Good Morning, Midnight is the quietest apocalypse book you're ever likely to read. From the stark, icy silences of the vast Arctic, to the soundless b Good Morning, Midnight is the quietest apocalypse book you're ever likely to read. From the stark, icy silences of the vast Arctic, to the soundless black infinity of outer space, this introspective book is about loneliness and isolation, not bombs, or germs or zombies and fighting like a dog over the last can of beans.
If your reader's desire is to immerse yourself in a well-constructed and deftly explored end of the world scenario then you just might be disappointed here. Getting into the nitty gritty details of an apocalypse -- the whys and wherefores -- that's not this book.
Instead what we have here is a thoughtful and poignantly written contemplation on the ways humans can cut themselves off from other humans, can so easily become trapped in their own inability to connect and build lasting relationships, moving through life untethered -- on the outside of everything, apart from everyone. The two vividly described settings -- the Arctic and outer space -- are perfect metaphors for our disconnected protagonists to move in. Our genius astronomer Augustine is stationed at the top of the world in a remote Arctic research station when the world ends. Our intrepid female astronaut Sullivan (or Sully) is on a round trip back to Earth from the outer reaches of Jupiter, confined in tight quarters with the rest of her crew.
Each is struggling with a loneliness they can't quite define, a torment that only becomes amplified and more crushing as the terrifying realization begins to crystallize that the world might just have ended. From space, Sully and her crew are disturbed at the utter hush of zero communication coming from Earth. What sort of cataclysmic, inexplicable event could have happened to the home planet they are speeding toward? Augustine's Arctic life is just as silent, save for the company of a mysterious young girl left behind after the research station is evacuated.
The real strength of this book (especially considering its modest length) is the striking descriptions (at times breathtakingly rendered) of life in space and in an Arctic research facility. The attention to detail put me RIGHT THERE, I could see, taste, touch everything. I lived on the Aether and experienced the excitement, the boredom, the claustrophobia, the anxiety, the fear. The challenge of meals, and going to the bathroom, and sleeping, and staying in shape. I came to know the frigid wind of the Arctic wanting to rip my face off, and the despair of feeling swallowed up by a white frozen landscape void of humans and seemingly hope. Until the sun rises. And the descriptions -- often eloquent -- are not plodding or heavy. No word is wasted. The prose is so sharp and so observant.
Our protagonists Augustine and Sully -- though they keep themselves busy and strive for ways to normalize a far from normal situation -- will have a lot of time on their hands, empty hours that will torment them, and force them to confront painful truths about themselves and the life choices they've made. What lies on the other side of the apocalyptic silence is a mystery that won't be solved, but that doesn't mean there aren't answers to be found. ...more
Show me the way to go home, I'm tired and I want to go to bed...
Sooooooo, here we are. Back to the more soap-opera-ish, plodding plot with a few in
Show me the way to go home, I'm tired and I want to go to bed...
Sooooooo, here we are. Back to the more soap-opera-ish, plodding plot with a few interesting "twists" (for lack of a better word) thrown in. I was not riveted. Maggie going toe-to-toe with dickhole parents of dickhole kids is a less than inspiring sub-plot. More scheming by disgruntled community members. Eh, we've seen that number before too.
The Whisperers are sorta kinda interesting and new, I suppose, if you look at them with your eyes scrunched and squinting. It makes sense to me that there would be a group like this that would come along eventually. The real surprise is that it's taken this long, and perhaps how many of them there's rumored to be. Thousands? Really? That would be shocking indeed. For now, it's just a rumor and my fingers are crossed that this new "threat" turns out to be more than what they appear to be which is a step above same shit different day.
And Carl? Sweet jebus. (view spoiler)[After nearly bashing in the skulls of two douchebag out-of-control violent teenagers, he gets hit on by a strange new girl from the Whisperers group. And she's totally got a kink for Carl's empty eye socket. As in, she's totally into it. So much so she French kisses the damn thing (ewwwww)
Yup, like that. Then she takes his virginity. For the record, Carl doesn't put up a fight. But what should have played out as a nice sweet innocent scene has a twisted underbelly cause you know this young woman has got some serious problems and that she's been abused and raped by her group. Great. Cause the one thing the Walking Dead has been missing is some good 'ol pedophilia. (hide spoiler)]
Sometimes this series feels like an albatross around my neck, a monkey on my back, Sisyphus's Rock. I NEED THIS TO END!!!! I NEED AN ENDING!!!! Do you hear me Kirkman???? For godsake man, take mercy on all of us and please JUST FUCKNG END IT.
This is the turning point us zombified Dead Heads have been waiting for -- a genuinely new beginning, not just the illusion of one immediately undone This is the turning point us zombified Dead Heads have been waiting for -- a genuinely new beginning, not just the illusion of one immediately undone by human depravity and Rick Grimes assholery.
A few years have past. We have actual thriving communities now. More than one! Fresh baked bread is happening! Can I get a hallelujah people? Community members are trading goods and favors and working together and sleeping with both eyes closed at night. Children are playing, carefree and silly. Adolescents are keen to take on an apprenticeship in order to learn a valuable skill. Good ol' one-eyed Carl is among them, eager for Rick to finally cut the apron strings so that he can forge his own path to independence and competency.
Maggie is thriving ruling roost over the Hilltop and breaking horses. She's also mom to Sophia and little Herschel. Glenn is a huge void in this scenario and I miss him still.
Rick has calmed the sweet fuck down. He even will take the time to watch a sunset now. And delegate and build partnerships based on trust and respect. But what of good 'ol Negan? He's still with us. Serving a life sentence behind bars and taunting Rick every chance he gets. Right now he's convincingly neutralized but this is the goddamn motherfucking Walking Dead. Guys like Negan don't survive to become the good guys or the defeated guys.
There are new characters who are behaving the way Rick's group would have three years ago -- angry, paranoid, mistrustful. They can't believe what they are seeing and are certain something more sinister HAS TO BE afoot.
If Kirkman wants us standing firmly in the middle of the rug so he can brutally and viciously pull it out from underneath us again I'm quitting this series for good. Don't take us this far only to HULK SMASH it all to pieces again. This new threat? (view spoiler)[ Quite frankly I was much more excited to think that the zombies had become sentient. That it's just sick mofos running around sewn up inside zombie skins TCM Leatherface style? Meh. Do we really need more human depravity at this point? Shit sake. (hide spoiler)]
On to the next volume -- Whispers into Screams. Uh huh. Here we go -- out of the blue into the goddam black of an Arby's abyss again. ...more
Carol! I am so glad I didn't make you suffer through this with me. I took one for the team!
Oh my bleeding eyeballs, but I am very disheartened to repoCarol! I am so glad I didn't make you suffer through this with me. I took one for the team!
Oh my bleeding eyeballs, but I am very disheartened to report that very little in this book's almost 500 pages did anything for me. Despite the zombies, despite the post-apocalyptic landscape, despite the grappling, unending confrontations with human depravity and the silver threads of uncovering and recovering pieces of our humanity --- ALLLLL of my favorite things -- David Wellington's Positive still managed to bore the pants off me. Over and over again.
The prose is just too plodding, too clumsy, too eager to tell -- tell everything about everything! -- rather than ever get out of the damn way and show. The unending, unforgivable descriptions of what characters think and feel are wearying and unsatisfying. Show me dammit!! Let actions speak louder than words. Then perhaps a plodding 500 page novel can be edited into a leaner, meaner 350 pages.
Sigh. Characters are very cardboard cutout and as the hero -- Finn is just too goody-goody unbelievable to the point of being grating. As the first-person narrator his voice fails miserably doing no justice to himself, supporting characters or the novel's action. His unflagging "do the right thing never give up" attitude is sanctimonious and unrealistic as Wellington fails to balance it with anything deeper or nuanced. And then he just becomes so insufferable in his "my people" way of speaking and thinking. YOU'RE NOT MOSES, FINN, AND THIS AIN'T THE EFFING DESERT. I kept longing for the uber-dysfunctional assholery of Rick Grimes to give the story some texture and believability.
Anyway, this was supposed to be my great summer zombie read. No. Not. Negative.
First I would like to start out with a warning -- please remain calm: this *is not* a full length sequel. It is a *short story*. It is a *chapter* of First I would like to start out with a warning -- please remain calm: this *is not* a full length sequel. It is a *short story*. It is a *chapter* of what we can only hope will become part of a much larger series that Courtney Summers will -- she better! -- continue to write.
My ebook edition displayed as 65 pages and I didn't even get that many since those 65 pages also included a sample of Summer's new novel All the Rage (which has no zombies, but I still want to read anyway because Summers is a great writer no matter what story she's telling).
So Please Remain Calm is a short, sweet taste of something terrifying and grueling. I remember This Is Not a Test as an epic, emotional The Breakfast Club meets Dawn of The Dead -- a bunch of high school archetypes, including the jock, the brain and the basket case -- are trapped in a high school with each other while outside the world is being ripped apart at the seams by flesh-hungry reanimates. Our narrator, Sloane, is the basket case. She was on the verge of suicide before the zombies came and now has to run for her life rather than commit to taking it. I remember Sloane as strong and sad and sympathetic.
Please Remain Calm is not her story -- this time it's Rhys who's speaking (the jock) and I barely remembered anything about him other than he is the one Sloane escapes with at the end of the first book. And that's exactly where this short story picks up. No time has passed at all. The two teenagers are on the run from the high school. To where, to what, we don't know because they don't know. They are moving panicked, blind. And then they get separated.
This is much more your traditional zombie story of unrelenting fear, fatigue, hunger, trying to find a safe place to close your eyes for more than ten minutes. I *loved* it. It's pulse-pounding and page-turning with great writing and for so few pages, great characterization. Summers can write a zombie chase/attack scene like nobody's business. Her zombies are fucking terrifying and I don't even care that they move fast. Usually that would bug me. But Summers makes it work. Boy does she ever.
Don't let the YA label fool you with this one; it's raw and violent and dark. It's going to take a bite out of you and leave you shaken and stirred. That I guarantee. Merle knows what I'm talking about, don't you Merle?
Despite the gushing praise this book has been receiving -- including a blurb by Josh Whedon -- I approached The Girl With All the Gifts with a fair amDespite the gushing praise this book has been receiving -- including a blurb by Josh Whedon -- I approached The Girl With All the Gifts with a fair amount of trepidation. I'm a zombie traditionalist at heart, which means my foray into "experimental" zombie fiction -- literary or otherwise -- has met with mixed results. I normally don't like my zombies to talk, fall in love or have existential crises. Hell, I don't even want my zombies to run; I'm all about the Romero shuffle (though there was something truly terrifying and unsettling about Danny Boyle's fast-moving zombies that scared the piss out of me). Even for a traditionalist like me, there's exceptions to every rule. And I found a few more buried like awesome treasure in the pages of M.R Carey's novel.
In case you didn't know, M.R Carey is the not so cryptic pen name for the super-talented Mike Carey. This gentleman knows how to tell a story, where the pulse points live and when to go for the jugular. He also knows that without giving the reader characters to care about your story is gonna have all the pop of a wet firecracker.
A lot of what we get here we've seen before. The world is in the shitter. The zombies (or hungries in this case) have risen up and wiped out humanity. It's about twenty years later and our entry point into the story starts at a fortified base that doubles as a research lab. There are doctors and soldiers, fences and guns. But there are also civilian teachers and children who are their students. And here's where the story takes a bit of a twist: If you do not want to know anything else about this book then beware some mild spoilers ahead under the spoiler tag
(view spoiler)[These aren't ordinary children; they're infected with the zombie virus but have not fully succumbed to it. The children can think, learn, talk and feel. But don't get too close, because they will chew your face off.
Melanie is one of these children. She's precocious and extremely intelligent but she does not know she's a zombie despite her rigidly controlled life in a cell surrounded by soldiers who keep her muzzled and their guns pointed at her head. With no memory of who she is or where she came from, Melanie persists in her ignorant state until a cataclysmic event forces her to confront both the reality and the mystery of the monster that dwells within. (hide spoiler)]
Like a lot of my favorite zombie stories, this one soon slides into the 'group in peril' scenario. A rag tag group of survivors, including Melanie, are left to fend for themselves beyond the safety of the fences where the hungries thrive. Where will they go and what will they have to do in order to get there in one piece?
I love the chemistry of this group and the characterization. They all start out as stereotypes but as the story moves along, each of them evolves from an archetype into a real person with depth and distinctive personalities. I'm a sucker for character, and I felt I got it in spades here. Another rewarding aspect is the time spent describing the zombie virus. Usually the answer to what makes a zombie even possible is ignored, but not so here. Carey offers up a pretty interesting scenario that for me anyway, leads to a very satisfying climax.
Is this a perfect read? Nope. There are a few incredulous moments (view spoiler)[like why was Parks so quick to use his gun and only his gun when noise is the enemy? Shouldn't he have had a machete or a crossbow as a first line of defence? (hide spoiler)] and a few places where the narrative dips and nearly stalls; however those instances are rare. For the most part this is cinematic zombie gold. It's a heady mix of tension and release, adrenaline and emotion. A must-read for all zombie lovers and the zombie curious. ...more
This new series by Steve Niles (he of 30 Days of Night fame) has got my attention. It's the future, and the robots have risen up and destroyed the Ea This new series by Steve Niles (he of 30 Days of Night fame) has got my attention. It's the future, and the robots have risen up and destroyed the Earth. But don't think Terminator, think War of the Worlds (the remake with Tom Cruise). While of man-made and not alien origin, the robots are huge towering machines that lumber across the land like metal warships, either solo or in groups, hunting humans for their blood. The machines require blood for fuel; their continued existence depends on procuring it, but such insatiable appetite has wiped the planet clean of all life forms unlucky enough to have blood pumping in their veins -- big or small, animal or human.
Humans are on the cusp of extinction. What gives this story its twist is that they are not the only ones -- vampires are also facing annihilation. Without humans (or even animals) to feed on, they too are starving and dying off. Thus evolves an unlikely and tenuous alliance -- vampire and human -- against the unstoppable machines. The enemy of my enemy is my friend.
I love the premise here. It's got me. I love the artwork even more. While not created equal in every panel, the majority of it is gorgeous, capturing a grey, dead, post-apocalyptic landscape punctuated by explosions of ruby as the last of the world's blood is shed and consumed by metal monsters.
Whoah. This is some really good shit. Color me very impressed. I'm not sure what I was expecting when I picked this one up, but it totally de4.5 stars
Whoah. This is some really good shit. Color me very impressed. I'm not sure what I was expecting when I picked this one up, but it totally delivered on tension and suspense, a palpable dread, and a suffocating sense of doom.
Just as a launching off point I'm going to throw two pop culture references at you that I couldn't stop thinking about while reading this book. The first is the music video "Just" by Radiohead. Remember that's the one where there's this guy who just lies down in the street for no apparent reason and when this other guy starts screaming for a reason why he's done this and when the man finally tells him, everyone who is in earshot lies down too, as if whatever he's said is just too huge and overwhelming for the mind to process that the only human response is to collapse.
The second reference I'm going to throw at you is a Twilight Zone episode from the '80s called "Need to Know" where everyone starts going insane in this small town and it's eventually discovered that the source of the problem is not a physical disease, but an idea, a single short phrase, that is being passed from person to person by word of mouth. That horrible phrase is nothing more or less than the purpose and meaning of existence; the moral of the story being -- Knowledge we are not ready to receive will drive us mad.
I freaking love that Radiohead video and I was twelve years old when I saw that Twilight Zone episode and it scared the crap out of me (which is Trudi speak for I loved it). So in a lot of ways I was already primed to love this book where a mysterious pandemic plague is causing the "infected" to go on homicidal killing sprees before killing themselves. In the escalating chaos and confusion, the source of the infection is identified as having seen something the human mind cannot fathom, a creature that is so beyond our comprehension we are literally driven mad by it. But who is to know for sure, since no one has survived to confirm what it is that they saw.
Your only defence is to close your eyes, and keep them closed.
Humans hide in houses behind windows that are painted, covered with blankets or boarded up. They dare not venture outside for water or food unless they are blindfolded. If you thought surviving the end of days was tough with all of your faculties and sight, try doing it completely blind and feeling hunted and watched the entire time.
I love survival stories of all kinds: but an apocalypse scenario where the group must survive together is my favorite. And it's done so well here, I really can't stress that enough. The way the tension builds gradually as the unknowable threat outside the doors of the safe house becomes more menacing and tangible. How so much is implied rather than relying on big gushy scenes of gore and explicit violence. How the daily trek to the well blindfolded to get fresh water becomes an exercise in exquisite pulse-pounding suspense to unnerve the most steely-nerved of all readers.
Did you hear that? Sssshhhhh. I think it came from behind you. Whatever you do, don't open your eyes.
Readers who have a perpetual desire for answers and reasons may find the lack of explanation here troubling. I didn't. I was okay that we really don't know what the hell is going on and can only guess (and imagine our worst fears). If something like this ever goes down for real we'll be just as much in the dark as the characters in Bird Box discovering we are as much at the mercy of our ignorance and fear of the unknown as anything that may or may not be hunting us. ...more
I can't believe it, but Negan is growing on me as a character. Despite his psycho tendencies and brutal, Medieval manner, I'm finding him waaaay more I can't believe it, but Negan is growing on me as a character. Despite his psycho tendencies and brutal, Medieval manner, I'm finding him waaaay more interesting than I ever did the Governor. There's a black humor that surrounds him that when mixed with his blunt badassery style is just ... well... bloody entertaining.
His confrontation with Rick is tense, exciting as hell, filled with profanity and written on the edge of a razor.
You ever hear the one about the stupid fuck named Rick who fucking thought he knew shit but didn't know shit and got himself fucking killed?
And really, I know Rick is supposed to be the good guy "hero", but I took some small amount of pleasure in seeing him dressed down Negan-style: "In case you haven't noticed...you're fucking fucked you stupid fucker."
It's this confrontation scene which saves this volume from mediocrity and mere filler as we move towards the "big" final(?) showdown with Negan and his band of merry psychokillers. Is Kirkman finally edging closer to a climax that's auspicious enough to end the series on? I hope so. If this storyline is not satisfactorily concluded soon, it will officially become the Coronation Street of zombie storytelling, and nobody wants that. Get out while the blood is still fresh on the page. ...more
Even though this is my first Tony Burgess read, I'm not exactly a Burgess virgin. He's a bit of a cult figure in Canada, thanks largely in part to the Even though this is my first Tony Burgess read, I'm not exactly a Burgess virgin. He's a bit of a cult figure in Canada, thanks largely in part to the iconic zombie flick Pontypool, based on his novel Pontypool Changes Everything. Confession time: I've seen the movie (it's brilliant), but I never got around to reading Burgess's book. Or anything else by him either. Until now.
Sweet Jebus. I was dimly aware of his reputation as a gore master, a mad splatter genius who frequently pushes boundaries of decency and sanity every chance he gets. It's a reputation well-deserved. Reminiscent of another iconic Canadian's early work -- David Cronenberg -- Burgess delves into body horror in such a way to disarm the reader and distress the shit out of you.
It's not a mere gross out that's easily dismissed as senseless pulp either, but an exercise in relentless brutality that leaves you mentally and emotionally floundering. In a lot of ways, reading The n-Body Problem reminded me of Kafka's The Metamorphosis because I was left feeling similarly shuddering and sad. (view spoiler)[The narrator's fate as an armless, legless torso mummy wrapped and encased in glass is a metamorphosis that leads to much the same kind of alienation and dehumanization experienced by Gregor Samsa. Except the ultimate fate of the narrator here is so much worse, if such horrors can indeed be quantified. (hide spoiler)]
This isn't a book I would easily recommend. It's Grade A disturbing, and very much not nice. I repeat: This is not a nice book. It doesn't want to hold your hand, or stroke your hair. Or make you laugh and feel better about life's absurdities. It wants to show you something very dark and nasty, about humans, about death, about our fear of death and extinction. Approach with caution -- and a very strong stomach. ...more
It used to be I'd pick up any zombie book and be easily entertained. I mean, c'mon -- zombies...s'all good, right? But as I get older, with a gluttono It used to be I'd pick up any zombie book and be easily entertained. I mean, c'mon -- zombies...s'all good, right? But as I get older, with a gluttonous trail of consumed zombie books left in my wake, I've become a lot more discriminating and hyper-critical. And the simple reason for that is I have proof that zombiescan beamazing. And once you know that, there's no going back to the good ol' days when merely okay was good enough.
Which brings us to The End Games: a debut novel riding the tsunami-sized zombie popularity wave onto our to-read piles. At least onto mine. In short: there are some great action scenes, a few plot-twists I haven't seen before, and an endearing relationship shared between big brother Mike and five-year-old Patrick. But overall, it still felt average and meh. It certainly didn't blow my skirt up or leave me panting for more. I won't run out and scream for all my zombie-loving friends to get their greedy hands on a copy asap.
It was fine. It was okay. But these days, I'm looking for so much more than that. ...more