Check out Imposter’s page for a blurb (spoiler alert if you haven’t read book one). Though, come to think of it, why haven’t you?
I’m very excited to share this review with you all! I first contacted Ellen to beta read Imposter (book 2) and offered her First if she wanted to read it beforehand. She did, and then she asked me if I’d mind if she reviewed it for her site. Of course I said yes!
Here it is:
It’s been awhile since I have read a YA dystopian novel, so it felt refreshing to read this one. Stafford added a unique aspect to the typical dystopian novel by introducing us to the idea of reincarnation and immortality. This is something that I have not seen in YA. If it has been introduced to the YA genre, then it is definitely not common in dystopian. It’s more common in the paranormal and fantasy elements though. Sometimes, it’s good to step outside of the box. However, you could be testing the waters. It could either be a success or fail. For Stafford’s case, I thought she did a phenomenal job in executing this idea with the futuristic society that has advanced medicine and technology. I think that also helped with the idea of reincarnating and the idea of sacrifice into the equation. In this society, there are 2 groups (maybe 3): the Firsts, the Seconds, and the Lifers. The Firsts are the elite/important people that contributes to society by preserving history so history does not repeat itself. These people use the Seconds to use their bodies as a host to continue to live and contribute to society. The Seconds are typically children under 16 years or younger that are used as a host body for the Firsts. When they get chosen, they are Absolved from their crimes. They enter the Firsts’ society to prepare themselves for the sacrificial event. The Lifers are the rebels that refute the idea of sacrificing a human life for a life of immortality and selfishness.
Stafford introduces important themes such as slavery, sacrificing a life just to live another century longer, and other themes. The world-building was present; however, it doesn’t matter whether there was major or minor world-building because I thought the plot and characters were the most interesting and important aspects of the story.
I thoroughly enjoyed the characters. They were well-developed, realistic, and practical. This story is told in a duo first person point-of-view, and I thought it was a perfect choice for this novel. The duo perspective is from Mira, a Second, and Socrates, a First. I thought this was a brilliant idea to have 2 completely different characters from 2 completely different worlds. What’s interesting about this story is that you couldn’t really tell who’s the antagonist of the story. It’s as if you couldn’t trust any of the characters, and I think it just emphasizes how untrustworthy some of these characters. However, these characters do eventually grow on and you start to sympathize for this characters. Although, I did get agitated sometimes with Mira’s constant questions. But, I have to constantly remind myself that Mira was involuntary pulled into this situation.
As you start to be more interested in the characters, the story begins to unravel itself. You start to immerse yourself in this new world, characters, and story. I think that is what gave this book a 4 out of 5 stars. It’s not a 5 stars because there are some circumstances that Mira got on my nerves with her constant questioning, and sometimes the descriptions of the settings and character could be too detailed.
I would definitely recommend this to anyone. It has all the right pieces a YA dystopian novel should have even if it’s not from one of the major publishing companies. I definitely think that if more people would read this book, it could become a great hit one day.
Thanks Ellen! Go check out her blog, it’s filled with great stories and news from all around the book world!
This one’s from Books and Guacamole
“The beginning of the book was absolutely engrossing and fast-paced and I found myself trying to find any excuse to not study and just to plop down on the bed and read this book. I loved the idea of Mira and Tanner and the whole First-Second thing and fell in love with Stafford’s writing style. It was so professional and smooth and unique! And the plot? WOW. SO ORIGINAL, it was a breath of fresh air. I mean, to live forever and not be a vampire?”
I literally LOL’d at the last part :). I love it! (especially since I’m not a Twilight fan by any stretch…but that’s for another time).
“Ms. Stafford ended the book with SUCH flourish; an amazing ending that sent chills down my whole body.”
____spoiler below if you haven’t read First yet_____
“And Socrates! He was the best. I had trouble warming up to him at first but he was probably the strongest and least confusing character and the one who brought about this absolutely amazing ending.
Remember, Mira. There’s an audience, Will, watching my every move. I have to make this good, or I’ll never get away with it.
“My name is Socrates.”
DAMNNNN. Seriously, this ending though. I’ll be waiting very impatiently for the next book FOR SURE.”
She also had some really great, constructive criticism that on some details I hadn’t thought of before and I really appreciate her taking the time to reflect on them. Read the full review here.
I just got an awesome review from Caitlin at The Books and Beyond. She was very encouraging awesome to talk with, and had an extremely comprehensive review! Some of my favorite parts (because of course I had to run out and read it right away) are:
“What I really like about this book is that the to POV’s that Chanda wrote were the different sides of society in a way. Sure, they both agreed on the same things, but Socrates is a higher ranking and has a million things to worry about while Mira only knows what she’s been taught all her life. I like how the POV’s weren’t because they were interested in each other but it was merely because they are, in a way, connected. And I really like how Will and Mira didn’t rush their relationship even if what they felt was instant.”
And then there was this part…
“The bravery in Mira, thinking about her sister and brother, was astounding. It was nice to read about a girl who doesn’t want to die, to be on the brink of turning back, and at the last minute deciding to die. Not that it was nice, but in other books, the character is adamant about dying for the greater good like their life means nothing. Like they aren’t afraid. But in reality, of course you’re afraid to die. And Chanda did a nice job of showing that.”
She also had some really great constructive criticisms that I know I can use to make my next books that much better. So thank you, Caitlin, for the awesome review, I really appreciate it. I encourage everyone to head on over to her blog to check out both my review and everything else she has to offer.
Check out my new audio book trailer from Hollywood Book Trailers. What do you think?
I know it’s been a while since you’ve had an update, but I’m finishing the final touches on Imposter and drafting another book. It’ll be here before you know it, I promise!
Only a single pane of glass separates us. It’s so clear that if my breath didn’t fog it, I could almost forget it was there. But I can’t, just as I can’t look away from the girl on the other side. As still as a corpse, she rests on a metal medical exam table. Fitting, I suppose, given the outcome of this heinous act. After a few seconds, her hands start to tremble, and she takes a deep breath. She wanted this, Will; remember that. She chose to give her life so Socrates might live and help free our people.
Dressed in varying shades of green, orderlies and doctors buzz around the room like flies on a carcass. Despite all the people, Mira lies unattended. Alone and so, so fragile, wearing a paper-thin hospital gown and a freshly shaved head. Where is that fiery-eyed fighter who swore she loved me? A painfully stark vision of Mira swims before me, so calm and courageous as she told me that this was the right thing to do, but I refuse to let it take root. Right now, she’s more like a terrified gnat of a girl, too innocent to understand this enormous sacrifice. An agonizing chasm rips my chest in two. I should have figured out some way to save her.
Socrates, the old man who came in with Mira, settles himself on the hospital bed across from her and closes his eyes. His head is shaved too, but he still wears a long, white, scraggly beard. His hands are liver-spotted and frail. His skin is so transparent that it might tear in two even with a gentle touch. He says something to Mira, but the speakers aren’t turned on, so I can’t hear his words.
Mira jerks her head up and down in response to Socrates’s statement. A curly-haired orderly approaches, and she jumps. He whispers into her ear, possibly giving her some direction, because she tries to relax and places her hands at her sides. Her eyes widen in terror as he fastens fabric cuffs to her wrists and ankles.
I turn away, unable to bear the fear in her eyes any longer. Why am I here? I know what happens next. I turn away, but the audience of other Firsts, former presidents, and dignitaries arranged in red velvet chairs, sipping champagne out of thin, long-stemmed glasses, sickens me almost as much as what’s going on beyond the glass. As their laughter fills the room, bile rises in my throat.
They disgust me. How would they like it if it were their son or daughter lying there on a table, petrified and alone? Would they still swirl bubbly drinks and smile at jokes that were never funny in the first place? Or would they be like me, staring through a thick pane of glass, angry and breaking in two?
My gaze travels back to the scene before me. A fine sheen of nervous sweat glistens on Mira’s brow. I’m sorry. I’m so, so sorry.
The same orderly that tied her down presses a small injector to the back of her hand, and she winces as the needle finds her vein. It’s not a sedative. That’s illegal because it jeopardizes the success of the procedure, but it will help keep her calm. She opens and closes her other hand, searching for comfort where there is none. I flex my own hands in response.
The man whispers a few words to Mira. Is he telling her everything is going to be all right? Liar.
Mira gulps and tries to relax her muscles. Once he secures the IV patch, he covers her up to her chest with a thin white blanket before leaving. A doctor attaches little pink pads around the top of her skull. After he finishes his macabre preparations, he leaves her alone and turns his focus to Socrates.
Unlike Mira, the old First is not tied down. I guess you don’t have to worry about a corpse falling off the table. They attach the same pink pads and IV patches they did to Mira. Socrates wrinkles his face in merriment at something one of the doctors says. He replies, and they both smile. A fiery rage kindles deep within me.
Laughter behind me ricochets off the walls in the small room. How can they make jokes or laugh while a teenage girl dies in front of them so an old man can live another lifetime?
Mira bites her lip as the orderly who inserted her IV patch returns with a shiny metal helmet. As he settles the cold steel frame on her head, Mira’s gaze searches the glass. Is she looking for me?
I place a hand on the barrier. No one notices, and the clamor of the audience’s voices and the tinkling of their glasses continue behind me without faltering.
The doctor who put the pink patches on her skull pushes one of the red buttons dotting the helmet, the one positioned over her left temple. I steel myself for what comes next.
Mira jumps as a long needle drives into her skull, piercing flesh and bone. Her mouth opens in a silent shriek, and she jerks against the restraints. Even though I can’t hear her cry out, I can feel it. A deep red rivulet streams from the wound, and the orderly carefully wipes it away.
The audience behind me quiets. The show’s about to start.
Pain lances through my head as the doctor pushes the rest of the red buttons one by one. Mira jolts again, but after the orderly says something, she does her best to remain still.
I bunch my hand into a fist. From the corner of my eye, I see a white-haired man’s gaze dart to mine as though surprised by my reaction. What are you staring at? Are you afraid of me, a Texan? He must be a former president or politician, or someone who flaunts his power so fully that no one can get a sliver of freedom without his approval. He should be on that table, not Mira.
Unable to watch what they’re doing to her any longer, I focus on the man who wants her dead. If I didn’t know what was happening, I might think the old man’s merely taking a nap. The doctors rouse him long enough to fit him with his own metal helmet. When they push the first button, Socrates flinches, but it’s just the barest of movements. He forces his face into a sea of calm. I hate him. He deserves to have the same thing happen to him that he’s doing to Mira.
At the thought of her name, my gaze finds its way to her. Mira, much quieter than before, rests on the bed. Faint pink smudges dot her skull around the wounds from the needle probes. A tear trails down the side of her face. I lift my other hand as if to wipe it away but stop when my fingers graze the glass. My gut clenches in a tight knot. She may have chosen this fate, but she doesn’t deserve to die on this table.
Mira’s orderly connects thin wires from her helmet to the computer in the center of the room. Similar metal threads wind their way from Socrates as well. One of the doctors stands at the machine in the middle and presses a seemingly random array of buttons until it blinks red then yellow then green. Fury rises in my throat with the sick, acidic taste of bile. I can’t believe they’re actually going through with this.
Another person enters the room. He has white-blond hair pulled tightly back in a ponytail. He can’t be a doctor; he’s probably only a couple of years older than I am, even though he’s wearing one of their uniforms and the others treat him like their peer.
He strides across the room to Socrates’s side and murmurs something to the old man before squeezing his hand. My anger expands to him, too. That monster doesn’t deserve comfort and kind words while Mira lies there alone on that table.
Mira’s frightened gaze meets this new doctor’s, and he gives her the slightest smile. An orderly hands him a syringe that he pockets. His hands hover over Socrates’s helmet, checking that the probes and connections are fastened correctly.
When the doctor monitoring the computer gives him a command a moment later, he pulls the syringe out and injects it into the clear line leading to Socrates’s arm. Another one does the same to Mira. As the drug seeps into her system, she starts to shake. The wounds on her head leak dark red blood, a stark contrast to her pale skin and frightened eyes.
An orderly rushes over and holds down her shoulders while another wipes at the blood. It doesn’t help; it just keeps flowing despite their frantic attempts to stop it. Are they trying to sanitize the horror? Clean it up so the audience doesn’t notice?
I shove my fists into the pockets of my tunic to keep from punching something or someone. Rage blinds me, yet I can’t look away. I feel so helpless, but there’s nothing I can do. I hate this. I should never have let this happen. I should have done something to save her even though she probably would’ve hated me for it.
Mira stops struggling, and she relaxes. Her eyes drift shut, and her chest rises then falls and doesn’t rise again. No! I imagine crashing my fist through the glass, breaking it. No! Come on, Mira! Breathe! Fight them! Live, dammit!
The doctor monitoring her says something to the one in the center, who nods in response. That was it. That’s all she gets for her bravery, her loyalty, her will to live.
My shoulders sag as the doctor in the center pushes a button. At the same time, the one standing next to Mira injects something into her IV line.
Across the room, an orderly pulls a light blanket over Socrates’s head. Is that it for him, too? The oldest of the Firsts is also dead, and they do nothing for him other than cover his head. Oh, that’s right; he’s not actually dead. His mind will now take root inside the body of a seventeen-year-old girl.
Mira’s body lies still on the table. If only her chest would rise just once, I could almost believe she was asleep. But she’s not. I study her face for the barest signs of life. Is she in there somewhere? It’s happened before, and I can’t imagine anything worse, except death, of course.
The longhaired doctor approaches Mira’s body. Her fingers twitch, and I glue my gaze to that barest of movements. Please let it be her. We’ll make it work somehow. We’ll figure something out.
One by one, the orderlies remove the needle probes from Mira’s skull. As they lift the helmet away, they press healing patches to the wounds. After the patches fully adhere to her skull, they lay her head back down and wait. A high-pitched electronic sound beeps in the theater, and the audience zeroes in on the speaker.
“We will now commence with the first test. Although other, more accurate, tests will be performed in the recovery room, this first assessment must be passed to determine the initial success of the procedure. As the audience, you are all privileged to bear witness to this historic occasion.”
The young doctor leans over Mira’s bed and scrutinizes her face. “Sir, wake up. Can you hear me? Can you hear me?”
After what feels like years, Mira blinks once, then twice, and then touches her head and winces.
“There you are.” The young doctor smiles. “Open your eyes again, please.”
Mira makes a noise, more like an animalistic grunt of pain than anything else, and tries to move, but she’s still strapped down. An orderly dabs at her forehead with a folded piece of white cloth.
“Is everything all right?”
Mira struggles to sit up. The color drains from her face.
“Slowly, please; we don’t want you to black out.” The doctor wraps his arm around her shoulders and helps her to a sitting position.
She swings her bare legs over the side and shivers. She looks so young, so innocent, that anger and injustice bubbles up in me all over again.
“My name is Dr. James Scoffield. I’m here to help you.”
The doctor standing at the computer glances over at them. “Everything checks out, Dr. Scoffield.”
“Good,” the man says. “Okay, sir, this is important. Do you remember what your name is?”
Mira doesn’t respond.
My empty laugh echoes through the silent auditorium. A couple of the rich patrons glare at me, and one man who weighs close to five hundred pounds harrumphs at my insolence.
“My name is Socrates.” Mira’s words are so quiet that I almost miss them.
No, she couldn’t have said that monster’s name. It can’t be him. It’s her voice, dammit. Her words coming out of her mouth. It’s Mira; I know it. Why would she say her name is Socrates? If the Exchange hasn’t been successful and he… No. It can’t be. But something cold and hollow forms in the pit of my stomach.
I spin around on my heel and blindly rush for the door. It’s over. The monster won. Mira’s dead.
“Twas the Night Before Nano”
Twas the night before Nano, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, I’d evicted the mouse
My laptop was on by the chimney with care,
In hopes that my writing muse soon would be there.
When at the back of my mind there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the desk to see what was the matter.
Away to the mirror I flew like a flash,
Peeled open my eyes to see the source of the crash.
But my eyes were as glassy as the new-fallen snow
For it was way past my bedtime on this night you know.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But my run away muse, coming ever so near.
What a shifty little man, so lively and quick,
My shock in that moment nearly made me sick.
More rapid than eagles ideas flew in when he came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!
“Now Climax! Now, Dialogue! Now, Plot and Conflict!
Come on you slow pokes, you haven’t got me licked.
Get out here, you dolts, the hours coming quick
Get into your part, don’t be such a prick!”
All my hopes before 12 o’clock were aflight,
Until they met up with midnight and stuttered with fright
In desperation to the Nano forums I went
and what should I find, but support heaven sent.
From “plot bunnies” to “help, I think I might die”
There was a massive roar, a rising war cry.
With a great deal of excitement I felt part of a surge
And vowed to God and country, my writing devils I’d purge!
But all through the month, my desperation it grew
My muse, fearing death, like a bat out of hell flew
But through blood, sweat, and tears, I knew I must make it
So I turned off my phone and on my butt I did sit!
Oh my mind was a blur and my fingers did ache
I drank 77 cups of coffee and ate way too many cupcakes
I vowed to survive, no matter the cost
And write that damn novel, even if my plot was lost!
So thank you, dear November, for a war justly won
Even though it was hard work it was a great deal of fun.
I hope you have a great year, and holidays, too
A novel again next year I challenge you to!
Taking part in the insane November challenge of writing a 50k novel in a month? Me, too! If you’re interested, send me a message and we can commiserate together!
Live Once Trilogy 1:
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian
Publisher: Red Adept Publishing
Publication date: 5.8.2013
Date read: 10.9.2014
Recommended by: Red Adept Publishing, Read 2 Review
Summary: Seventeen-year-old Mira works on a farm in the ruins of Texas, descendants of the defeated rebels. Though she’s given her heart to Tanner, their lives are not their own.
When Socrates, the powerful First, chooses Mira as his Second, she is thrust into the bewildering world of the rich and influential. Will, a servant assigned to assist her, whispers of rebellion, love, and of a darker fate than she’s ever imagined.
With time running out, Mira must decide whether to run to the boy she left behind, to the boy who wants her to live, or to the man who wants her dead.
This is a really interesting story. It’s told from two points of view – Mira and Socrates. Socrates isn’t just a First, he is the very first First, and he has chosen Mira to be his Second. Mira lives on a farm in Texas with her mom and brother, is “in love” with her best friend … and never thought she would ever be chosen for this position. She is also not happy about it at all.
I am always curious about dystopian futures and when I saw that this one involved Texas (my home state), I had to give it a read. I love that the Texans were “rebels” and that, during the Immigration War, they bombed the White House and Pentagon, unhappy about what the government was doing. As with most of the dystopian books I have read, there are bits of reality snuck in, twisted just a little bit so that, if you want to be all “conspiracy theory,” the future written is a possibility.
I also really like this First-Second idea. It’s intriguing and the fact that it was written from both points of view allows you to see inside each person’s head.
There are some unexpected twists and turns throughout the book that really impressed me.
This book was well written and a lot of fun to read. It is definitely one that I would recommend to others.