“Nero crawled past where the bodies of the hunters were. At least where he thought they were. With each foot, the smell got worse. It was hot and feti...more“Nero crawled past where the bodies of the hunters were. At least where he thought they were. With each foot, the smell got worse. It was hot and fetid. Stink blanketed his sinuses, settled in his nose. It bought furniture at IKEA, adopted a puppy, got a job, met other stink, went on a date, and talked about moving in together.”
Nick spends his high school days caring for his younger sister, who has Asperger’s, and his father, who has lost his touch with reality after losing his R&D job at Rebozzo’s chicken production facility. Nick also works part-time at that same facility, where he debones birds, and pines away for Petal, a classmate who also works at the factory. When Nick accidentally cuts himself, and bleeds rapidly and grotesquely all over the place, he is convicted of property destruction and sabotage. As punishment, he is sentenced to three months’ time at Inward Trek, a juvenile boot camp. Nick is assigned a new name (Nero), and loaded onto the van with eight other boys, for some wilderness counseling and rehabilitation.
Once in the woods, high up in the mountains of northern California, things rapidly take a turn for the worse. For unknown reasons, some of the IT party turn into zombies overnight, quickly mauling and infecting others in the group. No one on the mountain seems unaffected, and hikers, children, and high school cheerleaders and football players soon appear as part of the ravenous hoard. Nero and a few survivors try to outrun and outlast the zombies, and eventually locate a hunting lodge near the mountain’s peak. There, they meet some of the surviving Inward Trek girls’ group, and work to fight their way out of the encroaching flesh-eaters. It’s after their rescue, however (not really a spoiler), that things take some turns which set this book apart from the normal zombie fare.
This is just a fun, entertaining read, and you have to be in the right frame of mind (i.e., vulgar, pitch-black sense of humor, not easily grossed out) to truly enjoy it. Beaudoin is a very skilled writer, with sharp, witty dialogue and *extremely* vivid depictions of zombie violence. Again, not for the squeamish. Really. There are plot lines left hanging, and many characters not fully developed, which is fine for those who are quickly killed off, but not for others. For example, my favorite secondary character (Yeltsin) needed a bit more backstory, and I was sorry to see him go, then reappear, then have his head ripped from his body. But that’s what you should expect from a zombie novel. The way Beaudoin ties up some other plot points happens a bit too conveniently, and the last 50 pages or so are open to some debate. Still, this book offers extremely sharp cultural skewering – from fast food to commodification culture, Beaudoin takes it all on, in an over-the-top fashion slightly reminiscent of Libba Bray’s Beauty Queens. Not for younger readers, not for the faint of heart, but highly recommended. I could not put this one down. Extra hilarity points for the many “Zombrules” throughout the text, which provide helpful tips for surviving a zombie plague, as well as the arrest sheets of the different IT boys at the end of the book. (less)
Oooh, baby . . . even better than THE MARBURY LENS, and I *really* enjoyed that one. Smith's writing doesn't deliver a gut punch, as much as a nail-st...moreOooh, baby . . . even better than THE MARBURY LENS, and I *really* enjoyed that one. Smith's writing doesn't deliver a gut punch, as much as a nail-studded 2x4 to the side of the reader's skull. More to come . . .(less)
Every time I read this book, it gets better. And I finally get to use it in a class, so now I'm learning even *more* about it, through the readings of...moreEvery time I read this book, it gets better. And I finally get to use it in a class, so now I'm learning even *more* about it, through the readings of others. I find new things in it each time I open it. (less)
This graphic depiction of Eucles, the Athenian runner whose exploits saved the city from the Persians, and who inspired the Olympic marathon event, sp...moreThis graphic depiction of Eucles, the Athenian runner whose exploits saved the city from the Persians, and who inspired the Olympic marathon event, specifically focuses on the key Battle of Marathon. Here, the Athenian army, hopelessly outnumbered, held the Persian army at bay for five days, to keep the Persians from sailing on to Athens. This was a huge moment in the Greco-Persian wars, because it showed the Greeks that they could defeat the mighty Persian military. Eucles is a major figure in these events, and this novel shows his early years as a slave, his service as a message runner, and the unparalleled endurance he showed during the battle, when he ran from Athens to Sparta (around 150 miles), to ask for Spartan assistance in the battle; he then ran immediately from Sparta to Marathon, to deliver the Spartan's response (basically, we're be there, but we'll take our time); finally, Eucles and a small band of Athenian soldiers ran the 26 miles from Marathon to Athens, to deliver news of the battle, and warn the Athenian citizens of the Persians' approaching ships. According to legend, these exploits were so heroic, particularly the final run to Athens, that they inspired the marathon run at the first Olympic Games, in 1896, where runners recreated the Marathon-to-Athens run.
While this GN provides a nice historical overview of the Battle of Marathon, and some of the key players, the accuracy of the events is always open to some debate. I also agree with other reviews I've read so far, that the novel presents a lot of characters (it is Greek history, after all); because of the influx of names, and shifts in time, it's somewhat difficult to follow the plot and the roster. The artwork is fantastic - while done in black and white, there is a shift in color tone, to indicate when the readers are seeing flashbacks and present events. I think this novel is a good demonstration that, no matter how effective the artwork, all comic art still relies on a good, well-organized story. With clearer writing and sequencing/pacing, this could have been an easier-to-understand read. As it stands, I could follow it, but it probably took a little more work than should have been necessary. (less)
"'Perry, listen to me. Tomorrow morning I will fly out.'
'I thought it was next week -'
'It is tomorrow morning. Before that I have four more appointmen...more"'Perry, listen to me. Tomorrow morning I will fly out.'
'I thought it was next week -'
'It is tomorrow morning. Before that I have four more appointments I need to make here in the city. You drive me to these, everything will be all right.'
'Four appointments. You mean four more people you have to kill?'
'Please pay attention to your driving.'
I shook my head. 'You know, it all makes total sense now why you weren't good in math. Every single foreign exchange student I know is good in math. You sucked in math because you're actually a hired killer.'
Perry Stormaire never wanted to take Gobi, the Lithuanian exchange student who's been living with his family, to prom. But Gobi had asked, and Perry caved to his parents' pressure, the way he always has. Gobi has spent the past nine months with his family, and this is really her last chance to experience one of the traditions of high school life. But Perry's band also has its first big break that same evening, playing a gig in an East Village club in nearby Manhattan. After an embarrassing incident at prom, Gobi asks Perry to show her New York City at night, and he figures he can easily make it to his band's performance. He couldn't be more wrong. Gobi insists on stopping off at an exclusive downtown club, where she promptly kills someone, revealing herself to be a highly trained killer, on a determined mission to avenge her sister's death. And Perry is now along for the ride.
I'm still longing for Cameron Post, but I'm feeling more generous. Yeah, that really is the plot. I'll admit, the book was certainly fast-paced, and the action scenes were well-written. And if you are looking for a quick suspension-of-disbelief type of book, this is the diversion you're looking for. Just don't look too closely at the plot, or you're going to see more holes than you know what to do with. None of the characters are even close to being developed, and the big reveal of the criminal mastermind's identity is never explained, nor does it really make a lot of sense. Still, it has some fun lines, and it's always entertaining to watch a quiet foreign exchange student suddenly transform into Le Femme Nikita, and blow people away all over midtown. The chapter headings, taken from college and university admission essay prompts, also add a fun element, seeing how they tie into the action in each chapter. (less)
Still just as good as the other times I've read it. Chapter 61 still gives me chills.
Original review (from 2009):
Let me start by saying that science...moreStill just as good as the other times I've read it. Chapter 61 still gives me chills.
Original review (from 2009):
Let me start by saying that science fiction is not normally a genre I'm drawn to, but I do appreciate the way the best writers craft worlds that are unlike, yet just close enough to our own, to make their stories resonate. That's what Shusterman does in this book. The story is set at some unknown point in the future, after a second Civil War, "The Heartland War," has been fought between pro-life and pro-choice factions. The resolution (if it can be called that) is the Bill of Life, which states that all life is sacred from the moment of conception, until a child reaches age 13. At that point, until age 18, parents can choose to have a child "unwound," a process that distributes that child's body parts (all of them) to other recipients. The idea is that the child is not technically dead, just alive in other forms, and in other people.
The novel revolves around three main characters: Connor, a young man whose sometimes uncontrollable temper has led his parents to sign his unwind orders; Risa, a ward of the state since her birth, who has been scheduled for unwinding in order to make more room for new arrivals at the state home (and because her musical talents just weren't enough to merit her survival); and Lev, a Tithe, who has been born specifically to be unwound upon his 13th birthday. Their paths cross early in the book, and we watch how they come together, splinter apart, and eventually all find their way to the same destination: a harvest camp, which is the final destination for all Unwinds.
I'm not going to provide a full description of the novel, because a) I don't think I'll do it justice, and b) you need to read this for yourself. This is a book that will haunt me for a while, as I'm sure it does other readers. The passage where we finally "see" what goes on in an unwinding procedure, through the eyes of Roland, is so powerful, I had to read it several times over. Shusterman has crafted a world where a 21st century moral debate gets a gentle nudge into another realm, and opens up great room for debate not only about abortion and the sanctity of life, but about larger issues like the human soul, the way children are treated in our society, and how we make use of the time we have on earth. I cannot recommend this book enough.(less)