Sign of One

I’ve heard a lot about this book – mostly good too, so I was thrilled when I was offered a copy by Maggie at Egmont. It’s a brilliant cover and a fantastic concept, one I was definitely intrigued and taken in by.

sign of one

“One for sorrow, two for death…

On Wrath, a dump-world for human outcasts, identical twins are feared. Only one will grow up human, while the other becomes a condemned monster with ‘twisted’ blood.

When sixteen-year-old Kyle is betrayed, he flees for his life with the help of Sky, a rebel pilot with trust issues. As the hunt intensifies, Kyle soon realises that he is no ordinary runaway – although he has no idea why he warrants this level of pursuit.

The hideous truth they discover could change the fate of Wrath and its harsh laws forever. Their reluctant, conflicted partnership will either save them – or bring about their destruction.”

I loved the examination into twins that this book took, the idea that one was evil and one good was an interesting idea in itself. We’re working on a book about twins at the moment too (False Hearts by Laura Lam) and I find it all so fascinating to see the bonds between them.

I’ll be honest in the fact that I really enjoyed Sign of One, I read it one summer afternoon in one go and it’s incredibly readable, exciting, emotional and full of adventure. However, I wouldn’t say it’s one that’s going to stay with me, I won’t be clamouring for the next one, though I’d definitely want to read it. And that’s got nothing to do with the writing or the book itself, more the fact that it was another dystopia (/sci-fi) and unfortunately I just feel worn out of them as a genre. It’s another group of people who are misunderstood and presented as evil when actually they were just feared. It feels very X-Men/Divergent.

I think this book has more to offer than just the same old dystopian story though – it’s got clever twists and great lead characters, I was more of a fan of Sky than Kyle but that’s probably just because I feel I’m a similar person to Sky. I love that every character has another version of themselves to fight for, I love the bond between twins that is more unbreakable than most other relationships. I loved Kyle’s family – I won’t say too much as I don’t want to give away spoilers but they’re brilliant, loyal, kind and clever.

It’s a really easy read, so pacey and realistic; the writing brings their world and the characters to life. I’d definitely recommend it; it just won’t be making my top 10 pile unfortunately.

Sign of One is out now from Egmont.

 

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Flawed

When I heard Cecelia Ahern and YA in the same sentence, I just knew I had to get my hands on it. I’m not the biggest fan of the cover, compared to the US version but it feels very Cecelia doesn’t it? Dystopian fiction feels a tad overdone, and in this one, I did feel echoes of The Hunger Games/Insurgent etc. I did feel a bit like, oh here we go again and at points it felt very scripted. Having said that, I still absolutely loved it.

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“Celestine North lives a perfect life. She’s a model daughter and sister, she’s well-liked by her classmates and teachers, and she’s dating the impossibly charming Art Crevan.

But then Celestine encounters a situation in which she makes an instinctive decision. She breaks a rule and now faces life-changing repercussions. She could be imprisoned. She could be branded. She could be found FLAWED.

In this stunning novel, bestselling author Cecelia Ahern depicts a society in which perfection is paramount and mistakes are punished. And where one young woman decides to take a stand that could cost her everything.”

I’ll be honest, you can see the plot line of this book as soon as you start reading – the horrific treatment and segregation of the ‘Flawed’ and the young heroine, Celestine who innocently lives her life abiding by the rules, but feeling sorry for these people. You know what’s going to happen – there’s no tension there. Unfortunately, having read ‘the big’ dystopian YA on offer, they seem to start all feeling fairly similar, or following a similar pattern. Luckily, Cecelia Ahern introduces a few new aspects, some unsuspecting twists, and brilliant writing to make it worth reading and really enjoyable.

There’s something awfully familiar about the leader of the rebellion who never meant to be a rebel (*cough* Katniss), but I still found myself whipping through the pages. Though the plot structure feels pretty similar, I loved how Cecelia’s story questions human morality, presented in the idea of a ‘Flawed’ person. I loved the different brands that you received if you had poor lack of judgment, or if you lie, or ‘step away’ from society and the isolation that comes with such a label. It was a brilliant concept, and one that I could easily imagine in society – we judge each other for such things anyway, in the  media and in rumours, this book just goes to the extend of branding poor choices onto people. This book makes its difference by focusing in on what it’s like to make a mistake, if you learn from it, or if you should be reminded of it forever and considered to be a lower citizen. It questions whether one choice determines your life, or makes you ‘flawed’ and what perfection really is. And it shows how no matter what rules there are or the risks involved, you can’t beat human compassion.

Flawed is such an easy read – I finished it within one afternoon and  I think had it come along before the height of the dystopian YA, it would have been huge, in place of The Hunger Games Insurgent. I’d definitely read the next one and I would certainly recommend it to other readers – Cecelia has proven herself to be a great YA author with a brilliant voice and some inspiring and interesting concepts too. It’s a really enjoyable, and lovely read and if anything, I think it’s just a shame that it wasn’t published 4 or 5 years ago!

It’s published by HarperCollins on 24th March – so go buy it and lose yourself in dystopia once more.

The Death House by Sarah Pinborough

After being lucky enough to meet the fantastic Sarah Pinborough at the Post-Apocalyptic Book Club (and slightly falling in love with her), I couldn’t not read The Death House – and I am so glad I did. If it weren’t for the fact that I had already gone through the laborious process of selecting my Top Ten Books of the Year and couldn’t bear to revisit it, The Death House would definitely have been there!

After a blood test, seventeen-year-old Toby was taken from his family and taken to a building which houses other teenagers like him known as ‘Defectives.’ We don’t know much about this mysterious illness, other than that it eventually causes them to become ill. At this point they’re taken to the Sanatorium in the dead of night, from where nobody ever returns. The teenagers all react differently to their fate – some choose to make the best of it, with one boy Ashley setting up a Church, whilst Toby copes by pushing the others away as much as possible, despite having a little camaraderie with the rest of his Dorm, who see him as a leader. At night, he avoids taking his vitamins, which he has deduced are sleeping pills, and enjoys having the house to himself. The story flits between his life in the Death House as they call it, and his life before – the scene in which he is unexpectedly taken from his family is particularly heartbreaking.

Everything changes when Clara arrives. Toby initially dislikes her, seeing her cheerfulness as a refusal to face facts and indicative of her privileged upbringing, and he resents that she too doesn’t take her vitamins, joining him after dark in the house. But gradually, an affection grows between the two of them.

Make no mistake, this book is a tear jerker and a half. As Toby and Clara’s relationship deepens, the others continue to get sick, reminding them – and us – that there is no future for them…they can only live in the now.

This was a fantastic and masterful written novel with echoes of Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go – deeply unsettling, devastating and beautifully captures the awkwardness of being a teenager. Highly recommended.

The Death House by Sarah Pinborough is out now in paperback, published by Gollancz. Her next novel 13 Minutes is published 18th February 2016.

The Death House