Sunday, April 28, 2013

Shards & Ashes: A Book Review

There will be NO SPOILERS in this review. Enjoy! (:

After reading Veronica Roth's Divergent and Insurgent I was craving book 3 (Allegiant). So when I heard she would be releasing a short story in this book of dystopian stories, I got very enthusiastically excited. I wasn't only excited for Veronica's story but the fact that there were going to be 9 short stories all catering to the dystopian theme. The review for this book will obviously be different from that of a novel. I'll make it quick by listing my favorite stories and how I felt about the book as a whole.

(photo source)

Title: Shards & Ashes

Veronica Roth, Kelley Armstrong, Margaret STohl, Rachel Caine, Nancy Holder, Melissa Marr, Kami Garcia, Beth Revis, Carrie Ryan

Melissa Marr, Kelley Armstrong

Genre: Science Fiction/Dystopian/Paranormal
Pages: 384
Published: February 19, 2013
Links: Amazon | Goodreads

Description (courtesty of Goodreads):

"Gripping original stories of dystopian worlds from nine New York Times bestselling authors, edited by Melissa Marr and Kelley Armstrong.

The world is gone, destroyed by human, ecological, or supernatural causes. Survivors dodge chemical warfare and cruel gods; they travel the reaches of space and inhabit underground caverns. Their enemies are disease, corrupt corporations, and one another; their resources are few, and their courage is tested.

Powerful original dystopian tales from nine bestselling authors offer bleak insight, prophetic visions, and precious glimmers of light among the shards and ashes of a ruined world.

Complete list of stories:

Hearken by Veronica Roth
Branded by Kelly Armstrong
Necklace of Raindrops by Margaret Stohl
Dogsbody by Rachel Caine
Pale Rider by Nancy Holder
Corpse Eaters by Melissa Marr
Burn 3 by Kami Garcia
Love Is a Choice by Beth Revis
Miasma by Carrie Ryan

My favorite stories:

I'm sad to say that there's only one story in the lead for my favorite, and that would be "Love Is a Choice" by Beth Revis.

The runner-up would probably be Veronica Roth's "Hearken" with several in competition for second runner-up its not even worth mentioning.

My thoughts on the anthology as a whole:

I was actually pretty disappointed in this collection. All authors seems to agree that disease, cruelty, and starvation (add in a little paranormality) is enough to make an interesting dystopian story. My insight, it's not. Each story had something different about it, but oddly enough, even though I read this anthology throughout the course of a week, reading stories as they appealed to me, all the voices blended together. They all started to sound as if they were written by the same person just with a slightly altered plot, which is pretty bad considering each story is about 50+ pages.

However, before I get carried away, I do want to mention what I did like about this book, because despite all it's faults, I didn't hate it. The stories were definitely entertaining. Many of these stories had me on the edge of my seat and were real page turners. But with that aside...

They weren't entirely interesting on a deeper, below-the-surface, level (which I think is highly important when developing a dystopian novel- yes, they are very entertaining, but what do they say about the current state of the world).

And most importantly, in my opinion, they didn't survive well as short stories. They were all stories that I felt could potentially make good novels, and this was primarily because the characters were weakly developed and lackluster. Give each author 200+ pages more and they could have a decent novel. But of all the short stories I've read in my life (which is quite a lot more than the average person) these are probably some of my least favorite (save Beth Revis's and Veronica Roth's).

Final Verdict:

Even though I am a very enthusiastic endorser of dystopian novels, this anthology was not my cup of tea. This is a book I could put down and be fine with never picking up again.

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