Tag Archives: rebellion

Book Review: My Brother’s Secret by Dan Smith

Published May 2014 by Chicken House books.

20554182Goodreads Synopsis: Germany, 1941. 12-year-old Karl Engel is looking forward to joining the Hitler Youth, like all boys his age.

But when his father is killed, his rebellious older brother Stefan shows him things that leave his faith in the Führer shaken. Who is the real enemy? What is the meaning of the flower sewn inside his brother’s jacket? Karl soon finds out, as he becomes involved in a dangerous rebellion.

My Review: I really got into Historical YA Fiction last year, but this year I haven’t really gotten the chance to read that much! That’s a big reason why I was really excited to read My Brother’s Secret. I really wasn’t let down; it was a really enjoyable book, with lots of twists, and packed with emotion.

My Brother’s Secret reminded me a lot of The Book Thief: if you’re a fan of Markus Zuzak I definitely recommend this. It’s got similar themes of friendship, and rebellion, and is set in World War Two Germany. The story follows Karl Friedmann, a boy who is passionate about the Hitler Youth and serving his country. But after his father is killed in action, his thoughts about and pride in his country start to change, and he begins to discover that Germany has its rebels, and that he might be becoming one of them.

Right from the beginning I was really stuck into the story. I loved how the setting was described. Dan Smith’s writing is really likeable. I could almost feel like I was there, in Karl’s underground bomb shelter, riding across the fields with Karl’s best friend. The writing is really captivating and brought a lot of imagery.

The characters were all well developed. Karl’s personality changes a lot over the course of the story and I found it really interesting, to see him transition from being so passionate about Germany and the Fuhrer to committing rebellious acts. One character I would have liked to hear more about, though, definitely would be Karl’s brother. The story is centered around Karl’s discovery of his sibling’s rebel Edelweiss Pirates group, but for some reason I don’t think I saw… enough of him? The plot is mainly centered around Karl discovering the ‘other side’ of his village. I think I would’ve liked to hear how his brother joined the Edelweiss Pirates (The really interesting, real life group of rebels).

Overall, My Brother’s Secret was a really well written novel! I really loved Dan Smith’s writing. The plot was pretty unpredictable, and the last few chapters were so action-packed and shocking, I couldn’t put the book down. Karl was a really great main protagonist. I really loved how much he developed over the course of the plot. My Brother’s Secret really captures the impacts on German people in WW2. I’ll definitely be looking out for Dan Smith”s other title, My Friend the Enemy, now!

My Rating:


I received a copy of My Brother’s Secret from the publisher, in exchange for a review. In no way at all did this affect my thoughts.



The Bone Season

By Samantha Shannon, published by Bloomsbury.

The Bone Season

Goodreads synopsis: It is the year 2059. Several major world cities are under the control of a security force called Scion. Paige Mahoney works in the criminal underworld of Scion London, part of a secret cell known as the Seven Seals. The work she does is unusual: scouting for information by breaking into others’ minds. Paige is a dreamwalker, a rare kind of clairvoyant, and in this world, the voyants commit treason simply by breathing.
But when Paige is captured and arrested, she encounters a power more sinister even than Scion. The voyant prison is a separate city—Oxford, erased from the map two centuries ago and now controlled by a powerful, otherworldly race. These creatures, the Rephaim, value the voyants highly—as soldiers in their army.
Paige is assigned to a Rephaite keeper, Warden, who will be in charge of her care and training. He is her master. Her natural enemy. But if she wants to regain her freedom, Paige will have to learn something of his mind and his own mysterious motives.

My Review: As soon as I’d heard about this book, I knew it would be a brilliant read from a fresh new author writing in the YA genre. And I was right. I got totally hooked into The Bone Season! I was thrown into the story, confused, at the beginning, where we’re introduced to Paige. It took me a little while to understand what she was and why she was committing crimes for a guy named Jaxon… but that just propelled me on and made me want to read more. The whole idea was so imaginative… 2059 London, where cities are run by Scion and Clairvoyants (people with supernatural abilities like Paige) are hated… and every year a few are ‘harvested’ by the new inhabitants of Oxford, now called Sheol I. It was a really great idea, and really interested and excited me. It was Urban Fantasy to the extreme, and I loved it so much!

The plot was an action-packed roller-coaster, and I actually found it hard to put the book down. It was so well structured; with lots of genius plot twists and unexpected events. The story gripped me like a vice and practically demanded me to not put it down. There was a great build-up to the ending, too. The story was actually quite emotional, with insights into Paige’s past and into the poor lives of some living in Sheol I. In one word, the plot was just thrilling.

Paige was a hardcore, kick-butt heroine- one of my favourite protagonists I’ve read about this year. She had a well explained past. I got a really good insight into her background, and understood her really well through the author’s flawless writing. Paige was a very three-dimensional character, with raw emotions that made me really feel for her. She was independent, mostly, and  could fight her own battles brilliantly. I can’t really put into words how much I loved her character. Paige Mahoney was strong, and never gave up. Think Katniss Everdeen meets Lara Croft.  Yeah, that awesome.

Another character I loved: WARDEN! At first, for some reason, I actually imagined him as some old dude. But then, um, (deletes a spoilerish sentence), an event took place, and I realised that he was actually kind of young in looks. He maintained this air of mystery and grace around him, and reminded me a little bit of the Darkling in Shadow and Bone. I really loved his role in the story.

Overall, The Bone Season was a read I devoured and adored. I loved the characters, and the setting, and above all the writing. Samantha Shannon’s writing is just stunning- with powerful imagery and beautiful descriptive passages. The Bone Season is a fresh new read from a very talented new YA author, that I’d love to read more from. I think this author is destined to have her books as famous as The Mortal Instruments series- honestly. Also, a movie studio has optioned The Bone Season for a future film! How awesome! So… I don’t know what to do with my life now. Maybe I’ll just sit in a darkened corner, rereading The Bone Season until book two is released. Bye.

My Rating:


I received a copy of The Bone Season via the publisher, in exchange for a review. In no way at all did this affect my thoughts.


By Emma Pass, published by Random House.


Goodreads synopsis: 2113. In Jenna Strong’s world, ACID – the most brutal, controlling police force in history – rule supreme. No throwaway comment or muttered dissent goes unnoticed – or unpunished. And it was ACID agents who locked Jenna away for life, for a bloody crime she struggles to remember.
The only female inmate in a violent high-security prison, Jenna has learned to survive by any means necessary. And when a mysterious rebel group breaks her out, she must use her strength, speed and skill to stay one step ahead of ACID – and to uncover the truth about what really happened on that dark night two years ago…

My review: ACID was one of the most thrilling books I’ve read this year! It had a really strong beginning that hooked me right in, and I honestly couldn’t stop reading. The plot was epic and a real adrenaline rush- there was no point where the action and drama faded! I loved reading every second of it. The whole story was totally unpredictable and the events unexpected. I thought this book would just cover a run for survival for Jenna Strong, but actually, it included first love, fights for freedom, hidden truths… even a terrorist gang set on blowing ACID to smithereens. There were some really great plot twists too that left me shocked and on the edge of my seat- especially the one that took place just after the halfway point of the story- not saying what happened, because I’ll spoil it!

Jenna Strong has got to be one of the best protagonists I have ever read about. She was strong, and independent, whereas in many books I’ve read the main character has been leaning on one person, and she could fight her own battles. Quite literally, with super-fast karate chops and guns and everything. She was a totally kick-butt heroine, and I loved her narration too. Her situation was understandable and well-explained through her narrative. In all, I loved her character so much. The story also had themes of identity, and self-discovery in it. I really enjoyed seeing Jenna develop as she has to pretend to be different people while on the run and finding out some shocking truths about her past.

Overall, ACID was one of my favourite reads of the year. It was fast-paced, dramatic and full of adventure. I enjoyed it so much and really didn’t want to finish it, because I so wanted to carry on reading about Jenna! And, I really loved how the story stayed in one narrative but also contained news reports from ACID and letters-from-a-secret-someone-who-I-won’t-reveal! It gave a really great 360 degrees perspective on how Jenna Strong’s breakout from prison had affected different characters. Strongly recommended to dystopia fans; this book had such a frighteningly real vision of the future that both terrified and interested me. Go pick up a copy of ACID now, this is a must-read!

I received ACID from the publisher, in exchange for a review.

Code Name Verity

By Elizabeth Wein, published by Electric Monkey.

Code Name Verity

“I have told the truth…”

Goodreads synopsis: I have two weeks. You’ll shoot me at the end no matter what I do.
That’s what you do to enemy agents. It’s what we do to enemy agents. But I look at all the dark and twisted roads ahead and cooperation is the easy way out. Possibly the only way out for a girl caught red-handed doing dirty work like mine — and I will do anything, anything, to avoid SS-Hauptsturmführer von Linden interrogating me again.
He has said that I can have as much paper as I need. All I have to do is cough up everything I can remember about the British War Effort. And I’m going to. But the story of how I came to be here starts with my friend Maddie. She is the pilot who flew me into France — an Allied Invasion of Two.

My review: Wow. Just wow.

I plunged into this story knowing that it was set during World War Two, and was very good, according to many bloggers and authors. I was excited to start it, and found that I just couldn’t put it down. Verity’s (that’s the protagonist’s code name, if you hadn’t already guessed) voice totally captured me right from the beginning, and I loved her narration. The author has developed this three-dimensional, realistic character who I found myself rooting for throughout. She wrote shockingly truthfully, as her writing was actually a confession to give information to an enemy interrogator who was holding her captive. I was so intrigued by her story of adventure and friendship, and loved how Verity would write also about the cruelty of her captivity and the things she was going through currently, as well as the information. I believed her story so much, and was totally shocked to find that some of the most vital things there were false at the ending. What an intelligent girl, lying to the enemy but making it sound so real! It even had me fooled.

I wasn’t actually expecting two narratives, until I read a book review of this before starting. It took me a good few pages to get to grips with a whole different setting and narrative, after reading about 300 pages worth of Verity’s story (her narrative took over half of the book up, then after about two thirds it switched to Code Name Kittyhawk/Maddie). However, I fell in love with Maddie’s story too, and loved how the two girls, who had been dramatically separated by war, discovered each other towards the ending, even though that had such a shocking and heart-breaking outcome.

The plot was absolutely amazing, and blew me away. It was written really well  through the diary like entries of the two female protagonists. There was so much drama, and rebellion packed into the pages- I was totally hooked in! I enjoyed the informative side to the story as well, about the airplanes used in the war. That was pretty interesting, and not something I would usually read about. It was so scarily realistic, being set in the World War, and the author definitely captured the grittiness of the war-torn countries really effectively. The torture endured by Verity, and the prison, and everything else shocked me, terrified me- it was just so real- especially the outcome of Maddie and Verity meeting under the most scary of circumstances. Although that was so sad and made my eyes well up, the story still had a really satisfying ending.

Overall, Code Name Verity was an utterly amazing read. The characters were unforgettable, as were the scary backdrops for the book. The thrilling plot sucked me in and I was totally absorbed by the action-packed, emotional thrill-ride and didn’t want to stop reading, even at the last page. I can’t wait to read more from Elizabeth Wein, her writing is unique, refreshing, and brilliant!

I Received Code Name Verity from my school, via our book club, as we are reviewing the whole Carnegie shortlist.


By Monica Hesse, published by Hot Key Books.


Lona Sixteen-Always has spent all of her life in part of a unique virtual reality experiment called The Path, which claims that it will bring up orphans in better ways than foster homes. Lona spends twenty-three hours a day inside a ‘Pod’, re-living the childhood and teenage years of a boy called Julian, who lived fifty years ago and apparently had a perfect childhood. Lona is not allowed to be in love… but during the one-hour-a-day she getts ‘Off Path’, she falls for Fenn. A few months after he leaves for a real life adulthood, Lona is rescued from her virtual life by Fenn  and his rebellious, Stray friends.Upon beginning a new, dangerous life as a Stray from The Path, Lona discovers dark truths behind The Path, finds love again, and embarks on a journey to find out what it really means to live. Can Lona and her new group of friends, the Strays, spark a rebellion against The Path?

This book has to be one of the best debuts I’ve read in a while! The plot was thrilling, with great, unexpected twists and shocks. Monica’s writing was brilliant; her story structured expertly. I especially loved how every few chapters, the scene would switch back to who was, at the beginning, a minor character (Talia), and how Lona and Talia came together at the end to try to put a stop the The Path’s ways. The idea was just genius- it’s one I really wish I’d thought of! The author has generated a dark, technologically advanced possibility of a future America that I really loved and want to read more about. 

The characters were great; I really loved Lona and Fenn. Although I didn’t know anything about their pasts, or their real names (Lona Sixteen-Always and Fenn Eighteen- are Path-Generated names), I really connected with them and enjoyed reading their adventure. I liked the character of Talia, too, and how she came from being a normal Path Staff-member who I guessed would be a bad guy to playing a totally unpredictable part in the start the rising up against The Path!

Overall, I seriously enjoyed this. It’s got to be one of the best Debuts of the year, and I really really really want a sequel. Keep writing, Monica Hesse!