[ARC Review] Shards & Ashes edited by Kelly Armstrong and Melissa Marr

Monday, February 18, 2013

Title: Shards & Ashes
Editor(s): Kelley Armstrong and Melissa Marr
Genre: Short Stories, Fantasy, Dystopian
Format: Paperback, 384 Pages
Publication Date: February 19, 2013
Publisher: HarperCollins Canada
Source: ARC received in exchange for an honest review

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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.

My Thoughts
I have always been a lover of short stories, and I always thought that if an author could write a very compelling and engaging short story then that is a marker for a great author. I am not saying that if an author in this collection didn't capture me with their stories that I don't love them as an author, that is not true at all. There were some stories in this collection that fell a little flat for me, and they were from authors that I loved very much, but it does not mean that their story changes my opinion of them.

Harken by Veronica Roth
I love Veronica Roth, I have since I first read Divergent and was sucked into her writing and the dystopian world she built. But I have to say that I did not love this story. I felt like it was missing something, because I really did not get attached to the characters or felt a connection of any kind. But, I really loved the concept of the story, I think it would make an interesting novel if she fleshed it out more. I would love to know about a world where there are certain people who can hear Life Songs of certain people and Death Songs of others. It was quite unique. I did love the main characters hesitation toward her mother, it felt very real to me, and I thought it was very touching that in her mothers sickness she found her worth. I loved that.
3/5 Stars

Branded by Kelley Armstrong
I absolutely loved this story, I really wish that this was a full novel because I would have loved to have the opportunity to follow these characters more. I loved the paranormal element to the story with werewolves and hybrids coupled with the dystopian setting. Kelley has a way of making me escape into any world she creates and this story was no different. I felt a connection to each character from the very beginning and I wanted to know more when the story ended. I wanted to know more about the werewolves that were Branded and sent outside the fortress, I wanted to know the life they lived. So in reality I want to ask Kelley to make this into her new YA series...please?
5/5 stars

Necklace of Raindrops by Margaret Stohl
With Beautiful Creatures I knew Margaret Stohl was a great writer, but you never really can tell who is writing when a story is written by two people. Well this is our first look at the talent that is Margaret Stohl. This story was beautifully written, her language and capability to engage the reader is amazing. I though there was an amazing concept in this story, a world where each person has a necklace of Raindrops, and each drop represents time. So you can use drops to pay for luxuries and such but it will cost you time. And once the drops are gone, you drop yourself leaving behind the life you knew. I love this concept, its so unique. But while I was reading I felt a lack of chemistry between the characters, and I didn't feel invested in their lives as much as I wanted. Yet the reveal at the end was enough to tide me over, it was a shock and I loved that.
3.5 Stars

Dogsbody by Rachel Cain
I will be honest here, I have never read anything by Rachel Cain before and I have to say that after reading this story, I might just start. Although I was a little confused about the story itself and the world (I dont think I can even explain it properly here) I thought her ability to connect elements of the story together was amazing. There were elements from the very beginning of the story that came full circle at the end of the story and I am a sucker for surprises. And I will tell you think, I did not see the end coming. Normally I can figure plot lines out, but this one came out of nowhere and I loved that.
3.5 Stars

Pale Rider by Nancy Holder
I am going to be honest here and say that this was my least favourite story out of the whole collection. I was a little bored while reading it and I didn't feel any connection whatsoever to the characters. I thought the concept was interesting but nothing really that unique.
2/5 Stars

Corpse Eaters by Melissa Marr
Melissa you have one twisted imagination and I loved it! Melissa Marr has always been very good at writing about the creepy and strange and this is no different, the characters were amazing well rounded and well developed and I couldn't help fall in love with them. I honestly wish this was a real novel because the idea of there being a group of creatures that liked to eat the rotting corpses of those who have died is very cool and something I have never read before. I loved that we got so much information in such a little amount of time, and it had everything a reader wants from a full length novel, let alone a short story. It was a different take on the dystopia genre with more emphasis on religion an cannibalism, which I found fascinating while reading it.
5/5 Stars

Burn 3 by Kami Garcia
I absolutely loved this story, it was a very plausible dystopian society, which can always be scary when you read it. This story involves a world where the ozone layer has disappeared in some regions and therefore people get third degree burns if they are not under the protection of The Dome. We meet a young girl and her younger sister, and when the sister goes missing the main character has to find her, and when she does she discovers the hidden secret behind how the government is helping the burned. I felt a connection right away to the characters and I thought they were all well rounded and well developed. The only thing that I did not like about this story was that it was too short, I wanted more.
5/5 Stars

Love is a Choice by Beth Revis
The concept for this story was very interesting, set in space (a location that Beth is very familiar with) we meet a young man who is in hiding from the dictator that controls the ship that everyone lives on. His hiding is a direct result of him asking too many questions about the drug that is put in the water supply in order to keep all residence happy. There were a lot of references to more secrets that were being hidden but they were never revealed, which was but frustrating for me. But overall I enjoyed the story, I thought the love story was not done to its full potential, I really didn't feel their connection or their chemistry, but them again that was not the focus of the story. I felt that there was more to this story and when I reached the end it felt a little unfinished. I really wanted more.
3.5/5 Stars

Miasma by Carrie Ryan
This one was very interesting. Also verging on Melissa Marr's uber creepiness, this story follows a young girl and her family as they struggle to find a way around this plague that os ravaging their town. When her mother gets taken away from having symptoms, and sees her sister falling to the same fate, she tries everything in her power to go to place where wildlife grows in abundance and where the air quality is not so harmful. It is only when she meets a young nobleman who sacrifices everything that she realizes that there is good in the world. Overall I really liked this story, it has a budding romance, family bonding and characters that were very memorable.
4/5 Stars

Overall I thought this collection was very well done, it exhibited many different worlds that had one thing on common, they all had main characters that wanted more than what they had. Whether they were male or female, they still wanted more than the life they were living and they would do anything to attain that allusion of happiness, even if it meant hurting the ones they loved. If you are a fan of any of these authors, this collection is worth your time. It will allow you to see beyond each authors "famous series" and show you the talent they have and what they are capable of writing outside of their respected series.

4/5 Stars

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