"I may not know how to fly but I know how to read and that's almost the same thing."-- Gregory Maguire, Out of Oz

"...while finding true love was one of the most splendid things that could happen to you in life, finding a friend was equally splendid." -- Felix J Palma, The Map of the Sky

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Friday, June 27, 2014

Wool (Omnibus) by Hugh Howey

Wool Omnibus (Silo #1) by Hugh Howey

"These buildings"--he pointed to what looked like large white cans sitting on the ground--"these are silos. They hold seed for the bad times. For until times get good again... This is a silo. They put us here for the bad times."
The world has become a toxic wasteland forcing people to live underground in an enormous, multi-story bunker called a silo. There only appear to be two rules in the silo: don't commit crime and don't speak about going outside. The punishment for breaking the rules: being sent out outside.

This book actually started out as five self-published novellas; the Omnibus edition is all five novellas combined to a comprehensive novel. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this because self-publishing tends to be sloppy and dystopian tends to be sad... I was ready for a grammatically incorrect depress-fest. There's nothing sloppy about this book, although it is one of those stories difficult to review without giving too much away.

Hugh Howey thought up a world where the characters not only live underground in fear of the outside world, but they haven't a clue how they got underground. Their religion tells them that God gave them the silo and planted them all inside it. A camera on the outside allows a projector on the inside to broadcast a live action image of the barren world above onto a wall in the cafeteria. And while characters may admire the view, they are not allowed to speak of it, or else they could be sent to cleaning. Cleaning, is basically their idea of capital punishment; the transgressor gets a last meal of his or her choosing, then sent outside to clean the camera lens in a suit with a limited oxygen supply. And while many of those sent outside claim they won't do it, they won't clean... Once outside, they all clean.

When the silo looses its sheriff, Deputy Marnes and Mayor Jahns choose Juliette Nichols, a quick thinking mechanic to replace him. Juliette who eventually evolves to become our main protagonist, is probably the best character in the bunch. She won't be bullied and she won't be outsmarted; she's committed to doing her job right, even if it means risking her own life to expose a massive secret. A secret that drives people to murder, that drives people to war.

The only thing, I really didn't understand about this book, is why the Cleaners choose to clean... I totally missed the point on that one. A last act of solidarity, maybe? If it were me and my friends sent me to die, I think I'd pick up a big rock and use it to crush that lens. Screw solidarity... But overall I think the book was well written, well thought out and entertaining. There's enough suspense to keep the pages flipping by and enough story to keep me thinking long after the last page was read.

Rating: 5/5

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Quotable Thursday

Contrary to planning, my posting schedule has gone sporadically off course. I apologize, but make no promises for the future; I'm trying though. This past week marked the arrival of my birthday and with it: book money! And so I indulged in something new, Wool by Hugh Howey.
"Killing a man should be harder than waving a length of pipe in their direction. It should take long enough for one's conscience to get in the way."
And (though slightly shortened):
"None of us asked to be where we are. What we control is our actions once fate puts us there."
Quotable Thursday originally brought to you by Bookshelf Fantasies.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness

Monsters of Men (Chaos Walking #3) by Patrick Ness

"He is worse than the others, I show. He is worst of all of them. Because--
The rest are worth as much as their pack animals, I show, but worst is the one who knows better and does nothing."

Spoiler Alert.
Patrick Ness is a bastard.
Just so you know ahead of time, there will be no mercy.

Book 3 began exactly where Book 2 left off: The army of New Prentisstown is at war with the army of The Answer and Mayor President Prentiss is talking his way out of being overthrown by Todd. The Spackle forces are attacking and Viola's racing to intercept her incoming scout ship before Mistress Coyle can get there.

The story once again expands by adding yet another point of view, that of 1017. 1017 is essentially the one that got away... and proceeds to plot vengeance. He was a Spackle slave in New Haven, who watched his one in particular, die to keep him safe. Forced to work under Prentiss's command and branded with a number intended for livestock, he survives a brutal massacre and escapes to find his people. And this is where his POV, becomes really useful; the reader gets to learn about the Spackle from a Spackle. The Spackle are fiercer and smarter than they've let on and they've spent their downtime between wars inventing new weapons. They call themselves The Land and are a species perfectly evolved to a planet that induces telepathy in its inhabitants. They choose a leader, The Sky, to watch over them, to think independently and make decisions to their benefit. And The Sky keeps his secrets...

Todd and Viola are once again caught in a war they want no part of... Todd is stuck keeping tabs on Mayor Prentiss who's becoming increasingly nice, even though no one is buying that brand of BS, except maybe Todd who only ever wants to see the good in people. Viola is stuck trying to keep the scouts, Simone and Bradley calm, while preventing Mistress Coyle from convincing them to unleash Hell on New World.

Throughout the majority of the story, New World is having an all out civil war and there's nothing civil about it. Mayor Prentiss calls his peculiar brand of leadership a war tactic when really there's just a lot of murder. Mistress Coyle calls it opposition against a tyrant when she plants bombs in unexpected places, but most see it as terrorism. And as Todd and Viola try to be advocates of peace, getting what they want is going to cost big.

Which brings me right back to Patrick Ness is a bastard. Todd and Viola, having found each other time and time again, fought for each other, and survived bloody, fiery wars... Todd and Viola, constantly having to prove themselves the heroes of the story, despite the despair...The ending brings hope, hope in the human and the Spackle alike, hope that happiness is near. And then Patrick Ness drives MacTruck over that hope. And I read the final pages in tears.

I can't really find anything to complain about in the final installment...The plot-timing was perfect, the plot twists were exciting. The suspense kept me flipping pages even when I wasn't sure I wanted to read what happened next. The loose ends were tied up beautifully. And even though Patrick Ness made me cry, I can't fault him too heavily for that... The fact that he was able to make me feel so much is a testament to his ability as a storyteller.

Rating: 5/5

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Ten Books That Will Be In My Beach Bag This Summer

My picks for the Tuesday Top Ten, as invented by The Broke and Bookish.

I had to think about this list, lol. See the beach is really sunny, full of distractions. So if I'm taking a book, it's got to full into one of two categories:

1. Well-worn, so the light bouncing off the pages, doesn't hurt my eyes.
2. Simple-written, Young Adult, So I can follow the story easily, without having to put too much thought or effort into it.

1.Come on, Seabiscuit! by Ralph Moody. My copy belonged to my mother -- in the 70s.

2. The Call of the Wild by Jack London. This book's gone on road trips and boat trips. Its been to the barn, the beach, camping, and to school...Well worn, yes, and well loved.

3. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll.

4. The Great Gatsby. by F Scott Fitzgerald. Haven't read yet, but if I get a copy from the library I bet it'll be worn in.

5.Rosemary's Baby by Ira Levin. 

6. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. I hear good things about this one.

7. Twilight by Stephanie Meyer. Certainly easy to follow.

8. Mattimeo by Brian Jacques.

9.  The Incredible Journey by Sheila Burnford

10. The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien.