Category Archives: science fiction

Rot & Ruin (Benny Imura #1) by Jonathan Maberry

In the zombie-infested, post-apocalyptic America where Benny Imura lives, every teenager must find a job by the time they turn fifteen or get their rations cut in half. Benny doesn’t want to apprentice as a zombie hunter with his boring older brother Tom, but he has no choice. He expects a tedious job whacking zoms for cash, but what he gets is a vocation that will teach him what it means to be human.

Genre: YA Dystopian
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Release Date: September 14, 2010
Page Count: 458
Source: My copy.
Rating: 3/5

This book began with some serious eye-rolling from me. I mean, the monsters were called Zoms (is the word zombie so long that it warrants abbreviation?), and our main character was a lazy, angst-ridden teenager who had no appreciation for the cozy world he lived in or the people who worked hard to keep him safe. I said in one of my status updates that Benny had better undergo some serious character development for me to even remotely get along with him, and thankfully, he did. The problem is, I just don’t feel invested in these characters. Or maybe I do. Maybe I just don’t like them very much. But I don’t think that is entirely their fault. The problem is, that the people, the adults that belong to this town of Mountainside shelter themselves and their children so much, that they have no idea what life is really like outside the fences. I mean, really, Benny thinks killing zombies is fun and there are fucking zombie cards. This is not a game. Surviving in the zombie apocalypse is not fun. It’s fucking terrifying. And the adults of this novel are so, so stupid (and Tom you are not exempt because you did the same thing). I just… I can’t even. I can’t wrap my head around the stupidity and negligence of these people. No one wants to talk about anything with each other or with the children, and yet they think it’s okay to send their children out to something that’s called the “Rot & Ruin” when their fifteen. Fifteen. Which, okay, is not that young, especially in the apocalypse, but at least prepare them! I mean, shit, one of your own kids thinks the local factory is producing soda when it is in fact producing cadaverine or whatever the name is… zombie juice. I mean, it makes you smell dead. So, yeah. Not soda. But how could you let your own child walk around that oblivious to everything? I’ve never encountered anything so foolish in my life.

Jonathan Maberry can write a sentence. There’s no doubt about that. I found beauty in normality every few pages. Having said that, the book still reads like a B Movie. I don’t know if that’s a zombie thing or what (this is my first zombie book). I watch The Walking Dead, which is, to me, very real and not B movie-ish at all, but the dialogue and inner monologue here kind of killed me. I couldn’t help but think that people don’t really think like that and definitely (at times) don’t talk like that. It was kind of corny, some of it. So, yeah. I’m not experienced in zombie matters so I don’t know if that’s what zombie-lovers look for (my husband LOVES “corny zombie movies”), but it stood out for me. And the cover and spine are sort of B movie-ish, too. Like I said, I don’t know if that’s just “the thing”.

Besides the stupidity of the characters, the novel was pretty predictable. There were at least two instances where I said to myself, I totally saw that coming. I thought it was drawn out. I went into this novel expecting a suspenseful adventure and that’s not really what I got. At all. It was more of a slow and steady kind a novel. Which is fine, in some cases, but this being a zombie book, I expected more action & adventure. I think I would have been a lot more invested if it was a non-stop thriller kind of thing. Instead, by page 300 (just over halfway through), I wanted to be done with it. Finishing the book was more of a chore for me.

The characters do develop eventually, especially Benny, Nix, and even Tom, so they get easier to deal with. Nix mostly annoyed me with her overwrought emotions, but she is a badass chick who can hold her own, so there’s that. And Maberry did a good job with the bad guys, I truly hated them and wanted them all to die. Wholly though, I just didn’t find myself being very invested in the story or its characters. It was kind of a meh book for me where I didn’t love it or hate it and that’s not the kind of story I really look forward to revisiting. I am conflicted about reading the sequel though. Lilah, though everyone thinks she’s crazy, to me, is the most sane character out of all of them. And the second book seems to focus on that. So I may pick it up. I haven’t decided yet.

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Review The Walker in Shadows by Barbara Michaels

 

The house next door to Pat Robbins–eerily identical to the home Pat shares with her college-aged son, Mark–has been empty for years, the darkness within seeming to warn all to stay away. Now new tenants are moving in: affable Josef Friedrichs and his lovely daughter, Kathy, who has stolen Mark’s heart on first glance. But something is not right–something old and secret lurking in the shadows that fresh paint and new furnishings cannot mask or exorcise. There is evil alive in the heart of the house next door–and it means to feed on the fears of two families . . . and drag Kathy Friedrichs with it into peril.

Genre: Paranormal Mystery
Publisher: HarperTorch
Release Date: 1979
Page Count: 352
Source: My copy.
Rating: 2/5

I don’t really like ghost stories. But this was a book club read so… yeah. I read it. Thankfully it wasn’t scary, or I may have put it down. I don’t do scary things.

The rating system says a two star rating is for “it was okay”. And this book was okay, I guess, despite the general boringness and lack of development. I liked the writing style – it had that going for it.

I wasn’t impressed by the background or the supposed “twist” at the end. Which is strange because I generally enjoy historical fiction (not that that is what this was, but it had some elements). I loved Between Shades of Gray and The Russian Concubine series, and The Red Scarf is one of my all time favorite books. But this backstory failed to capture my attention. I found it all to be very uninteresting. The worst was the ghost. It only appeared at 1 AM? Was that ever explained? How unbelievable is that??

It’s obvious that the author really tried to focus on the romance of the story, but I just wasn’t buying it. Mark and Kathy’s (whose name definitely didn’t match her naïve, young girl personality – I could see Katherine or Katie or even Kath, as Mark sometimes referred to her as, but Kathy? It didn’t work for her) romance was practically nonexistent, if anything all appearances pointed to them being very good friends. And Josef and Pat’s romance? Where the hell did that come from? I sensed not one attraction even, through the entire course of the book, and all the sudden he’s jealous that some other man is touching her? And then they’re kissing? (removed for spoilers)

So that was annoying. But there were some elements I enjoyed. The writing was very refined – I found the whole thing very easy to read. And I liked Mark’s character – my reaction to him was almost automatic. He lived a very humorous, easygoing existence and I found myself smiling whenever he would speak.

Mostly though, the book bored me. The backstory was very meh, and I literally fell asleep reading the last twenty pages. The romance was completely botched. The book just really wasn’t for me.


Review Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi (Shatter Me, #1)

 

No one knows why Juliette’s touch is fatal, but The Reestablishment has plans for her. Plans to use her as a weapon. But Juliette has plans of her own. After a lifetime without freedom, she’s finally discovering a strength to fight back for the very first time—and to find a future with the one boy she thought she’d lost forever.

Genre: YA Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Harper Collins
Release Date: November 15, 2011
Page Count: 340
Source: My copy.
Rating: 4/5

I have so many mixed feelings about Shatter Me, but one cannot deny Tahereh Mafi’s gift as a writer. From the very first line she cuts this poor girl open and forces her emotions to bleed all over the page. I’ve never read anything like this book. I was immediately enticed by Juliette. She’s this vulnerable, broken child that just wants a place to fit in. The depths of her very soul are portrayed so beautifully in this novel, I felt her pain, her fear at the very core of my heart. I couldn’t get her out of my head.

The use of strikeouts in this novel really made me think. I may have thought I knew what she was trying to say at first glance but I didn’t always. There were times that I would be staring at one line of text for what seemed like hours drinking in her soul.

Adam was amazing. He was this strong guy who could really take care of Juliette, but he was confident in her ability to take care of herself as well. Any growth that Juliette experienced in this novel was mostly due to Adam’s faith in her, I think. Their story is beautiful. They’ve both been in love with one another all their lives, but their story isn’t forced. It isn’t rushed. They fall into one another’s arms so effortlessly I never question them as an item.

The character development isn’t perfect, though. There were times when Juliette strayed from her own personality to meet this other Juliette who I felt like I didn’t know at all. I don’t know if this was to show her development as a character, but in any case, I didn’t buy it. By the end, it was way too drastic.

There were a lot of unresolved situations in this novel. Juliette, Adam, Warner – they all continue to be a mystery to me. I get that the author was setting us up for the series, but, by the end, I felt like I was running on dead air. When it came to these characters, I felt like I had barely anything to go on.

The plot was otherwise strong; through her powerful writing style Mafi really sets the stage for the story and the dark world these people live in. I was a little bored through the middle, but the last 100 heart-stopping pages were worth the wait. While there are still secrets to be revealed about the characters, the goings-on really wrapped up nicely. The ending wasn’t much of a cliffhanger, but it’s definitely open. Needless to say, I’m really looking forward to continuing the series.


Review Eve & Adam by Michael Grant & Katherine Applegate

 

And girl created boy…

In the beginning, there was an apple—

And then there was a car crash, a horrible injury, and a hospital. But before Evening Spiker’s head clears a strange boy named Solo is rushing her to her mother’s research facility. There, under the best care available, Eve is left alone to heal.

Just when Eve thinks she will die—not from her injuries, but from boredom—her mother gives her a special project: Create the perfect boy.

Using an amazingly detailed simulation, Eve starts building a boy from the ground up. Eve is creating Adam. And he will be just perfect… won’t he?

Genre: YA Science Fiction
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Release Date: October 2, 2012
Page Count: 291
Source: My copy.
Rating: 3.5/5

When I decided to pick up this book, I thought, “Please, authors, don’t fuck this up.” Sometimes a premise comes along that is so unique, so fantastic, that you really want it to be as good as it is supposed to be.

Michael Grant and Katherine Applegate did not fuck this up.

Evening (I don’t know what to call her. Evening? E.V.? Eve?) is the character I’ve been waiting for since I read The Raven Boys and fell in love with Blue. She is this down to earth, righteous person who knows herself and isn’t afraid to be that person. I find this trait to be refreshing in YA. It feels like this real personality is hard to find, and, because I love YA, when I find it, I feel like I can really fall in love with a person. So is the case with Evening. What I found so strong about her was that she didn’t lose this true sense of self, even when she (removed for spoilers) Usually, when the “big reveal” comes about in a YA setting, the person being affected (usually a girl) gets all upset and emotional and has a breakdown. Eve didn’t do that. She kept her cool, and I admire her for that. She made mistakes – which bugged me at the time – but as I wrapped up the book I realized she was still admirable. She is human and learns from those mistakes, which makes me love her even more.

Solo, on the other hand, felt more like a villain to me. I thought that my opinion of him would change as the novel progressed, but it never really did. (removed for spoilers) I don’t know what Evening saw in him; I can’t see it. Even having finished the book, I’m not a fan. It could be that his character wasn’t developed enough, but I don’t think that’s a problem for these two authors, seeing as the rest of the characters in the book felt so real to me. I just don’t think I particularly liked him, and therefore didn’t really fall into the romance between him and Evening. And that’s where my rating comes from. I think this book would have been better without the love interest in Solo. They could have been friends – that would have been fine – or anything but lovers, really. I thought Evening could do so much better.

I thought the two authors did very well with the world building of this novel: I pictured everything crisply. It was paced nicely; I was never bored yet it allowed me time to get to know the characters. The premise was executed perfectly. Though the ending didn’t surprise me (and to be honest, it was a little bit rushed), I was satisfied with the novel enough to enjoy myself along the ride. I think that Eve & Adam was written very well: everything from dialogue to setting to the characters was completely believable. It wasn’t perfect, what with Solo and the rushed ending that wasn’t all that surprising, but agreeable enough for me to say I liked it.