Book Review: UnChipped: Kaarina

Book Review

Kaarina; Unchipped Series #1

By: Taya Devere

Science Fiction, Dystopian

4 Stars

A civilization reliant on AR. Unchipped refugees forced outside its walls. Can a lone underdog save humanity from itself?

In the two years since the Great Affliction, the Happiness-Program has transformed a civilization on the brink of extinction into an organized, beautiful, and happy society. However, for the Unchipped–those whose chips can’t connect to the system–living a comfortable life remains out of reach.

Kaarina, one of the Unchipped, would give anything to live inside the walls of the city again. Haunted by her mother’s suicide and alone except for Bill, another Unchipped thousands of miles away whose thoughts are inexplicably linked to hers, Kaarina fights for survival, defending her beloved animals from the other savage Unchipped. But when her horse’s illness drives her into the city to find medicine, she becomes acquainted with a Chipped man who makes her question everything.

Now a new fix to the system promises her the chance to finally be normal… just as she begins to learn life in the perfectly augmented reality may not be all that she imagined.

This book reminded me of the classic Science Fiction that was one of my first great loves. I, Robot, Brave New World, Childhood’s End, and 1984 were a few that came to mind. Books that told fantastic stories with great societal questions. Books that used a straight-forward writing style, and characters almost naive in their interaction with their world.

Ms. Devere captures this well, telling a story less far-fetched than these other classics might have seemed in their time. I was also reminded of The Giver while reading. The tight setting that was different through the eyes of the main character than through the rest of the inhabitants. The questions of what that differing sense meant for the greater population. A bit of a slow start fades away with the adjustment to writing style, and especially when the plight of Kaarina becomes more severe than first explained.

I look forward to reading the rest in this serially published universe.

Happy Reading 🙂

The Queen of Nothing, By Holly Black

Book Review

The Queen of Nothing, Book 3 of The Folk of The Air series

By Holly Black

5 Stars

This one made all the others worth it

I don’t usually review anything but the first in a series, and I rarely review bestsellers, but after finishing The Queen of Nothing by Holly Black, I want to talk about it. Maybe I’m feeling sentimental, and nostalgic-Christmas is coming, a season that brings all the feels out of me-but whatever the reason, this book made me happy.

Book 1 in the series, The Cruel Prince, was alright. I happened to get an audio copy from the library (my experience with this series is all in audio format which I know can change much about the “reading” experience), and though I was not a fan of Jude, and felt the entire storyline petty and absurd, I made it through to the end. I believe I gave it 3 stars.

Obviously, I was curious enough to go on a wait for book 2. I think it was Cardan that kept me in it. His cruelty was such an obvious front, and Jude’s jumbled feelings for him seemed worth seeing through to the end. Also, I like having an audiobook to listen to on standby, so rather than make a decision on something else, I stuck with it. Okay! I got sucked into the teen angst of it. Isn’t that why we read these books? #sorrynotsorry

Book 2 was better. I genuinely could not anticipate what the hell anyone was up to, and the end literally had me asking, “what just happened.” So much so, even through Book 3, I forgot the main rule of fairy-the Fae can’t lie-that I continued to wonder if it was all a con. Part of me was excited about this antiromance stance. If this con really was what it seemed on the outside, this series would not end like I thought (hoped?).

Going into Book 3 (here’s where I get into spoilers), I figured we’d see Cardan and Jude reconcile and get together. It’s the nature of the genre. But read my last paragraph. I was so curious about how that might be possible. There was nothing I could see that would allow the pair to ever trust each other, regardless of their feelings. Maybe this wouldn’t be a happily ever after story. Ironically, this was a book where I hoped for it. Where Throne of Glass sorely disappointed me by not having a more gritty, heart jerking ending, I was rooting for it in The Folk of The Air.

“Will you just let yourself be rescued?” Another reason for my enjoyment of this book. Jude really needs no one to save her. There was a moment, maybe two, that I was actually a little annoyed with how the author took liberties with Jude’s character to make her so unsure and so lost. I’d like to think Jude’s time in Book 2 might have washed that out of her. Sure, she found herself elevated beyond what she might have dreamed, but she kept saying it to herself throughout: I am the High Queen of Fairy. She was angry she couldn’t draw on the title, and when Jude finally could, she didn’t know what to do? At least she would have known how to pretend; she would understand the need to posture.
I digress. I meant to talk about how awesome Jude is. In Book 1, I found Jude a little much, but even getting in way over her head, she rocks it. Staying firm against the pressure to give up some power to Madoc in Book 2 showed a will of steel. I was rooting for her to tell him what was going on. I guess I should never be made a spy, or advisor to any crown, and especially not a High Queen.

I did want to see a bit more development of Jude’s magic, her tie to the land, but there’s only so much paper to print books on, and I guess, at the end of the day, it wasn’t really relevant. Still, when has more magic ever been a bad thing?

The Queen of Nothing definitely made me glad I stuck with the series even when I considered just turning it off for other things. A modern take on the Fae Courts, a little present-day mixed with magical, some teen angst and enemies-to-lovers twisted in with sibling rivalry and grand fights makes the series worth being swallowed up in.

Happy Reading 🙂

Down Two Paths: Borderline Series Book 2

Book Review

Down Two Paths: Borderline Series Book 2

By Taya Devere

5 Stars

Literary fiction. Women’s Fiction.

A fabulous continuation of Dee’s story! Can’t wait for the next installment

As the two paths push Dee deeper into her survival journey, one path threatens suffocation, the other exhaustion. Which offers a chance of salvation?
In Reality One, Dee goes to California. Her new beginning pushes aside the past—and the trauma she escaped. Life here is filled with challenges, though: choices between right and wrong, dealing with thorny personalities, and trying to hold on to the laughter and love of Dee’s new family.
In Reality Two, life in her home country lulls her into a feeling of safety as she embarks upon the most important task of her lifetime—taking care of her baby. Her new, unconventional family of four is the center of Dee’s being, but despite their immeasurable love for her and her child, she still questions whether they would all be better off without her.

Taya Devere’s style sucks you in until you are the character. It’s why I love these books so much. The volume and intensity of feeling invoked are unique and beyond what most reading experience is like. If only a quarter of this passion is evoked in my readers, I would be proud! Well done, Ms. Devere!

The only thing negative I have to say is: Why did the end come so fast!

If you loved book 1, there is no reason not to dive right into book 2. Dee’s hopes and dreams and achievements and failures, on both sides of the border, are real and relatable and turn the human condition into something warm and great and magical, even in the face of overwhelming adversity. Sometimes, it’s all in how you look at. Others, it just sucks, but how will we face that? Both Dee’s teach us something about this, and ultimately, about ourselves.

Happy Reading 🙂