Selected

After a polarized nation was broken by the threat of civil war, States have now become countries. And in New Maine, things have gotten worse.

Giving my family a better life is everything. And my selection to attend an elite prep school suddenly offers my family a dramatically different life—food on the table, a roof over their heads, and a fighting chance at a future.

Everything is going great until some of my friends begin ghosting me, and then disappear. Soon it becomes clear this “chance of a lifetime” isn’t the Holy Grail I was promised. And the attention from one of Easton’s elite has me questioning why a boy with a golden future wants to risk it by being seen with me.

But when I find out why I’m really at this school, I may have to trust him if I want to live.

Selected, Barb Han
February 3rd, 2020

The worldbuilding really pulled me into Selected, but the struggle of the characters kept me engaged. In the future, the United States are no longer united nor states. They are fifty separate countries. We watch the story unfold in New Maine.

Much like it has always been, high school is made up of labels: Cerebrals, Athletes, Tech Nerds, Legacies, and the Sponsored. And everyone is competing for the best scores to get into college. Victoria, Tori to her friends, is a Sponsored student. She was admitted to Easton because of her special skills in dancing. While she is a student her family will have food and housing, but she has a very strict set of rules to follow otherwise she’ll lose that status and her family won’t be cared for.

She tries hard to stay in line but it’s not long before she realizes students are disappearing. Determined to find out where they’ve gone, Tori enlists the help of her boyfriend Caius, a Legacy. Slipping out at night risks Tori’s sponsorship, and her family’s well being.

I hope there are more books planned because the world left me wanting more (in a good way). This system, these new countries, and the history are all incredibly intriguing.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Scythe ★★☆☆☆

28954189Neal Shusterman’s Scythe is a tale of humans conquering death, and taking the matter of population control into the hands of the scythes, a group of men and women entrusted with the power of permanent death. I’ve always been a fan of Shusterman’s work–I loved his Unwind series and Everlost–but Scythe was lacking something I desperately needed in a book, which ultimately turned me away from this series.

Thou shalt kill.

A world with no hunger, no disease, no war, no misery. Humanity has conquered all those things, and has even conquered death. Now scythes are the only ones who can end life—and they are commanded to do so, in order to keep the size of the population under control.

Citra and Rowan are chosen to apprentice to a scythe—a role that neither wants. These teens must master the “art” of taking life, knowing that the consequence of failure could mean losing their own.

Citra and Rowan are both present when a scythe comes to call for someone they know, and through that they’re both brought on as that scythe’s apprentices. They then learn the art of killing, and are privy to more knowledge and information than they ever have before.

But as their apprenticeship is a rather unconventional one, it comes with a stipulation: only one will receive their hood and scythe and as their first act within the scythedom they must kill their peer. This is, obviously, a problem as both Citra and Rowan start to fall for the other, despite strict rules that they can’t.

There’s a lot of time spent on building the world of this book, to the point where it was practically pure exposition in every chapter. I didn’t feel connected enough to either character because we very rarely get to see them in action, and only see them as shadows and students.

Shusterman has a great track record of incredibly complex and deep characters that are easy to relate to, but that seemed to have been lost in Scythe. The book was borderline boring to the point where I felt I had to force myself to finish–“Just one more page, and I’ll be that much closer to the end”–in order to justify buying the book.

I hope that Shusterman’s future works have their old spark back, and in which case I will very happily return to his world of words.