Review of Never Fade by Alexandra Bracken

Never FadeNever Fade (The Darkest Minds #2)
By: Alexandra Bracken
Release Date: October 15th 2013
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Purchase:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble

A copy was given to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review

My Rating:
star

If you’ve not read The Darkest Minds check out that review and not this one since the summary (below) has spoilers for the first book.

Summary:
Ruby never asked for the abilities that almost cost her her life. Now she must call upon them on a daily basis, leading dangerous missions to bring down a corrupt government and breaking into the minds of her enemies. Other kids in the Children’s League call Ruby “Leader”, but she knows what she really is: a monster.

When Ruby is entrusted with an explosive secret, she must embark on her most dangerous mission yet: leaving the Children’s League behind. Crucial information about the disease that killed most of America’s children—and turned Ruby and the others who lived into feared and hated outcasts—has survived every attempt to destroy it. But the truth is only saved in one place: a flashdrive in the hands of Liam Stewart, the boy Ruby once believed was her future—and who now wouldn’t recognize her.

As Ruby sets out across a desperate, lawless country to find Liam—and answers about the catastrophe that has ripped both her life and America apart—she is torn between old friends and the promise she made to serve the League. Ruby will do anything to protect the people she loves. But what if winning the war means losing herself.

The Story:
I didn’t have time to reread The Darkest Minds before jumping into this book. I was able to slowly remember all that had happened so it wasn’t necessary to reread though I think it would have been helpful since I was foggy on some of the details. Never Fade picked up where the last ended and gave the reader a new viewpoint from within the League. I found this incredibly interesting to see things from their side and to get a feel for their everyday tasks.

As with The Darkest Minds, Never Fade had wonderfully descriptive action scenes yet had real heart. I felt the pacing varied from slow to fast but though it is a long book it didn’t drag (though I could easily see some pages edited out).

This is one of those sequels that is nearly impossible to write a spoiler free review because so much has happened from where our character’s journey began in the first book. I love Bracken’s writing and feel that it pulled me into the story and kept me riveted to Ruby and her struggles.

The Characters:
Ruby has grown so much since we first met her character. She is much stronger and has started to understand her ability though she still hates possessing it. Throughout the book she struggled with her choices in regard to her old friends and tried, in her own way, to make amends for her guilt. I love how well developed and rounded she is. I find her emotions to be incredibly realistic and relatable.

I found both this and the first book greatest strength to be the connection I’ve formed with the characters. We do get to see some of the characters from The Darkest Minds but the majority of the book is focused on the people that Ruby comes to know in the League. I connected to the new characters easily, especially Jude. He is the perfect foil to Vida’s bravado and Ruby’s coldness. Jude’s loveable nature and anxiety helped to connect me with what was happening to them and really brought an element of relatability (since I’d be freaking out and anxious like he was).

Final Thoughts:
Though Never Fade is a bit long in parts the story moves fairly fast and the characters are once again the strongest feature; a stellar sequel that progressed the storyline and characters effectively. Needless to say, I can’t wait for book 3.

 

The Archived by Victoria Schwab Review

Victoria SchwabThe Archived
By: Victoria Schwab
Release Date: January 22, 2013
Publisher: Hyperion Book CH

My Rating:
star

Summary (via jacket copy):
Imagine a place where the dead rest on shelves like books.

Each body has a story to tell, a life seen in pictures that only Librarians can read. The dead are called Histories, and the vast realm in which they rest is the Archive.

Da frist brought Mackenzie Bishop here four years ago, when she was twelve years old, frightened but determined to prove herself. Now Da is dead, and Mac has grown into what he once was: a ruthless Keeper, tasked with stopping often violent Histories from waking up and getting out. Because of her job, she lies to the people she loves, and she knows fear for what it is: a useful tool for staying alive.

Being a Keeper isn’t just dangerous–it’s a constant reminder of those Mac has lost. Da’s death was hard enough, but now that her little brother is gone too, Mac starts to wonder about the boundary between living and dying, sleeping and waking. In the Archive, the dead must never be disturbed. And yet, someone is deliberately altering Histories, erasing essential chapters. Unless Mac can piece together what remains, the Archive itself may crumble and fall.

The Story:
The Archive is beautifully imagined and detailed in its world building. Victoria Schwab creates an extensive after-life that is very original and intriguing. The book twists and turns and though I could guess a few aspects I was surprised by many of the turns. The pacing is slow and methodical, but never boring. The last third of the book picks up pace and carries you along to a wonderful climax. I prefer the end of the book to the beginning and I think a lot of that is due to the beginning narrative focusing a lot on background and explaining  Histories, the Archive, Keepers, Keys, etc. It took me a few chapters before I felt like I had a grasp on what Mackenzie does. The novel has a creepy atmosphere but isn’t out right scary. Schwab uses flashbacks artfully, they always build the story and often times provide small hints as to where its headed.

The Characters:
Da is my favorite character, I have such a clear image of him (smoking his cigarettes) and how it would feel to have him as a teacher and relative. I found myself looking forward to flashbacks so I could read about his and Kenzie’s interactions and lessons. Da is allusive, mysterious yet loving and informative and I think he has some of the best lines in the book,

Da used to say that only fools and cowards scorned fear. Fear keeps you alive

I like Mackenzie, I empathize with her and her struggles. I don’t envy her life and what she goes through daily and I felt invested in her story. Wesley grew on me with his humor. At first I felt iffy about his description but as the story progresses it just fits him so perfectly. Roland is such an interesting character I hope we get to learn more about him in the future; I’d love to see his story in a novella.

Final thoughts:
Unique and creative afterlife that takes what is normal in our world and builds on it in such a realistic yet fantastic way. Its one of those books that you’ll want to reread after you know the full story so you can look a the book again with your gained knowledge.

Click here for a sneak peak