28. helmikuuta 2013

We'll Always Have Paris - Ray Bradbury

Harper Voyager
ISBN 978-0-00-730364-9
210 s.

I don't quite know how I missed Ray Bradbury before. Maybe it's my distaste for classics and for the authors of those said classics. I don't tend to like things that the majority of people like (or think they like, despite the fact that they've never read any of them), simply because ("truly a woman's reason", as Bradbury put it). However, the cover of We'll Always Have Paris compelled me to start reading. Or maybe it was one of the short stories in this collection, which is described as such on the back cover of the book: "-- and listen in on a couple talking themselves backwards through time to the moment when they first held hands". I had to order this book after reading that. While I waited, I read Fahrenheit 451 (of which you can read my review in Finnish here), and Bradbury's style absolutely convinced me. I've always been a bit condescending towards male writers (for no special reason, too), but Bradbury was something else entirely.

When this book finally arrived, I had to spend one night simply admiring it's beauty. I'm weird like that, but some books are enjoyable even before you begin reading them. I felt a bit uncertain about the collection, because I've never truly felt comfortable reading short stories. I don't write them and I don't read them. I find them difficult to get into, to understand, they lack a proper beginning and proper ending, they are in every way hard to feel, unlike books. However, Ray Bradbury might have proven me wrong on this account as well. Not every single one of the short stories in this book were perfect, but enough of them were to convince me. I find it wondrous that someone could create so many so different kind of stories out of their head, and make them feel so vivid and alive, true even.

I can't name a favourite straight up, but one of the best was one that told the story of two old people, stuck in their house, waking up into a bright summer's day and going out for the first time in ages, feeling themselves young again. Then there's one about a woman who visits a young man, saved by her dead son's heart. And then there was one of a dog who learned to listen to people's confessions and to forgive them much like the monks, to whom he belonged to, and of a priest who wanted this dog gone. These are just few, but all of them were powerful in their own way, making the reader to step out of their box and think.

Ray Bradbury does that. I recommend his stories as a remedy to dull-mindedness.

24. helmikuuta 2013

Feed - Mira Grant

This is another school project of mine. I finally confessed to myself that I'm really bad about returning my library books on time, and so I went on Book Depository to see if I could find something nice. First I thought I'd read Necromancer or something else sci-fi (that's how I came to order Ray Bradbury's We'll Always Have Paris and to read Fahrenheit 451, review of which you can read in Finnish in another blog I participate in called Kirjastan), since that's not a very popular genre among my class mates in general, but then I found the Newsflesh trilogy. The RSS Feed logo drew the nerd in me instantly, and I ordered the whole trilogy the same day. Part of the project was to create a poster of the book as well, something one could hang in the library to "sell" the book to customers. You can view my handiwork here.

Feed is the first book of the Newsflesh trilogy. Its main characters are Georgia and Shaun Mason, who live in a dystopian, zombie ridden world. By profession they are bloggers, Georgia is a Newsie (who concentrate solely on delivering the news), while Shaun is an Irwin, someone who dares zombies, pokes them with sticks (and other objects), films the process and streams it online for those more careful about their personal security to watch. Georgia and Shaun are adoptive siblings who consider themselves something like twins, forming a sort of symbiosis throughout the book, and with their friend Buffy they make up the After the End Times.

The story of the book is set against the presidential campaign of Republican candidate Peter Ryman, who seems to be a perfectly okay guy with his wife and three daughters, and almost Democratic in his politics. The real action begins, when Georgia and Shaun discover that someone is purposefully sabotaging Ryman's campaign.

What I really liked about Grant's book was the detail of the Kellis-Amberlee, the virus that reanimates people upon their initial deaths. The problem with zombie fiction very often is the ambiguous way the zombies simply come to exist. They just suddenly are, no questions asked. Another thing I really loved was the fact that even though the government officials call zombies "the infected", the average Joes and Janes call them zombies, plain and simple. I'm not saying I'm particularly familiar with zombie fiction, but what I've read, I've come to the conclusion that authors often try to separate their work from the mass by calling zombies something other than zombies (walkers, for example). If we would face zombie apocalypse, would we not call the undead zombies? Just think about it.

The political background makes this definitely an adult book. Feed is not in any way overly sexual or full of gore, but I think that the politics in it might make younger audiences become bored very quickly. Grant also spends almost too much time pondering about the statistics and percentages of blogs and their market shares. One explanation of this would have done perfectly, but expalining it again and again... it gets dull. Feed also starts to roll very slowly. It begins with an action packed episode, but slows down soon after and then just keeps going slow until the first explosion. Another hindrance is Grant's way of repeating certain things (like poke them with sticks and Georgia's sunglasses and retinal KA), like she forgot ever mentioning them before. I could see her taking a break from writing and then coming back to it, forgetting that "the great idea" was already written during the last session and bringing it up again. This is nothing the reader can't handle, it just makes the book unnecessarily long and repetitive.

The beauty of Kellis-Amberlee saves this book. The origin story of the virus is believable and realistic, as well as somewhat touching. Also the viciousness of it is something original. Everyone has it. It's simply just a matter of time. >:D