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Search tags: This-Is-the-Way-the-World-Ends
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review 2017-10-10 16:40
Historical anachronism happens fast
This is the Way the World Ends: An Oral ... This is the Way the World Ends: An Oral History of the Zombie War - Keith Taylor

This poor novel had the bad sense to be published in August, this year of our Lord 2017, though, presumably, it was written earlier. EVEN SO, at the very moment of publication, it was already woefully historically anachronistic. I'm going to blame this, like so much else, on the Trump administration, and the unbelievable chaos and unprecedented violation of governmental, social, and ethical norms that we've seen in this fine country, the US of A, since then. Writing near future science fiction is an unbelievable bitch.

 

This is what got me. So, This is the Way it Ends is avowedly a love letter and a riff on Max Brooks' World War Z, which is also glossed with the subtitle An Oral History of the Zombie Wars. The writer here, Keith Taylor, notes in his introduction how taken he was by the retrospective and documentary feel of World War Z, and how, after expecting a raft of novelists to take up the style, he decided to fill the gap when no one did. This is the Way it Ends is successful in this Brooksian ventriloquism for the most part, and it you like this sort of thing, then this is the sort of thing you'll like. (Well, other than a metatextual spin wherein Keith Taylor, current novelist, inserts himself inside this fictional narrative as "Keith Taylor," the documentarian for the novel. His intro dragging on fictional zombie narratives was way too clever-clever. It's the kind of thing that's fun to read to your wife after you write it, but shouldn't make it into the final draft.)

 

Like Brooks' novel, this one takes place a dozen odd years after the initial zombie outbreaks, after humanity has gone through the meat grinder of a full on zombie apocalypse and come out on the other side, shaky, diminished, but still standing. This is the section that got me: a centrist Republican, one who shepherded the US through the zombie wars, tells a story from mid-2019. Apparently, there are outbreaks happening all over Europe, and there's more and more worry about the zombie threat. At a bipartisan meeting, a reporter asks if maybe the US should close its borders. A democrat steps up, and in an act of partisan showboating, begins reciting the Emma Lazarus sonnet that is carved into the statue of liberty. "Give us your tired" etc. At this point everyone goes nuts, freaking that closing the borders is evil, and certainly no sane (or not evil) person would suggest such a thing. The Republican president is rueful: if only those stupid liberals knew better. 

 

So here's the problem with this. First, let me tell a joke: at an intersection with four corners, on each corner stands an individual: Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, a centrist Republican, and an alt-right nutjob. Someone drops a case of money into the center of the intersection. Which individual gets it? The alt-right nutjob, because the rest of these beings are purely fictional. Second, Trump already tried, and has been moderately successful, in implementing his Muslim ban, just recently adding to the seven Muslim-majority countries he's put on the shit list. Though the courts have put on the brakes a little, public outcry was nowhere near uniform. In fact, I think I was in a minority for thinking that was self-defeating and cruel, in addition to racist. The Trump administration is working hard at curtailing literally all immigration, legal and illegal, and we don't have anything near a zombie fucking outbreak to point at, though you wouldn't know it from some Brietbart articles, boy howdy. No one reads sonnets anymore; those are for effete liberals and they are decidedly not in charge. Third, what is this word, "bipartisan"? I do not understand this strange concept. 

 

In some ways, this anachronism is adorable, and it dovetails into some blindspots Brooks had in WWZ. The farther Brooks gets from his worldview, the less compelling his narratives get -- the American housewife one is a big fucking mess, but then I have a whole thing about the housewife in fiction. Ditto with Taylor. As a native Brit with a Mongolian wife who spends a lot of time in Mongolia and Thailand, his grasp on pan-Asian politics is pretty great. Americans? Yeah, not so much. I'm not picking on him here though. I'm not sure I understood (even as someone who purported to at least a modicum of wokeness) how unbelievably racist and isolationist the United States is until the last election. And that election technically didn't involve zombies! 

 

Except it totally did and we're all going to die. The horror of reading horror fiction for me these days is in how unscary it all is. It's nowhere near as terrifying as considering a malignant narcissist who considers Nazis "fine people" starting World War 3, the one that will kill us all, while tweeting on the shitter one Sunday morning. In the words of Mira Grant, rise up while you can. 

 

 

 

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review 2017-08-10 07:47
The Ends of the World by Peter Brannen
The Ends of the World: Volcanic Apocalypses, Lethal Oceans, and Our Quest to Understand Earth's Past Mass Extinctions - Peter Brannen

TITLE:  The Ends of the World: Supervolcanoes, Lethal Oceans, and the Search for Past Apocalypses

 

AUTHOR:  Peter Brannen

 

DATE PUBLISHED:  June 2017

 

FORMAT:  e-book

 

ISBN-13:  9780062364821

 

_________________________________________________

 

Peter Brannen explores the 5 great extinction events, and in the process offers the reader a glimpse of our future.  Everything from striking meteors, supervolcanoes, anoxic oceans, ice-ages, heat-waves, plate tectonics, supercontinents, too many trees, and the role of carbon dioxide are discussed.  This is ultimately a climate change book, with the author continually bashing the reader over the head with how destructive humans are.  The author manages to discuss the science aspects of the 5 great extinction events in a reasonably decent manner considering that this is a popular science book and doesn’t include many technical details.  However, the exaggerated “evil humans / climate change” diatribe inserted approximately every 4th paragraph is annoying and detracts from the extinction story of the earth.  He could have included those sections in a separate chapter or even at the end of each chapter if he felt that strongly about the matter.  In addition, when the author does include numbers, he often doesn’t tell us where he comes up with them and I find his maths a bit off.  The book includes photographs but it could have done with a geological timeline.  This isn’t a bad book; it is certainly interesting and reads like a mystery novel if you ignore the anthropogenic global warming hysterics.  I found this book to be an interesting and useful summary of the possible causes of the 5 great extinctions that this planet has experienced. 

 

NOTE:  The footnotes of the e-book don’t link up to the notes section. 

 

 

OTHER RECOMMENDED BOOKS:

 

  • -The Goldilocks Planet: The 4 Billion Year Story of Earth’s Climate by Jan Zalasiewicz and Mark Williams
  • -The Emerald Planet: How Plants Changed Earth’s History by David Beerling
  • -When Life nearly Died by Michael J Benton
  • -The Worst of Times by Paul B. Wignall
  • -Under a Green Sky by Peter D. Ward
  • -Oxygen: The Molecule that Made the World by Nick Lane
  • -Extinction by Douglas H. Erwin

 

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review 2016-05-15 00:00
This Is Where the World Ends
This Is Where the World Ends - Amy Zhang What The Freak? I wasn't ready! LoL Take it back Amy Zhang just one more chapter or an epilogue at least! I beg you!
I started reading this book because it was on a children's book list & I was pre-reading for gift ideas. Then I realized it was YA & was trapped.

Amy Zhang creates a very realistic view into the life a troubled teenage girl named Janie Vivian & Micah Carter her secret. They live 2 separate together unilateral parallel lives & it is inexplicably complicated. Together you must steer through the fog to figure out what the Hello Janie is up to & the price everyone is going to pay for playing pretend with her!

Everything about Micah makes no sense & when you add in Janie then there isn't enough life to figure it out. The story grasps you & holds you in because all you want is to understand. This novel is a mirrored look for those of us who have lost our way, before we found our way.

Unraveling the mystery of who burned down Janie's house, what secret she is holding inside & where she ran away too will have you screaming into the pages. You feel like your watching a horror movie & they're running toward the killer. Definitely an interesting read. I gave 4 stars because I wanted Micah to be more flushed out & I couldn't figure out Dewey's purpose.
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review 2016-05-02 19:19
This Is Where The World Ends
This Is Where the World Ends - Amy Zhang

I can't fully tell how I feel about this book. It was good, but not great. It was a quick read, but I also wanted to take my time with it. I found myself connecting with both characters, but not really wanting to. I can't say to whom I would recommend this book, but it's not a bad read. I just wanted something more.

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review 2016-04-06 00:00
This Is Where the World Ends
This Is Where the World Ends - Amy Zhang Trigger warning for rape.

I initially selected this book as one of my 2016 new releases to read because the initial blurb I got for the book suggested a different story than what I got. Instead I got a story that revolved around what I would consider a toxic friendship, a confusing narrative, and a rather abrupt ending.

The story is told in alternating points of view, Micah and Janie or Janie and Micah. Seriously, be prepared to read that phrase a lot in this book. Janie's chapters are the "Before" points of view and Micah's chapters are the "After" points of view. We don't know what exactly what event was before and after, but we get a sense of it earlier on when we initially get to Micah's chapter. We also get journal entries from Janie that provide a look at the twisted fairy tale that she saw her life being.

What to say about Janie. I really wish that I could like her. But honestly, I didn't. You come to find out slowly that though she sees Micah as being her soul mate (blech) and that she knows she is destined to be with him forever, she still dates and has crushes on other guys. Now, I am not saying that is wrong, but it is wrong to lead someone on and or have them have to suck it up while you are out exploring yourself. However, even that would not have made me dislike her if it wasn't for the fact that you start to find out that no one but one other person has any idea that Micah and Janie are friends.

Yes. Can you imagine? You are supposedly some other person's best friend, but shh no one can know because if people realize that she is friends with such a loner it can mean that her popularity will take a hit.

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During these revelations I started having less sympathy for Micah, because he knows what Janie is doing and he keeps going along with it. Starting in middle school she stopped acknowledging him in public and has become one of the popular people in their high school.

Janie even acknowledges it isn't fair, but she doesn't care because you are quick to find out that she is self centered and selfish (example, she hates that Micah hangs out with his friend Dewey and she dislikes it when she notices that other girls find Micah attractive) and never gets called out on what she's doing by other people except for Micah once in a while.

Micah in all of his chapters seems broken. Without Janie around he doesn't seem to know what else he is good for besides drinking and playing video games. I honestly started to hate Micah's chapters towards the end because the chapters started to feel so melodramatic and honestly the final reveal was a joke. You have to be pretty out of it to not guess what was coming.

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The only real other character in this story is Micah's other friend, Dewey. And I had problems with how he was portrayed in this book. Micah and even Janie know that Dewey has feelings for him, and in this regard, Micah is no better than Janie. He knows he doesn't care for Dewey in the way that Dewey wants, but he keeps hanging out with him. After a while it becomes cruel.

That said, Dewey seems to want Micah to himself and there was way too much angst going on between the two of them for me. The dialogue between these two was just overwrought and danced towards the ridiculous after a while. I mean after a while Micah should have gotten a clue about things a lot faster than he did.

Also there was a lot of punching. I had to roll my eyes after a while, because Micah was recovering and I would say that him getting knocked around as much as he did would have landed him in the hospital again.

The other characters in this story, a guy that Janie has a crush on and then dates, her other supposed friend, her parents, Micah's dad were not there really unless it was to move the plot along further. Ms. Zhang doesn't take a lot of time to develop these characters.

For the most part I found Janie's chapters to be childish. Even after we get to what happens to Janie. Her reactions to it (i.e. get the other person in trouble) and than her realization that this other person may not pay for what they did seem to be the kind of reaction I would expect from someone younger. None of it really rang true, and I think that the author just didn't provide enough detail/dialogue or anything to get me to where she was going with Janie.

Micah's chapters were written by someone who had to be on a lot of painkillers. Nothing made a lot of sense and at one point it felt like we had a time jump of a significant period, but it could only have been a few days or maybe a week at that point.

The main reason why I gave this book two stars honestly were the chapters that were pages from Janie's journal. Her taking a look at her family, her friends, and what she was doing and how Micah fit in were a slight twist on fairy tales. That said, I have seen it done better in other works.

The setting of this small town in Iowa really doesn't work. I feel like a lot of these young adult novels set the story in a small town somewhere and except for some key places that the author chose to highlight, I just hard sighed over everything.

The ending was abrupt and left too many questions unanswered. I also had to laugh at one character telling another character to be a better friend which apparently was the moral of the story. There was also some dialogue between Micah and his father and a trip and man on man the whole thing fell flat. I don't know. I honestly can't recommend this book.
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