The matter-of-fact tone and alienated characters were similar to High-Rise, but I didn't enjoy this one as much. High-Rise felt more balanced, keeping...moreThe matter-of-fact tone and alienated characters were similar to High-Rise, but I didn't enjoy this one as much. High-Rise felt more balanced, keeping things rolling while showing us a more thorough transformation.
The Drowned World centers around a man in a beautifully described flooded city. His internal journey doesn't always mesh with the rest of the story, leading to awkward pacing that can make the book feel too slow and too plot-driven by turns.(less)
The opening scenes were promising, but things quickly turned slow, sad, and a little empty. It treads familiar dystopian ground without adding much of...moreThe opening scenes were promising, but things quickly turned slow, sad, and a little empty. It treads familiar dystopian ground without adding much of interest. Jessie has a strong voice, if one that doesn't always sound like a teenager, but I never really bought her motivation.(less)
The Passage was uneven, but I enjoyed the excitement of its beginning enough to make me interested in the sequel. Unfortunately, the first 120 pages o...moreThe Passage was uneven, but I enjoyed the excitement of its beginning enough to make me interested in the sequel. Unfortunately, the first 120 pages of The Twelve were a bore, and I've given up on finishing it.
One of my biggest frustrations with the first book was that it skipped the most interesting parts of the world going to hell. We went from build-up to distant aftermath, from a bureaucracy-ridden present to a future that had reestablished pockets of order. In this type of story, the disaster is important. It's like the creamy filling that holds an apocalyptic Oreo together, and without it, readers are left with a set of dry, cocoa-and-chemical flavored cookies that just aren't as satisfying as they might have been.
So when parts of The Twelve backtracked into that missing time, I thought it was a good sign. In retrospect, I was too optimistic.
Cronin gives his cataclysm the full lit-fic treatment, showing us small slices of dull survivors with scarcely a monster in sight. A woman whose life took a wrong turn tries to ignore the crumbling world while being cared for by an infected pedophile. A man with an undemonstrative father has a sad infatuation with a prostitute. A gruff marine finds a sense of comfort when talking to a teen wise beyond her years.
Blah blah whatever. In the rush to focus on these yawn-worthy characterizations, any moment that promises genuine chills is skimmed over. This is ostensibly a genre novel, so where is my chaos?
This one came highly recommended so I feel a little guilty about not liking it more than I did.
It got off to a promising start, with Kathy giving us a...moreThis one came highly recommended so I feel a little guilty about not liking it more than I did.
It got off to a promising start, with Kathy giving us a memoir-style tale of life at her unusual boarding school. I liked her descriptions of their activities and her talk about her friends, but once things moved on from that first student phase, I got restless.
Aspects of the writing style, even things I hadn't minded at first, began to get on my nerves, like Kathy's habit of addressing the reader. The scene transitions, where Kathy would usually hint at the next thing she was about to tell us about, also started to feel tedious.
The characters didn't seem to grow or change much. Kathy analyzed every little detail of her interactions, we'd be told about a conversation, her sense of it at the time, and what she thought about it later. We'd hear about its connection to other events in her life, and she was careful to note if her memory conflicted with something she'd been told later. I liked this level of detail in theory, since her relationships were the only thing about her life that Kathy had much say in. The problem was that she rarely acted on her insights and didn't turn that level of scrutiny on herself. Even her one big attempt to change her situation seemed passive and resigned.
The story explored some interesting themes, but in a detached, passionless way that didn't have much payoff. I think I can see how some people adore it, but I guess it's just not my style.(less)
This started out on track to become one of my favorite YA books. Matteo was sympathetic, he had an interesting background, and the setting did the "su...moreThis started out on track to become one of my favorite YA books. Matteo was sympathetic, he had an interesting background, and the setting did the "subtle dystopia" thing really well. I also enjoyed the author's writing style quite a bit.
Then Matteo climbed over the mountains into an entirely different novel. The themes and plot consequences of the first part of the story went ignored in favor of a set of new issues and characters. It was all too jarring for me, and it really hurt my overall opinion of the story.
I enjoyed the story and thought most of it was beautifully written, especially that ending. I've also got a lot of respect for this book's influence o...moreI enjoyed the story and thought most of it was beautifully written, especially that ending. I've also got a lot of respect for this book's influence on young adult fiction. I will say it was more juvenile than I expected, though that's not surprising given how different the YA scene was at its publication.
The setting is a bit unrealistic for my taste. It's understandable to go along with the premise for the sake of the story, but the idea of memory being tied so heavily to perceptions and emotions threw me out of things a little. (less)
The book begins with a secretive government research program, an agent who recruits test subjects, and a little girl who makes him question his work....moreThe book begins with a secretive government research program, an agent who recruits test subjects, and a little girl who makes him question his work. When the worst happens, as we know it will, we get into a story about a group of people dealing with a very different world.
The first third is a tight, compelling thriller, though unfortunately it skips over most of the disaster that it lead to. The middle third introduces us to a really interesting setting, but it bogs its little colony down with muddy characters and unnecessary personal drama. The last act gives us a post-apocalyptic road trip story that picks up the pace again.
Some plot details are on the derivative side, but the author showed real skill in terms of invoking a sense of dread and developing the protagonists of the first part of the book. This could have been one of the best genre books of the year if he, or his editor, had also shown some restraint.
Imagine the worst side-trip excesses of The Stand, make those less exciting or relevant, and you've got how I felt about some of the plots and people in the middle of this one. The filler was especially frustrating considering how narrow a view we got of what happened after the first (and most engaging) part of the book. It was disappointing that we skimmed past so much of the bigger picture only to have things focus down on detail that didn't seem to go anywhere.
The final section was an improvement, but it wasn't without its problems. Action scenes were hard to follow at times, and the people felt a lot flatter than the characters we met at the start. A series of articles before some chapters may have been meant to give us a wider view of events, but for me they had implications that seriously brought down the level of tension. There are also too many "read the next book" moments, which started to get irritating.
I did enjoy it. There were some great moments and descriptions, and it certainly kept me turning the pages. I'll read another, though hopefully the next one is edited more. I just think that The Passage didn't live up to either its hype or its potential.(less)
Feed is a near-future thriller about zombies, politics, the internet, viruses, and the news. It takes place in a world where fear and paranoia can be...moreFeed is a near-future thriller about zombies, politics, the internet, viruses, and the news. It takes place in a world where fear and paranoia can be valid survival strategies, because a social gathering, a family pet, or a trip outside of carefully controlled safe zones can lead to disaster. If any of this sounds even a little interesting to you, give it a try.
The main characters are Georgia and Shaun Mason, adoptive siblings who, along with their friend Buffy, are news bloggers hoping to make the big time by covering a presidential campaign. When traveling with the candidate threatens to make Georgia and Shaun part of the story, they're forced to decide if their push for the truth is worth risking it all.
The world-building in Feed really shines. Both the zombies and the way that people have learned to live with them are well thought out. There are a lot of little details that will be especially fun to horror fans, and I enjoyed learning about the rules and conventions that had developed to help keep people safe. I found Georgia easy to sympathize with, Shaun was a little less so but he was a fun character. Things moved along at a page-turning pace, and there were a lot of surprises in store, both in terms of action and emotion.
There were times when I got a little weary of the constant infection testing. I totally get why it was important and some of those scenes were beautifully tense, but it became repetitive to read about. I was left wishing that one quiet but interesting character had played a little more of a definitive role during the end of the book. The wrap-up felt too abrupt, though that could have been because I wanted the book to keep going.
I've seen a few reviews claiming that the book has a misogynistic angle, thanks to one skeezy female politician. I'm a feminist, but I think that the misogyny callout is off the mark here. There are many women present that show various types of strength and power. Georgia is in charge of the team as a whole in addition to managing the hard news section their website. Buffy is a poet but she also runs their equipment, and she's the best technical expert in the entire book. Emily Ryman is an important advocate for what she cares about, and Georgia and Shaun's mother is a badass but publicity-savvy adventurer. The book also has female bodyguards, scientists, and political activists. Yes, there's a stripper politician. But to me that character was a representation of how occasionally ridiculous their media-drenched society had become, and maybe a playful reference to attempted and even successful porn star candidates of our own time.
Underneath the action and the drama and the political circus of the plot there's a solid story that deals with fear and power and sacrifice, and just how much people are willing to take for safety - or at least the illusion of it. Like in all the best zombie movies, the characters here learn that their fellow humans can be even more dangerous than zombies. This is a point that a lot of zombie novels don't express nearly so well, which makes Feed stand out in the genre.(less)
I recently bought a copy of this off a Cambridge street vendor, and only partially because the title sounds a bit skeezy.
The story is about Jael 97, a...moreI recently bought a copy of this off a Cambridge street vendor, and only partially because the title sounds a bit skeezy.
The story is about Jael 97, a woman whose alpha-ranked looks have caused enough envy among her peers to make her consider having an artificial beta face fitted. Her post World War III society is governed by a mysterious dictator, whose seemingly arbitrary commands seem intended to keep everyone equal in mediocrity. When one of the dictator's decisions affects Jael in an unexpected way, Jael's vague dissatisfaction with the state becomes a quest to subvert it.
This is the kind of book that you read more for the ideas behind it than the story. The plot is sometimes light on detail, and I wish it had been fleshed out a bit more. We do get a good amount of information on the society. It was an interesting read, and a fairly quick one. Some of the book's points were made in overly repetitive ways, and some aspects seemed superficial.
I would suggest against reading the description on the back cover or the introduction, because they contain at least one detail that happens late enough in the story that I'd consider it a spoiler. I changed the Goodreads description to leave that part out.(less)
More of the same from this series, though like the previous book, it ramps up the supernatural side of things. Much of Rudi's story in this one dealt...moreMore of the same from this series, though like the previous book, it ramps up the supernatural side of things. Much of Rudi's story in this one dealt with side quests and downtime.
I guess it's supposed to be part of his hero journey to make allies, but I'd prefer more resolution to earlier issues than introduction of so many new characters and complications. The pace also feels awkward, it took a book and a half for the group to get to the Rockies, and then only a couple of chapters to reach Iowa.
Things are starting to get a bit predictable, though I'm not sure if there is a real change in the writing or I'm just getting used to Stirling's style. There was one killing that I thought was stupid and pointless, especially because it caused no major after-effects. There was also a mystifying addition to the party when a stray they picked up decided, without comment from anyone, to tag along.(less)
This one was paced better than the previous book. It was also nice to see that older characters and storylines weren't so likely to be neglected in fa...moreThis one was paced better than the previous book. It was also nice to see that older characters and storylines weren't so likely to be neglected in favor of Rudi's new allies.
But some of the heavy mysticism is really getting tedious. It's not that I object to it entirely, I just wish it could be handled more succinctly. It's also getting tiring to have the author run every interesting social point into the ground. For example, every single older character in the book seems to constantly think about how odd and less introspective the changelings are than people were in the pre-Change days.
I loved the idea of Rudi's band running into a group whose parents didn't have the same level of luck and skill that his had. That was probably the most interesting of the new cultures in the series. Another group that they met, however, seemed a bit coincidental and convenient.(less)
A post-apocalyptic YA novel about coming of age in a small community that struggles to survive under constant threat of zombie attack sounds like exac...moreA post-apocalyptic YA novel about coming of age in a small community that struggles to survive under constant threat of zombie attack sounds like exactly my kind of thing. Unfortunately, this one doesn't live up to the premise.
A lot of that can be laid at the feet of the main character, Mary. People are always telling Mary that she's selfish, and they're right. She never seems to think of others at all. Mary was raised on stories of what the world was like in the time before zombies, and she spends the entire book proving that nothing can satisfy her apart from chasing her childish dreams of the ocean.
Mary is too whiny to be likable, and her companions, The Brother, The Love Interest, The Other Guy, and The Estranged Best Friend, are mostly pretty dull. A few of them show some spark at the very end, by the time that it was kind of hard for me to care.
There are a few intrigue and action scenes, but they don't seem to have as much weight as Mary's repetitive emotional upheaval. Setting descriptions are often vague, which adds to the generic feel.
The cardinal sin of this book is that it manages to make zombies boring, probably because it isn't really about them at all. You could substitute any other type of external threat that can be defended against by chain link fences (which, for the record, should not be zombie-proof over the course of several decades).
There are a few hints dropped here and there regarding the zombies, but nothing about The Forest of Hands and Teeth tempts me to wait out however many sequels it takes to get beyond teenybopper drama to something interesting.(less)
I was disappointed to find that these stories are mostly rehashed content from the end of the original Zombie Survival Guide.
The artwork was passable,...moreI was disappointed to find that these stories are mostly rehashed content from the end of the original Zombie Survival Guide.
The artwork was passable, but some of the layouts seemed awkward. I expected more, especially considering how long the wait for this book was. Like all the little Zombie Survival Guide journals and card decks that have been produced, it seems like this is more about cashing in on the zombie craze than satisfying fans.(less)
I loved the idea of a follow up to the Dies the Fire books that centers around the younger generation. Most of the characters were either born after t...moreI loved the idea of a follow up to the Dies the Fire books that centers around the younger generation. Most of the characters were either born after the Change or were very young when it happened, so to them, the post-Change traditions and factions seem normal. But at the same time they have a direct connection to the earlier world in the stories of their parents, even if they don't always understand some of the concepts or references.
The book is about the start of a quest. A stranger has a mysterious experience (which includes visions of a sword) on the East Coast, near the area that some think the Change began. This leads him to seek out Rudi Mackenzie, who you may remember was associated with some type of Serious Prophecy in the earlier books. Rudi decides to travel across the continent and look for the sword. He's joined by a group of young people associated with the other societies of his area, and there's a powerful tyrant that wants to keep them from their goal. (Those who have read the previous books can easily imagine how exciting this is to the two young Rangers that come along.)
It's extremely action heavy, and there are a series of flashbacks that sometimes broke the flow of the story for me. Those who disliked the mysticism in the previous books should be aware that there's even more of it here. But if we're accepting that the laws of nature changed enough that most technology stopped working, it's not much more of a stretch to say that there was some kind of shift towards magic. The only times when it really bothers me is when the mystical stuff overwhelms the story and the descriptions of it take priority over what's really happening.(less)
I like that this is more about one family's survival than about the disaster. It's interesting, but the pace is odd and at times the story really drag...moreI like that this is more about one family's survival than about the disaster. It's interesting, but the pace is odd and at times the story really drags. The main character gets it together at the end, but during some parts of the story she's annoying. And there are some odd derails that don't add much, like the dreams and references about her friend who died the year before. I'd recommend Earth Abides or Alas, Babylon to adult readers who enjoyed this.(less)