I was exploring TV Tropes last week and I stumbled on the Animorphs pages. I got lost in it for a good hour, reading and reminiscing this first scifi...moreI was exploring TV Tropes last week and I stumbled on the Animorphs pages. I got lost in it for a good hour, reading and reminiscing this first scifi series I loved. In Marco's words, it's kind of insane how much I missed this series after that, so I dug up my copy of the first book and started reading.
I can see how my elementary school self got hooked with this series. It was fun, action-packed and the concepts were pretty original (as far as I'm concerned anyway). A part of me still want to be one of them, if only so I can also morph into a dog or a tiger. Heh. :p
Charlie and the Great Glass Elevatorpicks up right where the first book left off, and Charlie finds himself with Mr....moreOriginal post from One More Page
Charlie and the Great Glass Elevatorpicks up right where the first book left off, and Charlie finds himself with Mr. Wonka and the rest of his family inside the glass elevator and by some crazy mishap involving one of Charlie's grandmothers, they all end up in outer space. But no fear, since Mr. Wonka is there! They find themselves looking at the world's first space hotel, some bewildered astronauts and finally some Vermicious Knids who are set on having them for lunch.
If Charlie and the Chocolate Factorywas fun and comforting, I was just kind of ...weirded out with the next book. There's lots of space stuff here, which was fun in itself, but the fun feel of the first book was missing in this book. It felt like all the other adults in this book save for Willy Wonka and Charlie's Grandpa Joe were all...well, stupid. The Vermicious Knids delivered the right kind of terror, I think, and even I wouldn't want to be trapped with them. Sure, there's a smidgen of adventure in the first part, but it didn't really fly with me. The second part, when they're back in the factory, worked a bit better for me although I felt like it was just an afterthought in the book. There is a bit of a lesson there somewhere, but it didn't have the same charm as the first book.
I guess if I were younger I would've enjoyed this one too, but honestly, I was just reading it to finish it when I got to the end. Although it had some fun merits, a part of me wished that I just stopped with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.Now I can't get the image of those Vermicious Knids out of my head.(less)
You know how I said that I probably would not drop by Komikon if the Trese 5 release wasn't announced? I take it back --...moreOriginal post at One More Page
You know how I said that I probably would not drop by Komikon if the Trese 5 release wasn't announced? I take it back -- I realize that I would have probably gone there anyway, just to support Paolo's newest release, Mythspace. It's not that I did not know about his newest project. I heard of it, but I was too busy in the past weeks before Komikon to check the Mythspace Monday posts he had up on his blog leading to the release. In a way that is a blessing in disguise, because now that I've read the sampler they released last Komikon, I'm catching up on the posts which I hope will tide me over until Mythspace fully launches.
What is Mythspace, anyway? Pao talks about it in detail in this post, but if you want the quick, one-line summary: Mythspace is what happens when Philippine folklore meets science fiction, specifically aliens. This new series plays on the idea that the creatures we know from folk tales and movies not simply monsters from our grandparents' stories, but you know, creatures from outer space. Sounds crazy, yes?
But you know what? It actually works.
Mythspace #0is the preview issue for the science fiction anthology. Here we can read a bit of two stories from the anthology, as well as preview of the art from the different illustrators: Koi Carreon, Borg Sinaban, Jules Gregorio, Mico Dimagiba, Cristina Rose Chua, Paul Quiroga. I'm not a good judge of art, but I liked that each story seemed to have its own personality because of the artist. I also liked reading the previews for the two longest stories there, with Liftoff having that mystery-in-space type of story with a somewhat angst-ridden hero, and Unfurling of Wings reminding me so much of the chimaera world in Laini Taylor's Daughter of Smoke and Bone. There's also a bit of information on the aliens we will meet in the issues. My favorites are the Kapre and the Manananggal - somehow, these versions are less scary than what I heard from stories growing up.
Overall, I loved this preview. The booklet is short, so everything ends before you feel like you really know things, but it's a good thing because I am totally looking forward to the release of the first installment of the anthology in 2013. Now I'm pretty sure that the world will not (and cannot!) end on December 2012 -- after all, we still need to have the rest of the Mythspace anthology in our grubby little hands. :) (less)
There were several times when my bookish friends and I would joke around about burning some books that we don't like,...moreOriginal post from One More Page
There were several times when my bookish friends and I would joke around about burning some books that we don't like, especially that vampire series that just doesn't seem to want to die (or well, I think other books are replacing it now?). It's really all just a joke, because for the life of me, I can't imagine myself burning a book, no matter how much I disliked/hated it. I remember this one time where I heard of a book being torn in front of some people in school -- some hater getting at it at the face of the authors -- and even if I didn't witness it first hand, my heart hurt just a little bit at the thought of a book being damaged like that.
in Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451,doing such things to books are a commonplace. Books are illegal, and firemen go around hunting for books (and houses of books) to burn. Everyone's focused on television and other seemingly mindless things, and anyone who thinks otherwise are considered dangerous. Guy Montag is a fireman, and he has lived with burning books, until he meets his neighbor, Clarisse. Clarisse makes him ask questions about his life -- his wife, his job and all the question about books. He slowly realizes that maybe his life wasn't really what he wanted it to be and sets out to do something about it.
It's been a while since I read a dystopian book, so it took me a while to adjust to Fahrenheit 451's world. Since I was listening to this on audio, it took me an even longer time to really get into it. I liked the premise of the book, and as a book lover, Montag's world felt depressing. I didn't want that, and when I got to the chapter where Montag and his firemen buddies burned a house of books, I was wincing all the time. Ack. Perhaps there's also something about the way Bradbury writes (and how the book was narrated) -- the rhythm of his words felt almost hypnotic. I suppose it helped that I listened to the audiobook, because I thought the narrator had a very fitting voice for the story.
I liked Fahrenheit 451,and I think that it's still quite relevant now. Bradbury wrote this book as a statement about how "...television destroys interest in reading literature," and while that is still true, I think that there's another competition that's really taking everyone's interest: internet. I mentioned during our book discussion how everyone's so attached to being online now -- myself included. I remember reading this story about the mom who gave his teenage son an iPhone for Christmas but with a contract, and this particular line in the contract got to me: Turn it off, silence it, put it away in public. Especially in a restaurant, at the movies, or while speaking with another human being. You are not a rude person; do not allow the iPhone to change that. (Source) I'm very guilty of this, and I'm trying to get rid of this habit, and I realized that our attachment to our smart phones and internet is another way for us to lose interest in reading. I mean, I haven't lost interest yet, but how many times have I ended up playing with my phone, going online in all my social media accounts on the times I said I would be reading? How many times have I chosen tweeting over making an effort to make actual conversation? Those kinds of things. It's a bit disconcerting to think about it, but I guess that's the point of this book, anyway. It's definitely something to think about.
I just wished there was more to Fahrenheit 451's ending. I wished there was more to know about the people who memorized books so no one would ever forget them, and that it didn't simply feel like an afterthought to the story. The ending kind of reminded me of The Giver -- a bit open-ended, but good enough to leave the reader asking some questions. Especially questions like, If I can only memorize one book and one book alone, which would I pick? I do not have an answer to that question. Do you?(less)
Mira Grant is back, and she's not writing about zombies. This time around, she's writing about worms -- tapeworms, to be exact. Genetically engineered...moreMira Grant is back, and she's not writing about zombies. This time around, she's writing about worms -- tapeworms, to be exact. Genetically engineered parasites that everyone in a future world has, that somehow keeps the world healthy. It seems impossible, but SymboGen Corporation made it so, and everyone in the world has those tapeworms that they try to keep healthy. Even Sally Mitchell, a girl who survived a freak accident. She was almost dead, but suddenly, she's alive, with no memory of her old self. She's considered a SymboGen miracle, and she tries to live her life as normally as she can while she tries to live a new life from the old Sally that everyone knows. But it's not so easy, especially when people are starting to have a sleeping sickness, the kind where people start to shamble like...well, zombies. And they're getting violent. And somehow, they're always all around Sally.
So Parasite got me excited because this is Mira Grant, the woman who wrote my most favorite zombie series so far. When I started reading this, I kind of felt bad that she wasn't writing about Shaun and Georgia and the rest of the Newsflesh gang, but I was excited to dive into this new world that she wrote. As with Feed, Parasite's world-building is very detailed, so much that I felt that if I tried to look for research about the SymboGen implants, I felt that I would find some. The articles and the passages inserted in between read like real ones, and I actually read them instead of just ignoring them (like I do sometimes), so I can get into the story.
Sally/Sal reminded me a little bit like Georgia, but less of the bad-assery that the latter had. I liked her, because she seemed like a genuinely nice person, albeit a little confused. But it's understandable given her predicament. I liked her family, too, even if it felt a little strange that they seem to be all high-profile ones. Truth be told, almost all the characters in this book seemed to be different shades of gray -- I'm not sure who's really a good guy or if they're somehow a part of the bad group or something. The only person I was convinced was on Sal's side was Nathan, her boyfriend, but then sometimes I don't feel that too much, either.
The story was action packed at some, but it got a little too long and rambly at some point. I knew Feed was also like that, but I didn't really notice it then because I got the topic (blogging) and I liked the zombies. In Parasite,I struggled a little, because sometimes I felt like I couldn't keep up with the science talk. Kind of like how I felt sometimes with Deadline. That being said, though, there were a lot of parts that kind of made me go "WTF?!" because of pure...well, strangeness of it. Like, I don't know, extracting x number of pounds of tapeworm from someone's body? Er, right. :/
Overall, though, I liked Parasite. As always, there was a time when I truly worried for the characters, and I really wanted to get to the bottom of the story. Of course, since this is a part of the series, I didn't get most of the answers I wanted because they will be revealed in the next books. My prediction did come true, though, and I saw it coming the moment it was explained in the book. I won't say what it is, but it's definitely kind of...well, surreal and again, WTF?!
If you're a fan of Mira Grant's Newsflesh trilogy, Parasitemay be a hit or miss, depending on how attached you were to the former. I liked Parasite, though, even if I terribly missed my zombies. But there were some kind of zombies in this book anyway. Not quite the zombies I know, but I'll take it anyway. If you're into medical science fiction (is my term correct?), then you will probably enjoy Parasite.
Now the next question is: will you ever agree to have a tapeworm inside you if it would make you live longer?
If you haven't read Feed yet, don't even try opening this. Read it first, digest it, and then come back for this when you're ready enough to do so.
Wel...moreIf you haven't read Feed yet, don't even try opening this. Read it first, digest it, and then come back for this when you're ready enough to do so.
Well if you think having your heart broken from Feed wasn't enough, try this alternate ending. I never thought it could happen this way, but when you think about it, this seemed like the way it could and would happen.
Of course, if you've read Deadline, questions will pop up about how this ending happened. But that doesn't make this less heart breaking.
When I was new with my current job, one of my colleagues told me about his favorite book, one that, according to him, ma...moreOriginal post at One More Page
When I was new with my current job, one of my colleagues told me about his favorite book, one that, according to him, made him laugh like a crazy loon by himself. I didn't really take note of it, since our reading genres were very different, and even when he lent me a copy of the book, I still didn't give much thought about it. When I first met my new friends at the book club, I saw one of them carry this big black book that looks like a dictionary...or a Bible, even. Just like that, I found myself encountering that same book again.
Of course, I still didn't read it, because I just wasn't interested. But ever since we started a 100 Favorite Books list in our book club, and ever since we all decided to discuss books face to face, I had run out of excuses. After years and years of not paying attention to the book, I finally picked up a copy and read The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams.
How do I describe what this book without spoiling things, or without thinking everything I am writing is absolutely ridiculous is a bit of a problem, so I will just not write about that. Instead, I'll write about what this book has: the end of the world. Oh, but not the Mayan kind with natural disasters. There's also a poor guy who just happened to be at one place at a certain time who may not be so poor now because he practically becomes the last human being everywhere. And then there were aliens. Spaceships, too. And finally, the Ultimate Question. Or, not.
My friend was right, though -- this book was very funny. I found myself giggling every now and then to this book, often times while I was on my commute to work or some other place. I've always been wary about sci-fi stuff because I feel like my brain cannot comprehend much of it, but I found The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy quite readable even if it was absolutely absurd at some point. Maybe that's really the point.
It's funny, yes, but I didn't really find it absolutely hilarious. It's good, but I don't really have the urge to get the next ones and read it immediately (although they did say it gets better there). I enjoyed it, but perhaps not quite as much as my friends enjoyed it.
However, I did enjoy discussing this book with my book club over breakfast. With questions about favorite characters, what we'll do in case the world ends and if we'll allow ourselves to have a babel fish (of course - very useful for travel!). Having a group of friends to discuss a book about in detail makes me like the book a little bit more, possibly because I tend to associate the memories with the book.
Goodreads Filipino Group - Face to Face Book Discussion # 3 (Photo c/o Kwesi)
And because it had to be commented: what kind of answer is 42, anyway?(less)
I've never read a Jay Asher or a Carolyn Mackler book, but The Future of Us popped into my radar soon after I heard peo...moreOriginal post at One More Page
I've never read a Jay Asher or a Carolyn Mackler book, but The Future of Us popped into my radar soon after I heard people getting copies of it during BEA. I was intrigued by the premise, and I like reading books that include social media in its story. So when I heard that this was going to be a part of Pinoy Book Tours, I thought, why not sign up?
The Future of Us is set in 1996, where our two main characters, Josh and Emma, are juniors in high school. Emma just got a computer, and Josh gives her an AOL CD that has free hours that she could use. Emma signs up for an email account, and when she logs in, she is surprised to find herself looking at something called "Facebook". They discover their profiles 15 years into the future. Confused, Josh and Emma find themselves digging more information, and realizing that the little actions they do today could ripple into their future.
Don't you just love the 90's? I was born in the late 80's so I barely had memories of that decade, so I am really a 90's kid. loved that this book brought us back to that time period. I love the pop culture references then, and how not everyone have cellphones, how they listens to Green Day and Dave Matthews and Wayne's World was the funniest movie. I love that connecting to the Internet required them to dial up, and how they had to disconnect when someone needs to use the phone -- those were the days! I had to take a while to get adjusted to the time frame (in 1996, I was in 4th grade!), but once I did, it was easy to read. The 90's is the time of my generation, so going back in time is a fun trip indeed.
Josh and Emma are pretty good characters too. I assume that Josh was written by Jay Asher and Emma was written by Carolyn Mackler? Their voices were pretty distinct, and I thought Josh was kind of adorable, if not a little trying hard. Emma was a bit harder to get into as she seemed like a very popular girl, but I liked how her character grows as the story progressed, especially when she said this:
I've always protected myself when it comes to love. And maybe that's the problem. By not letting myself get hurt now, it ripples into much bigger pain later.
The Future of Us is a creative, yet somehow straightforward way of showing how even our smallest actions could ripple into the future. It's creative, because it showed a bit of the "time machine" aspect, but again, straightforward because you pretty much get it early on in the story that Josh and Emma can do things to change their future and see it immediately on Facebook. That actually leaves little room for imagination, except maybe with wondering what could possibly happen if Emma decides to spill water on her carpet. That being said, however, I think the story still gives a pretty valuable lesson on how our actions now would affect not only our future but everyone else around us, and how we should live our real lives instead of living it online. The ending, although kind of expected, was very sweet and I found myself with a silly smile at one of the tender moments there. :)
This is a sweet and creative book that would surely tickle the fancy of contemporary fans and those from my generation. :) The Future of Us comes out on November 21.(less)
Ultraviolet is far from my radar and from any of my reading plans. I've never read any of R.J. Anderson's work, and I w...moreOriginal post at One More Page
Ultraviolet is far from my radar and from any of my reading plans. I've never read any of R.J. Anderson's work, and I wasn't just really that interested even if I've read some good reviews for them. I saw the ebook on Netgalley but just looked over it, thinking that it's not something I would be interested in.
This book started popping up everywhere on my Goodreads feeds. One friend read it and liked it, then a few more did. All reviews refused to talk too much about what this book was about, and they were all just saying what a surprise/shocker/gender-bender this particular book was. I got curious, and thought, "Fine. If it's still in Netgalley, I will get it and read it."
So Ultraviolet was still there, and I got it and read it. This book starts with a very curious introduction:
Once upon a time there was a girl who was special.
This is not her story.
Unless you count the part where I killed her.
I wasn't sure what to place this in from there. We find our heroine, Alison Jeffries, waking up in a rehabilitation facility with no memory of why and how she got there. Alison is sixteen, confused and worried about her current situation. As her memories start trickling in, she is moved to Pine Hills Psychiatric Treatment Center, where she grapples with the possibility that (1) she's crazy and (2) she may have just killed her school mate and rival, Tori Beaugrand with her mind, as she can see what color a number is and taste things like lies, things that normal people could not do. Alone and treading the thin line between sanity and not, Alison finds a friend in neuropsychologist, Sebastian Faraday, giving a name for her condition and convincing Alison that she is a normal girl.
To reveal more would be spoilery, so I'll let you find out for yourself. I was aware of a coming twist that would turn Ultraviolet around and I resisted the urge to read ahead just to find out when, where and what it was. It was easy to stick to the story though, because the author's writing is just so good that I wouldn't think of skipping any page. The story was tight, and I felt genuine sympathy for Alison as she struggles with her ordeal. I just really wanted to give Alison a hug and believe that she isn't crazy, you now? At the same time, I was very interested in Alison's condition -- which apparently, is real.
And then...things changed. I was expecting it because of the reviews I read, but I wasn't sure when it would happen. Like what other readers have said, it was done quite seamlessly that I couldn't question how untrue it was. I'm usually skeptical about how things turned out here, this one worked. I had a hunch about what it was, and it turned out correct, but it wasn't also 100% right. The author managed to keep the balance between what's real and not real and make it work, while also giving us readers a way to describe something infinite. Forgive the flowery word, but that was just the only way I could describe it. Infinite.
Ah, I'm sorry I can't reveal that much more because it would destroy the reading experience of anyone who reads this and decides to read Ultraviolet. I was pleasantly surprised by this one, and I'm glad that I gave in to the good review pressure and read it. This is definitely one of those books that will have readers discuss and laugh and share a secret smile about.(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)
This year, I discovered a little sub genre that I'm starting to like -- superhero fiction. I'm not sure if it really is...moreOriginal post at One More Page
This year, I discovered a little sub genre that I'm starting to like -- superhero fiction. I'm not sure if it really is a valid sub genre (I'm pretty sure it falls under science fiction), but I'm really, really liking reading stuff about superheroes or mutants. I'm pretty sure this stems from all the X-Men cartoons I watched when I was younger. I've only read two books that dealt with superheroes, or at least people with powers that didn't involve magic (The Rise of Renegade X and Being Jamie Baker) this year, so when Shelley Workinger, author of Solid, sent a review copy for the first book in her series, I was glad to accept.
Eighteen years ago, an army doctor secretly created a drug that modified the chromosome of a baby while they were in the womb and administered them to unknowing pregnant women. No one knew about this even after he was killed, until the military unearthed the truths of this experiment and called on all these children to spend some time in a hidden campus for some testing. Turns out this drug allowed the children to have superhuman abilities, much like superheroes -- if only these kids know how to harness their powers. One of these kids is Clio Kaid, who joins the program not knowing what it was really about. As Clio explores whatever ability she had, she also makes new friends and even possibly found her first love. And then things turn weird when she finds information that tells them that maybe the military is hiding secrets from them, and she recruits her friends to find out what exactly is going on.
Solid is very entertaining, as it plays on familiarity and some pop culture to make it an easily relatable novel. In a way, this book reminds me of The Secret World of Alex Mack, and I could definitely see this one being made into a TV show for teens. I liked Clio's voice, and while I didn't really anything super spectacular about her, I found her very easy to like. Her friends were also very interesting and different -- snobby and domineering Miranda, shy Bliss (who, for some reason, reminds me of Glimmer from She-Ra), funny Garrett and charismatic Jack. I liked their group's chemistry a lot, and it was nice for Clio to have a group of friends to turn to in the middle of all of this.
That being said, however, despite the entertainment value, I felt that Solid lacked a bit of "oomph". It may be because it was a bit too short for everything to make sense. I felt a bit detached from the climax, probably because I didn't feel a proper build up for it? I didn't have a whole sense of danger, really, maybe because I found that I could predict what could happen when the high point of the book happened. I could see it being very well played on TV, though -- so maybe it could work as a TV show? I also wished for more explanation for their abilities, because that's always something I look forward to in reading these kinds of fiction. Maybe it will be explained in the next books? Also, the ending also felt a tad too cheesy, but it may just be me.
Still, Solid was a pretty good debut, and I think it has a lot going for something independent. Maybe with a prettier cover, it could get picked up more? Maybe it's just me, but I'm not really feeling the purple chromosome -- it gives me a first impression of a paranormal romance novel when it's really not.
When we say the word "zombies", the first thought is always about a virus that makes dead people...well, undead. It coul...moreOriginal post at One More Page
When we say the word "zombies", the first thought is always about a virus that makes dead people...well, undead. It could be just a fluke, or a scientific experiment gone wrong, but either way, the virus spreads and everyone gets infected save for a few lucky (or unlucky ones, depending on where they get stuck) who try to live and survive amongst their undead companions.
That is almost usually the common thread for zombie novels which can get really tiring if you read about it over and over again. Every once in a while, though, we get some deviants to the norm, where zombification comes from the most ridiculous sources and yet it's still believable (case in point: Zombicorns by John Green). I like reading these story lines because really, how many times will I read about a virus that makes people want to eat other people while they rot and shuffle and mumble, "Brains"?
British author A.M. Harte is one of those who takes the zombie folklore and spins it around to give us a different taste of zombies (pun intended). When she emailed me about sending me a review copy of her anthology, Hungry For You, I was kind of hesitant to agree because it sounded so paranormal romance, and I tend to stay away from those books nowadays. However, in the spirit of Valentine's Day, I decided to go for this, thinking that I would need to read a paranormal every now and then.
Surprisingly, I liked Hungry For You. I was thinking it would be another so-so read because of the paranormal romance angle, but I was pleasantly surprised. This is a collection of short stories about love and well, zombies. But like I said, the author spins the zombie folklore around, focusing on different aspects of romance and zombies, giving the creatures we all love to read and talk about and kill with pea-shooters and sunflowers a different approach altogether. Some of the stories may not even really count as a zombie story if you're a purist, but the characters acted so much like zombies that you'd really think they were infected.
I was constantly surprised by the stories in this collection, and sometimes even slightly grossed out but that's just me being squeamish (I still wonder why I like zombies so much when I feel squeamish easily). The stories were creative, funny, romantic and sad -- just like what I think romance novels are. The paranormal angle isn't really overwhelming, which I really appreciated, and I think other people who are tired of the usual paranormal will be pleased about that too. (Oh, but hey, they say zombies aren't paranormal but more science fiction -- thoughts?)
Personal favorites: Hungry For You, Swimming Lessons, A Prayer to Garlic ("vegetarian" zombies!), The Perfect Song (almost similar to Zombicorns in terms of how people become zombies, but sadder) and Arkady, Kain and Zombies (sweet and tragic all at the same time). I think there is something for everyone in A.M. Harte's Hungry For You. I like it when a book surprises me. :) I'm curious to what A.M. Harte will come up with next. :) (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.
We started as a news site. Somewhere along the line, we became a family.
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'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)
So everyone who's ever read and loved science fiction has read and loved Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card. My friends w...moreOriginal post at One More Page
So everyone who's ever read and loved science fiction has read and loved Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card. My friends who have read and loved science fiction also were true to their responsibility to push this book to everyone, particularly people who are curious about the said genre. Particularly, me.
But a little commercial first: I've always thought that I never read any science fiction book in my entire reading life. But it turns out, one of my favorite young adult series growing up was science fiction: Animorphs by K.A. Applegate. Five kids and one alien with the power to morph into any animal they touch against an alien race of parasite slugs set to invade the world? If that is not science fiction, I will eat my hat.
And so Ender's Game. It was duly recommended, but for some reason a copy eluded me until my friend Monique found one for me. Of course, as luck would have it, I end up seeing copies of the book everywhere after I got the copy. But anyway! Of course, it takes me another year to read it, but I don't really think it matters now.
The Wiggin children, Peter, Valentine and Andrew aka Ender, were all candidates for the soldier training program in their childhood, but only the youngest, Ender, makes the cut. Ender has always been distant with his family so joining Battle School wasn't much of a difference in his young life. Ender's skills made him a leader in Battle School, admired and hated at the same time by his classmates. But Ender's brilliance in the Battle Room had a price -- isolation, loneliness, and the fear that he is becoming like his older brother who he despises. But there are secrets around Ender's training, secrets that could very well mean the survival of the human race in a war against an alien race for the last hundred years.
Here's one thing about Ender's Game: it's so readable. I'm initially apprehensive of reading science fiction (and high fantasy) novels because I'm afraid of not being able to fully immerse into the world. If it's not very obvious yet, I'm really a contemporary reader and most of the books I read are set in the real world, so reading something set in a different world, or set in the future is quite a challenge for me. Orson Scott Card made Ender's Game very accessible, though, and it was easy enough to understand what was happening in Ender's world. Oh, I didn't really understand much of how the Battle School worked, or the space travel later into the book, but I had a pretty okay grasp with it early in the story, so reading it slowly became a breeze.
I loved the military set-up over the sci-fi aspect. People say this is really more of a military novel, and I kind of agree with that. Reading this reminded me of those Citizen Army Training days back in high school, where we'd practice rifle drills and do other activities during camp, like Search & Destroy and Escape & Evade (I hate the latter, btw). I liked reading about the strategies and the platoon (toon) set up and the promotions. I love reading about the war games in null gravity -- it made me wish that laser tag games here were done in the same environment! I would probably be the first to be frozen in that, but it would be so much fun. It was fascinating to see how Ender came up with strategies to confuse his enemies in the games and wonder at how he was able to see it and make it work. And there isn't just the military thing either. The political aspects of war -- in space and on earth -- were discussed, too, and it makes readers see that some well-placed words said (or written) on a platform can be enough to start a war. A bit of suspension of disbelief might be in order for the part of the novel is needed, but if you can believe that a six year old is the hope of the world against an alien race, then believing that part should be easy enough.
Poor Ender, though. I keep on forgetting that he was just a kid (six years old at the start of the novel) as the story progressed. He always seemed older, especially with all the military school talk. Ender's fighter qualities were admirable and oftentimes scary, but it was hard not to root for him in the story. I sympathized a lot with Valentine, Ender's sister, with how she cared for him because I wanted to take care of Ender too, and keep him a kid longer because he deserved to be one. I also liked Ender's friends, too, especially the ones who were with him at the end. There was this one particular scene that really made my heart swell with happiness for Ender that involved his friends, and it shows that true friends are those people who are with you in your darkest hours.
There is a fair amount of violence in this book, so a fair warning to those who think that this is about some kids who get roped into a "save the world" thing. Even more horrifying is that these are just kids beating each other up. Despite that, Ender's Game is pretty, well, darn good. I know I'm not a credible judge of science fiction since (like I said) I barely read the genre, but I think Ender's Game is science fiction at its simplest and maybe at its finest, too. It's no wonder why people kept on recommending this to me. If you're a newbie to science fiction and you're looking for titles to start with, then listen to everyone who has recommended this book to you because trust me: they are right about it. If it's not enough, then let its awards push you to the right direction. Also, a movie is coming out next year. Enough reasons? Get a copy and remember: the enemy's gate is down! :)(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)
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)
I've wanted to read When You Reach Meby Rebecca Stead for the longest time but for some reason, I never got around to...moreOriginal post at One More Page
I've wanted to read When You Reach Meby Rebecca Stead for the longest time but for some reason, I never got around to reading it. Or getting myself a copy. There was a time when I saw a hardcover copy of this book on sale, but I let it go thinking I could find it again and go back for it. But alas, it was gone. And so I was on the lookout for another sale copy of this it proved elusive, until I finally got a full-price, brand new copy using one of my Fully Booked gift certificates.
I've heard really good stuff about When You Reach Meand the thing is, it's best not to be spoiled about the elements of the story. So I'll try not to be spoilery! :) It's 1979, and Miranda and her best friend Sal knew everything about their New York City neighborhood. She lived a pretty normal life, until Sal got punched on their way home for no reason. Miranda's life starts to come undone at this point, and it doesn't help that she received some strange letters from someone who needs her help. As the letters come, she realized that whoever wrote the letter knew many things about her, things that other people don't and shouldn't know. She wished she could just ignore them, but what if the notes are true, and only she can stop someone from dying?
I loved Miranda's voice from the very start -- she reminds me of those characters I loved reading as a child. She's a kid, but she's also very mature and I liked how she viewed the world and her family and the conversations she had with them. I liked how you know from the start that this isn't a normal middle grade novel, and it wasn't even before I really discovered the mystery in it. The fact that Miranda's mom is joining a game show so they could win $20,000 is already a clue that this book is different, and I knew I would like this book even before I was halfway done.
There's a sci-fi element in this book that built the mystery up, and I have to admit that it got me a bit confused at first. I was really constantly guessing about who sent the letters and I was kind of glad that my hunch wasn't correct, because I was really surprised at how it all ended up. I liked the conversations of the characters of the book even if they're not the type of things I talked about when I was their age.
This book also made me curious about A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle, which I never read. I know, it seems like required reading for so many kids, but it skipped me! The only L'Engle book I read when I was younger was Meet the Austins, which is connected to the characters there, I think? Anyway, even if I never read the book, I liked how it was very anchored to that, and it gives for additional reading for kids (and adults) who end up really liking When You Reach Me.
I really enjoyed reading this book, and I think my sci-fi loving friends will appreciate this too. Oh, this is a giveaway, but if you liked the Japanese animated movie The Girl Who Leapt Through Time and the TV series Doctor Who, then I'm pretty sure you'd like this book too (and vice versa). :)(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)
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)
I really meant to review this book after I got it, then I planned to review it for Pinoy Pop, but I never got around to...moreOriginal post at One More Page
I really meant to review this book after I got it, then I planned to review it for Pinoy Pop, but I never got around to it because there were other more interesting books that came in. I wasn't really planning to review this book anymore and make this as one of those books that I never bothered to review this year but after I read Unwind by Neal Shusterman, I felt the need to revisit this book (or at least, my notes of this book) and write a proper review before writing one for Unwind.
I found The Barcode Tattoo during one of my Amazon Kindle sample days, and I remember being sorely disappointed that this book had no Kindle edition. I wasn't sure if the cover or the premise attracted me to this -- perhaps it was both. The idea of a sinister requirement tattoo is kind of creepy, and the cover was equally as creepy as that idea. I found a lone copy in Fully Booked a few weeks after I added this to my wish list, and I was immediately off to the cashier to purchase the book.
The Barcode Tattoo reminds me of those sci-fi TV shows that I used to be very interested in but never found the time to watch. I think the first time I saw a barcode tattoo on screen was in Dark Angel, where I think each of the clones had a barcode tattoo at their nape to identify them. I can't remember the details anymore, but I was pretty sure they had that. :P In this book, the tattoos serve as a symbol for "coming of age", and where everything can be done using your very own tattoo. This spells convenience for everyone as there was no more need to carry and ID around, but as expected, people in power can easily manipulate it. This is where we found Kayla Reed, who's about to turn 17, but is wary of getting her tattoo. She turned out to be even more wary when her dad starts acting suspiciously, and pretty soon, her avoidance in getting the tattoo turned her life upside down and she starts running for her life.
The concept is good, and it makes for a very good dystopian fiction. However, I think that was the only thing that made this book good. I knew from the get-go that the tattoos were evil, but it was never really explained in the story why it was evil. Sure, the tattoo meant control for those in power, but it was never really expounded on. Like Kayla, I only got the faintest idea on what made the tattoos bad but she never really found out about the exact details of it.
It may be because the book was written in 2004, so the setting (which was 21 years later) showed a world where everyone was wearing a modified space suit and moving sidewalks are common. It took me a while to get into the setting probably because I felt it was a bit too unbelievable even if it's in 2025. My friend Jana coined it as the "flying cars" setting, where people think of the future as a time where flying cars are the norm. Personally, the setting reminded me a bit too much of thoseZenonmovies from Disney. I couldn't imagine myself inside the world the characters are living in, so I remained a mere spectator for Kayla's adventures.
Furthermore, I felt that there was no defined villain in the story -- sure, there was Global 1, the mastermind behind the tattoo, and there were the kids that chased Kayla around...but who was her real villain? Was it the tattoo? It is their destruction of privacy because the tattoo contains all information about them? I'm not quite sure. Sure, Kayla had some personal stake over the matter because of her family, but if that was taken away, would Kayla still have resisted? Where is the Truly Evil Government that dystopian fiction is known for?
I also felt a bit cheated with the ending. I'm not really a sci-fi reader and I've only started to appreciate fantasy, but I know there's a way to make the two mesh well without sounding forced. Kayla's situation felt truly hopeless as she ran away from those who want her inked (or in some cases, dead), and I truly felt that she had no more allies...but when she finally found her allies, I found that the solution to the problem felt a bit too over the top. Deus ex machina, if you may. The resolution never really sat well with me, leaving me a bit unsatisfied at the end of the end of the book.
It's not really a bad book, but I didn't really find it spectacular, either. It's an in-between book, really, and it's not one I'd lose sleep or mull over for the next few days thinking about the story or the consequences or the characters even. The story had a lot of potential that wasn't explored, unfortunately. Interestingly, there is a sequel to the book: The Barcode Rebellion. Will I read it? Probably. Will I buy it? I'm not sure. Maybe someone can lend me a copy instead?
Oh, and one last question: how the heck do you pronounce Mfumbe?!(less)