Series: The Hungry Plague

Short & Sweet – Final Girls, The Boy on the Bridge, The Twilight Pariah

December 15, 2017 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2017, Short & Sweet Reviews 7 Comments

I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Short & Sweet – Final Girls, The Boy on the Bridge, The Twilight PariahFinal Girls by Mira Grant
Published by Subterranean Press on April 9th 2017
Pages: 112
Genres: Horror
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
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Also by this author: Feed, Deadline, Countdown: A Newsflesh Novella

three-half-stars

What if you could fix the worst parts of yourself by confronting your worst fears?

Dr. Jennifer Webb has invented proprietary virtual reality technology that purports to heal psychological wounds by running clients through scenarios straight out of horror movies and nightmares. In a carefully controlled environment, with a medical cocktail running through their veins, sisters might develop a bond they’ve been missing their whole lives—while running from the bogeyman through a simulated forest. But…can real change come so easily?

Esther Hoffman doubts it. Esther has spent her entire journalism career debunking pseudoscience, after phony regression therapy ruined her father’s life. She’s determined to unearth the truth about Dr. Webb’s budding company. Dr. Webb’s willing to let her, of course, for reasons of her own. What better advertisement could she get than that of a convinced skeptic? But Esther’s not the only one curious about how this technology works. Enter real-world threats just as frightening as those created in the lab. Dr. Webb and Esther are at odds, but they may also be each other’s only hope of survival.

‘Reality was a hard habit to quit sometimes, especially for someone who knew what lies could cost.’

Esther Hoffman is a journalist seeking the underlying story of Dr. Jennifer Webb who has created a new virtual reality therapy program which uses horror movie style dream sequences in an attempt to change the long-term behavior of its patient. Esther is convinced that Dr. Webb is nothing but a con artist and during their interview, Webb suggests she personally experience the program and Esther agrees, hoping to get the inside scoop. While inside the sequence, Webb decides to join Esther in the zombie apocalypse simulation in an attempt to develop a relationship with her and possibly change her outlook towards her program. The problem is, while the two are locked inside a fabricated horror movie, there’s actual horror developing in the real world.

‘Everything they were before they came here is behind them now, and soon they will be free, soon they will be able to start to heal, soon—’

Grant is no doubt a skillful short story writer, able to develop characters and plot effectively, drawing in readers with her consistently original narratives. Final Girls is a fantastic blend of science fiction and horror with a Nightmare on Elm Street feel to it where dreams quickly become a reality. This novella manages to even touch on more serious topics regarding doctors and treatment and the dangers of such an effective program like this falling into the wrong hands. The creative blend of science fiction and horror in the beginning did, admittedly, morph into something less unique by the end, transitioning instead to a storyline more commonly seen, but Final Girls is still a worthy read if you’re looking for some thrilling psychological horror.

I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Short & Sweet – Final Girls, The Boy on the Bridge, The Twilight PariahThe Boy on the Bridge by M.R. Carey
Series: The Hungry Plague #2
Published by Orbit on May 2nd 2017
Pages: 392
Genres: Horror
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
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Also by this author: The Girl With All the Gifts, Fellside

three-half-stars

Once upon a time, in a land blighted by terror, there was a very clever boy.

The people thought the boy could save them, so they opened their gates and sent him out into the world.

To where the monsters lived.

In The Boy on the Bridge, M. R. Carey returns to the world of his phenomenal USA Today and word-of-mouth bestseller, The Girl With All the Gifts, for the very first time.

Expectations are a bitch.

The Girl With All the Gifts was one of my all-time favorites of 2014 and I was filled with trepidation when this prequel was announced. Sure, there was a story that could be told but did it need to be told is the real question. The Boy on the Bridge is a prequel story that tells of the original mission of the Rosalind Franklin, the mobile science lab that Melanie essentially hijacks in Girl. Knowing the end result of the mission will lead any reader to understand that there can be no happy ending, only a story to be told. It’s bittersweet to see this new crew of scientists searching the world for a cure to the hungries, still filled with a chance of hope for the few surviving individuals of the world.

“Things don’t end, after all. They only change, and you keep changing with them.”

The Boy on the Bridge wasn’t nearly as compelling as I had hoped or anticipated. The writing was oftentimes overly technical which resulted in a definite detachment from the emotional tale at its center and it seemed as if Carey was writing it as something that had already passed rather than something happening presently.  I often found myself wondering if my overall opinion would have been different if this had been released prior to Girl. If I had been more interested in discovering these intriguing details of a widespread infection if I didn’t already know the outcome. I’m not really sure. I don’t feel Carey was being opportunistic by writing this but simply chose to expand on this fascinating world he created, and that’s fair. It’s also fair that I simply didn’t care for it and think Girl was solid and complete enough to stand on its own, but it is what it is.

I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Short & Sweet – Final Girls, The Boy on the Bridge, The Twilight PariahThe Twilight Pariah by Jeffrey Ford
Published by Tor.com on September 12th 2017
Pages: 176
Genres: Horror
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
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two-stars

Three friends go looking for treasure and find horror in Jeffrey Ford's The Twilight Pariah.

All Maggie, Russell, and Henry wanted out of their last college vacation was to get drunk and play archaeologist in an old house in the woods outside of town. When they excavate the mansion's outhouse they find way more than they bargained for: a sealed bottle filled with a red liquid, along with the bizarre skeleton of a horned child

Disturbing the skeleton throws each of their lives into a living hell. They feel followed wherever they go, their homes are ransacked by unknown intruders, and people they care about are brutally, horribly dismembered. The three friends awakened something, a creature that will stop at nothing to retrieve its child.

“You can’t kill the dead. You’ve got to outsmart them.”

Tor.com released a “Fall of Fear” sampler which included A Long Day in Lychford by Paul Cornell, Switchback by Melissa F. Olson, The Murders of Molly Southbourne, and this title. This one enticed me the most. I’m also a terrible sucker for a great cover, and this one is a winner. It gives you the impression the story you’re about to embark on is atmospheric and eerie, and something perfect for any horror fan. Admittedly, I had high hopes having heard great things about Jeffrey Ford but this one a total dud. The blurb on the cover “Richard Linklater meets Stephen King meets Indiana Jones meets, well, Jeffrey Ford” by up and coming author Paul Tremblay is admittedly extremely off base. Just because something is tagged as horror doesn’t make it the next Stephen King and just because there’s some mild excavation of an old house doesn’t make these characters the next Indiana Jones, let’s be real.

The Twilight Pariah is a novella that tells the story of a final college summer between three friends. Maggie, the budding archaeologist of the group, convinces Russell and Henry to help her excavate an old privy at the Prewitt mansion. Ironically, the only thing I kept thinking about was an article I had recently read about archaeologists digging up Paul Revere’s outhouse. But also, there’s nothing particularly horrifying about the prospect of digging out an outhouse. Of course, finding a skeleton of a horned child should change things when shortly after a series of horrifying murders start taking place in town, but that sense of horror simply never coalesced. The characters are nothing but cardboard cutouts with a few quirky descriptive lines thrown in as a half-assed attempt to differentiate, which is pretty typical of characters in most short stories/novellas but there isn’t a credible plot to at least support the lacking characters. Ford tries to take this centuries-old mystery and link it to the present but it was a pretty flimsy connection, to say the least. And that ending. It felt like the author realized he was past his word count limit had to wrap shit up, pronto. Lackluster characters, middling plot, and an inadequate conclusion. Disappointing.

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Waiting on Wednesday – The Boy on the Bridge (The Hungry Plague #2) by M.R. Carey

February 8, 2017 Bonnie Waiting on Wednesday 10 Comments

Waiting on Wednesday – The Boy on the Bridge (The Hungry Plague #2) by M.R. CareyThe Boy on the Bridge by M.R. Carey
Series: The Hungry Plague #2
Published by Orbit on May 2nd 2017
Pages: 400
Genres: Horror, Zombies
Format: Hardcover
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Also by this author: The Girl With All the Gifts, Fellside, The Boy on the Bridge

A new standalone novel set in the same world as the USA Today bestseller The Girl With All The Gifts.

From the author of USA Today bestseller The Girl With All the Gifts, a terrifying new novel set in the same post-apocalyptic world.

Once upon a time, in a land blighted by terror, there was a very clever boy.

The people thought the boy could save them, so they opened their gates and sent him out into the world.

To where the monsters lived.

About M.R. Carey

Mike Carey was born in Liverpool in 1959. He worked as a teacher for fifteen years, before starting to write comics. When he started to receive regular commissions from DC Comics, he gave up the day job.

Since then, he has worked for both DC and Marvel Comics, writing storylines for some of the world's most iconic characters, including X-MEN, FANTASTIC FOUR, LUCIFER and HELLBLAZER. His original screenplay FROST FLOWERS is currently being filmed. Mike has also adapted Neil Gaiman's acclaimed NEVERWHERE into comics.

Somehow, Mike finds time amongst all of this to live with his wife and children in North London. You can read his blog at www.mikecarey.net

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I raved about The Girl with All the Gifts but never expected anything more set in that world. The Boy on the Bridge is intended as a standalone story set in the same world and whether or not reading Girl before is a requirement or not remains to be seen. But color me intrigued.

confused adam levine maroon 5 interested intrigued

What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

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Book Review – The Girl with All the Gifts (The Hungry Plague #1) by M.R. Carey

June 12, 2014 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2014 15 Comments

I received this book free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review – The Girl with All the Gifts (The Hungry Plague #1) by M.R. CareyThe Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey
Series: The Hungry Plague #1
Published by Orbit on June 10th 2014
Pages: 448
Genres: Horror
Format: ARC
Source: the Publisher
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Goodreads

Also by this author: Fellside, The Boy on the Bridge

five-stars

Melanie is a very special girl. Dr Caldwell calls her "our little genius."

Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant Parks keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don't like her. She jokes that she won't bite, but they don't laugh.

Melanie loves school. She loves learning about spelling and sums and the world outside the classroom and the children's cells. She tells her favorite teacher all the things she'll do when she grows up. Melanie doesn't know why this makes Miss Justineau look sad.

“Pandora […] was a really amazing woman. All the gods had blessed her and given her gifts. That’s what her name means – ‘the girl with all the gifts’. So she was clever, and brave, and beautiful, and funny, and everything else you’d want to be. But she just had the one tiny fault, which was that she was very – and I mean very curious.”

Melanie is a curious little girl, much like Pandora was. She loves school, loves learning but loves her teacher Miss Justineau even more. She’s never seen the outside world, only her cell, the corridor, the shower room and the classroom which is located on an army base. Melanie is an incredibly intelligent little girl, capable of extremely high level classes for someone her age. Other than being near genius, she’s just a normal little girl, until she catches the scent of human flesh.

‘…the Breakdown, when the world filled with monsters who looked like people you knew and loved, and every living soul went scrambling and skittering for cover like mice when the cat wakes up…’

The normal hungries that roam the earth are your classic type zombie: they’re mindless and single-minded when it comes to obtaining their next meal. Melanie and her classmates are high-functioning zombies or “hungries” that are capable of speech and emotions, things the normal hungries are incapable of. These children have been captured for the sole purpose of experimentation, in hopes that they are the key to a possible cure for this terrible disease that has consumed the world.

There are many interesting aspects to this novel that I wouldn’t normally expect to find in a normal zombie-type book. First and foremost is the cognitive abilities of these children despite their undead status. It was an interesting aspect and leads to the next aspect: the ethics behind the experimenting on these coherent children even if it’s done for the good of the human race. The doctor conducting the experiments, Doctor Caldwell, has completely disconnected herself from the belief that what she is doing is wrong and successfully convinces you as a reader in the chapters told from her POV that it’s for the greater good. Switching to the chapters told from the POV of Miss Justineau offers you the opposite stance as she’s become attached to not only Melanie but the whole of her students even though she fully understands exactly what they are and the danger they represent. The perplexity of the situation their forced into isn’t simple nor straightforward.

The other aspect to this novel that is the main driving force is the relationship that develops between Melanie and Miss Justineau. Melanie has suffered through a life of solitary and Miss Justineau’s teachings are the shining beacon of hope that she always has to look forward to. In turn, Miss Justineau develops an affection for Melanie despite her best intentions to remain distant. The relationship was surprisingly heartfelt and touching.

Setting all the unexpected aspects aside, my favorite aspect of zombie novels is always the why and seeing what route each author takes. Zombie novels have become quite common these days and thus requires them to have an original aspect that hasn’t been done before. The Girl With All the Gifts does just that. The individuals in this novel are infected with Ophiocordyceps, a genus of fungi that actually exists in our world today but grows only on insects. I can’t express enough what a superb job M.R. Carey does at explaining the details of this fungus and how it came to be possible for it to infect humans. He goes into incredible detail yet explains it in such a skillful way as to avoid leaving us non-scientists completely clueless.

While The Girl With All the Gifts had many incredible facets to it, the ending was the most memorable. Shocking and unexpected yet such a fitting ending to this amazing story. Engaging, shocking and thrilling, The Girl With All the Gifts is one incredible read that thankfully manages to live up to all the hype.

Parasite (Parasitology #1) by Mira Grant {PurchaseMy Review}
The Host (The Host #1) by Stephenie Meyer {Purchase}
Raising Stony Mayhall by Daryl Gregory {PurchaseMy Review}

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