storytimewithbuffy

Posts Tagged ‘Orbit’

Bedlam

In Book Reviews on September 10, 2014 at 1:38 pm
Orbit 2013

Orbit 2013

When Ross heard the voice speak softly from only a few feet behind him, he deduced rather depressingly that he must no longer have a digestive system, as this could be the only explanation for why he didn’t shit himself.

Nutshell blurb: Ross Baker is a scientist who works for a huge corporation called Neurosphere. He volunteers to help test out a new technology only to find that he’s been transported into a videogame.

This was my first ‘trapped in a videogame’ book. I think. Now I’m wracking my brain to remember if I’ve read any others…I actually have a story idea for a novel that takes place in a videogame, which is what drew me to this book. My idea is too nebulous to discuss but I can say that it is nothing at all like this book.

I had so much fun reading this. I’m adding Mr. Brookmyre to my list of authors whose styles I totally dig. As a side note, I would be curious to know how this book would be received by someone who didn’t play videogames.

This book spanned so many games and if you are one who plays or has played videogames in the past, you will recognise many of the ones mentioned. I particularly enjoyed reading about what the character went through when faced with various game mechanics that those of us who play games would recognise.

Respawning, having crappy weapons during the early levels of a game, being dealt damage that is inconsistent with what is dealing the damage…

It was a strange anomaly of certain first-person shooters that you could take a grenade blast and multiple bullet-wounds to the face and yet still limp home for a couple of Paracetamol and a warm bath, but if you stayed under the suds for more than thirty seconds while washing your hair, you would drown.

I was a bit disappointed that no mention was made of how one can kill a mosquito which could then potentially drop a broadsword. But then, the character seemed to spend most of his time in first-person shooters and strategy games. The double jump was mentioned, however:

Back in the day, there had been an odd glitch in the game that meant you could do this double-jump trick on the edge of a rock that would propel you a height disproportionate to your efforts. It was a handy shortcut to higher ledges that the level designers hadn’t intended you to reach without first negotiating other parts of the landscape. Ross tried it when he reached a suitable spot, the impulse coming almost instinctively as soon as he realised he was in a place he recognised. He succeeded only in repeatedly rattling his thankfully metal-clad shins off the edge of a low outcrop and falling on his face a few times. If anybody had been looking, they’d have assumed his internal motivational and guidance circuitry was on the fritz. Or that he was a twat.

As I mentioned, I really like Mr. Brookmyre’s style of writing. It’s quirky (always a plus for me) with a great sense of humour and it’s obvious that he really loves videogames.

My one complaint about this book is the ending. I felt that it was a bit rushed and that it was perhaps a bit too clever for itself. I had a moment of ‘Wha….?’ until I reread it and understanding dawned. Feeling rushed and too clever isn’t the greatest combination but I was able to forgive that because it was a really fun book.

 

Parasite

In Book Reviews on July 6, 2014 at 6:00 am
Orbit 2013

Orbit 2013

Nutshell blurb: In the future, humans live disease-free due to a parasite engineered by a company called SymboGen. Things are hunky-dory until the parasites decide that they want their own lives.

Yes, the premise of this book is excruciatingly gross. The thought of having a parasite living inside of me ON PURPOSE is horrifying. Much less the thought that it could become sentient and want to take over my body.

Hence the reason I HAD to read this book.

Mira Grant does a really great job of painting a hopeful future where things like diabetes or the common cold are things of the past. It’s very rare to find people who haven’t jumped on the parasite bandwagon.

The main character is Sally, a woman who had a nearly fatal car accident and whose family nearly pulled the plug on her life support. She made a miraculous recovery and was the subject of study for the SymboGen corporation as a result.

I’m not going to say anything more about the plot so as to avoid spoilers.

What I will tell you is that I really like Ms. Grant’s style of writing. She’s quirky and she has a knack for adventure and action. I’ve only read two of her books so far (here’s the link to my post on Feed if you’re interested in reading it) and I’ve really enjoyed them.

My problem with this book and the reason that I gave it 4 stars instead of 5 is that I felt that it was very similar to Feed. They both featured a future that saw us with some sort of disease-preventing technology that’s gone wrong. And the characters were quite similar.

In Parasite, there’s the main character, Sally who seemed remarkably similar to Feed’s Georgia. There’s Sally’s boyfriend, Nathan, who reminded me of Georgia’s brother, Shaun. There’s the plucky side-kick, Tansy who could have easily been related to Feed‘s Buffy.

Even though the Parasite characters were, in many ways, different from their Feed counterparts they still felt connected to me. As I read the parts with them in it, I found myself picturing the characters from Feed. I’ve never experienced that before. It was eerie, although probably unintentionally so. As characterisation is a huge part of what draws me into a novel, I must admit that it was a bit off-putting.

However, the story was gripping enough that it wasn’t a huge issue for me. It was an enjoyable read and I would be up for reading the next one.

Feed

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.

A Blight of Mages

In Book Reviews on September 15, 2013 at 9:43 pm

A Blight of Mages

Orbit 2011

Or perhaps what I’m hearing is the rest of my life ticking into oblivion, into obscurity, into nothing but eventual, echoing silence.

Nutshell blurb: Barl Lindin is an unranked mage who longs to be more than society will allow her to be. She wants to attend the College of Mages but is denied entry due to the low standing of her family. Thus thwarted, she sets into motion a series of events that will rip apart her country and create a new one.

I would like to start by saying that if you are interested in this book, you should probably start with the Kingmaker, Kingbreaker series. (The Innocent Mage and The Awakened Mage. I originally bought these books because I liked the covers and thought that they would look good on my shelves. I don’t know why that’s relevant. Anyway, they’re awesome.) This book is the prequel to those and you might get a bit confused at the end which would be pretty annoying.

So, back to what I thought about it.

This book left me breathless and did not disappoint.

The characters are so well written. The main character, Barl, was insufferably arrogant and self-assured, but she was written in such a way that I wanted her to succeed. I loathe arrogance, so it is a testament to Ms. Miller’s writing skill that she was able to make me feel sympathetic toward this person that I probably would have hated if I knew her in real life. In the Kingmaker, Kingbreaker series (which takes place several hundred years after this story, and no, this isn’t going to be spoilerific) Barl is worshipped as a deity, so it was interesting to read her story and find out how un-goddess-like she actually is.

One thing that makes Ms. Miller’s writing so appealing (at least to me) is that she isn’t protective or precious about her characters. She puts them through hell. ALL OF THEM. No one is safe in her books. She’ll let you spend time with a character and get to know him or her. You’ll read a bit of back story and think, Oh cool. A new character that is going to be integral to the conflict resolution. And then she’ll kill them off or have them transmuted into some kind of monster and you’ll never hear from or about them again. At first you’ll be angry and scream “Why Karen? Why did you do it?” but then you’ll realise that it’s for the greater good and that the story is better because of it.

My one criticism of this book is that I think that it should have been split up into two books. This book was an eyebrow-raising 660 pages and I felt that some of the details were left out. For example, two of the central characters fall out with each other, as in ‘I never want to see your stupid face again’ falling out, but then we flash forward a couple of weeks and their friendship is semi-mended with no explanation of how that came to be or who caved. There’s also a really harrowing journey through some mountains where people get mauled by bears, bitten by snakes and fall off steep ledges but we’re told about it in flashbacks. It’s a pretty important journey and I felt that more attention should have been given to it. Given Ms. Miller’s love of the two book series, this would have been perfectly acceptable.

At any rate, I loved it and will eventually buy this book. I also plan to read her Fisherman’s Children series (The Prodigal Mage and The Reluctant Mage) that is a sequel series to her Kingmaker, Kingbreaker series (that I also plan to reread).

As an aside, I’ve also read the first book of her Godspeaker series, Empress, and well…hated it. I’m only saying this because if you’ve read and disliked any of the books in that series, don’t let that deter you from reading her Mage books. They are written in a completely different style. If I had read Empress before the Mage books, I would never have picked up anything else by her and would have missed out on some really great stories.

As always, I would love to know what you thought of any of her books.

Take care and see you next time!

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