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Archive for July, 2012

Ashfall

From Mike Mullin‘s website: 
Many visitors to Yellowstone National Park don’t realize that the boiling hot springs and spraying geysers are caused by an underlying supervolcano. It has erupted three times in the last 2.1 million years, and it will erupt again, changing the earth forever.

Fifteen-year-old Alex is home alone when Yellowstone erupts. His town collapses into a nightmare of darkness, ash, and violence, forcing him to flee. He begins a harrowing trek in search of his parents and sister, who were visiting relatives 140 miles away.

Along the way, Alex struggles through a landscape transformed by more than a foot of ash. The disaster brings out the best and worst in people desperate for food, clean water, and shelter. When an escaped convict injures Alex, he searches for a sheltered place where he can wait—to heal or to die. Instead, he finds Darla. Together, they fight to achieve a nearly impossible goal: surviving the supervolcano.

General Impression:
This book is raw, gritty and real. I loved that the main character was a boy. I don’t think there are enough YA books out there that are from a male point of view. I know this is changing and more are coming out, but it still was a refreshing change. This book is written in such a real way that it is easy to see this being the future that is in store for us. I think my only complaint about the book is that it was so raw, I couldn’t read it in one sitting. I had to take a break every five or six chapters.

So what to say about Alex? Alex is such a real character there was no problem connecting with him as soon as the book started. I have a soft spot in my heart for geeks and anyone who can go on and on about grinding in WoW is immediately a kindred spirit. The other thing I like him is that his reactions to events are very similar to the reactions that I would probably have in the same situations. Even though there were several times I would fight to yell out not to do something, I have to admit that in his place, I would probably do the same thing.

The book is graphic in several places. Unlike some other books, Mike Mullin uses the graphic scenes as important parts of the story. Nothing is really gratuitous, though in some cases it could have been glanced over, it wouldn’t have had as much of an impact on reader as it did on the characters. I do love that there isn’t violence for violence sake, but that every instance of violence has some motivation behind it.

Final Takeaway:
October 8th is too far away! I absolutely loved this book, and highly recommend this to anyone. Mullin writes in a way that is reminiscent of classic sci-fi and post-apocalyptic novels from the 50s and 60s but with a modern twist. While Ashfall stands very well as a stand alone, I have to admit I’m anxiously awaiting the October 8th release of Ashen Winter.

One note to take away is that if you suffer from any triggers, you might want to be careful with this book. I think the book is good enough to try and still read it, or get a friend to read it and forewarn you about any potential trigger scenes before you get to them.

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City of Bones

From the back of the book
When Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder. Much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with odd markings. This is Clary’s first meeting with the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons-and keeping the odd werewolves and vampires in line. It’s also her first meeting with gorgeous, golden-haired Jace. Within twenty-four hours Clary is pulled into Jace’s world with a vengeance, when her mother disappears and Clary herself is attacked by a demon. But why would demons be interested in an ordinary mundane like Clary? And how did she suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know…

General Impressions
First and foremost, City of Bones (and possibly the entire series, but I haven’t read the others yet) should be a study in world building. Cassandra Clare creates a world so rich and different that it is easy to forget that the main characters are running around New York City. While I’ve never been to NYC, I got the feeling that well-known landmarks are used merely for a point of reference and to show distance traveled. While the story may be set in NYC, it takes place in Clare’s world. Clare also takes advantage of well established ideas about certain fantasy species and turns them on their head, while keeping in canon with others.

The other major thing that stood out to me was that I wasn’t battered over the head with a love story. There is a love story there, but it isn’t over done and shoved in my face, like some other YA novels do. This is what I loved about the Vampire Academy series and I think it will be a key role in my future enjoyment of this series. Clare gives you time to learn about the characters and enjoy them as themselves before over complicating their lives with serious romance. She also avoids the trap that many authors fall into where a character is nothing without their other half. All the characters in City of Bones stand on their own. Romance, while it does play a role in the story, supports the growth of the characters instead of consuming them.

As for the story itself, it took me a bit to figure out what was going on, since I didn’t even read the back of the book before I started reading. That didn’t stop me from getting sucked in during the first chapter. It ramps up fast though. There were several times where I had the “one more chapter and I won’t be too tired at work tomorrow” moments. The story and characters also stick with you outside of the book.  There would be several times where I was doing something in my everyday life and would be thinking about what was happening in the book.

Final Takeaway
Highly suggest this book if you are a fan of Urban Fantasy, or even thinking about checking out UF. I have been hearing about these books for awhile and they have been on my to be read list for a couple of years now. The only thing I can say is that I am kicking myself for not reading these sooner. I picked up the next two books in the series as part of my birthday present to myself.

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So today is my birthday.  Since I am celebrating my birth today, I’m gonna hold off on posting a book review this week.  I’ll have a new, shiny review for you next week =)

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