Review: Nightfall by Jake Halpern and Peter Kujawinski

Title: Nightfall
Author: Jake Halpern and Peter Kujawinski
Series: N/A
Pages: 368 pages
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers (September 22, 2015)
Rating: 3.5 stars (Choose It!)

The novel, “Nightfall,” by Jake Halpern and Peter Kujawinski tells a haunting story of an island where day and night come every fourteen years.

Around the island, night is rapidly falling. The air is becoming colder and the shadows are growing longer. Following tradition and superstition, the villagers are studiously rearranging and a their houses. Traditions must be followed and no one asks why.

Marin helps her parents prepare the house for the long night as they await the arrival of the farriers who will ferry the island’s villagers to the Desert Lands (her mother’s homeland) where night comes every three days. But Kana, Marin’s twin brother, has taken to his room after being plagued by terrifying visions and nightmares.

Every fourteen years, the ferriers would travel to the island and ferry the villagers to the Desert
Lands (Marin and Kana’s mother’s homeland) where night comes every three days.

But when Line–Marin and Kana’s friend–goes missing, they must find him before it’s too late, even if it means endangering their own lives.

GoodReads Synopsis

The dark will bring your worst nightmares to light in this gripping and eerie survival story, perfect for fans of James Dashner and Neil Gaiman.

On Marin’s island, sunrise doesn’t come every twenty-four hours—it comes every twenty-eight years. Now the sun is just a sliver of light on the horizon. The weather is turning cold and the shadows are growing long.

Because sunset triggers the tide to roll out hundreds of miles, the islanders are frantically preparing to sail south, where they will wait out the long Night.

Marin and her twin brother, Kana, help their anxious parents ready the house for departure. Locks must be taken off doors. Furniture must be arranged. Tables must be set. The rituals are puzzling—bizarre, even—but none of the adults in town will discuss why it has to be done this way.

Just as the ships are about to sail, a teenage boy goes missing—the twins’ friend Line. Marin and  Kana are the only ones who know the truth about where Line’s gone, and the only way to rescue him is by doing it themselves. But Night is falling. Their island is changing.

And it may already be too late.

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Review: The Young Elites by Marie Lu

The novel, The Young Elites, by Marie Lu follows the story of Adelina Amouteru, a fugitive with special powers.

When the blood fever infected many in Adelina’s nation, most died. However, some people survived with peculiar markings and specially gained powers. Adelina is one of them, but to her father she is a malfetto, a disgrace.

Forced by circumstances to flee her house, her father catches Adelina as she attempts to escape. In a state of extreme panic, Adelina calls upon her power of illusions and accidentally murders her father. Then she flees her home, leaving her younger sister behind with no parents. Adelina’s mother had died from the blood fever.

A day later, the Inquisition Axis (a group bent on eradicating the Young Elites) captures Adelina and she is slated for execution. However her execution is interrupted by a group of Young Elites: The Dagger Society.

The Dagger Society rescue Adelina and offer her a place in their society–if she can prove herself. Meanwhile, Adelina’s younger sister, Violetta, is captured by he Inquisition Axis’ cruel leader, Teren and Adelina is forced to spy against her will on the Dagger Society.

Eventually she must make a choice. Will she choose the society of Young Elites or her sister? Both have risked much on her behalf.

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Review: Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld

The YA novel, Afterworlds, by Scott Westerfield, intertwines the stories of Darcy and Lizzie.

Darcy is a senior in high school. Next year, she should be going to college. Instead, she’ll move to New York and work on her debut novel, Afterworlds, and the sequel: Untitled Patel. In New York, she meets famous authors and attempts to manage her finances with a failing budget.

Lizzie–the protagonist of Darcy’s novel, Afterworlds–is waiting for her flight back home at night when terrorists strike. As people fall around her, Lizzie calls 911. The operator promises help and suggests LIzzie play dead. It turns out Lizzie plays dead too well. As a result, Lizzie thinks her way into the Afterworld. In the Afterworld, she meets a psychopomp (a soul guide) named Yamaraj. Through him she learns that because she thought her way into the Afterworld she is now a psychopomp. As a psychopomp she will gain special powers and responsibilities.

Afterworlds had an entertaining plot, however I disliked the strong language. In my opinion, I could’ve read the novel without the bad language and be perfectly fine. While the characters evoked empathy, I disliked Darcy’s character. She seemed rather naive and was terrible at keeping a budget. Ironically, I found Lizzie’s perspective more interesting (the book within a book) and enjoyed reading her story more.

Rating: Choose It!

Review: Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell

The novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four, by George Orwell sweeps you into the world of Oceania, Airstrip One.

In Air Strip One, there are two parties: the Inner Party (the ruling party) and the Outer Party (the working party.) People in both Parties work in one of the four ministries: the Ministry of Love, the Ministry of Truth, the Ministry of Plenty, and the Ministry of Peace. Ironically each ministry concerns itself with affairs opposing their name.  For instance, the Ministry of Love deals in killing and torture.

Within the Inner Party is Air Strip One’s leader who is called “Big Brother.” Big Brother, who the Air Strip One citizens treat like a god, controls and watches everything. Through the Thought Police, Big Brother knows of every rebellious scheme against the country. Alone time is discouraged and a country belief is that “everyone belongs to everyone.”

In the Ministry of Truth, works a young man called Winston Smith. Although Winston feels like he does’t fit into the Party community, he never crosses a line. That is until he meets a woman called Julia. Julia is a woman who convincingly plays the role of a devoted Party member, but who actually despises the Party. As Winston and Julia bond and sneak away for longer periods of times, both unwittingly forget the forbidden nature of what they’re doing. And at the end of the book, the reader will discover just how far Air Strip One will go to break an individual’s will.

I enjoyed this book because of George Orwell’s vivid description of his prediction of life in 1984. The characters were also very compelling, along with the suspenseful action and disturbing thought of what a world would look like with no privacy, individualization, and free thought.

However, I thought the pace of the book took awhile to pick up. I would recommend Nineteen Eighty-Four to anyone who enjoys reading about haunting, dystopian worlds with disturbing thoughts about the future or enjoyed reading Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. I would not recommend this book to someone who dislikes dystopian books, sad endings, and complicated worlds.

Rating: Read It! Choose It!

Please feel free to share your thoughts and opinions on this book in the comments section. Are there any similar books you would recommend?