Johnny and his friends time travel to a day in 1941 when bombs destroy Paradise Street and kill nineteen people. Should they change history and save tJohnny and his friends time travel to a day in 1941 when bombs destroy Paradise Street and kill nineteen people. Should they change history and save them or let the past take its course? Time travel mayhem ensues! It's basically an episode of Doctor Who where the TARDIS is a shopping cart....more
Johnny sees dead people! He begins communicating with the inhabitants of the Blackbury Cemetery, which is about to be razed and built upon by a faceleJohnny sees dead people! He begins communicating with the inhabitants of the Blackbury Cemetery, which is about to be razed and built upon by a faceless corporation that does...whatever it does. It's no The Graveyard Book; the dead bear some resemblance to the ghosts in that book, but that's probably because Gaiman and Pratchett clearly share similar senses of humor when it comes to the talking dead....more
Johnny is playing a computer game in which the object is to kill a lot of aliens...except the aliens try to surrender. For them, it's not a game! JohnJohnny is playing a computer game in which the object is to kill a lot of aliens...except the aliens try to surrender. For them, it's not a game! Johnny dreams himself into gamespace and tries to save the aliens in the game from being obliterated by human players hungry for killin'. It's a neat premise, even though it's fairly heavy-handed with its anti-war message: the book was inspired by the Gulf War, when war started to look like a videogame and videogames looked like war and maybe things began to blur a bit....more
Howl's Moving Castle is about Sophie, the eldest of three daughters, who becomes even elder when she's turned into an old woman by the Witch of the WaHowl's Moving Castle is about Sophie, the eldest of three daughters, who becomes even elder when she's turned into an old woman by the Witch of the Waste. She takes refuge in the titular moving castle, where she meets the wizard Howl and his fire demon, Calcifer. Somebody ought to be able to turn her back into a teenage girl, right? Problem is, she can't tell anyone she's under a spell. Oops.
I already knew I would like the book when I saw that Diana Wynne Jones was using one of my favorite chapter-naming conventions, leading to chapters called "In which Sophie expresses her feelings with weed-killer" and "Which is far too full of washing." That sense of humor carries into the prose as well, which is light and clever, especially when it comes to Sophie's inner monologue, which is very amusing. She is entirely too adjusted to being an old woman, but it's just that kind of book.
There is a lot going on in the book, and about halfway through, it becomes apparent that it's not all just there for flavor! Every fucking thing is important. EVERY FUCKING LITTLE THING. I don't even think I'm kidding. Every single little throwaway detail ends up mattering. It's pretty amazing and very impressive how well constructed the plot is. There are like fifteen thousand plot twists at the end; my head was spinning....more
In the world of Chew, a bird flu pandemic leads to the deaths of millions...and the outlawing of chicken. The FDA is the new Homeland Security, the moIn the world of Chew, a bird flu pandemic leads to the deaths of millions...and the outlawing of chicken. The FDA is the new Homeland Security, the most powerful law enforcement agency on the planet, and they declare Chicken Prohibition. They investigate cases of black market chicken, chicken speakeasies—yes, I said chicken speakeasies—and other chicken-related illegal activity. It is as yet unclear whether other kinds of poultry like turkey and quail are kosher or not.
The newest recruit to the FDA Special Crimes Division is Tony Chu, a totally unstereotypical Asian-American. He's hired because he's a Cibopath, which means that whenever he eats something, he gets impressions of its past. If he eats an apple, he gets feelings about the tree it grew on, what pesticides were used, and when it was harvested. If he eats a hamburger, he gets feelings about...the slaughterhouse. How is this useful in crimefighting?
You know how in Pushing Daisies, Ned can bring dead people back to life and ask them how they died?
In Chew, Tony can bite into corpses and gather information from them.
As his partner, Agent Mason Savoy, says: "You're going to eat terrible things, all in the name of justice." (Agent Savoy, by the by, is described by the artist as "the lovechild of Orson Welles and a grizzly bear." As his name suggests, he has a very British way of speaking, which is a good contrast to Chu's downbeat straight man.)
There's another character of importance, Amelia Mintz, a food critic who is a Saboscrivner. This means that she can write about food so vividly that you can literally—literally—taste it. Whether it's scrumptious or repulsive, you will feel as if you've eaten it.
In the first five issues, Layman establishes the world of the comic and hints at bigger mysteries like the suggestion that there's a...wait for it...conspiracy surrounding the cause of the bird flu and a whole lot of bizarre events in issue #4 that will surely be explored in the future. The first story arc covers one smaller mystery too; this is essentially a detective comic, after all. The comic is clever, wryly narrated, and laugh-out-loud funny, though I don't know how long it will take for the novelty of the premise to wear off. Guillory's art is reminiscent of Gabriel Bá's in The Umbrella Academy, Vol. 1: Apocalypse Suite (Savoy even resembles Hargreaves), offbeat and pretty, perfect for a slightly absurdist comic. Although Layman does name Y: The Last Man as an influence in that he wanted to take a high concept—CHICKEN PROHIBITION!—and extend it to its logical, real-world conclusions, you don't want realistic pencils in a book that so frequently features its main character, er, taking a bite out of crime....more
I was not very familiar with Doctor Strange, but the book assumes very little knowledge and, in fact, retells and expands on his backstory. I didn't rI was not very familiar with Doctor Strange, but the book assumes very little knowledge and, in fact, retells and expands on his backstory. I didn't realize that he was a real doctor before he became a sorcerer! Thus, the titular oath is the Hippocratic one.
The story revolves around a magical elixir of magic that has magical powers. During the theft of said elixir, Strange is shot and brought to none other than the Night Nurse! Who totally joins him on an a detective adventure! I love the Night Nurse's appearances in Daredevil, so it was really cool to see her out of her natural environs being awesome. Personally, I would recommend this book just because of her. It is a good Strange story, though, in that it digs into his past life and tries to reconcile the doctor with the sorcerer in interesting ways.
I wasn't a huge fan of the art, but it was passable. It's a solid, well-told story....more
This fantastic prequel to Feed details the events surrounding the Rising. Although most of the major information was covered in Feed itself, these viThis fantastic prequel to Feed details the events surrounding the Rising. Although most of the major information was covered in Feed itself, these vignettes put a more human face on the story, as well as giving the perspectives of the viruses themselves. The standout character is Alexander Kellis, whose relationship with his husband is strained by his relationship with his research, the research that would unwittingly lead to the end of the world. We also get a look at the pre-Rising Masons, who were actually cool and likable! Where this novella succeeds the most is in the incredible tension and foreboding in the scenes that lead up to the Rising and the unease and horror that comes after. It's a compact version of the strong writing displayed in the trilogy proper....more
It is important going into Deadline knowing that it is a very different book from Feed. It has to be, of course, given the events of Feed. The first tIt is important going into Deadline knowing that it is a very different book from Feed. It has to be, of course, given the events of Feed. The first time I read it, that put me off, but the second time around, I appreciated it much more on its own terms. I enjoyed spending more time with the After the End Times crew. I was intrigued by the deepening conspiracy. And the worldbuilding remained intricate and interesting.
I believe these books deserve to be absurdly popular and turned into awesome movies. If you think they're just another series of zombie books, let me tell they are almost frustratingly low on actual zombie content (Deadline has even fewer onscreen zombies than Feed). The zombies are not the story; the people are. The zombie threat is the setting for a tale of politics, conspiracies, Internet journalism, love, friendship, fear, and that insatiable hunger for not brains but truth....more
One Salt Sea decides that the stakes haven't been high enough lately, so Toby has to prevent an all-out war between the land and the sea by finding twOne Salt Sea decides that the stakes haven't been high enough lately, so Toby has to prevent an all-out war between the land and the sea by finding two kidnapped children. As has been the trend after the first couple books, there isn't really a "mystery," as the culprit is determined fairly early and then confirmed over and over, although there's more to it, of course. At this point, the series has settled into a familiar groove, Toby having acquired many allies, all of whom are great characters I always enjoy spending time with. The book is almost deceptively straightforward, though entertaining and imaginative, especially when Toby must visit the Undersea, the scene of the crime, but, like I said, the series has settled into a familiar groove, and part of that groove is that even though each book is a stand-alone story, there are always consequences and events that ensure Toby Daye will not be the same in the next book and that we will have even more questions about the mythology of Faerie and its inhabitants. Especially the Luidaeg, who is basically a mystery wrapped inside an enigma with pigtails....more
It is very difficult to review Blackout without spoiling the excellent Feed and Deadline, so I will say that I loved it despite recognizing severalIt is very difficult to review Blackout without spoiling the excellent Feed and Deadline, so I will say that I loved it despite recognizing several flaws presented in this spoilery review, although I can't completely envision what the book would be like any other way. I love that each book in the trilogy has a different narrative structure, I love spending time with the After the End Times crew, I love the thought and detail that's put into the science and politics, I love the journalistic idealism that shines through the conspiracy, and I love explosions. Please allow me to express my opinions in blurb form.
"Blackout is so addictive that every minute you do not spend reading Blackout will be spent waiting to read Blackout. Assuming you can tear yourself away from it in the first place."
"At one point, Shaun Mason declares, 'Fuck it. Let's blow some shit up.' If only so we can describe Blackout as the EXPLOSIVE conclusion to the Newsflesh Trilogy."
"Grant's potent mix of sci-fi, horror, and thriller will have you up all night and listening for zombies at every corner."
"Blackout is like Fifty Shades of Grey except instead of erotica, you get zombies, instead of Twilight fanfic, you get zombies, and instead of clunky prose, you get zombies."
"There actually aren't a lot of zombies in Blackout. The real threat is all too human. In a post-zombie society, whom should we fear more, the zombies or ourselves?"
"Blackout is a great book to throw at your friends! It really leaves a mark."
Over the course of three books, Toby's racked up quite a few corpses and made more than a few enemies...and everything is about to come back and biteOver the course of three books, Toby's racked up quite a few corpses and made more than a few enemies...and everything is about to come back and bite her in the ass all at once.
Late Eclipses is my favorite since the first, Rosemary and Rue. Part of it is environmental: after one book spent in a building and one book largely spent in a Faerie forest, it was refreshing to get back to the familiar environs of Shadowed Hills and the Bay Area. Part of it is characters: at this point, there are many characters I just love spending time with, even if it's only for a few pages, and the addition of May, Toby's Fetch, to the cast is a huge plus.
But what really makes this book so strong is that Toby has a very personal connection to the mystery. Not only is the villain a dark figure from her past—like the previous book, this is not a whodunit, as Toby is confident she knows the culprit very early on (or does she?)—but she's targeting the people Toby loves. This is in addition to the multiple people who want to kill her. She's going to have to do some very expedient detective work—mixing magic and science!—if she wants to catch the culprit and save her friends.
And yet, as exciting as the main plot is, the real reason it's this book that makes me say, "Go, go pick up the first three books and get in on this series NOW," is that through the course of the story, Seanan McGuire pays off many things that have been set up and brimming throughout the first three books. Something very important happens in this book. It may very well make you go OMGWTF. And then you will re-read certain passages in previous books and you will see that the clues were there all a-fucking-long. And then you will wonder what other clues are staring you right in the face, and you will not be able to wait to see where this story goes.
I've enjoyed Toby's adventures so far, but Late Eclipses has made me a true believer: I'm in it for the long haul....more
I've not very familiar with the urban fantasy genre, but I am very familiar with the author. Yet, I was still hesitant to read a book about...faeries.I've not very familiar with the urban fantasy genre, but I am very familiar with the author. Yet, I was still hesitant to read a book about...faeries. Thankfully, it's also a murder mystery!
October "Toby" Daye is a private investigator in San Francisco. There's your urban. She's also a changeling, half-fae and half-human. There's your fantasy. She denies the world of Faerie, however, and chooses to live as a human. But just when she thinks she's out, they pull her back in! A prominent pureblood is murdered, and Toby--having known the deceased--must solve the murder and bring the killer to justice.
There are a few other things I ought to tell you about Toby. Her life kind of sucks, but she doesn't let the world get her down. She's rather sarcastic and doesn't take crap from anyone. She's prickly, you might say. She struggles financially. She puts great trust in her animal companions. She's attracted to a Bad Boy and a Good Guy. The very first time we see her, she's on a stakeout.
Oh yes, I'm going there: this book is like Veronica Mars, Faerie Detective.
When you have a prickly private eye solving a murder in San Francisco, there is really no other option but to make your story hella noir. Which this book is, to my great delight. Toby is nocturnal, so all the action occurs at night. She has issues knowing who she can trust. There are hired killers and seedy establishments. People get shot. Honestly, the book is so good at being noir that I was thrown when some of the more fantasy elements appeared.
And that's because most of the fantasy is blended seamlessly in with the story. It's the setting and background for the story; it's not the story itself. The worldbuilding is very complex and well researched; the denizens of Faerie are divided into various breeds, like cats, all of which have Irish and Gaelic names (thankfully, there's a pronunciation guide in the beginning). Each race has different magical abilities and character traits (although I felt that the "Such-and-suches are always X, and this such-and-such was no exception" idea was overused, as if all the races have homogeneous personalities). They live under a medieval-type system with kings and queens and knights and courts and fiefdoms. There's a fair bit of Shakespearean influence as well. The whole history and society of Faerie is very well thought out, down to the prejudices that are bound to arise between purebloods and half-bloods. It's a little confusing in its complexity, but you just have to keep paying attention since Toby only provides information when it's relevant.
I do love a good murder mystery, and although I did clue in to the culprit before Toby did, it didn't lessen my enjoyment of the story. What really drew me in was Toby herself. I was hooked on the book by the end of chapter two, even before the actual plot kicks in, just because of Toby's voice and her character. This was a woman who had gone through hell and come out intact, just like my dear Veronica.
Rosemary and Rue is a great start to the series, and I can't wait to read more of Toby's adventures. Seriously, I've begun going into Toby withdrawal. I considered reading the excerpt of A Local Habitation to get my Toby fix. She's not quite a marshmallow, but I still want s'more. ...more
Seanan describes this book as Transmetropolitan meets The West Wing meets Night of the Living Dead, and I think that's a perfect description.
In 2014,Seanan describes this book as Transmetropolitan meets The West Wing meets Night of the Living Dead, and I think that's a perfect description.
In 2014, the cure for cancer and the cure for the common cold made sweet viral love and infected the entire human race. Since the Rising, everyone who dies becomes a zombie. The good news: we survived. The bad news: so did they. Now, in 2039, society has rebuilt itself to accomodate the constant zombie threat. Blood tests are routine security checks to make sure someone isn't about to undergo viral amplification and start eating people. Most laws support a "shoot first, ask questions later" policy. Various areas of the world are considered uninhabitable hazard zones. Like, say, Alaska.
One consequence of the zombie apocalypse is the rise in prominence of bloggers, who—because of their ability to spread information quickly during outbreaks—saved countless lives and now share a status on par with journalists, receiving the same credentials and access they're granted. Our heroes are a team of intrepid bloggers—Georgia Mason, Shaun Mason, and Buffy Meissonier—chosen to follow the presidential campaign of Senator Peter Ryman. Soon enough, however, people start dying, and they find that they have as much, if not more, to fear from the living as they do the undead.
For a zombie book—and I know there are a lot of zombie books and you are tired of zombie books—there is surprisingly little hardcore zombie action. I would say only ten to fifteen percent of the book actually features onscreen zombies. The book is more about what a post-zombie apocalypse world would be like. How does society change? Customs, traditions, fashion, politics, journalism, entertainment? The worldbuilding is meticulously thought out, and the virology has been researched extensively. It's more science fiction than horror. With a conspiracy, because everyone loves a good conspiracy. A zombie conspiracy! There are more than a few "Oh, shiiiiit" moments.
Georgia, like Toby Daye, is a prickly heroine, but Feed is very different from the Toby books. Georgia, like Spider Jerusalem, prizes the Truth above all else and, just like in Transmetropolitan, the frequent call to arms can seem a bit overdramatic, as can the sentiments about the perils and virtues of journalism. But, hey, this is a goddamn thriller, and it's allowed to lay it on thick when the stakes are high. This is the kind of book that makes e-mail exciting. Another criticism I'm willing to give the thriller pass to is that the characters are more black and white than the grey characters in the noir world of Toby Daye. While they feel real enough, I think they could have been fleshed out a bit more.
Thing is, though, I haven't even scratched the surface of all that is good and awesome about this book—and, I predict, the next two, which I anxiously await. As soon as I began reading the physical book, over a year after having read it on my computer, I was reminded of why I had loved it. It's so goddamn well written. It's very hard to put down, and it literally made my heart race at points, the tension was so high. And sometimes I almost got teary. It's that good....more
Whereas the first book (Rosemary and Rue)was a Chandleresque noir and the second (A Local Habitation) was a locked-room sci-fi mystery, this book is aWhereas the first book (Rosemary and Rue)was a Chandleresque noir and the second (A Local Habitation) was a locked-room sci-fi mystery, this book is a fantasy thriller. I continue to marvel at how different each book is, tonally and structurally.
By now, Toby's world is fairly well established, and we have a cast of recurring characters that can both get into trouble and help Toby out of trouble. This adventure sees Toby trying to track down a slew of kidnapped children, but, unlike the first two books, this one isn't a mystery. It's established pretty early on that the culprit is Blind Michael, who has apparently been mentioned before but I never caught it. It turns out the boogeyman is real, and Toby has to venture into his realm to recover the kids and punch him in the face and stuff. The problem is there are a shit-ton of rules involved. Because that is how Faerie rolls, after all. Toby has to rely on her wits, at least when she's not being knocked out or poisoned, which happens frequently because Blind Michael has hunters at his disposal: the middle of the book is pretty much a long chase scene, and it's very exciting. ("Oh shit, it's the Hunters!" I would exclaim out loud frequently.)
The book takes some unexpected turns, and it leads to a totally badass climax. Toby begins the book wishing she didn't have to be the hero, but someone has to be. And we're right there with her as she figures it out, grumbling all the way. Have some more coffee, Toby. You've got a lot more heroic adventures ahead of you....more
Being a second book, it...is not the first book (Rosemary and Rue). Which is good and bad. On the one hand, you don't have to spend paragraphs explainBeing a second book, it...is not the first book (Rosemary and Rue). Which is good and bad. On the one hand, you don't have to spend paragraphs explaining your worldbuilding and characters every few pages. On the other hand, you can't rely on that initial, visceral sense of discovery and newness. This second book is also not the first book in terms of genre and structure; it appears that each book will have a different feel to it, with Toby Daye, P.I., being the constant. Rosemary and Rue was a hard-boiled noir tale that took Toby from location to location. A Local Habitation is more of a sci-fi/horror story that takes place almost entirely in one building. Seanan describes it as a seventies noir take on Ten Little Indians.
A Local Habitation takes Toby Daye to ALH Computing in Fremont. ALH Computing is run by a group of fae interested in modern technology; it's only natural that fae in the Bay Area are going to want to mix magic and technology. Of course, soon after she arrives, a dead body turns up, and the rest of the book is a locked-room mystery of sorts in that all the characters in the building are potential suspects...until they get killed off, that is.
Although it's not necessary to have read the first book to enjoy this one, it really helps since the consequences of the last book weigh heavily on Toby throughout this one and inform her decisions. I don't read any other urban fantasy series, so I don't know how much continuity they have, but I really liked those touches: this Toby was not the same Toby from the beginning of Rosemary and Rue. I also like that the main plot of each book has a piece in some Larger Story that we can't really see the full picture of. We learn more about Faerie in this book: one of the central questions raised is "How does a race of immortals view and deal with life and death?" Fae aren't supposed to die. (Of course, it appears Faerie is going to have to get used to the deaths of fae since Toby's going to need more murders to investigate.)
I still find a lot of Faerie confusing—How do knowes work? What's the Summerlands again? Are Duchies worth more than Provinces? Wait.—but not inhibitively so. I just go with it as Toby walks down hallways hoping not to get jumped by an unseen killer, as she tries to protect everyone in the building because who else will? I think this book is sadder and more thought-provoking than Rosemary and Rue. It gets to be very focused, and even though it's longer, it reads just as quickly....more
I can't really describe what this book is about because it picks up right where the third book leaves off. Suffice it to say that it begins with ChaptI can't really describe what this book is about because it picks up right where the third book leaves off. Suffice it to say that it begins with Chapter -Ten. These books are simply a delight, full of clever wordplay, sly humor, and cryptic codes. Cass and Max-Ernest are endearing protagonists. The mythology of the series builds with each book, and this one in particular features a SUPERAWESOME METATWIST. They're so much fun....more