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Seriously, you should totally read this.

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Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi

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Rossi, V. (2012). Under the never sky. New York: Harper. ISBN: 9780062072030

Annotation: Aria has spent her entire life living in the Reverie Pod, having adventures in the virtual Realms. When she gets blamed for starting a fire in an abandoned section of the Pod, she’s exiled Outside and has to rely on an unfriendly Outsider to survive.

Reaction: With all the concern about boys not reading, I think this is a book that really would have crossover appeal for both boys and girls. The story is told in alternating chapters from the perspective of Aria and Perry, giving the reader both the female and male viewpoints. There’s plenty of action as Aria and Perry travel across the barren, dangerous Outside. They have to fight off cannibals and wolves and avoid deadly Aether storms. And they have a romance that, in my opinion, develops naturally. And it’s nice that there’s no love triangle to deal with (why do we have to be excited about this?), though the shadow of the inevitable end of their romance adds a sense of urgency and sweetness to their love.

By the end of the book, Aria has really become a strong, courageous young woman, and I’m excited to read the next book in the series.

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The Selection by Kiera Cass

Cass, K. (2012). The Selection. HarperTeen. ISBN: 9780062059932

Annotation: In a dystopian America post World Wars III & IV, seventeen year old America Singer is chosen to participate in The Selection, a Bachelor-like competition for the honor of marrying the crown prince. Unfortunately, none of America’s plans for her life included dating a prince alongside 34 other girls, and she’s determined to get back to her normal life just as quickly as possible.

Reaction: (Fair warning, this review is going to talk a little bit about the entire Selection series and will include minor spoilers for the books.)

Let’s talk about The Selection, shall we? I finally picked this up to read because it was chosen for a book club I will be attending, and I was not sure that I would enjoy it. From the first few pages, I felt like I could predict the path of the entire triology, let alone this first book. To a certain extent, I was right. There is nothing surprising or terribly original in The Selection. Obviously, the pretty, nice, smart, talented main character finds that she likes the prince much more than she expected but then! Her boyfriend from back home turns up after being drafted as a soldier! This naturally complicates matters, as she still has very strong feelings for this guy, in addition to her burgeoning feelings for the prince. Not to mention that she’s up against 34 other beautiful, smart, talented women who are almost all more prepared for this situation than she it. Hijinks ensue. I was, honestly, a little bored, already less than 10% into the book.

But then…I read the entire trilogy in three days. Let me just assure you that this is something I never do. I have so many books checked out from the the library and sitting on shelves waiting to be read that it generally takes me forever to get around to a sequel, if I’m even interested in continuing with the story in the first place. It’s probably been a year or more since I was engrossed enough in a story that I jumped my queue to read the sequels. So…that happened.

In actuality, while I found the plot of the first book predictable, I really enjoyed the characters of the prince, Maxon, and America. I found them very engaging and funny, and I really wanted to know what happened to them, even if it was just what I expected to happen.

And then the second book happened. Let me tell you, friends, that second book is a test of your interest and dedication to America’s story because I was sick of her stupid love triangle 30% of the way through the book, and it didn’t end until the very last possible moment. And I’m not a love triangle hater; Katniss/Gale/Peeta didn’t bother me, but this! Every other page America’s heart flip-flopped between Maxon and her hometown love. Maxon would be kind of a douche, and America would run back to Aspen. Then Maxon would be sweet, and she was totally in love with him again. It was exhausting! And annoying! By the end, I really wanted America to choose herself and leave both boys in the dust.

Also, she was such a weenie in the second book; every time she would do something awesome and crazy and, let’s be honest, badass, she’d freak out because Maxon didn’t think it was amazing and totally apologize and grovel for forgiveness. Stand up for yourself, girl! Don’t apologize for being awesome! (Seriously, ladies, stop apologizing so much.)

But the third book ended up being awesome! The ending was surprising and emotional and pretty fantastic. I super enjoyed it, and I really recommend that anyone interested in this series or these characters just push through the annoying second book to get to the awesome conclusion. Each book on it’s own was a really fast read for me, and though I wish Cass would have skipped 95% of the second book, the third made up for it.

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