Review: Integration

Title: Integration (Bonfire Academy #2)
Author: Imogen Rose
Genre: YA Paranormal
Length: 416 pages
Publisher: Self Published
Publication Date: July 10th, 2012
Rating: 4 Stars

Second haiku warning:

A boyfriend missing
A lover must pay in blood
A princess must die

Welcome back to Bonfire Academy.

 
Review:

You know that warm fuzzy sensation you get when returning to a series you love? That’s the feeling I got when I picked up Integration. I read Initiation quite a while ago and absolutely L-O-V-E-D it. I loved the school, the ‘trust no one’ philosophy, the unique paranormal world that Imogen Rose creates, and most of all, Cordelia. So naturally I progressed into reading Faustine, and while it was a great book, I just didn’t connect to it in the same way. Probably because I simply liked Cordelia better than Faustine. Hey, a girl can have favorites, right?

Integration picks up where Initiation left off, with Cordelia returning to Bonfire Academy to complete her internship and sort out her feelings for Quinn (her childhood friend and longtime boyfriend) and Jagger (the Fae hybrid with whom she’s synched). Like all of Imogen Rose’s books, the action starts quickly and doesn’t let up until the end. Once again Cordelia is tasked with watching Faustine who is in being threatened by an anonymous and hostile paranormal, while also juggling her professional responsibilities and trying to locate her missing boyfriend.

Integration is shrouded in far more mystery than Initiation which I enjoyed, although having read Faustine first, I was always trying to put the facts together and figure out where the story was heading. (Given the opportunity, I would have read Integration first).

What I liked…. Cordelia is fearless and confident (despite nearly being torn to pieces the prior year). She’s got a strong sense of responsibility and loyalty (despite her inability to do the right thing by Quinn). And although we are constantly reminded that paranormals do not experience human emotions per se, Cordelia exhibits strong feelings for both Faustine and Jagger. Despite being a ‘new adult’ we still get to see her struggle with jealousy, love and friendship. She’s also got a great deal of spunk, which I love in a female heroine.

What I couldn’t quite wrap my head around (spoiler alert!)…. It seemed to me that Cordelia should have recognized that the Smelt was possessed and acted sooner, just as I felt she should have made some of the other mysterious connections more easily. I really wanted to jump in and give her a good shake when  I felt the clues were so obvious! Fortunately, I can’t dive into my Kindle though, because quite honestly, I’d probably never come back out.

Overall, another winner for Imogen Rose. With lots of action, intensity, and a highly original paranormal world, I look forward to the next chapter in Cordelia’s story and am excited to see how it plays into The Bonfire Chronicles (Faustine’s story).

* Note: This book is recommended for mature/upper YA readers as it does contain references to adult situations.

 

Review: Last Bastion of the Living

Title: Last Bastion of the Living
Author: Rhiannon Frater
Genre: Dystopian
Length: 375 pages
Publisher: Self Published
Publication Date: June 12th, 2012
Rating: 4.5 Stars

A walled city surrounded by lush land, protected by high mountain summits, and fortified by a massive gate to secure the only pass into the valley, The Bastion remained humanity’s last hope against the fearsome undead creatures known as the Inferi Scourge. On one fateful day, the valley gate failed and the Inferi Scourge overran and destroyed the human settlements outside the walls, trapping the remaining survivors inside the city. Now, decades later, the last remaining humans are struggling to survive in a dying city of dwindling resources…and dwindling hope.

Vanguard Maria Martinez has lived her entire life within the towering walls of steel. She yearns for a life away from the overcrowded streets, rolling blackouts, and food shortages, but there is no hope for anyone as long as the Inferi Scourge howl outside the high walls. Her only refuge from the daily grind is in the arms of Dwayne Reichardt, an officer in the Bastion Constabulary. Both are highly-decorated veterans of the last disastrous push against the Inferi Scourge. Their secret affair is her only happiness.

Then one day Maria is summoned to meet with a mysterious representative from the Science Warfare Division and is offered the opportunity to finally destroy the Inferi Scourge in the valley and close the gate, reclaiming the lost lands and energizing the populace with renewed hope for the future. The rewards of success are great, but she will have to sacrifice everything, possibly even her life, to accomplish the ultimate goal of securing the future of humanity and saving it from extinction.

Review:

Last weekend I tucked in with Last Bastion of the Living for Fraterfest and all I could think the entire time I was reading it was ‘How did I wait so long to read this book?’ Last Bastion was obscenely good. Now, I’m a big fan of Rhiannon Frater, and I loved the As the World Dies series, but Last Bastion of the Living was so much better. I freaking loved this book!  And while I respect the stand alone novel, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t wishing for more!

What’s so great about it? Nearly everything–the word building, the zombies, the heroine, Maria, who was smart, tough, and completely kick-ass. Last Bastion is fast paced and action packed with just the right amount of romance to add to the storyline. I’m not usually a fan of anything too close to science fiction, but I was enamored with the world Frater built. As she described life in the Bastion, I could easily imagine the crowded streets, defunct transport systems, and the oppressive despair. Heck, I think I could even imagine the smell of the highly seasoned protein lumps meant to sustain the sparse population.

I also happen to be an action junkie so the rapid pace and continuously evolving story had me hooked. Every time I thought I had things figured out, the storyline shifted revealing more lies and deceit. This story- and the zombies- bore virtually no resemblance to the zombies of the As the World Dies trilogy, for which I commend Frater. I love that she took an entirely different route here and created another fantastic story! Throughout, I found myself pulling for Maria and her squad despite the impossible odds. I desperately wanted to see them succeed and couldn’t put Last Bastion down.

The only reason I didn’t give this book the full five stars?  The back story on the creation of the zombies. Now, it’s just a blip on the radar and only gets a passing mention, but I just couldn’t buy it- at all. Personally, I would have preferred the mysterious Inferi Scourge virus went unexplained in lieu of the truth, but that’s just me.

Overall, exactly what you expect from Rhiannon Frater: action, suspense and Texans! An amazing and original read, highly recommended for zombie fans! Treat yourself this Halloween… You won’t regret it!