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review 2017-08-01 10:33
Einen Hauch zu abenteuerlich und inszeniert
Fire & Ash - Jonathan Maberry

„Fire & Ash“ ist der letzte Band der postapokalyptischen Geschichte rund um den Teenager Benny Imura. Gerüchten zufolge ist die Reihe „Rot & Ruin“ jedoch nicht abgeschlossen. Angeblich kündigte der Verlag Simon & Schuster für 2018 und 2019 jeweils einen neuen Band an. Diese beiden zusammenhängenden Bände sollen im gleichen Setting neue Charaktere und eine komplett neue Handlung vorstellen. Ich fand keine Belege für diese Behauptung, weder beim Verlag, noch auf Jonathan Maberrys Website. Der einzige Hinweis sind Einträge für die Bücher auf Goodreads und ich habe keine Ahnung, woher diese Informationen stammen. Ich werde wohl einfach abwarten müssen, ob sich die Gerüchte bewahrheiten.

 

Louis Chong ist tot. Alle in Sanctuary wissen, dass Benny Imuras bester Freund starb, als er sich infizierte. Nur Benny weigert sich, ihn aufzugeben. Würde nur endlich jemand versuchen, Dr. McReadys Unterlagen oder am besten die Wissenschaftlerin selbst zu finden, könnte das Heilmittel entwickelt werden, das nicht nur Chong, sondern die ganze Welt retten würde. Leider wird Sanctuary von verstockten Soldaten geleitet, denen die Wünsche eines Teenagers nicht das Geringste bedeuten. Benny hält es nicht mehr aus. Begleitet von Nix, Lilah und Riot macht er sich auf eigene Faust auf die Suche nach der letzten Chance, die Chong hat. Draußen im Rot and Ruin müssen sie jedoch feststellen, dass sie nicht die einzigen sind, die sich für McReadys Forschungsergebnisse interessieren. Der psychopathische Saint John und die Mitglieder der Night Church suchen ebenfalls nach dem Heilmittel, das in den falschen Händen zu einer gefährlichen Massenvernichtungswaffe werden könnte. Der Wettlauf um das Schicksal der Menschheit hat begonnen.

 

Wisst ihr, wodurch ich merke, dass mir eine Rezension schwerfällt? Ich merke es, weil ich versuche, mich vor dem Schreiben zu drücken. Plötzlich fallen mir hundert Dinge ein, die ich stattdessen tun könnte. Ich mache mir selbst etwas vor, weil ich zu stur bin, um einfach zuzugeben, dass diese oder jene Rezension eine harte Nuss für mich ist. „Fire & Ash“ ist so ein Fall. Da, jetzt ist es raus, ich bekenne es. Ich kann nur leider überhaupt nicht erklären, wieso. Das (vorläufige) Finale der „Rot & Ruin“ – Reihe ist nicht schlecht. Während der Lektüre empfand ich das Buch als mitreißend wie eh und je und im Anschluss habe ich fleißig Notizen gemacht. Ich war beeindruckt von Jonathan Maberrys überzeugendem wissenschaftlichen Erklärungsansatz für die Natur der Zombieinfektion, der auf mich fundiert recherchiert wirkte. Ich mochte das Motiv der Hoffnung, personifiziert durch Bennys Generation, die Erbe und Schöpfer einer neuen Welt ist. Jetzt sind einige Wochen vergangen und in meinem Kopf herrscht gähnende Leere. Ich weiß nicht, woran es liegt, aber irgendwie hat dieses Finale trotz bewegter Dramatik wenig bleibenden Eindruck bei mir hinterlassen. Vielleicht war die Geschichte doch zu vorhersehbar, denn ich habe nie daran gezweifelt, dass Benny und seine Freunde die Zombie-Postapokalypse überleben werden. Die Frage war lediglich, wie. Vielleicht war es der Schuss des guten, alten, amerikanischen Patriotismus, der meiner Ansicht nach vollkommen überflüssig für die Geschichte war. Vielleicht war „Fire & Ash“ auch einfach etwas arg pathetisch, obwohl ich beim Lesen durchaus das Gefühl hatte, dass mich dieses Pathos berührte. Im Nachhinein hingegen kommt mir Entwicklung, die Benny durchlebt, übertrieben vor. Er erreicht einen Status kühler Klarheit, den ich für unglaubwürdig halte. Ich bezweifle nicht, dass Benny schnell und radikal erwachsen werden musste, doch seine Entfaltung zum idealen Samurai, der eine Kampfsituation und sich selbst gefasst analysieren kann, erscheint mir unrealistisch. Er ist trotz allem ein Teenager. Die positive Seite daran ist jedoch, dass seine Beziehung zu Nix eine für die Young Adult – Literatur recht ungewöhnliche Wendung nimmt, was mir sehr gut gefiel. Unsterbliche Liebe auf den ersten Blick unter extremen Bedingungen war noch nie sehr lebensnah; ich finde es toll, dass Maberry einen anderen Weg wählt, der möglicherweise eine direkte Folge seines vorbildlichen Umgangs mit den Geschlechterrollen ist. Er behandelt Männer und Frauen gleichberechtigt und besonders Bennys Freundinnen beweisen eine Stärke, die alle kruden Ideen der Prinzessin in Nöten im Keim ersticken. Gut, Lilah ging mir fürchterlich auf die Nerven, weil ihre Umgangsformen schlicht inakzeptabel sind, aber nichtsdestotrotz erkenne ich ihre Unabhängigkeit an.

 

Letztendlich weiß ich nicht genau, warum sich „Fire & Ash“ nicht in dem Ausmaß in meinem Gedächtnis festsetzte, das ich erwartet hatte. Es handelt sich definitiv um ein angemessenes Finale und hat viel Positives zu bieten. Der Kampf gegen die Zombies mutierte im Lauf der Reihe zu einem Kampf der Menschheit selbst, gegen religiösen Fanatismus und die drohende Gefahr, die Fehler der Vergangenheit zu wiederholen. Jonathan Maberry erfasst die Konflikte, die sich innerhalb seiner beängstigenden Zukunftsvision ergeben, hervorragend und verleiht der gesamten Thematik der Zombie-Postapokalypse überraschenden Tiefgang. Ich kann nicht erklären, wieso mich „Fire & Ash“ nicht nachhaltiger beeindruckte, obwohl es die vielen feinen Nuancen, die Maberry sorgfältig etablierte, zu einem explosiven, dramatischen Abschluss bringt. Ich vermute, dass es mir einen Hauch zu abenteuerlich und inszeniert war, möchte mich darauf aber nicht unumstößlich festlegen. Diese marginalen Schwierigkeiten qualifizieren sich jedoch als Jammern auf hohem Niveau, weshalb ich nicht zögere, euch die Reihe „Rot & Ruin“ trotzdem zu empfehlen. Die Young Adult – Literatur ist so überflutet von flachen, klischeebeladenen, bedeutungsarmen Geschichten, dass jeder Versuch, es anders zu machen, enthusiastisch unterstützt werden sollte. Jonathan Maberry macht es anders und dafür gehören ihm mein Respekt und meine Anerkennung.

Source: wortmagieblog.wordpress.com/2017/08/01/jonathan-maberry-fire-ash
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review 2017-07-11 00:49
Heretics and Heroes (Hinges of History #6)
Heretics and Heroes: How Renaissance Artists and Reformation Priests Created Our World - Thomas Cahill

One of the most pivotal periods of Western civilization occurred during the Renaissance and the Reformation, to culturally impactful events that overlapped one another across Europe.  Heretics and Heroes is the sixth book in Thomas Cahill’s series “The Hinges of History” highlighting the artists and the priests that changed how Europe viewed creativity and worshipped God.

 

Cahill begins this volume talking about philosophical struggle over the ages between Plato and Aristotle, through it is the fourth time he has discussed this millennia-long debate during the series it allows Cahill to refer back to it in the text and gives the reader a basis to understand its importance during this era.  Cahill continued setting up both the Renaissance and Reformation by highlighting moments during the Late Middle Ages, especially the effects of the Black Death, leading up to and allowed for these two important moments in Western history to occur.  The ‘discovery’ of the New World by Columbus and rise of the humanists begin the look at the titular heretics and heroes that will dominate the book, using both events Cahill shows the changing trends in Europe just before both the Renaissance and Reformation completely change it.  The Renaissance and it’s complete change of artistic creativity of the previous millennium is taken up first through the lives of Donatello, Leonardo, and Botticelli before focusing on its height and sudden stop as a result of the Counter-Reformation in the life of Michelangelo.  Then, save for a brief look at the art of Northern Europe, Cahill turns to the Reformation of Luther and the Catholic Counter-Reformation with brief looks at the Reformed movements and the development of Anglicanism.

 

The entire book is packed with information in a very conversational style of writing which has always been one of the strengths of Cahill’s writing.  As always with a popular history book, Cahill had to pick and choose what to focus the reader’s attention on while covering as much as possible about the subject he’s decided to write about.  While Cahill is pretty successful at hitting the high points and pointing readers looking for information to the appropriate place to look, his personal opinions at times overwhelm the history and themes he’s trying to bring to fore.  All history authors have their personal opinions influence their work; however Cahill’s armchair psychiatry and personal theological arguments that actually have nothing to do with the debate he’s writing about at that moment in the text.  While Cahill’s personal opinions have been in all of the previous books of the series, this volume it seems to not be subtle but almost blatant.

 

Overall Heretics and Heroes is a fine addition to the “Hinges of History” series written in a very readable style by Cahill.  However, unlike the previous books in which the reader was left with wanting more, the reader will be wishing less of Cahill’s opinion and more of actual facts.  Yet even with this drawback and forewarning a reader will find this book very informative.

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review 2017-07-04 21:43
Mysteries of the Middle Ages (Hinges of History #5)
Mysteries of the Middle Ages: And the Beginning of the Modern World - Thomas Cahill

In popular imagination the medieval period is a time of ignorance and superstition, fear and violence, and crushing religious intolerance of anything the Church was against.  Mysteries of the Middle Ages is the fifth volume of Thomas Cahill’s ‘Hinges of History’ series, focusing on the individuals in the High Middle Ages who shaped Western society that we know today.  Over the course of 300+ pages, Cahill sets out to give his reader a new way to look at the Middle Ages.

 

Cahill begins the book not during the Middle Ages, but in the city of Alexandria in Egypt looking at how the Greco-Roman and Judeo-Christian traditions began their long processes of synthetization began before exploring how the Romans became the Italians as a way to differentiate between the Greek East and Latin West for the rest of the book.  Then beginning with Hildegard of Bingen, Cahill makes the reader look at the Middle Ages in a vastly different way by showing the power and importance of 12th century Abbess who would one day be declared a saint then turned his attention to a woman of secular power, that of Eleanor of Aquitaine who held political power in a significant way while also allowing the developing “courts of love” evolve.  This evolving form of culture spread into the Italian peninsula and influenced a young man from Assisi, Francis who would shift this emphasis of earthly love into spiritual love.  The focus of the spiritual then shifted to Peter Abelard and St. Thomas Aquinas who became to emphasis the thoughts of Aristotle over those of Plato in theological discussions while Roger Bacon used Aristotle to begin examining the world around him and thus science that we see today.  Yet the world around those during the High Middle Ages began to influence art and literature in both secular and spiritual ways from the Cathedral of Chartres to the works of Dante and Giotto would have influences even to today.

 

Although Cahill readily admits that he could have and wanted to discuss more individuals from a wider swath of Europe, he does an adequate job in showing that the Middle Ages were not what the popular view of the time period was believed to be.  Cahill several times throughout the book emphasizes that the Middle Ages, especially from the 12th to the early 14th centuries, were not a time of stagnate culture that the humanists of the Renaissance began calling it.  However, Cahill’s asides about Islamic culture as well as the Byzantines were for the most part a continuation of centuries-long mudslinging or a product of today’s ideological-religious conflicts and ironically undermined one of his best arguments, the role of Catholicism in shaping Western society.  Cahill’s Catholicism was that of all the individuals he wrote about, who were Christians, not the Church and its hierarchy that over the course of the High Middle Ages became a point of embarrassment to both lay and cleric alike.

 

Mysteries of the Middle Ages shows the beginnings of the synthesis of the two strains of Western society, Greco-Roman and Judeo-Christian, that Thomas Cahill has built up to in his previous four books.  As a popular history it very well written, but its flaws of modern and centuries old prejudice undercut a central theme Cahill was developing and wrote about at the end of the book.  Yet I cannot but call it a good book to read.

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review 2017-06-29 14:32
Woman in Cabin 10
The Woman in Cabin 10 - Helen Ruth Elizabeth Ware,Imogen Church

 

 

Maybe I've read too many books like this one.  Maybe I'm cranky because I stayed up way too late last night finishing this book (I started it too early to "count" for my library's summer-reading program, and didn't finish it soon enough to get started on another book for my summer reading when it officially began on 6/24!).  Keep in mind that this book did propel me forward to wanting to know what happened.  Also ** = "Fair" for me.

 

Laura "Lo" Blacklock, a British travel journalist, goes through a traumatic event when a burglar breaks into her apartment, steals her purse, and traps her in her own bedroom by disabling the doorknob (after slamming the door into her face).  Despite the trauma, which seems to have left her with PTSD, she accepts a plum assignment on a luxury cruise ship, the Aurora Borealis, which will take its press-junket passengers on a Norwegian cruise.  During her first evening, she knocks on the door of Cabin 10, and the young woman inside gives her a mascara, refusing Lo's offer to return it.  Later that night, Lo hears a suspicious splash from the veranda of that cabin and, running out to her own, notices a smear of blood on that neighboring veranda.  She immediately concludes that the young woman she interacted with has been murdered.  

 

The ship's head of security tells her that Cabin 10 is unoccupied, and sure enough, he is able to show her that it is quite empty and clean.  Although he takes her through the motions of speaking with various staff members to try to identify the young woman, he clearly doubts her credibility.  After all, she suffered a trauma in her own apartment, is on anti-anxiety meds, and admittedly consumed alcohol on the night in question.  When the security officer is clearly done with her, Lo pursues her own investigation, enlisting an ex-boyfriend who is on the cruise, Ben Howard, as well as the ship's owner, Lord Richard Bullmer.

 

So, I won't give away anything about the way the mystery unfolds.  Of course, there are elements of "things are not as they seem."  It felt as though it took a long, long time to get to the unraveling.  The day after the incident felt at least four days long.  Once the unraveling occurred, there was another stall-out for a while.  And I guess I would call the resolution semi-satisfying.  And exhausting.  But this is definitely a YMMV type of situation, and if you haven't read too many of these thrillers where a woman disappears, you might enjoy this more than I did.

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review 2017-06-24 21:45
Tell It to the World
Tell It to the World - C. Mervyn Maxwell

The beginnings and the early development of the Seventh-day Adventist church spans continents and over a century that sees a handful of disappointed believers grow into a worldwide church with millions of members.  Tell It to the World is a popular history by Mervyn Maxwell who used his long career teaching students to write church history in an engaging way.

 

The history begins with William Miller beginning his ministry about the coming of Christ in 1843-44 and how for years he remained in small towns until events brought his message to a much wider audience.  The events in the United States and around the world at the same time that contributed to the Great Second Advent Movement before the Great Disappointment gave background not only to the times but the individuals who would soon shape the Seventh-day Adventist church.  The aftermath of the Great Disappointment brought about division among Millerites and one small group formed what would become the Seventh-day Adventist church through Bible study and the Voice of Prophecy.  The slow process of organizing the church along the concurrent beginnings of missionary work first around the nation and then across the world are interwoven together to show how both helped and harmed one another until a more centralized structure brought things into place.  But this only took place after 16 years of crisis that brought reforms to the structure of the church that would allow it to continue to grow into the 20th Century.

 

Though the text is only 270 pages long, Maxwell packs a lot of information and anecdotes into the 32 chapters of the book that many Adventists would appreciate.  Being a popular history, this book shies away from scholarly prose but Maxwell’s professionalism makes sure that footnotes are peppered throughout the text so those who question statements or wanting to know more could examine his sources.  As stated above Maxwell used his long career in teaching to write so his students would enjoy reading and because the book was first published in the late 1970s, the ease of reading holds up very well.

 

Tell It to the World gives readers an ease to read history of the beginnings and early development of the Seventh-day Adventist church that is informative and riveting.  Mervyn Maxwell’s book brings to focus a lot of Adventist history that many lifelong and new members of the church will find inspiring and instructive.  If you’re a Seventh-day Adventist and haven’t read this before, I encourage you to do so.

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