Book Review: Data Runner (ARC) – Sam A. Patel

Title: Data Runner written by Sam A. Patel
Genre: YA Fiction – Cyberpunk, Sci-Fi, Dystopia
Published by Diversion Books
Page count: 231
Format: Ebook (read on Barnes and Nobles HD+)
Rating: 5/5
Goodreads 2013 Reading Challenge #28

Seventeen year old Jack Nills lives in a society where information has a price. The internet is no longer a public domain but is owned by corporations and information has a value. When his father incurs a pretty hefty gambling debt, faced with no other options Jack decides to enter into the dangerous occupation of becoming a Data Runner – information couriers that receive and deliver often highly sensitive information between corporations. When data runners start to turn up dead it is obvious that a piece of highly valued sensitive information is being couriered and Jack along with fellow data runners must be extra vigilant in their efforts to transit information and keep their lives in the process.

I received an ARC of Data Runner from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Reading the synopsis of Data Runner, I was immediately intrigued and the book cover reinforced my interest that much more. In the past I haven’t read many cyberpunk books (if any) but I love anything Sci-Fi and have always wanted to venture more into this genre and I must say that I am hooked, not only to the genre but definitely to this series.

I absolutely loved reading Data Runner. I love it when an author has the ability to not only tell a great story but to give us a great experience while doing it. Reading Data Runner was an AWESOME experience. This is such a fun book! This story is action packed and the great thing about it is that the action NEVER stops. The action literally starts on page one all the way down to the very last page. I felt like I was on a nonstop roller coaster ride that kept jerking me in my seat and making my heart beat fast and my breath catch in my throat or like I was in a really intense, fast car chase through a very trafficky downtown where we have to bob and weave vehicles. So fun!

Data Runner is the author’s first book and I am stunned…I’m just stunned. I thought it was really well written…usually in ebooks (or physical books even) you get these random typos that sort of impede your reading experience but I never had to worry about that with this book so that left my reading experience just really seamless. I also haven’t read too many books that have a male lead, especially YA books (although this is my second in a week) so I wasn’t sure if I would identify with the main character but I loved it.

Something I found really interesting about this book was the weaving of Parkour into the story. Before reading this book I didn’t know what Parkour  was and I am really intrigued by it. The book does explain Parkour throughout the story but I feel like it’s given to us through a more personal perspective through Jack’s narrative so I ended up Googling it to get more examples and even Youtube videos of Parkour. I feel like after doing that I have a deeper sense of what it is. I just love that it’s not just something that’s thrown in the book as a mention it was worked in really well and just adds another piece of depth to not only the story but to the character of Jack as well.

I think the premise of this book is really interesting with the corporations running pretty much everything and information being sold and whatnot. The profession of an information courier itself is highly interesting to me especially since I’m studying to be a Librarian. The idea that information can be owned and therefore sold, is just so interesting and it’s just a really interesting and fun concept in this book.

Lastly, I love the cover to this book!! I really like how he is jumping through the 1’s and the 0’s (literally the “information”). So cool! It definitely drew my eye to it!

I gave Data Runner what I feel is a very much deserved 5 out of 5 rating and I can’t wait to see what is in store for this series. I will be on the lookout for book two! I definitely recommend this to fans of YA dystopian novels or Sci-Fi fans. This book I have to say sits side by side with Enders Game on my list of favorite Sci-Fi novels now. It is being published on June 25th (this month, yay!) and you can preorder it through the author’s site (http://samapatel.com/preorder-data-runner-now/). Happy reading everyone and I hope you enjoy it just as much as I did!

Book Review: Darklandia by T.S. Welti

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Title: Darklandia written by T.S. Welti
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Dystopian Literature
Self Published
Page count:132
Format: Ebook (read on Barnes and Noble’s Nook HD+)
Rating: 3.5/5 – I liked it
Goodreads 2013 Reading Challenge #9

Suffering is Optional – T.S. Welty in “Darklandia”

Darklandia is a dystopian piece that takes place in the future Manhattan following a civil war within the United States. The United States allied with a few other countries to form the new country of Atraxia that is still in the latter stages of civil war with rebel groups still moving against the government.The civil war was the product of people rebelling against the governments restrictions on water usage. Because of the strain humanity has put on the earth’s natural resources especially water, there is a really really long drought which forces the government to restrict water usage and provide people with “rations’ that basically take the place of food and are packed with everything humans need to survive and that we used to get from regular drinking water and hard food. It comes in the form of liquid and is consumed three times a day. Not drinking your rations causes unpleasant side effects as well as being a violation of the code of Felicity.

The concept of Darklandia as it is explained to us is a really crazy and very interesting concept. The government basically wants everyone in Atraxia to be happy and perfect. It’s like this perfect, highly monitored community. Darklandia itself is like a video game, a virtual reality in which all citizens of Atraxia have to spend at least an hour a day in. They have to climb into these pods (which are disgustingly dirty) and live a few hours of their alternate life. The idea here is that in Darklandia you can do whatever you want or whatever the “darklings” used to do before they were perfect like kill people and have casual sexual encounters and that if you got all that out of your system during those hours (up to six) you will be perfect and happy and wiped clean of those urges in your daily life.

We experience the story from the point of view of Sera, a high school student whose father has been taken away and “purified” for being a part of the rebellion and whose grandmother was the last darkling to live amongst those in the community. Darklings are basically what they call pre-felicity humans and they are pretty much looked down upon. The darklings are considered to be impure or diseased. They are said to be infected with misery and suffering which the department of Felicity has cured with the rations and with Darklandia, hence the term phrase “suffering is optional”. This is just the very basic explanation of the roots of the story and that is all I’m going to tell you because I do definitely think that this is book is worth reading. There are a couple of twists especially one very very big twist at the end of the story that you definitely would not see coming.

I rated this book a 3.5 because I didn’t absolutely love it, but I did really like it. I think the concept of this book was a really amazing concept and it had the potential to be a really amazing book. It just left me with alot of unanswered questions and some things in the story did beg for more explanation or more attention. I think this can be rectified in a sequel but I don’t really know if that’s happening (although I wish there was because I’d like to see more of this world and these characters). I was really interested in the story and seeing how it played out, by now you probably guess that I have an affinity for dystopian literature. There is just something about it that makes my heart race and keeps me glued to the edge of my seat biting my poor nails! I definitely recommend fans of dystopian literature to give this one a read, at 132 pages it is a really fast read and I think it’s always an awesome thing to support our self publishing authors as much as we can. I love this book cover by the way!

Happy Reading y’all!

Book Review: Matched by Ally Condie

Title: Matched written by Ally Condie
Genre: YA Fiction – Dystopian Romance
Published by Penguin Group
Page Count: 366
Format: Paperback
Rating:  it was amazing! Couldn’t put it down! I want to shout it from the top of a mountain!
Goodreads 2013 Reading Challenge #7

This book starts off with seventeen year old Cassia Reyes  getting dolled up for her matched banquet which in her society is  a really big deal. At the banquet Cassia will be “matched” with a boy in another community that will be her husband when they turn 21. She will stand and face a screen that will show her the face of her match and they will smile at each other, it will be the first glimpse of their future. For Cassia, it doesn’t quite work out this way. It’s a rare thing to be matched with someone in your community and it hasn’t happened in many years but when the screen in front of Cassia turns out to be blank she knows her match is someone she knows…her best friend Xander.

Having known Xander since they were young Cassia and her family feel tremendous relief at their luck at such a match. That is until Cassia, alone in her home, views the microcard with Xanders picture and information that was given to her at the banquet, and see’s not only Xanders face but someone elses. Someone that she knows as well, someone who it is impossible for her to be matched with since he is not eligible to be matched (a.k.a Ky Markham). This of course causes Cassia to wonder and question, something that is dangerous for her to do living in a controlled society.

This is a dystopian novel set in a controlled society that takes place long after our time. Everything is literally controlled. “The Society” controls the food they eat, the clothes the way, the activities they do, the professions they have, and the romantic matches that are made. This is all so that the optimum results can be had…no disease, no dissension. That is until Cassia’s grandfather gives her a forbidden poem whose words, “Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light”, continue to haunt her and cause her to question more and wonder. She is no longer satisfied with following orders. As her forbidden relationship with Ky grows and they spend more and more time together doing forbidden things like writing, drawing, and reciting the forbidden poetry, Cassia becomes more and more dissatisfied with her life as assigned by The Society. When Ky is taken by officials in the wee hours of the morning, Cassia vows to find him. We are left at the end with the promise of her beginning the search. Exciting!!

Wow!! This book reminded me of all the things I love about dystopian literature. They are always such a roller coaster for me to read and Matched was definitely no exception. At first I thought the pacing was really slow but in the grand scheme of things I think it all flowed really well and we learn things about the characters and about Cassia in a really great even flow which I think was essential to making me build a relationship with the characters. I literally did not want to put this book down. I just couldn’t. I hated the fact that I had to work today because all I wanted to do was read this book. Halfway through it I was texting my friends and raving about it to them. Just the whole idea of the story is crazy. I can’t even imagine how it would be to have everything controlled especially who you marry. That’s so creepy! Later in the book we find out a lot more about the things The Society does and we glimpse some top secret information about how they control things and it’s pretty terrible!

I love Cassia’s character and I love seeing Ky through her eyes. I loved experiencing her awakening feelings for him. Everything about their relationship/friendship was so dangerous it was like I was always on the edge of my seat. My heart literally broke like ten times during this book. I found myself exclaiming aloud. I felt a ton of emotion reading this…I was happy, sad, terrified, and heartbroken. I was going to write about my favorite part of the book but I had quite a few so it’s so hard to pick one. I really like the part where Cassia leans a bit toward Ky while they are the small Hill during their Hike and she whispers the first few lines of the forbidden poem and he closes his eyes as she says the words. I also love the part where she asks him what his match would be like if he was eligible and he says, “You”. My heart literally just died on that part. I also love the part where he gets taken by the officials and she is so desperate to look into his eyes and she points up at the sky and we read the lines “My heart will always fly his name. I won’t go gentle. I’ll find a way to soar like the angels in the stories and I will find him.” Oh my god. I can’t say enough great things about this book. There is just something about forbidden romances set in a dystopian atmosphere that just gives a book that extra oomph. I loved it. I highly recommend this book for any fans of dystopian literature or just really for anyone…read it!! I can’t wait to read the second and third in the series but I’ll have to wait until I can get to the bookstore later this week so in the meantime I’ll have to read something else. I am so curious!!! Ahhh!