Sep 22, 2010

Revised Fall Catch-Up Read-A-Thon

fall catch-up readathon

I am freaking out a little because when I made my original list I forgot and over looked some books that I need to be reading and I will be joining a few challenges that I think I want to save some books for. So I am going to try this again, though I am not sure it maters much. Sometimes change weakens your dedication. I hope that is not the case this time.

 

Books I am planning on reading/finishing:

Feed by Mira Grant (finished)
The Dead-Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan (started, but not far in. May reserve for YA dystopian challenge)
Hunger by Jackie Morse Kessler (started, staying on list)
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro (currently reading)
Framed by Frank Cottrell-Boyce (currently reading)
Boneshaker by Cherie Priest (thinking about saving for steampunk challenge)
Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver (haven’t started, staying on list)
Cherry Heaven by L. J. Adlington (desperately need to finish this)
Inside Out by Maria V. Snyder (may save for dystopian challenge)

 

NEW ADDITIONS:

 

I would like to read Mississippi Burning for a book club meeting I have with author Chris Crowe tomorrow. Once I finish Never Let Me Go it will be my next priority. Also, my list is lacking in audiobooks, so I will be picking a new on to listen to before bed (and while traveling) just not sure which one yet. I have decided that I am going to start A Secret Kept which I won from McMillan Audio, THANKS GUYS!

 

I also failed to remember that Book Banning Week is coming up and I have been promising myself I would read Fahrenheit 451 for a while now and it just hasn’t happened. So I am now adding this to the to read list.

 

Now I just have to get reading and stop worrying about what IS and ISNT on my list! *phew*

Feed by Mira Grant

“No one gets cold or cancer anymore. The only issue is the walking dead.”

Feed is a zombie story with heart. Mira Grant combines perfectly the traditional, almost campy tropes of zombie stories, with emotions and politics.  It is the near future and a virus, from a vaccine gone wrong, is turning people into zombies.  This isn’t the zombie apocalypse though.  This is the story of a community of people coping, or trying to cope with the situation around them. The world has been safe guarded against those who are or may have become infected. There are endless amounts of blood tests to make sure a person isn’t going to convert into a zombie.

 

Why did Grant write this book? In an interview with SFX she explains:

Initially what I came up with was an ecology book. I am a zombie fan but all of the zombie stories I’ve enjoyed started when the dead rose and ended three days later with everybody looking exhausted. I was thinking, “What happens in 20 years?” So I set up a functional ecology where we are still faced with the zombie threat but are beating it back and living with it.

 

I love finding out her motivation in writing this book. I can really see the work she did on the world to make it function. And it is this detail that really makes the story different.  This concept of “What happens in 20 years?” could really drive a lot of fiction and brings a lot of depth to Feed. The novel blends together intellect with action. And I can honestly say I am loving reading about chasing zombies with some intelligence behind it.

 

Grant shows us a wrecked world, a wrecked United States. It is ruled by the fear of zombie but also by the hope that humanity will endure. One of the most unique features of this book is the use of blogging juxtaposed against more traditional news outlets.  Already, in our current state we question the legitimacy and bias of the news, but in Grant’s future bloggers have celebrity status, though they are still competing with tradition news sources.  I think this hits a cord with many reviewers. Other authors have broached the subject of the value of the common man on the internet, but never before have I read a book that utilized the same terminology we are so deeply connected with today.  The word blogging is more than just words on our webpage. To those who work hard to create content the word is deeply rooted in our emotions and sense of self.

 

“When blogging first emerged as a major societal trend it was news rendered anonymous…you trusted things because they sounded true….These days bloggers don’t just report the news, they create it and sometimes they become it.”

 

But in our future, there is only 3 types of bloggers. Newsies, Irwins, and Fictionals.  Most of these stem around the interaction with zombies. Newsies report what does happen, Irwins poke things till thing do happen, and Fictionals just make stuff up.  The best news organizations rely on all three to provide complete coverage. And Georgia Mason is head of one of the best new blogging organizations there is. When the president announces he wants bloggers with him on his campaign tour, Georgia and her team barely hesitate to apply.

“All we could do was make sure the truth was getting out, and getting where it needed to be.”

Georgia Mason takes her job very seriously. She coordinates her fictional, Buffy, and her brother, the Irwin, into a news reporting symphony and they work together as a team to gather and edit footage. Traveling with a presidential candidate is a unique honor but it also presents challenges. The people of the United States are in a weak point. They are concerned about the future state of their country. What will happen with the zombies? Will they ever feel safe again?

 

Mira Grant weaves together action, politics, and genuine emotion to create a very compelling story. As it went along the story line got a little too outlandish for me, but even considering that, my interest was high. Feed compiles a lot of my interests into one book. Dystopian elements from the creation of the zombies, striving to find the truth, and issues with the government. To call this book dystopian would definitely be using the wide umbrella understanding of the term. It is also a fresh and engaging zombie story, which are peaking on my radar right now. It is also one in the long line of well written young adult book. And I was able to track down the audio book for ease of multitasking. The narration and production of this book is some of the best I have heard.

 

Georgia is a strong female character. She is dedicated to the truth, to being a good leader. She wants to keep the people she cares about safe. She cares so much about her job as a journalist.

“I wanted to be Hunter S. Thompson, ripping the skin off the world. I wanted the truth and I wanted the new. And I would be damned before I settled for anything less.”

 

Dystopia, zombies, strong female character, and much more.  If I haven’t sold you on the book I need to give the author a chance to try and sway you. The book in Mira Grant’s own words:

The Newsflesh Trilogy is a story about blogging, politics, medical science, espionage, betrayal, the ties that bind, the ties that don't, how George Romero accidentally saved the world, and, of course, zombies. It's thoughtful horror, and horrific science fiction, and I'm very fond of it.

 

P. S. Mira Grant is also known as Seanan McGuire

Sep 21, 2010

Read-A-Thon – First Book Completed

It is 11:15 pm and I am listening to the last minutes of Feed by Mira Grant. When I woke up this morning I thought that I would be putting in some hard core reading hours, but that isn’t exactly how it happened. I am a little behind on my read-a-thon goals, but that’s OK! There is still plenty of time. I am also considering amending some of my intended reading due to some upcoming challenges I have decided to join. No official decision on that yet, though. Will keep you updated, I promise.

fall catch-up readathon

I definitely feel some pride in being close to finishing my first book and am eager to push through Never Let Me Go.


Both books have been classified as dystopian or having dystopian themes. And this makes it a double triumph for me. I am happy to be continuing my intended reading within this fiction classification.


If you haven’t already, check out my post The Problem with Dystopia and look for follow up posts coming soon. I know a lot of us love these type of books and I love reading all of your thoughts and comments. As dystopia fiction emerges into popularity it is interesting to see how we all understand it and the terms that we use and when.


I think we will continue to struggle to understand both dystopia and utopia but it is my goal to work on finding a unifying voice through all the articles, criticism, and opinions that I wade through. Thank you for any of the thoughts that you have shared with me in the past and will share with me in the future.


Look for my review of Feed to be up soon.

Sep 20, 2010

Indigara is Where?

Indigara by Tanith Lee is a fast, fun read. I got it at Half Price Books for $4.98 when I met The Page Flipper on my cross country road trip. Although it is a slim hardcover, almost $5 is a pretty high price for me to pay for a book. A lot of the books I got that day were from my wishlist or recommendations from Chelsea, but Indigara was a pure impulse buy.

The cover of Indigara really appeals to my interest in cyberpunk and technology but for the most part, the book did not live up to all that the cover promised. I am still trying to figure out if it was just lacking something or if I had false expectations. I love books that play with concepts and warping of reality. This book has the main character, Jet, falling into some sort of old movie and getting stuck there.

The first half of the book was really fresh and funny. But the second half of the book really lost me. One of the dangers of playing with the reality of the main character is not giving the reader anything to grasp onto. Indigara didn’t build up enough depth for the chaos to hold up. “’I believe when a real living person. such as Rena Kimber, or Bennet Ash. enters Indigara. they leave a sort of echo—a sort of shadow of themselves behind them, outside, in the real world.’”

In a way Indigara is a bit like an Oz or Wonderland. But in another it isn’t anything like it because it lacks the sort of charm that compels the reader to return. Confusion simply swirls into more confusion as Jet tries to understand the world she is stuck in and how she got there. Jet’s struggles to get out Indigara don’t connect with her struggles in her real life.

I don’t really know why but this book really reminded me Hotel Under the Sand by Kage Baker. I guess there is something in a whimsical quality of the storytelling that is similar. In the end, Indigara came together for me a bit more than I expected. Unfortunately for me it wasn’t enough to redeem the weird and confusing middle of the book that I had a really difficult time connecting with.

It is interesting because as I was close to finishing the book I started reading some of the blurbs on the back. They make the book sound amazing. They make the book sound like something I would love. Did I miss something? Am I mistaken? I often wonder if sometimes my reading experience had more to do with my frame of mind than the reality of the story and the writing. I am not sure if there is really any definitive way to explore this. But I have found that anytime I have go to reread a book I didn’t enjoy, I tend to have a similar reaction, though possibly combined with a better understanding of its positive qualities.

“Tanith Lee has given us a map to the outer limits of imagination.” – Washington Post

“Shows how brilliantly a write can incorporate poetiic fancy with skillful plotting and characteriation. Lee is a master of lyricism.” - SFReader

In Indigara Jet finds herself on a movie set, but not just a set, stuck inside some sort of reality that used to be a movie. There are lots of great books that play with a similar concept but in a more unique and successful way.

Books:
The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde
The Sylvie Cycle by Roderick Townley
Inkheart by Cornelia Funke

Dreams:
Wake series by Lisa McMann
Choices by Deborah Lynn Jacobs
Dreamhunter series by Elizabeth Knox


Imagination:

The Black Book series by Jonah Black

Have you read any books that played with the concepts of reality? Which of these types of books have you enjoyed?

Sep 19, 2010

The Sunday Salon – Reading Zombie

 

The Sunday Salon.com

 

For months I have been struggling with finishing books. Well, I finally got 3 done and what happens? My glasses disappear off the face of the earth. In an emergency effort I had to put in my trial contacts and my eyes have been miserable ever since. Of course now that I have met my goal and can pick up any new book I want my eyes bug me too much for me to be able to read.

 

But let’s try and celebrate the good things! Here are the three books I finished.

  1. Mockingjay
  2. Grass
  3. Indigara

 

Grass has been reviews, Mockingjay got a quasi review and I am trying to decide how I want to go about doing a full fledged post or if maybe I just want to skip it. The Indigara post has been written and will be up in a few days.

 

But now what? Well luckily, and oddly, Mr. X and I have the same prescription in our right eye. He has a pair of glasses I am going to try out for in house and reading use and save my contacts for outings. I am hoping this will help my eyes from getting quite so irritated.

 

Last week I listed some goal books that I would like to read soon, but unfortunately I haven’t even picked up one. (Okay, you caught me, I DID start the audio to The Windup Girl.) Yesterday was supposed to be the day I really delved into a new book, but it didn’t happen. So here is hoping today is the day. I am planning on reading The Dead-Tossed Waves, but honestly, i am scared. Why? Well, I loved The Forest of Hands and Teeth and I tend not to love the second book in a series. I am worried The Dead-Tossed Waves won’t be as amazing as I want it to be. The one thing it does have going in it’s favor is that it isn’t a direct sequel and hopefully this will be an easier transition for me.

 

I know a lot of people really love series, and I can understand their draw. But I think it takes a special kind of author to pull magic through all the books in the series and have the characters stay true.  Do you like to read books in a series back to back or do you leave a little time in between readings to let them breathe?

 

In an act of reading spontaneity, I have decided to rip off the band aid and pull my copy of The Dead-Tossed Waves off the shelf and just start reading right now.

 

First line:

“The story goes that even after the Return they tried to keep the roller coasters going.”

 

Oh! I think this was a good move. This line alone has sparked my interest in the book and I am slightly less fearful that I am not going to love what lies ahead.

 

Are you currently reading any books in a series?

Bibliophile Exploring Dystopia | Speculative Fiction