a post-apocalyptic zombie soap opera, where the soap is made out of lye. The story is harsh -- almost nihilistic in its way -- extremely violent, and peppered throughout with characters hooking up in almost sure to be doomed relationships.
Now, after wading through another 1068 pages of Compendium 2 I can't say much has changed.
Other than the fact I'm completely, utterly exhausted from all the carnage and devastation.
Seriously guys, when this series goes dark side it does not fuck around. It is bleak goddammit, B-L-E-A-K. Surviving the zombies is the easy part; it's all the crazy, fucked-up, out to slice and dice you and take what you have humans with Grade A mental issues that Rick's gang has to worry about the most. It's one tragedy heaped upon one depravity after another. And what does it do to a person to take on the savages and repel them? End them? Mutilate them? It's certainly changed Rick from the man we first came to know in the first few issues. It's most definitely changed little Carl (who is starting to creep me out a little bit truth be told). In some ways, all the survivors have been carved into new animals by forces beyond their control.
It's good. It keeps the pages turning most of the time, but it can become positively grueling and yes, even a bit repetitive at times, over the long haul. Especially if you're a pig like me and devour the story in huge non-stop helpings. (view spoiler)[The big shocker for me this time was Carl getting half his head blown off. My jaw literally dropped open. But then he survives, and I mean, nothing against the kid, but I felt cheated. I felt like Kirkman was out and out cheating. That's the kind of thing that happens on soap operas all the time and we roll our eyes. I'm surprised there wasn't an "experimental" brain transplant tried or some such thing. (hide spoiler)]
What's more, I find myself missing characters introduced in the television show -- namely Carol, Daryl and even Merle. It really sucks not to have those guys around and I find the story is suffering from their absence. Michonne however, continues to be kick-ass and delightful. She is the saving grace of this entire series character wise if you ask me, reminding me of Agent 355 from Y: The Last Man series. I like Glenn too, but I find Maggie really whiny most of the time. I should be more forgiving I suppose considering everything the poor thing has been through.
So the series is not without problems. By issue #96, it's starting to repeat itself and Kirkland needs to get serious about wrapping this baby up. Go out on a high note, man. Some are already saying you've stayed too long at the party. The goal should be for the narrative to remain fresh and bloody and vital. The gore should still feel wet on the pages. Unfortunately, it's starting to feel like a limping, dessicating zombie. I've given it my all, I've suspended my disbelief where I had to, and I would argue this remains required reading in the genre; however, let's end it. It's time. (less)
I don't know how I'm going to do this, move through the hours like someone who wants to still be breathing when I had so firmly made up my mind to stop.
Wow. This little book has completely floored me. I was not expecting something so deep, so very melancholic yet shot through with the irrepressible human need to hope. Not just irrepressible, Summers shows us that hope is irreducible. Stripped to its basest core, hope just might be the evolutionary urge that has kept us going as a species for millennia -- in the face of disasters and war, atrocities and cruelty, in the face of bottomless grief, crushing despair, paralyzing loneliness and love lost. And I have no doubt that when the zombie apocalypse comes, it will be this amazing capacity to salvage hope from the ruins that will save us.
In This is Not a Test we meet Sloane, a young woman who has lost her ability to hope and thus, her will to live. She is alone with a father who beats her, abandoned by the only person in this life she has ever loved, her older sister Lily. Lily always told her they would escape together, that she would wait for her...and then she didn't. The depth of this betrayal slices through Sloane leaving her panicked, floundering, numb, then finally resigned. Her sister always said that Sloane would die without her -- and now Sloane has decided that she was right. At the point when Sloane knows she cannot possibly continue to live for another single intake of breath, zombies come pounding at the front door. The world is in chaos. Death is in every backyard, on every street corner. And suddenly, the young woman who was going to take her own life, is now running for it.
Yes this book has zombies but PLEASE, if that's not your thing, don't let it keep you from reading it. This is a story rich with emotion because Summers has such a genuine talent for creating memorable, unique characters. A book of six teens where every voice is distinctive and grounded firmly in reality is rare and precious. Hell, that's rare and precious for fiction period. The way these kids relate to one another, approaching with caution, testing for vulnerabilities, seeking approval, acceptance, a safe unconditional embrace, just left me riveted. I can tell you, I WAS IN THAT HIGH SCHOOL with them. I felt their fear and pain. I watched them come together, pull apart, rage and cry ... and I cried with them. Oh yes, there were tears people.
So many reviewers have pointed out that this book isn't about the zombies, but I would add that it's not just about the zombies. Because unlike some other books, the zombies are more than mere window dressing here or a fleeting, ill-defined threat. While there are very few actual sightings and encounters, there remains a stifling, almost suffocating sense of them at all times. In fact, there are several truly terrifying scenes, scenes that only work because Summers understands the critical relationship between tension and release. There is so much quiet in this novel, that when she ratchets up the suspense to a scream in the final 40 pages it's enough to make your heart beat right the fuck out of your chest.
I really loved everything about this book. I could search for flaws, as I'm sure they exist, but I'm not going to. I got lost in it. I thought about it when I was away from it, and I couldn't wait to get back to it. I was reading it on the bus on my way home today and nearly missed my stop because I was so engrossed. Read this! READ IT! I can't state it any more emphatically than that. Don't believe me? Read Catie's review. She'll convince you.
P.S. and I was so excited to learn that Courtney Summers is Canadian! Yay, Canada :)
Women and men. Girls and boys. People I might've known but can't recognize anymore. There is every shade of blood--black, brown, red, pink. All eyes looking at us through that same milky film that sees us for what we are and what they are not anymore.
Later, as he sat on his balcony eating the dog, Dr Robert Laing reflected on the unusual events that had taken place within this huge apartment building during the previous three months.
This is one instance where I'm painfully aware of the inadequacy of a star-rating system for books. To give Ballard's High-Rise three stars does very little to capture its strengths, but more importantly, its ultimate failure as a novel. I'm going to try and do that in my review here, but just in case my rambling goes right off the rails, check out Jeffrey's spot-on assessment here.
What brought me to this book is an endless fascination with "group in peril" stories that look at how quickly our civilized veneer can be stripped down to our lizard brain impulses. Great writers have shown us that human beings as a species seemed to be hard-wired to regress to a primitive state when confronted with the total absence of social rules and obligations.
In Blindness, Saramago's characters revert to their most primal and baser urges when forced to confront the fallout of a plague of blindness. William Golding manages to show this very same regression to a primitive state in Lord of the Flies when there is a profound absence of law and order and other recognizable earmarks of "civilization" in place. Using the example of a bunch of British school boys stranded on a deserted island, Golding shows us it doesn't take long for humans to throw off the shackles of civilized conduct and resort to a more brutal "survival of the fittest" approach.
Blindness and Lord of the Flies are two great novels that ruthlessly give us a nightmare portrait of human regression that is frightening because of its very realism and believability. And this is where Ballard fails in his attempt because there is no realism or believability in his tale. It is strictly an exercise in description. Create a sprawling high-rise edifice, make it a contained society with all the luxuries of a modern city, populate it with 2,000 tenants, and then, with no tangible reason whatsoever have these people begin to transmogrify into a bunch of cannibalistic savages within the course of a few months. As Jeffrey points out in his review: "the outside world is perfectly normal. Civilization is existing just fine. There is no cataclysmic event that has ruptured the natural order of things. To return to the world of order is as simple as leaving the building."
So yes, the zombies haven't risen up, the aliens have not landed. There is no pandemic flu or super volcano eruption. Beyond the concrete walls of the high-rise, people are going to work, shopping for groceries, putting their kids to bed. Yet within the concrete walls, what you have is a total post-apocalyptic decline into delusion and depravity and for what? This is just too cheap and easy for me to respect. If you're going to make humans go there, I want a reason. Show me how it could really happen.
Alright, no question the novel fails that litmus test. Do I give Ballard the benefit of the doubt here anyway? So he doesn't trouble himself with a realistic scenario, but maybe that was never the point. Published in 1976, maybe Ballard was going more for an allegorical vibe on the dehumanization of modern city living. Maybe this novel is his statement on the rise of urban disconnect -- as we cram more and more people into their self-contained units, living elbow to chin, something fundamental to our higher-brain humanity is being eroded away. This is a book that also has characters who start out very class conscious. When the breakdown begins, fractures open and tribes form along class lines. Yet, strip civilization away, and we all go feral in the same way no matter how much money is in our bank account. Succumbing to our lizard brain seems to be the true great equalizer.
If you so choose as a reader, you could go all LIT 101 on this sucker, but at the end of the day, I can't really be bothered. I'm reminded of the frustrated actor who cries out: "but where's my motivation?" Yes, where is the motivation in this story? What exactly is motivating the characters to behave in such a depraved way? Without that motivation, the other "elements" of the story that may or may not be there are lost on me. I do not care to engage.
So why three stars? Ballard's writing is very good. The execution of this novel may have failed for me, but I still recognized his prose as effective. He put me in that high-rise where I could smell the stink of putrid garbage and human waste. I felt a little on edge at all times, like the fillings in my teeth were vibrating. There are several well-described scenes that chilled me to the bone (view spoiler)[especially the last one of the abandoned wives on the roof as they circle around Wilder to make a meal out of him as the children play with a pile of bones. (hide spoiler)] Just a lukewarm recommendation this time for fans of classic dystopian literature and science fiction of the 60s and 70s. I can say this however -- High-Rise won't be my last Ballard. (less)
In space, no one can hear you scream. --Alien (1979)
First of all, if I was ever going to read a book...more
"To the moon, Alice!" --The Honeymooners (1955)
In space, no one can hear you scream. --Alien (1979)
First of all, if I was ever going to read a book based solely on its cover, it would be this one. That eye, that desolate, lunar landscape, that solitary, shadowy figure.
Magnificent, yes? Also, the premise of this one had me at "hello, we're going back to the moon. And there's something wicked bad there. And you probably won't make it back alive." Space horror is the bomb. Unless you're talking about this piece of crap, then it's just a crime against humanity.
I was primed for this book when I picked it up. I had just watched Apollo 18 -- not an entirely dreadful found footage flick about bad shit happening on the moon. I dug it. The moon freaks me out. It has a face people. It sits in judgment of us all. I don't have to suspend disbelief in order to believe there are sinister things afoot up there. If you can think it up, you won't have much problem selling it to me.
The premise for 172 Hours on the Moon is EPIC --- the execution and delivery? --- meh, it was okay. It takes way too long to get to the moon, and once you do everything juicy and good happens way too fast. I wanted much more moon. More dread. More sophistication and sexiness. (view spoiler)[That doppelganger idea? Creepy ass. But the idea cries out for more meat on its bones. It's anemic and anorexic. And why, oh why all the "warnings" on Earth? That number/code showing up everywhere? It's never really clear how/why that was happening. It felt throwaway and severely underdeveloped. (hide spoiler)]
Characters are also poorly developed, and not very likable. That's okay cause I was mostly reading for ideas and action -- sadly, the former are flimsy and the latter is lacking in both quantity and quality. Sigh. Still, I liked it. Just didn't love it. Maybe something was lost in translation from its original Norwegian?
I'm always hungering for space horror -- in print or on film. If you have any recommendations lay them on me!! This book has made me want to read Sphere. So that's my recommendation to me :)(less)
Yowza, wowzers, and woot! woot! This book -- a mad collaboration from four horror gods (small 'g') -- is this cat's meow (or as they say where I come...moreYowza, wowzers, and woot! woot! This book -- a mad collaboration from four horror gods (small 'g') -- is this cat's meow (or as they say where I come from -- it's all that and a bag of chips).
It was going to take a lot for this book to impress me for the simple reason that vampires of late have become...meh for me. As monsters meant to inspire horror they have been done to death it seems. Not to mention they have suffered an incredible disservice in recent years both on film and in print (yeah, I'm looking at you Ms. Meyer). There just hasn't been anything really new or fresh tried either. It's either you're sparkling and pouty and misunderstood, or it's waaay back to the Stoker tradition of a debonair, aristocratic abomination that abhors garlic and crucifixes.
Don't get me wrong: I haven't always felt this disillusioned. I love 'Salem's Lot and I am Legend. I went through a huge Lestat phase in my early 20s. The Lost Boys remains one of my favorite movies of all time, and I love Steve Niles' re-imagining of vampires in his graphic novel series 30 Days of Night (the movie is pretty kick-ass too).
Despite that, I've stopped 'looking for love' with vampires. Even del Toro's The Strain underwhelmed me. So I had doubts with this one, I really did, but thanks to two awesome reviews filled with squee here on goodreads by Stephen and Daniel, I decided to throw my doubts aside and dive in.
This is about the most self-indulgent fun I've had in bleems! Draculas hits just the right note of gorror-ific combined with pee your pants scary that's doused with a gallon of can't help but giggle here even though that's beyond messed up and so wrong (I can't tell you how many times I cringed and burst out laughing at the same time (view spoiler)[1. the balloon animals made out of intestines, 2. the baby eating its way out of mom's stomach, 3. all the scenes involving self-mutilation, cannibalism and auto-cannibalism. (hide spoiler)] Remember the first time you ever saw The Evil Dead? Oh yeah baby, that's what I'm talking about!
So yeah, this book is tremendous fun, awesomely gory, written with a frantic energy that keeps the pages turning. Another thing worth praising is the way this novel is a completely mad mash-up of a whole bunch of horror elements; it's like the authors took vampire stories, along with zombies, werewolves and aliens, threw them into a blender and spit out this mish-mash of pure chaos and entertainment. I recognized about 100 shout-outs to other books and movies, but at the end of it all, this book stands as its own original. The authors tried things here I don't think I've seen tried anywhere else. The way the teeth are described though made me think of this from 1985's Fright Night: c'mon, gimme a kiss!
The ensemble cast is fun too, and added a lot to the story's enjoyment. If it weren't for such a large cast and getting to know the group -- I loved that the narrative kept changing pov -- it just would have been a ho-hum affair about a bunch of lunatic infected running rabid through an enclosed space (which has been done a 1000 times). Not only do we get pov from the good guys, we get the story from the side of the infected too. I really appreciated that and the decision to do so added great entertainment value. Highly recommended!!!!!!
P.S. I paid three dollars for the eBook and there's really no way to express how much bang I got for my buck. The eBook also contains mega extras that make this title worth so much more. My thanks to Stephen and Daniel on this one. Ain't goodreads grand?
P.P.S. Stephen, I am a woman of my word. You have earned yourself a shelf, sir. :)
Severance Package is a wickedly adrenalized, pulsating, page-turning piece of pulp. Like seriously, wtf? Everything is exquisitely exaggerated and unl...more Severance Package is a wickedly adrenalized, pulsating, page-turning piece of pulp. Like seriously, wtf? Everything is exquisitely exaggerated and unleashed in comic technicolor. I would love to have seen this as a graphic novel actually (or a slick Tarantino cinematic production), since so many of its best characteristics are both visceral and visual.
This novel IS NOT grounded in realism, flirting much more with parody and noir. And what can I say? I loved it! It's bloody and ridiculous. Unbelievable and silly. Yet still manages to keep you riveted and rapidly turning pages to see what the freakin' hell is going to happen next. Awesome for summer. Brain candy of the sweetest kind (that will rot your brain if you consume too much) ... but this ... this is the perfect amount presenting the perfect escape from life's stresses (and asshole bosses). (less)
I was so psyched to get my hands on a copy of this book. I mean, the premise is AWESOME. It's The Running Man meets Battle Royale with smatterings of...more I was so psyched to get my hands on a copy of this book. I mean, the premise is AWESOME. It's The Running Man meets Battle Royale with smatterings of The Hunger Games running all through it. I just can't get enough of these demented dystopias of staged survival competitions destined for public consumption played in extremis to satiate society's blood lust. In his review Gavin writes: "humanity knows no bounds for violence in a voyeuristic capacity" and isn't that the truth? My favorite of all these stories is Stephen King's Bachman novel - The Long Walk. I've read nothing that comes close to King's imagining of such a deathly scenario, this book included.
Nevertheless, The Crimson Labyrinth is still quite good, with lots of pulpy action and nail-biting peril. Japanese horror writer Yusuke Kishi puts his own spin on the "deadly games" theme by introducing some pretty twisted plot elements I haven't seen before. I also enjoyed how he takes his time building the suspense. The first half of the novel is a man vs. nature survival scenario with a group of people pitted more against their environment than against each other. Kishi shows a fondness for details, describing the landscape, food, and other items and information the group collects from each of their "checkpoints".
This is a "game", but the players don't know how they got to be where they are, or more importantly why. The why remains a mystery until the very end, and some readers may be underwhelmed by the explanation. I thought it was a fairly interesting twist, but came a little too close to the end out of nowhere almost as an afterthought with no real confirmation to send you away with a satisfying "a-ha" feeling. Still, Kishi presents a very tantalizing possibility.
Character development is at a minimum here and I would have liked to get the story from more points of view rather than the two main characters, especially from those characters who meet such unpleasant ends. Details please. What is lacking in character though, Kishi makes up for in style and action. This is quite the thrilling, adrenaline ride. Not the best I've read in the genre, but I am definitely recommending it!!!!
This is my second go-around with this sprawling, epic compendium in preparation for tackling the follow-up. I'm so glad I did a re-read because there...moreThis is my second go-around with this sprawling, epic compendium in preparation for tackling the follow-up. I'm so glad I did a re-read because there was a lot I had plain forgotten and much more I had gotten tangled-up with the television series. Only reading the source material again, did I realize just how much the producers of the show actually changed from Kirkman's comic. The fundamentals of the story are essentially the same, but the devilish details have undergone quite a makeover. I have to say, as much as I'm a fan of the comic, most of the changes I approve of and in some cases, even prefer.
Carol's character is much more likeable and awesome on the small screen (certainly not as needy and neurotic as comic book Carol). The invention of Daryl (my favorite on-screen character) and his uber-violent, redneck brother Merle (played oh-so-convincingly by Michael Rooker), have been magnificent contributions to the ensemble cast.
(view spoiler)[I definitely prefer Lori's on-screen death (grisly and upsetting as it was), to the comic's quick gut-shot death (even though that was quite shocking in its own way with little Judith in her arms). I'm glad they didn't put Dale and Andrea together in the show, though I do wish they hadn't made Andrea so unlikable. Her character in the comic is kick-ass and great. On the show? Grrrrr... I want to smack her most of the time.
It remains to be seen what they will do with Michonne's character but I'm glad the show did not go as dark and disturbing as the comic with what happened between her and the Governor. That was some sick shit I did not need to ever read or see. Loved how the show handled it overall. Television Michonne seems more together and not as damaged. She's not talking to voices in her head either (at least not yet). (hide spoiler)]
The Walking Dead launched in the fall of 2003 and shows no signs of wrapping up. Kirkman has created a post-apocalyptic zombie soap opera, where the soap is made out of lye. The story is harsh -- almost nihilistic in its way -- extremely violent, and peppered throughout with characters hooking up in almost sure to be doomed relationships. Because really, no one is safe, and you come to terms with that pretty quickly. Kirkman is not fucking around here. He has a vision and you just know it’s going to involve a lot of gore and heartbreak. No one should feel safe with zombies gnawing at the door and the world collapsing in on itself -- and you will not feel safe reading this series.
Rather than take years to ingest this story -- painstakingly patient -- issue by issue -- I gorged unapologetically over a gluttonous three days. This 1088 page compendium weighs nearly five pounds, and it was a bitch to maneuver in bed at night, but to get so much of the story so quickly was worth it. I’m not one of those people that can eat her chocolates one a day; quite often it’s the whole box in one sitting stomach ache be damned! This first compendium collects up to issue #48 (Book Four in hardcover or Volume Eight in soft).
The Walking Dead is archetype apocalyptic zombie horror. The story gripped me, shook me, unsettled me and left me panting for more, but make no mistake, there is nothing original here (at least not yet). The zombies are your average grasping, gnawing, slow-moving creatures seen in any Romero movie. The survivors are shell-shocked, hardened, weary and a bit mad (as you would expect). At the collapse of civilization as we know it, people begin doing whatever they have to do to survive, and that ain’t always pretty. The strong begin preying on the weak, and when the worst of human nature begins to reveal itself, survivors realize the zombies are the least of their problems in this new world order.
I thought a graphic novel about zombies cast in black and white would look dull and lifeless on the page. I now think color would have been overkill in this case, detracting from the story. The art is simply outstanding – emotions and action, both subtle and in your face, are captured perfectly. The violence is extreme and I was not prepared for that (don’t ask me why). It takes a lot to shock me these days, and there are sequences that did just that. (view spoiler)[Totally did not see the rape and torture of Michonne coming. I really thought there would be a last minute reprieve / rescue. And if I didn’t see that coming, you know I didn’t expect Michonne to turn the tables on the Governor and mutilate his body. Gruesome stuff! But very well-presented. It felt earned not gratuitous. Lori’s death, along with the baby, shocked me too. Like holy moses batman, that was intense and so unexpected. (hide spoiler)]
While the unrelenting nature of the story appealed to me, I cannot say I’ve fallen in love with any of the characters. Don’t get me wrong – these are well-developed, flawed beings whose actions and motivations seem all too real. However, for me, there is a coldness present that prevented me from really warming up to anyone, even the “hero” of this story, Rick Grimes. I felt the same way when I read Stephen King’s The Stand – epic story by a master, but no character stole my heart.
This won’t keep me from reading on in the series though, because I HAVE TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS NEXT. Everything ends on such a OMFG note that I felt assaulted and struck mute. Sweet. (less)
Okay, let me be up-front about this ...no bullshitting ... Endurance is some sick and twisted shit. Some of the sickest and twisted-est shit I've read...moreOkay, let me be up-front about this ...no bullshitting ... Endurance is some sick and twisted shit. Some of the sickest and twisted-est shit I've read in a very long time. BUT ... and this is an important "but" folks ... Endurance is also solidly written, sublimely creepy in parts, with characters you can root for and other characters you can hate. And that's what saves this novel from the unsavory pit of mere torture porn.
In a recent documentary, Stephen King makes a very interesting point about graphic violence and horror. This is how he distinguishes 'torture porn': there are times when we are reading/watching to see the monster killed, and there are other times when we are reading/watching to see the monster kill. It may seem like a nebulous distinction, but I think he hit the nail right on the head. That's why the latter makes us feel so dirty; King refers to it as "morally queasy".
In most horror, we want the monster to be slain, we want the good guys to prevail. Bad shit can happen along the way, but the monster should not become the hero. We root for the victims, we do not root for the sick motherfucker and the pain and carnage he/she/it is inflicting. That's the difference between the first movie in a franchise, and the last movie in a franchise; in the original A Nightmare on Elm Street, Freddy is the monster and we want him stopped. By number 5, we're there to see what kind of sick shenanigans he can come up with next, knowing full well that the victims are now fodder to support his starring role. Suddenly, he's the guy we're cheering for (well, sort of, but I hope my point is clear).
Don't get me wrong, I'm just as guilty as the next person. I've watched all the SAW movies as each has degenerated more and more into gratuitous violence. But none of them will ever be as satisfying as the original, when I really, really wanted those two guys to survive and slay the monster (before Jigsaw started getting top billing and the best trailer).
More to the point (and I've said this many times before), I don't scare if I don't care. Give me characters I can care about and suddenly I start fretting for their well-being and safety. I don't want to see them hurt (no matter how imaginatively), I don't want them to die. I want them to survive and for the monster to be slain.
Endurance has a surprisingly large cast of characters for this type of story, and I actually liked them all. I wanted them all to survive and I definitely wanted these freakazoid, in-bred monsters tormenting them to be stopped. There is nothing original here (it’s got Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Wrong Turn all over it, not to mention an unforgettable X-Files episode called “Home”), but Kilborn still manages to give it a nice, ruthless twist of his own. The devil is in the details, yes?
MABERRY, YOU BASTARD!!! I knew you would do this to me!! ::sobbity sob::
Review to follow when anger and choking tears subside.
In the first book Rot &...moreMABERRY, YOU BASTARD!!! I knew you would do this to me!! ::sobbity sob::
Review to follow when anger and choking tears subside.
In the first book Rot & Ruin, Maberry spends a lot of time putting us into the world as it exists almost 15 years after a zombie apocalypse. We need to know about how things are now, how people live and how they relate to one another. This is Benny's world. Maberry also spends a lot of time and care developing a cast of characters he wants us to fall in love with before he puts any of them in peril. In this he shows a keen talent for details. I know I fell in love almost immediately, and when peril does descend I was sick with anxiety for everyone's safety and survival.
Rot & Ruin has its moments of high octane action, but it is primarily an emotional story about two estranged brothers who must learn to bridge the gulf of misunderstanding that separates them. In a lot of ways it is a coming-of-age story focused on 15 year old Benny as he learns about the world around him and what it is that his brother does out there in the Rot and Ruin beyond the safety of the fences. Benny discovers nothing is what it seems – cowards become heroes and heroes reveal themselves as villains. And zombies aren’t nearly as monstrous as living men
Because Maberry did such a fantastic job in the first book creating a convincing world peopled with convincing characters, he is able to let loose and go full throttle with Dust & Decay, which is dizzying in its action sequences. It is a white-knuckle read through and through, peril at every corner, imminent death sitting on the shoulders of every character we’ve come to know and love. I was an absolute MESS reading this. I just knew something horrible would happen, I just didn’t know what and how bad it would be. The very few quiet or tender moments in this installment work because they are in such stark contrast to the otherwise absolute chaos.
Dust & Decay has a very Western feel; the lawless and perilous Rot and Ruin is very much reminiscent of the American Wild West where heroes are made and villains thrive. The vast, emptied landscape is the backdrop for a battle waged among the good, the bad and the ugly. It is nail-biting, nerve-wracking stuff -- dramatic, cinematic, and totally epic.
Maberry still has a lot of story left to tell, and I’m definitely looking forward to that, but I will never, EVER, be able to forgive him (view spoiler)[for killing my Tom – NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!! Why oh why? (hide spoiler)]
Truer words have never been spoken. To quote from my much beloved Supernatural:
Endings are hard. Any cha
...more"It's not how you start, but how you finish."
Truer words have never been spoken. To quote from my much beloved Supernatural:
Endings are hard. Any chapped-ass monkey with a keyboard can poop out a beginning, but endings are impossible. You try to tie up every loose end, but you never can. The fans are always gonna bitch. There's always gonna be holes. And since it's the ending, it's all supposed to add up to something. I'm telling you, they're a raging pain in the ass.
Anyone who has ever fallen in love with characters enough to follow them through many pages and various books is familiar with that aching feel of needing to get to the end but never wanting it to be over. Closure to a series, that “final” book that has to come eventually gives rise to such a vast array of contradictory emotions – even when the ending delivers more than you could possibly have ever hoped for, but especially when it doesn’t. Oh the betrayal! Oh the crushing disappointment! See? It’s not how you start, but how you finish.
I began Y: The Last Man series back in April and I was a smitten kitten from the start. Oh yes, can you spell "shameless fangirl"? The premise is just simply fantastic and oh so deliciously tantalizing with possibilities. What would happen if one day without warning ALL the men on the planet just up and died, including any Y-chromosome carrying mammals … ALL that is except for the unassuming, underachieving twenty-something Yorick and his pet male Capuchin monkey Ampersand. Yes, starting this epic story would be easy ... finishing was gonna be a bitch.
Because I was able to absorb / inhale / ingest all sixty issues in a few short months I did not have to face the long, agonizing wait between issues, or the anxiety that the creator would die before finishing (a common nightmare I had about Stephen King before he finished The Dark Tower series and one that nearly came true when he was struck by a van and almost killed while out walking one day near his home in 1999).
I loved getting this story all in one rush – the momentum never slowed, I never had a chance to forget characters, or salient plot points. I was living and breathing the adventure and like any addict, I never wanted it to end. But all good things must, and this series is no exception. I feared the ending as much as I craved it. Disappointed I did not want to be ... I couldn’t face feeling robbed or cheated. After coming along for the ride this far, and thinking about little else in-between, I expected BIG. EPIC. EXTRAORDINARY. UNFORGETTABLE. Keep my expectations reasonable? Never!
I had nothing to fear I’m so drunk with happiness and relief to report. If you choose to start this series (and I HIGHLY recommend that you do), you will not be disappointed with how it finishes. Heart-pounding, heartbreaking, white-knuckling, shocking, and bruising – this is just some of what to expect.
(view spoiler)[ Agent 355’s death ranks as one of the most shocking moments in storytelling history for me; I DID NOT see that coming and was totally devastated, screaming “NOOOOOOO!” at the page. I also sobbed my eyes out when it came time to say good-bye to Ampersand. ::sniffle:: That feces throwing little fuck really grew on me. I love that we get a look into the future, to see how Dr. Mann’s work played out, what happens to Yorick’s clones, and of course, what happens to Yorick himself. His final escape and ambiguous end was much appreciated. Alas, poor Yorick!(hide spoiler)]
I’m not a graphic novel aficionado – in fact, I’m quite the newbie. I can say this series has taught me a lot about the magic and strength of the format, how it combines images and text together in a way that isn’t film or novels but some intoxicating lovechild of both. Before reading this series I assumed graphic novels by default would be heavy on action and seriously lacking in character development. Boy, is my face red. I can’t remember the last time I came to care about people (and monkey) the way I did here. I also became addicted to the snappy dialogue that's intelligent and filled with irony, humor and pop culture references. And that action? It’s there alright and just as addictive.
I will definitely re-read this series at a later date.(less)
I have been on a zombie reading frenzy lately – I see a zombie book and I must read it, I can’t help myself. And the books are coming fast and furious...moreI have been on a zombie reading frenzy lately – I see a zombie book and I must read it, I can’t help myself. And the books are coming fast and furious, especially in the YA area. Some are good, some are awful, and some are outstanding. Jonathan Maberry’s Rot and Ruin falls somewhere just shy of outstanding. It reeks of EPIC WIN.
So yeah, I love this book and before I go all fangirl over Tom Imura and squee my head off let me highlight why you should start this series:
1) It is very well-written -- that’s not always a given, even from talented authors -- see my review of David Moody’s Autumn: The City. Moody is the man, but even he can write a zombie novel that sucks. Maberry has already established his reputation in the horror genre (his Ghost Road Blues snagged him a Bram Stoker Award for Best First Novel). This is his YA debut and I’m impressed to say the least.
2) It is a highly charged, emotional story where some heavy shit goes down and you really fucking care who it’s happening to. This comes back to the all-important character development. I don’t scare if I don’t care, and I cared plenty here (even about the zombies!!!) Through the eyes of 15 yr old Benny Imura, we come to understand that zombies are not just mindless monsters out to gouge and consume humans. We see the tragedy of what they’ve become. Benny’s older brother Tom forces him to confront who they used to be:
Look at that woman. She was, what? Eighteen years old when she died. Might have been pretty. Those rags she’s wearing might have been a waitress’s uniform once….She had people at home who loved her….People who worried when she was late getting home.
So the zombies are not just plot devices or mere window dressing here; they serve a real purpose and are an important part of the story.
3) It’s a fascinating examination of what fear does to people. Just imagine a world that survives an actual zombie apocalypse. As groups of survivors ban together in fenced enclaves to try and eke out a semi-normal existence, who will these people become? How will they interact with each other, with the world that’s left to them? I know it’s a personal bias of mine, but I figure a zombie novel hasn’t done its job if it doesn’t convincingly show that humans can be the real monsters. Maberry hits that out of the park and I want to smooch him for it.
They held each other and wept as the night closed its fist around their tiny shelter, and the world below them seethed with killers both living and dead.
4) Tom Imura – squeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! It’s been a long time since I’ve been this excited over a character from a book and reading as much YA as I do, most male protagonists are still battling hormones and attitude. But not Tom. Tom is in his 30s. He is a survivor. He is a specialist. He has been forged in battle and now is as strong and unbending as his katana - (no, not that! ... the Japanese long sword he uses). In a world that's been plunged into Hell and lived to tell about it Tom has retained his humanity. He is deep and soulful and will kick your ass in 2 seconds flat. He’s a mix of Master Li Mu Bai from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Morpheus from The Matrix, and my beloved Dean Winchester from Supernatural. How could a girl NOT fall in love?
I was going to put my sober, hyper-critical hat on and give this four stars, but piss on that. For all the reasons described above and more, I'm happy to give this book five, fat fearsome stars. (less)
I just want to get this out of the way from the beginning – Read. This. Book. The writing is so very good and for a plot that seems oh so familiar and...moreI just want to get this out of the way from the beginning – Read. This. Book. The writing is so very good and for a plot that seems oh so familiar and tired there is newness here, a freshness that just sucks you in making you forget all the other times you read about the end-of-the-world and zombies. Bick has a lot of original ideas to add to that YA zombie canon growing seemingly out of control; zombies are hot right now, there’s no doubt about that. So how do you distinguish yourself from the pack?
Bick’s success starts with her characters and when that’s your foundation you’ve already won half the battle. Alex, Tom and Ellie all in short shrift and with seemingly little effort become characters I worried about. Their safety and well-being wrapped me in perpetual anxiety. When a book can make you care for characters so much that you’re just sick to your stomach to read ahead because you just know things are only going to get so much worse, that’s good writing.
Like any zombie fare worth talking about, Ashes shows us we have much more to fear from ourselves than from the flesh-eating creatures now walking the Earth. There are some nasty humans in this book and I’m confident we haven’t seen the worst of it yet. This book will also make you pull your hair out. You can’t guess where the story is going and you start to get the feeling pretty early on that no character is truly safe.
There are a lot of original details I could gush over right now – like the dogs, the nature of “the Change” itself and the impact it’s having on one particular enclave of survivors – but I won’t. These details are best left discovered as you read. Since this is Book 1 of a projected trilogy, you have to know that things are just getting started and I love that I’m DYING to get my hands on Book 2.
Mucho thanks again to my friend May who snagged an autographed ARC for me at ALA! The only downside is now I have that much longer to wait for the sequel ... D'oh! (less)
Wow. This one came soooo very close to getting five stars from me. I am a horror buff and I LOVE to be scared ...really, truly freaked out. Not grosse...more Wow. This one came soooo very close to getting five stars from me. I am a horror buff and I LOVE to be scared ...really, truly freaked out. Not grossed out (I'll take a bit of that in good fun) but creeped out. My ideal physiological response to horror is when I get the heebie-jeebies (pardon my use of technical terms here) -- you know, the tingling spine, sweaty palms, paranoia, pounding pulse. I'm addicted to dread, and if you can make me want to sleep with the light on I will love you forever and ever.
I’ve pretty much seen it all when it comes to the genre; sometimes suffering from “been there done that” fatigue. It takes a lot to freak me out these days, but that’s not to say it’s impossible. Because it isn’t. I can suspend disbelief with the best of them. In fact, I want to. I won’t fight you. Give me something to work with and I’m your gal. I don’t want to say I’m easy, but pretty close ;-)
I didn't have any expectations when I picked up this book. In fact, I can't even remember where or how I heard about it. The premise caught my eye though, because I'm a sucker for "group in peril" scenarios and getting lost in the woods. I've been lost in the woods ... there's nothing scarier in my books. It doesn't take long to start feeling hunted. I mean, there could be anything out there. Anything.
The first 200 pages of this book are some of the creepiest I've read in a loooong time. There's this irresistible slow build that sucks you in to the primeval environment. As the situation worsens and becomes more threatening, Neville's tight descriptive prose has put you into the story so completely that the threat feels unbearably close. Read this camping or tucked away in a cabin somewhere remote and I guarantee you your blood will chill. I read it with all the lights on in the middle of a city and I still didn't want to look out my back window into the darkness. The thought of going camping again this summer is giving me serious heebie-jeebies.
The book shifts gears in Part II (240 pages in) and for awhile, I thought something was lost in the momentum and intensity. It starts to feel like a different novel altogether, about something else entirely. That feeling lasted for about 100 pages. Fortunately, the last 60 pages are an outstanding turnabout, an adrenaline rush that, while lacking in the epic creep from the first half of the novel, nevertheless delivers the goods on sheer terror. (less)
I am insanely addicted attracted to stories about "the group in peril", when people are thrust into an alien setting absent of any social rules and ob...moreI am insanely addicted attracted to stories about "the group in peril", when people are thrust into an alien setting absent of any social rules and obligations. Under such circumstances, it usually doesn't take long for humans to throw off the shackles of civilized conduct and resort to a more brutal "survival of the fittest" approach. That’s not just the pessimist in me coming out, but the realist.
What we become in extremis is both fascinating and frightening in the heroic heights we reach and the craven depths we sink to, and how quickly we revert to our most primal and baser urges. One hundred thousand years of evolution gone in the blink of an eye. William Golding shows us this in Lord of the Flies, as does Scott Smith in The Ruins, Jose Saramago in Blindness and Stephen King in his novella The Mist. These books teach us that there are even worse fates than losing your life – it's losing your humanity.
In House of Stairs, William Sleator proves just how quickly humans can be stripped of their humanity. First published in 1974, I imagine Sleator was influenced at least in part, by some of the more famous psych experiments of the first half of the 20th century including the Little Albert Experiment and the Milgram Obedience Experiment. Just a few years prior to its publication there was also the infamous Stanford Prison Experiment – a study designed to ostensibly observe the effects of becoming either a prisoner or prison guard. Twenty-four students were selected out of 75 to play the prisoners and live in a mock prison in the basement of the Stanford psychology building. Roles were assigned randomly. This “experiment” degenerated so rapidly into violence and the dehumanization of its subjects that it had to be stopped after only six days. Good times.
The five 16-year-old protagonists here are subjected to much the same mindfuck (pardon my French), enclosed in a never-ending space of stairs – there are no walls, no floors, no doors, no ceiling, just stairs, going up, going down. That’s the set-up. What follows is pretty tame by today’s standards, and in my books does not hold a candle to Lord of the Flies; however, it still makes for pure, unadulterated compulsive reading. It doesn’t surprise me that in 2000, the American Library Association, with teen participation, chose it as one of the 100 Best Young Adult Books of the last 50 years. Recommended!! (less)
This was a good book not a great book. It's a little more than predictable (again with the two love interests!!), a little less than mysterious, and o...moreThis was a good book not a great book. It's a little more than predictable (again with the two love interests!!), a little less than mysterious, and overall, I've seen the themes and action done better elsewhere: namely The Hunger Games, The Maze Runner trilogy, Rot & Ruin, Ashes and Blood Red Road (my all-star team).
Having said that, if YA dystopia is your thing than this is a must-read. The underground scenes are creepy as are "the Freaks" who hunt the subway tunnels ready to rip and tear your flesh. This is believable world-building and Deuce and Fade shine as warrior heroes. The series definitely shows promise and I will be coming back for more.
If you like fast-paced, action-packed, gore-filled, apocalyptic zombie stories, then this is one you don’t want to miss. I had a helluva good time rea...moreIf you like fast-paced, action-packed, gore-filled, apocalyptic zombie stories, then this is one you don’t want to miss. I had a helluva good time reading it even though at times a few of the characters (Jenni) and some of the dialogue seriously grated on my nerves.
In Book 1 of a trilogy, Frater offers up a textbook genre zombie story, borrowing a lot from Romero canon (who she gives ample homage to) and a little from Danny Boyle (damn those quick-moving zombies!!) So while there are really no surprises here, or anything “new”, The First Days still manages to be a quick, fun, ruthless portrait of well … the first days of a zombie apocalypse: the panic, confusion, shock, grief, terror and insanity.
At first I questioned the seething hatred experienced by some of the characters – why they should so immediately loath the zombies and lust to kill them. Something about that wasn’t ringing true to me. Killing anything is pretty traumatic and I felt it would take longer for survivors to become adept at it or need more time to fuel the flames of their hatred. But maybe when you lose everything in one vicious blow and you have these vile “things” in front of you that only want to tear you apart and eat you alive your priorities and your rationality change pretty quickly. I’m sure people’s minds would snap in most cases, and fear and rage are pretty interconnected emotions. While some of the overkill seemed out of place, at the same time Frater is probably completely spot-on in her observations of human behavior.
There is also a scene at the beginning of the book that makes this book worth picking up. (view spoiler)[I won’t ever forget those tiny little fingers reaching under the door – so ghoulish! Children are usually exempt from zombie stories, but Frater dares to go there and she does it very effectively. While I will probably forget most of this book, I will never forget that scene. (hide spoiler)]
The writing is rough in places, but it does get stronger as the novel goes on, and what Frater lacks in finesse, she more than makes up for in her ability to write incendiary action scenes.
For two-thirds of the novel I didn’t feel attached to any of the characters, but I was pleasantly surprised when by the end I was beginning to feel like I “knew” them, even though I still didn’t like them very much. I’m invested now though, and cannot wait to read on in the series. This is the utmost compliment to Frater – I do need to know what happens next and so will you I bet. (less)
Good but not great. My expectations for this one were extremely high folks, perhaps too high to be fair. King has delivered so many outstanding epics...moreGood but not great. My expectations for this one were extremely high folks, perhaps too high to be fair. King has delivered so many outstanding epics that it's hard not to expect that caliber of storytelling every single time, but I've come to realize that this is just not humanly possible, even from the master.
Under the Dome starts with a bang (Dome Day wherein a small town is encased in a glass-like dome) and maintains its narrative momentum throughout. It hurtles along at an almost break-neck speed, but for a book that's over a 1000 pages, such a pace begins to wear in places. It becomes an at-times uncomfortable frenetic pattern of -- and then this happened, and then this happened, and then this happened.
Nobody writes with such vigor and insight about small-town behaviors like King, but here King stretches even my ability to suspend disbelief when he introduces so many violent sociopaths contained within the borders of one sleepy town. The stress of such a bizarre situation as the Dome could quite possibly bring out the very worst in many of us, I give you that. I'm reminded of William Golding's Lord of the Flies, and even Jose Saramago's Blindness. Even King has explored this thematic terrain before in his brilliant novella The Mist. What's disappointing here is that the villains of Under the Dome are so very villainous, as if ripped from the pages of a Marvel comic. When I think of the depth and breadth of psychopath Annie Wilkes (who still haunts my worst nightmares), Big Jim Rennie and his son Junior just fall flat.
These are my disappointments. But there was also a lot of cringing, white-knuckled pleasure along the way. Some sequences are rendered so well with such command of detail that they unfold in full technicolor like scenes from a movie. King's humor, always appreciated, is rampant in these many pages, and I got the impression that he was having a blast, so that made me happy too. For a book that's an intimidating 1074 pages, it's a fast read and fairly rips along. (less)
I'm a huge fan of dystopian books, where the future is bleak and infinitely dangerous and if you're gonna survive, you better check your morals at the...moreI'm a huge fan of dystopian books, where the future is bleak and infinitely dangerous and if you're gonna survive, you better check your morals at the door. With reality TV everywhere we look these days, and the UFC a mainstream pastime, it's easy to imagine a Survivor where tribe members voted out don't go home, but are executed instead. I figure society's perpetual blood lust is never as deeply buried as we think (or hope).
Stephen King describes Battle Royale as "an insanely entertaining pulp riff that combines Survivor with World Wrestling Entertainment. Or maybe Royale is just insane." It really is a crazy, page-turning reading experience that's driven by raw emotion and a rollicking series of action sequences. There's tons of blood and gore, so if that's not your thing, stay away.
I was pleasantly surprised to care about the six major characters Takami spends the most time developing. I thought he did an excellent job considering the main point of the story is to shock and jolt, not to inspire warm, fuzzy feelings. I'm sure the writing lost something in translation -- certain parts are choppy and a bit crude, but that didn't detract from the overall intensity of what was unfolding on the page. I was on the island with these kids, and freaked out the whole time. Battle Royale is a pulse-pounding, adrenaline ride! Not "high literature" mind you, but a great big greasy cheeseburger with fries. Yum!
This is a tough book to "enjoy"; it's incredibly violent and none of the characters are very likable. But it is scary; no matter what you may think of...moreThis is a tough book to "enjoy"; it's incredibly violent and none of the characters are very likable. But it is scary; no matter what you may think of Laymon's abilities as a writer, his stories always manage to scare the living bejesus out of me. Trapped in the woods with a bunch of cannibalistic lunatics hunting me down has got to rank up there with one of the WORST ways to buy the farm. I can definitely see this one getting made into a movie. Pretty intense, but Laymon has written better.(less)
I just couldn't wait for my public library to add this book to its collection so I went out today and dropped the 20 bucks to own a copy. Very intrigu...moreI just couldn't wait for my public library to add this book to its collection so I went out today and dropped the 20 bucks to own a copy. Very intriguing premise that immediately reminded me of Stephen King's Bachman novels The Running Man and The Long Walk. Speaking of the man, Stevie gives this a rave review in Entertainment Weekly available on Amazon. http://www.amazon.com/Hunger-Games-Su...
So this book does not disappoint. It's high octane energy from start to finish. The writing is a bit sophomoric at times, but that's reasonable to expect given the age of the protagonist (16)and the book's intended adolescent audience. Bottom line: great story idea executed with finesse. Suzanne Collins isn't inventing anything new here, but she is obviously comfortable trodding such familiar, dystopian territory and making it her own. There's definitely strong hints of King's early Bachman work, and I couldn't help be reminded of Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery". How could I not?
Is The Hunger Games classic dystopian literature then?...a Lord of the Flies or Long Walk? Absolutely not, but I still had a helluva good time reading it. With reality TV everywhere we look these days, and the UFC a mainstream pastime, it's easy to imagine a Survivor where tribe members voted out don't go home, but are executed instead. I figure society's perpetual bloodlust is never as deeply buried as we think. (less)
Over the years this has remained one of my favorite pieces of King's writing. In a phrase, IT IS AWESOME. The first time you read it there is so much...more Over the years this has remained one of my favorite pieces of King's writing. In a phrase, IT IS AWESOME. The first time you read it there is so much mystery, tension, what the bleep mindfuck going on that it literally keeps you on the edge of your seat. As a science fiction story, I proclaim it a classic.
You really want to come to this novella completely blind, because the reveals are so rewarding you don't want to be robbed of them early. But I have discovered upon subsequent re-reads (and now my first "listen") that the story has legs no matter what you know or don't know when you begin it. As with The Long Walk, there are rewards every single time I read this story.
This isn't King at his most emotional or epic -- this is King at his most cut-throat, imaginative storytelling best. He is having delirious fun taking a group of people and putting them in an unknowable, impossible situation. He has created a locked room mystery -- a puzzle -- with a very real and logical solution, but I bet you five dollars he'll keep you guessing to the very end!!
This story is such kick-ass, high-octane energy you will fly through the pages and come out the end grinning like a monkey. I just love it.
[A word on the reader: Willem Defoe is pretty awesome except for the voice he uses when speaking for Bethany. Ahhhhh! Nails on a chalkboard. He makes her sound like an 80 year old Fran Drescher who's smoked and drank whiskey her whole life!](less)