Monday, 23 March 2015


Three young adult authors from the Netherlands use their storytelling talents to explore worlds where nothing is as it seems and no one is truly safe.

Title: Defiant
Author: Mari Li, Jen Minkman, & Lis Lucassen
Publisher: Storm Publishers
Release Date: 26th March 2015

BLURB from Goodreads
What can you do when the society you live in isn’t as good and grand as people want you to believe? For Emma, Leia, and Justa, there is only one way to survive – by being defiant.

The Red Messenger
Some things are better left unsaid – or unquestioned.
When Emma finds a mysterious note in a coat that once belonged to her twin sister Sophia, the words written on it won’t leave her alone: “The Angel has come”. Angels are a part of forbidden folklore, remnants of the old Jewish religion that was banned by the Realm long ago. Sophia had secrets she never shared with Emma, and they demand to be unraveled. Now, Emma’s quest will change her world forever. 

The Island
Leia lives on the Island, where children leave their parents to take care of themselves when they are only ten years old. Across this Island runs a wall that no one has ever crossed. No one wants to – because the Fools living in the west, behind the wall, are deluded and believe in illusions. That’s what The Book says, the only thing left to the Eastern Islanders by their ancestors.
But when a strange man washes ashore and Leia meets a Fool face to face, her life will never be the same. Is what she and her friends believe about the Island really true? 

The Tribunal
When Justa is summoned for jury duty in the Tribunal, she is sure of one thing: she needs to stick to the rules in order to get her best friend’s murderer convicted. In her society, jurisdiction is infallible. The choice ahead of her seems clear – but soon, Justa is forced to choose between justice and lies. Will she use her head over her heart, or will Aron, the accused who dares to look at her with such disdain in his eyes, change her mind for good?


I heard about this collection via Jen Minkman whose books I have read before. I had already read and reviewed The Island but was instantly interested in reading the other two books in this collection. Jen Minkman has actually translated the other two titles in this collection into English. I also love the dystopian genre so reading this collection was a must!

I received a free e-copy of this book from Jen Minkman in exchange for my honest review.
This book is a collection of three short story/novella books. The cover depicts harsh looking terrain with barbed wire representing being caged or imprisoned, with the brightly coloured butterfly representing hope and the possibility of freedom. Would the cover make me notice the book on a bookstore shelf enough to make me pick it up and want to learn more? Yes, the cover immediately interests me and gives the impression of the dystopian genre, which I am a fan of. 

The Red Messenger
So the first book in the collection is The Red Messenger by Mari Li. This story is set in the Germany, around the time the Aryan race were deemed the superior race, and the Jewish people were persecuted. The main character is Emma Petrova, we meet Emma as she is seriously considering throwing herself from an upstairs window so she can be with her sister who died in an accident recently. Sophia was Emma's twin sister, they live with their guardian and Uncle Peter Petrova and his own daughter, their cousin Lorelei. When Emma is going through her sister Sophia's clothes and belongings she holds up the bright red coat that Sophia was wearing when her "accident" happened. Emma discovers a scrap of paper with a name and an address on it, of someone she doesn't know. How did Sophia know this person and not her? Intrigued about who the mysterious person is and why her sister was visiting or planning to visit her? In an attempt to feel closer to her recently departed sister Emma decides to go to the address.
Emma discovers a secret side of Sophia that she herself had not even glimpsed. As Emma becomes embroiled in seeing through her sisters last "mission" she desperately needs someone to confide in. Sadly she chooses to trust someone that doesn't deserve her trust. Emma is devastatingly betrayed by the very person that did the same to her sister. Emma is taken along with her new Jewish friends to a work camp. She undergoes the harsh realities of being Jewish or being a Jewish collaborator. The Red Messenger tells a little of the different stories of the Jewish citizens that have bee incarcerated in the camp at the same time as Emma. Will Emma live or perish in the camp as many around her are doing. How can she survive such harsh conditions when she was brought up in another world, of privilege and plenty. I also want to add that the title of the novella fits it perfectly. The writing style of the book and content reminded me a little of Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman.
So did I enjoy the first book in this collection? I really did, I was immediately pulled right into this book within the very first paragraph. Would I want to read more about the characters in this book? I would love to know more abut the journey that Emma and Uriah undertake near the end of the novella. Having said the story does have a natural end as you finish it so I am doubtful that this story is or may become part of a series.
Would I want to read other titles by this author? I enjoyed the quite fast pace of this book and the descriptions and writing style, so I would take a look at any book written by this author.

The Island
The next book in this collection is The Island by Jen Minkman. As I said I have read this novella which is the first in a series of novella's that make up a trilogy written by Jen Minkman.
(Since first reading this book some character names have been changed so my review has been adjusted/updates with the new character names)
This book has been a really difficult one to review for me, as I loved Jen's other book Shadow's Of Time so had high expectations of this book The Island.
The blurb gives a great description of the book, and would further entice me into wanting to read the book. This is the Author's first attempt at the dystopian genre and I have to say on the whole I did enjoy it. I loved the setting and basis of the story. The only thing I didn't like was the Star Wars references . .. I don't think they were really needed. To me they took the genre in a more quirky direction. I love the characters of Leia and Colin and the basic plot. the pace and writing style is great. The book really didn't need the quirkiness of the star wars references in any way. It was a much better book without those. The book in the story which connected the Star Wars references could have just been an ancient book with its own rules. The whole parents and virus theme was strong enough to stand alone without any of the Star Wars references. Had I known about the Star Wars references, I admit, I would have been put off reading it.
So did I enjoy the novella? On the whole yes, I just think it could have been even better without certain references. Would I recommend the novella? Yes but more in a quirky dystopian genre than a recommendation to a straight dystopian fan. Would I read more dystopian by Jen Minkman? Definitely the roots of a fantastic story are there and I did enjoy the book. I do enjoy Jen's writing a lot. Would I want to read more about the characters in this novella? Yes I would. Would I read other work by Jen Minkman? Definitely, I would give anything Jen has written a go! I hope I have not offended her in my honest appraisal of her book,. I do not mean to be negative, I just felt the book could have been even better.

The Tribunal
This the final novella in the dystopian collection, The Tribunal by Lis Lucassen. This book is set in a typical dystopian society, with the "haves" and "have nots" in this case the "haves" are "Sectorials" and the "have nots" are called "Stateless". Apparently it is necessary to segregate the Stateless away and maintain order for the sectorial citizens.
The main character in this book is a female named Justa. Justa has the regularity hair cut of a straight blonde bob, green eyes and freckles. Justa also has her number branded on the inner part of her right wrist. Just is quite simply like every other girl in the sector. Justa is sitting on her first "Tribunal", it is the trial for the murderer of Justa's best friend Irina. Irina was stabbed three times by a stateless male named Aron. Justa sits on the Tribunal with her friend Ernst and another female from the community by the name of Myrthe. It is automatically thought that the stateless male Aron is guilty as the "stateless" of limited intelligence and are known to behave like animals. So the trial should be straight forward right? Well no because Justa has an inner instinct that is telling her something is not right, that Aron did not kill her best friend Irina. Ernst and her guardian Marcus alsothe Arbiter (the one who questions the accused in the court) are quite patronising towards Justa asking if she can cope with her first "Tribunal", can she cope with the trial as it is the person that murdered her best friend. Justa insists she can manage but the more the trial goes on the more she feels that maybe Aron didn't murder Irina at all? Justa goes against what is expected of her from her fellow citizens and her guardian Marcus and genuinely attempts to give Aron an honest and fair hearing. Aron must sense this and manages to confide in Justa. . . .and that's all I am going to say about this one. I throughly enjoyed this novella too!
So did I enjoy the last book in this collection? I really did, I was immediately pulled right into the dystopic society, and the biased tribunal that Aron is having. Would I want to read more about the characters in this book? I would love to know more about the society and characters featured in this book. I think it could be the introduction to a fantastic series! So yes I'd love more. Would I want to read other titles by this author? I enjoyed the society, setting and writing style, so I would certainly take a close at any book written by this author.

All three books are well written, well translated and well thought out, and delivered brilliantly. On the whole I totally loved this dystopian collection, all three novella's left me wanting even more. Though all the books are dystopian, the societies featured in each of the books is quite different but each as enjoyable as each other.There is no weak book in this three they are all three fantastic books. I will be checking out the authors, and keeping my eyes open for any upcoming titles by any of these authors. Reading this collection was a dream collection to me as I do love the dystopian genre. 
So would I recommend this collection? YES! I loved it and I highly recommend this collection! The collection left me wanting more from each of the three authors.

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