The Title Page is a book review blog with a focus on YA Fiction, Dystopian Fiction, and Science Fiction.

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Gated by Amy Christine Parker

GatedGated by Amy Christine Parker

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

DISCLAIMER: I received Gated as a publisher ARC through NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

Gated is a story of Lyla, a girl who was raised in a community, that (unbeknownst to her) is actually a cult. Since she was 5, she has been trained to protect herself, be a contributing part of the community, and was sworn to secrecy from the outside world.

This all changes when she meets Cody.

Picking up this novel, I was a bit weary because my type of read is normally of the sci-fi genre. I’m not really into anything that doesn’t involve magic, or dragons, or something along those lines. This book was very refreshing because, while it was all possible in the real world, it was still an extremely entertaining read.

One thing this book lacked was fitting character development.

Lyla’s character is bold and open minded. It’s a bit out of place, seeing as she has been raised in this community where they are essentially brainwashed their entire lives. It would make more sense for an outsider to have the thoughts and feelings she does, or even one of the adults who had entered the community at an older age.

Cody is sweet, but his character seemed a bit unnecessary. I felt like he was only in the novel to introduce the standard love triangle.

Pioneer just didn’t fit the bill. He was the leader of the cult, which (by definition) needs to have a religious or spiritual basis. I didn’t get this feeling from Pioneer. All I got from him was some guy who was really good at manipulating people who are vulnerable and wants to be in charge of a bunch of people.

(view spoiler)[By the end of the book, Pioneer reveals to Lyla that he wants to kill everyone in the community. He doesn’t want to “deliver them to heaven” or anything like that. He just honestly wants to murder a ton of people. This seems so out of place for a cult leader that I just couldn’t process it as reasonable. Pioneer turned out more like a mass murderer than a cult leader, and it didn’t make any sense. (hide spoiler)]

The plot was interesting, a cult-raised youth coming to terms with the outside world. It kind of reminded me of the TV show Breaking Amish. I liked the whole Lyla-coming-into-herself plot more than the Pioneer-murdering-everyone plot.

I do recommend the book for anyone who is willing to go into it with an open mind. There are some large character flaws, but I think it’s worth the read for the plot and setup alone.

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A Clockwork Heart by Liesel Schwarz

A Clockwork Heart (The Chronicle of Light and Shadow, #2)A Clockwork Heart by Liesel Schwarz

DISCLAIMER: I received A Clockwork Heart as a publisher ARC through NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

Rating: 2 Stars

A Conspiracy of Alchemists was a great novel, it set the standard for the Liesel Schwarz steam-punk series. It was exciting with some strange flaws, but I opted to like it anyways.

A Clockwork Heart sadly fell flat of my expectations. While it was more interesting to read, the story was dry and everything seemed to work out a bit too perfectly. Elle is a completely different character than she was in the first novel, she’s far too dependant on Marsh and seems incapable of functioning once he disappears from the novel, about 20% in.

The dialogue was filled with old-tymey banter, it gives you the feeling that the author was trying way too hard. There was a scene where I swore they said the term “ever so slightly” at least 18 times.

The new protagonist was too good to be true. An evil (but gorgeous) witch lady who can control the weather and wants Marsh for her own? And then, of course, her death comes by far too easily. The climax battle was overly confusing. It goes from a civil conversation between enemies to a battle of air balloons in a matter of seconds.

The ending seemed harsh to me. I got the feeling that Schwarz was just trying way too hard to have an unhappy ending. The book went on way too long as well, it should have ended chapters before it did.

All in all, I was extremely disappointed with the novel, but because I liked the first one so much I will give Schwarz the benefit of the doubt and read the third when it comes out.

Zenn Scarlett

Zenn Scarlett

Zenn Scarlett by Christian Schoon

DISCLAIMER: I received Zenn Scarlett as a publisher ARC from Strange Chemistry in exchange for my honest review.

My Rating: 4.5 Stars

When I first finished Zenn Scarlett, I rated it in at 3 stars. The book was good, don’t get me wrong, but it didn’t really stand out to me at all. It was very typical for my tastes. But here I am, 3 days later, and every time I’ve tried to pick my next book to read, I can’t find anything that peaks my interest. Apparently, Zenn Scarlett had a stronger effect on me than I thought.

It’s one of those books where you get so involved in the story that you forget you are reading a book.

Zenn Scarlett starts out with Zenn, a hardcore teenage girl, if not a bit anti-social. She is an exoveterinarian novice, meaning she’s training to become an veterinarian for alien species. She lives on a compound, or cloister, with her uncle and a few workers where they take care of the animals.

I don’t know what I was expecting, Zenn to go on some crazy adventure to save the cloister? Zenn to get kidnapped away, and have to fight her way back? The entire book took place at the cloister and it was incredibly refreshing. It’s not an adventure book, it’s a creative look into a futuristic veterinarian life (with, of course, some exciting conflict).

Zenn is a refreshing and bold character. She’s smart and knows it, but also has her faults. She’s got passion and will do anything to be what she wants in life.

The cloister was very fun to read about, along with all of it’s alien inhabitants. It was hard to picture some of the creatures at times, but as Zenn continued to work with them, the images slowly came to mind.

I would recommend this book for the younger crowd, it’s a bit juvenile in that there’s not much romantically going on. It’s a really easy read, and I think anyone on the younger side of YA fantasy will really enjoy it.

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The Testing

The Testing (The Testing, #1)

The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau

DISCLAIMER: I received The Testing as a publisher ARC through Houghton Mifflin in exchange for my honest review.

You can sign up for an ARC Tour for The Testing here!

My Rating: 4 Stars

The Testing follows Cia, a bright young girl, when she embarks on The Testing, a series of trials designed to weed out the weak. By finishing The Testing, Cia can go on to the University and become one of the country’s next leaders.

This book will remind you of the Hunger Games, but there are some key differences. If I had to compare it, I’d say it is a mix between The Hunger Games and The Scorch Trials with a hint of Divergent.

Charbonneau does a great job of keeping The Testing separate from other dystopian novels. Yes, it has the same plot line as a lot of others, but when you actually read the book, you get a different feel for the characters and trials as with other books.

Cia was an interesting character. I’m not sure if I liked her, she did seem a bit weak. When it came down to it, Cia was not someone who could kill another human being. However, she had her wits about her, she kept a level head in hard situations and always thought the best about people. Tomas, however, annoyed me. Cia is supposed to trust him unconditionally because he loves her, but I never got that feel from him. Saying something and actually feeling something are two very different things and I just didn’t get that feeling from Tomas.

The writing in this book was very well done. Things were well explained and while interesting things were expanded on, no time was wasted on the boring parts. My only issue with the writing was that there seemed to be too much of it. I found myself easily distracted while reading and ended up reading the same paragraphs multiple times. There was too much to read about each thing and it overdescribed the novel.

This was a good read, it was slow to start, but after the first hundred or so pages, it was hard to put down. I would say if you try it and are having trouble, keep going, give it about half the book before you put it down.

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Sever

Sever (The Chemical Garden, #3)

Sever by Lauren DeStefano

My Rating: 1.5 Stars

It was hard for me, at first, to figure out why everyone seems to love the second and third books in these series and the first one got awful reviews. Because, to me, all three of them were pretty awful.

Then it hit me.

The first book was so bad, that only the diehard fans read the sequels. And then me.

The writing in these books is beautiful. If Lauren DeStefano wanted to write a sappy romance novel, she would probably hit it off pretty big. The thing that brings these books down to the level that they are is that there is absolutely no believability in this world. A dystopian future where girls die at 20 and boys die at 25 (exactly). On their 20th and 25th birthdays respectively, their body somehow succumbs to a virus that kills them. This is just so ridiculous. Maybe if they had been suffering from this virus their whole lives, and then around that age their body’s normally gave way, but it can’t be exactly. You can’t live to be 19 years and 364 days old and then drop dead from a disease.

These books also feature polygamy. I didn’t find this part so hard to read, like over reviewers. The thing that stunned me about this was that we are expected to believe that in this day and age, we have digressed enough to the point where, once again, men are considered the superior gender and women are only useful for child-bearing. We are supposed to believe that women just sat down and took this and didn’t fight it at all.

The biggest fault of believability in these novels was the idea that North America was the only continent left in existence. The polar ice caps melting and World War 3 has left everyone but NA underwater. First, the main part of the novel takes place in Florida. If this were true, Florida would be one of the first areas in North America to sink. Secondly, what happened to the higher altitudes? The Alps just sunk underwater? North America is still on the surface while Sweden is at the bottom of the ocean? Seriously?

Now I know this whole North America being the only thing left thing is explained away by the end of the series, but the fact that so many reviewers didn’t believe it leads me to believe that maybe, just maybe, the Americans wouldn’t believe it either. Maybe some people in America aren’t so gullible that they’ll let their president take away their history books and replace them with his own ideas? Maybe some people in America aren’t so gullible as to blindly believe that North America is the only place left standing? Maybe, just maybe, all American’s aren’t complete idiots.

The one other quam I had with these books was that each book took one step forward and two steps back. In the first book, it took Rhine the entire novel (and the timeframe of a year) to finally escape. That time was filled with images of pretty wives, dresses, candies. In the second book, Rhine finally escapes and by the end, ends up exactly where she started. In the third book, she escapes again, and once again, ends up exactly where she started. These books are less about Rhine’s adventures and more about her changing her mind and not doing the things she is so set on doing.

This is not a post-apocalyptic adventure, it is a distorted vision of a gifted author’s sad fantasy.

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