to know some of your Chicago history…

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Young Adult Book Review – Tiger Lily

Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn book cover

Tiger Lily

Title: Tiger Lily

Author: Jodi Lynn Anderson

About: Fifteen-year-old Tiger Lily is a loner in the small village she lives in, the Sky Eaters, in Neverland. She meets Peter, a Lost Boy, and quickly falls under his spell. He’s brave and fearless and different from everyone she knows. As the leader of the Lost Boys, the most fearsome of Neverland’s inhabitants, he is an unthinkable match for Tiger Lily. It doesn’t take long before she is risking everything to be with him. Then she’s faced with marriage to a horrible man in her tribe, and she has to choose between the life she’s always known and running away to an uncertain future with Peter. The lovers seem doomed with enemies threatening to tear them apart. But the arrival of Wendy Darling, an English girl who’s everything Tiger Lily isn’t, is what leads Tiger Lily to discover that the most dangerous enemies can live inside even the most loyal and loving heart.

Review: Tiger Lily is a mixed book for me. On one hand, I loved the story and plot, and how it was a pretty cool mix-up of the Peter Pan story. However, I hated the ending. It stunk terribly, in my opinion, even though I probably should have known it was coming and prepared myself for it. The characters are definitely not flat, and the point of view from Tinkerbell was pretty cool. Okay, yes, it’s probably a bit more of a book a girl would enjoy rather than a boy. It certainly isn’t action-packed, but it’s a really good book for the most part.

Tiger Lily, despite her many strengths, has flaws as well. She seems pretty insecure to me and fear of showing weakness in front of others. Peter is, well, Peter. Nothing scares him, even things that should, such as the knowledge that eventually Hook, the pirate leader, would catch and kill him and the boys. Tik Tok, Tiger Lily’s adoptive father, puts a bit of a damper on my feelings of the book, as although he is a male, he wears dresses, keeps his hair long, and basically is a cross-dresser. That is definitely not something I enjoy, but he plays a minor part. Pine Sap, one of the boys from the village, is probably one of my favorite characters. He’s sweet and has a huge crush on Tiger Lily. He’s a good friend and is always there for her, even building a hut that he plans for Tiger Lily and himself someday. Moon Eye, a girl from the village, is frail and gentle. Unfortunately, Giant, Tiger Lily’s fifty-plus-year-old fiancé, has a thing for young girls and Moon Eye has to be very careful around him. Giant is an old, fat, disgusting, mean man whose mother gets Tik Tok to promise Tiger Lily in marriage to him. Wendy is one of my least favorite characters, even though she only comes in in the last few chapters of the book. If you read it, there’s a good chance you’ll understand why, but I’m not going to spoil it for you. Philip, an Englishman whose ship crashed, although I liked him in the beginning, started to annoy me after a while.

Like I said earlier, I really found it interesting that there was a 1st person point-of-view by Tinkerbell instead of Tiger Lily. ‘Tink,’ as she is often called, follows Tiger Lily and Peter around. For the most part it almost seems like it’s in 3rd person, as she doesn’t have much of a part, but occasionally she adds things to the situation such as her emotions or what she’s doing. The book is also quite well-written, with sophisticated language. There are a lot of mythical creatures as well, such as mermaids (traditional man-drowning ones, not Little Mermaid mermaids), faeries, and more. The Lost Boys seemed to each have their own unique personality. One of my favorite changes was how Hook lost his hand. Instead of a crocodile eating it (I think that’s how it goes…), he was working in a shoe factory, fell asleep, and a machine chopped it off in the shape of a shoe heel. That made me laugh, I admit it.

The fact that it was hinted that Moon Eye was sexually assaulted by Giant wasn’t so nice. It was very vague and although you got the idea that it might have happened, the author left pretty much all of it to your imagination. Also there’s the cross-dressing that really bothers me. There isn’t any swearing, as far as I can remember. The ending just stunk, though. It wasn’t violent or morbid, just really sad. Really, really sad. After I finished the book I put it down and went upstairs in a huff. Also, Smee is a bit of a creepy person. If he admires someone… he wants to strangle them. He’s one of the pirates with Hook.

Overall, although it was a pretty good plot, I won’t read it again because of the ending and other things I mentioned weren’t so great. Then again, that might just be me being stubborn. It was fun to read the first time. I suggest the age level to be maybe 13+, due to the few things I mentioned above. It’s more of a girl’s romance book than something most boys might want to read, but that’s okay. So, read it if you want, I’m not going to suggest reading it or not. It’s up to you depending on what you though of what I said above.

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