Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Book #3 - City of the Dead by Brian Keene


City of the Dead picks up where Brian Keene's previous novel, The Rising, left off. And like The Rising had much in common with Stephen King's Cell, City of the Dead has similarities to George Romero's Land of the Dead, namely a group of survivors holed up in a skyscraper, which is controlled by a once-powerful businessman turned madman, and zombies who are able to think for themselves and decide to overtake the building. Both of Keene's books were published before their counterparts.

If you're passionate about the zombie horror genre, and are willing to let the traditional rules (like slow moving zombies with no brain activity) slide, you'll enjoy this book. While it's gorier and slower-paced than the first book, the setting and the storyline are more interesting, and the ending is exciting and unexpected.

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Book #2 - The Rising by Brian Keene


Ah, zombie fiction. The only genre of adult fiction guaranteed to hold my attention.

If The Rising had come out after Stephen King's Cell, I would have thought Brian Keene ripped him off. There are plenty of similarities, mainly zombies who are intelligent and work together, a leader of the undead who possesses a higher power, and a dad who refuses to give up hope that his son is alive in an undead world, and travels to find him.

Keene's take on zombies is different than those seen in recent movies and books. His zombies aren't fast-moving, but what they lack in speed they're able to make up with the ability to drive, use weaponry, reason, and work together. And they talk. It's a little off-putting at first, but once their reason for existing is explained (when the soul of the human leaves the body, the spirit of a creature from "The Void" fills it. Basically demon possession), it's easier to get into. Anything the host was able to do in real life, the demon is able to do.

The characters are likable, although the dialogue is unbelievable at times. The book suffers from some grammatical, typographical and a few storyline errors, but the story was engaging enough that they didn't bother me. It wasn't overly gory (what the humans do to each other is much more disturbing than what the zombies do to them), or even very scary, but I don't feel like a good zombie books needs an overabundance of either.

The ending was very wide open and left me with a lot of questions, so I look forward to reading the sequel, City of the Dead.

Monday, January 1, 2007

Book #1 - Scatterbrained, Edited by Will Pearson et al.


The year isn't 14 hours old, and already I've read my first book. Am I perfecting the art of speed reading? No. Most of this book was read in 2006, but I didn't have quite enough time to finish it.

Scatterbrained is yet another mental_floss trivia book, and I enjoyed this one as well. Scatterbrained takes on the idea that every fact can be connected to one another. It starts out with Greece (the country) and ends with happy endings.

Favorite fact from the book: Lincoln's last words. While watching "Our American Cousin," Abraham Lincoln reached over to hold wife Mary's hand. She pulled away, embarrassed, asking "What will people think?" Lincoln answered "They won't think anything of it," was shot shortly afterwards.

Best Books of 2006

10. Julie and Julia by Julie Powell

9. Braving Home by Jake Halpern

8. Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell

7. Carnet de Voyage by Craig Thompson

6. Garlic and Sapphires by Ruth Reichl

5. Miracle in the Andes by Nando Parrado

4. The Dead Beat by Marilyn Johnson

3. Maybe Baby by Lori Leibovich

Maybe Baby is a collection of essays written by both men and women who have decided either not to have children, to have children, or haven't made up their minds yet. My enjoyment of this book wasn't so much because the stories were groundbreaking, but because, as part of a young married couple, it's comforting to hear how other people came to their decision, and how they felt and were treated afterwards.

2. Hungry Planet: What the World Eats by Peter Menzel and Faith D’Aluisio

Families across the world, from North America to Africa, were given enough money to buy what they would eat in a typical week, and were then photographed in front of that food. The author's talk about each family, their food, and their situation. It's incredible.

1. World War Z by Max Brooks

Only six out of the 100 books I read in 2006 were adult fiction, but one of them was the best book of the year. By far. Horror is a hard genre to pull off. It would be easy, even in a book about zombies, for it to become too unrealistic or too unnecessarily gory, and lose it's scariness because it tries too hard to be scary. Just thinking about World War Z makes me excited because it was so good. I can't wait to read it again.