3.5 stars. This book automatically gets 3 stars because it's Margaret Atwood and the conclusion of the darkly funny genetic-engineering-run-amok post-...more3.5 stars. This book automatically gets 3 stars because it's Margaret Atwood and the conclusion of the darkly funny genetic-engineering-run-amok post-apocalyptic trilogy that began with Oryx & Crake. This volume picks up right where The Year of the Flood left off, and is told primarily through the eyes of Toby, the intrepid God's Gardener who carried the day in the last book. Like the previous two books, much of the book is told in retrospect, a device that wore a little bit thin by this point, especially when it came to re-examining the actions and motivations of the main characters from the first volume such as Crake. The most captivating episode in the book was the story of Zeb and the bear, but much of the book felt static and the penultimate scenes (told, again in hindsight, in the voice of one of the Crakers) felt particularly rushed and strangely emotionless. I loved Toby's character and enjoyed the way Atwood continued to flesh her out in this book, but it felt like the other female characters were much more two-dimensional (particularly Swift Fox, but even more disappointingly, Amanda and Ren, who were much more well-developed in The Year of the Flood. I was hoping for more of them but they pretty much faded into the background in this novel).
Although this book failed to completely live up to my high expectations, I have to give it 3.5 stars because I still found it engrossing enough to stay up very late many nights in a row reading it. And Atwood's vision of the future is so convincingly and terrifyingly rendered, it's impossible to turn away. Plus, there's nothing I love more than a little black humor in my post-apocalyptic fiction. And this book, like the other two, did not fail to deliver on that point. Required reading for everyone who read & loved the first two books. (less)
A fantastic, fast-paced teen adventure set in a post-apocalyptic Gulf Coast. The main character, a skinny teenage boy named Nailer, is part of a crew...moreA fantastic, fast-paced teen adventure set in a post-apocalyptic Gulf Coast. The main character, a skinny teenage boy named Nailer, is part of a crew of poor teens who live on ruined Gulf Coast beaches scavenging the hulks of stranded oil tankers for salvage. The work is hard and dangerous, and Nailer dreams of escaping a life of back-breaking work, crushing poverty, and an abusive, drug-addicted father to sail on the sleek, hydrofoil clipper ships he reads about in magazines. When one of those ships wrecks on the shores of Nailer's beach during a huge tropical storm, he might just get his chance to escape.
Bacigalupi is apparently the new hot SF writer and I totally see why. Great characters, great storyline, convincing & absorbing depictions of a future Gulf Coast ravaged by the effects of climate change and human-caused environmental catastrophe. Almost a little too close to home right now with the recent oil spill. One thing I really appreciated about this book was the fact that almost all of the characters were people of color, and that class divisions were discussed and addressed in smart and thoughtful ways. Highly recommended for teens and adults. (less)
4.5 stars. A "parallax" novel to "Oryx and Crake," one of my all-time favorite books. Atwood takes the reader back to a world that is frighteningly si...more4.5 stars. A "parallax" novel to "Oryx and Crake," one of my all-time favorite books. Atwood takes the reader back to a world that is frighteningly similar to our own, perched on the brink of epic ecological and social disaster. This time, the same events unfold mainly from the perspective of two different women, Toby and Ren, who are both connected to God's Gardeners, a vegan survivalist cult in the pleeblands (cities) that is preparing its members for the Waterless Flood. Snowman (Jimmy), the narrator of Oryx & Crake comes from a highly privileged background and the reader doesn't get a good sense of what life is like outside the Compounds in the first novel -- this novel depicts that life vividly, underscored by Atwood's wicked black humor. Completely gripping -- I stayed up until 4 AM finishing this one. If you haven't read Oryx & Crake recently, I recommend re-reading it before you read this one -- Atwood fleshes out a few characters who receive very brief mention in the first book (Amanda Payne, Bernice, Brenda) and it's very interesting to read their stories from a different perspective than Snowman's. My only complaint is that I found the dense web of connections between these characters and the Oryx & Crake characters a little unbelievable. But that's a pretty minor complaint in consideration all of the other awesomeness this book has to offer. (less)
Re-read in anticipation of the copy of The Year of the Flood that is coming my way very soon. Such a great book -- so scary and funny and true. Can't...moreRe-read in anticipation of the copy of The Year of the Flood that is coming my way very soon. Such a great book -- so scary and funny and true. Can't wait to read the "sidequel" (can someone please come up with a better word for that)!(less)
A brilliant idea. But (and there is ALWAYS a but), I have a very uneasy feeling about this one. Especially since the only feminists portrayed in this...moreA brilliant idea. But (and there is ALWAYS a but), I have a very uneasy feeling about this one. Especially since the only feminists portrayed in this book so far are a bunch of rabid man-haters called the Amazons who cut off their right breasts and kill all dudes (tranny & biological). Kind of lame, even for a comic book. Looks like I'm going to have to do some serious suspension of disbelief to get through this series. . .(less)
So good, I could not put this one down. It was a refreshing change to read a story of post-apocalyptic survival that was not utterly soul-crushingly d...moreSo good, I could not put this one down. It was a refreshing change to read a story of post-apocalyptic survival that was not utterly soul-crushingly depressing. And well-written to boot! The narrator's voice is clear and realistic in a situation that is pretty far-fetched. You can't help but empathize and wonder how you would fare if you were in Miranda's shoes. . . .definitely made me want to start stocking up on the canned goods, batteries & bottled water.(less)
A entertaining & compulsively readable teen SF novel. When Toni V finds the diary of Pelly D in the rubble of a war-demolished plaza, he is immedi...moreA entertaining & compulsively readable teen SF novel. When Toni V finds the diary of Pelly D in the rubble of a war-demolished plaza, he is immediately entranced by her vivid descriptions of her seemingly perfect life as a wealthy, beautiful, and popular teenager. Reading about Pelly's carefree existence is a welcome and engrossing escape from Toni's daily routine of backbreaking labor. But as he reads on, Pelly's world, riven by bigotry and distrust, begins to splinter and disintegrate in frightening ways. By switching back and forth between Pelly's diary and Toni's thoughts, L.D. Adlington skillfully leads the reader to a final and chilling realization about the connection between Pelly and Toni's worlds.
Like M.T. Anderson's Feed, The Diary of Pelly D tackles heavy themes like social inequality, propaganda, and genocide with subtley and ambiguity -- it lets readers come to their own conclusions about what happened to Pelly without hitting them over the head with a certain "message." I think this book would prompt a lot of GREAT discussion in book clubs. (less)
This companion book to Life As We Knew It (one of my recent fave teen post-apocalypse books) is a gripping read that tells a very similar story, but s...moreThis companion book to Life As We Knew It (one of my recent fave teen post-apocalypse books) is a gripping read that tells a very similar story, but set in an urban environment (Upper Manhattan) with a family from a very different cultural background (working-class Catholic Puerto Ricans, second-generation immigrant family).
When I read Life As We Knew It, I totally wondered about how people in the cities were dealing with all the catastrophic events caused by the moon being knocked out of orbit, so it was interesting to see the same sequence of events from a totally different perspective. Unfortunately, I didn't find Alex as compelling a narrator as Miranda (actually, he doesn't even techinally narrate the book -- it's told in third-person, which I think has the effect of distancing the reader from Alex's situation more than Miranda's). Also it annoyed me how he made unilateral decisions for his sisters without consulting them at all, and assumed they would continue to cook and clean for him during all the blackouts and food shortages. Lame. Still, I was willing to overlook Alex's misogyny and some of the same plot devices reused (one family member is conveniently sent away half-way through the book which enables them to have more food, new unexpected friendships made & lost in the face of adversity, etc) because I HAD to know what happened next.
This book is quite a bit bleaker than the first, which I found more realistic. I think it would be fun for a book group or a class to read these books side-by-side (alternating chapters, perhaps, or sections) and discuss the similarities and differences in the way Alex and Miranda dealt with their worlds changing drastically. (less)
I was curious to see how this series would end, and I'm glad (I guess) that there were no easy answers or simple resolutions. But I had some issues wi...moreI was curious to see how this series would end, and I'm glad (I guess) that there were no easy answers or simple resolutions. But I had some issues with the way a certain character was dispatched and why. It just seemed to play back into all the sexual stereotypes that this series thought it was exploding. (less)
I never understood why some people thought of Tank Girl as this big Girl Power feminist icon. Yeah, she's got the shaved head & combat boots but t...moreI never understood why some people thought of Tank Girl as this big Girl Power feminist icon. Yeah, she's got the shaved head & combat boots but the comics themselves are just stupid cartoons filled with beer swilling, poop jokes, and sleazy sexual innuendo that would be more at home in pages of Maxim or Gear than in a Riot Grrrl zine. Hopey Glass could totally kick Tank Girl's ass any day of the week. (less)
Move over, China Mieville. I think I have a new SF author crush. Brilliant, disturbing, and utterly absorbing vision of a post-apocalyptic future wher...moreMove over, China Mieville. I think I have a new SF author crush. Brilliant, disturbing, and utterly absorbing vision of a post-apocalyptic future where genetic engineering and global warming have wreaked utter havoc on the environment and human society. A fantastic book that should be read by everyone who cares about where we are heading. (less)
I was thrilled to learn that Philip Reeve had written a prequel to the Hungry City Chronicles, one of my all-time favorite SF series, and I was glad t...moreI was thrilled to learn that Philip Reeve had written a prequel to the Hungry City Chronicles, one of my all-time favorite SF series, and I was glad to find this book just as riveting and cleverly imagined as the other four books in the series. Taking place about 1000 years before the events described in Mortal Engines and the rest of the Chronicles, London is not yet a mobile city but exists in a state of early modernity, centuries after the highly advanced civilizations of our era destroyed themselves in the infamous 60-Minute War. Fever Crumb is an orphaned apprentice to the Guild of Engineers, a forward-thinking band of Londoners who live an extremely ascetic lifestyle as they seek to uncover the secrets of Old Tech. As usual, Reeve is absolutely brilliant at imagining how future societies might (mis)interpret the cultural and technological detritus of our current one -- one of my favorite little details in this book was the use of the word "blog" as a curseword. Not to mention the religious cults marching through the streets chanting "hari, hari, hari potter." LOL!
Like most orphans in teen literature, Fever has a hazy background and discovers shocking and unsettling truths about her family history as the plot wears on. Meanwhile, another chapter in the history of London is beginning to unfold. . . and Fever finds herself at the heart of it, just as she is trying to figure out who she really is. A great rollicking read that is a must for all Hungry City Chronicles fans, and lovers of well-written, smart, thought-provoking and action-packed post-apocalyptic SF. Bonus: the back-story of one of my favorite characters in Hungry City Chronicles is revealed. (less)
In the last (?) volume of the "Last Survivors" series, the protagonists from the first 2 books, Miranda and Alex, cross paths and irrevocably change e...moreIn the last (?) volume of the "Last Survivors" series, the protagonists from the first 2 books, Miranda and Alex, cross paths and irrevocably change each other's lives. I had forgotten what a brat Miranda was, and how Alex could be such a dictator when it came to his sisters' lives, but I quickly got over these annoying character flaws and became engrossed in the story. Maybe it's just me, but I find this kind of post-apocalyptic survival story totally riveting (even if some of the plot points can be a little far-fetched at times).
And by the end of the book Miranda grows up in a major and startling way. A satisfying end to a great series. (less)