Pursuing the White Whale

Pursuing the White Whale

Pursuing the White Whale is my metaphor for the sheer impossibility of reading all of the great works of literature in one's lifetime.

4 Stars
The Darkest Minds - Alexandra Bracken

A epidemic has begun to spread through America, one that affects children between the ages of eight and fourteen, doctors and scientists believing that it is triggered by the onset of puberty. This disease, termed IAAN, has killed off roughly 98% of the population in that age range, the other 2% survived but didn't walk away unscatched. Their brains appear to have undergone a rewiring of sorts and they have developed abilities, powers, mutations. They are being labeled as the psi, and they are considered to be too dangerous to be allowed to roam free. A lot of the children are rounded up by the newly appointed government organization and taken to Thurmond, a brutal 'rehabilitation center' where the children are held prisoner and undergo unspeakable ill doings. Some children are freely given up by their parents whom would rather have had their child die of the disease then survive and become the monster that they now are. Some children have managed to avoid capture but are ruthlessly hunted.

There are five different categories in this mutation and they have been labeled by color by how dangerous those abilities are deemed.

The greens, considered the least harmful out of the five. They have basically developed a superior intelligence which gives them photographic memory, puzzle solving skills, etc.

The blues. They have developed telekinesis. They are able to move objects with their minds. A pretty formidable weapon but classified as being less dangerous then the next three.

The yellows. They have the ability to manipulate, and control, electricity and electronics.

The oranges. They have the ability of mind control.

The reds. They have the ability to manipulate, and control, fire.

The yellows, oranges, and reds are considered to be extremely dangerous. They are at first kept under very strict lock down and later they are all 'removed' when they are no longer able to be controlled and managed.

We follow Ruby in this story. Ruby is ten years old when she develops her ability and is turned over by her parents. Upon arriving at the facility with a bus load of other children she quickly realizes that she must pretend to be less powerful then she really is. Ruby is a orange, and being reluctant to use her powers and also not understanding exactly how to control them, she somehow manages to talk her way into being categorized under the green category upon undergoing a series of placement testing.

Ruby has been at Thurmond for six years now. She has seen a lot of really horrible things happen to the children being kept there, and the greens and blues are now the only ones left. There is a danger of her true abilities being brought to light.

When the truth does comes out Ruby barely escapes with her life. A lot of things in the outside world has changed in the six years since she has been locked away. She doesn't know who to trust, there are those who would wish to use her as a weapon.

Source: http://pursuingthewhitewhale.blogspot.com/2015/08/the-darkest-minds-by-alexandra-bracken.html
4.5 Stars
Throne of Glass - Sarah J Maas

Celaena Sardothien, renowned assassin serving out her life sentence in the salt mines of Endovier. She is approached by the crown prince (Dorian) and his captain of the guard (Chaol) and given a choice, remain in Endovier and surely die in the very near future as a result of the harsh treatment and poor conditions, or take part in the king's competition against a assortment of twenty three other killers, theives, and warriors. The winner of the competition is crowned the king's champion. If she wins, Calaena must work for the king for a minimum of four years before being granted her freedom and having her name cleared of all crimes. The king is a vile and monstrous man, a man that Calaena cringes to think of serving, but worse yet is the fate of remaining in Endovier as a prisoner.

A dark force is at work in the king's castle; something that is killing off the competitors one by one.

I have heard that some people dislike Calaena's character because of her vanity, her slight immaturity, and her obsession with how she is portrayed. I kind of felt like I understood it. She was never allowed to just live, having first served under Arobynn Hamel the king of assassins through age eight to seventeen, then serving one year in Endovier until she was eighteen. She lead a harsh life, and endured a lot of hardship, and underneath it all I think that she is just reaching out for her humanity. Forced to grow up too soon.

And normally I do not like love triangles, but the love triangle that takes place here in the book is done very tastefully and feels very realistic. You feel conflicted on which man you want Calaena to ultimately end up with because both of them have such wonderful qualities to them and are much alike, and yet they are both so very different.

This is the first book that I have read by Sarah J. Maas and color me impressed. Her story telling skills are exceptional, her writing talents are exceptional, her characters are so finely fleshed out. I am eager to read the rest of the books in this series, and also any other books that she has written, or will write. I have found another favorite author.

5 Stars
The Knife of Never Letting Go - Patrick Ness

"The Knife of Never Letting Go" by Patrick Ness is the first book in the "Chaos Walking" trilogy.

In Prentisstown woman are absence, claimed to have perished by the same virus that caused all of the men, and even animals, to hear each others thoughts and even see memories. The constant noise of this ability is enough to drive anyone mad. Prentisstown is not set on earth but rather on another planet, a planet with two moons. The settlers of Prentisstown were the first pioneers in search of a new world to escape the suffocating, fouled earth, and the evils of man. There was a alien race inhabiting this new planet which the settlers termed the 'spackle', and our young narrator has been told that the spackle did not intend to share their planet with the human race, so in a effort to terminate them they released the virus that caused the death of all female humans, created this odd ability in the men and animals, and started the war between the two races that claimed so many lives.
Todd Hewitt is our narrator and is on the verge of his thirteenth birthday, the birthday that will mark his adulthood and make him a man. He is the last boy in Prentisstown, having been the last baby born before all of the female residents experienced a premature death. His only friend being his dog, Manchee. Because of being able to hear thoughts Todd is able to communicate with Manchee using this process. Todd is told that his mother passed due to the spackle virus, and his father died while fighting in the war. Todd is raised by his parents two friends, Ben and Cillian who raised him like a son.
So close to Todd's birthday, Ben and Cillian make the difficult decision to send Todd away. He is in danger although they cannot tell him why. In a town where everyone can hear your thoughts he would be in worse danger by knowing more then that. Todd and Manchee are pursued by the town when trying to make their escape, and Todd finds that trying to hide from his pursuers is nearly impossible when they can hear his every thought. His noise continues to give him away, although their noise also gives them away.
Todd comes to realize that something horrible has taken place in Prentisstown, and somehow he is involved whether he wants to be or not.
What really happened to the women in Prentisstown? What lays on the other side of the swamp? Why is he being pursued?
I had a difficult time with this book when I first started to read it. Due to its unorthodox use of grammer and various fonts and forms evident in speech I had to adjust for the first few chapters before I was able to fully immerse myself in the book. The use of the English language was poorly portrayed in this book, with intentional misspelling errors. At first I felt as if this dumbed down the book, but I soon felt otherwise as I saw what Patrick Ness intended when going forward with this procedure. Todd is illiterate, and as he is our narrator in the book we see things through his eyes. Patrick Ness is a very talented writer, and some flowery pose comes through in this book but he also manages to pull off a masterpiece using a very casual form of language.
I loved this book. I wasn't expecting to love it, much less enjoy it as much as I did. Such a beautiful, beautiful book. Trilling, exciting, heart wrenching, shocking, and just overall excelling in excellence.


Source: http://pursuingthewhitewhale.blogspot.com/2015/08/book-review-of-knife-of-never-letting.html
4 Stars
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown - Holly Black

No longer is the vampire a thing of nightmares and myths, a creature that lurks in the shadows under the cloak of nightfall. Vampirisim has spiralled out of control and has now become a epidemic. The vampires of old had very strict regulations and were thus able to, for the most part, remain off the radar, but it has now spread across the globe to the point that vampires are now just another fact of life. The virus spreads through their bite, if they leave you alive then you have become what is known as a 'cold'. You begin to thirst for blood, and if you give into that desire you will change over. A cold cannot transmit the virus through bite, they can only change over themselves. A cold can attempt to wait for the virus to exit their body, usually within the time frame of eighty days, but none have seceded, usually being driven mad with blood lust within the first day or two of contacting it. After the epidemic some of the cities were locked down in a attempt to contain the vampires inhabiting it. Some were locked in during the lock in, others are captured and brought in for a bounty, and the infected are either forced in or freely turn themselves over in a attempt to protect others from themselves. These cities are called coldtowns. In our crazy and messed up society people have glamorized the vampire, and they not only seek out these coldtowns and freely offer their blood but they also desire to be changed over. You can go in but you can't come back out. The vampires coexist with the humans for the most part. As long as they have a steady food source they are relatively clear headed, and there is no lack of that thanks to their adoring 'fans' always eager and willing. Everyone who goes in desires to be changed over and become one of them, but very rarely does that actually happen. The vampires have no desire to change people over, after all they are their food source and more vampires means that that source is stretched out thinner because of there being more mouths to feed. So rather then feed by bite they feed by IV so there won't be any virus transmission taking place. In this society vampires are hunted by bounty hunters, but they are also adored through reality television shows being featured through the coldtowns, and having entire blogs dedicated to them. People must take care at night to prevent vampire attacks, and yet they frequently sit down to enjoy their favorite vampire reality television show.

Source: http://pursuingthewhitewhale.blogspot.com/2015/07/book-review-of-coldest-girl-in-coldtown.html
4 Stars
Cinder - Marissa Meyer

"Cinder" by Marissa Meyer is the first book in "The Lunar Chronicles". A clever retelling of the classic Cinderella fairy tale, in a futuristic and alternative world that features hoover crafts, androids, and cyborgs.

Cinder is our Cinderella in this story. Cinder is a cyborg, and essentially owned by her legal guardian 'stepmother' and her two stepsisters. She is a second class citizen due to being a cyborg, rather then being seen as having superior technological advances over other humans she is instead seen as an object, property, and beneath the 'real' humans. Being part human and part machine, they are looked upon as not human at all. Cinder works as a mechanic to earn a income for her stepmother, because that is her only use and the only reason that she is still living with her resentful guardian who never wanted anything to do with Cinder in the first place.
Cinder lost both a foot, and a hand, in a accident when she was very young. She doesn't remember anything that took place before the surgery that was performed in order to save her life. Her injured limbs were replaced with metal prosthetic's.
From this premise the plot begins to unfold and reveal itself. There is a mysterious disease affecting the Kingdom called Letumosis, acting much like the black plaque. And Queen Levana of the Lunar people, evil ruler of the Moon, has a nasty motive. The Lunar's have been on the brink of war with the people of Earth for a while now, and also possess the ability of glamouring making them superior and higher advanced.
I loved this book. I adore fairy tale retelling's and this one was particularly intriguing and unique. I was expecting to like this series but I wasn't expecting to love it as much as I did. 


Source: http://pursuingthewhitewhale.blogspot.com/2015/07/book-review-of-cinder-by-marissa-meyer.html
2 Stars
The Winner's Curse - Marie Rutkoski

Kestrel is the seventeen year old daughter of a General, and is of the people of Valorian. The Valorian's revel in war and enslaves those it conquers. The Herrani people have been defeated in battle with the Valorian's and are now powerless by the invisible chains of slavery. The Valorian's coveted what the Herrani's had, so they took it.

Valorian's encourage both sons and daughters alike to join the military, and in this empire you have two choices. Marry by the age of twenty, or join the military.
Kestrel mistakenly stumbles upon a slave auction one day while out and about with her friend, Jess. The young male slave being auctioned off sparks something in her soul, and hardly believing her own actions she outbids all other bids and comes out the winner.
From there a romance slowly starts to develop.
I can't tell you more then that because I decided to not continue reading. I am 138 pages in and it still is not holding my attention. I keep finding myself comparing my read pages to my unread pages to see how much more I have to read yet. The answer is too much. It's not the writing as much as it is the story. Going in I did not realize that this book is essentially a romance with just the slightest mention of past wars taking place in the background. I hear that the second book excels this one, but I do not think that I will go forward with this trilogy. The characters in general just felt void of all personality, the romantic aspect overruling all other aspects of the book, and the story just inching along.
Did not finish
Source: http://pursuingthewhitewhale.blogspot.com/2015/07/book-review-of-winners-curse-by-marie.html
4.5 Stars
Red Queen - Victoria Aveyard

Silvers and Reds, two separate races. Silvers have silver-blood running through their veins, while the Reds bleed red blood. The Reds live as poverty stricken commoners under the dictatorship of the Silvers. Their lives are not their own, and they must work as laborers for the Silvers, if you are not employed by the age of eighteen then you are conscripted into the army. Reds are beneath the Silvers because unlike the Silvers they do not possess supernatural abilities, which makes them nearly like gods. The Silvers are superior in this sense. The Silvers have different houses, each house having its own unique ability. The power to control metal elements, water, fire. Mind reading, invisibility, control.

We follow Mare Barrow, a seventeen year old girl struggling to help provide for her family with her fast fingers by way of pick pocketing. Mare's three older brothers have already been conscripted into the army, and Mare is facing the very likely, and all too real, concept that she will be too. When Mare's best friend, Kilorn Warren, is conscripted into the army Mare becomes frantic with the desire to save him. This leads her to the Scarlet Guard, a rebellious society of Reds who have the intention of rising up and fighting back. She must raise enough money to bribe the Scarlet Guard into smuggling them out of the stilts. Mare pick pockets the wrong guy.
Suddenly she is employed under the rule of the king, feeling vaguely relieved that she has escaped the conscripting, but hate filled for the Silvers. Her relief is short lived because events take place during the Queenstrial that reveal that Mare has powers, despite her blood being Red. Because all house's witnessed this shocking change of events the king and queen create a scheme and play Mare off as a long lost Silver who was raised by Reds. Suddenly Mare is declared a princess, and is betrothed to a prince. She is a prisoner, but she now also has inside access to the kingdom ...
Equal parts "The Hunger Games", "Red Rising", and "X-Men".
Because of these very prominent similarities to previous works I felt very conflicted on my enjoyment of the book in general, and how I felt about it. One part of me was a little irked, but the other part of me was throwing my arms up in the air and just not giving a care. I have to admit that I loved this book. It took all the things that I love about the three aforementioned, and incorporated it all into one book! Victoria Aveyard is a spectacular writer.
Source: http://pursuingthewhitewhale.blogspot.com/2015/07/book-review-of-red-queen-by-victoria.html
5 Stars
The Monstrumologist  - Rick Yancey

For only a madman believes what every child knows to be true; There are monsters that lay in wait under our beds.

Monstrumology, the study of monsters. Twelve year old Will Henry is the orphaned apprentice of Doctor Warthrop, a dedicated monstrumologist. Will is used to the late night visitors arriving on the doorstep with odd parcels to be delivered, but this late night visitor brings them the body of a young girl entwined with the corpse of an Anthropophagus. Anthropophaus are headless monsters exceeding seven feet in height whose razor-sharp teeth are in their torso, their eyes are located on their chest, their diet consists purely of human, and they are supposed to be extinct in this part of the world. It is soon realized that there is a colony of these monsters and Dr. Warthrop tries to not only to understand how they arrived here, but also sets out to destroy them.

Yes, my dear child, monsters are real. I happen to have one hanging in my basement.

I was not expecting such a gruesome, gory, and violent book as this turned out to be. The cover looks almost whimsical in nature, and although the synopsis doesn't exactly describe kittens and rainbows it doesn't really hint at the bloodshed and graphic details that this book contains either. It rather surprised me, although pleasantly surprised if I may hint at my darker side ...

Will Henry was a quiet narrator, and referring back to when I read the Sherlock Holmes series I muse upon the fact that he may just be there as a way for us to see the story unfold through his eyes, a gateway if you will. Same as Dr. Watson's role in the Sherlock Holmes series. I may be wrong, and his role may become a larger one as the series progresses.

Dr. Warthrop reminds me of a combination of Sherlock Holmes and the television character Dr. House (which is no surprise considering that Dr. House was based on Sherlock Holmes's character). Given his cold nature, his seemly uncaring for others, and a all consuming mission, you would think that his character would be a unlikable one ... but I actually kind of like him. You see flashes of his human side, his compassionate side, throughout this book.

Rick takes mythical creatures as they are and doesn't change a thing about them, just incorporates them into his story. I love that. The Anthropophaus in this book are as the myths describe them.

I loved this book. The monster hunting, the studying of monsters in general, it all reminded me of the television series "Supernatural". It was exciting, it was scary, it was full of suspense.

Source: http://pursuingthewhitewhale.blogspot.com/2015/07/book-review-of-monstrumologist-by-rick.html
3.5 Stars
Starters - Lissa Price

During the spore wars everyone between the age of twenty and sixty were wiped out due to the exposure and contamination of the artificially created spores designed by the enemy. Americans had some fore-warning and were able to develop a vaccination, but there was a shortage and only the young and the old were vaccinated in time for the first spore drop, everyone between the age of twenty and sixty were not vaccinated and therefore did not survive. Starters is the term used to describe the minors who survived the spore wars, parent-less but the lucky ones had either one, or more, grandparents to care and provide for them, the unlucky ones were cast out onto the street to provide for themselves. These Starters were termed as unclaimed and were in danger of being picked up by the marshal's or the institution, so they must remain in hiding. Enders is the term used to describe the elders were survived the spore wars. In this futuristic world a life extender has been created so these Enders are starting to live well beyond one hundred.

Our main character is Callie, a sixteen year old girl who lost both her parents in the spore wars. Callie has a little brother, Tyler, who is ill. Callie hears about a opportunity that will help her and her brother get off of the streets, and provide medical care for Tyler. It's called Prime Destinations. Prime Destinations is a hushed up organization that hires unclaimed Starters to rent their bodies to Enders who desire to experience being young once again. Callie, desperate for the money that this will provide for them agrees to be a donor, but the neurochip that they place in Callie's brain malfunctions and she wakes up in the life of her renter. She soon realizes that things are not the way that they were supposed to be, and that she and all of the other donors are in trouble.

This was a fun fluff read. I'm kind of just in the middle on this one, not loving it but nor am I hating it. I had some issues with it, and it felt a little too teenager based for my tastes. Granted, it is YA but the writing itself just felt slightly immature in general ...

Source: http://pursuingthewhitewhale.blogspot.com/2015/07/book-review-of-starters-by-lissa-price.html
5 Stars
Red Rising - Pierce Brown

"Red Rising" by Pierce Brown is like the adult version of "The Hunger Games" all grown up, wiser, and more mature. I definitely saw elements of "The Hunger Games" in this book, but this book is also unique and stands on its own two feet, it is just so much more then that vague resemblance. I did have a difficult time getting into this book, but towards the middle of the book I was completely sold on it and I couldn't pull my nose out of it. It was almost like the two halves were written by different authors, and I hope that we get more of the better half in the second book of this series "Golden Son", although I also feel that if I were to go back and reread the book it wouldn't be the same as it was the first time around, finding it to be smoother now that I understand the world better, and wouldn't be stumbling over characters, races, or the unique vocabulary that exist throughout this book. All in all I found the characters to be strong and well developed.

In this book the different races are distinguished by hair and eye color. Red's being at the bottom of the pecking order, Gold's being at the top, many other colors between these two, all colors having a field of work that they are destined and trained for. The Red's were told that they were going to be the first to colonize Mars and make it habitable, this being necessary because they were told that Earth was a dying planet. Darrow is our main character here, a young Red of the age of sixteen. Red's are considered adults at this age and so Darrow is married to his equally young bride, Eo. Darrow is the Helldriver, operator of a massive piece of machinery being used to drill deep within the sulfurous bowels of the planet to harvest Helium3 so that one day the surface above will be habitable and the other races can join them there. The Red's have slaved away underground for many generations in the attempt to make this happen, never having been up on the surface. When someone rebels and starts to question this way of life the Gold's sentence them to be hung. When Darrow's young wife Eo rebels, she is put to death. Darrow uncovers the truth and learns that not only is Mars surface habitable, but has been for a very long time. A vast city exists up there, a city that they are not a part of, and never will be a part of. They have been lied to. Darrow joins those who wish to see the Gold's fall and restore equality to the races. He under goes a transformation physically, emotionally, and mentally in order to join their ranks. A right of passage to adulthood, a passage that will determine your ranking in the future, is his first mission. It is harsh, it is corrupt, and it is no more then a game and a source of amusement to the superiors. He needs to win in order to get closer to the heart of the Gold's dictatorship. He will destroy them from within. First he must win the game.

Source: http://pursuingthewhitewhale.blogspot.com/2015/07/book-review-of-red-rising-by-pierce.html
4 Stars
A Darker Shade of Magic - V.E. Schwab

"It is to keep yours safe. You see, there was a time, ages ago, when they were not so separate. When doors ran between your world and mine, and others, and anyone with a bit of power could pass through. Magic itself could pass through. But the thing about magic," added Kell, "is that it preys on the strong-minded and the weak willed, and one of the worlds couldn't stop itself. The people fed on the magic and the magic fed on them until it ate their bodies and their minds and then their souls."

In a world where three different London's exist. Not acting so much as parallel universes but rather as doorways to London's existing separately from each other. There were four London's once. The doors between all four of them were once open to anyone possessing magical ability. Black London was the hub of the magic, it ran through the city like veins. The people of Black London consumed the magic, and the magic consumed them. Black London crumbled on itself, and the magic destroyed the city, and the people, like a plaque. Because of the danger, Red London sealed the doorway to Black London, cutting Black London off and essentially, even if unintentionally, causing White London to act as a barrier between the two. Black London is no more, White London is a dangerous place, ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne. White London is a drained city, a washed out city. Red London is where life and magic both flourish. Grey London is a land without magic, and the people who call it home have long forgotten about it. A dreary city cast in shadow.
Kell is one of the last Travelers - rare and powerful magicians with a coveted ability to travel between parallel universes. Kell is the Red Traveler, personal ambassador and adopted prince of Red London, carrying the monthly correspondences between the royals of each London.
Kell wore a very peculiar coat. It has neither one side, which would be conventional, nor two, which would be unexpected, but several, which was, of course, impossible
Holland is the only other Antari to exist. He is bound by the Dane twins, Athos and Astrid, rulers of White London. They rule through murder, cruelty, and binding magic.
When the doorway to Black London was shut, all Black London relics were destroyed. Not only to keep the doorway to Black London closed and inaccessible, but to keep the magic sickness from spreading. So what happens when a Black London relic shows up and threatens them all?
I loved the magical world that was created here, I loved the characters, and I loved the plot line. I eagerly await the second book to this trilogy. I have to say though, that it is easy to see through the lines and guess at the events that will be taking place in book two.
4.5 Stars
Source: http://pursuingthewhitewhale.blogspot.com/2015/06/book-review-of-darker-shade-of-magic-by.html