Thursday, January 24, 2013

Review: 'Til The World Ends

'TIL THE WORLD ENDS
Julie Kagawa, Ann Aguirre, and Karen Duvall
Dystopian Anthology
368 pages
Harlequin Luna
Available January 29th
Received via NetGalley for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
DAWN OF EDEN by Julie Kagawa
Before The Immortal Rules, there was Red Lung, a relentless virus determined to take out all in its path. For Kylie, the miracle of her survival is also her burden—as a doctor at one of the clinics for the infected, she is forced to witness endless suffering. What’s worse, strange things are happening to the remains of the dead, and by the time she befriends Ben Archer, she’s beginning to wonder if a global pandemic is the least of her problems….

THISTLE & THORNE by Ann Aguirre
After a catastrophic spill turns the country into a vast chemical wasteland, those who could afford it retreated to fortresses, self-contained communities run by powerful corporations. But for Mari Thistle, life on the outside—in the Red Zone—is a constant struggle. To protect her family, Mari teams up with the mysterious Thorne Goodman. Together, they’ll face an evil plot in both the underworld of the Red Zone and the society inside the fortresses that could destroy those on the outside…for good.

SUN STORM by Karen Duvall
Sarah Daggot has been chasing storms since she was a child. But after the biggest solar flares in history nearly destroy the planet, she becomes a Kinetic, endowed by her exposure to extreme radiation with the power to sense coming storms—in the cosmos and beyond. And she’s not the only one. Sarah believes the Kinetics are destined to join forces and halt the final onslaught of the sun. She’ll vow to keep trying to convince the one missing link in their chain of defense, the enigmatic Ian Matthews, up until the world ends.

MY THOUGHTS
DAWN OF EDEN by Julie Kagawa
Typically with novellas there’s not a great deal of backstory for the characters or world, the short page length requiring the action to take place and the relationships to form more quickly, but to our utter delight, Ms. Kagawa’s contribution to this collection is the backstory itself. In it we get to experience the terrifying beginning of what will become the world of The Immortal Rules, the dark and bloody reality of the Red Lung virus depicted for us in gut-wrenching detail as humanity falls and the Rabids rise.

Though The Immortal Rules is a young adult series, albeit a gritty one, this prequel is perhaps more brutal and violent, and certainly more detailed on the romantic front, than The Immortal Rules, sliding it more firmly into the New Adult or adult category given its level of description. The relationship between Ben and Kylie is rich and layered despite the briefness of our time with them, their intimacy seeming to build slowly even though only days pass between their first meeting and a declaration of love, but even with such a short timeline Ms. Kagawa beautifully manages to give us a meaningful and genuine relationship – the birth of a love amidst the death of the world as we know it.

Rating: 4/5

THISTLE AND THORNE by Ann Aguirre
Ms. Aguirre adds a truly magnificent story to this anthology with "Thistle and Thorne", her uncanny ability to craft gorgeously complex characters used to its fullest with this all-too brief tale. Mari is a young woman who shows remarkable growth over the course of the story, her strength and desire to protect her brother and sister obvious from the beginning, but her time with Thorne molds her slowly but surely, adding layer after layer of steel to her already-existing armor coating. She’s a young woman who’s capable and deadly when necessary, yet she possesses none of the cockiness or swagger that typically accompanies abilities such as hers, instead recognizing her weaknesses and working around them to ensure she’s as effective a fighter, protector, and survivor as she can be.

Her relationship with Thorne is a fascinating contrast to what we saw expressed between Kylie and Ben in Ms. Kagawa’s story, the physical intimacy of the latter drastically different from the slightly strange (in the best way possible) and hesitant intimacy of the former. There’s hardly a touch exchanged between Mari and Thorne, but the air between them is thick with possibility and there’s a sense of unspoken understanding that gradually forms, building and strengthening until it becomes an almost physical caress we can feel down to our bones. The beauty of the promise between Mari and Thorne lingers in our hearts and minds long after reading, and it's my deepest wish and most sincere hope that Ms. Aguirre will see fit to return to this world at some point and explore their relationship further.

Rating: 5/5

SUN STORM by Karen Duvall
Though the bleak world depicted in the final novella of this anthology is as fascinating as the two that preceded it, inspiring in us the same thankfulness that our reality is–as of yet–still a far cry from the desperation and devastation portrayed page to page, the characters themselves pale a bit in comparison to our previous two couples. Sarah is a bit of an emotional cyclone, forming an opinion and passing judgment one minute only to spin 180 degrees the next, trusting Ian and then condemning him for his actions before quickly apologizing when her accusations prove false. Additionally, their feelings for one another form quickly and easily, which would be fine as Kylie and Ben’s did as well, but Sarah and Ian’s relationship lacks the poignancy we experienced just pages before with Ms. Kagawa’s and Ms. Aguirre’s contributions.

Overall "Sun Storm" is a quick and entertaining read, but it has the misfortune of following two stories where the characters shine brightly from the pages, illuminating their dark worlds with the beauty and strength of their radiance.

Rating: 3/5

52 comments:

  1. I'm really intrigued to get some background on the Immortal Rules world. Do you know when book #2 is coming out? Just checked - it's in April. I'm dying to read it.

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  2. I'm so not a fan ov Novella's .... I just do not like them. I haven't even read the ones from my favorite series. I don't even know why, but when I see "Novella" I turn around and walk away.

    BUT.. it seems like I need to read at least the first 2 hu? And... you know how much I dig romance and love sooooo! Bring it on!

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    1. I'm normally not either, but these were all a good length - 100+ pages, so they didn't feel like they were over too quickly. Highly recommend Danny:)

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  3. I'm definitely looking forward to getting to know the backstory for the Immortal Rules! It seems the romance between the characters in both Kagawa and Aguirre's novellas were amazing<3 I need some good romanceee sooo hopefully I'll get to read this soon!<3

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    1. LOVED the romance in Julie's story, and while there wasn't a "romance" per se in Ann's story, I absolutely loved what was between them:)

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  4. It feels like I should read the different series . Cos novellas and me, well it does not always make me want more

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    1. I think the only one that's part of a larger series is Dawn of Eden, but I highly recommend this anthology, with only 3 contributions you get a really solid story in each:)

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  5. Yes! I first read the part about Thistle and Thorne because naturally, that's what interests me the most. I'm so happy you liked it, Jenny! Ann could write a three-page long grocery list, and I'd still want to read it.
    ...the air between them is thick with possibility and there’s a sense of unspoken understanding that gradually forms, building and strengthening until it becomes an almost physical caress we can feel down to our bones...

    She is SO SO good at this, I know exactly what you're talking about.

    I wasn't all that happy with The Immortal Rules, but I thought at the time that it needed more backstory and worldbuilding, so it's good that she wrote it.
    Thanks for the great review!

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    1. I LOVED Thistle and Thorne Maja! I so hope she writes more with them, she left the ending open like she could revisit it if she wanted, so I really hope that might be in the cards:)

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  6. Unfortunately I haven't read all three series so I'll be just reading the Immortal Rules one! I'm glad you enjoyed that one :) I have to read other series too! :) Great review :)

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    1. I adored The Immortal Rules:) I hope you give the whole anthology a try!

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  7. Yeah, I'm usually not the one for short stories/novellas as Danny, but I think whatever Julie Kagawa writes I will read. I need to read The Immortal Rules though. I heard it wasn't as good as The Iron Fey, but everyone is titled to their own opinion and a writer can write only so much in one world. It's great that she's expanding her writing to different areas. It's surprising that you'd fit her novella into a NA category. I must certainly read that one for sure.

    Thistle and Thorne sounds great, too. I think I'll keep my eye on that one for a while and when I have time I'd be delighted to dive into it and read it for myself.

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    1. I actually preferred The Immortal Rules to the Iron Fey, but some of that may be I definitely prefer vampires to Fey. The Immortal Rules was darker and grittier, and I always gravitate toward stories like that:)

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  8. You rated these pretty much how I did (in my mind, anyway). I adored Julie and Ann's stories, especially since I already knew those worlds. With short stories, it can be so hit or miss. But these were like little appetizers to tide me over until I get the next feast!

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    1. YES! I loved both of their stories, and while I definitely wanted more of both, I didn't feel like I was left wanting in terms of the stories themselves. They were complete and dark and all around awesome:)

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  9. I love that you broke down each novella and reviewed them seperately. A lot of people take anthologies and give them a mass grade, which does a great disservice to the set as a whole. Clearly there was one you loved and one that was less than ideal - that makes me more inclined to read this. Even if one of the three stories wasn't exactly what I'd go for, there are 2 others that I think I'll enjoy immensely!

    Great review, Jenny! Definitely going to look into this one.

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    1. Normally I do give one giant rating for the anthology itself if there's a ton of stories in it, it's just too hard for me to write 13 mini reviews (mostly since my reviews never end up being mini). Since there were only 3 in this book, it made sense in my mind to rate each one:)

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  10. I so did not know about this anthology! :O Thistle and Thorn looks so good!! I'm glad you loved that one so much! I have Kagawa's The Immortal Rules to read but somehow I haven't gotten to it yet!! I think I'd love to get a little taste of the world before diving in, though, so the novella sounds great!

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    1. Thistle and Thorne just blew me away, I want a whole series about them:) I'm greedy like that!

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  11. I am not a fan of novellas on a whole but I do want to read the Ann Aguirre entry. I am borrowing a friends copy to do just that :)

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    1. YAY! Can't wait to see what you think:)

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  12. I'm not brilliant at keeping up with short stories or novellas (I think I may have said this before!), but I do enjoy digging into those which are related to the books/series I like. Hence why Dawn of Eden is standing out to me here. :) Julie Kagawa's writing works for me every time, so I'm pretty certain I'll like it.

    Great reviews, Jenny!

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    1. I've gotten better about keeping track of novellas lately, and I loved getting to spend more time in the world of the Immortal Rules. I always like getting to know how a world like it comes to be:)

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  13. I need to get my ass in gear and finish Immortal Rules. This anthology sounds like a good one, though. (I do love me some Ann Aguirre.)

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    1. YOU DO! This is a great anthology, and I hope you love Ann's story as much as I did:)

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  14. I know Maja keeps saying how awesome Ann Aguire's books are but I've never read anything by her. MUST change that soon! I also know that I'm in the minority that didn't really feel "Immortal Rules" which is why I'm going to opt out on book 2. Glad the novella was able to provide important back story and romance.

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    1. You definitely need to try her books Rummanah! I'm huge fan of her Sirantha Jax series (adult) and her Razorland series (YA). You can't really go wrong with any of her stories:)

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  15. Awesome review, I so enjoyed this one and it isn't often where all three stories are solid. I would read all of these authors again.

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    1. Yay! I'm so glad I could bring it to your attention Juju!

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  17. Wow. I got shivers when I read your review of Thistle & Thorne. You're quite a lyrical writer yourself.

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    1. I can't even explain to you how much your comment means to me. You have completely made my day. Thank you so very much!

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  18. I wish I had gotten a review copy of this one. I love both Aguirre and Kagawa but I am not familiar with Duvall and I most curious about her since you gave her story a five even though it followed the other two amazing authors. I cannot wait to check this out!

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    1. oh wait I see Duvall got a three and Aguirre a five makes sense now!

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    2. Haha yeah, I was worried for a second and thought maybe I made a typo:) All three stories were fabulous, it was just hard to top Ann's story, so Sarah and Ian were challenging for me at times.

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  19. Thanks for reviewing these separately! I need to read this just for Julie's story. I loved The Immortal Rules, and I'd love to get some background on it with a healthy dose of romance too. Thistle and Thorn sounds amazing too—sometimes the buildup to physicality in a relationship can be sexier than the real deal. :-) Great review!

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    1. You're welcome! I loved experiencing the terrifying rise of the Rabids, it has me absolutely salivating for book 2 in this series:) Ann's story was the highlight for me, and I agree completely that sometimes the tension and the buildup is the sexiest part of a relationship.

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  20. I am a MASSIVE fan of Julie Kagawa! Ever since The Iron Fey and then The Immortal Rules, I've been crazy about her writing style. So when I saw Kagawa wrote a short story in this, I was so excited! I love the idea of a book made up by different authors.

    I'm not normally the type of person to read short stories, but I'll have to keep this a go.

    Thanks for bringing this to my attention, Jenny!

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    1. ME TOO! I love all her books, and this prequel did not disappoint in the least:) I liked that because there's only 3 stories in this anthology, they're all a bit lengthier, so I feel like I got a completely story rather than just a snippet:)

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  21. I am going to have this one reviewed as well and it looks like we agree! I am so wanting to bug Ann Aguirre to finish that story. I need to know what happens next. She is evil to leave it where it was! LOL Loved that story the most as well.

    I thought the Kagawa story was more adult in nature than the series, so I thought that was interesting way to go with that short.

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    1. I KNOW! I got to the last page and I was like NOOOOO. I kept hoping the words "Thistle and Thorne's story will continue in later 2013" but I stalked her site and it doesn't look like she currently has plans for it. I hope that changes though:)

      And yes, I did a double take with Julie's story because for some reason I thought this was published by HarlequinTeen and I was a bit surprised. Then I noticed it wasn't HarlequinTeen at all:)

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  22. I definitely need to check out Kagawa's prequel! I've never been a huge fan of her books or writing, but I did like the world of Immortal Rules very much and the prequel sounds fantastic. I'm so glad you liked it, Jenny, and thanks for the amazing review! :)

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  23. Great review, Jenny! I had no idea there's a dystopian anthology coming out. Are these adult reads or young adult? I only ask because my students love novellas. Sometimes I am in the mood for novellas--I haven't read any lately, so I'll definitely add this to my TBR list.

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  24. Well you know I simply MUST read this one... Julie Kagawa and Ann Aguirre? Um... EPIC WIN!

    And *dying* after finishing the sixth book dude!

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  25. I have this one too, Jenny so I'm thrilled to see you enjoyed them so much. I can't wait to read Kagawa's and Aguirre's stories! I like that you say Kagawa's is more prominent on the romantic front. You know me, I love my romances. :)

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  26. This sounds great. I haven't read Immortal Rules yet, but I like what you said that the prequel is grittier. I also really like Anne Aquirre, but I'm not familiar with Karen Duvall.

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  27. How have I not heard of this...I think it sounds like a great way for me to check out Aguirre!

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  28. Wow! Ann Aguirre's story sounds fantastic. Enclave has been sitting on my shelf for months now, and though it doesn't sound like this is a companion to it (?), it sounds like her writing is absolutely wonderful... like I should move that one up on the TBR, and add this one too.

    I'm so excited for the The Eternity Cure, and it seems like Julie Kagawa's story adds a lot to the world! You have a way of making me want to buy/read every book you review :P.

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  29. I always think anthologies are tough, especially novella anthologies, because you just know that 1 story won't live up to the others. I've had this one on my radar for the stories by Julie and Ann and it definitely sounds like it's worth picking up.

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