ARC Review – The Revealed by Jessica Hickam

The RevealedTitle: The Revealed

Author: Jessica Hickam

Genre: Dystopian, Sci-Fi

Publisher: SparkPress

Publication Date: June 17, 2014

Paperback: 314 pages

Stand alone or series: First in a projected series

How did I get this book: e-ARC via NetGalley

NOTE: I was provided with an e-ARC of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to SparkPress for letting me read this.

Let’s start with a brief synopsis (via Goodreads):

Lily Atwood lives in what used to be called Washington, D.C. Her father is one of the most powerful men in the world, having been a vital part of rebuilding and reuniting humanity after the war that killed over five billion people. Now he’s running to be one of its leaders.

But in the rediscovered peace on Earth, a new enemy has risen. They call themselves the Revealed – a powerful underground organization that has been kidnapping 18 year olds across the globe without reservation. No one knows why they are kidnapping these teens, but it’s clear something is different about these people. They can set fires with a snap of their fingers and create a wind strong enough to barrel over a tree with a flick of their wrist. No one has been able to stop them, and they have targeted Lily as their next victim.

But Lily has waited too long to break free from her father’s shadow to let some rebel organization just ruin everything. Not without a fight.

What I thought:

I was both really surprised and really impressed with Hickam’s debut novel.

I requested this book on NetGalley because of that amazing summary (and that absolutely beautiful cover!). It sounds super cool, right? Well, it was. Take a dystopian novel then add in what are essentially X-Men mutants, and you’ve got The Revealed. The novel begins with our narrator, Lily, describing the current situation in what is now called the “North American Sector”, which is basically the ruins of the US after a huge war. The US has been mostly destroyed and everyone who survived the war all live on the East Coat. Lily is the daughter of one of two presidential candidates in the first election since the war. Roderick Westerfield is the other candidate, who has a son named Kai. Since the war, a group of people with special abilities called The Revealed has been kidnapping 18 year olds sometime before their 19th birthday. Lily has been marked to be taken, and as such, has been locked up in her home for the year just like every other 18 year old. I’d like to mention that her house is a freaking mansion.

So one of the things I really liked was that Hickam hints at the war, but never truly reveals any details. We don’t know what caused it, how it happened, and we only get a few details for what’s happened since then. I thought this was quite clever, and it kept me reading. I do hope, however, that we get more details as the series progresses. Another thing I liked was how well-done Westerfield was as a villain. He feels positively slimy and icky. When he is touching Lily while they dance at a party, my skin crawled.

The writing was fantastic. I’m surprised this is Hickam’s first novel. She’s a wonderful writer. Hickam’s got great descriptive abilities; I could picture everything she described and her characters are really well done (well, except one, which I’ll mention in a sec). Her writing was my favorite thing about this novel.

Okay. What I didn’t like was Lily actually. She was seriously inconsistent and selfish and immature. She’s gone through so much in her young life that I felt her immaturity was strange. All she wants to do is rebel against her family and she tries (and succeeds) to escape her house several times, which I do understand because her mother is horrible; however, she begins the novel saying her father came to her for advice all the time on his speeches and cared about her opinion, but later she says that since he announced his candidacy, they’ve been on bad terms. Um, what? Also, her love interest in Kai is crazy. Her family used to be close to his but then the war happened and her father and his announced their candidacies; things changed. He betrayed her when they were in high school then joined the military. Now he’s back and she trusts him again, even when he really doesn’t give her much reason to. It wasn’t exactly insta-love, but it was a little too close for my comfort. She was basically like this, “I hate him. I like him. I don’t like him. He’s so hot. I can’t like him. I do like him.” UGH. I would like to say that I thought Lily started off the novel so strong, independent and forceful, and then suddenly she’s whiny, vulnerable, and weak. This was strange, and it happened too quickly to be a believable change.

On the other hand, I really loved Rory, who is an intern in Lily’s mansion’s kitchen. Oh, yeah. She lives in a freaking mansion, but she keeps trying to rebel and escape. What? Anyway, Rory is Lily’s best friend, and she’s great. She’s feisty, strong, and rambunctious, and I would totally be friends with her.

Also, there’s a twist about ¾ of the way through that I thought I knew what was going to happen and was totally SHOCKED. So that’s really awesome. Additionally, I won’t give too much away, but when we finally meet The Revealed and they explain themselves and what’s been happening, I loved that. It was a really cool way to explain their powers. Just all around great ideas in this novel.

The bottom line:

I really liked this novel, and I think this series has a whole bunch of awesome potential. I will most definitely read the next in the series, but I hope that our main character has grown some and gotten over herself. I would recommend this book for sure.

Rating: 7.5 – between pretty good and freaking fantastic

You can learn more about Jessica Hickam on her website. You can also pre-order The Revealed on Amazon.

Reading next: Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson

Book Review: The Eye of Minds by James Dashner

This was my third Bout of Books book! 🙂

The Eye of Minds


Title: The Eye of Minds

Author: James Dashner

Genre: Sci-fi, YA

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Publication Date: October 2008

Hardback: 308

Stand alone or series: First in a series

How did I get this book: Bought


Let’s start with a brief synopsis (from Goodreads):

Michael is a gamer. And like most gamers, he almost spends more time on the VirtNet than in the actual world. The VirtNet offers total mind and body immersion, and it’s addictive. Thanks to technology, anyone with enough money can experience fantasy worlds, risk their life without the chance of death, or just hang around with Virt-friends. And the more hacking skills you have, the more fun. Why bother following the rules when most of them are dumb, anyway?

But some rules were made for a reason. Some technology is too dangerous to fool with. And recent reports claim that one gamer is going beyond what any gamer has done before: he’s holding players hostage inside the VirtNet. The effects are horrific—the hostages have all been declared brain-dead. Yet the gamer’s motives are a mystery.

The government knows that to catch a hacker, you need a hacker.
And they’ve been watching Michael. They want him on their team.
But the risk is enormous. If he accepts their challenge, Michael will need to go off the VirtNet grid. There are back alleys and corners in the system human eyes have never seen and predators he can’t even fathom—and there’s the possibility that the line between game and reality will be blurred forever.

What I thought:

Okay, so I was kind of disappointed in this book, and because I am trying to finish/read most of If I Stay today, I’m going to make this review quick.

As you might have seen, I was a HUGE fan of Dashner’s Maze Runner series (you can read my review HERE), so I had been looking forward to reading this ever since I finished that.

I just don’t really know what to say about this book.

I REALLY liked the idea behind it, and I like the fact that Dashner just throws you into the world in each of his books. I think that’s cool because you are immersed in the story right away. Just like in TMR, the world is super interesting: you’ve got this VirtNet, which is a seriously fascinating virtual reality in which you can pretty much play whatever you want. You can play generic (in that we have so many of them already) games like shoot-em-up games, but then there’s Lifeblood, which is pretty much just playing life – you do what you do in the real world: get your hair cut, go out to eat, go to the park. At first I was like “what the heck is the point of this?” but then I realized if there was a game like this in our world, people would actually play this. Dashner’s got all the new tech/slang words like in TMR: the Coffin is what you lay in to Sink into the Virtnet; you go through a Portal to Lift yourself into the Wake (real life). I love that. I love being able to see this new world so clearly.

But then the world wasn’t really developed. At least, not the Wake, the real world outside of the VirtNet. Dashner makes it seem like the outside world is kind of screwed up, but there’s practically NOTHING about it. Michael, our main character, goes to school one day, but we don’t really get any descriptions (which I suppose makes sense in the end). I’m hoping that we get more of it in the subsequent novels, much like we did in the TMR series.

Also, I’m sorry to keep comparing it to that, but that’s what I was doing as I read it. Maybe that wasn’t fair, but this is the same author, right? I am surprised that this is what came AFTER TMR. This book seems less polished and well-done as TMR. It definitely felt like this was a less experienced Dashner, which doesn’t make sense. The writing style felt…well, clunky. There was a lot of repetition or sentences that didn’t need to be there.

Honestly, I hate this, but I just couldn’t care less about the characters. Michael is our main character, and I couldn’t get involved with him. I actually ended up like the secondary characters, Bryson and Sarah, more than Michael. And I didn’t even really care about them either. As I was reading, I was just thinking how much more I should have been involved with their emotions/plight. But I couldn’t. I didn’t relate to them at all. This sucks because I really did want to like them and care about them. The plot and what was happening to them was so interesting, but they weren’t. However, I did enjoy their sarcasm and they made me laugh a few times, which was good. And I will say part of the reason I want to read the next book is to find out what happened to Bryson and Sarah, so that’s something.

I do want to say though that I really loved the end. I wasn’t surprised with the twist we had in the middle of the book; I had actually predicted that one. But I can’t believe I didn’t see the end coming. It was perfect, such a good idea. I thought it wrapped up well and paved the way for the next book. Because of the ideas in the book and the ending, I know that I will buy the next book when it comes out this fall.

The bottom line:

Really interesting and cool ideas for the plot and world in which the novel is based. Not so great characters; I didn’t really care about them the way I wanted to. I’m kind of brokenhearted that I didn’t love this like I was hoping to. I do recommend reading it though and I will buy the next book when it comes out.

Rating: 6.5 – first time I’ve given a half point, but it wasn’t quite a 7 but wasn’t a 6 either.

Reading next: If I Stay by Gayle Forman

Book Review: Gone by Michael Grant

I read Gone as my first book for Bout of Books. Keep up with my progress here. You can also follow me on Instagram or Goodreads to check my progress.


Title: Gone

Author: Michael Grant

Genre: Dystopian, sci-fi, young adult

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books

Publication Date: June 2008

Paperback: 558

Stand alone or series: Beginning of a series

How did I get this book: Forced into buying it by a friend – not regretting it


Let’s start with a brief summary (from the book jacket):

In the blink of an eye. Everyone disappears. GONE.

Except for the young. Teens. Middle schoolers. Toddlers. But not one single adult. No teachers, no cops, no doctors, no parents. Just as suddenly, there are no phones, no internet, no television. No way to get help. And no way to figure out what’s happened.

Hunger threatens. Bullies rule. A sinister creature lurks. Animals are mutating. And the teens themselves are changing, developing new talents–unimaginable, dangerous, deadly powers–that grow stronger by the day.

It’s a terrifying new world. Sides are being chosen, a fight is shaping up. Townies against rich kids. Bullies against the weak. Powerful against powerless. And time is running out: On your birthday, you disappear just like everyone else…

What I thought:

It’s so exciting. I think that’s the best word to describe this book. Like, once the action starts, it’s pretty hard to put it down. Case in point: I read all 558 pages yesterday. It’s full of action, awesome characters, cool powers, and great descriptions. I thought that the development of the powers in some of the kids felt organic, and the reaction that some of the characters had to them was natural and realistic; some of the characters go bad, some distance themselves from those who have the power, and, obviously, some are very scared of them. I also thought that the reaction to this weird event (the adults disappearing and the town being surrounded by a barrier) felt real. The kids go a little crazy at first, loot a bunch of the stores, take what they want and don’t care what happens. But then you’ve got other kids who step up and take charge. I just think if something like this were to actually happen, this is exactly the reaction kids would have had.

Also, the characters are brilliant and super well-developed. I could go on and on about how much I liked or didn’t like certain characters and how ridiculously well-developed they were, but I won’t. Let’s just say that I was seriously impressed with Grant’s ability to develop even the most minor characters. I felt like I actually knew each of them. I do want to focus on a couple though:

  • Sam; he’s our main character. I really appreciated the fact that he was kind of a reluctant hero. He stepped up when he needed to, but he didn’t want to be in the spotlight or be the leader of this group. He reminded me a bit of Katniss in that regard, so that was cool. He also felt pretty mature for a 14 year old, which was odd at first, but then you get to know him and you realize that he is real.
  • Caine; he’s our main antagonist. Holy freaking crap. He’s psycho. I think that Grant wrote him really well. Yes, it was a little far-fetched to have a 14 year old that was this crazy, but I think that the way Grant writes enables the reader to suspend their disbelief perfectly.
  • Lana and Pack Leader; she’s a sort of main character and he’s a freaking coyote that talks. Yeah, you read that right. Not only do some of the humans gain powers, but some animals are mutated as well. Pack Leader is a coyote that can speak English, in a low, gravelly yet high-pitched voice (I could actually hear it in my mind because of Grant’s descriptions). He scared me, so I could totally feel Lana’s fear.
  • A few other characters I thought were cool: Drake (ahhhhh, that thing that happens to him in the end! I visibly reacted to this – my mom had to ask me what was wrong. Such awesome/horrifying descriptions); Quinn (I really felt for him); Astrid (she’s awesome and believable).

Okay, so Grant’s writing isn’t great all the time. There are several passages that were just too simplistic and a little immature. Yet at the same time, the book was super clever and imaginative. The dialogue was on point: humorous, deep, well-done. I will say though that at first when the characters said “brah” I was really annoyed, but then I actually thought it worked. I will assume that the writing will improve throughout the rest of the series.

Also, while the characters were really well-developed, I had a slight problem with the development of the world in which these kids lived. It was a little thin. However, I’m going to assume that this was intentional and will be fixed in subsequent novels in the series.

The book jacket quotes VOYA with saying “If Stephen King had written Lord of the Flies, it might have been a little like this. YES. This.

I definitely want to read the rest of the series, and I look forward to reading the explanation for all that happened to these kids.

The bottom line:

There were a few issues I had with the writing, but overall I seriously enjoyed this book. The characters are so well-done though I had some problems with the world development. Super fantastic book anyway. It has a great plot and is really exciting to read. My heart pounded through all of the action sequences.

Rating: 8 – freaking fantastic

Reading next: Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson