Thursday, May 27, 2010

Ed's Mini Book Review - Flash Forward by Robert Sawyer

Flash Forward, as you may or may not know, is a TV show on ABC (soon-to-be former TV show) that has a great set-up. Everyone in the world blacks out for two minutes and while you are out, you get a glimpse, two minutes worth, of your future.

The TV show, to fit it into a TV season sets the Flash Forward to eight months in the future whereas the book sets it to twenty years in the future. Basically, the TV show has almost nothing in common with the book, just that there was a Flash Forward so if you read the book hoping for more insight into characters and stories that intrigued you from the show, then you'll be disappointed. And that's not a bad thing since the show ended up doing poorly in the ratings and got canned after one season.

So, the book takes a different road than the show. Instead of focusing on the 'who-dunnit' aspect of teh Flash Forward, the book looks at it from the point of view of the scientists who believe they unwittingly caused it to happen. The guilt and grief about those that died while the blacked out and those that see a future not to their liking. Then we get the scientific analyses of having foreknowledge, which now everyone has, and the possibility of changing the future. Can you do it? Will time correct itself? Will you just end up ensuring that your future will happen no matter what you do?

The books tends to, at points, get bogged down with all of the scientific theory and sometimes feels as though it is just wasting time to get to the payoff of what happens when that magical Flash Forward time of twenty years down the road comes up. Does it come true? Can you change it? All questions that you are wondering throughout the book, building to that payoff, but the payoff comes off fairly flat.

My Grade: B-

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Friday, May 14, 2010

Ed's Mini Book Review - The Rising by Brian Keene

Another recommended book in my search for more Survival Horror, or Zombie Books if you'd rather refer to them as that. And this one comes highly recommended at that from a friend that has read an insane amount of survival horror.

My take is that I don't know what my friend was thinking. He's turned me on to some excellent survival horror stuff but this book doesn't fall into that category. Some others he put me on to, Day by Day Armageddon for instance, were very good but this one, which as little different bend to the zombies and how they come into being, falls flat with repetitive and gratuitous scenes and a real let down of an ending.

It goes a little something like this. Typical survival horror with zombies rising and noshing on whoever is around. Trick is that these undead are actually possessed by demons who want to nibble a bit on you, just until you die but damage the whole body so that another demon can swoop in and posses the newly dead, and partially eaten corpse.

Follow so far? Good.

The story follows a few characters but the main one is Jim, traveling from Virginia to New Jersey to rescue his son. From that most noble of causes we get to see the dark side of humanity, when society breaks down and we are left to fend for ourselves. Now, this is nothing new in the survival horror genre and I think that is a big problem with this book. There is so much time devoted to the evils that are done, by humans to other humans, and repetitive at that, the story seems to spin its tires for long stretches. Add to it that if you've read any other survival stories, this theme has been done over and over again and after the fourth or fifth rape scene or the umpteenth soldier smashing someones face with a rifle butt, you are bored out of your skull. Many times reading this book I wanted to shout "All right already, we get it already, people are just as dangerous as the monsters!".

I actually put this book down for about six months and picked it up again when I was in the mood for some zombie stuff and fought my way to finish it. I thought of picking up the sequel, City of the Dead, but read some reviews that said that this book was better so I'll skip it, which it my recommendation for this book, skip it.

My Grade: C-

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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Ed's Mini Book Review - Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith

After not being too enthralled with Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, I was little on the fence with the next piece from Seth Grahame-Smith, Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter. Having a degree in History, however, had me intrigued on how Grahame-Smith would weave the actually accounts of the life of one of our greatest Presidents, with a story about vampires.

Overall, not a bad mash-up, actually it is very good. Bored as I was with P&P&Z, I was completely taken with the story of good ol' Abe, from his birth to his assassination at the hand of John Wilkes Booth. Along the way, Grahame-Smith weaves into the journal writings of Abraham Lincoln (some genuine and some not), an interesting story involving vampires and the roots of America.

I found the best parts of the book were early on and in to the middle of the book, dealing with Abe's childhood and coming of age as well as his introduction to vampires. Towards the end, it feels a little rushed with there not being much meat, so to speak, during his political career and his presidency.

I am purposefully being vague here and not trying to give out too much as to the role vampires play in Abe's upbringing and into his adult life. The weaving of them into what is known and unknown of Lincoln is fantastic and the best parts of the book. Figuring out who is a vampire and who isn't a vampire, maybe just manipulated by them, is part of the fun though I am sure you can make a good guess at one historical figure that Grahame-Smith has being one of the undead in this book.

Good stuff here, just a little short of being great but still a recommended read.

My Grade: B+
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Friday, May 7, 2010

Reading List - May

Controlled books at Barnes and NobleImage by brewbooks via Flickr

I am sure you noticed that there have been a few books on my reading list for the past few months, and to be perfectly honest, they just haven't grabbed me yet. I suppose that has to be some sort of indictment on them and that will come out in my review, if I ever get to finish them. Anyway, on the my list for this month.

Flash Forward by Robert Sawyer
Fables vol. 5 by Bill Winningham
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