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.

 

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D sucks at DotA 2: Wait, this is Single Draft!?

Good morning readers,

As promised, I have some news about my progress playing Dota 2. Spoiler Alert: I am pretty bad at characters I don’t know how to play. Now, I’m going to preface the hard stats with information, because it’s 100% necessary and informs you about the kind of trolls I find myself playing with. P.S. these are my friends, which compounds the sadness.

My boyfriend and our mutual friends have been playing bot games. They are actually quite good at this game, so I am not 100% certain why they only play bot games lately. It could be because I am only good at a small handful of characters, whereas if we cue together as a team of five we will be facing my hard support counterpart player that can play more than 3 characters.

The Three L’s.

I’ve been playing bot games myself to practice new characters as well as get some sort of rhythm for last hitting. I have discovered that carrying can be fun, but I am bad at last hitting unless its Riki or Lifestealer. I did enjoy playing my bot game as Visage, but I know I made a lot of microing mistakes that any regular player could capitalize on. Finally, in theory, I could carry a game if I am able to farm. My issue with trying to carry on any of the above listed characters is that once something impedes my farm, I am likely not to catch up. I can try jungling, but enemy players are better about wards and ganks.

My overall win rate, including the game I am about to talk about, is 57.14% for regulars. In matchmaking, I have a 20 – 15 W/L ratio. Lich is my most played followed  by Lina, then Lion. The reasons I stick to these three are very simple:

  1. Lich’s port to HoN was Plague Rider. Aside from different move speed, they were both identical. I learned how to play HoN on Plague Rider, so it was only natural to play Lich to transition into Dota 2.
  2. Lina’s port to HoN was Pyromancer. He was a character I learned how to play so that I could learn how to land ‘skillshot’ type moves. Pyromancer and Lina are identical in every way aside from slight number tweaks and different casting distances. For example, Lina’s Dragon Slave is longer than Pyromancer’s… or vice versa. I forget.
  3. Lion’s port to HoN was Witch Slayer. He was a BAMF. My desire to play this character was simply because his voice was kind of sexy. His abilities also seemed to be like Pyromancer mixed with Politoad Priest (Shadow Shaman). I was not very bad with him at all.
  4. Even though I played Voodoo Jester (Witch Doctor), Glacius (Crystal Maiden), Pharoah (Clockwerk Goblin), and the occasional Swiftblade (Juggernaut) their ports were way different than the characters they were 90% based on. One of the reasons I have yet to pick up and play Crystal Maiden isn’t due to her counterpart in HoN being different, but because I always found Glacius boring… even if I did once get a quad kill solo. (I will try to upload a replay of it just to show off!)

Since the start of Dota 2, I played mostly matches made in lobbies and the only matches that show up on my dotabuff page are my matchmaking ones. Here are the stats of my “Most played” heroes:

My stats as Lich are very overwhelming given my comfort playing Lich. Lich needs no real farm to do what he does. Lich is easy denies even if the game doesn’t count them (a peeve of mine, since I have more than 20 denies on any given Lich game). Lich also fits the type of support I like to play. Given the shift in the metagame since I’ve been at school its clear to me that I need to branch out and try other heroes. Lina works well enough against the current push strats and her ultimate is good enough to kill most characters in a gank. Lion is basically the same way, though I find him a little more farm dependent than Lich or Lina. Seeing that 100% wr on Witch Doctor I wonder if I should pick him up more often. He’s another character that relies on little farm and provides reliable skills for a gank… especially in conjunction with Faceless Void.

What you don’t see in that list are any true junglers. Alas, I am terrible at jungling and usually end up underfarmed and underleveled whenever I try to play a jungler. This comes off as laughable and pathetic to most players since the jungle is the safest place to farm and usually you can do it uncontested. My biggest problem is not knowing when to gank on any junglers. The ‘best’ jungler I played was Legionnaire (a port of Axe that was somewhat different and had a mechanic to ‘guarantee’ spins), and I was only able to do well if I was on a groove and farmed a portalkey/blink quickly.

So last night I was hanging out with my boyfriend and we decided to play bot games with our friends. We played a couple bot games, but then one of our friends decided to queue us up for a real matchmaking game. We had no idea and he didn’t tell us. We weren’t on skype or any other team speak program, so we had no way of communicating. We were also a 5-man team with at least 2 players (including myself) that weren’t the best or were limited in what we knew how to play.

I’m pretty sure this was the enemy team last night.

What came up as the queue ended was Single Draft, and my boyfriend and I looked at each other. The look on my face was probably one of extreme despair. Being parted from my Three L’s wasn’t fun, especially when it came as a complete shock to me. I found out my boyfriend had Treant in his pool, so I was about to ask for a swap until someone mentioned in chat there is no hero trades in Single Draft for DotA 2. On top of that one of our friends, also taken by surprise, was unable to buy items, so we used up like 20 pauses just to let him restart a few times. As usual, the enemy team kept unpausing, so the game was out the a horrible start. In my hero pool there was an Enigma, a Brewmaster, and a Spectre. Any great player would have picked up Enigma or Brew and would have felt great about their chances. I, on the other hand, was ready to call GG already.

I don’t usually take on a defeatist attitude. Even in games where we are leaning on the losing side heavily, I always do my best. Sometimes if my team doesn’t give up on life, we are able to make great comebacks. Especially if our team has carry power and the enemy team doesn’t. While I did do my best this game, I was forced to take Enigma over Spectre and Brewmaster. Brewmaster’s ult takes microing skills I am not confident in and Spectre requires me to actually be able to farm consistently. Given the way MM works in DotA 2 (giving you skilled enemies if you are team queuing) and my lack of ability, I was totally unready to ‘try’ out any hero I didn’t practice extensively.

I choose Enigma for reasons other than the ones listed above. I also had played Tempest, Enigma’s port, in HoN. I was really bad at it, but he had a skill set I was familiar with. If I could land 2-3 people Black Holes it would probably be enough to secure those kills. My boyfriend ended up having to pick Furion out of his set, so it was up to me and one of his friends to lane together since neither of us were good enough to take the hard lane. We started on Dire side and worked our way into top lane. I picked up courier and the recommended items aside from the 3 starting clarities. I opted to get more health regen, I think, because I didn’t want to  risk feeding due to low HP. Cow, the guy I was laning with, chose Razor from his pool of heroes.

I denied a creep in our wave with Demonic Conversion, but for a hefty amount of 170 mana I wasn’t willing to try to play Enigma like Lich. I get very flustered whenever I try to play heroes that have some micro abilities. It occurs to me now that I should have stayed in lane and tried to annoy the Dark Seer and Beastmaster in our lanes. I was busy trying to stack camps and ward in the early game, while engaging in a few ganks top lane. We were up 10 kills in the first part of the match, so I thought perhaps we could win. That was until Tiny and Pudge realized that they could feed on Razor and I. Razor played very bravely and I was squishy in general due to being underleveled and underfarmed.

I wish this really was a skin for Pudge.

The enemy team had no carry aside from Beastmaster, and our team had a Templar Assassin. Due to some miscommunication, I think, the friend who trolled us pretty hard took Nyx Assassin. Awkwardly, the guys are brothers IRL and they both wanted mid it seemed. Nyx ended up going to hard lane bot and I don’t think he had a fun time down there. Granted, had it been I or Razor it would have been a really big feedfest probably. The enemy team had a Venomancer and so, by picking us off, they were able to push us into our base and ultimately win. It was kind of fun, but needless to say I need to work on playing all the characters before I engage in another Single Draft!

3/16/10? Obviously trained by ChuaN himself.

If there is one thing I was proud of that game, if I was capable of looking past all the failure on my part, it was that I did land at least 2 great Black Holes. One of them was mid on 3 heroes and another was on 4 on top tower near the end of the game.