Generation V

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GenerationV

Review contains spoilers.

This book could have been bad.  Nowadays any book that has vampires in it makes me suspect that sexy blood suckers and/or Bella-sues will be making an appearance.  However, this book really doesn’t have that.  Thank goodness.

Meet the Scotts, a family of vampires.  Madeline is the matriarch, an old, powerful, and respected vampire with a large territory and three children she sired.  Prudence is the oldest child; she’s independent and cold.  Proper, obedient Chivalry is the middle child, and although he’s married, he still lives with Madeline.  Then there’s Fortitude, the youngest sibling and the main character of the book.

Guess which one is Fortitude?

Guess which one is Fortitude?

Fortitude (Fort) is a loser.  He works at a crappy Starbucks knock-off, has a useless liberal arts degree, and a junker car.  He has a girlfriend, but she’s a rebellious  super-liberal and she’s openly cheating on him with his bum of a roommate.  The only “cool” point is Fort’s favor is that he’s a vampire.  Or rather, he will be after he goes through vampire puberty.  But he doesn’t want to be a vampire, so he avoids his family and eats veggie wraps instead of steak, hoping that’ll delay vampire adulthood.

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Sure, ’cause that’ll work.

Fort isn’t a complete lost cause.  In fact, he’s the most empathetic of his family; not difficult, considering most of his family has as much empathy as a brick.  His family sees humans as pets, servants, and food, while Fort likes and respects humans as sentient beings.  This is part of the reason why he doesn’t want to become a full-fledged vampire.

Thing is, even with his good heart and good intentions, Fort does some stuff that firmly qualifies as stupid.  A big bad vampire visits the Scott family, and while in their territory he kidnaps a girl.  Fort is horrified, both by the kidnapping and his family’s lack of concern about it.  So he, a weak baby vamp and with a bad poker face, decides to try to confront the vampire and bluff him into releasing the girl.  His backup plan?  A gun he’s not even sure can kill the vampire.

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Other interesting characters appear in the book.  There’s a curmudgeonly witch, a half-elf, and a family of kitsunes.  One kitsunes, Suzume, is funny and becomes an important character.  I suspect she’ll be a love interest in later books, but for now I like her.

Overall this is a was a fun book.  It wasn’t deep or ground-breaking, but it was fun, had a good pace, and wasn’t bogged down by an insipid romance.  The author’s take on vampire biology was interesting, and I like dynamics of the Scott family.  I plan to try to read at least the next book in this series.

Rating: 7.5/10

Insurgent

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Insurgent art

There are potential spoilers in this review, so ye be warned!

I read “Divergent” and found it tolerable, so I decided to read the next book in the series.  True, “Divergent” had a weak premise, but was entertaining enough that I let things slide.  Unfortunately “Insurgent” takes that same weak premise and stacks blocks of drama, angst, and stupidity on top, and eventually it just collapses into a pile of WTF.

Readers, we have a problem.

The basic concept at the heart of society in this book – the faction system – is unrealistic.  History has shown time and again that dividing people doesn’t create peace and stability: rich vs. poor, race vs. race, religion vs. religion, etc.  Also, the factions are defined by character traits: modesty/selflessness (Abnegation), intelligence/curiosity (Erudite), bravery/fearlessness (Dauntless), pacifisim/tree-hugger (Amity), and honesty/trustworthiness (Candor).  Everything about your life is determined by the faction you belong to: how you dress, where you live, how your house should look, who you can marry, and how you should act.  You must always conform to the ideals of your faction.

You will fit in that box if you know what’s good for you.

But wait, you say.  What if someone is brave AND smart AND honest?  You know, if someone had a realistic, well-rounded personality instead of being a living stereotype?  Well, that person would be labeled as “Divergent.”  And Divergents are a danger to society.  Obviously. Why?  Well, because they don’t fit in one particular box, so they are a threat to the faction system.  And they have special brains that are resistant to the simulation serum; magical, evil brains.

Ok, the magic part isn’t actually true, but so many myths have been spread about Divergents that some of the characters in the book admit to prejudice and superstitious beliefs concerning them. Seems kinda odd to that a society with science advanced to have realistic mental simulations and truth serum would still have people believing in nonsense like magic brain powers, but what do I know.

I guess River Tam is Divergent then.

I guess River is Divergent.

Speaking of truth serum, wtf?  Seriously.  At the start of “Divergent” there’s all this tension between Erudite and Abnegation factions because of some nasty rumors flying around.  If there is a truth serum, and the whole Candor faction is dedicated to the truth, why didn’t Candor use their magic serum to get to the bottom of the rumors?  And then in “Insurgent,” why didn’t they use it to figure out what the hell Erudite was up to?  Having half of Dauntless acting as Erudite body guards after nearly wiping out Abnegation didn’t seem like a good reason for Candor to say, ” Everyone shut the hell up and take some truth serum”?

Erudite in general seems pretty stupid, considering that they’re supposed to be the “smart” faction.  They create a serum that lets them mind-control Dauntless, and uses them to attack Abnegation?  Seriously?  If they wanted information, they should’ve subjected Abnegation to truth serum.  If they wanted to take over the city, they should’ve attacked or brain-washed Candor first, as they were more likely to offer resistance than Abnegation or Amity.  It just doesn’t make sense. cat_wtf-12880 The Tris in “Insurgent” feels like a different character that the Tris in “Divergent.”  While reading “Divergent,” I remember thinking that Tris was more bad-ass than Katniss from “The Hunger Games”; she learned how to fight and use weapons and actually applied that knowledge.  In “Insurgent,” bad-ass Tris has disappeared and was replaced by a stupid, angsty teen with a martyr complex/suicidal tendencies.  Some people will say Tris is in shock and a reacting to everything that happened recently, but I don’t care.  I don’t like Tris enough to want to read a whole book of her being stupid, useless, and mopey.

Final Verdict:  Nope.  One star.  It might be better than “Twilight,” but I still couldn’t finish it. PoppinsDone

Patient Zero

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by Jonathon Maberry

by Jonathon Maberry

I found the overall story very entertaining.  There was action, suspense, and a bit of though/pseudo-science all mixed in.  It was not a deep or thoughtful book, more the page-turning equivalent of a summer action flick.  Some points I feel should be addressed:

1.) This is not a zombie apocalypse book, or a tale or a zombie medical epidemic. This is a story of the “War on Terror,” of the clash of the American government with Islamic religious extremists. In this case, the terrorists’ weapon of choice just happens to be zombies; more specifically, a zombie virus cooked up by extremist scientists.

2.) The main character, Joe Ledger, is a bit much. He’s a gruff warrior-type and a leader, with better reflexes and combat instincts than experienced war/combat vets. He manages to attract the interest of a gorgeous woman, and is able to comfort her when she has a breakdown. Ledger makes for a decent main character, but I think I’d like him more if he was more flawed and less male Mary-Sue.

3.) Grace Courtland. Here’s a woman who is supposed to be beautiful, efficient, beautiful, cold, beautiful, and capable. And beautiful. Really, any time a new character meets her, they mention how beautiful she is. She’s basically just a Bond girl, so she predictably ends up with Ledger. Because of this, she feels like a waste and a distraction. I would’ve liked the story more if either Courtland proved herself to be powerful and capable and NOT ended up weeping on Ledger’s shoulder and then sleeping with him, or if she had just been replaced with a male character.

Verdict: 7/10.  I very nearly gave it 7.5, and would have if Grace Courtland had been less frustrating.