Friday, 30 November 2012

I Am Legend

Title: I Am Legend
Author: Richard Matheson
Pages: 162 (paperback)
Published: 1954
Published by: Orion Publishing Group

Robert Neville has witnessed the end of the world. The world's population has been obliterated by a vampire virus, though Neville has somehow survived. As he toils to make sense of it all and protect himself against the hounding vampires who seek out his life force, Neville embarks on a series of projects to discover the source of the plague and hopefully put an end to the vampires.

First things first: this is nothing like the film. At all. They've taken the very very basic plot premise and done with it what they wanted. And the central character's name: Robert Neville. Pretty much everything else is different. The ending in particular, but I'm just going to ignore that.

Now, I love the film. Will Smith is one of the few actors who can pull off that amount of screen time alone. But he isn't really the Robert Neville we meet at the start of the story. True, he is more like the man he grows into, but even then there are differences.

Robert Neville at the start of the book is a broken man. Living alone, surrounded by vampires determined to drink his blood every night. His humanity is clear, and his flawed nature. He cares for his teeth rigorously because he is his own dentist, yet he drinks and smokes copiously. He fastidiously cares about his car, yet sometimes goes days without repairing his house from the damage caused by nightly attacks.

We see him surviving and nothing more. Indeed, barely that at times.

But things happen which make him start thinking again. There are quite a lot of biological terms and stuff thrown around in some parts which I won't even pretend to have followed a lot of the time (biology not being my strong point), but it was interesting watching him develop an interest in something.

The conclusions he come to are different and intriguing, and there is a rather amazing twist at the end which is something different from anything I've ever read before. This book is a 'Masterworks' without a doubt.

Friday, 23 November 2012


 Title: Kinesis
Author: Ethan Spier
Pages: 238 (ebook)

When two men break into Leonard Samson’s house, beat him unconscious and murder his six-year-old son, the police arrive to a gruesome scene. But they are shocked to find the mutilated bodies of the two intruders in the front room of Leonard’s house, while he waits in the kitchen with the surviving members of his family.
Clarissa Chapman is a DCI of Psychokinetic Investigations, a new area of police work, instigated after the first genuine case of psychokinesis was discovered, some fifteen years earlier. The Samson case is brought to her attention due to the strange way in which the two intruders were killed. She suspects Leonard Samson is a Kinetic.
All Kinetics are blessed with a gift to move objects with only the power of their mind. But it is also a horrific curse. Within a few years of discovering their ability, they all develop violent insanity and, for this reason, are locked away in specially designed prisons for the benefit of public safety.
After discovering that the authorities suspect him of being a Kinetic, Leonard Samson runs; unaware that the police are not the only ones pursuing him. 
As the days pass by, Clarissa becomes increasingly aware that certain aspects of the Samson case just do not add up...

Leonard Samson is a man on the run for a crime he didn't commit, that he says he was physically impossible of committing because he isn't a PK - someone with telekinetic powers. This book follows him trying to escape the law; Amir Sohal, the bounty hunter, and Clarissa Chapman, the police officer, who are looking for him; and Sean Hagan, an escaped PK convict who is looking for revenge on the woman who caught him.

The beginning of this book was a little bit amazing. I made the mistake of starting to read it on the train, and I'm sure the first two chapters would have had me in tears if I'd been reading it at home. It's heart-wrenching and a bit horrifying, but not too graphic. It throws you in at the deep end emotively, and you can't help but feel for the family you're introduced to in the midst of disaster. The first third as a whole is fast moving and intriguing, though unfortunately the pace isn't kept up and it slows rather after this.

Set in the near future, this is a world where psychokinesis (PK) was discovered to exist around the turn of the millennium. But there is a horrible twist, for those who develop this ability also develop incredibly violent tendencies and go mad, usually within a couple of years of the onset. We're told of some of the early incidences and research in mega info-dumps. Like, pages and pages long. It's disguised as extracts from a text book one of the characters is reading, but not very well. And it's not that exciting. I'm sure there must have been better and cleaner ways of getting the information across. Between this and the slowing of the story itself the middle section of the story struggles.

And unfortunately, there is the same problem with the back stories of the characters. We are entering into people's lives often halfway through some major stuff going on, and all the information is just chucked at us, not even with it being told to someone else - it's literally just...there.

The four central characters are quite good - their motives make sense and they usually make logical decisions. Some of the secondary characters less so, but the story wouldn't move forward so well otherwise. Still, Leonard and Clarissa are the only two you really get any sort of a feel for past the immediate. Amir is all about the hunt, and Sean is all about revenge. That is what they are in the story: nothing else. Leonard you get to know a little, and you can't help but feel sorry for him from the off, whilst you learn about Clarissa's life and all the things she is trying to deal with on top of her job. And from the ending of this book, you know it's only going to get worse from this point in.

You don't really get to see much of the actual PK power in action - understandably, since most people who have are crazy by the time we meet them! - which is a shame, because what you do see is well written and quite realistic. It's something people have to work for, and they don't just crook a finger and send houses flying about. It exhausts them, and can have serious physical affects.

And it was interesting seeing the social effects of the discovery of PK and the mental problems it eventually causes. People with this ability are shunned, and locked up in a high security prison as soon as they are discovered. The ethics of this is obviously questionable, for obviously most of those imprisoned haven't actually done anything wrong at the point they are locked up: does knowing that they are going to become violent give the government the right to lock them up in that way? It would have been interesting to see how the laws about this were brought about, and whether there was anybody fighting this.

The end of this book was very good, and there was a nice, though slightly sad, ending sequence and an intriguing epilogue. I'm assuming it's a series from the ending, and I'll probably keep an eye out for the next one, for although I'm not all that attached to the any of the characters I'm kinda interested to see where the story goes, what the consequences are, and to see some more of this world.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

The Gift

Title: The Gift [or The Naming]
Series: The Chronicles of Pellinor #1
Author: Alison Croggon
Pages: 494 (paperback)
Published: May 3rd 2004
Published by: Walker Books

Maerad is a slave in a desperate and unforgiving settlement, taken there as a child when her family is destroyed in war. She is unaware that she possesses a powerful gift, a gift that marks her as a member of the School of Pellinor. It is only when she is discovered by Cadvan, one of the great Bards of Lirigon, that her true heritage and extraordinary destiny unfolds. Now she and her teacher, Cadvan, must survive a punishing and uncertain journey through a time and place where the dark forces they battle with stem from the deepest recesses of other-worldly terror.

Maerad is a slave, in the middle of nowhere, knowing little of anything. Least of all her own history, her own family. That is until Cadvan stumbles into her life and whisks her off into a world of danger, adventure, and all manner of other things. She discovers she is a powerful Bard, the spell-casters of Annar and the Seven Kingdoms, coming into her power just at the second coming of the Nameless One.

First things first: I love this book. I read it for the first time when I was sixteen and loved it then. I'm re-reading it for like the fifth time now, and I still love it. Though there may be a bit of a 'rose-tinted-glasses' thing going on. But I'm quite happy with that! I've re-read it this time because I was tired of reading new things; I wanted a series I can get lost in, and this does it so well.

Because you can just get pulled into this world, this story. There's always something happening, always some new mystery being hinted at, always some new danger to be escaped. Yes it's an epic fantasy so there is the inevitable fact that weeks of the time covered in the book are spent by Maerad and Cadvan riding around Annar, but these parts are largely skipped over, and those that aren't are used to showing something, whether it be moving the story forwards or showing you more of the intricate world Alison Croggon has built.

Maerad is the central character, and you see her bloom in the first chapters, and grow through the remainder of the story. but she doesn't completely change. The impact of a childhood spent as a slave in a remote corner of the world under a harsh man has obviously had its impact, and while she does overcome some of this, she still has plenty of problems. She doesn't feel like she fits in, and she doesn't always feel comfortable around people. Though, there are several characters which she grows rather attached to rather quickly. I know it's a book and they don't have time to wait around for stuff to develop really, but it does happen a bit too much.

Cadvan is Maerad's dour and taciturn rescuer. You don't really get to know him, but only because of the way the character is rather than any failing in the writing, and by the end of the book you understand his reticence completely. But he's still awesome. He has this whole fire and ice thing going on, he can be quite reticent around people (though warm and friendly in the right situation), but you really would not want to get on the wrong side of him. And in my head he's David Tennant, which is never a bad thing.

There have been some negative comments saying this book is too like Lord of the Rings, but Tolkien is the father of modern fantasy, and I can't imagine there are many epic fantasy books about that you can't find his influence in. Yes, there are some things that are very similar - the two that stand out being that both have fortressed 9-tiered cities built around a cliff (Minas Tirith and Norloch) and a Dark Lord making a second attempt at power - but the substance of the story is vastly different, and keeps you reading. Which is all that really matters.

Friday, 9 November 2012

A Job From Hell

Title: A Job From Hell
Series: Ancient Legends #1
Author: Jayde Scott
Pages: 374 (ebook)
Published: May 11th 2011
Published by: Aurora Press

The moment Amber starts her summer job in Scotland and sets eyes upon Aidan, her fate is sealed. Summoned by an ancient bond, she can never love another. Lost in the woods one night Amber enters Aidan's deadly world when she unknowingly participates in a paranormal race and promptly wins the first prize...a prize worth killing for.

In a world of forbidden love, ancient enemies, legends and rituals, nothing is as it seems and no one can be trusted. Life will never be the same again, unless she enters the Otherworld. But to do so, Amber must die...

We join Amber just as she arrives in Scotland to begin a job as a housekeeper. A job she is totally unqualified for and she's pretty sure she only got because her brother, Dallas, lied on the application form. Queue her meeting a series of stunning attractive individuals *ahem* vampires *ahem*, including her employer Aiden. Oh, what are the chances! She soon finds herself to be awful at her job, but instead accidentally wins a prize which puts her in danger from the entire paranormal world. Apparently.

We don't really see all. Most of the danger she ends up in seems to stem more from the fact that she's involved with Aiden.


There are so many things that annoy me about this book. So I'm not going to go into it too much, otherwise it'll just turn into a rant.

It has all the cliches of a paranormal romance, and all the characters are quite flat. The lead - Amber - is supposed to be all strong-willed and adjusts to the idea of vampires/demons etc. very quickly, yet gets talked into stealing some jewels in about 30 seconds flat. She can't make up her mind about Aiden (gorgeous vampire cliche - check!) and seems to go from absolutely-hating-him-and-she's-going-to-leave-and-she-never-wants-to-see-him-again-and-she-just-wants-to-have-her-old-life-back to letting him kiss her and melting into it (kissing cliche - check!), also in about 30 seconds flat. And this happens about 12 times. Then she has periodic weird moments when she's all like SASS! which don't really fit with the way she acts the rest of the time.

Then, the editing wasn't great; Amber's brother's name is Dallas; the author, character and book settings are all British yet American words for stuff (diapers, college instead of university, parking lot) kept appearing; Amber's parents are all like "yeah 17-year-old daughter, totally go live in Scotland for two months. We're not even going to make sure you get there ok or anything!"; and there were quite a few plot holes/inconsistencies in regards to the special abilities of the vampires.

There are a couple of saving graces in this book, in that some of the secondary characters are quite interesting (namely Cass, and I think Blake has the potential to be an interesting character, or an interesting device at the very least) and there are a couple of funny moments.

I got this book because it had been recommended to me loads, and was free. I don't really understand all the rave reviews, and wish it hadn't been free so I wouldn't have been persuaded to get, and therefore read, it.

Friday, 2 November 2012

Son of Ereubus

Title: Son of Ereubus
Series: Guardians of Legend #1
Author: J.S. Chancellor
Pages: 310 (ebook)
Published: October 21st 2010
Published by: Rhemalda Publishing

Since time immemorial, Man has lived in fear of losing his soul to the darkness of Saint Ereubus. For generations, the Ereubinians have wielded that power and ruled like gods. Three thousand years ago, Man irresolutely placed his faith in a mythical world. That world, Adoria, now holds Man's final hope. As the last stronghold of Man is threatened, the fates of three strangers become forever intertwined and everything they once believed will be irrevocably changed as they discover... Their time has run out.

This book confused me. In so many ways. For the first, like, third I had no idea what was going on. You're thrown into this world without any explanations for anything, and this annoyed the hell out of me. I think Chancellor was trying to put you in the middle of the action and be all mysterious, but I just ended up confused. I kinda get the feeling she was trying to avoid major info-dumps, but info-dumps are very useful if they're done well. You do get most of the information eventually, but it just would have made the reading a lot easier if it had come a bit sooner.

But then you kinda eventually get to the point where you understand more, and it found its pace and got good. Actually, it got really good for a while in the middle. The end wasn't quite up to the same standard, and I think it finished in quite a weird place, but it was much more readable than the first part of the story. The problem with the ending was that it wasn't really there...the author had just picked some arbitrary point in the story to finish rather than there being an actual sort of ending. It just stopped.

Aside from this, the story is quite good. It's an interesting idea (I think...I'm still a little confused in all honesty) once it gets going, though there's a little too much foreshadowing of things to come without actual events happening. And there are some definite, though I'm not sure whether they were intentional, religious undertones. Winged people (Adorians) fighting forces of darkness who steal the soul; you've got the Adorian (angel) Gabriel, the Archorigon (Archangel) Michael, and Seth makes an appearance too. Maybe it's coincidence, but I don't know.

Even though the idea was good, the writing itself annoyed me at times. I can't quite put my finger on why, but it did. It was just...little inconsistencies in the text and jumps in the narrative made it a bit difficult for me to read at times. Like, when someone was sitting at a table and somehow a guy knelt down in front of her, but then two seconds later was leaning on the wall behind her. I sometimes had to go back and re-read sections to try and work out what was being talked about because it wasn't at all clear.

I liked all the characters. Ariana was strong-willed and I quite liked her sense of humour, although I wasn't such a fan of the relationship between her and her brother, Michael. He in himself was fine, but they fall into the brother/sister relationship awfully easily considering that he's like 30 and she's 21 or something and they didn't know the other existed until a few days/weeks previously. Plus, if you didn't know, a couple of their interactions could quite easily be read as them being lovers rather siblings. He touches her lips to shush her, cradles her to his chest; stuff like that. And towards the end he started calling her 'dear heart'. This is a term of endearment which I abhor, though I have no idea why. So you know, not really a fan of that appearance. I liked Garren's journey, and think the torment of confliction he was going through was well written. The change you see in him between before (though there really isn't a lot of this) and after he meets Ariana is quite significant and very sudden, but you don't really get to see that much of them together which I would have liked more of. I think the change would have made more sense if there was a bit more grounding to it. And I so think some secret's going to come out about Koen...I'm just not entirely sure what.

So now I'm confused as to whether I want to carry on reading the rest of the series. There were good points and bad. I'm just not sure which wins out at this point...

So much confusion!