Book Review: “A Reluctant Assassin” by J.C. Morrows
Book Reviews / September 21, 2015

“A Reluctant Assassin” is a dystopian novel set in a future United States where monarchs rule, women wear big dresses, and princes must marry to become kings. The story opens at a ball where 25 of the most eligible ladies have been selected from the kingdom in order that the prince might choose his bride. Only, one of them isn’t really a wealthy noble; she is an orphan plucked from the streets and trained to assassinate the prince….

Book Review: “Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley
Book Reviews / November 1, 2014

I was never very interested in reading this book until lately, when political pundits began setting it up as an opposite to George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. After reading it, I don’t really see them as opposites so much as complimentary, dystopian views of the direction our world may be headed.

Book Review: “The Maze Runner” by James Dashner
Book Reviews / August 4, 2014

When Thomas wakes up inside a metal box, he remembers nothing about his former life except his first name. Then the box opens, and he becomes the latest in a series of monthly arrivals in a boys’ camp from hell. The teens live in a glade at the center of a huge maze. Some of them have been there up to two years. No one has ever found a way out. The walls move during the night, when venomous monsters called Grievers prowl the maze. Kids who have survived being stung (or worse) remember just enough about life outside the maze to fear getting out more than staying stuck inside. Though Thomas has just arrived, he has a strange feeling that he is meant to be here.

Book review: “Dirty Magic” by Carol Hughes
Book Reviews / July 13, 2013

Joe Brooks, a boy who likes models and Monster Machine magazine, gets up in the middle of the night and finds that his bathroom door opens into a muddy plain stretching to the horizon all around. Suddenly Joe is in a strange, island world where the sun never shines, the war never ends, and the lost children who regularly appear out of nowhere never seem to get home again.

Book review: “Ptolemy’s Gate” by Jonathan Stroud
Book Reviews / June 23, 2013

In Book 3 of the “Bartimaeus” trilogy, a seventeen-year-old magician named Nathaniel, though he calls himself John Mandrake, has clawed his way nearly to the top of a world of (sometimes literally) backstabbing ambition. It’s an alternate-history version of present-day Britain, where magicians are the ruling class and the non-magical “commoners” toil in conditions not far above slavery.

Book review: “Shades of Grey” by Jasper Fforde
Book Reviews / March 27, 2013

Thanks to an audiobook expertly read by John Lee, I finally found the courage to bite into this woolly, dystopian, world-building type fantasy by the author of the “Thursday Next” novels. I admit, I had held paper copies of the book in my hands a few times, and considered buying or borrowing it, but my heart always failed me. I remembered what heavy going it was, breaking through into “The Eyre Affair”—an effort that included reading Charlotte Brontë’s “Jane Eyre” for my first time—though since I did, the rewards have been rich indeed. And now that I’ve successfully penetrated another daringly original world out of Fforde’s imagining, I am glad to find out that this book is also the start of a series.

Book review: “The Golem’s Eye” by Jonathan Stroud
Book Reviews / March 6, 2013

If a boxed set of “Harry Potter” were to fall through the looking-glass, what came out the other side might be a lot like the “Bartimaeus Trilogy”, of which this is Book 2. The fantasy world in this series is somewhat of a bizarro, backward-land version of Harry’s wizarding world, which forms a secret enclave within the present-day world of us ordinary muggles. In Bartimaeus’ world, the British empire is openly run by magicians, while the majority of the population—dismissively called “commoners”—toils in a condition not far above slavery.