and the Story Begins is a book subscription box that delivers you two carefully selected books each month. Choose between Young Adult Fiction, Fantasy, Romance, Mystery/Thriller, Science Fiction, or up the surprise level with a Mystery Box.
Note that unlike other boxes, which include book-themed goodies, this box is books-only. I find the simplicity of their book-focused subscription kind of refreshing, and I appreciate how they've carried that "simple" theme throughout their design and packaging.
My Subscription Addiction paid for this box. (Check out the review process post to learn more about how we review boxes).
This review is of the Young Adult Fiction, $9.99 a month, box.
The Subscription Box: and the Story Begins
The Cost: $9.99/monthly box, or choose a 3 Month subscription for $28.99 ($9.66/box) or a 6 Month subscription for $55.99 ($9.33/box). Shipping costs vary.
ACTIVE DEAL: Save 25% off your subscription!
The Products: Two carefully selected books based on the genres you select.
Ships to: Everywhere, but shipping costs vary.
Keep Track of Your Subscriptions: Add this box to your subscription list or wishlist!
Gated by Amy Christine Parker - Value on Amazon $6.93 (retail price: $9.99)
So many YA books center around fictional utopias and the protagonists that expose the corruption that lurks behind the happy facades. Gated follows this trope, but with one key difference. Where other books are set in fantastic, futuristic societies, Gated is about a modern-day cult. The setting makes things feel eerily... possible. I think that's the part that definitely kept me reading—that idea that real, present-day people could be looped into the world of a cult.
Book Summary on Amazon:
A fast-paced, nerve-fraying contemporary thriller that questions loyalties and twists truths.
Appearances can be deceiving.
Lyla Hamilton is a loyal member of the Community. Her family was happy to be chosen by Pioneer to join such an lovely gated neighborhood. Here, life seems perfect.
But after meeting Cody, an outsider boy, Lyla starts questioning Pioneer, her friends, her family--everything. And if there's one thing not allowed in the Community, it's doubt. As Pioneer cleverly manipulates his flock toward disaster, the real question is: Will Lyla follow her heart or follow Pioneer over the edge?
From the outside looking in, it's hard to understand why anyone would join a cult. But Gated tells the story from the inside looking out, and from behind the gates things are not quite so simple. Amy Christine Parker's beautiful writing creates a chilling, utterly unique YA story. Perfect for fans of creepy thrillers and contemporary fiction alike.
"A tense psychological thriller that will leave you gasping for breath as you race to the very last page." --Gretchen McNeil, author of Ten
HelloGiggles.com, August 3, 2013:
"When I found out that there was a YA book about cults, of course I had to read it. As it turns out, Amy Christine Parker’s Gated is an awesome, creepy book that reminds me of my favorite cult films while still being surprising."
Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews, June 15, 2013:
"Parker doesn’t pull punches, indicating a level of brutality that will appropriately disturb even as it successfully conveys Lyla’s complete entrapment in the Community. Compelling and not that distant from real-world cults that have ended in tragedy."
Publishers Weekly, June 10, 2013:
"Parker skillfully explores the mindset and inner workings of an apocalyptic cult, steadily building toward the inevitable moment of truth...As for the apocalypse itself, Parker keeps things suitably ambiguous, resulting in a complex, intriguing tale rooted in real-world events."
School Library Journal, October 2013:
"This well-plotted tale will allow readers a glimpse into the possible world of a doomsday cult...The language is accessible, making it a good choice for reluctant readers. After the last page is turned, the question will linger: 'Could I ever be deceived like this?'"
"A well-rounded and thorough look into cults while still remaining entertaining throughout. I look forward to reading more of Parker's works in the future."
The back cover hints at that theme, too. How and why are people so loyal to what seems like such an impossible, strange doctrine? And what must it be like to have those beliefs slowly begin to peel away?
Pirate Cinema by Cory Doctorow - Value $9.99
This story is still a dystopian YA novel, but there are themes in here that feel fresh. The whole story centers around the internet, its capabilities, and the threat of government and media control. The book is an interesting way to get kids thinking about media literacy in the internet age, apart from being a fun read!
Book Summary on Amazon:
From the New York Times bestselling author of Little Brother Cory Doctorow comes Pirate Cinema, a new tale of a brilliant hacker runaway who finds himself standing up to tyranny.
Trent McCauley is sixteen, brilliant, and obsessed with one thing: making movies on his computer by reassembling footage from popular films he downloads from the Net. In the dystopian near-future Britain where Trent is growing up, this is more illegal than ever; the punishment for being caught three times is that your entire household's access to the Internet is cut off for a year, with no appeal.
Trent's too clever for that to happen. Except it does, and it nearly destroys his family. Shamed and shattered, Trent runs away to London, where he slowly learns the ways of staying alive on the streets. This brings him in touch with a demimonde of artists and activists who are trying to fight a new bill that will criminalize even more harmless internet creativity, making felons of millions of British citizens at a single stroke.
Things look bad. Parliament is subject to the demands of a few wealthy media conglomerates. But the powers-that-be haven't entirely reckoned with the power of a gripping movie to change people's minds....
Verdict: I liked this month's and the Story Begins box. I do wish that they'd expand upon the types of YA stories they include in this box. There are differences from one to the next, but most of the books rely on the teen-takes-on-dystopian-society trope as a backbone. Do I enjoy those stories? Oh, heck yes. But my palate is starting to get tired out. The good news is that the value of the box is almost $17.00, but the price is only $9.99 plus shipping. As long as the shipping isn't too high for you, this box is a convenient, cost-effective way to expand your reading list every month!
What do you think about the YA books in this month's and the Story Begins box?