Tag Archives: Dystopian

Gilded Cage by Vic James

Gilded Cage by Vic James

 Gilded Cage
by Vic James

Not all are free. Not all are equal. Not all will be saved.

Our world belongs to the Equals — aristocrats with magical gifts — and all commoners must serve them for ten years. But behind the gates of England’s grandest estate lies a power that could break the world.

A girl thirsts for love and knowledge.

Abi is a servant to England’s most powerful family, but her spirit is free. So when she falls for one of the noble-born sons, Abi faces a terrible choice. Uncovering the family’s secrets might win her liberty, but will her heart pay the price?

A boy dreams of revolution.

Abi’s brother, Luke, is enslaved in a brutal factory town. Far from his family and cruelly oppressed, he makes friends whose ideals could cost him everything. Now Luke has discovered there may be a power even greater than magic: revolution.

And an aristocrat will remake the world with his dark gifts.

He is a shadow in the glittering world of the Equals, with mysterious powers no one else understands. But will he liberate—or destroy?

Rated: ★★★
Publisher: Del Rey Books
Publication: February 14, 2017
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Dystopia
I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this title.

amazon | b&n | book depo 

Gilded Cage by Vic James

All I can say is I need the second book ASAP! Gilded Cage by Vic James is an impressive first look into a new, grim world that feels oddly familiar and appropriate given the current state of affairs in the world. Society is broken up into the haves and the have-nots, as those with special powers they were born with (and are acquired through inherited birth by a few it seems) are in control of Great Britain, while the plebs without power all must endure a ten year period of slavery.

Characters are intriguing, especially those that are Equal. There is so much intrigue and family politics that we just don’t know and it drives me crazy! Silyen, the youngest of the Parva-Jardine family is the one with the most Skill, yet, the aristocracy isn’t Skill/merit based. It’s still handed down to the first born. Which puts emotionally unstable Gavar as next in line to rule one of Britain’s founding Equal fathers. James does something incredibly interesting when it comes to Gavar. She sets up an initial prejudice for readers, automatically framing him as an antagonist. Yet, for the rest of the novel, we see more than just the monster James paints in the prologue. We see there is a struggle there; he is volatile, yes, but he is loving too. He is extreme, and yet it is the reserved Silyen who gives off an air of detachment to everyone and everything, that proves to be the extremist. He is the one with the long game, though no one knows what it is, including readers.

There is a sense of heavy worldbuilding here as Vic James mentions how different parts of the world are split up between Equals and commoners. America split in two, an obvious nod to the Civil War, but also the current heavy rift in society and culture. Britain itself remains aristocratic and parliamentary, but it has become more of a joke, as those with the most power tend to be the most in charge; physical displays of Skill taking command. We also get a heavy sense of history behind everything, giving the world a gravity that draws you in.

I could talk about Gilded Cage by Vic James for hours. There are so many layers masterfully intertwined in a book that still remains firmly YA. Strong characters and solid worldbuilding make the political themes of the book flourish, giving readers a desire to make changes in their own world after seeing the inconsistencies and cruelties that are allowed to exist to the benefit of the empowered few.

Children of Icarus by Caighlan Smith

Children of Icarus by Caighlan Smith

Children of Icarus
by Caighlan Smith

It is Clara who is desperate to enter the labyrinth and it is Clara who is bright, strong, and fearless enough to take on any challenge. It is no surprise when she is chosen. But so is the girl who has always lived in her shadow. Together they enter. Within minutes, they are torn apart forever. Now the girl who has never left the city walls must fight to survive in a living nightmare, where one false turn with who to trust means a certain dead end.

Publisher: Switch Press
Publication: August 1, 2016
Genre: YA, dystopia
I received this title for free in exchange for an honest review
Purchase: amazon | b&n | book depo
Rated: ★★★½

fb | tw

Children of Icarus by Caighlan Smith

Just seeing Icarus and labyrinth, I was extremely excited! Being a huge Greek mythology nerd (and a classics minor student in uni), I knew I needed to read this, thinking it would be heavily mythology based. Surprisingly, it wasn’t really. Instead, Children of Icarus by Caighlan Smith is more of a general YA dystopian novel, which isn’t to say that’s a bad thing. Just different from what the short synopsis seemed to suggest.

There’s a nameless narrator that is by far the worst character of the novel up until the last 20%. This really killed the book for me. I just couldn’t get behind her at all. In fact, I actually put the book down and had to stop because I was just so annoyed by her, I preferred cooking my weekly lunches for work than continue. Why is she annoying? I’ll probably whinge about it in detail on the spoiler vlog tomorrow, but mainly, her inability to do anything. There was no personality in her. No nothing for the majority of the story.

That said, you might be wondering how it managed to get three and a half stars from me. You might be thinking pffft, free title, of course it got higher than three stars. Nope. Just because the narrator was dull, doesn’t mean the book was. The story was very interesting and there were just enough bits of mythology and Greek-ness to keep me hooked. Side characters Elle and Addie were super interesting and I wanted more of them. I also wanted more of Theo and to see if Theo and Nameless could start a relationship, or if Nameless and Ryan would since the author kept thrusting them together. But nothing happened because the narrator is pretty much nothing.

The last 33% of the book really bumped the stars up. The Executioner was amazing and then the mind freak that happens right at the very end, I was just speechless. I could not believe that was how the book would end, just as it was getting good. Just as Nameless started to hint at becoming someone, something.

If you’re seriously into YA dystopian, you’ll really enjoy Children of Icarus by Caighlan Smith. If you’re just a casual fan, you might wanna wait and check it out at the library. If there’s the potential of a sequel being released, then I’d say definitely give it a shot.

About the Author

caighlan-smithCaighlan Smith was born in St. John’s, Newfoundland & Labrador on June 1st, 1994. She grew up in the scenic coastal community of St. Philip’s, overlooking the dramatic north-west Atlantic. As a kid, she loved to play in the woods around her house, loved to tell stories and believed in magic. When she was four years old and went to Ireland, her goal was to find a leprechaun. A year later in Norway, it was a troll. She has hiked a dormant volcano in Iceland. She has found Easter eggs hidden in a friend’s Emmy Award in California and was an actress in a television show that was screened at the United Nations in New York for International Day of the Child, 2000.

Caighlan, who is studying English, Classics and Creative Writing at Memorial University of Newfoundland in St. John’s, is a supporter of universal girl-child education and has been involved with the Teachers Action for Girls campaign in Uganda.

Unlike many YA fantasy writers, she does not have oodles of cats or dogs or miscellaneous furry friends, as they all make her sneeze and wheeze and tear-up. Breathing is far more important than dog drool on your lap or fur clinging to your hoodie. Her great loves are reading, gaming and, of course, writing. The “C” in her name is hard, the “gh” is silent.

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

 Red Queen
by Victoria Aveyard

Mare Barrow’s world is divided by blood–those with common, Red blood serve the Silver- blooded elite, who are gifted with superhuman abilities. Mare is a Red, scraping by as a thief in a poor, rural village, until a twist of fate throws her in front of the Silver court. Before the king, princes, and all the nobles, she discovers she has an ability of her own.

To cover up this impossibility, the king forces her to play the role of a lost Silver princess and betroths her to one of his own sons. As Mare is drawn further into the Silver world, she risks everything and uses her new position to help the Scarlet Guard–a growing Red rebellion–even as her heart tugs her in an impossible direction. One wrong move can lead to her death, but in the dangerous game she plays, the only certainty is betrayal.

Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication: February 10, 2015
Genre: Dystopian, YA, Paranormal
Personally purchased title
Purchase: amazon | b&n | book depo
Rated: ★★★★½

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

OH MY GOD! This was SO AMAZING I devoured the book in under 4 hours. I just had to keep reading to find out what would happen. I went into Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard not knowing a thing other than folks liked it and the cover was super cool. I am so happy I went into this book not knowing a single thing about it because that made it all the more amazing. I liked the characters, the story, pacing was great! The worldbuilding was fantastic! I cannot wait until I have time to delve into the side stories and the second book in the series!

Mare is such a great reluctant heroine. She just wants to live and when complications arise, she’s so realistic in just saying, well I guess this is it, okay. I mean, let’s face it, something crazy happens and we know we aren’t equipped to survive it, that would be the thought running through our brains — just getting ready for the end. Then, when she somehow finds herself surviving, she doesn’t take it for granted, she adapts. What’s also fantastic about Mare is that she doesn’t let a romance get in the way of her goal. She wants to free the Reds and that’s what she’s focused on. Sure, if some romance happens along the way, that’s great. But the entire time, her focus is on the Reds and helping her people.

The conflict between the Silvers and the Reds is extremely believable. Aveyard meshes bits of fantasy with technology so that people have abilities, but there are also televisions and cameras around. There isn’t a hard cut division like you find in many other fantasy novels. It’s jarring at first, but you get used to it. I’m excited to see the areas of the world where technology is plays a greater part, as the towns and cities in Red Queen weren’t as reliant.

Now, onto what killed me — the princes Maven and Cal. When I say they killed me, I mean I went on rants to friends (some who had, some who hadn’t read the series) about what I thought I would happen and what I wanted to happen. As much as he is a trash lord baby, I love Maven. I just, partway through the book, I made the decision that regardless of what happened, I would love him even if he turned out sour. I’m still not thoroughly convinced, though, that all is as it seems, not with a mother like his at least…

Cal, on the other hand, is great, but so vanilla for me. He’s the one meant to rule, does everything by the book, even if it means losing the girl he’s falling in love with. There isn’t as much fight with him. I want to see if that changes in the next book.

Secondary characters are great as well! They have their own stories, their own reasons for doing what they do. I want stories about Julien and Sara! About the King choosing someone for love (maybe one of those side stories published showcases this???)

It’s great finding a series where you become invested in all of the characters — major and minor. Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard definitely lived up to the hype and just blew me away.

Quotes & Excerpts

In school, we learned about the world before ours, about the angels and gods that lived in the sky, ruling the earth with kind and loving hands. Some say those are just stories, but I don’t believe that.
The gods rule us still. They have come down from the stars. And they are no longer kind.
– Chapter One

What Others Are Saying

*Roadside Reader is not affiliated with any of the websites listed above*

The Unhappening of Genesis Lee by Shallee McArthur

The Unhappening of Genesis Lee by Shallee McArthur


Seventeen-year-old Genesis Lee has never forgotten anything. As one of the Mementi–a small group of genetically enhanced humans–Gena remembers everything with the help of her Link bracelets, which preserve memories perfectly. But Links can be stolen, and six people have already lost their lives to a memory thief, including Gena’s best friend.

Anyone could be next. That’s why Gena is less than pleased to meet a strange but charming boy named Kalan who claims not only that they have met before, but that Gena knows who the thief is.

The problem is, Gena doesn’t remember Kalan, she doesn’t remember seeing the thief, and she doesn’t know why she’s forgetting things–or how much else she might forget. As growing tensions between Mementi and ordinary humans drive the city of Havendale into chaos, Gena and Kalan team up to search for the thief. And as Gena loses more memories, they realize they have to solve the mystery fast…because Gena’s life is unhappening around her.

The Unhappening of Genesis Lee
Shallee McArthur
Publisher: Sky Pony Press
Publication: Nov 2014
Genre: Dystopian, Sci-Fi, YA
I received this title for free in exchange for an honest review
Locate: amazon | b&n | worldcat
Rated: ★★½

Review: The Unhappening of Genesis Lee by Shallee McArthur

A world where every single memory is recorded and kept in crystal clear recollections. Not just what happened, but how it felt. Then, the ability to pass memories and feelings down after your death. This is the world Genesis Lee lives in. For Genesis, aka Gena, her entire world holds a strong sense of certainty. That is, until she and her best friend are both victims of a memory thief.

The Unhappening of Genesis Lee by Shallee McArthur is such an interesting read! It’s a truly refreshing book with a unique sci-fi/dystopian concept that you rarely find in the overly saturated YA market that seems to spend most of its time focusing on love triangles and romantic leads; and hey, there’s nothing wrong with that if you want romance in your YA. It just becomes tiring when it moves to the forefront of what is expected out of a YA novel.

Our main protagonist is Genesis “Gena” Lee, an Asian-American teenager. She is part of the elite group called Mementi who remember everything thanks to physical beads/links they wear at all times. They came about after years of cerebral experimentation that did have severe consequences on those that survived the initial procedures. Now, years later, this small group of elite humans have their own closed off community, while the Populace, non-Mementi humans, look at them with anger and suspicion.

Still, teenagers being teenagers, Gena and her BFF Cora find themselves at a mixed population party when suddenly an attack! Someone is going around stealing Mementi memories. Part of Cora’s memories are stolen and Gena is sympathetic, horrified that someone could do that, not realising that she too has lost a memory, even though all of her “links” are present. Enter, the “love interest” Kalan, a Populace boy Gena ran into the night Cora had her memories stolen. Unable to remember Kalan, Gena is forced to rely on his faulty memories to track down the thief as she slowly starts losing more and more memories. Is there romance? Minimal in my estimation. The focus of the story remains on Gena at all times, through the search for the memory thief and her relationship with her family.

One thing Ms. McArthur does extremely well is portray the sense of anxiety, anger, and confusion present in all of the victims of memory loss. Their memories are gone, but the emotions behind those memories still remain. It is reminiscent of what happens to Alzheimer’s victims. Ms. McArthur also does a fantastic job of creating a well fleshed character in Gena, a strong female protagonist that shows women can be smart AND girly, that can like a boy without having to be dumbed down.

The Unhappening of Genesis Lee by Shallee McArthur is a great YA dystopian read with an awesome female protagonist and an incredibly interesting plot with a twist to the ending you don’t see coming, but accept.

What Others Are Saying

*Roadside Reader is not affiliated with any of the websites listed above*

The Three Sarah Lotz

The Three by Sarah Lotz


Four simultaneous plane crashes. Three child survivors. A religious fanatic who insists “The Three” are harbingers of the apocalypse. What if he’s right?

The world is stunned when four planes crash within hours of each other on different continents. There doesn’t seem to be a correlation between the crashes, except that in three of the four air disasters, a single child is the sole survivor. Dubbed “the three” by the press, these “miracle children” achieve international celebrity. Things take a dark turn when a fanatical preacher starts insisting that the young survivors are three of the four harbingers of the apocalypse.

As the children’s behavior grows increasingly disturbing, even their loved ones start to suspect there could be some truth behind the conspiracy theory. And when a survivor from the fourth accident is found, deadly alliances are formed and it becomes ever more difficult- and dangerous -to decipher the truth.

The Three
Sarah Lotz
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Publication: May 2014
Genre: Dystopian, Mystery, Speculative Fiction, “Horror” 
Personally purchased title
Locate: amazon | b&n | worldcat
Rated: ★★½


The Boy A Thousand Years Wide

The Boy A Thousand Years Wide by David Spon-Smith


It’s cold, so cold I can’t feel my face anymore. The sort of morning when murmuring snowdrifts fall out of the blackness, drowning out everything except the crackling of the powergrids. Behind me stands the City, its chrome Scrapers pierce the dusty sky like needles in my skin. In front lays the Borough, its grey ruins broken by time and neglect. The Wall surrounds us both. Everywhere else, snow white wastelands as far as the eye can see.

The Boy a Thousand Years Wide is an adventure story, a quest in every sense of the word. It’s got battles, journeys and some very colourful characters held within its pages. It is at heart a tale of love and betrayal, of loyalty and friendship, of loss and freedom. It charts the awakenings of humanity in its seventeen year old protagonist; Baxter Wright.

The Boy A Thousand Years Wide
David Spon-Smith
Publisher: Southern Jackass
Publication: October 2014
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian, Paranormal, Angels
I received this title for free in exchange for an honest review
Locate: amazon | b&n | worldcat
Rated: ★★


Frozen: Heart of Dread

Frozen: Heart of Dread by Melissa de la Cruz


Welcome to New Vegas, a city once covered in bling, now blanketed in ice. Like much of the destroyed planet, the place knows only one temperature – freezing. But some things never change. The diamond in the ice desert is still a 24-hour hedonistic playground and nothing keeps the crowds away from the casino floors, never mind the rumors about sinister sorcery in its shadows.

At the heart of this city is Natasha Kestal, a young blackjack dealer looking for a way out. Like many, she’s heard of a mythical land simply called “the Blue.” They say it’s a paradise, where the sun still shines and the waters are turquoise. More importantly, it’s a place where Nat won’t be persecuted, even if her darkest secret comes to light.

But passage to the Blue is treacherous, if not impossible, and her only shot is to bet on a ragtag crew of mercenaries led by a cocky runner named Ryan Wesson there. Danger and deceit await on every corner, even as Nat and Wes find themselves inexorably drawn to each other. But can true love survive the lies?

Fiery hearts collide in this fantastic tale of the evil men do and the awesome power within us all. This is a remarkable first book in a spellbinding new series about the dawn of a new kind of magic.

Frozen: Heart of Dread
Melissa de la Cruz, Michael Johnston
Publisher: Hachette Children’s Books
Publication: September 2013 / October 2014
Genre: YA, Supernatural, Fantasy, Dystopian
I received this title for free in exchange for an honest review
Locate: amazon | b&n | worldcat
Rated: ½


Review: The Beauty by Aliya Whiteley

The Beauty by Aliya Whiteley


Somewhere away from the cities and towns, a group of men and boys gather around the fire each night to listen to their stories in the Valley of the Rocks. For when the women are all gone the rest of your life is all there is for everyone. The men are waiting to pass into the night.

The story shall be told to preserve the past. History has gone back to its aural roots and the power of words is strong. Meet Nate, the storyteller, and the new secrets he brings back from the woods. William rules the group with youth and strength, but how long can that last? And what about Uncle Ted, who spends so much time out in the woods?

Hear the tales, watch a myth be formed. For what can man hope to achieve in a world without women? When the past is only grief how long should you hold on to it? What secrets can the forest offer to change it all?

Discover the Beauty.

The Beauty
Aliya Whiteley
Publisher: Unsung Stories
Publication: September 2014
Genre: New Weird, Dystopian, Horror
I received this title for free in exchange for an honest review
Locate: amazon | b&n | worldcat
Rated: ★★★