Before I go on Internet hiatus next week, it is only just and appropriate that I give some blogging space to my very first PAX this past weekend!
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Y’know how sometimes, even if you know the book is probably going to be mediocre at best and is even likely to outright suck, you kind of have to read it anyway? Death Troopers, a Star Wars novel by Joe Schreiber, was like that for me.
‘Cause, okay, yeah, Star Wars plus zombies.
I know, I know. But I’m still enough of a Star Wars fan, and definitely enough of a zombie fan, that I could not resist seeing how an author tried to get a zombie story into the Star Wars universe. Plus, given that I saw a spoiler about two of the main Star Wars characters getting grafted into this plot (and it will probably not be much of a stretch for anyone familiar with me to guess which characters would pull me in), well okay yeah fine I’m there.
Survey says: overall, meh. I had two main beefs with this story: one, that the aforementioned grafting of primary Star Wars characters into this plot had no real suspense to it, since you knew they were going to survive. The story’s set before A New Hope, so there wasn’t any doubt at all that these characters would make it. Two, that pretty much every other character is thinly sketched in at best. They’re all archetypes zombie fans have seen in countless stories elsewhere.
Although, that said, the two main characters grafted into the story are the exact right characters you’d want to graft in. And, I do have to give Schrieber props for making the one female in the plot, the prison ship’s doctor, halfway interesting.
Also, props have to be given for a reasonably creepy Star Wars-based zombie scenario. Our protagonists are on board a prison ship that comes across a seemingly abandoned Star Destroyer, which has gone adrift thanks to its crew being devastated by the unleashing of a potent virus that, of course, the Empire had been trying to develop as a weapon. A Star Destroyer IS pretty much perfect for a zombie scenario; it’s huge, and there are thousands of crewmembers at your disposal to turn into undead. Since this is Star Wars, you get the added amusement value of non-human zombies–and I must say, zombie Wookiees? Okay yeah. That’s disturbing. So are the moments with the doomed command staff of the Destroyer being discovered barricaded inside one of the shuttles, where they’ve been slowly starving to death.
And to be fair, I did actually like the ending. The Destroyer zombies start exhibiting creepier behavior (I shan’t specify what, because spoilers), and the surviving protagonists (well, aside from the aforementioned two main characters who we knew were going to survive anyway) go out on a respectably gritty note.
I gave this two stars originally, but I’m bumping up to three ’cause yeah, there was some decent creepiness here.
If you love zombie novels, and you’re looking for a light, fast read, you should greatly enjoy Robin Becker’s Brains: A Zombie Memoir. Which is pretty much right what it says on the tin: the “autobiography” of sorts of a man who falls victim to a zombie outbreak, only to retain his sentience, the ability to write, and the blossoming ambition to gather other zombies like him and eventually confront their creator with the fact that they still are thinking beings!
A great deal of the book’s Funny comes from how our protagonist, Jack Barnes, is a pompous blowhard of an English professor–and he knows it and is at peace with it. He tells the reader straight up that he has a messiah complex, which for me made him delightfully straightforward, and after a while I couldn’t help but root for him and the other zombies he gathered around him, each with their own special ability. There’s Joan, the former nurse who patches up her fellow zombies’ rotting corpses with whatever she can find; there’s “Guts”, a boy who retains the ability to movie at human speeds; and “Rosencratz”, a former soldier who amazingly retains the ability to speak (and thereby providing the impetus for some great doubletakes out of the human characters who encounter him later).
The ending is not terribly surprising, certainly not if you’ve seen at least a few zombie movies–and if you have, it’ll fit in quite nicely as a twist on those for you. Me, I found the route TO the ending more satisfying, especially with bits like our band of plucky zombies shuffling along the road trying to sing “Silent Night”. It was, indeed, to laugh! Buy it in ebook form if you can; the print form’s in trade, but it’s so short a book that it’s almost not enough book for that price. Either way, check it out. Four stars.
Most of this weekend I’ve spent catching up: with new movies, with balancing my checkbook, with getting my book review posts written, with getting my tallies of new books purchased tallied, and such.
Yesterday went pretty much entirely to balancing the checkbook and discovering that we had six hundred more dollars than I thought we did, because I’d accidentally subtracted a previous deposit when I should have added it. This, my children, is why Mama Anna always balances the checkbook. It’s like finding free money! (Only, well, not, because I need to throw it at the VISA, but hey!)
And after I finished balancing the checkbook, I started writing a bunch of book review posts. I’m almost done getting caught up on those and have three more to go; I’ve scheduled a bunch of them to go live through the rest of this week, one per day, so as not to overwhelm y’all with the wave of reviews. I’m caught up through
Today, it’s all about the books. I’ve done another round of ebook buying off of Fictionwise as well as via the ongoing Drollerie sale, and I’ve picked up three new paperbacks from Third Place and one from Barnes and Noble too. Here’s the tally:
- Boneshaker, by
cmpriest(purchased before seeing the movie on Friday, which seemed apt–buying a book involving zombies before seeing a movie involving them!)
- Academ’s Fury, by
- Valor’s Trial, by
- Thirteen Orphans, by Jane Lindskold
- Zerah’s Chosen, by Isabelle Santiago
- Confessions of the Creature, by Gary Inbinder
- Fire and Shadow, by Imogen Howson
- Frayed Tapestry, by Imogen Howson
- The Rose of Shanhasson, by
- Needles and Bones, a Drollerie anthology
- Stereo Opticon, a Drollerie anthology
- Bump in the Night, a Drollerie anthology
- Tempting Danger, by Eileen Wilks
- Love You to Death, by Shannon K. Butcher
- And five, count ’em, five super-cheap Harlequin Suspense novels by Jessica Andersen, because I discovered that one of hers I was already reading was #6 in a series, so I was really kinda lost. But I like her writing anyway, so it’s all good!
Which brings me to a grand total of (drum roll)… 19 in this wave of purchasing, and the grand total for the year to 120. I’m currently at 87 books read for the year, with books 88 and 89 in progress. So it’s safe to say that the chances of my finishing the year with having purchased more books than I’ll have read are very, very high! But it’ll be fun to see if I make 120 books read by then.
I have bought more books:
blackaire‘s Street Magic (which y’all may recall I read earlier this year in ARC form, and which I liked quite a bit)
- Phaedra Weldon‘s Wraith (which got my attention because of its cover blurb referencing Tanya Huff’s Vicki Nelsons, which is a really good way to get my attention)
- J.D. Robb’s latest In Death, Salvation in Death, because obligatory
- Steve Alten’s The Loch, an impulse buy off the grocery rack, and,
- The first graphic novel volume of the adaptation of Storm Front, because also obligatory
This brings the total number of books purchased this year up to 35. For general reference I am also actually ahead of this count still, with books read–I’m just behind on posting reviews. But more reviews are coming!
Meanwhile it must also be said that
Also: I have purchased Plants Vs. Zombies, and am on level 3-9, and it is kicking my ass. But it is also bringing me massive amounts of amusement, and I can’t get the damn theme song out of my head. Because there are zombies on my lawn. ZOMBIES, I TELL YOU!