Skitter (Ezekiel Boone)

Skitter (Ezekiel Boone)Skitter (The Hatching #2) by Ezekiel Boone
on January 1st 1970
Genres: Horror, Post-apocalyptic, Science Fiction
Format: Hardback
Source: Library
Goodreads

Tens of millions of people around the world are dead. Half of China is a nuclear wasteland. Mysterious flesh-eating spiders are marching through Los Angeles, Oslo, Delhi, Rio de Janeiro, and countless other cities. According to scientist Melanie Guyer, however, the spider situation seems to be looking up. Yet in Japan, a giant, truck-sized, glowing egg sack gives a shocking preview of what is to come, even as survivors in Los Angeles panic and break the quarantine zone. Out in the desert, survivalists Gordo and Shotgun are trying to invent a spider super weapon, but it’s not clear if it’s too late, because President Stephanie Pilgrim has been forced to enact the plan of last resort: The Spanish Protocol. America, you are on your own.

SPOILER ALERT: As this is book 2 in The Hatching series, there will be spoilers for The Hatching throughout this review.

Plot: ★★
Characters: ★★★
Readability: ★★★

I was addicted to The Hatching, so I went into Skitter with high hopes – and sadly, the book didn’t live up to those at all.  Looking at the goodreads reviews, I’m definitely in the minority with my opinion, so you might love it, but I thought it was a classic case of middle book syndrome.  The Hatching was great – the problem started seemingly small, and rapidly expanded.  We saw what seemed like mostly unrelated characters discover the problem and try to cope with it, revealing their possible connections in the process.  It was fast-paced, it was creepy, and it went straight onto my list of instant-favourite-post-apocalyptic books.

And then came Skitter.  I don’t even really know where to start reviewing this, except that to say that somehow for a dramatic book, I feel like this was a case of running in place without getting anywhere.  I feel like the only purpose of the book was to take the big disaster of book 1, and make it a HUGE CATASTROPHE ready for book 3.  Aside from a few fun interactions between characters, I felt like basically everything in this book could have been accomplished just as easily with a time-jump between the first book and the last, cutting this one out altogether.  Instead, we had a book that felt mostly like filler, and given how much I loved the first one, it was very disappointing for this one to feel like, to be frank, a bit of a waste of time.  I’ll still be picking up book three, but I do feel like perhaps Mr Boone/the publishers felt this had to be a trilogy because that’s what sells, when really it would have been a fantastic duology.  On the plus side, it’s a quick read, I just didn’t feel like I got much out of it.

Review: Countdown (Newsflesh #0.5)

Review: Countdown (Newsflesh #0.5)Countdown by Mira Grant
Series: Newsflesh #0.5
Published by Orbit on August 1st 2011
Genres: Horror, Science Fiction, Zombies
Pages: 105
Format: audio
Source: Purchased
Goodreads

The year is 2014, the year everything changed. We cured cancer. We cured the common cold. We died.

This is the story of how we rose.

When will you rise?

Countdown is a novella set in the world of Feed.
Word count: ~19,500

When I read it…

I listened to the audiobook between December 27th and January 1st 2017.

What I’d heard before I read it:

Absolutely nothing! I had an audible voucher with a little credit leftover, and I loved Mira Grant’s Newsflesh series so I picked up this novella about how it all began.

What worked for me:

  • The science: I’ve said before, one of the reasons I so love Mira Grant is that her sci-fi doesn’t shy away from science. Grant’s zombies aren’t based on a vague virus we never find any details about, but a meticulously planned out one, which I love. Countdown is pretty much all about how the virus started, the background to the virus that reanimates the dead and the scientists involved in both it’s formation and the world’s response to it.
  • The narration: Brian Bascle hasn’t overtaken Wil Wheaton, James Marsters or Luke Daniels as a favourite narrator, but I enjoyed his narration, and found him very easy to listen to.
  • The length of the audiobook: I’m not really a short story/novella fan, but actually as an audiobook I have to say this length worked really well – while super-long audiobooks feel like great value, sometimes I get bored listening to the same thing for ages, whereas this was a <1 week read, and it was nice to mix things up.

Countdown is all about the background events leading up to Feed and of course you know going in where the story is going; it’s definitely not a drama-filled plot, but that didn’t really bother me.  While there’s not a huge amount of characterisation, I liked the characters we met, and I certainly wouldn’t have minded a longer novella and the chance to see more of them!  As a novella, Countdown is never going to become an absolute favourite of mine, but equally it did everything I wanted it to do very well and if you’re a Mira Grant fan – or you want to get into her awesome Newsflesh series – I’d definitely recommend it.

Other reviews of Countdown: The Guilded Earlobe | For The Love of Words | Brian’s Book Blog

One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

Review: Fellside

Review: FellsideFellside by M. R. Carey
Published by Orbit on April 5th 2016
Genres: Fiction, Horror, Horror & Ghost Stories, Suspense, Thrillers
Pages: 496
Format: ARC
Source: From the publisher
Goodreads

The unmissable and highly anticipated new literary thriller from the author of the international phenomenon The Girl With All the Gifts.
Fellside is a maximum security prison on the edge of the Yorkshire Moors. It's not the kind of place you'd want to end up. But it's where Jess Moulson could be spending the rest of her life.
It's a place where even the walls whisper.
And one voice belongs to a little boy with a message for Jess.
Will she listen?

Plot: ★★
Characters: ★★
Addictiveness: ★★★

When I read it…

I read this between March 18th and 23rd 2016.

What I’d heard before I read it:

Mostly great things, that people hadn’t wanted to put it down!  I couldn’t resist this one because I really enjoyed The Girl with All The Gifts.

What worked for me:

  • The atmosphere: I was actually expecting Fellside to be a lot scarier than it was, but I enjoyed the way Carey instead made you feel just vaguely uneasy instead.  The book isn’t scary, but it is definitely uncomfortable, and that made it hard to put down, and easy to get sucked back in once you did.
  • The interlinking stories: Fellside has a lot of different characters, and the way these characters gradually interlink, with their plotlines becoming more and more entangled, reminded me in many ways of a Jodi Picoult novel (which I pretty much universally love, so that’s a good thing!).
  • The mystery: Although Jess didn’t particularly care about her trial, and whether she’d burned down the flat, I desperately did want to know the exact details, and that plotline had me hooked from the beginning.

What didn’t quite work for me:

  • The paranormal/horror: A lot of the reviews I’d read before I started said Fellside was really scary, and given that I’m a bit of a wimp, I waited until I’d psyched myself up for something super scary before starting.  When I started though, I didn’t find the whispering walls particularly sinister, and actually an awful lot more of the tension came from the prison-drama, which although not bad, wasn’t at all what I was expecting.  Many, many reviewers are comparing Fellside to “Orange is the New Black meets *paranormal film or book*” and while I agree with the Orange Is the New Black comparison, the supernatural elements were a bit weak to me.  If you’ve seen Inside Out, the scene where they enter abstract thought is about how I felt about the supernatural elements – they were all sort of fuzzy and unclear, and certainly not as spooky as I’d expected.
  • The length/pacing: At virtually 500 pages, Fellside felt a bit longer and a bit slower than it needed to be, and there were times, particularly early on, when the story didn’t really feel like it was going anywhere so it took me a while to get engrossed.
  • The ending: Difficult to comment without spoilers, but I wasn’t a fan of the ending!

I didn’t dislike Fellside, but I just wasn’t wowed by it, and it probably isn’t one that I’d bother re-reading later, so overall, this was just an okay read for me.  I’m a little disappointed, since I went in with high expectations after The Girl With All The Gifts, but even had this book been written by someone else, I think ultimately it still would have been just an okay read.  Predominantly a prison-drama, with a few paranormal elements, and no characters I particularly connected with, it wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t really my cup of tea.  I definitely seem to be among the minority though, so if you’re curious I would absolutely give it a go!

Other Reviews of Fellside: Girl with her head in a book | For Winter Nights | The Discriminating Fangirl

One StarOne Star

Review: Parasite (Mira Grant)

Review: Parasite (Mira Grant)Parasite by Mira Grant
Series: Parasitology #1
Published by Orbit on 29-10-2013
Genres: Action & Adventure, Fiction, Hard Science Fiction, Horror, Science Fiction
Pages: 512
Format: eARC
Amazon
Goodreads

A decade in the future, humanity thrives in the absence of sickness and disease.

We owe our good health to a humble parasite - a genetically engineered tapeworm developed by the pioneering SymboGen Corporation. When implanted, the tapeworm protects us from illness, boosts our immune system - even secretes designer drugs. It's been successful beyond the scientists' wildest dreams. Now, years on, almost every human being has a SymboGen tapeworm living within them.

But these parasites are getting restless. They want their own lives...and will do anything to get them.

Plot: ★★★★★
Characters: ★★★★
Readability: ★★★★★

After a car accident that leaves her legally brain-dead, Sally Mitchell becomes the first person ever to be saved by a SymboGen implant. The SymboGen implant (known as the Intestinal Bodyguard) is a modified tapeworm which pulls toxins from the bloodstream, fights off infections and generally keeps everyone healthy without any effort on the part of the human who’s had one implanted. With no memory of the girl she was before her accident, Sal has had to relearn everything – how to walk, talk, and most of all, who she is. Six years later, she’s still guarded by overprotective parents, and occasionally has to submit for testing at SymboGen, but generally life is good.

Then the ‘sleepwalking’ starts – perfectly normal people seem to hollow out, becoming mindless shells of their former selves. With no explanation as to why the disease occurred, how it’s spreading, or who will be next, life just became scary and confusing.

I really enjoyed the format and writing style of Parasite. Each chapter begins with a quote or an excerpt from a book or interview about SymboGen. This is a great touch, as it makes the whole world feel more believable, whilst also helping you form opinions of characters who begin to feel three-dimensional even before you meet them.

One of my favourite things about Parasite is that there was some actual science behind the plot. I’m by no means an expert on tapeworms, but we had to study them as part of my degree, and I’m really glad Mira Grant seemed to have done her research! There was just enough science to keep my brain ticking over, and to make the plot seem believable, without feeling either patronising or dry.

Sal is an interesting character. There were times when she was frustrating, but most of the time I liked her. Curious and intelligent, Sal slowly becomes more feisty throughout the novel, and she’s both protective and loyal to those important to her. She already has a boyfriend, so there isn’t a huge romance in this (or a love triangle!), which is refreshing. I also loved the supporting cast, including Sal’s boyfriend Nathan, a truly loveable dog named Beverly, and the unhinged seeming Tansy.

The plot is gripping and full of twists. There was one twist that I personally thought was quite predictable, but there were plenty of other ups and downs to keep me hooked. I’ve recommended Parasite a lot since finishing it, and I can’t wait to read the rest of the series. This was my first Mira Grant book, and it led to a binging of her other books!

Buy it? I definitely think this is one worth buying and adding to your shelves.
In a nutshell: A fantastically gripping, wonderfully written novel.

Other Reviews of Parasite: Caffeinated Book Reviewer | Nyx Book Reviews | King of the Nerds

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