The YA Verdict #5


Every second Sunday of the month, two book clubs meet to discuss YA books. One is the First Review Book Club with teen members, the other is the Young at Heart Book Club for adults who love YA.


Here are the verdicts, out of 10, on the books read by the teen members of the First Review Book Club this month:

Dividing Eden by Joelle Charbonneau

(Release date: 1/7/17)

Tim's verdict: 8.5/10

"Although it was a little predictable, the suspenseful moments more than made up for it."

Who better to find your weakness than the one who shares your blood? Twins Carys and Andreus were never destined to rule Eden. With their older brother next in line to inherit the throne, the future of the kingdom was secure. But appearances--and rivals--can be deceiving. When Eden's king and crown prince are killed by assassins, Eden desperately needs a monarch, but the line of succession is no longer clear. With a ruling council scheming to gain power, Carys and Andreus are faced with only one option--to take part in a Trial of Succession that will determine which one of them is worthy of ruling the kingdom. As sister and brother, Carys and Andreus have always kept each other safe--from their secrets, from the court, and from the monsters lurking in the mountains beyond the kingdom's wall. But the Trial of Succession will test the bonds of trust and family. With their country and their hearts divided, Carys and Andreus will discover exactly what each will do to win the crown. How long before suspicion takes hold and the thirst for power leads to the ultimate betrayal?

Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray

Georgia's verdict: 4/10

"The writing was good but I thought the plot was predictable."

(Defy the Stars was also read and discussed by the Young at Heart book club, and they had a slightly different opinion. See their verdict later in this blog.)

Noemi is a young and fearless soldier of Genesis, a colony planet of a dying Earth. But the citizens of Genesis are rising up; they know that Earth's settlers will only destroy this planet the way they destroyed their own. And so a terrible war has begun. When Noemi meets Abel, one of Earth's robotic mech warriors, she realises that Abel himself may provide the key to Genesis' salvation. Abel is bound by his programming to obey her, even though her plan could result in his destruction. But Abel is no ordinary mech. He's a unique prototype, one with greater intelligence, skill and strength than any other. More than that, he has begun to develop emotions, a personality and even dreams. Noemi begins to realise that if Abel is less than human, he is more than a machine. If she destroys him, is it murder? And can a cold-blooded murder be redeemed by the protection of a world? Stranded together in space, they go on a whirlwind adventure through Earth's various colony worlds, alongside the countless Vagabonds who have given up planetary life altogether and sail forever between the stars. Each step brings them closer, both to each other and to the terrible decision Noemi will have to make about her world's fate, and Abel's.

Countless by Karen Gregory

Freya's verdict: 8/10

"This is a book that people need to read to understand the pain of this illness, and also because it's a great message of hope."

 'Is there anything that's concerning you?' Felicity says. 'College, home, boyfriends?' Though she's more or less smiling at this last one. I don't smile. Instead, I feel my face go hot. Silence stretches as wide as an ocean. When I look up, Felicity has this expression on her face like she's just seen Elvis. Slowly, she leans forward and in a gentle voice I've never heard her use before she says, 'Have you done a pregnancy test?' When Hedda discovers she is pregnant, she doesn't believe she could ever look after a baby. The numbers just don't add up. She is young, and still in the grip of an eating disorder that controls every aspect of how she goes about her daily life. She's even given her eating disorder a name Nia. But as the days tick by, Hedda comes to a decision--she and Nia will call a truce, just until the baby is born. 17 weeks, 119 days, 357 meals. She can do it, if she takes it one day at a time. Heartbreaking and hopeful by turns, Karen Gregory's debut novel is a story of love, heartache and human resilience. And how the things that matter most can't be counted.

Gina didn't have time to read her review book, as she had exam block. But she told us about a book she read recently and loved: We Are All Made of Molecules by Susin Nielsen. Gina chose this book because it was by the author of Optimists Die First, a book she reviewed for the book club a couple of months ago, rating it 9/10! She says We Are All Made of Molecules was even better!


Young at Heart's verdict on Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray

Average rating from members: 8/10

We enjoyed this book and appreciated the many ideas explored: humanity, faith, good vs evil, free will, sacrifice, power and also the future of our planet and the consequences of continuing to destroy its environment. We thought there was great world-building, and we liked the way in which Noemi's perspective broadened as she travelled through those worlds. We wished the Australian edition had been published with the same cover as the US edition (shown on the right below):

We felt the Australian cover made the book like the romance was the focus of the story, when it fact the was merely the building of a possible romance, as Abel discovers that he has feelings and emotions. We liked the sometimes humorous way in which Abel reacted as he discovered his humanity (and realised it wasn't a bug in his programming).

We thoroughly enjoyed this, and are eagerly anticipating the release of the sequel to this first book in The Constellation series.