Read this in two days. I think this is the best one of the series. It is scarily realistic and timely. It feels like he writes these books just beforeRead this in two days. I think this is the best one of the series. It is scarily realistic and timely. It feels like he writes these books just before the events happen in real life. One caveat--these books are blunt and bloody. Do not read this series looking for lovely shadings of ambiguity....more
I guess I'm kind of a snob when it comes to thrillers. Graham Greene, John LeCarre, Alan Furst, Martin Cruz Smith, Tom Rob Smith, (He wrote Child 44.I guess I'm kind of a snob when it comes to thrillers. Graham Greene, John LeCarre, Alan Furst, Martin Cruz Smith, Tom Rob Smith, (He wrote Child 44. Go read it.) they're some of my favorite authors. They write literature that just happens to be about spies. When it comes to this genre, I'm a hard sell.
I Am Pilgrim is a beautifully constructed thriller, an unstoppable juggernaut, keeping me awake until three in the morning one night this week.
The flaws? The writing itself is occasionally amateurish, the pacing sometimes stops the plot dead in its tracks, the characters are pretty eye-rollingly unbelievable, the story hinges on some ridiculous coincidences, there's an almost completely unnecessary subplot, but you know what? It doesn't matter. The terrorist plot at the heart of this book is truly frightening, wholly believable, and it made me want to stand up and applaud. I recommend this book to fellow thriller-lovers with all my heart.
Style-wise, think Robert Ludlum or Tom Clancy or Olen Steinhauer, and you'll be very happy....more
So, the characters are pretty thin, the relationships between them are practically arbitrary by the third book, and I was kind of impatient with the wSo, the characters are pretty thin, the relationships between them are practically arbitrary by the third book, and I was kind of impatient with the whole "Is this true? Or more lies from WICKED?" device that drives the narrative.
What I loved about this book--to be exact, what I found riveting, un-put-downable, and what drove me to read all three books in this series--was Dashner's remarkable take on the apocalypse. In the world he creates, vast swathes of the earth have become uninhabitable, a desert, scorched and ruined by solar flares. During the destruction, a deadly virus, The Flare, was set free from some secret government laboratory. It's airborne, incredibly contagious, and 90% fatal. The remaining world governments band together in the face of this disaster. A kind of Center for Disease Control, WICKED, has total control over all resources as it focuses on a cure for the disease.
So, okay, The Hunger Games-esque plot involves bright, personable, physically fit teenagers passing various tests and manufactured situations. Myriads of them die in very awful and creative ways. And the virus turns people into...sigh...zombies, before it kills them.
The impact on the environment was done so well, felt so real, it had me truly frightened. And the way Dashner imagines the government's reaction to the catastrophes feel all too believably possible. Healthy people locked into walled cities. Sick people brutally removed and isolated in sad, neglected and dangerous ghettos that were originally planned to be humane. A single agency with a purpose considered so vital that it grows all-powerful and above the law. Civilization breaks down as all available funds are funneled towards the cure. Exploration of other, simpler methods that might have prevented further infection are ignored and abandoned.
My 14-year-old son loved the action, the relationships, the challenges, the wonderfully imagined teenage slang Dashner invents. I loved everything else. ...more
Very happy I read these. This is a collection of very adult Neil Gaiman stories, written before he fell into his trusty formula of "Ordinary guy meetsVery happy I read these. This is a collection of very adult Neil Gaiman stories, written before he fell into his trusty formula of "Ordinary guy meets strange person, and then enters wacky wonderful fantasy world." They're sad, sexy, naughty, shivery, eerie, and occasionally moving. There's an early story called "One Life, Furnished in Early Moorcock" that took my breath away, mainly because it must have been based on his own childhood. "Troll Bridge," a heart-tightening tale about the pain of growing up and old and empty. "Changes," a warning about the perils of modern medicine. These days, Neil seems to bury his truth under gossamer layers of magic. In these stories, you will find bits and pieces of the real Neil. ...more
Yeah, it's a four, but not a tremendously enthusiastic four. This feels like a Neil Gaiman book as written by Michael Chabon. It's charming, don't getYeah, it's a four, but not a tremendously enthusiastic four. This feels like a Neil Gaiman book as written by Michael Chabon. It's charming, don't get me wrong. I guess I just wasn't in the right place for it. ...more
I read this because my husband couldn't put it down. As the book description says, it's the story of a woman who was kidnapped in Somalia. Though I reI read this because my husband couldn't put it down. As the book description says, it's the story of a woman who was kidnapped in Somalia. Though I respect Amanda Lindhout for raising herself out of a sad and difficult childhood, I did spend a lot of time saying to myself, (sometimes out loud) "Wow, what a stupid thing to do!" as she compulsively travels alone to dangerous flashpoint destinations. Amanda Lindhout is a traveler/cocktail waitress/wannabe journalist. For a few years, she's extremely lucky--people are nice, no one rapes her--until she travels to Somalia, where no one is in charge; the land of pirates, professional kidnappers, and Islamic fundamentalists--and there, her luck runs out.
What did I learn from this book? A couple of things. What it takes, psychologically, to survive kidnapping and torture. Despite being treated like some kind of amalgamation of slave, war booty, and animal, Lindhout never loses hope, is incredibly positive, learns to leave her poor abused body and disappear inside her mind, and retains an almost kindly view of her kidnappers. (Yes. I was thinking Stockholm Syndrome, too.)
This book served as a shocking reminder of the difference between Western civilization and fundamentalist Islamic society. It is almost a tragedy to be born female in a place where women are forced to walk around in shrouds, peering at the world through a slit in the fabric. It's heartbreaking even just reading about a society that forces those conditions upon fifty percent of their population.
Lindhout isn't alone; she's kidnapped with a male friend, yet only she is beaten, raped, tied up, starved, scapegoated, tortured, forced to lie on the floor for months in a windowless, lightless room. In contrast, her companion, a hapless wannabe photographer ex-boyfriend, is given books to read, a room with windows, and the teenage kidnappers treat him like a buddy.
Was Lindhout helplessly naive? Oh, yes. Will you shake your head in stunned disbelief as you read of her loony escapades? You certainly will. Will you make your daughters read it before you allow them to travel anywhere? Absolutely yes. What happened to her was tragically inevitable. But her clear-headed and beautifully-written description of her time in Somalia makes for a fascinating read....more