I picked up this book based on the recommendations of Stephen King in Entertainment Weekly. It seemed like a good summer read. Who doesn't want to rea...moreI picked up this book based on the recommendations of Stephen King in Entertainment Weekly. It seemed like a good summer read. Who doesn't want to read about robots taking over the world? A nice respite from vampires and zombies taking over the world anyway.
This novel, told in flashback sequences through first-person accounts and computer recordings, is the story of how Archos took over computers and turned them against man. Like most apocalyptic stories, it's told in a not-too-distant future in which man has put some form of a computer into nearly all objects. The story starts with the first moments when Archos takes control, testing its strength and takes us through to the final moments of the New War.
There are great creepy bits in this book, images of robots coming to life, stalking victims, turning on ... us. Some good enough to be their own short film. But these were too few and too far between for me. Tension didn't build properly because there wasn't enough character development for me to care when disaster struck. Even in a robot apocalypse I need humanity. That isn't to say I need to have human characters worth caring about, I would have taken a robot or two instead. Wilson didn't give me humanity. Further, I didn't get any social commentary as I have from some of the better apocalyptic science fiction like the Hunger Games trilogy by Collins, The Road by McCarthy, The Passage by Cronin, or Invasion of the Body Snatchers by Finney. The only message is a warning about the pervasiveness of technology in our lives.
This will likely make a great movie. I am sure that it has already been optioned. Parts of the book already read like a script. Some of the visual descriptions were written almost as if they were instructions for a director. The character outlines here in the book will be perfect for a two-hour movie. They just weren't enough for a 350-page book.(less)
Tory Brennan, niece of famed anthropologist Temperance Brennan, is stuck living on secluded Morris Island. Her mother died recently in a crash and she...moreTory Brennan, niece of famed anthropologist Temperance Brennan, is stuck living on secluded Morris Island. Her mother died recently in a crash and she's just reunited with her father who, until the crash, never even knew she existed. On the bright side, she's befriended Hiram, Ben, and Sheldon who share her love of adventure and science.
When the four visit a neighboring island where scientists study a monkey colony, they discover a caged dog that appears to be the victim of secret, experimental tests. They quickly decide to rescue the dog, changing their lives forever.
Reichs is a scientist. I haven't read her Bones series, so I'm not sure how much latitude she takes with that book, but I found it surprising how much latitude she takes with the science here. Additionally, it's hard to hear characters being described as smart and obviously above average when the readers are steps ahead of them at several points in the book. This makes the characters appear less than smart.
Did a publisher approach Reichs about writing something for the YA market and encourage her to continue to use science but make it accessible for teens by injecting some supernatural elements because of the current trends in YA literature for vampires and werewolves? Wouldn't it have been wise to just stick to the science and write an intelligent, younger protagonist?!
I had other issues with Reichs writing. She uses far too much foreshadowing at the beginning of the book. We get it! Something bad is about to happen! I also found her narrative choice of using a first person omniscient voice was poor. Telling most of the story from Tory's perspective, but allowing the audience to read bits of what other characters did and felt spoiled much of what could have been used for dramatic tension.
This book was clearly written as the first in an intended series, but I won't be waiting to read future titles.(less)
This is the first time I've read a James Patterson book. Kind of surprising since as John Green says, when he sneezes a best seller shoots out of each...moreThis is the first time I've read a James Patterson book. Kind of surprising since as John Green says, when he sneezes a best seller shoots out of each nostril (check out his funny vid at http://tinyurl.com/67kmpd).
This is Patterson's foray in YA literature and I'd say he does an okay job. Fourteen-year-old Maximum Ride and her band of teenage mutant avian/human hybrids are on the run. They've escaped from a school where "white coats" created and experimented on them. Human/wolf hybrids called Erasers are the only beings on the planet capable of tracking and recapturing Max and her crew and that's what they're bent on doing. When the Erasers find out where Max and her five friends are hidden, they kidnap the youngest among them, Angel. Since Max, Fang, Iggy, Nudge, and Gazzy have nobody else they can trust, it's up to them alone to track down the Erasers and make sure Angel doesn't fall victim to more cruel experimentation.
Even though this book has been recommended for those in seventh grade and up, I would say the writing is fourth grade level. It's facile, but quick-paced, obviously written for the "reluctant reader" market. While the writing and plotting is sometimes clunky, in the end, the biggest problem is that Patterson never feels like a native to the YA fiction world. The voices of the teens are not always authentic and some references might leave teens confused.
With some reservation, I'll soldier on and read the next in this series simply because so many things remain unresolved at the end of Angel Experiment. (less)
You probably don't know how new trends begin, but it's Hunter's job to spot cool ideas and turn them into the latest trends. That's how he meets Jen,...moreYou probably don't know how new trends begin, but it's Hunter's job to spot cool ideas and turn them into the latest trends. That's how he meets Jen, an innovative girl Hunter meets on the street. After Hunter and Jen crash a "cool tasting" where they give their input on corporate commercials targeting teens, Jen comes up with an idea that Hunter's boss Mandy likes so much that she offers them an even better gig. When Hunter and Jen arrive for their first meeting with Mandy, she's disappeared leaving nothing but her cell phone and a pair of the coolest shoes they've ever seen. Now Hunter and Jen have to follow the clues that lead them to uncover an underground group willing to risk everything if it means taking down the consumerist culture.
Westerfeld does a good and FUN job of deconstructing how trends can happen, the messages we send to other people with our appearance, and how corporations use us to spread their messages. He reaches as far back as ancient times to show that people have always wanted to be different in just the same way as everyone else. Jen and Hunter keep the story moving using her creative solutions and his follow through to get them out of some tough situations. The satire here isn't subtle, so it's pretty easy to pluck out what Westerfeld is trying to say to his teen audience.
A good companion to So Yesterday is M.T. Anderson's Feed, a more adept and subtle work that explores similar themes.(less)
A meteor hits the moon and changes everything. That's the premise of Dead and Gone, the parallel novel to Pfeffer's Life As We Knew It.
Shortly after t...moreA meteor hits the moon and changes everything. That's the premise of Dead and Gone, the parallel novel to Pfeffer's Life As We Knew It.
Shortly after the meteor hits the moon, tidal waves flood the subway drowning untold sums of people. Then Yankee Stadium is converted into a makeshift morgue for the identification of the dead. Long food distribution lines cause riots. Bodies dead from the flu or suicide are raided for cash and valuables. Canned food and clean water are the most valuable assets.
The stakes are higher than in Life As We Know It, which makes the book thrilling to read. (Floods! Riots! Death! Oh my!). I find the idea that a seventeen-year-old has to take care of his younger siblings during the biggest disaster in recorded history very compelling, but the characters are flat. They seem little more than a stereotype and as a result I found myself having a hard time connecting. Even with so much death and destruction, my eyes remained dry the whole time.
Nevertheless the pacing of the book and the escalation of terror is well done. If you can ignore the characterization flaws in the writing, you will likely find yourself stealing moments to find out what catastrophe will be visited upon Manhattan next.(less)