Friday, July 30, 2010

Brad Pitt to Star in Big Screen Adaptation of World War Z

Cover of "World War Z: An Oral History of...Cover via Amazon

The zombie book as far as I am concerned, is coming the the big screen. Max Brooks' World War Z, inspired by both George Romero and Studs Turkel, will star Brad Pitt, when it swarms a theater near you.

For those unfamiliar, WWZ, is the journal of an unnamed man charged by the U.N. with telling the story of the 10 year long battle against a virus/disease which causes the dead to rise. After the writer is told that the U.N. is only concerned with statistics, he puts together this journal, full of the first hand stories of those that witnessed and survived the pandemic.

Even if you are not a fan of horror, and this is not a horror book per se, in my opinion, this is a must read as it is really on commentary on modern life and society and how a global disaster makes these seemingly obvious observations, come into focus.

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Monday, July 26, 2010

Ed's Mini Book Review - Day by Day Armageddon: Beyond Exile

Cover of "Day by Day Armageddon"Cover of Day by Day Armageddon

The first Day by Day Armageddon book put an interesting spin on the zombie/survival horror motif, a journal of the events of a zombie pandemic. Our unnamed survivor is a soldier who, when the pandemic hits, decides it's better to hunker down in his place rather that report back to base. A wise choice for him, at least for now, as the base soon is overrun and he is hidden quite well in his survivalist house near San Antonio.

Eventually he must leave his home and he meets up with other survivors, all who eventually end up holed up in a fairly secure place. The first book ends rather abruptly and that leaves you with the feeling that either the book is over or something happened to our protagonist that leaves him unable to continue writing.

Fear not for our intrepid hero, the sequel picks up his journal from whence it left off. This time around we have our survivors dealing with a military unit of uncertain intentions, irradiated undead stemming from cities that were nuked by the government in an attempted to stop the spread of the living dead, and eventually being stranded away from his secure base which he must make his way back to.

My problem with this go around is that the writing seems to go back and forth from prose to journal writing. His description of accounts is good, but a little too good for someone writing in a journal. It seems as there were just major plot points or incidents that Bourne wanted to get to in the book and what was lost from the first outing is that 'Day-by-Day' feel of the journal. My only other major gripe is, again, the ending which is in league with how the first one ended.

A quick read, I devoured it in no time at all, and a solid read for fans of the genre. Just don't go in expecting the freshness (is that a word?) of the first book.

My Grade: B

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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Ed's Mini Book Review - The Road

The RoadImage via Wikipedia

The Road is my first review upon request. A friend of mine asked me to read and review it so I thought I'd give it a shot and not see the movie first. Coincidentally, a fellow librarian saw the film and Tweeted that it was one of the most depressing films he'd ever seen, so I tried to keep that sentiment out of mind while I read the book.

The first thing that struck me about The Road, was that it was a lot like much of the zombie books I read. They are all essentially survival books, or as many call it in the zombie fiction world, survival horror. At the essence of survival horror is that there is some sort of global phenomenon and wipes out much of the world's population and we follow along survivors who try to make due in a lawless land with the original phenomena, and the horrors it brings, hanging overhead. Though we quickly find out, in most of these books, that the original threat is not the biggest threat out there, and that threat is other survivors.

With The Road, we follow along an unnamed man and his young son, after some unnamed global catastrophe, as they make their way along the road, heading toward the sea in hopes of finding....something. The global disaster happened some years ago and resources are scarce so many of the surviving humans have resorted to some horrible acts to stay alive. The unnamed father continues to hold on to his morals and teaches his son to be one of the "good-guys" in this mad world as he also tries to protect his young child from the horrors that men do.

Filled with sub textual religious overtones, The Road paints a bleak picture of a world without order and a world in which people will do almost anything to survive. Haunting in parts but ultimately uplifting (in my opinion) without going for the "Hollywood ending", I can see why The Road is a multi-award winning work of fiction. I particularly liked that while it seemed that there wasn't much action happening as they traveled along the road, a lot was happening, if you catch my drift.

The Road is a quick read and a good read. I am interested to hear other opinions on the book. Did you find it depressing or ultimately positive as I did?

My Grade: A-

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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Ed's Mini Book Review - Neuromancer

Cover of the Brazilian release, depicting the ...Image via Wikipedia

Reviewing a classic can be a tricky proposition. If you agree with the general consensus, that the book is a bona fide classic, then you might seem like a band wagoner, just agreeing with the masses. If you don't agree with everyone else, you may not look like you are your own person with your own views, you may just seem like someone who doesn't know what they are talking about or doesn't know a great book when you read it.

So, where do I fit in with Neuromancer? I am on the side that would consider it a classic. My enthusiasm and zest is tempered a bit by reading it so many years after it was written. In the almost thirty years since it was originally published, let's face it, it has been ripped off a lot. Though, as an aside, I wouldn't consider the Keanu Reeves film, Johnny Mneumonic, a rip off since William Gibson wrote that, but I think you get the picture. From role playing games like Shadowrun, which I used to play, and the inevitable video game and novels that the RPG spawned, to films like The Matrix, which borrow heavily from Neuromancer. The ground breaking ideas, visuals and funky lingo that was used in Neuromancer, and was so fresh and new, has been all seen and heard.

All that being said, does it take away from the experience of reading Neuromancer for the first time? A little but not much. This is a book that is a visionary piece of work, not from the whole genre that spawned from it, but from a literary aspect in that is leaves indelible visuals imprinted in your mind as you read the description of Gibson's dystopian future. I also love that it is written as if the reader is familiar with this world, with the lingo, the places and its history. Because of this, the book can be difficult to follow at points and you may have to re-read some sections over to follow. Only as you delve further into the book, do you delve further into Gibson's world and you peel away the layers of this future and come to some understanding of it.

So, for those not familiar with (and I've held off using the word for as long as I could) Cyberpunk, think The Matrix meets Blade Runner. So jack in and go for an exciting ride. It's not always a smooth one but one well worth taking.

My Grade: A

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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Summer Reading List

summer readingImage by ruminatrix via Flickr

Not sure how much reading I'll get done over the summer but here is what I have on tap so far.

Neuromancer by William Gibson
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
Dexter By Design by Jeff Lindsay
Day by Day Armageddon: Beyond Exile by J.L. Bourne
Monster Island by David Wellington
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

Edit: I keep adding new titles. Just added Catcher as I am determined to finish it this time.
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Sunday, July 11, 2010

Ed's Mini Book Review - Dexter in the Dark

Dexter MorganImage via Wikipedia

Next up is the third book featuring one of todays' favorite anti-heroes, Dexter Morgan. Now, I've been debating whether to consider Dexter a 'hero' because, well, you know, he is a serial killer. Especially now that I've started watching the TV show, just finished the first season, and the final scene of the first season really struck me with Dexter seeing himself as a hero of sorts. Maybe I'll delve more into the hero notion later before I get too sidetracked.

This go around we have Dexter looking into ritual killings that has his homicidal inner voice, the Dark Passenger as he calls it, spooked. So much so that the Dark Passenger disappears, which is a first for Dear Ol' Dexter and that has him, as you would guess, a bit perturbed. Add in his pending wedding to Rita and the 'blossoming' of her two children and our Dexter has his plate full, though not full in the way he (or the readers) would like it.

This installment read rather flat to me, with Dexter being more or less led around and not doing a whole hell of a lot with regard to the ritual killing case. I found the stuff with the kids and his dealing with the wedding more interesting. What? Yeah, I know. More kids and less ritual killing? Yes, please. The Dexter we all know and love is sharp, witty, and on top of things. Being without the Dark Passenger threw him into a funk that just didn't work for me.

My Grade: C+

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