"Hater" stands out among plague/zombie fiction in that it has something to offer beyond thrills and chills. The story itself is simple and fairly straightforward (with one not very surprising twist), but the themes suggested by the novel are not.
"Hater" isn't an action-packed gorefest (although both elements are present in the work), and may seem slow for readers expecting more of an action story.
But for readers who enjoy plague/zombie fiction, and have been waiting for a novel that is not only thrilling but well-written and insightful, I unreservedly recommend "Hater."
Sean Duffy, the protagonist of Gun Street Girl, is so likeable, that it almost comes as a surprise to be reminded that he doesn't like himself very much. Despite being intelligent, witty, kind and charming, there is something deeply broken within him, and this aspect he shares with the 1980s Northern Ireland of McKinty's books. But unlike N. Ireland, which in the novel is beginning to see the first faint rays of hope that will signal the end of the Troubles, Duffy may be more difficult to redeem.
This is a police novel that mirrors real life--the detectives might be clever and resourceful, but their skill notwithstanding, the mystery is often as not unraveled through human error and weakness, or through pure dumb luck. This does not cheapen the mystery or the story, which is full of rich, believable and lovable characters.
Gerard Doyle is excellent, as always.
I've listened to a couple of Jeremy Robinson's other books and liked them, so I thought I'd give Xom-B a try. I was very pleasantly surprised. Robinson's other books were entertaining and fast-paced, but Xom-B was something else entirely. Robinson has crafted a novel that is not only entertaining, but also moving and thought-provoking.
This is a layered, multi-faceted book with plenty of action that forces readers to ask themselves hard questions about what it means to be human and how much control we have over our destiny.
A very enjoyable book.
"El Narco" paints an ugly picture of the situation in Northern Mexico. "El Narco" is nuanced, and resists the temptation to blame the situation on any one source or factor. There are a lot of bad guys here, and a few (usually doomed) good ones, with everybody else trying to go about their lives in the shadow of ever-present violence and possible death.
The narrator is pleasant, and handles the material ably. "El Narco" is an enjoyable and informative listen that strives to make sense of a nasty, sometimes perplexing subject, but is unable--and doesn't even attempt--to offer at a remedy.
"Shock Value" is an interesting and educational read. In discussing the careers of a handful of directors, Zinoman attempts to trace the various themes running through the "New Horror" films of the late 1960s through the 1980s. He does a pretty good job of this, tying the films to one another, and even occasionally to their predecessors from the Golden Age of Horror. As much as this is about the directors, it is also about their movies.
The author's access to his subjects and ability to elicit detailed responses (for the most part) keeps the book filled with entertaining anecdotes about the films, the business and the men (and a few women) themselves. This book kept my interest throughout.
The book is limited somewhat in its focus on a handful of directors, and then, only upon a fraction of their output during the period. I would have liked to have a few more directors added to the mix.
The narrator is well-suited to the book.
I really liked Jeff Guinn’s The Last Gunfight. It had remained in my wish list for some time because I wasn’t sure that a thirteen hour book about an event that was over within minutes would hold my interest. TLG more than held my interest—I found myself listening to it every chance I got. It was an enjoyable and educational “read,” and I was satisfied when it drew to an end.
Guinn depicts an Old West that is at times different from what we’ve seen in movies, but it is every bit as exciting. The author does a good job of bringing his characters to life, and at times clearing up myths. A standout aspect of the work is how skillfully Guinn depicts the web of events which led to the so-called “Gunfight at the OK Corral,” putting them in context, so that the reader can easily understand the motivations of both parties leading to the fight which it appears nobody really wanted. Moreover, the author does a great job of showing not only how history affected events in Tombstone, but also the impact those events had on history.
As at least one other reviewer has pointed out, the author does take some license with his characters in ascribing them motives and thoughts he could only be guessing at. This seems largely to be even-handed, except in one or two instances where Guinn seems to have taken an active dislike to his subjects, and seems to magnify and dwell upon their foibles.
This book was a nice surprise. I particularly recommend it for readers interested in American history or the Old West. The narrator was well-suited to the material and delivers an enjoyable, unobtrusive performance.
Returning to the once-thriving Detroit after a prolonged absence, native son Charlie LeDuff , much like the narrator in Shelley’s “Ozymandias,” encounters a ruined wonder, its former glories in tatters and serving now only to mock it. The difference is that the fabled Detroit of yesteryear is not ancient history to LeDuff, but a very real part of his memory (or perhaps social memory, as the city had already been in decline according to LeDuff), and all the more painful for the seeming impossibility of changing its course.
There are some upbeat moments in “Detroit,” if no real happy ones, but they are few. Mostly, it is a gritty and passionate look at a doomed city, riddled with corruption, cronyism, inefficiency and despair. LeDuff manages to care enough about his subject that reading through this list of tragedies doesn’t feel too lurid The author injects himself liberally into the book, and sometimes it’s difficult (deliberately so, I suspect) to separate the author’s story from the city’s story, but it is in these comingled themes that the book is at its most personal and most powerful.
Ultimately this book is akin to battlefield reporting. It focuses on skirmish after skirmish in a much larger and altogether more murky war. This is not a redemptive book. There are no answers, only troubling, heartbreaking pictures. LeDuff believes that Detroit is a bellwether for America in general, having signaled the nation’s postwar rise and now serving as a grim harbinger of things to come. As intriguing and provocative as this notion is, LeDuff never explores it in any depth.
“Detroit” was informative, and kept my interest throughout. Eric Martin’s narration is great.
"The Junkie Quatrain" took me by surprise. The reveiws I read were rather lukewarm, and while I've enjoyed some of Clines' other stuff, he's never wowed me, so I was essentially looking for something which wasn't awful.
Not only is TJQ not awful, it's pretty damn good. It's composed of four shortish stories, all of which function well enough on their own, but when taken as a whole provide a much richer experience.
This book features a diverse variety of characters, but they're believable and human, and are the real stars of the story. The infected are merely a facet of the environment and setting (although they're a big facet; never fear). The story remains rooted in people with whom we can, if only in some small way, identify.
It's been a while since I've been drawn so completely in to a work of non-fiction. "MCTUS" was a wonderful, informative read, and ultimately, for me, a bit of a sad one.
It's difficult for me to gague how much appeal this book will have for people who aren't comics fans or interested in publishing. It's well-written, and moves quickly, but the repeated rises and falls of a pop-culture phenomenon might not thrill casual observers.
But this book meant the world to me. I grew up reading Marvel Comics, and so many of the characters and creaters seemed almost like old friends to me. I was suprirsed at how much I didn't know about the behind-the-scenes maneurvering, marketing-driven titles, and revolving editorial mandates.
This book is a rich tapestry of Marvel history, from its derivative, pulp beginnings just before WWII to the mega-movie franchises of today.
Okay, I'll admit that I'm a sucker for a creepy setting, and an isolated, snow-bound madhouse offers plenty of that. The setting is very much a part of the story, and its effective use by the author, along with a collection of characters we can identify with (or at least recognize) and care about, contributed greatly to my enjoyment of the book.
Not all of the characters are likable, by any means, but I enjoyed them all, and often, I was a little suprised wihen some of them (no spoilers) were killed, even though I'd been expecting it.
"The Loon" is a fun, unashamedly B-movie of a read, with equal parts mad-science horror and psycological terror. This was a quick, satisfying listen.
Haviing listened to "White Plume Mountain" (the first book in this series; it's not absolutely necessary to listen to it first, but I recommend it), I knew excactly what to expect from this book, and I got it: a fast-moving and light-hearted dungeon crawl with plenty of action and humor. In addition, this book also has a fun element of court intrigue.
The trio from White Plume Mountain retuns in "Descent," with the addition of a new, unskilled team member, Private Henry. I particularly enjoyed the development of this character.
This was a fun, fairly light listen that kept my interest throughout.
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