Thursday, July 17, 2014

Anomaly and Luminary {by Krista McGee}

Title: Anomaly
Author: Krista McGee
Series: Anomaly #1
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Received via ARCycling

Thalli has fifteen minutes and twenty-three seconds left to live. The toxic gas that will complete her annihilation is invading her bloodstream. But she is not afraid.
Thalli is different than others in The State. She feels things. She asks questions. And in the State, this is not tolerated. The Ten scientists who survived the nuclear war that destroyed the world above believe that emotion was at the core of what went wrong—and they have genetically removed it from the citizens they have since created. Thalli has kept her malformation secret from those who have monitored her for most of her life, but when she receives an ancient piece of music to record as her community’s assigned musician, she can no longer keep her emotions secreted away.
Seen as a threat to the harmony of her Pod, Thalli is taken to the Scientists for immediate annihilation. But before that can happen, Berk—her former Pod mate who is being groomed as a Scientist—steps in and persuades the Scientists to keep Thalli alive as a test subject.
The more time she spends in the Scientist’s Pod, the clearer it becomes that things are not as simple as she was programmed to believe. She hears stories of a Designer—stories that fill her mind with more questions: Who can she trust? What is this emotion called love? And what if she isn't just an anomaly, but part of a greater design?

When I saw that Krista McGee had a dystopian series, I was super intrigued. I had read her other books, which are contemporary, and was curious to see how a contemporary author translated into dystopia. But I was even more intrigued by the idea of a Christian dystopian novel. But McGee did such a great job, and I was immediately pulled into this world, and into Thalli's story.

Any dystopian story having to do with genetics is one that I will absolutely read, or so I am finding out recently. Something about it just fascinates me. The author did a very good job of building the world and fleshing it out. There was no huge info dumps, just gradually on a need-to-know basis. And for this story, that worked out very well. There weren't that many points where I was confused as to what was happening, as is sometimes the case with futuristic worlds. I wasn't sure how McGee was going to do with building her own world, but it worked out.

Thalli lives in a futuristic society. A nuclear war has destroyed the world above. A few scientists were able to escape to the underground complex they had built in case something like this happened. These Scientists now rule the State, as it is called. Babies are not made in the "primitive" form. They are genetically engineered. They are devoid of emotion, and each created to fulfill a specific task, as to keep this society going.

Thalli is her Pod's musician. Except, she is an anomaly. Because, she is not completely devoid of emotion. Thalli was a very interesting character. In some ways, she was childish and naive. But since that was a result of the way she was brought up, the way she was created, I couldn't really hold it against her. It was intriguing to see things from Thalli's perspective, as she learns about emotions and what life was like before. To see our lifestyle through the eyes of someone who has never experienced it was thought-provoking.

The pacing and plot of the novel was very fast-moving, action-packed. Although there were moments I wanted to shake Thalli for being so naive, I knew she couldn't help it, that it wasn't her fault. And for someone who was raised in such a submissive culture, Thalli knew when to be strong and stand up for herself. I also thought the falling-in-love aspect was very well handled, seeing as not only is Thalli experiencing her first teenage love, but she's doing it in a society where love doesn't exist. There's no one to tell her how she's feeling, or even what is going on.

The Christian aspect of this story was very well done, and I was super impressed with the way McGee was able to weave the Christian faith with a dystopian society. It wasn't so subtle, but it wasn't preachy, doesn't jump out at you in a negative way. This was the part that I was curious about most, but she was able to seamlessly tied into the story, in a way that will make you think about it differently.

This definitely captivated my attention the whole way through. I was so into the story, that when I finished, I immediately started the second one (even though it was already like 1 in the morning). It was a different, refreshing take on a dystopian society and I loved it.

This review can also be found on   Goodreads

Title: Luminary
Author: Krista McGee
Series: Anomaly #2
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Received via NetGalley

She was an anomaly with a death sentence. Now she's free.
Thalli was scheduled for annihilation. She was considered an anomaly--able to experience emotions that should have been eradicated by genetic modification. The Scientists running the State couldn't allow her to bring undue chaos to their peaceful, ordered world. But seconds before her death, she is rescued.
Now Thalli is above ground in a world she thought was destroyed. A world where not even the air is safe to breathe. She and her three friends must journey across this unknown land, their destination a hidden civilization. It's their only chance of survival.
Broken and exhausted after an arduous journey, they arrive in New Hope, a town that survived the nuclear holocaust. When Thalli meets the people there--people actually "born" to "families"--her small world is blown wide open.
Soon after their arrival to New Hope, the town comes under attack. She has escaped imminent death, but now Thalli is thrust into a new fight--a fight to save her new home. Does she know enough about this world of emotions, this world of chaos, to save not only herself, but the people she has come to love?

*Note: This review may contain slight spoilers for Anomaly. Read at your own risk*

No second-book syndrome with this one. I wouldn't say I liked it more than Anomaly, really, but still it did not disappoint. I was equally as intrigued and hooked by this book than I was the first (which, in my opinion, is a feat).

I started out not liking Thalli. Or, at least, the person she was becoming. Whiny and a bit annoying. However, I was proud of the person she became by the end of this novel. We definitely see a lot of character growth, more than in the first book. And not just from Thalli, but from most of the characters. I will say, Berk was the only one I didn't like as much as I did in the first one...sorry Berk.

This plot was definitely action-packed. Something was always happening, but it wasn't confusing. I was captivated by Thalli's account of her new home, seeing all the things we are used to from her eyes for the first time. And then the comparison of the neighboring enemy town, and how different they were, was also well done, to really showcase the differences.

And the love triangle. I usually can't stand them, but this is one that even I don't know which side I'm on. At first I was all like "totes Berk!" and then I was like "but...Alex" and now I have no idea what to think. I don't think I've ever had this happen before...

The ending...I was definitely on the edge of my seat (like, figuratively not literally but I guess you knew that). There have been very few times that I've been so invested in an ending of a book. And the way that ended...yeah, I would definitely have the third book immediately on hand.

This review can also be found on   Goodreads

Krista McGee:

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