I liked this book more than I thought I would. I was a bit worried that it would be too "clever" and gimmicky, but it turned out to be very well writtI liked this book more than I thought I would. I was a bit worried that it would be too "clever" and gimmicky, but it turned out to be very well written and kept my attention throughout. It was interesting to read a book written from the POV of an autistic boy and Haddon did a great job of working in Christopher's everyday approach to life as well the bigger picture of his family unit revealed through the snippets of adult interaction.
What was less successful for me was the whole "curious incident" itself, but perhaps that is more of a marketing issue since it's the main hook of the story. I also tend to enjoy books more when they are more emotionally involving, which tended to be mostly an impossibility with a narrator like this one. Still, I would expect to feel more than mild curiosity and mild pity when reading a story like this. A little more tension and little more excitement to go along with the intellectual exercise would have been great. ...more
**spoiler alert** Certainly a well-written novel...but did I like it? I'm not sure. Getting hit with axes and drowning critters and eating spiders isn**spoiler alert** Certainly a well-written novel...but did I like it? I'm not sure. Getting hit with axes and drowning critters and eating spiders isn't really my thing. Giving it 3 stars for the writing, though....more
A premise full of promise, but after 150 pages, how can there still be no answers? Deliberately withholding information becomes frustrating not only fA premise full of promise, but after 150 pages, how can there still be no answers? Deliberately withholding information becomes frustrating not only for the protagonist, but for the reader as well. The fact that Thomas does not demand more answers from his fellow captives makes it difficult to sympathize with or care what happens to him. The spoilers for the book make it sound intriguing, but I can't wade through another 200 pages before it gets to the point.
Aside from a few physical differences and "bad" or "good" actions, the boys tend to blend together as well. They're not fully fleshed out or unique in any way, and for a book that's centered around characters in a bleak environment in a desperate situation, this is a most unfortunate weakness....more
Peeps, which treats vampires as thoroughly unromantic parasites, is a well-written story about a boy infected with a "carrier" gene who must hunt thosPeeps, which treats vampires as thoroughly unromantic parasites, is a well-written story about a boy infected with a "carrier" gene who must hunt those who have turned into vampires. It kept my interest because it's such an unusual premise, but after awhile the alternating chapters that present random biological terrors became a little tiresome. I enjoy books with visceral descriptions and count Richard Preston's The Hot Zone among my favorite non-fiction books, but the lessons here would have been a little less intrusive if they'd been a short paragraph or two at the beginning of each chapter instead of making up literally half of the book--or if the overarching story and character development were better balanced with them. I also wasn't a huge fan of the way Cal would sometimes address the reader directly, or of Lace's non-stop use of the word "dude" to address someone (and this is coming from someone who actually does use "dude" on occasion).
Overall, this is a really interesting premise, but the actual action and story weren't compelling enough for me to really love it. I picked up the second book in this series too, but after skimming through a few chapters, it didn't really hold my interest either. Still, Peeps has a lot of fans and I can see why. In the end, it just boils down to a matter of personal taste....more
Re-read in preparation for the film--still powerful, and so impressive, especially in its simplicity and brevity. Interesting to see its DNA in many oRe-read in preparation for the film--still powerful, and so impressive, especially in its simplicity and brevity. Interesting to see its DNA in many other dystopian YAs that have come along in recent years.
In case you're interested, I thought the film was pretty good, and the actor who played Jonas was perfectly cast. The changes they made to original story actually worked to the adaptation's benefit, and in some ways it expands the original themes and relationships in the book.
What a cool concept! For one secret extra hour each night, a small group of teenagers is able to move about freely--even though the rest of the town aWhat a cool concept! For one secret extra hour each night, a small group of teenagers is able to move about freely--even though the rest of the town around them is frozen in time. What's going on? Why is the town like this? What do the evil darklings want with Jessica Day, the new girl in town?
I really enjoyed this book. The idea is incredibly intriguing, and I liked the descriptions of focus/out of focus, the kids' purple eyes, the wondrous flying, the injections of humor, and the beautiful night when Jess sees the frozen world for the first time, with the air filled with suspended raindrops. The author does a great job of gradually weaving the story together (though much of the book is spent on setting up the concept), and it'll be interesting to what everyone's motivations are and how certain powers will be utilized.
A couple of quibbles: while I like all the characters so far and don't really mind the multiple narrators, I think reducing the number of POVs would have made the narrative stronger. In such a short novel it's already hard to get to know the numerous characters, so spending more time with just a couple of them might've tightened things up a bit. Since Rex is turning out to be a mysterious figure and it seems that Jess is actually more of the central character, I would also have flip-flopped the POVs for Chapters 1 and 2 so the book starts off from her perspective. Could be the author had a reason for doing this (deliberate misguidance, perhaps), but if so I think more time with Rex would have made this stronger.
I also have to mention that the town's name gets used...a lot. I noticed this happening so many times within the first 7 pages that I decided to keep a tally as I was reading. The grand total in 274 pages? 18 mentions of name Bixby High and 95 mentions of Bixby itself. This was so unnecessary (at page 194, do you really need to explain that the sheriff you're referring to is the one "here in Bixby?") and intrusive, and I'm surprised that an editor didn't catch this repetition throughout the book.
Still, the little things I'd fix are minor and my enjoyment was huge. The story set-up reminded me a lot of William Sleator's young adult sci-fi in a very good way, and I'm very much looking forward to seeing where the story goes in the next installment of the series. Splendiferous!...more
A fantastic series that I loved as a kid and still holds up for adults. Well-written, engrossing mysteries with engaging characters and just enough ofA fantastic series that I loved as a kid and still holds up for adults. Well-written, engrossing mysteries with engaging characters and just enough of Sherlock himself to whet the appetite for investigation and adventure....more
Never judge a book by its title. I have to confess it took me awhile to get to this one because I think the title is a little cheesy (and it's now obvNever judge a book by its title. I have to confess it took me awhile to get to this one because I think the title is a little cheesy (and it's now obviously impossible to get Elton John out of my head), but this turned out to be a hilarious book that had me laughing out loud numerous times--not a bad feat when a big part of the book is about raising the dead. All the characters are engaging and likable, especially smart-mouthed Sam, strong and beautiful Brid, Sam's little sisters, the...incapacitated Brooke, and the gleefully bizarre Ashley.
"So, you're telling me the zoo commissioned you to make a zombie panda in order to avoid a potential international incident." Hah!
This is probably a 3.5 star book for me, though, since:
* I would have liked to have seen more of Sam's necromancy powers appear earlier on * Douglas would have been more interesting if his character was a little more developed * it would have been fun to see more of the critters that appear later in the book * the flashbacks slowed down the momentum a little too much * the book would have been more pulled together if Sam's narration was in the third person. With focus shifting between him, Douglas, Brid, and then later Ramon and Tia, having Sam's POV in the first person was confusing when it would have been just as good written in the third.
Still, these are minor ticks considering this is a super funny, fast-paced and entertaining book. I enjoyed the big battle scene at the end, am mightily intrigued by the idea of a were-bear, and I love the way the author writes. Can't wait for the next installment in the series! Though now I want waffles. Badly....more
Have you ever stood in your house, listening to a quiet, unfamiliar noise, and felt the hair rise on the back of your neck? Cas Lowood has, and the unHave you ever stood in your house, listening to a quiet, unfamiliar noise, and felt the hair rise on the back of your neck? Cas Lowood has, and the unholy hell of what he finds when he investigates will make you jump a little bit in your seat. He's a 17-year-old who kills the dead with a magic athame, just as his father did before him--and now he's faced with the task of killing Anna, a homicidal ghost who was murdered more than 60 years ago.
Cas is a fantastically strong and appealing protagonist, but it's really Anna who takes center stage. Imagine the visual of a pale girl with inky hair floating in a dark house, her beautiful white dress slowly drip-drip-dripping with blood. She's deadly dangerous and full of vengeful fury, however, because of the way she was killed. When you find out what really happened to Anna, it's hard not to feel terrible pity for her--and to understand why Cas has such a hard time killing her.
If you've been looking for a great YA horror novel, look no further. Anna Dressed in Blood is a stunning novel, full of atmospheric spookiness and unthinkable horrors. I cringed reading about ghosts with stones where their eyes should be, I yelped when Cas goes down into a basement full of...dreadful things, and my eyes got as big as saucers when the walls starting bleeding. But although the descriptions are full of vivid imagery and there's plenty of brutal action, what happens isn't at all gross. If anything, there's a dark beauty in the descriptions and an elegance in the writing that makes every scene a true pleasure to read. My reading status updates will give you a peek at some of the lines and scenes that particularly made me shiver, but I really had to restrain myself from posting one every couple of pages, as there's so much to savor, even in simple but humorous lines such as "She's wearing the same smile as her cat." I found just as much to love in the writing as I did the fantastic story, and the cheeky humor made me laugh even in dire and inappropriate circumstances.
This is the darker, more grown-up version of Hold Me Closer, Necromancer, and it's much more violent and much more polished. Anna offers an unforgettable thrill of a ride--and it catapulted instantly to my favorites list for the year. I am so excited about this author and I can't wait for the sequel, Girl of Nightmares, to come out in 2012. Read it, read it, read it! I promise it will make you shudder, in the very best of ways.
This review is spoiler-free, and safe even for those who haven't read the first two books in the series.
Forget everything you ever assumed about scienThis review is spoiler-free, and safe even for those who haven't read the first two books in the series.
Forget everything you ever assumed about science fiction novels or zombie thrillers: the Newsflesh trilogy defies all expectations. The story that began with a turbulent political campaign in a post-apocalyptic Feed escalates here as the blogger journalists from After the End of Times continue their quest to uncover the truth behind the deadly Kellis-Amberlee virus that has decimated civilization--one that is now mutating and spreading faster than ever before. The breakneck action and intrigue in Blackout is intense as a dangerous rescue mission, disease-carrying mosquitoes, zombie bears, tangled family drama, and a mysterious patient known as Subject 7B all complicate what is already hell on earth.
It's funny that my favorite zombie series actually has the least amount of zombie action in it, but Newsflesh hasn't ever been about the undead anyway--it's about the human response to it. As with The Reapers Are the Angels and Warm Bodies, this series is fascinating to me because it explores the idea of personal integrity within extreme circumstances. What would you do when the world ends? If you're Shaun and Georgia Mason, adopted siblings whose closeness forms an unbreakable team, you lead your fellow bloggers into an unrelenting search for truth--no matter what the cost. Or at least, that's how their story began. But now that the stakes are higher than they've ever been and those they love most are at risk, the focus has shifted to a very human need to hold onto the connections that matter most.
Blackout seamlessly combines medical thriller, political intrigue, and pulse-pounding action sequences with unforgettable human drama. How you feel about this series will very much depend on how you feel about the characters in general--if you love the Masons, Alaric, Becks, Mahir, and Maggie, you'll most likely have a fantastic time with Newsflesh. It doesn't mean the characters are perfect, of course; Shaun in particular is mourning a huge loss, and his reckless, desperate behavior in the second book caused a lot of criticism from a lot of readers. For me, I felt his pain so keenly, however, that his torment became mine--and I understood, too, the unconventional, defiant ways in which he grasped for some semblance of happiness as the world around him was destroyed. In books and in real life, I respond very strongly to loyalty, honesty, and the determination to do what's right. Shaun and Georgia, as well as their superbly realized supporting cast, embody those traits in a big way. Because they also are slammed with unbelievable suffering throughout these books that require a brutal amount of self-sacrifice, it isn't any wonder that I feel such fiercely protective love for them, as well as for the ideals they represent.
The author's writing gets better and better in each book, with well-researched scientific dilemmas and brilliant recaps that engage the reader without resorting to long info-dumps. Her brisk, matter-of-fact style of writing suits the story perfectly, and the sophisticated plot is exceptionally well-paced, with shifts from furious action to moments of stark stillness and contemplation handled beautifully. Whether we're getting worked up over red herrings, watching someone facing her own mortality, or respectfully acknowledging fallen comrades, the emotional pitch throughout the book felt utterly right, which is something that is very hard to pull off when there are so many ethical issues at stake.
A few random thoughts with REAL spoilers, because there's no other way to discuss them:
(view spoiler)[Subject 7B's realization of who and what she is is totally kickass. I loved how very true to her character this whole scenario was, and how believably all the cloning issues were integrated with our human need to recognize this person.
The scenes where 7B looks on the 8s made me really sad. :(
I'm so glad that one of the major plot points wasn't rescuing Georgia, because I cannot imagine any situation less likely to happen. The way she escapes and the way everyone reacts to seeing her was pitch-perfect.
I am SO happy to have Georgia back. Sheesh, I missed her so much! And it's nice to have a break from all the crazy of being in Shaun's head, hah.
I'm glad that Shaun and Georgia got to ride off into the sunset a bit, though I'm still sad for the brave, original Georgia who died in such a devastating way.
There were certainly some plot lines that I saw coming, and although I'm a little surprised that we got a HEA, obviously this didn't hinder my enjoyment of the book at all. The way it was handled felt just right. (hide spoiler)]
I don't know that I've ever read another series where the emotion it evoked was so intense--Feed left me crying so hard I could hardly see the keyboard, Deadline had me literally whimpering with pain in the middle of the night, and Blackout made me want to scream with excitement and agony and worry all at once. If you'd told me that a science fiction trilogy with zombies could be so searingly emotional or feel so incredibly personal, I'd have told you it was impossible. And I've never been happier to be proven wrong. I know most true fans of this series will race through the pages just like I did, with the same urgency and dread and excitement.
While I'm so sad that this particular story is over (although there are two more Newsflesh novellas coming this year) and I dearly wish they could all turn into zombies so this story could live on forever, I'm happy with the way the story ended. I'm sure Mira Grant's new forthcoming novels Parasitology and Symbiogenesis will be absolutely spectacular.
This review also appears in The Midnight Garden. An advance copy was provided by the publisher.
P.S. For more proof of the power of Mira Grant's writing, read the alternate ending to FEED, Fed, at the bottom of the review on our blog which is ONLY safe for those who have already read the first book. Holy frak, that woman is an evil genius. ["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"]>...more
What makes us human? Is it merely a collection of living flesh and tissue and bone, or is it also consciousness and memory and feeling? R, the young zWhat makes us human? Is it merely a collection of living flesh and tissue and bone, or is it also consciousness and memory and feeling? R, the young zombie who narrates this novel, isn't really sure. But after meeting Julie, a human girl he impulsively saves and hides away in an abandoned plane, he begins to experience thoughts and feelings that he'd forgotten he'd ever had.
Warm Bodies is a wistful love story that is creepy, sad, sweet, and disturbing in equal measure. The notion that it is possible to write a philosophical zombie novel seems quite unbelievable, but the author has accomplished this feat with astonishing ease. Being in R's head is a revelatory experience; he is matter-of-fact, pensive, humorous, and troubled at various different times. After his shockingly violent introduction to Julie, he also becomes animated and severely conflicted and full of yearning. A story like this obviously requires that readers suspend a fair amount of disbelief, but the focus here isn't on the technical aspects of survival anyway, but more on the idea that the desire for dignity and tenderness have just as much to do with humanity as does a collection of blood and muscles and cells.
The gentle sentiment in this story took me completely by surprise, especially as it contrasts so sharply with the visceral feedings that keep the zombies alive. The nourishment comes not only from the nutritional content that is necessary for survival, but also from the associated memories and emotions that each morsel of brain matter contains. This startlingly original idea creates an incredible amount of anguish and guilt and longing for R, and as he becomes more and more deeply attached to Julie, it's impossible to remain unmoved by his plight.
I keep saying I'm not a zombie person, but some of the best books I've read recently have featured them in prominent roles. After being blown away by Feed, Deadline, and The Reapers Are the Angels, I wasn't really sure whether there was still another great zombie story I'd be excited about, but Warm Bodies is a brilliant addition to the non-typical horror, intelligent zombie novel canon. I think that the reason these stories have struck such a chord with me is that they're attempting to explore ideas that are bigger than the issues that are actually on the page. Whether the books are delving into the right to information or the value of life or the struggle to keep the human spirit alive, the presence of the zombies is almost incidental. It's the fundamental questions these novels raise about the nature of humans and humanity that make them such great --and moving--works of literature.
Believe it or not, this is actually a really funny book. You wouldn't think so based on the title and the subject, but 15-year-old Jeff will have youBelieve it or not, this is actually a really funny book. You wouldn't think so based on the title and the subject, but 15-year-old Jeff will have you laughing out loud throughout his story. He's in a mental hospital because he tried to slit his wrists on New Year's Eve, he's surrounded by kids who are clearly crazier than he is, and his doctor (nicknamed "Cat Poop") doesn't seem to understand that there's nothing wrong with him and won't leave him alone. Neither will the various patients who come and go who keep wanting to fool around with him in the wee hours of the night.
All Jeff wants to do is to do his time and to get home--partly because his sister Amanda might call dibs on his vacant room. And he does not want to talk about what happened with his best friend Allie, and how their relationship changed after she started dating her boyfriend Burke.
The novel is set up so that each chapter follows a single day in Jeff's 45-day treatment program. As the narrator, Jeff is hilariously dead-pan, self-deprecating, and easy to listen to. He is also kind, curious, confused, and sad beneath the typical teenage guy "I'm fine" attitude, but this takes a little while to come out. What's really interesting about the book being from Jeff's point of view is that the author reveals Jeff's avoidance and self-delusion without our main character really being aware of it, which is a pretty neat trick. And it's all all done with a deft hand and an unerring eye for genuine emotion.
I'm still undecided as to whether I should go into detail about what this book is actually about, but I will say that it's pretty important that readers who go into this story are fairly open-minded. In the middle of the drama involving the various patients at the hospital, there are frank discussions about (and depictions of) suicide, abuse, identity, sexuality, and self-loathing that are realistically and honestly portrayed. I did, however, appreciate the author's choice to make Jeff's secret both more complex and less of an extreme situation (view spoiler)[i.e., it was not abuse in his case that led to his suicide attempt (hide spoiler)], as I think it's important that we see more stories from this standpoint. The confusion and embarrassment and hurt and fear can sometimes be enough.
Maybe I can convince my parents to move to France. No one in France cares if you tried to kill yourself. In fact, I think they like you better because you're all tragic.
It's not like I've never jacked off. I'm fifteen years old. Of course I do it. Any guy who says he doesn't is lying. That would be like having the coolest video game ever and never playing it. No one's that stupid.
The humor and the depth in this exceptionally well-written novel felt incredibly true to life and poignant. I worried about this boy and his denial about himself and I was anxious about whether the people in his life would accept him. We don't get to read stories like this nearly often enough, but they are such an important part of the human experience and I hope we'll see more of them.
I also really appreciated the hopeful and optimistic tone that this novel takes, however. It's nice to be reminded not only that there are kids out there who are hurting, but also that there are people out there who care. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more