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Book Review

    The Running Man

    running man

    Novel Description (From Amazon):

    In the year 2025, the best men don’t run for President, they run for their lives….

    Ben Richards is out of work and out of luck. His eighteen-month-old daughter is sick, and neither Ben nor his wife can afford to take her to a doctor. For a man with no cash and no hope from the poor side of town, there’s only one thing to do: become a contestant on one of the Network’s Games, shows where you can win more money than you’ve ever dreamed of—or die trying. Now, Ben’s going prime-time on the Network’s highest-rated viewer participation show. And he’s about to become prey for the masses…

    Who are the main characters?

    Ben Richards: Main protagonist. He is a husband and father who is down on his luck. He is willing to do anything for his wife and daughter who needs medical care. Seeing no way out, he decides to go on a game show that cares more about ratings then those who go on the show for a purpose. The show that he goes on is titled the Running Man, wherein, as the title says you have to run. The catch is you are literally running for your life. The longer you stay alive the longer you have in possibility to earn money.

    Dan Killian: Main antagonist. The executive producer of the program who is all about giving the people what they want and describes the dangers that will happen as the show progresses.

    Hunters: Main antagonist. They are elite men who are hired by the network who sponsors the games to hunt down the contestants and kill them, after they are declared enemies of the state.

    List what you liked about the book

    1. It is a dystopian novel. Well-written dystopian is always a joy to read because it exploits events that makes an individual consider their own actions in present time.

    2. The story represents a man who loves his family and will do everything for them, including risking his life.

    3. The craft of outwitting professional killers really demonstrates that a person can think strategically when the future of loved ones are on the line.

    4. Ben Richards began the novel with his family’s future his main concern and even with the way the book ends his thoughts continue to be on his family as he makes decisions that change the course of lives.

    Is there anything you didn’t like about the book?

    There are parts of the book that are dry and pulls the reader through the story waiting for the action to pick up. Not a deal breaker in reading the entire book but something to mention.

    Any plot twists?

    I wouldn’t necessary call it a plot twist but it is near the end of the book (no spoiler) where we see how evil the network is you really start to feel for Ben Richards. It is this moment in the book where if you weren’t cheering for him for the duration of the book then you are at the end. You will even cheer on his final decision.

    Overall Impression

    This book is as far away from the movie adaptation of the same name. Originally I fell in love with the movie because the concept was great but it wasn’t until I read the book that I realized that the movie is as far away from the book as can be. The book really shows the plights of a father and husband who cares so deeply for his family that he will do whatever he can to ensure the livelihood of those he loves. Besides a few areas where the book drags, it keeps you on your toes if he can survive the duration of the games.

    Would you recommend this book to others?

    Yes, this is nice pace book that illustrates the length people will go for their loved ones.

    Final Grade?

    A-

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    The Selection

    selection%20cvr

    Since this book has been released, Kiera Cass has come out with 4 more books, that doesn’t included small sections regarding specific characters into the fold.

    The Selection is the first book in the series. Here is the synopsis:

    For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in a palace and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon.

    But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn’t want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.

    Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she’s made for herself—and realizes that the life she’s always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.

    Right off the back, this book reminded me of one of many television shows regarding many men or many women fighting (not literally) for the heart of one person. I remember when I first read this book and a co-worker asked me about it. I gave them the same synopsis and their response was “Oh, that doesn’t sound like a good book. I don’t want to read a book like that.” Fast forward to two weeks ago this year and this same co-worker is excited to start the series with this book.

    As much as I wanted to say “I told you so!” I didn’t simply because anyone who decided to read this book would be in for a good read.

    The characters are fleshed out well. You have the main protagonist of the story, America, but you also have other characters such as Aspen, Maxon, Marley etc. With 35 girls there are a lot of characters but true to this type of format, not all of the girls make it to end of the book. They are eliminated by the Prince who is looking for his one true love.

    This book does not decide his one true love. The third book in this series will do that one, titled “The One” but it does help the reader pick who they want to win the heart of the prince.

    At first glance you may want to cheer for America which would be justified, the book is from her perspective but you have to decide who you ship for, Aspen or Maxon.

    Aspen, not giving too much away, works in the palace as a guard to the royal family. He and America have history that may have you vote for him to win her heart.

    Maxon is the prince who has to decide through 35 women who his wife will be. He also has to handle the strong iron will rule of his father and the fact that people are rebelling against the way things currently are within society.

    This book is all about the cast system, how the wealthy is at the top and can get the best and most lucrative jobs while those at the bottom struggle to get by. Those in the middle do well but not as well as they could.

    You will feel anger, happiness and confusion throughout this book but it will make you want to read more.  This book sets up the next step in the series “The Elite”

    As the starting book, I enjoyed it and couldn’t wait to jump into the next book to continue reading about the characters. This book was a great set up for the next book in the series.

    Final Grade: A

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    Branded – A Sinners Series 1

    Branded

     

    Branded, written by co-authors, Abi Ketner and Missy Kalicicki, is a story that follows the journey of a young girl accused of a crime she didn’t commit.

    From this description , a person may think this could be the making of a great mystery novel. This is not a mystery novel. It is a dystopian novel. Now I know, there has been many dystopian novels written as of late (most I will cover here as I enjoy a good dystopian book) so you may ask yourself “What makes this story different?” Before we get into differences, if any, let me provided the synopsis of the book:

    Fifty years ago, the Commander came into power and murdered all who opposed him. In his warped mind, the seven deadly sins were the downfall of society.
     
    To punish the guilty, he created the Hole, a place where sinners are branded according to their sins.
     
    Sinners are forced to live a less than human existence in deplorable conditions, under the watchful eye of guards who are ready to kill anyone who steps out of line.
     
    Now, Lust wraps around my neck like thick, blue fingers, threatening to choke the life out of me.
     
    I’ve been accused of a crime I didn’t commit, and the Hole is my new home. Constant darkness.
     
    Brutal and savage violence. Excruciating pain.
     
    Every day is a fight for survival.
     
    But I won’t let them win.
     
    I will not die in the Hole.
     
    I am more than my brand. I’m a fighter. 
     
    My name is Lexi Hamilton, and this is my story.

     

    Who are the main characters?

    As you’ve read above, and seen on the cover, the book is told through the sea colored eyes of Lexi Hamilton. When the story first begins Lexi has been accused of a crime and is dragged out of hiding by guards who work for the Commander. I found Lexi’s character in the beginning to be very lonely. She is forced to move into the place called the “Hole”. A dark place where people are starved and killed on a daily basis. I enjoyed reading things from Lexi’s point of view. She described her emotions well, especially since the book is written in her POV. That is limited as to knowing how everyone around her felt as well but she did explain their expressions as well so we weren’t completely in the dark. Speaking of dark, Lexi’s life past her father’s death and her brother leaving her behind is very dark. We learn about her life under the roof her step-father through horrific dreams that she relives over and over. Despite this, Lexi grows throughout the novel, in the end becoming much more stronger than she was in the beginning of the book.

    Second character of mention is Cole, a guard assigned to protect Lexi, with a dog name Zeus. Let me say this now. I. Adore. Zeus. He is a dog that should not be messed with. He is adorable and made the story a joy to read because he acted like a guard dog would, very protective. His owner, Cole, in the beginning I didn’t think much of him. He was a guard ordered to watch Lexi. His behavior was typical of a man asked to do something. He just follows orders. Cole turns out to be a very compassionate man who starts to see Lexi in a whole new light as more than someone he’s been ordered to watch.

    List what you liked about the book:

    1. It is a dystopian novel. Well-written dystopian is always a joy to read because it exploits events that makes an individual consider their own actions in present time.
    2. It is a forbidden love story which is always a great read.
    3. It has a plot twist. Any twist that leads me down one door, shuts it then opens another door that I wasn’t expecting is a win-win in my eyes.
    4. Lexi’s progression throughout the book. In the beginning she was naïve and Cole always had to save her. By the end she was independent, making choices for herself that she felt was right. I admired her for her significant change.

     

    Is there anything you didn’t like about the book?

    I was not a fan of love sick Cole. I’m not saying that Cole had to remain hard and tough as we meet him in the beginning but I would have liked some of that strong nature we grew to accept with him stick around to the end. When I saw how much he changed based solely on his love for Lexi I shook my head. It felt like Cole was an entirely different character which made me mourn the tough Cole I actually respected.

    I also feel that there was a lot of tell in regards to the relationship between Lexi and Cole and not a lot of showing. I could tell they felt something for another before they themselves admitted it. I could tell when they were upset, when they wanted to touch one another but there wasn’t a lot of showing. I didn’t feel like the story was showing me their love. I was just told they loved each other and that was that.

    Any plot twist?

    Yes, yes and yes! As the book was nearing the end and Lexi is having a conversation with her brother I honestly thought I knew what the twist was. I was completely wrong. I will not reveal the twist here but there is one that will leave you just compelled to scratch your head and wonder ‘the heck?’

    Overall Impression?

    As a fan of dystopian books, I really enjoyed ‘Branded’. The story was fast paced and felt rushed but I didn’t mind that. I love a book that doesn’t drag too much.  I was able to love the characters and want to see what happens next in the upcoming chapters. I will say the ending set the book up for the second installment which is hitting shelves next year.

    Would I recommend this book to others?

    Yes, I would gladly recommend this book for anyone who is interested in a dystopian YA novel.

    Final Grade?

    B+

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