Review: Briarpatch

Briarpatch
Briarpatch by Tim Pratt

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

So this guy Darrin has a string of really bad luck. His girlfriend Bridget leaves him, he loses his job, and then his car. To top it off, he’s heading out to lunch one day and sees his old girlfriend just as she leaps off the Golden Gate bridge head first and kills herself. Next Darrin starts seeing things. Alleys and paths that aren’t supposed to be there. This place is called the Briarpatch, and with the help of Arturo, a strange guy with a strange car, Darrin is beginning to find connections between this place, the guy Bridget left him for, and Bridget’s suicide.

I found this book in the bargain area of my Chapters and was kinda skeptical about how good it would be. I expected some kind of fairy world and magical blah blah, which I tend to hate, but it also hinted at something more interesting with the suicide idea.

I was surprised in a good way when I found out that this book was not about fairies! It is actually closer to books like the Otherworld series by Tad Williams, but without the tech aspect.

Another good surprise is that this book is aimed at adults!! No whiny teen characters, no censoring of language, and overall more realistic character traits. In general, the characters were intelligent if not entirely informed, and I can’t think of any choices characters may have made that bugged me as illogical or irrational. I like fiction, not stupid fiction.

The writing was well done and interesting. There were no instances where the wording was awkward or required re-reading (unless you weren’t expecting what was said). The plot was fast-paced and didn’t focus too long on events that weren’t pertinent to the plot, while slowly revealing some of the mysteries in just the right way.

The ending was satisfying and reasonable. It closed the conflict while still leaving open the possibility to return for a sequel. All in all, a good book worth reading.

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Review: 77 Shadow Street

77 Shadow Street
77 Shadow Street by Dean Koontz

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is my first Dean Koontz book, and I’m not sure what to think about it. It has an interesting plot, but it takes so long to develop. It was as though he couldn’t decide between a plot driven book or a narrative driven book.

The plot:

A grand house built over a fault in time/space, allowing time to overlap occasionally with a frightening future. The residents of this recently converted condominium are thrown into the future without any idea of what to expect.

The Characters:

Generally the characters were pretty interesting, and for the most part diverse. There were some who were so similar though that it was a bit hard to remember who was who. For example, there was an ex-marine, and a retired lawyer, both without families, both strong male characters. There were also to single mothers, one with a very serious son, and the other with an autistic daughter.

I don’t really have anything to rave about, but I have no negative thoughts on it either. It’s a decent book with an interesting plot and characters. I felt it was a bit slow, but that may have been simply because I had other things I was more interested in while I was reading it.

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Review: The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta

The LeftoversThe Leftovers by Tom Perrotta

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A good book, but not at all what I was expecting. I saw the first couple episodes of the show, and it seemed pretty exciting, but while it followed the details of the book for the most part, they weren’t the same. The book is character driven rather than plot driven. Nothing really happens, you just follow some characters for a year or so and see how they are coping after the rapture.

It’s interesting enough, and certainly has my attention for the HBO series. I just wish there was a book version of the tv show.

The characters are mostly relatable, but even so, I think there is a bit of a disconnect between thoughts and behaviour for some of the characters. Maybe I was just hoping for something darker, grittier, and less life-goes-on.

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Review: Sandman Slim

Sandman Slim
Sandman Slim by Richard Kadrey
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I really loved this one. It’s a bit like Supernatural seasons 3 to 5ish, mixed with a bit of Spawn, which are two of my favourite stories/plots. It’s a fast read and full of action which makes it hard to put down.

There were umfortunatly a lot of editorial problems. Lots of jumbled sentences with parts missing or added. There was also some timeline confusion, which isn’t exactly a problem, but makes you want to check back on what you’ve read and messes with the flow.

All in all it was great. A strong, funny main character, interesting secondary/support characters, and a new take on the biblical story. I will definitly be reading the rest of the series.

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Review: Zone One

Zone One
Zone One by Colson Whitehead
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Mark Spitz is working with his unit to clear out the left over undead in Manhattan so that the American government can finally reclaim it and begin returning to normal. Over a couple of days, Mark Spitz shares his memories and knowledge in flash backs and conversational narrative. It’s a very interesting read for sure, a bit World War Z, in a good way.

It has its predictable ending, but because of certain aspects of Mark Spitz character, it’s still worth reading. Because Mark Spitz is mediocre, never the best, but never the worst, and somehow he survived the plague so far out of sheer unremarkable-ness. The author has also added in PASD, like PTSD but the apocalypse version, which makes sense yet has not been a common theme in the genre.

The writing can be a bit difficult at times, with some sentences needed to be reread to get the right cadence/flow, and the language is certainly more mature in the intellectual sense.

One of the things I liked about the story is that characters generally made sense in their actions and choices. Some people are idiots and get themselves in trouble of course, but a lot of them don’t fool around, and there is a reason they made it so long.

Nothing negative stood out, and it was a refreshing take on a plot that has become almost boiler plate. The story may be the same, but its execution is what makes it great.

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Review: American Elsewhere

American Elsewhere
American Elsewhere by Robert Jackson Bennett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Small towns can be so creepy, so exclusive, tight knit, and secretive. For outsiders like Mona Bright, they can be pretty unwelcoming. But like any good mystery, Mona finds herself getting sucked into the weirdness and soon finds out some of the creepy and unusual things happening in town.

I was expecting a small town with demons and monsters hiding in among the town residents, but I was only half right. I love the idea of a horror story where the horror is happening everyday, just under the radar, because that is scarier than some apocalyptic event. It came close with some creepy stuff, but wasn’t as developed as I’d have liked. However, I think that there was so much to the plot that adding in too much detail would’ve made it a tedious read.

It was a good read, but it could’ve been better. Could’ve been scarier, though maybe I’m just a bit desensitized from my zombie books/movies. As a mystery, it is great. I don’t think I have any left over questions, which is awesome, because that’s always frustrating. There was good continuity and although it was somewhat predictable, it was clear the author had thought about and planned the plot.

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Review: Dust

Dust
Dust by Joan Frances Turner
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Jesse is a the main character, and a zombie who is walking around rotting with a gang of other zombies, when some weird sickness starts to spread.

This wasn’t a traditional zombie book in any sense, and definitely not a horror.
Even though its the first book in a trilogy, it wraps up in a way that makes it fine as a stand alone, which is great because I don’t feel like continuing with it. It was very slow moving in that in the end nothing REALLY happened. Everyone was living their lives, then there was a weird plague and everyone was standing around like “what? huh?”. Then they got sick, got worse, got better, etc. etc. and they lived mostly happily ever after. The end.

I guess it was too young adult, because it feels like a 13 year old’s reading/excitement level aside from the swearing. Mostly I’m just underwhelmed.

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