NetGalley Review: Doors by Daniel Brako

DoorsDoors by Daniel Brako
Read: August 16 – August 17, 2013
NetGalley selection.

Many thanks to Pan Macmillan for sending me this review copy via NetGalley!

Goodreads Book Blurb: David Druas is a successful psychologist, with a thriving practice. When he encounters Hans Werner, a client who sees imaginary doors, life takes a dark and unexpected turn.

After trying to unravel the delusion, David also notices mysterious doors. Scattered throughout the city, they lead to beautiful, terrifying and dangerous new worlds. But are they real?

When Hans Werner is murdered, the evidence identifies David as the killer. Forced to become a fugitive, he struggles to escape the deepening nightmare that threatens to overwhelm him.

As the police close in, it becomes apparent that the doors are concealing a dark and tangled truth. The question is: can David unlock their secrets before his time and sanity run out?

My Opinion: I am really glad this book was so short. We are greeted by the opening chapter reminding us no fewer than three times that the main character is a successful psychologist. Did I mention he is a psychologist? And by the way, he is a psychologist.

The first chapter was promising, with the action kicking off right away, but then things got really weird.

I think the biggest let down for me in Doors is that nothing is ever really explained. It is all just kind of glossed over in favor of action, which I didn’t find all that thrilling.

Unfortunately, the trend with story was also a trend with characters, and I didn’t like any of the characters in Doors.

This was a really short book, so I don’t have much to say.

Bottom Line: I honestly can’t think of any of the people I know who I would recommend this book to. If it sounds intriguing to you, go for it… it isn’t a very long read, so it isn’t a huge investment. But it didn’t do it for me.

Review: The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

The Knife of Never Letting GoThe Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
Read: August 7 – August 11, 2013
Personal read.

Goodreads Book Blurb: Prentisstown isn’t like other towns. Everyone can hear everyone else’s thoughts in an overwhelming, never-ending stream of Noise. Just a month away from the birthday that will make him a man, Todd and his dog, Manchee — whose thoughts Todd can hear too, whether he wants to or not — stumble upon an area of complete silence. They find that in a town where privacy is impossible, something terrible has been hidden — a secret so awful that Todd and Manchee must run for their lives.

But how do you escape when your pursuers can hear your every thought?

My Opinion: In the beginning, and for most of this book, I had a really hard time engaging. The prose is written in a convoluted mess of grammar and spelling, in an effort to convey how little Todd knows about reading and writing. For me, this took me out of the story as I was constantly irked by the errors. I think this is very polarizing, and readers will either not care, or care very much.

Todd is a very naive character, and it varied between being an endearing quality and an annoying one. I found that his interactions with other characters, Manchee especially, made this feel like it was driven more towards young boys as an audience than anything. I got really tired of reading about how much Manchee had to poop, personally.

I can’t comment on Ness’ writing from a technical standpoint, because it was stylistically made to be full of grammatical and spelling errors. In the sense of storytelling, Ness knows how to hit you where it hurts, let me tell you. And then he kicks you while you are down, just for good measure.

I spent a lot of this book really hating the characters, in a broad sense. I just wanted them to not be so… stupid? I wanted them to fight for themselves, to not make the obvious mistakes that they did anyways. There were so many times I heard myself screaming “NO” in my head, but of course the characters didn’t listen to little old me. Later in the book, we are told why they behave the way they do to some extent, but it was still one of the most aggravating things, and plot-wise it didn’t entirely make sense to me.

If I was going to colonize a new planet, I would send a mixture of people, not all of one certain type. But that, again, is just me.

The ending is what bumped it up from an OK book to a book I really enjoyed. I actually got a book hangover, almost entirely due to that ending.

Bottom Line: A dark dystopian science fiction that has a questionable young adult label on it. Written in a very specific style that will take some getting used to, but you will be rewarded for your efforts. I definitely recommend this book, and I will be continuing with the series.

NetGalley Review: 14 by Peter Clines

1414 by Peter Clines
Read: June 10 – June 11, 2013
Personal read.

Many thanks to Peter Clines and Permuted Press for the review copy via NetGalley!

Goodreads Book Blurb: Padlocked doors. Strange light fixtures. Mutant cockroaches.

There are some odd things about Nate’s new apartment.

Of course, he has other things on his mind. He hates his job. He has no money in the bank. No girlfriend. No plans for the future. So while his new home isn’t perfect, it’s livable. The rent is low, the property managers are friendly, and the odd little mysteries don’t nag at him too much.

At least, not until he meets Mandy, his neighbor across the hall, and notices something unusual about her apartment. And Xela’s apartment. And Tim’s. And Veek’s.

Because every room in this old Los Angeles brownstone has a mystery or two. Mysteries that stretch back over a hundred years. Some of them are in plain sight. Some are behind locked doors. And all together these mysteries could mean the end of Nate and his friends.

Or the end of everything…

My Opinion: I really struggled with writing this review, because I don’t really know what genre this book falls into. It kind of defies them all. It is horror without being particularly horrifying. It is science-fiction without treading too heavily into the realm of science. I thought at first that it was so great that 14 skirted all the genres, but in reality, I think it was just trying to be included in as many as possible without committing to one and doing it exceptionally well.

There is some Lovecraftian influence here, which I don’t feel like I can comment on, because I haven’t delved into the world of Lovecraft yet (I know, bad Erin, right?). Though I will say, I was impressed with Clines because being the fact-nerd that I am, I Googled some of the names he threw out, and I found that the connections he claimed checked out. So kudos to Clines on the research front.

The book was good, but not great. It was twisted, but not twisted enough. The character reactions didn’t feel very real to me, and there were aspects that I really wished had been explored more. The entire last third of the book or so was very slow for me and didn’t seem to have much purpose. It just… dragged, even though that was where the action was.

Bottom Line: A genre bender, and enjoyable enough, but didn’t quite deliver on all fronts.

Review: Partials by Dan Wells (Spoiler Free)

Partials by Dan Wells
Read: October 21 – October 25, 2012
Format: Ebook (library book), 335 pages
ISBN: 978-0-06-207106-4

Publisher: Balzer + Bray (HarperCollins), 2012

Personal read.

Book Blurb: The human race is all but extinct after a war with Partials—engineered organic beings identical to humans—has decimated the population. Reduced to only tens of thousands by RM, a weaponized virus to which only a fraction of humanity is immune, the survivors in North America have huddled together on Long Island while the Partials have mysteriously retreated. The threat of the Partials is still imminent, but, worse, no baby has been born immune to RM in more than a decade. Our time is running out.

Kira, a sixteen-year-old medic-in-training, is on the front lines of this battle, seeing RM ravage the community while mandatory pregnancy laws have pushed what’s left of humanity to the brink of civil war, and she’s not content to stand by and watch. But as she makes a desperate decision to save the last of her race, she will find that the survival of humans and Partials alike rests in her attempts to uncover the connections between them—connections that humanity has forgotten, or perhaps never even knew were there.

My Opinion: Partials by Dan Wells was hands down the best YA I have read in a long time. The plot is original, the writing is engaging, and the characters are likeable. That said, the book is definitely not without its flaws. But let me gush a little bit first.

The plot. OK, so we have biological robots, a super virus, and a corrupt government all wrapped into one shiny package. These things definitely all belong in the same sand box. I haven’t encountered a plot like this before. Dystopian fiction is usually a dime a dozen, but Wells has injected a fresh twist.

Tied into the plot are the characters. Partials is one of very few YA books where the main female character is not a snivelling twit. Thank you Dan Wells for writing a character that I not only don’t want to smack upside the head, but that I actually like. Kira is a gun-toting, medical genius badass. I love it. However, a lot of the secondary characters failed to stand out in the same way. I didn’t really feel connected to any of the cast other than Kira and Samm. Marcus, Jayden, Madison… they were all fine, but they weren’t awesome in the same way I found Kira to be. Also, the characters really didn’t read like 16-17 year olds. The plot relies on the forced pregnancy, and the main characters not remembering much of the Partial War… but a lot of the time I had to remind myself that I was reading about teenagers and not twenty-somethings.

The writing in Partials is great. There is some comedic relief, the action and story move at a good pace, and I got all the information I needed without ever feeling like the victim of an infodump. And the author really keeps you guessing.

On the flip-side, there were some pretty glaring inconsistencies that irked me a lot. When Kira is planning her great plan to go get a Partial, she talks to Marcus about leaving tomorrow, when they all agreed that it would take a while to set up, and the next section is called “Three months later”.

Bottom Line: Not without flaws, but a great read, especially if you are a fan of science fiction, dystopian fiction, stories with medical themes, or young adult reads.

(Image and book blurb courtesy of http://www.goodreads.com)

Review: John Dies at the End by David Wong (Spoiler Free)

John Dies at the End by David Wong
Read: October 12 – October 21, 2012
Format: Hardcover (library book), 378 pages
ISBN: 978-0-312-55513-9

Publisher: Thomas Dunne, 2009

Book club selection (horror genre)

Book Blurb: STOP.
*You should not have touched this flyer with your bare hands.
*NO, don’t put it down. It’s too late.
*They’re watching you.

My name is David Wong. My best friend is John. Those names are fake. You might want to change yours.

You may not want to know about the things you’ll read on these pages, about the sauce, about Korrok, about the invasion, and the future. But it’s too late. You touched the book. You’re in the game. You’re under the eye.

The only defense is knowledge. You need to read this book, to the end. Even the part with the bratwurst. Why? You just have to trust me.

The important thing is this:
*The drug is called Soy Sauce and it gives users a window into another dimension.
*John and I never had the chance to say no.
*You still do.

Unfortunately for us, if you make the right choice, we’ll have a much harder time explaining how to fight off the otherworldly invasion currently threatening to enslave humanity.

I’m sorry to have involved you in this, I really am. But as you read about these terrible events and the very dark epoch the world is about to enter as a result, it is crucial you keep one thing in mind:

None of this was my fault.

My Opinion: John Dies at the End is a ridiculous, juvenile, completely messed up trip through the horror genre, with a little stop in the science fiction genre for good measure. David Wong completely acknowledges this with every turn. And so, since the book doesn’t take itself too seriously, it works.

Is John Dies at the End the most magnificent thing I have ever read? No. Far from it. I spent a lot of the book just trying to figure out what the heck was going on among all the phallus jokes. There is a plot buried deeply there. It is hard to follow, and not really all that great. I didn’t find myself really feeling anything for any of the characters save Amy. I really liked her. Maybe it is because I am also a chronic pain sufferer… maybe it is because David Wong did a good job of writing her as a tortured character. Either way. She worked.

John Dies at the End is, in short, a mess. There is so much going on that doesn’t get wrapped up. The horror is about as gory as written horror can be (at least, I haven’t seen much worse than this…).

By the way, David Wong is not the author’s real name. Jason Pargin is. He is an online humorist, and according to the book jacket, editor in chief of cracked.com. Which kind of explains a lot. John Dies at the End is written very similarly to how you would expect someone who writes online satire to write a novel.

I am going around in circles because there isn’t much more to say.

Bottom Line: If you like juvenile humor with an emphasis on the phallus, gory horror that is at best creepy, and a plot that essentially runs in circles without going anywhere… this is the book for you. I am not trying to come down too hard on this book, because really… it works in some cases. Sometimes this book worked. Sometimes it didn’t.

Currently Reading: “Across the Universe” by Beth Revis

I am not entirely sure how this book got such high ratings, to be honest. I find the writing style to be vague, and the promise on the front of the book is as-yet unfulfilled. This book is written in first person, and it flips back and forth between two characters. Every other chapter. Like clockwork. It is like Twilight in SPACE and without the vampires (yet). I enjoyed Twilight, but I am not connecting to this book.

I am on page 131 of 400-and-something. Below are a few of my predictions. As the plot is fairly transparent, I advise you avoid reading if you don’t want to be spoilered.

Continue reading