Book Notes

Oh, I enjoyed this book so much. Again, I need to keep notes on why I pick up books, this one may have been on some Book Riot recommendation list, I don't know. It was, however, a zombie book (sorta, but not quite), and we know how much I enjoy a good zombie book.

And no, this one wasn't quite a zombie book in the "brains... braaaaaaaaaaaains" sort of zombie book, but it was sort, in that the Wanderers are a group of people who leave their house with no apparent reason, and start walking. From the East Coast to the West Coast, gathering up more individuals as they walk, their loved ones fluttering around them like insects, trying to help even as the zombies with their single focus on no-one knows what keep walking.

This book gets a lot of things right: AI progress, outbreaks and epidemics, society's breakdown, power manipulation, and human deception. It introduces a number of technologies in a non Hollywood-OMG-we-are-all-going-to-die sort of way, but rather in a here's-how-it-is-let's-deal-with-it sort of way, which I can appreciate.

The only downside to the book is that a number of cultural fuckeries (black men in America and racial discrimination, women in science and tech and gender discrimination, dominance and cultural manipulation) are described in passing, as a gnat buzzing around, rather than the Good Ole Boy network f'ing shutting down the black man, regardless of his doctorate, degree, experience, and ability to save them. I can't say that one could actually incorporate the topics in any more meaningful way, though, and I appreciate their being mentioned at least.

For the most part, the book is engaging and fast-paced. Literally one short section of a chapter made me think, "UGH," the rest was "wheeeee!" Strongly recommended!

Beyond Exile

Book Notes

Okay, having finished the first book of, well, apparently a three book series, I went ahead and read the reviews of the next two books. The ending of the first book was so stunningly unsatisfying that I was nearly jumping at the chance to read the next book, Beyond Exile, to have some closure. So, I bought the next book.

Many of the annoying things with the previous book had been worked out by the time the author was writing this one. The jarring history that shouldn't exist in one's journal because the knowledge is assumed, is gone. We are on the journey with the narrator, so experience his life with him.

Much better.

The story continues exactly where the previous one left off. There's a helicopter crash and the narrator has to travel by foot for about 300 miles through zombie-infested backcountry to return home. He receives some unexpected aid, meets another journeying-solo man, and discovers some fantastic technology.

We also learn the source of the zombie in this universe. While I appreciated the closure, the particular suggestion is eye-rolling, which makes me giggle, given how preposterous the idea of zombie-ism is in the first place. That I'm willing to think, "okay, this scientific explanation for why dead people continue to function and crave living flesh," but, "this explanation isn't valid" is amusement-inducing.

I enjoyed this book more than the previous one. Yay for the narrator. Boo for bureaucracy.

Day by Day Armageddon

Book Notes

Okay, I like a good zombie book. Feed, by Mira Grant, totally started me on this zombie kick. I followed up reading that series with World War Z, the book is better than the movie. I watched the Walking Dead series, then started reading the graphic novels (and oh boy, there are a lot). I read the not-so-great-in-my-opinion Raising Stony Mayhall, and while I didn't like the book per se, I did like the way the zombie world was portrayed. I had a delightful zombie surprise in The Girl With All the Gifts, which just means I was lulled into thinking zombie books are good fun reading.

Which they are, for the most part.

This zombie book, however, rather broke that trend.

The book is supposed to be a journal of one guy who happens to be military personnel and a pilot, who manages to avoid the first wave of infection in the zombie apocalypse. He finds a companion, then a few more, and survives. The journey is reasonable (if you can accept the premise of "the dead rising up to continue walking and having the single-minded desire of canabalism"), but the writing is somewhat jarring, especially in the beginning. When I write in my journal, I write "Talked to Pete today," and not, "Talked to Pete, my buddy from the academy who trained with me those first six months, today." There are better ways to weave a person's history into a story than overt explanation. I find overt explanation that way very jarring and prefer a more subtle narrative mode.

Call a spade a spade already with zombies


Unrelated to anything important, I ask this question.

In books, why are zombies not f---ing referred to as zombies?


They are referred to as "walkers" and "walking dead" and "hungries" and, oh good lord, when we have a name for them, why not just call them "zombies?" That's what they are, why would you not call them zombies? Zombies!

Okay, I think I can answer this somewhat. In the same vein that hackers don't like crackers (malicious hackers) to be called "hackers" in general, perhaps those who like to keep Haitian folklore separate from the whims of Hollywood directors insist they are called something other than zombies:

The Girl With All the Gifts

Book Notes

I'm fairly sure I bought this book after a Book Riot post of the best books of 2014. It has zombies in it, which pretty much goes right along with my current delight with zombie books. I've been lucky so far to have read some good zombie books (World War Z, and Mira Grant's Feed trilogy), and this one continues that trend.

The beginning of the book is odd, and I struggled to follow along but briefly. Once I relaxed into the story, it read very quickly. I really like the explanation of the cause of zombie-ism (new word, totally correct), along with the consequences of the continued existence and development of said cause. The social fallout of a post-apocalyptic zombie world is also well portrayed, with different levels of coping with the end of the world (as we know it).

The ending was satisfying, with pretty much the only way the zombie world could continue (given the parameters of zombie-ism provided).

I enjoyed this book and recommend it if you like the zombie fiction genre.

Walking Dead Book 4

Book Notes

Seems appropriate to include the graphic novels I'm reading, too, which means this one is included. I'm not going to count it as "books read" in as much as I define those as "words consumed." I might change my mind at a later date and convert this to a graphic-novel-read instead of book-read. We'll see.

For now, yep, worth reading. The plot line is different than the television series, a realization that should come as a surprise to no one. I am, however, completely impressed at how much the books and the series are similar. There are a couple plot points in this book that take it away from the series, and another couple plot points that bring it closer. I am really enjoying it (as much as you can enjoy any book about death and mindlessness and people being assholes to each other, which is to say, "enjoy"), where the enjoyment is the character development and portrayal in an impossible situation. The different power manipulations and survival methods and crisis reactions are fascinating. Fiction, of course, but you can believe them to be an accurate representation of how people would actually be in this horrific situation.

I guess at least I can.

I have books five and six, so I'll continue on through at least those two. I haven't watched much of the series recently, so I might actually get to the point where the books are past the series. That would be an interesting comparison in the opposite direction.

This series is recommended.

Raising Stony Mayhall

Book Notes

This book took me FOREVER to finish. And by "forever" I mean over six months to actually read. I did not enjoy this book, and had to slog through it to actually finish it. "Why bother finishing it?" you may ask. I certainly asked myself that question a number of times. While I can say I didn't enjoy this book, I didn't hate it either. It sits squarely in the "meh" category of books.

Which is somewhat surprising to me, as I did enjoy We Are All Completely Fine, also by Daryl Gregory. That book I enjoyed enough that I might read Harrison Harrison after I've whittled my current to-read stack down below 20 books. This one, wow, I could not get through. Eventually, I put it on 2x speed on audiobook and just walked on the treadmill until I was done with it.

I liked the idea of the zombies existing rationally after the fever of the turn has happened, a central plot point of this book. I liked the idea of a zombie baby being able to grow into an adult. The length of the story and the just plain naiveté of Stony just grated on my nerves.

And I really did not like the ending.

I don't recommend this book unless you're a Gregory fan and want to read all of the books he's written. In that case, yeah, go ahead. Otherwise, skip this one.

Walking Dead Books 1-3

Book Notes

I wasn't sure if I wanted to include graphic novels in my "I have read" book reviews. I'm uncertain why I was hesitant. There are good ones, bad ones, poorly-drawn but well-written ones, well-drawn but poorly-written ones, worth-reading ones, and not-worth-reading ones. Which is to say, they are books. As such, they can be reviewed; perhaps with different criteria, but reviewed none-the-less.

So, with that said, I am now including the graphic novels in my reading list (I should probably add the multiple readings of the Dresden Files, too. To ponder later...). This year, I read the first three Walking Dead graphic novel "books". I don't know what else to call them other than "books" in that if you look for the Compendiums, you will get a different set of comics than you do with the "books." Each book is about 12 issues of the Walking Dead comics. The series started in 2006, which shows you just how long it took me to become aware of the series. Yes, yes, it was the television show that brought these to my awareness.

I read the first one ZOOM fast. The second was less fast. The third one the speed of the second. There is a lot of death. So much, that I slowed in my reading.

There are a number of places where the television series diverges from the books (no CDC in the books, Rick's life is a little more gruesome, more and different people dying). However, the series sticks fairly true to the books, diverging to keep the story interesting or explain some plot point.

World War Z

Book Notes

Having read Mira Grant's Feed Trilogy, er, Newsflesh trilogy, with Feed, Deadline and Blackout, I have to say, I'm enjoying zombie apocalypse books more than I expected to enjoy them. Those three are great, if you want a good zombie series. With the movie World War Z out, I thought, well, hey, let's read the book.

And to my surprise, I enjoyed the book, World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War a lot. More than I was expecting to enjoy it.

The book is a collection of interviews, as told to a reporter who published them when he realized they wouldn't be included in a report about the zombie apocalypse. The interviews go from the first responders for patient zero, through denial and folly of what was happening, through the eventual figuring out how things work, to recovery. The writing style is quick and enjoyable, yet the interviews are in different voices, something often hard to do with a writing structure with many people speaking. I liked how the stories tied in, with some interviews referencing other interviewees and some interviewees reinterviewed years later.

For a quick zombie book, this one is great. Worth all the positive reviews it received.