Review: The Eleventh Plague by Jeff Hirsch

Review: The Eleventh Plague by Jeff Hirsch

PJ’s QUICKIE POV:
‘The Eleventh Plague’ unfortunately was not one of the epic dystopian that was released in 2011. When compared with the titans that are ‘Divergent’, ‘Enclave’ and ‘Ashes’ this novel falls somewhere in the middle, with just a mediocre entertainment value. There are so many good novels in this genre that I felt a little put-out after reading ‘The Eleventh Plague.’ Don’t get me wrong, the premise was interesting, the writing was compelling, what threw me through a loop was the main characters. I felt like we were just following two idiotic teens making stupid choices and getting everyone around them hurt. That didn’t go over well with me. It’s one thing to see transition, it’s another to feel overwhelmed by stupid choices.

REVIEW:
The world is decimated by an event called The Collapse and twenty years later a fifteen year old boy called Stephen Quinn is trying to get by with his father. He has watched his mother and his strict grandfather die and now after a series of unfortunate events, is about to watch his father slowly die if he doesn’t get any help. He does get help, in the form of a group of people that have banded together in an area called Settler’s Landing. The survivors have gotten together and formed a community in the midst of chaos and are trying to hold on to a slice of what life used to be, by educating their children and even holding on to what was once American traditions. Stephen quickly bonds with a girl called Jenny Tan, beautiful, but Chinese which are the people that let loose the P-11 virus on America. Together it is them against the world…

This one went on my TBR because I read a rave review or two about it. I thought this would be more interesting then the rest of the crowded dystopian genre because it was more post-apocalypse than actual dystopian. I’m always a big fan of a little apocalypse action. Unfortunately it just ended up being a filler piece for me, something to pass the time. The only way I can describe it is “underwhelming”. It dragged at parts and focused so much on the internal struggle of Stephen to realize there is HOPE in life and we must be good people that it seemed almost like an after school apocalyptic special. But, all the while the boy is realizing he must fight for good – he is making these terrible choices and doing just ridiculous things that he has to run and fix and then mess up more things. Then the author would minutely focus on one plot point while all these other things were occurring that were wrapped up in a few sentences. It just fell flat for me, but was written well enough for me to finish.

My positives on the book was the background story. I thought the author had founded a good idea and would have like to see him expand on it. I also enjoyed his messages and thought he had wonderful intentions, I guess I was just looking for a little more action. This would make an excellent SyFy movie!

Recommendations
Recommended for young teens that would like a more internal focus apocalypse stories.

Like this, Like That

  1. ‘Ashes’ by Ilsa J. Bick
  2. ‘Ashfall’ by Mike Mullin

Audio BookYoung Adult Novel

‘The Eleventh Plague’ by Jeff Hirsch in audio book was purchased via audible.com.

Review: Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry

Review: Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry

PJ’s QUICKIE POV:
The cuddlier side of the zombies. Ok, maybe I said that wrong, more like the more spiritual side of zombies. Jonathan Maberry makes you think about the world after we’ve settled down and people have had time to think about zombies and what they are and how we should treat them. It’s definitely different. It’s very exciting and there is a ton of action, boy-hood romance and a plot line that will get you thinking instead of the usual blood and gore, shoot ’em up, zombie experience. This is one I highly recommend you experience.

REVIEW:
The family business for Benny Imura is zombie hunting. At age fifteen he has to get a job or his rations are cut. He does not want to join the family business because he can’t understand how his older brother Tom is a zombie hunter and especially why the whole town thinks he is this big, tough, cool guy – when Benny knows the truth, Tom is a coward. It is his brother Tom, he knows him best.

Job after job that doesn’t work out though ends his job search with no choice but hunting zoms with Tom. He thinks it’ll be lame, having to spend time with Tom, hunting zoms, traipsing through the rot and ruin, what he doesn’t plan on experiencing is life, a little bit of education and a new understanding of his brother.

The main basis of the Rot and Ruin is what many zombie novels skip over just briefly: Zombies were once human, they were once your loved ones. While a zombie has an endless urge to feed, their affliction is uncontrollable, they are not evil, they do not have a choice, one day they are a loving mother, the next a hungry zom. Yet, among the humans lies free will and evil tendencies and while the town huddles afraid of the walking dead, the ruthless humans thrive. It’s definitely something to check out if you want something different. Jonathan Maberry is a compelling author and I was even excited to see him on the zombie special on the History Channel. His character Benny Imura  goes though a wonderful transition and you really grow to like him. The world he created in ‘Rot & Ruin’ is quite believable and frightening, yet it shows the passion of humans to survive and also their tendency to blame and seek refuge in the normal. It was definitely the deepest zombie novel I’ve ever had the chance of reading.

Recommendations
Recommended for an older teen audience due to a bit of violence and some language. Adults will enjoy this also. Readers that enjoy coming of age stories from a male teens perspective would enjoy this even if you haven’t read zombie fiction before. Zombie fans you’ll love it.

Like this, Like That

  1. ‘Enclave’ by Ann Aguirre
  2. ‘Anna Dressed in Blood’ by Kendare Blake

Audio BookYoung Adult Novel

‘Rot & Ruin’ by Jonathan Maberry (Benny Imura #1) in audio book was purchased via audible.com.

Review: Ship Break by Paolo Bacigalupi

Review: Ship Break by Paolo Bacigalupi

PJ’s QUICKIE POV:
After having read and enjoyed The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi I quickly moved on to his young adult novel, SHIP BREAKER. Favoring the gritty and in-your-face style of writing that Bacigalupi is known for, SHIP BREAKER, while young adult, didn’t hold back. Bacigalupi thrust you into a very uncomfortable, dystopian world and rubs your face into it repeatedly and if you are anything like me, you’ll love every minute of it.

REVIEW:
In the future world of SHIP BREAKER there is a huge economic divide between the poor and the rich, much like you would find in 3rd world countries. The rich live in sickening luxury while the poor destroy themselves to earn pennies and barely survive. The Gulf Coast region of what was once the United States has been devastated by hurricanes, plague and famine. Ragged villages exist upon the coast, their whole existence revolving around scavenging the oil tankers that were left to rot after the decline of the human race. Nailer is our hero of this story, he is a young teenager, still small in frame so he is able to squirrel his way through the ships and scavenge on what is called Light Crew. His existence is horrendous, forced to scavenge in an environment that could kill you at any turn, then only to come home to an abusive father, waiting for that day when his shoulders grow a little too wide and then he won’t be able to crawl through the ships…therefor not able to work any longer.

Change comes to the shores in the form of a terrible hurricane, not uncommon in those parts, but with it comes more scavenge as Nailer and his friend Pima come across a clipper ship, broken and screaming wealth. A lone survivor on the ship puts some serious questions in front of the teens…it would be so much easier just to kill her and take the scavenge then it would be to let her live. Something stops Nailer though and he does the right thing…hoping that his choices, made for the right reasons will lead him to a better life instead of just scraping by in his village.

Bacigalupi (just like writing out his name – saying it is even better) has the voice of a science fiction rock star. His descriptions are so vividly stunning that the world comes alive around you. To describe his book in one adjective it would be “rusty”, it’s just this old world, slightly acidic environment that is portrayed in such naked and viscous detail that it can almost be hard to digest at times. This is a book you don’t want to pass up.

What some readers might find hard to take in: This is a more “boy” oriented story, it’s not romantic with kissing and sobbing and love triangles. This is an adventure story with a girl and a boy, but the theme is triumph over your circumstances, not romance. I highly recommend this one and it’s great for something different, if you are tired of those love triangles…

RECOMMENDATIONS:
Recommended for fans of dystopian and gritty science fiction. Recommended for more mature teens 14+ because of some mature and sometimes violent themes, but nothing that is out of line.

 
 

Audiobook

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  1. Incarceron by Catherine Fisher
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Review: The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi

Review: The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi

PJ’s QUICKIE POV:

I have never experienced such gritty and descriptive world-building as I have with Paolo Bacigalupi’s THE WINDUP GIRL. You could almost taste the heat as Bacigalupi described the post-apocalyptic Asian landscape. Bacigalupi has a way of blending realities, the dystopian squalor with the science fiction advancement, the way you didn’t know who was a good guy or a bad guy and the on-your-toes plot twists that had my head whirling. THE WINDUP GIRL. is a grown-up dystopian and a must-read if you fancy yourself a fan of the genre. I have to say this has to be one of the finest modern science fiction novels I’ve read.

REVIEW:

The lands have been racked with bio-engineered diseases and horrendous natural disasters. Bangkok is a city on the verge of disaster, exploited and two feet from being overrun by the ocean. The people live in fear of infected foods and the calorie is the new currency. Anderson Lake, one of the hated “calorie men” from the West is in Bangkok in search of extinct food to use for profit for his company AgriGen. He uses an AgriGen factory as a front, but his real motives is to find lost foods that he believes Bangkok might have.

In a backdoor meeting with an unsavory brothel owner he is introduced to Emiko. THE WINDUP GIRL. Emiko is a bio-engineered “New Person.” She was grown in a crèche in Japan, created to become the plaything of rich Japanese businessmen. She is bred to serve, for her beauty and her uniqueness. Most humans distrust her, thinking she is soulless. When her master grew tired of her he abandoned her in a city that deems her illegal. Her new master is harsh and abusive but there is no other way to survive, especially when her every movement is a sign that she is New People. As the city goes mad, enraged from corruption and political maneuvering, Emiko only wants one thing…to be free. Because even though she is New People, she still wants.

Bacigalupi has to have one of the most unique voices that I’ve experienced in an author. His blending of the Asian culture with this gritty dystopian was something that I’ve never experienced before and probably never will. You could practically smell, touch and taste his descriptions. I can only compare THE WINDUP GIRL with the greats, such as BRAVE NEW WORLD or 1984. The only down points I found in this novel was the almost abstract broadness of the writing. Bacigalupi plunges you in head first with very little explanation of back-story on most of the plot-lines so I found myself feeling that I missed something. Also, because of the Asian names it was sometimes hard to keep track of the multitude of characters. This worked for me as an audio book and the narrator Jonathan Davis handled pronunciation quite well. This is one book that I would highly recommend in audio format.

RECOMMENDATIONS:

Highly recommended for fans of the dystopian genre. If you’ve read and enjoyed a BRAVE NEW WORLD or 1984 and would like a grittier meal, give this one a try. This is an adult novel and has a multitude of heavy themes, rape, violence, sex and debauchery. For mature audiences only.


Audiobook

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Review: Tomorrow When The War Began by John Marsden

Review: Tomorrow When The War Began by John Marsden

PJ’s QUICKIE POV:
It would seem since I have been on an apocalypse kick for awhile, so audible.com was keen on me listening/reading to TOMORROW WHEN THE WAR BEGAN and I had done a marvelous job ignoring them…even though it kept popping up on my recommended lists on both amazon and audible. You see, even though I enjoyed RED DAWN the movie, I didn’t know if I would like to read about it – and that is what the reviews constantly compared it to. I guess I should have listened to Auntie Amazon and Audible, they were right. I should have read, listened, inhaled TOMORROW a long time ago, because it was a fantastic read and has thus launched me on a mission to get a hold of a digital copy of the Australian made movie inspired by the book. (Which is IMPOSSIBLE!!!) One day I guess. This book has it all, smart witty teens, a bit of action, action and more action, innocent coming of age drama, a slight bit of romance and a carefully tailored setting that had me wanting to board the next plane to Australia.

REVIEW:
Ellie and her friends have planned a spontaneous camping trip that ventures deep into the bush of the Australian outback. Their camping is fun and might spark a romantic interest or two, but besides that it all goes as planned…until they return home. Only a week has passed but their houses seem abandoned, their pets are starving, dying or already dead. Something is seriously wrong and as they push further into town they realize that those jets they had noticed flying over at the beginning of their trip might not have been domestic. They have been invaded, their families held in makeshift POW camps and households suspected to hold insurgents are being bombed indiscriminately. They are at war and to escape capture Ellie and her friends must make choices, what will they do, who will they hurt to survive and stay free?

Phenomenal ride! I was literally on the edge of my seat throughout the entirety of this novel. Haters can yammer all they want that this is just like Red Dawn and I give it to them – TOMORROW is like Red Dawn, just like TWILIGHT is like The Vampire Diaries. Same concept – yeah, but the story is compelling, heart-felt and intense, it entertained me, broke my heart at times and had my anxiety up. I also did this one via audio book so I got to experience the Australian accents, which was fun. I love their accents – but they didn’t fall into a lot of Aussie slang, which was a relief because frankly I’m usually at a loss with a lot of their “shortened” words. You have to check this one out and I’m literally restraining myself to not grab book two.

RECOMMENDATIONS:
Recommended for fans of young adult apocalypse novels. There are some heavier themes with violence and some sexual references so recommended for more mature teens, but there is nothing graphic that should turn off parents.

Audiobook

Like this Like That

  1. Incarceron by Catherine Fisher
  2. Maze Runner by James Dascel

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