When I heard that Courtney Summers was coming out with a zombie novel, I was up to my ears with excitement. Okay fine, w...moreOriginal post at One More Page
When I heard that Courtney Summers was coming out with a zombie novel, I was up to my ears with excitement. Okay fine, when I found out about it, I have only read one Courtney Summers novel (Some Girls Are), but I really liked it and I was looking forward to reading her other books. Then the new one was about zombies? And it had that awesome, awesome cover? Where can I get this?!
I had to go through a lot of lengths to get a galley of this book, and I would like to thank all those who helped me get this from the bottom of my zombie loving heart. :) I feel a bit ashamed that it took me so long to read and review this...but better late than never? ^^
So the world is ending, but Sloane Price doesn't care because as far as she knows, the world has ended ever since her sister left her alone with their abusive father. She just really wants to die, and the apocalypse seemed just timely, until she was saved by several kids she knew from school. Now she is in the school with them, helping seal exits half-heartedly, listening to the incessant pounding of the undead outside who wants to eat their flesh. What follows is a story of human will, of what people will do when the odds are stacked against them, and just how far one would go to survive...or die.
INTENSE. I described Some Girls Are as intense, but it had nothing to the intensity of this book. This is Not a Testis an exhausting book. It has so much character conflict (internal and external), and it's not just because of the zombies. In fact, most of the zombie action didn't happen until in the latter parts of the book, and that's an entirely different kind of intensity. The rest of the book is all about human struggle and the will to survive even if it seems all better to just give up and do nothing.
I can't say I liked many of the characters, especially Sloane because she's different from all the zombie novel heroines I've read. Most of them have the determined will to live, not a will to die. I wanted Sloane to snap out of it, to pick herself up and be thankful that she's still alive and has a good chance of survival. She frustrated me, and the other people she was with kind of frustrated me too, because I wasn't sure what their real motives were. Well fine, they wanted to live, but I guess the entire situation of the apocalypse in the book has also caused me to not just trust anyone. I swung between liking some characters moderately to not liking them at all, but that doesn't mean they're not good characters. They're just...well, not so much likeable. Perhaps it is hard to like some people in a genuine way when zombies are out to get you outside and you're worried if you're going to live another day.
On another note, I think the book has an excellent pacing, and the days they spent inside the school blended into one another quite well that I felt I was with them as well and I didn't know how long it has been when they were inside. There were times when some of the action lagged, and but it quickly picked up with heavy, spine-chilling scenes that really snapped me out of my sleepiness when I was reading this before bed. The last few scenes were creepily scary and quite sad, but it was the kind of zombie action that I was looking for! In the end, I was just really...exhausted, but in a good and satisfying way.
So this pretty much seals my love for Courtney Summers. I am looking forward to getting Fall for Anything to finally read all that she wrote, and I am definitely, definitely going to get everything else she writes from now on. :)(less)
Remember that Paul Bettany movie, Legion? The one where he plays Michael the archangel who goes down the earth in defian...moreOriginal post at One More Page
Remember that Paul Bettany movie, Legion? The one where he plays Michael the archangel who goes down the earth in defiance to God because apparently He has given up on humans and is off to destroy the world using His angels. Michael, however, would have none of it, so he goes to this middle of nowhere town to save this baby that one girl is about to have because that baby will apparently save humanity.
I hated that movie.
I have another blog entry dedicated to why I didn't like that movie, so I won't really write about it here. However, I had to bring it up because Angelfall by Susan Ee reminded me of that movie. The key difference between Legion and Angelfall is how surprisingly good the latter was that I dropped almost everything I read just to finish it.
The world has ended, and all Penryn Young wanted is to keep her family safe. With her dad gone, she was left to take care of Paige, her crippled sister and her paranoid-schizophrenic mother. In normal circumstances, Penryn would have a pretty challenging time doing that on top of her other responsibilities, but now that there are killer angels out to kill humans, it just got a hundred times more difficult. As Penryn leads her family to get somewhere safer, they stumble upon an angel execution. They got caught as an audience, which led to saving the angel but her sister being kidnapped. Penryn teams up with the known enemy to get her sister back, even if it means getting deeper into the messy world of killer angels.
Like I said: Angelfall is a surprise. People I follow on Goodreads gave this book such high ratings but I was wary because the only other angel book I really liked was Cynthia Hand's Unearthly series. Anything else other than that, I approach with caution. But Angelfall started out great, with a sense of danger and urgency that I remember reading and feeling last from The Curse of the Wendigo (Rick Yancey) and The Ask and the Answer (Patrick Ness). I can easily imagine the ruins of the city that they lived in and was trying to escape, the paranoia of the darkness and the fear when the single feather landed on Penryn's sister. There's a certain grit in the story that almost makes me want to close my eyes in fear of knowing what would happen next.
Penryn is a great heroine - determined and loyal, stopping at nothing to save her sister. Yes, it may seem similar to how Katniss was in The Hunger Games but she didn't strike me as her carbon copy (even if their names are kind of odd). Penryn is strong and her combat skills are so cool (why she knew all these self-defense moves was one of the first creep-factors in the novel), too. I don't think she would even need the help of the angel if she knew where she was going after her sister was abducted. And speaking of the angel, Raffe is also a pretty good match for Penryn. He's a pretty secretive fellow but it never really bordered on cliche. I liked how his secrets (some of it, anyway) were revealed in this story, and how his relationship with Penryn developed. Yes, there is some kind of romance in this book, but it was never put on front seat of this novel, thank goodness. Penryn and Raffe were highlighted more as an unlikely team of survivors rather than a couple, which just about sets this book apart. No insta-love here folks!
This book doesn't take an easy way out on the apocalypse and destruction and the horror. There were several times when I was reading it and I jumped when the phone rang, which meant it was engrossing and I was thoroughly creeped out. There were some scenes that were a bit...well, gruesome is the first word that comes into mind. It's not too graphic, but it leaves imprints on the imagination that may tend to stay for a while. It just shows how brutal the world that Penryn and Raffe live in is, and also how darkly creative the author is with Angelfall.
As far as the angel mythology goes, it's pretty sound, even if a part of me is a bit doubtful of how Raffe's beliefs came to be in the story. Perhaps it's just me and my faith that's coming in to disagree, so I'm still (stubbornly) thinking that it just cannot be. But that's just me -- the mythology and theology (I guess you can call it that?) in the story never came close to being offensive for me anyway. The angel politics just raised a bit of questions that I trust will be answered in the next books.
Overall, Angelfall by Susan Ee is a pretty excellent book. Gruesome, creepy and scary but absolutely fun to read. I can't wait for the next book in the series.
It's the year 1984, and the world people live in isn't the same as the world we know today. In this version of the world...moreOriginal post at One More Page
It's the year 1984, and the world people live in isn't the same as the world we know today. In this version of the world, everyone lives under close scrutiny of Big Brother -- or at least representatives of Big Brother in the form of the Inner Party and the Thought Police. Here we meet Winston, a simple Party guy who is slowly realizing that maybe, there is something else other than the life he is living. Maybe the Party and Big Brother isn't always right. Maybe, just maybe, the truth that he's known all his life isn't the truth at all. What follows is Winston's "quest" to find out the real truth and perhaps even bring down Big Brother. But is Winston a big enough force to be reckoned with?
Totally honest moment: I would not have read 1984 if it wasn't our book club's book discussion book for January 2012. Perhaps I would have read it someday later, but not anytime soon. As much as I like dystopian novels (although not as much as I used to), I just didn't have enough interest in this book as my other friends did. But like I said, I should read it because I'm a moderator of the book club and it feels like I should read it.
During our book discussion, we were asked to give a word to describe the book, and my chosen word was challenging. It was challenging for me not because I couldn't grasp the story but because it took me an entire month to read the book. And it was a pretty short book too, if you think about it and I read pretty fast, so taking that long to read a certain book is really a new thing. But the truth is, I just wasn't that invested in it. You know how there are some books that reel you right in and would make you want to lose sleep while reading it? Well, 1984 didn't give me that impression. It's not that I didn't like it -- I did, but I just wasn't that invested in it to keep on reading it continuously. I think I may have read 10 books while reading this book -- if that isn't proof enough, then I don't know already. :P
1984 is a good novel, but I feel like my reading is slightly tainted by all the similarly themed YA dystopia books I have read. You know how the main characters often prevailed, or at least almost prevailed in all the YA dystopia books? Well, it isn't exactly the case here. I liked how the first part of the book started, but the second and third parts weren't exactly my cup of tea. Oh sure, they were brutal, they were unexpected, but like I said, I was used to reading characters who go against all the odds and somehow win even against a TOTALLY EVIL GOVERNMENT. Perhaps it's a YA thing, and this book was written way before the ones I know, so it has a really different approach.
The thing about 1984 though, is how it could have been real. Granted, I had myself pulled away form the narrative so much that I couldn't imagine it being real in the current society and all, but some points during our discussion got me thinking that yeah, maybe it could be possible. Just take social networking for example -- how many people can truly say they have their own privacy when they have a Facebook profile or update Twitter every minute or so? Or do we even really know how much information we put out online and how it affects us? It's a lot to think about.
Even so, there's a certain separation for me and 1984. Again, it's not that I didn't like it, but I also did not really love it as much as other people do. It's definitely one of those books that should be read if only to get a real grasp of how a dystopian society could look like. Honestly, I don't think a reader can be a true dystopian fan unless you have read 1984 (and Lois Lowry's The Giver). You haven't really seen a big bad evil government until you've read the classics, IMHO.
On a related note, though, I think having a real and intelligent book discussion on this book helped me understand and appreciate it more than I would have. It just goes to show that reading isn't always a solitary activity, and it's nice to be with like-minded people often with differing opinions to discuss a piece of literature. :)(less)
If you're still not sure if you want to splurge on Forbidden by Ted Dekker and Tosca Lee, the authors have released a short...moreFull post at One More Page
If you're still not sure if you want to splurge on Forbidden by Ted Dekker and Tosca Lee, the authors have released a short story prequel to it, entitled The Keeper, available for free as an ebook. In this short story, a man named Talus meets two hermit monk brothers who he chooses to share the terrible secret that he has been carrying, to recruit them in helping protect the knowledge that will save humanity. This short story is a very quick read, and if you've read Forbidden before reading this, there's really nothing much to surprise you here. However, I think that it gives those who have yet to read the first Book of Mortals a chance to taste Dekker's world building and Lee's characters. I have a feeling that reading The Keeper will make you want to know more about what this secret is and if Talus ever succeeded with his mission. Also, if you have read the Circle series (Black, Red, White, Green), you will spot a very familiar name in this short story that will probably make you say, "I knew it!" Then the story of Forbidden suddenly makes more sense. :)
The Keeper is short and it's free, and you'll hardly notice the time you'll spend reading this. There's really nothing to lose, so there's no excuse not to get this. :)(less)
I didn't really love Divergent when I first read it, but I liked it well enough to get the second book in the series. I...moreOriginal post at One More Page
I didn't really love Divergent when I first read it, but I liked it well enough to get the second book in the series. I must admit that I'm really more into it because of the covers because it would look nice on my shelf, but as for knowing what happens next, I wasn't in a hurry to read it anytime. Call me ambivalent, I guess. That, and I may be one of the few readers who don't have a fictional crush on Four.
But anyway, Insurgentis the second book in the latest dystopian YA series taking readers by a storm. This book picks up immediately from where the first book ended, so I had to check the last parts of the first book before reading through this one to remember how things ended. The action was there at the start, and I was really interested in knowing what would happen to Tris and Four and the rest.Thing was, I actually forgot who the other characters were, so I kind of groped in the dark as I read on.
I think my favorite part of Insurgentis really getting to know the other factions more. I liked their "field trips" between Amity, Candor, Erudite and even the Factionless. I liked seeing how the other factions worked, and how they supported how their world lives. My issues at how the world like this can exist that I mentioned in the first book still remain, but I guess I'm more forgiving this time around because I was curious about how their world operated. We see more of the villain and how cunning she is...but also, she didn't give much dangerous vibes than I expected. She's just...smart, but dangerous? Nope, didn't feel like it. There were a lot of betrayals in this book though, and it was hard to know who to really believe in as the story unfolds.
My main issue with Insurgentis really its length. It felt so long, but there were too little things happening! Divergent had me glued to the pages with all the exciting things, but the sequel kind of fell flat with that. I felt that it went on too long when some scenes could have been cut, or shortened. Perhaps it was written that way to show more of the world that Tris lives in, or fine, to give way to introduce the factions more, but I think it could have been made shorter. I remember coming to a point where I was almost skimming the pages because I wanted to get to the exciting parts. While I did like knowing more about the factions, I can't help but wish it hurried with the action scenes in the end. Case in point: this was my favorite part in the book, but see that it happens in p. 440, where one would normally expect more exciting things to be happening in a 500+ page book:
Of course, this lukewarm reaction could be because I was reading an equally long book while I was reading this one, so I could be just in the middle of a slump and I was feeling impatient.
I did likeInsurgent's ending though, and it had that second-book-in-trilogy-cliffhanger ending that I kind of expected, like how Mira Grant did it with Deadline. The ending feels like a game-changer and I am curious with how Veronica Roth will run away with this one. Overall, I liked Insurgentbut not as much as I enjoyed the first book. I will still read the last book, just to satisfy my curiosity...but I think I'll just borrow the next book instead of just buying one for my own. Unless of course the cover convinces me otherwise, that is.(less)
This is actually one of the last books I read for 2011, and I got this because I'm such a loyal reader of Mira Grant and...moreOriginal post at One More Page
This is actually one of the last books I read for 2011, and I got this because I'm such a loyal reader of Mira Grant and her Newsflesh universe. Countdown is the a prequel to her story and it narrates just how the Rising happened through the different perspectives involved in the story. I liked how the story wasn't really as simple as how it seemed when Georgia talked about it in Feed. There were so many people involved, some that were already known such as the developers of the cure, and also some unknown people like the activists that caused the virus to go out. It had just enough detail without being too scientific or too political, and the growing terror of what just might happen because of the chain of events was very well conveyed. The slow unveiling of the effects of the new virus strain was horrifying at its best and you just know that it's too late when it all comes down.
While there's no Georgia or Shaun in this book yet, we get a glimpse of their parents and how they got involved and what happened that could have led them to adopting the two. It wasn't really narrated as a whole, but when the book is done, it's easier to connect the dots.
This isn't a required reading to fully understand the series, but for fans who are itching to read the last book in the trilogy, Countdown is a good pick to satiate this hunger.(less)
My supply of Christian fiction has sort of run low ever since I started reading more YA books, so new books from my favorite...moreFull post at One More Page
My supply of Christian fiction has sort of run low ever since I started reading more YA books, so new books from my favorite Christian authors are always exciting and squee-worthy. One of the dream team-ups I had ever since last year when the news went out was Ted Dekker and Tosca Lee, and I have waited with anticipation over this book, Forbidden. Imagine my excitement when I saw that the book was available in Netgalley.
In the year 2005, geneticists discovered that there is a certain gene in our DNA that controlled the emotion of fear, further leading to the discovery of other genes that control other kinds of emotions. After a war that devastated the world, humanity vowed to destroy everything that led to that war, particularly the emotions that come with it -- love, joy, passion, anger, hatred, sorrow. Out of all emotions, only fear was allowed to survive. And because of this, peace reigned.
480 years later, we meet Rom Sebastian, a simple, ordinary man who sings songs for the dead. On his way home from a funeral, he meets an old man who tells him of an Order called Keepers and leaves a vial of blood wrapped in a vellum with strange symbols. Citadel Guards caught up with them and to Rom's horror, they killed the man. Soon Rom is on the run from the guards with his childhood friend Avra, confused and scared to why they were running away. When he decides to drink some of the blood in the vial he carried, long-forgotten emotion surface within him together with the fear that he has been so used to feeling: sorrow. Anger. Passion. And most of all, love.
Early into the first pages of Forbidden, I couldn't help but compare this book with Delirium by Lauren Oliver. Both books have the same premise and almost the same environment. But where Delirium lacks, Forbidden totally makes up. The world building in this book is solid, so real, and contains the signature Dekker that I have known and loved. I found that the world building here makes the idea of a world operated by fear because of genetic means more plausible as compared to that where "love is illegal and I'd have to cut a vague area under your ear to get that love out". This book had touches of Dekker's Circle series, with the countries and royalties and guards and the people. The composition of the world contains both ancient and modern elements that somehow mesh together really well -- from advanced alchemy to the hierarchy order of the Brahmin. This somehow gives the readers a clue that while it is set in the future, it doesn't mean that it is actually advanced. Maybe the truth is, the world is going backwards because of the fear that the people were kept in.
Add to the world building, we have the fleshed out characters, which I think is Tosca Lee's expertise. I liked how different and conflicted the characters were -- Rom with his good heart, Avra's loyalty, Neah's hesitation, Triphon's bravery. Feyn's wisdom, Sarric's greed, Jonathan's innocence. These all seem like typical character traits, and I have to admit that some of the characters' actions were predictable, but I think they were able to give life to them. People may be a bit turned off with the jubilant exaltation of emotions that some characters did in the book, but I thought it was forgivable as they've never experienced emotion like that before. Taking the reactions of the characters in this context, it wouldn't seem exaggerated but just right. These characters were also involved in the right amount of action that it made me cringe and be surprised a couple of times. There was a particular part in the book that got me shaking my fist, but knowing I was in the hands of good writers, I know well enough to trust them.
Forbidden is very, very good. So what's keeping me from giving it five stars? Well, it may be just me, but I cannot shake off the similarity of this with the Circle series. Also, this book feels just a tad like a prequel rather than the real first book. While there is action, I felt the climax and the ending was just a little anticlimactic. Perhaps I was expecting more...erm, bloodshed there? Not that there wasn't enough bloodshed earlier, but I just thought there would be more there. However, that may be just because Dekker and Lee are preparing us for the next book in the trilogy. And the ending really did leave a lot of loose ends that I'm sure will be picked up and played with in the next book.
I will finish this review with a quote from the book that pretty much sums up the message of this book:
This is the mystery of it. Life is lived on the ragged edge of the cliff. Fall off and you might die, but run from it and you are already dead!
Forbidden by Ted Dekker and Tosca Lee is now out in paperback and hardbound in all stores. In the Philippines, I saw some trade paperback copies of it in Fully Booked. Must. Get. Finished. Copy!(less)
There are a few authors who can do nothing wrong as far as I am concerned, and John Green is one of them. I've been seei...moreOriginal post at One More Page
There are a few authors who can do nothing wrong as far as I am concerned, and John Green is one of them. I've been seeing him tweet about a novella he was writing, but I never thought it would be released, and never thought what it was about. And then Aaron tweets about it, and I jumped in my seat. A zombie novella by John Green? And the title -- does this mean there are unicorns? It was like a dream come true!
Zombicorns tells the account of Mia, a zombie apocalypse survivor in search of meaning in a bleak world. It's a first person account that has the same kind of snark and unique to Green's characters, despite the lack of geekiness in Mia. The circumstances that brought about the apocalypse in Zombicornswas funny and unexpected, and these zombies are the most unusual I've read so far. Not that I'm complaining -- anything is possible in an apocalyptic novel, IMHO.
The best thing about this novella is how deep it goes. True to the John Green signature, this novel is funny and still it manages to capture human emotion in the unique way he does. The seriousness of Mia's questions about life almost took me by surprise, but in a good way. It goes to show how good John Green is with the things he decides to write about. I didn't even notice the lack of editing for Zombicorns -- it's even better than any of my drafts. (But hello -- this is John Green we are talking about. I am not worthy to compare!)
I may be biased to say that this is a good read because I love the author, but it is a good one. If you can't find any of his books yet, this may be a good one to start with. After all, it's free. What's there to lose, right? :)
Let me retract what I said on the first paragraph, though: there really are no unicorns in this story. This just means I have yet to read about actual zombie unicorns. Darn it. (less)
There are books that grab you by the collar from the very start and force you to pay attention to what you are reading....moreOriginal post at One More Page
There are books that grab you by the collar from the very start and force you to pay attention to what you are reading. These books are typically the explosive, action-packed ones, ones that plunge you right into the action, leaving you breathless from the start all the way up to the last page. However, there are books that start off quiet, with barely a bang. You're not quite sure what would happen with these books, but you allow yourself to be carried gently with the languid flow of the story. You think it wouldn't really grip you so much as those action-packed books that you can put it down every now and then, reading at your own pace.
And then it proves you wrong. Somewhere in the story, the book grabs you by the hand and pulls you in, refusing to let go unless you get to the very last page, and you're left even more breathless, wondering what just happened in the past pages and chapters.
That, my friends, is the kind of book Never Let Me Goby Kazuo Ishiguro is.
I've been seeing this book for a long time now, but I never thought of picking it up because I often confuse it with other books written by Japanese authors that I am not sure if I want to read. Even my friends reading it in my book club didn't make me read it because by then, I was more into reading YA books, and I never thought it would be something I'd like to read, anyway. When I ran across its ebook on sale on Kindle, I finally surrendered and purchased it. If my other friends liked it, I probably would, too, right?
Never Let Me Gotells the story of friends Kathy H, Tommy D and Ruth, who all met and grew up in Hailsham, a private boarding school somewhere in England. Kathy, now 31 years old, narrates her memories of her life as a child and early teen there, the next years as she, Tommy and Ruth moved to the Cottages after their time in Hailsham and finally her years as a carer where she crosses paths with Tommy and Ruth again. The book is really a collection of Kathy's memories, told almost out of chronological order but in a way of significance, all leading to the readers wondering who Kathy is, why there were in Hailsham and what they are up to in present time.
To say anything more would be a spoiler, so I will leave you at that. I was partially spoiled already as I read the book because of some reviews that I read even if it was clearly marked with a spoiler. However, that didn't lessen the enjoyment of reading this wonderful piece of work. As I mentioned above, Never Let Me Go is a book that starts off very quiet, with hardly any bang. In fact, there isn't really much excitement in the book, yet I never found it boring. Kathy's voice rang clear all throughout the book. It almost felt like I was sitting with her in a shop and she was just telling me her life story, or perhaps I was sitting at the passenger seat of her car as she regaled to me their little misadventures in Hailsham.
Even if it was told in Kathy's point of view, the other characters' voices were distinct, too. Kathy tells her stories about her friends with little bias to herself, which allows us to see and forgive them for their own faults towards the heroine. For example, every time I would feel annoyed at Ruth for being so dominating, Kathy would say something to make me understand her in a way, or would convince me that somehow Kathy was also at fault. Perhaps it was written that way because these are Kathy's recollections and at her age, she definitely knew better than she knew then. Tommy and Ruth felt as real as Kathy was, and I truly felt their importance in Kathy's life.
The strength of the characters didn't really water down the plot, so there is still much satisfaction as the secrets behind their existence and Hailsham were revealed. As these are Kathy's memories, they tend to jump from one scene to another before going back to the original intent. It may take a bit to get used to that kind of narration and it may turn some people off. However, that is almost the same way as some Sarah Dessen novels are, so I'm fairly used to that. Everything is revealed gradually and there seemed to be a quiet acceptance to everything that's happening that even I am convinced that it's really just the way it is and there is no way out.
Perhaps that is the most striking thing about Never Let Me Go. Kathy tells her story as if there was no other alternative, that it is really the only way for her and her friends. There is a quiet resignation in Kathy that she was destined to do what she was made to do, that there was no other choice but that. It makes me wonder what I would have done if I grew up in Hailsham and I knew what I know as I read this book -- would I accept my fate as Kathy did or will I rebel? Or what if I was a guardian -- how can I face those kids everyday for the first thirteen years or so of their life knowing what awaits them sometime in their life? Can my conscience take it, even if it is all in the name of science and the progress of humanity?
A movie version of this book starring Carey Mulligan, Andrew Garfield and Kiera Knightley came out last year (in all other parts of the world, that is. It hasn't been shown here yet). If you're planning to read this, DO NOT watch the movie trailer if you don't want to be spoiled. I haven't watched the movie yet, so I don't know the difference, but it is always wiser to read the book first before watching the movie. Even if you're not much of a reader, Never Let Me Go is too good of a book to pass up for the movie version. Make it one of the few books that you'd read in your life, if you must.
Never Let Me Go is one book that truly did not let me go (no pun intended). It reeled me in with its simplicity and refused to let me move on long after I finished with the last page. Beautiful and haunting, this is definitely one of my best reads for this year.(less)
Warning: This may not end up as a review, but a very fan-girly love letter to the trilogy. Also, spoiler free.
So normally I would have written a review for this book as soon as I finished it, but with my record of reviewing books lately, I took my time. In all honesty, I can't remember parts of the book anymore, but I remember that sad feeling I got when I finally arrived at the end of this amazing trilogy.
So three years ago, I stumbled upon Feed by accident, and I only really wanted the book because I judged it from its cover the moment I saw it. Little did I know that this would spark a love affair between me and the After the End times staff, with Georgia and Shaun Mason and Buffy and Mahir and Becks and Maggie and Alaric and everyone who's ever been a part of this series. Yes, that includes other fans who I have met and virtually squealed with and liked reading updates and shared speculations with over and over again.
Let me back up a little: for the uninitiated, Blackoutis the third book in the Newsflesh trilogy, where we readers follow the After the End times staff with uncovering a humongous conspiracy that could very well mean the death of human civilization as they know it. With zombies around, it's easy to imagine how it could end, especially with how Deadline ended. But of course, there's more going on without the team's knowledge and when these things finally collided, well...it was pretty explosive. Blackout is one of my most awaited books this year, and I waited a little bit before I actually read it because I just didn't want it to end yet.
Granted, Blackoutis probably the weakest among the three books. But by weak, I don't mean that it sucked -- it was just not as engaging as Feed or as mind-blowing as Deadline was, but there were still so many feelings that came and went at the reading of this book. But here's the thing: I love the characters and the series so much already that I can't not love this book. I can't not love its finale, for all its faults and awesome things, for all the emotions and fist shaking it brought. I felt like I've invested so much in this series that I can't not love even this book.
Oh and maybe the zombie bears had something to do with it! :)
I have fangirled in this review so I'm afraid this review of this particular book may not be as helpful as the others, but if you feel like picking up the series, then consider this review as my own version of pushing it to you. I am very, very happy that I stumbled upon Feed years ago, because somehow it made me feel like I'm a part of this series ever since its first release. I'm not an expert on the genre, but this is definitely one of the best zombie books I've read in a while. It is with a sad heart that I said goodbye to all these characters, and I will miss them all terribly...but I'm pretty happy with how this ended.
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Wither is one of those books that the book bloggers have been abuzz with ever since the cover came out. And who wouldn'...moreOriginal post at One More Page
Wither is one of those books that the book bloggers have been abuzz with ever since the cover came out. And who wouldn't be mesmerized by such a beautiful cover? I wasn't much of a cover person then, but I knew that I took a mental note of this book and was thrilled to see it as one of the e-galleys available in Simon & Schuster's Galley Grab.
This is the first book in the Chemical Garden trilogy, and it tells a dystopian world sometime into a future where diseases are removed through genetic experiments, producing a first generation of almost immortal human beings who can live their lives in full health. However, as soon as this first generation started to reproduce, they found a fatal flaw: the offspring of the first generation die before they reach their thirties. Specifically, males live up to twenty five while females pass away as they reach twenty. To keep the population growing, young girls are forced into polygamous marriages and some of their offspring were tested to find an antidote to to stop their children from dying.
Rhine Ellery is 16 and was captured by the Gatherers in a fake job interview and she was bought as a wife for Linden Ashby by his father, Housemaster Vaughn. Rhine gets married and becomes an Ashby by name but swears to find a way out and be reunited with her twin brother. However, as she tries to find a way to escape, she discovers disturbing things about the Ashby household, finds herself softening towards her husband and sister-wives and falls in love.
If I were asked to choose a word to describe Wither, it's interesting. My initial attraction to the book came from it being classified under dystopia, and we all know how I've grown to love that sub-genre in the past year. I liked Rhine right at the start. Her voice is strong and clear and she was tough but not without being compassionate. She knows she's doomed to die in four years but I liked that she still seemed to have little hopes and dreams, one that helped her survive her ordeal. Reading the story in Rhine's point of view kind of reminded me of The Hunger Games, without the thundering background music and the immediate need to survive. Rhine's background music would fall a bit on a classical piece that starts out as calm and languid at first then builds up to a crescendo as we get to the exciting parts. Rhine isn't a Katniss, but there were some similarities in their personalities -- particularly their resiliency -- that reminded me of Suzanne Collins' beloved character. Oh and I also found it really cool that Rhine had differently colored eyes -- heterochromia, as they call it. I couldn't help but shriek, "Graceling!" when I read that part. :)
However, as far as the dystopian aspect of Wither goes, I found it a bit lacking. I'm no expert in how dystopia should be unlike some people I know, but I wasn't very satisfied with how Rhine's world came to be. Sure, I understand there would be mass panic when they find out the flaw in their genetic experiments, but how could there be so much destruction that all the other continents were wiped out except for North America? I understand the population woes, so why kill the girls then? Why are there so many orphans? There were so many why's and how's that I found the world building a bit faulty, despite it being vivid. Perhaps my questions would be answered in the next two books?
I also have a tiny beef with the ending, but it's just me nitpicking. It's not a cliffhanger, but I really wish there was more. I guess I was looking for more action in the ending? I kind of wanted something bigger, something more explosive to happen in the end. It may just be me and my expectations for dystopian novels. The ending for Wither felt a little too much...I don't know, dreamy? That isn't bad, but just kind of threw me off the loop. I was expecting a little bit more action, and I wanted to know what happened to the other characters, too. But again, I guess that is why this is part of a trilogy. It's kind of like how Carrie Ryan ended her zombie books -- if you don't know that there will be a next book in the series, you'd feel like you were cheated from an ending with closure.
Despite its faults and my nitpicks, Wither is still a good read, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. If dystopian novels had genders, this would definitely be a female -- no battle scenes or gory deaths here, boys. :) It's bleak and disturbing yet still romantic, emotional and somewhat hopeful. If you're not into reading bleak and hardcore dystopian novels, then Wither may be the book for you.(less)
I spotted Naermyth by Karen Francisco in Fully Booked by sheer accident. I was supposed to get The Giver by Lois Lowry...moreOriginal post at One More Page
I spotted Naermyth by Karen Francisco in Fully Booked by sheer accident. I was supposed to get The Giver by Lois Lowry when I felt like ambling over to the Filipiniana section of the store and then I saw the black and orange spine of the book. I thought it was just a new local comics or something but when I read the blurb, I was sold. Could it be? Local dystopian fantasy? This I have to read.
Naermyth is a word play on the phrase "never myth", which is what the people used to describe creatures that caused the apocalypse after they attacked the human race. These are creatures from Philippine mythology that we have often watched or heard stories from as children -- aswang, duwende, kapre, nuno sa punso, diwata, etc -- that we thought were just that: myths. However, it turns out they were never myths at all, and they attacked defenseless humans, quickly wiping out civilizations and most of the population. The only remaining resistance against these creatures are the National Bureau of Conflict and Transport or the NaBuCAT, informally known as the Shepherds, who find remaining survivors and give them refuge against the Naermyth.
The story is set in the Philippines 5 years after the war between human and Naermyth started. We meet Athena "Aegis" Dizon, one of the best Shepherds on their way back to the Ruins after a rescue mission. Aegis is one of the best Shepherds in their NaBuCAT branch, but she is also one of the least affectionate and most brash among all of them, an issue that her brothers often tease her with. Aegis doesn't mind, because she knows that if she wants to live in the world now, there is no room to be soft. On their way back to their headquarters after a particularly bad night with an aswang and a duwende in the morning, Aegis rescues Dorian, a mysterious man who has no memory of the last five years and no knowledge of the Naermyth at all. Aegis brings him to the headquarters, and despite her usually brash nature, she finds herself connected to Dorian in ways she could not explain. When they find out what Dorian is, Aegis goes against all she believed in as a Shepherd to protect him. As Dorian tries to find out about his past, Aegis finds out more about hers, and they uncover a conspiracy that could destroy everything they had worked for.
I think the best thing about Naermyth is its realistic world building. It's often hard to get into dystopian fiction especially if the world is does not feel real, but Karen Francisco managed to create a very believable post-apocalyptic Philippines, making the different places in the country come alive as a setting. I liked how she used Ruins as a fortress from its bazaar status in the past, and how Makati is Naermyth territory because of how it used to be a swamp. It wasn't contained in Manila, too, but in other provinces in the Philippines: Baguio is a dead spot for Naermyth because of its altitude, as is Pangasinan being the country's salt center (salt was used as a weapon against aswang because it stops them from regenerating), while Capiz is obviously Naermyth headquarters. And it didn't stop there, too, because it's not post-apocalypse if it doesn't involve the rest of the world, right? Other countries were also affected by the uprising of these creatures, but each country has their own kind of Naermyth based on their folklore. Norway has dragons, and yes, even the Loch Ness monster is alive. With all these elements securely in place, it's easy to believe in the world that Aegis lives in, and I don't get surprised when weirder creatures surface.
That being said, however, Naermyth suffers from attempting to cover so much ground in one book. Don't get me wrong -- I liked a good mystery, I liked conspiracies, I liked betrayals in my dystopian fiction. However, I felt a little bit overwhelmed with all the events happening...and then, that feeling would be abruptly interrupted with information overload, in the form of a dialogue. It seemed like some parts of the book were too much tell rather show, and even the encounter with the bad guy at the end felt more telling than showing. Also, while I liked Aegis as a heroine, I wasn't sold on her past. I felt that it was opened up a little too late. If Aegis' past was so important in the end, I didn't feel it was stressed too much at the start since most of the focus was on her family and Dorian's past. The romantic angle was kind of weak, too, and personally, I could have done without it. And if you would allow me to nitpick a bit -- I was very distracted at how many synonyms of "said" were used. I'd like to believe that the characters don't always roar or scream when they're in a normal conversation. It is true what they said: replacing "said" a bit too many times in the text is very distracting.
I think Naermythis the first of its kind that is not a graphic novel (correct me if I am wrong, though), and I think it's a feat in itself. This book is a fulfillment of what some friends and I were wishing for a few months back: a fantasy novel written by a Filipino that makes use of the plethora of creatures from our own mythology. Despite my slight issue with the plot and the pacing and that little nitpick, I still enjoyed reading Naermyth. This is not YA, but I think YA dystopian fantasy fans will like this well enough. It's a solid debut, and this book gives me hope that we will see more Filipino fantasy books on shelves (virtual or not) soon. It's about time, don't you think? :)(less)
A few days ago, I was lamenting over Twitter about how I seem to be deprived of good literature back when I was in schoo...moreOriginal post at One More Page
A few days ago, I was lamenting over Twitter about how I seem to be deprived of good literature back when I was in school. The only times I was required to read a novel for school was during senior year in high school and then in college. I didn't get my love of reading from school, that is for sure. Because of this, I wasn't able to read the books that my friends had read for school, and now I am making up for it.
But in a way, it's also good, because I get to read these books now for leisure instead of for grades. So I guess it's not really a loss?
I picked up The Giver early this week because I was pondering on getting Matched by Ally Condie via Kindle. I was hesitant to get the latter because there were many lukewarm/cold reviews on it from the reviewers I trust, and most of them compare it to the former. I decided that if I was getting Matched, I have to read The Giver first. I also thought that I cannot call myself a real dystopia reader if I haven't read this one, and it's always nice to go back to basics, right?
The story starts with Jonas as he thinks about the upcoming December ceremony in his community. He's about to turn Twelve, in in Jonas' world, turning Twelve means he is going to be given his Assignment in the community. He was kind of apprehensive about it because he had no idea what his Assignment would be. To his surprise, during the ceremony, Jonas was selected rather than assigned: he was selected to be the next Receiver of Memories. It was an honor to be selected, but it was also painful in ways the Elders cannot describe to Jonas. Little did Jonas know that the pain involved in his training is really more pain than he ever imagined, but at the same time, he was given the chance to experience true happiness that he had missed out in favor of an equal community.
There is a simplicity in The Giver that other dystopia novels nowadays do not have. Most of the dystopia (ex. The Hunger Games, The Knife of Never Letting Go) I read this year are about worlds that are not peaceful, where oppression is apparent and death and destruction are normal. The Giveris different because it presents itself first as a utopia -- a seemingly ideal world where there is no poverty, violence or inequality. The people in the community work as a well-oiled machine and truth be told, the control freak in me liked it. I liked how everything has its place, how everything was so orderly. It was so uncomplicated, and I wonder how it feels to live an uncomplicated life.
Wait, I think I know how it would be: boring. Sure, we could use less complicated living, but not always. I remember some times when there were so many things happening in my life that I'd wish for a boring one, but once nothing happens in my life, I would wish for something to happen just so I won't be bored. If I were to live in the world that Jonas lived in with my memories still intact, I would probably go crazy.
But that was the thing: no one had memories of the past except for The Giver. I loved the way Lowry described the Jonas' life before he became the Receiver. It may seem, well, boring, but the writing style fits the world perfectly. I liked how as Jonas learned more and more of the truth, that we get to feel the sadness and horror he felt when he realized that the utopia he is living in is not what it seems.
The ending is much-debated for its openness, but I liked it. I am fond of open endings because it gives me room to think, and it opens up a lot of possibilities that could be a springboard to a sequel. However, as some of my friends in Goodreads said, The Giver has the type of ending that could stand on its own without feeling the need to read its other companion novels.
It's a good book. The Giver is one of those books that you have to read even just once in your lifetime. It has this haunting sadness that made me really think of what utopia really is, and if it's really worth losing so much just to gain an uncomplicated life.(less)
I've been wanting to get The Reapers are the Angels by Alden Bell during the time I was so crazy for zombies in fiction,...moreOriginal post at One More Page
I've been wanting to get The Reapers are the Angels by Alden Bell during the time I was so crazy for zombies in fiction, and that's one of the reasons why I got this from Book Depository in the first place. I wanted to add every single book that had zombies in it, until it became a little bit too mainstream for my taste. That's probably why I made this book languish in my TBR for a while, almost forgetting that I had this book with me until lately. Because you know, sometimes you have to dig through your TBR just to get some books out and get that number down.
The Reapers are the Angels introduces a world that is full of zombies. There's nothing really new about that, but then here comes Temple, a fifteen year old girl who's turned herself into a vagabond after something happened in her past. She runs into a small community of survivors who take her in, but when she accidentally kills a man who tried to take advantage of her, she is back on the run now that his brother is after her. On her journey, she meets a group of hunters who take on a new way of survival, picks up a mentally challenged man who becomes her unwanted ward, stays with a rich family who refuses to acknowledge the state of the world and gets caught by a horrifically mutated group of people whose loyalty to each other leads them to kill. All this time, Temple fights the evil she thinks is in her while running away from the man who wants to kill her.
Or perhaps running away isn't the right term. As the story goes on, it doesn't really feel that Temple was running away -- perhaps there was something else. It was almost like this chase gave her some kind of purpose, and it was interesting to read about that. Temple is a different girl and we know it right from the start. Why she chose to be alone is a mystery, and how she seemed to unafraid later on as she travels is another question. Her character makes this initially simple and typical zombie story come more alive. The Reapers are the Angels isn't a story of zombies or the fallen world but a story of a person wrestling with her past and trying to atone for this. Temple's brokenness makes her who she is -- the hard, no-nonsense girl with awesome fighting skills -- but it doesn't lessen her compassion for others who need her help, even if she doesn't really want to help at all. (view spoiler)[I found her unlikely "friendship" with Maury, the mentally challenged guy she helps and "adopts", quite endearing and possibly my favorite part in the entire story. (hide spoiler)]
But this book isn't really an easy read. The lush writing helped a lot in making me want to read this, but this is a bleak book -- not quite as hopeless as The Forest of Hands and Teeth and also not quite as action packed as The Enemy, but still pretty, well, not cheerful. There were also lots of philosophical talk, which makes this book really a story of survival and how humanity carries on after an apocalypse. I think what makes this book a little harder for me to read was the gross-out factor -- like I said, I may have gone soft, and there were some scenes in this book that made me stop reading for a bit just so my stomach would stop churning. Oh Tina, what do you expect of a zombie book, anyway? Just...don't read this while eating, especially for some parts.
Even so, I find that I loved The Reapers are the Angels, especially for how it ended. Sigh. --> That will be my one and only clue for you. I think The Reapers are the Angels is a beautifully sad but deep book, and I was a very satisfied reader when I finished the book. It's not at the level of how much I loved Mira Grant's Feed, my favorite zombie book of all time, but Alden Bell's creation has made it into the list of zombie books I will recommend to people who want to read about them. This is a good one, folks -- gross scenes aside, this is a zombie book that lived up to my expectations, and I hope it lives up to yours, too.
See, God is a slick god. He makes it so you don't miss out on nothing you're supposed to witness firsthand.
One of my best book discoveries last year was Mira Grant's Feed, the first book in the Newsflesh trilogy. I was so excited about it when I heard it was about zombies AND blogging, and it was my first big Kindle purchase. It remains as one of my favorite books, one that I have given away as gifts and prizes numerous times. I was excited for the next book, Deadline, but I wasn't expecting that much, given that second books are usually so-so compared to the first books in a trilogy. I had a feeling it would be good, but I wasn't expecting it to be as good as its predecessor, you know?
Deadline starts shortly after Feed, where Shaun Mason and the rest of the staff of After the End Times are still reporting the news and making noise in the blogosphere. Shaun, however, is no longer the Irwin that he used to be -- he's tired of it, and he's just running the news organization because he had nowhere else to go and nothing else to do. When a CDC researcher fakes her death and drops by their office with a lot of terrifying and confusing medical research, Shaun and the team find themselves in the middle of a conspiracy connected to the ones they encountered during the campaign. Hungry for the truth, they follow the trail, and find themselves facing an enemy bigger and scarier than the living dead that has become a constant threat in their lives.
I decided to reread Feed shortly after Deadline was delivered to my Kindle to refresh my memory of the Newsflesh world. I was a bit impatient while rereading because I kept on seeing really good reviews for the newest book, but I soldiered on, determined to have the best reading experience for the sequel. It took so much control for me not to read reviews and comments in reviews in full, too, so I won't be spoiled (and believe me, there are spoilers galore in the reviews for this book). I finished the first book, loved it just the same, and then moved on to the next book. Not even 1/4 into the book yet and I was already crying. A little over that, and my heart was breaking. And then, I just can't stop reading it. I finished the book at one in the morning last Sunday and it took all of me to stop myself from swearing. If my mom wasn't fast asleep beside me, I would have yelled many, many expletives that morning.
Mira Grant achieves a great balance between detail and action in Deadline. The previous book was admittedly wordy with all the exposition on the history of the Rising and the Kellis-Amberlee virus. Deadline may be just as wordy, but since the book is told in Shaun's point of view, we are given a bit of time to process the information in the same way as he does. There's less politics here, as it focuses on the virus itself -- lots of science, lots of medical terms, but not so much that it's too hard to follow. It's got good, solid world building, with lots of references to pre-Rising things, the things we have now. I love the references to zombie video games, most especially, and it makes the action scenes easier for me to imagine. There was a time when I was reading a zombie chase scene when something similar to a Resident Evil background music played on the TV. Talk about setting the scene. The story is tight, and it honestly had me totally creeped out as the story progressed. I had the same feeling while rereading Feed, but I dare say Deadlineamplified that feeling. By the end of the book, I was ready to hide under the covers and never go out.
While this is more of Shaun's story to tell, the girls Georgia and Buffy still play a big part in the story. The best part, I think, is how their staff gets to play bigger roles. Mira Grant created excellent characters that you'd want to be on your side when zombies walk with the living. I loved Mahir and Maggie (with her epileptic teacup bulldogs!) the most, but I also liked Dave, Becks and Alaric well enough to get attached to them even if I knew better not to get attached to any of Mira Grant's characters. Lines are blurred and gray areas abound in Deadline: the stereotypical villain in the previous book suddenly had more depth, there's no clear villain in this book, and there really is no one you could trust.
Unlike Feed, Deadline ends in a major cliffhanger, which could have also resulted in many, many expletives if I hadn't finished this book late in the night. And to prove the evil (genius) that Mira Grant really is, a preview of the third book, Blackout, is included in Deadline (A word of advice -- do not read the preview if you're not yet done with the book. YOU WILL REGRET IT IF YOU DO, TRUST ME.). While that's a teensy bit comforting, it still doesn't change the fact that it would not be out until next year. Alas, I wait in agony with the rest of the world. :o
Deadline by Mira Grant definitely exceeded all my expectations. I love it when a book does that. Even if I have to wait for a whole year for the conclusion of this wonderfully terrifying, expletive-inducing trilogy, I have a good feeling the third book will shoot straight up the ceiling with its awesomeness.(less)
It's been a while since I read some dystopia, and to be perfectly honest, I think I may have lost some of my taste in th...moreOriginal post at One More Page
It's been a while since I read some dystopia, and to be perfectly honest, I think I may have lost some of my taste in them. Oh, don't worry, I still like it a lot, but I guess I have this feeling that I've run out of really good and credible ones that make my heart race, or make me rave like the way The Hunger Games or The Knife of Never Letting Go did (I do have the rest of the Chaos Walking trilogy on my TBR, but I need to be emotionally ready to read it).That, and I've been enjoying immersing myself in fantasy and contemporary, so that other little sub-genre of seeming despair, destruction and surviving some sort of end of the world or society as we know it has taken a back seat.
This pause of dystopia stopped because of Divergent by Veronica Roth. I've heard so many good things about this book that it's made me curious, and it doesn't really help that the cover of the book looked, well, fiery. Well and fine, so I got the book in hardcover in case it is what everyone said it would be and I'd want to keep a hardbound copy for my collection. In case it wasn't...well, with bookish friends, it's become easier to dispose of un-rereadable books.
In a future Chicago, the society is divided into five factions that uphold certain virtues that are believed to be a solution to the evil in the society: Candor the honest, Amity the kind, Erudite the intelligent, Abnegation the selfless and Dauntless the brave. Every year, all 16-year-old would take an evaluation that would tell them which virtue they display the most, and are given the choice to choose which faction to live with for the rest of their life. Beatrice Prior is Abnegation, but she knew she was far from selfless. On her choosing ceremony, she leaves her faction and joins the Dauntless, intrigued by their recklessness and bravery. She renames herself as Tris, and what follows is a series of challenges for her and other batch mates for the Dauntless initiation, and surviving it means being able to join the society and upholding the faction's beliefs. Failure is not an option, as it means either death or worse, factionless -- forever shunned by everyone but Abnegation. But Tris has a secret that makes her special and wanted and dangerous, and she discovers that her secret is related to the growing unrest in the seemingly perfect society.
Divergent was interesting. It's definitely a little different from what I've read before, with the society focusing on something as abstract as virtues to make it run. This makes it a bit hard to wrap my head around the society because I don't think a human being can be just only brave or selfless or intelligent. Virtues are hard to quantify, and I'd think that everyone will be evaluated as Divergent at the start because everyone can exhibit all those virtues, even if one is dominant over the other. So this should really be a deal breaker for me in this book, but here's the thing: somewhere while reading, I find myself accepting the world the author created, faults and all. It didn't really make sense if I think about it too much, but a part of me decided to say, "Who cares? Just let it go and read on."
Perhaps what contributed to this acceptance is the fun readability of this. Divergent is addicting. It's been a long time since I find myself immersed and somewhat invested in a dystopian world. I guess being set in the Dauntless faction and reading about the training is really fun. I liked how the trainings were set up. It's action packed, bloody and almost brutal -- as in knife in the eye socket brutal. There are a lot of themes explored in the book, and I liked how they tried to define bravery. I liked how one of the lines in the Dauntless manifesto says this:
I believe in ordinary acts of bravery, in the courage that drives on person to stand up for another.
It's heavy without being really too heavy, if you get what I mean? Tris is also an excellent heroine, IMO. I loved how she's no pushover, and how she can be cold and calculating and vengeful one time and guilty and compassionate after. I also liked her little group, and the moments she spent with them softened their hard times and gave them a more human side. It somehow reminds the readers that even if they're being trained to shoot guns and beat other people up, Tris and company are still teenagers.
The only other complaint I have in this book is it's a tad too predictable -- two of the three twists I managed to predict pages before it was revealed. I don't know if it's the same for everyone, but I guess I managed to pick up on the other clues in the book too easily to predict these twists. Also, I may be one of the few who's not really that interested in the romance aspect in the story. Not that I thought the guy wasn't hot -- he is, but perhaps he's just not my type. Heh. Or I'm just nitpicking.
Despite all that, Divergent is a fun and addicting read. A little bit on the violent side, but not too gory. To address the question of comparison with other hit dystopias: this book is no Hunger Games, but it's entertaining. I really like it enough for me to be curious about the rest of the trilogy.(less)
When Aarontweeted about this book novella, I squealed inside the office. No joke. I immediately called my friend Jana from her workstation, who squealed too, and once again with me, when we found out it was free. This book was one of the reasons we disrupted the peace and quiet at the office that Friday afternoon.
The New World is a 23-page novella that tells us how Viola landed in the New World (aka Todd's world) and glimpses of her life before she reached the planet. Here, we meet her parents, as well as some of her friends and we get to know about her, most especially her survival skills. The prose is sharp and the action flows smoothly through flashbacks and the present time. It's not as raw or awkward as Todd's point of view was, but I think Viola's voice was very accurate to how I knew her from the first book.
This was a very quick read, and I was kind of hoping to read a bit of a crossover with the story in Knife in Viola's POV, but there was none. However, I agree that this novella can be read even if you have read the three books already or if you are new to the trilogy -- it really doesn't matter. It may seem to be a bit spoilery for some events in Knife, but it's not really a big deal, IMHO. If you're kind of daunted by the title or the thickness or the story in the first book of the Chaos Walking series, then The New World is definitely a good place to start in this awesome series. :) (less)
I missed my zombies. The last time I read a full-length zombie novel was back in November, Married with Zombies, and it wasn't really an awesome read at that. I think I got a bit grossed out with the surprising gore part in that novel that's why I took a break from reading zombie novels. Then the holidays came and I didn't want to read about the living dead so I just let them wait a bit more. John Green's Zombicorns whetted my appetite for zombies again, so I got the closest one from my TBR and devoured it last weekend.
Devour. A funny term to use for a zombie novel, but that is exactly what I did for Rot & Ruinby Jonathan Maberry. I was in the middle of reading Emma then, and I wasn't going anywhere with it, so I decided to take a break with the classic and start this one. Rot & Ruintells the story of Benny Imura, a fifteen-year-old boy who lives in one of the villages in a post-apocalyptic America. It has been 13 years since the First Night, the night when the dead rose and infected the living. Benny lives with his older half-brother, Tom, a famous bounty hunter who prefers to be called a closure specialist. Benny hates his brother because he thought him as a coward from his first memory of his parents getting infected during the First Night. As part of their village's rules, Benny has to find a part time job when he turns fifteen, and because of the lack of choices, he ends up being an apprentice under his brother. A day in the Rot and Ruin changes Benny's life, and he finds that maybe all the things he knew and believed about his brother may be wrong. The question is, will Benny be able to live up to what his brother stands for when it's really needed?
When I asked Aaron which I should read first when I was choosing between this and Charlie Higson's The Enemy, he told me to pick Rot & Ruin if I wanted heart over gore. And he's true: this is a zombie novel with a heart. I liked how Maberry showed the human aspect of the zombies, weird as that may sound. But if you really think about it, zombies are from humans. I'm not saying they are humans, but they were -- they're a brother, sister, father, mother, lover, friend. Video games and movies show that zombies are mindless monsters in search for human brains that need to be killed to stop the infection, but the human side, the loss, is not often discussed. The author did a very good job in showing us these emotions, and showing us that even in the midst of a world where zombies are a curse, there's a humane way in treating them and making them (and the loved ones they left behind) move on in peace.
Rot & Ruin's world was very believable, and I liked how Maberry created Benny's village. There's a stifling, almost oppressive aura in the village, one that pressed on the characters until they have no choice but to leave. I liked how the author used this to make the characters move from their sheltered homes to the outside world. In a way, Benny's village could be any place in the present world, minus the zoms -- anywhere where people are happy with how they live even if it means turning a blind eye to injustices happening around them is the same as Benny's world, and maybe even worse. Rot & Ruin is not just about killing zombies, but a book about humanity and family.
This is probably one of the other zombie novels I've read that has almost lived up to the love I have for Feed by Mira Grant. I think I may just be partial to Feed more because I could relate to the characters better since they're bloggers (and Georgia is just so awesome, too). Nevertheless, I highly recommend Rot & Ruinfor those who want to read a very good book with zombies in it. I am looking forward to Benny's return in Dust & Decay this year.(less)
When I first heard that Megan McCafferty of Jessica Darling fame is coming up with a YA dystopia novel, I kind of squee-d. I wasn't sure if I was squee-ing because it's a dystopia novel, or because it was written by Megan McCafferty -- probably both, so it was one of my highly anticipated reads for 2011.
It was the year 2036, and teen girls are the most important people in the world. Girls under the age of 18 and are fertile, that is, after a virus has spread that renders adults incapable of producing offspring. Teen girls -- the ones who allow themselves to be, that is -- are now surrogettes, allowing themselves to get "pregged" for a couple who wants children, at least until before they become infertile, too. Some girls make use of their fertility as a business, prepping themselves up with talents and health just so people would bid on their wombs, and they'd get pregged by top guys who are obviously selling their fertility as well. This is where we find Melody Mayflower, who's 16, a pro-pregg but still waiting for her agent to get the best guy to pregg her for her very picky clients. Melody's life has been planned from early on, until she meets one person she never expected: her twin sister, Harmony.
Now if Harmony had the same viewpoint as Melody, there probably wouldn't be any problems. But she's not. Harmony comes from the Goodside, a little community that believes that pregging for profit is a sin. When Harmony finds out she has a twin, she goes to the Otherside to visit her, and intends to help her twin see the light and bring her to Goodside. That is, if Harmony's own secrets don't chase after her.
Bumpedis fun. I was immediately faced with loud, strong characters who fought for attention from page one, but I never really felt overwhelmed by them. Just like in Jessica Darling, Megan McCafferty had the characters' voices down pat. I actually really liked Harmony, even if I know most people were annoyed by her. I think it's probably because I saw the churchy side of me in her. I never felt lost between the switching POVs, and I found the twins very endearing despite their differences. The supporting characters were quite fun, too, especially Shoko and Zen and even Johndoe, even if I was never really sure about Johndoe's personality. McCafferty definitely knows her characters, and it was a pleasure to read them.
The world that the characters moved in is kind of confusing, so it took a while for me to get fully immersed in it. There were a lot of familiar things but it took me a while to place them, especially the technology that they were using. I don't think this represents the kind of dystopia that people are used to or that people expect, but as far as the world building is concerned, I think it's pretty stellar. You can see that the author really built her world from the ground up, taking care to make sure details fit, and that it all felt real. Take a bit of patience getting yourself familiar with the world, and soon you'd also want to have your own MiNet contacts, or even wonder if anyone has a Stalker app on you. :P
Overall, I found Bumped not only enjoyable, but actually quite relevant especially in the light of all the Reproductive Health Bill issues happening in my country right now. I don't have much opinion over that debate, but I think the story that Bumped tells can be connected with that -- whether for pro or anti, I'm not really sure. I do think this book tackles issues existing today in a thought provoking but funny way, and it would be useful to start good discussions on teen pregnancy, sex, and religion among others.
The ending wasn't really such a big cliffhanger, but I do want more. I'm curious to what will happen to Melody and Harmony. Bumped is another good one from Megan McCafferty, and I think missing this one would is a neggy thing to do. :)(less)
One of our favorite past times/stress busters at work is zombie killing. No, seriously. Whenever we (namely Grace and I)...moreOriginal post at One More Page
One of our favorite past times/stress busters at work is zombie killing. No, seriously. Whenever we (namely Grace and I) find ourselves extremely stressed at work, and we have some money left, we'd troop over to Timezone (the nearest arcade at work) and start hogging the House of the Dead 4 machine and start blasting zombies away. There's something really therapeutic about gunning down zombies and killing monsters, even if we never get past the third level.
Z by Michael Thomas Ford reminds me exactly of House of the Dead 4. Not with the story, but with how the book has a general zombie video game feel. Z immediately drops us into action as we follow Josh go through what seemed to be an abandoned hospital, looking for z's to torch and humans to rescue. It seems very realistic at first, but we are surprised later by an interruption, where we find out that Josh is really just playing a video game, and one he wasn't supposed to play.
But of course, Josh keeps on playing, and his skills were noticed by Charlie, one of the best players in the game. Josh gets invited to a secret gaming community that brings zombie torching into another level: a face to face game with real torches with seemingly real zombies and seemingly real blood. Josh is both horrified and fascinated, but since it's not real, there's no harm in playing, right?
Z has a pretty interesting take into zombies, different from what I have read so far. Zombies, according to Josh's world, are not reanimated dead but people who contracted a mutant flu strain that enlarges the R-complex, or the reptilian part of the brain, removing all sentient thoughts of the person. This virus reduced the person's ability to feel pain and thickened the blood, making the zombies hard to kill save for setting them on fire. The human being doesn't exactly die but their humanity does, making them pretty much dead, anyway. It's an interesting idea that doesn't really lessens the horror of zombies. In fact, it may make things even scarier, since the virus takes living people and turns them into the undead right in front of you.
I like how the author managed to put in the game feel in the story. The descriptions were sharp and vivid, and the zombie hunting scene carried enough tension to make me gasp in surprise whenever some z's show up. The author was able to put some kind of "face" for the zombies by their little gory descriptions -- hair and scalp pulled out, milky eyes, rotting mouth, etc. The zombies here are not just one mob of undead shuffling towards the living but individual horrifying people that used to be the characters' friends. This is the very strong point of Z in my opinion, and it gives the book an overall gaming feel, a-la Resident Evil or House of the Dead.
However, that's where the strength ends. I felt the plot of the book a bit lacking. While there was an element of surprise in the zombie hunts, the overall story arc is pretty typical as far as zombie novels are concerned. It's pretty straightforward, really, and while there was one twist that was kind of unexpected, the rest were pretty predictable. I feel like there's really nothing new that Z could offer as far as zombie stories are concerned. It's not shallow, but it just doesn't have the depth that other zombie novels managed to capture.
I would recommend Z as a sort of fluffy reading for zombie aficionados and gamers. Like with other reviewers, I think this book is written more for the younger audiences, particularly boys. It's fun, it's gory, but it's not really the zombie novel that changed my life.(less)
I wasn't sure what to expect with Grace when I got it. Okay, so I posted a WoW post about this because I was curious, even if I'm not (yet) a fan of Elizabeth Scott. So far, out of all Scott's work, the only book I liked was Stealing Heaven, and I am not so sure if I want to read her other books after that. But I made an exception for this because it is dystopian, and I have been liking that sub-genre a lot lately.
Grace was raised as an Angel, a suicide bomber trained by the People to fight against Keran Berj's oppression. She was brought to the People by her dad after her mother died, and she knew that she will be herald of death, a girl chosen by the Saints to fight for freedom against Keran Berj's cruelty against the land. She grew up knowing what an honor it would be to die for the cause, but knowing is not the same as believing. On the day that she was supposed to kill the Minister of Culture, Grace decides not to die and instead escapes. She is joined by a mysterious, seemingly compassionate man named Kerr as they rode the train to a border that they were not sure if they could reach.
The story is simple, both in prose and plot. It's confusing at first, because the story wasn't told in a linear manner, but in flashbacks and anecdotes of Grace's past and the history that she knew of about their land and Keran Berj's rule. After some time, though, as I got used to the narration, I finally got the hang of it and it was easier from there. The chapters were short, sparse and almost poetic and but it does not lack the emotion or action that would pull the readers in Grace's bleak world. There is very little hope as what little of Grace's story unfolds, and I felt afraid for her as she rode the train to the border. This is not a book you would want to read for a quick and easy read because it's not. However, despite all that, Scott manages to weave a little bit of hope in the story, a little spark in the darkness that Grace had lived in almost all her life. Just like Grace, I was hesitant to believe in that hope, but I wanted her to hold on to it because I wanted to believe that there is still something good in the world she lives in.
This is a depressing book. It reminds me a lot of those war movies and books that I avoid, particularly ones about World War II and the Nazis. I never liked watching those movies because it's scary, and I hate the idea that it could possibly happen again. I know it's weird coming from someone who likes dystopian fiction, but there is a certain level of separation between reality and the dystopian books I have read. Grace is different, because there is a definite sense of reality in the story, a question that I can't help but ask as I read this book. That is the most terrifying thing in this novel. This is not fantasy. There's no magic, no special high technology, nothing. The lack of out-of-this-world elements in this story makes you wonder if this is really happening somewhere else...and if it is, is there anything we can do to stop it?(less)
Suzanne Collins’ Mockingjaywas probably the most anticipated release of 2010. Tens of thousands of fans all over the world eagerly awaited the conclusion of the bestselling Hunger Games series, a wait made that much more breathless after the cliffhanger ending of Catching Fire. The hype that surrounded this release was almost as if an eighth Harry Potter book had been released, with blog tours, interviews, predictions, midnight release parties and book launches happening across the world as the August 24 release date approached.
I was one of those excited fans. I remember feeling anxious as the week of the release arrived, exchanging predictions with other fans and jointly planning “Mockingjay Leaves” (the book release was on a weekday). I squealed with delight when I saw that the Kindle edition was available the day before the hardcover was released here, downloading the sample and devouring it so I could have an idea how the end would begin. When I finally received my copy I reserved the next few days to reading only Mockingjay.
“There is no District 12.” These were Gale’s last words in Catching Fire, which left readers wondering what exactly happened to Katniss’ home town. Mockingjay opens with Katniss staring at the ashes of her district, a month after she has been taken out of the arena and had been living in District 13. The rebellion against the Capitol has begun, but cannot go full scale because it's missing one last ingredient: they need Katniss to be the Mockingjay, the symbol of the movement. Katniss, reluctant at first, eventually agrees. She finds herself smack in the center of a dangerous power play between her enemies and her so-called “allies,” most especially District 13’s President Coin. While she tries to fulfill her role as the Mockingjay, Katniss starts to question the motivations of the people around her - and her own motives as well - finding herself a pawn in a web of manipulation that could cost her life and the lives of the people she cares for.
Mockingjay takes its cue from its predecessors and comes out as another adrenaline pumping read. Collins’ writing is captivating from the start, sucking the readers deep into the even bleaker world that Panem has become, fleshing out the mysterious District 13. Mockingjay’s pacing leaves readers breathless at the end of each chapter as the author dishes out one cliffhanger after another. LA Times compared the action scenes to “a battlefield akin to Iraq” – even the innocent aren’t spared from the carnage and the brutality of war. Click here to read the rest of the review.
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This is a pretty late review, but better late than never. It's pretty formal since I wrote it for The POC, so more opinions/comments and such right after the cut. Spoiler warning!
* My bets on who would die: Haymitch, Gale and probably Prim. I was only 1/3 right. I loved it when Haymitch went out and his quip about Katniss' headset made me chuckle. Overall, I liked his performance in the book. * I liked that there was more Gale time in the book, and I really liked his character development. * Boggs! And Finnick! :( * I loved the scenes as Katniss and her troop went through Capitol and faced all sorts of traps. What I didn't really understand, though, was what Boggs meant when he said "Trust no one." Perhaps my memory is just fuzzy, but I felt that it wasn't truly explained and it was left to the readers to understand what Katniss' thought process was after and why she did the things she did. That being said, that made the ending feeling kind of rushed, thus making the ending feeling a bit confusing. So confusing that I had to re-read the last few chapters again. * I am really not for any team, but I am still partial to the best friend. That was the main reason why the ending didn't sit well with me. Gale has been with Katniss all throughout the years and yet she can forget about him just like that. Maybe it was growing as the war was going on, but it just made me kind of sad, since best friends are important people to me. I don't think he and Katniss would make a very good couple in the end, though, but I wished there was more of him in her life after everything else has happened.
I liked this book, but I don't think I really loved it. It's brave of Collins to write a book that isn't what everyone expected. Like what I said in my review above, this book is the one where you should let go of your expectations, because it would totally blow you away. Although I wished there were more things in the ending that would happen the way I wanted it, I'm okay with how it ended. I still love the trilogy as a whole; I just don't think Mockingjay is my favorite book among all of them.
But still, great job, Suzanne Collins. The Hunger Games is truly an unforgettable series. :)(less)
So zombies. I think I've established enough in this blog that I love zombies. They're my favorite paranormal creatures,...moreOriginal post at One More Page
So zombies. I think I've established enough in this blog that I love zombies. They're my favorite paranormal creatures, and despite the gore that is normally associated with them, I think they're a great plot device (hey, look I'm spouting NaNoWriMo terms already!). When I heard about Jesse Petersen's novel about a married couple who starts slaying zombies, I knew I just had to have it. Zombie + chick lit? Come on, it's a no-brainer for me. :P
I think the common thing about all the zombie novels I've read and reviewed (The Forest of Hands and Teeth, The Dead Tossed Waves, Feed and Z) is they're all post-apocalyptic novels. The zombie apocalypse has happened, and I'm brought to a setting where I read about how the people coped, is coping and will cope with the reality that zombies are among the people. Some books are set early enough after the apocalypse that the characters still remember why and how the zombies rose, while others are set so far off into the future that no one really knows how the zombies came.
What sets Married with Zombies apart from the other zombie novels (aside from the pink in the cover) is how it's set during the apocalypse instead of post. Everything was normal for David and Sarah up until their marriage counselor tried to eat them, and from there everything goes haywire. I find this setting quite creative because I've never read a zombie book that focused exactly on how people tried to survive as the zombies came. There's a certain sense of the unknown in this, and I got to see fresh terror and denial from the humans as they wrestled with this new and terrifying fact of life. I found myself rooting for the characters to survive because...well, who else is there to root for?
However, that's pretty much what I found unique in this book. I think the real selling point of this book is not that it's a zombie novel, but the romance/chick lit aspect. Yeah, the chick lit aspect is there, but it's not the same chick lit aspect that I'm looking for in those I read. I think I agree with how other reviewers viewed Sarah -- she's kind of annoying. She did admit she was a Type-A person, but I never really felt much sympathy or connection with her. David seemed too much like the typical guy who turned out to be a hero, but I'm also kind of lukewarm to him. Come to think of it, I don't think I really connected with most of the characters here. Normally this is an issue for me, and it is kind of one here, but somehow I think the zombies managed to make it up for me.
The love angle is kind of cheesy, really, and there's nothing too special about it. I am glad that they worked out their marriage even if it took a zombie apocalypse to mend their marriage. Which brings me to the point that a relationship will work out if you have a common goal. I'm not so sure how sound zombie busting is as a common goal will work, but well, I can suspend my disbelief.
I think the most surprising part in this novel -- at least for me -- is the gore. For some reason, I felt extra queasy with this novel as I read it. There's so much blood and gore and guts and black sludge (ew) in this novel that I found myself grossed out for the first time in a zombie novel. Remembering it now is still kind of making me queasy. Eh.
Overall, it's not a bad zombie book. It's not the best one either, but I'm still willing to give the second book, and maybe the third book a chance. I would love to read David's point of view, though -- I hope we read that in one of the future books?
If you're a zombie fan and you don't mind reading something "light" in terms of this literature, go and pick up Married with Zombies. Don't expect to be wowed, but it could provide some mild entertainment. However, if you're just starting out in the zombie fad, I would recommend you to get other more established zombie books before moving to this one.(less)
It's been a long time since I last read a zombie book, so I knew I was in for a bit of an adjustment when I decided to r...moreOriginal post at One More Page
It's been a long time since I last read a zombie book, so I knew I was in for a bit of an adjustment when I decided to read my stocked zombie books for my February challenge. The Enemy by Charlie Higson has been languishing on my shelf since 2010, after my friend Aaron lent it to me for my YA-D2 challenge for that year. Obviously I never read it for that, and I don't think I would have unearthed this now if I didn't choose to read it for this month.
Besides, a borrowed book on my shelf for a year feels wrong.
In The Enemy, all people aged sixteen and above have succumbed to a disease that turns them into flesh-eating monsters. Only the children are left and several have made it into some safehouses, banding together using their own abilities to survive in a bleak world. One of these groups of kids were the Waitrose kids, led by Arran and Maxie, who has lived in an abandoned grocery in the last few months. Food and resources are scarce, and the kids are already losing hope. Until one day, a kid in a colorful coat comes and invites them to join him to Buckingham Palace, where another group of kids are living and are successful in creating a new life for themselves. The kids decided to go with him, but will their lives really change for the better once they get to the palace?
The Enemy starts of with action and doesn't really leave that kind of mode until the end. Which is good, because it kept me on my toes and had me biting my fingernails for whatever else could happen to these kids. Other people warned me not to get attached to any of the characters in the book because the author kills them -- and it is true. Boy how true is that. This makes for a very gripping read because you just never know who would die and how, and you never know who are the bad guys really are.
I also really liked Small Sam's story -- I think I was rooting for him the most! I like how his story paralleled the others, and where he got to. The subway (or to be appropriate, the tube) scene in the dark reminded me of a similar scene in The Dark and Hollow Places, and it truly got me worried for him and how he would get out of it. There's also a hint of cannibalism in the story and I have to admit that it got my stomach churning uncomfortably there.
With all these positive things, though, I have to admit that I wasn't that invested in the story. That, and I was partly grossed out for some reason. Maybe I've turned soft and my stomach isn't as adept as handling zombie gore anymore. There were several times I felt like gagging while reading the book, and I couldn't handle reading it while eating. With that, I didn't really feel like I was glued to the pages. True, the story had all sorts of action and it made me fear for the characters, but my overall feeling in the end was, "Okay, finally that was done." I only really wanted to see how it ended, but I didn't care that much as compared to the other zombie novels I read and loved. My friends who have read this all sang praises to this...but I'm afraid I'm more on the lukewarm side.
Now that I think about it...maybe I have turned soft. :O
Nevertheless, The Enemy is still one of the better written zombie novels out there, and it's a good read especially for those who like more gore than the usual. If you want to read a book about survival, a bit of politics and the undead, then his Higson book is for you. What's more: its sequel, The Dead, is already out so you won't have to wait too long to know what Charlie Higson had in mind when he thought of a post-apocalyptic world. (less)
Unwind by Neal Shusterman is one of the books that I never thought I'd get. If I were just book shopping on a normal da...moreOriginal post at One More Page
Unwind by Neal Shusterman is one of the books that I never thought I'd get. If I were just book shopping on a normal day, I don't think I would have picked this book up. But if it wasn't for the Powerbooks sale and the fact that most of a lot of my Goodreads friends recommended (or in our terms, pushed) this book, I wouldn't have gotten it when I saw it.
The book is set some time in the future after the second Civil War, coined as the Heartland War. This war was started by a two opposing groups, the Pro-Life and Pro-Choice, who were only settled after the Bill of Life has been passed. This bill states that:
...human life may not be touched from the moment of conception until the child reaches the age of thirteen.
However, between the ages of thirteen and eighteen, a parent may choose to retroactively "abort a child" ...
...on the condition that the child's life doesn't "technically" end.
The process by which a child is both terminated and yet kept alive is called "unwinding."
I didn't really understand what unwinding was until I was a few pages into the book. Apparently, unwinding is the process where the child's organs and basically every part of him/her (blood, vocal chords, fingers, hands, feet, spine -- name a body part, they have it!) is harvested and stored for other people's use. Once a child reaches the age of 13, the parents have the prerogative to have them unwound. They just fill out a form, submit it and the kids get picked up for harvesting and they never have to see the kid again, and they can go on living their lives.
Except, how could they go on living their lives after doing something like that? I honestly don't know. It's a sick, sick world that our main characters Connor, Risa and Lev lives in. I find myself wrestling with that question and more as I read the novel, and I don't think I even have a final answer to those questions, too. The novel started out slow as the author set the stage for each of the character. For a moment, I was afraid it would be just like The Barcode Tattoobecause of the way it read at first, but I was glad when things started to pick up and the characters started to shine and the plot started moving.
There are a lot of characters in Unwind, but I was never really confused at any point in the story. Perhaps it's because the chapters are clearly labeled with whose point of view we are seeing, but I think it's also because the characters are well-made. There was never a black-and-white character there -- all of them had their different shades of gray. You can't expect the kids featured in the novel to be happy because their choices have just been taken away from them, and it was interesting to see what choices they made given their situations. Out of all characters, I was very interested in Lev's transformation -- from blind faith to darkness and to getting to the path to find his faith once again. I didn't like him at first, but his journey in the story was the one that touched me the most. Connor and Risa were equally interesting as well, and I liked that they were flawed characters that found their own paths and redemption in the end.
The story is also one huge ride. There's a certain realistic feel in the story as they often referred to something that exists in our present time. In a way, you'd think that this novel isn't set far into the future -- it could be set in the next thirty, twenty, ten, maybe even next year! There's a certain timelessness in the novel that I liked, timeless in the sense that even if I read this a couple of years later, I wouldn't feel like the story or the characters or scenes are dated. The author also executed the passing of time quite nicely, without boring the reader with unnecessary details just to show that time was passing.
I think one thing that those who haven't read this will ask about this book is its gore factor. Well there are no gory descriptions. But there is an overall haunting and disturbing feel once the actual harvesting was described, and it sits with you to ponder long after you've read that part. The words used to describe it were simple and not too scientific, and it really doesn't say much about body parts or pain or blood, but the author had a way of writing that scene that would make you imagine every part of it clearly in your head, and leave you wondering how could anyone subject a kid to something that horrific?
I can't imagine myself in their place. Heck, I refuse to imagine myself in their place because it's a horrible fate, no matter how much the law enforcers in the story tells me it's not. Unwind successfully opens the doors to different issues existing now that are hard to discuss without sparking a huge debate. It's not the kind of book you can really read simply for pleasure and to feel good. It lets you escape, sure, but it doesn't leave you with a happy feeling after because of the questions and issues it raises. There's so much that can be discussed after reading this book: pro-life vs. pro-choice, abortion, population control, organ donation, family, acceptance, terrorism and even religion. I don't think one can get everything in this book in just one read. I have a feeling this is one of those books that would leave the reader pondering different issues every re-read.
There are only a few instances when a book has left me speechless when I got to the end, and Unwind just joined its ranks. Good characters, compelling and thought-provoking plot, strong and hopeful ending -- I cannot recommend this enough.(less)
I loved Lauren Oliver's debut novel, Before I Fall, so when I found out that she was coming up with a new dystopian book, I was psyched. I saw this book first from The Book Smugglers and added it to my wish list, eagerly anticipating its release. The premise is intriguing, and as the release date got nearer, reviews are cropping up left and right. The mixed reviews kind of worried me, especially since some of my trusted reviewers were lukewarm on it, but I decided to carry on and find out for myself instead of just scrapping it because of the reviews.
Love is bad. It is a sickness that needs to be cured and you must be protected from it at all costs until you are old enough to get the cure. This is what Lena Halloway grew up with in a society that declares love as a disease - amor deliria nervosa -- one that causes pain, clouds judgment and kills not only the person infected but the people around them. Lena grew up believing this and blaming the sickness for her mother's eventual suicide and she looked forward to receiving her cure. She wanted a normal, safe, and predictable life with a person matched for her, to prove that she is not like her mother and she will not endanger anyone. As Lena counts the days to receiving her cure, something unexpected and totally forbidden happens: she meets Alex, and she falls in love. What follows is a lot of secret meetings and stolen moments and learning about the truth that has been hidden from Lena for almost all her life.
One thing I realized while reading Delirium is that there are two ways to read this novel, and the side you're more fond of will make or break the novel for you. I really liked the premise of the novel, and I was curious to how Oliver will make all of it work out. I'm not an expert in dystopia despite having read a lot of it (not as much as other people, though), so a world without something is already enough for me to classify it as such. I was kind of afraid there would be another love triangle in this, but figuring that this is a book where love is considered forbidden, there's got to be some swoon-worthy and tingly romance in this book that I was willing to take on.
And I was right: the romance between Lena and Alex was surely swoon-worthy. I liked how Lena's feelings were described as she learned of love with Alex. Oliver sure had a way with words and these were reminiscent to how she wrote Before I Fall. I related to Lena in the same sense that I've never been in love -- never felt the rush, the sparks, the exhilaration of knowing that someone thinks you are perfect no matter how plain looking you know you are. The symptoms listed for the disease accurately describes (as much as I know, anyway) how it feels to have a crush and to fall in love if things don't stop. It could be a symbolism of sorts in real life: the disease could be something that people who are afraid of falling in love are avoiding, and cured people are those who have decided never to love again after they have been hurt by love. Lena's innocence about love was pure and kind of sweet, albeit tainted with fear of the deliria. But I guess that's what love is, right? It's scary and beautiful all at the same time, and choosing to live with or without it will kill you either way. The only difference between them is what dies in you if you choose to love or not.
But as far as the dystopia factor is concerned, I didn't feel it. To be honest, I felt like Delirium reads better like a contemporary novel instead of dystopia. I may be biased because I really liked Before I Fall and I think the author is better at contemporary. There were just too many why's that doesn't make sense. Why is love considered a disease? What happened? I would understand if it's too far off into the past that people hardly remember it, but it was only sixty-five years ago, and something that big shouldn't be too easy to forget. What are the instances that made love the bad guy? And in their world that is controlled by the government, the big bad government didn't feel like such a threat. They didn't really strike much fear into me, unlike the Peacekeepers from The Hunger Games. Who led this totalitarian government? And for such a strict one, why can people get away with going to underground parties and breaking curfews. How? Delirium's world feels a bit hazy compared to the other dystopian books I've read. I guess it would be explained more in the next book, but I believe that for dystopian novels -- especially books in series -- to work, the world should be built solidly from the start, not in the next books because that's what readers will be looking out for first. At least, that's what I am looking for.
Overall, Deliriumis kind of a mixed bag for me. I liked the romance, the dystopia was just kind of so-so. I liked it, but not as much as the the author's debut. This is one of those books that people either really loved or really disliked, but I'm kind of in the middle ground. It's just...okay. Read it and decide for yourself if you like it or not.
One of the first zombie books that I really wanted to read last year was Carrie Ryan's The Forest of Hands and Teeth. I remember reading a review of it in Persnickety Snark, and after some hesitation (after all, the title felt a little too gloomy for my taste), I decided to get it to see what it was about. Suffice to say that it rekindled my love for zombies that I first had during days of playing Resident Evil with my brother, and introduced me to the sad and hopeless world of the Unconsecrated.
It's hard to believe that a little over a year later after blogging about the first two books, I read and finished the third book in the trilogy. I've always been a fan of Carrie Ryan's work. There's a certain beauty in the way she writes despite the somber and hopeless mood, and I cannot helped but be sucked into the world of the Unconsecrated, where the living count the days before they turn into one of the shuffling mass of undead, hungry for human flesh. They aren't exactly the best zombie books I've read, but they are very good novels IMO, living up to the zombie folklore and dystopia theme.
Spoiler warning: Spoilers from the first and second book will be in this review. Read with caution.
The final book in the trilogy, The Dark and Hollow Places picks up shortly where The Dead-Tossed Waves ended. However, instead of Gabry, Mary's adopted daughter, we meet Annah, her lost twin, waiting for Elias to come back. To recap, Elias had left to join the Recruiters so he could earn money for him and Annah to get by in the Dark City. He also did this to find Abigail, now known as Gabry, to make up for his guilt in leaving her behind in the Forest of Hands and Teeth years ago, taking Annah with her. Annah has lived with not only that guilt but also tried her best to be invisible after suffering from an accident, leaving her entire left side scarred for life.
Annah has been waiting for Elias to return for three years and on the day she decides to leave the Dark City to look for him, she sees a surprise: her sister. As she searches for her sister in the city, she meets Catcher who saves her. Mysterious Catcher who is immune to the Unconsecrated and knows about her past. It is with him that Annah is forced to face the ghosts of her past that she longed to forget, and decide if there is still hope in a world that has been pretty much dead for a long time.
What a ride The Dark and Hollow Places was. One thing that kept on going through my mind as I was reading this was: This is it. This is what I missed with all the "dystopia" novels I've been reading. As with the first two books, the world building was fantastic. I figured out where in the world the Dark City was based, and that just made everything more real to me. I loved how it was so easy to be immersed in the world and feel the same emotions that the characters were feeling. There was no need to explain why or how things happened, and you just believed in what the book says: the world is dead. The people are dying. The Unconsecrated will not stop until they get their fill of flesh. Perhaps it's because it's set so many years into the future, or maybe because the author used zombies. Still, reading this was a breath of fresh air amongst all the books that try but fail to be dystopia. It reminded me of why I fell in love with this sub-genre in the first place.
Other than the world building, I found the characters in this novel just as awesome. I think Annah is my favorite among all of Carrie Ryan's heroines. She's tough and broken at the same time, and the growth of her character in this book was a pleasure to read. She's hardly whiny and she's brave -- probably even braver than Gabry or Mary. I also liked that the relationships Annah had with Elias, Gabry and Catcher were very developed. The romance was just right, and both characters have justifiable angst that made them hesitate with their feelings, making their coming together even more satisfying to read.
Despite some possibly dragging moments (just a little, really), The Dark and Hollow Places had me at the edge of my seat, especially in the last few pages. The ending, just like the first two novels, was kind of bleak, but still full of hope, leaving the readers wishing the characters well. This book delves into the idea that all of us are going to die eventually, with or without the Unconsecrated, and given this fact, what are we doing about it? Are we choosing to simply survive day by day, or are we choosing to live?
I know some of my bookish friends didn't like the first book in this trilogy, and it kind of makes me sad that they wouldn't want to read up to this book given their impression on The Forest of Hands and Teeth.The Dark and Hollow Places is probably my favorite of all three, and it is a very satisfying end to a beautiful zombie trilogy. I am definitely looking forward to what Carrie Ryan comes up with next. :)(less)
So it's been a little over a year since I read The Knife of Never Letting Go, the first book in the Chaos Walking series. Having loved that book, it would have made sense if I immediately dived into the second one, especially since I had a copy. But here's the thing I realized with the Patrick Ness books I've read so far: they're all pretty emotional, the kind that makes you need some time and space in between his books to prepare yourself for another ride. Especially if you're one who gets a bit attached to the characters, like me.
Spoilers for the first book inevitable at this point forward. And so now that a year has passed, I pick up The Ask and the Answer. The book picks up almost immediately where Knife left off: Todd wakes up and finds himself tied to a chair facing Mayor Prentiss, now President Prentiss, questioning him. Todd had only one concern in mind -- where Viola was, and if she's still alive, especially since he remembered carrying her almost-lifeless body towards what they thought was Haven. The "haven" that they expected is now New Prentisstown, with the Mayor as the new leader. But it seemed like the Mayor doesn't want Todd dead. He spares his life, teams him up with his son Davy to do some work in New Prentisstown, promising Todd that Viola will live if he follows the rules. The Mayor suddenly doesn't seem to be the person Todd believed he was...but can he be trusted?
In the other side of town, Viola wakes up, far from dead. She meets Mistress Coyle, one the best healers in Haven, and Viola finds out that the Mayor has locked all women in for reasons yet unknown. As Viola recovers, she becomes an apprentice healer, constantly worried about Todd and if he has survived whatever the Mayor had in store for them. But soon, Viola finds out that there's more to Mistress Coyle than being a normal and best healer in New Prentisstown -- and she needs Viola on her side.
Then the bombs start exploding.
The Ask and the Answer picks up the pace from the first book, dropping us straight into the conflict. Todd and Viola's separation tears at them both, and while they don't really know what to do or who to trust, they know they have to be with each other, no matter what. They both grow up lots in this installment, with all the politics and manipulation and desperation going on around them. This is also far darker than its predecessor, tackling themes such as torture, genocide and terrorism to name a few. This book had the same vibe I got from Mockingjay, with the violence unleashed in the pages...and this isn't even war yet! It makes me wonder if the second book is as intense as I found the third Hunger Games book was, what more of Monsters of Men? I can't imagine how dark that would be now.
This book blurs lines between the good and the bad guys, and truly, it's hard to pick a side in the entire story. Should the end justify the means? Is terrorism the only way to achieve "peace"? Gray areas abound and the moral issues were tackled with the same detail as in Knife, but not too deep that it's not so hard to understand. As if that's not enough, Ness brings in another player into the field by the end of the novel, which I should have expected but took me by surprise.
My favorite character in this installment isn't Todd or Viola, though, but Davy Prentiss. Davy, who only wanted to make his dad proud. Davy, who acts like a tough man but who's really a boy. I loved how the relationship between Todd and Davy was developed, especially since I hardly saw it coming. It was easy to dismiss Davy as a villain especially after he shot Viola in the first book, but his evolution was a definite surprise. I am impressed at how Ness made him into a character that would earn the sympathy of the readers in the end.
Lately, I found myself balking whenever I see that a book I was about to start reading is more than 350 pages. With all the books in my TBR pile, I feel like I can't invest that much time in a too thick book -- you get what I mean? This book defied that though -- it had 500+ pages but I hardly felt it. My friends, I think that is a good measure for a great book. :) While not as heart-wrenching as Knife (I admit that I'm still quite attached to that), The Ask and the Answer is a very good follow up in the trilogy. I am really looking forward to reading Monsters of Men now. Yes, I still need a breather before jumping into that, but I think I can promise that it won't take another year before I crack my copy open. :)(less)
So it took me a while to write a review of this book, for several reasons. First is the usual excuse that I am just busy...moreOriginal post at One More Page
So it took me a while to write a review of this book, for several reasons. First is the usual excuse that I am just busy (I still have a huge review backlog), second is that I don't know how to start the review, and third is because I'm just not sure how to really rate this book.
Monsters of Menby Patrick Ness is the final installment to the Chaos Walking trilogy, and it is all about war. And it's not just the kind of war that we've read in The Hunger Games trilogy, but a bigger, badder and more intense kind of war that kind of exhausted me when I was reading it. Wait, scratch that -- it did not just kind of exhausted me but I really got exhausted.
I'm not sure how to write about the plot of the book because I'm afraid my words won't suffice. Even the summary I posted above doesn't say much about the everything that's happened in the book. It was intense, but I loved the intensity it carried - it starts out with a bang and pauses and then brings it back all over again. The stakes are higher, and there isn't just two sides in this war. You'd find yourself wondering just who really is the bad guy in this, and if the actions of the "good" people would be justified because of their intentions. I felt torn over the motivations of the people, and somehow, reading about them as they were revealed made me sympathize even with the most unlikely characters. Yes, even the Mayor -- I think he had some of the best moments in this book and I can't help but feel a bit sorry for him. He's such a complex villain that it's not easy to simply just hate him for all his supposed evilness.
It's exhausting. But it's also gripping. And as with every Patrick Ness book, I shed tears, because he can do that with how he deals with his characters. The writing is simple and definitely way easier to read compared to the first book, and it's in this simplicity that makes the message shine. War makes monsters of men. Is there ever any way for us to avoid this kind of war that ruins people? Perhaps.
I honestly had a hard time rating this at first because while I thought it was very good, I also felt that maybe I was giving it that rating because of the hype and the good reviews of all the people who has read this before and has read this with me. But now that it's been more than a month since I finished it, I realized that this book deserves no less than my current rating. After all the tears and time I have invested in this series (I read this in the span of 3 years because I had to rest in-between the books!), I must say it is truly one of the best series for young adults out right now. Monsters of Menis an excellent ending to an excellent series and I am so, so glad that I was able to read this. :)(less)
I've heard a lot of good reviews for this book from various book blogs and book friends, but I never picked it up becaus...moreOriginal post at One More Page
I've heard a lot of good reviews for this book from various book blogs and book friends, but I never picked it up because I wasn't into dystopia back then. In fact, I saw a copy of this book a couple of times in Fully Booked but I always ignored it. No time to read it, I always think.
After some really strong recommendations, I finally got a sample from Amazon and read the first few pages, thinking that if I really want it, I can always get the Kindle edition. But as I read on, I knew only one thing: I MUST HAVE THIS BOOK. Not the ebook, but the actual print book, because there are parts of the book that just looks better in print. Unfortunately, on the day I decided I wanted the book, the only copy in the Fully Booked branch nearest my office was gone. :( My friend Jana, who also wanted the book, got to the last copy first, so I would have to wait. *grumble* Thanks to the wonderful people of Fully Booked, though, for transferring a copy to Eastwood a week after I inquired to them about it. Of course, I wasn't able to read this immediately, and it wasn't until about a month from when I got this that I got to read it.
You can never go wrong with a book that starts with a talking dog, especially one that says, "Poo, poo." The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness starts this way:
The first thing you find out when yer dog learns to talk is that dogs don't got nothing much to say. About anything.
"Need a poo, Todd."
I must do a Russell from Up impression here: "BUT IT'S A TALKING DOG!" :) From that moment on, I knew that even if I didn't like the book in the end, I'd still be fond of the talking dog.
I really wasn't sure what to expect as I read this book because I stayed away from as many spoilers as possible, so I plunged into the book knowing only the basic stuff: Todd is the last boy in Prentisstown, where only men live and everyone can hear the other person's thoughts. Then he discovers a "hole" in the noise, complete silence that is impossible in the world he grew up in. Todd is then made to run far, far away from Prentisstown for reasons he couldn't understand, which leads to a chase to a world outside he thought never existed.
It took me a while to really get into the book, despite the talking dog, because of the way Todd talks. The Knife of Never Letting Go is written in Todd's point of view, and growing up in the New World has given Todd a different way of talking, which may be because of the deterioration of education in Prentisstown since the boys don't go to school nor read. Most of narration becomes Todd's actual thoughts, most of which spill over each other and sometimes goes on and on without periods that I ran out of breath while reading it even if I was doing so silently. The language is reminiscent of The Strawberry Girl by Lois Lenski, but more rough and raw as I wasn't just seeing things happen, but feeling them since I had access to Todd's thoughts (and whoever's Noise he can hear). It took me a while to get the hang of it, but when I did, the book gripped me and refused to let go.
Patrick Ness is one heck of a writer, and I admire him for never being afraid of hurting his characters. As a (wannabe) novelist, I always have problems with hurting my characters because they've grown close to my heart as I write them, and hurting them feels like I'm hurting myself. If you're that type of reader who grows attached to characters they read and hate it when they get hurt...well, be prepared because Ness can be pretty ruthless. I always get a sense of dread whenever Todd would end up content and somewhat happy in one place because I know the author is just preparing to bring out another big gun that would send Todd and his companions running. It's not bad, of course, but rather very effective because it kept me reading, rooting for Todd and wanting him to win it in the very end. The action scenes were satisfying, the running and the panic felt very real, and Ness kept the mystery of Todd's history kept very well up until the revelation point, and he didn't reveal everything so much that all questions were answered.
It's not just senseless action or violence, either. Every action and everything that Todd does has a bearing in the end, one that helped him grow as needed at the climax of the novel. Todd's realizations is not only applicable in his world, but also in our world and in how we strive to get something we want or to be someone we want to be. I find this quote from the book very true (emphasis mine, and don't worry, no spoilers):
"Here's what I think," I say and my voice is stronger and thoughts are coming, thoughts that trickle into my noise like whispers of truth.
"I think maybe everybody falls," I say. "I think maybe we all do. And I don't think that's the asking...I think the asking is whether we get back up again."
The Knife of Never Letting Go truly lives up to its hype. I'm lucky that I read this now because I don't think I could have waited so long to read the next book because the ending is just...well, I'd leave it to you to find out. And I must warn you as well: there may be a part when you'd want to stop reading the book and mull over what happened a bit, and maybe even shed a few tears. I did that. :P
I can't wait to start reading the next book, The Ask and the Answer, which I am reserving for the YA-D2 reading challenge. The Knife of Never Letting Go is a dark, fast-paced and action-packed dystopian novel that will surely have you at the edge of your seat. If you see this in the bookstore, don't think twice: just get it and read. I promise you won't regret it.(less)