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review 2017-07-29 16:59
The Realm of Last Chances ★★★☆☆
The Realm of Last Chances - Steve Yarbrough

Are there any “literary” novels that aren’t grim and depressing? If so, I haven’t found any yet. My takeaway from this one is that

everybody is hiding something, the only people who aren’t judgmental assholes aren’t interesting enough for character exploration but instead are simply receptacles for the interesting people, and since everyone is guilty of violating at least one rule of ethics or someone’s trust, then we shouldn’t judge each other for that kind of stuff, only for having tacky or popular tastes in entertainment and/or conservative politics. Oh, and all sins are fairly equivalent: academic dishonesty, cheating on your spouse, embezzling from your employer, giving someone a (deserved or undeserved) beating that hospitalizes them, armed robbery, or being a swinger.

(spoiler show)

In spite of these flaws, this is a well-written story with interesting characters and plot.

 

Hardcover, purchased from Half Price Books on the recommendation of the now-defunct podcast Books On The Nightstand.

 

Previous Updates:

7/22 – 27/288pg

7/24 – 82/288pg

7/25 – 96/288pg

7/28 – 199/288pg

 

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text 2017-07-28 14:52
The Realm of Last Chances: 199/288 pg
The Realm of Last Chances - Steve Yarbrough

Now she was lying in bed, in a musty room where the accumulated dust of the coverlet made her sneeze each time she crawled under it, and a man who could have gone to jail for embezzlement was asking her if she could possibly overlook academic mischief. 

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-07-25 21:13
Swan Song ★★★★☆
Swan Song - Robert R. McCammon,Tom Stechschulte

Oh boy, was this a wild, fun ride-along with characters that I loved and characters that I loved to hate. There was plenty of explicit gore, some of which actually did make me cringe and stop for a bit. But there were some truly touching moments, too. Much like the post-apocalyptic world of this book, it’s not all darkness and cruelty and death, but also some hope and love and a tiny spark of belief in humanity.

 

It’s not quite a five star read, though, because I had to work pretty hard to suspend disbelief that 

a world in which a nuclear winter lasts for 7 or 8 years, where supposedly nothing can grow, not even weeds, and all plant life has died, seems unlikely to be able to sustain any life at all. Sure, most people starved and some could survive on the remnants of canned food or rats, but what would herbivores survive on? How did they keep that horse alive, if nothing was growing? If there are no herbivores left, did the carnivores/omnivores like rats and bobcats and wolves survive just on eating each other? If there are no plants, then a significant population of insects would go extinct, wouldn’t they? The disruption of the food chain seems unlikely to have allowed survival for that long a period of time.

(spoiler show)

 But this isn’t explained or even addressed, so I wondered and doubted, and that took something away from the story for me. Although it does strike me as funny that I didn’t have the same problem with 

people growing an entire warty coating on their heads with their faces beneath becoming something entirely different that reflects their true self/soul, or non-human creatures growing extra limbs and heads, or an inhuman creature who thrives on death and destruction and performs supernatural feats, or a girl who can magically make plants grow at an accelerated pace, etc.

(spoiler show)

 Why I should fixate on the

nuclear winter

(spoiler show)

thing, I don’t know.

 

Audiobook, purchased on sale from Audible. The performance by Tom Stechschulte was absolutely fantastic. I’ll look for other books read by him. Warning, though, this is a 34 ½ hour audiobook, so you have to really love audio to consume it in this format. It’s a LOT of listening.

 

Previous Updates:

7/17/17 – 2% 

7/18/17 – 9%

7/18/17 – 16%

7/19/17 – 23%

7/22/17 – 51%

7/25/17 – 97%

 

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text 2017-07-25 13:26
Swan Song: 97%
Swan Song - Robert R. McCammon,Tom Stechschulte

Wheeeeeeeeee! It's like riding a runaway mine train!

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text 2017-07-25 13:23
The Realm of Last Chances: 96/288 pg
The Realm of Last Chances - Steve Yarbrough

Nope, still no empathy. But have to credit the author with really vivid character creation, even the most minor of them. Although I think as each character is introduced, we are learning more about whichever of the three main characters that is interacting with them. They sure are a judgmental bunch of assholes.  

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