Saturday, April 21, 2012

Shambling with the Stars-Jesse Petersen

Celebrity telethon for a zombie outbreak? Ridiculous sounding…but it could totally happen…

“Avery Andrews is her name and directing celebrity telethons after tragedies is her game. But the Northwestern Zombie Outbreak isn't your average tragedy... and once the infection spreads to the studio, Avery and her crew will have to worry about staying alive, not ratings.”

Ms. Petersen. Congrats on being able to make me laugh and be a little scared while thinking “Yeah…this would totally happen.” Being just a regular plain Jane, not a part of the Hollywood scene, it seemed foreign to me. But Petersen did a great job of describing the set up with Avery and her crew in the control room and how after the shit hits the fan and celebrities start chomping on each other, the personalities of each person in the control room react.

What I think Petersen did best was how fast she moved the story along. From the first bite to the mad dash out of the studio for Avery and her assistant, this story was a fast read. I read it in about 30 minutes. I was a little sad when I got to the end because I really did want more. This (and her collection of zombie short stores In The Dead) is an amazing little vignette morsel of yummy blood soaked goodness. But it’s not just a scary story, it’s one that makes you laugh and makes you think about what would you do when the zombie apocalypse comes? Will you freak out and kill yourself by sticking keys into a high voltage piece of equipment? Will you be in denial? Or if you’re bitten, will you do what you can to help your friends survive until you’re not yourself anymore?

Ms. Petersen: Thanks again for making me laugh at the absurdity of humanity and what would happen if Zombies started roaming around. Much appreciated.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Apocalypse Scenario #683: The Box-Mira Grant

Doesn’t always seem to start off as a game?

“Every week five friends get together to play a game-- a game they call the Apocalypse Game. It's a fun time with chips and beer and plotting the end of the world. Except this time, one of them is missing and the stakes are higher than ever before.”

This was a great short story. I mean, really short story. I was kind of surprised by how short it was. But whatever. I’m okay with that. I loved the idea of a group of friends getting together to plot the end of the world. But little does the group of friends know, one of them has actually been doing just that.

Mira Grant has this great ability to set up a totally unassuming situation and then turn it suspenseful. The missing friend having her cheating boyfriend play a recording of her voice describing her scenario as a true to life thing, and then giving vaccinating them and giving the same vaccination to give to their friends and family. And then the end with the knock on the door, and that person coughing just seemed to be the icing on the cake for the suspense of a virus ending the world.

I’m not too sure if this is tied to Grant’s Newsflesh series, but there’s a ominous sense that it is tied the the viruses that caused Grant’s zombie apocalypse.  But oh my zombies! I can’t wait to read to get my little hands on the next Newsflesh book, Blackout. Totally stoked.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

In the Dead-Jesse Petersen

You know, I love a good set of zombie survivor tales.

“When the Zombie Apocalypse began in Seattle and spread within days to almost the entire western half the country, the survivors had to figure out how to deal with the plague and live one day at a time. These are their stories.”

Jesse Petersen wrote an amazing compilation of zombie survivor stories. Each story was different from the next. They were more funny, sad and disturbing as the book progressed. I have to say I have read two out of three of Ms. Petersen’s main zombie books series, Living with the Dead, and they are amazing, but I found that these stories more fun to read. The end of each story left me frustrated for more. Not a bad frustrated, but a good one where I was left saying “really?! No more?!” Petersen did an amazing job leaving us, her readers begging for more, without getting pissed off...because there’s nothing I hate more than a book that just seems to peter out and end with a whimper instead of a bang. And thankfully, Petersen doesn't let this happen.

My favorite story was the wedding one. It seemed to be the most satisfying read of them all while I felt that the TV show one felt a little forced. But the one that seemed frighteningly true to human nature was the zoo short story. Can you imagine the government and/or the Private Sector, after the hulabalue of the zombie apocalypse, capturing a couple zombies and then putting them on display for the entire world to see? And then some kid who is being poorly supervised goes and starts what could the second wave of zombie apocalypse? I totally can!

Jesse Petersen captures all that is good and bad about society and shows us that even though the world comes to an end, people really don’t change that much: we are either the survivors, or those that take advantage of the survivors. Man, I can’t wait to read Eat Slay Love and Shambling with the Stars!

The Zona-Nathan L. Yocum

So the world ends. Arizona gets renamed to “The Zona” which is ruled by theocracy simply known as “The Church.” Wait, wait! There’s more!

“The Storms came, and with them disease and blight like mankind had never experienced. Most died, and those who didn't were quick to scramble for weapons, wealth, and control. Petty lords gave way to new societies, and from the ashes of old came the Reformed Arizona Theocracy, or simply put, the Zona. The laws are simple, all sins are punished swiftly and violently. The enforcers, otherwise known as Preachers, roam the lands hunting disgraced men and women. But what happens when Preachers stop killing? What happens when men of honor take a stand against their rulers?”

Let me preface this review with this little story:
Now that I have a Kindle Fire, I love searching the free books section. Granted, a lot of it seems to be not so good or mediocre, but free is free and what if I find that one little gem? I mean, I’m thinking of self publishing myself, so I wanna look for what not to do. So scanning through the free books and what do I find? I “The Zona” with its very simply graphic cover. Looking at this, I’m pretty sure it’s not self published. Read the description. Okay. Sounded interesting. Then I started reading and this book turned out to be almost like S.G Brown’s “Breathers”: It was a case of cover lust. I was tricked.

Now, I don’t want to say the writing was awful. It wasn’t. It was okay. I can see where he was going with the naming of titles and how the scenes of the book were broken up, you can tell it’s written by a screenwriter and not a novelist. As someone who has written a screenplay (yes, I have a completed screenplay that I am way to scared to pitch for fear of rejection and insult), I can tell. I know he was probably trying to put a spin on the writing style to make the story of Lead memorable, but all it left me was feeling confused.

Story wise, I was bored. I kept waiting for something action packed and climactic come to Lead. But, really, all I got was one scene where Lead hallucinates and almost dies, and the other scene is near the end of the book where he fights off the crazed Crusaders. Here was my main issue with this book: I did not like any of the characters. I couldn’t get behind any of them. Terrance, maybe. But Lead, there was nothing that made me say, yeah, he’s the hero and this is the guy I should be rooting for. But why should I be rooting for him? He wasn’t the one who made the choice to break from the Church and stop being a Preacher. It was pretty much made for him. All the other characters were fly by night, never signifying much of anything.
I was reading through the reviews on Goodreads, and most of the reviews are glowing to 3 to 5 stars. I gave it two. And I feel like I was being generous…

I really wished I could have liked this book, but I actually was so bored with it, I stopped reading it and managed to knock out 3 novellas (which were awesome! Reviews to come) before I had to knuckle down and finish this book.

I was reading through the reviews on Goodreads, and most of the reviews are glowing to 3 to 5 stars. I gave it two. And I feel like I was being generous. But really, the world ending by some crazy off the chain storm? If there is an apocalypse, I say bring on the zombies.

Friday, April 6, 2012

The Hunger Games-Suzanne Collins

You know what this book is? Running Man…for teenagers…

“Could you survive on your own, in the wild, with everyone out to make sure you don't live to see the morning? In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she is forced to represent her district in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before-and survived.”

So I know some of you are way too young to remember Running Man, so let me some up. It’s an old school Arnold Schwarzenegger movie where folks are subjected to run around a death obstacle course while people bet on who will win and die. Which…is kinda what is happening in the Hunger Games… 
However, in this dystopian world, America is gone. All that is left is the ominous Capital and the twelve surrounding Districts. Our hero, Katniss Everdeen, is from the broken and despaired riddled District Twelve, where they mine for coal. Author Suzanne Collins makes sixteen year old Katniss Everdeen a hardened teenager who does what she has to do to survive, which means poaching and gathering beyond the Fence. I really enjoyed the beginning of the book. Katniss hunting in the woods is a good indicator of the type of person she will be and become throughout the book. 
For me, the story rises and falls for me. Her time at the Capital feels like a lull in the book. But then again, all of that time was spent with preparation for the Hunger Games. But even though it was a lull in action, it was interesting to see the dramatic differences from the normal folks in the Districts and those in the Capital. To me it was a little over done with the body paint, crazy hair color, and body modifications, but it worked to show the extravagancy and power that the Capital holds over Panem. 
What Collins does best is describe why the Hunger Games had to be. Once upon a time there were thirteen districts and when they rebelled against the Capital, the Capital squished them by decimating (such an amazing word) District 13 and developing the Hunger Games, taking the peoples children from the age of twelve to eighteen, one male and one female, and forcing them together in an arena of death to kill each other for the Capital’s amusement and to remind the people of the twelve district what happens when you rebel. 
I loved this book. I really did. I was impressed by how well written it was. It made me forget from time to time that I was reading a young adult book. However, I feel that there is a formula that all YA books seem to go by: pretty girl who doesn’t know she’s pretty, the sweet and lovable hero that the pretty girl has mixed emotions for, and the other guy that the pretty girl just can’t get out of her mind. However, this typical YA formula was softened by the violence of the Hunger Games. I was really kind of impressed. 
I got to the end of the book and felt that there really was no real ending. I know there are a few people left out in the world who have not read this book, so I will not be offering up any spoilers. But talking about an non-climactic ending. I mean, I get it, we have to be left hanging so there can be a second book, but I feel that the book just kinda peters out and says “Yeah, I’m kinda sleepy. Gonna take a nap.” 
This book offered a lot for someone who, as of late, is sullen and jaded about whatever books might come my way. So thanks Suzanne Collins for writing a book is unique in a genre of YA dystopians that seem to litter the book market.