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review 2015-08-20 23:00
Stung - Bethany Wiggins

I have had this one on my to-read list for a few years now but have never gotten around to reading it, never even tried looking it up at the library to take out. Sometimes I think it’s a sign that if you don’t get to a book right away it might be best not to bother with it at all. However, in my recent attempt to shorten my ever-growing to-read list I decided to finally go to the library and search up a copy of “Stung”. Oddly enough I got through it really fast, because it was easy to read, but I had so many issue and frustrations with the book that after finishing I was so glad I didn’t buy a copy of the book for myself.


“Stung” is a retelling of Sleeping Beauty more in practice than in theory. The strongest link to the original was probably the fact that Fiona passed four years in a coma-like sleep before waking up to find out everything was completely different from what she remembered. That’s where the similarities basically end. There are no parallel characters for the evil fairy or any of the other original fairytale characters, and I got a tad mad for the incorrect marketing that was surrounding this book as people who go in looking for a retelling that’s close to the original will find nothing of the sort.


The story is dark and the writing vivid in describing the grime and shabbiness of the new world Fiona finds herself in. Originally I was very happy with this, but about fifty pages in, with still no clear understanding on what was going on or where the plot was going, I began to feel frustrated and wished the author would introduce something to the story that would grab my attention, which by then was stuck in a landscape of sewers and feces as described endlessly in the book. It’s a problem that persisted throughout the whole story and became a crutch when it should have been a strength. The plot was sacrificed for the gritty, repetitive details. In the same category of poor writing is the way in which the plot of the whole epidemic is explained. After finishing the book I was having a quick cup of tea in the kitchen when my mom came over and asked me for my impression on the book and what it was about. It was in retelling it, when I began doubting out loud whether it was the new bee’s sting or the vaccine that caused the mental insanity of the population, that I realized just how difficult the answers were to extract from the writing. The information was tossed out quickly at the most unusual moments that thus made for very complicated storytelling. Beyond that, I thought the whole plot in general had several ridiculous details. For starters the whole modified new bee species as a solution to replenishing the decreasing bee population, followed by the whole story about why the cure didn’t want to be discovered. The latter, in my opinion, was the most ridiculous of all. Much of the plot line you had to go along with as a reader and take it for what it was, messy, often illogical, and being revealed at a slow pace that makes one impatient.


Speaking of impatience, Fiona and Dreyden were the second huge source of displeasure for me in the book. The two were written using a heap of character stereotypes and clichés that ended up all meshing together and providing nothing new in the character landscape. The tipping point for me was Fiona deciding to fire the gun at a supposed attacked and to her horror realizing her mistake. It was when this happened, around page 200, that I understood just how downhill the writing was going. The author took a lot of time to stress the fact that Fiona played piano, yet the point of that detail still alludes me. It only seemed to serve as the explanation of why Dreyden and her ended up the way they did in the book as Dreyden told her he’d enjoy listening to her playing and only tease about the piano playing because he didn’t know how to begin talking to her. A big cliché titled “boy next door syndrome”, familiar too many a reader with many a book falling victim to it. I didn’t buy the whole childhood connection story – it felt too much like insta-love to believe any of the “I didn’t see you when we were younger” vibe that Dreyden was giving off. Fiona as a main character, as a Level Ten who’s supposed to be feared and special because she hasn’t turned yet, is actually very weak and cookie cutter. It was difficult to care for either of them given their stereotypical personalities.


Beyond that the book was, as I said, easy to read but only because it didn’t offer much food for thought. I didn’t stop to digest a single part of the plot. Sure I still didn’t get by the end the whole deal with Arrin/Arris and which one it was at the end. I also predicted every single “plot twist”/surprise so it was an open book from start to finish in that regard. The story offers nothing new. The characters are stiff and flat, not once leaving the page and feeling like they could be actual, real characters. The plot was undercooked, containing a lot of glaring loopholes that makes one raise an eyebrow at confusion on why it’s something so ridiculous in the first place. I won’t be reading the next installment as I didn’t enjoy “Stung” very much and can’t see where the plot might go from where it ended off. I feel like it might go even worse and I’d much rather move on to read something else than struggle with the companion to a book I didn’t enjoy nor care much about.

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review 2015-07-06 01:20
Cured - Review
Cured - Bethany Wiggins


Being underestimated is an advantage, and yes, that saying is framed and hanging on the bathroom wall at home.



This book is a sequel. I highly recommend reading "Stung" first, but I will try not to give anything away.


This story is set in the same world but centers on different characters at first. In Chapter 1 we meet Jack. It is still dangerous to be female and survivors outside the city work hard to disguise females as males. Jack is really Jacqui, but the family has been pretending she is a boy, for everyone's protection. All of them would be in danger if anyone found out the truth. Jack eventually meets up with Fo on a quest to find Jack's brother and distribute the cure.


This book is as action-packed as the first one. It keeps you on edge, wondering along with Jack who we can trust. And it kept me guessing for sure. As much as I wanted to trust certain characters, I found it as hard as Jack did to figure out who exactly is "good" in this crazy world.


Recommended to:

Fans of dystopian stories, young adults and adults (like me) who enjoy young adult novels. 



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review 2015-07-06 01:10
Stung - Review
Stung - Bethany Wiggins

I don't remember going to sleep. All I remember is waking up here -- a place as familiar as my own face.

At least, it should be.


Fiona wakes up in her bedroom, but nothing is as it should be. Her room is filthy and seems like it has been neglected for a very long time. As she walks around her house, she realizes it has been abandoned. Her reflection looks like her older sister, like a woman. Last thing she remembers, she is thirteen. She has no idea what is going on when suddenly she hears a noise and is attacked by a man acting like a beast. She barely escapes with her life. And all of this happens in Chapter 1.


We gradually learn that this world is barren & deserted and it is dangerous to be female. Fiona is constantly in danger and trying to figure out what happened to the world she remembers, what she needs to do to survive and who she can trust.


I don't want to give anything away. I went into this book not really knowing what it was about and it swept me off my feet page 1, Chapter 1. I loved Fiona and found her character very believable. The fecs and the beasts were scary and dangerous. The premise of the story seemed possible. I even believed the attraction Fiona developed for the boy trying to save her. And there is no love triangle, which is a relief.


I enjoyed this so much that I immediately stared reading the sequel. And I looked on the author's website to see if there would be any more, so I could know what I was getting myself into. Would I have to wait for book 3? Good news and Bad news. There are only two books in the series and the author isn't planning on writing more. This is good because I just finished the second book and loved it just as much. Bad because I really enjoyed reading them. But, it was a good place to end. The story was over. No need to push it too far. Not every story has to be a trilogy.


Recommended to:

Fans of dystopian stories, young adults and people (like me) who enjoy reading young adult novels. This one is worth reading.


Note: This book is on the Sunshine State Young Readers Award nominee list for grades 6-8. We often have some of that list in our elementary school for 5th graders. This one has some sexual innuendo. It might go over 5th graders heads, but I will recommend to our librarian not to have this one in the elementary school.

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text 2015-06-24 04:40
Reading progress update: I've read 37 out of 304 pages.
Stung - Bethany Wiggins

This one really started out at full speed.

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review 2014-03-21 03:31
Stung: a review
Stung - Bethany Wiggins

Stung, by Bethany Wiggins


This story of what happens when the bees die off was mildly interesting at first, but became tedious rather quickly. Genetic engineering gone wrong is the premise that sets up this dystopian world. butalmost nothing is said about it until halfway through the book, and even then the explanation is..... thin.  Our heroine, sadly, is annoying as heck and difficult to care about. And this is more about a really shallow romance than it is about the world they are living in. That made this book almost impossible to finish. I had to force myself.

Fiona wakes up from what appears to be a coma, a nearly fully grown woman of 17 who last remembers being only 13. Things had started to fall apart in the world she remembers, but the world she wakes up to is pretty far gone. There's a few isolated fortress-like cities left. Inside the walls, people have plenty to eat and live fairly comfortably. Outside the walls, you chew leather to stay alive and must constantly hide to avoid both rape gangs and monstrously powerful zombie-like humans who have been 'stung". These creatures all bear "the mark" Anyone who bears "the mark" will eventually turn into something resembling a terrible zombie. And Fiona wakes up with the mark, alone, unable to remember the last four years, in a deserted house.... outside the walls.

I got pretty tired of Fiona, frankly, and the bleak landscape she travels through. The romance was a bit obvious, and the violence pretty graphic, very constant, and too overly described for my tastes.  "Her left hand swung around to connect with his cheek" sort of thing.  


Women in this book sit and worry and flap their hands helplessly for the most part, while the men run about rampaging and raping and being generally ape like butt heads.Ah stereotypes, so good to see you being reinforced yet again.


I wish more time had been paid to the whole bee thing, but it is dismissed early on.

A few things I am tired of in this genre:

Why do all dystopian novels have to get sidetracked by an annoying unlikely romance?

Why does youth fiction always have to have rape mentioned?


Why do the writers of dystopian youth fiction so rarely use the collapse of society to examine an issue, such as racism, sexism, issues of governmental control or SOMETHING???  Instead they so often just create this frenetic background and then throw their characters in to it.

Also why does the heroine always have to have a twin brother?

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