Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Ed's Mini Book Review - Feed by Mira Grant

Zombies, zombies, zombies, nomnomnom! Zombies are in the air and the monster du jour nowadays especially with the success of The Walking Dead TV show on AMC. With that in mind, and my lover for zombie fiction, we add another to growing litany of zombie books. This time out, the highly rated, Feed by Mira Grant. I plucked this little diddy from NPR's list of top 100 Thrillers and, I think, it was the most recently written book on the list.

The setup is a little different than many zombie books but a little reminiscent of World War Z. Set about thirty years in the future, after a zombie outbreak, the world is recovering and has found a new normal. Zombies exist and are a way of life and some parts of the country have been overrun and lost the the zombie hordes. Most of the country is safe however and life goes on. So does technology and the news. Major news outlets have lost much of their credibility due to their reluctance to report on the outlandish concept of a zombie outbreak when it all started. Emerging from this and greatly enhanced by advances in technology, are the freelance reporters that strap on cameras, report and write the news themselves and count the hits (or ratings) their sites get.

From this, the plot begins where we find a brother and sister team, along with their friend. Tackle the news from three distinct angles. Their lives changed when they are tapped to follow and report from the campaign trail of a presidential hopeful. But, strange things are afoot at the Circle K. They begin to uncover a fiendish plot and soon find themselves becoming part of the story instead of just reporting on it.

From this you can see the double meaning of Feed as a title. The zombie world is more of a back drop and this book is really a commentary on news and the media and politics and corruption than it is a zombie book. Initially, that was one of my gripes as well. I was all like "Where are the zombies?". But it's not that type of book. This is more of a political thriller and for that it works just fine.

It's a little long and drags a bit but there is a good shock/twist near the end that works well unlike the reveal of who/what is behind the goings on with the conspiracy. Overall, a solid read but not as great as I would have hoped being on NPR's list and all. There will be a sequel and I'll probably give that a read too so this one did the trick on that end and will get my to pick up the next installment.

My Grade: B-

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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Ed's Mini Book Review - Pirate Latitudes by Michael Crichton

Cover of "Pirate Latitudes: A Novel"Cover of Pirate Latitudes: A NovelMy second recommended book is Pirate Latitudes by Michael Crichton. This one is one that a friend of mine was thinking pf picking up and suggested it to me to read/review. Incidentally enough, this is my first Crichton book, though I had The Andromeda Strain on my read pile before this suggestion came about. I'll probably get onto that one after the holidays.

For the most part, I didn't like this book. Maybe because I was picturing the characters from Pirates of the Caribbean all through the book but probably not. Perhaps knowing that this was found after Michael Crichton passed, but it did feel like a book that wasn't quite finished, wasn't quite polished enough especially for a writer of Crichton's stature. I was expecting a rollicking adventure to do the impossible against the most vile of villains. Swarthy characters and exotic scenery filled my mind as I readied the book and early on, the build up promised that as well. Arrr, talking like a pirate I was, preppin' for pirate booty and adventure on the high seas. Unfortunately, we don't really get it. What we get is really a travel story, the high seas part, more to do with the time to get to the objective and the time to get back. The characters are stale and fairly one dimensional. No real plot twists of note. Just downright flat. Oh, and just for good measure, let's throw in a sea monster. A what?!? Yeah, I was thinking the same thing too.

The main plus for the book is that it is a fairly quick read so the curious type my want to give it a whirl. I recommend you pass.

My Grade: C-

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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Ed's Mini Book Review - Dead Men's Boots

The third Felix Castor outing, Dead Men's Boots, keeps the momentum going on the series of which I was, quite honestly, ready to drop after the first book, The Devil You Know. Felix 'Fix' Castor is an exorcist who uses music, and more specifically a tin whistle, to perform his exorcisms and as we have learned through the series thus far, every exorcist has there "thing" when it comes to doing what they do. This is an important point which I will get too in just a bit.

The basic plot goes like this, Felix is tabbed by a friend of his to explore the death of her husband who was a fellow exorcist. She thinks things that strange things are afoot at the Circle K, and of course, they are. One thing that bothers me a smidge about this series is that plot lines always seem to be linked no matter how far removed them may seem. For instance, during the mess with his looking into the death of a fellow exorcist, he takes a case, and guess what? It's linked to his dead friend, who by chance also used music to bind and dismiss spirits, a drum which makes things convenient for Felix.

That being said, I liked the book even though, as typical with the series, it goes on for a little too long. There is enough action and enough of an intriguing mystery, to keep you interested, and in my case, wanting to see how the various story lines inevitably come into one. Add to it that Felix Castor is just one cool bloke. I still am at a bit of a loss that he hasn't become more of a cult character in the genre like Harry Dresden or Joe Pitt.

When I was done with this book, I was very much looking forward to the next Felix Castor outing, which to me, is in it's most basic form, a major component in liking a book.

My Grade: B

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