Book Review: Epic by Conor Kostick

Epictakes place on New Earth, a place where there is no violence, at least not physically. There is a new way of resolving conflicts without resorting to violence. Epic. Epic is a computer/virtual reality game that allows for problems to be solved peacefully (albeit by virtual battles amongst players). This solution to violence, however, comes with its own set of problems. New Earth is governed by an elite group known as Central Allocations (CA). CA characters in Epic are so powerful that no one challenges them (or their corrupt practices), let alone defeats them! Until now.


While this book sounded a little too sci-fi for me, I was actually drawn into the action and adventure elements. It was not bogged down by scientific explanations and technical jargon, though my unfamiliarity with gaming was a slight drawback. I enjoyed the book, but I don't know that I learned anything from it.

s-factor: !
Very little swearing (if any). (Favorite curse phrase: Blood and vengeance!)

mrg-factor: none.

v-factor: -> -> ->
Some violence (in a gaming context) but not graphic or gratuitous.

Overall rating: * * *

Book Review: Uprising by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Uprisingfollows the stories of three young women in Manhattan during the early 1900s. Bella and Yetta are both immigrants, working in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory. Jane is a wealthy American, trying to find meaning in her dull life. The three of them cross paths during the workers' strikes from 1909 to 1910. The climax, of course, occurs during the Triangle Factory Fire of 1911.


This book, while it may have started a bit slow, was absolutely amazing! I found the descriptions of conditions, both living and working, to be unbearably real. I became very involved in the lives and struggles of each of the girls. The ending is absolutely heart-wrenching and beautiful. What I love best (well, almost) was that Ms. Haddix included a list of sources for further reading. I think the best kinds of historical fiction are the ones that make you want to read more about the time period.

s-factor: !

Very little, if any.

mrg-factor: none.

v-factor: ->
The factory fire scene is fairly disturbing, but not terribly violent.

Overall rating: ****

Book Review: The Luxe by Anna Godberson

The Luxefollows a group of upper class young adults living in turn of the century New York. It is filled with their intrigues, scandals, gossip, betrayals, backbiting, and generally improper behavior.

This was an absolute fluff book. While it does address some serious topics, it was really more of a sophisticated Sweet Valley High of the Victorian era. I found myself getting caught up in all of the twisted plot lines, and I guess this guilty pleasure is akin to a pretty tame soap opera. The writing is far superior to a SVH book and I really liked the historical element. (sequel reviewed here).

s-rating: !@

Not too much language (after all, they are supposed to have proper decorum).

mrg-rating: XX
While there was plenty of this kind of scandal going on, for the most part the descriptions were tame.

v-rating: none.

Overall rating: ***

Book Review: Sweethearts by Sara Zarr

Sweetheartsis a story of childhood love. Jennifer only had one friend when she was younger: Cameron. But when he suddenly and mysteriously disappears with his family after a frightening experience, she decides to change herself. Now she is Jenna, pretty, popular, and content. But, when Cameron shows up in her life, she begins to wonder if Jennifer is really gone and what Cameron might still mean to her.


I think this book had a lot of potential and interesting themes, but I was personally put-off by her casual and rather unkind references to Mormons. They are not a huge part of the story, but it simply made me like the story less. I really enjoyed most of the plot and the somewhat suspenseful feeling I got reading only part of the past at a time, but I think the ending was flat. I was expecting more and got less. (Just FYI, lots of people liked this book, it just wasn't my cup of cocoa.)

s-factor: !

Not much.

mrg-factor: X
Some references and some incidents, but not descriptive.

v-factor: ->

A rather frightening incident is described, but it's not really violent.

Overall rating: **

Book Review: Brisingr by Christopher Paolini

Brisingris the third installment in the Inheritance Trilogy (Eragon and Eldest being the first and second). During this book, Eragon and Saphira recover from defeat in their last battle and try to discover how they can possibly defeat Galbatorix. Roran (Eragon's cousin) becomes more important to the story and the Varden go on the offensive.

Honestly, there is no way for me to really sum up the story of a third installment in a series that was this long. I thought there was a lot of extra stuff that was unnecessary and just made the story drag on. Perhaps Paolini has uses for all of it, but I kept getting annoyed at its length. I found this to be true in all of his books thus far. When I finally get down to the most exciting (and important) parts of the story, I am hooked. I think his ideas and stories are amazing, but he just loves too many side plots and too many long, descriptive words. All that said, I am dying for the last book. (As with most series books, I still think the first was the best, story-wise.)

s-rating: !

There is some language, but for the most part, they are made-up swear words.

mrg-rating: none.
Though there is a wedding, nothing is described.

v-rating: ->->->
Yeah, it's got the violence. I didn't find it gory or too descriptive, but there is a lot of fighting.

Overall rating: ****

Book Review: Little Brother by Cory Doctorow

In Little Brother, Marcus and his friends are tech-savvy teens, caught in the wrong place at the wrong time after a terrorist attack in San Fransisco. When he is finally released after torture and interrogation, he discovers the city has become ultra-monitored to "protect" the citizens from further attacks. He decides that, since he can't tell anyone he has been detained and interrogated illegally, he will take down "big brother" himself.

While I enjoyed the action sequences and the exciting story, I was very put-off by some of the paranoid social commentary throughout. While I think our government has done some wrong things in the name of security, this was way over the top. If it was meant more as futuristic, perhaps I could swallow it, but it was very obviously near-future. Almost present day.

s-factor: !@#$

Too much.

mrg-factor: XXX
While not a lot of it, it seemed very much gratuitous - what was the point?

v-factor: -> ->
Descriptions of torture, etc, though not graphic.

Overall Rating: **
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