Showing posts with label Amber Kizer. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Amber Kizer. Show all posts

Saturday, February 2, 2019

The Speed of Light by Amber Kizer

Rating: WARTY!

This is the third volume in the 'Meridian' trilogy which began with Meridian in 2009, and was followed by Wildcat Fireflies in 2011, and this one a year later. Despite liking the first, and not so much the second, both of which I read before I started blogging books, I could not get into this third volume at all. Maybe I left it too long before moving on to read this one? But that said it didn't ought to have affected my perception of it to this extent.

This is why I typically despise trilogies because far more often than not, the author takes a great idea and ruins it by dragging it out way past its natural life cycle. This is what happened here. Each volume was less than the previous, and this particular one was a bloated tome. One of the reasons for that was the appalling waste of trees involved in its production. There were massive margins, and the widely-spaced text did not start until halfway down the page on new chapters. How many trees could you have saved, Ms Kizer if you had formatted your book a little more wisely? Maybe she doesn't care. Maybe she hates trees. No one wants to see a book that's all text and no white space not even me(!), but come on! I think I'm going to start negatively-reviewing any print book that's so disrespectful of our environment.

Anyway I think I am done with this author after this experience. But briefly, the book is about Meridian Sozu, who is known as a Fenestra, that is, a human who has been, dare I say it, touched by an angel, and who is supposed to help transition souls into the next world. Why such a person would ever be needed goes unexplained. It implies that the resident god is incompetent and needs help shoring-up the defective system he created!

The author pairs her up with a guy, of course, who is naturally her soul-mate and protector. Why the author couldn't have changed this up a bit instead of taking the road most traveled, I do not know. She could have made the two antagonists, or made the protector a lesbian who wants Meridian, but whose love is not requited, or something else, but no, let's stick with traditional weak women who desperately needs a guy to validate her, young adult crap.

In volume one, this wasn't so bad as it happened, but it got worse. In this volume there's a battle to save this girl Julia who will do almost anything to find her parents, and who is siding with the idiotically named 'nocti' - the forces of dark who try to steal souls from people like Meridian. Plus there's a disaster awaiting at the Indianapolis 500, which some would argue is already a disaster, but still. Sorry, but no - not interested! The author has done insufficient work to create this world, and consequently it doesn't hang together at all well.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

A Matter of Days by Amber Kizer

Title: A Matter of Days
Author: Amber Kizer
Publisher: Random House
Rating: WORTHY!

This is a post-apocalyptic novel by the author of a separate trilogy (Fenestra) which I've read and enjoyed, but which wasn't what I consider really great. I wanted to read this to discover how she fared in a different milieu, and the answer is: not bad; not bad at all.

The set-up here is that of a run-away viral plague. A bio-weapon developed by the Chinese got out of the lab and swept the globe so fast that no vaccine could be created. However, the US military had been working on a generic vaccine to protect the president and important people, and this miraculously worked against this virus, preventing it from duplicating itself in the host's body.

One man managed to get doses of this vaccine to his niece, nephew, and their mother. Moron mom refused to take it until it was too late, thereby orphaning her children. Now Nadia, 16, and "Rabbit" (whose real name is Robert), 11, are alone and embarking upon a road trip to try to reach their uncle, 3,000 miles away. I have to say that 'Rabbit' is a really stupid name for a kid and it irritated me throughout this novel just as much as their having an uncle named Uncle Bean irritated me, but their mom's stupidity irritated me more

Anyway, their father was a military man who conveniently trained these two kids in using weapons, and in survival techniques, advising them to 'be the cockroach' in terms of surviving. Their uncle left them instructions on how to reach him. Why he otherwise abandoned them goes unexplained. I guess he thought their mom wouldn't be such a dumb-ass. I have no time for people who don't get vaccinated, and I especially despise parents who refuse to vaccinate their kids. That's nothing but child abuse, and it's sheer cowardice when they hide behind a sorry-assed and ignorant religion as an excuse.

It was their uncle's team which estimated that the Chinese virus would kill some 98% of the human population, which it appears to have done. Why it seems to have killed only decent people and left a preponderance of villains alive remains a mystery. Why it seems to have completely wiped out all military and emergency services personnel is another mystery. How that estimate was arrived at goes unexplained, as does the question of why any nation would want to create a virus that would effectively wipe out their own population!

We join the siblings as their mother dies and they're setting out on their journey from Seattle, heading to West Virginia at a point where we're 56 days into the viral attack. They're driving a jeep across country, through miles of abandoned towns, abandoned cars, people-less terrain, trying to stay alive, to find food and water, to avoid any hostile humans remaining, and to get to what they believe will be the safety of their uncle. It's going to take them a matter of 44 days to find out if he's still there.

They overnight in the snowy mountains in a luxury hotel which they have to themselves, and leave as soon as the weather eases up. They have an unpleasant encounter at a walled village, the inhabitants of which fire upon them out of panic that they're plague carriers. They're almost taken advantage of by an elderly women set up as a decoy, and almost run into an execution squad composed, it would appear, of the escapees from a nearby maximum security prison, but this is nothing when compared with the gang they run into in a shopping mall - a place where they acquire yet another passenger in the form of a little girl who's been hiding out and surviving in the mall ever since her mother, the mall director, died. She reminded me of 'Newt', the girl from the movie Aliens

Somewhere in the mid-west, they run into Zach, an out-of-work drug dealer from LA who has wandered there from LA to get away from the insanity and to find a place to live which he can learn to make self-sustainable in this new world. After some initial reservations, they settle with him for a couple of weeks and when they move on, he travels with them.

Don't worry - kizer is a smart writer, smart enough that this doesn't turn into a sad-sack of a teen trope romance. She writes it beautifully - not too little, never too much, and that's a good guide to the tone for this whole novel. It's never too much. There's no dramatic "Hey I'm fourteen and I'm destined to save the world". All Nadia has to do is save herself and her brother, and that's enough on anyone's plate.

Having championed Kizer as smart, I do have to qualify that by calling her out on a couple of really dumb things she wrote. She's yet another author who thinks there's such a thing as a "bicep". Nope, it's biceps (and triceps). A professional writer has no excuse for not knowing that.

The other issue I had was with her representing homeopathy as some sort of viable medical treatment. It's not. Homeopathy is outright fraud, and that's all there is to it. It's all bullshit and quackery and that's a scientific fact. And no, I won't entertain any commenters who try to say that they know someone who.... That's not how science works. Medical science works on the demonstrable, the repeatable. It doesn't work on folk tales and anecdote, so if you want to come after me on this, then bring the published mainstream science which supports your claims, otherwise I'll continue to hold to my supported position that homeopathy has no scientific standing and is therefore fraud, period.

That aside, this novel was great. There's no big drama here, although there is plenty of small dramas and some hair-raising encounters. The story is matter-of-fact, but realistic, entertaining, and interesting. Nadia is the kind of character which I'm delighted to find in YA stories, because she's a strong female character in every sense of the word. She's smart, although she's sometimes a bit dumb, she's strong, although sometimes she's weak. She's buoyant, although sometimes she's down. She's interesting and careful, reckless and fun, engaging and powerful, and well-worth reading about. I have no problem in recommending this novel.