Review: Inhuman by Kat Falls

Publisher:  Scholastic, Inc.

Genre: YA, futuristic, post-apocalyptic

Series: Fetch

Pages: 384, Hardcover

Release Date: September 24th, 2013

Rating: 071913_0709_ReviewThron2.png071913_0709_ReviewThron2.png071913_0709_ReviewThron2.png071913_0709_ReviewThron2.png071913_0709_ReviewThron2.png

 Summary from Netgalley:

Beauty versus beasts.

In the wake of a devastating biological disaster, the United States east of the Mississippi River has been abandoned. Now called the Feral Zone, a reference to the virus that turned millions of people into bloodthirsty savages, the entire area is off-limits. The punishment for violating the border is death.

Lane McEvoy can’t imagine why anyone would risk it. She’s grown up in the shadow of the great wall separating east from west, and she’s naturally curious about what’s on the other side – but she’s not that curious. Life in the west is safe, comfortable . . . sterile. Which is just how she likes it.

But Lane gets the shock of her life when she learns that someone close to her has crossed into the Feral Zone. And she has little choice but to follow. Lane travels east, risking life and limb and her very DNA, completely unprepared for what she finds in the ruins of civilization . . . and afraid to learn whether her humanity will prove her greatest strength or a fatal weakness.

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coffee to goCoffee To Go: I absolutely LOVED this book. It’s original, it has a hint of didacticism, and it will keep your eyes glued to its pages. I highly recommend that you go buy it—and soon! If you’ve read another young adult book like this one, let me know. The plagued world in which Lane lives is none like I’ve ever read. And I’ve read quite a few books.

Characters—

Lane: She’s a bit of a germaphobe. It adds some serious comic relief to the story, which is good. I like that she doesn’t just take everything people say to her with a grain of salt and she looks for the best in people. Lane realky believes in humanity and I find that super inspiring. I liked her as a protagonist a lot. She’s quick on her feet, too.

Rafe: He starts the novel as a HUGE jerk. I’m not saying he ends the novel as a deep, tortured, beautiful soul or anything, but the reader does get to see a huge change in his demeanor. I really cared about him by the end. He’s pretty precious. Besides the fact that, like I said, he’s a huge jerk. Sometimes, I was like, “Rafe, are we in a post-apocalyptic type world or are we in junior high?” But…*sigh*…the story wouldn’t be the same without him.

Everson: He’s pretty much perfect at everything. And he’s good. A perfect foil for Rafe. I know it sounds crazy, but I felt safe around him…and I’m just the reader! I absolutely loved him!

The World—

So basically the entire United States winds up on the West side of an enormous wall that splits the entire country in half and keeps out feral, a horrible disease that mutates humans into animals. Oh, and it mutates people at different rates, so you never know when the disease will overtake someone’s brain, stripping them of their self-control. Talk about blurring the lines of humanity. If you’ve read Lauren Oliver’s Delirium trilogy, you know about the Wilds. I feel like this story is about all of legends about the Wilds coming true. Kat Falls creates a savage, survival of the fittest, is-this-even-possible, type of world. I can’t say much else for fear of spilling a spoiler, but just WAIT until you get to Chicago! It gets crazy!

The Themes—

Definition of humanity/Moral dilemmas

Friendship/Family

Definition of civilization

Final Thoughts—

Hmm…Rafe is hot. Ever is dreamy. Both of them can kick serious butt. Yes, there’s a love triangle. No, it does not take away from the story. I’m so thankful that Lane isn’t the type of girl to get caught up in that mess. She’s pretty busy trying to save her father (No spoilers here; you find out in the first chapter or two). Inhuman is filled with action, dramatic irony, a crazy plot twist or two, and, best of all, it made me think! Not deep, existential questions, but questions about right and wrong, good and evil. I can’t wait to see how Kat Falls continues Lane’s story in Fetch #2!

Memorable Quotes—

“Safe and happy don’t always go together.”

“It’s the beast that kills. When I’m human again, the beast’s sins will not be mine.”

 

***This review was provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I was not compensated in any way.

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On the topic of “growing up” in literature.

black espresso

Recently, I’ve started to hear more and more about writers of adult fiction asking writers of YA fiction when they will grow up. The problem? Readers experience the same phenomenon. I can’t tell you how many times someone who chooses to read the classics or someone who chooses to read endless strings of adult crime thriller novels, tells me that I should grow up and stop reading my “silly teenage fantasy romances.”

UM, EXCUSE ME?

My main issue with this does not lie in their obvious literary snobbery or even the fact that they don’t know what they’re talking about, since they don’t read YA fiction. My problem lies in the fact that they’re looking down on a genre that actually gets kids and teenagers to read. I can’t tell you how many of my friends growing up seriously disliked reading because of its association with school, and therefore things like “work” and “bad” and “for smart people only.” Yet when I begged them on my figurative hands and knees to read something (usually Harry Potter), they would inevitably give in and appease me. By doing so, they would fall in love with reading all over again and discern things about the world around them and the world within them that they’d never even glimpsed at before.

Here’s the thing: I don’t care if 99.9% of the books I read center around teenagers who discover a hidden magical/mythical world within their own while finding first love in the process, defy a totalitarian government against all odds, or find out that they are, in some way, very different than most people. Because all of these crazy plots are inspiring. Don’t get me wrong, I grew up on the formulaic crime mystery. As a kid, I would constantly sneak into the study to read Catherine Coulter, Iris Johansen, etc. until the wee hours in the morning. Are these novels bad? No. Are they the only good ones? Definitely not. Are they the most inspiring? Depends on who you are. But in a world where teenagers would rather watch endless hours of TV, waste time reading the same tweets and Instagram photos over and over, and use SparkNotes on every English exam, books that intrigue teenagers are important.

Take Harry Potter, for instance. A scrawny eleven year old with a lightning bolt-shaped scar who, rather than choosing defeat, fights the most feared wizard in magical history and wins. What about Katniss? A half-starving girl from an unimportant district firmly under a horrific government’s control finds herself the face of a revolution. Tris—a small girl from an unassuming faction who chooses to be Dauntless in more ways than one, who begins to understand bravery, selflessness, and facing one’s fears, both in everyday life and in epic battles, and who glimpses her mother’s hidden strength. And Lena? The girl who follows all of the rules, who is perhaps the most afraid of love, who later becomes one of its biggest advocates, and who takes down her society’s walls built upon years of fear of the unknown. Don’t forget Meghan, the girl who risks everything to save her little brother, who finds herself at the center of the faery universe, and who changes from a self-conscious farm girl into a catalyst who changes the very fabric of the faery existence.

All of these stories, and much, much more, tell of teenagers who step up and change something. They find love and they lose it. They figure out what’s important to them in life and fight for it. They aren’t okay with being a part of the status quo. Now, I know that all of the stories I referred to were dystopian or fantasy, but the same goes for much of young adult literature. These authors are so full of imagination that these stories become more than words on a page. These characters are no longer caricatures; they take on a life of their own. Whether young adult fiction tells of transformation of an entire world or of transformation in a single person’s life, it makes a difference.

Camus’ The Stranger, Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment, Shakespeare’s plays, Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, Jane Austen’s works, Catherine Coulter’s FBI Thriller series, etc. are all GOOD. The classics, the moderns, the fantastical, the realistic, the sci-fi, the paranormal, the romance (well, not Erotica, sorry), and many more are all GOOD.

My point is, just because something is written for a young adult, a middle grade, or a children’s literature-based audience doesn’t make it childish.

So, THANK YOU to every single young adult author, reader, blogger, or publisher who refuses to “grow up.”

 

Okay guys, what do you think about growing up in literature? I’d really love your feedback! 🙂

Writing on Wednesdays: (Don’t) Panic Contest

writing and coffee

Recently, Lauren Oliver (one of my most favorite authors) hosted a writing contest to spread the word about her upcoming YA novel, PanicNeedless to say, I am BEYOND excited for the book. Oliver challenged us to write as if we were going through a Panic game/test ourselves. Her advice? Make the stakes as high as possible and be creative. I had a ton of fun writing a short story (ish thing) for the contest, although I didn’t win. The 1st place winner’s piece was extraordinary! I love constructive criticism and post for fun. Here we go!

Ten minutes. Ten minutes between me and winning that money. Ten minutes between me and going to college. I still don’t understand how the judges seem to tailor these tests so precisely to my worst fears. Thirty seconds. Thirty seconds before I choose to shimmy into the coffin in front of me and allow myself to be lowered underground. Buried alive has a strange ring to it. What an oxymoron. Twenty seconds. My palms start to sweat. I take a deep breath. “Buried” goes with words like “cold” and “unyielding” and “death.” “Alive” goes with words like “free” and “well” and “warm.” The crowd is starting the countdown. I step into the coffin and lay down. They close the lid. Darkness. I can still hear the muffled sound of the crowd’s cheers. I feel myself being lowered into the ground. Thud. The first chunk of dirt hits the coffin’s lid and makes my heartbeat quicken. I look to my right and see the glowing button that I can push if I want to end the test. Thud. That button means freedom. Thud. That button means failure. I didn’t invest a dollar every single day for almost an entire year just to fail. I will go to college. I won’t end up like my mom, stuck in this town with kids she doesn’t want and no way out.

My eyes have adjusted to the darkness by now and I see the deep grooves carved into the coffin. I take another shallow breath. This isn’t as bad as I pictured it. I’m probably halfway through the test. Except that I learned in psychology class that adrenaline can make time seem different. Slower. Or Faster. I can’t remember. I could have three minutes left. Or nine. I clench my fists, trying to keep the terror from rising into my throat. Silence. I can’t hear the crowd anymore. All that remains is the sound of my quickening breaths. I try holding these breaths—I don’t want to waste precious air. Oh God, am I going to die here? Is this going to be my legacy? Are my last moments going to be marked by utter darkness in an unmarked grave?

Stop! I chide myself for allowing my thoughts to take such a negative turn. I try to turn on my side but I can’t. I’m trapped in this position. It has to have been ten minutes by now. What if they left me? What if that’s why I can’t hear them anymore? I look at the glowing button. It’s tantalizing now. No. I start clawing at the roof of the coffin. I don’t have enough room to hit anything. My clawing becomes more and more frantic. I swear the coffin’s walls are getting closer. I feel hot liquid running down my fingers as my nails begin to bleed. The button is right there. It’s ridiculous, but I can’t bring myself to push it. Why I choose instead to attempt to claw out of the coffin, I cannot say. I’m beyond reason. I reach into my mind and grab hold of the only lucid thought available: I will win. I must be hallucinating because I feel water soaking into my shoes. I ignore it until it tickles my calves. I feel relief. I feel panic. Water means that they haven’t abandoned me here; it’s the second part of the test. Water means that there is less room for air. Less air. I bite my hand to keep from screaming.

I steal another look at the button. Why won’t it turn red? Red means the test is over. Red means I’ve won. I feel something crawling up my leg. Please let it not be a spider. I close my eyes and take several deep, starving breaths to try and conquer my near-hyperventilation. I force myself to analyze my situation. Fear can’t control you if you don’t allow it to freeze your mind, right? What is the fear being tested here? They never tell us. Is it fear of the unknown? Is it fear of enclosed spaces? Drowning? Or darkness? Or of the underground? Or death? What if fear only holds power because we feel like we can’t control the situation? Well, I control this situation. I choose to not push that button. I choose to beat this test.

As I come to this realization, I smile. When I smile, water leaks into my mouth. I hadn’t even realized the water’s fast rise. I cough and my eyes fly open. I pull my hands up from my sides and find that they are numb and heavy. My whole body feels numb. The water is suddenly freezing. The need to lift my right hand to the glowing button becomes an unintelligible litany. Time seems to slow down and my senses dull. My universe becomes my right hand, moving inch by inch from my waist to the button near my head. I didn’t win. Defeat crushes me like a physical blow.

The light turns red.

I barely register the coffin being lifted, the water draining out, the sunlight hitting my face, or the crowd’s ecstatic cheers. To them, the test is a game. To them, I am their champion. To me, the test is a way out of this place. To me, I have survived. I do not get the luxury of elation or victory. I feel blood caking my nail beds. I feel sensation returning to my muscles. I feel grim satisfaction because I endured my fears. Not victory, but endurance. I feel…free.

**I give ALL credit for the (Don’t) Panic contest and the Panic novel concepts to Lauren Oliver. I retain rights only to my writing itself.**

Espresso Expressions: Times and Places and Stories

black espresso

Is there a time and place for everything?

…in literature?

This week’s spotlight!

Okay, the basics: what is your name, how old are you, and what is your life in a nutshell?

My name is Tyler-Marie & I’m 17 years old. Describe myself? I’m about to begin my second year of university life. I love everything & anything English (hardcore Doctor Who, C.S. Lewis, and tea fan)…Yet, getting on a deeper side, I’m sort of in a love affair with story. I want to watch great stories, read great stories, write great stories, and live great stories. This probably explains why I’m an English & Journalism major.

Real and Fantastical stories—they all fascinate me. I’m also a believer of Christ. He is truly my reason for everything. I could only hope to incorporate Christ like truths into everything I write and do. Well, here’s a quote that describes me a little better: “She quietly expected great things to happen to her, and no doubt that’s one of the reasons why they did.” Zelda Fitzgerald.

What’s your blog name, what’s it all about, and what’s been your biggest challenge?

Livingwithfrecklesandwords. It’s quite a vague name—I mean what kind of blog is that? But, that’s sort of the fun part about it. The readers have no idea what to expect when they read the blog. It’d be the same thing as if they met me. All they would see is my freckles and hear my words. Yet, that’s just at a first glance. Once they read my blog, they see so much more. So, that’s basically what my blog is—it’s getting to know me.

My biggest challenge has been building up a community via cyber space. I sort of feel like the new girl who just moved in a completely new house in a completely new neighborhood in a completely new city—it’s intimidating. At first, you just sit by yourself at the lunch table, wondering if anyone is really hearing you. I’m sort of at the “new kid at the lunch table” phase.

Favorite book? Worst question EVER, I know.

Jane Eyre. Sort of a funny answer. I absolutely adore the moral center of Jane though. She makes one of the toughest decisions, since she has to turn down her love and do what is right. Jane Eyre isn’t just a good book to read, but one that teaches lessons. Jane’s the kind of character that gives you something to yearn for. Alice in Wonderland is also a close second.

Currently reading?

Divergent! Yes, I have been reading classics for a while and decided to hop onto the Young Adult Lit train while I could. I already love it so much. It’s nice to read a novel whose author isn’t dead.

Lastly (and most importantly), what caffeinated goodness can we find in your hands most often?

Earl Grey tea with French Vanilla creamer. Yes, there are many Starbucks frappes that I love, but nothing beats this drink. In the morning. In the afternoon. Or at night. I love Earl Grey tea. A perfect companion to any story.

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          Tyler-Marie suggested that we explore how time periods affect literature. I absolutely believe that time periods affect literature. But how? It’s one of those things that we pretty much take as a fact when someone says so without stopping to wonder why. Then I got to thinking that the greatest novels—the ones that many a high school student vetoed in favor of Spark Notes—communicate themes and ideas that are universal. These ideas don’t expire or become less applicable in changing cultures and periods of time. Yet, their novels rely heavily on the culture of the time. One of my most favorite novels, Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, falls into this category.

For such a timeless story, I still couldn’t see it taking place in, say, 1973 or 2013. Only the Roaring Twenties, with its ridiculously lavish parties, vast gap between the wealthy and the poor, ever-loosening morals, and gilded carelessness could handle this story. Gatsby works diligently towards his wealth so that he and Daisy can build a life together. Their love burns ever so brightly…and then burns out quickly, affecting everyone around them. The Twenties was a decade of extreme prosperity that lasted for just a blip in time and burned out just as quickly and just as terribly. I know that this has been a very condensed comparison, but my point is that the novel mirrors its time period and the country’s mood.

Other times, the settings within books trigger the “what if” questions within the said time period. Entering the 21st century, less and less people—especially teenagers—care about what goes on in the world around them. I find myself (as an adult) trying to shy away from current events and politics all the time. Dystopian novels, such as The Hunger Games and Delirium show us pictures of what our world could be if we ceased to care about the happenings in the world around us. I know that dystopian stories have been told decades previously, but the mood in the 21st century seems to be asking these “what if” questions more than any other generation.

Even Shakespeare, whose iambs will never come easily to me, communicates themes in plays like Hamlet and King Lear that have remained relevant for centuries. However, his time period inspired him. Obviously today’s society is completely inadequate for these Shakespearean plays. Creative as we are, we do not have the glory of the Renaissance enriching our work.

Call me crazy, but THIS is why I love Hemingway and Lauren Oliver, Fitzgerald and Veronica Roth, C.S. Lewis and Julie Kagawa. Each author, of stories both realistic and fantastical, finds themselves influenced by different time periods, different cultures, and different backgrounds. Oh, literature.

How do YOU think time periods affect literature? Quite a bit or not at all?

Don’t forget to send me an email with an Espresso Expressions topic at coffeeshopreads@gmail.com!

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