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review SPOILER ALERT! 2014-03-13 17:21
Review: The Flow by Caroline Martin
The Flow - Caroline J. Martin


I was very kindly provided this book through a Goodreads Giveaway. Cheers guys - I never win anything !! Look - even my dog was excited to receive this in the mail !!


I think the best way to describe The Flow by Caroline J Martin is bland. This book is oatmeal. It's school uniform. It's a cream carpet. It's just blah.


The Flow is the story of Britain, economically collapsed and resurrected by the ultra-religious Optimus party, a political party hellbent on control of the population through brainwashing and harsh punishment. Lexi and a group of friends begin to see through the cracks of the teachings of the Optimus party when they realise that some of the information on the Flow, their version of the internet, isn't quite right. From there we are led a merry dance as Lexi and her new bestie, Lukas work to unravel the mystery of the lies that have been told to them and their society.


I think the premise is really good, sure. But the execution? I'm not so sure. The author states at the back of the book:


One reason I wrote this book was to encourage young people - especially young girls - to be interested in science and how it can improve our lives.


And boy does it show. There's nothing wrong with this noble quest in pursuit of education for the brats (and I use that term oh-so affectionately) but when the same point is laboured over and over again, and there's a lengthy explanation of Darwin's theory of evolution and the discovery of the structure of DNA right where you'd expect the action to be sitting ..... well, that's just irritating. Having a suggestion of science, an introduction that encourages kids to want to discover more: good. Telling me three or four times the basic ins and outs of Avian flu: not so good.


British society, under the control of the Optimus party, has transformed into some hideous cult-like organisation with enforced worship and compulsory prayer. Citizens must attend the Sacellum twice daily to hear the teachings of the prophet Nathaniel Jeffries as whispered to him by the Creator. If anyone dares to question these teachings they are treated to a very public lashing, and this includes little kids. WTF?!! I had a hard time getting my head around the world building as a whole to be honest - why are the people accepting being treated this way? It's nonsensical. And what's going on in the rest of the world that they have quite happily watched a once democratic and influential country fall at the wayside, prey to a power-hungry fanatically religious, dictatorial leader? Nope - I can't accept this as a reality.


We learn later that the citizens of this new and cray-cray Britain have been brainwashed and had their memories wiped by the use of high frequency sound waves, invisible to the human ear. Uhm .... Really? Caroline Martin, honey - you want kids interested in science? Great! But how about doing some scientific research of your own and come up with a method by which the population could have had their memories tampered with in a way that's actually believable. I've not read such nonsense since I was assured that Florida survived catastrophically rising sea levels in that masterpiece, Wither by Lauren Destephano .....


So, lumped with this absurd society we battle on and meet Lexi. I think the best way to describe Lexi is lacklustre. There's nothing particularly stand out about her. She's not very interesting. We're promised she has an inquiring mind:


"We think you may have the analytical abilities that we will need to work out what is going on"


Ben informs Lexi, after summoning her to his home in an effort to recruit her to his cause of discovering the truth behind the factual inconsistencies he and his faceless sidekicks think they have noticed in the Flow. Now Ben, flattery will get you nowhere. Especially when said flattery in merely fantasy. There's nothing about Lexi that screams unusually intelligent. There's some vague explanation along the lines of "you got a bunch of gold stars at school so you must be smart" and "your Mom is kinda good at mathematics, so you must be too right?" but really, it smells an awful lot like Special Snowflake syndrome. Lexi is special because she is. Despite the fact that not one of the book's mysteries are actually solved by Lexi herself - Lukas uses his brain (as a boy he is able to you see) to work out where the hidden library is and how to get there and he's the one who puts together the information about the vaccine with Lexi just kind of stumbling along behind him, wringing her hands and worrying about bats getting caught in her hair (that doesn't really happen by the way).


There's not a lot that can be said about Lexi's abilities to be honest because she ain't got none. She's alright as a heroine - she doesn't fall in love with Lukas or Ben, while yes, she's kinda self centred, she also manages to have some considerate thoughts towards her mother and her friends and she shows some genuine concern for the fate of her neighbours and the other townspeople - but she just has this personality void. I imagined her to have these dead, vacant eyes; staring out at the world in perpetual mild confusion because she's just so incredibly blah. Her favourite pastimes include listening to music under the duvet with her friend Tish, eating popcorn and seeing a movie every Saturday night. If Ben hadn't approached her and drowned her in flattery I highly doubt she would have made any kind of move to discover the lies of the Flow herself because, while she's very good at following other people around, attempt to stand her up on her own and she promptly falls flat on her face like the cardboard cutout she is. She had zero initiative.


Lukas was marginally better in terms of get-up-and-go but he was still entirely faceless, with no family or friends besides Lexi and barely a single independent thought in his head. I mean, these kids don't even go to school. There's some mention of classmates and they seem to have an endless supply of homework but do they ever appear to actually set foot inside the school gates? Nope. I did enjoy Lukas' discovery in the hidden library though. That was sorta cool. He and Lexi trek down there and find a whole bunch of banned books about science. The Optimus party's extremist religious stance had completely denounced science as witchcraft and evil and against the Creator's wishes (yeah, we're stepping back several centuries in thinking, reasoning and research here. For some reason) and every member of society has been forced to accept that modern medicine and understanding of how the world works is redundant when prayer will, in fact, cure all. Okaaaay. It's a bit wild, but their realisation that perhaps what they have been taught is illogical and backwards is interesting and the description of the hidden library is pretty awesome - one copy of every book ever written ?!! Sounds like heaven !!!


The ending was ..... I don't know. The ending was inexplicable. An old abandoned hospital with everything left exactly as it had been a decade previously? Security cameras in said hospital still function perfectly? Microphones on said security cameras for a start, present and for a second, picking up precisely the right incriminating sentence at precisely the right time? It was all a little too inconvenient. There wasn't really enough actual threat for me to muster more than a "meh" in response to what was happening, especially when as a whole, the book was as bland as cucumber sandwiches with the crusts cut off.


One thing I absolutely loved about The Flow was the packaging. The cover art isn't particularly inspiring, but the paper the cover is made from is wonderful! It's soft and thick, as are the pages, and the type is shiny with the paper a proper sharp white. Very impressive.


I have no drive to continue with this series (I believe it's a trilogy) because sure, it wasn't terrible but it made me feel tired. It wasn't hugely boring as the pacing was good and every plot point advanced the story. I just ..... I don't even know. It was 2D. That's probably the most accurate description. There was a lack of depth and it was devoid of any real feeling or urgency.




I hope everyone is having a magical March !! See y'all after !!




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review 2014-03-07 09:28
Review: Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock
Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock - Matthew Quick

This is such a difficult book to review because I'm genuinely unsure about how I'm supposed to feel about it. Like, what exactly was Matthew Quick's intention when he created Leonard?


On the one hand he seems to be a character for us to side with, feel sorry for, understand better through his memories and flashbacks. And on the other hand I want to kick him until he's down and then stomp on his neck because he's a little shit who needs to get a grip.


Leonard Peacock decides, on his 18th birthday that he will kill first his ex-best friend and classmate, Asher and then himself because he's isolated and alone and afraid. We follow him and his inner monologue for a little over 24 hours, experiencing his reality and his memories as he struggles to find something to live for.


I love reading stories about people who are a little bit fucked up. People are endlessly fascinating. Everyone views the world slightly differently, taking their own experiences and opinions and mashing them up with whatever is happening in front of them to create their own interpretation of the situation. And sometimes, as in Leonard's case this situation can fail to resemble reality even a little bit. Leonard is of the opinion that everyone is an "übermoron" and that nobody cares about him. He's the smartest person to ever breathe, he's violently pretentious and has no need to follow any rules ever because he's completely above everyone and everything. So in short, he's an irritating little fucker. But he's also incredibly sad and a product of his horrific past experiences. Do you see my dilemma? I hate him, but I feel for him.


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review 2013-12-18 16:55
Review: Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
Daughter of Smoke and Bone (Daughter of Smoke and Bone, #1) - Laini Taylor

Cats!! Cats everywhere!!


I made the rookie mistake of allowing my cats to have complete freedom in my house. Now they do whatever the fuck they like with no regard for anyone's safety or personal space. They peed on my ex-flat mate's bed so many times that in the time she was living with us she had to buy seven new duvets. That was a little embarrassing.


They walk on the kitchen counters and sit right behind the stove while I'm cooking so that the minute my back is turned to get something out of the fridge their little heads are dipping into the pans, tasting and licking everything. I left a pot of soup out on the counter to cool and they walked in it. They walked in my soup. Every time a cupboard opens they're in it. My giant ginger cat is the worst for this. He has managed to get himself shut in the closet, the pan cupboard and the fridge amongst others. My siamese cat is like a dustbin. He eats anything and everything. He ate a packet of yogurt covered raisins last week. That's not even approaching resembling cat food. My husband says the pets are worse than having a baby. He says at least a baby doesn't move for a while. But the cats are into everything. They'll try and get into the shower with you for god's sake!!


They've smashed all my favourite mugs, made inroads into destroying most of my vast house plant collection and shredded an entire armchair. The giant cat has somehow (we haven't figured it all out yet) managed to work out how to get on top of the kitchen cabinets and waits up there until I go through to switch the kettle on in the morning before doing a dive-bomb sneak attack from above. That's a whole lotta cat to be coming at you from a height, believe me. And the crazy thing? We're adding another one to the mix. My husband has reserved an oriental kitten for me for Christmas. It's not a surprise, he had to let me know as she's not ready until next month. He didn't want me thinking I was getting nothing. So we've got a three-cat-tornado to look forward to - a force so destructive, so powerful the house will be reduced to ashes in it's wake.


I sound like I hate them. I don't. I adore them. They're incredibly loving, sweet and affectionate. They are literally the best cats I've ever met. But they don't come without their quirks, and none of my knit wear is safe.


I feel the same way about Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor - I both loved it and despaired of it.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2013-11-23 11:29
Review: Allegiant by Veronica Roth
Allegiant - Veronica Roth

*Major Spoilers Ahead* !!! If you want to be saved, turn back now !!! Go !!! Run!!!




Divergent Series: Complete


Do I unlock some kind of achievement for this feat?!


And there were no tears shed. Of frustration, or other wise. Surprisingly.


Who knew a revolution could be so boring?! Or cheesy?! Holy crap. This book wins the award for the most time spent wandering around staring at the walls.


So the story goes that, after learning the true nature of their existence, Tobias and Tris set out on a journey to leave the city in search of answers. There they find yet more betrayal, lies and blood thirst, culminating in a race against time to save their city. So yeah, more of the same really.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2013-11-19 17:21
Review: Insurgent by Veronica Roth
Insurgent - Veronica Roth

McDonalds was closed today guys. McDonalds was closed. I needed my coffee and my hash brown and the damn place was closed. What is this? The apocalypse?! That place is never closed. I mean they're open Christmas Day for Chrissakes, in my city at least. I don't care if you have an electrical fault, people of McDonalds - I needed caffeine!! It's my choice if I'm willing to risk electrocution to obtain it!! The crushing disappointment I experienced was akin to that I felt whilst reading Insurgent - I was promised more than this.


So we pick up immediately where we left off following Divergent. Nope, Veronica Roth did not feel the need to treat us to even a hint of a recap. So Tris and the gang are thrown headlong into revolution and, I guess a war. Half the population side with those smarty-pants meany Erudites, the other half side with our brave heroes. There's a lotta angsting, getting shot at and wandering around staring at cracks in the pavement but I'm gonna let you in on a little secret - I kinda enjoyed it in a freaky, round-about sorta way. Sshh! Don't tell anyone.


This is not something I'm shouting from the rooftops because Insurgent makes no sense. I don't know why I enjoyed it. I mean, I'm not raving. I just quietly liked it.


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