On paper, the effect of this Returnee's reappearance had the potential to be h...more*Cross-posted on BookLikes and Wordpress.
A great idea poorly executed.
On paper, the effect of this Returnee's reappearance had the potential to be heart-wrenching as a 37-year-old man attempts to solve a life-changing dilemma: to continue with his present life with a wife and child, or leave them for his 17-year-old first love who disappeared, and was presumed dead, 20 years ago.
I really wanted to like it but the writing is rushed and choppy. (view spoiler)[The inclusion of his wife's affair was incongruous, over the top and seemed like it was added at the last minute to lessen any guilt Peter might feel if he decided to leave Samantha for Tracy. (hide spoiler)]
The Choice ended (view spoiler)[logically (hide spoiler)], the way I thought it would, albeit in a rough and rushed manner. However, unlike in the other prequels, we experience nothing from the Returnee's perspective except the effect she has on her mother via her anxious phone calls to Peter.
From the quality of writing in The Sparrow, I know Jason Mott can do better. I just hope The Returned embodies the skill I know he possesses.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
The Sparrow is a huge improvement over its predecessor The First. Whereas The First serves as an introduction to a world where the dead suddenly return alive, The Sparrow delves into the moral issues that arise from it. Are the Returned human? Are they still the people they were when they died? How is this possible: Is it magic or can science explain it? And do we sacrifice our humanity in seeking the answers to these questions?
Married couple Heather and Matt face these questions when they discover Returned little girl Tatiana. Heather embraces the child, accepting and caring for her while husband Matt treats the Returnee as a thing to be exploited:
"These things aren't people. They're something else. And if there's a way for us to capitalize on this, then I'm all for that."
Heather is appalled at his reaction but replies with compassion, hoping to change his mind:
"If I could see my mother again... If my mother somehow shows up in all of this, if I get a call that she's been found in some far-off part of the world, I'd pray to God that the person who finds her would take care of her, that they would get her back to me, that they would have the decency to let me decide whether or not she was real, whether or not I could love her again."
Fear and uncertainty in the face of this bizarre phenomenon is to be expected, but the actions taken driven by these feelings have shown to be, in some cases, unaccountably violent and homicidal. In an attempt to understand Matt's rejection of Tatiana, Heather believes that since he's never experienced loss, he's unable to reconcile what the Returned can mean to those left behind in their grief:
'Heather was certain that Matt's problem with Tatiana stemmed from the fact that he had never lost anyone. Both of his parents were still alive. His brothers and sisters, even his grandparents, were all still alive. He had never known the loneliness of waking in the middle of the night from a dream of spending time with a mother who had been dead nearly a decade.'
The object of contention, Tatiana, is shown to be a normal human child and nothing indicates that she is otherwise. She possesses memories of her former life with loving parents, who took it in turns to make up bedtime stories to entertain her. Unfortunately her short life, and that of her mother's, was cut short when violence came to her home in what I assumed to be the Rwandan genocide in 1994, leaving her father bereft and alone (who was away at the time, helping those in need).
I'm definitely looking forward to the next installments of this series.(less)
Realistic portrayals of the bureaucratic response to an unexplainable event and the emotional turmoil experi...more*Cross-posted on BookLikes and Wordpress.
Realistic portrayals of the bureaucratic response to an unexplainable event and the emotional turmoil experienced if you were to find out a dead loved one was in fact alive, drew me in as the scene was set for the rest of the series.
However, upon finishing, I was left feeling a mild mixture of indifference and curiosity, reminding me of the way short stories in anthologies are written; leaving what comes next, or reasons for what takes place, up to the imaginations of readers. Although the last sentence is ominous, indicating a not-so-happy ending.
As I own the other currently published installments in this series, I'll definitely be continuing, especially as there's a TV series based on it in the works.(less)
Ever wanted to question the specifics of a villian's clichéd world domination plan? Call a villain out on the infantile nature of it, presenting the d...moreEver wanted to question the specifics of a villian's clichéd world domination plan? Call a villain out on the infantile nature of it, presenting the difficulties he'll face in accomplishing such a feat, and then maintaining leadership should he succeed? Skullduggery Pleasant does all that and more with his quick, dry wit and that sharp, sarcastic tongue of his, and it's deliciously satisfying and rib-ticklingly funny. An excellent non-essential freebie.
There's nothing like a bit of necrophilia in the morning.
Our RoboZombies (the zombies are actually referred to as 'steins', as in Frankenstein)don't...moreThere's nothing like a bit of necrophilia in the morning.
Our RoboZombies (the zombies are actually referred to as 'steins', as in Frankenstein) don't decompose and still retain all of their bodily functions so there are no ball sacks falling off during fellatio or penises detaching mid-coitus (oh look a new dildo!) so my tea and toast stayed happily in my stomach.
Our heroine, Josie, is a newly made RoboZombie sex doll. Her memories have been wiped in favour of rudimentary programming to engineer her to need, and be submissive to, a 'husband'. Her obviously abusive maker had no other use for her than that. Free will is only for the living. She's child-like in her curiosity and discovery of new concepts and sensations, but she's very much able to learn and grow beyond her original programming.
The hero, turned Peeping Tom during recon, is also a RoZo of the soldier / assassin variety with PTSD, employed by a pro-free will organisation. Bane's been working towards earning a memory and programming reset to relieve his mental anguish to become blissfully ignorant of the deeds he's done while his free will was taken from him.
Bane's mission is to retrieve the heroine from her maker by any means necessary before an evil RoZo corporation can swoop in and recover the scientist and his research. As the heroine had been designed to require biofeedback via touch and an electronic mental connection from a husband, the hero has to fill that hole role to prevent her programming from degrading to the point of leaving her a lifeless rotting corpse.
It's important to note that Bane doesn't rape Josie, the very thought disgusts him. Josie's personality, that of a 'virtual child', also unnerves him so he's very careful about how he handles her, leaving Josie to decide what she wants.
I'm riding the line between love and hate, hiding in the no-man's-land of meh. Predictable paranormal romance that isn't too cheesy, worldbuilding and character development of the supporting cast is lacking, but it possesses an interesting, and I suppose plausible, possibility of cyborg RoboZombies in the future. I'd still take Langlais's cyborgs over Harris's though.
But all idealism faded if exposed to enough reality.
Revived committed suicide early on, but somehow it was saved. It was... Revived. Dun, dun, dun.
The Science. Oh dear god, the science!
"Revive" is a dru...moreRevived committed suicide early on, but somehow it was saved. It was... Revived. Dun, dun, dun.
The Science. Oh dear god, the science!
"Revive" is a drug which brings the recently dead back to life though it heals no wounds and cures no disease.
Adrenaline, anyone? Has this not been discovered in this world yet? Why yes, it has. Daisy has epi-pens on hand for a deadly allergy. So how is it any different from adrenaline? There's no answer because Revive's discovery was never explained. Nor is the state of any "Revived" individual. Are they the living dead? Still human? Able to reproduce? No idea.
Also: A bus crash with no survivors would mean lots of corpses with fatal injuries. Only those who'd died by passive means, like asphyxiation, might be revivable. (Yet they tried the drug out on a child with a foreign body piercing his brain. *facepalm*) Then again, in this experiment, no other treatment can be performed in addition to Revive's administration. No CPR. This means no circulation of oxygenated blood to the brain, heart and lungs -critical organs this drug needs to work on. So how is it going to get to its target destination from the injection site? No defibrillation to restart the heart. The drug would have to be administered with 5 minutes of flat-lining to avoid risking brain damage or brain death. But it would do no good if Revive can't be transported around the body in order to do its job. Actual revival rate: MINISCULE. Viability of drug (under these conditions): NONE.
In conjunction with other resuscitation methods it would probably act like adrenaline, possibly keeping someone alive long enough for surgery. But for the sake of secrecy and the experiment the success rate of the drug would be so close to zero it wouldn't be worth using.
That CPR trick at the end is: (a) MEDICALLY IMPOSSIBLE. 12 minutes dead (timed anyway, death had to have occurred much earlier - see below) with no intervention? Nothing you can do, they're dead and gone. (b) LOGISTICALLY IMPOSSIBLE. (view spoiler)[According to Wikipedia, anaphylaxis can occur 5 to 30 minutes after exposure, and hundreds of bee stings would've accelerated the process. Say it took 10 minutes until death, plus 12 after. Communication boyfriend-friend-agent-aeroplane, finding a suitable place to land, landing and finding/flagging down a car near a small town -30 mins at least. Driving 100mph for 20 miles equals another 12 minutes. (hide spoiler)] Not enough time for help to arrive and still be of any use.
Epic science fail on the science fiction front.
Realistic contemporary YA front Great. There were definitely some perfectly portrayed emotional moments concerning (view spoiler)[The Big C (hide spoiler)]. Even though I guessed correctly about what was up with Audrey it didn't take away the fact that I haven't encountered this issue in paranormal or sci-fi YA before. It was different, new.
Daisy's parental figures, there are three, were all present and/or made an appearance. No disappearing parent syndrome, although caring Mother #1 was replaced by robo-Cassie a.k.a. uncaring Mother #2, or the fem-bot as Daisy calls her. Then there's Mason who I suspected had difficulty staying objective instead of treating his "daughter" like a lab rat, as he should.
Matt, Daisy's love interest, isn't a jerk. Nor is he abusive. He does act out, but he has every reason for doing so, and he apologises for his behaviour. Overall, he's responsible and caring.
Megan is a teenage transgendered character, something I've never encountered in fiction. She's my first. There were a couple of moments I really felt she was a flamboyantly camp stereotype, most commonly attributed to gay males, but I overlooked this for her valuable insight and understanding.
The only thing I didn't get were the cultural references to music. Way before my time (I'm 25).
The Conspiracy While I anticipated parts of it I wasn't frustrated by its small element of predictability. It was satisfactory.
Readability Despite the science fails, I kept reading. And eagerly, too. That says a heck of a lot. High quality writing, a fast pace and it demonstrated an excellent understanding of difficult emotions, like guilt and grief.
Cringe-worthiness: Some. The ooey-gooey crush developing into a romance, the divulging of dangerous secrets when it wouldn't benefit a certain party, and a little Mary Sue-ness.
Anyone who's seen this movie will know what I mean. Presenting a fake family unit to the outside world, selling the perfect family to the public when in reality none of them are related or romantically involved with each other, and all of them employees of the same organisation. It's all pretend. David Duchovny is Mason, playing the role of Dad, with the same ensuing emotional development of deepening attachment to a character, but in this case, of the father-daughter variety. Fake names, documents, moving house every time the cover's blown, again, all reminiscent of the movie.
The head of the organisation in the book is nicknamed "God" for playing god by resurrecting the dead. His employees are his "Disciples", and Revived children, "Converts". It makes a surreal sort of sense.
Conclusion Usually, failing so completely on the science will earn a book 1, maybe 2 stars, and will be forever consigned to the shit-list shelf. No, 3 stars this time. Even though the romance seemed typically thin at first, it grew into something real, while the emotions of all involved were also authentic. I didn't hate the characters, a common complaint with me. Being a stand alone also helps its case. If I see other works by Patrick in my local library's catalogue, I wouldn't say no to reading them, but I wouldn't trust the science!["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Allison is working in a bookstore when zombies attack sending her and the rest of the staff behind the reinforced door to the backrooms. There they wait for rescue and struggle to subsist on what they have. Allison discovers a wireless internet network and searches for information and other survivors which escalates into blogging her experiences while others from around the world comment. The pace picks up when a zombie squirrel* enters the picture and shatters all illusions of their relatively safe existence thus far, and Allison continues to post as survival forces her to travel.
Personalities and physical descriptions are fully formed. Most of the characters are quite distinct apart from the Black Earth Wives, the remains of a religious community who evolve into faceless, cardboard-cutout zealots hellbent on stamping out the sinners and the damned (zombies) and re-populating Earth by means of kidnap and rape of surviving men and women, and those who refuse are either burned alive or sacrificed to the walking dead. Nice.
Roux/Allison shied away from giving details in certain areas. Apparently being able to clean your ears is more important than having tampons. Things like intimacy and sex are omitted or very briefly mentioned at the wrong moments. Allison's relationship with Collin is ambiguous for a while because not enough information is given. Are they together? Are they having sex? Do they even have condoms? We find out later there was a limited supply of condoms but at a point when this was no longer an issue for Allison.
There's a strong focus on relationships. Allison's need to reconnect with her mother -a cancer sufferer, the trials and tribulations of two marriages and an engaged couple, plus Allison's own romance issues, and the responsibility of caring for children. It get's pretty messy. I'm disappointed by the out the author gives for (view spoiler)[Collin and Allison from his marriage by pairing his wife and nephew up and leaving them elsewhere. It's inexplicable when Lydia obviously wanted Collin. I guess there wasn't time to explore that side of things (hide spoiler)].
Allie makes some understandable mistakes, however, some of her decisions are either TSTL or extremely rash. In particular, her decision to sneak out and leave the group to go it alone, which under the circumstances I can understand why she would want to do this but it seemed an incredibly stupid thing to do and perhaps selfish for depriving a group she's come to know and care about of a valuable resource. Her sadistic revenge on the thief I tried to put down to adrenaline and stress but it's hard to forgive when she had the option to kill rather than torture and maim. Roux appears to realise she's turned the audience against her heroine and has Allie feel remorseful and shock at her own actions at a later date. After this her likability fell through the floor. And her crazy, outlandish heroics fell on deaf ears.
Far more detail is given at the beginning with a slower pace becoming increasingly rushed to a short, summarized ending. Frustrating and unsatisfying. I felt Julian was short-changed and deserved more page time to discover his motivation for leaving his only family and how he felt about it. I'm not even sure we get a proper physical description other than his injuries. (view spoiler)[I was sad at his passing. (hide spoiler)] Mourning deaths is almost non-existent, once they're gone, they're gone although only unnecessary and useless characters die (view spoiler)[except for Julian, a doctor (hide spoiler)]. Zombie cliche alert. "MY SON ATE MY BABY GIRL!" was as close as we got to heart-wrenching grief.
*Eating meat will have to be a thing of the past if animals can be zombified. Also, the human race may be f*cked. Maybe it only affects mammals though. That would explain why the fish and birds seemed unaffected. Then again, the squirrel is the only infected animal we come across. So, can animals be infected, or not?
Unfortunately The Restorer reminded me of Prophecy of the Sisters due to the dreadfully slow pace and verbose prose reminiscent of 19th century litera...moreUnfortunately The Restorer reminded me of Prophecy of the Sisters due to the dreadfully slow pace and verbose prose reminiscent of 19th century literature but without the flair and beauty of the prominent writers of the time who could effortlessly produce graceful descriptions of a haunting nature, Victorian gothic-style. Edgar Allan Poe, for example. The dialogue, also, had an oddly formal quality to it that most modern English speakers don't use anymore. This made the book seem unnecessarily long-winded like an incessantly chatty person who goes on and on about nothing in particular.
Very little happened in the first half, it was painfully boring and repetitive (her father's damn rules), and the second was almost as bad. The scenes down in the well and it's tunnels were the most fascinating sections in the book but they only constitute perhaps 50 pages in total. Within those pages we get a glimpse at Amelia and Devlin's psyches as they explored those ancient and neglected passageways, trying to find a way out, hoping they wouldn't stumble upon the murderer in the dark shadows where he would have the upper hand.
Amelia is hollow. Devoid of meaningful experiences. Virginal. Naive. She's an eternal good girl with a lifeless but practical life, a perfectionist. Almost robotic. Constrained by her father's rules and her own fear that she'll attract the attention of a ghost which could attach itself to her and psychically drain her energy, she's never thought to break them even once to see what would happen. Until now, sort of. Passively. She doesn't actively break them, she just lets things naturally progress instead of stepping back as she was told to by her father. This makes her both an uninteresting and irksome heroine who's only appearance of growth is the emergence of curiosity as she turns amateur detective. What is there to like about that?
Devlin, the homicide detective, is almost the opposite. He has spirit (dulled somewhat by his guilt and grief over the loss of his wife and child, whose ghosts are sucking the life out of him), and from what others have said; he once was a very passionate man. But still, we don't really get to know him past his strong sense of honor, justice and nobility.
The romance aspect isn't one I cared for. Stevens appears to snap her fingers, forcing their chemistry, their kiss. The tug of war: Devlin's unconscious succubus-like siphoning of Amelia's strength when they're physically close, her father's warnings telling her to walk away, together with Devlin's reluctance to let his dead wife and daughter go so he can move on plus the ever-presence of their ghosts, against their mutual attraction, was tiresome and in no way was that war resolved here.
Pushed into the background was the mystery. Everything was concentrated on the deaths and burials but not the hunt for the killer. Also, too many other things were going on, too many unrevealed secrets and answers to questions Amelia's never been brave enough to ask her parents about. Ones that aren't unveiled in this book. My mind didn't try to solve the mystery of the murderer, I think, because I didn't care.
I didn't care. I wasn't invested in the outcome, the characters or the writing. I wasn't enchanted by the imagery or chilled by the ghosts. I felt the book was unfocused and aimless, unproductive. It needed tightening up, to be whipped into shape for a faster pace and a clearer message would've made Amelia's first journey out into the real world far more enjoyable.(less)
Dragons. So that's what the Mayans were talking about. 2012 is the year of the fire-breathing, human-killing dragon. It's true. The Chinese came to th...moreDragons. So that's what the Mayans were talking about. 2012 is the year of the fire-breathing, human-killing dragon. It's true. The Chinese came to the same conclusion.
Previously thought to be mythological beings will rise up and decimate the human population. The best of the best of the military, the Marines -the epitome of "Protect and Serve" decide it's survival of the fittest and seem to believe the marauding Vikings had it right: rape, pillage and plunder, and occasionally slay a dragon.
25 years on and their actions have wiped out many a surviving community. There are rumours about: a) the Marines stealing not only resources and women but dead bodies too, and b) the existence of Dragon Warriors, men who wield heavy swords made of diamonds -the only weapon that can pierce their tough hides, supposedly used by the Marines. This puzzles and upsets Rain, our protagonist, of the survival camp, Sanctuary, when it appears disturbing and sinister things are being done she stumbles onto startling information as she attempts to follow through on a promise to a loved one.
The cover + dragons + post-apocalypic dystopia = must read for me. I loved the concept, the history and the world-building, but the Dragon Warrior's personal revelation and his response to it was too fast as was his love-at-first-sight which as a result was a little cliched and over-the-top. However, considering the shortish length of the book it's understandable. I liked Rain, she's tough and hard to fool. Give her a challenge and she will succeed. She's no wallflower, she won't wilt in the face of overwhelming odds or a troop of Marines planning on gang raping her. Eek.
The end...I can only assume who...and how...and hope there's a sequel.
From the ghost's perspective Charley was far more likeable than in First Grave on the Right. Reyes seems to have more dialogue in this story than in t...moreFrom the ghost's perspective Charley was far more likeable than in First Grave on the Right. Reyes seems to have more dialogue in this story than in the novel though his appearance was intrusive and unnecessary until the very end.(less)
I'm torn. There are some brilliant aspects to this book but it was dreadfully slow. I dragged myself through because after figuring out the Meet Joe B...moreI'm torn. There are some brilliant aspects to this book but it was dreadfully slow. I dragged myself through because after figuring out the Meet Joe Black angle I was curious to know if it would end the same way. It didn't. Actually, it took an unexpected yet not unwelcome turn that may not be liked by the masses.
Abbey is excellently portrayed. Her predicament: the ever-present crushing guilt over her mother's death, the growing distance between her and her father, and her misplaced obsession with Nate (the jock who has an obsession of his own with mountain climbing) resulting from her inability to deal with her guilt, wallowing in it instead of moving on with her life. So she imagines this fictitious romantic relationship with him to help her deal with reality. It comforts her. Yes, it's sort of creepy. She was one step away from becoming a full-on stalker but I understood her crush and empathised.
Her only company was her best friend Tanner but she hadn't revealed much about her mother's death and how she felt about it to him. He had his own hang-ups. He'd also been in a tragic accident but he hadn't been so lucky; he was paralysed from the waist down and in a wheelchair. I enjoyed reading Tanner's POV, witnessing how he was treated by others, how his relationships had suffered and the difference in how Abbey treats him. Without pity. She understands how it is for him without even asking.
'Being loners might have drawn us together out of necessity, but it was our friendship that had made us strong enough to come out the other side.'
The story is all about Abbey's transition. Realising that she's tired of being unhappy, of pretending, lying and hiding. She wants to live. It's a great message and I liked the method in which it was conveyed, reminiscent of Riders of the Apocalypse. Love, and the selfish versus the altruistic needs, wants and decisions we make based on that love were also expertly demonstrated. FYI, love's a bitch.
"Dealing with guilt and grief doesn't leave much room for anything else. I know about that dark stuff, but one day if you're really lucky, you get tired of feeling bad all the time. It's like a curtain opens and light comes in. First, it's only a sliver. Then more."
However, it's not all smooth sailing. Besides being slow I really struggled to remain interested whenever we joined Nate's dangerous climb up the mountain. Since seeing Cliffhanger as a child I never even contemplated doing something so unnecessarily hazardous. Rescue teams must love those guys. Anyway, when the Angel of Death does his Joe Black thing to Nate I cringed at his interactions with Abbey. Perhaps it was realistic given her crush but the way she sort of accepted not-Nate's behaviour was uncomfortable to read. I wanted her to push harder when she called him on it, which would've sped up proceedings.
Death had been dealt a bum hand, poor guy. Damned if you do, damned if you don't. As powerful as he was he couldn't control everything and he wasn't perfect. He made mistakes. The mythology surrounding Death was intriguing. He's sort of a swallower of souls, holding them inside him for safe-keeping until the day he's the last one to die. But each soul changes him, for better or worse and this is what prompts him to make contact with Abbey. The ravens were a nice touch -suitably eerie.
As for the romance, well this is tricky. How much to say? There are three potential boyfriends, I guess. One from Abbey's past, her present and future. And the most obvious is not the guy Abbey chooses, and I'm glad of this. Some might not be pleased but just this one aspect makes On a Dark Wing unique, for multiple reasons. The resolution at end was well done. I can definitely see people reacting in that manner to such an extraordinary situation although the lead-up to the climax was a little ludicrous.
Would I recommend this to anyone? Well, I didn't hate this book and I wouldn't dissuade anyone from reading it. In fact, I might warn them it's slow but I'd encourage them to read to the end because I think the effort just might be worth it.
***Thank you to Harlequin Teen for providing me with this ebook.***(less)