An Amazon Best Teen Book of the Month, May 2013 Spotlight Pick
The Passage meets Ender’s Game in an epic new series from award-winning author Rick Yancey.
After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.
Now, it’s the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth’s last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie’s only hope for rescuing her brother–or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up.
Rick Yancey is the author of the excellent Monstrumologist series which I love, but I staved off reading this new series, mostly due to my ‘post-apocalyptic / dystopian books’ fatigue. But the sequel has been released (The Infinite Sea: The Second Book of the 5th Wave), so it was time for me to dive in!
The 5th Wave is about a hostile alien invasion of earth, and it starts out really creepy, with a ‘being’ visiting a sleeping pregnant woman and ‘inserting’ an alien consciousness within the fetus. Then, the countdown begins. (cue the music).
The book starts up again after the so-called ‘4th wave’ of the invasion, and is told mostly from the point of view of shell-shocked teenager Cassie (who fears she is the last person on earth). To my surprise, I found that I liked Cassie (I usually don’t like the YA heroines I’ve read so far). She had all the irritating teenage girl qualities (especially her tendency to moon over good-looking boys), but I don’t know – Rick Yancey managed to wrap her up in teflon or something – I was really rooting for her. I liked her sarcasm, guts and never-say-die attitude. I suspect though that part of why she didn’t wear out her welcome was that Rick Yancey, (wisely) chose not to tell the entire story from her POV.
The 5th Wave is also told from the POV of a teenage boy nicknamed Zombie, who has been conscripted into a ‘child army’ – whipped into fighting shape ostensibly to defeat the elements of the ‘4th wave’ – the ‘alien-infested’ humans who are busily wiping out what’s left of humanity after the previous ‘waves’. Zombie is the leader of a rag-tag squadron, whose littlest member is (coincidentally) Sammy – Cassie’s little brother.
And more coincidence (!), Zombie happens to be Ben Parish – Cassie’s unrequited crush back in her previous life. But the requisite teen romance (because there has to be one – it’s like written in law or something) in The 5th Wave isn’t between Cassie and Zombie. Mysterious good (or bad?) guy Evan rescues a wounded Cassie, and they quickly fall in love while Cassie is recuperating under Evan’s care. Personally, I found Evan to be stalker-ish (even Cassie commented on this), but apparently, all that laser-beam intensity is an irresistible quality in a man. (Example – My girl friends who have read the book are in love with Evan – insert eye-roll here).
The 5th Wave ends strong with good action sequences AND on emotional cliff-hangers (the fate of one main character up in the air, other characters may be mortally wounded), so I’m darn glad that I already own book two!
The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey (Putnam Juvenile/Penguin Group) is available on Amazon and other bookstores.
New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Haynes returns with a disturbing and powerful tale that preys on our darkest fears.
Police analyst Annabel wouldn’t describe herself as lonely. Her work and the needs of her aging mother keep her busy. But Annabel is shocked when she discovers her neighbor’s decomposing body in the house next door, and she is appalled to think that no one, including herself, noticed the woman’s absence. Annabel sets out to investigate, despite her colleagues’ lack of interest, and discovers that such cases are frighteningly common in her hometown.
A chilling thriller and a hymn to all the lonely people whose individual voices haunt its pages, Human Remains shows how vulnerable we are when we live alone, and how easily ordinary lives can fall apart when no one is watching.
Human Remains by Elizabeth Haynes was featured as a Kindle Daily Deal, and after reading the book description (see above), I had to read it. I read about cases like these occasionally (about bodies being found after weeks/months of no one missing them) and I’ve always thought about how sad that was. That someone could be so cut off from everybody around them that they die alone and no one notices.
In this crime thriller, analyst Annabel makes the disturbing discovery that in her hometown, the number of such cases are off the roof. Surely, that isn’t natural, is this a sign of something wrong with her town in general or is someone responsible? Ms Haynes chooses not to keep her readers in the dark, and in alternating chapters, she gives voice to the man responsible (Colin – a sick man with an obsession for death) and his ‘victims’.
For a ‘thriller’, Human Remains is a slow read though; nothing really exciting happens until near the end (and that’s only because Colin decides to deviate from his MO and does a really stupid thing). Annabel is also a tricky kind of character; she’s so mousy and depressed and had such a victim-complex that I got really frustrated with her character. She was the perfect prey for Colin, though, so I get that was why the author wrote her that way.
Human Remains tells a really compelling story though – it’s disturbing (Warning: there’s explicit description on decomposition that might gross out some readers) and grim and I did like the psychological aspects of it, and what the author was trying to say about alienation and depression in modern society. I mean, it’s definitely different from the usual crime thriller books I’ve read.
I have no plans for re-reading this one though (it’s just not that kind of book). So, if I were you, I’d suggest you borrow this if possible.
The dead rise…
A mysterious incident in Russia, a blip buried in the news—it’s the only warning humanity receives that civilization will soon be destroyed by a single, voracious virus that creates monsters of men.
A lawyer, still grieving over the death of his young wife, begins to write as a form of therapy. Bur he never expected that his anonymous blog would ultimately record humanity’s last days.
The end of the world has begun…
Governments scramble to stop the zombie virus, people panic, so-called “Safe Havens” are established, the world erupts into chaos; soon it’s every man, woman, and child for themselves. Armed only with makeshift weapons and the will to live, a lone survivor will give mankind one last chance against…
I was in the mood for another take on the Zombie Apocalypse, so I picked up Apocalypse Z: The Beginning of the End by Manel Loureiro (a Spanish practicing lawyer & author based in Pontevedra, Spain). With an average of 4.2 out of 5 stars on Amazon (and 1,083 5 star reviews!), I figured this should be a good buy.
Apocalypse Z: The Beginning of the End unfortunately didn’t quite live up (to me) to the promise of its 4.2 stars, but if you like Zombie stories, it’s still an okay (if redundant) read. My main problem with the book was that it didn’t really offer anything new to the genre – the author was pretty faithful in his characterization of the zombies, and the plot is the usual survival story covered many times before (by better authors). The setting of the story at the author’s native Spain did keep it bit more interesting for me in the beginning, same with the origin of the Zombie plague beginning somewhere in Dagestan. Book-Putin’s response was also classic – I think Putin’s government would react the same way :)
The main character in the book is a yuppie lawyer who initially starts blogging as a way of dealing with his grief after the death of his wife, and ended up chronicling his harrowing experiences in a personal journal during the Zombie apocalypse. I thought that the blogging style worked well in the beginning, when the lawyer was slowly waking up to the real threat while trying to go about his ordinary life (going to work, shopping, etc). I was still okay when it got switched to writing a journal (the internet dies during the apocalypse, y’all) – after all, the guy was stuck alone in his home surrounded by zombies. Plenty of time to write one’s thoughts down on paper.
But I did have to suspend disbelief that the lawyer supposedly continued writing in the journal so faithfully (reporting EVERYTHING that happened to him almost daily), even after he went on the run (and spoiler alert! got captured). I mean, it’s kind of hard to think of myself taking a break every now and then from the Zombie mayhem to write down all my previous 24-hour experiences. It really got silly around the last third of the book for me – oh, hey, a horde of zombies have killed a bunch of us! I might die next! but hey, I’ll write down first about what happened in detail starting from this morning…
Personally, if the author was really dead set on the journal aspect, I thought the character should’ve just remained stuck in his home, while he fought going cabin-fever crazy while trying to figure out a way to survive the Zombies. Less travelling / adventuring / gathering companions (including a possible love-interest character whose age – 16/17? – gave me the creeps), and more going into the psychology of survival of a lone wolf-type character maybe.
Apocalypse Z: The Beginning of the End by Manel Loureiro, translated by Pamela Carmell (AmazonCrossing) is available on Amazon.
WINNER, 2013 Hugo Award for Best Novella
Nominee, 2013 World Fantasy Award for Novella
From #1 New York Times bestselling author Brandon Sanderson, The Emperor’s Soul showcases a fascinating magic system as the clock ticks down for a condemned criminal.
When Shai is caught replacing the Moon Scepter with her nearly flawless forgery, she must bargain for her life. An assassin has left the Emperor Ashravan without consciousness, a circumstance concealed only by the death of his wife. If the emperor does not emerge after his hundred-day mourning period, the rule of the Heritage Faction will be forfeit and the empire will fall into chaos.
Shai is given an impossible task: to create–to Forge–a new soul for the emperor in less than one hundred days. But her soul-Forgery is considered an abomination by her captors. She is confined to a tiny, dirty chamber, guarded by a man who hates her, spied upon by politicians, and trapped behind a door sealed in her own blood. Shai’s only possible ally is the emperor’s most loyal counselor, Gaotona, who struggles to understand her true talent.
Time is running out for Shai. Forging, while deducing the motivations of her captors, she needs a perfect plan to escape…
Well, no wonder Brandon Sanderson’s novella The Emperor’s Soul earned a Hugo – it’s a really good book, and I loved the creativity of the magical system it explored. It sure left me wanting more long after I’d finished it. I even checked Brandon Sanderson’s catalog to see if he might have written a sequel in the interim (from it’s release in November, 2012).
It amazes me, really, the creativity of fantasy/sci fi authors like Mr Sanderson. He explained in his afterword that he got the idea after visiting a museum in Taiwan and seeing the red signature seals you see in Chinese artwork. He went from that to – What if the stamp wasn’t just the signature of the artwork’s creator? What if stamping a work allowed someone to change the entire history of an object (for example, an empty wall becomes an exquisite wall painting once you add the history that a master artist once spent weeks convalescing in the room)? And a step further – is it possible for a master of the craft to do the same for a brain-damaged person, rebuild the person’s entire history and personality from scratch? Just blew my mind.
If you’re after an afternoon or two of “blowing your mind” too – keep this book in mind. Maybe, if there are enough people wishing for more Shae, Gaotona and Emperor Ashravan – a follow-up might just materialize!
Rick Yancey’s first gothic suspense tale, The Monstrumologist, earned him a prestigious Michael L. Printz Award. The second installment of this acclaimed series, Curse of the Wendigo, finds young Will Henry on the hunt for a supernatural beast plaguing New England in the late 1800s.
Will and his mentor, the domineering Dr. Warthrop, are enlisted to help the doctor’s former fiancée. It seems her husband has been lost in the Canadian wilderness. And to make matters worse, there are reports that a Wendigo – a creature who gorges on human flesh – is on the loose.
I found Rick Yancey’s gothic horror story The Monstrumologist to be pretty bloody brilliant, so the second book in the series certainly had a lot to live up to. And live up it did (although my favorite is still the first book). Do you want something scary to read tonight that will keep you up, keep you turning the pages in suspense, fire up your adrenaline? Add this to your TBR list (but if you haven’t yet, read book #1 first!)
Just a note though – while I think Curse of the Wendigo is an EXCELLENT sequel (serving up new monsters with a great heaping side of blood and gore, plus trips to the Canadian wilderness and 1800 Victorian New York) and I’d highly recommend it to any “mature” literary horror fan, I really don’t think it should be marketed to young readers. Yes, the hero in the book is a 12-year-old orphan, but the situations he and his guardian Dr. Warthrop find themselves in are truly horrifying. Stomach churning-, nightmare inducing- horrifying.
Maybe the problem is that Rick Yancey is such an amazing writer – the setting, the rich (aka gruesome) imagery, the atmosphere, the dialogue, the characters all felt very intense and real. If this book were a movie, I’d be watching it through my fingers – wincing at certain scenes (i.e. the autopsy scene!) while scared out of my mind (but loving every minute, mind you.) It’s very graphic & violent (in a literary Dickensian way), and terrible things happen to a lot of innocent people, and no wonder young Will was a traumatized mess in the end!
Once I’ve recovered, Book #3 The Isle of Blood next!
Given the importance of what they do, and the controversies that often surround them, and the violent people they sometimes confront, it is remarkable that in the history of this country only four active federal judges have been murdered.
Judge Raymond Fawcett has just become number five.
Who is the Racketeer? And what does he have to do with the judge’s untimely demise? His name, for the moment, is Malcolm Bannister. Job status? Former attorney. Current residence? The Federal Prison Camp near Frostburg, Maryland.
On paper, Malcolm’s situation isn’t looking too good these days, but he’s got an ace up his sleeve. He knows who killed Judge Fawcett, and he knows why. The judge’s body was found in his remote lakeside cabin. There was no forced entry, no struggle, just two dead bodies: Judge Fawcett and his young secretary. And one large, state-of-the-art, extremely secure safe, opened and emptied.
What was in the safe? The FBI would love to know. And Malcolm Bannister would love to tell them. But everything has a price — especially information as explosive as the sequence of events that led to Judge Fawcett’s death. And the Racketeer wasn’t born yesterday . . .
Nothing is as it seems and everything’s fair game in this wickedly clever new novel from John Grisham, the undisputed master of the legal thriller.
Okay, how did The Racketeer end up one of Amazon’s mystery/thriller Best Books of the Month picks for October 2012? Must’ve been a lean month or maybe they were judging it by the first half of the book (which was great) and ignored how things went downhill in the second half? I don’t get it. I was so annoyed I wanted to chuck my copy out the window by the time I was done…
The Racketeer introduces the main character, Malcolm Bannister, to us as this 43 y/o black lawyer who is halfway through his ten-year sentence for racketeering. Malcolm explains that he is innocent and reveals the circumstances behind his unjust incarceration. He’s lost his wife to divorce and missed out on his son’s growing up years. Malcolm came across as a disillusioned (ex-idealistic) good & honest guy, so I was really rooting for him when Malcolm reveals that he has a final card to play in his bid for freedom.
Here’s the situation: a federal judge is found murdered – the FBI is stumped, no leads, no suspects – but guess what, Malcolm just happens to know who did it, and why. Malcolm is willing to name names BUT only for the right price (aka his freedom). Like I said, it’s a GREAT start. There’s suspense, excitement, I’m devouring pages, hoping Malcolm gets some redemption, marveling at how clever he is…. and had things stayed the course, I would have declared The Racketeer one of John Grisham’s best legal thrillers to date.
But. And that’s a big BUT.
But in the second half, John Grisham pulls the rug out from under us. I don’t want to spoil things, so I won’t go into details, but apparently, much of what we’d been told earlier by Malcolm ranged from half-truths to lies. Needless to say, I was pretty much pissed off for much of the second half of The Racketeer (hence, wanting to throw my copy out the window). The plot changes were so bizarre and came out of left-field. I couldn’t understand what was happening. I didn’t know the main character anymore – Malcolm was turning out the opposite of who he claimed to be, and was off stalking this new character we’d never heard of, and unbelievably, the ‘love of his life’ pops up too (a woman who was barely mentioned in the first half, nary a hint that there was anything more between them other than some flirting). The ending was something out of Wild Things (the movie) mashed with The Sting (the movie). Bizarre, just bizarre.
Malcolm may have sailed off into the sunset much like Neve Campbell’s character in Wild Things, but as far as I was concerned, he’d turned from hero to zero. Good riddance to him. And good riddance to this book too – word of advice, don’t bother.
Before Number Four, there were One, Two, and Three. Until now we’ve only known that the Mogadorians caught Number One in Malaysia. Number Two in England. And Number Three in Kenya. But all of that is about to change. . . .
In this heart-racing companion novella to the New York Times bestselling I Am Number Four series, discover what happened to Malcolm Goode — the one human on Earth who can help the Garde learn the truth about their past and help them save our planet.
No one has seen Sam Goode’s father, Malcolm, since he mysteriously disappeared years ago. Sam had always fantasized that he was abducted by aliens. But that was before he knew the truth: aliens do exist, and some of them seek to destroy our world. That was before he himself became another one of their captives. Now father and son are both missing. . . .
But when a rogue Mogadorian named Adam, who now has Number One’s memories, decides the only way to make up for his past atrocities is to return home and infiltrate the Mogadorian stronghold, he’ll find the key to saving both Sam and Malcolm’s life.
I Am Number Four: The Lost Files: The Search for Sam picks up almost immediately from the cliffhanger where The Lost Files: The Fallen Legacies left off. The events in The Search for Sam eventually parallel the last part of The Rise of Nine (the 3rd novel-length book in the series), but it’s not necessary that you’ve read The Rise of Nine first.
In the previous novella The Fallen Legacies, the Mogadorian-with-a-heart-of-gold Adam was left for dead by his father and brother… and since Adam is pretty much the only likable character I’ve met in the series, I was plenty glad that his character survived to live another day. Honestly, if he had died, I would have just given up on the series. The Rise of Nine was so bad, with the surviving Garde continuing to act like spoiled immature idiots and the main Mogadorian villain Setrakus Ra turned out to be so lame. At this point, I’m pretty much only interested in finding out what happens to Adam next.
Adam continues to be a character I can root for, at least, and there’s some interesting developments in this novella about his relationship with the long-dead Garde One whose memories Adam shares after the mind-meld experiment in The Fallen Legacies. I’m glad that Adam’s character continues to grow and mature, and maybe, he’s also a favorite character of the writers… since he’s really written much better, more defined, than the other Garde characters.
It’s kind of misleading to have titled this The Search for Sam though, since the novella is pretty much still Adam’s story, even though we do meet Sam’s missing dad Malcolm Goode. So, fans of the Sam character may be a bit disappointed since he doesn’t even figure in the story until the very last pages.
At any rate, this one ends in another cliffhanger as to Adam’s fate, and was much too short besides. I really wish that the author (s) had just combined the Lost Files stories into one book, or at least, Adam’s story into one full length novel. His story is definitely the most interesting for me in the I Am Number Four universe.
I Am Number Four: The Lost Files: The Search for Sam by Pittacus Lore is available on Amazon as a Kindle Edition ($3.99).