Book Review: Clone Secrets

Clone Secrets is the second book in the young adult dystopian series: Clone Crisis Trilogy. I have already read and reviewed Clone Crisis, the first book in the series, which you can read on my blog. The Clone Crisis Trilogy is set in a 25th century world where cloning has replaced reproduction.

Clone Secrets follows on from the events of Clone Crisis. After Yami’s friends make some new discoveries about the fertility crisis and emerging birth rates, biological children from around the country are kidnapped by masked strangers. Yami and her friends embark on a journey to rescue the children and uncover the truth about the government’s involvement in cloning.

The strength of Clone Secrets were its dramatic ambush scenes or its violent fight scenes as masked soldiers – known as Gray Suits – attacked communities and ripped young children away from their parents. These scenes were gripping, and the aftermath of these fights was always suitably dark and bleak.

However, I felt the scenes that followed were slightly less engaging, as there was more dialogue and less action. This was a shame because it gave the impression that these scenes were “filler” until the next conflict.

The leader of the community in which Yami seeks refuge, Ann, reminded me a lot of President Alma Coin from Mockingjay. In terms of character building, this was great because I remember just how much she annoyed me in both the books and the films – not sharing her ideas, being tight-lipped and secretive, and acting generally suspicious.

Image via Villains Wiki.com

I saw some of the plot twists coming, as they seemed to be referred to quite obviously, rather than the occasional subtle hint. At times, I felt there was a neon flashing sign screaming “all is not right”. Having said that, there were other moments in the book that caught me by surprise – introducing ideas or characters I hadn’t thought of or even considered could be possible. I liked these moments.

The ending of Clone Secrets works really well and leaves some plot elements nicely wrapped up and leaves other elements as utter bombshells, presumably to be resolved in the third and final book of the series, Clone Legacy.

To sum up, Clone Secrets has room for improvement, but was nonetheless an entertaining book in the series.

Star Rating: 3/5 Stars

Clone Secrets is available to buy as an e-book from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com.

– Judith

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Book Review: Clone Crisis by Melissa Faye

This is a book review for Rosie’s Book Review Team.

Clone Crisis is the first in a new young adult, dystopian series. The book is set in a 25th century world where cloning has replaced reproduction. Careers and education are assigned by DNA, rather than talent. Without any parents or family, Yami is brought up to follow the slogan: what’s best for the community is best for all. However, she begins to question this, wondering if what’s best for the community may not be best for anyone.

My Photo [Clones Crisis].jpg

Clone Crisis shares some similarities to The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins or the Divergent series by Veronica Roth. In style, it also reminded me of another good YA book I read called UnBlessed, written by Crystin Goodwin, another member of Rosie’s Book Review Team.

The dystopian idea of a fertility crisis it immediately makes me think of novels like Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale or Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. Plus, filling the entire world with replicas of a previous generation is a chilling prospect.

Clone Crisis has some fun scenes and it has an interesting cliff-hanger, leaving space to explore the consequences of Yami’s actions.

Speaking of Yami, I thought the character names (e.g. Yami, Etta, Vonna) were almost at risk of being weird for the sake of being weird. A small thing to notice, I know, and not a serious issue (other names like Katniss, Triss, or Kisara aren’t exactly normal either).

I also thought some of Yami’s interactions with Ben, her ex-boyfriend, were a bit clunky. I understand things can be frosty between exes, but their dialogue came across as unintentionally awkward.

As a piece of feedback, I think the overbearing, authoritarian nature of the community leaders could be emphasised more, in order to clarify the cruelty of the community and help the reader support Yami’s own actions more.

However, I really don’t have much to nit-pick. Clone Crisis was an enjoyable read, and if you like the dystopian titles I’ve already mentioned throughout this book review, I’d recommend this series to you.

Star Rating: 4/5 Stars

Clone Crisis is available to buy as an e-book from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com.

– Judith

Book Review: How To Train Your Dragon

Image via RogerEbert.com

My boyfriend introduced me to How To Train Your Dragon, the animated fantasy film, and I loved it. We then watched the sequel, How To Train Your Dragon 2 (creative) and I loved it more. We’ve re-watched them several times. I didn’t even know there were books. So, at his suggestion, I read How To Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell.

Hmm.

Spoiler Warning: There will be some.

How To Train Your Dragon is the first in a series of twelve children’s books about Hiccup, the son of a Viking chief, as he overcomes great obstacles on his journey to become Heroic.

Visually, it’s a nice little book. It has childlike My Image [How To Train Your Dragon Book] handwriting and drawings throughout, so it’s perfect for Cowell’s target audience; the idea is that the book was genuinely  written by Hiccup – hence his illustrations and annotations – and she was just his Old Norse translator. A nice touch.

The descriptions are as vivid and not complicated – as you’d expect in a children’s book, and there are also some witty moments.

The key plot points are clearly identifiable:

  • Hiccup is a below average Viking boy who wants to achieve but struggles under the pressure of being the Chief’s son
  • Snoutlout is Hiccup’s cousin, eager for Hiccup to fail so he can become chief instead
  • Hiccup is concerned about not fulfilling his father’s Viking expectations
  • It is only when Berk is placed in danger, Hiccup’s usefulness and value is recognised

These are (no surprises here) “obvious” for an adult reader, but this the sort of good narrative structure a children’s book should have, so I wanted to point it out.

However, it is very different to the films. An enlightening comment, I know.

The characters are different – without seeing them frequently “onscreen” like you would in a film, I felt forced to rely on a few, infrequent small illustrations and their initial descriptions at the start of the book to remember who they are; it was hard to keep track of the long-winded Viking names.

My Image [How To Train Your Dragon 1]

Another striking difference between the book and the film is that in the film, Berk is an island scared of, and enraged by, dragons because they believe they are violent creatures that need to be destroyed. The community is only persuaded to think otherwise following Hiccup’s discovery of, and his blossoming friendship with, Toothless the Night Fury, one of the most legendary and fearful dragons in existence. However, in the book, Berk is an island that already believes that dragons can be, and should be, domesticated pets. It is only once the Viking boys in training are given the useless handbook How To Train Your Dragon, Hiccup must create his own, personalised, methods to tame his dragon Toothless.

 A second significant difference is that in the book, the dragons can talk. This creates a new layer of characterisation because they can communicate thoughts and feelings with each other, and their owners. This means that, instead of the smiling but silent Toothless from the film, he is whiny and always back-chatting. It’s very difficult to see him as the loveable, heart-warming, protective but powerful and incredibly rare Night Fury from the film – the Toothless I love.

I’m so clearly biased – sorry – and I preferred the films to the book. I can see exactly why kids would love this sort of book though: it’s funny, it’s adventurous, it’s easy to read and it’s imaginative.

I won’t read the rest of the series, but at least I now have a flavour of the writing which inspired two films I greatly enjoy.

How To Train Your Dragon 3 is in production and is due to be released in 2019.

– Judith