Oh man, Deadline. This was hands down one of the best books I read in 2011, and I was beyond delighted to see that it was every bit as gripping as booOh man, Deadline. This was hands down one of the best books I read in 2011, and I was beyond delighted to see that it was every bit as gripping as book 1 of the Newsflesh Trilogy, Feed.
What can I say about this book that doesn't involve massive, massive spoilers? Well, first and foremost, if you haven't read this book yet, you should. Actually, if you haven't read Feed, you should go back and read that first, and then come and read this one. Because Mira Grant/Seanan McGuire's worldbuilding continues to astound, and so does her command of pacing and suspense, and book 3 is due out in a couple more months.
Where Feed was a political thriller that happened to contain zombies, Deadline is more of a medical thriller--and in this book, we begin to get a rather clearer and consequently more chilling picture of where exactly those zombies came from. Plus, the protagonist of this book, Shaun Mason, is so thoroughly wrecked by the dire ending of the previous book that I spent just about every page aching for the poor guy. And yet he keeps going, broken as he is, even though the extent of this breaking inevitably has consequences for himself and those he cares about. I ached for him, and I cheered for him, and goddamn, I hope that boy finds some peace.
It would have been very, very difficult to top the sledgehammer punch to the gut that was the ending of Feed, but Deadline does manage to come close. Both my partner and I went OMG OMG OMG at the big reveal at the end of this book. And we're both eagerly awaiting the third. Five stars....more
I'm primarily familiar with Mira Grant, a.k.a. Seanan McGuire, through her filk music and through the folks in the Pacific Northwest who know her. ThaI'm primarily familiar with Mira Grant, a.k.a. Seanan McGuire, through her filk music and through the folks in the Pacific Northwest who know her. That was enough of a connection, though, to make me quite pleased to hear she was pursuing a writing career, and certainly I was pleased to see that as urban fantasies go, Rosemary and Rue stood out for me as better than normal in an overcrowded genre.
That was before I read Feed.
Now, granted, I'm a sucker for a good zombie novel. But what makes a truly kickass zombie novel is a plot that's much less about the zombies and much more about the world that a zombie outbreak creates, and Grant does this in spades in this book. I'm not sure what impressed me more, and there's a lot to impress here: the backstory of the Kellis-Amberlee virus; the various complex social and political changes that happen in America as a result of the Rising; the fact that in this world, George Romero is considered a national hero; or the upsurge of bloggers as a source of organized journalism. Either way, it makes me very much want to up the ante on my own writing efforts. Take note, my fellow writers. This is how worldbuilding is done.
And when you take impressive worldbuilding and throw in highly engaging characters on top of it, the result is riveting. I loved the two protagonists, Georgia and Shaun Mason, as well as the supporting crew surrounding them. I loved Buffy the support tech chick, who quips that she's blonde and cute and hunts zombies, what else should she name herself? I loved Rick, who signs on with Georgia and Shaun after working for actual newspapers. I even loved Senator Ryman, a halfway decent politician.
Quotes from the various major characters' individual blogs add a lot of lovely atmosphere to the book. Be sure to read them in depth, too. There's lots of detail you don't want to miss, and the blog excerpts are of critical importance in the climactic end of the book.
Watch out for that climax, too, because it'll totally make you tear up. Or, aheh, so I've heard. *^_^*;; Five stars. Because I mean, DAMN....more
Phil Rossi's Crescent was a bit of an odd read for me. I started off with actually listening to the podcast version, but partway through decided to goPhil Rossi's Crescent was a bit of an odd read for me. I started off with actually listening to the podcast version, but partway through decided to go ahead and switch over to reading the Kindle edition. So this is a bit of a hybrid review.
Salvage pilot Gerard Evans accepts a job working for the mayor of Crescent, a run-down station on the fringes of colonized space. Things start to go south very quickly, though, as he finds out that not only is the mayor up to his eyes in the shadiest of shady dealings--but that something is loose on Crescent, something that's out for blood and lives.
The podcast version, or at least the initial stretch of it I listened to, was intriguing listening. Rossi reads well, and is good at varying accents to give you a sense of the voices of the different characters, something you don't get as well when you're just reading the ebook. There are also neat tricks done with certain sound effects that maximize the creepiness of a few key scenes, something else you don't get in the ebook version.
Either way, I found myself poised between wanting more SF to this story and more horror at the same time, possibly because it had a foot in both genres and didn't quite commit to either one, and possibly also because the horror tropes that the story invokes aren't really the ones that work best for me. In particular, I found it had way too much reliance on acts of senseless violence--especially rape of random side characters, which happens twice--as a means of creating the horror.
When it avoids those tactics, which is thankfully the majority of the time, Crescent does achieve some genuine moments of creepiness and suspense. So, three stars....more
If you love you some zombies, especially in a story with a hefty helping of lulz and satire, you can't do much better than Breathers: A Zombie's LamenIf you love you some zombies, especially in a story with a hefty helping of lulz and satire, you can't do much better than Breathers: A Zombie's Lament. I had great fun with this one, the story of a man who has come back to life as a zombie following the car accident that killed both him and his wife. He's now living a miserable existence in his parents' basement, barely surviving on the consumption of formaldehyde and his attendance at the meetings of an undead support group. But he's growing more and more drawn to fellow zombie Rita, and more and more interested in standing up for zombie civil rights. All of which comes to a head when his support group meets Ray, who shares with them his jars of "venison"--after which they find that the death wounds they sustained are healing, that their hearts are beginning to beat again, and that...
Well. You can probably figure out what the "venison" actually is. Muahaha.
General points for not only achieving a story with zombie protagonists, but doing it in such a way as to make you totally want to root for them munching on as many of the nearest brains as possible. Mark Henry has pulled this off equally well in his Amanda Feral books, so it's fun to see it here, too. Four stars....more
If you like werewolves, and you like the Old West, then Cherie Priest's short story collection Dreadful Skin is a decent way to spend your time. We'veIf you like werewolves, and you like the Old West, then Cherie Priest's short story collection Dreadful Skin is a decent way to spend your time. We've got three interconnected stories here, featuring the werewolf Jack Gabert and the woman who hunts him, Eileen Callaghan, an Irish ex-nun who's tracked him all the way to America.
The characters are sketched in with Priest's usual deft touch, though due to the length of each story and to the propensity to change points of view with each scene change, 'sketched in' was about all each tale had time for. I found this frustrating, for Priest's skill with her prose did indeed mean that each story gave me pieces of a much bigger story, one that I quite wanted to experience in greater depth.
Still, this was a fun read, if quick. Fans of werewolf-based urban fantasy may find this a trifle disappointing in that the werewolves in these tales are, in fact, monsters. As such, they are not intended to be sympathetic. I myself found this a refreshing change of pace, and a nice palette cleanser after the heavy diet of urban fantasy I've had these last several years. Three stars....more
Michele Lee delivers a compact little horror story in Rot, a novella that goes into the ramifications of people in society being able to bring back loMichele Lee delivers a compact little horror story in Rot, a novella that goes into the ramifications of people in society being able to bring back loved ones from the dead--only in this case, rather than true resurrection, it's the capturing of a living spirit inside an otherwise still-dead body. Yes, folks, this is a zombie story, but one where the zombies retain sentience for as long as their bodies retain enough physical cohesion for their brains to work.
And this opens up a host of unhappy results as nursing homes for the undead crop up as locations to dump your resurrected zombie loved ones when you no longer want them. Not to mention the myriad unpleasant excuses for reviving your loved ones to begin with, such as Patrick, a gay young man who's brought back by his fundamentalist Christian parents who promise to put him back in his grave if he'll "repent".
With this as a background, the story's protagonist, Dean, a watchman at one of these zombie retirement homes, discovers that certain ones of the residents are going unaccounted for--and as he's moved to investigate, he discovers that these zombies, already rendered pretty much non-people by the sad circumstances of their existence, are helpless prey for even darker motivations than the ones that put them there to start with.
What circumstances give society the ability to create zombies is only glossed over, but really, that's fine; this story is short enough that that really doesn't need to be explained in depth. The focus is where it rightfully belongs, on Dean, on Patrick, and upon Amy, who is the latest of the zombies in the facility to go missing. Dean must bring himself to trust Patrick enough to take him out of the facility with him as he tracks Amy down, and the dynamic between the two is very nicely done indeed.
All in all, it's a tight little tale and worth checking out. Four stars....more