Fragmented

Untamed, Book 2
By Madeline Dyer

Those of you following my Instagram might have seen my middle-of-the-night post, where an exhausted me at 2 am finished reading the last page of Fragmented and found myself in a whirlwind of emotions. I hadn’t even realized how late it was, I simply could not put the book down. I’ve been so excited I could barely wait until today to tell you about it. Well, it’s Self Published Saturday, and I’m here to tell you about Fragmented!

Summary33804767

After the terrible battle against the Enhanced Ones, Seven and Corin find themselves on the run. With the Enhanced closing in, Seven knows they need to find other people on their side. So, when the opportunity arises to join the Zharat, one of the last surviving Untamed tribes, it seems like the perfect solution.

But the Zharat lifestyle is a far cry from what Seven’s used to. With their customs dictating that she must marry into their tribe, and her relationship with Corin breaking down, Seven knows she has to do something before it’s too late. But that’s easier said than done in a tribe where going against the rules automatically results in death.

And, with the Enhanced still out there, nowhere is truly safe for the Untamed–least of all for the most powerful Seer in the world…and Seven soon discovers how far people will go in order to ensure she’s on their side in the War of Humanity.

Battling against the emerging web of lies, manipulation, and danger, Seven must remember who she was meant to be. Her life has never been more at stake. Nor has humanity itself.

Musings

Many series suffer from a weak second novel. But Fragmented is the Empire Strikes Back here, and is even stronger than the first book.

I was captivated by the world that Dyer created in Untamed: a future where most of humanity live with chemical ‘augmenters’, and those who refuse the drugs are hunted down. Unlike most dystopias I know, there’s this incredible spiritual element: Seven, the protagonist is a seer capable of speaking with them through dreams. The spirits have a massive, sometimes physical effect on the land, able to change it or roam it at will. All in all, this is astounding worldbuilding which made me desperate to read Fragmented.

Fragmented has a much faster pace because of the short timeframe. While Untamed took place over weeks, months, Fragmented is the course of just a few days. Seven, Corin and Esther are all that is left, and decide for their safety to band with a massive tribe called the Zharat. But just because they’re Untamed does not make them good people.

The Zharat are an incredibly patriarchal society, and part of what I loved about Fragmented was how on edge I was the entire time. To put it simply: these guys are absolute creeps. To keep humanity going, their only weapon is their babymaking. Women are nothing but a tool in this regard. Seven’s strength and abilities are put to the test when the Zharat community refuses to treat her as a real person. I was cringing the entire time they were with them.

The character growth is also pretty incredible here. Seven is not only trying to make her voice heard in this new community, but also trying to keep her relationship with Corin alive and healthy. Not to mention that her Seer dreams are strangely stopped now that she’s with the Zharat, and she can’t mention that fact to anyone, because Zharat culture sees Women-Seers as demons. Not to mention the guilt she feels from the last battle…

We also learn more about the place of the Spirits and Gods within not only this culture, but the war itself. At the climax of the book, I was gripping the page as things became clear and the mysteries unraveled. I wanted to scream at the book.

This book has honestly been very difficult for me to review with a level head, because I’m still shattered from the ending. I just cannot wait to get my hands on Divided, the next book in the series!

You can pick up a copy right here!

State of Grace

by Hilary Badger

Reviewed by SA

Oh my Dot this book is good.

Fair warning: this book is very different from what you’ve ever read before, but in the greatest way possible. It’s one of those books that tries to defy definition, definitely already defying labeling (is it utopian? Dystopian? Science Fiction? WHAT IS IT) and still making my mind spin. Think Margret Atwood meets Brave New World, with some Drugs thrown in. It is strange, it is beautiful, and it is amazing.

Summary

Ever since she was created, Wren has lived in an idyllic garden with her friends. Wren’s deity Dot ensures the trees are laden with fruit and the water in the lagoon is crystal clear. Wren and her friends have everything they could possibly need right there, in Dot’s Paradise.
If only Wren could stop the strange, disturbing visions she’s started having. Do these visions make her less worthy of Dot’s love? And what does Blaze, the most beautiful and mysterious of Dot’s creations, know about what’s going on in Wren’s head?
Wren is desperate to feel Dot’s love, just like everyone else. But that’s harder than ever when a creation she’s never met before arrives in the garden. He claims to be from outside and brings with him words and ideas that make Wren’s brain hurt.

First of all: I got this summary from Goodreads, as I always do, but I cut it short. Do not read the full Goodreads summary! It spoils a major plot twist that is in the last one hundred or even fifty pages, so to avoid the spoilers, avoid the full summary. It’s under the cut so you should all be ok. This has been a public service announcement.

The first chapter had me rolling on the floor laughing, sending IMs to my boyfriend about how “ridiculous my new book is”. It seems as though you’re thrown into a nudist colony, or a hippie retreat, with ideas of free love and bathing nude with infantile names for genitalia. I was ready to put it down right there – what possible drama can you have in a nudist colony? (Note to self – write nudist colony rom com). But then, things started to change. My IMs stopped, and I became fully engrossed in the novel.

What changed? Wren did. Our main character, a lovely young lady who loves her creator, Dot, and her friends, and her idyllic life, begins to have doubts. She slowly starts to see through it all, and she begins to see the world differently. As she does, our opinion of her world changes too, and we see the utopia  less and less as the perfect, tiny world it claims to be. It’s slow and gradual, not an immediate transition, which really allows the reader to follow Wren down the rabbit hole, so to speak.

If you take the religious plot, the one that takes place outside of Wren’s head, it seems like a strange concept for a YA indeed: a loving deity named Dot dropped her creations off, brand new and fresh and fully grown, inside a small beautiful universe, along with the books that guide their belief, and a new language that removes all negativity (prelight for dark, precalm for scared). Every day, her creations will sing to her in the gazebo, pick the newfruit (the only one they shouldn’t eat, I see Eden in here somewhere) and give it as an offering to their loving goddess, then they ride horseback, swim in the lagoon, hook up freely. It’s now almost one year later, and the excitement grows for “Completion Night”, the night where Dot will chose her favorite creations. But as this time draws near, tensions rise: Gil claims to be Dot’s mouthpiece, and believes their world is infected with unholy things, and leads a witch hunt to purify it all before the big night.

But Wren is changing: she begins with a certain belief in Dot, but slowly, this belief is getting cracked and crumbling. When Dennis, an outsider, accidentally gets stuck inside their perfect world, she is sure he is a test from Dot… but Blaze, the only other person who seems to be ‘waking up’ around her, has other theories. Slowly the paradise fades: the songs become more annoying, the hooking up more ridiculous. I was amazed at how the author really started to pull us away from the perfection she created: It was skillful writing, and probably why I liked this book so much.

It’s slowly paces, but in the best way possible. It allows the intrigue to develop, and allows the ready to grow anxious over what’s going to happen next. What is this world? If it’s not Eden, then what is it? Why are they really there? And why is it that Wren and Blaze don’t see it like anybody else?

The ending will leave you breathless. The entire last hundred pages or so cut a sharp contract with the rest of the book, speeding up, answering questions, even breaking your heart. What an amazing book, it’s something completely new that no one is soon to forget.

State of Grace comes out today, September 1st. It would be presmart not to read it.