Reviews, YA, ya contemporary, YA Dystopian, YA Fantasy, ya romance

ARC Review: Refuse (Recoil #2) by Joanne Macgregor

Refuse (Recoil Trilogy, #2)

GoodReads Summary:

Everyone wants Jinxy, except the one she loves.

In a near-future USA decimated by an incurable plague and tightly controlled by a repressive government, teenagers with special skills are recruited and trained to fight in the war against terror.

Now a rebellion is brewing.

All sixteen year-old expert sniper Jinxy James wanted was a little freedom, but now she’s trapped between the government and the rebels, unsure of who the real enemy is. When she uncovers appalling secrets and twisted motivations, Jinxy begins to question her allegiances. Soon she will need to choose between love and freedom, as she struggles to do the right thing in a world gone horribly wrong.

Refuse is the second book in the Young Adult dystopian romance that began with Recoil. This much anticipated sequel is filled with romance and heartache, shocking twists, and a thought-provoking examination of freedom, fear, loyalty and identity.

My Review:

SO back in May I was read and reviewed the first novel in this trilogy, Recoil, and really enjoyed what Joanne Macgregor brought to the table. It was quite a realistic dystopian story. The same can be said for the second novel in this series as well.

Refuse starts exactly where Recoil left off. Jinxy is sort of in hell. She has to convince the government that she isn’t some spy working for rebellion. She also has to decide which side of the fight she is on and who she can trust.

Macgregor’s story telling definitely improved with this novel. In a series like this the first novel is the setup and has to introduce you to a lot of characters and plot, but the second one is always better. You can dive right into the story, get to the nitty gritty of the characters and really focus on their decision-making process and character growth. I don’t want to spoil anything, so I will just say this, I really enjoyed watching Jinxy grow as a person. In the first novel she was young and naive. In Refuse she has grown up. She sees the world for what it really is. She sees the government and her missions for what they truly are. She understands that her actions have larger consequences, effect more people, more families. She understands that not everyone can be trusted and that you should listen to your gut when it’s trying to tell you something isn’t right.

The follow up to Recoil really brings the themes of right and wrong to the forefront of the story. Nothing is black and white and the gray area is very hazy. It does not do to always assume your government has the best interest of the people in mind. You should always be watching and questioning.

Definitely check this novel out.  There is cliffhanger after cliffhanger that will keep you wanting more.

Rating: 4 out of 5

I’d like to thank Joanne Macgregor for providing me with an ARC. Receiving this ARC for free does not influence my opinion in any way.

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Reviews, Special Review

ARC Review: Recoil by Joanne Macgregor

Recoil

Goodreads Summary:

When a skilled gamer gets recruited as a sniper in the war against a terrorist-produced pandemic, she discovers there’s more than one enemy and more than one war. The Game is real.

Three years after a series of terrorist attacks flooded the US with a lethal plague, society has changed radically.

Sixteen year-old Jinxy James spends her days trapped at home – immersed in virtual reality, worrying about the plague and longing for freedom. Then she wins a war simulation game and is recruited into a top-secret organisation where talented teenagers are trained to become agents in the war on terror. Eager to escape her mother’s over-protectiveness and to serve her country, Jinxy enlists and becomes an expert sniper of infected mutant rats.

She’s immediately drawn to Quinn O’Riley, a charming and subversive intelligence analyst who knows more about the new order of government and society than he is telling. Then a shocking revelation forces Jinxy to make an impossible decision, and she risks losing everything.

Recoil is the first book in a Young Adult dystopian romance trilogy, and makes great reading for lovers of Rick Yancey (The Fifth Wave), Suzanne Collins (Hunger Games), and Veronica Roth (Divergent).

My Review:

Recoil is the most recent work by Joanne Macgregor. It takes place in modern day United States, three years after a terrorist attack used biological chemicals to unleash a plague. The story is very realistic dystopian fiction. It’s full of elements that terrorist attacks cause- hyper-awareness of foreign residents, larger defense industry, mass media reporting on threats, politician comments about terrorists.

Jinxy starts out naive, playing a game that eventually leads to recruitment with the military. She takes the words of the media, politicians, and her unit commander Sarge for face value- believes they have the people’s best interests at heart. At 16, it makes sense that she would trust those older than her. It isn’t until Jinxy meets Quinn that she starts to question her missions, especially when he finds out she is a sniper. Jinxy understands why she needs to shoot the infected rats, but when she is required to shoot other animals, and eventually is given more classified missions, she has a difficult time, trying to reconcile herself and her values with the values of her unit and the military. Macgregor does an excellent job of showing Jinxy’s progression from being naive to doubting herself and her missions to taking matters into her own hands, making her own educated decisions.

Quinn is a fascinating character. He is also super hot with an Irish accent (swoon). He does what is required of him, but also has his own secrets that are kept from Jinxy. He helps Jinxy open her eyes and understand that her missions are not what she is being told. There is a strong attraction between them, but her missions separate them- pit on against the other. I will say I had a difficult time with the start  of their relationship. It just sort of happens and I couldn’t figure out what drew them to each other. But by the end Macgregor had me rooting for their relationship. And the way the book ends, I just need to know what happens next.

There is a quote in the book- “We’ve repatriated hundreds of thousands, perhaps even millions, of foreign residents, refugees, and workers. We’ve insulated ourselves, sealed our boarders against immigrants and imports and competition… And as a nation we’ve channeled billions into a defense industry that was sitting idle after the last wars fizzled out.” It is scary how closely it describes our current country. We have a presidential candidate who wants to build a wall on the US/Mexican boarder to keep illegal immigrants out; we have alienated anyone who looks middle eastern and have grouped all those who practice Islam into the terrorist stereo type. This novel is so realistic I can see something like this possibly happening.

If you enjoy dystopian settings, this is a great start to a fascinating realistic series.

Rating: 4 out of 5

I’d like to thank Joanne Macgregor for providing me with an ARC. Receiving this ARC for free does not influence my opinion in any way.

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NA Contemporary, NA Romance, Reviews, Special Review

Book Review: Scarred by Joanne Macgregor

Scarred

GoodReads Summary:

“Life leaves you scarred. Love can make you beautiful.”

Seventeen year-old Sloane Munster is trying to reboot her life after a serious car accident left her badly scarred and emotionally traumatized.

Starting her senior year at a new school, she’s delighted to see Luke Naughton, a swimmer whom she once crushed on, in the class in front of her. But when he glares back at her with disgust and revulsion, she’s shocked and hurt, and assumes it’s because of her appearance. Despite misunderstandings, the chemistry between them sparks and love grows against a background of guilt, secrets, and mounting tensions at a school where bullying is rife and Sloane is not the most deeply scarred person.

Sharp with bittersweet humor, Scarred is an intense, beautiful, compelling story of life, death and fighting for love against all the odds.

Review:

Scarred is about Sloane Munster, who suffers from a tragic accident in her life, leaving her physically and mentally scarred. Due to the trauma, she spends almost a year in hiding, finishing her junior year with private tutors. But through the help of her therapist, Sloane attends a new school for senior year, where she runs into old faces, new faces, and has to come to terms with the actions of her mother as well as herself and how she will move forward with her life.

Joanne Macgregor’s writing is a graceful look at the physical and emotional aftermath of a tragedy in a person’s life. It is evocative. It doesn’t push aside the effects mental illness has on a person. Or how, through the support of friends, family, and love, a person can move forward in their life- move past the tragedy and see there is a bright future ahead of them.

When I first started this book, I wasn’t sure if I was going to like it. Sloane Munster felt very one dimensional- she was focusing on how she looked and how her life used to be. She was beautiful. She was popular. “I didn’t used to get called anything nasty about my appearance, I used to be pretty. The GG’s- short for Gorgeous Girls- that’s what our clique was called, in my old school.” However, after moving further into the book, Sloane becomes more than a one dimensional character. The scar is just a representation of her emotions. By the end, I fell in love and didn’t want it to end.

Sloane is a truly tragic, and complex, character who has to adjust to her life A.S.- after scar. The girls at her new school taunt her looks, which shows just how juvenile and immature teenage girls can be. It also is a reflection of our society and how much pressure we put on young girls when it comes to physical appearances. She has to deal with boys staring at her. She has to acquiesce the lose of her family and guilt of ruining another family.

I truly enjoyed when Luke, Sloane’s love interest, was given a chapter. He is a central character, not only to Sloane’s development through out the book, but to the story itself. Seeing his point of view is vital to understanding his involvement in the accident and how he develops as a character. As a side sub-plot, the book also address the treatment of others in general, whether it is a student-student relationship, a student-teacher relationship, or a child-parent relationship, and how that can impact a person’s life, positively or negatively.

Joanne Macgregor is a counseling psychologist who specializes in victims of crime and trauma. It is very apparent that she knows what she is writing about; it is captivating and emotional and clearly understood from a psychologist’s point of view.

I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a gripping story of tragedy, loss, and survival. I think an anthem to this book is Scars to You Beautiful by Alessia Cara. Go listen to it during/after reading this book.

Rating: 5 out of 5

I’d like to thank Joanne Macgregor for the opportunity to read Scarred in return for an honest review. Receiving this book for free doesn’t influence my opinion.