Why do I seem to recall liking these Anita Blake books so much more years ago when I first started reading them? Have I simply matured and become expoWhy do I seem to recall liking these Anita Blake books so much more years ago when I first started reading them? Have I simply matured and become exposed to better author and writers since then? Or is what people have been saying true, that there is a turning point in this series where everything starts going downhill, and yay for me, I've just reached it?
This was probably my least favorite book of the series so far, and such a shame, since the beginning of it held such promise. The more I read, however, the more nonsensical the story became. Half the book was filled with pointless posturing by a bunch of egotistical vampires with non-existent fashion sense, and of course with all the asinine dialogue that came along with it. Anita was almost just as bad. What the, suddenly she's this all powerful necromancer with master vampires from other places deferring to her? She used to be more interesting; now she's just another hackneyed character becoming dangerously underdeveloped.
My book buddies tell me not to hold my breath, but I still have an eagerness to see what this series has in store for me, so I'm going to keep reading. In any case, I've heard better things about the next few books. Apparently, the highlight of book 6 is that she finally sleeps with Jean Claude. Oh joy....more
God help me, but I liked this book. I didn't want to and didn't really think I would, but well, I did...and most likely because I didn't expect much fGod help me, but I liked this book. I didn't want to and didn't really think I would, but well, I did...and most likely because I didn't expect much from it in the first place.
When I first heard of a Star Wars book about zombies, I could only predict disastrous results. Zombies are fine and good, but I couldn't imagine their presence in my beloved Star Wars universe; it just didn't feel right. But I can't deny I was curious. I saw that Death Troopers was also a fairly short read, so I picked it up.
A whaddya know, a few chapters in and I actually started having fun. I mean, wookiee zombies? And there was that delightful surprise when a couple of old friends showed up...
Sure, there were lots of plot holes and things that didn't make any sense, but that was fine because this book was also everything its cover promised -- blood, gore, dismembered body parts, flesh eating Stormtroopers and Imperial zombies, children being put through the most horrible and terrifying situations, etc. I mean, you don't pick up a book like this and expect anything more. It delivered where it was supposed to, and that's what matters to me.
That said, it's probably pretty obvious, but this is not your family-friendly general-audience type of Star Wars book. A little kid would probably have nightmares after reading this.
Anyway, now I'm thinking about picking up Red Harvest, Schreiber's other zombie/Star Wars mash-up book that was released a few months ago...and trying not to feel dirty for it. These books belong in my closet of guilty pleasures for sure. ...more
Better than the last book, but not by a whole lot. It's a little difficult to watch characters I've previously loved start to unravel like this.
I'm nBetter than the last book, but not by a whole lot. It's a little difficult to watch characters I've previously loved start to unravel like this.
I'm not sure I like the person Anita is becoming. I've always known from the start that she was aggressive, confident, and strong-willed. I used to admire that about her in the first couple books of this series. More and more, however, I feel those qualities are getting away from her. They're no longer admirable; they're annoying. She's become obnoxious and arrogant, and I don't know why the men in her life put up with her.
Especially Richard. Poor Richard. Why he takes Anita's crap is beyond me. It felt a little surreal reading some parts of The Killing Dance, like watching a bunch of bickering children playing high school romance games, except of course the themes of this book are very mature. It's hard to even enjoy the story anymore, when so much of it is taken by this drama.
It was really tough to rate this one. My initial feelings on it were about a 3, until the events of the last 25% of the book made me decide to bump thIt was really tough to rate this one. My initial feelings on it were about a 3, until the events of the last 25% of the book made me decide to bump that up to a 4. In the end, I had a really good time with book. That said, while there were things I really liked about Feed, there were also several other factors that really annoyed me.
First for the good stuff: I love the premise behind the book, the zombies-meets-social-media theme and the world Mira Grant has created where the CDC is the most important organization in the country, where children are trained in firearms as young as 7, where Alaska has been ceded to the infected, where one cannot go anywhere without submitting to half a dozen blood tests, and where the population has come to depend more on social media instead of the mainstream news to get their up-to-the-minute trusted news.
We get to meet a trio of bloggers -- Georgia "George" Mason, our narrator who identifies herself as a "Newsie", or someone who only goes after the cold, hard facts. Her brother Shaun, an "Irwin", who takes on the riskier side of zombie reporting, thriving on danger, adventure, and working up the crowd. Finally, there's Buffy, a "Fictional" whose contributions include writing poetry and serials and short stories for their site. Apparently, people living post-"Rising" are nuts for that kinda stuff, but hey, I guess I would be too if I were cooped up in the house all day hiding from the walking dead.
So at first, the story was good and the characters were good...but only to a point. Initially, I had a hard time getting a feel for the main characters, trying very hard to like them...until I just gave up and admitted to myself that I couldn't. All three characters played to stereotypes: Shaun the goof. Buffy the flake. George the straight up hard-nosed reporter. On top of that, I thought they were all kinda full of themselves. I didn't find them all that interesting, so it was difficult to care.
The story also felt very "telegraphed". As it unfolded, our three blogging protagonists accompany a Senator on his campaign to become the next president of the United States...and of course, bad things started happening. Thing is, I was able to predict the outcome before I even got halfway through the book. Also, because of the whole presidential campaign plot line, there's a good deal of political talk and it can hinge on a bit preachy, so just a caveat if you're not really into that kinda thing.
But like I said before, the second half of the book started picking up for me. Even though I felt it was little predictable, the action and tragedies and zombie attacks in Feed are described extremely well, and these sections of suspense really made up for it. And I have to admit, while I guessed the main plot, I still didn't see the finale coming.
As well, while the characters themselves were still flat to me, their relationships and the way they were handled, on the other hand, touched me emotionally. George and Shaun are not your typical siblings, and though their closeness sometimes borders on a little creepy, Mira Grant conveys their genuine love for each other so well that it's almost palpable, as well as their friendship with their co-blogger Buffy. When things really started ramping up later on in the story, the resulting dynamics were for me the best part of the novel.
Closing thoughts, this was a good book. I like the zombie-genre, but I'm also not a die-hard fan by any means, no pun intended. But if you are, then I'd say this is highly recommended. A must read, even....more
I didn't really enjoy this, even though it was well-written and had a good story. The thing is, it just wasn't my kind of story. Admittedly, I was misI didn't really enjoy this, even though it was well-written and had a good story. The thing is, it just wasn't my kind of story. Admittedly, I was misled by the cover and the description of this book to believe that it was mainly about zombies. It really isn't. I mean, they do play a role, but this turned out to be more of a thriller/suspense novel dealing with terrorism and covert ops, with the zombie threat only playing second fiddle.
I personally found it boring, but like I said, it's probably because this wasn't the book I expected. But you might like it if the war on terror meets the zombie plague is your thing....more
A rather quick "fluff" read, with a very simple story. It doesn't take itself too seriously, so I wouldn't either; just sit back, don't think too muchA rather quick "fluff" read, with a very simple story. It doesn't take itself too seriously, so I wouldn't either; just sit back, don't think too much, and enjoy the ride. Be prepared for loads of pop culture references and humorous dialogue, and just an all all-around fun time especially if you're into superheroes...fighting zombies. ...more
3.5 stars. This book had a fantastic beginning. I didn't even know what I was in for until I was almost a quarter way through the novel, and then it h3.5 stars. This book had a fantastic beginning. I didn't even know what I was in for until I was almost a quarter way through the novel, and then it hit me that holy crap, this is a zombie book! Not only that, it's your classic tale of zombie apocalypse survival, complete with an annoying kid side character and getting lost in the woods. The book's synopsis only mildly hints at this when I read it, so I was pleasantly surprised to say the least.
I also had no idea that this book was classified YA until I actually came here and saw the user tags. I guess I should have clued in earlier on the many obvious hints; firstly, you have the EMP that "brain zaps" people and turn them into the "Changed", but with a twist -- its effects are age specific, sparing mostly the old but decimating the world's population of adolescents and young adults. Very cool premise and a unique take on the zombie origin theory, but this of course also leaves our protagonist Alexandra, a late teen herself who was one of the "Spared" plenty of reasons to get even more emo. Secondly, and most telling of all, about halfway through the book, the story suddenly transforms into "Zombie Apocalypse, 90210".
This was where I started to get disappointed. I was really enjoying myself up to this point, digging the story and the characters, even the aforementioned annoying kid side character Ellie, who started growing on me. But then all that disappears. All that time I spent getting to know Ellie and Tom, and then *poof!* they go away and I'm introduced to a whole new setting and a whole new group of players. Most frustrating of all, the story also takes a new direction, and we start to drift away from the zombie survival aspect to dwell on this new plot point, which my cynical side cannot help but feel it's there as an excuse to inject some romantic drama.
At the very end, the novel redeems itself somewhat, showing hints that the story will get back on track and with a promise that we'll actually get to see some zombie action again, thank god. Of course, this also meant it ended on a cliffhanger. Why is it that so many books seem to be doing that these days? It's a bit evil if you ask me. Fortunately, at least it doesn't appear I have long to wait for book 2....more
2.5 stars. As I'd hoped, this series got back on track in delivering more action and zombie survival goodness, meanwhile dialing back on the romantic2.5 stars. As I'd hoped, this series got back on track in delivering more action and zombie survival goodness, meanwhile dialing back on the romantic melodrama.
If only there hadn't been such a lack of cogent progression to the story. It hasn't been that long since I read the first book, but I still felt as if I was missing something. I spent half the time trying to figure out what the hell was going on with the different factions in the novel, trying to keep track of allegiances and betrayals.
It didn't help that the book was so fast-paced. Normally I wouldn't complain about such a good thing, but the author's handling of this was really strange and distracting. She's thrown in a few more characters to keep track of in this sequel, which still would have been okay if the points-of-view weren't jumping around so constantly and frenetically.
Yes, this frequent switching back and forth along with almost every single chapter ending in a cliffhanger provided lots of suspense, but I quickly tired of being jerked around so much, especially when sometimes the POV would change only after a few pages.
Also, be aware -- this book is very gory. Not just violent gory, but pretty nasty disgusting gory too, and involving all manner of bodily fluids. I liked how this gave it a really good zombie vibe, and it's for similar reasons why I like good zombie movies and shows like the Walking Dead, but I have a pretty strong stomach for this stuff and there were still a few scenes here that I felt were pretty gross....more
A follow-up just as fun and fluffy as the first book. I kinda liked how it was deliberately cliched and even poked fun at itself for it ("The Army inA follow-up just as fun and fluffy as the first book. I kinda liked how it was deliberately cliched and even poked fun at itself for it ("The Army in zombie movies is always evil!") and all the satirical references to superheroes. Lots of very humorous pop culture references, though it will probably date this book and put a limit on its shelf life. ...more
Superheroes, zombies, and Hollywood -- you really can't go wrong with this combination. This third book in the Ex-Heroes series is just as fun and entertaining as the first two. A big thank you goes to LibraryThing and their Early Reviewers program, which is where I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Since this is a sequel, be aware that there may be possible spoilers here for the previous books Ex-Heroes and Ex-Patriots if you haven't read them yet. It is definitely best to read this series in order, as our superhero main characters and their community of survivors have come a long way. It has been years since the zombie plague decimated humanity, but St. George formerly the Mighty Dragon and his remaining fellow powered teammates have created a safe haven for the remnants of the population.
Still, many dangers still lurk beyond the walls. The hordes of ex-humans have become a new weapon for an enemy known as Legion, who uses the dead as pawns in his attacks against the superheroes. Things are not all well within the walls either, as dissension spreads amongst the survivors and Zzzap's behavior becomes more erratic. The zombie plague has changed the rules about life and death, but even then the heroes are surprised when a couple of faces they thought long departed also show up at the Mount. Featuring the return of an old hero and the arrival of a new one as well, this third Ex-Heroes book definitely goes all out.
Certainly, if you enjoy reading "superhero fiction", this series would be a great choice. The inclusion of the zombie apocalypse injects a new twist into the subgenre too -- because it's not enough that our heroes already have their hands full keeping order in a modern day world, they have to do it in the middle of a planet overrun with undead as well! I just love how ideas like that continue to make these books interesting and fun to ponder.
And naturally, it's the ensemble cast and their unique powers that define a superhero book. This installment allowed me to catch up with St. George, Stealth, Cerberus, Zzzap and Freedom. As always, I continue to find myself entertained by their individual personalities, quirks and hangups. In some ways, reading about how the heroes' attitudes and morals clash with each other is even more fun than seeing them use their powers to fight.
If anything, I felt the book could have done with less action scenes at the beginning. One might think "superheroes vs. the undead" would be something no one would tire of, like, ever -- but you'd be surprised. After all, there's only so many ways you can describe a superhero crushing a zombie's skull, and even in the opening sequence I was tempted to start skimming. However, the book picks up when it starts filling in the events of the present as well as in the past, the latter achieved through chapters that leave the "NOW" and go back to "THEN". These brief looks into the past give the reader the necessary background information to appreciate the story all the more.
I'm happy to see the series will continue. Peter Clines has provided me so much entertainment over the last couple of years with these books, I'd hate to see them end. Post-apocalyptic survival, fast-paced action, superheroes saving the world from evil and monstrous villains -- you'll find that all here....more
At its heart, Warm Bodies is a "zombie book" because it's a book about zombies, but it's definitely not your classic post-apocalyptic survivalist adveAt its heart, Warm Bodies is a "zombie book" because it's a book about zombies, but it's definitely not your classic post-apocalyptic survivalist adventure involving gory battles with the brain-eating hordes. This sets the story apart and makes it original, but it also helped that I went in knowing what to expect.
The zombies themselves also aren't very typical. On the surface, they appear to be of the usual shambling, moaning and in various-stages-of-decay variety, but the ones in this book are able to maintain a semblance of a structured society. Communication between them is just good enough to allow things like organized hunts or a rudimentary class system, and zombie couples even have wedding ceremonies and are given zombie children to teach and raise.
The book also gives a plausible reason as to why zombies like eating human brains, explaining that it gives them a cerebral high while letting them relive the memories and experience the emotions of their victims. It is in this way that R, our zombie protagonist and narrator, becomes fixated with a girl he encounters on a routine hunt, after killing her boyfriend and chowing down on his grey matter.
In a way, the style and writing reminds me books I've read in the past where the story is told in the point-of-view of a dog or any other kind of animal. In each case the author has to find a convincing way to explain to the reader why their narrator is obviously intelligent and eloquent enough to tell a story, but can't express that outwardly. R, for example, can think and wax philosophical with the best of them in his head, but can't manage to put together more than a couple words or a handful of syllables when he tries to speak.
A persistent need to expound upon this dissonance is very characteristic of these types of books, so the first step on the path to enjoying myself was being able to accept anything and everything the story throws at me. However, a process like that generally takes time, and the fact this book is so short and proceeds at such a break-neck pace probably wasn't the most ideal for me personally, but I could just be a stickler for the details.
If I could do it all over again, though, I would not have chosen the audiobook. My current rating probably wouldn't have changed much even if I had read the text version, because the story, while fun and interesting, was still a bit melodramatic and too cheesy for my tastes. Still, I can't help but suspect listening to the audio version played a part in preventing my full enjoyment of the novel, though I have to admit it's not through any fault of the audiobook production company or voice actor. In fact, Kevin Kenerly was very good.
Unfortunately, the nature of Warm Bodies just simply does not lend itself to be converted that well into voice format, mostly due to the amount of internal dialogue, random and sudden interruptions or changes of perspective, as well as memories and flashbacks galore. This works well on the page, but makes the story hard to follow if you're listening to it, for obvious reasons. I snapped this version up from my county library's digital collection because there was no one else on the waiting list, but I kind of wish I had been a little more patient and waited for the ebook version. The experience might have been vastly different.
But in the end, it was the story that didn't quite grab me. Despite the naughty language and several detailed scenes of gory violence, this is a young adult novel...and for me reads "too much" like a young adult novel. Aside from the underlying angsty vibes, I just felt that it tried a bit too hard to be profound with its pages and pages of R trying to figure out hope, life, love. Don't get me wrong, I think the novel does a great job of asking the question what it truly means to be alive, but there's nothing all that revelational despite the frequently over-the-top prose.
Ultimately, this book might be better for a fan of YA romance than for the die-hard zombie reader. Like I said, I knew what I was getting into before I started the book, but a part of me had still hoped for a little more action and a little less Romeo and Juliet references.
This is going to be less of a review, and more of a list of my thoughts on why I just couldn't get into this book. I try generally to finish every booThis is going to be less of a review, and more of a list of my thoughts on why I just couldn't get into this book. I try generally to finish every book I start because I'm way too obsessive-compulsive not to, but I have to say it was so tempting to put this one aside. I did end up finishing it, but not without much zoning out and skimming.
- I remember really liking Ashes, the first book of this trilogy. It was, in my opinion, a zombie survival story done well. We had a great beginning, an intriguing cause of the disaster in the form of the mysterious "Zap" that started it all and turned everything upside down. I liked the main character Alex and how she met up with Tom and Ellie, I wanted to see more of them and what they would do to make it through the apocalypse.
- But somewhere along the way, this zombie survival story became bogged down with too much character drama. Alex used to be the main focus, which was fine with me; I liked her and her whole backstory about her illness and the death of her parents. But ever since Rule came into the picture, Alex started showing up less and less; other characters I didn't care for were getting more attention. There were way too many players involved already, but Monsters added even more.
- This book really could have been edited down further, with a lot of filler cut out. I heard it was originally around 800 pages long, but even now at around 600, there's still too much exposition and unneeded detail, like aimless dream sequences and a lot of redundant repetition.
- I did not like how it seemed the author felt every chapter needed to end in a cliffhanger. It very quickly became unbearable when we would follow one character's perspective, stop at a point of suspense, go to follow another character in a very different place, stop at a point of suspense for them, and repeat this pattern back and forth. This excessive ping-ponging between perspectives was even more tedious when all of it would sometimes happen within the same chapter.
- No big picture, no explanations or answers to questions. We don't get to find out more about the Zap, the Changed, or any of the other strange things that have been happening to our characters. The action scenes felt thrown in perfunctorily whenever we needed a break from the soap opera drama.
- Disappointing end to a trilogy that really started out quite strong. I'd really hoped for it to pick up, but instead, it spiraled further away from the spirit of what made me like the first book so much. I think the departure had already started happening at the end of Ashes, but it only got worse in the second. I didn't like the direction in which the series was headed in Shadows, and I liked it even less in Monsters. ...more
The Remaining is a great zombie book. Originally self-published in 2012, it quickly became an internet bestseller before being picked up by Orbit, and there’s a damn good reason for that. By now you’ve probably seen a lot of the positive reviews it has garnered, though I’m willing to bet few of them have praised this story for being terribly original. But does that make this a bad book? Heck no. In fact, I would argue that its devotion to the classic zombie survival-horror tradition is a massive part of the appeal.
The Walking Dead fans, this one would be right up your alley. No joke. The “zombies” in this book might not be the traditional mindless shambling hordes we’re used to seeing – the victims of the FURY plague are still capable of talking and strategizing up to a point before the virus degrades their brains (which makes them even more terrifying) – but the overall spirit and style of the narrative is still the same. It’s not out to knock you off your feet with any new or unusual or experimental ideas, but if its goal is to provide a fast-moving, action-packed and entertaining zombie story then I must say it has succeeded rather swimmingly.
Here’s what you basically need to know: the main character of The Remaining is a US Army captain named Lee Harden, who as part of a secret government program is sequestered in his bunker after the sudden outbreak of a new deadly and infectious virus. It’s not the first time this has happened. Lee and about four dozen other soldiers like him (one for every state) are placed in their bunkers every time the country experiences an emergency of national crisis. If the government falls, their job is to come out after the bunker, take stock of the situation and try to gather survivors in order to rebuild. But things in the past have never gone so far or gotten this bad before. When the lockdown period passes without an all-clear or any further instructions from his superiors, Lee emerges from the bunker and prepares to start his mission.
As a character, Lee took a while to grow on me – but he did. Strangely, the moment came when I was finally able to appreciate his faults. To understand, you must realize the few chapters really tried my patience. The entire lockdown period featured Lee being in denial, going back and forth between his decisions and second guessing his instructions. And then there were those long and wearying paragraphs about his guns. The deadline came and went. I kept tapping my foot waiting for him to stop describing the contents of his impressive arsenal, get his waffling butt out there and actually put all that stuff to good use on some hapless Infected.
Then I realized, I was being too harsh. Dude is stuck in a bunker. Not knowing what’s going on because he’s cut off from all communication. No human interaction at all because it’s just him and his dog. If the world outside has indeed gone to hell in a hand basket, he’s probably also scared to death of the responsibility waiting for him on the other side of that tunnel.
So maybe I was being a tad unfair to poor Lee. And really, what a shame it would have been if he was just another archetypal action hero, full of empty bravado rushing out headfirst to save the world? Lee is more realistic this way, even if he did end up doing some questionable things. But then, who wouldn’t make a mistake in the middle of a zombie apocalypse? Contrary to what all the zombie survival guides want you to believe, there's no instruction manual for stuff like this. Wrong decisions or no, Lee has to make some pretty tough calls as well. The guy has a good heart, but he's sure as hell also capable of showing no mercy to those who don’t deserve it. I love that in his character.
Bottom line, if you’re a fan of type of zombie apocalypse survival movies that Hollywood does so well, this is that in book form. After a relatively sedate start, the novel picks up and will not slow down, with always some kind of disaster or new setback waiting around the corner for the characters to overcome. No other bells and whistles or fancy-schmancy embellishments, just pure zombie fiction fun. ...more
I usually start off my reviews with an explanation of what initially drew me to the book, and in this case it was the words "Zombies" and "Western" used to describe it that had me tripping over my feet for the opportunity to check it out. To date, I've only read a few titles from relatively new speculative fiction imprint Jo Fletcher, but they've already set themselves apart in my mind as a very special publisher, thanks to books like Your Brother's Blood which mix elements of sci-fi and fantasy with many other genres. Here, the result is something completely new and different, but I was also surprised to find this "Zombie-Western" to be quite literary and elegant at the same time.
The book is actually set hundreds of years into the future after an oft referred to but unknown apocalyptic event, and pockets of humanity now live ruggedly in small communities spread out across a vast and arid land in a style reminiscent of the Old West. A war is currently being waged between two armies, and caught in between them is the complicated matter of the dead who come back to life, those referred to as "the Walkin'".
Thomas grew up in Barkley, and at thirty-two years old he'd left to fight a war only to die and wake up again. He knows going home will put his wife and child in danger, but the pull towards love and family is too great; in the end his arrival in town sends him on the run again, with his daughter Mary in tow. It becomes a race against time as they try to evade their pursuers, because Barkley's zealots do not suffer the wicked or their spawn to live.
Other than a very few exceptions, I don't think I've come across many zombie stories that are told from the perspective of the undead, so this immediately makes Your Brother's Blood stand out for me. As a Walkin', Thomas' heart does not beat, nor does he bleed or feel a thing, but he does possess emotions, intelligence, and awareness of everything around him. He remembers Mary even though he hasn't seen her in a long time, and his love and devotion to her leads to many sad and touching scenes between father and daughter.
In this and many other ways, Your Brother's Blood is not a typical zombie novel; in fact, it shares very few similarities with other books in this horror sub-genre. Towsey's zombies aren't the mindless, shambling and brains-craving kind to be feared, and much of my enjoyment was actually the result of how much I sympathized with Thomas and related to his concerns for Mary. It's definitely a story that tugs at your heartstrings, but on the flip side there's also a sense of danger and urgency, for at the heart of this plot is the desperate-chase-across-the-wasteland factor that's so characteristic of classic Westerns.
There's just such a strange but unique mix of elements here, making this a special book unlike anything I've read before. There's just enough detail in this book to make you wonder things like, what happened to result in this post-apocalyptic world, and what's "in the blood" that makes a person more liable to rise as a Walkin' when they die? I'm hoping future installments will explore these questions, but I'd be okay too if some things are left as mysteries.
It's always interesting to me when I see authors take what's familiar and shake things up, creating imaginative characters and new worlds that lead to speculation. This was an enjoyable debut from David Towsey that not only surprised me with its originality, but also had a lot more feeling than I expected. I recommend it to anyone looking for something that's different, resonant and not "just another zombie book".
A review copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review....more
I didn't think I was going to enjoy this book at first. Thank goodness I was wrong! Still, can you really blame me for having my doubts? After being inundated in recent years with the dozens upon dozens of movies, TV shows, video games etc. all featuring the same mindless gory battles against the shambling, moaning hordes of the undead, my initial thought was: been there, done that, now what more can this zombie book offer?
Well, this is the review where I happily eat my words! I should have known better anyway, because Ragnarok Publications has never let me down. As it turned out, Those Poor, Poor Bastards had a lot more to offer than I'd anticipated, in addition to that charming little title. The book did contain some of the usual trappings you'll find in a lot of zombie stories, but there were some twists as well, and I loved how the authors took the familiar and created something new. Also, while I haven't read enough of the Weird West sub-genre to consider myself a fan, a description like "Zombie Western" wasn't really something I could resist.
It is 1868, in the Sierra Nevada. The book begins with Nina Weaver and her father Lincoln riding into Coburn Station only to find that everything has gone to hell in a chuckwagon. The "Deaduns" have arisen and are sowing bloody carnage all over town, forcing the living to band together in order to survive. In typical fashion, you end up with a large, diverse ensemble cast. And like watching The Walking Dead, you just know before you even begin that many of them are going to end up zombie food before this whole thing is over.
Put a big group of people with disparate personalities into a stressful situation and you'll also inevitably get your clashes and alliances within the ranks. There are the good folks like Nina and her pa, the priest Father Mathias as well as the charming James Manning. On the other side of the fence you have the less savory types and troublemakers like the Daggett brothers or the scummy Mister Strobridge. Then there are those caught in the middle who just aren't sure. With tensions this high and a swarm of Deaduns at the door, it's the perfect set up for explosive conflict. Emphasis on explosive.
So far, with the exception of the western setting, things might be sounding rather familiar. But then, the authors work their magic and you suddenly realize there is way more to this story. Bucking tradition, we're actually given an explanation into the Deaduns and how they came to be. Their origins and motives, not to mention the actual reveal itself, were so unique that it completely threw me for a loop -- in a good way! I have to say this ended up being a delightfully fun read, in all its blood-splattered glory.
Those Poor, Poor Bastards also taught me something important about myself -- that I will never be too old or too jaded for a good ol' zombie story! What a fast-paced, crazy wild book. I think I'll just end this review with a suggestion to the potential reader: there are a lot of characters, so definitely try to tackle this novel all in one go if you can, ensuring that the dozen or so identities will always remain fresh in your mind. Besides, it shouldn't be too difficult -- because once you start reading, you just might find it hard to stop!...more
I enjoyed Falling Sky a lot more than I thought I would. That’s no meagre accomplishment, considering how many books are out there in the market these days involving zombies in a post-apocalyptic type future. But Rajan Khanna did not have to resort to any gimmicks or convoluted methods to make his novel stand out. All he did was come up with an awesome premise – that when a virulent epidemic broke out two generations ago and turned most of the population into mindless Ferals, humanity managed to survive by simply taking to the skies.
That means airships. Entire cities that float. People like main protagonist and narrator Ben Gold feel most comfortable off the ground, because that translates to safety from coming in contact with the tainted blood of Ferals, and in turns means being able to live out another day. Ben, who has always been happy on his own piloting his airship Cherub, finds a way to make money by working with the intelligent and headstrong Miranda, leader of a group of ambitious scientists hoping to find a cure for the Feral virus.
But then Valhalla strikes, and the skies are no longer a safe haven. A faction made up of savage pirates, Valhalla is bent on conquering and stealing from other settlements by employing the most depraved measures – like airlifting infected Ferals and dropping them into defenseless cities. After being caught in one such attack, Ben’s life is forever changed and he is forced to make some difficult decisions. He’s the kind of guy who’s always lived by the motto “Every man for himself”, but for the first time in his life he realizes there may be bigger things to fight for.
I don’t think I would have enjoyed this book so much if it weren’t for Ben. I loved his voice and took to his casual and devil-may-care attitude right away, and I found that the first-person narrative in the present tense worked surprisingly well for the story. Ben isn’t exactly someone you can admire or point to as a good role model, but I liked him all the same. Somewhat self-serving at times and frequently having a short view of the problem, Ben doesn’t always mean to screw the people around him over, but his impulsive nature usually leads him to do it all the same. But he’s got a good heart, as proven by the many times he’s gone out of his way to try and repay a favor or make up for his mistakes, and I find that admirable. And fine, I’ll also admit he’s got a bit of that roguish charm which I find irresistible.
You also have to love the mood of the story. One might expect a post-apocalyptic zombie book to be on the dark and grim side, but I would describe Falling Sky as more an adventurous and action-filled novel. That’s not to say the world that Ben lives in is without its grit and despair, because in fact, the author does a good job illustrating why a future infested with Ferals is not a very pleasant place to be. Mindless and violent beast-like zombies aside, so much technology has been lost and a lot of the crucial supplies like ammo and fuel from two generations ago have been depleted. But humanity has had enough time to deal with aftermath of the epidemic, and the tone that I get from the story is that life continues moving forward. Certain facets of society and culture have eroded away and things may be done a little differently, but people like Ben still have their sense of humor, and others like Miranda and her scientists have their hopes and dreams.
My main complaint is that the ending came and went too quickly and suddenly. We are literally dropped into the conclusion, and…scene. All I can say is, I really, really, really hope there will be a sequel. The story may be more or less wrapped up, but because of the abruptness of the way things ended, I just can’t help but think it’s not over. If there’s a book two though, definitely sign me up for it....more
In 2013, Jo Fletcher Books sent me a copy of David Towsey’s Your Brother’s Blood and introduced me to a whole new perspective on the walking dead, and I realized I was looking at something very special. A “zombie-western series with the feels” is how I would describe The Walkin’ books, except I wouldn’t want to lead readers into a false sense of security either! Yes, while Towsey does show a more “human” side to zombies by letting them retain their emotions, intelligence and awareness of everything around them, like most tales that take place in the wild and lawless frontier, these novels possess an air of that steely grimness.
Your Servants and Your People is the sequel to Your Brother’s Blood that takes place seven years later. In that time, many things have changed. The Walkin’, or those who have died and come back, are tolerated in society, if not wholly embraced. In many towns they are still discriminated against and treated as an inferior class, though without the need to eat or sleep, most find work as laborers for the living.
Our protagonist Thomas McDermott on the other hand is a Walkin’ who just wants to be left alone. Since the end of the first book, he has reunited with his very-much-alive wife Sarah and daughter Mary, but there hasn’t yet been a happy ending for the three of them. In fact, the McDermotts are on the move again, looking for a place to settle after being forced to abandon home after home. Seems folks aren’t too accepting of a Walkin’ cohabiting with the living. Now Thomas is leading his family to a more remote part of the country, far away from the judging eyes of society, and escorting the McDermotts are a group of soldiers who are also on their way to the frontier garrison of Fort Wilson.
The series is clearly maturing, with book two differing from its predecessor in several major ways. Firstly, the years have changed the characters, none more so than Mary, who was just a child in Your Brother’s Blood. That little girl has grown into a young woman, and gone is her sweet innocence, which has been replaced by a bitter aloofness. Mary doesn’t say much, but she doesn’t need to for readers to grasp that this is one angry and rebellious teenager. Towsey portrays her character with a quiet intensity; he’s really good when it comes to “showing, not telling” and I love his subtle touch with all his characters.
The scope of the story has also expanded beyond the McDermott family. We branch into two significant threads here, the first one following Thomas, Sarah and Mary’s progress in establishing their homestead, and the second following the group of soldiers who were sent to Fort Wilson. A young man named Bryn is the focus of this second group, and he and comrades go through some awful, unspeakable things while holed up in that lonely outpost, things that I won’t go into detail here but that I will say are worthy of the most chilling of horror stories.
In spite of that, there is a lesser sense of urgency here in Your Servants and Your People as compared to Your Brother’s Blood. The first book’s premise was a lot more intense, following Thomas and Mary as they flee desperately across a forbidding wasteland, trying to keep ahead of a gang of zealots bent on killing them both. In contrast, for most of this book the plot moves at a gentler and steadier pace. Thomas and his family make their way to a new part of the country, stake their claim on a piece of land and begin the slow task of building a house. It’s the classic pioneer’s life story…well, save for the fact that the head of your party is a zombie.
These books have feeling because at their heart they are about love and devotion to family – after all, not even dying could stop Thomas from coming home to Mary, or from providing his wife and daughter a safe place to live. But there are still those who see him as an abomination and will stop at nothing to see him destroyed. I was hoping to finally see the McDermotts settle into their new life, because if anyone deserves a happy ending, it’s them. But as it turns out, the gradual pacing of this book fooled me into thinking that the threat was over, so that the bombshell the author dropped at the end crept up on me when I was least expecting it. Well played, Mr. Towsey.
The Walkin’ series is fresh, richly imagined, and sure to stand out for readers looking for a new twist on a classic genre. Beautiful and haunting, Your Servants and Your People is a sequel that brings back everything that was great about Your Brother’s Blood but at the same time feels different enough for me to see that the series is evolving. David Towsey has a knack for writing very gritty, very real protagonists with depth, and my heart is aching and anxious for the McDermotts now, wondering what will happen to them in the next book. I’m definitely not missing out on the final installment of this trilogy....more
I confess, I’m not very good when it comes to pulling information out of book descriptions. But all I know is, when I first heard about The Girl with All The Gifts, it piqued my interest right away. Here you have a story about a bright young girl named Melanie, who for some reason everyone seems deathly afraid of. Being held at gun-point while being strapped into a wheelchair just to go to class? Judging by level of paranoia with which she’s treated, you’d think little Melanie was Hannibal Lecter. The book jacket may be a little scarce on details, but there’s definitely something strange going on.
So it really shouldn’t have surprised me when this book turned out to be Horror, and yet it did. Finding out about the genre, however, just made me even more excited to read it. And just when I thought things couldn’t get any better, OH HELLO, THEY DO!
By now, I gather it’s pretty safe to explain why I had myself a personal little freak-out when it hit me just what I was in for with this story. After all, the revelation comes very early on in the novel and is hardly a spoiler, not to mention the book has been out in the UK for months now and the cat is out of the bag. But avert your eyes now if you would prefer to know absolutely ZIP about the book going in. Anyway, my excitement levels exploded when I realized that The Girl with All The Gifts…has zombies.
And I haven’t even gotten to the best part yet. What makes this a great zombie book – a great book, PERIOD – is the science. Ah, gotta love science. Like I always say, if you want to see some scary stuff, look no further than Mother Nature. Heck, some of the most frightening, bone-chilling things I’ve ever seen in film aren’t in horror movies, but are in those dang Planet Earth documentaries. Who could forget the “Jungles” episode and the importance of fungi as illustrated by the life cycle of Ophiocordyceps unilatertalis? Oh, the sheer horror of watching the parasite take over an ant’s brain before the fruiting body explodes out of the back of its victim’s head, all while Sir David Attenborough goes on calmly narrating in those smooth, dulcet tones. That sequence was beyond traumatizing – but also fascinating. I remember being obsessed with the idea, thinking to myself, holy crap, someone pleeeeease write a zombie book based around this!
Well, even though the video game The Last of Us might have done it first, M.R. Carey ended up granting me my wish. And he does it in such a spectacular way, wrapping this fantastic idea around a story filled with mystery, action, and lots of gut-wrenching heartbreak. The Girl with All The Gifts is everything I look for in a zombie book – tight, energetic pacing with all the savagery, suspense and tension – but it’s also so much more. For me, this book is the next step in zombie fiction, delivering on the survival and post-apocalyptic elements we all know and love, while pushing the envelope with new ideas and deep characterization.
Due to its nature, it’s not surprising that the zombie-apocalypse survival subgenre tends to feature ruthlessness and characters with hard hearts who show no pity. But seeing the themes of mercy and compassion enter into the equation here is a nice change of pace. A lot of this is due to Melanie. If you also guessed from the description that there’s something different about her character, you’d be correct. Melanie is definitely a special little girl, and she’s part of what makes this book such an exceptional, atypical zombie novel and such a joy for me to read.
Even though I can probably go on for another couple pages about why I loved this book, I really don’t want to give too much away. There are lots of surprises, including an unpredictable ending that truly stunned me. I loved this book to pieces. Haunting, powerful and poignant, The Girl with All The Gifts is a novel I would recommend highly and without reservation. ...more
I thought I would be going into Echopraxia with two strikes against me. First, the fact that I haven’t read Blindsight which is the first book in the Firefall series, and second, there was the worry that the book would be too “hard sci-fi” for my tastes. Fortunately, neither really ended up being an obstacle. Sure, I had my issues with this novel, but those have little to do with my original concerns.
It’s hard to explain a book like Echopraxia; this is one of those cases where it’s probably better to just let the publisher description do the talking: “The eve of the twenty-second century”, “a world where the dearly departed send postcards back from Heaven and evangelicals make scientific breakthroughs by speaking in tongues”, “genetically engineered vampires solve problems intractable to baseline humans”, “soldiers come with zombie switches that shut off self-awareness during combat”.
It’s a whole other world, with a very different status quo. People like biologist Daniel Bruks who is adamant against upgrading himself with any implants or enhancements are seen as “old school”, living fossils that are still clinging on to an extinct way of life. While working in the field in the middle of the Oregon desert, he finds himself entangled in a conflict between a vampire and her entourage of zombie bodyguards versus a faction of technologically advanced Bicameral monks. Now he’s trapped on a ship headed to the center of the solar system to learn what happened to Blindsight, the expedition which took off years ago to investigate what appeared to be an alien signal.
The ideas here are wild, spectacular and ambitious. The plot, on the other hand, is quite thin – another reason why it would be difficult to describe this novel. Echopraxia is a book that feels less concerned with providing a cohesive narrative, instead focusing more heavily on philosophical discussion and debate on the human condition. Great if like these kinds of books, not so great if you don’t. Personally, I really enjoyed the first hundred pages or so because it contained most of the story. Watts established the setting, the main characters and the conflict. But everything started unraveling after that point, and became unfocused and disorganized.
The challenge for me was in trying to tease apart the jumble of ideas without allowing myself to be driven to distraction. Watts’ writing is laden with scientific jargon and not very easy on the eyes, making this one a slower read. Given the heavier themes and tinge of gloom, not to mention the fact there’s barely any plot, there’s just not too much energy to push it along. Not that I’m saying Echopraxia is a bad book. Far from it, in fact. I feel it has all the right ingredients, but the actual execution of all those great ideas leaves something to be desired.
Over the years, I think I’ve come to gain a deeper appreciation for hard sci-fi. It’s still a struggle sometimes, I admit, but it’s no longer the insurmountable hurdle it once was. However, plot and characters rank high on my priority list. Compelling and cogent storytelling is still somewhat of a requirement in the question of whether or not I’ll enjoy a book. Unfortunately, parts of Echopraxia are just too inconsistent for me to embrace it with open arms, but Watts should be recognized for his incredible talent of making everything he writes about sound fascinating and convincing. This is not a book you’ll want to pick up for a light afternoon of reading, but it’s worth it if you’re up for a thoughtful discourse on the complexities of the human mind and consciousness....more
Despite the modest page count and a fascinating premise about what the zombie apocalypse would look like if meth heads were the only survivors – which, I have to say, is a pretty awesome social thought experiment – it still took me a long time to read this book, the reason being I could only take it in small doses on account of how incredibly obnoxious it was.
It wasn’t even so much the nihilistic and transgressive-like style of storytelling, or the fact that the drug-addled characters are so infuriatingly unlikeable down to the very last person. At the end of the day, while being in the mind of a junkie might not be all sunshine and lollipops, I actually thought Peter Stenson did a fantastic job painting a very vivid and realistic perspective.
No, the real reason I had such a hard time is because I’m a big fan of punctuation. Quotation marks are our friends! But anyway, Fiend begs to differ. I can’t say I’m thrilled with the lack of punctuation or the continuous stream-of-consciousness writing style, and yet I’m also not such a stickler for it that I would dismiss the whole book because of it. Did it affect my enjoyment of the novel though? I tried not to let it, but to a degree it did. If anything, it was because trying to read this book for prolonged periods of time would inevitably give me a massive headache.
I’ll give it this, though: at no point did I ever consider throwing in the towel. The story was just too addictive, if you would pardon the borderline tasteless pun. It marries one unpleasant subject (drug abuse) with another (zombies) and the results are pretty interesting in that hideous-but-I-just-can’t-stop-looking way. The end of the world is at hand. Everyone just went to sleep one night and didn’t wake up in the morning, and some of those individuals have reanimated to become the walking dead. For whatever reason, the only survivors are people like Chase Daniels, a long time meth addict. Chase was so high that for days he hadn’t even known the zombocalypse had arrived, and he actually thought his first exposure to it – a little girl in his front yard tearing out the throat of a dog and eating it – was a drug-induced hallucination.
I don’t know what it’s like to be a junkie. I won’t even pretend to know. But just to give you an idea of what we’re dealing with here, Chase and his friends are the kind of people who would sell their own mothers for a hit, so you can only imagine the world we’re left with, with him and his fellow addicts being the only survivors. There’s no trust, no morals, no self-control, and hence no chance in hell of society ever rebuilding. Add to that, the characters discover that continuing to do drugs it the only way to stay alive and keep from turning into the monsters. There you go: survival and self-destruction, two sides of the same coin. Kinda puts an interesting spin on your typical zombie story, doesn’t it?
Unfortunately, I was a bit disappointed with the ending. To be fair, given the nature of the story, I would have been surprised if I would have gotten a satisfying conclusion, but it was still very abrupt and left things hanging – and that’s a big pet peeve.
To sum up: fascinating book, offering a different approach to zombies and the end of the world. I found Chase Daniels and his narration intensely off-putting, but I also see that as a testament to the author’s skill to write a believable, meth-addicted anti-hero type protagonist. The only things that kept me from enjoying this novel more was the writing style (though admittedly it worked very well for the story and character) and the ending. I would still heartily recommend this one to zombie fiction enthusiasts and those who are interested in checking out a unique take on the genre....more