Author: Robert Kirkman
Title: The Walking Dead: March To War (vol. 19)
Publication Info:Image Comics (2013)
As noted in my review for volume 18, The Walking Dead series too often forces the drama by having the survivors in violent conflict with one another and all too often with a sadistic bully who is using the zombie apocalypse as an excuse to make a personal fiefdom. I think there are more possible stories to be told of survival and adapting to the new world, but here we have a whole volume with preparation for war, with the upcoming two volumes dedicated to the war itself. Sigh. I guess in a way, The Walking Dead shows the post-apocalyptic world is a lot like our own after all.
Author: Robert Kirkman
Title: The Walking Dead: What Comes After (v0l 18)
Publication Info: Image Comics (2013)
I’m not sure why I keep reading this series. There’s the curiosity of what will happen next, of course, but I feel like I’m rereading what’s already happened. Negan and the Saviors have some nuances, but in the end it’s the story of The Governor and Woodbury all over again. In the post-apocalyptic world ultra-violent bullies will take control and there will be more to fear from the living than the dead, and blah, blah, blah. Perhaps it’s the influence of reading Rebecaa Solnit’s A Paradise Built in Hell, but I’d like to see more of how communities come together after a disaster. The Walking Dead - both the comics and the tv show – is at it’s best when it’s showing how people adapt to life in the post-apocalyptic world, the little things they do to adapt. But all too often I find that the writers force the drama by constantly having all the survivors want to kill one another. At least Ezekiel and his tiger are making things interesting.
Title: An Abundance of Katherines
Publication Info: New York, NY : Dutton Books, c2006.
Previously Read By Same Author: The Fault in Our Stars
Summary/Review: Colin is a teenage former child prodigy, socially awkward, and has dated 19 girls all of whom are named Katherine. After being dumped by Katherine #19, his friend Hassan encourages Colin to go on a road trip and they end up in rural Tennessee. There they work collecting oral histories for a woman who runs a tampon string factory and Colin devises a mathematical formula for relationships which end in getting dump. It’s entertaining book with a lot of laughs, but I find the characters too self-consciously quirky to get emotionally invested in. Perhaps a good beach read, but not the excellent work of fiction of The Fault in Our Stars.
Recommended books: In Watermelon Sugar by Richard Brautigan and A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
Author: Andrew Mayne
Title: The Monster in the Mist
Publication Info: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
I got this eBook as a special deal for Kindle on Amazon, not knowing much about it other than it was a mystery set in Boston in 1890 with a steampunk vibe. April Malone is a young woman whose mysterious job is to tend an office where no one works and take lessons on various esoteric topics. All of this is preparation for the arrival of the also mysterious man who just goes by the name Smith who emerges from behind a steel door one day and sets the pair on investigating several disappearances of people in Boston. Smith is reminiscent of The Doctor from Doctor Who (who also sometimes goes by the name Smith) and the relationship of April Malone and Smith owes a debt to Holmes & Watson, but it’s not entirely derivative. I was won over by the first part of this book, but less enamored with the latter half. This is because Smith goes off on his own adventure and while ultimately aided by April, I think the book lacks something when not seen from her perspective as well as the interesting chemistry between the two characters. This book is the first in a series of Chronological Man Adventures, and I hope that in future installments that two leads stay together.
Recommended books: The Technologists by Matthew Pearl, The Alienist by Caleb Carr, and The Night Inspector by Frederick Busch.
This week’s song is a hip-hop number by Nigerian artist Burna Boy. Said the Gramophone writes that “Yawa Dey” is a song that “would sound as good in summer as it does in winter.”
What new music is keeping you warm (or cool) this week?
Beer: My Antonia Pilsner
Brewer: Dogfish Head Brewery
Source: 22 oz bottle
Rating: *** (8.3 of 10)
Comments: This is a fancy, champagne of beers type of beer, that pours out in a golden haze with a thick lumpy head. The aroma is sweet and flowery, while the taste is a nice balance of hops, malt and fruity yeast. The empty glass features stratigraphic layers of lace with a lot of leftover foam. Yummy!
Title: Give the Devil His Due
Publication Info: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (2013)
The third installment of The Sanheim Chronicles completes the story begun in A Soul To Steal and Band of Demons. As noted, the author is a friend of mine, so I may not be impartial, but on the other hand I was reading this while waiting for a bus and was so engrossed that I didn’t notice a bus had stopped right in front of me. The series continues to improve and it continues to change. These three books could be three different genres, and there’s a lot going on in just this one volume from Celtic mythology to the American Civil War. There’s imaginative world-building too as the characters proceed on an epic journey across the Land of the Dead. Blackwell also brings back a lot of good characters from earlier novels in unexpected ways, but I shan’t into detail lest it get too spoilery.
“It matters because words have power, and names have more than most,” Kieran replied. “It influences what we believe and that definitely matters. If we say the Land of the Dead is hell, and Sanheim is the devil, then we’ve already lost. How can we free a soul from a land where only the most evil and corrupted go in the first place? How can we defeat a monster that is evil incarnate? This is why Sanheim acts the way he does, why he no doubt tries to make the Land of the Dead seem like our conception of hell. Because it teaches people to accept their fate. They believe they are there because they deserve to be, and the creature that rules them is nothing less than an evil god.”