Published by HarperCollins on February 19, 2013
Genres: Dystopian, Science Fiction, Short Story
Source: ARC borrowed thru Around the World ARC Tours
Gripping original stories of dystopian worlds from nine New York Times bestselling authors, edited by Melissa Marr and Kelley Armstrong.
The world is gone, destroyed by human, ecological, or supernatural causes. Survivors dodge chemical warfare and cruel gods; they travel the reaches of space and inhabit underground caverns. Their enemies are disease, corrupt corporations, and one another; their resources are few, and their courage is tested.
Powerful original dystopian tales from nine bestselling authors offer bleak insight, prophetic visions, and precious glimmers of light among the shards and ashes of a ruined world.
~9 Dystopian tales from YA authors, and as far as I know, only one author used a previously established dystopian world (Beth Revis revisits Godspeed from her Across the Universe series), but this may be because I’ve not read much of Rachel Caine or Kelley Armstrong. In fact there were several authors who were new to me.
~I just want to point that all of these short stories are good. Every single one of them. I should also point out that short stories are often harder to write than full length novels. It’s hard to create compelling characters, and in this case fully realized dystopian worlds, in such a short format. But all of the authors here managed to do that, and you should be impressed. 😉
~Veronica Roth’s story Hearken is the first tale, and it’s pretty amazing. I loved Divergent and liked Insurgent, but I haven’t read anything by her set outside that world, so Hearken was the story I was most looking forward to reading. In her dystopian tale, the world is full of violence, terrorist attacks, poverty and disease, but the one thing that is still appreciated is music. Hearkners have the ability to hear life and death songs, and a concept I found truly beautiful. I think the best dystopian novels have that vein of hope running through them. It’s definitely the story that’s stuck with me the most.
~Branded by Kelley Armstrong reminded me of the movie The Village, only the danger outside the walls of the town really are full of terrors. Also, inside the village there is plenty of danger and strife. Too many people, not enough food, and the our main character, Rayne, is looking at a possible future as a town prostitute like her mother. Armstrong manages to weave a very complex tale full of twists and turns, and while Rayne probably isn’t my favorite character, I admired how tough and strong she was. It makes me seriously doubt my ability to survive a dystopian future…
~Necklace of Raindrops by Margaret Stohl surprised me. At first I thought it was going to be a bit boring, but it ended up completely captivating me. I could honestly see this being made into some awesome sci-fi romance movie. Despite the futuristic setting, the main characters have to deal with age old question of how to live your life- quiet and cautiously so that you live longer, or take risks in order to have love and adventure? The ending was definitely one of the happier ones in the book. I haven’t read much of Stohl’s books- just the first Beautiful Creatures book that she writes with Kami Garcia, but it makes me want to go back and give the series another chance!
~Dogsbody by Rachel Caine was another story that easily could be made into a kick butt movie, or a full length novel. Dystopian novels border very closely to sci fi, which I’ve spent a long time assuming I didn’t like… but I do like sci fi, I really do! Caine’s tale of long awaited revenge is both brutal and stark. She does an amazing job of writing from the male prospective, and Zay was definitely a fully realized character- the politics were realistically confusing, the horrors of what a government grown out of control can visit upon their society is all too possible.
~Pale Rider by Nancy Holder is probably the only story that I didn’t love, but it’s still good. There’s a magical element to the story that isn’t found in many dystopian novels, which I’m assuming quite a few people will like. I didn’t write that many notes about this one (my Hearken notes, it should be noted, were longer than most of my notes for full length novels) but I did write that I liked that one of the characters was a hot German guy. You just don’t see a lot of hot German guys in YA fiction!
~Corpse Eaters by Melissa Marr was kind of Buffy meets dystopian, and I really liked it. I recently read my first Marr book, Carnival of Souls, and just like in that book, Marr does not candy coat her YA stories. There is one part of the tale that really had me questioning how the action would be viewed if the sex roles were reversed (feel free to send me an email after you read it if you want to know what I’m talking about). I found the whole concept of Nidos and Nidhogg- a “god” come down to earth, to be interesting and terrifying. I liked the relationship between the main characters, and definitely would have read a full length novel based in this world.
~Burn 3 by Kami Garcia is totally Al Gore’s vision of the future! Just kidding, but it is set in a world where people have to live in domes in order to protect them from the sun, since huge portions of the ozone have disappeared. Even with the dome protecting them, most people are carry the scars of severe sunburn, and the main character does her best to protect her little sister (who is a rarity, with her blonde hair and blue eyes) from not only the sun, but also from the recent child disappearances. Because how can a child run away when they live in a dome? Loved the concept of the world!
~Love is a Choice by Beth Revis revisits the past aboard the spaceship Godspeed, and explains the origins of Orion. I liked Across the Universe, but to be honest, I found Orion’s story even more compelling! I loved learning his history and how he evolved from Elder to Orion. It might be time for me to read the rest of the series…
~Miasma by Carrie Ryan is the last story and one set in a world where clean air is hard to come by. Only the truly wealthy have access to clean air that helps keep them safe from the illness that haunts the less fortunate. The beaked doctors hunt the streets in search of the those ill from the plague, and the main character Frankie must protect her older sister, who isn’t completely mentally competent, from discovery. By day Frankie works at the Oglethorpe estate, surrounded by beautiful plants and flowers, earning what she can to pay off the corrupt doctors to keep them from taking her sister away. I loved the ending, even though it’s very bitter sweet.
Rayne and Braedon- from Branded, I loved their story.
Rami, Jai and Z- from Necklace of Raindrops– all three are wonderful characters, and I actually found cautious Jai easy to identify with.
Zay- from Dogsbody, very cool and very tough.
Alex Ritter from Pale Rider– no, he’s not the main character, but he is the hot German dude.
Harmony and Chris from The Corpse Eaters– two very messed up individuals… which works for me.
Phoenix from Burn 3– the kind of older sister that everyone should have!
Orion and Mag from Love is a Choice– I really loved the two of them, but Orion’s story was one that really drew me in.
Charles Oglethorpe from Miasma– would have loved to know more about him, from the first moment he enters Frankie’s world he changes it.
In Dogsbody– what happens on the train. Shivers, but not in a good way, peeps!
Also, in The Corpse Eaters when Harmony learns about what her father has done to keep the family safe.
Stop The Clock:
You probably need to read this collection of stories if you like any of these authors. None of these tales are fuzzy or warm, but they still have their amazing moments. The best dystopian world carries a chance for hope, and the authors here all give that, creating great characters, disturbing worlds and complete tales in short order.
Shards and Ashes gets a Midnight Book Rating of: