30. March 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Apocalyptic, Dystopia, Fantasy, Fiction, Kira, Paranormal · Tags:

Bloodring book 1 Thorn St. Croix series by Faith Hunter, read by Kira, on 03/29/2013

BloodRing

Thorn is living in the end of times, though an its ambigous end of times, seraphs and demons are still fighting in a post-apocalyptic-ice-age.  Thorn is part of a new species, neomages, who are able to bend leftover creation energy to their will.  Specifically she is a stone mage, and since mages present a threat to both humans and seraphs they are confined to luxurious Enclaves.  Thorn is passing for a human, working as a jeweler, in a remote icy town.  When her ex-husband Lucas is kidnapped and her friends are threatened, she risks revealing her true identity in order to save her adopted family.

 

BloodRing isblodring a fastpaced page turner.  Lush imagery and really interesting world-building (especially the magic-working of the gems) add to the tale.  Though the book does NOT end on a cliff-hanger, it fails to wrap up a number of the mysteries.  Who is the Amethyst Mistress?  Why did Lucas haul all that amethyst back to the store/house for his ex-wife? did he really cheat on Thorn voluntarily and what is his latest wife up to?

29. March 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Apocalyptic, Dystopia, Fiction · Tags:

Breathe by Sarah Crossan, read by Angie, on 03/27/2013

In this future world, the trees are gone and the air as well. People are forced to live in pods in order to survive. All are not equal in the pods. Those in zone 1 have the most privilege and the most air. The privileges and air goes down as you go further into the pods. Quinn is from zone 1; is father is very powerful in Breathe, the corporation that runs the pods and controls the air. His best friend Bea is from zone 3. Her family is poor, but she is smart and ambitious. Quinn and Bea decide to go camping in the Outside. They plan a two day excursion but at the border Alina insinuates herself into their group. Alina is a member of the resistance and needs to get out of the pod fast. Together they set off across the wastelands of the past world with only an oxygen tank between them and suffocation. Alina introduces Bea and Quinn to the resistance, who are trying to replant the trees and wake up the citizens about the corruption of Breathe.

This book was ok. I feel like it really didn’t cover any new ground in the dystopian/post-apocalyptic world. You had the typical corrupt corporation/politicians, resistance fighters, innocent teens, and of course a love triangle. The romance in this book was beyond awkward. Bea is in love with Quinn but he doesn’t know it. He becomes infatuated with Alina after a minute, but she doesn’t care. Alina thought she was in love with this resistance guy Abel, but who knows if that was true. Quinn finally wakes up and realizes he loves Bea but they can’t be together because of the class difference. It was pretty ridiculous. I wish there was more about the resistance and the uprising, but Crossan leaves us hanging. Not a terrible book, but nothing new here.

20. March 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Apocalyptic, Dystopia, Fiction, Teen Books · Tags:

Stung by Bethany Wiggins , read by Angie, on 03/18/2013

Fiona wakes up in her bedroom, but it isn’t her bedroom. Everything is dusty and broken and abandoned. She also realizes she is different herself. She has a weird tattoo on her hand and she seems older. In fact, she is older. She has lost four years of her life. Once she travels outside she realizes the world has gone to hell in that time. Nothing and no one is the same. There are now armed gangs patrolling the streets, a walled compound protecting people and feral groups living in the sewers. Fiona is captured by the militia and taken into custody. Apparently the tattoo on her hand means she is one of the most dangerous people alive and any moment she could turn into a raving beast. Her captor turns out to be her childhood neighbor who has always had a crush on her. They are soon on the run and falling in love.

I have to confess that while I was reading this book I couldn’t put it down. It is fast-paced and entertaining. However, for the most part it doesn’t make a lot of sense. I enjoy dystopians and my biggest pet peeve with them is lack of world-building. The world-building in this book didn’t make the most sense. It only took four years for the world to fall apart and it was all because the bees had disappeared (why do I keep getting Dr. Who flashes???). A vaccine to protect the elite (of course) from some disease caused by the bees disappearing actually turns people into monsters. The vaccine not only comes with a side of beast but a tattoo. And you get additional marks on your tattoo for every shot you get; so of course 10 marks means you are crazy! I didn’t get the militia, the compound, the gangs, etc. Bad world building!

The other thing I had a problem with was Fiona and Fiona and her beau. Fiona had to be the most pathetic, worthless heroine ever. She didn’t seem to have any survival instincts or actual intelligence sometimes. She never tried to escape her captors and at one point thought it would be a good idea to dress up in a pretty sundress and sandals in a world where she has been told women get raped for just being female. And how come men can’t control themselves? Really? It isn’t like the women died. Fiona and Dreyden were another big question mark for me. He starts out hating and fearing her and by the end of the book is ready to die for her. She still thinks she is 13 and lusts after his brother. Doesn’t matter if he holds her captive and is going to turn her over to become a guinea pig in a lab she will still always love him by the end. And the end…ugh! That is all I am going to say about that.

I did receive this book from the publishers on Netgalley and they obviously did not pay me for this review.

17. March 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Apocalyptic, Dystopia, Fiction, Teen Books · Tags:

Prodigy by Marie Lu, read by Angie, on 03/15/2013

Prodigy picks up after the events of Legend. June and Day have fled Los Angeles and are headed to Vegas. They are hoping to find the Patriots and enlist their help in rescuing Day’s brother Eden. The Patriots agree to help as long as June and Day help them. The Elector Primo has just died and his son Anden has taken his place. The Patriots want June and Day to assassinate Anden and start a revolution. The plan calls for June to be captured and become close to Anden and for Day to show his face and start causing a ruckus. The people see June and Day as heroes and the Patriots want to cash in on their celebrity status. The plan goes off without a hitch, but while getting close to Anden June learns that he is not what the Patriots think. He could be the voice of change they all hope for. She just has to get the message to Day and hopefully foil the assassination plans.

Oh how I love this series. It is so smartly written and so engaging that you really don’t want to put it down. As in Legend, this book is written from the dual perspectives of June and Day and while I am not always a fan of this style of writing I think it works perfectly here. By having both June and Day tell the story from their points of view you get a much wider picture of what is going on. I think the world-building is much stronger in this book. We get a look at the colonies and at the history of the country and a peak at the world outside the former United States. I like that both June and Day each have their eyes opened to what is going on outside the Republic.

The story was so fast-paced and so tightly written that I really can’t say anything negative about it. There is the inevitable love triangle or love square. I have to admit that I like the contrast between Anden and Day and their affections for June. I despise the addition of Tess to this romantic scenario. It just kind of grossed me out! But the June/Anden connection works as does the June/Day connection. I can’t wait to see what happens in the next book. I do have to say the ending was heart-breaking and Marie Lu better fix that in the next book!

03. March 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Apocalyptic, Dystopia, Fiction, Teen Books · Tags:

Orleans by Sherri L. Smith, read by Angie, on 03/01/2013

Hurricane after hurricane as hit the Gulf Coast. Each one destroying more and more until finally the last one pretty much wipes out the Delta. Then comes diseases and finally Delta Fever. Everything is so polluted after the destruction that disease runs rampant. Delta Fever is something new that attacks by blood type and only transfusions will slow the disease. The Delta is released from the US and a wall built to keep the survivors and the fever safely away from the rest of the world. The people left behind do not crumble; they recreate their civilization; they form tribes based on blood type and they survive. Fen de la Guerre is one such survivor; she is an OP (O positive) and has her tribe. But her tribe is attacked and she is the only survivor except a newborn baby girl whose mother, the OP tribe leader, died birthing her. Fen must find a way to survive and keep baby girl alive.

Into this crazy world comes Daniel, a scientist from across the wall. He was been working on a cure for Delta Fever and found one with only a small drawback, not only does it kill the virus it also kills the host. He is hoping there is something in the Delta that will help him fix his virus. Of course, Daniel is useless in the world of Orleans and needs Fen to help him survive. Together they must travel across Orleans looking for information and surviving the dangers of the Delta.

I was getting burnt out on all the post-apocalyptic dystopians that have been coming out the past year, but this one restored my faith in the genre. Orleans is a well-written, well-developed book with a great story. Sherri L. Smith really spent a lot of time building this world and laying out the details for the reader. You know exactly how Orleans became what it is. You understand the people and what they are doing to survive. I also love that in this world race no longer matters. You know there are people of different racial backgrounds but what separates them is not the color of their skin but the type of blood they carry. Nothing else really matters except your blood type in Orleans.

Fen is a great female character. She is strong, she is a survivor and she will do whatever she needs to do to stay alive. She doesn’t really care about a lot of other people but she still has hope. I liked the dual narrators, although I was much more interested in Fen’s story than Daniel’s. I enjoyed the fact that there was no romance in this book. Dystopians so often fall into romantic angst or god-forbid love triangles, but Orleans steers clear of all of that. Fen and Daniel are worried about survival not hooking up (as it should be). Fen’s part of the book are written in dialect which might turn off some readers, but I didn’t find it difficult to understand at all. I like the open-endedness of the ending; this is a world I wouldn’t mind returning to.

I received this ARC free from Netgalley.com.

19. February 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Apocalyptic, Dystopia, Fiction, Science Fiction, Teen Books

Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi, read by Angie, on 02/18/2013

In the future the earth is plagued with Aether storms that destroy people and crops. The survivors have divided into two groups. Those that live in pods and spend most of their time in psuedo-reality Realms and those who live outside in tribes surviving however they can. Aria lives in Reverie, one of the pods, with her mother Lumina. Lumina leaves Reverie and Aria doesn’t hear from her for over a week. This leads her to a dangerous plan that ultimately gets her kicked out of the pods. She has never been outside and doesn’t know how to survive. Peregrine, Perry, is an outsider, a savage to Aria. He teams up with Aria in order to save his nephew who has been kidnapped by the pod people or moles. Together they must learn to trust each other and survive the outside world. Along the way they discover things about each other and their world.

While Under the Never Sky doesn’t really break any new ground in the dystopian/post-apocalyptic/sci-fi genre it is an entertaining read. Aria and Perry are both very interesting characters set in their ways and forced to realize that things are exactly how they thought they were. I enjoyed their journey, both the physical and the mental one. I’m glad that Rossi didn’t go for the immediate romance angle. Aria is understandably frightened of Perry and her situation at the beginning, but they grudgingly learn to trust each other and their romance progresses naturally. I was also intrigued by the outsiders enhanced senses. They seem like some kind of natural genetic mutation caused by the Aether storms. I like the fact that these mutants have status and power in the outsider societies. I guess my complaints about the book are the lack of explanation for how the world came to be like it is, what exactly the Aether is and what caused it, how the world became divided and how the pod-people live most of their lives in the Realms but still move around their physical environment. These things might be explained in future books in the series. Even though I had a lot of questions it didn’t take away my enjoyment of this story. It was entertaining and intriguing.

14. February 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Apocalyptic, Eric, Fiction, Horror · Tags: ,

Devil's Wake by Steven Barnes and Tananarive Due, read by Eric, on 02/14/2013

The sheer bulk of zombies and similar human horrors in films, books, and television makes it increasingly difficult to bring something new to the genre. In Devil’s Wake, the husband-wife writing team of Steven Barnes and Tananarive Due don’t attempt to do so. In their scenario, the undead are of the infected variety, which pass the infection on through bites.  A ragtag group of young adults must avoid being bitten as they travel from the state of Washington to Devil’s Wake, a reportedly “freak free” island off the coast of Southern California.

For the most part, the characters’ back stories are given perfunctory glances. A majority of them are delinquent teens from a work camp. At times, their dialog seems out of place for their age, and the cultural references too dated. This, combined with the familiarity of the plot, failed to spark my interest much until they were on the road, and interacting with other survivors. Unfortunately, the novel abruptly ends after this point, not because it’s a natural break in the story, but so there can be a series of books. I’m not sure I’ll go along for the ride.

31. December 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Apocalyptic, Courtney, Fiction, Teen Books

Harbinger by Sarah Wilson Etienne, read by Courtney, on 12/12/2012

After her panic attacks/hallucinations and nightmares get too bad, Faye’s parents ship her off to Holbrook Academy. It’s really more of a prison than a school and residents are locked in their rooms at night, pepper-sprayed when they talk back and drugged indiscriminately. Faye and the rest of her “Family” (a seemingly random group of 5 students) seem different from the rest of the kids though, particularly since they keep waking up with their formerly locked windows open and their hands stained red. Only one member of the Family is really set apart and Faye begins to suspect that he may know much more than he is letting on. In fact, Faye is fairly certain that he might be trying to kill everyone.
While this book is, for the most part, rather entertaining and unusual, it is also a bit of a hot mess. The setting is somewhere in the not-too-distant future. Oil has peaked out and most forests have been clear-cut. Holbrook Academy, however, appears to have avoided the worst of the clear-cutting as it is heavily wooded (evidently a rare sight in this world). The headmistress of the academy, Dr. Mordoch, is constantly spouting Buddhist phrases that somehow support the “goals” of the school. It’s honestly the first time Buddhism has ever sinister to me. Anyway, the Buddhist symbolism is more or less completely dropped by the time the second half of the book rolls around. And so does the tone. Ecological themes begin to play an increasingly important role and then an ancient culture comes into play. I get where the author was headed with some of this stuff, but it still feels muddled and far-fetched. Bonus points, however, for the author’s notes indicating that the ancient race mentioned in the book did actually exist (though very little appears to be known about them). An interesting debut novel though, flaws and all.

18. December 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Apocalyptic, Fiction, Janet

The End of the Age by Pat Robertson, read by Janet, on 12/18/2012

     If you ever wonder what might happen when this stage of world life ends, this is the book to read.  Interestingly, many of the things mentioned seem to already be happening!  Every time I hear of a meteor heading toward the Earth I will wonder if it is the one to bring an end to things as we know them.  The one in this story landed in the Pacific Ocean near southern California.  The resulting waves wiped out a large part of the West Coast, countless islands, like Hawaii, caused huge damage to all ocean-lying areas all over the world, and, of course, sank most of the ships in the water.  Many water creatures were also killed.Volcanoes erupted and earthquakes were felt almost everywhere.  Many of the surviving people were withough any power, transportation, homes, or much food.

During this time, two societies developed.  One, led by the Devil’s advocate, Mark Beaulieu, who has unearthly powers and takes over the Oval Office.  He triess to squash his opponents in the Christian Resistance Movement, led by John Edwards.The clash at the end of the world is outstanding, and, thankfully, with a good outcome.

16. December 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Apocalyptic, Leslie, Teen Books

Nomansland by Lesley Hauge, read by Leslie, on 12/22/2012

Nomansland

Living under a strict code of conduct in an all-female community 500 years after the earth’s destruction, a sensitive teenaged girl raised to be a hunter discovers forbidden relics from the Time Before.

An okay book, a bit draggy throughout.  I didn’t enjoy this as much as I thought by looking at the cover and synopsis.

 

16. December 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Apocalyptic, Leslie, Teen Books

Partials by Dan Wells, read by Leslie, on 05/27/2012

Partials (Partials, #1)

The human race is all but extinct after a war with Partials–engineered organic beings identical to humans–has decimated the population. Reduced to only tens of thousands by RM, a weaponized virus to which only a fraction of humanity is immune, the survivors in North America have huddled together on Long Island while the Partials have mysteriously retreated. The threat of the Partials is still imminent, but, worse, no baby has been born immune to RM in more than a decade. Our time is running out.

I love science fiction based books so this book was very appealing to me.  Another take on what could happen to future of humanity, I enjoyed reading it.  If you don’t like science fiction or apocalyptic tales, then this is not for you.

05. December 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Apocalyptic, Courtney, Teen Books

Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick, read by Courtney, on 11/05/2012

Now here’s a very interesting twist on the zombie genre…an EMP (electro-magnetic-pulse) bomb goes off, fries all electronics and scrambles the synapses in the heads of the vast majority of the population. Alex is out in the woods, preparing to release her parent’s ashes while she still can. Alex has an incurable brain tumor that has already taken her sense of smell and left her with a death sentence looming over her head. She is out camping when the EMP bomb (or series of bombs) goes off. With her is a young girl, Ellie and her dog, Mina. Ellie has recently lost her father to active military service in Iraq and has now seen her grandfather die when his pacemaker is taken out by the EMP. Alex and Ellie continue their trek through the woods, hoping to find a ranger station and get help. Along the way they meet Tom, a young soldier on leave from Afghanistan. Together, the three attempt to survive in the face of diminishing supplies, violent survivors and the brain-scrambled “zombies” who are all the more scary for their adaptive capabilities. About the only thing actually going in Alex’s favor is the “zap” scrambled her brain such that her sense of smell returns better than ever. In fact, she can smell threats coming…
So much goes on and happens here that there are about a zillion questions that the reader will have left by the end of this installment. How long can the three survive? How long can they survive alone? What really did happen to Ellie, Mina and Tom? What’s with the uber-strange town of Rule? And who the heck though it was a good idea to set off a series of EMPs anyway? Here’s hoping the next book offers more answers. I was getting pretty frustrated with Alex by the end, so I hope she pulls herself together and becomes the protagonist we all wanted her to be.

05. November 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Apocalyptic, Courtney, Teen Books

Ashfall by Mike Mullin, read by Courtney, on 10/23/2012

As the book begins, Alex has just had a fight with his family about going to visit his cousins in Illinois. He gets his way and stays home for the weekend. As he’s playing World of Warcraft, the power goes out and the noises begin. The next thing he knows, a giant projectile has crashed through the roof of his house and set it on fire. He manages to escape the burning house, but quickly realizes his problems are just beginning. Yellowstone has just erupted, and it’s the largest eruption in human history. Even though Alex is over 900 miles away in Cedar Rapids, IA, he is deafened by the ensuing noise. By this time, ash is beginning to fall from the sky and the light is diminishing rapidly. As soon as the noise dies down, Alex decides he is going to find his family. Thus begins a 140 mile trek across an ashen wasteland, populated by the occasional farm house with gun-wielding occupants, impromptu small town refugee centers and large-scale FEMA camps.
This is very dark and gritty. The threat of starvation and exposure appears to bring out the worse in the vast majority of those affected. Alex struggles to retain his humanity in the face of dire circumstances, which makes him an admirable character. Recommend this to fans of survival fiction, they won’t be disappointed.

29. October 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Apocalyptic, Fiction, Teen Books

Dead and Gone by Jonathan Maberry, read by Angie, on 10/29/2012

Dead and Gone is a little ebook novella set between Dust and Decay and Flesh and Blood. In it we meet Riot aka Sister Margaret. She is running away from the Church of Night zealots who want to return her to their life. Along the way she fights zombies and tries not to starve in the desert. Then she meets Jolt and Gummi Bear. They are survivors with a different mentality…they don’t kill. They see the world and survival as a game to be played and enjoyed.

It was nice to meet new characters in the Rot & Ruin of the world. Riot was interesting in a very damaged sort of way. Not sure what I think of Jolt and Gummi…they are interesting and fun characters but their philosophy just seems strange in the world they are living in. I am sure we will find out more about the Church of Night as they cause trouble for Benny and the gang (which I am sure they will). Can’t wait to read the next installment.

10. October 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Andrea, Apocalyptic, Thriller/Suspense · Tags:

12.21 by Dustin Thomason, read by Andrea, on 10/08/2012

It’s two weeks before the 21st of December, the end of the world for many 2012-ers. For Dr. Gabriel Stanton, a prion researcher at the CDC, it’s just another regular year. L.A. is quiet, and everything seems to be normal. However, by the end of this normal day, Stanton has discovered a prion disease that threatens to wipe L.A. and possibly the rest of the major cities in the world off the map. Chel Manu, a descendant of the ancient Mayans and a Guatemalan American researcher at the Getty Museum possesses a stolen Mayan codex that coincidently was acquired through two men who are now dead from the newly discovered prion disease. After translating the first few pages, she starts to believe it holds the secret to why the ancient Mayan kingdoms of her ancestors vanished. A race to save all of humanity begins as Gabe and Chel attempt to combine their knowledge together to understand the Mayan tragedy and discover a cure to the disease that threatens to extinguish modern day civilization.

12.21 was a great read from beginning to end. Thomason combined medical knowledge and Mayan history into an action-packed book that was difficult to put down.

04. October 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Andrea, Apocalyptic, Dystopia, Teen Books, Thriller/Suspense

The Scorch Trials (Maze Runner #2) by James Dashner, read by Andrea, on 10/03/2012

So the Gladers went from a horrible maze with creepy, blob-like creatures to a wasteland of endless desert wracked with solar flares, lightning storms and crazy humans that have the Flare, a virus that apparently eats away at the brain and makes people irrationally violent and very dangerous. The desert, better known as the Scorch, is the Gladers next trial. They must make it across the Scorch in two weeks to a safe haven – about 100 miles of dry land to cover. Even worse, there is another group consisting of all girls that went through a maze trial very similar to the one the Gladers endured and they are out to get Thomas, the main guy from the first book. I feel with this book the reader becomes more aware of who WICKED is and what the group’s role is in all of the “trials.” It was more informative than the first one as they reveal more of Thomas’s lost memories. I was certainly more excited about the second book, as it goes further into detail why the things in the first book happened the way they did.

 

08. September 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Apocalyptic, Dystopia, Fiction, Teen Books

The Kill Order (Maze Runner prequel) by James Dashner, read by Angie, on 09/06/2012

The Maze Runner had such potential that was just wasted in the later books, which became convoluted messes. I had hoped that The Kill Zone would clear up some of the confusion created in the last book of this trilogy. That’s what prequels are supposed to do afterall. I wanted to know all about WICKED and how and why the maze was created, what role Thomas and Theresa played in it, and the rational behind everything. But we don’t get any of that. If The Kill Zone was a stand alone novel I would say it is pretty decent. There was lots of action and suspense, the world ends as we know it and there is a shady government organization wiping people out. But it doesn’t stand alone and that is the problem.

Instead of Thomas and Theresa we get Mark, Trina, Alec and a bunch of other people. When we meet them they are surviving in the Appalachian Mountains after escaping from New York. Then a berg appears in the sky and starts shooting people with darts filled with a virus. Some people die right away and others take time to die and still others turn crazy. The gang decides they need to find out what is going on and follow the berg’s flight to a secret bunker. Along the way there are more villages like theirs, new crazy religious cults and all kinds of other fun stuff. This is non-stop action and pretty much every chapter includes a fight of some kind. In between the current events we get Mark’s flashbacks/nightmares of what happened when the solar flares hit and they were stuck in New York.

What I liked most about this book was the flashback sequences. I am a sucker for the end of the world and the world died pretty spectacularly in this book. Solar flares basically cooked everyone outside, then the polar icecaps melted and sea levels rose dramatically. So our intrepid survivors had to stay indoors in a flooded world. The not so great parts were the trek through the woods to find the answer to the virus. There wasn’t really any new ground covered here. Of course you had crazy people killing everyone and people who found a strange religion and cannibals and what not. What else are you going to have at the end of the world? We don’t really get any good intel on the shady government or their rationale behind the virus. And since it is non-stop action there isn’t a whole lot of character building. I wanted more from this book and was a bit disappointed when I didn’t get it. But it isn’t a bad book and if you forget the rest of the trilogy it is even a little better.

08. September 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Apocalyptic, Fiction, Science Fiction, Teen Books

Monument 14 (Monument 14 #1) by Emmy Laybourne, read by Angie, on 09/06/2012

If the world ends the perfect place to be is a megastore. It has everything you need, including riot gates to keep out others. That is exactly the situation 14 kids from Monument, CO find themselves in. On their way to school their buses are swamped by megahail. The high school bus crashes, the elementary bus saves them and drives into the local Greenway store (Sam’s Club/Costco/Walmart). The bus driver goes for help and leaves our intrepid group of kids to fend for themselves. They quickly discover that it isn’t just hail. A volcano has exploded and caused a megatsunami to wipe out the Eastern US. The volcano also caused massive weather patterns thus the hail. Then on top of it all their is the largest earthquake in history right there in Colorado. This earthquake wipes out NORAD and causes a chemical weapons leak with all kinds of nasty side effects. So the kids fortify and settle in for the long haul at Greenway.

Our group of kids ranges from kindergarten to seniors so we have a lot to work with. However, they are all your stereotypical characters: super jock Jake, bully/popular boy Brayden, popular girl Astrid, mothering Josie, super smart Alex, slutty wannabe Shalaiah, religious Batiste, Spanish-speaking Ulysses, boy scout Niko, been-there-done-that world weary Max, super whiny Chloe and of course cute kids Caroline and Henry. Then we have our narrator who I didn’t figure out was a boy until several pages in: Dean is nerdy, bookish, tall and skinny and of course has a crush on Astrid (who doesn’t know he is alive). Because this is a teen novel we have a love triangle (my pet peeve seriously), but not just one love triangle but two! Dean likes Astrid who is going out with Jake. Niko likes Josie who has the hots for bad boy Brayden. Not cool Laybourne…not cool. I think love triangles are such a crutch and weak writing and they really turn this book into a teen soap at times.

So the characters are all stereotypes but that really doesn’t detract from the story. With this large of a cast you expect stereotypes and the story moves along so well that it is fine. I wish there was more character growth in the book but oh well it really only takes place over 12 days so not a lot of time. All the disasters happen in the first couple of chapters and then the kids just settle in and start living in Greenway. I liked seeing how they organized their society and really they did seem to act like normal kids: playing, eating candy, raiding the pharmacy, but I wish there would have been more urgency to the story. Those first chapters really move and then everything slows down. It isn’t until the last few chapters when adults enter the story that things pick up again.

I feel like this was a wasted opportunity. After all, the world as they know it is ending and they don’t seem to react to it very much other than whining for mommy. We really don’t see much of the outside world either which is another wasted opportunity. They are in a huge store filled with supplies and no one wants in??? There are crazy people (affected by the chemical weapons) and we only see one trying to come to the store?? I think it would have been interesting if the kids had to defend the store or make more hard choices about people outside. Then when they finally do meet two people outside and let them in it is your typically storyline that you could see a mile away. <spoiler>Of course the Latino garden who all the kids love is going to turn into a pedophile. And of course the grumpy old man doesn’t survive. </spoiler>

This is sounding pretty negative but I did actually enjoy this book. Right up until the end that is. I like the psychological feel of the book even if I wished it had more action and less teen love drama. But then when the kids decide to make a run to Denver for rescue things turn stupid. <spoiler>Astrid has been an annoying character hiding for much of the book but suddenly she decides she can’t go get rescued because she turns into one of the crazies and she is PREGNANT! Seriously! You didn’t even know she was dating Jake until they came to the store and suddenly she is four months along. Then Dean, because he is a wuss and loves Astrid, decides to stay too. Even though his brother is going and he knows his parents are waiting for him. This is of course after Jake goes outside to do reconnaissance and runs away. He can’t take his loss of popularity and descent into druggiedom I guess. So since Astrid doesn’t have Jake she turns to Dean because of course she knows he likes her and he falls for that crap. Left a bad taste in my mouth and seemed really stupid to me. </spoiler>

In spite of all this I will probably read the next book because I want to know how things turn out.

08. September 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Apocalyptic, Fiction, Paranormal · Tags:

The Strain (The Strain Trilogy #1) by Guillermo del Toro, Chuck Hogan , read by Angie, on 09/05/2012

The Strain makes vampires monsters again. They aren’t conflicted or sparkly or misunderstood. They are killing machines infected with the vampire virus and they want to take over the world. The entire time I was reading this book I kept thinking I was reading a tv miniseries. You can see Guillermo del Toro’s cinematic stamp all over this book from the transitions to the flashbacks. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing; I like tv miniseries. And this story was strangely compelling. A plane lands at JFK and is dead; no lights, no radio, no movement. All the people are dead too except for four survivors. The CDC is called in lead by Ephraim Goodweather. He is puzzled and concerned. Then he teams up with pawn shop owner Abraham Sekarian, your typical holocaust surviving, vampire slaying old man. Abraham introduces Ephraim to the world of vampires and vampire slaying. Sure he is skeptical but reality soon makes him a believer.

First the bad: even with the cinematic quality there was a lot of filler in this book and not story filler. I am talking about weird asides about rats and HAZMAT and the eclipse. They were boring and chopped up the storytelling and frankly made the book twice as long as it needed to be. There was also a lot of tell not show. We are told what characters are doing and feeling instead of seeing them do and feel it. Always weak storytelling. The characters are stereotypes and pretty thin. Ephraim is a recently divorced dad going through a custody battle. He didn’t want to break up his marriage and has rearranged his whole life to be with his son Zack. Of course mom is mad and not budging on anything. At one point he misses a custody session because of course he is in the middle of a horrible epidemic and the psychiatrist basically blows him off saying he lost his chances for custody. Really??? The epidemic is on the news and they can’t reschedule? Seriously?? Nora is partner is of course barely mentioned other than she is his partner and he had an affair with her. Then you have the middle part of the book which is basically people turning into vampires and Ephraim being confused…for a couple hundred pages! The pacing in this book is definitely off; a lot could have been trimmed and the book shortened. And what was up with the eclipse; it basically had no point in the story but went on for chapters.

The good: I liked the flashbacks to Abraham’s story. These were interesting, relevant and exciting. I liked Abraham as a character too. He was by far the most interesting one in the whole book. I actually liked the vampires; they are evil and nasty and just want to kill you. That is what vampires are supposed to do. I kind of enjoyed the different take on the vampire tale. They don’t bite you they have giant stingers that cut your throat and suck your blood. There are little worms that invade your body when attacked and transform you (kind of like cancer or a virus). I even liked the vampire/human partnership and the vampire politics (which we just glimpse and I assume are going to be much more relevant in the next book). That all made for some exciting reading; I just wish there wasn’t so much other crap getting in the way.

I didn’t hate this book, but it made me remember why I don’t read a lot of adult books. There is just too much crap in them. This book definitely could have used some editing down to fix the pacing and the length and the characters. But it reads like an exciting move of the week that just hasn’t been edited yet. With editing this could be must see tv.

05. September 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Apocalyptic, Courtney, Teen Books

The Kill Order (Maze Runner prequel) by James Dashner, read by Courtney, on 08/26/2012

OK. There were a few things I really wanted from this book. Namely, answers that I had left over from the first three books. I knew this was a prequel, but I had no idea where Dashner would pick up the storyline. I had *hoped* that it would involve Tom and Teresa’s work with WICKED prior to the maze. But, with the exception of the introduction, Teresa is nowhere to be found and Tom is only mentioned one more time in the entire book. Instead, it focuses on Mark, a teenaged boy who has become separated from his family in the aftermath of the solar flares, and Alec, a grizzled retired soldier-type, who leads Mark and several others to safety.
So there they are, a group of folks living in the Appalachian Mountains, minding their own business, when an airship lands nearby. The occupants of the airship begin shooting darts at the people in the settlement. Many of those hit die shortly after. Others take days to die. One thing is certain: if anyone is to survive, Mark and Alec are going to need to track down the source of the mysterious airship in the hopes that it can lead them to a cure.
So, if you’ve read the Maze Runner series, you very likely have a good idea of what’s in those darts. And really, this incident is about the only thing that explains any of the state of affairs in the rest of the series. I really wanted more world-building out of this series. The first two books were so good, mainly because they created so many intriguing questions. These last two books though…they just fall flat in spite of all the action. Fans of action will be pleased to note that this installment has it in spades. Nearly every chapter includes a near-death fight or daring escape, so it moves quickly. If it weren’t for the mentions of a few “Maze Runner”-specific lingo (i.e. “Bergs”, “Flat trans”, etc.), I might have even forgotten this was part of the series. In that sense, Kill Order can stand alone. It’s just that there was so much promise at the beginning of this series that it’s hard not to be a little disappointed when the ending/prequel doesn’t meet expectations.