Whisper by Lynette Noni

Genre: YA Science Fiction/Dystopia

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Whisper was a treasure of a tale about secrets, hidden identities and superpowers.

The story follows Jane Doe, aka Subject 684, at the Lengard facility in Sydney, Australia. She’s a subject there and has been mentally and physically tested every day for over two years. Her reason for being there is unknown but it’s hinted at her possible powers throughout the first part of the book. All comes to a halt when she is assigned to work with Ward, a teenager like her who’s objective is to bring out her power. We find out Jane is a Speaker, and more importantly a Creator – an ability to speak words with intent and also create just by speaking. She’s the first Creator in a long time and Lengard soon finds her invaluable. She joins learning ranks with other Speakers to learn her craft and eventually be used by the government as a weapon. Things change though when Jane learns about the Resistance, rogue Speakers who question Lengard and its training and tell Jane about hidden experiments existing within its walls. Jane must decide for herself if she should trust Ward and her friends or if she should question her past and see past Lengard’s clean pristine surface…

This was a surprise read. I read it a bit blindly and just enjoyed having it all unfold. It was set in Australia which is rare to read about in YA these days, and I found the characters were likeable. I think I’m also really into superhero/superpower books these days and was happy this book had that and also great camaraderie.

Points of interest:

– I liked the story. I miss reading books where things unravel and you’re almost as blind as the MC. Jane unbeknownstenly is part of a bigger picture and home truths are discovered about Lengard throughout the book.

– Jane Doe was more interesting than her name suggests. We only get so much from her in the book as she’s discovering more about herself as you read, but she has a nice quality to her that makes you root for her.

– I liked the group of characters. The general camaraderie was awesome and I liked how everyone had their own personality. The humour was great.

– Ward and Jane’s relationship was interesting to read about. He played a lot of mind games with her but I liked how Jane held her own. Her honesty about her whole situation was refreshing and I’m intrigued to see her character arc.

– It’s set in Australia! YA books are never set there I feel so this was a breath of fresh air.

– It has a mild love triangle which is bearable. It’s a cheesy YA trope but I like it sometimes and felt Whisper did it right. The book had little romance and was more plot driven, so the love triangle was there but not overpowering.

– Without spoiling, we had a literal mad scientist as a villain! He’s crazy, deranged and just 100% believes in his messed up theories and I found my heart racing with his scenes.

I’d really recommend this book. Whisper had all the components of a great scifi/dystopian novel that I haven’t read in awhile, and blends it altogether with a stellar set of characters. Pick this one up!

The Wolves of Winter by Tyrell Johnson

Genre: Post apocalyptic/dystopian fiction

Rating: 4/5 stars

If you want to be fully immersed in a world with all of your senses, pick up The Wolves of Winter. It’ll do just that.

The story follows 23 year old Lynn Mcbride who lives with her remaining family in the sparse deserted land in Yukon, Canada. The world has gone to hell as continents clash and fight, with an eventual flu outbreak leaving the world’s occupants scattered to fend for themselves. Things are dire as Lynn and her family hunt to survive and deal with the possible idea that they’re the last of humankind. The story changes pace when Jax, a lonesome traveller, shows up with more questions that need answering…

I quite enjoyed this one. I always appreciate some adult fiction from my normal YA as the character’s ambitions are quite different, and the writing style is more to the point.

Some positive notes:

– The world portrayed was so vivid. The snowy landscape felt so real and I could imagine how cold they all felt. The harsh landscape paired with the driven characters made a formidable novel.

– Lynn was a great protagonist. She’s strong, to the point and knows her worth. It was so nice having an assertive lead who took the reins of her life and went after her own goals.

– The family dynamic added that emotional tether needed in survival fiction. With a father deceased, Lynn’s uncle became the father figure to their makeshift family of Lynn, her mother, brother and family friends son Ramsey. They bonded and worked together to survive, and made a great team against any opposing threats.

Some negative notes:

– I felt the ‘flu pandemic’ aspect that was introduced as part of the conflict wasn’t original enough. The first half of the book started as a realistic post apocalyptic war zone, but the introduction of the disease outbreak, whilst also realistic, made this novel lose its unique appeal. I’ve read too many novels with the outbreak storyline and the ‘perfect cure’ being the only answer. I just wanted something a bit different.

– The romance, whilst quite innocent, wasn’t 100% necessary for me. Trust me, I like romance in a book, but I always wonder in dystopian/survival stories how the characters have time to develop feelings and act on them when their world is going to hell. I understood Lynn and Jax’s romance, but also cringed a bit.

Overall, I really enjoyed this one. The stakes were high and I was definitely on a rollercoaster ride of emotions. If you want an intriguing plot, pick this one up!