Saturday, September 22, 2012
Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I read this in one sitting.
Blackbirds is the kind of book I was looking for. It had been so long since I found a good read that had me on the edge of my seat screaming at the pages like I do the TV screen. This book was it. I wanted to super glue it to my hands because I didn't want to put it down. That is how hooked I was.
Because of Miriam Black. She's the kind of female protagonist I was looking for. I was tired of the GI Janes and Princess Peaches that were so common in genre works. What Wendig gives you is a young woman who is unashamed of who she is while struggling on the inside with how much she should care about the people she sees die. She's not a softy, not by a mile. She'll kick you in the teeth while she screams slurred profanities with a cigarette in one hand and a bottle of booze in the other.
Yet, even with her hardened highway rat exterior, she's torn about whether she should save a genuinely nice guy. Especially since this nice guy called out her name in her vision. Miriam is a fully developed female antihero who calls her own shots if fate allows. She's exactly what the story needs.
What Wendig creates is simple, yet causes so much conflict for Miriam. Save him, or not. Regardless of what she decides, fate drags her to the end scene anyway. It is there where she is to make her final decision. The reader can believe they might know the outcome all they want, but Wendig plays it so close to the vest that you really don't. That is what I loved about it. I was so dragged in that I sat there with that little paper back clutched in my hand hoping.
The book is written in third, present tense which helps to carry along the pace at a galloping speed. It's Farrari fast and whip smart. I love this book.
Now, I will say this isn't for the faint of heart. Miriam's language is harsh and obscene, so don't read it if you get offended easily by hard language. Their is gore, so also not for the squeamish.
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Monday, September 10, 2012
Boneshaker by Cherie Priest
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I picked up this book because I was looking for an interesting read in a genre I hadn't read much of before. I figured that a steampunk, zombie hybrid would at the very least be harmless fun. I'm glad that my expectations weren't all that high, because that is all this was; harmless fun.
Priest sets up a world in which Seattle has been overrun by a poisonous gas that can kill you and turn you into a grey skinned, decomposing "rotter." Enclosed in towering walls, the denizens of zombie infested Seattle live underground in a desperate, dark world that is run by a mysterious doctor. There are dirigible flying pirates, Civil War deserters (because the damn thing has been going on for a decade), one-armed bar keeps, and lots and lots of gas masks. Probably more gas masks than a WWI trench.
So, how does she manage to make it unexciting?
One reason could be that she tells everything rather than shows. I couldn't get interested in how her characters felt, or might feel since she never gave me a clear idea. I got frustrated with trying to figure out how her protagonists Briar and Zeke (a mother and son) really felt about the horrible situation they managed to stumble into. The worst part was that I couldn't connect with them, at all. I found myself liking and preferring the secondary characters over the protagonists of the story because they were more interesting and likable.
Second, the book takes forever to get off the ground like a damaged air-ship, and then stumbles around in the moist, claustrophobic dark. Don't get me wrong, Priest is a clear writer with straight forward prose, but I wish the main characters spent less time trying to get places they didn't know they were headed and achieved some goals along the way. There were moments where Briar could have been looking for a lost set of keys instead of her son, and it wouldn't have made a lick of difference.
Third, well, the prose is dry. In other words, it wasn't interesting to read. I felt myself nodding off or having to walk away because I simply lost interest. This most likely is due to her inability to connect me to the characters or environment that they act in.
Despite my words, don't let them turn you away from this book if you want some fluffy popcorn for desert. It's fun, but it just couldn't grab my attention for very long. She has a very fun concept; it just seems that she didn't quite manage to electrify it to its full extent. I might read another one of these Clockwork Century books. I'm just going to need a little space first.
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