The Eclectic Bookworm

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Smashwords book reviews by The Eclectic Bookworm

  • Rebels Divided on Aug. 18, 2013

    I loved this book as much as the first, despite some issues I had with the ending. This book takes place three years after the end of the first book. Annabelle is a mech, an elite female warrior who is charged with protecting the border, rounding up boys and enforcing regulations. This book also lends more insight into the “Second American Civil War”. As with the first book, this absolutely fascinates me. “When the Progressive Reunion seized power, men got suckered into supporting the Patriots; they saw no alternative. After war broke out, they learned that entrepreneur Adrianne Picard secretly provided the Progressive Reunion with mech gear and drones. The war ended quickly. Radical Patriots clung to Appalachia and limited government”. The way this is conveyed throughout the book is in a simple manner that is plausible in light of today’s political issues. I live in the great state of Texas, which would probably be at the forefront of any “Patriot” party movement. In this book, Mr. Erlick further examines the problems that usually plague any sort of “utopian” society. In the Progressive Reunion stronghold, known as the Federal Union, Annabelle learns that the rules don’t apply to all. She sees things in her capacity as a soldier that further questions the confines of her society “we’re all equal, except the elite. She tried to remember where she had read that. Some banned book her mom kept hidden? Animal Farm maybe.” Also in her capacity as a mech, Annabelle can help the unfortunate boys that are discovered living within the borders of the Federal Union. She becomes part of the Underground Railroad that leads boys and men to safety in the Outland. In this activity, she regularly meets with her adoptive mother’s banished husband. And in a fateful turn of events, meets Geo, her adoptive brother that she has never met. They both have to collaborate to survive as well as bring peace to their prospective homes. Again, I love the character of Annabelle for many reasons. Her humanity and her compassion only deepen in this book. She also pieces together many parts of a complex puzzle and is able to avert disaster. I also fell in love with the character of Geo. He is strong, loyal, very intelligent and also works for what is right. I loved reading about his conflicting feelings for Annabelle. I also loved reading about the gadgets and techniques Geo and his father came up with while living in the Outland. They have electricity. They have saferooms. They have homemade weapons and other ways to ensure their safety (for the most part). The problem I have with the ending is that it essentially abruptly ends. Also too many loose ends are tied up at once in a nice pretty package. As much as I love happy endings, things just seemed a little too convenient by the end. I would have liked an epilogue that sketches out Annabelle’s new life or a hint that everything is alright beyond the last pages of the book. But overall, a very satisfying conclusion to the adventure Annabelle began in the first book.
  • The Rebel Within on Aug. 18, 2013

    Ahhh…another one of my favorite type of books. A mash-up. Part dystopian, part romance, part thriller, part scifi and part YA. I absolutely loved this series. My daughter is named Annabelle (but it is spelled differently), so it was a little disconcerting to read “Annabelle” so often and not think of my munchkin. But other than the adoption thing and living in a female dominated society, my child has a lot in common with her fictional counterpart. Her rebellious nature for one, her looks for another. Getting past that, I truly loved the character. She is strong, intelligent. She has a heart. She knows that her society isn’t the utopia it is portrayed to be. She has an unquenched thirst for justice and determination to match. I loved learning about this “utopia”. I live in the South, and I occasionally run into the misinformed ideals of macho males who think I should be in my kitchen barefoot and pregnant. So reading about an all-female society was very interesting. Reading about how this “utopia” came about was even more intruiging: in the early decades of the 21st century, right-wing extremists tried to turn back the clock. When they failed, the seceded, bringing the Second American Civil War. Well, that seems plausible. Especially from my seat down here in Texas. A state that regulates a woman’s body to “protect life” but promotes gun ownership and kills 300 people per year by lethal injection. But as good as “the Union” seems, all “utopia” type societies always have a nasty underbelly. This one treats males as third class citizens. Any males that they do encounter are jailed (including children that are sent to “schools” that are fenced in like a prison) and are forced to wear a shock collar. Annabelle starts helping boys escape. And then a turn of events forces her into the military. The gadgets and tactics used for training were fascinating. I loved the idea of the simulators. However, like “The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins, reading about the training and about young teenage girls nearly killing each other was disturbing. Even more “Hunger Games”-esque was the final test for those intending to serve in the mech forces: a fight to the death in an arena against a male who is hopped up on steroids. It is televised, along with a tournament among the mech recruit classes, and gambling is permitted on the participants. I admire Annabelle’s hard work and grit in doing what she feels is right for her family, despite being totally against the organization she is training for. I loved reading about her relationship with her adopted sister and mother. The urge for Annabelle to protect Janine is palpable. I was also sent the second book, Rebels Divided, by the author and jumped right in. Look for the review for that book tomorrow. Overall, this is a wonderful book with strong characters, strong statements on politics and life in the United States, with twists of love, empathy and compassion.