Dualed by Elsie Chapman (Galley)
Release Date: February 26, 2013
Genre: Fiction, young adult, dystopia, action, can we get a reboot?
Rating: 2.99 out of 5 stars
Summary: Meet West, a teen who picked the wrong time to have an identity crisis, because in Kersh there are two versions of you, you and your Alt, but only one is allowed to live. If you don’t eliminate your Alt in the 31-day time span, you both will die. Sure you can hire a Striker to kill your target for you, but that’s against the rules in this modern take on natural selection. Who truly deserves to live if your Alt is the better you, and how can a world survive where the only people who live to adulthood are murderers? Most of these questions will definitely not be answered in Dualed. That’s what sequels are for.
As a reader, I would like to petition the ability to make reboots for books. If the movie industry can do it (again and again and again), I don’t see why I, as a hypothetical millionaire in this situation, shouldn’t be able to purchase the rights of a book series and let a different author give the story justice. Public domain be damned, that nonsense takes far too long and just ends up resulting in a glut of repetitive books in the publishing world. I’m looking at you Pride and Platypus!
After learning about Dualed during a panel at this year’s New York Comic Con, I knew I had to read it. A dystopic society where you must kill an alternate version of yourself before they kill you? “Sign me up!” I recall thinking, even though my brain’s initial response was probably more like, “Cool.” Which is why I immediately jumped on a chance to receive a galley of the inventive novel. Unfortunately, while its premise is strong and the world in which it resides in is a rich one, the good stops there. Due to a lack of relate-able characters and completely ignoring the ramifications of murder, Dualed is one novel that had so much potential, but ended up stabbing itself in the back.
The Girl Who Was On Fire (Movie Edition): Your Favorite Authors On Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games Trilogy [edited] by Leah Wilson (Galley)
Release Date: January 17, 2013
Genre: Non-fiction, literary criticism, dystopia, young adult, let’s geek out with YA authors over other YA books
Rating: 4.26 out of 5 stars
Summary: Sixteen young adult authors discuss the phenomena that is The Hunger Games Trilogy by exploring the fashion, the tropes, the relation to reality television, the characters and anything else that can be analyzed for your nerdy reading pleasure. Because if there’s something that’s better than reading, it’s talking about what you read. Featuring YA fan favorite authors such as Sarah Rees Brennan, Diana Peterfreund and Carrie Ryan, this if the ultimate unofficial, completely unauthorized glimpse into the mechanics of the Hunger Games.
We’ve covered The Hunger Games here on Bibliomantics before, from our thoughts about the upcoming movie (TIM GUNN FOR CINNA!), to the movie itself, ways in which to immerse yourself in the world of Panem and an in-depth review of Mockingjay, but this is the first time we’ve explored other people discussing the literary ramifications of the series. It was super interesting to see their collective thoughts on the trilogy as a whole. Not to be confused with sacred dwarf holes.
According to my research, which is vast and far reaching, this anthology is slightly different from the original collection The Girl Who Was on Fire because it contains three new essays and extra-movie related content. Nothing in particular stuck out at me in terms of movie content, but I can safely say that there are three more essays. Sadly, none of them explore the Sad Gale meme for which I will be forever disappointed.
Tales from Lovecraft Middle School #2: The Slither Sisters by Charles Gilman (Advanced Reader Copy)
Release Date: January 15, 2013
Genre: Fiction, childrens, horror, you’ll never be attracted to twins ever again
Rating: 3.89 out of 5 stars
Summary: Robert Arthur, Glenn Torkells and Karina Ortiz continue to try and save the students of Lovecraft Middle School from their trans-dimensional enemies who they seem completely unaware of. In this sequel to Professor Gargoyle, the Price sisters have been taken over by a pair of snake monsters who want to overthrow the student government one student body at a time. HAR HAR HAR. With no other option possible, it’s up to Robert to win the student council elections and take them down the only way one can take down a monster: with bureaucracy.
More so than the last review of Professor Gargoyle, this book is being reviewed for an adult audience from an adult perspective. The series can be enjoyed by children in a completely different way and I highly recommend it for middle grade kids looking for something scary but are put-off by the overabundance of the 90′s in the Goosebumps series. What do you mean no one says radical and tubular anymore?
The book opens up with a whole bunch of back story because this is a book for kids and kids have horrible memories (or so I assume, I can’t remember my childhood). The same device is used throughout other children’s series (see: Harry Potter) and is much appreciated when one doesn’t recall any important plot events to the point where they forget it was Barty Crouch Jr. THE WHOLE TIME! This is helpful for young readers, but also for people me like me who can’t even seem to remember what they ate for breakfast much less be expected to remember what happened in a book they read four months ago.
WARNING: This review contains spoilers for the first book in the Lovecraft Middle School series, Professor Gargoyle.
Splintered by A.G. Howard (Galley)
Release Date: January 1, 2013
Genre: Fiction, young adult, fractured fairy tale, fantasy, Wonderland, even worse than the Tim Burton one
Rating: 2.76 out of 5 stars
Summary: Alyssa Gardner is a descendent of Wonderland’s real life Alice, Alice Liddell, a fact which makes her the brunt of the jokes at her school. It also means her poor mother is locked in a mental institution, another victim of the Liddell curse. Alyssa doesn’t believe in such things, that is until she starts hearing bugs and flowers talk to her and she finds herself in a much different Wonderland determined to save her family once and for all. Will she escape? Assuredly. Will her one true love finally notice her? Most likely. Will you cringe the entire time at the plodding, complicated plot and painful writing? Definitely.
It’s been said in this blog before and I will say it a thousand more times just to get it through your skull, I LOVE ALL THINGS ALICE! I even wrote a post about it, expressing my love for the little blonde in the blue dress, but that’s doesn’t mean that all Alice adaptations hit the mark for me. And unfortunately – despite the amazingly atmospheric book cover that had me drooling in excitement – this take on Wonderland missed all the marks. Definitely do not judge this book by its cover, the outside far exceeds the inside. But oh how I wish it didn’t.
Splintered suffers from many problems, the first of which is the ridiculous portrayal of its heroine, Alyssa Gardner. Alyssa is desperately struggling to separate herself from her insane mother Alison who claims to be under the Wonderland curse which causes the sufferer to only eat things from a tea cup and to wear blue dresses, white aprons and headbands. You would think a family who believes in and fears said curse wouldn’t name all their female children after the Lewis Carroll heroine. Just saying.
Fairy Tales From the Brothers Grimm: A New English Version by Philip Pullman (Galley)
Release Date: November 8, 2012
Genre: Fiction, fairy tales, short stories, fantasy, magic, OMG PHILIP PULLMAN WROTE A BOOK OF FAIRY TALES!
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Summary: Fifty tales from the Brother’s Grimm retold by fantasy author extraordinaire, Philip Pullman. From the well known to the more obscure, Pullman rewrites the stories in a colloquial way while still keeping the essence of the fairy tale alive and well in his stories. Complete with added commentary on the stories themselves, how they have changed and other various reincarnations they have lived through, Pullman leaves no fairy tale stone unturned in this fabulous new edition of folk tales.
When I heard there was a new collection of fairy tales being rewritten by Philip Pullman I practically wet myself in excitement (I seem to do that a lot for the sake of these reviews). This collection combines two of my favorite things: classic fairy tales- particularly of the Grimm variety- and incredibly well-written fantasy, which is where Pullman comes in. If you have yet to do so, I highly recommend checking out the His Dark Materials series. It will amaze and break your heart simultaneously. Please don’t judge a book by its movie.
The collection opens with a lengthy introduction discussing the nature and tradition of oral stories (their prominence in the middle class) and how anyone could have ended up being the well known collector of fairy tales, the Grimms just happened to beat everyone else to the punch. Fun fact: the brothers also worked together on the first German dictionary and it was their interest in the nature of language that led them to collect the oral and written fairy tales in one place. I never thought I’d say this, but thanks linguistics!
Dearly, Beloved by Lia Habel (Galley)
Release Date: September 25, 2012
Genre: Young adult, zombies, romance (ZOM ROM), dystopia, steampunk
Summary: Picking up where Dearly, Departed left off, this sequel deals with growing anti-zombie sentiments and the after effects of the attack on the Elysian Fields. Nora is having problems dealing with her newly resurrected father, her enemy Vespertine Mink is busy making alliances and Nora’s zombie boyfriend Bram is spending his time heading a zombie task force and being the most attractive member of the undead possible. Subterfuge, opposing factions and intermingling plots abound in this steampunk zombie romantic comedy. Who doesn’t love a good zom-rom-com?
The second book in the jokingly titled Gone With the Respiration series finds our heroes Bram and Nora in a world full of zombie haters and lovers alike. They are forced to deal with both groups, from the Changed, zombies who are into zombie philanthropy to an upper-class zombie murdering group called the Murder. With fun new characters, a complicated new plot and a fabulous combination of the old and modern this is the end all be all young adult zombie series. We just can’t get enough of it!
Sleep Has No Master by Jon Konrath (Submission)
Genre: Bizarro fiction, short stories, humor, even weirder than his last collection (which is saying something)
Rating: 4.75 out of 5 stars
Summary: 27 more short stories and flash-fiction pieces from bizarro fiction writer/gonzo author Jon Konrath, laden with popular culture references and satire galore! In a world where the narrator lives inside a waking dream, grew up in a religious community called Bighikistan and can never tell a story in a linear or fully coherent fashion, it’s hard to tell what’s real and what’s fantasy. Especially when time travel is readily available, breaking the fourth wall is commonplace, Pixar is creating snuff films and The Hunger Games is the product of a rambling mental patient. Yup, just business as usual for a Jon Konrath collection.
I’ve already reviewed another short story anthology from Jon Konrath on another Bizarro Blursday many moons ago (specifically: The Earworm Inception) which was so weird yet so spectacularly written that I couldn’t toss up the chance to review another set of short stories and flash fiction from Mr. Konrath. I was not disappointed. And fans of hyper aware satirical short stories won’t be either. That is a genre now because I said so.
This is one of those books you need to read all the way through, starting with the hilarious multi-page disclaimer full of every warning already known to mankind. Konrath apologizes for “Resemblances to actual persons living, dead, or undead…” makes note to readers that, “This book should not be considered a legitimate historical document,” and that it “Mentions chemicals known to the state of California to cause cancer.” Also it may cause “nausea” or “vomiting”, is not a toy and should not be used as fuel and most importantly it, “Does not protect against HIV … Or other sexual transmitted diseases.” Just in case you thought it did.
I Saw Zombies Eating Santa Claus: A Breather’s Christmas Carol by S.G. Browne (Advanced Reader Copy)
Release Date: October 30, 2012
Genre: Fiction, zombies, dark humor, satire, Christmas but with more brain munching
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Summary: Former zombie rights activist and member of the undead Andy Warner wakes up to find himself dressed like Santa with a giant gaping hole in his head and no idea how he ended up on a body farm. All while his elf helpers chow down on some brains next to him. What follows is a Christmas novella of love, redemption, equality, and the unbreakable nature of the undead human spirit. It will have you smiling, cheering and gagging in equal measure as you find yourself siding with the decomposing corpses who populate its pages.
This sequel to Breathers: A Zombie’s Lament (S.G. Browne’s first published novel) is every bit as wonderful- if not more wonderful than its predecessor. I could read a whole series of books set in the Breather‘s universe! Set one year after the first book, I Saw Zombies contains some spoilers to the original including the fate of its main characters. But, if you merely want to read a, “… Holly-jolly- zombie Christmas” story about a girl and her zombie who spreads Christmas cheer you don’t necessarily need to read the first book. But you should.
The novel and the novella are both set in a world where resurrections are a semi-regular occurrence, but beyond researching on the undead and locking them up in pounds, not much structure is in place to deal with them. Having been officially labeled dead by the government, all zombies are stripped of their social security numbers and their rights. They are literally the living dead in the eyes of the world. It’s enough to break your still beating heart.
The Giver, Gathering Blue, Messenger and Son (Advanced Reader Copy) by Lois Lowry
Release Date: October 2, 2012
Genre: Fiction, childrens, dystopia, fantasy, my childhood is now complete
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Summary: In the future, a young boy named Jonas is given a prominent position in his community as the Receiver of memories… Until he finds out the dark secrets they base their lives around and he escapes with a baby named Gabriel. His lives cross over with the heroes and heroines in the other three books in the quartet, from maimed Kira who has a skill for sewing, Mattie who wants nothing more than to be named Messenger, and Claire, Gabriel’s Birthmother in this classic dystopian series that has finally reached its conclusion.
If you first read and encountered The Giver in Middle School (like most American students… Or Canadians and Australians according to the internet), then chances are you have been waiting your whole childhood to find out what happened to baby Gabriel and Jonas. Or if like me you were under the assumption that the ending hinted Jonas and Gabriel entered a symbolic heaven after freezing to death you’re probably incredibly confused that they’re alive enough to be in three other books. It may have taken 19 years, but you will finally have most of your questions answered in this gripping conclusion to one of my favorite dystopian novels. Let the rejoicing commence!
The Giver is the book that started it all in 1993, drawing ire because of its depictions of infanticide and references to sexual connotations called Stirrings. Oh noes! Some even argue it promotes suicide and claims that it has “occult themes”, i.e. Jonas’ ability to see color in the colorless community is witchcraft and was banned in 2001. This is why you can’t have nice things Missouri.
WARNING: Here be spoilers if you’re 19 years behind and have yet to read The Giver. Also, Tarrlok is a bloodbender. (ERMAHGERD TERLERKS A BLERDBERNDER.)
A Town Called Suckhole by David W. Barbee (Submission)
Genre: Bizarro fiction, satire, the South, post-apocalyptic, alternative history, this is why I won’t live in a red state
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Summary: The town of Suckhole arose out of a war between the northern and southern parts of the United States, created by radiation and the mutual destruction of both warring factions. Now, men in the town are being murdered and it’s the job of a human-animal hybrid named Dexter Spikes to save the citizens from further harm. In time for the “Hell-Yeah Heritage Jamboree” of course.
Ah, post-apocalyptic radioactive wastelands created in an alternative history America. You gotta love them. This novella is all about the end times in Suckhole, which occurred “eleventy thousand years” ago when dinosaurs and cars lived side by side and the North declared war on the “harmless” South. The war, which destroyed the population, revolved around the North turning the slaves against their masters with evil science, global warming and abortions! It’s easy to figure out who’s telling this story.
Unfortunately for the nation, the North, led by Abraham Hussein Lincoln (their words, not mine) escalated to nuclear war and Suckhole was created from the ashes of the devastation as a land of freedom for Southerners. Due to radiation, crazy mutated animals formed and took over the world. Like they do. One would hope that it would be sterility considering what was left behind of the population to breed, but that was sadly not the case. Instead lizardhounds, jackalopes, bear-sized mosquitoes and werepossums took over the landscape. Hopefully they at least help with population control.