Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Breathers: A Zombie's Lament by S.G. Browne

Andy is a zombie, in a world where zombies are well-known but not accepted. He still has all of his faculties intact, but he is dead and decaying, and zombies are second-class citizens if they're citizens at all.

This is a really interesting zombie book, thoughtful, quirky, original, and gross, on every page. It's written in that modern men's Nick Hornby fiction style, which I don't always like, but in this case it makes the story very clear and accessible. It's easy to start reading, and hard to put down. (The book design has a lot to do with that too... Great cover and overall design, the physical act of reading was pleasurable.)

But, lest you think it's all whining and introspection, let's not forget Andy's new friend Ray and that tasty, er, venison, he's been serving.

I'm not sure I'd say I "liked" the characters, plot, etc., but it was definitely worth reading. There are two conflicting ideas coming from the text and I'm not sure which one is the intended (or even unintentional) Aesop. Are zombies just people like us, or are they total monsters that need to be killed for our own protection?

I hate the ending a little bit, but it's not out of the blue, and it certainly isn't disappointing. Browne doesn't rely on his premise to carry the book, he definitely puts in the effort and writes the whole way through, which I think is fantastic.

World War Z (reviewed last week) was the book that piqued my interest in zombies, and is without compare for zombies on a global scale, like Breathers is for the personal scale. Breathers also reminded me of The Reformed Vampire Support Group (reviewed last August), although RVSG is firmly YA and Breathers is firmly adult. Browne also has an (unrelated) new book called Fated coming out in November, and I'm super excited.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

World War Z by Max Brooks

I heard a lot about this one on the interwebs a while (like, months) ago, and apparently put it on my automatic holds list at the library because, lo and behold, when I wasn't thinking about it at all, there it was. I then proceeded to dawdle over it for more months, piddle around with the first chapters for three or four days, and then down the entire thing in an afternoon.

World War Z is composed of interviews with/statements made by various survivors of the zombie apocalypse. The research that must have gone into this is mindblowing, because it really has a worldwide scope. There are interviews with soldiers from all over the world, civilians, doctors, everyone, through the whole course of the war. Max Brooks must know everything about everything by now.

There are a few recurring names, but no "main characters," and the book benefits from that immeasurably. This isn't "small group gets trapped in Sav-A-Lot with zombies outside," or "young soldier gets caught up in a zombie war," or what-have-you. It's ALL of those. It's kind of an immersive experience, terrifying in its realism. Everyone's affected, and there's nowhere to run.

I was impressed with the range of human behavior included in the book. There were brave people, cowards, good leaders, bad leaders, greedy jerks (to put it tactfully), and selfless heroes. That tends to tell me Mr. Brooks was actually writing a story, not a pamphlet for some agenda, which is always a danger in any book that deals with politics.

World War Z is thorough, gripping, realistic, intense, and a resounding success. Not to mention the words that are rapidly becoming the highest praise I can give a book: well-written.

Buy World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Zorgamazoo Audiobook!

Yeah, it's not out yet. Hasn't even been made yet. But, guess what I just heard from Robert Paul Weston's blog? Alan Cumming is going to be the voice! Alan Cumming! THIS IS AWESOME AND I CANNOT WAIT!

For the uninitiated, Zorgamazoo is one of my absolute favorite books. I reviewed it here, and here's my interview with Mr. Weston, the author.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Demonkeeper by Royce Buckingham

No review last week because I was sick. It was not awesome.

And I know awesome, because Demonkeeper is awesome. Just look at the puppy eyes the blue demon on the cover is giving you. Go ahead, I'll wait while you wibble.

Nathaniel Grimlock is a 15-year-old Demonkeeper, who is left on his own in a house full of demons when the older, fully trained Demonkeeper dies. It's now his job to keep the demons contained and cared for. Luckily the demons are friendly (if a little destructive)... Except for one. Guess which one escapes?

This quick-paced (but fully developed) horror for tweens. Bruce Coville blurbed it, and that's fitting because Royce Buckingham is on par with him in this book. I don't say that often. I don't know how Demonkeeper can be so terrifying, and yet so unbelievably cute! When I say "terrifying," I mean tween-suitable "AAAAAAH!" and "eeew gross!" and when I say "cute," I mean so adorable your brain might just explode. The book was like a breath of fresh air in the midst of a pile of bigger books that, while also awesome, were emotionally draining and/or a trial of my stamina.

The other main character, Sandra Nertz, isn't quite as adorable as Nat or his minions, but she is fun. She's a junior assistant librarian!

Obviously, I loved it. Buckingham's other book is called Goblins!: An UnderEarth Adventure, and I'm looking forward to reading that... Other books I recommend are Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy (review here) and anything by Bruce Coville, especially Goblins in the Castle.

Buy Demonkeeper

Monday, March 1, 2010

The Masterplan by Scott Mills

The Masterplan is an indie sci-fi graphic novel coming to you from Top Shelf Productions, which you might have heard of. They've also published several books by Alan Moore, the Owly series by Andy Runton (LOVE), Tales from the Farm by Jeff Lemire, and a bunch of other stuff that I haven't read. Just judging by the ones I have read, Top Shelf only publishes works of stunning genius. I could be wrong.

Anyway, The Masterplan. A brilliant scientist drags his ex-wife and his brother along on a mission designed to keep the universe from expanding too far (gazillions of years in the future, when that might be a problem.)

This isn't a traditiional graphic novel... It reminds me of a webcomic more than anything else, except not designed to be read one strip at a time. The art is in black and white and minimalist, with the characters mostly just distinguishing characteristics with a hint of background behind them. It makes the reading really smooth, and it feels sort of wistful and pure. It suits the story.

This is a pure kind of sci-fi, very much about ideas and science and an intergalactic, universal scope. It's not science-y, it's very easy to understand and I don't know how accurate any of the theories might be, but it is about science. It's also about those three characters I mentioned, but it's not like we have to know every detail about them. We know how they feel. It's about travelling all over time and space, meeting aliens, robots, themselves, and other awesomeness, but its also touching and sad in a way that's hard to describe. Wistful.

This is a great book and I highly recommend it. It's hard to describe, but it's an experience I really enjoyed. You'll want to have a few hours to yourself and just sit down and read it all the way through, and then sit there staring at the cover for a while before you move on. (If you ever do.)

Buy The Masterplan