Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Review: "The 5th Wave" by Rick Yancey

The invasion of the world from space comes not with laser beams and strange alien creatures in Rick Yancey’s “The 5th Wave” ($18.99, Putnam), but by much more chilling and seemingly insurmountable means.

When the mothership appears glowing over the Earth, speculation runs wild. Reactions vary anywhere from panic to optimism that the visitors come in peace and will bring valuable knowledge to help us. That optimism fades as soon as the First Wave hits – a massive electromagnetic pulse that knocks out electricity and disables vehicles and communications. With the Second Wave, the alien invaders drive a spike into the ocean floor, setting of tsunamis that wipe out most of the coastlands and concentrate people in the central part of the continent. That’s where the Third Wave can do the most damage – a violent and virulent plague that wipes out the majority of the remaining population. Perhaps most fiendish is the Fourth Wave, humans that have been taken over by the invaders, sowing mistrust and paranoia among those that remain.

But it gets worse. The Fifth Wave is coming, and it’s by far the most sinister.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Review: "Dead Ever After," by Charlaine Harris

So far, 2013 has brought the end of two long-running series that I’ve had mixed feelings about. Granted, I didn’t live with Charlaine Harris’ Southern Vampire series quite as long as the Wheel of Time, but “Dead Ever After” ($27.95 , Ace) also didn’t give me quite as satisfying an ending.

Last year’s “Deadlocked” pleased me in that it seemed that Harris’ story was finally clicking back into place after being lost in the wilderness for a while. I thought that she’d gotten caught up a little bit in the longer contract and the “True Blood” phenomenon and was stretching to keep the story alive. I said in my review of that book that I almost felt the click, when it got back to the story that she’d planned, and I was hoping for a big bang of a finale with this one. Instead, I found it disappointing.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Review: "NOS4A2," by Joe Hill

For a guy who chose a pen name that would distance himself from his famous dad, Joe Hill certainly proves where he comes from with his latest novel, “NOS4A2” ($28.99, William Morrow).

Hill has yet to disappoint me. His debut novel, “Heart-Shaped Box,” is probably my favorite horror novel of at least the last decade. In fact, it’s the book that inspired me to write again myself after a long fallow period. I loved his varied and fascinating short story collection, “20th Century Ghosts,” and I enjoyed “Horns,” as well. In fact, my only complaint has been that, when it comes to novels, he’s not as prolific as his father. “NOS4A2” continues the trend, though there’s a bit of a different vibe to it.

Hill begins the book by introducing us to one Charles Talent Manx III, a not-so-nice old man known for wheeling around in his 1938 Rolls Royce Wraith with the license plate of the title and taking children to Christmasland, a place where he’s certain they remain happy and innocent forever. We meet him in a hospital bed, aged and frail, in a coma and near death.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Review: "Catching Fire," by Suzanne Collins

In need of a quick weekend read, I found myself drawn back to the world of Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games, to which I was a latecomer, for the second volume “Catching Fire” ($12.99, Scholastic).

Katniss and Peeta find themselves trying to settle back into a semi-normal sort of life after their harrowing experience in the Hunger Games. They have money and better living conditions thanks to their victory, but nothing can erase the nightmares and other issues the experience has left them with.

To complicate matters, Katniss’ defiance of the Capitol is still resounding throughout the districts. She and Peeta learn this on their victory tour, traveling under threat from President Snow, when they see other districts that are approaching open rebellion, a situation which Katniss unintentionally feeds with an impromptu tribute to Rue. As a result of the tour, things take a turn for the worse in District 12. New, brutal Peacekeepers are brought in, and the district falls more under the thumb of the Capitol.