Tag Archives: post-apocolyptic

The Brief History of the Dead, by Kevin Brockmeier

7 Mar

Yes, I am actually posting.  No, I didn’t exactly read a book.  This is the review of an audiobook I listened to this weekend, narrated by Richard Poe.

For some reason, I haven’t been in the mood to sit down and read a book.  I’ve been focused on a lot of transitions in my life, and I’ve also been writing.   This is embarrassing for me to admit, but since I don’t want to give up on the Blook Bog, I have to be honest about it.  I think this is the longest time I’ve gone without reading a book since grad school!

Anyway, I’m really glad I didn’t try to read this book.  The Brief History of the Dead has been a book that I’ve wanted to read for years now; I’m glad I can finally cross it off my list.  It took a while to get into this novel, but it did have its high points.

Imagine a book that combines The Road with The Lovely Bones.  That provides some of the framework for Brockmeier’s concept.  There are two worlds with two stories that slowly come together.  As the people of the world pass on, they find themselves in The City, a world that closely resembles the one they left behind.  Married couples are re-united and best friends can meet up in a bar to have a drink in the afterlife.  Occasionally, residents vanish and no one knows what happens to them.  They have a theory that The City holds the dead as long as they are remembered by people living on Earth.

Meanwhile, back on Earth, Laura Byrd, researcher for the Coca-Cola Corporation, struggles for survival in Antarctica.  She and her two teammates lost contact with the base, and when the other two set out to find help, they never return.  Through amazing endurance, Laura journeys across the frozen land, and begins to suspect that she’s the only person left on Earth.

“How many people was any one human being likely to remember? A thousand? Maybe if you were cursed with a particularly slipshod memory. So then—ten thousand?…

He was thinking about himself, his own life, and by extension, he was thinking about Laura. She was the common element, after all, the link or what have you. After all the discussion he had heard in the city, that much was obvious.”

This book poses a lot of topics that would make a good discussion.  The author’s look at life and death is very creative.  As a story, however, it fell flat for me.  There isn’t much dialogue, but lots of long descriptions.  There is a lot of symbolism, and I won’t pretend I understood it all.  For me, the symbolism got in the way of getting to know characters and staying engaged in the story.
I found Laura’s struggle to stay alive to be the most engrossing part of the book.  She faces freezing weather, deep caverns, and plague.  I can’t imagine the loneliness she experienced!
Overall, I’m going to go with three stars in my evaluation of this book.  If you’ve read it, I’d love to have a discussion about it; there’s a lot to talk about.

The Road, by Cormac McCarthy

6 Nov

The Road Book Cover

“Listen to me, he said, when your dreams are of some world that never was or some world that never will be, and you’re happy again, then you’ll have given up. Do you understand? And you can’t give up, I won’t let you.”

I am perhaps a little behind the times, but I finally read The Road, by Cormac McCarthy.  I’ve wanted to read this book for quite a while, but I always put it off because people were always telling me that it’s so dark.  Often, I just want to lose myself in a good story to escape reality.  People warned me that this was a hard book to read without getting depressed.

Well, I shouldn’t have listened to those people.  I found this tale to be very heartwarming.  The plot is simple.  In a post-apocalyptic world, a man and his son journey south for the winter.  They struggle to survive by hiding from others and scavenging for supplies.  That’s it; not much to it.

It’s the relationship between the two of them that makes this so much more.  Their relationship is so complex.  The boy has only known a dead, desolate world while his Papa is still in mourning for the world he knew.  Still, it’s this boy who acts as the moral compass for the two of them.   The father lives only for his son; his patience for him is endless. They love each other very much.  This fact makes everything beautiful, despite all of the ugliness that they encounter.

It took me a while to adapt to reading this book, however.  I don’t know what makes McCarthy think he’s so special that he can ignore the rules of punctuation and grammar.  This is the first (probably only) I’ve read by McCarthy, so I’m not sure if he always writes this way.   In some ways, the sparseness of his writing worked very well with the mood and the setting of the novel.  I adjusted.  It just took a while.

I can hardly imagine giving a Pulitzer Prize winning book a low rating, but thankfully I don’t wish to do so.  The Road is far more beautiful and heartwarming than its concept would appear.  Five Stars!

I’m curious to hear from others who have read this book.  The boy’s age is never stated.  How old do you think he was?

The Passage, By Justin Cronin

22 Oct

“You should have seen it.  The way they swoop down from the trees.  We really should have seen that coming.”

Recently, a facebook advertisement was kind enough to inform me that while Justin Cronin was on Good Morning America talking about his book The Passage, Stephen King called in to congratulate him on such a great book. Being the dedicated King fan that I am, I had to check it out.

The Passage is written in several parts, following several hundred of years of Post-Apocalyptic history. It begins with several story lines that all come together at a government research facility studying the effects of a virus that seems to give eternal life, give or take a few nasty side effects. As these things often do, the “experiments” get out of hand and seven scary creatures escape into the world. This marks the creation of a new world where light is the key to survival and very few actually make it.

Fast forward a hundred years later and the remaining survivors have created their own society.  The “virals” are held back with constant light.  Things are still dangerous though, and they are about to change once again, thanks to a little girl who has been there since the beginning.

I’m sad to say that I was disappointed. In fact, it took me quite a while to get through this book. The beginning started out slow. Eventually things picked up, and right as I was getting really interested, that part ended. I think I was really put off by the fast forwarding in the middle of the book, into what felt like a completely different novel. It took some getting used to. That being said, I think I can see why King would be really into it. Cronin created a complete world, full of detail and mixed into reality. As a fan of Post-Apocalyptic fiction, I appreciated the explanation of a brand new government structure. There’s also a great scene in Las Vegas that got my imagination stirring.

I only recently learned that this is the beginning of an intended trilogy. Learning that, I still don’t know what to think of the ending. Three out of Five stars, which is disappointing because I was really excited about this novel.

Catching Fire, by Suzanne Collins

8 Aug

This book cannot possibly be reviewed without some spoilers for The Hunger Games.  If you haven’t read that yet, DON’T READ CATCHING FIRE!  Also, read it.  Then you can read my review 😮

Catching Fire cover“He embraces me, enfolding me in the smell of blood and roses, and plants a puffy kiss on my cheek.  When he pulls back, his fingers digging into my arms, his face smiling into mine, I dare to raise my eyebrows.  They ask what my lips can’t. ‘Did I do it?  Was it enough?’  In answer, he gives an almost imperceptible shake of his head.”

It’s a miracle that Katniss and Peeta both survived the Hunger Games together.  It’s the talk of the Capitol; they’ve become instant celebrities.  Kat can’t seem to really figure out why she did what she did to save Peeta.  She doesn’t really have time to figure it out.  Her adoring fans believe that she did it purely out of love, and the President is convinced she did it as an act of rebellion against the Capitol.  Reality doesn’t seem to matter too much though because Kat has the distinct feeling that she is in even more danger than she was in the arena.

There’s more to this book…So much more, including a love triangle, violence, and many, many mind games.  I personally loved Catching Fire even more than The Hunger Games.  Reading it for a second time what even better.  Kat is both artful and childlike.  She  is bold and brave at one moment and cowering the next.  I am very fascinated at the contradictions in this character.  It is made even more interesting because she must always be one person for the public while protecting her real thoughts and feelings.

Duality plays a very important part in both of these books.  There is always reality according to the public, and reality according to Kat.  Since we see everything through Kat’s eyes, it is our job as the reader to interpret where the real truth lies.  Five stars, no doubt.  Mockingjay comes out in just over two weeks.  I suggest timing it perfectly so you won’t have to wait the full year for the conclusion like I do!

The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins

25 Jul

The release of Mockingjay, the third in The Hunger Games Trilogy, is one month from today!  In anticipation of this release (I can barely wait), I’m rereading the first book this weekend.  It’s a really fast read!

The Hunger Games Cover“Peeta looks me right in the eye and gives my hand what I think is meant to be a reassuring squeeze.  ‘Oh well,’ I think.  ‘There will be twenty-four of us.  Odds are someone else will kill him before I do.’ “

Katniss lives in a future America, now called Panem, which is divided into 12 districts surrounding the Capitol that rules them all.  Because of a past failed attempt at revolution, the Capitol rules with a vicious iron fist.  Every year, as a reminder of the Capitol’s strength, each district gives up two children, a boy and a girl, to participate in The Hunger Games.  Winning The Games means much-needed food and riches, but the winner survive by killing off the competition.  Katniss knows what is at stake when she volunteers to represent her district.  She knows how to hunt and how to watch her tongue, but she also needs strategy if she is going to get out alive.

This novel fits my somewhat obscure love of post-apocolyptic, dystopian literature.  I just love reading about different versions of our future world at its worst.  Sounds creepy, and yes, this book is just that.  I had crazy dreams about survival for a month after staying up one night reading.  I love how so much of the story happens in Kat’s head.  She’s sixteen years old; because of her life, she has maturity beyond her years.  Still, the reader can’t forget that she’s young and naive in many ways.

Of course there is action and violence in the arena.  There’s also a political battle simmering under the surface, and a coming-of-age story told under the most undesirable of circumstances.

My absolute favorite book is The Long Walk by Stephen King.  This book has all that good stuff that King’s book provides.  Since it’s a Young Adult fiction, it’s much easier and faster to read.  Also, it starts the trilogy so the fun isn’t over when the book ends.

Second in the trilogy is Catching Fire.  You have to immediately seek this out when you finish the first!  Five Stars for sure 🙂