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  • Review: The Conspiration of the Universe by Kenneth Olanday

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

[Blog tour] Review: A Death-Struck Year by Makiia Lucier + Giveaway!

It might be your friend. Your next door neighbor. Your mom, dad, your sister.
No one is safe.

Title: A Death-Struck Year by Makiia Lucier
Release Date: March 4th 2014
Published by: HMH Books for Young Readers
Source: Publisher / Rockstar Book Tours


A deadly pandemic, a budding romance, and the heartache of loss make for a stunning coming-of-age teen debut about the struggle to survive during the 1918 flu.

For Cleo Berry, the people dying of the Spanish Influenza in cities like New York and Philadelphia may as well be in another country--that's how far away they feel from the safety of Portland, Oregon. And then cases start being reported in the Pacific Northwest. Schools, churches, and theaters shut down. The entire city is thrust into survival mode--and into a panic. Headstrong and foolish, seventeen-year-old Cleo is determined to ride out the pandemic in the comfort of her own home, rather than in her quarantined boarding school dorms. But when the Red Cross pleads for volunteers, she can't ignore the call. As Cleo struggles to navigate the world around her, she is surprised by how much she finds herself caring about near-strangers. Strangers like Edmund, a handsome medical student and war vet. Strangers who could be gone tomorrow. And as the bodies begin to pile up, Cleo can't help but wonder: when will her own luck run out?

There was something in the premise that struck me as interesting. Call it a morbid fascination, or it might just be me looking for a read that will rouse a powerful emotion, but I know what kind of read this was supposed to be. What else would you expect?

I was, however, initially apathetic. 10% in and I was wondering if the story was really supposed to start that way. It was an ordinary day, where Cleo was hating on the fact that she's stuck in the dormitory during vacation. That was it. It was normal. But then the threat of the Spanish Influenza was spreading like wildfire in the United States until it reaches her hometown, and Cleo, who was just a girl not liking the fact that she's spending her free time without her older brother and her sister in law, became something else in my eyes. Someone that I admire. Who better would understand what it's like to lose a loved one, to have no one come to your aid when you need it than Cleo, who've experienced it all as a child? Those moments of doubt, thinking of her safety and if she had what it takes to do the job. I liked that side of her. Better that she doubt, because that made her human and real for me. She was not doing it because she was bored, alone in her house with nothing better to do.

It's always a surprise when a book with the theme like this manage to inserts something else to look forward to, like the untimely, budding romance between Edward and Cleo. Edward had his own share of loss and reasons why a very young capable soldier like him was helping the Red Cross. He was this rock Cleo can lean on to when the deaths and the unexpected losses were to much to take. My admiration for him was as strong as with Cleo. He's tough, and the second chance he got in life he used to help others. He's one half of a pair of characters that will stuck themselves close to your heart because of the way they are. In a time of chaos and worry, they're kind and understanding.

Makiia Lucier's painted a grim story with stark clarity that gave me goosebumps throughout. You never get used to the deaths, because you see how the disease takes away people, and you see it happen through the eyes of these heroic people who chose to help when no one else wanted to, who risks their own lives so that others might live. It makes one realize just how short life is, that it can be taken away in a blink of an eye. What made me like A Death-Struck Year wasn't the romance between Cleo and Edward, it was what they've done, the selflessness and beneath that, the underlying fear that maybe they're just tempting fate, because they are. That constant emotional nudge the author gives as the Spanish Influenza gradually changes Cleo's life and everyone else around her was what made this book a memorable read. Makiia Lucier crafted a solid, riveting story that's equal parts sad and bittersweet.

Content (plot, story flow, character):
You can tell how well researched this novel is by the way Makiia Lucier captured the setting, the latter part of the 1910's, perfectly. That nagging feeling of when and if Cleo gets sick sticks to you and wrap you in a bubble of tension, waiting, as the story gets grimmer and hopeless makes this book lives up to what it's supposed to be about.

Shining: Worthy of a Goddess' Love!

Book Cover:
Very appropriate cover that represents the theme well.



Giveaway ends on March 17th at 11:59 p.m. Pacific.

Makiia Lucier grew up on the Pacific island of Guam. She received a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Oregon and a master's in library studies from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She's had plenty of jobs, mostly in libraries, and currently lives in the small college town of Moscow, Idaho.


Tour Schedule

Mar. 10th - Bookish - Interview
Mar. 11th - Amaterasu Reads - Review
Mar. 12th - Songs and Stories - Review + Guest Post
Mar. 13th - The Cover Contessa - Guest Post
Mar. 14th - Kindle and Me - Review

1 comment:

I love getting comments from my readers and fellow bookworms, and I try my best to respond to all of them. Feel free to give me a piece of your thoughts. Also, this is an award-free blog. I simply don't have the time to highlight them anymore, but thank you for thinking of my blog!

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