Imagine you go to a huge high school in Phoenix. Imagine this high school gets locked down everyday; it has a huge fence with spikes on the top and locked gates. Now imagine the zombie apocalypse starting during an assembly at this school. That is what happens in Sick. Brian and his friends are in the last period of the day when all hell breaks loose. Kids are sick; infected with something that turns them into zombies determined to suck your bones and eat your flesh. Brian and crew barricade themselves in the drama department, but he is determined to find his sister and girlfriend and get out of the school.
There is nothing revolutionary about this take on the zombie apocalypse, but it was definitely a fun, exciting read. The zombies are a little different in that their skin crystallizes and they start walking on all fours. I thought the tension in the book was great, the horror was just right and the kids were all written perfectly. Everyone reacted differently to the circumstances and I thought everyone’s reactions were justified. There were no weird revelations or stereotypes to deal with. This is just a straight up zombie book for teens and it is worth the read.
I received a copy of this book from Netgalley.
Oh boy. Fans of Patrick Ness are going to eat this one up! The book opens with the protagonist’s death. Seth is in the ocean, drowning and freezing. And then he is smashed into the rocks, which snaps his spinal cord, killing him. That, friends, is just the prologue. Time passes. Seth wakes up naked except for some bandages on the sidewalk outside his childhood home in England. It’s exactly as he remembers it from his youth, with one huge difference: everything is abandoned. Weeds have taken over lawns; dust lays thick in the houses; even the non-perishable food has, well, perished. People? None to be seen. Seth is obviously perplexed. He remembers dying. Vividly. So why is he here, in England? His family had moved to America years ago after tragic circumstances. But the house he’s in now has artifacts that he knows made the trip to America and should not still be in England. He can’t figure it out. All he knows is that he doesn’t want to sleep, because sleep brings with it memories. Memories Seth can’t bear to face. He should be dead, so is this hell? The afterlife? Something else entirely?
This is a very, very unusual book. There are essentially two narratives going on throughout: Seth awake and Seth asleep. Seth’s waking world is every bit as disarming to the reader as it is to Seth and the reader is not made any more aware of why Seth has awakened where he has or why he’s alive (?) again in the first place. Seth’s memories are both beautiful and painful, often at the same time. The dream-memories fill in the story of how Seth came to be in the ocean and each one reveals important facets of Seth’s life. I was hooked from the first page and read breathlessly, trying to figure out just what is going on. This likely won’t be a book for everyone, but for those who are looking for something decidedly different, this is just the ticket.
Disclaimer: I received this ARC from the publisher at the ALA Annual Conference (and got it signed!!!). I am in no way compensated for my review. This title comes out in September 2013.
In the not-too-distant future, plans are being made to bring mankind back to the moon. It’s been decades since the first astronauts set foot on the lunar surface and NASA has now decided to send a new crew up. The twist this time is that they’ve decided to send three teenagers (for the ratings, ostensibly). A giant, world-wide lottery is held and three are chosen: Midori (a trendy Harajuku girl who longs to see the world), Antoine (the broken-hearted Parisian who wants to get as far away from his ex as possibly), and Mia (a musican from Norway who honestly has no desire to go to the moon, but is signed up by her parents and goes anyway). After their training, they’re off to be the first inhabitants on DARLAH-2, a space station that was built in the ’70’s but the existence of which has only just been made known to the public. Things go smoothly until the teens and their accompanying astronauts arrive at the station. First, the power goes out. Then people start dying.
I picked this up, thinking it was going to be a sci-fi book but was surprised to discover that this book is far more horror than sci-fi. The setting, however, did add to the claustrophobic feel- earth is days away, which means no rescue and nowhere to run. There’s a pervasive feeling of dread throughout in spite of the excitement that surrounds the fanfare put forth by NASA (the narrative is interspersed with advertisements promoting the lottery, as well as photos and diagrams from the mission itself).
I wound up using this book as one of my high school book group’s selections, with great success. There was plenty to discuss and all agreed that the book was definitely creepy. One girl claimed to have screamed. I, personally, had a few issues with the premise itself (i.e. who would ever think it’s a good idea to send minors into space?). I was also very unclear as to the nature of the menace facing the kids and crew. This was likely intentional, but still a bit frustrating. Overall, an unusual reading experience. Gotta love YA lit for its genre-blending tendencies.
Dance of the Red Death takes place immediately after Masque of the Red Death. I will admit that it has been awhile since I read the first book and was a little fuzzy on details. Basically, Araby, Will, April, Elliot and the rest have fled the city. Araby’s dad has disappeared and they need him for a cure to the new plaque, the Red Death. Prospero is abandoning the city and Malcontent is trying to take over and infect as many people as possible. Elliot wants to return so he can save the city. Araby is torn between Will and Elliot . Can she forgive Will’s betrayal? Can she put up with Elliot’s quest for power? The group has to go back into the city and try to save it and themselves.
I really wish I had reread Masque of the Red Death because I forgot what was going on, but it did eventually come back to me while reading. This is definitely gothic and grotesque with all the infected people wandering around and the drowned world of swamps threatening to take the city. I really enjoy the atmosphere and the world created for these books. However…love triangle! I have made my feelings on love triangles perfectly clear (they are unnecessary and stupid!) and this one is a perfect example. I felt like the back and forth between Will and Elliot really took away from the story. These people are fighting for their lives and trying to save the world, yet every other page is a scene with Araby either making out with someone or debating the merits of the boys. I would have liked more of a story about them saving the city and the people. The end seemed so rushed that I was left wondering why we needed two books for it.
What if the Cuban Missile Crisis didn’t end with both sides backing down? What if Russia really did drop bombs on the US? And what if your family was the only one with a bomb shelter?
This is the premise for Fallout by Todd Strasser. The neighbors think Scott’s dad is crazy when he installs a bomb shelter under a new addition to the house, but when the bombs start dropping everyone wants in. In the end, several neighbors manage to push their way into the shelter with Scott’s family. His mom gets hurt in the process. So now the shelter, which was meant for four, holds ten and tensions are on the rise. There isn’t enough food or water or air for everyone. One of the other men keeps pushing at Scott’s dad and his mom is suffering from a head injury. They have no idea what has happened above or who has even survived.
The story is told in alternating chapters with the current events in the bomb shelter and the events leading up to the present. Scott and his friends are normal kids at that time. His friend Ronnie is all about the girls…he is only interested in girls and boobs and Playboys. He and his mom and dad have made it into the shelter. The one girl on the block also made it in with her dad (who is causing all the tension), but her mom and brother did not. Scott’s brother and their housekeeper are also present. After who knows how many days, they are out of food, too tired to do anything and running out of time. They must get out, but is it safe above?
I really enjoyed this book. It seemed very true to the time with the paranoia and indifference. I thought the tension in the shelter was spot on. These people were confined in too tight quarters with not enough supplies and no idea what is happening in the outside world. Tensions are bound to rise. I think my only complaint, and it is a minor one, was the names for the neighborhood kids. Besides Scott and Ronnie, no one has a normal name! They have names like: Freak O’ Nature, Sparky, Why Can’t You Be More Like Johnny, Puddin’ Belly Wright and so forth. Seriously! It got confusing and old. Other than that I really liked the book. It is set up as a series as this one ends on a question mark.
I received this book from the Publishers on Netgalley.com. Thanks!
Edward Abbey is best known as the author of the novel “The Monkey Wrench Gang” and the non-fiction book of environmental essays “Desert Solitaire.” He is also known for the 1956 novel “The Brave Cowboy” which was made into the 1962 film “Lonely Are the Brave” starring Kirk Douglas as Jack Burns, a loner cowboy who disdains modern society and the destruction of natural resources in the Southwest. Jack Burns made cameo appearances in several of Abbey’s novels, and was a major character in “Good News.”
“Good News” takes place in the near future of the USA in which the government and economy have collapsed due to an unspecified disaster, and chaos reigns in most places. Most of the action is in Phoenix, Arizona, which is under the control of a quasi-military dictatorship. A group of rebels is attempting to undermine those who wield the power. Jack Burns is on his way there with his Native American friend Sam and together they are looking for Jack’s son, whom he has not seen in over 20 years. Jack makes contact with the rebels, and together they attempt to overthrow the dictator who runs the city, and who wants to expand his power across the country.
Although the scenario is a bleak one, this novel was quite an enjoyable read, and shows how a small group of under-equipped freedom fighters can make a difference against overwhelming odds. The characters in this novel are realistic and charming, though the bad guys are almost cartoonish in their villainy (not unlike real life!).
I highly recommend this book as a companion to “The Brave Cowboy,” “The Monkey Wrench Gang,” and “Hayduke Lives!”
The world has been decimated by a deadly virus. At first the virus killed you quickly, then it mutated into something else. Now if you get the virus you may mutate into an animal and become savage or you might just die. The East has been cut off because of the virus. A giant wall divides the US at the Mississippi River. No one in the West is allowed to cross over into the East and no one in the East is allowed in the West.
Delaney Park lives in the West with her father. She has a privileged life even though her dad is obsessed with making sure she can survive anything. One day Lane is arrested. Why? Because it turns out her dad is not your average art dealer, but a Fetch who crosses the wall and retrieves items from the East. Lane is blackmailed into going over the wall to find her dad so he can do one last fetch. Across the wall is nothing like Lane thought it would be and in some ways it is worse. There are lots of people who are living with the virus as manimals (humans who have animal DNA but haven’t gone feral). There are ferals who want to kill you. And there are normal humans who haven’t gotten the virus yet. There are also two boys vying for her attentions. Everson is a guard on the wall who wants to find a cure for the virus. Rafe is an orphan from the East who has a connection to Lane’s dad. The three of them travel to Chicago, facing dangers along the way, to fetch the item that will save Lane’s dad.
One thing I really liked about this books is the world building. Kat Falls does an amazing job setting up the world in a realistic and scary way. It is a very complex world and Falls does a great job on it. I also really enjoyed Lane as a fish out of water as she adapted to her new environment. I’m not sure why authors always have to include a love triangle (definitely not needed!)…seriously why!??!? I did like the characters of Ev and Rafe, but I thought the relationships were underdeveloped. Basically Lane falls for the first cute boys across the wall and then spends the trip debating between them. I thought the story was fresh and interesting and a new take on the end of the world. I enjoyed it.
I also enjoyed meeting Kat Falls at ALA 2013. She was very nice and gave me a copy of this book with her signature in it! Yeah!
At some point in the future, war and disease have decimated the planet. Humanity is forced into a few mountain cities to survive. Rebuilding is expensive so in order for the poor to live in this new society they must go into massive debt and become the “proxy” for a wealthy patron. What does a proxy do? They are punished in the place of their patron. So if the patron destroys property, the proxy takes the punishment. Syd is an orphan and a proxy who lives in the Valve (the slums). He is constantly reminded of his debt because his patron Knox is always getting into trouble. This time it is more than just a little trouble; this time Knox steals a car and kills a girl during a joy ride. So Syd is punished and sentenced to hard labor. Syd was also forced to give blood so that Knox could have a life saving transfusion. The transfusion not only saved Knox’s life it revealed just how special Syd really his. Seems he has a virus in his blood that can wipe out all the systems of debt and free everyone from its control. The only problem is that Syd has to survive in order to release the virus and right now he is a wanted man.
What a fascinating world. Alex London has done a wonderful job creating a world that is different and unique. He has also created two truly different characters. Knox is obnoxious, privileged and self-indulgent, but he does have a heart and he really just wants his father’s attention. Syd just wants to survive. He wants to make it to 18 to life out his debt. He keeps his head down and his profile low and he has no respect or time for his patron. Unfortunately, in order for Syd to survive he has to rely on Knox and others in a way he never dreamed. They must outwit the system and escape the city, survive bandits and the wild, and make it to the resistance to release the virus. Along the way they get to know each other and themselves. They mature (at least Knox does) and become who they are meant to be. I even liked the ending of the book.
I received a copy of this book from the publishers on Netgalley.com.
Some kind of disaster has befallen the world and humanity must be saved. So the Builders create Ember, a city deep underground. They create instructions for the citizens to follow once it is safe to emerge. Unfortunately, the instructions are lost and the people of Ember never know there is a world outside of their small community. The expiration date is coming due on Ember; the power is failing and they are running out of supplies. No one seems that worried however, except Lina and Doon. Lina finds the instructions, unfortunately after her baby sister Poppy has eaten part of them. As Lina and Doon try to decipher the Instructions, they also uncover corruption and greed in Ember. In order to safe everyone they must find a way out of Ember.
I really enjoyed this book and my bookclub kids did as well. I also thought they did a really good job on the movie as well; one of the few times when I actually liked a movie made from a book. Lina and Doon are really interesting characters who are actively pursuing something unlike the majority of the characters in this book who are stagnant and just want to continue with the status quo. I liked the mystery of trying to figure out what exactly the Instructions were saying and I thought the adventurous escape was thrill a minute. However, my favorite part had to be the end where Doon, Lina and Poppy discover a world they have only dreamed of. This book won the Missouri Mark Twain award.
If you are a hardcore zombie fan, this book is for you. Max Brooks wrote the popular World War Z, where the world had to fight off zombies to survive. He takes a fiction/nonfiction look on what to do to survive such attack and the other humans still hanging around. You learn how the living undead move and survive, the best way to fight depending on where you live, what the best weapon is to use and many more things.
In a dark future, when North America has split into two warring nations, fifteen-year-olds Day, a famous criminal, and prodigy June, the brilliant soldier hired to capture him, discover that they have a common enemy.
If you liked Hunger Games, you may enjoy this book. What interests me is finding out what created the split in the nation, which is not really addressed in this book, hopefully in a future book. I think the mystery of who, what and why are done very well and just enough is answered to create the need to read more.
Do you want to stop eating meat? Read Apocalypse Cow and your meat eating days will be in the past. The setting starts out at a slaughter house outside of Great Britain. A cow dies and then comes back to life to attack the owner of the establishment. Without warning all the cows start attacking the humans. A special group of men are sent to take care of the problem. The only issue, a cow gets away starting and an epidemic of animals turning into zombies begins. This book could have been called, “Revenge of the Animals”, as the human population [Great Britain area] starts to head towards extinction.
Finally! The last book in the Riders of the Apocalypse series, wherein we get to see what things look like from the perspective of Death! We’ve already met War, Famine and Pestilence and the humans who took up their mantles. Death has been a constant throughout, but we’ve never really gotten to know him. Guess I didn’t see it coming when this book’s main crisis is the fact that Death has determined that it is time for it to end. And by “it”, I mean “existence”. Which is bad, particularly if you happen to like living. Now it’s up to a guy named Xander to try and talk Death out of killing himself (and everything else). Xander’s remarkably “normal” for one of the humans in this series. He’s got friends and no major psychological issues. He even has a girlfriend, who he is desperately in love with. So much so that he’s changed his college plans to dovetail with hers. He just needs to tell everyone, including his parents, that he’s not going to Carnegie Mellon on scholarship after all. The main complication in his life is the new baby in the house. Sleep deprivation gets to Xander; blackouts ensue. And then a guy that kind of looks like Kurt Cobain shows up on Xander’s balcony. Xander intuitively knows this guy is Death. And Death informs him that he is owed a boon, for Xander had once shown Death kindness. At this point, Xander realizes the tell-tale signs of suicide and demands to know Death’s entire story, in the hopes of delaying what seems inevitable.
This is one of those series where the premise really shouldn’t work, but for some reason works exceptionally well. There’s a lot to chew on here, both philosophically and emotionally. There’s a sense of humor in the face of universal hardship (at times, Kessler’s Death reminds me of a male version of Gaiman’s Death from Sandman). Each one of the books in this series comes across as completely unique and never, ever formulaic. I never know where the story is going to go, but I always know I’m going to enjoy the ride.
Something has decimated our world in the future. This caused a reorganization of countries and governments. North America is now the RUNA and the place to live. It is civilized where the rest of the world is still a little wild. Mae is one of the super soldiers of the RUNA; this gives her super strength and speed. But unlike her fellow soldiers Mae is sometimes too strong and too fast. Justin has been exiled from RUNA and is now living in Panama. He was once a brilliant investigator for RUNA but did something that got him kicked out of the country. Mae is sent to retrieve Justin and bring him back to investigate a series of murders. Their first meeting is all mistaken identities, violence and hot sex, which makes it pretty awkward when they are actually introduced and puts a strain on their relationship. Together they investigate these bizarre murders and discover something their religion-despising country definitely does not want known.
This is an intriguing world that Mead has created. I wasn’t really sure what was going on for a lot of the book since she takes her time explaining, but it was always interesting. Mae and Justin are fascinating characters with rich backstories and intriguing futures. This series is probably going to deal with actual gods and their interference in everyday life. I wish we would have learned more about the gods and how they actually came to manifest, but hopefully that will be explained in future books. This is a pretty entertaining and intriguing starter to this series.
I received a copy of this book from the publishers on Netgalley.com.
Stephen has been trekking back and forth across the United States with his father and grandfather for several years. They work their way north and south, depending on the season, to trade salvage for food and supplies. The United States has completely collapsed after a war with China led to an outbreak of an extremely virulent P-11 flu virus which has become known as the Eleventh Plague. The vast majority of the population has fallen prey to the virus and civilization has collapsed. Stephen was born after the Collapse, so their nomadic lifestyle is normal to him. Then his ex-military grandfather dies, taking his strict rules regarding interacting with other people. Stephen and his father begin to move on, but quickly encounter some vicious slavers along the way. In an attempt to rescue some captives and flee the slavers, Stephen’s father falls into a gorge, causing a traumatic head injury. Helpless to do anything, Stephen stays with his father until a group of men and boys come into the woods. Finally accepting that these new people are not slavers, Stephen lets them take him and his father back to their community where Stephen’s father can get medical attention. The community turns out to be the remains of a secluded gated community, largely untouched by the looting that had followed the Collapse. The residents there live a relatively normal life, but Stephen has difficulty adjusting to being around other people. Things only get worse when Stephen gets involved with his host family’s adopted daughter, Jenny, who is Chinese and puts the rest of the town on edge. She’s a bit of a rebel and manages to get Stephen (and the rest of the community) into serious trouble in next to no time. Not that she’s a bad person, she just really doesn’t like her status quo.
Not a particularly groundbreaking post-apocalyptic novel, but it does blend the dystopia with survivalism pretty well.
In a steel-and-lead-encased bunker 40 feet below the basement level of his house, Captain Lee Harden of the United States Army waits. On the surface, a plague ravages the planet, infecting over 90% of the populace. The bacterium burrows through the brain, destroying all signs of humanity and leaving behind little more than base, prehistoric instincts. The infected turn into hyper-aggressive predators, with an insatiable desire to kill and feed. Some day soon, Captain Harden will have to open the hatch to his bunker, and step out into this new wasteland, to complete his very simple mission: Subvenire Refectus.
To Rescue and Rebuild.
World War Z is the first hand account of those around the world who survived the near extinction of the Zombie War. Max Brooks travels the world to interview men, women and children to document this historical event. The book is chilling and makes you think of present times. My favorite part is when a man commented on how whales got the worst of it when the plague broke out.
Michael Grant, you have sucked me into your world of the FAYZ for the last time and I leave as bloody and broken as everyone else. This series has been addicting and depressing and amazing. I am sad to see it end, but I devoured every page racing towards the end.
Grant pulls no punches in this last installment (as if he ever as). Life is brutal in the FAYZ. Sure the barrier is clear now, but you still can’t cross over. You can see your parents on the other side eating their doughnuts and Carl’s Jr. even while you are starving. The Darkness is now a little girl named Gaia, but she is just as powerful and evil as ever. Little Pete, the only thing Gaia fears, is a disembodied spirit. And everyone else is just trying to survive and wondering about life after. The endgame is here and no one will walk away unscathed.
This is a brutal and brilliant series. I have loved every minute of it as I have despised the characters and cheered them on. The FAYZ has always been about good versus evil and what you are willing to do to survive. In this book the characters start wondering what will happen when the dome falls? What will the outside world think of them? Will anyone be able to understand just what went on in the FAYZ? Who will be blamed for it? This series was a wild ride and the ending was a double loopty-loop with a steep drop. I may have screamed all the way down but I loved every minute of it.
Death, destruction, brutality, fear, hunger, disease…in other words, things are as normal as they can be in the FAYZ. When the countdown begins this time, one word sums it up: endgame. The gaiaphage has a body. Little Pete is disembodied. The barrier is transparent and the rest of the world can see what is happening in the fishbowl that is the FAYZ. The public is shocked at Sam’s actions involving Penny and the baby Gaia; video has circulated around the globe painting him as a killer. Sam’s mother, Connie, knows that if or when the kids make it out, someone will be made to pay for the numerous crimes committed in the FAYZ. The kids inside are getting hungrier as more and more of them gather at the barrier to look out at the world they haven’t seen in nearly a year. Few seem to be willing to work and starvation is imminent if something isn’t done. As if these circumstances aren’t bad enough, the gaiaphage, in its human body, is on the loose and seeking total destruction. Our heroes are at first concerned about the “after”, the time when they are able to emerge from their prison. They quickly realize that they have far more important issues at hand that will make the very concept of “after” completely uncertain. The only thing that is certain is that not everyone will make it out alive. Those that do will never be the same.
I’ve been waiting for this book for a full year now. I’ve read each book as they came out and have grown to love, admire, hate and respect the various characters. Finishing this book was like attempting to pull myself out of the FAYZ. It didn’t really feel like the world should even still be turning. Michael Grant pulled no punches here. This book is every bit as exhilarating and compulsively readable as all its predecessors. The ending is as epic as one might expect and just about every question gets answered. An electric ending to one of my favorite series. It may have been a rough and disturbing ride, but I’m sad to see it end just the same.
Radley is in Haiti when the American People’s Party takes control of the US government. When the president is assassinated and martial law invoked, Radley decides she needs to return home to be with her parents. She arrives in the US with only her backpack. Her parents are nowhere to be seen. The banks are closed; her debit card useless. She has no cash, no charger for her dead cell phone and no means of getting home. Radley begins to walk.
When she does finally get to her house, she finds it completely empty. There are no signs of her family anywhere, but news reports indicate massive numbers of citizens imprisoned and/or fleeing the country. Radley has no idea what happened to her parents, but hopes that they got out of the country. With this in mind, Radley begins an even longer trek to Canada. Along the way, she meets another girl traveling with her dog. The girl, Celia, is desperately sick and Radley nurses her back to health before the two move on. Over time, Radley and Celia learn more about each other’s past as they struggle to create a home for themselves in a ramshackle abandoned schoolhouse just past the border of Canada. They can’t survive in the schoolhouse forever though, even with the frequent gifts of kindness left by a local woman. Radley, tired of waiting for her parents to appear, leaves for home as soon as news arrives that indicates an end to martial law in the US. Sometimes, though, you can never really go home.
Interspersed with photos taken by the author (though presented as photos taken by Radley’s mother), this is an interesting take on a possible future. This book does not focus on the political machinations that took place, nor does it linger on the state of affairs in the rest of the world. This story is almost purely character-driven. Radley is saved mostly by the strength she learned in Haiti, living with the poorest of the poor children. Celia is an interesting character and only becomes more intriguing as her story progresses. Many of Radley’s motives are unclear, which makes the story frustrating at times. I kept wanting to know more about how the US had gotten to the state that it is in by the time Radley leaves Haiti, but since the whole martial-law thing is more a framing mechanism than anything else, world building is kept to a minimum. The writing is spare yet fluid and a few tragic turns near the end will add to the emotional weight of the book.