Set in a dystopic Japan, forty fifteen-year-olds are kidnapped and sent to an island where they are forced to compete in a government-mandated battleSet in a dystopic Japan, forty fifteen-year-olds are kidnapped and sent to an island where they are forced to compete in a government-mandated battle royale called the Program. They are each given a weapon and forced to kill each other.
This book was kind of like Lord of the Flies done to the tone/style of Kill Bill in that it was an unabashed gore fest that nevertheless told a pretty decent story of average teenagers descending into murder and savagery. I feel odd giving it four stars because gore fests aren't really my type of story, but almost every student is given their own background and history... usually before they die horribly. I just liked the gutsiness of it, how it pulled no punches, how you really want the good guys to win and the bad guys to get theirs. I read this book mostly due to the debate of whether or not Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games resembled it a little too closely. After reading Battle Royale, I honestly feel like it's probably a case of idea convergence, and even if Collins did hear the concept of Battle Royale and decide she'd try something similar, I think the differences overwhelm the basic similarities. My perception of The Hunger Games is that it incorporates a lot of the modern-day obsession with reality TV while Battle Royale--as mentioned above--feels more like Lord of the Flies meets Kill Bill.
I can't say that this will ever be a favorite of mine, but I am glad that I read it and own a copy....more
I was excited to get started on this book, since I'd heard nothing but good things about it. Unfortunately, maybe I built it up a bit too much in my hI was excited to get started on this book, since I'd heard nothing but good things about it. Unfortunately, maybe I built it up a bit too much in my head, because the book didn't really work for me. The concept of the book was great. (After being killed, Evangeline Stone wakes up in the morgue and has a three days to unravel the mysteries surrounding her death before she dies again.) But in spite of the original premise, I never managed to get into the novel. Evy and Wyatt didn't pique my interest as characters, the plot kind of dragged, there was one character I really wanted to live who didn't, etc.
In the end, the novel had an interesting premise, but it just wasn't for me....more
Usually the combination of police work/investigation, monsters, and a heroine with a tragic past and special powers have me bracing for a book to be jUsually the combination of police work/investigation, monsters, and a heroine with a tragic past and special powers have me bracing for a book to be just like every other urban fantasy novel out there on the shelves. But in a genre full of old, tired cliches*, Diana Rowland's debut novel, Mark of the Demon, manages to stand apart from the rest.
Rather then turning the urban fantasy tropes around, Rowland manages to remind me why they became such staples of the genre in the first place. The police work is interesting and unabashedly gruesome, full of little procedural details that make it very believable. The monsters--demons, in this case--have a system of honor and hierarchy that makes them interesting without appearing overworked. But most importantly, Kara Gillian is a believable and easy-to-relate-to heroine in the same vein as early Anita Blake, with her insecurities and her desire to prove herself as she takes on her first case as a homicide detective. Also, Kara was on the case as a detective, not as a demon summoner, so it was interesting watching her trying to juggle the two worlds.
I didn't actually dislike anything about this book, but is it odd that I found Ryan more intriguing when he was portrayed as an aloof FBI agent with pretty eyes? I was looking forward to Kara having to prove herself to him (with lots of tension along the way), but it seemed like in the space of two or so chapters he did a complete 180 and turned into a likable guy who laughed and grinned every other paragraph. And while the plot was solid and kept my interest, for some reason I picked out the bad guy in his introductory paragraph. I'm not sure how. I forgot about him after that, but when key information was revealed later in the book, he was the first person that sprang to mind.
I read a lot of urban fantasy, so I get very excited when I find a book that manages to stand out. I already went and bought the second and third novels in this series, and I look forward to reading them.
* That I don't seem to be able to get enough of. ...more
So, apparently the quickest way to get me, not a huge short story anthology fan, to love a set of short stories is to maRelease date: October 26, 2010
So, apparently the quickest way to get me, not a huge short story anthology fan, to love a set of short stories is to make them all by the same author and all about a character I quite love at times. I enjoyed this book a lot more than I expected, from the cheesebomb of a first story to the final story that made my heart ache. Jim Butcher, thank you for bringing Harry Dresden into the literature world....more
**spoiler alert** In Blackout, the sixth installment of the Cal Leandros series, half-human Cal wakes up on a beach surrounded by the bodies of dead m**spoiler alert** In Blackout, the sixth installment of the Cal Leandros series, half-human Cal wakes up on a beach surrounded by the bodies of dead monsters and no memories of his past. Soon, friends and family of his start popping out of nowhere, and a wannabe-goddess wants something from Cal--something she'll stop at nothing trying to get, something that Cal doesn't even remember having.
Blackout revolves around two main conflicts: Ammut's pursuit of Cal & Friends, and the struggle caused by Cal's slowly-returning memories. Leading up to this book, I had always wondered: if Cal could choose, would he be bad or good? (Because, honestly, it's hard to tell; Cal seems a little bit in love with how badass his inner Auphe makes him, although I wonder if that's a little bit of the author's love peeking through.)
I struggled with how to rate this book, since it's one of those rare urban fantasy novels that actually gets better as you sit and mull it over for the themes, the character progression, and what it's trying to say. The Ammut plot is pretty cut-and-dry--nothing too special going on, except for the mystery of Ammut's request that only stayed mysterious to me for about half of the book. As always, Wolves come in three flavors: dead, dumb, and Delilah. Robin is entertaining and a good friend. Cal shoots things. Niko slices and dices them. Zombie cats abound.
But where I think the novel really shines is the overall progression of Cal's struggle with his monster self, which has been building over six books and has finally come to what I feel is a good and natural endpoint. I like what Thurman had to say at the end about Cal accepting who he is. I don't doubt the monster theme will come up again in the future, but hopefully not with as central a focus as it has been. Niko also struggles with a very hard choice that was portrayed well, especially since there are no shifts to his POV in the novel. I liked the epilogue, although I do hope there are more half-breeds out there, maybe ones that are less with the bloodthirstiness and more with the interesting developments in Cal-ville.
As to my question of whether Cal wants to be good or bad, I got my answer by the end of the book, and I quite liked it. He'll be whatever it takes to protect his brother; he'll just be Cal. (Hey, it's kind of a take on, "I choose me!" Only bloodier.)
In the end, Blackout wasn't my favorite novel in the series, but, hey, I appreciated it enough to spend thirty minutes analyzing it and writing a review of it. (Now I'll proceed to edit this review several times after saving it to fix my typos.) This series still remains my favorite of the urban fantasy series out there; it truly is a series that stands above all the rest, and I hope that never changes. Keep doing what you do, Rob Thurman....more