Sunday, October 9, 2011

Day by Day Armageddon by J.L. Bourne

Well, this is awkward.  My first poor review, and I feel a little guilty about it.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the story.  It’s a zombie book- how could I not like it?  Day by day is just that- a personal account of one military man’s survival after a zombie outbreak.  

Being an educator, I’m going to treat this like a parent-teacher conference and start with what J. L. Bourne does well.

1.       1.  I enjoyed the links to his personal life.  He really is an active duty military officer, so I appreciated his professional details and the fact that he planted his parents in Arkansas where he was born.  I struggled keeping the military acronyms straight, though.

2.      2.  He followed the “rules” or what readers already know about zombies (i.e. they’re slow and uncoordinated, can’t swim or climb, the bite is infectious, they deteriorate over time, etc.), but he added his own flavor to the rules.  After nuclear strikes on major cities which only seem to kill the remaining surviving humans, the radiation makes the zombies stronger and faster, some even retaining small snippets of their former lives like combinations to a digital lock.  Ca-reepy!

3.     3.   It’s believable.  This could have really happened, and I was completely convinced of this man’s courage and fear as he took necessary risks to ensure his survival.

4.      4.  Bourne is from the DC area.  We’re neighbors.  : )

Now we get to the part that I hope doesn’t destroy my karma- Day by Day Armageddon is a nice try, it’s just not….very well…written.  There.  I said it.  I’m not saying I could do any better, and for someone who doesn’t seem to have a background in English or literature, J. L. Bourne banged out an excellent first try, I only see him getting better.  However, he should fire his editor.  I can’t help it, I read through the eyes of an English teacher and the typos and misspellings drove me bonkers.

The pace of the novel was another issue for me.  He seemed to go from ordinary military officer to survival commando in less than 25 pages.  There wasn’t enough time spent (for me) on how the outbreak happened, the reaction of the average Joes/Janes, how the outbreak actually spread, etc. although that could have lent itself to the realism of the book.  Maybe if a real zombie outbreak occurred, one wouldn’t have time to sit around and journal about it- you’re getting your ass and survival equipment in gear.  (You like that little “out” I just gave him.  Protectin’ the karma.)  : )

Lastly,  it’s just a personal pet peeve of mine, but I can’t stand it when people use “as” when “because” will do.  “I’m going to the store as we are out of milk.”  (My quote, not his).  Bourne committed this atrocity four times on one page.

And lastly, the book just stopped…there was no conclusion, no thoughts on the future or lack of one.  The last ten pages {SPOILER ALERT!} introduce a new clan of dangerous men who are trying to take over their bunker then BAM!  It ends.  I guess Bourne is setting it up for the sequel, but at only 183 pages, it seemed a bit greedy(?) inappropriate(?) on his part to just stop there.

I can’t really recommend this book, but I do believe in Ranganathan’s laws, one of which being there is a reader for every book.  There are people out there who will think this is the best book in the world.  (I know because I read their reviews and was convinced to read it in the first place.)

I give this one the last half cup of my morning coffee that I end up nuking for 20 seconds.

Friday, October 7, 2011

World War Z by Max Brooks

I chose to read World War Z for two basic reasons.  1.) Zombie/apocalytic/distopic literature is my favorite.  And 2.) Brad Pitt is filming the movie version as I type.  'Nuf said.

Now that I've read it, I'm wondering how one "stars" in a movie such as this.  Will he be the interviewer?  Basically, World War Z is a series of personal interviews 30(?) years after a zombie plague wipes out a good portion of the world's population.  The lack of a "plot" is forgiven by the stark realism of how foreign nations would react given their different types of governments, religions, and customs.  I especially appreciated the irony that Cuba becomes the new super power with Americans seeking refuge there.

Max Brooks has obviously done his homework (after all, he DID write the zombie survival guide).  And he seems to take a completely objective view offering realistic details about the new emergent world.  One line stands out about how the surviving white collars will have to get dirty since skilled workers like brick masons call the shots.  I couldn't help but wonder if there would be a need for librarians and their talents in the new world.  : )

I give it a small cuppa joe with some International Delights French Vanilla cream- good, but nothing fancy.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Battle of the Books

It usually takes me getting excited about something to revitalize one of my blogs, and this case is no exception.  The sheer number of book reviews I have to catch up on is daunting-  I guess I've been avoiding this blog...until {loud voice-over} 


Basically, each of Loudoun County's twelve(?) high schools builds a team of bibliophiles, kind of like a book club.  Except these book clubs compete against other book clubs in the spring in a trivia tournament based on a pre-selected list of books put out in the fall.  I'm thinking I would have been the Hermione Granger type on the team had my high school had this in the early 90s.  I'm not working in the county at the moment, but I'm still excited about the concept and intend to follow along.  This may be the year the two-time champion Dominion High School is upset, and I'm putting my money on Woodgrove or Freedom.

Following is this year's list of books.  Those I've read are in pink, and if you have anything to offer on any of the titles, I'm all ears.  Thanks for reading my blog!

Battle of the Books List
The Alchemyst by Michael Scott (currently reading)
Chasing Lincoln's Killer by James Swanson
Half Brother by Kenneth Oppel
The Help by Kathryn Stockett
The Heretic's Daughter by Kathleen Kent
I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore
Knights of Hill Country by Tim Tharp
Morpheus Road:  The Light by D.J. MacHale
Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskein
Wesley the Owl by Stacey O'Brien