storytimewithbuffy

Posts Tagged ‘Zombies’

Zombie Apocalypse! Fight Back

In Book Reviews on September 21, 2014 at 10:39 am
Constable & Robinson Ltd 2012

Constable & Robinson Ltd 2012

Nutshell blurb: The zombie apocalypse is in full swing because of an excavation in an old churchyard in Kent. In this book we learn a bit more about how it started as well as what our plans are for the future.

This is the second instalment of the Zombie Apocalypse series. If you want to read my thoughts on the first book, please feel free to go ahead.

In case you don’t feel like reading it, I’ll let you know that I loved the first one. I thought that the style was fantastic. I loved the minute by minute accounts of what was happening to various people in London.

Zombie Apocalypse! Fight Back has the same sort of format but flashes back from time to time in order to give us an idea of how the whole thing started. We finally get to meet the Thomas Moreby that was talked about so much in the first book.

He’s not a very nice person.

We were told about him in journal format by a young woman who gets to know him quite well. I think that that was my favourite part of this book. There are so many stories that one can’t help but pick favourites.

We also learn more about the quirks of the infection. Some of the zombies are sentient and memories are passed to them from the people that they eat. That actually creeped me out quite a bit. One of zombies ate a man and was able to find out where the man’s wife and children were hiding because he then possessed the man’s memories. The gore factor in this book was definitely cranked up a few levels.

I enjoyed this book a lot but I found that I didn’t devour it as quickly as I did the first one. I’m not really sure why it didn’t grab me as much as the first one did. Perhaps the first one was novel and the second one was more of the same.

I suspect that it’s more likely that I just didn’t really connect with many of the characters in the second one.

I saw another Zombie Apocalypse book in the shop (I think that it has to do with an insane asylum, but I don’t want to look it up for fear of spoilers) but I might leave it alone for now. I’ll probably read it one day in the future, but not today.

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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.

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.

Rot and Ruin

In Book Reviews on April 5, 2014 at 6:00 am
Simon and Schuster UK Ltd 2011

Simon and Schuster UK Ltd 2011

Nutshell blurb: An infection has swept the globe that turns people into zombies when they die. People can also get infected when zombies bite them. Benny Imura was rescued by his older brother, Tom, when he was 18 months old and their parents turned. Now he’s all grown up and must find his place in this world.

I liked this book for the most part. It’s a young adult book so it feels a bit more sanitised than some of the other zombie literature I’ve read, but I enjoyed it.

This book took a somewhat sympathetic look at zombies and emphasised the fact that they were once people. I liked that approach because most of the zombie stories I’ve read portray zombies as monsters who feed on human flesh. They do that in this story too but some of the characters see the zombie apocalypse as a tragedy rather than a cause for panic.

The result of this approach, however, is that at times the story was somewhat sentimental and shmaltzy. There were scenes in the book that were clearly meant to provoke an emotional response from me but which actually left me felling perplexed. I mean, yes, zombies have families too, however they usually want to eat those family members and therefore should be terminated immediately. I would be horrified beyond belief if any of my family or friends became zombified and I would be really sad and mourn for the people they were, however, I would protect myself and any other living person from those former friends or family members.

As a side note, if you are one of my friends or family members and you’re reading this, please don’t be offended. It’s not that I actually want to chop your head off or in any other way destroy what’s left of your zombified brain but a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do to survive. Let’s not make things awkward by discussing this in too much detail. Be advised, however, that if you die and come back to life…I will mess you up.

Another problem that I had with this book is that the people in it were pretty much good or evil. I have a big problem with that. Is anyone ever completely good or evil? I know that there are plenty of people where one side outweighs the other, but in this the baddies were super evil and the goodies were beyond angelic. I have a difficult time identifying with those types of characters.

The zombies didn’t feel like a constant threat which was another strike against it for me. When I read a book or watch a film about zombies, I want the peril to be palpable. Going outside should feel terrifying. A zombie could shamble out of the shadows at any time! Not so in this book. They just kind of stood around until they saw someone to eat.

Despite these flaws, I still felt that it was a good story. It was fast-paced and had good action scenes (always a plus for me). I think that the YA tag is very appropriate for this and would be more suitable for a younger audience. Readers who have had more exposure to heavier zombie stories might find that it lacks intensity. I’m glad that I read it though.

Strain

In Book Reviews on January 22, 2014 at 6:00 am
Harper 2009

Harper 2009

Nutshell blurb: An ancient evil has been awakened and has made its way to New York City on a 777. Can it be stopped before the entire world is infected?

Sooooooo, vampire zombies. Yep. My hope for this book was that it would be a great shake-up of two widely written genres. It is an interesting take but it fell a bit short for me.

People get turned into vampire zombies (and just so we’re clear, this is my term for them) in the usual way one gets turned into either undead creature: by being bitten or having the blood sucked out of them. The USP in this instance is that the living are attacked by ‘blood worms’ that come from the infected person(s).

I will say that I enjoyed the story, for the most part. It was a bit of a slow burn, though. A lot of time was spent trying to build up tension which worked at first, but when I was halfway through the book I realised that I still didn’t really know what the heck was going on. I felt as though the pacing was off for this kind of story. It felt more like a murder mystery than an action-packed apocalyptic adventure. I’m sure that I’ve mentioned it a time or two, but I’m a woman of action. I want stuff to happen. I don’t need everything to be spelled out for me but I need to know that I’m on the road to discovery and that I’ll get there eventually.

The characters didn’t really do much for me, either. The only two that I remotely liked were the elderly holocaust survivor and the Hispanic gang banger. The holocaust survivor was particularly interesting because he had seen this evil in his youth when he was in a concentration camp. (I promise that the holocaust wasn’t caused by Nazi vampire zombies, though. So don’t worry; we’re never taken down that road.)

I know that this post seems to be marching steadily toward the negative, but I actually did like the book. It just didn’t live up to my expectations.

When I finished this book, I told my husband that I probably wouldn’t read the next one. But in true Buffy-style, I saw it in the library the other day and picked it up anyway. That’s just how I roll, people. We’ll see whether or not I feel inspired to do a post about it.

Monster Island

In Book Reviews on December 1, 2013 at 5:38 pm
Snowbooks Ltd 2007

Snowbooks Ltd 2007

Nutshell blurb: The world has been taken over by zombies and the only places who have a hope of surviving are the 3rd world nations such as Somalia that are used to fighting. A group of girl soldiers is accompanied by a former UN inspector to find supplies necessary for their survival. They happen upon a zombie who is not like the others; he can still think.

This book has a very interesting premise. Apparently most of us first-world citizens are too soft to face the undead hordes as they overwhelm the earth and it is those who are used to constantly fighting for their survival every day who are best prepared for the zombie infestation. I was really excited when I read that because I expected the bulk of the action to take place in third-world countries such as Somalia, but instead most of the story happens in New York City. (Yes, I realise that the Statue of Liberty is on the cover. I still expected it to be a bit different.) So, I’m not sure what the relevance is of having only the third-world countries surviving unless it was a way of getting a bunch of Somalian girl warriors over to an infested Big Apple. It seemed a bit tenuous, but I was able to suspend my disbelief a bit.

Overall, this book was fun and the writing was pretty good. I felt that there was a lack of description when it came to the action, however. One minute they were holed up in a Virgin Megastore and the next minute they were running for their lives outside. There were quite a few times when all of a sudden something would happen, but I had no idea of how we got there. Sometimes I read really fast which means that I sometimes miss things, but this happened quite often. There was often no explanation as to how we got into certain situations.

The remainder of this post is going to be a bit spoilertastic, so if you don’t want to know what happens, please stop reading now. I’ll keep my spoilerage to a minimum, but there are things I have to tell you so that I can explain what I thought about them.

So, there’s this character called Gary. He was a doctor in NY when the infection hit. (There’s no explanation about how people became zombies, by the way. I can only assume that will happen in subsequent books as this is part of a series.) Anyway, Gary pretty much figured out that there was no way for him to escape the inevitable so he decided to take matters into his own hands. He thought that the reason that the zombies were mindless animals is because there is no oxygen to the brain between death and reanimation. He reasoned that it was only a matter of time before he became one of them so he hooked himself up to a ventilator and threw himself into a tub of cold water. This stopped his heart immediately and he eventually reanimated and still had his intellect. He also somehow formed an attachment to other zombies in that he could control them.

I thought that this was a really cool concept as this is the first book I’ve read that features a zombie with a fully functional brain. It was interesting to see how he acted when he was up against the living. He started out wanting to be a good guy but couldn’t control his tendencies. He teams up with a druid and some Egyptian mummies and goes up against the UN inspector and his team of child soldiers.

I felt as though the author could have explained things more carefully to us, but the action he did describe was gruesome and over the top. It’s definitely not for the squeamish.

Like I said, this book is fun even if there are some things that I question. If I see the next book lying around, I’ll probably give it a go but I probably won’t go out of my way to get it.

Can You Survive the Zombie Apocalypse?

In Uncategorized on October 13, 2013 at 6:00 am
Can You Survive the Zombie Apocalypse

Gallery Books 2011

The choice is yours, and if you don’t survive, you’ve got no one to blame but yourself.

So, I was waltzing around town last weekend and decided to wander into the bookshop. Just for giggles. I wasn’t really planning on buying anything. (Yeah, right.) Anyway, I looked through the stuff that’s on sale but nothing really jumped out at me.  I went upstairs to the sci-fi/fantasy section and that’s where I found this gem. As you may know, I’m in a zombie kind of place in my life at the moment so I picked it up and had a closer look and this was my reaction: Omigod-it’s-a-choose-your-own-novel-for-ADULTS!!

And then I was really embarrassed because I was shopping by myself and I got a couple of looks.

Anyway, I bought it right away and took it home to tell my husband about it. He was out of town for the week so we were on skype and I had to show it to him. He was suitably pleased for me, but not quite as excited as I had hoped. Then he perked up because I suggested that I read it to him.

I’d like to take this moment to explain something. I’m no showboat, but I looooooove reading aloud. Personally, I think that my voice sounds ridiculous. When I hear it recorded, I cringe because I think that I sound like a cartoon character. My husband, however, thinks it’s sexy and he likes it when I read to him at night. (I’m trying not to read too much into the fact that my voice puts him right to sleep after a few pages…) Anyway, I love reading aloud because I like the way the words from a really good book roll off my tongue. There’s a rhythm to it and it’s much different hearing a book read than just reading it silently.

I thought that this one would be fun for us to read together because then we can see whether or not we make the same choices. I’m happy to report that, so far, we do. This is an important thing to find out about your partner. I feel confident that should the zombie apocalypse come to pass, we’ll be ok. We make a good team.

Anyway, we’ve started reading this book and it turns out that I was right. It’s really fun to read together. I get into it and start emoting. By the way, if you are the woman who lives above us, I would like to extend my sincerest apologies for the time I got a bit too excited and yelled “ZOMBIES! THE LIVING EFFING DEAD!” (Ok, ‘effing’ wasn’t actually the word used in the book, but I’m trying to keep it clean. Work with me, people.) I was also really proud of my newscaster impersonation. We haven’t made it through an entire story yet (apparently there are 50 different endings) but what we’ve read so far has been a lot of fun.

I actually don’t know how this book would stand up if I was reading it on my own. There are so many fragmented sentences, which is obviously used to create a sense of urgency and suspense, but I’m not a fan of that particular device. I don’t mind if there’s a sentence fragment here and there, but there are paragraphs full of them. So, I recommend that if you’re going to read this book, do so with a friend, family member or partner who will really get into it with you.

Since we’ve not made it through an entire story yet, I’m not sure how our choices affect the story. I used to read choose your own adventure stories when I was younger, but with some of them I noticed that if you consistently chose a certain option, you would get the same kind of ending. I’m not sure what the author has in store for us, but I’m looking forward to seeing whether or not we can survive.

On a completely different note, I found a very pleasant surprise the other day. In my Library Day posts I mentioned that I frequently walk to the Barbican Library during my lunch hour which is a 15 – 20 minute walk. Well, our office has moved to a different location. Luckily, I think that it might be a minute or two closer. That’s not the pleasant surprise, though.

I decided to go get some cash from the atm  during my lunch hour one day (which is right behind my building) and as I stood in the queue  I looked to my right and saw this:

Artizan Street Library 1

I didn’t take this picture, btw.

My reaction: Wuuuuuuuuuuuut???

Yes, folks. This is the mythical branch of the Barbican Library that I knew existed, but didn’t know where the heck it was. And it’s RIGHT BEHIND MY BUILDING!!! Here’s the view onto the street from inside:

Artizan Street Library 2

Nor did I take this one.

The atm is on the right where the dude in the business suit is standing. I’ll still shlep over to the Barbican from time to time, but if I’m having a really tough day at work, I can just take a short break and browse the shelves until I feel refreshed.This is truly exciting stuff.

No, really. This made my day ridiculously better.

On that note, I shall leave you. Let me know if you decide to read this book and whether or not you’re reading it with someone else. Ta ta for now!

Sadie Walker is Stranded

In Book Reviews on August 7, 2013 at 6:00 am

Sadie Walker is Stranded

Headline Publishing Group 2012

This is the follow-up to Allison Hewitt is Trapped. It takes place after the initial zombie outbreak and it features a different cast of characters.

Nutshell blurb: The city of Seattle has been walled up to protect the inhabitants from the zombies that roam outside. The wall becomes breached, forcing Sadie, her nephew and her friend to flee.

I absolutely loved the first book but this one fell flat for me. I didn’t like Sadie AT ALL and I found that there were far too many references to other books, films, tv shows and various aspects of popular culture. I understood most of them but the generations after me are unlikely to know what the heck she’s talking about. It’s pretty annoying and gets old after a while.

The action is fantastic and it’s an exciting story but characterisation is everything to me. It’s not good to wish for the main character to get eaten by zombies.

The main character continuously makes stupid decisions but tells herself that she’ll never make the same mistakes again. But she does. She makes the stupidest decision at the very end (which I won’t spoil for you) and nobody calls her on it. If I lived in a zombie-filled world and one of my camp-mates made this decision, I would consider killing him/her if I ever saw him/her again. But no one seems to care that she did what she did. It’s incredibly frustrating to read things like this.

She’s also very helpless and relies on others to continually save her.

I would not normally do a blog post about a book when I don’t have many nice things to say about it, but I will in this case. The author has committed a cardinal sin in my eyes and I feel compelled to point it out in the hopes of convincing my writerly friends to not commit this crime.

Please repeat after me: We DO NOT talk trash about another author’s writing in our own work.

Of what do you speak, you might ask?

Well, I’ll tell you. There’s an entire conversation where the characters discuss (and bash) Twilight.

Now, I know that it’s super-cool to not like Twilight or anything by Stephanie Meyer and that there have been flame wars all over the internet as to whether or not it’s “good”. But does that really matter? Are we all not entitled to like or dislike a book according to our own personal tastes?

There’s a pettiness and arrogance to immortalising your hatred of someone else’s work in your own novel. You’re pretty much letting the world know that you think that you’re more talented and that your story is better than that of the person you’re slating. That’s not cool or edgy. It’s just kind of mean.

I was really disappointed when I got to that section. I feel that Ms. Roux’s writing is quirky and fun and that it can stand on its own without needing to bash another author’s work.

Why did you do it, Madeleine? Why????

It completely coloured my perception of this book. From that point on I felt that I was reading the work of a bully; someone who tears others down to make herself look better. Is she really that kind of person? I don’t know, but it really struck a chord with me. I’m not sure if I will read the next one when it comes out.

Therefore I urge you, my friends, don’t do this in your writing. Be supportive of other people, be constructive in your criticism and be nice. Most importantly, if you don’t have anything nice to say…

Allison Hewitt is Trapped

In Book Reviews on July 21, 2013 at 6:00 am

Allison Hewitt is Trapped

Headline Publishing Group 2011

They are coming and I don’t think we will ever get out.

Yes, I’m posting my thoughts about another zombie book. I refuse to apologise.

I loved this book. It’s a great story and Ms. Roux has a whimsical style of writing that hooked me right away. I also loved the concept.

Nutshell blurb: A zombie outbreak has occurred and Allison Hewitt is trapped in a bookstore with colleagues. She blogs about her experiences of trying to survive.

What? You might ask. How the heck could someone maintain a blog during a zombie apocalypse? And you would be right to ask. I felt that the author did a great job of addressing this issue. Apparently there’s something called SNet that the government and military have implemented in case of an emergency such as the one in this book. The interesting thing about this concept is that the laptop remains at the centre of the action at all times. It is something to be protected otherwise, there’s no story. Ms. Roux does a great job of explaining the continued use of a laptop when there’s no electricity or when the living dead decide to launch an attack on our heroine.

I liked the characters and could sympathise with Allison. My one disappointment (and it’s a little one) is that I felt as though the end was a little too wrapped up for me. It’s not completely tied with a bow, but I felt that the romantic connections were a bit contrived. I don’t want to say anything else as I don’t want to spoil it for you if you decide to read it.

All in all, it was a fun read.

The Walking Dead Volume 1: Days Gone Bye

In Book Reviews on July 14, 2013 at 6:00 am

The Walking Dead 1

Seventh Printing 2008

It would seem that I’m going through a zombie phase at the moment. I actually started reading this graphic novel after having seen Seasons 1 and 2 of the The Walking Dead on tv. This worried me as I’m always a fan of reading the book before watching the tv/film. In this case, it really doesn’t matter as so far they are quite different from each other. Of course, I’ve only read the first one so I have no idea of what’s going to happen in the subsequent issues. I have noticed that my library has them lined up in numerical order as if they’re just waiting for me.

I’m not entirely sure what’s prompted my zombie obsession these days. I’ve actually read a lot of dystopia in the past year or so and am fascinated by the choices people have to make when the world goes to hell. At first I found the tv show to be sappy and overly sentimental whereas the graphic novel doesn’t dwell on the feelings as much (so far). It is inevitable that I think about the show as I’m reading the graphic novel and now that I’m further along in the series I can appreciate the personal and emotional drama much better. I’m getting really attached to the characters and am terrified for them every time they get into a confrontation.

One of the difficulties that I have with reading graphic novels is that I read super fast. I wouldn’t quite call it skimming, but it’s pretty close. When I first started reading them, I missed so much because the stories really do rely on the pictures (duh, right?) and I would flip through a book and have a only vague idea of what was going on. I love graphic novels and manga, though, so I’ve had to teach myself to slow down when reading them over the years. It’s really difficult to change one’s reading style. Pictures = slow the heck down, Buffy. It’s worth it though. I would have missed out on a lot of good stories otherwise.

I really enjoyed the first issue of this series and will probably pick up more than one on my next visit. I might also share my thoughts on several at a time so that I have more to say.

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