Set hundreds of years in the future, Thomas is a soldier in a type of Civil war against the Walkin’ and all he yearns for is to go home to his wife anSet hundreds of years in the future, Thomas is a soldier in a type of Civil war against the Walkin’ and all he yearns for is to go home to his wife and daughter. When he wakes up in a pyrepit, a pit the army digs to pile the dead and burn them, he realizes that he’ll no longer be welcomed home with open arms. He decides to take his chances though and heads towards the town of Barkley. Sarah McDermott and her daughter Mary are in mourning for Thomas, husband and father, but more than Sarah fears that he will still return just not as he once was. Their rigidly religious town are very much anti-Walkin’ and won’t hesitate in cutting down any that cross their borders, even if they were once a resident when they last knew them.
I love me a good zombie novel. That said, there isn’t a whole lot of originality these days that hasn’t already been done before, but that doesn’t necessarily make the book bad per se. Kirkus says Your Brother’s Blood possesses an “unconventional premise” due to it being told from the point of view of the undead and the summary calls it reminiscent of the 19th century western frontier. Unfortunately, I’ve encountered both of those already in zombie tales. Western style + Zombies? The Reapers are the Angels. From the POV of the undead? Warm Bodies, Raising Stony Mayhall, and My Life As a White Trash Zombie… just to name a few. I wouldn’t be so apt to throw out comparisons if words like “unconventional” and “imaginative” weren’t used so effortlessly.
Fortunately, there were various other aspects that set this one apart giving it its own sort of appeal. For starters there’s the future time period, the Civil War against Walkin’, and the matter of these seemingly sensible Walkin’ don’t seem to have a taste for brains. What I enjoyed the most that I’d love to see explored further was the idea that Walkin’ is something of a genetic trait versus something that is passed on via bite or something everyone experiences following death. The author was also fastidious in his world-building and not only created a different time but something of a different language where animals/bugs had names such as crumbers, woollies, shaggies, under-mutton, red-winks, and gambirs. It was fun to try to figure out what their normal names would be based on their descriptions.
There were hints of magic existing in this desolate world and even of a wholly Walkin’ civilization. The bulk of the book may have been spent in a slow trudge through the desert, but there was enough revealed in the first installment of this trilogy to leave you curious and anxious for the next book.
I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review....more
‘It grows in the dark part of your head like a fungus. All the while eating holes in your brain until it’s a sponge full ofMy rating: 2.5 of 5 stars
‘It grows in the dark part of your head like a fungus. All the while eating holes in your brain until it’s a sponge full of virus […] That was what had happened to my mom. For twenty years, ever since the crisis, she’d been dying inside. A little more every day.
And maybe it had been happening to me, too.’
Finn has lived within the sheltered gates since he was born. The world outside is a complete mystery, yet the stories he’s heard has made him thankful for his safe and sheltered life. The safety is shattered when his mother spontaneously turns and he’s forced out into the mysterious world with a new tattoo; a plus sign on the top of his sign marking him as possibly infected. His only hope is to get to the military camp in Ohio where he can live out his final two years of incubation before he can be accepted back into safety. But two years is a very long time for someone who doesn’t know how the world truly is.
The way an author handles the scientific aspects of a post-apocalyptic novel is key. Some authors handle it head on and explain in minute detail and others leave their characters in the dark and simply focus on the survival side of living in the new world. Both work, but if you’re going to attempt to explain the scientific side of things, it best make sense. In this world, it’s been twenty years since the initial outbreak and no one has seen a zombie in fifteen years. Once infected with the zombie virus, the incubation period is apparently anything from twenty seconds to twenty years. So, you get bit, you might be good only for the next hour or you could be fine for the next twenty years, but nobody knows for sure. Since the outbreak happened twenty years ago, I’m not sure exactly how they’ve been able to successfully test that theory. It also isn’t explained how the outbreak happened to begin with, so the science of Positive was definitely lacking for me. One specific line about killing a zombie by stabbing him in the liver also had me baffled. Come on! Zombies don’t give a shit about their livers.
Also lacking, was the character development. Our narrator, Finn, is an extremely naive individual when we’re first introduced. Positive acts as his coming-of-age story in a world falling apart at the seams. He’s forced to figure out quickly how to survive and how to adapt his mind to the concept of how things truly work outside of the gates of New York City. In that regards, this story reminded me a lot of Ashfall with our young, male narrator forced to adapt to the new world around him. Obviously, all that was missing were the zombies. Similarly was the fact that both stories focused on the part where humans turn into a whole other type of monster as well. The issue with Finn was how quickly he managed to shed himself of his naivety. It could be said that the things he was forced to experience could speed along that process but it just didn’t feel like genuine progression.
The portrayal of female characters was pretty appalling as well. Positive has two main female characters for the most part; one played the role of enemy and the other was meek and submissive (there was one strong female that made a brief appearance but it wasn’t enough to satisfy me in regards to the way the rest of the females were portrayed). The submissive one, well, I suppose it could be argued that she was strong in her own way and got Finn and the rest of their party out of a few sticky situations. It could also be argued that being a victim of abuse led her to this mind frame and that it couldn’t be helped but... (view spoiler)[even when she turned on her ‘master’ and I was praising her strength for finally standing up to the abuse, she instead turns around to the next male in the room and basically accepts him as her new master without any hesitation. I mean, serious? Come on. I understand the survival instinct to ally yourself with a strong individual but Finn couldn’t save his own ass let alone everyone else. (hide spoiler)]Was it really so much to ask that we couldn’t get one strong female main character in this giant 450 page story?
Unfortunately, even setting aside the issues I personally had with Positive, what really lessened my enjoyment of this story was the fact that I have read so many stories in this same genre that were simply so much better. Positive didn’t manage to bring anything new to the genre and didn’t have much in the way of originality, but newcomers to post-apocalyptic stories will likely find more enjoyment than I did.
I received this book free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
The Last Mission of the Living is the unexpected surprise second installment following the thrilling futuristic zombie novelMy rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
The Last Mission of the Living is the unexpected surprise second installment following the thrilling futuristic zombie novel The Last Bastion of the Living. This installment switches points of view from Maria Martinez to her best friend Lindsay Rooney and is fortunately no less intense than we’ve all come to expect from any Rhiannon Frater tale. The Last Mission is a definitely longer tale but is no less worth the time.
In The Last Bastion, the stronghold and the last group of people that have survived the undead creatures known as Inferi Scourge, a team of soldiers were chosen to be ‘modified’ in order to fight the undead with a higher percent chance of success. That group of soldiers became the last chance for the Bastion to survive but the mission failed and the city is still enduring the threat of the undead that swarm the borders. The political conspiracies and the constant double-dealing going on in the background of the Bastion are focused on more in this installment and it was an interesting switch-up. There was less zombie/Inferi Scourge action as The Last Bastion, however, this is still a solid follow-up and a fantastic expansion to this fascinating world.
In addition to the political tidbits, there is still a worthy romance to swoon over. Lindsay and Torran, who is a part of the Science Warfare division, are on opposite sides of the game at play. When the two are put on a team with a mission to seek out food to bring back to the Bastion, a friendship develops which slowly transforms into something more. Torran had his own secret mission though and it involves bringing Lindsay’s best friend Maria back to the Bastion for experimentation. The ongoing tension between the two was fantastically written.
The Last Mission of the Living is a fabulous follow-up with exciting twists and turns that expands on Frater’s created world nicely. The action is less than the first installment, however, the world-building is on point and will leave you hoping a surprise third installment is a possibility. Would work well as a 2nd installment or even as a stand-alone but of course I still highly recommend The Last Bastion.
I received this book free from the Author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review....more
‘We forget sometimes how easy it is for the survivors to look back on history and judge those who came before. It’s simpler when there is a villain,‘We forget sometimes how easy it is for the survivors to look back on history and judge those who came before. It’s simpler when there is a villain, when there is a reason for things to have gone so terribly, terribly wrong. [...] Sometimes there is no reason for things to go wrong. They just do.’
The year is 2036, twenty-two years since the Rising and life is no less dangerous. Despite those dangers though, some parents still choose to place their young children in public school systems (elementary and middle school) in order for them to fully develop their social skills before changing over to a fully virtual school system as most people have already done. Security has been increased and precautions have been made, however, the dangers were still lurking. The Day the Dead Came to Show and Tell is the story of Seattle’s Evergreen Elementary School tragedy; a tragedy that painted a clear picture that those dangers were lurking closer than anyone thought.
The Day the Dead Came to Show and Tell is a riveting and suspenseful novella set in the same world as Grant’s popular Newsflesh trilogy. The story follows Alaric Kwong and Mahir Gowda in current day 2044 who are conducting research on the tragedy trying to find the cause of it all. Flashbacks to 2036 are told from the point of view of teacher Elaine Oldenburg and shows the flaws of the ‘secure school system’ she thought she worked in. Her desperation to survive and to keep as many of the children safe as possible is palpable and even knowing that all sorts of wrongs are likely to follow, the reader can’t help but hope for a miracle. Incredibly thrilling for a mere 112 pages, (although there is also an excerpt from Parasite at the end)Mira Grant continues to impress with her boldness. The ending was fairly inconclusive and I certainly wanted more but for all my fellow Newsflesh fans out there? This is a must read.
I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review....more
My rating: 5 of 5 stars I received this book free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or tMy rating: 5 of 5 stars I received this book free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
“Pandora [...] was a really amazing woman. All the gods had blessed her and given her gifts. That’s what her name means – ‘the girl with all the gifts’. So she was clever, and brave, and beautiful, and funny, and everything else you’d want to be. But she just had the one tiny fault, which was that she was very – and I mean very curious.”
Melanie is a curious little girl, much like Pandora was. She loves school, loves learning but loves her teacher Miss Justineau even more. She’s never seen the outside world, only her cell, the corridor, the shower room and the classroom which is located on an army base. Melanie is an incredibly intelligent little girl, capable of extremely high level classes for someone her age. Other than being near genius, she’s just a normal little girl, until she catches the scent of human flesh.
‘…the Breakdown, when the world filled with monsters who looked like people you knew and loved, and every living soul went scrambling and skittering for cover like mice when the cat wakes up...’
The normal hungries that roam the earth are your classic type zombie: they’re mindless and single-minded when it comes to obtaining their next meal. Melanie and her classmates are high-functioning zombies or “hungries” that are capable of speech and emotions, things the normal hungries are incapable of. These children have been captured for the sole purpose of experimentation, in hopes that they are the key to a possible cure for this terrible disease that has consumed the world.
There are many interesting aspects to this novel that I wouldn’t normally expect to find in a normal zombie-type book. First and foremost is the cognitive abilities of these children despite their undead status. It was an interesting aspect and leads to the next aspect: the ethics behind the experimenting on these coherent children even if it’s done for the good of the human race. The doctor conducting the experiments, Doctor Caldwell, has completely disconnected herself from the belief that what she is doing is wrong and successfully convinces you as a reader in the chapters told from her POV that it’s for the greater good. Switching to the chapters told from the POV of Miss Justineau offers you the opposite stance as she’s become attached to not only Melanie but the whole of her students even though she fully understands exactly what they are and the danger they represent. The perplexity of the situation their forced into isn’t simple nor straightforward.
The other aspect to this novel that is the main driving force is the relationship that develops between Melanie and Miss Justineau. Melanie has suffered through a life of solitary and Miss Justineau’s teachings are the shining beacon of hope that she always has to look forward to. In turn, Miss Justineau develops an affection for Melanie despite her best intentions to remain distant. The relationship was surprisingly heartfelt and touching.
Setting all the unexpected aspects aside, my favorite aspect of zombie novels is always the why and seeing what route each author takes. Zombie novels have become quite common these days and thus requires them to have an original aspect that hasn’t been done before. The Girl With All the Gifts does just that. The individuals in this novel are infected with Ophiocordyceps, a genus of fungi that actually exists in our world today but grows only on insects. I can’t express enough what a superb job M.R. Carey does at explaining the details of this fungus and how it came to be possible for it to infect humans. He goes into incredible detail yet explains it in such a skillful way as to avoid leaving us non-scientists completely clueless.
While The Girl With All the Gifts had many incredible facets to it, the ending was the most memorable. Shocking and unexpected yet such a fitting ending to this amazing story. Engaging, shocking and thrilling, The Girl With All the Gifts is one incredible read that thankfully manages to live up to all the hype....more
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars I received this book free from the Author for the Blog Tour in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinionMy rating: 3.5 of 5 stars I received this book free from the Author for the Blog Tour in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
‘It was more than a sense or a smell, picking up on who was here before. There was a feeling that something terrible happened here and that feeling was snaking up my body, intent to drown me in it.’
It’s 1851 and in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains, 18 year old half-native Eve Smith is approached by a group of men requesting her assistance in tracking evidence of the Donner Party. A seemingly simple excursion quickly turns into a nightmare brought to life.
Growing up in Northern California, I learned a lot about the Donner Party early on and even went on a few field trips to visit the sites. The information I read about never bothered me too bad because the issues these people faced seemed like such an alien concept. Donners of the Dead really brought that concept to life and I’m going to be hard-pressed to ever get it out of my mind.
‘It raised its head and looked at me. There was no air in my lungs now, the whole forest seemed to still at that moment, as if it too were chilled by the monster’s presence, the smell of evil. It was when it smiled at me with bloodstained teeth that I snapped out of it.’
The monsters that Eve and her party discover in the woods seemed at first to be some type of zombie but Karina Halle applied the Algonquin based Wendigo legend to explaining these creatures. The following is a line from a website explaining the Wendigo legend which describes these gruesome creatures perfectly: “By eating another human being, even out of necessity for survival, a human can be overcome by these spirits and be transformed into one. The fear of turning into this creature was so strong that it was preferable to kill one’s self rather than resort to cannibalism.” -Source
“We’re still human even in the fact of beasts, even with our lives at risk. When you’re close to death, love is sometimes the only thing that makes sense in life.”
The romance between Eve and Jake was a bit out of left field for me considering Jake’s racist leanings toward Indians due to them being responsible for the death of his family. Seeing him overcome his issues in order to be happy with Eve was touching but didn’t strike me as being very likely especially how quickly his feelings develop. The perilous positions they continued to find themselves in the middle of do enough to justify these doubts though seeing as they needed someone, anyone, to rely on.
Donners of the Dead is an eclectic mix of cannibalistic horror and romance but is an enjoyable, thrilling and unforgettable read.
*spoilers from Immortal Rules. Please don't read if you haven't read the first installment!*
Admittedly, Eternity Cure was not a planned read for me. I*spoilers from Immortal Rules. Please don't read if you haven't read the first installment!*
Admittedly, Eternity Cure was not a planned read for me. I wasn't a big fan of Immortal Rules, I gave it 3 stars but it was a reluctant 3 stars because when I think back it was deserving of less because it was dreadfully dull at times and took me forever to get through. There was so much potential but it was severely lacking... in what? I can't quite put my finger on it but it could have been much better. The outpouring of immense love for Eternity Cure started rolling in and as soon as I read those magical words "even better than the first" I knew I had to give this one more chance. For those of you, like me, who weren't in complete love with Immortal Rules I suggest you check this installment out. It's not perfect but it's immensely more exciting.
The story picks up right where Immortal Rules left off: Allison has continued her quest to free Kanin after leaving Zeke and the rest of the human group in their new home, Eden. After teaming up to save their master, Jackal and Allison set aside their differences and join forces against the much imbalanced Sarren who has captured Kanin after a many years long grudge.
Jackal and Allison were quite the pair. Definitely entertaining, these two together really added some much needed humor to the story that made me love it infinitely more than the first. And I can't even begin to explain to you the excitement. This for me, was the best part of the whole thing. My biggest complaint about Immortal Rules was the parts that dragged on for far too long. With Eternity Cure, it was non-stop excitement and there was always something going on. This was truly an edge of your seat thriller and there were twists you will not see coming and turns that will leave your jaw on the ground.
The relationships... for me this was a huge flaw in Immortal Rules. I never quite understood Allison's need or desire to continue staying with the human party despite their ongoing terrible treatment towards her (despite even knowing she's a vampire) and her ongoing blood lust which made it extremely hard to travel with them. The relationship with Zeke was so touching and sweet and really made Allison's ongoing desire to remain human make complete and utter sense. To me, this is what truly sets this series apart from the rest of the 'typical' vampire stories. Allison has constantly struggled to retain her sense of humanity and still has a desire to remain a 'decent human being' minus all the feelings of entitlement like her brother Jackal has. She doesn't feel she's better in any ways to the humans and wishes to be like them but has no way of ever making this a reality. Her feelings were true and something that I could completely understand and empathize with.
Yeah, seriously. That ending?
I have to wait how long to find out what happens? Cliffhanger... yes. Mind blown... yes. Well worth it... definitely yes. This is one thrill-ride of an installment you won't want to miss....more
“And the most terrifying question of all may be just how much horror the human mind can stand and still maintain a wakeful, staring, unrelenting sani“And the most terrifying question of all may be just how much horror the human mind can stand and still maintain a wakeful, staring, unrelenting sanity.”
After Louis Creed gets hired on at The University of Maine, he moves his family from Chicago, Illinois to the small town of Ludlow, Maine. Their house is built on the edge of a distressing wilderness that their local neighbor, Jud, advises they never traverse which only manages to stir their curiosity. The months steadily fly by living in Ludlow until one day his daughters cat Church is killed and Jud decides to ‘help him’ by showing him the Pet Sematary. The one on the far side of the deadfall.
“You do it because it gets hold of you. You do it because that burial place is a secret place, and you want to share the secret… you make up reasons… they seem like good reasons… mostly you do it because you want to. Or because you have to.”
According to Stephen King, Pet Sematary is the most frightening book he’s ever written. And while it was frightening, it wasn’t exactly the type of horror I was expecting. The intended fright was also full of a paralyzing despair because it was regarding the loss of a loved one and the horrors that accompanies it. Throw in a supernatural flair and an ancient Indian burial ground that brings the dead back to (a form of) living and that’s Pet Sematary in a nutshell. The burial grounds and the unseen horrors that possessed an individual was what unsettled me the most though. Louis Creed was a perfectly rational individual yet the combination of loss and the influence of the burial grounds caused him to do irrational and horrible things. He became infected by an ancient evil.
“His plan kept unreeling in his mind. he looked at it from all angles, poked it, prodded it, looked for holes or soft places. And he felt that in truth he was walking along a narrow beam over a gulf of insanity. Madness was all around him, softly fluttering as the wings of night-hunting owls with great golden eyes: he was heading into madness.”
King’s stories of average people always end up transforming into something truly malevolent. Is that because of King’s devious imagination or is it a showcase of truth in how closely horror lurks waiting for its opportune moment to pounce and mutate even the most ordinary of lives? One thing I’ve learned is that there are most definitely worse things than dying.
“What you buy is what you own, and sooner or later what you own will come back to you.”...more