Newsflesh: Feed and Deadline Trailer

It’s no secret that I love zombies and I am a big fan of Mira Grant‘s zombie novels. If you’ve been a reader of my blog for a while, you know how many times I’ve raved about Feed, the first book of the Newsflesh trilogy, and how much I am waiting for Deadline, the next book. I love my zombies, and I think Mira Grant (aka Seanan McGuire) does it best.

I’m about 2/3 done with Deadline (I would have finished earlier but I decided to reread Feed to refresh myself), and I honestly don’t want the book to end yet. I’m at that point where I know anything can happen, and I can’t help but hold my breath and wait for everything to just explode in my face. So far this book has broken my heart twice, and I bet there’s more coming. But I will reserve that for a proper review after I’m done and finished processing the book.

On the upside, someone made a really cool trailer for Feed and Deadline:

YouTube Preview Image

It’s not exactly how I thought Shaun’s voice sounded like, but the tone is definitely his. Very far from what a Defective Product Attorney would sound like, I think. No spoilers on the trailer, but I think it’s enough to make people curious about the series. And look, the cover of Blackout, the third book, is shown at the end!

I love this series. And I’m kind of sad that I’m almost at the end of the book because it’s going to take another whole year before the next one comes out. Ah, the wait! :o

So if you haven’t read this series, I urge you: read it. It’s not just a zombie novel, I promise. Rise up while you can.

The Dark and Hollow Places

The Dark and Hollow Places by Carrie RyanThe Dark and Hollow Places by Carrie Ryan
The Forest of Hands and Teeth # 3
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Number of pages: 384
My copy: ebook from Amazon Kindle Store

There are many things that Annah would like to forget: the look on her sister’s face before Annah left her behind in the Forest of Hands and Teeth, her first glimpse of the Horde as they swarmed the Dark City, the sear of the barbed wire that would scar her for life. But most of all, Annah would like to forget the morning Elias left her for the Recruiters.

Annah’s world stopped that day, and she’s been waiting for Elias to come home ever since. Somehow, without him, her life doesn’t feel much different than the dead that roam the wasted city around her. Until she meets Catcher, and everything feels alive again.

But Catcher has his own secrets. Dark, terrifying truths that link him to a past Annah has longed to forget, and to a future too deadly to consider. And now it’s up to Annah: can she continue to live in a world covered in the blood of the living? Or is death the only escape from the Return’s destruction?

* * *

One of the first zombie books that I really wanted to read last year was Carrie Ryan‘s The Forest of Hands and Teeth. I remember reading a review of it in Persnickety Snark, and after some hesitation (after all, the title felt a little too gloomy for my taste), I decided to get it to see what it was about. Suffice to say that it rekindled my love for zombies that I first had during days of playing Resident Evil with my brother, and introduced me to the sad and hopeless world of the Unconsecrated.

It’s hard to believe that a little over a year later after blogging about the first two books, I read and finished the third book in the trilogy. I’ve always been a fan of Carrie Ryan’s work. There’s a certain beauty in the way she writes despite the somber and hopeless mood, and I cannot helped but be sucked into the world of the Unconsecrated, where the living count the days before they turn into one of the shuffling mass of undead, hungry for human flesh. They aren’t exactly the best zombie books I’ve read, but they are very good novels IMO, living up to the zombie folklore and dystopia theme.

Spoiler warning: Spoilers from the first and second book will be in this review. Read with caution.

The final book in the trilogy, The Dark and Hollow Places picks up shortly where The Dead-Tossed Waves ended. However, instead of Gabry, Mary’s adopted daughter, we meet Annah, her lost twin, waiting for Elias to come back. To recap, Elias had left to join the Recruiters so he could earn money for him and Annah to get by in the Dark City. He also did this to find Abigail, now known as Gabry, to make up for his guilt in leaving her behind in the Forest of Hands and Teeth years ago, taking Annah with her. Annah has lived with not only that guilt but also tried her best to be invisible after suffering from an accident, leaving her entire left side scarred for life.

Annah has been waiting for Elias to return for three years and on the day she decides to leave the Dark City to look for him, she sees a surprise: her sister. As she searches for her sister in the city, she meets Catcher who saves her. Mysterious Catcher who is immune to the Unconsecrated and knows about her past. It is with him that Annah is forced to face the ghosts of her past that she longed to forget, and decide if there is still hope in a world that has been pretty much dead for a long time.

What a ride The Dark and Hollow Places was. One thing that kept on going through my mind as I was reading this was: This is it. This is what I missed with all the “dystopia” novels I’ve been reading. As with the first two books, the world building was fantastic. I figured out where in the world the Dark City was based, and that just made everything more real to me. I loved how it was so easy to be immersed in the world and feel the same emotions that the characters were feeling. There was no need to explain why or how things happened, and you just believed in what the book says: the world is dead. The people are dying. The Unconsecrated will not stop until they get their fill of flesh. Perhaps it’s because it’s set so many years into the future, or maybe because the author used zombies. Still, reading this was a breath of fresh air amongst all the books that try but fail to be dystopia. It reminded me of why I fell in love with this sub-genre in the first place.

Other than the world building, I found the characters in this novel just as awesome. I think Annah is my favorite among all of Carrie Ryan’s heroines. She’s tough and broken at the same time, and the growth of her character in this book was a pleasure to read. She’s hardly whiny and she’s brave — probably even braver than Gabry or Mary. I also liked that the relationships Annah had with Elias, Gabry and Catcher were very developed. The romance was just right, and both characters have justifiable angst that made them hesitate with their feelings, making their coming together even more satisfying to read.

Despite some possibly dragging moments (just a little, really), The Dark and Hollow Places had me at the edge of my seat, especially in the last few pages. The ending, just like the first two novels, was kind of bleak, but still full of hope, leaving the readers wishing the characters well. This book delves into the idea that all of us are going to die eventually, with or without the Unconsecrated, and given this fact, what are we doing about it? Are we choosing to simply survive day by day, or are we choosing to live?

I know some of my bookish friends didn’t like the first book in this trilogy, and it kind of makes me sad that they wouldn’t want to read up to this book given their impression on The Forest of Hands and Teeth. The Dark and Hollow Places is probably my favorite of all three, and it is a very satisfying end to a beautiful zombie trilogy. I am definitely looking forward to what Carrie Ryan comes up with next. :)

Rating:

Other reviews:
Good Books and Good Wine

Reviews of other The Forest of Hands and Teeth Books:
The Forest of Hands and Teeth
The Dead-Tossed Waves

Hungry For You

Hungry for You by A.M. HarteHungry For You by A.M. Harte
1889 labs, 84 pages

“There is no greater drug than relationships; there is no sweeter death than love.”

Love is horrible. It’s ruthless, messy, mind-altering, and raw. It takes no prisoners. It chews you up and spits you out and leaves you for dead. Love is, you could say, very much like a zombie.

In this haunting short story collection, anything is possible—a dying musician turns to tea for inspiration; a police sergeant struggles with a very unusual victim; a young wife is trapped in a house hiding unimaginable evil….

With Hungry For You, A.M. Harte explores the disturbing and delightful in an anthology that unearths the thin boundary between love and death.

When we say the word “zombies”, the first thought is always about a virus that makes dead people…well, undead. It could be just a fluke, or a scientific experiment gone wrong, but either way, the virus spreads and everyone gets infected save for a few lucky (or unlucky ones, depending on where they get stuck) who try to live and survive amongst their undead companions.

That is almost usually the common thread for zombie novels which can get really tiring if you read about it over and over again. Every once in a while, though, we get some deviants to the norm, where zombification comes from the most ridiculous sources and yet it’s still believable (case in point: Zombicorns by John Green). I like reading these story lines because really, how many times will I read about a virus that makes people want to eat other people while they rot and shuffle and mumble, “Brains”?

British author A.M. Harte is one of those who takes the zombie folklore and spins it around to give us a different taste of zombies (pun intended). When she emailed me about sending me a review copy of her anthology, Hungry For You, I was kind of hesitant to agree because it sounded so paranormal romance, and I tend to stay away from those books nowadays. However, in the spirit of Valentine’s Day, I decided to go for this, thinking that I would need to read a paranormal every now and then.

Surprisingly, I liked Hungry For You. I was thinking it would be another so-so read because of the paranormal romance angle, but I was pleasantly surprised. This is a collection of short stories about love and well, zombies. But like I said, the author spins the zombie folklore around, focusing on different aspects of romance and zombies, giving the creatures we all love to read and talk about and kill with pea-shooters and sunflowers a different approach altogether. Some of the stories may not even really count as a zombie story if you’re a purist, but the characters acted so much like zombies that you’d really think they were infected.

I was constantly surprised by the stories in this collection, and sometimes even slightly grossed out but that’s just me being squeamish (I still wonder why I like zombies so much when I feel squeamish easily). The stories were creative, funny, romantic and sad — just like what I think romance novels are. The paranormal angle isn’t really overwhelming, which I really appreciated, and I think other people who are tired of the usual paranormal will be pleased about that too. (Oh, but hey, they say zombies aren’t paranormal but more science fiction — thoughts?)

Personal favorites: Hungry For You, Swimming Lessons,  A Prayer to Garlic (“vegetarian” zombies!), The Perfect Song (almost similar to Zombicorns in terms of how people become zombies, but sadder) and Arkady, Kain and Zombies (sweet and tragic all at the same time). I think there is something for everyone in A.M. Harte’s Hungry For You. I like it when a book surprises me. :) I’m curious to what A.M. Harte will come up with next. :)

Hungry For You is available on ebook from Amazon Kindle store and Smashwords. The paperback version will be out in March 2011.

Rating:

My copy: ebook, review copy from the author. Thank you! :)

Cover and blurb: author’s website

Other reviews:
Doubleshot Reviews
mari’s randomnities
Attack of the Book

Rot & Ruin

Rot & Ruin by Jonathan MaberryRot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry
(Benny Imura # 1)
Simon & Schuster, 458 pages

In the zombie-infested, post-apocalyptic America where Benny Imura lives, every teenager must find a job by the time they turn fifteen or get their rations cut in half. Benny doesn’t want to apprentice as a zombie hunter with his boring older brother Tom, but he has no choice. He expects a tedious job whacking zoms for cash, but what he gets is a vocation that will teach him what it means to be human.

I missed my zombies. The last time I read a full-length zombie novel was back in November, Married with Zombies, and it wasn’t really an awesome read at that. I think I got a bit grossed out with the surprising gore part in that novel that’s why I took a break from reading zombie novels. Then the holidays came and I didn’t want to read about the living dead so I just let them wait a bit more. John Green’s Zombicorns whetted my appetite for zombies again, so I got the closest one from my TBR and devoured it last weekend.

Devour. A funny term to use for a zombie novel, but that is exactly what I did for Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry. I was in the middle of reading Emma then, and I wasn’t going anywhere with it, so I decided to take a break with the classic and start this one. Rot & Ruin tells the story of Benny Imura, a fifteen-year-old boy who lives in one of the villages in a post-apocalyptic America. It has been 13 years since the First Night, the night when the dead rose and infected the living. Benny lives with his older half-brother, Tom, a famous bounty hunter who prefers to be called a closure specialist. Benny hates his brother because he thought him as a coward from his first memory of his parents getting infected during the First Night. As part of their village’s rules, Benny has to find a part time job when he turns fifteen, and because of the lack of choices, he ends up being an apprentice under his brother. A day in the Rot and Ruin changes Benny’s life, and he finds that maybe all the things he knew and believed about his brother may be wrong. The question is, will Benny be able to live up to what his brother stands for when it’s really needed?

When I asked Aaron which I should read first when I was choosing between this and Charlie Higson’s The Enemy, he told me to pick Rot & Ruin if I wanted heart over gore. And he’s true: this is a zombie novel with a heart. I liked how Maberry showed the human aspect of the zombies, weird as that may sound. But if you really think about it, zombies are from humans. I’m not saying they are humans, but they were — they’re a brother, sister, father, mother, lover, friend. Video games and movies show that zombies are mindless monsters in search for human brains that need to be killed to stop the infection, but the human side, the loss, is not often discussed. The author did a very good job in showing us these emotions, and showing us that even in the midst of a world where zombies are a curse, there’s a humane way in treating them and making them (and the loved ones they left behind) move on in peace.

Rot & Ruin‘s world was very believable, and I liked how Maberry created Benny’s village. There’s a stifling, almost oppressive aura in the village, one that pressed on the characters until they have no choice but to leave. I liked how the author used this to make the characters move from their sheltered homes to the outside world. In a way, Benny’s village could be any place in the present world, minus the zoms — anywhere where people are happy with how they live even if it means turning a blind eye to injustices happening around them is the same as Benny’s world, and maybe even worse. Rot & Ruin is not just about killing zombies, but a book about humanity and family.

This is probably one of the other zombie novels I’ve read that has almost lived up to the love I have for Feed by Mira Grant. I think I may just be partial to Feed more because I could relate to the characters better since they’re bloggers (and Georgia is just so awesome, too). Nevertheless, I highly recommend Rot & Ruin for those who want to read a very good book with zombies in it. I am looking forward to Benny’s return in Dust & Decay this year.

Rating:

My copy: borrowed from Aaron (which we gave him as a birthday gift :) )

Cover and blurb: Goodreads

Other reviews:
Guy Gone Geek
taking a break
My Favorite Books

Zombicorns

Zombicorns by John Green
Project for Awesome contribution, 72 pages

There are a few authors who can do nothing wrong as far as I am concerned, and John Green is one of them. I’ve been seeing him tweet about a novella he was writing, but I never thought it would be released, and never thought what it was about. And then Aaron tweets about it, and I jumped in my seat. A zombie novella by John Green? And the title — does this mean there are unicorns? It was like a dream come true!

Zombicorns tells the account of Mia, a zombie apocalypse survivor in search of meaning in a bleak world. Technology and reliable document management solutions has fallen because of the rise of the zombies, so Mia’s only hope of getting her message across was this account of her life in the apocalypse. It’s a first person account that has the same kind of snark and unique to Green’s characters, despite the lack of geekiness in Mia. The circumstances that brought about the apocalypse in Zombicorns was funny and unexpected, and these zombies are the most unusual I’ve read so far. Not that I’m complaining — anything is possible in an apocalyptic novel, IMHO.

The best thing about this novella is how deep it goes. True to the John Green signature, this novel is funny and still it manages to capture human emotion in the unique way he does. The seriousness of Mia’s questions about life almost took me by surprise, but in a good way. It goes to show how good John Green is with the things he decides to write about. I didn’t even notice the lack of editing for Zombicorns — it’s even better than any of my drafts. (But hello — this is John Green we are talking about. I am not worthy to compare!)

I may be biased to say that this is a good read because I love the author, but it is a good one. If you can’t find any of his books yet, this may be a good one to start with. After all, it’s free. What’s there to lose, right? :)

Let me retract what I said on the first paragraph, though: there really are no unicorns in this story. This just means I have yet to read about actual zombie unicorns. Darn it.

Rating:

My copy: PDF, free download

Cover: from PDF

Other reviews:
Goodreads