Stolen (Alpha’s Control #1)

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He stole her off the streets in broad daylight—the first Omega discovered in Bernard Dome in generations. He took her with violence while none intervened. He broke her, swearing he’d put her back together.

Brenya Perin was ordered to submit.

Bernard Dome is the jewel of Europe, a bastion of art and culture, pleasure and decadence. But life in the city depends on the occupation chosen for you at birth. There is no subversion, no question of who rules. There is no freedom.

Peace has a price, a price the Commodore of Bernard Dome is willing to pay… so long as the Omega remains his.

—                         —                         —

This has proven to be a difficult book to review. There are some aspects that I loved but others that I hated. I had no idea at first how many stars to give!

Let’s start off with what I liked.

Stolen is a dark romance, which is definitely what I was looking for when I read it. It contains scenes of dubious consent, and is set in a firmly hierarchical society. It may not be something that I would want to live IRL, but I love dipping my toes in through books.

I didn’t like that there were certain scenes from POV of characters from the (previous) sister-series, Alpha’s Claim. I wouldn’t have minded if they just popped up as secondary characters, but it was super weird to me that their story was incomplete, and did not like having so many POV characters in this book.

Secondly, Stolen ends on quite the cliff-hanger, and unfortunately, it has been a looong wait for the sequel. Book 2 in this series is tentatively titled Corrupted and is slated to be released sometime in 2019, but I haven’t seen any further updates.

* * * *

xx

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Alpha’s Claim series – Addison Cain

Alpha’s Claim is a three book series set in a futuristic dystopia. These books are dark, and contain dubious consent, and power exchanges.

I initially thought that the characters were werewolves, because the author uses terminology such as Alpha, Beta and Omega to describe different classes of people, who have different physiology, personalities, and political and socio-economic statuses. However I was wrong. Whatever events led to Earth becoming a series of isolated domes, the human species evolved between now and then.

I thoroughly enjoyed the start and middle of this series. There were twists and turns and all sorts of dark romance that I was thoroughly in the mood for at the time.

Unfortunately, I was not a fan of book 3 at all. It is a cliffhanger ending to the series, and you have to read the sister series Alpha’s Control, in order to catch glimpses of Claire and Shepherd, and thus finish their story. Book 3 absolutely convinced me that Shepherd is a mad-man. I don’t think that he is worthy of Claire, and is an irredeemable anti-hero in my eyes. Ms. Cain will have a difficult time convincing me to love him again in Alpha’s Control.

I have posted the blurbs and my ratings for the individual books below:

1Claire is desperate. Her once thriving city lies in ruins. The strongest of the three human dynamics, Alphas, have grown feral. Common Betas circle like vultures. The lowest in the hierarchy, Omegas like Claire, are being destroyed. They are starving.

All due to one escaped convict’s violent rise to power.

Shepherd is every bit as ruthless as his reputation suggests. Despite taking every possible precaution, Claire is captured and her worst nightmare realized. Shepherd, discovering a rare Omega in his midst, claims her like a prize, forcing a pair-bond that ties her to him. Forever.

* * * *

2Claire has a score to settle.

Unwilling mate to the brute who viciously conquered her city, she has once again escaped from her Alpha. Hardened by betrayal, cold as the ice outside the Dome, Claire becomes the mission. The Omegas must be freed, no matter the cost.

The price on her head will not deter her; after all, mated and subjugated her life no longer retains value. She can’t eat, she can’t sleep, and she’s running out of time before the inevitable end.

For once, Shepherd finds himself facing an adversary he cannot simply crush, the situation far out of his depth. Desperate to draw his mate back, racked and restless, he is forced to acknowledge that his pregnant Omega is willing to sacrifice her life for her false notion of a greater good. * * * *
2There is a greater threat than the virus.

Locked safely away in Shepherd’s nest, Claire is unaware of what stirs above ground. Her time is occupied fighting a war of another kind. Due to her mate’s relentless exploitation of their pair-bond, the nature of their link has grown all-consuming.

Thólos is coming apart at the seams, and Shepherd’s men can do nothing to stop it. Real war is coming, and unless the Alpha tyrant is willing to pay the ultimate price, everything he has sacrificed will have been for nothing.

* *

Overall series rating: * * *

xx

The Man in the High Castle

The Man in the High Castle is a novel from Philip K. Dick. It has been turned into a stellar television series on Amazon Prime. There are currently two seasons available for viewing (as of April 2018).

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This is a dystopian alternate history set in “America” 1962. It posits that the Axis forces won WWII and that the continent is now divided between the Japanese Pacific State (western side of continent) and the Great Reich (the rest of the continent) with a slim band of neutral zone between the two territories.

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This is such an imaginative show. I have often wondered what would have happened if history had gone the other way. I love that there is a show exploring this (and incredibly thankful it is only on TV)!

The Man in the High Castle is Amazon’s most streamed show. So that must mean lots more people than just me enjoy it 🙂

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The main part of the story follows two characters: a woman from the Pacific States (Juliana) who gets pulled into the Resistance, and Joe, a man from the Reich with questionable allegiances.

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It is startling to see some of the most iconic images from the free world turned into Nazi symbols. The American flag, Times Square …

The Man in the High Castle is a drama. It does have some humourous parts and the violence is manageable, but the material can be heavy at times.

One of my favourite quotes:

You’re about to die horribly but your hair is fine.

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I started watching this series on a whim the other night because I was bored and the weather was bad. Well, ice and freezing rain pretty well had me stuck inside all weekend and I binged on both seasons. This show is completely addictive. It has a tendency towards cliff-hanger endings – both for individual episodes and seasons – so you will constantly find yourself clicking on just one more episode.

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There is an element of mysticism or other-worldliness to this show which greatly surprised me. The storyline takes on more meaning towards the end of the second season and starts to become more clear why they included it, but I still think I would have preferred the show without it.

What strikes me most about The Man in the High Castle is how complicated each character is. They all have multiple levels. I approached the show thinking that the Nazis would be the antagonists and the Resistance would be the protagonists, but it is much more complicated than that. Even the Nazis who do terrible things are softened in the show by their love for the families. And the “freedom fighters” come across much more strongly as terrorists.

Everything is not as it seems. No one is all good or all evil. We are just different shades of grey.

* * * * *

xx

The 5th Wave – a review

The 5th wave (2015) is a film based off of a young adult trilogy of the same name, written by Rick Yancey.

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From imdb.com

The human race stands on the brink of extinction as a series of alien attacks decimate the planet, causing earthquakes, tsunamis and disease. Separated from her family, Ohio teenager Cassie Sullivan (Chloë Grace Moretz) will do whatever it takes to reunite with her brother Sam. Fate leads her to form an alliance with Evan Walker (Alex Roe), a mysterious young man who may be her last hope. Forced to trust each other, Cassie and Evan fight for survival during the fifth assault from the invaders.

I am confused as to who the target audience of this film was. The books are written for tweens and teens and the movie has the same vibe to similar films, such as Divergent. But the opening scene is of the teenage main character killing an innocent man. And her romantic interest in the movie is a college-aged man, Evan (played by Alex Roe). As a twenty-six year, I was a little squeamish seeing them develop a romantic relationship. Admittedly, Cassie (played by Chloë Grace Moretzseems older than her years and our social constructions of age and maturity might matter little in an apocalyptic world, but I do wish that Cassie’s character would have been a little older.

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I really loved the idea driving the story. I haven’t read this type of story in a while and I am going to check out the rest of the books in the series. I am hoping that they are better written than the film! The film … why is it that 90% of the time I dislike a show or a movie, it is because I feel the writing is lacking? Is writing really that hard?!

The 5th wave starts out great. Interesting and compelling. I liked how the timeline wasn’t entirely linear, I felt that it added depth to the series. I also felt that most of the initial acting was really well done. There are a lot of highly talented and well-known actors in it. Maggie Siff (from Sons of Anarchy) and Ron Livingston played Cassie’s parents and Liev Schreiber (from Wolverine and Ray Donovan) was Colonel Vosch.

– Spoilers ahead –

However, the plot involves turning children into soldiers to fight The Others, and their acting is childish and lacking. It is so bad you almost wonder if it is on purpose…

The director and producers have the children sitting around the barracks, playing cards and gambling in their down-time, the way adults would. To me, it would have been more believable if the kids were running around, playing like children do, when not in training. It was also baffling that the kids were not broken down into teams based on age. Instead, the 7 year olds were mixed in with 17 year olds, and expected to operate as soldiers and snipers in actual urban combat situations. Apocalypse or not, someone that young could never keep up with the older teens, mentally or physically.

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For these young ones, most of their acting was one-dimensional and even the teenagers in the group seemed to accept everything they were told without ever wondering where the non-military adults were… they were all brainwashed way too easily.

Evan on the other hand, Evan I loved.

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I thought that Evan was one of The Others, and I was half-right. I loved Alex’s depiction of him and wish that we could have seen him a little more in action. He was my favourite character in the film, and if they do another, I hope that his role, and his abilities, are expanded upon. Evan is deeply conflicted about his identity and the role he has to play in the war for Earth, which makes him the most interesting and compelling character on the screen.

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Unfortunately, throughout the entire film the plot is utterly predictable – I actually called the “plot twist” just from the trailer. It made the characters seem very stupid and naive to not be suspicious until the end. Call me paranoid, but as soon as the school buses showed up at the refugee camp, I would have been out of there with my kids. I would never have let them separate me from my children. Somehow, the kids who were told that their parents would follow behind never seem to question why they never show up, or why the only refugees taken to the base are children.

It was also obvious to me that Evan had some connection to The Others. He stayed in his family home, completely safe and secure from concern and seemed to have no need to hide. He chopped wood outside for heating and cooking, knowing that there were snipers and drones hunting in the forest, but again, wasn’t concerned and maintained to Cassie that she was perfectly safe in his home, despite her insistence that there is no safe place.

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Evan is H-O-T hot.

In the end, I felt disappointed that what had seemed like such a good idea was so poorly executed. I walked away from the movie theatre feeling let-down, and so did my viewing partner. I still find the idea intriguing and will probably check out the second and third books in the series, to see what happens. Hopefully they are better than the film.

* *

xx