Sunday, July 22, 2012

Kill Decision, by Daniel Suarez

Kill Decision is a non-stop action thriller featuring advanced technology and an all too plausible near future scenario.  This book drops you right in the middle of the action with a high-tech drone attack and just keeps going.  The first part of the book contains a lot of information on high-tech warfare and some background science, which was as fascinating as the action sequences.  Once this information is established, the action comes even faster in an almost non-stop ride to the finish.

This is a classic page-turner that doesn’t let you go until you’ve reached the end. Author Daniel Suarez does a great job making you feel that no one and nowhere is safe.  This fuels the sense of danger and excitement.  Paranoia, after all, is just smart when everyone really is out to get you.

The heroes are convincing and dedicated while the bad guys are nebulous and operate in shadow.  You could nit-pick on some characterization which isn’t really all that deep, but the concepts and the action are what this novel is about and it is more than worth it.  If you like high-adrenaline action that doesn’t let up paired with plausible and frightening technology development, you are going to love this book.  Highly recommended.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Discount Armageddon, by Seanan McGuire

I loved reading Discount Armageddon by Seanan McGuire.  It was as funny as it was exciting and hit just about every note right.  Why write just about vampires or zombies or werewolves when you can write about all of them and more, just about any supernatural creature you’ve ever heard of and quite a few you haven’t.

My only previous experience with McGuire was the excellent Newsflesh zombie novels written as Mira Grant.  Discount Armageddon is much more light-hearted but filled with the same trademark sense of humor that literally had me laughing out loud in places.  Verity Price and her interaction with the Aeslin mice would be enough reason in and of itself to pick up this book.  But there is a whole world filled with creatures, cryptids as they are called here, gathered from our fairy tales and our nightmares.  These creatures are mostly integrated into our society.  They are hunted by an organization known as the Covenant, a group from which Very’s (Verity) family split off generations ago.  Her family now polices and protects the cryptids.

This is a fast and entertaining read, filled with action and humor.  It’s a fascinating world filled with even more fascinating characters.  The romance aspects of the book are just enough to entice some without turning off readers who don’t like romance to dominate.  If you like a wise-cracking, butt-kicking heroine with plenty of action and a healthy dose of humor, you are going to love this book.  I can’t wait for the next entry in the series.  Highly recommended.

Silence, by Michelle Sagara

Silence by Michelle Sagara is an outstanding entry in the Young Adult paranormal genre.  Emma is an engaging heroine.  Necromancers and necromancy  is an area of the paranormal that has not been flooded with entries like vampires, werewolves and even ghosts.  Even if it had, there is always room for a well-written book about them, and Silence is that.

This is the opening book in a series, and as such, there is a lot of exposition and getting to know the characters.  They are all intriguing and fairly well fleshed out.  They are a little bit impossibly good-hearted and loyal for typical teenagers, but fascinating nonetheless.  There is a tenderness in handling  the characters, particularly a high-functioning autistic boy and even the family dog.  The characters are integrated into the story and not tacked on.  They reminded me a little of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the Scooby gang in their loyalties and interactions, and that’s not a bad thing.

The world of necromancy and the powers of necromancers is exciting.  Emma is at the center of forces eager to use her powers or to prevent them from being used.  This book barely scratches the surface of those powers, but hints at a wealth of possibilities to fill more entries in the series.  

Sagara wisely keeps the plot narrowly focused here so that the story keeps moving along briskly.  You get to know the characters and the situation as you are moving forward, rather than have the book stop for heavy bouts of exposition.  The story moves along briskly and the pages fly by, while leaving the impression that only the tip of the iceberg has been explored and so much more awaits to be discovered.  It is a complete story in and of itself, but leaves you eager for the next chapter.  Highly recommended.  I was fortunate to receive an advance copy of this book.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

The Watch, by Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya

The Watch is a powerful and moving story.  Based on the greek play, Antigones, it is updated and set in present day Afghanistan.  

The story is told and retold from multiple perspectives, overlapping both in time and in vantage point.  The novel takes a story that starts out two-dimensionally and builds it into a three-dimensional image with each character’s perspective.  Layer upon layer is added brilliantly to the narrative.  It captures the intensity, confusion and conflict both internally and externally.  The characters are real and have great depth.  Aside from a sometimes unusual familiarity with greek literature, they feel very real.  They are extraordinary in their ordinariness.  

One of the areas where the author excels is in displaying how different actions may be interpreted depending on the perspective from which you view them.  Actions, and the intentions behind them, can be interpreted or misinterpreted..

I am a big fan of multiple first-person perspective and the author uses it to great effect here.  The way the story unfolds requires you to continually examine and reexamine what you thought you knew.  You walk in the steps of each of these characters, you live in their minds.  Roy-Bhattacharya powerfully evokes the emotional state of each character to create an incredibly moving work.  This is a novel that pulls you in and makes you feel you are standing alongside the characters.  The action pieces spring on you with a suddenness that makes it all the more stunning and powerful.  

This is a beautiful and heartfelt work, reminiscent of Slaughterhouse Five.  It is intense and will resonate long after you put it down.  

I was fortunate to receive an advance copy of this book.  Highly recommended.