Thursday, March 24, 2011

Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion

"We knew it was all wrong. We knew we were diminishing ourselves in ways we couldn't even name, and we wept sometimes at memories of better days, but we no longer saw a choice. We were doing our best to survive. The equations at the roots of our problems were complex, and we were far too tired to solve them..."

The zombie as a metaphor is hardly a new idea. Zombies are the mindless hordes, reacting on impulse, driven by insatiable hunger to consume that which they once were. The more zombies feed, the more zombies they create. It's a fate worse than death, and it effects those who haven't even been turned yet. They start to die before they physically die.

R is a fairly typical zombie. He lives with a bunch of zombies in an abandoned airport. We get a look into his thought processes, about how zombies can't read, they can't remember their names or their old lives. It's all meaningless wandering and hunting for live flesh. They crave the intimacy of tearing into a human throat, eating a warm brain. When they are taking human life, they feel a tiny bit of humanity.

During a typical hunt, R kills a young man and eats his brain. Something strange happens, R experiences the boy's memories. He learns all about Perry Kelvin and his girlfriend Julie. R then acts completely out of undead character and rescues Julie from the other zombies, keeps her safe. In the process, he makes enemies both living and undead.

Warm Bodies seemed a little pretentious at first. The writing can be a bit flowery at times. It's still a very good read. There are times when I also feel dead inside, when it feels as though every day endlessly repeats itself, when all that's left driving me is the instinct to survive. Warm Bodies didn't make me want to embrace life or hug a zombie, but it did offer a new perspective on both living and dead zombies.

"There's no benchmark for how life's 'supposed' to happen...There is no ideal world for you to wait around for. The world is always just what it is now, and it's up to you how to respond to it..."

Warm Bodies has already been released in the UK. It is set to be released in the US on April 26th, 2011. Thanks to Atria Books for sending an advance copy to my bookstore.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Killer by Sara Shepard

Wicked left off with a party at Spencer's house. The PLLs found Ian's dead body in the woods. By the time they find Officer Wilden at the party and drag him outside, Ian has vanished. The police look for him, but eventually call off searching and say that the girls were making the whole thing up. Nobody is sure if Ian is actually dead. Spencer uses her sister's laptop and gets IMs from someone claiming to be Ian, but we're not actually sure what's what.

The big event in Killer is the opening of a hotel called the Radley. It used to be a sanitarium for troubled children. Remember that, because it's important for later. Aria is invited by her mom, who still doesn't know that her skeevy boyfriend hit on Aria. Aria spends the book getting closer to Jason DiLaurentis, Alison's brother. Jason is a little off, flying into rages for seemingly no reason. He freaks out at Aria when she mentions the name of the hotel, and later on, Emily finds an old guest log from the sanitarium- Radley, and it has Jason's name in it over and over.

Speaking of Emily, she gets way close with new boyfriend Issac, in the carnal sense. Unfortunately, his mother starts to hint that she knows and verbally attacks Emily in an Applebee's bathroom. When Emily reasonably tells Issac all of this, he thinks she's being an attention whore like his last girlfriend who claimed the same things. Oh, Issac. In the end, Issac finds a picture of Emily that his mother mutilated, he confronts her, and she freaks out. Emily still won't take him back, for now, because he didn't trust her.

Hanna is still a total entitled princess and my least favorite character. Stepsister Kate decides that she wants to go out with Mike Montgomery, Aria's little brother and lacrosse boy. Hanna decides that she must have him, besides he once groped her years ago, so she has dibs. Mike goes around juggling both girls, but Hanna gets him to be exclusive by agreeing to take him to the prom. At the hotel party, Kate admits that she only ever pretended to like Mike to fool around with Hanna. Just a little revenge for telling everyone that she had herpes. Mike was also using her to win a bet with his friends, but they decide that they are even because she was using him in the first place. I hate them both. So. Much.

Poor little Spencer meets with her biological mother and she's all fancy and rich. They have such a wonderful time that Spencer is determined to move to New York to be with her. It doesn't help that Spencer's parents are total a-holes. Seriously, I have no idea what their issue is- that she told the truth about her dumb Golden Orchid essay? They spend the book sending her car back to the dealer and mocking her when her computer crashes. The only explanation I can think of is that they are secretly going broke. Spencer uses her college fund to purchase a loft from her mother's realtor, but it turns out not so much. She got scammed, the loft doesn't exist, that's not really her mom, and her college fund is all gone.

A shows up in this book, but she's more helpful than threatening. All A does is urge everyone to solve Ali's murder. This makes me wonder if there may be a different A now. The PLLs gather at the end to go over all their clues so far, when the woods behind Spencer's house are set on fire. They rescue someone from the blaze, someone who looks just like Alison.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness

This post will contain spoilers to Chaos Walking Book 1, The Knife of Never Letting Go. Please be warned.

The Knife of Never Letting Go ended on a sad note. After an epic quest to reach Haven and contact Viola's ship, both Viola and Todd ended up captured by Mayor Prentiss. Davy Prentiss, the Mayor's son, shot Viola, and Todd's main concern is that she be saved. They spend the first parts of the book separated, neither knowing whether the other is safe.

The city of Haven surrendered to Mayor Prentiss without a fight. It is now New Prentisstown, and Mayor Prentiss is the President. Todd is assigned to work with Davy. Davy wants nothing more than his father's approval but knows that his father prefers Todd. Hence, this is the root of the majority of Todd and Davy's fighting. Throughout the book, we understand more about Davy and he actually becomes kind of likeable.

Viola wakes up in a house of healing. After she recovers from her wound, she becomes an apprentice healer. The head of the house is Mistress Coyle. She wants to use Viola to get information on the President. The President wants to use her for the same reason. Mistress Coyle was once mayor of Haven. She had to make a lot of tough decisions while in charge. She doesn't agree with putting Prentiss in charge. So she fights.

The reoccurring theme in The Ask and the Answer is that we are the choices we make. Mistress Coyle forms the Answer with her group of rebels. They make themselves known with their bombs and their blue letter As. President Prentiss then retaliates with the Ask. Anyone of interest is "asked," basically tortured until they say anything just to make it stop.

Todd and Viola are both stuck on their opposite sides of the war. Todd numbly follows all of President Prentiss' orders, no matter how horrifying. Viola is resistant to Coyle, but eventually she is helping set explosions herself. Apart, they are affected by the battle. It's not until they meet again that they are themselves and the slate is clean.