Book Review – Unregistered

Book: Unregistered

Author: Megan Lynch

It’s been a while, blogosphere, but I am back (I know you missed me) and hoping I’ve got my life in something more resembling order so I can start posting regularly again. That being said, I promise nothing. Though I have read some interesting books in the past 11 months, I have to start with this one. It was too interesting a story to pass up writing a review.

Recently, I read Unregistered by Megan Lynch and Mrs. Lynch, if you are reading this, I have three words for you: I. WANT. MORE. Let me be upfront and say the second book in the series (Unafraid) is out now, but I have not yet read it. So it might be some of my questions and wants are revealed in the second book, but this review is only for Unregistered.

Unregistered is a dystopian tale of four young people living in a society which monitors the crap out of its citizens. The character we meet first, Bristol, is unregistered. Unwanted by everyone except his family, society as it exists is mostly off-limits to him. His sister Denver wants to live her life, but, because of her unregistered brother, suffers from a lowered “citizenship” score. Samara, a teacher, goes to a boy’s prison to teach the inmates and experiences…crazy things. Just. Cray. Jude, my precious Jude, is, get this, “low performing” and imprisoned because of it.

There is so much happening in this book to be as short as it is. Honestly, I don’t even know where to start. Something happened or was revealed on every page and at so many points in this story I said to myself I wanted to know more. More about the government and how this system came to be. Especially why certain Tiers are permitted to eat certain food while others are not (I am going to harp about the food. Come on. Don’t take away my cheese!). More time spent with each of the four main characters (shout out to my favorite brave kid, Jude!). More about these crazy watches all registered citizens have. Why? How did they come to be? I found each of these so fascinating with the way Mrs. Lynch layered relevant social and political commentary throughout the story. She is insanely clever the way in which she created a society that feels like we are on the precipice of becoming. The way everyone is addicted to their watches the way our society is completely obsessed about being connected is a smart observation and commentary of current societal norms.

Everything about this society is monitored by the government from population control to what each class system (Tiers) are permitted to eat (this really annoyed me, can you tell?) and what jobs each are allowed. The government (Metrics) dictates who you marry and mostly pair individuals who will produce a more uniform race (their idea of eliminating racism). Metrics monitors you and decides if you are going to be a threat to it, or the society it has created, and fabricates a way to lock you in prison without actually committing a crime (Jude! My precious, innocent Jude) if it deems you such.

All of these things sparked OUTRAGE. BURNING FIRE IN MY HEART. Those of you who know me understand I don’t take orders well, if at all. The idea of being told what to do, eat, wear, live and who to marry and share my body with is absolutely outrageous to me. The idea of incarcerating someone merely because they do not fit into your idea of socially acceptable is abominable.

I loathe the enormous authority the government has over these citizens. It horrified me that these individuals and this society in general were blindly embracing a caste system including who you marry and create life with which is such an incredibly intimate thing. It isn’t just that you must marry within your Tier. You must essentially tell the government you want to marry and they assign a person to you. You have no control and no say over who the person is.

My outrage probably stems from two things: 1. I have a serious problem with authority. The idea of being told what/how to do everything in my life, including who I marry and create a child with is abhorrent to me. I do realize this is how marriage was generally conducted up until this last century with your father or male guardian choosing and negotiating your marriage to the man of their choosing. Doesn’t make it OK or mean I would go along with it. 2. I believe wholeheartedly in democracy and the will of the people. You can make the argument that the government acts in the best interests of their people (I am NOT getting into politics with you), but the government as portrayed in this book struck me as similar to the one in The Handmaid’s Tale which I found more abhorrent than in Unregistered. In fact, there were other vague similarities to the Margaret Atwood novel (shameless self-plug for my review of The Handmaid’s Tale) which I found both smart and observant.

The plots for Bristol, Denver, Samara and my boy Jude, eventually all intersect through some cool and interesting storytelling which will leave you grasping for the second book (so make sure you have it nearby). I know I am dying to get my hands on it and now I’ve written this review, guess what I am going to pick up?

What did you think of Unregistered? Tell me in the comments!

If you liked Unregistered, try:


The Handmaid’s Tale

The Power


The Hunger Games


Book Review – An Ember in the Ashes

Book: An Ember in the Ashes

Author: Sabaa Tahir

If you haven’t read this one, read it. Now. Go download/buy/check out/rent it, I’ll wait. {Insert Jeopardy music here}.

Enough time? Got it? Ok. I will not spoil this book for you in my review, don’t worry. I HATE when I accidentally on purpose read or come across spoilers!

Ember in the Ashes was one of the best books I read in 2015 and reread in 2017 for book club (shout out to A Novel Bunch PGH!). I was lucky enough to receive an ARC of Ember before it was published and absolutely DEVOURED it in one sitting. No kidding; I was up until 4 a.m. desperately trying to finish this book before the matchsticks holding open my eyes snapped from the pressure.

The progression of the story started out similarly to all the other Teen/YA books I’ve read and then, BAM! It drops you off a cliff with surprise and plot twists and a great sequence of action scenes and is peppered by a budding romance.

The Martials (a sort of Roman-esque military civilization) conquered the Scholar lands (a learned people dedicated to knowledge) centuries ago. Since then, the Martials have oppressed the Scholar people and enslaved many. We meet 17-year-old Laia the night her house is raided by the Martials. When her brother is kidnapped by a Mask (a scary assassin that wears a terrifying mask), she takes matters into her own hands to get her brother back. The Resistance being led against the Martials will only help her get her brother back for a terrible price: be sold into slavery and spy on the Commandant of the Blackcliff School.

Quick side bar for those of you who have read this story and know the things Laia is forced to endure: Would you have done the same for your sibling? Let me tell you something. If someone took my brothers away from me, I would do anything and everything in my power to return them. I would let nothing stand in my way to get them back. Heaven and Earth and mountains and oceans would move.

This is where we meet Elias. Oh, Elias you tormented soul. Elias is a student at Blackcliff and is training to be one of those scary Masks which creates interesting repercussions when he meets Laia. Elias has depth. He is a hero who is fleshed out and well developed. He’s got dimension, a personality, hopes, dreams and fears unlike some other YA/Teen heroes. I enjoyed the way Tahir bounced the POVs back and forth between Laia and Elias. We got to know the mind and heart of the hero of the story instead of being told about them from the point of view of the heroine.

The thing is, though, Ember at the root isn’t about the romance or the girl discovering she is the key to overthrowing the oppressive regime. She isn’t the leader of the revolution out to kill the evil person who destroyed her life (YET. We are only on Book 2.). At its core, Ember is about courage. It’s about the power and powerlessness of hope and fear. It’s about having the audacity to hope for something impossible and doing everything in your power to attain it. Ember has this authenticity with which we see the protagonists struggle with coming to terms with what they stand for and it is glorious.

Yes, I am a shipper. I love my book power couples and my book boyfriends. This is so much more than that, though. Ember has so much more than the average Teen/YA novel. I loved it and can’t wait for the next one. Why oh why, dear Sabaa, do we have to wait until 2018?!

PS. I hear movie rights to An Ember in the Ashes were optioned. Make sure you read it before they make the movie! Bibliophiles know the book is always better.

If you liked Ember in the Ashes, you might like:

The Throne of Glass series – Sarah J. Maas (start with The Assassin’s Blade)

The Witchlands series – Susan Dennard

The Young Elites series – Marie Liu

Falling Kingdoms series – Morgan Rhoades

The Winner’s Curse series – Maire Rutkoski

Bonus Recommendation!

A Court of Thorns and Roses series – Sarah J. Maas

Book Review – Between Shades of Gray

Book: Between Shades of Gray

Author: Ruta Septys

Sometimes when I watch the news and see stories happening to people on the other side of the country or the world, I feel so disassociated. I say to my TV, ‘Oh that is horrible!” and then the next story comes on the TV, I go about my day and the story floats out of my mind. Have you ever read a book like that? One whose words float right through you?

Have you ever read a book that affects you so deeply they turn your dreams into scenes from the book? One whose words float through the air and into your head so that you see the character’s world through their eyes and feel what they feel? That is what reading the book, “Between Shades of Gray” was like for me. Literally. After I closed this book and laid my head down to sleep, my dreams were pervaded with the goriest imagery from Lina’s story. This book made me feel as if I have failed as a human being.

Ugh. The scene with the lice was one of the most disgusting things I have ever read. I would not like to see a depiction of that, but I would love to see Lina’s drawings. Maybe a fan of the book has created a few I haven’t found yet.

One of the things I like best about this book is something I learned only by reading the author’s note at the back of the book. The amount of research Ruta Septys completed for her work is staggering. She went to Lithuania and talked to survivors about their experiences and drew from each of them. Events portrayed in the book happened. To real people. Less than 100 years ago. There are survivors of those atrocities still alive. Knowing that made this book all the more difficult to both put down and digest. Ruta was raw, brutal and gruesome in her imagery and narration of the things Lina and her family and friends endured.

As a lover of history and culture, I was riveted to this book. As a compassionate human being, I was horrified at what they suffered. We all learned about Hitler, the Nazis, and their concentration camps, the Jewish genocide, the ghettos and Anne Frank. There are hundreds of books written about them and I have read quite a few, but this is the first book I’ve read in regards to what Stalin did to the Lithuanians, Estonians, Latvians and more.

The ending of this book (and I will NOT spoil it) left me feeling incomplete. The way Septys closed the book left me wanting more, to know more and read more the way all good books do.

I strongly recommend this book to anyone and everyone. The writing is lyrical and beautiful even when depicting some of the most disgusting and brutal imagery. The story is enthralling. The ending made me so intensely sad I cried for hours after closing the book. If you are not moved by Lina’s story, I have one question: are you a robot?

If you like this book, you might like:

Salt to the Sea

Number the Stars

The Diary of Anne Frank


Schlindler’s List

PS. As my mother works for Barnes and Noble, I am strictly a BN girl. The links above will take you to BN, not Amazon, etc.