Posts Tagged ‘dystopia’

There were a lot of things I liked about this book, and a lot of things I didn’t. Part of it might’ve been my big expectations after watching the movie. The movie ‘children of men’ wasn’t perfect, but it was very interesting, and entertaining to watch.

By contrast I found the book rather slow. A lot of it is the main character telling us about the world. Now, the world he lives in is interesting, but I’d rather see it than be told about it. The style also switches between third person and first (when we get snatches of his diary), only there doesn’t seem much point in the switch. We get the same kind of information either way, and the diary gets thrown away part way through the book and doesn’t get mentioned again. I kind of feel the author should’ve stuck to one (probably third) and not bothered with the diary bits.

Before we go further, a quick summary of the book: Jaded professor guy is asked to help a rebel group in a world where no children have been born for over twenty years. It’s thought everyone is infertile and the human race will end.

The main character was unlikable. Now I love loveable characters, and I love foul-mouthed jerks who everyone but their best friends hate. But a character needs to have some redeeming qualities. Take Jon, my self-declared jerk from my novella ‘when the world ends.’ He’s blunt, rude, slashed other kids bike tires when he was young. He’s the sort of guy to turn his back on the world when things go belly up, and look out for only himself. Except for one thing. There are two people in the world he loves, and he’ll do anything for them, including trying to grow a conscience.

The main character in this book didn’t have much going for him. He had a wife who he never loved, a child who he also never loved. He’s formed some friendships, but none of them are close, and none with nice people. He first starts trying to help people because he has a crush on one of them. Then it’s like he feels he has obligation. He shows a bit more in the way of feelings toward the end. That was nice, but because he’s spent so long being shallow I couldn’t quite connect with what he was feeling.

It’s a shame because there was a lot of opportunity. He was childhood friends (though from reading his feelings it’s more like acquaintances) with the main bad character. A closer connected soured by their differences in opinion could’ve made him a deeper character. Or, like the film did, merging the rebel lady he’s attracted to with his ex-wife, and you have a whole boat load of emotions to play with. I mean, they lost their kid, and this is a world without kids. Plus, in the book the slave immigrants are mentioned, but we see none of them. In the film, we actually had one as a main character. And the prison island where everyone who commits any kind of crime is shipped off to. That annoyed me because we hear so much about it, but we never go there. In the film going there is a huge part of the plot.

In fact in the book the plot starts off very slow. It speeds up toward the end, but this is not an action packed book.

So. Plot = slow. Characters = shallowly developed and unlikable. Writing = ok, but a lot of telling (particularly at the start). Feels = not that much. I get that the author might’ve gone for a desolate feeling, but the whole book feels way too empty feeling-wise. slightly more feelings toward the end.

What saved this book for me was the world. This is a fascinating world. With no new babies about, it’s become the kind of place where middle age women are congratulated in the streets for their baby dolls by strangers who coo over the models as they would a real infant.

Baby animals are christened and treated as children. There are even fights over custody. And most fascinating of all was the thought put into how the youngest members of this society turned out. As you can imagine, they were doted on, and until they were found to be as sterile as the rest, they were treated as the future saviors of the human race.

The result? sociopaths who believe themselves better than anyone else. They murder people for fun (and get away with it because of their status), and make no efforts to better themselves. The parallels between those worshiped children and how some of the more spoiled children in the real world turn out was a little scary.

I give this book three stars over all. Brilliant world. Fascinating idea. Not so good execution of said idea.

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The most common complaint I’ve heard about this book is people going into it expecting a little girl with some kind of superpowers. To be fair, the description is a little vague:

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.

Don’t think superpowers. Minor spoiler in brackets: (zombies).

It’s not that big a spoiler. The author lays on the hints thick pretty early. I twigged from the description (there is a hint in there if you look).

My favorite part of this book has to be the science. Many people have tried sciencing this condition before, but this author comes at it from an angle I haven’t seen before. Fungus. It was very interesting. Also very disturbing since the pov we get most of the science information from is a very nasty lady. Very very nasty. Do not like at all.

Our other povs are Melanie herself, her teacher Miss Justineau, a soldier Sergeant Parks who at first I hated, then he grew on me, and a younger soldier. I kind of wonder whether it would’ve been better with fewer povs. It worked as it is, but the structure seemed a bit odd. At first we have Melanie’s pov, and then a little from evil science lady, and then it’s like all the other povs just dropped in together. If they’d been spaced out better it would’ve seemed a bit less clunky.

Aside from sudden Pov overload, the story flowed well. Nice pacing which made for a thrilling read. Definitely a ‘must turn page to find out what happens next’ kind of book.

No sooner do we start to know our way around Melanie’s small world, than everything explodes. We find ourselves travelling across the desolate Britain, avoiding wild humans ‘Junkers’ and the infected ‘Hungries’ who earn their name.

The characters develop well. Melanie grows up fast in this new world. Her teacher finds her backbone and learns to stand up for what she believes. Other characters I started off hating, and ending up loving. Not evil science lady though. I hated her until the end, but by the end I understood why she believed so strongly in what she was doing. I even felt the teeny tinniest bit sorry for her.

The author remembers well that every villain is the hero in their own story. I rarely see that crafted so well into the characters. Here we have only heroes, each with their own agendas. Some of those agendas cross and make conflict. Others start off crossed and line up through the course of the story.

There’s this interesting theme of morality running through the book. Which course is the right one to take? What sacrifice is worth the goal you have in mind? It results in an ending that some people were mad about. And sure, it wasn’t the ending you might expect, but I think it fit the book well.

Good plot, great characters (with awesome development and lots of work put into motivations), edge of your seat pacing, fascinating world, good writing. Four stars. It would’ve been five, but there’s something about that pov onslaught at the beginning that unsettled me. Good book overall.

One warning. While this is a good book, it’s not a happy one. So don’t expect sunshine and rainbows.

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This is the third book in the series. For my review of the first book go to:…-teeth-5-stars/


Unlike the huge gap between the first and second books, the third takes place almost immediately after the second. You can more or less understand the second book without reading the first, but if you don’t read the second before this one, you’re going to get confused.

Like the other books we get a new pov character. This one is Annah, Gabry’s sister. Now Mary from the first book was a dreamer. Gabry was a scared kid. Annah is scarred inside and out. She doesn’t believe in dreams. She doesn’t have the luxury of showing fear or any kind of weakness. She lives in a tough world, and to survive she has to be just as tough.

I do like this variety of pov characters. It’s interesting to be able to see this world through different eyes.

The plot was interesting. There’s plenty of tension going on. The writing is pretty, and the world is both beautiful and terrifying. And best of all: no love triangles! Well, there’s a bit of self-pitying and whining from Annah and Catcher, our newest pair. That got a little annoying. Other than that this book was awesome. I think it might be my favourite of the series.

The other books are pretty dark, but this one hit new levels of gloom and despair. That was Ok though, because our characters didn’t give up. They kept trying.

That’s the message I’ve taken away from these books. The world they’re set in is so absent of hope, but they don’t give up. They find their own hope. It could be a dream to see the ocean one day, or helping a loved one, or finding your friends again. Whatever drives them, once they find it, that’s enough to keep them going.

There’s a beautiful section near the end of this book. Annah is tired and injured. There are zombies shambling behind her, and if she stops they’ll get her. She’s gone through so much already, and even if she keeps ahead of them she’s no idea if she’ll be able to get out of the situation she’s in.

Her courage is not shown through an epic fight, nor a moment of brilliant inspiration. It’s putting one foot in front of the other for hours. There’s only a small chance she’ll make it, but she keeps going because of that innate desire to live. That single-minded determination to survive.

I think that section sums up what I loved most about all the books. Our greatest accomplishments often aren’t sudden moments of triumph or epic showdowns. They’re the drive to keep going, no matter how tired you are, and how much you want to stop. No matter how dark your world gets there is always something to hold onto, and some reason to take that next step.

Love triangles aside, I really enjoyed these books. And if you liked the last two books, you should check this one out.

For more reviews on this book go to:

This is the second book in the Under the Never Sky series. For my review of the first book go to:…er-sky-4-stars

You know, I think this book was actually better than the first one. The character’s actions feel more natural in this one, whereas in the first they do a lot of things that seem forced. And while I applaud the author’s decision not to go for insta-love, the two main characters flipped from ‘hate their guts’ to ‘lovey dovey’ way too quickly.

The best thing for me about this sequel was the world building. We get to spend more time with other characters that make our world that much wider since the first spent a lot of time just with the main couple. The interactions between Aria and Perry’s tribe are really interesting, as are her reactions to the rest of the world she explores in this book.

Aria spent a good chunk of this book away from Perry’s side, and went on a quest with Roar. And guess what? She didn’t flop down in despair, not able to function without her guy. She got on with things and grew as a character. Too many books have the girl’s only thoughts being about the guy, and without him they become two-dimensional. She functioned well enough before him, and functions even better afterward because of how he had helped her grow as a person.

To me that’s the definition of a healthy relationship. Each person helps the other face new challenges and become better. If you end up even more useless because of knowing someone, then there’s something wrong with that relationship.

Plus she got to spend time with a male character other than her boyfriend, and they don’t hook up! In fact they form a pretty cool friendship. Finally, an author who believes a guy and a girl can spend time together without it ending in sex (and if they get together in the next book I’m going to be really cross).

The plot is good, and the book is action packed. This book was a fun read, but wasn’t edge of your seat, will stick with you forever kind of thing. There seemed to be something a little off with it (other than the flawed science), so this gets four stars from me instead of five.

For more reviews on this book go to:

First of all, a warning. I found the ending to this story so sad, as soon as I finished it my mind went ‘nope’ and promptly rewrote it. In my version our main character: Ray Garraty and the character he grew closest to: Peter McVries kept each other going until they were the last two. Then they found a loophole by falling down at the same time. Since a victor was needed, they were both allowed to live (although the rules would surely be changed the next time around.) They then spend the rest of their lives being best friends and helping each other through their ordeal.

In my head that’s what happened! If you start talking about the real version I’m prepared to cover my ears and chant ‘I’m not listening’ over and over again until you stop. You will not take my vaguely happy ending from me.

To see what the real ending was, you just need to look at the blurb:

On the first day of May, 100 teenage boys meet for a race known as ?The Long Walk.? If you break the rules, you get three warnings. If you exceed your limit, what happens is absolutely terrifying…

A hint? Only one victor is needed, and they basically get anything they need for the rest of their life.

I’ve heard people criticize this book by saying  that no one would volunteer for something like this. I’m not so sure. America’s a pretty big place to find a hundred idiots. And as Stephen King points out through the characters, people (particularly young people) tend to think they’re immortal. You’d go into this thinking of the prize, not the other kind of prize that awaits you after your third warning.

The characters have a long time to think about why they volunteered for this, and it’s interesting to look at some of the reasons. I’m reminded of teenagers who do stupid stunts like jump from cliffs into water, try to jump over moving cars, or play with guns. Is it because they didn’t think things through, because they loathe themselves on some level and have a death wish, or just because they were bored?  The guys in this story mention all these reasons at some point, and it provides an in depth look on areas of our own society.

Stephen King uses a more intimate POV in this story than he usually does. That and the rich characters made me feel like I was seeing a lot deeper into the characters than I usually do. Some like Garraty and McVries I couldn’t help but fall in love with. And I ended up liking most of the others we’re introduced to. With the exception of one hateful guy, but even with him I didn’t want him to end up the way he did.

Reading this, my feet hurt, I was thirsty, hungry, tired, too hot, too cold. But most of all my heart ached for these guys who were in such extreme conditions that they couldn’t help form friendships, only to know they’d lose them soon enough, and most likely their own lives too. I think this one has earned the new title of my favorite Stephen King book ever (although I’m never reading it again because of the ending.)

For more reviews on this book check out:

This is a prequel novella to the dystopian romance ‘Under the Never Sky.’ For my review on that novel, check out the following link:

I’d say this is an interesting story on its own, but not quite compelling enough without the novel. The novel (obviously as it’s longer) goes a lot deeper into the world building and there’s a lot more at stake. Saying that, with the novel I’d call this one a five star novella.

Here’s the blurb:

Before Perry and Aria, there was Roar and Liv.

After a childhood spent wandering the borderlands, Roar finally feels like he has a home with the Tides. His best friend Perry is like a brother to him, and Perry’s sister, Liv, is the love of his life. But Perry and Liv’s unpredictable older brother, Vale, is the Blood Lord of the Tides, and he has never looked kindly on Roar and Liv’s union. Normally, Roar couldn’t care less about Vale’s opinion. But with food running low and conditions worsening every day, Vale’s leadership is more vital—and more brutal—than ever. Desperate to protect his tribe, Vale makes a decision that will shatter the life Roar knew and change the fate of the Tides forever.

This shows something that happened before the novel with two of the more minor characters. It’s really interesting to get a deeper look at those two characters and the dynamics of their relationship with Perry who is one of the main characters of the novel. Since I’m a little obsessive about reading things in order I read this one before I read the novel. I read the novel right after, so I think I still got the full impact. When those two characters came up in the book I knew the gravity of their relationship and the pain they must be going through being apart. It really enhanced my experience of reading the novel.

I’d say if you’ve read the novel and loved it, then definitely read this one as well. If you’re planning on reading the novel then pick this one up to read either directly before or afterwards. The full impact of the novella only comes once you’ve read the novel, and the novella definitely enhances the novel.

For more reviews on this novella go to the following link:

Finished this review on wednesday and clicked publish, but it’s only showing as a draft. Weird. Anyways, here’s last wednesdays review in case you haven’t read it.

A more unknown book this time. Only 206 reviews on goodreads. I hate risking reading a bad book because I have a disturbing compulsion to finish the book, and if I don’t like it, that’s a really sucky process. Anyways, the ratings were decent, and its a dystopia (my ultimate love), AND it stars an autistic main character!

Since I happen to be autistic, I love coming across a good book with a well written autistic character. This was one of them. Here’s the blurb:

After a virus claimed nearly the entire global population, the world changed. The United States splintered into fifty walled cities where the surviving citizens clustered to start over. The Company, which ended the plague by bringing a life-saving vaccine back from the future, controls everything. They ration the scant food and supplies through a lottery system, mandate daily doses of virus suppressant, and even monitor future timelines to stop crimes before they can be committed.

Brilliant but autistic, sixteen-year-old Clover Donovan has always dreamed of studying at the Waverly-Stead Academy. Her brother and caretaker, West, has done everything in his power to make her dream a reality. But Clover’s refusal to part with her beloved service dog denies her entry into the school. Instead, she is drafted into the Time Mariners, a team of Company operatives who travel through time to gather news about the future.

When one of Clover’s missions reveals that West’s life is in danger, the Donovans are shattered. To change West’s fate, they’ll have to take on the mysterious Company. But as its secrets are revealed, they realize that the Company’s rule may not be as benevolent as it seems. In saving her brother, Clover will face a more powerful force than she ever imagined… and will team up with a band of fellow misfits and outsiders to incite a revolution that will change their destinies forever.

Things I liked about it:

The idea. Basically it revolves around a time portal that stays exactly two years ahead of present time. People go there, bring back information and try not to mess things up too much and change the future. Not totally original, but interesting anyway.

Clover. The author seems to get that people with autism are varied, and capable of all kinds of things neurotypical people do, including relationships, but sometimes in a different way. I liked that most if not all of Clover’s big issues with her autism weren’t from her autism, but from how others treat her because of it. Clover can function pretty much ‘normally’ with a few minor changes to her environment such as having her service dog around. But do people want to allow these changes that barely even affect them? No way! It has some good parallels with discrimination issues in our world.

West. You really feel for the guy. He just wants to do what’s best for his sister, and ends up sacrificing his own future to do so. No one understands Clover the way he does, not even their father, so he’s basically the only one really there for her. I really liked Clover and his relationship.

Secondary characters: Most of the secondary characters are well fleshed out. The only niggle I had with this was Jude. He’s a more prominent character with an interesting back-story, but there were times when I felt I should know him a bit better. It’s a small thing that I was mostly able to push to the back of my mind while reading.

Timey whimy wibbly wobbly: The two year loop is complex. You know something from the future you can change the present, and it doesn’t always go the way you expect. It’s hard to tell sometimes if you’re changing something for the better or not. This book gets into some of those ideas that make your head spin. This can be good or bad. Personally I love that kind of mind bending stuff and wanted more of it, but some may not like being led to ideas that make their brains do gymnastics.

Things I didn’t like:

Some parts of the plot: Overall I liked the plot, but there were some areas when I thought the author could’ve made more excitement out of the situation. More risk, more close calls, more action. Most of the time the characters were running and hiding, which was OK, but I wish they’d been forced into the offensive more.

Overly convenient: Some plot points seem to make things too easy for the characters. I wanted more struggle, more pain. Yes, this may make me a bad person. Loose threads: This may be addressed in later books, but there were a few of these. The ending: It kind of didn’t. I was expecting some big finale, but it just trailed off. That said, I found the book interesting enough for a read, but the ending did disappoint me.

Four out of five stars. I’d call this book flawed, but worth a read, particularly if you like reading about autistic characters. And in case you want to read more reviews about this book, here’s the link:


This one’s very popular right now. Over 50k ratings on goodreads with an average rating of over four stars. Plus it’s a dystopia. I dabble in other genres, but I think dystopia is my favorite. And look at the blurb:



Aria has lived her whole life in the protected dome of Reverie. Her entire world confined to its spaces, she’s never thought to dream of what lies beyond its doors. So when her mother goes missing, Aria knows her chances of surviving in the outer wasteland long enough to find her are slim. Then Aria meets an outsider named Perry. He’s searching for someone too. He’s also wild – a savage – but might be her best hope at staying alive. If they can survive, they are each other’s best hope for finding answers.

My favorite thing about this book is the world the author built. You’ve got the folks in the Reverie who are scared of all things outside and nature. They plug themselves into virtual worlds and basically just play all day, flitting from whatever they want to do next. Reality seems kind of boring when you can experience anything you like without leaving your room.

Then you’ve got the outsiders, who live in tribes, hunt and kill. Plus some of them have these neat powers. Yes, a dystopian world with superpowers. Love those. So two of these people clash, and they hate each other. It’s awesome. Definitely no love at first sight here. Don’t know what you’re mileage is, but I prefer the added conflict as long as they don’t get all whiny about it. And while Aria’s character is a bit whiny at first, the conflict between them is good and realistic. It’s not just ‘I hate this guy because I’m brought up to hate him, but secretly find him attractive.’ They hate each other’s guts, and hate that they need each other even more.

So that’s the good. And it is good. Great world building, interesting characters (even the minor ones), cool conflict. Plus, did you catch the questions raised about today’s society? There are some interesting ideas raised about the world of today where everyone is plugged into technology, and the world before that (in this book portrayed to the extremes of hunter gatherer / early agriculture times). It gives some interesting ideas about how our brains might be affected (which don’t seem to be completely scientifically accurate, but are definitely interesting).

Now for the bad. The relationship between the two characters started well (as in hating each others guts), and ended well. They actually had a friendship instead of just sexual attraction like some other books. But the bit between ‘I hate you,’ and ‘I’d die for you,’ came on too fast. There was some development, but not enough in my opinion, so it felt a bit weird. Still, it was pretty awesome when they became an epic fighting team.

Character development was great. Aria’s development was great to watch as she went from scared little girl to kickass warrior. There were some moments that felt ooc near the end. A couple moments felt like the author needed them to do something, but the characters didn’t want to. I found myself raising my eyebrow at the details of what the technology had done to their brains. It felt quite forced and overly convenient. If you know anything about brain structure, there’s some suspension of belief needed, but the general idea of technology changing brains was interesting.

Overall I’d give this four stars. Very nice idea, excellent world building, many interesting characters, great character development. If you like dystopians I’d say give it a go. For more reviews on this book follow the link:

I think this book gets my vote for creepiest idea I’ve ever read. More than anything that’s because some of the attitudes in the book are very present in today’s society. I’ll let you read the blurb before I carry on:

Connor, Risa, and Lev are running for their lives.

The Second Civil War was fought over reproductive rights. The chilling resolution: Life is inviolable from the moment of conception until age thirteen. Between the ages of thirteen and eighteen, however, parents can have their child “unwound,” whereby all of the child’s organs are transplanted into different donors, so life doesn’t technically end. Connor is too difficult for his parents to control. Risa, a ward of the state is not enough to be kept alive. And Lev is a tithe, a child conceived and raised to be unwound. Together, they may have a chance to escape and to survive.

Most of the chapters begin with a quote, and a scary amount of them are from recent news headlines. There was a survey not so long ago on british teenagers. News stations picked up the results and spread them everywhere. For a good few months I couldn’t go anywhere without seeing or hearing about the state of british youth. ‘Teenagers are yobs’ the headlines said, and the newscasters went on to say that the survey had found most of british teenagers to have committed an act of violence. I forget the percentage, but it was something huge like 80 or 90 percent of teenagers. The newscasters then went on in dramatic voices discussing how this was a terrible generation, the world was doomed, cheery stuff like that.

Scary stuff huh? Not really. I don’t like accepting facts at face value, so I dug a little deeper. You want to know what the question all those ‘violent’ teenagers had answered yes to? It was this:

Have you ever felt angry after being provoked by someone?

Nothing about violence, just did you feel angry. Really I’ve surprised the percentage isn’t higher. We have some pretty laid back teens that they don’t even feel a little angry after being provoked.

Not long after I studied the Rwandan genocide at school. There are certain stages a culture must go through before it is able to alienate and kill a group of people like that. Reading through them I found a scary amount could be applied to how society treats teenagers:

1. CLASSIFICATION: Simple categorising: teenagers. We see them as different from other groups.

2. SYMBOLIZATION: We give them names and symbols or distinguish them by dress or color. Such as teens, and some less savory names for teenagers. And I’m sure some people have a mind’s eye picture of what teenagers look like: hoodies or skimpy clothing.

3. DEHUMANIZATION: This is where things like the above study comes in. “They aren’t like us, they’re violent yobs.”

4. ORGANIZATION: Not so much for the killing front, but I’m sure everyone has heard adults group together and talk about the state of todays youth. A television campaign was launched to counteract the negative stereotypes of teenagers when people on several social networking sites grouped together to talk about the ‘teenage problem.’ They described teenagers as ‘animals’ and ‘yobs.’ Some even suggested that they needed to be locked up or killed.

5. POLARIZATION: Extremists drive groups apart by broadcasting hate speech and propaganda. See the above study.

6. PREPARATION: Victims are identified and separated out because of their ethnic or religious identity. Rights are denied, etc. Think about that a moment. When I was a teenager most shops treated me terribly. Employees would serve other people first even if I was in front of them, staff would follow me around, glaring at me as if I was doing something wrong just by existing. Most shops had signs on the windows, and a lot still do a decade later. These signs said ‘no more than one school child at a time,’ and various variations of that. Where have we seen signs like them before? How about the signs around the second world war saying ‘no jews,’ or ‘no colored.’ Mothers used to hurry their children away from me. One of my younger sisters hated going into shops as a teenager because she was shy and the adults were always rude toward her, even shouting when she hadn’t done anything wrong. They would make her cry.

7. EXTERMINATION. We haven’t reached this stage yet. There are news reports of teenagers killed by adults, but none on a genocide scale that I know of.

I’d say we’ve been hovering between stages 3 and 6 the past decade. Sometimes like with the yob incident the whole country seems to jump up to stage 5 and 6. It took a very visible advertising campaign using those same news stations to diffuse that situation. I’ve met quite a few people with stage 6 mindset, but thankfully they seem to be unorganised.

Unwind takes this type of mindset and pushes it further. The premise is that a war between pro lifes and pro choices ended in a truce. Abortion is illegal, but between the ages of 13 and 18 the parents or guardians can sign up their kid to be unwound. When I first started reading it I comforted myself with the idea that something like this could never happen, but I’ve read book two now and the more you read the more realistic it seems to become.

Some people hate teenagers, there’s no denying that. And if this did happen then it would be difficult to undo. In a world where organ transplants are commonplace, and not much can kill you except old age, it would take a lot to go back.

One of the biggest attitudes in the book it ‘someone elses problem.’ While babies can’t be aborted, they can be left on another’s doorstep for them to raise. The attitudes of some of the adults reminded me of stories of jews in world war two. Some viewed runaway unwinds as inhuman, and there is a lot of propaganda to support this. Even the ones that didn’t seem to support unwinding didn’t want to be involved and turned their backs on them. The few that helped did it in secret, and it’s very visible that they are going against the core of society at cost to themselves.

This is one of those books that stays with you, and makes you think differently about the world. Go read it.

And in case you still aren’t convinced, check out more reviews on this book here: