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This has been on my tbr list since last year, before the cover came up....more(crossposted to librarything, shelfari, and witchoftheatregoing.wordpress.com)
This has been on my tbr list since last year, before the cover came up. The idea of curing cancer and damning the human race to extinction tasted a bit of “The Children of Men” (if you’re a fan of “Wither”, you simply MUST read “Children of Men”) and a bit of “Big Love” and the TLC show, “Sister Wives”. Combine all of this together? One amazingly wonderful clusterfuck of a horrifying future that just seems all too real and possible, especially these days.
Apotheosis: the process in which cells die and thus prevent conditions like cancer from happening within the body of any living creature. If you cure this process without any substitute for cells to age and recycle out of the system, you come up with a nightmare scenario that DeStefano has created in her new trilogy, “Wither”.
I won’t lie – I finished “Wither” in more or less one sitting. I literally could NOT put it down. I love dystopia-themed books, and the idea of sister wives fascinates me to no end (no thanks to my brief stint as a mormon as a child – don’t ask). This book is most definitely not for the squeamish, starting out with a bang (literally, and many of them) for our heroine, Rhine, and the girls who come to be her sister wives in the household of Linden and Vaughn. The idea of having to become breeding stock is abhorrent to any modern female these days (and I know I’m not the only one who feels this way, obviously), and there were parts of this book where I had to put it down for a few moments before picking it back up again just to process the sheer obscenity and horror of having girls as young as 13 (or younger) being used as incubators for fetuses.
But I think this is what DeStefano was aiming for – to really visit the horror of this world where everything looks and feels pretty on the outside, but is completely rotten on the inside upon the reader, to impress upon the audience the sheer helplessness of the feeling of the timebomb in one’s body, knowing exactly, more or less, how long you’re going to live, knowing what your worth is based on your fertility.
Frankly, in a world where we’re trying to find cures to all diseases possible, DeStefano has balls for writing this book. And I give her major props for this – it takes a lot of bravery to speak up and say “well, uh, we uh, might need diseases so things like this scenario won’t happen”.
To say that I’m anxious for the next book is putting it lightly. Definitely one of the best of 2011, hands down. I know I’ll be rereading it quite a bit over the next year.(less)
I’m SO glad they finally reprinted one of the three volumes and with all of the one-off comics that hadn’t been published anywhere but in random omnib...moreI’m SO glad they finally reprinted one of the three volumes and with all of the one-off comics that hadn’t been published anywhere but in random omnibus collections from Dark Horse so far. ;_; I really am. Especially “The Other Half”, as I have a huge soft spot for Wash in my silly little heart. The art has been gorgeously updated, now in hardback for the first time, and if you’re a Firefly/Serenity/Joss Whedon fan, this updated version of “Better Days” definitely belongs in your collection.
“Better Days” takes place before “Serenity” (the film) but after the “Firefly” series, and is basically a fun romp with the old gang on a job gone wrong. Well, more like, when is a job of theirs NOT going wrong?
I have to say, one of my favorite part of “Better Days” was always anything with Jayne. Especially when he’s cursing in Mandarin, which Dark Horse purposely doesn’t bother to translate because some facial expressions are pretty much universal. And the references to “The Hero of Canton” made me shriek with joy. If you want to go back to the good old days with the entire team on board of Serenity, “Better Days” is definitely the good fun you want to read. Such shenanigans. (Bonus! If you love River and/or Simon, don’t miss the scene after The Job Gone Wrong with them. It’ll make you wish for a happy ending for them even harder.)
“Float Out” is one of the newly available stories previously only in other Dark Horse multi-author/series omnibuses, and is heartbreaking it not only opens the old wound of the ending of “Serenity”, but it also very briefly shows us how Zoe is holding up after those events. In short, “Float Out” is an epitaph to Wash and all he was, both the good and the bad, and the very silly. I kind of wish that they’d continued it longer than they did when it comes to what’s going on with Zoe (I won’t spoil it for you, read it yourself!), but at the same time, I’ve gotten used to Whedon’s open-ended answers, so I’m okay with it. I guess it just makes miss Wash and his addition to the family of Serenity all the more. Oh, and did I mention? Jo Chen (master of the “Buffy Season 8″ early covers) did the alternate cover for this one, and it’s included early in this volume.
And then there’s “The Other Half”, which is River “proving” herself on a job with not being permanently crazy and saving the rest of the crew from our good friends the Reavers. I’m glad River got her own little side story and props for saving them so many times with her Alliance-induced psychic abilities/psychosis. It ended on such a good note, and I just kind of wanted to hug River forever by the last page. This is another story that takes place before “Serenity”, but not by much, I’m guessing. As no one’s really officially released a canon timeline of the Firefly/Serenity ‘verse, it’s kind of hard to tell.
Lastly, there’s “Downtime”, another tale before “Serenity”, with hilarity of the snowbound and venereal disease sort, and once again, Jayne takes the cake with being the most hilarious, closely followed by Zoe and Wash as the must adorable couple, and River, as…well, the most kick-ass. There’s an afterword by Adam Baldwin, the Man They Call Jayne himself, talking about his manly feelings about the series, the film, and its cancellation, and more supplemental cover art by Jo Chen to boot!
So really, this is a treasure trove of (somewhat) new stuff with the Serenity crew. I’m glad I didn’t buy the previous softcover version (I’d bought all of the issues of “Better Days” when they were on the newsstand, and since the previous edition didn’t have any extras, I hadn’t and still don’t see a point in buying that edition) because now I have the chance to own a second hardcover edition of the “Serenity” comics. “Downtime” sets things up for the final volume (so far), “The Shepherd’s Tale”, which is all about Book (and the big secret he’s been holding throughout the series, film, and comics thus far). I really hope they release a hardcover copy of that volume as it’s just as lovely as this one.
Dark Horse, great work as usual with catering to the fans. It just makes us love you (and your products, therefore giving you our money) all the more. Let’s hope that the signal never stops, and that like “Buffy”, this series continues to get love (and occasional goodies, like this volume) for years to come.
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I loved the first book, and I loved this book, too. We pick up swiftly from where we left off in book #1, and the transition concerning time between p...moreI loved the first book, and I loved this book, too. We pick up swiftly from where we left off in book #1, and the transition concerning time between publication was absolutely flawless and smooth – it’s as if I never stopped reading the first novel at all.
Another one of those “I really hope this isn’t the end” series – but with the ending that was given for book #2, I can honestly say that I’m satisfied, and that it feels comfortable and right that the story ends there. It’s very difficult to find an open-ended sequel with that quality to it, but MacCallough did this absolutely excellently. This is definitely one of the best of 2011 so far, even if it is another sequel within that category. I have nothing to nitpick at all. It really was that good. Go read the first book first, and then read this one – you won’t be sorry you did.
Short, I know, but just…wow. This is just so rare for a YA work to be so cleanly and neatly wrapped up without cliches or fallacies of logic. Absolutely gorgeous!
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It seems like that in YA right now, we’re getting a lot of dystopia, but nothing that’s anything like this book. It seems rare that YA gets anything v...moreIt seems like that in YA right now, we’re getting a lot of dystopia, but nothing that’s anything like this book. It seems rare that YA gets anything virologically related, much less a 1st person POV to a mystery disease where we get to really delve into what happens when you have a tight-knit community breaking down into almost an animalistic society. “The Way We Fall” isn’t only well-written, but its facts are correct. Crewe really did her research here, and it’s really refreshing. And terrifying in ways that is rarely seen in YA.
Much like the way the film “Contagion” starts at day 2 and then works backwards to find patient zero, in a race against time and nature. We see what goes on through Kae’s eyes, and it’s not pretty. The letter/journal entry approach that Crewe took in this book was entirely appropriate and honestly, I can’t see any other way to tell a story like this one. We see the public health model of the 0knot (read as “R-knot”, or replication knot – the rate at which virii multiply and infect other people) being used, and that was REALLY awesome. It was subtle, and you have to look a little under the surface, but it’s there. We see things like foamites (common surfaces lots of people touch, like school desks) used to really make the threat of the virus known once Rachel gets sick and Kae (and to be fair, everyone else) is still in denial about the seriousness of the possible (and eventual) pandemic. It terrified me and made me want to shower in antibacterial gel.
For such a fast-paced story, I felt like the characters were pretty well rounded and full, and the only major issues I had with the plot was the still-unsolved question of finding a definite patient zero. It COULD have been Rachel’s dad, but then it also could have been a similar fever that struck the year before. I know that things like this are definitely not easy to find and are cut and dried in the real world, and the patient zero mystery doesn’t often get solved for a lot of smaller pandemics. So I do appreciate Crewe’s intensely realistic approach to that. But at the same time, I did want to know who was patient zero, what the virus was made up of, and stuff like that. But that’s just me – I’m into virology, and I like stuff like that. Even with my pickiness of the mystery of a definite patient zero, Crewe’s approach was the right and appropriate way to do it. The rest of it, on my part, is about preference.
This was a very masterfully done book. The pace was good, the details were awesome, and it was enough to make my heart race the entire time. The choice of wording in certain situations was also great and appropriate considering Kae’s age. There wasn’t a hair out of place, in that sense. Kae acted her age, and also stepped up to the plate when there was no one else to do the job of continuing to fight the virus. It might have been dangerous, but it also shows us that when social order is pretty close to completely breaking down, we have no other choices. The same goes for the romance – we weren’t suffocated with it, and the one that did happen in the book was so slow and gradual that it was completely believable and realistic in such a tense situation. Poor Kae needed someone to love, and I’m glad she got him.
Many have complained about the open ending, and I can see why it would frazzle some who like solid, defined endings. I liked it, because it gave us room to think about what might happen next. I’m still dying (no pun intended) to know if the virus made it to the mainland, or if it was safely contained. But perhaps the ending is proof of safe containment, though I won’t give it away. This definitely is a book to be read for 2012, if just to teach proper hand-washing techniques. It’s definitely done its job there.
So for really doing her researching and creating a ridiculously believable story, Megan Crewe’s “The Way We Fall” is on my best of 2012 list so far. I can only hope we get a few more epidemic books like this in YA soon, because there’s not nearly enough. Be sure to pick up a copy of this book when it hits stores in North America on January 24th, 2012 (other places, check), or ask your local library to get a copy. It really is that good.
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Now that, ladies and gentlefolk, is an ENDING. Between "Ignite Me", "Infinite" by Jodi Meadows, and "Into the Still Blue" by Veronica Rossi, I definit...moreNow that, ladies and gentlefolk, is an ENDING. Between "Ignite Me", "Infinite" by Jodi Meadows, and "Into the Still Blue" by Veronica Rossi, I definitely have three contenders for best concluding trilogy books of the year. But Mafi goes all out in this last installment of "Shatter Me" trilogy - so much so that there's bullets flying everywhere, as well as broken hearts, and a main character that has made such an amazing progression/evolution that just remembering it takes my breath away. There's also "Unite Me" (the paper publication of the novellas) to talk about, and we'll get to those in a bit. But seriously, guys, one of the best novels of the year? It has to be "Ignite Me".
Wow, I was not prepared for the last fifty pages of this book at ALL. Taylor proves herself a master at the magical reality/fantasy genre in “Daughter...moreWow, I was not prepared for the last fifty pages of this book at ALL. Taylor proves herself a master at the magical reality/fantasy genre in “Daughter of Smoke & Bone” and I can barely get the words out to tell you guys how much I loved this book. Everything about it was glorious, there was never a moment that had me bored or losing interest, and it’s a fabulous blend of all kinds of current myths and legends in one huge melting pot. If you’re going to read a magical reality/fantasy YA book this year that’s not about (traditional) angels/werewolves/etc, make it “Daughter of Smoke & Bone”
What I loved the most was the idea that angels are not connected to a Judeo-Christian god (even though Taylor takes a lot from Judaism myths about angels for this book), but rather, just to another universe where they co-exist with other races/species on a planet not too much unlike Earth (well, except for the flying and magic part, of course). Out of all of the angel-related YA books this year, I think that Taylor’s book is the only to raise this question/topic of other life in the universe, other universes close to ours. And then there is the question of why we wage war, and what can be done to stop war (even if those efforts may fail). It’s a serious topic that definitely demands our attention, but not until the second half of the book.
The first half – oh god, I so want to go to Prague now. I’ve never been to Europe (though I have galloped my way around Japan), and now I’m positively dying to go. The way Taylor writes her locations is so real that I can practically smell the alleys, feel the chill in the air from the snow, and taste the tea at Poison. She effectively makes her setting as a separate character, and that depends on where we are in this world – whether it be Paris, Prague, or Turkey. I’ve never been to any of those places, but Taylor took me there with her words, and that’s very difficult to pull off. I’m happy to say she way exceeded my expectations for this book, and not just in this aspect of things. Setting as character is hard to do in any kind of medium – be it in TV, film, traditional art, or writing. Many try and fail. But she breathes life into everything she touches, and it’s so refreshing to be immersed in, guys, I can’t even tell you.
After finishing this last night, I basically babbled to my mother for half an hour or more about it. Embarrassing. This doesn’t happen often. But it happened with Taylor’s book. Obviously I need to go read her other work now.
We’re left hanging as to whether Karou will forgive Akiva, so I’m dying to read another installment should it be coming (and I sincerely hope it does). Her characters are charismatic, even if they’re the villains, or the characters you love to hate. She makes them whole and real, and the scene with Zuzana’s marionette street theatre piece was so real I could practically hear the clicking of the marionette strings above her. It was lovely.
So obviously, I just can’t get enough of this book/world/author. But don’t take my word for it. “Daughter of Smoke & Bone” is due to hit shelves in North America on September 27th, later elsewhere (consult your local bookstore if you’re located elsewhere). Seriously. It’s worth the money, guys, so go buy it once it comes out.
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I think what everyone is reacting to, and what makes Meadows' story so unique is the fact that she takes a very old idea (reincarnation), and makes it...moreI think what everyone is reacting to, and what makes Meadows' story so unique is the fact that she takes a very old idea (reincarnation), and makes it completely new. "Incarnate" is definitely one of those reads that is going to stand out in 2012, and it feels like someone's breathing new life both into the paranormal and dystopian/utopian genres (because really, the book contains both, even though one is far more veiled than the other). Here comes a trilogy, guys, that I'll be happy to read - because this awesome story really does need three books to tell.
What I like about Meadows' heroine Ana is that not only is she a fighter, but she also knows when she needs help, and when to ask for it (albeit stubbornly). Because of her mother and the society that has shunned her for not being someone they've known for thousands upon thousands of years, it's made Ana very self-reliant, but also very vulnerable. No one likes her very much, and she's suspicious when someone's friendly toward her - mostly because it feels like a ploy to get abused yet again by the soul society that rules her world.
And the love interest - look guys, no love triangle! This made me so happy that I practically danced my way through the last parts of the book. I'm getting so sick of them when so many of them are so clearly not needed, though there are exceptions to this. Yes, there is a love interest, but I felt that their relationship grew very naturally, and took the path that most relationships take - one step forward, two back. The way relationships actually happen as opposed to the way we think or want them to happen is so very rarely highlighted in YA lit as a whole, much less a fantasy sub-genre book, and I'm so very pleased with the way Meadows built this romance. It was easily digestible, but not full of pap. And that's a hard balance to strike. Meadows nailed it on her first try. Both characters are so round and full, and the world-building so complete that the relationship just kind of came along, and wove itself back into those characters and that world in one big circle. I love it when this happens, and I want to see more of it in YA lit as a whole.
Which brings me to one of my favorite parts of this book - Meadows' huge strength - the magical reality she brings to the story through her gorgeous use of sensory/descriptive language. I could practically hear the music, dance at the ball, and see the sylphs the entire time. For being a YA book, it was surprisingly sensuous, and I love it when YA books turn out that way. The pulsing, living building, the dragons, the dresses, all of it. I wanted it all! ALL THE THINGS.
And then there's the society itself - it's not a dystopian society, guys, though it may appear like one at first for hating on Ana so very much for being a newsoul/nosoul. Through so much trial and error, it's become a utopian society, and it's so nice to see something like that finally pop up in YA lit. That's another thing, I think, that YA really needs right now amidst a tide of dystopian books. However, the utopia that this world has built is not 100% perfect (though I'd say it's closer to 95-98%), and Meadows makes that abundantly clear at the end of this first book, making it a very strong first book as a whole. She could have waited another book or waited until the last book to point this out, but she doesn't, making for a very explosive ending. As humans will still be humans, a perfect utopia can't be achieved (we're just too flawed, even if we do get so many thousands of years/lives to get it right), and Meadows subtle message of that reality was wonderful once it shoved its way to the surface at the end of the book.
But she could have pushed it further, and she didn't, which disappointed me. Give us something that's going to shock us, make us weep or gasp with the rest of this trilogy when you're ending one of the books, Meadows! While I like how she held back, she could have really left us on the edge. Regardless, this definitely a must-read for 2012, even if you're not into fantasy. It's a breath of fresh air within the genre, and badly needed. You can bet that I'll be chomping at the bit for the next two books of this trilogy. I actually kind of want them now.
So if you're looking for something new, beautiful, and full of magic, try "Incarnate" when it hits shelves later this month. This is one story you will not forget.
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Guys. I am practically incoherent after finishing this book. Yes, it is THAT GOOD. “The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer” has everything I love about a book in...moreGuys. I am practically incoherent after finishing this book. Yes, it is THAT GOOD. “The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer” has everything I love about a book in it – a balance of all plot elements without the sub-arcs smothering each other while holding up the main plot. Stuff that keeps me guessing, stuff that horrifies and intrigues me, a little bit of romance that doesn’t totally overwhelm everything else, and a heroine that kicks ass and takes names — even if she doesn’t realize she’s doing it. And that ending. Cliffhangers that leave open space for another story, yet leaves enough for the reader to make up one’s own open ending; Hodkin does it all with style and grace and I didn’t want leave Mara Dyer’s frighteningly wonderful world once the book ended.
There is the initial mystery of what happened to Mara in the first place, and Hodkin does a great job of reminding us about this throughout the book, no matter where we are in the sub-arcs, whether we’re in Mara’s new school, experiencing hallucinations or at home, with her in her nightmares/memories/dreams. There’s always the dagger of what happened hanging over her. She can’t forget that, and neither can we. And the way Hodkin does this isn’t overly suffocating – it’s a mention of a look, a quick flashback to what happened at the asylum, someone who looks like her now dead friends and that’s all it takes to remind us how high the stakes are for Mara – literally, her “unbecoming”, as the title suggests, and the unraveling of not just her sanity, but of her very being (moral and otherwise).
And the stakes only get higher as the book goes on. The mysteries start piling up, from her very first day at school (the dog’s owner – was that a hallucination or a real vision of him dead?) forward. There’s never a moment where the tension (be it of the main plot or the sub-arcs that help hold it up) leaves the page. There’s never a moment where the characters are completely still, and therefore, we’re never still. So many books, regardless of genre, try to get this right, and very few actually are able to do it. The answer is provided in Hodkin’s way of writing – you just don’t let the tension leave, ever. Even if it shrinks, it’s still there, and it’s still a reminder of a lingering threat, be it past, present, or future. That’s the key to writing an amazing book, right there. And Hodkin did it.
And then there’s the ending. There’s so much out there, especially in YA as of late, that’s at least two books long. I love me some series, trilogies, and duologies, but to a certain point. Then again, there are many stories that can’t be contained to just one book. I think “Mara Dyer” may be one of them. But Hodkin doesn’t really push this on us – she leaves it to the reader to decide what the ending really means for Mara, her world, and her future. I would love to see another book in this world, but at the same time, I can do just as well without. That too is hard to accomplish, but once more, Hodkin has done it.
So I’m quite happy with how this book turned out. I literally could not put it down. It’s a delicious gem of a book that should be a model for other books out there. Definitely in my top ten for the year. The hype definitely is deserved. Wonderful, awesome, and…I can’t find any more words. Just read it once it comes out, and thank me later.
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