For a very long time, the great conundrum of the world has been this: Zombies? Or unicorns?
It seemed something had come along to finally resolve this issue: ZOMBIE UNICORNS!! But things are not as they seem. Dun, dun, dun.
By the way, this book is a free download from John Green, just click on the book page and hit 'download ebook'. Then par-tay!!!
I had a conversation, albeit somewhat imaginary, with Mia Featherstone, the protagonist of this John Green novella entitled Zombicorns.
Me: Zombie unicorns, you say? Mia: Well, no, actually it's NOT zombie unicorns. Me: Whhhhhhhhhat? No Zombie Unicorns??!! Noooooooooo! Goodbye, cruel world! Mia: No, no. This is even more awesome because it's zombie "corn". Get it? Me: Errrrrr? *tilts head* Mia: You know, corn? Like the food. It's yellow, with rows of kernels. Me: Aaaaand that's better than zombie unicorns how? Mia: Because the zombies care for and plant the corn. They're like undead uncoordinated zombie corn farmers. Me: Uh-huh. Mia: But it's good, because corn is awesome. Me: Zombies plant corn? WHY THE FRAK DO THEY PLANT CORN?! Mia: They've been infected by a virus through eating corn and they want to bring that corn to everyone because of said virus. Me: Ah. So it's not zombified unicorns! It's zombies eating corn?. Mia: Uh, kinda. It's just - they don't actually eat the corn once they are infected. They either eat people or force the people to eat corn. Me: They don't eat the corn, they just plant it? Mia: Yep. Me: Well, regardless. I really did enjoy your story - really entertaining. Oh, I loved your dog, Mr. President. Mia: Gee thanks. Me: As much as I liked it, I'm glad you kept your story short because I just don't know how long zombies planting corn would stay interesting. Mia: Understood. Me: Are you sure there aren't any unicorns? Mia: No unicorns. No rainbows. Sorry. Me: Frak! Oh, on a side note. It seems that you like to use the term "frak". Is John Green a fan of Battlestar Galactica? Mia: Who's John Green?! *eyes start to glaze over* Me: What do you mean? He's the guy that wrote yo... Oh, uh, never mind. Forget I said anything. Mia: What are talking about?! Who the frak is John Green? *roars and goes dead behind the eyes* Me: No one. No one. Uh, interview over!! *runs away screaming* I'm never eating corn, EVER AGAIN!(less)
I had this big stupid flow chart all planned out for this review, but it seems there are like a hundred reasons why it won't work. Well, more like two. Images aren't working correctly on Goodreads at the moment AND I can't find a free site to host such a large image on AND it looks like crap small. Damn. That's four reasons. I so can't count tonight.
Girl15 lives underground in the Enclave after an as-of-yet-unknown apocalypse of some sort. Having just finished training to become a Huntress, she is given a name, Deuce (don't even start), and a parnter, so she can begin exploring the underground. Also falling to her are the jobs of hunting and trapping food and fighting off "Freaks", creatures who were formerly regular people now equipped with claws, razor sharp teeth, and cannibalistic tendencies.
Deuce has the strength of Katniss, the intuition of Buffy, AND she eats zombies for dinner. Well, not really. But wouldn't that be an intriguing twist?
I have very high requirements for kick-ass female characters. When you grow up with characters like Buffy and Princess Leia, it can set the bar pretty high to begin with and can result in a difficulty being satisfied with Bella-ish whiny girls. Then when more awesome iconic characters like River Tam and Katniss Everdeen come along, that raises the bar even higher.
Now Duece is a pretty freaking badass character on her own. The problem is that Ann Aguirre set the bar just out of reach with her first kickass chick, Sirantha Jax of Grimspace, and Duece just isn't quite tall enough to walk in her predecessor's tiny flats and still measure up. She would need 6 inch platforms to reach the level set by Jax.
Well, she got the shoes. You know what kind they are? Zombie killing shoes. I guess, technically "Freak" killing shoes, but they help her measure up to Jax. With them, she kicks a hella ton of ass.
She sure reminds me of Katniss a lot. She is dry and detached, but she is a MACHINE. Killing machine, that is. I would have liked to see a bit of the spunk and snark that Jax is so blessed with, but they are two very different young women.
The society in the Enclave was infinitely interesting, and I would have enjoyed spending more time there and learning more about it. I have sooooo damn many unanswered questions. For example: They aren't supposed to have sex unless they are "Breeders". Does that mean an underpants pillowfight is out of the question? Come on, we need to know important stuff like this.
I would have liked more inner enclave espionage. Maybe to see Deuce and her partner, Fade, sneaking around a bit, being tensiony and sexual-ish and inciting rebellion. Then concentrate more on Topside in the sequel. This book is called Enclave after all.
And yes, Deuce is a strange name for a girl, or for any person for that matter, especially since I have the tact and giggle reflex of a nine year old boy. However, the name is only giggleworthy for the first few pages and a good unique name is a necessity. My dog still hasn't forgiven me for naming her after a science fiction technological masterpiece. Which one? I'll never tell. They are all good names, anyway. ;-) The Death Star... Flux Capacitor... Number Six.
Overall, I loved this! The last half is slow and arguably not as good as the first, but regardless, I'm still excited for the sequel!!(less)
Hell freakin yes! Only $2.99 on Kindle!! Find it HERE. I have been wanting to read this FOREVER. The price is down from $9.99 and this probably won't...moreHell freakin yes! Only $2.99 on Kindle!! Find it HERE. I have been wanting to read this FOREVER. The price is down from $9.99 and this probably won't last long at all, so get it as soon as possible. Woot Woot!!
This book has been nominated for a Hugo and the second book will be released on June 1st. Also, apparently DO NOT read the blurb for the second book as it contains major spoilage for the first book.(less)
You know when you see yourself in a picture and think, "Ahhhhhhhh! Is that me?"
You just don't look right because you're used to seeing yourself from a...moreYou know when you see yourself in a picture and think, "Ahhhhhhhh! Is that me?"
You just don't look right because you're used to seeing yourself from a different angle in the mirror. That's how this entire book felt because I thought I was seeing it all wrong. Something just seemed off. But more on that later *long drawn out dramatic pause*............ Dun, dun, duuuuuuun.
Beware! Minor Spoilers are afoot (and tagged). That's if you can spoil something that's already 'Rot'ten and 'Ruin'ed to begin with. Haha. Oh, and Major Ranting *salute* runs wild, crazy, and naked all over this review like a mad man on a football field.
Let me start off by saying that this was one of my most anticipated reads of the year so perhaps I went in with much-too-high expectations. I went into it expecting to LOVE it, but often found myself rolling my eyes at what felt like preaching and dumbing-down to a younger audience.
So, the first couple chapters of this book were the most tremendously creative and in depth look at what it takes to survive a zombie apocalypse.
Benny and Chong just turned 15, and it is time for them to start looking for their zombietown survival-related jobs. The jobs were highly original and realistic, well as realistic as you can get for a book about people with Mad Human Disease. As far as this part of the book goes, I was as twitterpated as squirrel with a huge mug of coffee.
Well, Benny ends up becoming a zom hunter. Big surprise there, right? Because a book entirely about a boy who makes his living bottling dead-flesh scent for the hunters to use as zombie repellant would have been awesome! Too bad Benny didn't go for that job. It's also too bad they didn't have a factory for making this drink:
Right from the get go, the characters come alive. Even the dead ones! Har har. But, I suppose that's the point of a zombie book, after all. There are so many intriguing supporting roles in this story. There's a big problem though; they're stagnant characters. They change by the end but only because we are told they've changed, not shown. I didn't feel it, and it didn't seem genuine. They don't have much chemistry together, and the beginning is as good as it gets. At first, I was excited about the characters, but very soon I became annoyed with them.
Thing is: we are introduced to two charming yet ignorant characters, who Benny sees as heroes. You start out convinced to really like these guys and then it's all turned upside down when they become the center of a vast network of crime and villainy. As unintelligent as they are, simpleton zom hunters Charlie and Hammer are, at first, hilarious side characters/antagonists. I found this part at the beginning with Charlie and Hammer very funny:
"You boys have to be rich as Midas by now." "Midas?" asked Hammer. "Who's he?" "I think he sold mufflers," offered Norbert, one of the traders who used armored horses to pull wagons of scavenged goods from town to town, "and then bought a kingdom." "Yeah," said Charlie, nodding as if he knew that to be the truth. "King Midas. Definitely from Detroit. Made a fortune outta car parts and such."
Kinda funny, right? Unfortunately, it's also the only funny part I actually remembered.
Here I was, thinking these guys would be the Ari and Janco (from Poison Study series) of Rot and Ruin, but Noooo. Soon after, we are supposed to hate them and want them dead as quickly as our protagonist does.
Benny's older brother, Tom, is the zombie hunter who begins training him. But for these guys, it isn't about the gore or adrenaline. It's about closure. People hire them to slay their zombified loves ones so they can rest in peace at last. A good twist on the usual zombie slayage but I missed the massive mayhem usually associated with zombie books. Plus, A LOT of the book was told after-the-fact with other people relating stories to Benny through dialogue. Looooong stories.
Within the stories told to Benny by his brother is another fascinating concept that I actually wish the story had been centered around. There's a place called Gameland where mercenaries pit people versus zombies arena-style, or have them compete in other horrific zombie-themed games and mazes.
The storytelling, namely how much "telling", was really taking a toll on my psyche. Tom would start an important story and ramble on about slightly related things and then say "let's save the rest of the story for later" or "I'm not sure I'm ready to tell you that yet" or "maybe if I trusted you more". Oh my God! Shut up and talk!!! The banter between the two was ridiculous, in a very very bad way that made me want to spank myself just so I could hit something!
This is an embellished version of a conversation between Benny and Tom. Remember, Benny is the whiny younger brother. And Tom is the self-righteous zombie killer.
Benny: I effing hate zoms. I want to kill them!!!! Tom: But why do you want to kill them, little brother? Benny: Because they are EFFING zoms and I hate them! Waaah! Tom: Okay kiddo, but WHY are they zombies? Benny: Because they EFFING died!!!! Gahhhh! Tom: And what, little man, were they before they died? Benny: They were people, you EFFING idiot! Tom: And knowing that they were once people do you still want to kill them, little brother? Benny: EFFING yes I do! Ahhhhh! Idiot! Tom: Are you sure about that, buddy? Benny: Yes I'm EFFING sure? Why are you all up on me like this? Tom: Don't you at least want to kill them nicely, little bro? Benny: EFF Yes! As long as you will shut the EFF up! Tom: That's not very nice, Benny! Don't you want to be nice? Benny: Why the EFF are you so EFFING mean to me?!
Yeah, annoying isn't it? Okay, so Benny never actually uses the "eff" word but that was just for dramatic effect.
There are also alot of scenes involving main characters and chaos where all the characters can do is scream each others names. They go a little something like this: TOM! Miscellaneous mercenary mayhem. BENNY! Zombie Mayhem. NIX! Mercenary and zombie mayhem. TOM! Mayhem. BENNY! Mayhem. NIX! You get the picture. We don't really get any inner dialogue or see any foresight from them in these situations, whatsoever. Yes, theres some bashing and slashing. But way too much yelling out names.
I think part of the problem is that my brain is descending into sexual tension oblivion. Almost to the point that I just can't read something where there are no characters who have some sort of underlying physical chemistry together.
This book was interesting, funny at times, and tried to be action-filled but for at least the first half, pretty much ALL of the main characters were male. With the exception of the one girl, who all Benny does is talk about how he doesn't look at her THAT way, while at the same time mentioning how tight her t-shirt is. Huh? How does a teenage boy not look at a hot teenage girl who fills out her shirt in THAT kind of way? Whatevs. Oh, then after all the talk about him not liking her as anything but a friend for what seemed like 3/4 of the book, (view spoiler)[by the end, they are making out. ??? No real build-up, no tension. Just kissing. (hide spoiler)]
And every once in a while, the perspective would jump to a completely random character for like two paragraphs with unnecessary passages. Why? I don't understand.
Among the stories told to Benny, most center around a mysterious kick-ass character called the Lost Girl, whose heart-pounding stories are all related to Benny in past tense and involving way to much hearsay. It's like what the movie Kick-Ass would have been if Hit-Girl was just always talked about in passing by the characters and then didn't show up until like the last 15 minutes. Who wants that?
There were countless incredible ideas in Rot and Ruin. It just never seemed like we were getting the story from the right perspective. I'm not even sure that Benny was necessary to the story at all. All the backstories would have been better experienced first hand. I would have much rather have seen the story told from the perspective of the Lost Girl starting from the time she was two years old, (view spoiler)[watching her mother die on First Night, up until she is taken captive by mercenaries planning to put her in the games at Gameland (hide spoiler)].
There were a few really good quotes though, and this was one of my favorite:
"People need something to blame. If they can't find something rational to blame, then they'll very happily blame something irrational."
I also really like this one:
"There are moments that define a person's whole life. Moments in which everything they are and everything they may possibly become balance on a single decision. Life and death, hope and despair, victory and failure teeter precariously on the decision made at that moment. These are moments ungoverned by happenstance, untroubled by luck. These are the moments in which a person earns the right to live, or not."
I'm still rating higher because I liked the concept and loved the beginning. But by the end, I hated the fact that I didn't love ANY of the main characters.
I'm really torn up over the fact that I didn't like this more. But not too torn up. As far I can tell, all my limbs are still attached and my flesh isn't hanging off, so that's a good sign. I haven't officially been a victim of zombism yet as far as this book is concerned. The story itself just didn't grab me as much as I expected. I was hoping for the Hunger Games of zombies and I think I got more of the Matched of zombies.
So, after all this frustration, I really need something to cheer me up. And all I found was this.
Truthfully, I think that is more unnerving than is it awesome - and a lot like Rot and Ruin now that I think about it.
Ahhhhh, much better! Now I can rest easy knowing that if zombified felines exist, at least some of them are ADORABLE! (less)