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Search tags: Dystopia
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review 2018-12-08 23:50
Red Clocks (aka wtf am I reading?)
Red Clocks: A Novel - Leni Zumas

DNFed at page 43. 

 

First, let me talk about the writing style. Nobody is given a name right off. They are known by their occupations: biographer, mender, daughter, etc. And that is how they are constantly referred to. In its efforts to be edgy and unique, it is bizarre and hard to follow. The writing goes from straight forward to flowery and almost high. The chapters are interspersed with excerpts from a book the biographer was writing about a 160 year old female explorer, and they seemed to have nothing to do with the book itself. Unless they were so deep in meaning I couldn't grasp them. 

 

The background history is that the U.S. got a whacko president that enacted the Personhood Amendment, which means a fetus (or even just the initial cluster of cells) has rights from conception. Invitro is outlawed because a fetus cannot concent to implantation. Abortionists can be charged with second degree murder, and anyone wanting one can be charged with conspiracy. There is also the "Every Child Needs Two" act, which means nobody can adopt unless they are in a marriage. Single parent adoption is illegal.

 

That sounds unique, right? (And a little scary, given the way some uber-Republicans are acting). But I take issue with the whole concept of the Personhood Amendment. If it's all about a fetus' rights, then it sort of defeats itself. A fetus cannot even concent to birth, so unless the clump of mindless cells stays just that way, it is a moot point. What if the baby didn't want to be born but was anyway? We could even go so far as to say the soul didn't want to be conceived. It's a slippery, ridiculous slope. 

 

And the illegal adoption stuff is also stupid. We have far too many children in foster care for me to ever halfway believe this would come to fruition. This book seems to want me to believe every Democrat and Independent in the country suddenly disappeared and we also gave up our constitutional rights to autonomy. 

 

This books wants so badly to be different and fancy, but it's putting lipstick on a pig. It's a hot mess. None of the characters were likeable. The writing was like a tangled Christmas light strand. It's some sort of feminist wannabe. I love feminism. I hate this book.

 

Shitty writing + very unbelievable plot = resale pile

 

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review 2018-12-05 21:26
MunMun
Munmun - Jesse Andrews

[I received a copy of this book through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.]

I admit I skim-read the last 25%; I tried to read more carefully, but at this point, either I skimmed or I DNFed, and I don’t like DNFing.

It is not without good ideas and potential, and it delivers good criticism of a society based on money: in this case, money literally defines your weight in the world, since the poorest people are tiny and get squished by just about anything and anyone, while the richest ones are so big that they tower over everyone and take a lot of space. The plight of the characters, too—the way they have to fight, the desperate schemes they come up with, are (unfortunately, realistically) close to reality, in that when you don’t have much, no matter how you try, your attempts are conditioned by the little means you have. (I do agree that “you have to make efforts to achieve your dreams”, but let’s be honest, it’s very easy to give lessons about how you managed to buy the house of your dreams when you got a nifty inheritance from your grandparents. Prayer’s plan to find herself a husband, as harebrained as it is, does reflect a desperate attempt at doing something with nothing.)

However, I couldn’t really connect with the characters, nor get into the writing style, which tends to combine words together. I get it, I get why it’s done, but for me, it’s jarring (took me a bit of time to realise that the “munmun” of the title is money, although that was because I wasn’t pronouncing it, only reading it at first). It’s like all those cutesy words like ‘preloved’ and ‘choccy’ and all that stuff which, for some reason, is considered as witty, but just falls flat as far as I’m concerned. After a while, I lose interest.

More like 1.5 stars for me, however, I do acknowledge that there are good ideas in here.

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review 2018-12-05 17:35
The Scarlet Plague - Gordon Grant,Jack London

 

That was a depressing little story.

 

According to Jack London, the end of civilization comes in 2013 on the a wave of a plague no one catches in time.

 

The story is told by a survivor 60 years later, in California, where the survivors grouped up into tribes from Santa Rosa to San Francisco, with some scattered farther south if my geography is correct without looking at a map.  (my geography and spatial locations is horrible, so don't quote me on that LOL)  

 

I lived in the area for a time, so a lot of the place names were familiar.  Places I've been to, some I lived in or right next to.  I'm trying to picture Niles with no people, Hayward as farmland, and no Fremont.  Palo Alto as a small community, and the San Joaquin valley now full of horses.  Carmel as an after thought. 

 

None of the sprawl that connects most of the cities and towns in the area between Oakland San Jose.

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review 2018-11-18 23:16
Much better than the third one
Valentine's Rising - E.E. Knight

I was pleasantly surprised with this book after the drivel that was number three. I’m not sure if it was because Valentine decide to finally grow up and get a pair or circumstances in the novel made him this way (likely the latter) but it made for very good reading. There were some very important choices Valentine had to  make for himself and his crew; some of them extremely difficult and the way he dealt with the aftermath was good. It was nice to finally see him being part of a team instead of a one man army and doing everything himself.

 

Again the supporting characters are what made this book going for me (still on the anti-Valentine train for now) they had their distinct personalities and they weren’t flat or meant to just be part of the plot. They each had their part to play whether small or big and it made the plot better and rounded out. I have a soft spot for Ahn-Kha and Styachowski I like them both for their strengths and although they were ‘quiet’ they played substantially in the plot. (More so Styachowski than Ahn-Kha).

 

The plot was good albeit it slowed down to a crawl at the end. It was getting to be too much and by that time, I was already wanting to close the book. There’s plenty of action so that does not disappoint. There were some parts where I came close to closing it because of Valentine’s idiotic behavior, but otherwise, this was much better than the third.

 

This one was enough to redeem itself so I will carry on and read the next. I hope it continues this way.

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review 2018-11-17 14:21
A cautionary tale, with plenty of action and philosophical touches thrown in.
Killing Adam - Earik Beann

I am writing this review as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team (authors, if you’re looking for reviews, I recommend you check her amazing site here), and I thank her and the publisher for providing me an ARC copy of this book that I freely chose to review.

This is a very interesting book, and I doubt anybody reading it will fail to put themselves in the shoes of the protagonist. The concept is easy to grasp. Accidentally, (there was an experiment linking several people’s brains) an artificial intelligence (who later describes itself as a “singularity”) called Adam is born. Adam quickly takes control of the whole world, creating ARCs (altered reality chips), which are inserted into everybody’s brains, and allow people to control everything around them and to live get interconnected and live in an altered (virtual) reality world. Of course, the intelligence behind the inventions (and there is a company behind it too, BioCal) gets to control the brains of the people involved, in turn. You can imagine Terminator with AIs instead of physical robots, or Matrix, although in this case people are not physically hooked onto a computer, but hooked they are, nonetheless. Adam is extraordinary, but a megalomaniac and cannot stand the thought of coexisting with other singularities who might take a different view of matters. He will not stop at anything to achieve his ubercontrol and will use (and has used) any means necessary.

The story, told in the third-person by an omniscient narrator, is plot-driven. Each chapter is told from a character’s point of view (so there is no confusion as to whose point of view we’re following), mostly the main characters: Jimmy (a man who cannot be fitted with an ARC due to a brain injury suffered while he was playing American football), Adam, Trixie (another singularity, and one who sees things very differently to Adam), Jenna (one of the people —or “nodes”— hosting Trixie), and other secondary characters who play their part in the action but whom we don’t learn much about. Jimmy is the character we get to know better, but due to his personal circumstances, his life has become so limited that there is little information we gather in the time we spend with him. He is married and loves his wife, but as she’s mostly hooked onto the altered reality (23 hours a day), he can hardly spend any time with her. He attends “Implants Disability Anonymous”, an association for those who have difficulty adapting to life because they do not have an implant (and it is extremely complicated to live in a world centred on an alternate reality if you are an outsider), and has a friend, Cecil, whose life circumstances are very similar. He becomes a reluctant hero, and, perhaps preciesly because we do not know that much about him, it is easy to imagine ourselves in his place.

There are other characters with plenty of potential, especially Crazy Beard, an amateur philosopher who feels at home anywhere, and whose pearls of wisdom are eminently quotable. The language is not overly technical or complex and although there are some descriptions, these are not very detailed or lengthy. In a way, the experience of reading this book is similar to what life must be like for the characters of the novel hooked onto the alternate reality. You become so immersed in the story and focused on the content that you don’t see or notice what is around you, including the details about what surrounds you. The scenes and the actions succeed each other at a fast pace and, every-so-often you are thrown out of that reality by a detailed mention of a location or of an in-depth description of a character’s thoughts or feelings. And then, back you go, into the story.

The novel can be read as an allegory for our modern lives, increasingly taken over by social media and online content (yes, it is not a big stretch to imagine that you could walk along a crowded street and be virtually invisible because all people you come across are focused on their devices), a cautionary tale. Indeed, some of the technology, like the connected fridges and the self-driven cars are already here. It can also be read as a straightforward science-fiction/dystopian novel, with touches of humour, philosophical thoughts, and an inspiring and positive ending (and no, I won’t tell you what it is). Hard science-fiction fans might take issue with some of the novel’s premises (I missed getting a sense of how this alternate reality was, as we mostly see the effects of it but not the actual content), and a fair deal of suspension of disbelief is required to enjoy the novel if you are looking for a realistic story, but if you enjoy speculative fiction, plenty of action, and are open to a story that will make you look around and think, you’ll love this novel. I look forward to the author’s future works.

 

 

 

 

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