Archive for May, 2014|Monthly archive page

Zombie Apocalypse

In Book Reviews on May 25, 2014 at 6:00 am
Constable & Robinson 2010

Constable & Robinson 2010

Nutshell blurb: In order to boost the morale of a disillusioned British populace, the government decides to host a festival in South London. To facilitate this, they’ve decided to dig up a plague pit that rests under a creepy English church. What could possibly go wrong?

I kind of have a thing for zombies. Or zombie literature, rather. I’m fascinated by the way that authors take a subject that has been done by countless others and re-spin it. Sometimes it doesn’t work so well, but sometimes it knocks my socks off.

In this case, my socks were well and truly knocked off.

This book is a record of this particular zombie apocalypse told from the perspective of many different people through blog posts, texts, police reports, journals, emails, government meeting minutes and such. It’s quite similar to World War Z in that it’s a collection of accounts that describe this event that sweeps across London. The way it differed from World War Z is that it was much more immediate. As I mention in my World War Z post, the stories are told by the survivors so they may have been in peril at one time, but they lived to tell the tale. In Zombie Apocalypse, the records people kept on their experiences were collected presumably once the zombie situation was under control. Sometimes people turned into zombies mid-diary entry or email. It was quite tense because you didn’t know who is going to turn or who will make it.

I really liked the idea that the zombie apocalypse started because someone dug up a plague pit and exposed humans to the disease that was lying dormant all of these centuries. At first no one seems very panicked. People know that crazies are running around attacking people but they don’t seem particularly concerned. Eventually they catch on, but by then it’s too late.

The characters were really interesting as well. There was a diary kept by a woman who was pretty much trapped in a tower block, but had enough food to last for a long time. I really enjoyed reading the police report and the diary of a 13 year old girl. There was a blogger who was an expert on zombie lore. He stayed locked up in his flat watching zombie films. There were many many more but these were the ones that really stuck with me.

In my blog post on World War Z, I stated that I wasn’t sure that this style of different accounts would work, but this novel nailed it. I’m looking forward to the next one.


The Passage

In Book Reviews on May 18, 2014 at 10:09 am
Orion 2010

Orion 2010

Nutshell blurb: 12 inmates used for experimental purposes escape from the underground Army testing facility they’re kept in. They wreak havoc on the earth and only one girl can save mankind.

I picked up this book not knowing anything about it. Even the cover blurb is a bit vague although strangely intriguing. It’s always a strange experience going into a story with no information. I had no preconceptions and no idea of where the story would take me.

That was kind of exciting, yet at the same time a little bit off-putting. There was no way I could predict what was going to happen (which is a good thing) yet sometimes I sat there thinking What is this story??

It was actually several stories in one and it reminded me of A Canticle for Leibowitz. (Except that I liked this story much more. Sorry, Walter M. Miller Jr.)

There were some really good characters and I’m happy to report that a few of those character were some kick-ass females.

That always makes me happy.

There’s also a really sweet note at the back of the book on how the author came up with the story. Apparently, it was inspired by his 8 year old daughter who told him that his literary books were too boring and that he should write something more interesting. They would spend part of everyday talking about the story and creating the characters. Frankly, she sounds a bit bossy. I like her.

Don’t worry, though. It doesn’t read like an 8 year old wrote it!

It’s definitely worth a read if you are interested in a different take on the vampire genre and are not intimidated by its nearly 1000 pages.

Chico & Rita

In Book Reviews on May 11, 2014 at 6:00 am
SelfMadeHero 2011

SelfMadeHero 2011

Nutshell blurb: Chico is a piano player and Rita is a singer. The meet in Havana and this story chronicles their journey through life, love and music.

I saw this book standing up on a shelf in the Barbican library and right away I was taken by the cover. I was also drawn to the fact that it’s a Latin American graphic novel. I have never read one before and I have a keen interest in the subject matter. I love Latin American music. Salsa, merengue and bachata. My Latino playlist is frequently pumping through my headphones as I walk through the city. It makes complete sense that this book would pull me into its pages.

I really loved this book, however I had a difficult time relating to it on a personal level. I must tell you that I’m not the biggest fan of love stories. I don’t mind if it’s part of the story but I don’t really like it when it’s the whole story.

I felt like these two people were terrible for each other. They were so mean to one another and all I could think of through the entire story was that they just needed to leave each other alone. He was overly jealous and she was fickle. It seemed like they loved each other yet it was entirely too easy for them to wind up in someone else’s arms. When they were with each other, they would say horrible things that would hurt the other.

I suppose that my views on this subject reflect the way I am in life. I’ve never been the kind of person who could forgive infidelity in a relationship. Basically, if you hook up with someone else, you can kiss me goodbye. So it made me really sad to see two people who are supposedly in love treat each other so poorly. I guess that love stories have to be dramatic in order to be interesting, but it still made me a bit sad.

Even though I couldn’t relate to the story, I was still drawn into it. The artwork is stunning. I would love to have a print of some of the panels for my walls. I would also be interested to see the film that inspired this book.

Overall, it was gorgeous and engaging. I’m really glad that I happened upon it.


In Book Reviews on May 4, 2014 at 6:51 pm
Orbit 2010

Orbit 2010

The front wheel rose smoothly and the back followed, sending us into the air with a  jerk that looked effortless and was actually scarier than hell. I was screaming. Shaun was whooping with gleeful understanding. And then everything was in the hands of gravity, which has never had much love for the terminally stupid.

Mira Grant has a fantastic way with words. Her sense of whimsy drew me into this book right away.

Also, there’s a character named Buffy in this book.

That’s Buffy’s job, along with being the perkiest, blondest, outwardly flakiest member of the team.

Buffy is an unusual name and I’ve gotta say that it’s not often that I see it in print. (Unless, of course, it’s something to do with Buffy the Vampire Slayer.) It took me a while to get used to seeing it in a novel, especially when the character is nothing like me. That’s right, folks. I’m not perky, blond or flaky. (Depending on whom you ask…)

One of the things that I love about reading books on the same topic (ie. zombies, vampires, etc…) is seeing how the author tries to make his/her stories unique. They say that the devil is in the detail and that’s something that Ms. Grant nails. It was clear to me as I read this that she spent a lot of time creating this world and the result is that it feels authentic.

The zombies in this story were a result of two vaccines mixing and being distributed on a mass scale over the entire population. Everyone is infected and will turn no matter how they die. Special procedures are in place which require retinal scans and blood tests to take place before people are allowed to enter or leave any buildings or compounds. People no longer tend to gather together in large groups for fear of an outbreak.

Nutshell blurb: George, her brother, Shaun, and their friend, Buffy, are a group of bloggers who have been chosen to follow a presidential candidate on his campaign trail.

Now, this book fell down for me in a couple of places.

First of all, (and this has to do with my personal preference) I hate politics. And I mean that I REALLY hate the subject. Want to see my jaw go slack and my eyes glaze over? Tell me your political views. Please. Do go on and on about what you think of the government.

Yes, I did realise that this book was about a group of bloggers covering a campaign trail, but I kind of thought that there would be less political stuff because of the zombies. There was a lot of technical stuff and a bit more exposition than I would like as well.

Luckily, Ms. Grant has an engaging style of writing that kept me interested. And, as I said previously, the level of detail in this novel is great, but there were a few times when I found myself wishing for a bit more action.

My second complaint is that we didn’t really start finding out about the ‘dark conspiracy’ (as mentioned on the back cover) until the last quarter of the book. So again, I felt like I was reading another series in which the first book is setting up the second.

Please don’t think that I didn’t like it, though! It was really fun and the writing is superb.

I think that the next one is going to be even better and I highly recommend Feed if you enjoy the zombie genre.

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