Showing posts with label post-apocalyptic. Show all posts
Showing posts with label post-apocalyptic. Show all posts

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The Great Divide by Ben Fisher, Adam Markiewicz


Rating: WARTY!

This is from an advance review copy for which I thank the publisher.

This is a post-apocalyptic story that really had no story, let alone a beginning, a middle, and an end! It's set in a world where the trope 'comet hits the Earth and humanity goes haywire' is called upon. The result in this scenario is that when one person touches another, one of them has their head explode and the other gets their memories.

The idea is absurd. If their head explodes, how do the memories, which were just destroyed, get transferred? What memories?! But this wasn't the only issue. It didn't help that even on a decently-sized tablet computer, the text was rather small, and in some instances literally impossible to read even when I swiped the screen to zoom in.

At intervals there was what looked like it was supposed to be an image of a computer screen, but the text was so blurry that it was a nightmare to try and read, and I quickly took to skipping those pages unread. The odd thing was that I didn't feel like I'd missed anything for skipping them. I will welcome the day when graphic novel writers recognize that you cannot continue to short-change the ebook format unless you want to irritate your readers at best, and piss them off so much that they refuse to read any more of your material in future, at worst.

The one who gets the memories is supposed to also get their skill-set, but this isn't explored, and it doesn't work. The trope fails because just knowing how to do something isn't the same as having had the experience of doing it. This is where The Matrix fell down, when Neo said, "I know Kung Fu". You might know the moves in your head, but your body sure as hell doesn't know how to execute them, and your muscles and limbs are simply not up to it without being properly trained. It's what's often referred to as 'muscle memory' although there's actually no such thing.

But that wasn't the problem here. I would have been willing to let that go as I was in The Matrix, but in this case, there was no story! It was one all-but endless road trip punctuated with random stops to pick up random people who themselves made no sense and who contributed nothing to the story which was, despite the road trip, paradoxically going nowhere. It made no coherent sense and the end simply fizzled out with no explanation and no resolution. I cannot recommend this one.


Thursday, April 7, 2016

Tank Girl Carioca by Mike McMahon, Alan Martin


Rating: WORTHY!

This was an amusingly irreverent graphic novel with decent, if rudimentary artwork, and indecent text. It has a nice look to it from the coloring. Tank Girl, aka Rebecca Buck, is the feisty, criminal owner of a tank. She was originally invented by artist Jamie Hewlett who illustrated the first Tank Girl comic. TG lives in a post-apocalyptic Australia, although the novel has a much more Brit feel than it does Aussie due to author Alan Martin's origins. TG's boyfriend is a mutant kangaroo named Booga. In this volume, she has three other girls in her "gang", which are Jet Girl (who flies a Harrier jump jet and who at one point early in the series was certifiably insane, although in this volume she seems like the only one who isn't insane), and Boat Girl. In this edition there's also a foul mouthed critter of indeterminate species who is randomly dismissed as a lemming (a bitter lemming, in fact!) and a rat, both of which are rudely dismissed by the critter himself.

In this story, Tank Girl and Booga are at a game show and they get a chance to compete. They get all the questions right, including the last prize-winning one, but the show's host, who has taken a distinct dislike to them, lies about the answer and they lose everything. TG, who cares less that she lost than she does about the host's whispered insults aimed at her, decides that nothing less than hanging, drawing, and quartering will deliver adequate justice for this. She concocts an elaborate Heath Robinson plan to achieve her aim, but afterwards, she's overcome by remorse, and starts her own religion, named after the Carioca bar she frequents. Her changed life is doomed to failure, though, as you might guess.

I thought this story was hilarious. It reminds me of the ridiculous ideas I came up with as a kid and the even more ridiculous ones I came up with as a teenager. If you like Monty Python you might like this one, but don't expect a soup to nuts story or even logic! I recommend this.


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.