Thursday, January 9, 2014

Reviews & Giveaway - Anomaly & Luminary by Krista McGee


Title: Anomaly
Series: Anomaly #1
Author: Krista McGee
Release Date: July 9, 2013
Pages: 312, Paperback
Goodreads Rating: 3.84 Stars
My Rating: 4/5 stars
My Content Rating: PG (No sexual content, murder and death discussed but nothing is graphic)

Summary from Goodreads: Thalli has fifteen minutes and twenty-three seconds left to live. The toxic gas that will complete her annihilation is invading her bloodstream. But she is not afraid.

Thalli is different than others in The State. She feels things. She asks questions. And in the State, this is not tolerated. The Ten scientists who survived the nuclear war that destroyed the world above believe that emotion was at the core of what went wrong—and they have genetically removed it from the citizens they have since created. Thalli has kept her malformation secret from those who have monitored her for most of her life, but when she receives an ancient piece of music to record as her community’s assigned musician, she can no longer keep her emotions secreted away.

Seen as a threat to the harmony of her Pod, Thalli is taken to the Scientists for immediate annihilation. But before that can happen, Berk—her former Pod mate who is being groomed as a Scientist—steps in and persuades the Scientists to keep Thalli alive as a test subject.

The more time she spends in the Scientist’s Pod, the clearer it becomes that things are not as simple as she was programmed to believe. She hears stories of a Designer—stories that fill her mind with more questions: Who can she trust? What is this emotion called love? And what if she isn’t just an anomaly, but part of a greater design?


Anomaly is an intriguing Christian dystopian tale that takes place in a world where emotion has been removed from the human race, creating a world full of sensible, logical people - people who have no sense of self-preservation or hope, who can be easily manipulated by the scientists who created them.

The summary describes this book really well, so I think I'll just jump right into my thoughts about it.

The negatives:
  • A somewhat detached narration style.  Because of the world that Thalli has been brought up in, her general tone is somewhat detached and clinical.  Even though Thalli is an anomaly and feels emotions, she has been raised to believe that they are wrong, so she holds them back.  Sometimes she feels something in an overwhelming manner, but more often she seems to have somewhat fleeting feelings that she analyzes or doubts.  This actually made a lot of sense for her character, but it sometimes led to reactions that made me scratch my head (for instance, Thalli's response to the fact that she's going to be annihilated seems very logical and clinical, which didn't seem to match with her earlier responses to things).  Still, overall, I liked Thalli and I did think that her semi-detached responses probably made sense due to her upbringing.
  • Confusing science.  At the end of the book, one of the characters was supposed to help solve a major scientific problem by going into a virtual reality world created by Thallie's music.  I just didn't get it.  I had to simply suspend disbelief during this part because I was completely confused.
What I LOVED:
  • Thalli's musical interpretation of life.  Thalli was designed to be a musician and this colors her entire interpretation of the world around her.  I love how she hears everyone's voices as different instruments and how she composes her life into musical compositions (even when she has no way of actually playing them).  I could almost hear these orchestrations as she described them because they were so vivid!
  • Berk.  Berk was a breath of fresh air in the world of clinical scientists.  While he was still a scientist, of course, I loved that he actually felt something for Thalli (and didn't see himself as an anomaly because of it).  The connection between Thalli and Berk was forged when they were kids and I found myself enchanted by them and was definitely rooting for the two of them to end up together.
  • The depiction of Christianity.  This book is definitely a Christian novel at its heart.  Christian themes are explored and scripture is even quoted occasionally.  This might be an issue for some people.  I appreciated the way that Christianity was portrayed in this book, though - I was surprised by the fact that the book didn't come off as preachy to me, even when John was really sort of instructing Thalli on theology.  I also thought that the way that Thalli's faith developed was interesting and believable.  She didn't immediately believe everything that John told her, but she eventually came to believe in God based on her own experiences of him.  Then there are points in the book where Thalli isn't at all sure what's real and what's not. She starts to doubt everything - her feelings for Berk, her new found belief in God - she can't trust her senses and she has to completely depend on faith.  All of this made for a journey that I think the average person can relate to.
  • The ending.  The book ended with a fantastic twist that completely changed how I viewed everything that had happened in the book.  It definitely made me want to pick up book #2 and start reading right away!!
I highly recommend Anomaly to fans of Christian fiction or to fans of dystopia who are interested in Christian themes.  Overall, I give it  4/5 stars.


***Disclosure: This book was provided to me by NetGalley and the author in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given. All opinions are my own***


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Title: Luminary
Series: Anomaly #2
Author: Krista McGee
Release Date: January 7, 2014
Pages: 320, Paperback
Goodreads Rating: 4.12 Stars
My Rating: 3.5/5 stars
My Content Rating: PG (No sexual content, some violence)

Summary from Goodreads: She was an anomaly with a death sentence. Now she's free.

Thalli was scheduled for annihilation. She was considered an anomaly--able to experience emotions that should have been eradicated by genetic modification. The Scientists running the State couldn't allow her to bring undue chaos to their peaceful, ordered world. But seconds before her death, she is rescued.

Now Thalli is above ground in a world she thought was destroyed. A world where not even the air is safe to breathe. She and her three friends must journey across this unknown land, their destination a hidden civilization. It's their only chance of survival.

Broken and exhausted after an arduous journey, they arrive in New Hope, a town that survived the nuclear holocaust. When Thalli meets the people there--people actually "born" to "families"--her small world is blown wide open.

Soon after their arrival to New Hope, the town comes under attack. She has escaped imminent death, but now Thalli is thrust into a new fight--a fight to save her new home. Does she know enough about this world of emotions, this world of chaos, to save not only herself, but the people she has come to love?


I didn't love Luminary quite as much as I did Anomaly.  I still enjoyed the book, but there were definitely some elements that frustrated me. 

The negatives:
  • Thalli's personality change.  I don't know what happened to Thalli!  At the beginning of this book, she was just so bitter and negative - not to mention jealous.  I suddenly didn't like her very much and I couldn't understand why she'd had such a sudden shift in her personality.  I did understand that she was feeling guilty and I understood the jealousy (to some extent), but I just couldn't see why she suddenly became so completely negative and withdrawn and it bugged me!  I will say that she got better later, but I was having a hard time connecting with Thalli for at least the first quarter of the book.
  • Thalli and Berk (and Alex).  Darn!  Just when I thought that Thalli and Berk would get to have a little bit of happiness, it was completely thwarted by Thalli's attitude.  Instead of becoming closer to each other after their escape from the State, they just grew further and further apart.  And I just didn't exactly understand why.  Thalli seemed to distance herself from Berk for seemingly no reason and he didn't do much to stop her.  When they did finally try to talk out their problems, they both got mad before anything was really even said - and again I just didn't understand why.  It seemed like the conflict was a bit forced - just a plot device to make way for a love triangle with Alex (who I will talk a bit more about in the next section).
What I loved:
  • Life on the outside.  I loved the people that Thalli and company found on the outside.  The fact that there were scientists who didn't agree with the Ten (the scientists that had established the State) made me give a sigh of relief (otherwise the series could have seemed pretty anti-science).  I thought it was very interesting that there was conflict on the outside, just like the Ten had always warned about.  It made Thallie have to take a real look at freedom vs. safety and predictability.  
  • Alex and Athens.  When Thalli finds New Hope she discovers that life there is not entirely peaceful.  In fact, New Hope is being terrorized by a nearby settlement called Athens.  Thalli decides to go to Athens to try to broker peace (or spy and get information that could help New Hope) and there she meets Prince Alex.  This is where the love triangle comes in.  I have to tell you that it took me quite a while to warm up to Alex and I wasn't at all thrilled about the idea of a love triangle, but he did win me over somewhat in the end.  By the end of the book, I was a bit torn about who Thalli should end up with, which I think was exactly what McGee intended.
  • The suspense and action.  This book had a lot more action and suspense than the first book did, which kept it exciting!  And we were left with a cliff-hanger ending that leaves us wanting more!!
I was a bit worried at the beginning of Luminary, but by the time I got about halfway through I thought it really hit its stride.  While I didn't enjoy it quite as much as the first book, I'll still definitely be reading book #3 to see what happens.  Overall, I give this one 3.5/5 stars.


***Disclosure: This book was provided to me by NetGalley and the author in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given. All opinions are my own***


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About the Author
Krista writes for teens, teaches teens, and more often than not, acts like a teen. She and her family have lived and ministered in Texas, Costa Rica, and Spain. Her current hometown is Tampa, FL.

Author Links:
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