Okay, so before picking up this book, I had yet to find a solid YA dystopia that not only felt good and solid but contained characters that didn't makOkay, so before picking up this book, I had yet to find a solid YA dystopia that not only felt good and solid but contained characters that didn't make me hate the book/roll my eyes.
(I should probably say that I haven't picked up a whole lot of YA in the past couple years, but it's cyclical. I've been hesitant to read any because what I have read since The Hunger Games, the first book not the entire trilogy, has really made me skeptical of everything else. One apple can spoil the bunch. Or, y'know, like five or six apples.)
The Enemy has put my faith back into YA, and I will definitely be picking up the sequel.
First, Higson creates a world that shapes and is shaped by the characters within it. Since the story revolves around kids under 16, the language isn't advanced or too developed. The lingo they use is also used, but it flows naturally into the writing style and is never used enough to confuse the reader. The mythos behind the "zombies" isn't revealed, which is alright because they're consistent and much like how I loved it in Eden, they are as different individually as real people. Each "zombie" (or "grown up") has a differing level of intelligence and body control, which spices up the adventure for the kids.
With that said, he doesn't belittle the intelligence and cunning of the young people. They don't have the knowledge that they shouldn't, but they know how to survive and take care of one another in a realistic way.
He also doesn't shy away from the violence of the world that he has created. Without getting too spoilery, kids die in this book. There is cannibalism and murder. Getting way spoilery, (view spoiler)[HE KILLS OFF THE LOVE INTEREST. Given, another love interest arises for Maxie by the end of the book, but it was a guy that she had never even considered. She doesn't say "yes" immediately, either, and he doesn't pressure her into a relationship with him. Also the kid that was too stupid to leave Waitrose with the rest of the group eventually got himself killed, which makes all kinds of real world sense. (hide spoiler)] That first death was the one he won me over with, tbh.
Overall, very pleased. It wasn't exactly a page turner, but if I picked it up ten years ago, it definitely would be.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I think the concept for The Maze Runner was really solid and that's why I gave it three stars. It had the potential to be a fantastic story but fell fI think the concept for The Maze Runner was really solid and that's why I gave it three stars. It had the potential to be a fantastic story but fell flat.
Between the characters and the writing, nothing really stood out to me about this book. I'm not sure what it was about Thomas as the main character but I really couldn't get myself behind him. I felt he was more of a cardboard cutout for the author to stand behind and ask all the generic "important" questions. (view spoiler)[I realize he had lost his memory, but even after he regains it his tone and demeanor don't change at all. I don't know. Maybe he'd grow on me more if I read the rest of the books. (hide spoiler)] Personally, I think the story would have functioned better from another perspective--possibly Newt or Minho, someone who had been in that world longer and could put a better spin on the story and the changes that are going on.
The writing was pretty plain, which isn't necessarily bad, but in a book where I could easily cut out most of the first third of the book (view spoiler)[(as it is, I'd take out all of the parts where he's testing out the different jobs and just replace it with the information he gained there; most of the questions he asks/information is relevant but the way he obtains it is unnecessarily stretched out) (hide spoiler)], there needs to be something else supporting the story besides cliff-hanger chapter endings.
I loved the world, and I think that's the only reason I had to keep reading. I wanted to explore the world for myself, so Thomas was my proxy. I was pleasantly surprised that I liked the ending and it actually makes me want to pick up the next book.
Time will tell. By far not the best book I've read--better than most I've read from the current Young Adult section but far from mind blowing.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Definitely not the best zombie novel I've ever read, but it's by far not the worst. I think all the big names in zombie lit (Brian Keene, David Moody,Definitely not the best zombie novel I've ever read, but it's by far not the worst. I think all the big names in zombie lit (Brian Keene, David Moody, Joe McKinney, and my personal favorite author Jonathan Maberry) on the covers and on the inside really hyped the book up for me and it didn't quite live up to that hype.
Dying to Live is advertised as a "thinking" horror novel. It's not, really. It suggests some gentle, generic philosophical questions ("Are you dying to live?" and "If God exists, how could he let this happen?") but doesn't really expand on them too much. It takes almost half the novel to even get to the spot to ask these questions instead of inherently asking them from the start. Part of the problem, I think, is the fact that the novel starts in the midst of this post-apocalyptic world instead of at the start of it. Despite the flashbacks/memory sections (which I'll get to in a second), there were a lot of missed chances for deeper, moral questions. (view spoiler)[
Frank is probably the most notable example. Especially with his baby and how his wife died, when he tells his story, the characters just all pat him on the back and tell him he "did what he had to do" to "keep beautiful things alive in an ugly world." The thought is displayed, but never elaborated on. Especially with Jonah Caine as the point of view, he's a little too transparent at times like these when his own commentary could be vital and enlightening. We know he was married and had two kids and we don't know what happened to them, but that doesn't seem to bother Jonah too much. He talks about having a "thousand yard stare" and he contemplates the apocalypse but never his own family, and that seems kind of shallow for me as a reader. It's a "thinking" novel without any thought from the main character, at least no thoughts that I care about. (hide spoiler)]
Paffenroth writes beautifully, and both the theme of the struggle between the vacancy of the "thousand yard stare" and remaining whole and human both physically and emotionally and the theme of classic literature (especially Dante, I love me some Inferno) and Milton (oh-ho-ho ~clever~) are immensely satisfying. I didn't quite enjoy the generic give-people-alcohol-and-let-them-talk way of rehashing everybody's apocalyptic experiences, but I liked finding out the different stories. It slowed down the book significantly, though, and having his story backed up with Sarah's and Tanya's was too much at once. (view spoiler)[I would have had Tanya withhold hers until later, especially since they become so close. The dynamic of having her open up to him and only him would have given her character and their relationship so much more depth that wasn't really there the way it should have been with a first person narrative. (hide spoiler)]
For as amazing as the writing is, the story is pretty unremarkable until the end and the characters are human but plain. As a narrator, Jonah Caine is steady and reliable but unhelpful and his transparency as the novel goes on doesn't make sense. It felt as if I were reading in third person instead of first due to his lack of personal input in any situation. He didn't feel strong emotions and that made him kind of disappear as a character despite his thrilling heroics.
As for the action in the book, it was great once the story got going (100+ pages in). The prison sequence was as spot on as I imagine it would be. Paffenroth definitely doesn't shy away from the dark side of humanity in the prisoners, and, while I've read far gorier, violent, and intense zombie novels (see Eden: By Tommy Arlin), he gets it done.
As a final note, I like that the city is modeled after Grand Rapids, which is a city I know and the Van Andel Museum is a location I've driven by in the past. A lot of apocalypse novels are set around New York or Los Angeles, but having that knowledge gives Dying to Live a personal touch that probably not a lot of people can claim to have with a book, especially in Michigan.
I also enjoy that he's a professor of Religious Studies. I've always been interested in connections between religion--particularly Christianity--and zombies, and it seems Paffenroth has really worked with those connections and has published other books that I will definitely be looking into.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more