Book Review: FEED by Mira Grant

Hello again…

These days I am often intrigued by cover blurbs for novels, but rarely surprised by the words within. Mira Grant’s novel FEED starts out innocently enough but morphs into a complex, amazingly intelligent, engaging story that kept me reading late into the night a few nights. This is not your average zombie story and easily in the top three books I’ve read so far in 2010.

FEED follows the exploits of bloggers Georgia and Shaun Mason and their friend Buffy as they not only work to make a living but survive in a world where zombie outbreaks are matter of fact. Georgia or “George” is the Newsie, focused on reporting the facts and getting at the truth of a story. Shaun is an Irwin, living for those adrenaline-inspiring chances to poke zombies in the wild. And Buffy is the Fiction queen, writing poems and stories about whatever topics seem to be hot at the time. When the trio is chosen to follow Senator Ryman’s path to the White House, it signals their chance to enter the big time of running their own blog network instead of writing for others. But it also leads them deep into a rabbit hole of intrigue and danger they don’t really expect.

The first few chapters serve as an introduction to the Mason siblings’ world, innocuously sucking you into liking these quirky characters and the bizarre zombie world they inhabit. It starts slowly as Grant rolls the Trojan Horse through your front gate and sets you up for an emotional thrill ride of politics, espionage, terrorism, and murder. I urge you to let Grant lay her trap and you’ll get plenty of zombies, but soon see that the real monsters, just like in our own world, are all too human.

The usage of blogging as a platform for news in a world where people spend their lives isolated and alone, afraid to gather for fear of a zombie outbreak, was inspired. As a blogger, I can identify with the characters’ quest for identity in a web crowded with other folks doing the same. I found the blog posts between chapters and sections to share information the main characters wouldn’t normally exchange in public or with each other, making them almost intimate even though they’re shared with millions of fictional readers on their site. It’s one more way Grant brings the reader into the equation. I told you it was a trap!

What caught me off guard was how emotionally charged this novel becomes as you sink deeper and deeper into George and Shaun’s lives on the campaign trail. There were multiple scenes where I found myself distraught at what happens. And as you piece things together with Georgia, you struggle along with her to determine how much the truth is worth. Is it worth pain and discomfort? Sure. How about death and destruction? Well…

The story holds many twists and turns as well, but in the final buildup you know enough to agree that George, Shaun, and their friends are putting their lives on the line for a good cause. Nothing holds a candle to the truth. These are powerful characters trying to do the right thing at all times. It’s because of those ideals and their actions to protect and project them that these characters are easy to identify with and root for. And it makes those painful scenes where bad things happen to good people that much harder to read.

Honestly, if you only read one book about zombies this year, read Mira Grant’s FEED. I can hardly wait for the next book in the Newsflesh series – Blackout. Be sure to check out FEED at your favorite local bookseller or online merchant.

–Fitz

p.s. Pick up FEED and other zombie fiction at Barnes & Noble below!

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Book Review: The Mudhogs by Dalton James

Hi there!

When I heard about a bright 8-year old boy who had written and illustrated not one book, but three – I was intrigued. My own daughter has similar aspirations, so I decided to check out Dalton James’ imaginative fiction. And I have to say that I was impressed by what I read!

The Mudhogs tells the story about a clubhouse for a group of three little pigs. Told from the point of view of Fangs, a tick on Piggy’s leg, we hear the tale of how the three pigs deal with a mud shortage. Piggy, Piggles, and Piglet try everything they can think of to make it rain, so that they might make even a little mud. But no rain came.

They tried a rain dance. That didn’t work. They tried to cast a spell. That didn’t work. They even tried putting on a play, complete with thunder and lightning, but that didn’t work either.

Finally they decided they’d go on an adventure in search of mud. None of the towns had any mud. None of the states had any mud. Even the countries they visited were without any mud. But when they got home… they discovered it had been raining while they’d been away and there was plenty of mud for everybody!

Though the artwork was childlike, I was fascinated by the story and the imagination used to create it. My favorite part of the book is when the pigs are traveling and go to the towns of Piggsburg, Hogsbreath, Swineville, and Slopton. As if those weren’t good enough, they then visit the states of Pighoma, Snortesee, New Hog, and Piggselvania. And while you’re still giggling at the first two waves of names, they then go to the countries of Pig of Mud States, Pigsia, Hogico, and Barnia.

It’s obvious that 8-year-old Dalton James has quite a career ahead of him in publishing if he keeps up the great work. He should be an inspiration to kids and parents everywhere to go out on a limb and be creative. You never know who you’ll meet or where you’ll end up. Personally, I’d like to travel to Slopton, Piggselvania, and Barnia. They sound like fun places to visit!

–Fitz

p.s. Check out these other books by Dalton James at Amazon!

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Book Review: Eve of Darkness by S.J. Day

Hey all!

First of all, let me say that I’m a huge fan of urban fantasy. If you’re not aware of the term, “urban fantasy” is basically fantasy literature (magic and/or monsters) set in the real world (or a fictional approximation thereof). There are many authors in this genre, including Emma Bull (who wrote War for the Oaks, easily one of my all time favorite urban fantasies) and Jim Butcher (who writes The Dresden Files series, which I also adore).

Second, I’m not a fan of romance novels. I’m a guy. I don’t typically go pick up a tawdry romance to fill my time.

Third, Eve of Darkness by S.J. Day is an interesting cross of the two genres.

The idea of explicit sex in a fantasy novel is a bit new to me, so I was put off initially when I started reading this novel. That said, the world that Day has created is very, very intriguing to me. So I was able to put aside my typical reaction to the sex scenes (which is to typically put the book down unless it’s excellent) and continue reading. That in and of itself says a great deal to me about the accessibility of Day’s writing.

Eve (Evangeline) is an interior designer in California with a great career and without a great track record in romances. In her teen years, she had a wild fling with an older man on a motorcycle. And he rode out of her life never to be seen again. Ten years later, he returns and turns her life upside down.

Day’s world is comprised of angels and demons, God and the Devil. A world where black and white should be much clearer than it is. The archangels run a kind of bounty hunting service for God, tracking and killing the infernals who go too far in the mortal realm. But the good guys are few and the mortals are many and weak, so there’s always too much work to go around.

This is a world where Cain and Abel, brothers since the time of the Bible, still roam the earth. They are part of this organization helping to remove the worst of the infernals from the mortal realm. Both have greater agendas. And both have fallen in love with one mortal woman… Eve.

As an agnostic, she’s now thrust into a world where heaven and hell are real and the bureaucracy is just about as bad as the job she has thrust upon her — how to kill the infernals she’s asked to kill and still stay alive.

It’s a fascinating world built upon the stories and figures in the Bible. And it’s interesting to see the celestial maneuverings as angels prove themselves not quite as pristine as we might have hoped. I can’t say I like it as much as say, The Dresden Files, but it’s not bad and might attract a different audience to urban fantasy.

I think I may have to read the next two in the trilogy… Eve of Destruction and Eve of Chaos. The first in the trilogy (Eve of Darkness) comes out from Tor Books in April 2009. Eve of Destruction is released in June 2009. And Eve of Chaos will be released in July 2009.

Guess I’ll just have to bide my time!

–Fitz

p.s. Pick up Eve of Darkness at Amazon or your favorite bookstore along with these other greats…

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