While I'm familiar with the Marvel roster (thanks in large part to children's cartoons while growing up, a few obsessed friends, and the recent cinemaWhile I'm familiar with the Marvel roster (thanks in large part to children's cartoons while growing up, a few obsessed friends, and the recent cinematic universe), I never could get into the original graphic novels. Now I love graphic novels and have for some time, but Marvel... Marvel comics just didn't click with me. Until now.
I picked this issue up on a whim, and boy did I luck out. Not only did I love the art and this particular rendition of Iron Man, but I absolutely loved the humor and found myself cackling out loud in glee several times (Awesome Facial Hair Bros). The humor and banter didn't come across as forced, but really felt true to the characters.
There, of course, was the added bonus of this issue's antagonist sharing my name; something that I don't get to see too often.
I can't say how well this holds up to the canon, or how long time readers will receive this title. I found it to be a pleasant surprise from a brand that I'd previously viewed as lackluster....more
Daniel M. Harrison’s The Millennial Reincarnations follows a cast of characters caught up in keeping face (or maintaining their mianzi) after the Shanghai Sorority Dame was forced to flee China due to blackmail involving a sex tape. Her departure leaves a power vacuum in the sorority and the dramatic changes in the sorority cause some to gain standing, while others lose mianzi – a societal death sentence in communist China. Backdoor dealing, bribes, threats, and more blackmail follow as the various characters scramble for their place.
Unfortunately, this is about as much of the overarching plot of the actual narrative that can be easily gleaned from the story bits readers are given. The new age philosophizing of the book is force fed to the reader through contrived means rather than being allowed to organically develop within the story itself. The story is led into with a preface, a forward, a prologue, followed by an afterword to explain the author’s larger ideas of reincarnation, evolution of thought in the younger generations, and the rapid evolution of technology. There is also a self-insert chapter ¾ of the way through where the author (in the guise of the narrator) has a long sit down chat with one of the book’s characters about what was actually going on in the story.
For the most part the writing mechanics so far as sentence structure and grammar goes were very solid. There were only a few misspellings and typos, which weren’t enough to pull readers out of the book. There are quite a few characters in the book, many of which go by several different names, and sadly all are very two-dimensional. This makes it difficult to emotionally engage with the characters and it is easy to mix them up, which is problematic when you add the parallel timeline/reincarnation ideas. The segments that were the most down-to-earth and easy to follow were actually the scenes involving discussions about business and politics. Daniel M. Harrison is a business journalist, which explains why some of the more detailed segments revolved around business ventures.
Potential readers should be aware that much of the story, veiled in the guise of broad thinking and philosophical ideas, are large sections focused on underage girls masturbating and having sex. So much of the story involves these situations that readers are forced to wonder if this book wasn’t just an excuse for porn. Yes, it is technically true that the age of consent in China is 14. However, the age of consent in the US varies state to state from 16 (with a parent’s consent) to 18, making many of these scenes questionable considering this book is aimed at adults. It isn’t just the age of the characters that makes these sequences uncomfortable, it’s that several of them involve blackmail, implied rape (in that we don’t see it occurring, just acknowledged that rape did occur), and incest. It is also true that sex scenes can and do have a place in literature, but usually if it furthers the plot or, at the very least, adds some character growth to a character. However, when all of the characters are cardboard cutouts the sex scenes appear to be just for the sake of having them.
Harrison claims that our thinking and striving for more (in terms of intelligence or thought) is being held back by the way our education systems teach science and technology. While it’s true that people learn things in different ways and we shouldn’t be adverse to changing methods that don’t work, he seems to forget that the great leaps and bounds in science in the last few decades and the new ways we consume knowledge is due to the core scientific foundations set down and accomplished by past generations. Any legitimacy Harrison he may have in the argument against traditional science is thrown right back out the window when he states in the afterword that Stephen Hawking died in the 80s and the man we see nowadays is a fraud.
There are plenty of books that deal with the ideas of reincarnation or a human evolution beyond our current level of connectedness and other philosophical ideas in a much more interesting manner; one that doesn’t make readers feel like they are being led by the hand. You only have to look for classic examples such Ulysses, The Magic Mountain, Atlas Shrugged, and the more recent title, Cloud Atlas to name a few. The ideas presented in The Millennial Reincarnations are not new, and are done here in a murky, uninspired fashion that makes it difficult to follow the threads, let alone connect them....more
This one is difficult to talk about without spoiling the whole thing. Basically something happened that caused the world to rip apart and everyone toThis one is difficult to talk about without spoiling the whole thing. Basically something happened that caused the world to rip apart and everyone to loose their memories. No one can read, but they know the words of things (cat, dog, street, girl, etc.), but they have no idea how to use anything mechanical or electronic. The world was clearly larger than it is now, and the sky is somehow wrong. Resources are limited, and humanity semi-devolves into clans... at least on Faller's world.
Basically, Faller is trapped on one part of Earth, where the rest of it is floating/falling in space above, to the side, and below his current world. He found clues on his person and knows he has to find the woman in the photograph. What follows is Faller's quest to find the woman, and follow the map he had drawn himself before everything went haywire.
This is a science fiction novel with the emphasis on science. Yes, actual existing or theoretical science that is currently being studied. The book flashes back and forth between Faller now and the time before the world broke. At first I was like, "I don't care what happened in the past," but pretty soon I was feeling agonized any time the time zone jumped because Faller (past and present) was nearly always in a critical moment and I wanted to know everything now already!
The book is bizarre in the best way, and was a beautifully refreshing take of the apocalyptic genre. It was still perfectly familiar, as each island was a separate social experiment of the "what if" game based on how people would react, adapt, and survive if they were trapped on various different parts of the world (city, farmland, small town, etc.), with various initial resources, and we've seen many different types of these scenarios before. Sometimes you want zombies in your story, sometimes you don't. This is definitely one that doesn't, and thank goodness for that; the people were awful enough.
Characters are engaging, even if the real focus is on the world and the overarching plot and not so much on feelings and being super cuddly with the characters. Luckily the balance was perfect and I never felt the quality of the book suffered because of this particular focus.
There were a few plot holes I thought of as I was reading, but I was able to shelve them long enough to enjoy the book (though I'm finding them a bit more persistent and annoying now that I've had time to think on them). In defense of some of the issues I found, the book isn't a "happily ever after" narrative at the end as the world is still a large mess. Things are definitely headed in the right direction, and the book has a hopeful vibe, but don't expect all the loose ends tied up in a lovely bow.
Definitely worth the read for the sci-fi reader who enjoys wonky worlds....more
Briddey Flannigan undergoes a fairly new procedure designed to connect two p Review written for and published by Portland Book Review on November 30th:
Briddey Flannigan undergoes a fairly new procedure designed to connect two people who have an emotional connection with an even deeper one. The procedure is supposed to allow a couple to feel each others emotions, unfortunately Briddey finds herself gaining telepathy. To make matters even worse she didn’t connect to her boyfriend, but instead finds herself tethered to her coworker, C.B.; the seemingly crazy, if cute, basement dwelling technician. Briddey finds things going from bad to worse at an exponential rate and only C.B. can help her keep sane with the flood of information assaulting her senses. Can she keep her boyfriend and doctor from learning of the botched surgery or her meddling, overbearing Irish family from making an even greater mess?
Connie Willis’s Crosstalk is one of those rare books that will keep you up all night long because you can’t bear to put it down. This book is all about information and connectivity of both the emotional and cerebral variety. The tongue-in-cheek nature of the writing style pokes fun and draws attention to current trends of information consumption – how most Americans are glued to their digital devices for a growing percentage of the day and how even though we feel more connected than ever our ability to emotionally connect one-on-one seems to be decaying. The book is also incredibly fast paced almost to the point of rendering the reader as completely exhausted as the main character!
The characters in Crosstalk are a joy to read about and even briefly mentioned side characters are vibrantly rendered. Briddey is an easy character to emotionally connect with as most people will be able to identify with having crazy family, overly nosy coworkers, and/or clingy boyfriends/girlfriends while trying to juggle the stresses of a job on top of things. Throw in a bit of unexpected telepathy into the mix and you’re in for an exhilarating and laugh-inducing read. This is a great book for readers of general fiction, romance, and science fiction, although the science fiction in the book is only just a touch beyond the world we currently know. With plenty of factoids about psychology, history, and Lucky Charms, readers of Crosstalk will find themselves wrapping up this 500+ page roller coaster longing for another ride. ...more
Most young girls dream of being a princess, however, when Danica finds herself engaged to the King of Versailles thanks to her mother’s machinations, it’s the last thing she ever wanted. While the entirety of Glitter takes place in and around the famous French palace – a palace whose inhabitants are obsessed with replicating the lifestyle during the reign of the Sun King – the book actually takes place some time in the future, after the majority of the world’s crops were wiped out from a virus. The Sonoman company stepped up with a series of crops that were resistant to the strain, and in the following chaos, semi-cheated their way into ownership of one of France’s most recognizable historical sites. However, much of the historical background and world building in Glitter is too little too late, and many readers will have wandered off feeling lost by the time they figure out the framework for the actual story.
Danica is an outcast – a rags-to-riches background thanks to a father who unexpectedly inherited shares to the company. Her mother is hell-bent on seeing Danica climb the social ranks as much as possible, forcing poise and dance lessons on her, as well as plastic surgery. Despite Danica seeming to have hated all of this, she never appears to have fought back against her mother’s will, making her an incredibly passive and abused character. Unfortunately, her complete and total passive nature also makes her incredibly unlikable. While she seems fairly apt at navigating the social cues in the old-fashioned faux court, she lacks foresight and can’t see how her plans to escape Versailles before her fixed wedding date to a murderer could possibly end up badly, although it ends in a very expected and un-shocking fashion to anyone paying attention.
The book goes into the darker sides of society – found even in the glittering throng of rich and famous – and deals with elements of drugs, affairs, political marriages, and self-harm to various degrees. The largest and most prevalent themes are drug use, and Danica’s self-harm. Danica’s self-harm comes across in the form of over-tightening her corset to cause herself pain – pain that she can control when everything else in her life feels out of her control. This mentality is often found in teens who cut themselves, and suffer eating disorders, and is genuinely distressing to read about. Despite the uncomfortable nature of some of the topics of the book, it is good to see these being discussed for the age groups that are most vulnerable to them.
Glitter has many elements that were interesting – the politics involved in running the company, the reasons behind their obsession with ancient era fashion and court life, the social hierarchy, the available technology, and the glimpses of life outside the palace – but Danica’s passive and panicked bumbling pretty much hamstrings what could have been a great book, into one that is just OK. The book had much unrealized potential, although there is hope that the sequel may focus on some of this book’s weak points and flesh out the series....more
Vince Wheeler’s The Things of Man follows Brad Manford, a seemingly average laReview written for and published by Portland Book Review on August 15th:
Vince Wheeler’s The Things of Man follows Brad Manford, a seemingly average lawyer from Santa Monica who suddenly decided he had to move to Kansas. Uprooting his wife, Sally, and his sickly son, Eamon, Brad finds a position at a small but prestigious law firm and moves his family into a large house that he felt strangely drawn to possess. Despite the fairly picturesque and seemingly ideal life, readers gradually learn that Brad is hiding quite a few things from his family. When the real world and memories clash, Brad is forced to acknowledge something is terribly wrong about his past, and he may not be who he thinks he is. Then, to muddle things further, Sally notices that the area around the backyard sandbox is growing out of control, almost as if there were something supernatural at work.
The Things of Man is a surprisingly captivating novel. It’s an interesting hybrid, mixing general fiction with science fiction in an unexpected and wonderful way. Much of the focus is on the slow unveiling of Brad’s past, but the mystery surrounding the cause of the rampant growth around the sandbox takes precedence in the latter half of the book. It’s difficult to discuss the resolution of the book in a way that doesn’t spoil important plot points, but the ending of the story is leagues away from where you suspect you’ll end up when first starting the novel.
Brad’s journey of discovery, or rediscovery, aside, the book’s real emotional and tension building sequences revolve around Sally and their son Eamon. It’s impossible to watch Sally struggle to keep house, homeschool, and keep Eamon properly medicated without the support group she used to have back in Santa Monica while Brad is off on work related trips, and not share in her feelings of stress, loneliness, and sorrow. Her rationalization for her slow-developing drinking problem is easy to understand, and heartbreaking.
Despite some minor clunky pacing, and the occasional awkward phrasing, this is an enjoyable read. The small cast of characters in The Things of Man is what really makes the book work. Though they aren’t the most interesting of characters, or the most colorful, they manage to come across as real and tangible. Recommended for fans of general fiction who also don’t mind delving into the realms of science fiction on occasion, The Things of Man is worth taking a look at....more
In Ordinary, the entire population of the world is suddenly gifted (or cursed) with superpowers... all except for one man. Michael is ordinary. He wor In Ordinary, the entire population of the world is suddenly gifted (or cursed) with superpowers... all except for one man. Michael is ordinary. He works a job as a plumber, is separated from his wife and barely even sees his son. He’s late to almost everything, is a complete slob, is in debt to loan sharks, and is just generally down on his luck. So what happens when everyone is gifted with amazing and terrifying superpowers? Poor Michael is left as the only 100% ordinary person left on the planet. At first some government agencies attempt to search for a cure, but the sheer chaos that erupted combined with people’s growing attachment to their own personal abilities makes things difficult. Michael is the only person left who may contain a cure, but only if he survives the chaos.
This was a great story that deals with humanity’s obsession over superheroes. However, in this case people had no say in how their powers manifested, and the vast majority of them were dangerous to others, and some to the entire galaxy, if left uncontrolled. This book clearly illustrates the old adage that “absolute power corrupts absolutely,” as people who were originally well-intentioned let their new abilities overrule their common sense. The book is a one-shot, and the pacing works perfectly so that readers will feel content with the ending, rather an annoyed that the story didn’t go on for another few volumes. The illustrations themselves are captivating, particularly with the larger panels that let you get a look at the various abilities that manifested, and the damage they are causing.
I’d highly recommend Ordinary to anyone who loves the idea of superheroes, but is also looking for a new take on the phenomenon. ...more
Blackcross is a dark and violent take on a collection of very mentally damaged, super powered characters. The book is a standalone spinoff from the PrBlackcross is a dark and violent take on a collection of very mentally damaged, super powered characters. The book is a standalone spinoff from the Project Superpowers series, although it isn’t necessary to be familiar with the parent series to follow here. The story deals with an overpowered serial killer that is rapidly approaching the town of Blackcross. A group of seemingly normal characters are revealed to be vessels or reincarnations of super powered entities that were imprisoned ages ago. As they start to wake up into their old selves it comes to light that the killer is hunting them down.
This is a dark book, both in terms of the style of illustrations, but also in the tone of the narrative. While these characters are super powered, they are not superheroes. From the little information readers are able to piece together, it may in fact be that these seeming victims are actually quite evil in nature. However, their true nature is not clearly revealed, either due to design, or to ambiguous storytelling.
The ambiguous storytelling lingers throughout the whole book, which can make it difficult to become too invested. Readers will only get a few brief moments with each of the characters, which may be enough to get a touch of who they are, but in most cases the characters remain complete strangers to their audience. In the end, the visuals and the book’s tone may be enough for some readers, but others will wish for more narrative clarity, and a chance to get to know these mysterious figures. ...more
Karl Bender, former guitarist for Axis, was enjoying his relatively boring life Review written for and published by Portland Book Review on March 22nd:
Karl Bender, former guitarist for Axis, was enjoying his relatively boring life tending to his bar and entertaining the occasional fan. One Sunday afternoon while searching for an errant army boot, Karl discovers a wormhole in his closet and falls into the past. He is unable to interact with anyone, but is treated to a concert he had attended back in the early 1990s. Seeing an opportunity, his best friend, Wayne DeMint, creates a software program that allows them to calibrate the wormhole to send people back to a specific time and place, and sends them home using an electric power source and their cell phones. They set up a fruitful underground business of sending people to the recent past to attend concerts through history. However, Wayne dreams of more, and during an attempt to travel back to 1980 to save John Lennon from his grisly fate, Karl accidentally types in 980 and strands Wayne in a time far before the advent of electricity. In an effort to retrieve his friend, Karl tracks down Lena Geduldig, settling on her due to her expertise in cosmology and string theory, but mainly because she was wearing a Melvins T-shirt. Lena thinks she can get Wayne back, but also thinks that visiting past concerts is a waste of a wormhole. Can they resist the temptation to change the past, or must the past change in order for them to have a future?
“YOU’RE TOO DUMB TO FIX THIS YOURSELF. GO FIND AN ASTROPHYSICIST.”
Every Anxious Wave is one part science fiction, one part romance, and one part musical appreciation class. A debut novel written by Portland local, Mo Daviau, this is a book that starts quickly and won’t let go until you’ve reached the end. Karl, our reluctant protagonist, is a refreshingly normal character. He’s slightly overweight, in his mid 40s, owns and runs his own bar, and is still mourning “the one that got away.” His hang up with his ex, Meredith, complicates his initial connection with Lena, but adds some great depth to his character. Lena is chubby, extremely intelligent, and incredibly stubborn. She is also very damaged, having suffered through growing up with an abusive stepmother and a rape that destroyed her hope of attending her preferred college and derailed her original career plans. Lena and Karl’s initial connection is through their love of music and tattoos. However, this connection is strengthened – and occasionally nearly destroyed – by their trips through time.
The book plays heavily with the “what if” factor – humanity’s constant desire to go back and change critical decisions believing that it would change the future for the best. While some of the changes are indeed beneficial, some of their alterations can be seen as self-serving. In one instance, Lena’s decision to change the past actually deletes someone from existence. Karl struggles with this off and on through the rest of the book, particularly so since he appears to be the only one to remember. Karl quite possibly destroys a future version of himself – one that he’d actually been in contact with – and nearly prevents his stepdaughter from even being born. These tragedies and near tragedies make the reader think, and ensure that the book is much more complex than it appears at first glance.
The book is also wonderfully feminist, and not in the overbearing way that many people seem to expect from that word. Lena, as co-protagonist, takes up quite a bit of the screen time. She goes into detail about how being raped affected her life from then on, something that many victims of rape struggle to articulate. This also feeds into her discomfort in her physical relationship with Karl. She also struggles with body image, something that every woman deals with on a daily basis to a greater or lesser degree. Lena also talks about the struggles women face in the workplace – particularly in the male dominated fields of math and science. Near the end of the book there is a poignant passage where she writes the following in an article:
“If this is a matter of being inspired because a chubby, nerdy science girl from Montana found true love, I get it, but I prefer to focus on the work. Many of us have a long road ahead as we begin our careers. We’re here to do the work. We’re here to support each other, to make sure other women succeed, and to not give up when giving up seems like the choice everyone around us wants us to make. Let’s keep sight of that. And though I’m really honored, and maybe a little confused, by the attention I’ve been getting lately, I definitely do NOT want anyone to look up to me for any reason other than my research and what I contribute to our community of female science students, not because I’m married to the guy who teaches Intro to Quantum in a sick leather jacket.”
Lena isn’t the only well-represented female character; Glory, Lena’s future-daughter, Jodie, wife of the former Axis lead singer, and even Meredith, Karl’s ex, are all complicated and realistic – some more likeable than others – characters.
Every Anxious Wave is a bizarre and captivating read; full of great humor, engaging and heartfelt characters, and more musical references than is typically expected from a science fiction novel that plays with wormholes and time travel. This is a debut novel that will not disappoint!...more
In the world of The Stars Never Rise humanity has learned the hard way that Review written for and published by Portland Book Review on December 14th:
In the world of The Stars Never Rise humanity has learned the hard way that demons are real. These soul eating monsters have decimated mankind, and we have since learned that souls are finite. What is left of humanity has retreated to walled enclosures run by the Church, and are subjugated to its strict rules and even harsher punishments. Sixteen-year-old Nina Kane has her hands full providing for herself and her younger sister, but Mellie has just landed the both of them in serious trouble. Nina stumbles on a terrible secret, and realizes that the Church has been lying to people from the beginning. As a true exorcist Nina is now on the run from the Church’s thugs, and is thrust into a band of fellow teens – other exorcists on the run. They need each other to survive both the Church and the demon horde, but Nina will not leave without her sister!
This story is a great, fast paced, and fresh feeling take on a post-apocalyptic scenario. Nina is wonderfully easy to relate to, and comes across as both capable and yet very down to earth. The world in which The Stars Never Rise takes place is dark, and tangible. Author Rachel Vincent makes it easy for readers to imagine this new and horrifying take on the future.
The supporting characters are an interesting mix, and while they may at first come across as stereotypes – the strong, silent type, and the haughty punk that hates everyone – they quickly start to develop depth. Finn in particular is an incredibly different type of character. At first seeming to be the stereotypic pretty boy, his particular differences make for a complicated romance option for Nina. While some readers may feel that their emotional relationship moves way too quickly for only knowing each other for just a few days, Finn’s uniqueness keeps the romance from devolving into a complete mess.
This is also a Young Adult book for more mature readers. While many of the characters are between fifteen to nineteen years of age, the book touches on some very mature themes including, drug use, consensual sex (which occurs off-screen), sexual assault, torture (people are set on fire), and murder. Since humanity is also under the thumb of a violent religious cult that is somewhat based off of Christianity, some readers will find that offensive as well. All said, this is an easy book to get into, and most readers will find themselves tearing through it at a rapid pace. The Stars Never Rise is recommended for anyone who wants to get hooked on a new series and enjoys a darker world in their Young Adult novels....more
I've read the previous books in this series, and each one got progressively worse. Despite my somewhat high hopes due to the narrative dealing with thI've read the previous books in this series, and each one got progressively worse. Despite my somewhat high hopes due to the narrative dealing with the mystery of Jack the Ripper, this book left me with a sour note.
It's difficult to point out exactly what was causing my complete boredom and apathy regarding this book. I found the characters to be very flat, and even Gideon's memory loss wasn't enough to spice things up. The writing mechanics themselves are fine, but despite this I found myself more inclined to stare out the window then keep turning the pages. I also found the big mystery far too easy to solve, and I figured out who was the Ripper (in this rendition anyway) very early on in the book.
Die hard fans of the series may enjoy this one, but I'm going to have to part ways with Mr. Smith and his motley crew here, and wish them luck on future adventures without me....more
Koko the Mighty takes place shortly after the end to the insane rollercoaster Review written for and published by Portland Book Review on December 4th:
Koko the Mighty takes place shortly after the end to the insane rollercoaster that was Koko Takes a Holiday. Koko Martstellar thought she and her boyfriend, Jedidiah Flynn, were in the clear after their narrow escape from bounty agents sent after them by her crazy boss. Unfortunately, Jackie Wire survived and is determined to collect on the Ultimate Sanction elimination warrant – a bounty that will never expire, not until Koko is terminated. Koko and Flynn run to the Northern America prohib coat, but are badly injured upon arrival. When rescued by a society seemingly composed of good Samaritans, Koko is suspicious, but at their mercy. Soon Flynn’s strange behavior leads Koko to discover a secret and unethical experiment. Before she can whisk him away the society is attacked by pre-civs – disease ridden people left behind on earth when the majority of humanity migrated to space – and the attack is led by Wire.
Koko’s adventures continue to be fast paced and full of danger. This time around, the characters travel earthside, giving readers a glimpse at what has happened to our planet in the last five hundred years. Koko remains a kickass, foul mouthed warrior, whose past has a nasty habit of following her around. Despite a brief summary for the first book, readers will want to have read Koko Takes a Holiday before diving into this one. While no sequel is confirmed as of this time, the ending to Koko the Mighty will make readers hope for a follow-up, and soon!
Waiting for the Machines to Fall Asleep is a collection of science fiction short stories. What makes this book a must-read for science fiction fans is that these stories are all written by authors from Sweden; this is an opportunity for the English speaking audience to see how a different culture can influence their favorite genre. The book includes twenty-six stories and runs the gamut of themes and styles.
In “Getting to the End” readers are treated to a science fiction narrative that is written like an old hardboiled crime noir, and involves layers like the Inception film. The main character finds things for a living, and is sent out into the dangerous Event Sector by a mysterious redhead who seems to know more about what is going on than she is willing to tell. When a mad computer is generating your entire existence things can get a little strange.
In “The Order of Things,” Ida is barely surviving in the Outskirts, small communities that exists outside the walls of the City. She escaped the City to raise her son in a place where he could be free from the oppression, and the cruelty of City life. However, when her son is stung by a werefly the only way to save his life is to turn to her brother in the City. Ida has to choose whether she is willing to give up her humanity to save her son.
Readers will run into stories filled with bizarre worlds, futuristic and seemingly impossible technologies, robot uprisings, dystopias, utopias, apocalyptic scenarios, and monsters. They will inspire laughter, contemplation, and overwhelming dread. This is a wonderful glimpse into work by authors that aren’t easily accessible in the US, and is well worth the read....more
Kady and Ezra are typical teenagers going through a breakup, until a rival corpo Review written for and published by Portland Book Review on July 15th:
Kady and Ezra are typical teenagers going through a breakup, until a rival corporation attacked the illegal mining colony they were living at. In a frantic escape Kady and Ezra find themselves separated on different ships. The small and injured fleet desperately tries to outrun the last remaining warship hot on their trail. However, one of their ships is riddled by a strange chemical plague, courtesy of their attackers, and is then destroyed under suspicious circumstances. Suspecting that the officers in charge are covering something up, Kady begins to use her computer skills to find out the truth and finds herself turning to unlikely allies.
Not only does Illuminae have a completely engrossing plot that will keep you turning pages until the crack of dawn, but it also has a cast of characters that are fully rendered and come alive on the page. Kady and Ezra are protagonists that are easy to get behind. Their interactions across the void between their ships are candid, humorous, and touching as each character wrestles with the fear and alienation of their very dangerous situation. Both characters are bold in their own unique ways and their approach to the situation they find themselves in are very different, if strangely aligned. It was particularly refreshing to see characters in a Young Adult novel that, while romantically entangled, are also both incredibly independent and capable of standing on their own. Kady manages to brilliantly outshine Ezra and prove that young women can save themselves, thank you very much, although a prince charming may be nice to have along for the ride.
The book’s charm is particularly impressive due to the unusual formatting in which the book is written. Illuminae is styled as report consisting of a collection of documents – messaging conversations, emails, voice and video recordings, medical and psychiatric records, and other information – regarding the events surrounding the attack on Kerenza, and the frantic escape of the Alexander, the Hypatia, and the Copernicus from the BeiTech dreadnought Lincoln. Full of classified pages and redacted texts, the book is awash in a unique style and a bold sense of humor in what could have been a very dark story.
Despite the lack of traditional formatting, Illuminae will draw readers in and leave them salivating for the next book in the series. Readers willing to tackle a book presented in a different format, and who aren’t afraid to have equal helpings of horror and humor will devour this story. A completely addicting book, Illuminae is a science fiction novel that will rekindle your love of Young Adult literature, and remind readers of the creativity that both genres can inspire....more
Earth Flight is the final book in Janet Edwards’s smart science fiction series,Review written for and published by Portland Book Review on June 16th:
Earth Flight is the final book in Janet Edwards’s smart science fiction series, Earth Girl. Following the events of Earth Star, Jarra Tell Morrath and her boyfriend Fian Andrej Eklund are back with their class studying Earth history, but due to their involvement with the Alien Contact programme, their celebrity status is both a blessing and a curse. Jarra has become the poster girl for the Handicapped – humans born with the inability to survive on planets other than Earth – but this has also made her a target for bigoted humans who see the Handicapped as sub-human. Amidst the political frenzy caused by her pending clan acknowledgement and betrothal to Fain – a non clan member – the Alien Contact programme has discovered that the alien probe circling earth contained a map of the alien solar system, and they believe they have located it! More problems arise when it is discovered that due to a strange technicality of alien biology, Jarra and Fian themselves have to be present to activate the sequence in person on the planet’s moon. Jarra must find some way to leave Earth, without dying, in order to unlock the secrets and potentially save humanity from an alien threat.
Earth Flight is an amazing followup to Earth Star, and packs much more than a teenage love story between its covers. The book deals with complicated topics such as self-esteem issues, bullying, and typical young adult problems of figuring out your place in the world. However, the issue that the Earth Girl series deals with most strongly, and most effectively, is the issue of racism. In the world of Earth Girl, the year is 2789 (at least it is at the end of the series), and humanity has done away with racism in the sense of judging people by the color of their skin. It is implied that Humanity suffered two societal collapses, nearly destroying us as a species of both occasions. After an event that drastic, racism based on skin color or ethnic background disappeared because there was so much more focus on humanity surviving as a whole, rather than by ethnic groups. However, since then, humanity has continued to grow and new sense of racism developed focused on those humans who could not survive outside of Earth’s atmosphere. By putting the reader into the head of Jarra, Janet Edwards was effectively able to show that there was zero difference between the Handicapped and the Norms, other than their inability to leave Earth. Science fiction has often been a way for authors to hold a mirror up to society to reflect back its flaws, and the Earth Girl books do this with racism in a powerful and affecting manner. Is it sometimes difficult to read? Certainly. Should books like this be read anyway? Definitely.
The Earth Girl series is much more complex than the average run-of-the-mill YA adventure/romance, both due to its handling of mature societal issues and the amount of focus the book gives to the politics of the book’s universe. While some people might cringe with the idea of delving into a series that is steeped in politics, the books handle this in a wonderfully organic manner. The enjoyably well-rounded characters that populate the pages help ease the reader into this complex and fascinating world as readers will immediately find themselves caring about the character’s plights.
It is also nice to see a Young Adult book where the female protagonist is an agent of her own actions. While some of what happens in the world at large is beyond Jarra’s control – her inability to directly control the outcome of the political voting regarding treatment of the Handicapped – she is a constant and active participant in things that she can control. Rather than drifting along at the whim of fate or those in power, Jarra makes her own decisions and is not afraid to step up and speak out when she believes she needs to be heard.
While it might not be necessary to start the trilogy from book one, as books two and three adequately cover the plot, I’d highly recommend picking up Earth Star before delving into Earth Flight, due to how intrinsic the events of the previous book are to Earth Flight. Overall, this is a fantastic Young Adult trilogy that science fiction readers should add to their reading list, but is also a series full of heart that less genre specific readers will also enjoy....more
The Robot Scientist’s Daughter is a poetry book for the non-traditionalists. BorrReview written for and published by Portland Book Review on May 14th:
The Robot Scientist’s Daughter is a poetry book for the non-traditionalists. Borrowing from her life experiences growing up in Tennessee just a few miles away from Oak Ridge National Laboratories, author Jeannine Hall Gailey crafts a narrative about a young girl growing up in a land that poisoned the very food she ate. A slightly unsettling narrative unfolds with the beauty and wonder of nature polluted down to the subatomic level, and its insidious if unintentional effects on the girl and her childhood.
The poems in the book are realistic, but with a touch of science fiction. In some poems the girl is herself a robot her father created, or a cyborg due to the detrimental effects of the nuclear radiation falling upon her during her formative years. The language is both simple, everyday language, while also including jargon more common to the scientific community and technical papers. Even so, Jeannine manages to make the poems both smart and accessible to the layman. The poetry itself is written in free verse, there is no obvious rhyme scheme holding the stanzas together. Instead, there is often a rhythm buried within the lines, which while uneven, is part of the charm.
The poems in this book are biographical, but with just the right degree of science fiction to entice a different readership. A hauntingly beautiful and somewhat melancholy collection, The Robot Scientist’s Daughter is the perfect book for the poetry enthusiast with an interest in science, and its potential side effects. ...more
Spanners: The Fountain of Youth introduces a world similar to our own, with the addition of a race of beings called Spanners that live their lives with very different rules from our own. Some spanners die after falling in love only to be born again, some live their lives backwards, and others are immortal. One such immortal, Adam Parr, has caught wind that a dangerous and very old foe is back in the game. Captain Juan Ponce de Leon is gathering a crew to go after the prize that slipped through his fingers 500 years ago: the Fountain of Youth. The Fountain is a powerful and innocent immortal with the ability to grant eternal life, and a final death. With 6 billion lives in the balance, Adam gathers his own team together in a desperate bid to stop Juan from extracting the powers of the Fountain for his own use.
Jon Maas created a complicated world in this book, introducing readers to a seemingly unending number of spanner classes right from the start. The book almost reads like a superhero novel, as so many of the classes have abilities along those lines (immortality, hyper intelligence, fire manipulation, and the ability to change their own biological structures to name a few). There didn’t seem to be any particular rules governing the abilities, and it wasn’t ever made clear if Spanners were a separate species altogether, or if they sprouted randomly here and there from within humanity.
The story is a long and somewhat rambling one, dealing with events in the presumed current day, as well as 500 years ago. The past segments are told in large, extended flashback sequences, which can be a bit jarring to the overall flow of the current narrative. The narrative might have been stronger if the book had been clearly broken into two parts: 500 years ago, and the current narrative.
Spanners has a fairly large cast of characters, with readers spending the most time getting to know Adam Parr and Mayfly. Despite the large amount of time readers get to reside within the characters’ heads, it is difficult to empathize with them. All of the characters come across as very flat, with little to no individual personality. We are told what they like, fear, love to do, and yet there remains some strange emotional disconnect, almost like reading the lines of a script. This is interesting as Jon Maas has actually written the script for a movie in the Spanners universe, which may have had a large impact on his style of writing in this novel.
Despite the lack of character depth, and somewhat choppy story, the book moves quickly and does keep the reader wondering how things will work out throughout the book. Spanners, people that live lives backwards and different to our own is an interesting concept, and worth a look for readers enjoy plot driven narratives....more
In a future world where humanity has destroyed much of the natural world in theReview written for and published by Portland Book Review on March 9th:
In a future world where humanity has destroyed much of the natural world in the pursuit of vast technological jumps, field biologist Daniel Brüks finds his refuge in the remote Oregon desert to be suddenly and violently invaded. Desperately running for his life Daniel seeks the dubious refuge of the monastery of the Bicameral Order, only to realize too late that the zombies appeared to be targeting the monastery to begin with. Swept up into events far beyond his control Daniel becomes an unwilling passenger on a spaceship with an unlikely crew on their way to investigate the silence of Icarus, earth’s last hope tucked into the center of the solar system.
Echopraxia is an incredibly complicated and surprisingly philosophical science fiction novel. The sequel to Blindsight, Echopraxia continues to explore the futuristic world with new characters. While there is an almost ridiculous amount of information the author is trying to convey to the readers, there is a remarkable lack of action throughout the book. After Daniel’s early rush to the monastery, and their flight from the attacking government chemical attack, the bulk of the narrative takes place while the characters are cooped up in a small space ship on their way to Icarus. Much of the “action” takes place as extended existential, psychological, theoretical, philosophical, and sociological conversations Daniel has with himself and other members of the crew. In these conversations you learn about what humanity has done to their planet, how a vast majority live within VR uplinks to a VR world called Heaven, how humans have created zombies – humans completely, or mostly, controlled by others – and how many of the people turned into zombies did so voluntarily. The book touches on questions of scientific progress: how much is too much, and whether or not humanity crossed a line.
In the middle of all this, there is the hovering level of terror that is created by the presence of the vampire Valerie on the ship. Her character is fascinating, particularly as readers learn more about her as Daniel slowly gathers information during the trip. Unfortunately she remains mostly mysterious as her motivations and the majority of her actions are never made clear.
The character Daniel himself raises more questions than are answered. As a protagonist he is an incredibly weak character. The majority of the book is him observing and discussing things with the other characters, which makes the reader wonder why on earth he was brought on board in the first place when he doesn’t actually do anything to further the story. Daniel is dragged from one event out of his control to the next like a useless, unwieldy bag of flour, right up until the incredibly confusing ending. It is implied that Daniel’s presence on the ship was orchestrated by outside forces from the beginning, even though his influence was minimal to nonexistent.
Overall, Echopraxia is a mind-bending hard science fiction novel that is definitely not for the casual reader. While the thought provoking discussions within the novel are fascinating, there isn’t a whole lot that actually happens in the novel. The book will certainly be appreciated more by those who have read Peter Watts first book in the series, Blindsight, although it is possible to enjoy Echopraxia without having read its predecessor....more
Flight of the Golden Harpy is the story of the world of Dora, a wild planetReview written for and published by Portland Book Review on December 10th:
Flight of the Golden Harpy is the story of the world of Dora, a wild planet to which humans have recently migrated. It’s lush jungles harbor dangerous plants and creatures, most infamous of them all is the harpy – a race of creatures that are half human and half bird. Kari had been raised on the stories of the dangerous harpies that would kidnap human women for wives – destroying their mind in the process. However, as a small child Kari was rescued by a rare golden harpy and she can’t quite believe the harpies are the monsters everyone seems to think they are. When the harpy from Kari’s childhood is captured by some local hunters, she uses some quick thinking to rescue him. Now saddled with an injured harpy, Kari learns there is so much more to the elusive and mysterious race. Decades of harpy hunting and misunderstandings have made a peaceful coexistence impossible, but when the local beetle population suddenly develops a taste for human flesh, the harpies may be the only chance humanity has.
“I’ve never felt so much rage in him. Right now he’s willing ot risk his male flock and attack every human on the planet. This is what he fears and why he’d rather die. Shail is a full-blooded harpy and lives in the present like all animals.”
Flight of the Golden Harpy has a terrific summary, and the core idea was a good one. However, the book fails to live up to its potential. The most obvious problem readers will see when starting this book is the overly stilted and clipped writing style. The dialogue is painful to read, and there is nothing natural in the way the characters speak to each other. There is also no differentiation between when the characters are speaking, and when they are talking mind to mind (the primary form of communication between harpies) which can make following a conversation even more difficult.
The relationship between Kari and her harpy Shail is complicated and actually quite creepy. To begin with Kari treats Shail as a troublesome pet, to the extent of patting his head and calling him a “good boy.” This makes it incredibly strange and uncomfortable when their relationship quickly delves into a physical romance and Kari is still treating Shail like a slightly intelligent animal – even calling him an animal on numerous occasions throughout the entirety of the book. It is also strongly implied that a portion of their attraction to each other is due to subtle brainwashing that Shail directs at Kari after he decided to claim her as his own, making their relationship more of coercion than a “falling in love despite all odds.”
Kari is severely disappointing as a main character, as she quickly loses any sense of agency. While she begins the book with strong opinions on the mistreatment of harpies, she quickly backs down against confrontations, and devolves from an active heroine to a damsel in distress trope. In fact, all female characters in this book are weak and let the men (and male harpies) around them dictate their life directions and goals – with female harpies on the extreme end as they go crazy and die if their mate perishes.
Despite having lofty goals about telling a cross-species romance amidst adventure, danger, and prejudices, Susan Klaus failed to make Flight of the Golden Harpy into any sort of substantial fantasy narrative. If you’re a fan of fantasy and are drawn to this book by its premise or the shiny cover, don’t be fooled, and get your fix elsewhere....more
Several years ago a virus was unleashed that kills off everyone once they reReview written for and published by Portland Book Review on December 22nd:
Several years ago a virus was unleashed that kills off everyone once they reach the age of 18, and renders humans sterile. The surviving population consists of children and teens struggling to cobble together a semblance of existence, despite their drastically shortened life expectancy. Jefferson, the de facto leader of the Washington Square Clan, longs to create a real society rather than continue to focus on survival. Their only hope rests in finding a cure for the virus, or in a little over decade humanity will be no more. Jefferson gathers a small crew together and they head out beyond the safety of their borders in search of their only clue, a reference to an article that may or may not be found in the main library. What used to be a two-hour drive is now a major expedition filled with danger around every turn, but with no future, what do they have to lose?
The Young World makes an effort to play in the post-apocalyptic sandbox, but doesn’t do anything terribly interesting with the available material. The most successful part of the book was the world building, as the setting was easy to visualize. On the other hand, characterization and plot suffered at every turn.
Characters are flat, and the dialogue is largely obnoxious as the author tries to be “hip” by talking in what he assumes to be common vernacular for young adults. Instead, the over the top slang turns every character into a painful and insulting stereotype of tech obsessed teens. It’s nearly impossible to care about the main characters due to how annoying and 2D they are. Even the three character deaths (one being the main character’s brother), come and go with no emotional impact.
The book ends in such a way to imply that all the suffering the characters endure was for nothing, as the author pulls a Deus Ex Machina that makes the book a giant waste of time, as well as creating several obvious plot holes in the last few pages.
While The Young World may be mildly entertaining in parts, there are plenty of other books, movies, and video games that deal with the topics raised in a much more comprehensive and involving manner. Readers looking for an emotionally engaging and engrossing YA novel will be hugely disappointed....more
In a future world where new technology can control the weather, and humanityReview written for and published by Portland Book Review on January 28th:
In a future world where new technology can control the weather, and humanity has discovered it’s not alone in the vast reaches of space, a terrorist organization threatens the galactic peach by slamming a moon into the planet of Ribon. Dan Crowell and Alan Brindos, previously private detectives turned contract agents for the NIO (Network Intelligence Organization), are sent to investigate. Separated and alone, Crowell and Brindos quickly realize they are hugely out of their depths and caught in the middle of a vast conspiracy. The two must dodge betrayals and piece together the larger puzzle, before everything comes crashing down.
The premise of The Ultra Thin Man is an engaging one, as is the world in which the story is built, however, so much of the story is left in an ephemeral state that the reader is left somewhat confused. Descriptions of the setting, characters, and technology are so generalized that the entire book feels painted with a large roller brush, leaving very little detail for readers to grab on to. The two main characters, Crowell and Brindos, are never described and their mannerisms were so identical that they often feel like the exact same person. The most obvious way to tell them apart is that the point of view changes from first person (Crowell) to third person (Brindos), but this point of view swapping is so distracting that it can easily remove readers from the story. The aliens are briefly described, but are largely referred to in the story through negatively inclined racial generalities. This makes it very difficult to even begin to empathize with the aliens as they are eternally “other” despite Brindos’ rather unfortunate personal Helk encounter.
The plot is easily the strongest part of the book – the layered politics could have been quite engaging – and yet it is incredibly difficult to care about the stakes involved because of how removed from the action and characters readers become due to the style of writing. The Ultra Thin Man is very much a book that had a great premise, and potential, but the author dropped the ball when it came down to creating the necessary detail required for readers to develop emotional attachments to characters, setting, or plot....more
A strong beginning to a post-apocalyptic series, Falling Sky takes the zombiReview written for and published by Portland Book Review on December 18nd:
A strong beginning to a post-apocalyptic series, Falling Sky takes the zombie plague to a steampunk, airship-filled future. When the Bug first started to spread, humanity soon realized the safest place was in the sky. Ben Gold ekes out a living by scavenging the ruins of earth, and hiring himself out for protection duty to a group of boffins (scientists intent on finding a cure for the Bug). However, few survivors are so high-minded, and Ben barely survives an attack from the nearby, and newly violent, city of Gastown. Determined to retrieve his stolen airship, Ben stumbles across a terrifying plot and must make a choice. Does he run, as his instincts are screaming at him to do, or does he make a stand to protect the last sliver of hope humanity has?
“I’m halfway to the exit when I see the Feral. It’s lying on the floor blood pooling around it. But it’s not dead. It’s squirming, weak from the loss of blood, its eyes wild. I don’t need to kill it. Nature will do that for it. But I can’t risk it lashing out at me, or shaking a drop of blood at me, so I stop and fire three bullets into its head, knowing that the gunshots will likely alert any raiders nearby.”
Rajan Khanna has created an engaging and enjoyable post-apocalyptic world in his book Falling Sky. Rajan’s world is incredibly real and remarkably detailed, from the descriptions of a salvage run to the emotional cost paid by the survivors. All characters are beautifully rendered, making it easy for readers to care deeply about their plight, but also manages to not get too bogged down in touchy-feely sentimentality. The zombie mythology has been tweaked in several ways that makes this book feel fresh, and helps it to stand out from the horde of other books using that theme. Falling Sky is a bit of a genre mash, and could easily appeal to science fiction, steampunk, action adventure and the occasional horror fans alike. Definitely worth the read!...more
Five hundred years into the future the prime vacationing spot is The Sixty IsReview written for and published by Portland Book Review on October 31st:
Five hundred years into the future the prime vacationing spot is The Sixty Islands, a high class resort where the wealthy go to live out fantasies of sex or violence. Retired corporate mercenary Koko Martstellar is busy enjoying the high life as a bar and brothel owner when the violence suddenly becomes personal. Fleeing The Sixty Islands with bounty hunters hot in pursuit, Koko tries to lie low in the Second Free Zone. Unfortunately after a close encounter in a dirty alleyway Koko realizes hiding is not an option. She reluctantly joins forces with Jedidiah Flynn, a retired cop who is suffering from the terminal disease Depressus, in an effort to thwart the bounty hunters and figure out why her old friend is trying to have her killed.
“SigSauer. Five hundred years of worldwide collapse and chaos – bet those lederhosen-sporting artifacts had no idea their little wagon factory would still be around, kicking so much ass. Chocolate and guns, those Swiss sons of bitches truly knew their way to a girl’s heart.”
Koko Takes a Holiday is an incredibly fast paced, zany rollercoaster of a ride. The story takes place in a cyberpunk future world that is still incredibly familiar, and the action is paced in such a way to keep the pages turning. Koko is a fascinating character, who is much deeper than she first appears, and Flynn is a great, if at first reluctant, partner in crime. Kieran Shea even managed to make the antagonist sympathetic despite keeping both the audience and the character herself in the dark about her motives until the very end. A quirky, gritty, humorous, and incredibly visual stylized book that would be perfectly at home in graphic novel or movie formats, Koko Takes a Holiday is an absolutely amazing debut....more
E.E. Giorgi introduces a new breed of detective in her mystery novel Chimeras: A Track Presius Mystery. Detective “Track” Presius was born with the enhanced senses of sight and smell, allowing him to gather more from a crime scene than the average detective. Track becomes embroiled in an investigation that begins with a missing person report and quickly escalates into a string of murders surrounding a genetic research company. Track’s eyes and nose lead him to the culprits faster than the official police investigation, and when time is of the essence, breaking the rules may be the only way to crack the case.
“I sensed a lingering presence, feminine, one hand clasping the curtain. Did she look into the darkness outside? What drew her here – fear maybe? Or doubt? I inhaled. Feminine scents are elusive. Women don’t always stick to one fragrance like most men do, and their secretions change from day to day with their hormones. I can get a global picture of a feminine smell, but if I want to break it apart, get into the components of it, one woman alone is a maze of scents.”
The mystery at the heart of Chimeras is involved, and urges readers to keep turning the pages long into the evening. Much of the narrative deals with genetic engineering, to a technical level, which is simultaneously fascinating and overwhelming for the layman. Where the writing stumbles a bit is with interpersonal character relationships. Track also has a tendency to switch between using a character’s first and last names with alarming frequency, which may cause some character confusion. Overall, Chimeras is a well-crafted novel that is perfect for readers looking for a mystery story that knows its science....more
Earth Star is the follow up title to the young adult novel, Earth Girl. PickingReview written for and published by Portland Book Review on July 30th:
Earth Star is the follow up title to the young adult novel, Earth Girl. Picking up where the first novel left off, Jarra continues to battle the stigma of her being an ape — a human born with an immune system that will not allow her to survive on any planet other than Earth — despite having won one of the military’s highest honors. However, it is her unique background and skill set in Earth history and archeology that flags her as a military asset when an alien sphere appears hovering in Earth’s orbit. Jarra is suddenly flung into a staring role and must prove that Earth and its inhabitants are worth fighting for.
“‘Sir,’ I said, ‘this information is classified security code black. Alien Contact programme has been activated. Fian and I…’ ‘We’ve been drafted by the military!’ said Fian.”
Janet Edwards has created a tough and likeable character in eighteen-year-old Jarra. The book and its characters wrestle with the age-old problems of fitting in, and learning your own self-worth, albeit in a futuristic sci-fi setting. The writing in Earth Star is incredibly fluid, and readers will find themselves finished with the novel in no time. It is not necessary to have read Earth Girl in order to understand and enjoy Earth Star, although readers who jump straight into volume two might feel like they are missing something, particularly as characters from book one reappear near the end....more
Dead Man's Hand is the perfect short story collection for people who like a little bit of everything. While the main running theme in the book revolveDead Man's Hand is the perfect short story collection for people who like a little bit of everything. While the main running theme in the book revolves around the American Old West, the tales in this book are better called "weird west" tales, with supernatural, science fiction, horror, and fantasy elements reigning supreme. This is a great collection where the authors each took what they loved about the old west and made it their own in mesmerizing ways.
The book contains twenty-four stories, and includes tales from many famous authors including Orson Scott Card, Tad Williams, Kelley Armstrong, Elizabeth Bear,and Jonathan Maberry to name just a few. While there were several tales that I enjoyed less than the rest, the collection as a whole is impressive and definitely worth a read....more
First of all, this book is 509 pages, not 400 like the counter suggests (or at least my copy was), which is quite a bit longer than most of the zombieFirst of all, this book is 509 pages, not 400 like the counter suggests (or at least my copy was), which is quite a bit longer than most of the zombie themed novels I have read. Luckily, none of those pages are unnecessary filler. I really enjoyed Coldbrook even though it began fairly stereotypically, and I found myself yelling at some of the characters for being so incredibly stupid. As the novel continued, I quickly became fascinated by the idea of multiple realities that were all being infected by the zombie-esque contagion, and that there were a group of people intentionally infecting the different realities.
As with most books in the zombie genre, Coldbrook plays with the idea of religion and it's impact within humanity, but the observations become much more potent at the very end of the book. The story's focus is twofold, looking at small groups of survivors, and watching the much larger (multiple dimension) scale of the contagion. In once sense this might prevent readers from investing too much personal interest with individual character. On the other hand, since so many characters do not survive, this slight detachment may be a good thing.
The book also does something interesting with the idea of zombies, removing their desire to feed, but only to bite an infect the next person. Seeing as the infection spreads within seconds of a bite, the disease travels with shocking speed. Tim Lebbon manages to tackle an overexposed (in the last few years anyway) genre in an interesting way, despite it's many clichéd moments.
Fans of horror, zombie novels, and Armageddon tales will most likely enjoy the novel, although only if they enjoy some parallel dimension science fiction thrown in as well....more