“Retribution” by Jilliane Hoffman: Review

 

I’m usually not that much of a thriller reader, but when a friend recommended Jilliane Hoffman’s Retribution to me I decided to give it a try and I was not disappointed.

Retribution is the first novel in Hoffman’s so-called C.J. Townsend series. It focuses on Miami state prosecutor C.J. Townsend who is one of the best in her field and deals with horrible crimes and crazy criminals on a daily basis. C.J. is known for always keeping her cool even in the face of the most cruel cases, that is until she faces the case of a especially brutal serial killer, whose pattern she recognises because she only barely escaped him years ago. She still bears the scars from that encounter and has tried to block out the horrible memories that come flooding back now that she is faced with her tormenter again. Trying to catch the killer who still tortures her in her dreams without having her colleagues find out about her, C.J. is on the verge of losing herself so deep in that case that the line between what is true and what is not starts to get so blurry that she threatens to lose control completely.

Retribution is definitely one of the most exciting thrillers I have read in a long time and a real page turner. Once you’ve picked this book up you won’t be able to put it down until you’re finished, trust me.

Even if you’re not usually a fan of thrillers, you should definitely give this one a chance, you won’t regret it!

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“Noughts & Crosses” by Malorie Blackman: Review

A boy is finally allowed to go to a better school, which he could not do so far, due to his skincolour. While he is more than happy about getting a better education, he is still being bullied, because of the way he looks. Sound like an awefully familiar part of history?
But what Malorie Blackman actually does in her Noughts & Crosses series, is reverse the historical roles.
The Noughts & Crosses series are dystopian novels about a society that has not developed the way our world did. In this world, the African people (Crosses) did manage to evolve much faster in various areas and therefore enslaved the white population (Noughts). This first novel is set shortly after slavery was abolished, but it is still looked down upon the Noughts and they generally live very poorly.
This is the world in which the protagonists of the novel, Callum and Sephy, grow up. Sephy is the daughter of a very important and influencal Cross, while Callum is the youngest son of a Nought family, who’s mother works for Sephy’s family. So they basically grow up together as children and only later in their lives are confronted with their differences. The story evolves around their friendship and the problems their different social backgrounds bring with them.
The novel follows Sephy and Callum throughout their childhood and teenage lives up until their young adult life. The reader sees how they develop together and without each other.
What starts out as a very basic tale about love and friendship develops into a thrilling, critical and heartbreaking page-turner.

When I first started reading the book I expected it to be a very classical young adult love story set in an interesting dystopian world, but I soon realised that there was much more to this book. Blackman tells the story of a whole society through the eyes of two young people who struggle with their place in it.
While the setting is, of course, fictional, the topics and problems Blackman addresses, like racism, terrorism or prejudices, seem way too familiar while reading.
Although I didn’t expect it at first the book really gripped me and I had to read it in one go. One reason for that, apart from the fact that it is absolutely well written, is probably that it doesn’t happen very often that a book can surprise me and that a story can turn out completely differntly from what I expected.

“The Maze Runner” by James Dashner: Review

Waking up in a dark box, remembering nothing but your first name and suddenly being pulled out  by a group of strangers in a place you have never been before – Sounds like a nightmare? Maybe, but that’s exactly what is happening to the boy Thomas in the James Dashner’s  The Maze Runner. The Maze Runner is the first part of a trilogy (The Scorch Trials, The Death Cure) that evolves around the protagonist Thomas and his friends. Dashner has also written a fourth book The Kill Order which is a prequel to the happenings in the trilogy.

Thomas is thrown into this strange world, where he soon finds new friends in the so-called Gladers. He learns that everyone in the Glade has their assigned duty and so he becomes a runner. That means that he runs through the gigantic maze that surrounds the Glade all day long and tries to find a way out together with his fellow runners. He seems to adjust to his life there until another person comes up in the box and this time it is a girl. So far the Gladers had only consisted of a group of boys and the appearance of the girl, Teresa, sets off a chain of events that threatens everyone in the Glade and everything they have built up until then. A brutal race against time begins for the Gladers and by the end of book 1 they learn that the maze has been the least of their worries…

I first heard about The Maze Runner because of the upcoming movie starring MTV Teen Wolf’s Dylan O’Brien. Being also part of the currently very popular Dystopian Young Adult novel genre, I expected it to be similar to The Hunger Games series or the Divergent trilogy. While it is definitely comparable to those series in terms of the genre, I have to say that James Dashner’s series adopts a much darker and more grown-up atmosphere in his novels than the others do. Th world of his books is an even gloomier place and everything seems to be more destroyed. The Maze Runner is one of the most thrilling and exciting books I have read in a while and trust me when I tell you that you won’t be able to stop before you’ve read all of them as quickly as possible. Be prepared for a lot of fun and excitement, but also for a lot of suffering and tears. You have been warned!
As for me, I am very excited to see how the movie version turns out, but if they manage to make even remotely as good as the book, there’s nothing to worry about 😉

“Set This House in Order: A Romance of Souls” by Matt Ruff: Review

Imagine having breakfast more than 5 times every morning, wearing clothes you can’t remember buying or having the taste of cigarettes in your mouth although you don’t smoke.
Sounds all rather odd? Exactly! Therefore it has to be the plot of a novel by Matt Ruff. After Fool on the Hill and Sewer, Gas and Electic: The Public Works Trilogy Ruff picks up, yet again, a completely different topic.

Set This House in Order: A Romance of Souls is a book about Andrew, who suffers from a multiple personality disorder. With the help of his therapist Andrew managed to organise the personalities in his head into a house where they all live together and where he can let them out seperately when he needs to. This very organised life he has set up for himself threatens to be disturbed when he meets Mouse, a woman at work, who obviously suffers from the same disorder, but has not come to accept it yet. Her various personalities approach Andrew and ask him to help her come to terms with her condition.

I was rather weary when I first read that the book was to be about a protagonist with multiple personality disorder, because in my opinion it is a very difficult topic to approach and has often been simplified and, to a certain extent, also glorified in movies like for example Fight Club (which is an amazing movie nevertheless).

Ruff, though, manages to approach this topic very elegantly and in a sensitive way. He also goes into the depths of physical and emotional abuse that leads to the protagonists disorders, but this is also approached very delicately and in a empathetic way.

Matt Ruff managed once again to combine the element of weirdness with a lot of emotion and humour, like only he can and Set This House in Order: A Romance of Souls was without a doubt the best read I’ve had in a long while. Would definitely recommend!