Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Book Review #6 - The Eleventh Plague

Title: The Eleventh Plague by Jeff Hirsch
Released: September 1, 2011. First released August 1, 2011.
Copy Owned: Kindle Edition

Hirsch starts the book with the death of what would seem to be one of the more prominent, even though inactive, characters of the story.

P-11 or the eleventh plague had been unleashed years before by the Chinese (interesting lol) during another infamous war. The plague sounds more like an extreme flu virus, but it seems to have done it's job, infecting and wiping out the world's population little by little.

Grandpa, an inactive yet ominous presence in the book, had just been buried, another victim to the plague. We never got to know Grandpa in his physical state, but the book eludes to his personality and attitude constantly to the point where you feel as if he's still in it. A former marine, we read about what his rules of survival were. Everyone is an enemy. Don't get involved in outside problems, because you have your own problems to deal with. Don't use what you can trade. If I read correctly, he wasn't shy with his rants and slaps, either.

Dad is the opposite in mannerisms. The plague might've made his father more of a hard-ass than he might've been otherwise, but Dad was still a Dad. Dad still had enough humanity in him, which eventually ended up being the cause of his exit from the story. He's one of those characters that you don't really get to know before he exits, but you see enough to realize he was a good guy. He was someone that wasn't tainted despite the world's going down the crapper.

Stephen is our main character. Our narrator. The lone survivor of his immediate family.

It's during one of their salvaging missions where things go awry. Slavers, said to typically be ex-military/government people, move through in close proximity. Stephen and his father notice they have a woman and her son in tow, shackled. Stephen, knowing what Grandpa would say, wants to let it go. Dad has other plans...his own plans. He can't let a mother and child go without trying to help.

Yeah, that's the kind of man Dad was...and that's what kicked off Dad's getting injured.

What pissed me off here was that he had good intentions. Noble ones. Stephen went along against his better judgement, and the woman not only ran off, but showed no signs of any gratitude...nor did she even attempt to help those that saved her.


Dad cracks his head, Stephen cracks a nut.

I don't know...at first Stephen sort of irked me, seeming selfish and always referring to what Grandpa would say or do. It was like he was brainwashed, but when I look back, it's how Grandpa kept them alive for so long. What Grandpa would say or do was Stephen's second nature and we see how he both hated it but relied on it.

Dad gets injured running from the slavers and Stephen's left taking on the role of caretaker. He drags his father's limp body to a little covey, tends to his wounds as best he can, and sets out to get their belongings back...beating himself up about how stupid the entire situation was.

What was that? He hears a rustle...hears voices...are there more slavers?

No...but Grandpa's way is to shoot now and ask questions later...which Stephen does.

Down goes a blonde mound. Stephen takes another aim at the strangers, cause apparently Grandpa taught him to be an anybody-killer...when he hears steps behind him and turns just in time to get clobbered over the head.

Oops, they weren't slavers, what was he thinking?

He comes to, hands bound and faced by strangers. They seem as shaken as he is...they don't seem that bad, but Grandpa said...


First act of kindness. They don't punish him for shooting the annoying presence that was lucky enough to survive. They let him live. Second act of kindness. They give him a choice to come along. Third act of kindness, they give him ammo when he refuses.

From this point on, Stephen see's a different world. A world so different from his own, one he's not sure he can be a part of, one he doesn't know if he can be a part of.

Needless to say, this is where all the good stuff comes in. The stuff that keeps you reading until you're done. I won't go into that because I already told so much, I know I didn't have a spoiler alert written, but gahhh, if you think that's the exciting stuff, you're wrong. There's more.

What I really loved about this book is how realistic and down to earth the characters are. I can envision the people as they were written, doing what they're written to do. I don't read many books in this genre because it's usually the opposite. It's either too doom and gloom to where you don't want to read any more...or it's too over the top. I found this story to have a little bit of everything, yet keeping it's realism firm.

Would I recommend it? I sure would. I recommend it to anyone that simply enjoys reading a good book. You don't have to be a fan of any specific genre to enjoy a book like this. It's the future without cyborgs and laser guns, yet it's still current, with the desires to make the world what it once was.

5 star rating. I think I've said enough to confirm why.

Happy Reading!


Saturday, March 10, 2012

Book Review #5 - Mama

Title: Mama by Robin Morris
Released: January 10, 2012. First published May 4, 2011
Copy Owned: Free signed copy from the Goodreads First Reads Giveaway *Thanks for signing it!* :-D

This book will have you biting down your nails in anticipation. At least, that's what it did with me.

When it first arrived at my door, after looking at the cover for awhile, I was under the impression it was gonna be something sort of like Wrong Turn, the literary version. I wasn't put off, but I wasn't super anxious, either.

It didn't take long for me to get over that minor hump.

It went something like this:

*read through first page* Ohh?

*read through second page* 0_0

*read through third page* hmmms...


Morris starts the book in the middle of an action sequence, which pulled me right in without even feeling the need to try to get acquainted with the characters first. You get that little rush of adrenaline and curiosity overrides everything else. You don't know what's going on, but you do know that you can't keep yourself from wanting to know...and there you have it...you're stuck in the game.

Crafty, Morris...very, very crafty.

Mama and her brood of uglies

They come from what they term as "The Real," which they claim is on the other side of the veil. If you're into all of that alternative-spiritual/other-world stuff, you'd know what the veil is. The Real is vicious, The Real is cruel, it's every man for himself in The Real. That's what brings Mama and her band of ugly misfits into the human realm. The "Toy World" she calls it because humans are toys that exist for them to play with...or learn the lessons on cruelty Mama claims her children need to learn in order to survive their own world.

That's how it's always been in her family.

Hello Conovers

The book starts off with death, thanks to Mama and her brood, then goes on to the slight introduction of the Conovers; a family of four, making their way up north due to financial troubles and the fact that the father, an actor *and loser*, couldn't land a gig good enough to support his family. The plan is to move in with the mother-in-law and get a stable job. The wife seems pleasant enough and so does their son, who right off the bat, we're shown that he's not your average obnoxious 'tweenie boy. The daughter is a piece of work like her father is. Selfish, sarcastic, self-centered. Yup, that sums up the father/daughter duo.

It didn't take long for Mama and her kids to set their sights on the Conovers...and you wouldn't believe just how simple the reason that they were chosen was. I'll leave that up to you to find out.

Their game starts with a smiling face in a window, scaring the daylights out of the Conover boy, Michael. Nobody likes feeling like they're going bonkers. From that point, it turns into blatant stalking, you know how creepy it is when you're on a road trip...and you notice that everywhere you go, you see the same exact car or person? I had a bad Wolf Creek flashback while reading this. XD Soon, the stalking becomes more than just following them and faces in windows. Mrs Conover is knocked down in a gas station mini-mart, Alison, the Conover girl, meets Alvin and Ruby, 2 of Mama's children, outside of the Conover's motel room, and Michael see's and feels the other children's presence inside the motel room.

Nobody knows how, yet, but Mama and her brood are able to pass through doors and walls, they can come and go anywhere...they can see you or find you anywhere...and they do.

The Conovers get spooked and unintentionally draw in the next victim. Mama doesn't discriminate. Cops aren't to be feared, either...besides an enforcer toy could come in handy, right? The book really took off when Andy stepped into the story, in my opinion. He amped up the suspense and as the reader, I was torn between who I wanted to survive more. Cops get a bad rap in our world, but this guy was a good guy, and it felt like he got dealt a bad hand. His crime? Being at the wrong place at the wrong time.

From there, the story took me on a wave of emotions. I was anxious, angry, nervous, then impatient, and sad. Morris took a cliche concept (serial killer family killing travelers) and turned it into something more. It was a total shocker when I discovered Mama and her children weren't super humans, but something totally different...and at points in the book, I felt like I couldn't bring myself to hate her the way I wanted to because she had come across brainwashed about what they were doing. The book indirectly has you reflecting on moral aspects like that, without it being all in-your-face about it. It was a wild ride, but in the end it was a ride worth taking.

The ending satisfied me enough and it was fitting. I was saddened by the deaths of 2 out of 3 of my faves, but considering the fact that this is a horror story, it just wouldn't feel right if everyone I came to attach myself to survived.

What I didn't like very much was the cover of the book. It's eye-catching enough, but I feel that it's too generic for a story like this. If this book doesn't get much attention, I'd blame the cover, because I wouldn't look at it twice if I seen it on a shelf in a store. It's not so bad that I'd let it affect my overall rating of the book, though, which is a whopping 5 stars.

Do I recommend this book to others? You're damn skippy, I do. Hell, I recommend that it be put to film. I know I'd watch this if it was made into a movie.

If you're looking for a super-fast read and love feeling lost and helpless along with the characters, go for it. Even if you enjoy witnessing others feeling lost and helpless, read it. :-P