Feb 13 - Feb 17, 2013
Allan Mann had everything: good looks, physical prowess, a keen mind, and an adoring girlfriend. But a single stroke of fate has changes everything for Allan, and now all he has is Ella. Ella, his helper monkey. Ella, his companion. Ella, his friend. Ella, who he has developed a very special relationship with, one that no one understands...
See that? See what I did there? I made y'all think he was "spanking his monkey". In the vagina. With his penis. Don't worry, the back cover and front blurb on Monkey Shines made me think that, too. But I can assure you, no monkey/man Literotica occurred in the writing of this book.
Hey, don't look so disappointed (secretly, I was a little disappointed, too).
Now, don't think this book was all sunshine and rainbows. There was definitely some inappropriate stuff going on, but more along the lines of "blurring-the-distinction-between-man-and-animal" than "the-mysterious-unlabeled-VHS-collection-at-the-bottom-of-your-dad's-sock-drawer". Which is probably for the best, because Monkey Shines ended up coming across as rather intelligent and thoughtful. Hell, sometimes a little overly so, as I haven't had the luxury of attending a prestigious Ivy League school or have a degree in research science. There were definitely some bits that just went way over my head. In my defense, I'm only 5'3.
At times, I found the leap from overly bright beloved helper money to psychotic murderous monster a little unrealistic, but then I remembered I was reading about a killer Capuchin and had to admonish myself for being too lofty. I knew what I was getting into when I picked this up.
No, Monkey Shines wasn't actually half bad. It was an unusual premise (certainly) but unique. It was definitely intelligently written and treated maturely for the somewhat comical subject matter. I mean, no matter how seriously I tried to take it, I still spent a lot of time imagining Ross and his monkey, Marcel, from Friends.
Capuchins are way too cute to be scary. But this book managed to by mighty creepy all the same.
And as a bonus, check out the trailers for the 1988 movie (directed by George A. Romero!) based on this book:
Jan 27 - Feb 5, 2013
lost boy lost girl
The Underhill family is no stranger to tragedy, and for one young member of the clan, his story begins with a decades-old crime and culminates in murder... and maybe even redemption...
I hesitate to classify this as straight horror; while awful, scary, horrific, and supernatural events occur, lost boy lost girl also had the dreamy quality of fantasy. Unexplainable events were taking place, with no explanation (duh, I did just say unexplainable) or reason; they just happened on the faith that you'd accept it, and even some of the events themselves were left vague and ambiguous. Luckily, this book was one of those rare exceptions to the "I have no idea what I'm doing so I'll purposely try to confuse people in the hopes that they think THEY'RE stupid for not understanding when in actuality I'M the dill hole who has no idea what I'm banana"rule.
Here, it worked. I'll give Straub that.
Really, the writing was quite good, and I have not much to rumble about regarding technical skill. Mark (our young protagonist) was drawn exceedingly well, and was intriguing and easy to relate to, as well as lovable. All the ghostly counterparts were spooky as shit and definitely drew me in. No complaints character-wise. I will say that starting out I found the sentence structure to be overly wordy and busy - occasionally I was confused and irritated, not unlike a kid who doesn't get why I won't sell him weed even though I work at a head shop. Because obviously I would also do that as a side profession while at my current profession. Even though weed is still technically illegal. And I'm pretty sure the first place anyone would be busted for selling weed would be at a head shop. So obviously I should definitely be selling weed to strangers all day every day from behind the counter at my work place. *that was extreme sarcasm, if you didn't get that* But the more I read, the more familiar I became with the rhythm, and I settled in. Not unlike closing your eyes and thinking of England.
That's a euphemism for unpleasant sex, BTW.
No, my biggest issue with the book was that it took so damn long to get scary. I was halfway through the damn thing... Chapter 17, page 159 to be specific, before anything really exciting happened. If I was your average reader, I might have ditched this book long before that. But books like THIS are the reason why I DO read the whole damn thing, no exceptions. Because the second half was killer (pardon the pun). Really dark and twisted, but with just enough hope to keep you from losing faith in humanity.
High brow horror, for sure. Make sure you have an ascot and monocle when you read this puppy.
June 30 - July 4, 2012
A Darkness Shattered
Without warning, the zombie epidemic explodes on the North American populace and it's every man for himself - or in Michael Nelson's case, every teenager for himself. Deciding to head for the shelter of his grandparents' farm, he comes across friends, foes, and one very special girl...
This author has potential in a big way. His head must be filled with boatloads of epicness and I'm pretty stoked to read the next book in this series.
See, the thing is, the writing on this one was a little rough around the edges, and hopefully he'll have a chance to hone his skill a bit... or hore (typo STAYS) a decent editor. There were close to 40-some-odd missed words, apostrophes, and commas. The author used a lot of the same words to closely together for my taste:
" 'Well, don't be afraid to have more if you want. Free refills at this restaurant!' His good humor was contagious and they couldn't help but smile with him. With a bright smile, Molly came out of a large nearby tent and brought them scrambled eggs with pieces of venison stirred into the eggs. 'Good morning, you two.' She greeted them. 'Hope you slept well.' 'We did, and thanks so much for letting us use the sleeping bags.' Abby replied. 'Don't mention it. They're extras and we didn't think the blankets would be warm enough. With a smile, she turned and went back into the tent[...]"
All those repeated words could definitely make the writing feel clunky at times.
A few key plot points happened way too quickly for my liking - not even teenagers fall in love THAT fast:
" 'I know it's only been a couple of days since we met,' he struggled quietly. 'But I've never felt this way about anybody before I met you. I think I love you...' "
And there was at least one full blown emo explosion:
"Civilization was lost, and his sorrow at the magnitude of that loss was an anchor dragging his emotions into a yawning black abyss within the depths of his soul."
I had to titter inwardly at that, because if this:
...had a baby, that paragraph would be it.
So because, I laughed, that wasn't so much a bad thing.
But for all my griping over technical details (and you know I love to gripe about that shit) I was totally enthralled by this book. Like, couldn't stop reading at 3AM enthralled. I really felt that the protagonist was making normal, realistic decisions, as opposed to majorly stupid ones ("Don't go into the basement alone, sexy teen! Christ!") or unbelievably heroic ones ("Don't try to save that couple, military guy! They're zombie chow! Christ!").
And somehow, the author created a totally unique zombie story. Literally, I've never read any zombie literature like this. And while I think the author rushed the romance a bit, he introduced the supernatual bit PERFECTLY. I'm itching (even though there's a cream for that) to read the next book because I want to see where that goes, and really, I'd just kind of like to see where the characters go from where they left off.
I liked them, and I liked this book.
June 14 - June 15, 2012
The Thief of Broken Toys
After Ray loses his son and wife, he feels that there is nothing left for him but crushing grief. But after meeting an elderly man with a proficiency for mending broken toys, he discovers that there can be much more... and much less... than grief...
This is somewhere in size between a novella and novel; in the case of The Thief of Broken Toys, it worked amazingly well. There was a perfect balance of information given and restrained, and surprisingly I didn't feel like that back story of the-thing-that-I-can't-really-talk-about-without-ruining-the-whole-story needed to be explained. Like I said, it worked just the way it was.
It was charming, but with a little thread of malice running through it. Though nothing too horrible occurred, I'd still classify it as a horror because of that serpentine twining of dread. Skillfully skillfully done, and it made the read ridiculously disturbing.
It was extremely atmospheric, literally and figuratively. Lebbon really painted the picture well, and drew you into the characters' world so effortlessly that you just couldn't help but keep reading. But I also found myself slogging through a few overgrown bits of geographical description. Eh, it can't all be dead kids and blowjobs, right?
No, no it can't. So stop checking Google image search.
(True story, I did right after writing that. I got nothing good, so no need to bother. I took one for the team, there.)
Anyways, I liked it. I thought it was a good read, though a little subtle compared to what I'm used to. Which is fine, because I can appreciate subtle. Dead kids and blowjobs? Not so subtle. But I appreciate that too.
Apr 16 - May 4, 2012
Dark Tales of Lost Civilizations
Edited by Eric J. Guignard
Published March 2012
A collection of adventure stories, not for the faint of heart.
Angel of Destruction - Cynthia D. Witherspoon
When a great city falls victim to tragedy, a lone woman is given the chance to wreak some havoc by an unlikely source...
This was a very intriguing premise, but it was so short! Nowhere near enough information or back story for my taste.
The Door Beyond the Water - David Tallerman
A man following in the footsteps of an explorer gone insane discovers for himself just what could drive someone to the depths of madness... and destruction...
Dark creeping horror with an old-timey feel. Could have used more blood.
To Run a Stick Through a Fish - Mark Lee Pearson
A little bit of lore about a very unusual people...
Strange. VERY strange. I find the juxtaposition of such a traditional style of story with such macabre and visceral subject matter kind of delicious. You know, even though I'm pretty sure I didn't get it.
Quivira - Jackson Kuhl
Tobias Lyddy accidentally stumbles across a secret city, mysterious treasure, and something much more bizarre and deadly than he could have ever imagined...
I found this to be wonderfully witty and clever, in both writing style and subject. It grabbed my attention from the first sentence and kept me barreling along until the very end. The first story I actually "got". Thank Christ. I was beginning to think I was a little stupid there...
Directions - Michael G. Cornelius
It's finally time to hear from ALL the witches of Oz...
While this was a good read, and a particularly unique take on a literary dynasty, I probably would have enjoyed this more if I was more familiar with The Wizard of Oz.
Quetzalcoatl's Conquistador - Jamie Lackey
Bring a Spanish explorer isn't all murder and sacrifice; at least, not the murder and sacrifice of those you had previously intended...
Why does it have to be so difficult to enjoy a story when you don't particularly like any of the characters? Plus, I'm unfamiliar with the original story, so I have to say my ignorance kind of shit the bed on this one.
Konigreich der Sorge (Kingdom of Sorrow) - C. Deskin Rink
Many years ago, the Nazis finally found themselves up against their most frightening foe: a force more evil than themselves...
This was the first story that really struck me deeply, and it packed a real whallop; it's definitely a top contender for my favorite of the bunch. Heroics (the Nazi kind, but still) caves, monsters, madness... It was everything I love in an adventure story, and it was delightfully well-written, to boot. I was going to make a pun about finding myself rooting for the Nazis, but this meme sums it up perfectly...
Gestures of Faith - Fadzlishah Johanabas
When an ancient Island nation begins falling into decline, all hope rests on the shoulders of a most unassuming boy...
Surprisingly, this wasn't the least bit horrific. Instead, it was a pretty little origin story, one which I found to be... pretty nice, actually. Yes, terrifying I know; I enjoyed something was wasn't gore-soaked or frightening. I'm kind of shaken myself.
Bare Bones - Curtis James McConnell
When making a scientific discovery, does one accept a completely new theory, or sweep it under the rug?
This was a story I could really identify with; not because I'm a scientist or proficient in handling skulls, but because it was one of the few set in modern times, or had a modern feel. Hey! I'm familiar with vacations and reports! But besides liking it for its setting, I also found it quite sharp and witty, interesting as hell, smart enough to make me smile but not so smart that I felt like a dumbass, and it had just the right amount of nastiness. Two thumbs up!
British Guiana, 1853 - Folly Blaine
Jungles, paleontologists, and ancient monsters: the perfect recipe for something disastrous...
Hooray! Jungles and monsters! I LOVE stories like this! Not only was it a great read, but I adored the protagonist. I could really identify with him and his decisions... which means I should probably NEVER go monster hunting.
The Nightmare Orchestra - Chelsea Armstrong
In the land we inhabit in our nightmares, there are those we rarely give thought to, except for a terrified shudder of fear every so often. But those denizens of the nightmare world have a life of their own...
This should be a full-length novel. Seriously, the author should get on that, STAT. I want origins, I was explanations, and I want scores of nightmares. Hey I can even help contribute some nightmares! One of my recurring ones starts with me, pant less, on a public bus. I have to pee, and there's only one toilet. Did I mention it's in the middle of the isle and there's no walls around it? Yeah. It only gets worse from there...
The Funeral Procession - Jay R. Thurston
There are reasons why some things are buried, and there are very good reasons why some things should STAY buried...
I can say this was interesting and informative for sure, but I really couldn't eke out a connection with any of the characters. Boo-urns.
Requiem - Jason Andrew
We have often viewed alien life forms as either non-existent or hostile. How would we react if they were just like us?
Sad and sweet. The writing came through for me emotionally, but I don't think I got it intellectually. Doesn't mean I didn't enjoy it, though.
Gilgamesh and the Mountain - Bruce L. Priddy
The saga of Gilgamesh didn't quite end as we were led to believe...
Normally I hate poems. I'm pretty sure I mentioned once in an earlier review that poems were stupid and didn't make any sense and any jackass could upchuck a jambalaya of words onto a page and call it "art". Poetry ranks right up there with paintings that consist of a red circle and a black line that sells for a million dollars to some asshole because their stock broker dude says it's a wise investment. Ugh.
This? This is a story in poem form. I'm totally cool with this. It has a beginning, middle, and end, and contains such words as "the" and "and". It's even cognizant. On top of those features that set it far and above loads of poetry I've suffered through, it was kind of horrific and had a killer ending. A definite gooder.
Buried Treasure - Rob Rosen
Whether you're a 9-year-old playing in your yard in the 80's (I found a necklace once! But mostly I found worms.) or a gown adult in the future, there's always mystery and valuables to be dug up...
I'm a big fan of post-apocalyptic radness, and though I guessed the end (only because I'm a seasoned world traveler *cough* never left North America *cough*) I still enjoyed it a heck of a lot.
The Small, Black God - Caw Miller
Not all archeologists have noble intentions, and not every artifact should be discovered...
Another old feeling one, but the characters were done so well that I totally fell into it. Absolutely well done, and a great read. Nothing too obtuse or vague, just plain old good storytelling.
In Eden - Cherstin Holtzman
When it's time to go to the great mystery in the sky, there are some that just aren't willing to lie down easy...
Hooray! There was a zombie story in here! So no matter what, I couldn't help but enjoy this. There was blood and horror, and though mildly vague, I still got my jollies just fine.
We Are Not the Favored Children - Matthew Borgard
Transitions are seldom easy, and transitioning from one God to another could prove not only difficult, but also deadly...
I really enjoyed the setting of this one, but there were some parts I was still fuzzy on. Possibly because I have little experience existing in an ancient tribe with multiple deities that would be willing to destroy me.
Rebirth in Dreams - A. J. French
When a gentleman decides to take his consciousness into his own hands, he is ill-prepared for the journey that awaits him...
It's no secret that I work in a head shop. I've made that pretty clear, I think. And one of the most valuable lessons I've learned from my boss is that we don't sell things like salvia because "it's a journey plant. And I don't feel comfortable sending people on journeys without providing a guide." And the protagonist in this story found out all about that. This story was very dark (just the way I like them!) and totally neat-o. The author's description of the trips seemed pretty... ahem... spot on, and that was another plus for this one as well. My only complaint is that I wish it was longer and more detailed. A head shop chick who enjoyed a story about getting high; what are the odds of that?
Whale of a Time - Gitte Christensen
In the future, mankind has experienced a heck of a move, and the underwater creatures they share their space with have more to them than anyone imagined...
All I have to say is that this was weird as fuck and boatloads of fun. See what I did there? With the boat reference? Because the story is set in the ocean? Awww, you guys get it. And oh, those crazy steampunks.
Sins of our Fathers - Wendra Chambers
Every person is interested in their origin, but not every person will be delighted with it...
I loved the fact that this was a longer one. It takes time for me to warm up to characters and ideas, so longer is definitely better (that's what she said!)
Unfortunately, though it was long and enjoyable (do I even need to say it again?) it was one of those ones that I didn't get. It was good and all, but it didn't come together at the end with a simple explanation. Fuck.
The Talisman of Hatra - Andrew S. Williams
When you have to make a decision between the well-being of your family and the well-being of your people, there can never be a kind outcome...
You know, this was quite beautiful, actually. And finally, a female protagonist I can really get behind (Christ, these "That's what she said" jokes are just writing themselves, here)! And though it was tragic, I thought the ending was just right.
Sumeria to the Stars - Jonathan Vos Post
Algebra, quantum physics, and ancient tablets from the past; someone is going to get throw for a loop...
I've watched countless episodes of Ancient Aliens:
And I've seen Thrive
at least twice (seriously though, everyone should watch it, so go do that when you're done reading this). And you know what? I'm still way WAY WAAAAYYYYY too dumb for this. I've got nothin'.
The Tall Grass - Joe R. Lansdale If ever you find yourself the only one awake at an unplanned train stop, for the love of Mike DO NOT GET OFF THE TRAIN. This is my other contender for my number one favorite story. It was ridiculously well-written (which may be why Lansdale has such a crazy following) and while it had a nice reserved ghost story vibe, it has utterly hideous and awesome 21st century monsters. The characters were bang on, and I was mesmerized from start to finish. I can't believe in all the reading I've done that this was my first Lansdale.
The Island Trover - JC Hemphill Mysterious Islands from which no one has ever returned are a big draw for the adventurous, as well as the greedy... Jungles? Awesome. Assholes? Fascinating. Gore? Wholly entertaining. S
imple, straightforward, and enjoyable, this was a great choice to wrap it all up. Overall, definitely worth a read.
It was extremely varied in styles and genres, which means that pretty much anyone will be able to find something they'll enjoy in this anthology. There were stories I loved, stories I wanted expansions on, and stories that I found were unclear/I needed to be way smarter for. Which really, is the sign of a good anthology: intelligent, with something for everyone.
Apr 8 - Apr 15, 2012
Secrets From the Dust
A young Aboriginal girl is apprehended from her family in the Outback so she can can lean the particulars of becoming "civilized". She is moved from place to place, never fitting in, and finds that in trying to become more like "civilized folk" she can never change who she really is, but she can lose her Aboriginal identity. She begins to hopelessly drift, until she's forced into an explosive confrontation...
This was quite the departure for me, literally speaking. No gratuitous blood and guts, no perverse erotica, no best seller hype... just a story I happened to choose because, honestly, I thought Cara would like it. But I ended up reading it instead.
I actually really liked it. Colour me shocked (and with regular face paint instead of viscera and bodily fluids)! Though at first I found the writing and characters to be a little unnatural and a bit wooden, after a chapter or so either I relaxed or the author did, because I just sort of fell into the reading experience.
It's strange - I could identify with the protagonist Margaret on one level (my mother was mostly native but my father was German, so I was a little... pale... to fit in well with my predominantly Native neighborhood) but on another level I found myself growing less and less fond of her as the story unfolded. Somehow, she evolved into a more detestable character, though her upbringing had a major hand in her personality change. However, on a personal level, I don't believe someone has to become a product of their environment, and not every Aboriginal with a hard life has to become a drunk. Hell maybe I just really wanted Margaret to persevere, and was disappointed when she acted less than noble.
I found the setting utterly fascinating. Because I was born in the 80's and in Canada (Hello, melting pot!) I've never really experienced, in any way shape or form, violent racism. Sure, there was schoolyard name calling and snubbing, but nothing like what I read in this book (or been told by some of the kick-ass old timers I know, come to think of it). Hell, my High School formed an anti-bullying league BEFORE it was cool:
So to read about such blatant and widely accepted racism and hatred is absolutely fascinating because as unbelievable as it seems (that shit would NOT fly where I live) I know it actually happened. Weird.
On top of that, Australia is such an amazingly beautiful yet harsh locale (though I've heard it's supposed to be similar to Canada) that the setting is another factor of interest altogether. I can see why the author was so keen on the subject.
I suppose I might have been happier with the reading experience if Margaret had stayed a spirited Aboriginal girl who continued to stick it to the man, but A) it still might have ended just as tragically, and B) I might have jadedly said the book was too idealistic. We'll never know, though, will we?
All in all, it was a fascinating story featuring a protagonist that I didn't necessarily like, but understood well enough.
Mar 12 - Mar 16, 2012The BigheadEdward LeeHorrorPub
lished 1992274 pages8/10 Deep in the woods of Luntville (did you say...? Ooooohhhhh, Luntville....
Carry on) there lives a man-beast called the Bighead. His cranium is the size and shape of a watermelon, one eye is the size of a grapefruit while the other is the size of a grape, and his teeth look like carpet needles. He rapes and kills nearly every person he... comes across (heh heh) with his gigantic monster penis and usually proceeds to eat parts of them, and he's going to visit some lovely people staying at a nearby B&B... "Bighead didn't know! He didn't know doodly-squat! He were a deformed, woods-rompin', brain-eatin', pussy-bustin' retart." I heard a lot of lore and urban legends about this book - it was supposed to be the nastiest, most disgusting, most graphic read out there. Obviously, I HAD to have it, but I could never find the damn thing. Luckily (unluckily?) for me, I was able to get it via the glory of the internetz and
finally able to see what all the fuss was about. And my oh my, the fuss was well deserved!WARNING! EXTREMELY GRAPHIC CONTENT AHEAD! COVER YOUR EYES, CONSERVATIVE FACTION OF THE INTERNET! OR CLICK HERE! I mean, rednecks kidnap and rape an elderly woman in her colostomy bag hole (I found out this was called a stoma from a customer at work... Reason #897 I love working at a Weed Store - I could never discuss these things at a straight job). Nuns throw physics to the wayside and piss up a preacher's ass. The Bighead rapes and kills a pregnant girl, sucks the baby out of her vagina and eats its brains. I'm not making this shit up, people. And I can see why this book caused a stir. Not only was it a bloody gore-o-rama, but there was a discernible plot and an honest to goodness mystery to keep my brain limber.
It was a little confusing at times, and occasionally convoluted, but it was still a real plot. I consider that a grand gesture for this genre. I was entertained, and even more so than usual, because I could describe certain acts throughout my read to disgusted friends, family, and one oddly unruffled head shop customer. There were some editing issues, but I've found that to be pretty prevalent in e-books. I don't know what the fucking deal is with that - something must be getting lost in translation - but the majority of e-books I read are fucked in some way or another. I could go on, but the Bighead is what it is, and it's simply this: a nasty-ass bit of literature (can I even use that word here?) to help a girl procrastinate. Chores? What chores? I'm reading here! Do you want me to tell you about it? This guy here, he's got a monster cock, see...
Oh wait, wrong book...
Feb 26 - Mar 2, 2012
J. Kelley Anderson
Published Feb 1, 2012
A social pariah by the name of Edward Kelley finds himself the controller of some extremely powerful magic; but instead of using his new-found powers to destroy the society he despises, Edward is struck with the Herculean task of saving the human race...
Normally I'm not a big fan of fantasy. I find it too froofy with too many incomprehensible names: (and yes, I'm using this clip again because it's AWESOME):
Or there's just too goddamn much walking *cough* LOTR *cough*:
But you know what? There were none of those types of shenanigans to deal with in this book. Casting Shadows was set in modern times (RVs make traveling a hell of a lot faster) with modern names (Edward; Vincent; Emma) and I found it a lot easier to digest because of that.
There were a lot of aspects to like about this read - the characters were natural and the dialogue was spot on. The writing was done well; at times I'd find that I'd perused great chunks of the book in a single sitting. You know, if I wasn't constantly bombarded by outside stimulation (friendly requests to get my goddamn late ass to the Pub; ferret/significant other demanding food; Breaking Bad; etc.) I probably could have burned through this book in a single ambitious evening. It was one of those rare fun reads that engrosses you and keeps you zipping along until suddenly you realize you're on the last page. It wasn't too nasty, nor overly sappy, but there was lots of action and cool as fuck characters.
Unfortunately there were a couple of things that irked me during my read. The first is that there were numerous editing errors; I counted close to a dozen, and I wasn't being as anal (heh heh) as usual (a testament to how good this book was at zipping you along - "Did the author write 'past' instead of 'passed'...? Oh look, monsters!"). But it still bugs the ever-loving shit out of me. There were also some elements that I thought could have used a little more explanation (the demon at the very beginning of the book, for instance) or depth (all the magical stuff, really). The second part of that might not be a huge fault, though, so much as the fact that I was mighty interested in the magic bits. The Cobs, especially. The author should give them their own damn book, I liked them that much. Though Vincent the undead servant was mighty badass in his own right; I think it was his relationship with the other characters in the book that made him so intriguing. Magic shit is epic, yo.
I liked this book, and I have a feeling that my hardcore fantasy-loving friends would LOVE it. I'll definitely be recommending to those buddies.
Jan 19 - Jan 24, 2012
The Zombie Plague has ripped through the nation, but the survivors are beginning to pick up the pieces; a tentative government has been established, rules are being put into place, and trained teams of volunteers are clearing out the undead, section by section. As Mark Spitz exterminates the stragglers, the horror of the past and the horror of the present create a pervasive static trauma, but he's well prepared when the shit REALLY hits the fan...
I don't know how to feel about Zone One; it's a unique take on the zombie novel, terrifically intellectual and quite unlike anything I've read before.
This is the first zombie novel I've read that focuses on the AFTERMATH of the living dead apocalypse - the slow treacherous rebuilding of society. Truthfully, that's why I picked it up in the first place; who doesn't want to prepare themselves for their own eventual survival after the escape, the slaughter, and the small triumphs?
The fact that the author also brought up the mental and emotional effects of facing a zombie apocalypse was terrifically thoughtful and insightful. Sure, other books have touched on the few crazies this or that character may have come across, but I kind of assume that ANY survivor would be a few cheese slices short of their tray of crackers after outrunning, outmaneuvering, and out-killing the living dead... and the living. If you catch my drift. Even our protagonist of Zone One was a leetle beet weeird and tough to follow at times, though this is chalked up to the trauma, and expertly so.
But you know what else was hard to understand? THE ENTIRE BOOK.
Besides the fact that we zoned in and out of flashbacks without warning, and besides the fact that the protagonist did a fuck of a lot of thinking in his incredibly disjointed manner, and besides the fact that I needed my dictionary every page or so, it was just too... intellectual. I mean, instead of splattering rotting brains to smithereens and rescuing enclaved survivors (we did do a little of that, but not much) we spent a lot of time in the head of Mark Spitz, with his incredibly intelligent (but incredibly obtuse) thoughts and feelings.
This is a thinking man's zombie novel, but how many thinking men put down their Chaucer and pick up a contemporary undead horror book instead? If I wanted to be entertained by thinking, I'd use my own freaky brain (or read an Oprah book) instead. I read to escape the doldrums of my reality, not to step into the doldrums of someone else's.
So while it was good, and different, it's not what I expected or particularly in a zombie book. But you can't argue with great writing, either.
Jan 6 - Jan 9, 2012
Day By Day Armageddon
J. L. Bourne
Published Sep 29, 2009
A military man faces the Zombie Apocalypse, and must do whatever necessary to ensure the preservation of himself, and his soul.
This is one of the first zombie books I've read where the human protagonist isn't a complete mess of an idiot.
This guy is a military man, intent on survival and actually possessing the skills to make it happen. He knows how to handle guns, clear a room, fly a plane, and rescue others who aren't as adept at fending off the undead as himself. He's willing to take risks I wouldn't (Rescue trapped survivors? Well, those zombie hordes look mighty hungry, and my bunker here at Chapters is pretty cozy... maybe I'll just turn this radio off...) but this wasn't like most zombie books where I would find myself yelling, "Why are you leaving safety to look for your wife?! She was trapped in the city 100 miles away when this whole thing went down 3 weeks ago! You're going to get eaten, or lose friends who stupidly agree to go with you on this suicide mission, asshole! In fact, I guarantee one will get bitten but hide it from all of you until the last minute, and then make an idiot 'Noble Sacrifice' to save you all, but most of you will die anyways, until there's no one left but you and possibly a sexy sidekick! And your wife will probably be dead! Or happy to see you, but that'll make things awkward for your sexy sidekick that you probably shared a kiss with after everyone else died. Fuck. This book sucks." And though I probably just ruined every zombie book ever written out there (or ever will be written) you guys all know what I'm talking about. In fact, our protagonist chose NOT to go looking for his parents, because he knew it would be suicide. This is my kind of dude. Yes, he did go looking for survivors, but based on logic and planning, not stupid love.
Sure, the writing was a little under developed, the author repeated himself of occasion, and there were a fuckload of technical terms that meant little to me (I have never been in the military, after all) but it was such a quick easy read that all was forgiven. I was too busy burning through this to really focus on the negative aspects, which is how a book should go. If you're going to make a book draggy as fuck, make sure your writing skills are top-notch. If you're new to writing and maybe have some bugs to work out, make it non-stop action so no one notices if your character thinks the same thought twice.
Finally, a zombie book where I don't have to scream at it because the characters are idiots. I'm sure that'll make my bus rides a lot less unnerving for the other passengers...
Just imagine that nice little old lady is a book, and that'll be a pretty accurate representation of me reading most zombie novels. For real. Don't ride public transit.