Tag Archive | horror

Review : The Other Life

The Other Life by Suzanne Winnacker
Pages : 315
Genre : YA, Post-Apocalypse
Series : The Other Life, Book 1
My Rating :

What it’s about :

3 years, 1 month, 1 week and 6 days : that’s the time Sherry has spent living in a sealed bunker with her family, after a deadly strand of rabies threatened mankind. When they suddenly run out of food, Sherry and her father decide to face the dangerous outside world for the first time in years.

The two are not ready for what they find outside. The Weepers, mutant killers, capture Sherry’s father and she is left alone behind. That’s when she meets Joshua and his group of survivors, who promise to help her find her father – if it is not too late.

My Thoughts :

This is the most difficult kind of review to write : I didn’t love the book, but I didn’t hate it either. It falls somewhere in the middle, in that very grey zone that is difficult to define. And it seems that I am almost alone in my zone, since most of my Goodreads friends gave it 3 stars and up.

I think the best way to describe my feelings toward the book was : indifference. I never connected to Sherry. I felt everything went too fast, and that I never really got to know her. Even the glimpses from her previous life didn’t give me much about her, or her family. I wish Joshua would have brought some life into it, but even there, I didn’t feel the chemistry between him and Sherry. Or his family. The whole thing, I felt, lacked depth.

And then, there was Sherry’s constant counting. I understood what the author tried to do with it, I just didn’t think it worked really well. Plus, I really didn’t care that it had been x numbers of days since she last ate an apple. Or pasta. Or used shampoo.

There was a good pace to the story though, and the book is a really quick read. Readers who don’t like to stay in one place too long, or who prefer action to description, will probably enjoy this one. I also appreciated that the Wheepers weren’t exactly zombies, but mutants. Similar, yes, but the little differences were what gave originality to the story.

I can’t recommend or not recommend this book, as I just didn’t connect to it. I won’t be reading the next one – which is almost a relief, since I have so many series I’m following already! – but I hope other readers will appreciate this one more than I did.

Series Reading Order :

  1. The Other Life
  2. The Life Beyond (coming 2013)

Review : Aftertime

Aftertime by Sophie Littlefield
Pages : 375
Genre : Post-Apocalyptic
Series : Aftertime, Book 1
My Rating :

What it’s about :

After bio-terrorist attacks destroyed important parts of the ecosystem, the government’s plan to make it better failed by turning people into Beaters, creatures who yearn for human flesh. Extremely dangerous, the new disease has left many more dead than alive and forced the survivors to fight for the smallest necessities.

Waking up from a traumatic event with a blurred memory of the recent past, Cass knows only one thing for sure : she has to go back to her daughter Ruthie. Fighting the zombies that took over her world and people’s fear of outsiders, Cass also has her own secrets, one in particular that could get her the wrong kind of attention.

My Thoughts :

Let me tell you something : at the start of the year, I read some really great books that I immediately added to my “Best of 2011” list, thinking that if my reading continued on the same way, I’d have a fantastic reading year. Then school kept me busy and I thought, no problemo, I’d spend the summer reading anyway. I expected it to be full of awesome, but as it turned out, it wasn’t exactly like that.

I have read many good books this summer, even a few great ones, but Aftertime is the first to hit me this way. I loved it, I just couldn’t let go of it. Every time I finished a chapter, all I could do was read the next one. Littlefield created a fantastic character who, all the while being a kick-ass woman, also has plenty of faults. Cass’s life has never been easy, not even before this apocalyptic disease happened : victim of sexual abuse as a teen, she is now a recovering alcoholic who hasn’t made peace with her past yet. She has guilt about being a bad mother all the while wanting to be perfect for her daughter, and I found it impossible not to feel for her. She’s an intricate character that felt real, all the more important in a world ravaged by horrific creatures.

Talking of these creatures, I have to say that the author accomplished something amazing on that aspect. The Beaters aren’t the laughing stock of the story, like zombies often are : instead, they are scary as they should be. They also aren’t the only aspect of this post-apocalyptic universe on which Littlefield focuses. The world has been changed forever and the author really gives a lot of attention to what this results in for the survivors : clans are formed, things that used to be taken for granted become precious goods to be traded, life is an everyday battle with completely different rules.

Each new character Cass meets open a new door for new possible story lines, and I loved that. I don’t know when (and if) Cass will meet again the Covent’s sisters, the Rebuilders, or any of those she met along her way, but each glimpse we get of these different groups is rich with ideas. Every time Cass left some place, I had the distinct impression life continued there, and I could imagine how it was. What I mean is that, even though we’re reading Cass’s story, it didn’t feel like the whole world revolved around her, you know? The author does a great job of describing her world in a realistic manner, making Cass’s story a frightening yet captivating one.

I can’t finish this review without mentioning Smoke, of course. Smoke is the mysterious hot stranger who accompanies Cass for most of her journey. He has secrets of his own, doesn’t reveal too much about himself, but him and Cass, they worked well. I believed it. More than that, I loved that while he is very present through the pages, he isn’t Cass’s main concern. They care for each other but it’s a slow, careful fall. They can be intense and the attraction is there, but Cass doesn’t lose focus from her sole objective : get Ruthie back.

I can’t say enough good things about this book! While it doesn’t reinvent the post-apocalyptic genre or the zombies-type creatures, it definitely exploits these things beautifully to explore the complexity of the human character. If like me you love dystopian universes, post-apocalyptic stories or zombies, then this is one to read. I can’t wait to see what’s next for these characters – I have a feeling I’ll have my nose in book 2 before long!

Series Reading Order :

  1. Aftertime
  2. Rebirth 
  3. Horizon (coming January 24th, 2012)

Novella : Survivors, Aftertime 1.5.

Review : Ponies

by Kij Johnson
Genre : Fantasy, Horror
Short Story
My Rating :

Where to read it?

On Tor’s website : http://www.tor.com/stories/2010/11/ponies

What it’s about :


My Thoughts :

This will be a really short review: in fact, if I’m writing this, it’s only because I wanted to share this awesome short story with you all.

I’m hoping the “fantasy” and “horror” tags won’t stand in your way, although it is a bit of a disturbing story.

Still, I can think of few stories that impacted me as much as Ponies did. It’s heartbreaking, and it’s been on my mind ever since I read it this week.

I’ve never been a fan of short stories, but sometimes I come across one like this that makes me appreciate them again. Even though it’s really short (maybe 2, 3 pages?), it packs a punch. The author did an amazing job to write such a fantastic story, so true to life, and in so few words. A powerful look into the workings of peer pressure, but also about the loss of imagination that comes with growing up. It made me incredibly sad, but powerful stories like Ponies remind me why I love reading so much.

Review : Married with Zombies

Married with Zombies by Jesse Petersen
Pages : 241
Genre : Horror, Humor
Series : Living with the Dead, Book 1
My Rating :

What it’s about :

David and Sarah’s relationship has had more downs than ups recently. As they head to their marriage counseling session, the couple face what could be the biggest “down” of their marriage : they find their counselor eating the previous client with determination. It’s the zombie apocalypse, and David and Sarah only have each other to count on. Can they salvage their relationship enough to survive?

My Thoughts :

Think of this as your classic zombie movie, on paper : there are gory scenes of zombie killing, running, fear, empty streets, and a touch of humor to balance the horror.

While the book brings little originality to the zombie archetype, it offers an interesting dynamic with David and Sarah’s relationship. Those two are bickering like you would expect a dysfunctional old couple to, even about the littlest things. The relationship is written with humor, which makes it enjoyable to follow through the story. It’s pretty clear early in the story that they’ll have to be a united front to survive the zombies, and watching them reconcile was a pleasant ride anyway. I love that they talked about their relationship without going too far in the romance type.

Their adventure is filled with action. The book doesn’t stay in one place long, and while I found most “twists” to be predictable, it kind of went in the same direction as a zombie movie would. You know, the moment in a movie when you just know a zombie is about to appear, and yet you still jump on your seat when it does? That’s what I mean. I also enjoyed that they encounter other survivors, who take different approaches to their new apocalyptic life. The story was constantly holding my interest because there was always something, or someone, happening.

As for the humor, I did have a couple of laughs. I enjoy simple things in life, and so the fact that each chapter is titled with an advice that could be quoted from “Fighting Zombies for the Married Dummies” cracked me up. Here are a couple of examples :

Chapter 3 : Put the small stuff into perspective. It’s better to be wrong and alive than right but eating brains.

Chapter 6 : You and your partner are on the same side. It’s the side of the living.

Without spoiling anything, I will say two things about the story : I enjoyed the cult plot and wished it could have lasted a little longer, because I could imagine so many story lines coming out of this. Also, the ending was a good mix of everything the characters went through in the book, but I loved to see how far David and Sarah had come.

All in all, a good read for these moments when you want a brainless (ha!) read with not too many surprises, but still entertaining.

Series reading order :

  1. Married with Zombies
  2. Flip this Zombie
  3. Eat, Slay, Love (coming August 2011)

Review : Crescendo

Crescendo by Becca Fitzpatrick
Pages : 427
Genre : YA, Fantasy
Series : Hush, Hush, book 2
My Rating :

What it’s about, in my Words :

Nora thought she could finally enjoy her romantic life with Patch like any other teenage couple, but she was wrong. It’s the start of the summer and Patch suddenly starts acting distant, bringing to their relationship all the drama they didn’t need. On top of that, she is seeing her dead father in the streets and her mom is trying to match her with a friend’s son, who brings trouble of his own.

For Nora, one thing is clear : this summer won’t be a all sun, fun and beach!

As I said on Twitter, Crescendo is like Hush, Hush with an energy boost! The action and twists never stop, making the sequel even more of an horror-movie-on-paper than the first book. It’s fast pace, fast reading and definitely doesn’t let you breath until the very end.

And while I’m talking about the ending, can I just say : WHAT!?!?

Talk about a cliffhanger! You’re on page 426, thinking this is all over (for now) and trying to catch your breath after the marathon that was Crescendo when BAM! The author sets the floor on fire and you have to start running again! I love when the author leaves some questions opened for the next sequel, but this is serious cliffhangering we’re talking about here.

Back to the first 425 pages of the book now : I was surprised by some decisions the author took very soon in the beginning, mainly the growing distance between Nora and Patch. If Patch was creepy and controlling in the first book, now he is just creepy and weird. It’s difficult to get a grasp on his motives with all that time away from Nora, who by the way has the worst sense in the world when it comes to making decisions! I guess it would drive some readers crazy, but I do find her entertaining.

She’s also one of the unluckiest characters ever, poor Nora! Everything bad that can happen, will happen. I guess there’s no surprise there when you live in a foggy farmhouse far from everything! Lucky for her, there’s always some baddy around to save her, and her friend Vee is always there when needed, too. (But seriously, is there even one good guy left in this crazy town?!? Doesn’t look like it!)

As for the story, there are so many twists and turns and details it would be hard to summarize. I was glad that some of the questions I had in Hush, Hush had been answered. Mainly, I wondered why Patch wasn’t loosing his wings again since it was that kind of lust that made him lose them the first time around, and the author addressed the issue really soon in the beginning. Fitzpatrick focussed mainly on characters we already knew, and the few that are introduced are developed enough that they don’t feel like strangers. I was again impressed by how the author’s writing makes scenes very cinematographic, her descriptions giving you just enough to see the scene in your head as if you were there.

In the end, I had a great time reading Crescendo. It’s entertaining, fast, and keeps you wondering until its last pages.

Also, don’t forget my awesome giveaway of 2 copies of the first book Hush, Hush! Enter here! It’s the last day to enter, so don’t hesitate now! 🙂

Series Reading Order :

  1. Hush, Hush
  2. Crescendo

Review : The Secret Hour

The Secret Hour by Scott Westerfeld
Pages : 297
Genre : YA, Horror, Fantasy
Series : The Midnighters, book 1
My Rating :

What it’s about, in my Words :

Jessica Day just moved to Bixby and she can’t help but notice that things here seem a bit… different. Yet, nothing says different like discovering that every night at midnight, time stops for an hour. For most of Bixby’s inhabitants, this 25th hour lasts less than a second and goes completely unnoticed. For Jessica and a handful of others, the extra hour brings creatures called darklings and some peculiar abilities. Whether she wants it or not, Jessica’s life is about to change forever.

Having read the Uglies series, Leviathan and now The Midnighters, it’s becoming clear to me that Westerfeld is, in a sea of vampires and werewolves books, an original. The Midnighters series is set in a world with rules of its own, somewhere in between fiction, fantasy and horror.

The idea that people would live around me for an hour while I’m frozen in time is kind of creepy : add to that a series of nightmarish monsters roaming around, and it’s just plain scary! Westerfeld certainly did great work of describing this world and making it sound real. The Secret Hour felt detailed and well thought out and its fast pace made it difficult to stop reading!

Even though the story mostly centers around Jessica, I liked that the narration followed each characters in turns, depending on where the story was going. The cast of characters was diverse and also intriguing. I did wish they had a little more going on though. Outside of their special abilities, I didn’t really get a feel of who they were. For instance, Melissa was the Mindcaster and that was that. Her personality didn’t really shined through except in terms of her unique role. I would have liked to know her, and the others, better, but I guess it might be something coming in the next couple of books.

It was a fast read in the best way, a book hard to let go that sucks you in from the start. I wasn’t even finished with this one that I was already buying the next books, eager to see where the story was going! Even though I would have loved more developments for the characters (personal preference), it’s a book I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend to fans of original worldbuilding and horrific creatures.

Series Reading Order :

  1. The Secret Hour
  2. Touching Darkness
  3. Blue Noon