Title: Shards & Ashes
Author: by Melissa Marr & Kelley Armstrong
Published: February 2013
Authors’ Websites: http://www.melissamarrbooks.com/
Genre: Science Fiction, YA, teen
Review: This collection is the result of Marr and Armstrong proposing to this group of authors to each write a short story in which the future is dark and bleak. To that extent, this collection is a success, some more bleak, some more dark.
“Hearken” by Veronica Roth– Kids with special musical talents are given implants that allow them to hear life or death songs, which are within all humans, so they can recreate the music on their instruments. While interesting, I found this story boring.
“Branded” by Kelley Armstrong
– Pure-blooded humans have walled themselves in towns/fortresses to keep out supernaturals, hybrids, and outsiders. Due to the limited food, populations are controlled, and if one of the townspeople is found to have supernatural blood, he are branded and cast out. Such is the case with Braeden. When he is found to have werewolf blood, he is branded and cast out, leaving behind his best friend, Rayne, even though he’s never turned and has been a valued member of the community.
"No, we will not," the guard said, his voice growing louder as the parents' footsteps trampled over the hard earth. "Come back and get the child or you are leaving her for the hybrids."
“Necklace of Raindrops” by Margaret Stohl – In this world, everyone has a necklace with life beads. Some use up their beads quickly by being risk takers, while others hide/covet theirs, called lifers. But maybe there’s a life outside of this. Could it be possible that life isn’t really tied to these necklaces of raindrops? While interesting, I found this one boring, as well.
“Dogsbody” by Rachel Caine – A corporate-run government that makes decisions based strictly on numbers, for the betterment and survival of the people, but more for the betterment of their own elite lifestyle. After surviving a “downsizing”, an orphans works his way up through the system, seeking revenge against those who orchestrated it. A fairly compelling storyline with good action. One of my favorites.
I wish I'd never looked into that window and met Pria's dark, panicked eyes. Seen her press her small hands against the window and mouth my name.
“Pale Rider” by Nancy Holder – Another slow one here. A mysterious stranger shows up and whisks the heroine away to Europe where a hole to the fey world has allowed their magic to seep into ours with devastating consequences. Can our heroine help save the world?
“Corpse Eaters” by Melissa Marr – A god walks the Earth and his human worshippers consume human flesh from a corpse stew. Two youngsters wage a nightly battle against the corpse eating minions, killing as many of them as they can. The boy continually tries to get the girl to leave the city for somewhere safer, but she refuses, driven by vengeance for the death of her sister and the love of her father, who won’t leave the city. It doesn’t have the fastest pace, but the creepy factor makes up for it.
“Burn” by Kami Garcia – In a world where the sun is hot enough to burn people in seconds, a girl finds her younger sister has been snatched and the police aren’t willing to help. She begins to track her sister and gets help from a stranger as they race to save her sister from becoming skin grafts for the rich. Interesting, fast-paced story that is far too believable.
“Love is a Choice” by Beth Revis – Aboard a city-sized transport ship, the former heir to the leader has quite the conundrum when his girlfriend becomes obsessed with stopping the drug-induced mind control the leader has placed pushed onto the citizens, regardless of the likelihood of violent-overthrow.
“Miasma” by Carrie Ryan
– Disease runs rampant and once the corrupt doctors come calling, the choices are pay them off to ignore the infected or watch them drag your loved ones away, never to return. When the handsome son of the wealthy family on whose estate she works catches her stealing flower petals, he life takes a much different turn than she’d expected. An interesting story.
Bottom Line: Overall, I enjoyed this collection of short stories. Some are more exciting than others, some are more dark and bleak, some are fairly creepy, and some are quite believable as a potential future for our planet. A few even have what could almost pass for happy endings. My favorites are, not necessarily in order, “Dogsbody”, “Corpse Eaters”, and “Branded”, while “Necklace of Raindrops”, “Hearken”, and “Pale Rider” did nothing for me.