Saturday, July 13, 2013

Almighty Johnsons, Season 3, Episode 2: This Thing Inside

Awkward morning after – Anders and Gaia. While Gaia takes a shower and tries not to look at Anders, he enters her phone number in his phone as “Idun”.

Gaia goes home and Zeb, used to the god talk, leaves her alone with Axl and the shorn apple tree. He asks her where she was last night, pretty aggressively, and Gaia says she was walking, completely overwhelmed by all the newly revealed god stuff – and she’s decided to marry Axl ASAP as a way of coping with it

This? Is not going to end well.

Mike is also closing the bar it seems, for reasons I didn’t catch even rewinding 3 times, either way, free booze is now being cut off for the godlings. This is a catastrophe roughly on par with Ragnarok. And Mike gets to tell the hung over oracles how badly they failed at breaking up Gaia and Axl; and Michele knocks out the power by knocking down a wall.

Grumpy Anders goes to work and is grumpy at Dawn, who now wants to know all about Ty after Anders’s interference last week and her flashback. Anders is decidedly unhelpful (of course) and instead talks about Ty’s penis and its supposed gargantuan size; Dawn you should have known better than to expect sense from Anders.

And he texts Gaia saying he can’t stop thinking about her – which rather interrupts the wedding planning and Axl asking Zeb to be his next man, but she says it’s work calling her – and she leaves. She just manages to avoid the oracles who descend on Axl; Olaf and Ingrid try to sow doubts about Gaia’s faithfulness but Axl is adamant that he trusts Gaia. As they push he calls Anders and Anders swears up and down and on their mother’s… tree, ashes, whatever that he wasn’t with Gaia. Axl repeats again how much he’s sick of all the god stuff – and insists that they’re Axl and Gaia – not Odin and Idun.

Gaia hasn’t gone to Anders – she’s gone to see Stacey, the goddess who was kindest to her, at her bike messenger office. Of course, Stacey was nice because she’s Fulla, the Handmaiden and kind of forced to be – at least, when she thought Gaia was Frigg. But she seems a little nonplussed with the sobbing Gaia confessing everything and saying how awful she is.

They have coffee and Gaia describes how the voice in her head is screaming her to go back to Anders for the worst sex ever – and Anders has been sexting her. While Stacey thinks they’re all kind of ew, the voice in Gaia’s head doesn’t agree. Stacey tells her to say no

Anders goes to see big brother Mike (and Michele breaking stuff which she enjoys to a disturbing extent). Clearly troubled and pretty obvious to Mike – but he doesn’t reveal anything, possibly because Michele is there; Mike does poke the elephant in the room “it’s not the humans we’re worried about, it’s the gods”.

After repeatedly ignoring his calls, Gaia finally picks up and tells Anders to stop – Anders wants to meet to try and stop what happened happening again. Yeah, I think that conversation needs to happen at a distance.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Living Violet (Cambion Chronicles #1) by Jaime Reed

Sam knows what she wants and needs – she needs money for a new car, she has plans to go to college. She studies and she works. She doesn’t have the time or, frankly, the inclination for a hot romance.

Caleb would also rather like to avoid them – but you wouldn’t know it by the women constantly throwing themselves at him. Something that becomes only more sinister as they start dropping around him, unusual victims of heart attacks and worse. Sam seems to be one of the few immune to his allure, but is drawn into his world and its secrets anyway

I love that this is a YA paranormal romance that rewrites so many of the tropes we’ve seen so many times in one long delicious subversion.

We have a magical sexy power that causes the person to literally starve without sex (and other alternatives, but sex is definitely a big one). He needs sexual contact! And his power means nearly all women find him utterly irresistible to a point where the particularly lonely and broken hearted are driven to assault him in desperation.

Which sounds like another recipe for woo-woo justifying sexual coercion and forcing a relationship based on magic rather than genuine connection… but it doesn’t because Sam is immune. Yes, I was shocked too – they bring in a love interest with super sexy magic power then make the protagonist immune to them – completely immune to his coercive sexy magic, unswayed by his magnetism. Not only that but she doesn’t even think he’s all that hot. Oh he’s cute and all, in his way, but super-smoking, she-can’t-stop-thinking-about-him? Nope. Not at all, besides she’s not really in the market for a boyfriend anyway; partly it’s her parents fear of her following in their teenaged-pregnancy footsteps and partly her own disinterest and focus on other things in her life right now. Boys just don’t have to be her priority.

At which point I look at the author and wonder if they’ve got the right genre.

This leaves Sam and Caleb to become a couple through music and spending time together and mutual interests. It means that, while they do fall in love, they do so in a more organic, natural fashion after getting to know each other. There’s even one point when he asks how much she likes him and Sam says:

“You a’ight”
“What do you want me to say? We’ve just started talking” – I check my invisible watch – “a few weeks ago. We’re still in the introductory stage.”

Yes, I want to frame it and hang it in a museum for its sheer rarity. There’s no insta-love, there’s a slowly developed love. There’s no overwhelming, obsessive attraction – it’s just 2 people who get to know each other well and come to love each other.

In terms of plot, well I think this book is more an introduction of the concept, the world and characters. The plot of Sam just learning about this world and slowly growing closer to Caleb is a surprisingly solid plot that holds most of the first half together. It’s not exciting or riveting, but it’s not boring and introduces characters who are interesting enough in their own right to keep the book worth reading. Towards the end the plot of Caleb’s dad is brought in which is just right for that moment – the world and characters have been revealed, it’s time to get some meat on the bones and do something with them; it added both excitement and action as well as a cliffhanger to make the book more than just “and Caleb met Sam”, an ideal addition.

Dead Like Me, Season 1, Episode 8: A Cook

The opening theme is stopping and smelling the roses – enjoying life while it happened and George’s regret that she didn’t do just that. Before going to the Waffle House and having to endure Daisy’s endlessly annoying presence. And Rube continues to have problems with the shoddy food produced by the new cook. Though the waitress hates the cook and his foul mood already and the poor wait staff always get it in the neck. Of course, being Rube he doesn’t resolve his feud with aggression but by talking to the cook, Angus Cook, drawing him out and getting him to confess his money troubles. Yes, I like Rube

Leaving Rube to his feud, George has an appointment with an old person who she thinks is sweet and it’s a shame (Daisy asks if she’d rather it be a teenager, which is, perhaps, the first sensible thing that Daisy has ever said. The second is her saying that if she thinks the old woman is sweet, then be kind and sweet to her before she dies.) One Reap later and she has a ghost who is very very worried about her dog which kicks George’s guilt into overdrive. She accepts the dog – despite her misgivings due to her terrible history with pets. The pet cat that choked on the pet bird was my favourite.

Just after I said how nice Rube was, usually pretty patient – he gets a letter from his bosses that makes him chase after them swearing. That’s a bad sign. To the Waffle House and Rube takes his bad mood out on George and her new dog – do not get emotionally involved! While he takes the dog out even Mason realised Rube was more than a little out of character so they check his folder – he has a Reap for Angus Cook – the cook (who he just spent time getting to know so is, of course, emotionally involved).

George muses about being emotionally involved and how they aren’t just hitmen, how death happened a lot and how the chances are that sooner or later they would Reap someone they knew. And Reggie is quickly catching up with George with dead pets having tried to teach her gerbil to swim (her dad didn’t even know she had one, her mother is very unsurprised by this news). 

Rube compliments Angus on his latest meal – and Reaps him. A few near misses in the lethal kitchen later and he chokes to death on a sandwich

That night Daisy vetoes George bringing the dog to their flat (hah, I would totally have rammed through that), and one unpleasant night bunking with Mason who wanders around in his underwear (no problem detected with that!), George ends up going to work exhausted – falling asleep at her desk and being covered in sticky notes by her colleagues. As you do. Delores moves in – caring and concerned and, hearing the predicament, offers to let George stay with her until she figures things out. Half naked Mason vs Delores? Is that even a choice?

At the Waffle House there’s lots of sadness over Angus’s death and Rube offers to take over since the owner has the bus boy failing to cook at the moment. Rube rushes in eagerly and starts being chewed out by the bus boy for assuming he speaks Spanish and not English because he’s Latino.  And he’s joined by Angus’s ghost – that’s not supposed to happen. And it turns out that his job, a cook alone in the Waffle House, is actually really hard (are we surprised) and Rube is really out of his depth with Angus hovering over him telling him how badly he’s doing and trying to guide him. Except Angus’s criticism is much harsher than Rube’s ever was. Poor Rube.

The Dresden Files: Who Isn't A Sex Object?

Every day as I go about my life, I’m surrounded by people. If I use the bus there are a gazillion people all crammed together (the one who desperately wants to talk to someone will be found sat next to me, inevitably); most of these I will not want to have sex with (except the hot bus driver. Because I am not dead). When I arrive in town and run to the nearest place selling me something resembling coffee, the chances are I won’t want to molest the queue of people standing between me and the hot beverages (axe murder now, that is highly likely).

I go into work and images of my colleagues in their underwear do not seductively gyrate through my mind (though that has been the topic of one or two truly horrendous nightmares). I deal with clients all day and rarely find myself distracted by endless sexy-time thoughts. An actual whole day can pass with only a few unwanted sex thought intrusions.

This is because I do not wear Dresden Goggles.

Because if Harry Dresden sees a woman, he will lust after her. This includes one of his best friend’s teenaged daughters who he talks about knowing as a child (which only gets more and more skeevy as Molly grows up and that crush grows and grows) this continues even after meeting Molly’s mother who doesn’t like him and is very very skilled with a hammer.

Murphy, the awesome police detective, his police contact since the very first book and co-warrior against all the darkness afflicting Chicago is described in ways that show how pretty she is and how attractive Harry finds her; we’re reminded of this fact every single book she appears in.

Luccio is the captain of the wardens, the wizard police/soldiers/enforces. And originally Harry didn’t lust after her - not being attracted to a woman of her age. Until she swaps bodies with the Corpsetaker (an enemy in a young woman’s body who, yes, Harry found attractive) and she’s on his radar.

Susan Rodriguez begins as a reporter and quickly gets involved with the Red Court of vampires in a series of complicated plots. Yes, Harry thinks she’s attractive and tells us so at length.

Then there’s Elaine - Harry’s fellow apprentice under Justin DuMorne and his first love - and yes, she hits the Dresden sexy radar which we are repeatedly reminded of.

Of course the White Court vampires are the very essence of beauty and lust being incubi and succubi, so Harry constantly lusts after them. And both the Summer and Winter fae are dripping in sexiness (and usually not very many clothes) so Titania, Mab, Lily, Maeve, Aurora, Leanansidhe, Sarissa, all have their beauty and sexiness described at length.

Even side characters - Red Court Vampires (both minor minions and leaders like Bianca), random female victims asking Harry for aid (including a huge number of beautiful women he cannot say no to - and no, it’s not chivalry, it’s refusing to think above the belt). This even includes the female Alphas from the werewolf pack (actually Andi started out being fat and not so attractive to Harry - but then exercise as a werewolf made her lustworthy for Harry by Summer Knight), female Denarians (fallen angels - demons, including noticing the curves of women with bladed snake hair!), and Gard the Valkyrie. Whenever a woman appears her beauty and sexiness will be commented on usually at length.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Hungry Ghost (Tales of the Pack #2) by Allison Moon

The battle is back on. The Morlocs are still killing and the town is not safe – especially not for women. After the battles of the last book, the pack is re-establishing itself around Renee as Alpha and ready to fight again – but how can they fight when they’re outnumbered and outmatched? Even beyond that, how do they exist as a pack – and as people – without Blythe’s oppressive hands demanding they conform?

And Lexie still needs to find her place – both in the pack and with herself. Unshifting, torn between her mother’s heritage and her werewolfness she can’t run with the pack. But as more and more of her mother’s past becomes clear, she finds a rift opening between her and her father. Then there’s Archer, missing and desperately missed and never far from Lexie’s thoughts.

There’s something about the world building here that doesn’t work for me. I just don’t quite get it. There’s a lot about the werewolves I don’t understand or rather don’t fully understand. I don’t get exactly what a Peacespeaker is, don’t understand what the knife is, don’t understand Lexie’s mother or her aunt. I don’t understand how it all affected Lexie’s werewolfness.

And it translates into the plot as well – I’m not entirely sure how much her dad knows or is involved in or even entirely what was achieved at the end of the book. I’m not entirely sure what the enemy actually is or what the many kinds of werewolves actually means or where they all came from.

I get the rough shape of how everything works – the plot, the world et al- but it is only a rough shape and it has gaps and assumptions and things just kind of hanging without me really knowing what is happening, why or what that truly means. I just ended up really uninvested in the story. I only have the vaguest idea of what was going on and I don’t especially care to know more, sadly, because I just haven’t been even slightly pulled in.

I do know how all the characters feel - and it’s certainly a very character driven book. We have a lot of conflict and interaction and resolve between a few characters – the character development is very solid for these few, but it’s also kind of repetitive. I think some of the time could have been better spent on the plot, especially since we had interactions like Lexie and Randy which I’m still not entirely sure what the point was. Or some are there for various lessons or making a point but still don’t add to the overall very weak story (like Duance for example). A lot of the book just feels like character interactions between Lexie and a random other strung together in a row interspaced with her angst. If we were going to focus on character interactions there are still other characters in the pack itself who are sorely in need of work – like Mitch (who can basically be summed up as “transman”).

One thing I like a lot is a lot of the problems Blythe brought in the last book have been addressed and challenged. There’s much less infodumping and Blythe’s whole super-orthodox-feminism-is-like-this-and-you’re-a-bad-feminist-if-you-don’t-obey-me has not only stopped but has been heavily called out as the ridiculous thing it is. It was really refreshing to see all of the pack expanding more into their own lives, pursuing their own tastes and rejecting the strictures that Blythe forced on them as her version of a very narrow view of feminism. Reading this really helps deal with a lot of the problems on feminism in the first book because it helps parse the good messages that were given and the arbitrary restrictions that Blythe imposed; rather than presenting them as one solid chunk.

There’s also a lot of examination of many feminist issues – from a nice skewering of the whole “nice guy” ideal – with Duane told it doesn’t matter what a nice person he is, Lexie just isn’t interested. There’s a lot of talk about safety and the safety many men take for granted while women are constantly expected to be on guard (the point does lack a lot of intersectionality since it completely dismisses that gay/bi men and men of colour rarely feel safe all the time everywhere as presented). There’s a lot of issues that are covered well with a little less of a lecture or, rather, there is a lecture but it fits a bit more organically than previously

The pack are all lesbians, bi/pansexuals or otherwise queer woman except Mitch. While they generally work really well together as very different women yet all coming together in unity and affection, there is a strong implication or outright saying that all of them except Lexie have been raped or sexually assaulted; there’s a really pernicious trope that GBLT people, especially lesbians and bisexual women, are attracted to the same gender because of trauma or other bad experience with the opposite gender that really undermines the sexuality of GBLT people. This is really underlined with Corwin, now recovering from her rape, is becoming interested in men again – and Sharmalee responds that she cannot touch a woman who has been touched by a man because of her own rape. She even presents the fact that Corwin and Sharmalee are together out of shared trauma empathy which seems to completely reduce any actual love, affection and attraction they have for each other to a rejection of men. It’s sad that these wonderfully strong and powerful loving bonds between women had such an unchallenged shadow over them

Under the Dome, Season 1, Episode 3: Manhunt

Joe, ben and their friends review the video on Joe’s phone of Barbie tackling rogue cop Paul after he lost his shit and accidentally killed Freddie. Also the kids really really miss texting. There’s a little more Barbie hero worship as well. And they raise an important question – what do they do with Paul?

Norrie joins them at the fire and asks Joe if she can use his house generator to charge her phone – and if she can stay at his house (both his parents are trapped outside the dome and his sister has been kidnapped and doesn’t live there anyway). Joe asks about her mothers, but she denies all knowledge.

Barbie’s hitching a lift with Julia and commenting on how she’s brave and daring and reckless and determined to find the truth so she can bring the dome down and see her husband (who Barbie killed, unbeknownst to her. Awkward!). To the police station where she tries to interview a busy Linda, someone throws a bottle at Paul and Jim steps forth to make another speech putting himself in charge.

In the police station Paul feigns illness to make Linda check on him – she goes into the cell, he hits her, takes her gun, locks her in and runs off, screaming that the Dome is making people crazy and is going to kill them all.

The next day at Jim’s house he drags Junior over the coals for not helping with the fire and rants on about all the opportunities he gives Junior (whether Junior wants them or not). He sees that Junior has bruises and cuts on his face and Junior tells him that Barbie attacked him – to which Jim says he’s hiding behind his dead mother’s  skirt and needs to toughen up. Yeah, nice bloke Jim. And, sadly, looks like it’s going to be a while before he dies.

Junior goes to see Angie who he has kidnapped in a bunker with more believe that it’s the Dome that has made her not like him, not the whole kidnapping thing. She asks if anyone has tried going UNDER the Dome, through the old cement tunnels (which are closed off and dangerous) and suggests Junior go check – because if he gets them out they can start over. I don’t know whether she thinks it’s a viable option or is just hoping Junior dies in the tunnels. And Jim goes to see Rev. Coggins in hospital to call him a fool.

Julia and Barbie continue their sorta-flirty conversations where they both masterfully avoid each other’s questions – and Barbie seems to avoid being seen by Phil, the DJ.

Jim finds Linda in the cell and lets her out. She gathers her weapons to go looking for Paul with Jim constantly trying to get her to stop and listen to him and basically accept his authority. Linda cuts him off and makes it clear he’s not the boss of her.

At the Diner the town faces the growing horror of having no bacon (that’s it – I’d be rioting. Well, maybe not, so long as the coffee supplies last). And Carolyn is worried about Norrie going missing, especially after the seizure Norrie had. Alice is out looking while Carolyn asks the locals if they’ve seen her and has to sharply welcome people to the 21st century who question whether Norrie can be her daughter. Turns out Norrie is going to a local “private” school (a reformatory) and the homophobic patron adds a nasty comment about them “praying the gay” out of her. Rose fails dismally by coming, putting her arms around Carolyn and taking her to get a drink rather than handing Carolyn a sharp object and inviting her to let rip.

Rose lets Barbie know she knows where he’s sleeping (small town, getting smaller, lots of gossip) and Jim swaggers in to be centre of attention again, gathering a search party of armed civilians to hunt down Paul (oooh amateurs with guns on a manhunt! This sounds like great fun!). And he introduces himself to Barbie – noticing his bloody knuckles and trying to get him to answer some questions – he fares no better than Julia. Barbie gets pulled into the search party; him, Jim, and the 2 homophobes. Jim thinks he finds the trail in the woods, but Barbie can see it’s fake and points the real path.

This clues Jim into the fact that Barbie is military but more questions are interrupted by them finding Paul and having a firefight. He shoots one of the extras-whose-name-I’m-not-remembering-because-this-show-already-has-way-too-many-damn-characters in the leg and runs off telling them not to follow.  The extras go back to town and Jim wants to go on and “take him out.” Barbie calls a pause – do they want to bring him in and kill him to which Jim says “it doesn’t make a difference to a guy like you” which Barbie takes offence to

The Walking Dead Volume 7: The Calm Before

This volume isn’t very heavy on the action. The group settles into peaceful life in the prison. It’s not perfect and there are certainly a couple of dramas that cause ripples - Dale being bitten, Carol’s issues and the need for a supply run, but the focus is peace with some preparation for the possibility of Woodbury attacking.

Lori has her baby Judith, and people are settling in and getting used to living in the prison over several weeks; the gardens are ripening, people have chance to live and reflect.

There are three interlocking themes in this volume. The first is one of peace. This volume covers several weeks and most of that is peaceful. Everyone is enjoying a life of relative safety behind the prison fences, their lives begin to reflect a new secure, stable normality. The garden is ripening, there’s fresh food. Lori has her baby, Judith and there is much rejoicing as they have a perfect, iconic white-picket-fence-family especially with any issues over Shane and Judith’s parentage being firmly dismissed and waved into the past. Glenn and Maggie get married. Carl even moves into his own room and starts playing again. It is a time of peace - not so much perfection, but certainly as good as it gets in the post-apocalyptic world; everything is good, everything is renewed, they have new beginnings, they’ve got through the worst of it and now they can have a wonderful, fresh, joyful new start. A new era. So safe is this era that Maggie and Glenn consider having their own child because it will never be safer than it is right now

The second theme, moving from this, is that it’s a lie. While Judith is born, at the very same moment, Dale has his leg cut off after being bitten and Glenn has his cracked ribs seen to. It’s a wonderful commentary on the world that Judith has been born into; she is born into violence, a fight for survival as Carl says, this is the world that will be normal to her. Even while they enjoy prosperity and supplies, they had to fight and kill for them in a Wal Mart car park - such a contrast to what we would consider safety today (except Black Friday, anyway).

Which brings us to the third theme - naivety to the point of delusion. After being through so much, the group craves this peace. They cling to it and hold on to it even while it is hollow. They celebrate Carl getting his own room while ignoring it’s a prison cell. Maggie and Glenn consider raising a child. Rick stops teaching Carl how to shoot - though we know he still needs to fight to survive. He thinks things are different - but the world hasn’t changed, the zombies haven’t gone away. Dale outright says it - the group grows complacent. Perhaps the biggest symbol of this is Carol’s suicide showing how the peace is just an act, a thin skin over the danger that constantly lurks - whether from Woodbury or from the zombies, they are not safe and they’re kidding themselves.

Beyond these excellently maintained themes there were several issues we have to address as usual.

The first is gender - and we have a surprising uptick (ish). Maggie and Andrea both have input - Andrea decides to blow up the National Guard depot, Maggie decides they need supplies from Wal Mart. Andrea leads an expedition beyond the fences, to get a zombie for Alice - something they decide between them without male authority oking their decision. Andrea is leader and resists challenges to their leadership and is very pro-active; equally while Hershel continues to dominate and dictate to his son, Billy, Maggie is quick and firm in rejecting his dictates - even Hershel acknowledges that, phrasing his criticism as a request and a criticism not an order.

In addition, we saw not just Michonne (the walking silent weapon) but Andrea and Maggie all go out on the expedition for supplies; considering how the books started with unarmed women (or women who dropped their gun) this is a major change. That competence is also reflected with Andrea being chosen as the sniper, Andrea teaching the group how to shoot and Andrea and Michonne being the ones who fought off the Woodbury scouts, not the men with them. Even Alice has taken over from Hershel as their competent medical practicioner; Hershel assists her on the delivery of Judith, not the other way round. Finally Walking Dead has female characters who are asserting themselves, who are competent and who are even allowed in quasi leadership positions (in limited situations). It doesn’t seem like a lot, but it is an amazing turn around considering how women have been treated so far. It’s a shame that despite this progress, Maggie takes wedding vows of sharing her life with Glenn, while Glenn pledges to protect Maggie - doubling down on the whole asking daddy’s permission

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Ignite (Ignite Series #1) by Erica Crouch

Pen is a demon, a fallen angel, working with her brother Azael, it’s their role to torment and bedevil humanity. To slaughter and reap souls and drag as many of them back to Hell as they can.

It’s a good time to be a demon, Hell’s ranks are expanding all the time and Heaven is in definite retreat. Michael, the leader of Heaven’s angels, is imprisoned and demons can work almost unchecked across Earth. More, Lillith has discovered a new way to spread her plague and turn humans into Lilim, more demon forces to reinforce the might of Hell.

The apocalypse is coming and Hell is sure to win.

But Pen is far from comfortable in her role – and never has been though she keeps on for her brother’s sake. Then she meets the newly reborn Archangel Michael, young and innocent and full of questions – and is given the task to corrupt him however she can. But as much as she turns him from Heaven, he turns her from Hell – together they begin to forge a third choice, even as Armageddon begins.

Firstly I’m going to praise the writing in a peculiar way. Thinking back and even during the book I was making notes that the pacing was pretty poor – nothing seemed to be happening, we weren’t going anywhere, we were kind of walking round in circles and having lots of emotional musings. Objectively, that’s slow. Subjectively, it’s the kind of book that bores me rigid, two characters briefly meeting then examining their navels for an interminable period afterwards. It should have bored me.

It didn’t – this is what tells me the writing was good. Because it can take a style and story that I don’t normally care for and kept me reading it without complaint; I should have been bored and wasn’t sounds like an odd compliment, but it’s a meaningful one

That being said, I wasn’t actually sold on the relationship precisely because not enough time was spent on Penn and Michael together. I didn’t see why Penn was enamoured of Michael or vice versa. I didn’t see what they saw in each other as romantic interests. More, since it was clear from the very first second they set eyes on each other that they were going to be a romance, it made the story predictable.

But it works without the romance. It works if we take an angel and a demon coming together not because they love each other, but because they have a shared philosophy. Both of them realising that they don’t fit in either realms. Both accepting that the cruel, callous horror of Hell is not for them, but nor is the rigid, compassionless, stifling, impossible perfection of Heaven any more suitable – which is just as callous and indifferent as the sadism of Hell. Both are uncaring, both unforgiving, both lacking in compassion, having no tolerance for doubt or questioning or disobedience. The two being united in their mutual appreciation of the scales of grey, of the wonders and beauty of Earth and the creations of humanity – that worked really well as a story and as a concept. This was the story I read and this was the story I enjoyed. In fact, the romance got in the way of what was a really excellent premise.

Warehouse 13, Season 4, episode 20: Truth Hurts

We start with some more bad news – Kasan has told Artie that if they kill Paracelsus the shock of it could kill Mrs. Frederick, since they’re both fighting over caretakership. He needs to be captured and bronzed. In the meantime, Mrs. Frederick is fading.

The Warehouse’s shiny fireworks brain room is being extinguished. Mrs. Frederick is becoming more and more confused but won’t leave her Warehouse – and both she and Arthur insist that Abigail, as Keeper, needs to run and hide because her knowledge is too valuable.

Myka makes an appointment with her oncologist with Pete hovering around being adorably worried and oddly mature. But when they get a ping of Paracelsus exposing hospital patients in San Francisco to golden light, Pete tries to leave Myka behind for her hospital appointment later in the week – she nixes that plan (they’re going to a hospital after all).

In San Francisco they find Parascelsus concentrated on terminal patients and Pete pictures Myka among them. And, surprise twist, these terminal patients Paracelsus is working his mojo on are getting better. Naturally Pete seizes on this but Myka wisely says they don’t know what Paracelsus is planning. One of his cured patients tells them Paracelsus said she was helping people and it’d all become clear once he reached the place where “the air had yielded to stone”. Yay cryptic! Damn those metaphors.

Myka raises the question of why several hospitals in California – why not stay in Istanbul? And Pete is still worried about Myka and is convolutedly avoiding saying the word “cancer”. And they find he’s still in the building – in the creepy unlit morgue. Of course he is. They rush in guns pointed and Paracelsus’s disembodied voice tells them to leave him alone – all he’s doing is healing people. Myka lists the many many many many people he has killed which he puts down as “sacrifice” for progress. And he’s quite willing to sacrifice them if he has to (and he’s using an Artefact to throw his voice).

And Artie has another desperate plan to help Mrs. Frederick – the ribbon that disconnects caretakers from the Warehouse. They can send its power through the Farnsworth and hopefully disconnect Paracelsus. And yes it’s experimental and yes Claudia needs to stop doubting

Sutton and Nick also have an angsty moment over Charlotte’s death, Nick not best pleased that Sutton deciding that Paracelsus being a mass murderer wasn’t information he needed to share. Claudia needs Nick to be helpful and not a sullen teenager, calls him out for being a spoilt brat who is not acting his centuries. Duly corrected he tells her that the lab they were kept in when Paracelsus gave them immortality was lined with petrified wood - oxygen is cut off and the wood becomes stone. Air yielding to stone. But he needs a special kind of petrified wood – which no longer exists in Istanbul but some has been shipped to line a building in San Francisco.

All of this with Claudia, Artie, Pete and Myka being their awesome selves with their awesome interactions; Artie also fills them in on their plan to use several Artefacts to disconnect Paracelsus from the Warehouse remotely.

They track him to the building, prepare to take him down – but Sutton is there, with a gun, determined to kill Paracelsus for Charlotte. And Paracelsus has an Artefact that deflects Tesla shots – which results in Myka, Pete and Sutton all getting tesla-ed. While they recover, Paracelsus uses his immortality recipe on himself – and Mrs. Frederick collapses in the Warehouse. All of the patients Paracelsus healed now die, the deaths needed to fuel his immortality. Pete shoots Paracelsus with a normal gun – which, of course, does nothing to the immortal.

Teen Wolf, Season 3, Episode 6: Motel California

It’s hot and dusty and windy with dramatic music and a motel in the middle of nowhere – did I mention the dramatic music? Because it’s really dramatic! It’s also apparently 1977 – either that or someone really needs to update the news stand (I know how that is, you mean to take out the recycling but maybe next week … ), and we have a bloke limping around covered in blood. And the music’s really dramatic.

The blood stain is from a wolfy bite on his side. And it’s the full moon. He pulls out a shotgun, puts it to his head and there’s a gunshot. The man’s name was Alexander Argent. Probably evil then.

And in the present, the school bus for the whatever-trip arrives at that same motel. No-one’s impressed but it’s the closest motel with the most vacancies and the least amount of judgement when it comes to accepting a bus load of degenerates (yes, the coach’s words). And Lydia gets the bad heebie-jeebies about it. Or she is concerned about the hygiene.

Time for some Stiles babble – running down his suspects for the murder (the Darach murders) and Stiles objects severely to Scott trying to take back his “I told you so” moments about Matt being a murderer. Scott, to be fair, he did totally call it. Stiles, to be fair, you called it on just about everyone. Scott is surprised that Dr. Deaton is on Stiles’s suspect list and Stiles is horrified that Scott still hasn’t seen Star Wars (agreed). More shocking – a controlled Lydia appears on his suspect list.

At the motel, Scot’s irises are flaring red again, much to his surprise, and Boyd is… very very tightly wound (though I hate it when vending machines eat my money too). And Scott gets all Hitchcock by going into Allison’s room and being creepy while she’s naked in the shower. He comes to his senses with a memory lapse and leaves

Ok, I would go with him being possessed by the werewolf ghost – but that would mean Allison just nearly got molested by a long dead relative possessing her ex-boyfriend which just takes the icky and then ratchets it up tenfold.

And Lydia learns that the motel has an amazing selling point – more guests have committed suicide there than any other motel in California -198! Woo-woo update the guide books guys! I want to stay in the hotel where the d├ęcor is so depressing guests kill themselves rather than spend the night! And why do I think I started watching Teen Wolf but someone changed the channel to low budget horror movie half way through? Let’s add some more creepy – Isaac with a scary possessed face clicking through a TV on static – increasing the numbers from 198 upwards, implying we’re going to get a lot more suicides.

And Lydia, always susceptible to any kind of mystical badness going round, starts hearing those suicides. Thankfully Allison doesn’t decide she’s delusional because after all they’ve seen, a bit of medium-ing is pretty small change. And the walls have an interesting wood grain pattern of screaming faces.

Ok, I do not care if I have to sleep in a coyote den surrounded by rabid canines with a bear due to drop in at midnight, I would not sleep in that motel. Lydia agrees with me but Alison wants to play plucky girl detective. They go down to talk to the owner who told Lydia the hotel’s grisly secret  and the number doesn’t say “198” any more, it says “201”

Yeah, this is me, out of there, using a coyote as a pillow and a bear as a mattress. You would not see me for dust.

Time for some individual terrors – Boyd finds the body of a girl, Alesha, in the ice container (someone who he apparently “left”) and Isaac has a horrifying flashback to his abusive father. Scott sees Deucalion kill his mother

And Danny and Ethan finally get it on! The scene’s a little dark but other than that no complaints – at last! 3 seasons and it has happened! Danny has got some – and a real connection since Ethan is discussing turning Danny into a werewolf. Until the ghosty ruins the mood with strange body popping hallucinations

Stiles, Lydia and Allison have a meeting of plucky people with no super-powers and Lydia is still sensibly advocating running like hell, especially if the super-dangerous werewolves are hallucinating and losing it. But Stiles realises that the suicide number went up by 3 – the same number of the Darach’s sacrifices; maybe the next group of 3 is werewolves? They also find each room has its own bible full of newspaper articles on all the suicides that took place there. WHY ARE THEY NOT LEAVING! It’s like the whole motel comes with warning signs! They do intervene to stop Ethan killing himself with a band saw – or his own claws. I’m not sure why they’re intervening to save an Alpha, but hey, they’re the good guys, good doesn’t always have to make sense or be practical. And Stile reminds Lydia that everyone hallucinating and losing it? That’s happened before – when Lydia poisoned them with wolfsbane.

Lydia isn’t thrilled to hear the suspicion as Stiles tries to sugar coat it; but she stops worrying about that when her next hallucination/spiritual medium event is hearing a woman drown herself and her baby.

Defiance, Season 1, Episode 13: Everything is Broken

Nolan and Tommy search the woods for Irisa after she ran off last episode. They track her though Tommy wants to talk about how wrong it is that Nolan is being pushed out.

It’s election day and everyone is tense, including Datak making sure every Votan, no matter how dismissed, are reached out to; and Stahma has very good ways to help him relax with a special new sex trick.

At the polling station there are lots of photographers and Kenya makes a snarkly little comment to Datak about keeping an eye on his wife after he praises her for the press. This rouses Datak’s suspicions, especially because the only other person who had performed that new sex trick on him was Kenya. He threatens to kill Stahma right there – but needs her vote. She goes into the polling both with Datak making an amusingly patronising comment for the cameras, and panics.

And Yewll has a whole squad of armed men, Earth Republic by the look of them, in her clinic. She scolds them for not knocking. Because she’s Yewll and awesome. Colonel Marsh wants the Kaziri – apparently there’s a Votan ship with a powerful weapon at the bottom of that mines and Yewll and her people have been looking for it for almost 3,000 years. They threaten to kill Yewll and one of Colonel Marsh’s men is Black Jonah – an infamous torture expert. Yewll tells them that both keys are in Irisa

Ryn has taken Irisa to the Irathient Spirit Rider Camp where Sukar is preserved on life support – something Ryn continues to blame on Nolan who catches up with them. Nolan tells Irisa what Yewll told him – a crashed ship under Defiance with a weapon that could kill every human – or every Votan – on Earth. It needs 2 keys to trigger and that was what the cult who kidnapped Irisa wanted her for, to carry the keys. Irisa has some more angst about being the destroyer.

Stahma goes to Kenya to tell her that Datak intends to kill her and probably Kenya as well, urging her to leave with her since she doesn’t deserve to be killed for Castithan law when she’s not a Castithan and going to Nolan and Amanda will likely start a war. Kenya doubts her, especially since Stahma hurt Amanda with her plot. Stahma tells Kenya when and where she will be when leaving and leaves it with her.

The Earth Republic forces – who Nolan identifies as mercenaries not regular army – arrive at the Spirit Walker camp and quickly hold everyone at gun point (Nolan and Irisa hide, but Tommy is taken when he tries to protest they have no right to do what they’re doing). Jonah kills one of the Irathients when Irisa doesn’t come out, he threatens to kill the rest and Irisa gives herself up. Nolan is left behind with a guard who is ordered to “clean up” who Nolan promptly kills and steals his gun.

In Defiance, the results come in – Datak is the new mayor, by a narrow win. Kenya commiserates with Amanda over her loss and Kenya is really hammering home how much Amanda means to her and how grateful she is – it could almost be a goodbye.

Kenya meets Stahma at her rendezvous point and Stahma gives her a drink to warm her after walking so long in the cold. Kenya throws it back and points a gun at Stahma, demanding she drink it, suspecting it to be poisoned or drugged. (If she’s clever she may have a poison that affects humans but not Castithans). Stahma won’t drink it. Uh-huh, she claims it was penance, a way for Stahma to show Datak she was seeking atonement. Kenya says she’s going to use Stahma as a ransom to make Datak leave Defiance. Stahma asks if Kenya ever had feelings for her or if she were just a client – Kenya says just a client. And passes out – the poison was on the flask (and Stahma is wearing gloves).

Oh, do not try to outsmart Stahma. That’s cunning, very cunning indeed.

The mines are crawling with E-Rep soldiers and Yewll tells them they can’t remove the keys from Irisa because they have somehow become absorbed into her cells. They hope to run a charge through Irisa to being them out – Yewll says it’ll burn her, the human doctor says it’s survivable an Yewll says “so’s castration”. See, this is why I love Yewll.

Datak enters his new office and is angry at Colonel Marsh, who joins him, because he occupied the mines without telling him. He’s furious because his new mayorship has been undermined on the first day – and is smart enough to realise this is about more than the gulanite deposits. Colonel Marsh dismisses him, calling him an “uppity little Haint” (a slur for Castithans). You have to wonder what Datak expected, getting into bed with the human dominated Earth Republic?

Stahma goes to see Datak and tells him that she’s done what he asks – and finds that Datak has killed Colonel Marsh. Oh dear, what was that about Castithans and pride and how even the appearance of an insult had to be answers – seeming is being? Guess the Colonel didn’t do his research. He tells her that the Earth Republic will come for them and they both say how they will miss home.

At the mines, Yewll whispers to Irisa to do what she did in her office again. Jonah criticises her for going soft, since the rumour is that Yewll used to dissect humans while they were still alive. Yewll, in a gloriously bored tone says “yeah yeah yeah, I was a monster. I regret my past and I’m trying to do better, you should be taking notes.” See, this is why I love Yewll.

Nolan and the Irathients move on the mines and free Rafe who the Earth Republic imprisoned (he owns the mines afterall).  They attack and there’s gun fire while inside Irisa or the Kaziri did what it did before, what Yewll told her to – and shoots out its tendrils. Yewll throws in some extra meddling with the equipment to help matters – when Nolan arrives, everyone in the tent is unconscious.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Affliction (Anita Blake Series #22) by Laurell K Hamilton

Anita finally gets to meet Micah’s family – but it is in the worst possible circumstances; Micah’s father is dying. Long estranged, Micah only has a short time to return to his family, reconcile after he deliberately shunned them and say goodbye to his dad.

Anita is there for moral support – but there’s more. Micah’s dad is dying from a supernatural disease apparently from a bite from a zombie. And he’s not the only one. Working with the local police, she finds huge numbers of missing people – and more and more zombie attacks

More than a personal tragedy, Anita has to find and defeat a vampire who can do things she never imagined possible – and who wants to see the whole world die.

This book was a lot better than I expected.

Before you take that as a massive positive, do remember that after reading the last 10 books or so in this series, my expectations are very very very low indeed. It’s kind of like going to a doctor panicking because you have the Ebola virus and being reassured that no, your ulcer just exploded.

The main thing rescuing this book is it is not porn. Yes, there is sex in it, no the sex doesn’t serve any real purpose other than the need for sex, but it doesn’t overwhelm everything like previous books. This was a massive relief. So what takes its place… plot?

HA! C’mon this is an Anita Blake novel, the plot has to fight for every second of appearance!

The first filler is recapping. Lots and lots of recapping. This is book 22 of the series. There is a lot to recap. So much so that I’d advise not even trying. No, not advise, I’d BEG you not to try. Then there’s the pointless descriptions – why random cop extra #4 needs 2 paragraphs of description I’ll never know. They all do – and it’s more than just simple basics, she goes into elaborate lines about how this man has big hands for his body which would make him look clumsy but he’s not and she bets she’s not the first person to think so and… WHO CARES?! Why is this remotely relevant information?! GET ON WITH THE PLOT ALREADY!

Next distraction (what, plot? No not yet, you should be so lucky!) Haters. Haters, haters, haters. Whenever there is a group of at least 3 people, one of them will hate Anita. Either because she’s shagging vampires and werebeasties, the sluthussyjezebel. Or because she’s sleeping with lots of men, the sluthussyjezebel. Or simply because she’s female, the sluthussyjezebel.

Which could be good – some scene where Anita faces prejudice and works round it, fights it, calls it out, etc. But it’s every group. All the damn time and it’s never even remotely subtle. People feel quite happy to scream obscenities at her in front of their superiors, in front of witnesses, in front of other women, in front of an endless stream of people who would, at very least, lead to you spending some quality time in diversity seminars. And it’s not just one or two, whenever there are a group of people they WILL have heard of her and at least one of them WILL freak out and have a hatefest in blatant terms then Anita will whip out her WISE 101 text books for a very long and very dull explaining of the bleeding obvious. At this point Anita Blake must be more famous than an A-list actor because she can drop in on law enforcement in Colorado (Anita is based in Missouri) and have everyone not only know her, but know all about her personal life as well – enough to hate her for it or be in awe of her for it.

Ok, now can we get to the plot?

Alas no – because now we have to deal with pages and pages and pages of emotional navel gazing and angst. I would actually be fine if this revolved around Micah and his actually dying father, but no – Anita’s dead mother returned to wave her issues, as did Nathaniel’s past; we had a run round Nicky’s (oh why is this character even here?!) sadness before we visited the woe that is afflicting the Harlequin’s animals to call then we spend some time dissecting which  of her men she wants to marry and which not and whose fee-fees will be hurt with a final stop at “oh what shall we do with Asher” station which we have visited so many many times before.

Ok plot?

No, because I have another rant! Why does interesting stuff in this series happen in the downtime?! Jean Claude is now head of the American Council, Master Vampires across the US are blood oathing to him and we spend pages upon pages upon pages explaining political ramifications of this. Even on the phone when Anita is telling Jean-Claude that Micah’s dad is dying we have several pages explaining this.

EXPLAINING THIS?! This is like when you killed the Mother of All Darkness in the freaking downtime! This is the most exciting, fascinating twist to happen in the Anitaverse and it happens between books?! We go from “we should totally do this” to “yeah it’s done” and don’t get to see it?! Are you kidding me? You don’t even meet with the local master of the city to see how that works in practice?! And why did you form a Council? Originally that was to protect the US vampires against a Mother of all Darkness possessed European Council, but with her dead, why did you do it? Was it just a good idea? Was it for funsies? Power? Or are we expected to believe the unaffiliated rogues are a threat? Because you didn’t show them as one

Continuum, Season 2, Episode 9: Seconds

We start in 2035 – before Kiera was born. She recounts a recount of what happened – the public governments have collapsed, people pull together in factory cities, people pulling together and doing their share to build a better society and a better future; destroyed by one man and his zealots. And we see New Pembeton, a factory city and a cell full of whimpering prisoners who are treated brutally. One of them, referred to only by a number, is taken to a corporate court where her citizenship is “voided” for defaulting on her “civic debt”. She is sentenced for life and something is implanted in the back of her neck, making her an emotionless drone that works in the factory – among hundreds of others.

In the present, Kiera and Carlos are bitter about Julian getting off and the judge being murdered and Kiera expresses her preference for the future with an automated justice system which… yeah, no thanks. But grumbling called because old boss, Dillon, walks into the office – perhaps swagger would be a better term. He goes to see new boss, Nora, and give her her marching orders. She remarks that it’s politics (and definitely personal) and she always knew there was a glass ceiling – but didn’t realise she’d be cutting her throat breaking through it. She leaves with her head high and Kiera and Carlos are called by Dillon

And Dillon confirms that he’s made a deal with the sinister and questionable Escher (time traveller, manipulator, involved in stuff possible current or ex-Freelancer – and I say stuff because I only have the most tenuous idea about what is happening with all the plots) who is investing lots of money in making the city safe with his company, Prion. Something Escher told Dillon Kiera would relate to (corporate control of the police? Yeah, if you still related to that Kiera you have no learning curve)

As Julian is released – and getting a note from a sympathiser guard – Dillon gives his grand speech to the gathered police about their new budget and how they’re going to take off the gloves. He uses Julian as an example and has him watched. Kiera and Carlos turn up to watch his release with Kiera remarking that this is the last freedom Julian will ever see even as his mother talks to the press about his innocence. A gun man fires trying to hit Julian – accusing him of killing his daughter – but he hits Julian’s mother, Ann, instead; before Kiera and Carlos intervene.  Ann tells Julian he’s in danger and to leave – and he runs. Kiera tries to chase him but he’s picked up in a car by Rebecca – a Liber8 supporter working for Travis who we saw murder the judge, who tells him she follows Theseus (Julian in the future).

She takes him to a safe house full of people who gather round him, people who were inspired by his words while he was in prison, thoughts he scribbled down (they must have been pretty good). They’re joined by Travis and Julian tries to leave though they block his exit. Travis says they’re his army, willing to die for him but Julian counters that if they read his words they’d know better than to be with Travis. He leaves

At the police station, Betty tells them she has all the CCTV looking for Julian, but she’s uncomfortable – Julian’s a free man after all. Kiera says he’s a time bomb and the judge’s verdict doesn’t change his heart. Kiera decides to check in with Alec to see if he’s heard from Julian – at his injured, possibly dying mother’s (Ann’s) bedside. Kiera is such a sensitive soul.

Julian ends up with the other Liber8s – lead by Sonya, she admits Kagame used him but then gives him a rousing speech about how awesome he is and the movement and – Julian’s not buying it. He doesn’t get why all these people claim to know him and he isn’t joining up – but Sonya doesn’t want him to join. She wants him to lead.

Julian’s words burn through social media and are picked up by Betty who shows them to Dillon, Carlos and Kiera. And she tells them what they’re calling him - Theseus (after the ancient Greek hero who founded Athens, united Attica and cast down the old corrupt system). But Kiera recognises that name from the future  and almost enters shock.

As she drives home from Carlos, she tells him that Theseus was the boogeyman of her childhood, they even had fairytales warning against him. He lead a huge army that slaughtered any who opposed his vision (was his vision shutting down the factories creating slaves? Because I’m totally Team Theseus then), inspired Liber8 and caused all kinds of badness.

Julian gets a little more confused as Lucas begins serious fan-worshipping him as the man with the vision that inspired Liber8. But then he begins undermining Sonya – telling Julian she’s trying to steal his manifesto and she believes she’s from the future (ha!). Lucas says it has to be Julian’s manifesto – it’s supposed to be him, it always has been. Either he’s very cunning or he has a serious case of hero worship. He doesn’t inspire any confidence by speaking to empty air then opening the door and telling Julian that Kagame wants him to go. Not being the biggest fool in the world, he leaves. And then calls Alec for help – ok, he might be.

Falling Skies Season 3, Episode 6: Be Silent and Come Out

Having just learned about Ann and Lexie, Tom talks to the rebel skitters (using Ben as a puppet) who confirm that they’re both still alive but they don’t know where, only that they’re being held by Karen. Tom starts running around planning to find them himself and find out what Karen knows. Everyone else tries to be the voice of reason but tom won’t listen. Finally Weaver manages to crack through and get Tom to agree to wait for 24 hours. Hal is the only one encouraging Tom to leave now – because he’s still evil Hal; which Weaver and Ben notice. Maggie tries to talk to Hal but he looks confused, looking around a little lost then walks off without talking to her.

Oooh that’s got to earn him a slap

And Marie grabs Tom to give him her concerns about the Volm and how Kadar has managed to figure out that one part of the device is a power source from grainy pictures and how it’s far too much power for the unknown technology to use for the unspecified purpose.  Please tell her how utterly wrong she is! She insists they stop the project and he loses his temper – he didn’t put her in charge to completely derail the war strategy. She argues he left her in charge, that’s what it means – and the argument ends because Hal swoops in, hits Marina with his gun and kidnaps a disarmed Tom at gun point.

Tom yells at Hal to drop the gun while driving and Hal visibly struggles, saying “it won’t let me”.  And Maggie shoots the jeep with a Big Gun to make it flip. Hal comes out holding a gun to Tom’s head to the gathering crowd’s shock and confusion. He manages to drag Tom inside and Tom realises something is controlling Hal (he’s quick on the uptake like that). And Evil hal wants to know all about the Volm’s device…

Outside everyone wonders what caused Hal to snap and Maggie reveals Hal has been having emotional problems and nightmares, that he thinks Karen implanted something in him. Of course, everyone thinks Hal is the mole and neither Pope nor Marina are happy with Maggie covering for him – Pope also doesn’t consider it a priority to get Hal out alive. Pope continues to shoot his mouth off and Ben smacks him – yay about time someone did. Can we kill Pope already?

Weaver tries to talk to Hal, Tom tries to talk to Hal and Hal does his struggling thing but only briefly. There’s a firefight and Hal and Tom fall to the floor, both ok but Tom shakes Hal to wake him up before reaching for his gun.

Weaver finally realises that the Berserkers are the worst possible troops to have in the situation and dismisses them. This means less Pope. Bad news is he can’t catch a bullet and die – but after 3 seasons I’m kind of losing all hope that will happen. And Tector assures Marina she can bring Hal down at 300 yards if necessary (all that skill and not once has he shot Pope. It’s tragic). Marina makes it clear she’s very willing to give that order if Weaver can’t (which I don’t buy. If Weaver said no and she said yes, I don’t see Tector obeying Marina)

Which is what Tom tells Evil Hal – Marina won’t hesitate. Pope, meanwhile is running a book in his bar on whether either or both Mason die – because he’s just that classy. At least he draws the line when one of his men suggest killing them himself. Can someone please shoot him?

Maggie, Ben and Matt sneak through some tunnels under the building known to Matt, while Tom drags up the “oh I’ve been a bad father” card with a side helping of happy memories of Hal’s mother to set Hal off on another shaking conflict. Which is when Maggie goes in without a weapon to add more pressure to the tearful, conflicted Hal, then in comes Mat to throw even more pressure on him. With Evil Hal repeatedly pushing him to shoot his family, Hal points the gun at his own head. Ben jumps on him from behind and they have a huge group hug wrestling  during which the gun fires. So much for Skitter strength

Outside, hearing the gunshot, Weaver sends in the troops. Hal is injured and unconscious but alive.

Monday, July 8, 2013

White Trash Zombie Apocalypse (White Trash Zombie Series #3) by Diana Rowland

Angel continues to get her life together, aiming for her GED, continuing to work at a job she loves and even working on her shaky relationship with Marcus, setting new rules and aiming for a new beginning.

But the experiments on zombies are continuing – and her own creations come back to haunt her, whether she wants to be a zombie-mama or not. Whatever her misgivings about Pietro, she has little choice but to work with him, but in doing so she learns more about him and his organisation and reassesses how much she can trust him and how much she can forgive.

And then even mother nature conspires to make life more difficult and a real life zombie horde, just like in the movies (well, almost).

This is a story about Angel. There are a lot of other things going on, a lot of other things she’s involved in, but ultimately this isn’t a story about them. This is about Angel, her life, her friends, her family, her relationships. This is about how she fits into things, how she gets involved in things and how she lives. It’s an extremely character driven story.

That isn’t to say there isn’t a lot happening – a lot of really deep and fascinating things in this incredibly interesting world. Pietro continues to run his organisation that Angel dubs the “zombie mafia” and their competing experiments from a rival company and there’s all kinds of nuance and implications from that

But we don’t centre on all of this – we centre on Angel, how this affects her, how it puts demands on her and how she fits within these zombie organisations. After the events of the last book, Angel’s definitely very much involved even without her relationship with Marcus; but a disaster at her house is as important to her as Pietro’s plots and machinations because this is a book about Angel.

In terms of writing style, it’s perfect, it hits the sweet spot. We have enough description without being inundated by it, we have excellent pacing without being overwhelmed, all the elements in Angel’s life are covered in a well balanced fashion without her ignoring things you’d think she’d pay attention to. We get enough of Angel’s voice and thoughts to keep her centred and see her grow, without so much as to turn it into one long Angel monologue of angst and fee-fees. It’s balanced and paced well.

I love Angel as a character – she is so complex and she has grown so incredibly since the first book. But her growth itself has been so natural and has left its marks on her – because she has grown, she hasn’t just magically transformed. So she’s a character who is still assailed by doubts and low self-esteem – there are times when she looks around and can’t believe the company she keeps, that she’s too much of a nobody who can’t possibly be around these people. Or she thinks she can’t possibly do something – like pass her GED – because she has such a record and expectation of failure behind her. At the same time she’s a character who genuinely loves it and is almost surprised when anyone praises her skills, her intelligence and her competence because she appreciates the validation after a life with so little. And because she sees her own growth and likes to see it recognised in others. Angel has her insecurities but she recognises where and how she has grown. She knows she’s achieved a lot, she knows her growth is impressive and she is justly proud of that – and that’s so wonderful to see, a protagonist who is legitimately proud of who they are and what they’ve achieved and not for some grand, universe-saving act, but because she has turned her life around from where it was.