After The Red Rain by Barry Lyga

Hello Reader,

For anyone who follows my GoodReads account, you may already know I had a chance to read After The Red Rain by Barry Lyga, Peter Facinelli, and Rob DeFranco. After The Red Rain is scheduled for an early August release, and loving both post-apocalypse and Barry Lyga’s I Hunt Killers trilogy, I thought to give this e-ARC a try. I received my copy from NetGalley, which is a great website to receive e-ARCs from. My thoughts about this title are somewhat mixed, but definitely positive overall. I do believe this is a title worth purchasing for the teen collection for teen librarians or purchasers, and worth at least checking out from a library if you are a reader.

Now for the review, there are some slight spoilers ahead for what the setting is like and what the characters are like, but that will be all.

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After The Red Rain takes place at least a few hundred years after the world was ended by… something. The regular people that inhabit the world now, such as Deedra, don’t know exactly what happened to the world. All they know is that they are living in an assumedly better world. They live in a world that is run by essentially dictators and are expected to be good citizens and cooperate with their government. The air quality sometimes suffers from poor quality or low oxygen, so often times people must wear masks in order to breathe. Some people, like Deedra, go scavenging and take guesses as to the uses of past relics, such as tiny, circular mirrors that have a hole in the center for your finger to hold up. That scene is definitely reminiscent of Disney’s The Little Mermaid, and I enjoyed reading these aspects of the book.

The people live off of food created in labs, which are synthesized from stem cells and the genetic map of past creatures. As such, the food doesn’t taste that great. Clearly, the food exists simply to keep the people alive. All in all, the world built is fairly realistic, and I do think the color scheme for most of the book is in different shades of gray. While I take some issue with trees, plants, and animals seeming to be rare, it is possible that the description of how the flora and fauna did or did not survive is incomplete or not well described. Overall, I do think the world the authors created is interesting and contains stories I am interested in reading in.

Deedra, our first protagonist, starts off well enough. She is adventurous, but not stupid. She is curious, but has some short comings related to that such as being uninterested in the “why” of how the world is now. Deedra has a friend named Lizzy, who is hilarious. Together, they make a fun duo and they way they carry on lightheartedly in an otherwise dark setting greatly increases the uniqueness of the story. Deedra seems to have her own characteristics and destiny, but that changes over time as we are introduced to Rose, our second protagonist.

Rose, a young man with an unusual name, comes from seemingly nowhere. He is a weary traveler, who has seen some of the worst humanity has to offer. Yet, Rose is a kind person. Rose is feminine in appearance, and seems to be accepting of his appearance. Rose is definitely an interesting character that compliments Deedra. I take only two major issues with Rose as a character. The first is that Rose and Deedra go from having an interesting relationship to Deedra obsessing over Rose and his safety to the point she nearly gets herself killed a couple of times. The obsession is off putting and undermines her own personality as depicted previously. The second issue is one that I will describe later on, but in short is a sudden action Rose takes which seems to go against everything we learn about him as we read.

The conflict of the story revolves around the murder of a somewhat minor, somewhat major character in the book. Deedra finds herself accused, then worried Rose may have been the culprit. As this is hard to describe without spoiling it, I won’t go too far into it. I do believe that when the investigation begins on Deedra the story doesn’t seem to use its setting to its advantage.

While the world is, in my opinion, really amazing and the opening to the title fantastic as Deedra and her friend explore the wastes for salvage, the novel switches from a cool, post-apocalypse to a dystopian YA fic. My bias here is that we’ve seen these dystopian themes before and already examined the bleakness of a situation in which the government is basically evil and corrupt. The novel here simply reads as OKAY. Not great or amazing, just “Okay, so that is what is happening now.”

Finally, the ending. I can’t even describe it, because I do believe people will have fun reading this even if I didn’t. I do think there is potential here. This novel won’t be released for several months, so who knows what might change. Suffice to say, the novel ends in a way where there will definitely be a sequel. Almost none of the secrets of this world have been revealed. Rose does something totally out of character for him, which really countered my feelings of “Wow, he is a unique male character. He is good, kind, and always values life. He isn’t just that male protagonist that hits people, is dark/brooding because reasons, and is the typical vision of the male power fantasy.” I will leave that at that.

Overall, it seems like I wouldn’t recommend this title, but I think everyone should give this novel a try. While it has its shortcomings, I honestly think the authors are on to something that could become great, fun, and continue to break stereotypes and tropes found in YA fiction. I know I will be reading After The Red Rain again when it is released in its final version. I recommend this to any YA reader that loves: post-apocalypse, dystopian, romance, and are looking for something at least a little different.

Look forward to After The Red Rain‘s release in August 4th, 2015.

 

D reads and reads and reads…

Hello readers,

I’ve been super mean and not updating this blog like I should. I keep wanting to post something, but then GRADUATE SCHOOL. Graduate school is every bit as hard as you’ve heard, but not because the material is difficult. Graduate school is hard because it takes up a lot of time. You need to read EVERYTHING, do all the homework, and then spend a ton of time working on projects or papers. Its exhausting… and I am in the first year doing it part-time.

my soul is broken

my soul is broken

For these past few weeks, I’ve been in a “SCREW IT” mode however. I decided, “You know what? I am gonna read what I wanna read. Yeah! You can’t tell me what to do!!!” So, I read a lot of graphic novels and a few YA titles. Here is my line up of favorites, my not-so-favorites, my thoughts, and other comments.

Fables Fables by Bill Willingham

Fables is an amazing series written by Bill Willingham with various attached artists. This is a story about fables, fairy tales, and other tall tales that have escaped from their world into our own. Their home world was sieged by a character called the Adversary, a mysterious figure that managed to unite goblins and other creatures in conquest.

The story starts off in Fabletown, New York, a small neighborhood community inhabited by the Fables. Bigby Wolf (aka the Big Bad Wolf) is the sheriff, and the first volume or so plays out like a detective series. I really enjoyed the noir-type aspects of this part. The series branches out beyond a fairy tale noir setting, but is still immensely enjoyable. I am currently on volume 7 of the series. Look forward to learning more about Bigby, Snow White, and the Adversary.

18052934No One Else Can Have You by Kathleen Hale

     No One Else Can Have You is Kathleen Hale’s first YA novel, and I really hope that it isn’t her last. NOECHY is about a small town with murder, secrets, and crazy people. The main character might be one of those crazy people too. Kippy Bushman, our heroine, finds herself investigating the gruesome death of her best friend Ruth Friedman. If you liked Twin Peaks this book will cause you to think back to that awesome show. While Kippy is no Dale Cooper, Ruth is eerily similar to Laura Palmer. There is also no supernatural elements to this plot, but it does involve extremely colorful townspeople that are quirky in an unsettling kind of way.                                                            I can’t really talk too much more about the book without spoiling it, but let it be known that this book gets my solid recommendation! GO READ IT, FOOLS!!!

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The Flash (The New 52) by Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato

So the Flash is my boyfriend’s most favoritist character in the whole, wide world. Hearing that the New 52 is supposed to be an okay starting point for new readers, I decided to learn more about the Flash in this new series, which by the way has major backing behind it in terms of awesome reviews and recommendations. Well, I, as a total noob, had no idea what was going on half of the time.

While I really liked the art and some of what is revealed about Barry Allen, who is the original Flash and stars as the Flash in this series, I found myself overwhelmed by the sheer volume of the random happenings around the Flash. Every arc would introduce villains, some of whom I had no idea who they were, and otherwise the plot felt really dissonant… I’ve only read the first two volumes, but I feel like this is probably not the best starting point for the uninitiated.

Not A Drop To Drink by Mindy McGinnis13112869

Not A Drop To Drink  is a moving post-apocalyptic novel about the hardships of survival. This is refreshing to me since it doesn’t involve zombies at all! (D’s Note: I love zombies, but sometimes it feels good to read a non-zombie post-apoc book!) This is Mindy McGinnis’ first YA novel, and there is a sequel to this work on the way. I really look forward to it!

This is a book that I believe should cross gender boundaries. While the main character is a teenage girl, this is a hard and gritty novel. The author clearly did her research as some of the survival tips in this novel echoed that of what I heard in school about desert survival. Those that liked Z for Zachariah will enjoy this title, but I would advise those that like this genre to give this novel a try.

 

Blood Lad by Yuuki KodamaKodama_BLoodLad_V1_TP

Meet Staz, he is a vampire gang leader in the demon world. He’s kind of odd though, since he is a total nerd and otaku. Despite that, he is a fierce fighter and has protected his turf well so far. Meet Fuyumi, a human girl that somehow ended up in the demon world and ended up getting eaten up by a monstrous plant before Staz got a chance to drink her blood. Staz, along with Fuyumi’s ghost, searches for a way to revive this dead girl. He seems to have conflicting reasons for wanting to revive her, but his journey ends up unraveling various mysteries and secret plots in the demon world.

This is seriously a fun manga and I actually enjoy it a lot. When I heard this was about a vampire, I scoffed at first. When I ordered this for my library since it seemed pretty popular, it managed to wow me! Definitely worth checking out.

The Croak series by Gina Damico rogue

CroakScorch, and Rogue are the members of the Croak series in that order. These follow the tale of Lex, a grim reaper with a mysterious power. In the first novel, Croak,  it turns out a grim may be murdering innocent people — a big no-no in the grimsphere. In Scorch, we … well, its hard to say without spoiling it. Same goes for Rogue. The first novel is somewhat like a paranormal detective genre, but that changes immediately in the following two novels.

Scorch is somewhat disappointing as a follow-up, as it feels like a lot of running around for few reasons. One character even does a face-heel turn out of literally nowhere… suddenly they act really mean, then are just a bad guy. Meh. Rogue is a step-up from Scorch, but is still not quite as good as Croak. This is still worth giving a read, though your mileage may vary.

Batman (The New 52) by Scott Snyderdownload

This is about Batman, finally a character I already know about albeit from the animated series. In this comic, Batman learns that there may be a secret society that quietly rules Gotham from behind the scenes. They are known as the Court of Owls, and they might be planning something nefarious as our caped crusader begins to unravel their past.

I’ve only read the first volume, but I am completely hooked. The story flowed well, and the art was amazing. There is even an amazing way the art works in a certain part of the novel that is pretty jarring. I simply have to get my hands on the rest in this series, and I will most definitely be ordering this for my library. Its simply too good to pass up!

Of the things I read, these are the titles that stick out the most in my mind. The Flash is one that I hope gets better as I will continue to borrow my boyfriend’s copies. He doesn’t seem to be enjoying it much either, but I think he is holding out hope that the story becomes less… all over the place? The Flash television series should be starting up this year, so that might be my ticket to better understanding the Flash. I have had some experience with him, the Wally West version, in a Justice League cartoon. Otherwise, I am totally out of the loop on this hero. If anyone has recommendations for a better starting point, please let me know!

D

When things start to suck, go read Hyperbole and a Half!

hyperbole_and_a_half_book_1

Hello readers,

My birthday was on November 11th (yay!), and I am 25 now. For my birthday, my little sisters gave me Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh. Hyperbole and a Half started as a blog and has blossomed into a wonderful book. For those that don’t know yet, Hyperbole and a Half is like a memoir blog with horribly drawn pictures. Yet, it is so awesome that I can’t wait when Allie posts new content.

Hyperbole and a Half is one of the most sincere things you will ever read, either as a book or as a blog. When I get depressed or angry with myself, I often go onto Hyperbole and a Half to read about a plucky person who has experienced similar feelings or hang-ups. Allie is an amazing writer, and she has a way of conveying things that I never would have thought of.

It is a long story, but this is about how some people present solutions that don't really fit the problem. I spent a good 10 minutes laughing about this.

It is a long story, but this is about how some people present solutions that don’t really fit the problem. I spent a good 10 minutes laughing about this.

Her book is no different. While there is some older content in there from her blog, Allie shares new stories about her crazy childhood and her coping mechanisms. Some of which don’t always work, of course. This book is definitely worth checking out of your local library or purchasing from your local bookstore, even if the art turns you off! I promise, you will find yourself laughing about all the horrible things and leave with an understanding that you are not alone.

D reviews Neil Gaiman’s Sandman (1-10)

Hello readers!

I finally did it! I finished the original Neil Gaiman boxset, Sandman. It was an endeavor I started in August of 2012 and I am glad I finished its ‘original’ run. Of course, there are several side comics and two new(ish) volumes that weren’t counted toward in most of the boxsets, but I have finished the major players and I am free. It took me so long since the series aren’t necessarily just about Dream, the Sandman himself, no… its a series of stories about stories that sometimes have stories in them…

Dream is the King of Dreams and stories. His story is made up of other characters who have their own stories to tell… sometimes characters in their stories have stories that they share with the person who is currently telling the story… There is an Inception joke here somewhere…

Some of the stories presented were a lot to take in or had concepts that I couldn’t understand without having to stop to think about it first. Some of the stories were really easy to digest. Most of the stories were very engaging and I found myself wishing to hear more about the characters, but other stories were things I simply skimmed, because the characters weren’t interesting at all.

Its hard to recommend Sandman to any particular group of readers, whether they are Neil Gaiman fans, Graphic Novel fans, or otherwise… Your mileage may vary as to whether you find it to be a high work of art or a pretentious bore. The only advice I can offer anyone when it comes to trying on Sandman is to read it slowly, read it with an open mind, and don’t be afraid to take notes on the different characters you will meet during its course. There were more than a few times I had totally forgotten a character from a previous issue and had to figure out which story they came from.

Another hardship readers might find is the inconsistency of the art and character design since each section of every volume is drawn by different illustrators. You might find some art styles you love and others which you loathe. In terms of art, I think the first volume has possibly the worst art while the nineth volume had really easy to see art… of course, that is all personal preference! The best advice I can give about how to handle the shifting art style is to take it in as being apart of the stories being told. The art usually seems to reflect an element of the story. For character designs, its best to remember what individual characters look like in general, since there were a few characters I couldn’t recognize without a lot of context, such as their names.

These are all the same character, Rose Walker. As you can see... they only "kind of" look alike.

These are all the same character, Rose Walker. As you can see… they only “kind of” look alike.

Sandman is an adventure worth trying despite its varying levels of accessibility. While I may not have liked a couple of the stories and artists, I really enjoyed the series overall and found myself tearing up more than one time. Its definitely a crazy ride!

D listens to His Dark Materials! A series written by Philip Pullman. (Spoiler Alert: Bears are badass!)

Hello readers!

There will be spoilers!

I recently finished listening to all the  Listening Library/Random House Audio audiobooks in His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman. In order the books are: The Golden CompassThe Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass. While do enjoy reading, I found that I really enjoy listening to audiobooks in the car. I make about a 30 minute commute to work, so it helps me stay sane! I also detest the radio, so I don’t feel like I am wandering around stations.

The first thing I want to say about this series, in terms of audiobooks, is that it is read by a FULL CAST. That is something awesome! It means that each character has their own voice. At first I was worried I wouldn’t recall anything about the books specifically, but since the voice acting was superb I can recall even the slightest details about a character’s mannerism or feeling. The narrative itself was read by Philip Pullman, the author. You can tell from the get-go that he is very enthusiastic about the story and he really breathes life into parts of the book that, when I read it, seemed dull.

The stories conveyed in this book are nearly timeless and the protagonists feel like they could be real people. Lyra Belacqua, the main protagonist in The Golden Compass, is a willful child that prefers telling tall tales over the truth. Her companion, a daemon that all humans have in her world, is Pantalaimon; he is quick to warn her about all the negatives of her plans. They make a fantastic duo for the first book, but sadly their relationship seems to be put aside in The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass unless the plot calls for it. Will Perry is the protagonist introduced in the 2nd and 3rd novel. Will is a very strong, young boy who has been forced to go up because of his mother’s possible schizophrenic condition. He can be considered the main protagonist of The Subtle Knife and shares the lead protagonist role with Lyra for most of The Amber Spyglass

The voices for Lyra and Will were very solid. For whatever reasons, Will’s VA was changed for the last book to an older sounding boy. While the guy reading Will’s parts in TAS was very convincing, it was hard imagining him as a 13 year old boy. The rest of the cast, especially Lee Scoresby, were voiced very well. My one issue is that some of the men sounded the same, particularly Father Coram and Sir Charles. They were voiced by two different men, yet I would somehow confuse one for another until the context settled in.

As stated earlier, Lyra is the central figure of the first book, but goes from lead protagonist to being an “object” that Will wants to protect. When I say “object,” I don’t mean that she is being treated like an inanimate object, but rather, she is the object to Will’s subject. While the text/voice is in 3rd person omniscient, the narrator seems to focus on Will’s thoughts and feelings more often than Lyra’s once he is introduced. Lyra, in fact, spends a great deal of time in slumber while Will tries to rescue her in The Amber Spyglass. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but something that bothered me simply because I was under the impression that Lyra would remain as the main protagonist throughout.

As an atheist, I found the anti-religious themes in His Dark Materials a bit too unsettling. While I am not an advocate for or against religion, I thought the story did not represent enough sides to the theme. While there are likable Angels and some lower religious folk, any person actively associated with the church of Lyra’s world was written as a monster. I have no problems with questioning the authority of church hierarchy, but Pullman did a disservice by painting all the members of various church groups as villains. I think he missed an opportunity to explore characters that would love to change the church from the inside and help create the Republic of Heaven as Lord Asriel started.

Despite my complaints, the story was intriguing enough for me to keep listening. The conviction in the voices of the many actors grasped my attention and didn’t let go until the very end. The series is worth a read/listen if only for the unique way Lyra’s destiny plays out towards the end.

D reads A Song of Ice and Fire: A Storm of Swords, finished! (Spoilers: There are a lot of spoilers!)

Hello readers,

I have to admit that I have lied again. Instead of posting a thought every 200 pages, I simply finished the entire book, A Storm of Swords. I couldn’t resist it, because the book grabbed me and forced my eyes to hurt so very much. I have mentioned before that I hadn’t seen very much meaningful death in the Song of Ice and Fire series since Sean Bean Eddard Stark died. A Storm of Swords starts injecting the sense that no character is safe from death. What follows will be a ton of spoilers about this particular book, so if you hadn’t read it — wtf, go read it! This series is just getting BETTER and BETTER. I am completely and utterly pumped to read A Feast for Crows despite the low murmur of people that seemingly dislike that book.

Every character, except Bran Stark, experienced enormous changes. To their character, position, or otherwise. Things are happening, and most of them aren’t good. The Stark children, meaning the legitimate ones, are in dire situations. The symbolism of the Stag killing the Dire Wolf at the start of the whole series is becoming hazy with the children, because I had figured that keeping their Dire Wolf with them would keep them safe, but that’s turning out completely false. At this point, I don’t believe the Dire Wolves represent anything narratively. What the Dire Wolves have done is show us that those of Ned’s bloodline are Wargs, people that can see through the eyes of beasts.

Bran Stark’s story for the entirety of the novel was somewhat disappointing. Most of his segments involve hearing stories about old tournies, traveling North, and hiding from people. Things do pick up somewhat in the last two entries in Bran’s POV, which contain the sentiment that Bran and Jon might become united after so much has happened. Instead, though, Bran saved Jon Snow via Worg powers, then continued North through the wall with the help of Sam Tarly. Honestly, Bran’s POV is the only one I find to be forgettable in the whole novel, but I know in the next novel (or the one after, depending on how the next two work out) that Bran will be a much more important character since he is going to train his Warg powers… I think. Oh yeah, Bran can also Warg into people too. Specifically Hodor.

Hodor also dislikes being controlled by Bran. You can tell because he says HODOR.

Cat Stark spends most of her POV telling us how stupid and brave her son, Robb, is. She may not say those words directly, but I can sense that’s the impression we are meant to get. Robb has Ned’s honor, but Cat’s impulse. King Robb married some other female, not a Frey as was agreed, and lost thousands of men for it. The Freys hold the Twins, which is a bottleneck of sorts, plus they have a ton of men. When offered a chance to redeem himself by offering Edmure Tully’s hand in marriage to a Frey girl. Edmure is not pleased with the offer, since Frey girls are often homely in appearance, but King Robb has no choice but to take the bait chance. Robb honestly needs the Freys support to back him up and help him reclaim the Northern lands from the Iron Men.

When Cat Stark and Robb arrive, they are completely pleased to see that the girl offered to Edmure is actually a cute girl. Walder Frey gives Robb a lot of crap during the wedding. Then, when Cat thought everything would turn out okay, the Freys attack and kill Robb and many of his men. Cat actually kills a Frey she tried to use as a bargaining chip to save Robb’s life, and ultimately dies. This event would be known as The Red Wedding. The Freys even removed Robb Stark’s head and replaced it with Grey Wind’s head.

The action alone is completely wicked. I hope Walder Frey pays for this in some sort of over-the-top way.  Source

The Red Wedding is one of the most major climaxes in the novel. Not only is one of Eddard Stark’s children now dead, but the act also took one of the runners for the crown out of the game. Unlike many of the previous deaths of non-POV characters, Robb’s death brings with it not only whirlwinds of negative emotions, such as uncontrollable despair, but it changes many political alliances and WILL motivate revenge. One way or the other. The fan reaction to The Red Wedding was enormous. Tumblr alone is filled with a ton of reaction gifs and wails of “OMG WHY WHY WHY???” Here are common .gifs used to describe the sentiment about The Red Wedding:

Sad.gifs aside, the fan response to The Red Wedding seems overwhelming. So many people had such a depressed reaction to it. Like some, I did have to reread those pages to make sure I understood what was occurring correctly. Yes, Robb Stark truly died. Robb Stark wasn’t the only King to die in this novel, however.

Balon Greyjoy also dies in the novel. For those who may not remember, he is Theon’s father and a man who crowned himself King when Robb offered to help Balon out (I forget exactly how). His death is important for Theon, whose POV is curiously absent, who is the ‘rightful’ heir to the Greyjoy throne.

Lastly, Joffrey dies. Yes, that Joffrey. That repugnant 13 year old boy with a heart made of fail and cruel. Joffrey seems to choke, then die. Its discovered he may have been poisoned. Cersei and company believe its Tyrion’s doing, but we will go into that later. Joffrey is dead. HE IS DEAD. I couldn’t be happier about that. Sansa uses the confusion of his death to escape from King’s Landing and heads North with Petyr. More on that later as well. So many events are stirring with the death of these 3 Kings, but why did it happen so conveniently within a close time span?

King Stannis Baratheon put a Lord of Light spell on all 3, or at least asked the Lord of Light to kill them all. This was impart to see if the Lord of Light could be real. Stannis and the priestess Melisandre have become much bigger players in the book than I originally anticipated. The defeat near King’s Landing seemed to me to squash all hope there was for Stannis to become King. Davos, now Hand of the King to Stannis, reveals to Stannis that The Wall is under attack. Davos also lets Edric Storm, Robert Baratheon’s bastard, noble son, escape from Stannis and Melisandre. The two of him were planning to use his blood to wake all the dragons on Dragonstone from slumber. Davos is probably becoming one of my favorite characters, because he actually stands up for what he believes in. He is an average man, as he professes, that doesn’t know much about politics and war and religion, but he tries to keep Stannis from becoming an evil King.

After cursing those kings, Stannis heads to The Wall to help the Night’s Watch. Jon Snow and his brothers are all battling the wildlings, winning for the most part, but are outnumbered and don’t exactly have their own giants they may turn to for help. Jon Snow goes to speak with Mance once more, but they all become attacked as Stannis’ men join the fray. Mance’s wife has a child while her sister acts as a wet nurse. They 3 get captured by Stannis and the war with the wildlings is more or less over.

Jon Snow, during the battle, had to watch Ygritte die. It was a sad moment, because I knew there was probably no way she and Jon could stay together. I really liked Ygritte, because she really did seem like a high spirited young woman. I wonder if the show will remain faithful or try to keep her around for the obvious drama. After the conflict with the wildlings, Stannis offers Jon something unimaginable. A king may legitimize a bastard by royal decree, and with Robb, Rickon, and Bran all dead (or presumed dead), Jon Snow could become a Stark of Winterfell. For a moment, I was extremely excited that Jon Snow might not get treated so poorly. Jon Snow would marry Mance’s Wife’s sister (since Stannis seems to consider her something like a noble) and take Mance’s family with him to Winterfell to hold hostage. Gilly and Sam had made it to Castle Black with Gilly’s son, so Jon imagined that they could all go to Winterfell and be happy raising their children.

Sam, however, was unaware of this offer Jon Snow received, and was working to keep the corrupted ex-Gold Cloak from becoming Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch. Sam tried to sway the votes to go to one of the other elders who held 1/3 of the vote, but neither would yield if it meant the other elder would win. So Sam put up Jon Snow’s name instead, thus causing Jon to win the 2/3 votes needed to become Lord Commander. I am pretty excited about what may come from this new development, but I want Jon Snow to be happy so badly. I feel like he could die serving the Night’s Watch.

The Lannisters are as dysfunctional as ever. Jaime came home with Brienne, but Brienne was immediately imprisoned due to Sir Loras still suspecting her of killing Renly Baratheon. Jaime seems to speak up for Brienne and inform Loras that Brienne’s honor would be way to strong to allow her to murder Renly. Loras seems to accept this notion after awhile, and Brienne is allowed to leave King’s Landing with Oathkeeper, a sword made for Jaime from Ned Stark’s Ice. Jaime tells Brienne that her oath should cause her to look for and keep Sansa Stark safe from Cersei. He goes as far as to ready her with horse and other provisions as well as official documentation that she is on King Tommen’s business.

Sometimes I wonder if I should wear make-up too…

Jaime shows up just as Joffrey is being readied to get buried. Cersei is weeping for her late son in a church. Also Jaime and Cersei have sex right then and there. Awwwwkward! Despite that, I still love Jaime’s character… even though he did try to kill Bran. I have mixed feelings, I guess. Joffrey, however, pieces together that Joffrey had sent the assassin after Bran while Bran recovered in his bed. Jaime also learns that Tyrion has been put in the dungeon for the assassination of Joffrey. Tyrion, as we know, had nothing to do with it, but since he was the last one to poor wine for the king (at Joffrey’s behest), Tyrion is automatically guilty in most people’s eyes.

Tyrion spends most of his later POV rotting in a cell, wishing he could prove his innocence. Not even Varys can help him as Tyrion stands in court before Tywin, Tyrell, and Martell, a Dornish Prince visiting in hopes he can get the Mountain’s head. Between court trials, Tyrion cannot convince anyone to help him until Martell shows up. Martell offers to be Tyrion’s champion if he chooses to trial by combat. They both know the Queen will name the Mountain as her champion. Tyrion still opts to try to defend himself with words, but is undone by surprise witness Shae. Shae basically becomes a big bitch and accuses Tyrion of saying things during sex he never did. While I was reading her speech, I felt so depressed about how much Tyrion tried to protect her, but ultimately it came to a shrieking woman calling him an imp.

Tyrion then asks for trial by combat, and the Martell vs Mountain showdown occurs. Martell is obviously teasing the Mountain during the entire battle. Martell’s spear is coated in a black poison of some sort, and gets cuts and jabs in on the Mountain. Eventually, the Mountain overcomes Martell and kills the Prince. While Cersei gets the verdict she wanted, Tywin must have realized how terrible it would be for relations with Dorne. The Mountain has now killed a Prince and a Princess.

Tyrion is allowed to escape, because Jaime lets him out of his cell. Jaime loves his brother, that much is obvious to me. However, Jaime lets it be known that Tysha, Tyrion’s former wife, was not a whore as he was led to believe. Its very possible that the incident with the barracks was a rape which ended with Tyrion having sex with her after all she went through. Jaime says he was sorry for letting Lord Tywin know about Tyrion’s marriage to a legitimately good, lowborn person, but Tyrion cannot forgive Jaime at this time.

Tyrion meets up with Varys and they travel via the dark dungeons to freedom until Tyrion recognizes one of the rooms they venture through. He remembers that Shae and he had relations in this particular area and knew the way from this location to the room of the Hand. He asks Varys to wait for him a moment as Tyrion goes up to his former chambers. There he finds Shae naked in Tywin’s bed. She tries to plead with him, but Tyrion kills her. He then confronts his father, the Lord Hand, and demands to know where Tysha is. Tywin simply states that she went where all whores go. Tyrion didn’t like the answer, so he killed his father too. Honestly, I cannot blame him. Tyrion escapes and goes across the Narrow Sea to some unknown place.

Sansa Stark was said to be an accomplice of Tyrion’s, but she was just as unaware. She gets picked up by Sir Dontos, but she is delivered to Petyr Baelish. Lord Baelish kills Dontos, revealing that Dontos was under his coin this entire time. Baelish also reveals that he and the Queen of Thorns, Olenna, killed Joffrey. Olenna did not want her granddaughter, Margaery, to marry the cruel Joffrey. Margaery, presumably, knew about the poison as well, because she drank from the same cup. Good riddens, I say, because Joffrey was cruel and unusual. I hope Tommen doesn’t grow up to be like his brother. Baelish and Sansa head to Baelish’s house in the Vale where he dyes Sansa’s hair black and instructs her that she will pretend to be his bastard daughter, Alayne Stone, and that he will marry her aunt, Lysa Arryn.

Petyr and Lysa marry immediately at his house, Lysa overjoyed to finally marry the man of her dreams. This part confused me, because I thought she was still afraid to have anything to do with ANYONE. What the heck!? After they travel to the Eyrie, Sansa is sexually harassed by Marillion, Lysa’s musician. Lysa also proposes to marry Sansa to Robert Arryn, her sickly son. Still, Sansa tries to make due. She enjoys some time in the snow, and recreates Winterfell. She remembers her brothers and sisters, missing each of them very much.

Art by Akizhao

Then shit gets real. Petyr Baelish comes over and helps Sansa make her Winterfell. She is completely happy that at least Baelish is nice to her out of everyone. Then… he kisses her. Not a father-daughter kiss, but a romantic kiss. Sansa does not like this and asks Baelish to never kiss her again. He just seems to laugh and walk off. Lysa sees this and later summons Sansa to the throne room.

Lysa asks Sansa to stop trying to steal Baelish from her, because Baelish and Lysa are SUPER SERIOUS couple. Sansa defends herself by saying she would never do that, and that Baelish kissed her first. Lysa refuses to believe this and well… she spills a lot of beans.

  1. Lysa had sex with Baelish, even though he was in love with Catelyn Stark. She miscarries due to her father’s intervention.
  2. Lysa put Baelish in court by manipulating Jon Arryn, her husband.
  3. Lysa killed Jon Arryn at the behest of Petyr Baelish.
  4. Lysa blamed the death on the Lannisters, just as Baelish asked her to.

Baelish is basically behind the entire war in a major way. While Bran’s plummet helped accelerated it, Baelish and Lysa orchestrated enough misgiving to make the Starks upset with the Lannisters. I wouldn’t be shocked if Baelish helped Cersei kill the King, kill Ned (who wed his beloved Cat), he assisted with Joffrey’s death, and god knows what else he’s had a hand in. I don’t know what Baelish wants… but he’s a very creepy guy. Now with Cat gone, does he mean to marry Sansa and act like she is her mother? CREEPY. Oh, Petyr also pushes Lysa out of the moon door, something she was trying to do to Sansa, and blames it on Marillion. Less people that know the truth. Great!

Like father, like daughter.

Arya is not having a great time either. She is forced to travel with Sandor Clegane, who kidnaps her from the Brotherhood. Sandor begins to take Arya North in hopes to ransom her to her mother or brother. He no longer gives a damn about Joffrey, and, to me, seems kind of lost. They get into fights, but do eventually reach the Twins where Robb and Cat are about to get murdered by the Freys. The reach the outside wedding feast just in time to catch the action of the Freys killing everyone. Arya tries to run into the castle to help her mother, but Sandor knocks her out with the back of his axe and rescues her from that situation.

Finally, Arya and Sandor run into Tickler and co. Arya reclaims Needle and they all fight. Sandor kills one of them and Arya stabs the Tickler to death, but they both run off. Sandor is wounded in the battle and asks Arya for a clean death under a tree, but Arya instead walks off. She ventures to Saltpans and sells her horse. She gains passage to Braavos by using the coin that  Jaqen H’ghar gave her. This is where we leave off with Arya’s story, but I get the feeling she is going to try to train to be an assassin of some kind. Which will make her pretty badass.

I am so glad Arya x Gendry will not be happening ever. Most likely, anyway… I hope. I want Arya to be a STRONG WOMAN THAT DON’T NEED NO MAN.

Dany and her army have been up to great things. They’ve been conquering slave cities, freeing all the people, and gaining many followers. She has come to realize, however, that the cities she has left behind have reverted. Upset by this fact, Dany continues her assault on Meeren. Meeren was the largest of the slave cities. The owners of the city burnt and salted the land around Meeren in hopes to keep Queen Daenerys out and starved. Dany walks with Whitebeard through the crowd of those she had freed. Dany is attacked by the former captain of sellswords Dany now commands, but Whitebeard rescues her.

Dany, with gratitude, wants to knight Whitebeard, but he reveals who he truly is. He is Barristan Selmy. If you don’t recall, like I had a hard time doing, he is the former Lord Commander of the White Cloaks, the men whom guard the King’s life. He tells Dany that he is sorry for the disguise, but he wanted to know if Dany was a true Queen. He also apologizes for serving under the Usurper. Barristan then calls out Sir Jorah and explains that Jorah had been spying on Dany this whole time! Something we knew since Game of Thrones that Dany did not. Dany almost banishes the two of them together, because this is an awful lot of lying her top two men did to her. Instead, she orders them to enter the sewers of Meeren and find a way for her men to enter the gates. The two men accomplish their task and Dany takes the city of Meeren. She makes Barristan her Lord Commander of the Queen’s Guard, and exiles Jorah, who simply cannot stop being a twat. I’m sorry, but if he was just a bit less proud, Dany would have forgiven him easy.

Jorah is one of those characters I really liked, but when he just grabbed Dany the way he did earlier in the novel, I did a 180 on my feelings. Jorah is a knight, and while I knew his original mission was to spy on Dany… I just can’t believe he would act so gross with Dany. I get it. She looks like your ex-wife that hates you. Cool. Can you get over that please?

More like Champion of the Almost Date Rape.

This book was honestly the best in what I’ve read so far. While this is only the third book, it surpasses both the first and second novel. The second novel left me wanting somewhat, so for a while the first was best. ASoS is officially my favorite and I can’t wait to see what HBO will do with it. I know they made plans to divide it into two seasons, which is fine. Hopefully it gives GRRM the time he needs to complete the series, since its only 5/7 books thus far completed. I will be holding off on reading the fourth book, mostly because my head is still drowning in all the detail, information, and theories I concocted while reading ASoS.  AFfC should be way more epic than I am being led to believe by outside forces. I am sure it will be full of OH MY GOD moments and WTF.

Oh yeah, Catelyn Stark is now a zombie.

 

D reviews “At The End: A Post-Apocalyptic Novel” by John Hennessy (Spoiler Alert: This book is self-published!)

Hello Readers,

As some may have noticed from my Goodreads, I have read and finished the self-published novel At The End: A Post-Apocalyptic Novel by John Hennessy. The synopsis on the book’s Goodreads page was enough to sell me on the premise:

Night 1: 12 billion taken.

Day 1: Confusion.

Night 2: 13 billion taken.

Day 2: Panic.

Night 3: 13 billion taken.

Day 3: The fight for survival begins.

In 2048, the human population borders 39 billion after the termination of the birth control industry, and the realities of overcrowding have sunken into the minds of the world, until billions mysteriously go missing. In the wake of civilization’s collapse, a trio of teenage gamers from Washington struggle to endure. Maggy, a strong-willed intellectual, leads Darrel and Félix, two shy geeks, on an expedition down the west coast, as they try to determine the source of humanity’s downfall.

A YA post-apocalyptic sci-fi thriller.

The scale of the disappearances, the promise of seeing the ruins of an overpopulated world, and the protagonists being people I could relate to drew me in. I was a teen gamer once and I have a soft spot for post-apocalyptic settings. The premise of a world overcrowded by people via religious orders only to suddenly disappear was fascinating. What was the reason behind the sudden disappearances? What role would religion and the catholic church play (as was originally mentioned in the synopsis I read 3 months ago)? Would these gamers cling to the dark/light humor that tends to characterize gamers as a culture?

The synopsis also portrays Maggy as the strong female protagonist with two men as her co-stars. All-in-all, ATE sounded like a great read. For just $1 as an E-Book on Amazon.com, I decided to take a chance.

Boy was I in for some of the worst writing I had seen since my days of browsing Fanfiction.net.

“My Immortal” was probably the best thing ever written.

ATE starts innocently enough. Darrel, one of two of our POV characters, explains to us the hopelessness of the situation. The disappearances were sudden and his entire family disappeared on one of the first two days. He has been glued to the TV and tries not to consider the end of humanity. He is soon joined by his friend Felix who lost his family on the first day. Felix forces Darrel to change the channel to the news to get a sense of what is going on currently, and they manage to catch some news that featured footage of some figure attacking a woman in a savage fashion. Appalled, Darrel shuts the TV off and complains that he wants to continue living the way he has been. Ultimately, the two decide to leave and run into Maggy. Its all down hill from there.

ATE suffers from having a horrible antagonist protagonist in Maggy. Maggy is that GAMER GAL that takes photos of herself and puts it up on forums for attention. Maggy is that girl that thinks its okay for her to say shitty things to people’s faces because she is cute. Maggy is that girl in your guild that you know is just cockteasing the guildees and loves to start all the drama. Maggy is that girl that gives all female gamers a bad name.

You know a girl approves of a game system when she gets spit all over it.

Maggy’s POV in this book killed it for me. While the book is a modest 228 pages long, this novel took me nearly 3 months to read! While I can agree with the reviews that this book is a ‘fast read’ and I don’t dislike the pacing, I think Maggy’s blatant racism and shitty personality forced me to keep putting the book down. You see, Maggy is Asian. I don’t remember if Hennessy mentioned what nationality, but Maggy seems to believe that being Asian gave her the right to call Felix, someone of South American decent, ‘Tortilla’. I don’t know who gave the OK to Maggy on that, perhaps Felix just doesn’t like confrontation, but Maggy always calls him Tortilla even in the narrative of her POV chapters.

Maggy also calls Darrel ‘Jelly,’ because Darrel happens to be fat. While Darrel does eventually show an uneasiness about being called Jelly, Darrel doesn’t resolve this standing offense with Maggy until the last 2 pages of the novel. Felix, on the other hand, never has a heart-to-heart with Maggy. Oh, did I mention that Maggy and Felix are dating?

Probably because you keep calling me derogatory names, you jackass!

Maggy is the worst thing about this book. Maggy is also the person who came up with the name ‘Alion’ to describe the lion-looking aliens. Classic. She also spends a heck of a lot of time correcting others when they call the aliens what they are: aliens. Maggy always just says “Alion,” when adults are seriously discussing what to do or what is going on.

Aside from Darrel confronting her on the last couple of pages, Maggy doesn’t seem to suffer any retribution about her behavior. Darrel is obviously crushing on her, but she keeps Felix quiet about their relationship. Why? The only thing I can come up with is because she wants to have both boys fawning over her. Maggy also is seemingly jealous of Penelope (a character introduced to become Darrel’s love interest as far as I can tell), but the author never takes these love triangles anywhere. Darrel realizes his friends are dating early on in the novel, but chooses to say nothing even though it clearly has hurt his feelings. Felix clearly feels guilty for the first third of the novel, but Maggy seems to keep him quiet with their promises of secret hugs. Penelope and Darrel get along very nicely and Darrel gets over Maggy quickly, and that’s that. These connections have no barring on the story or character development other than Darrel.

Darrel is an alright character. He’s supposed to be a lovable loser, fat, and geeky all in one. Darrel spends a hefty amount of his POV being hungry, scared, and thinking about blood rushing to his youknowwhere. Okay, scratch that, Darrel’s character could use some rewriting. He’s 17 years old, but he along with his pals act like they are just hitting puberty. Darrel was the only main character I really liked, because he was the only one to experience any sort of growth as a person by the end of the novel. My biggest regret is that Penelope, his love interest, is only a love interest. At first, I really loved Penelope’s character. She was the foil to Maggy’s shitty personality, but the minute she was flirting with Darrel after her cousin had just died… I knew it was too good to be true.

Its kind of like this, except she gets more turned on the more messed up SHE is.

Darrel needed a catalyst to break him out of being a coward. I understand, because having to protect someone and feeling responsible for them is a quick way to mature a character. What I cannot stand is that Penelope stops being a likable female main character (which is desperately needed in this novel) and becomes a prop. There is no reason, not even hormonal reasons, why Penelope would be all over Darrel after losing her cousin, being parted from her siblings ‘for good’, and aware that being stuck on the alien UFO meant they would most likely die. I could go on, but I think my point is pretty clear. Just no.

Felix, on the other hand, has no character. He is supposed to be another main character, but he is just Maggy’s prop boyfriend that responds to the name ‘Tortilla’. Felix doesn’t seem to express any emotions other than ‘I love you, Maggy,’ and ‘Rawr, shoot aliens.’ Even with the latter, Felix doesn’t seem to have that much fun with it or at least I can’t find any of his fun written into the narrative.

Then there is a narrative. The writing itself is like its own character. It often repeats itself or the dialogue, it often makes up words like whisper-scream, and it often makes shit up.

From XKCD.com. I’m pretty sure if the author bothered to read any part of his novel out loud, he’d realize it too.

These teenagers also get into about 5 LARGE accidents. The first one was with a car going over 100 MPH. I would check, but I’m afraid my IQ might drop some more. There is another accident that involves a bus basically going into a ditch, but that’s okay. NO ONE GOT HURT. In fact, the worst pain to come out of these car accidents is a nose bleed. Swell. Michael Bay would be proud if John Hennessy just added explosions.

There are also several minor characters such as Jacob, the Twins, Burnhammer… too bad they are way cooler than the main cast, but got tossed to the side in favor of ‘gamers’ be the protagonists. John Hennessy seemingly kills off the characters that seem to be taking the situation seriously as well. Who needs seriousness in a book about aliens that kidnap and eat people?

By the way, the entire synopsis was misleading. The ban of birth control came up ONE TIME, overpopulation of Earth prior to the mass exodus of humans has UNSEEN effects in the book (no evidence of slums, discontent, shortage of food), and this novel is not post-apocalypse. This novel is DURING apocalypse sometimes also called pre-apocalypse. Here is a major spoiler: In the later part of the book, you find out the global defense system for Earth was lifted by some senators so that the aliens, who were fighting and losing some other war, could come and take some humans from Earth as a meal. Of course, the entire plan went wrong and now humans are nearly extinct cause of these idiots. They SAY that the Earth was suffering from such a massive population, but Hennessy never SHOWED us anything. The kids were in a nice neighborhood and the most we saw, affect wise, was how green energy is the only energy for Earth now. Everything is solar or wind powered. Oh, and everyone has asthma. That isn’t what I expected. I could have lived with the awful characters if the setting had been CORRECT to the description given.

In my opinion, since the author has been through some revisions already, I believe these things will make the book better:

  1. Don’t call this post-apocalypse. Its a pre-apocalypse. You might get less negative reviews from die hard genre fans if you fixed this.
  2. The characters should be de-aged. They don’t act like 17 year olds. They act like 10 year olds, but you could get away with 12-13. Jacob + everyone else can remain their ages. It would make the dialogue between everyone make WAY better sense.
  3. Stop saying URHM. Entirely. I don’t care how many urhms you already cut out of this novel, because it ALL needs to go. Also take out ‘Melted’. I just can’t stand it when its said in the narrative.
  4. Make the crashes in this book less severe in their occurrence. It takes me completely out of the reality of the book whenever I see one. I don’t mind that this is like a Michael Bay book, but Neo-Plastic doesn’t negate physics. It doesn’t matter how soft the inside of the car is, if you hit something going 100 MPH or more, you go splat. Hell, even at 30 MPH, with no seat belt, bad things happen to you.
  5. Stop calling them Alions or force some characters to shrug Maggy’s stupid name off. An army officer isn’t going to start seriously calling them Alions. Most people will not take that name seriously. Maybe Maggy’s little boytoys will, but she doesn’t have everyone wrapped around her finger.
  6. Drop Maggy’s POV from the book and rewrite it from Felix’s POV. Have Felix confront Maggy. Have Darrel confront Maggy during their time in the Mall. Anything other than the last 10% of the damn book. Either do these things or don’t let Maggy call them those idiotic names at all. ESPECIALLY TORTILLA. Its stupid and racist.
  7. Change Penelope into a real person. She becomes so boring to read after she becomes a prop for Darrel to grow the hell up. She wouldn’t try to make out with him after all she’s been through and you know it. Darrel should at least not accept her advances because the only reason she WOULD act that way is because she feels completely MESSED up.
  8. Proofread your novel out loud. I am not the master of English when I write blogs and stuff, but damn, you let just you and your closest family and friends read this. Probably not out loud either. Get an editor, post this novel on the internet and ask for revisions when it comes to your writing with regards to: structure, word choice, redundancies. These are your weakest areas in the narrative.

When it comes to this author, my biggest issue is that he’s a defensive guy. While reading this book, I found the author pestering people that gave him low star reviews. What follows will be a quote of the review in question, with a link, followed by a screenshot of what the author replied to that review. Screenshot because for all I know this author might go into “delete fucking everything” mode. Just kidding, he has already deleted most of the comments and stuff I had found on the internets a couple months ago. They were all basically like this.

Some have written that this is a valid book for adults and kids, but I can only recommend it for kids – and under 13 at that.

While the initial premise – disappearing population that takes place only over a couple of days – is intriguing, it’s quickly apparent that the author only wants to rehash various plots and problem-solving puzzles from the video games he’s played as a teen. (An apparently asthmatic teen, as the author weaves a world in which everyone is addicted to inhalers and speaks Universal Standard Phlegm.)

Our “hero” is a chubby asthmatic himself that spends almost all of the book wondering where his next meal is coming from and/or whining about not getting enough to eat. I’m just guessing that, in an actual world of danger set up the way the book does, I’d be a little less worried about cheese crackers and a bit more concerned about staying alive.

When not agonizing over food and eating up every scrap presented to him (even at the expense of others), our “hero” also gets “tingly sensations down there” when he meets a new girl. Honestly. That’s essentially how it’s written. Another reason why I think anyone who has actually gone through puberty will want to pass this book by.

Meanwhile, our “hero” and his friends spend approximately 4 seconds in angst, sadness, disconsolation and wonder about their parents, families, cousins, everyone else they ever knew, who are suddenly gone. Indeed, there’s little more than a “ho hum” about their fate. But of course, who cares about Mom and Dad when there’s a new gun to be shot?

The aliens (and I refuse to use the too-cute-by-half name the author literally forces down the reader’s throat) are unsophisticated, apparently easily fooled and killed, and essentially contrived. Oh, and one note to the author: You do realize that there is no gravity in Earth orbit, yes? I mean, with so much attention spent on the vacuum of space, you surely didn’t forget about weightlessne — oh, I guess you did.

There are glimpses of good writing here, although like most indie authors in their 20s, there are the painfully obvious homonym and grammar errors scattered across the text. These combine with the plot holes and unexplained subplots (the “hero” gets weak in the third act, then it goes away – ?!?) to produce a story that might hold the attention of a pre-teen, but is far too incomplete to recommend to anyone over 13.

Two “uhrms,” which would have been plenty of use of this gross throat-clearing sound for the whole book, although the author sees fit to make SURE we know the main character has gunk in his throat by using this construction 36 times. Yeesh.

From Amazon.com, review by Denver Brian. John Hennessy’s response:

I like his use of ‘…’ Clearly, he is William Shattner.

I’ll say it here. I don’t hate the author or anyone that likes this book. I just really hate the book. Its poorly written and needs a complete rewrite. On Goodreads, this book has been changed to be book # 1 of a series. The author wants to make a sequel. I implore him to fix the issues with this first book, because its seriously on 13 year old boy fanfiction level.

Then again, E.L. James wrote a fanfiction and made millions…

This book was used for a Twitter based book club: http://www.twitter.com/3girls1book