In a post-apocalyptic society, select few families own all the resources, including land and supplies and peop...moreA promising idea and a promising series!
In a post-apocalyptic society, select few families own all the resources, including land and supplies and people. The families have Lazaruses to protect them. My understanding is that a Lazarus is a genetically engineered human that has modifications that allow them to survive major trauma and injuries to the body.
In the case of the Carlyle family, their Lazarus is named Forever, and she thinks she is a daughter and sister of the family. She's wrong.
This is an intense action thriller book. Lazarus is thought-provoking as well. The future society make up is hardly an ideal place for most people, with a few families owning all the resources, possessing power over the life and death of everyone under their authority. In one scene, Forever has to execute an innocent man (who confesses to a crime he didn't commit) because the alternative is that all the serfs on the property will be executed.
Forever seems to have a conscience, moreso than her other family members, but she is used as a strategic weapon, and will in fact, do what is necessary for her family. A privilege they abuse with impunity.
Readers who love their heroines lethal will enjoy this. I'm not a big fan of dystopia, but the worldbuilding is interesting. The whole situation seems to be a powder keg about to explode. The house of Carlyle has traitorous forces within it, but the patriarch isn't unaware completely. Forever seems as though she has a crucial role to play in the whole situation, the one who can bring change and perhaps even justice. Which is why members of her family want her taken out of the equation.
I have a feeling that soon Forever will wise up to her situation and decide she no longer desires being a lethal weapon for anyone but herself. I will continue reading this series to find out.(less)
A good tertiary addition to the Baltimore graphic novel series. Readers who love classic horror fiction can't help but enjoy this series, and this one...moreA good tertiary addition to the Baltimore graphic novel series. Readers who love classic horror fiction can't help but enjoy this series, and this one just cements the classic horror sensibility of the work by Mignola and Golden. Forgive the pun, but they are a bit of a Golden Team for me. I think their writing is seamless where I can't figure out which part Mignola wrote and what was written by Golden. The artwork is sober and dark in color, matching the unrelenting darkness of the literary tone of the stories. Baltimore is a lone hunter who travels with one goal in mind: finding Haigus, the vampire who turned him and destroyed his family. Along the way, he will destroy evil he encounters. His relationship with God is complicated. He still calls him Lord, but he has a palpable anger towards Him. Baltimore seethes with it. He shakes his fists at God, but doesn't curse him. He only asks that he be left alone to seek his vengeance. To my mind, God manages for him to be in the right place at the right time, a fierce warrior against darkness and evil creatures of all kinds. I am not saying I like an invincible hero all the time, but I appreciate how Baltimore always ends up in tight spots where I would expect him to be a goner, but he manages to survive, even if he adds a few more scars to the landscape of his body and face.
It's hard to rate this as a good book, in the sense that it's not at all feel-good. It's very depressing in a lot of ways. The vampire plague has left destruction in every place, and all manner of foul creatures prey on the humans who manage to survive the plague and aren't turned into vampires. So, no, it's not an uplifting read. However, the writing and the artwork are beautiful and has a penetrating effect on me as I read. An excellent example of how successful the graphic novel medium can be for storytelling. And since I don't get to read much Gothic/classic horror, lately, it satisfies my palate for the stories in a quick reading format, and the art-lover/artist in me.
I'm ever so grateful that I am able to get this from my library. These volumes would cost a pretty penny to buy new.
So, yes, I do recommend it to readers who aren't averse to a dark read. It's violent and at times visceral, but not at all over the top or graphic. As I said earlier in the review, it has the Gothic and Classic horror sensibility that any fans of 18th-early 20th century horror will appreciate.
How much can a person survive before their humanity is destroyed?
Cassie is a young woman who will learn exactly what makes her human and what would ca...moreHow much can a person survive before their humanity is destroyed?
Cassie is a young woman who will learn exactly what makes her human and what would cause her to lose the intrinsic element to her nature. She goes from being a normal teenager who has nothing more to worry about than whether her epic crush on Ben Parrish will be returned, to losing nearly everything, and living in a earth decimated by an alien invasion that is nothing like the ones showcased in movies and books thus far.
The aliens want the earth, and view humans as pests, much like we view cockroaches. Their solution, to kill off the majority with cataclysms and world-wide pestilence, and let hysteria and suspicion do the rest of the work.
What happens when humans can't trust each other and start viewing each other as the enemy? It's not much longer before humanity becomes extinct.
Cassie learns the hard way that she is safer alone, trusting no one, but she made a vow to her brother, and she will do anything to keep that vow. When her life is saved by Evan Walker, every hard lesson she learned to stay alive in the earth devastated by the alien invasion will be tested. Can she trust, when trust has led to betrayal?
This is a bleak and heartbreaking read. I listened to the audio, and I would highly recommend this medium because it makes the story that much more personal. The narrators, Phoebe Stohl and Brandon Espinoza allow us to view the story through their eyes, and feel their pain. Their voices portray the passion and pain, the angst and longing, and the violated innocence of young people who are in a horrible situation that they cannot escape.
While this is okay for the older end of the young adult audience, I don't feel that subject matter is appropriate to kids younger than 14. The atmosphere is dark and desperate, and people die in this book. Lots of them, and many in horrible ways. Not only that, but people are forced to kill others to survive or as part of the consequences of the invasion. But don't misconstrue me to be saying this is full of gratuitous violence. Many who have read Yancey's Monstrumologist series know that Yancey is not afraid of gore, but he doesn't take that tactic in this book. Instead, his tone is frighteningly realistic. Don't think that just because the majority of the characters are children, that he will take it easy on them. You'd be lying to yourself.
As a reader, I was sucked into this world, and I asked myself how I would adapt or deal with the circumstances that our characters faced. I am amazed at the resilience of the young. That Cassie could stay strong in heart and her mind whole after seeing what she's seen and being forced to make decisions she never would have faced before. That Ben could find the strength to keep living under his burden of guilt for surviving when his family and many others didn't. That they both could deal with the massive betrayals they suffered.
While clearly science fiction, the use of technology is minimal, but it feels credible. Enough that the presence of the alien invaders is undeniable. But not so much to blunt the realism of the novel.
The tension is neck-breaking, sustained until the last words of the book. I honestly had to take my time listening to this. It's so bleak and depressing at times, it doesn't make for 'fun' reading. But at the same time, I can say this was a fantastic and moving book. I think this book shows what can be achieved in young adult literature. Showing teenagers and young people in a scenario where as much is demanded of the reader as is of the characters. Not lightening the subject matter just to get a YA rating, or fantasizing or sensationalizing the story either to get more readers. From the beginning, I was engaged in this novel, and even when things got harrowing and I feared for what would happened next, I couldn't turn off the CD player and refuse to finish the book. I had to know what Cassie would do next, how she would handle the next situation. If she would find her brother and save him.
Yancey made me care about these people. He made me rage that children had to make these kinds of decisions, but at the same time, he didn't give me a convenient villain, not in the easy way that can happen in fiction. Instead, I was continually forced to reevaluate the situation and my hypotheses, along with the characters. There were times, I just gave up on making a guess on what was going to happen and I just kept listening and decided to let the chips fall where they may.
You wonder what an author feels when he puts his characters through the depredations seen in this book. Does it hurt like he's hacking off a limb? Does he smile gleefully at the computer screen? Or does he feel the grim determination of a surgeon who is cutting into their patient to save its life? This is a question that books like this make me ask. In a strange way, I feel more connected to the writer of a book like this, because I can imagine that the creative process was a demanding one. The they sweated and shed their own blood to write a book just for me to read.
I recommend this book fully to readers who are prepared to face the bleak, upsetting content of this novel. To walk in the shoes of these young people who have to face the end of the world head on, and can't close the book and read something else when it gets too painful for them.(less)
12.21 was an entertaining read. I never got bored, that's for sure. I'm not big on the whole Mayan Prophecy thing, so I normally wouldn't run to read...more12.21 was an entertaining read. I never got bored, that's for sure. I'm not big on the whole Mayan Prophecy thing, so I normally wouldn't run to read this sort of thing. However, Random House offered a giveaway for the Action/Adventure Aficionados group, so I decided to give it a try. I am glad I did.
What I liked: * I love medicine, so medical dramas in various incarnations almost always appeal. The whole concept of an epidemic illness arising out of a connection to an ancient Maya tomb and civilization, and related to the Mayan Prophecy was a unique approach. I liked the characters' race to find out what the etiology of the infection was and how to combat it. There was a real sense of urgency and I felt my pulse racing as I read. History is another favorite subject, so there's a good combination here. * This was quite readable. The narrative was cohesive between modern day and flashbacks to the ancient Maya times (900AD), and there was a sense of steady progression in this story that I appreciated, especially for a suspense-driven book. *I like that the author didn't slow down the story too much with excessive explanations, but the Maya cultural elements seemed well-researched and the science was fairly credible (except one heinous element below that I must rant about). *Sadly, I knew little about the indigenous Maya descendants of Guatemala. That was very interesting to read about their thriving community in LA (assuming that it's real). Also, I wasn't aware of the situation with the indigenous people in Guatemala. It's always good to learn about different peoples and their struggles, and it will make me more sensitive about their plight.
What could have been better: *Okay, I have a mini rant. The scene with the slaughterhouse/meat processing factory is so unrealistic it's insulting and laughable. The things that occur in that facility would never happen. I know for certain. They had serious food safety issues going on, including commingling of meat ingredients and use of products that definitely are not approved for meat production or use in the United States. Then the author made a point of saying that kids eat that product. A lot of inspectors work very hard to make sure that products safe for consumption make it on the shelves, and that was offensive to the hard work they put in and the many safety checks that meat plants have to follow in their food safety system. One could argue that maybe that facility was not under government oversight, but the author made a point of mentioning the USDA, so I know it was. And let's be clear that is not going to happen in a federally inspected facility. I don't mind the line between fiction and reality blurring in appropriate settings. This wasn't one. For a medical science drama, I expect more realistic and credible use of information in a story. Fortunately, I was able to get over my disgust with this and keep reading the book, but it affected my rating without a doubt. *I didn't feel a heavy sense of connection to any of the main characters. The storyline itself was more interesting to me. Towards the end, the sense of urgency for their situation did hit me, but I can't say I fell in love with anyone in this novel.
Overall Thoughts: *A pretty good, readable, suspenseful novel. I liked the mix of ancient civilizations and treasure hunting with modern medical science. There were a couple of pitfalls that lowered my rating, but overall, it was a worthwhile read, especially for those interested in the Endtime Mayan Prophecy and Meso-American ancient civilizations. For a quick-read medical suspense story with some ancient connections, this is a pretty good one to pick up.
Overall Rating: 3.75/5.0 stars.
A special thanks to Random House for the opportunity for members of the Action/Adventure Aficionados to read this novel. (less)
Joe Golem and the Drowning City is a lovely sort of homage to HP Lovecraft and the Jewish golem folklore tradition. One wonders how they can exist tog...moreJoe Golem and the Drowning City is a lovely sort of homage to HP Lovecraft and the Jewish golem folklore tradition. One wonders how they can exist together harmoniously in the same work, but Mignola and Golden do exactly that.
New York City is a very different place from the one we know and love in this book. Some sort of ecological disaster turned half of the city into what is essentially a Venetian-like, water-logged environment. Downtown flooded, and those who lived there are cut off from the denizens of Uptown and forced to fend for themselves. Like humans are apt and known to do, they adapt to a semi-aquatic lifestyle, living on the top floors of the taller buildings, constructing bridges and mazeways between buildings and using watercrafts to navigate the flooded streets.
This novel is initially about two of its citizenry: An elderly magician named Felix Orlov, who can communicate with the dead, and his unofficially adopted daughter, fourteen-year-old, redheaded, former street kid, Molly McHugh. Their somewhat harmonious lifestyle is brutally interrupted when strange, inhuman creatures abduct Felix, failing to capture Molly when she is saved by a big, rough-looking man named Joe. Joe is special, more than they realize initially. His colleague is the ancient British gentleman, Simon Church, a man who has adapted his failing organs with mechanical parts (added a steampunk-like flair to the story). He also uses a mix of science, machinery, and magic to monitor the supernatural barometer of the city. He happens to detect a very large spike in activity the day that Felix is kidnapped, and Molly teams up with them both to find out what happened to Felix and to save him and save the world in the process.
This is a rather solemn tale. Joe's past is very tortured, and along with Simon's regrets about the past, and Felix's special legacy, the storyline is fairly dark. Molly is a spunky and energetic young woman, who's seen more bad things than a person of her age should. She has trouble trusting, with good reason. We feel her pain as she is helpless against forces that pull the man who is as close to a father to her as any man could be away from her by events beyond their control.
In addition to the somber tone, the Lovecraft-type storyline adds a cosmic horror to the story. While I am personally a bit alienated by Lovecraft's concept of an ancient, extra-dimensional cosmos and its denizens (which are indifferent to our moral concepts and even our right to exist as humanity), Mignola and Golden add an emotional context that makes this typical idea more relatable and almost heartfelt.
One of the downsides to this book is the villain truly never feels invincible or formidable. He comes off more as a petulant child who is playing with matches (dabbling with magics and science far beyond his ken), than a disturbing force for evil. He felt like a paper tiger, which is a bit of a pet peeve of mine. I need a villain who is truly formidable--one that I question if the hero will be able to prevail against. His creations were disgusting, and while repulsive and off-putting, they don't add much in a positive way to the creepy tone of the book.
Despite being somewhat disappointed with the villain, I was drawn to Joe's character, his painful struggle, his search for identity, and the integration of past and future. I also liked Molly. She feels like 'me' in the sense that she is the everyday person put in bizarre and non-ordinary circumstances. I think a good weird fiction tale needs that kind of protagonist.
Mignola just does it for me, with his stories and his creations. His collaborations with Golden have been unilaterally successful so far, and I add this one to the list. I hope to see more of Joe Golem and Molly McHugh, and more of the Drowning City. Recommended to weird fiction readers, and avowed fans of classic horror motifs and loving homages.(less)
This was an interesting book, although some aspects were rather off-putting. I liked the vision of a post-apocalyptic Russia. This isn't a book where...moreThis was an interesting book, although some aspects were rather off-putting. I liked the vision of a post-apocalyptic Russia. This isn't a book where you can say, "Wow, that's a really good person!" Everyone is highly flawed. This is one of those books I'd love to sit down the author and ask what he was thinking when he wrote this.
I had no expectations for this one, and I'm getting where I'm a bit burned out on YA. However, I ended up liking this a lot. I liked the simple narrat...moreI had no expectations for this one, and I'm getting where I'm a bit burned out on YA. However, I ended up liking this a lot. I liked the simple narrative, but the author's ability to convey a lot on the emotional front. I loved Jason!!!! And never did Rachel annoy me or make stop supporting her as a heroine. Okay, I have to keep this a mini-review, so I'll stop here.