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The First Principle, ShrockTitle: The First Principle 

Author: Marissa Shrock

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Cover rating: 2 out of 5 stars

Considering The First Principle is marketed for a YA audience, I was a little worried at first about whether or not I would like it. YA writing is often simplistic and condescending in a way that grates on my nerves like nothing else can. But the premise was intriguing, so I opened that first page hoping to find something different, and I am thrilled to say debut author Marissa Shrock did not disappoint.

The First Principle is set in a futuristic society where 15-year-old Vivica Wilkins finds herself in a dire predicament: abort the baby she suddenly finds herself pregnant with in obedience to the country’s underage Termination Law, or go against everything she’s ever been taught or believed as the governor’s daughter. Will she choose the way of her heart? The way of the underground Christian rebels? Or the way of her mother? Either way, the choice she makes will affect her for the rest of her life. The question is–is she ready to pay the price?

I appreciated this book on many levels. As a reader and as someone who has been disappointed in YA novels before, I found The First Principle to be refreshingly realistic and non-condescending. Never does Shrock take advantage of her reader’s intelligence. Vivica is a strong teenage character who cares about more than just what she’s going to wear and who’s-dating-who. The adults in her life are shown respect, but ultimately she’s the leader of her own life, and I applaud Shrock for respecting her audience and hopefully empowering young adults through this book.

As a writer, I found the book to be full of non-stop action and I finished it within two days. The futuristic world Vivica lived in was 100% believable, and all viewpoints were represented. The book doesn’t preach. Instead, it focuses on a question that brings a fresh perspective on the pro-life vs. pro-choice debate: not what if abortion was outlawed, but what if abortion was required by law? She lets Vivica face the question and then lets this play out naturally in a fictional setting that is at once intriguing and thought-provoking. For that reason, I’d recommend this book to people on both sides of the argument as a conversation starter.

And finally as an adoptee, I appreciated this book for another reason entirely. Suffice it to say that the story has impact and touched me enough to bring me to tears in a few places.

Overall, I would not hesitate to recommend this book to both YA and adult readers alike. The First Principle has built-in appeal no matter the age. Shrock is a much-needed voice in today’s world and in this genre, and I cannot wait to see more from her in the future.

(I received this book for free from the author and Kregel Publications in exchange for my honest review.)

SovereignTitle: Sovereign (Book #3 in “The Books of Mortals” series)

Author: Ted Dekker and Tosca Lee

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

In this grand finale of a stunning series, Dekker and Lee team up once again to bring readers on an epic journey they won’t soon forget.

Hiding beneath the city, Rom and his small group of 36 Sovereigns are desperate to survive. The world has been split into four basic factions: the Sovereigns, the Immortals, Corpses, and Dark Bloods. With enemies on all sides, Rom and the rest of the Sovereigns will have to figure out how to bring life to a dying world before time runs out.

Do you remember when movie trilogies such as “Harry Potter,” “Lord of the Rings,” and “Pirates of the Caribbean” were the newest and biggest things? Trilogies hadn’t often been done before, and movie-goers both rejoiced and despaired when each movie left them on a cliffhanger. But since they had to know what would happen, they ran to the theaters in droves only to patiently wait in line for hours.

“The Book of Mortals” trilogy reminds me of that feeling. Each book takes you on an epic journey that leaves you breathless and on a cliffhanger, desperate to know what happens next. You have no other choice than to buy the next book. The classic clashes between good and evil together with heroes and heroines you can cheer for all combine for a unique edge-of-your-seat thriller.

However, none of the books in the series are stand-alones. You’ll have to read from the beginning if you want to understand the full scope of the story. Even waiting a full year as I did from the second book in the series to the third, I got a little lost. But each book is well-worth the time and money you might spend on them. The books can be a little dark and graphic (think more “Lord of the Rings” than “Chronicles of Narnia”), so if those kinds of reads bother you, I’d recommend skipping this particular series.

But if you like thrillers, Dystopian fiction, or stories filled with rich allegorical meaning, then don’t miss out on Dekker and Lee’s newest collaboration.

Let’s Talk Book: Which do you prefer? Stand-alone novels, or series?

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