Torch those z’s

Z by Michael Thomas FordZ by Michael Thomas Ford
Publisher: HarperTeen
Number of pages: 288
My copy: hardbound, bought from Fully Booked

The First Rule of Torching: Cleanse with fire.

Josh is by far the best zombie Torcher around—at least, he is in his virtual-reality zombie-hunting game. Josh has quickly risen through the player ranks, relying on the skill, cunning, and agility of a real Torcher.

The Second Rule of Torching: Save all humans.

But luckily for Josh, zombies exist only in the virtual world. The real zombie war is now more than fifteen years in the past, and the battle to defeat the deadly epidemic that devastated his family—and millions of others—is the stuff of history lessons.

The Third Rule of Torching: You can’t bring them back.

Charlie is the top-ranked player in the game. Since all the players are shrouded in anonymity, Josh never expects Charlie to be a girl—and he never expects the offer she makes him: to join the underground gaming league that takes the virtual-reality game off the screen and into the streets. Josh is thrilled. But the more involved he gets, the more he realizes that not everything is what it seems. Real blood is spilling, members of the team are disappearing, and the zombies in the game are acting strange. And then there’s the matter of a mysterious drug called Z. . . .

* * *

One of our favorite past times/stress busters at work is zombie killing. No, seriously. Whenever we (namely Grace and I) find ourselves extremely stressed at work, and we have some money left, we’d troop over to Timezone (the nearest arcade at work) and start hogging the House of the Dead 4 machine and start blasting zombies away. There’s something really therapeutic about gunning down zombies and killing monsters, even if we never get past the third level.

Z by Michael Thomas Ford reminds me exactly of House of the Dead 4. Not with the story, but with how the book has a general zombie video game feel. Z immediately drops us into action as we follow Josh go through what seemed to be an abandoned hospital, looking for z’s to torch and humans to rescue. It seems very realistic at first, but we are surprised later by an interruption, where we find out that Josh is really just playing a video game, and one he wasn’t supposed to play.

But of course, Josh keeps on playing, and his skills were noticed by Charlie, one of the best players in the game. Josh gets invited to a secret gaming community that brings zombie torching into another level: a face to face game with real torches with seemingly real zombies and seemingly real blood. Josh is both horrified and fascinated, but since it’s not real, there’s no harm in playing, right?

Z has a pretty interesting take into zombies, different from what I have read so far. Zombies, according to Josh’s world, are not reanimated dead but people who contracted a mutant flu strain that enlarges the R-complex, or the reptilian part of the brain, removing all sentient thoughts of the person. This virus reduced the person’s ability to feel pain and thickened the blood, making the zombies hard to kill save for setting them on fire. The human being doesn’t exactly die but their humanity does, making them pretty much dead, anyway. It’s an interesting idea that doesn’t really lessens the horror of zombies. In fact, it may make things even scarier, since the virus takes living people and turns them into the undead right in front of you.

I like how the author managed to put in the game feel in the story. The descriptions were sharp and vivid, and the zombie hunting scene carried enough tension to make me gasp in surprise whenever some z’s show up. The author was able to put some kind of “face” for the zombies by their little gory descriptions — hair and scalp pulled out, milky eyes, rotting mouth, etc. The zombies here are not just one mob of undead shuffling towards the living but individual horrifying people that used to be the characters’ friends. This is the very strong point of Z in my opinion, and it gives the book an overall gaming feel, a-la Resident Evil or House of the Dead.

However, that’s where the strength ends. I felt the plot of the book a bit lacking. While there was an element of surprise in the zombie hunts, the overall story arc is pretty typical as far as zombie novels are concerned. It’s pretty straightforward, really, and while there was one twist that was kind of unexpected, the rest were pretty predictable. I feel like there’s really nothing new that Z could offer as far as zombie stories are concerned. It’s not shallow, but it just doesn’t have the depth that other zombie novels managed to capture.

I would recommend Z as a sort of fluffy reading for zombie aficionados and gamers (be it PS3, PSP or even a wii — are there zombie games on Wii’s?). Like with other reviewers, I think this book is written more for the younger audiences, particularly boys. It’s fun, it’s gory, but it’s not really the zombie novel that changed my life.

Rating: [rating=3]

Other reviews:
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In My Mailbox (6)

Hi. My wallet is currently mad at me right now. I had to hide it away because it’s about to scream obscenities at me for…well, spending so much. I can feel it grumbling at me at the middle of the week, but as of today, it’s positively seething.

But, but, I have a very good justification why I spent so much this week. One thing is the Cebu vacation…and another…well, are books. :P It didn’t spend as much as if I buy a Branson Missouri vacation, anyway. That is a perfectly justifiable expense even if I know I have about what, 70 books that I have yet to read.

Yeah, yeah, like that means something.

So yeah, I’m doing an In My Mailbox post this week because I find that I have a pretty huge stash of books this week! Well, including Friday last week, since I kind of count that purchase as part of the weekend purchase, and it feels like I just bought it this week. In My Mailbox is a weekly book meme hosted by Kristi from The Story Siren, where bloggers post about what books received that week, be it via  mailbox, library or store.

And here we go. *throws wallet under the bag and ignores it angry screams*

Continue Reading →

All Things Dystopian (YA-D2 Challenge)

Lately I realized that I have been avoiding the shelves I frequent in the bookstore when I started reading more. By these shelves, I mean the shelves that contain paranormal romance, and even plain contemporary young adult romance. I don’t really know when or why it started, but I find myself not getting interested in any of the new stuff under those sub-genre. More often than not, I feel relieved when I decide not to pick up the book especially after I find some of the reviewers I follow say that they didn’t like the book or it’s a Twilight derivative. I mean, who wants that, right? (No offense to anyone, of course)

After some time, I realized again that I seemed to have found a new pattern to the books I have been reading lately, and I can only blame some of the guys I got to know recently for this new sub-genre fascination.

Friends, I think I fell in love with dystopia.

Aaron posted about this last week, and he managed to convince me to try out this challenge on top of the other challenges I’m doing. I figure, what the heck, right? It’s not like it’s going to be a hard challenge, anyway, what with all the dystopia books waiting on my TBR shelf.

So, yeah, here’s another one for my challenges for this year. I’m joining Bart’s Bookshelf‘s YA-D2: The YA Dystopian Reading Challenge. You want something crazier? I’m going for the die-hard’s choice:

Welcome to Level 3.

Oooh, how ominous. According to the challenge:

Level 3: Is for the dystopian die-hards! Minimum requirement for this level is five young adult dystopian novels, between the 1st October and 19th December. There is, however no maximum cap, you can keep reading for as many books as you like!

Just five, huh. I could do that. I mean, I set to read 20 fantasy books this year, and I lost count at how many I read this year. So, unless the world ends or the zombie apocalypse comes, I don’t think there would be a reason why I won’t be able to finish this challenge. :)

And now the books I will read for this challenge. Much thanks to Aaron for pointing them out of my shelf. :D

  1. The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness
  2. Gone by Michael Grant
  3. Tomorrow, When the War Began by John Marsden
  4. The Dead of the Night by John Marsden
  5. Z by Michael Thomas Ford

Wait, just five? I think I still have some I can add to this list! Some reserves/alternates, in case I don’t get to read the others for some reason, or in case I feel like going on and on and on and on until the challenge ends.

And that should be enough. I guess I’ll take today up until the end of September to read the other “normal” books I have before I plunge into all the end-of-the-world/post-apocalyptic dystopia goodness. :)

Sort of Reading Vacation

Sorry for the lack of posts in the past days, I was on vacation. Last Friday, I flew to Cebu with some friends for a much-needed R&R. It was my third time to go there, but the second time I actually went around the city, and my first time to be the navigator. Challenging, but very fun.

I’ll be posting the details of my vacation on my personal blog, but I have to post the bookish part of my vacation here, of course. Ever since I keep on accumulating books in my TBR and I realize that I don’t have enough time to read them all, I’ve been wishing for a reading vacation. It’s kind of like a stay-cation (you know, a vacation somewhere out of town where you stay in and do nothing) but instead of just staying in, I read.

Preferably by the beach. With music. And good food. And lots of books, of course.


But I can only wish for that now, since I’ve been very busy lately, and I can’t afford an actual reading vacation.

Nevertheless, we didn’t let the sightseeing and all the food in Cebu to stop us from doing all bookish stuff. On our last day in the City, my friends and I trekked rode a cab to Ayala Center Cebu to eat the famous Cebu lechon and to go “home”. By home, we mean:

Fully Booked Cebu!

Of course we can’t miss visiting this! :) And it was a doubly special visit because we just had awesome gelato at Gelatissimo before going here. :P

Fully Booked in Cebu is just as neat as the other Fully Booked branches, but it was also cooler in some sense. Maybe it’s because it’s Fully Booked in another city, or maybe it’s really just because they seemed to have a lot more books than what I usually see in other branches. I mean, new books, sort of hard to find books and all that. Plus the place is small, but still so cozy and homey, it really feels like home. :)

I went home with the following:

Cebu Stash

  1. The King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner
  2. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson (I’ll post about #SpeakLoudly soon enough)
  3. Z by Michael Thomas Ford (zombies :D)

I wanted to get The Year of Secret Assignments by Jaclyn Moriarty, but alas, budget doesn’t permit. I can get that delivered anyway.

It’s fun visiting another branch that I know I won’t be able to visit a lot. Plus, who says vacation stops me from getting books? :) No one, right?

I didn’t read the entire time I was in Cebu, of course, but I did manage to catch up on my reading while waiting for the plane to Manila to arrive. And this may be my first (?) picture taken while I was reading a book. Lame, I know.

That’s The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness that I finished earlier. Still reeling from it, but I have more reviews to write for now.

So what did you do during the weekend? :)