The Book of the Unnamed Midwife by Meg Elison (The Road to Nowhere #1) (DNF)

CW: Discussions of rape/sexual assault, genital mutilation, childbirth/forced childbirth and death in childbirth, suicide, and disease.


Title: The Book of the Unnamed Midwife
Series Title: Road to Nowhere
Author: Meg Elison
Date Added: September 22, 2018
Date Started: September 28, 2018
Date DNF: October 3, 2018
Reading Duration: 5 days
Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopian, Post Apocalyptic, LGBTQ+

The Book of the Unnamed MidwifePages: 300
Publication Date: June 4, 2014
Publisher: 47North
Media: eBook/Kindle


Philip K. Dick Award Winner for Distinguished Science Fiction

When she fell asleep, the world was doomed. When she awoke, it was dead.

In the wake of a fever that decimated the earth’s population—killing women and children and making childbirth deadly for the mother and infant—the midwife must pick her way through the bones of the world she once knew to find her place in this dangerous new one. Gone are the pillars of civilization. All that remains is power—and the strong who possess it.

A few women like her survived, though they are scarce. Even fewer are safe from the clans of men, who, driven by fear, seek to control those remaining. To preserve her freedom, she dons men’s clothing, goes by false names, and avoids as many people as possible. But as the world continues to grapple with its terrible circumstances, she’ll discover a role greater than chasing a pale imitation of independence.

After all, if humanity is to be reborn, someone must be its guide.


This is one of the many books I bought immediately after reading a sample, especially since it was only $1.99.  The trope of “last people at the end of the world” is common, of course, but the writing was so raw and realistic, I couldn’t help but be intrigued.  The “end” comes due to a pandemic,

but it kills more than 90% of the population, mostly women and children, utterly destroying any semblance of civilization…and I mean that literally with regards to the term “civilized.”

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The Vagrant by Peter Newman (The Vagrant #1)

Title: The Vagrant
Series Title: The Vagrant
Author: Peter Newman
Date Added: March 20, 2017
Date Started: December 30, 2017
Date Finished: March 21, 2018
Reading Duration: 80 days
Genre: Dark Fantasy, Post-Apocalyptic, Dystopian

The VagrantPages: 400
Publication Date: April 23, 2016
Publisher: HarperVoyager
Media: Paperback


The Vagrant is his name. He has no other. Friendless and alone he walks across a desolate, war-torn landscape, carrying nothing but a kit-bag, a legendary sword and a baby. His purpose is to reach the Shining City, last bastion of the human race, and deliver the sword, the only weapon that may make a difference in the ongoing war. But the Shining City is far away and the world is a very dangerous place.


This was a tough one to review.  I noted that back when I finished it and I still feel the same way.  The novel has both issues and merits, and it’s not a straightforward story, which is not only due to the fact the main character never speaks.  The number of enemies/villains also complicates things.  There’s the Usurper, the Uncivil, the first, and the commander among others.  They’re all part of the tainted essence that made the world the broken place it is now, but it was very hard to keep track of them (the Hammer was my favorite for some obvious reasons).

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The Diamond of Darkhold by Jeanne DuPrau (Book of Ember #4)

Book of Ember

<–The Prophet of Yonwood (BOE #3)

Note: Since this is a sequel there are spoilers for the prior book even in the blurb.  Something to keep in mind if you haven’t read the prior books and don’t want to be spoiled.

Second Note:  TSN gets (US) political for comparison.


Title: The Diamond of Darkhold
Series Title: Book of Ember
Author: Jeanne DuPrau
Date Added: September 17, 2017
Date Started: January 14, 2018
Date Finished: February 19, 2018
Reading Duration: 36 days
Genre: Mid-grade/Young Adult (YA), Fantasy, Post-Apocalyptic, Dystopian

The Diamond of Darkhold coverPages: 285
Publication Date: August 26, 2008
Publisher: Yearling Adventure
Media: Paperback


It’s been several months since Lina and Doon escaped the dying city of Ember and, along with the rest of their people, joined the town of Sparks. Lina knows they are lucky to be there, but life aboveground is hard. Instead of opening a can for dinner, they must plant and harvest their food. And while there was no sun or moon in Ember’s sky, neither was there rain, sleet, or wind. Now, in the middle of their first winter, Lin finds herself feeling homesick for her old city.

It’s during this dark time that Doon finds an unusual book. Torn up and missing most of its pages, it alludes to a mysterious device, a piece of technology from before the Disaster. Doon becomes convinced that the Builders of Ember meant for them to find the device when they left the city, to help them in their new lives. Together, Lina and Doon must go back underground to retrieve what was lost and bring light to a dark world.

In the fourth Book of Ember, bestselling author Jeanne DuPrau juxtaposes yet another action-packed adventure with powerful themes of hope, learning, and the search for truth. 


The final installment to the series finds Lina, Doon, and the other Emberites fully integrated into Sparks so they all live as one people, but times are hard, and Lina finds herself longing for the warm familiarity of her underground home.  Doon’s discovery of the blurb’s mentioned book gives them a reason to return to the now dark and dying Ember where things don’t go quite according to plan.  There are people living there, but if squatting were still a thing in this post-Disaster world then the Trogg family would be squatters.

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The Prophet of Yonwood by Jeanne DuPrau (Book of Ember #3) (DNF)

<–The People of Sparks (BOE #2)                              The Diamond of Darkhold (BOE #4)–>

Title: The Prophet of Yonwood
Series Title: Book of Ember
Author: Jeanne DuPrau
Date Added: September 17, 2017
Date Started: December 23, 2017
Date DNF: December 27, 2017
Reading Duration: 4 days
Genre: Mid-grade/Young Adult (YA), Science Fiction, Speculative Fiction, Post-Apocalyptic, Dystopian

The Prophet of Yonwood cover

Pages: 289
Publication Date: April 1, 2006
Publisher: Yearling Edition
Media: Paperback


Nickie will grow up to be one of the first citizens of the city of Ember. But for now, she’s an eleven-year-old girl whose father was sent away on some mysterious government project.

So when the opportunity to move presents itself, Nickie seizes it. But her new town of Yonwood, North Carolina, isn’t what she’d anticipated. It’s a place full of suspicion and mistrust, where one person’s visions of fire and destruction have turned the town’s citizens against each other. Nickie explores the oddities around her–her great-grandfather’s peculiar journals, a reclusive neighbor who studies the heavens, a strange boy who is fascinated with snakes–all while keeping an eye out for ways to help the world. Or is it already too late to avoid a devastating war?


There seems to be some disagreement with whether or not this is the 3rd or 4th book.  Goodreads has it marked as the 3rd, but in my set The Diamond of Darkhold is the third installment and Yonwood doesn’t even have a number.  I can kind of understanding putting the prequel in the midst of the series to have readers reflect on how the world arrived at this point while the resolution to the narrative is still up in the air, but I see better advantages of reflecting when the original story is full told.

Regardless, The Prophet of Yonwood wasn’t nearly as engaging as the other books.  This is disappointing since the lead up to what caused the conditions prompting Ember’s construction could’ve been a gripping tale.  While I didn’t finish it, it seems like the author’s focus was on prophesy and proselytizing instead.

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Low, Vol. 1: The Delirium of Hope by Rick Remender (Low #1) (DNF)

Title: Low, Vol. 1: The Delirium of Hope
Series Title: Low
Authors: Rick Remender
Artists: Greg Toccini & Dave McCaig
Date Added: September 4, 2017
Date Started: October 25, 2017
Date DNF: November 8, 2017
Reading Duration: 14 days
Genre: Science Fantasy, Post-Apocalyptic, Dystopian, Graphic Novel

Low coverPages: 144
Publication Date: March 25, 2015
Publisher: Image Comics
Media: Paperback (Library)


Millennia ago, mankind fled the earth’s surface into the bottomless depths of the darkest oceans. Shielded from a merciless sun’s scorching radiation, the human race tried to stave off certain extinction by sending robotic probes far into the galaxy to search for a new home among the stars. Generations later, one family is about to be torn apart in a conflict that will usher in the final race to save humanity from a world beyond hope. Dive into an aquatic fantasy like none you’ve ever seen before, as writer Rick Remender (Fear Agent, Uncanny Avengers) and artist Greg Tocchini (Last Days of American Crime) bring you a tale mankind’s final hour in the cold, deathly dark of the sea.


Low is about the sun going super nova far sooner than expected, and humanity taking refuge beneath the waves, while sending probes out into space to search for a new home.  It has more of a Rapture (BioShock) vibe to it insofar as there’s a city under the sea as opposed to SOMA’s derelict facility horror.

Per Remender’s foreword, the author was inspired by our sun’s eventual violent death, which will scorch the Earth beyond recognition (if humanity hasn’t already), and how if we don’t discover a new home among the stars (or a way to stop it), our species will be rendered extinct.   While this time is billions of years away, it’s still a reminder that everything is temporary and nothing ever lasts: a recipe for nihilism if ever there was.  Of course the ephemeral qualities of the universe could imbue it with meaning for some, though when you recall the nature of memory and how there needs to be someone to remember, this argument falls apart.

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The People of Sparks by Jeanne DuPrau (Book of Ember #2)

Book of Ember

<–The City of Ember (BOE #1)                                      The Prophet of Yonwood  (BOE #3)–>

Note: Since this is a sequel there are spoilers for the prior book even in the blurb.  Something to keep in mind if you haven’t read The City of Ember and don’t want to be spoiled.


Title: The People of Sparks
Series Title: The Book of Ember
Author: Jeanne DuPrau
Date Added: September 12, 2017
Date Started: October 22, 2017
Date Finished: October 23, 2017
Reading Duration: 1 day
Genre: Mid-grade/Young Adult (YA), Fantasy, Post-Apocalyptic, Dystopian

The People of Sparks coverPages: 338
Publication Date: May 25, 2004
Publisher: Yearling Adventure
Media: Paperback


When Lina and Doon lead their people up from the underground city of Ember, they discover a surface world of color and life. The people of a small village called Sparks agree to help the Emberites, but the villagers have never had to share their world before. Soon differences between the two groups escalate, and it’s up to Lina and Doon to find a way to avoid war!

In the riveting sequel to the highly acclaimed The City of Ember, Jeanne DuPrau explores the nature of conflict and the strength and courage necessary to overcome it.


We will renounce violence, which is so easy to start, but so hard to control.

In the second Book of Ember, Lina and Doon play Moses in leading the exodus from their dying city.  The find a settlement called Sparks where the descendants of the Disaster survivors live.  Having absolutely no experience or even knowledge of the world they’ve found themselves in, they ask the leaders of the village for help.

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The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau (Book of Ember #1)

Book of Ember

The People of Sparks (BOE #2)–>

Title: The City of Ember
Series Title: Book of Ember
Author: Jeanne DuPrau
Date Added: June 28, 2016
Date Started: August 30, 2017
Date Finished: September 12, 2017
Reading Duration: 13 days
Genre: Mid-grade/Young Adult (YA), Fantasy, Post-Apocalyptic, Dystopian

The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrauPages: 270
Publication Date: May 13, 2003
Publisher: Yearling Adventure
Media: Paperback


Many hundreds of years ago, the city of Ember was created by the Builders to contain everything needed for human survival. It worked…but now the storerooms are almost out of food, crops are blighted, corruption is spreading through the city and worst of all—the lights are failing. Soon Ember could be engulfed by darkness….

But when two children, Lina and Doon, discover fragments of an ancient parchment, they begin to wonder if there could be a way out of Ember. Can they decipher the words from long ago and find a new future for everyone? Will the people of Ember listen to them?


“But what if they don’t find them? What if they never come out again?” “I think they will. People find a way through just about anything.”

The City of Ember is a marvelous example of the necessity of a prologue in some cases since it lays the foundation of the story to follow: how Ember came to exist, created by the mysterious and long dead Builders to harbor humanity from some unknown disaster two centuries ago.   The only record they left of their existence was a timer box set to open in 200 years with instructions therein.  Each mayor of Ember was supposed to safeguard the vessel, passing it on to their successor when their time came to an end, but as things often go, the vital information was lost ad now Ember is dying.  Food is growing scarce and famine is imminent, but even more dire is the instability of their aging generator, because if it fails, Ember will go completely dark.

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Chained by Susanne Valenti (Cage of Lies #1) (DNF)

Title: Chained
Series Title: Cage of Lies
Author: Susanne Valenti
Genre: YA, Dystopian, Post-Apocalyptic
Date Added: January 3, 2016
Date Started: Unknown
Date Finished: Unknown
Percentage Read: 63%

Pages: 313
Publication Date: October 1, 2015
Media: Kindle

“Terrified of the contamination and the creatures it has created, humanity hides behind The Wall. No one knows what lies beyond the wasteland. Maya has never thought much about what might still be out there, lurking in the forgotten places. But when she’s thrust into the unknown, she is forced to question everything she has ever been told. Not everyone outside died, some of them became something… else. As her heart is torn in two, every choice she makes is harder than the last. What she discovers will change her forever. She knows she will probably die, but Maya has seen enough of death and she won’t let it have her without a fight.”


I feel incredibly bad about this book.  The author was kind enough to give me an eARC for an honest review, and I never delivered on my end of the bargain.  I ended up buying it anyway just because I like to support, and it was also easier to read the purchased item since it’s formatted for Kindle.

As you can see from the post title, I did not finish the novel; however, I would still highly recommend it if you are of the YA Dystopian loving variety (which has been stated numerous times, I’m really not).  It has parallels in both Divergent and Hunger Games, but doesn’t mirror either and in fact puts an interesting twist on the motifs. Like many books of this variety, things are not what they seem, and those in power can’t be trusted, and I was pleasantly shocked by some of the dangers Maya faced.  They were a bit more raw and dire than standard YA fare, but utterly plausible in this world and situation she found herself.

The one critique I have to give (I do want to be honest) has to do with a particular character being unconscious for nearly two-thirds of the book.  In fact they were still knocked out when I stopped reading.  This forestalled any chances of a love triangle forming, which may have been Ms. Valenti’s plan, but it seemed like a forced avoidance.  While there was an explanation given for the character’s state *spoiler* with the assumption that they would wake up well with no brain damage, *end spoiler* love triangles aren’t inherently bad (though they have become trite I suppose), and there was (and still is) also a potential resolution that would pair all of the important characters up.

Since I know that YA is not my preferred genre, I have to take my bias against it into account.  Chained is a nice scramble of popular paradigms, which is what the best stories do.  YA Is supposed to show younger readers that they shouldn’t always believed what they’re told.  They should fight for proof, not follow without any question, and learn how to think as opposed to what.  A major reveal of the story comes nicely in the midst of very high stakes.

The author has several more books planned in this series so if you enjoy this, there are plenty more to come!

3.5 stars

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The Girl With All the Gifts by M. R. Carey (DNF)

Title: The Girl With All the Gifts
Author: M.R. Carey
Genre: Post-Apocalyptic/Dystopian
Date Added: Unknown
Date Started: Unknown
Date Finished: June 19, 2014
Percentage Read: 36%

Pages: 460
Publication Date: January 14, 2014
Media: Kindle

“Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant Parks keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don’t like her. She jokes that she won’t bite, but they don’t laugh.

Melanie loves school. She loves learning about spelling and sums and the world outside the classroom and the children’s cells. She tells her favorite teacher all the things she’ll do when she grows up. Melanie doesn’t know why this makes Miss Justineau look sad.”


Unbeknownst to me before today, M.R. Carey comes with high acclaim.  He wrote Lucifer and Hellblazer, the latter of which is what the movie Constantine was based on.  Constantine was my favorite movie for many years.

I was extremely intrigued by this book; it was a different take on a familiar paradigm *spoiler* zombies *end spoiler* especially since I’ve never seen one as the main (and a sympathetic) character *spoiler* save for the movie Warmbodies, which I haven’t seen. *end spoiler*

Once the truth about Melanie came out, I lost interest, and I’m not really sure why.  The book is well written with a compelling plot, destitute setting, and unsure resolution.  From what I read of the reviews the ending is bittersweet, but beautiful.  I more than likely hit a slow spot in the narrative, and had I kept going, may have found the intrigue that rushed me through the beginning again.  At this point, though, I think I will leave it as an unfinished that I highly recommend.

3 stars.

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The Maze Runner by James Dashner (The Maze Runner #1)

This is one of the many articles/review that I have reblogged from Caffeine Crew, the collaborative geek blog I write for.  I am in the process of truly posting these here on my personal blog.  While they will be edited for any prior missed errors, I will not be really updating them beyond that so some information could potentially be outdated, erroneous, or defunct.

James Dashner’s The Maze Runner was the Caffeine Crew Reads book for August. Initially, I was worried I wouldn’t have time to both read and review this novel, but I figured I’d download a sample on my Kindle and at least give it a try. In doing so I realize the book was only around 380 pages long, which isn’t that bad, and while I wasn’t overly intrigued with the characters, the situation did spark some interest and the length was doable for the amount of time I had.

The Maze Runner Cover

The Maze Runner is the first novel in a YA dystopian trilogy (because that’s what’s hot now) followed by The Scorch Trials and The Death Cure with an added prequel of The Kill Order. The initial installment opens with a boy in an elevator who can only remember that his name is Thomas. He’s thrust into an all boy’s colony called the Glade where the so-named “Gladers” speak in slang reminiscent of William Golding’s Lord of the Flies, which is both an excellent novel and a difficult paragon to live up to.  No one will really answer Thomas’s questions about what’s going on much to his (and the reader’s) frustration. He’s only told the bare minimum by Alby, the leader, and Chuck, an annoying kid who somehow becomes his best friend.

The Glade is situated in the middle of a maze where runners go out every day trying to solve it in order to find a way home. The maze is guarded and patrolled by creatures known as grievers who look like slimy worms covered in spikes and claws (at least that’s what I took from the description) in addition to sentinels called beetle blades that are believed to report back to the Creators, the people who put them in the maze. Everyone there has no full memory of where they came from or who they were. The only glimpse they’re allowed of the past is if one of them is stung by a griever and is then given the “grief serum” in order to survive. The serum will save you, but you’ll go through the “changes,” where it’s believed you remember your past life. It’s for this reason that Thomas arouses the wrath of one of the boys Gally who “remembers” him and doesn’t like what sees.

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