Posts Tagged ‘ Literature ’

Naked Heat: Compelling Murder Mystery or Cheap Tie In?

ABC has an excellent show called “Castle,” that is worth watching (and that is not just my love for Nathan Fillion giving that endorsement). It’s about a fictional writer, Richard Castle, who tags along with a female cop in order to do research for a series of books he writes, based on her. However, I’m not here to write about the show itself. ABC, in a rather brilliant form of marketing, has published two books under the Richard Castle name to tie in with the show. The first book, which was entitled, “Heat Wave,” was a short, fun read, keeping on par with the show.  So with high hopes, and without hesitation, I picked up the second book.

This is published as a legitimate book, including the fake author biography in the back. We’re supposed to take Richard Castle seriously as an author, but if that is the case, he’s a bit of a Mary Sue. The whole book is played out like an episode of the show, with the characters’ names changed.  For those of you that don’t know, a Mary Sue is a fan fiction trope where the author of the story inserts him or herself into what they’re writing about, usually as the main character. Everyone loves him or her and they solve all the problems that occur.
This is exactly what’s done here with the Richard Castle character inserting himself as Jameson Rook, the popular writer that everyone loves. It comes off as lazy writing to me, by both the ghost author and the fake author. We’re supposed to believe this is a New York Times bestselling author, and it just takes me out of the experience. I’m probably thinking about it too much, as this is just supposed to be a tie in book, but I need to explain this to get into the main problem I had with the plot. Continue reading

Pariah: A Different Approach to Zombie Horror

Pariah, by Bob Fingerman, is an engrossing tale about a group of NYC residents who are trapped within the safety of an apartment complex on the Upper East Side after a zombie outbreak ravages humanity on a global scale. Months have gone by since the initial outbreak and their food and water supply is rapidly dwindling. When it appears that hope is truly lost, the survivors spot a lone teenage girl walking amongst the undead, completely unharmed and seemingly able to repulse them.

Normally when people think of zombies, they think of George Romero, Resident Evil (or at least I do), and the trademark brainsss, blood, guts, and gruesome deaths associated with the genre. Over the years we’ve seen the zombie evolve from a shambling, festering corpse to a fast, almost cunning horror. Keep in mind that whether we see the resilient flesh-eaters or the rabid, murderous “zombie” found in 28 Days Later or The Crazies, one consistency has always been that 9 out of 10 times zombie outbreaks occur from either a toxic chemical or airborne virus that’s part of a very vague top secret military and/or pharmaceutical experiment. The other constant is that the characters in these stories usually serve as nothing more than zombie chow, so it’s very refreshing to read an intelligent, thoughtful narrative where human psychology takes a step forward while typical zombie fare gracefully bows down.

The world of Pariah is truly gripping and the characters themselves are what makes the story so great. It’s very rare to find a book where you feel like you are a part of that world. This book was so engrossing that it took me a mere day to read all 365 pages. I shared in their loss, their apprehension towards each other, and in their futility as they stared out their windows for hours at a time, throwing bricks, papers, or even spitting at the undead below to kill time. For those of you who are worried that the story is pure psych and not enough violence, don’t worry: there is definitely a fair amount of blood and gore. It wouldn’t be zombie lit if a few people didn’t get mauled. Now would it? Continue reading

Bite Me: A Love Story — A review

Vampires have somehow become a very popular trend in the last few years, with everyone seemingly wanting to cash in on them. From “Twilight” to “The Vampire Diaries,” the undead have spread through the media and there is seemingly no escape from them. Christopher Moore’s latest book, “Bite Me: A Love Story,” also tells a story about vampires, but not in the traditional sense. No one in this book sparkles.

Finishing up the trilogy started fifteen years ago, which previously included “Bloodsucking Fiends,” and “You Suck: A Love Story,” Moore released “Bite me”  at a great time, with everyone wanting to read about vampires (more than pirates, or even ninjas). However, these are not your typical vampires. Yes, they will still die if exposed to sunlight, but they are not the old, romantic brooding types that everyone obsesses over. They are not hundreds of years old and trying to hide among the humans in their secluded castles. These are regular people who got turned and are living with it, one day at a time.

The story is mainly told through the eyes of Abby Normal, an underage goth girl that is, like all goth girls, obsessed with vampires. She serves as a daytime minion to Tommy Flood, a young writer from Illinois, and Jody, his girlfriend who happen to be vampires. The book mainly focuses on their group trying to figure out how to stop a group of vampire cats from killing all the homeless people in San Francisco. The plot, while ridiculous, serves as a vehicle for the character interaction, which is where Moore’s clever writing really shines. He writes dialogue which produces laugh out loud funny lines one after the next, without making it seemed forced. Continue reading

Audrey’s Door: Worth Opening?

audreys-doorAudrey’s Door, by Sarah Langan, is a very intriguing book. While it doesn’t shatter the horror/suspense genre, it sticks to conventions that work, provides us with incredibly believable characters, and deliverers a story that does not disappoint.

The story revolves around up-and-coming architect Audrey Lucas, a young woman who is plagued by a compulsive disorder and chaotic past. Having lived a nomadic existence with her mother Betsy, Audrey eventually decided to make it on her own by moving to New York City, applying herself in college, and landing a job at a prestigious firm. After having relationship issues with her fiancé, the gentle-but-lazy Saraub, she decides to find a place of her own and stumbles across the Breviary, which offers a surprisingly affordable apartment located on the Upper West side. However, the Breviary houses terrible evil, and it has been waiting for someone like Audrey to show up. Continue reading

Pygmy: Is Palahniuk even trying anymore?

pygmy-chuckChuck Palahniuk released another book a few months ago entitled “Pygmy,” just a year after his last book, “Snuff,” which I did not like. I was surprised when I found out another book had been released so soon; most authors usually have a larger gap between books. I figured with the steady decline in quality that his work has had that it probably wasn’t going to be any good, but it was short so I figured it wouldn’t take to long to read. So, going against my better judgment I picked it up, hoping it would at least be better than his last few books have been. I really need to start trusting those first instincts.

The story is about a young Asian spy from an unnamed country posing as an exchange student in America. While here, he is working to put a plan in motion that involves winning the local science fair so he can go to Washington and set off a device that will kill millions of Americans. This is different from his usual work and for some reason felt a little ridiculous to me. Yet I had no problem accepting the plot of “Survivor,” which involved a man becoming the leader of a cult and building a giant landfill of pornography. Maybe it had to do with the narrative style of this book that just completely turned me off to the story. Continue reading

Neil? Yes, Amanda? – Performances and Q&A with Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer

Show date: June 3, 2009
Venue: Housing Works Book Store Cafe
Guests: Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer

d42 was having a fan girl fit. Neil Gaiman, best selling novelist, comic book writer, tireless blogger, as well as Amanda Palmer, singer, musician, icon, and recently deceased, were going to be under one roof at the Housing Works Book Store Café! These two beloved icons gathered with us this night to promote Who Killed Amanda Palmer Photo Book for which Gaiman provided the text.  Kyle Cassidy, photographer (also in attendance, but on the sidelines), provided excellent pictures of Palmer bloodied and stuffed into a shopping cart, floating in a pond, as a gorgeous statue, and in various other poses, all having a lack of life in common. Continue reading