The Passage

The PassageThe Passage

By: Justin Cronin

enterthepassage.com

(Fiction/Thriller/Vampires/Apocalypse)

766 pages (Trade Paperback)

In an effort to create fast-healing super soldiers, the U.S. government accidentally releases a vampire plague, and one little girl is the only one who can make things right.

I liked this book a lot more than I thought I would. Lately, it seems I’m saying that about half of what a read. Maybe I shouldn’t prejudge my books so much…

Anyway, I had read some mixed reviews, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to spend 766 pages with the vampire apocalypse. It seems I keep reading vampire books even though I keep saying I’m not that into vampires. I think what is really happening here, is that the interesting plots that I keep coming across often have vampires in them – every story needs a catalyst. I was actually about to donate this book back to the book sale I got it from, to make room for some of my new arrivals, but changed my mind at the last minute. I’m glad I did.

First of all, this is a heavy story, but worth it. It also moves slowly, not to be boring, but to be thorough. There is a lot of detail here and the story will draw you in if you let it, but you have to take your time. Don’t expect constant action and intrigue. There are steady dribbles of action and suspense. Things build slowly. There is a lot of spooky end of the world stuff that is, at times, rather unsettling. The atmosphere of the story is as important as the plot.

The story goes from the time just before the outbreak (our very near future) to 100 years later. Everything is very well thought out and at times it felt a bit like two different stories altogether. The first couple hundred pages was more like a thriller, and the rest, more like a “trek to Mount Doom” fantasy quest, only in a post-apocalyptic world. Both elements were good, so no complaints there.

The vampires themselves are interesting. There’s a psychological aspect that makes them more than just mindless monsters, and as time progresses, they seem to evolve and have to adapt to various changes.

Amy! I almost forgot to talk about Amy! I love this character. She is incredibly interesting, but I feel like I will give away too much of the story if I go into detail. Really, she’s the reason I like this book, and why I will read the sequels.

Ultimately, this was very worth the read. I occasionally found it disturbing or depressing, but those elements made it a strong story, and I always like a strong story. Until next time…

Happy Reading!

 

Charming {Pax Arcana Book 1}

Charming

Charming {Pax Arcana Book 1}

By: Elliot James

elliottjamesauthor.wordpress.com

(Urban Fantasy)

366 pages

 

I give this book a solid like, but I didn’t love it, for a couple of reasons. Three reasons to be precise.

Ohhhh, so this book is about vampires…

I had been hoping for something more than the age old vampires and werewolves thing. To be fair, the back of the book did mention something like “a vampire and a hot blonde walk into a bar” so maybe I should have paid more attention to that. While the story does involve some cool lesser known supernatural beings, it was really about hunting vampires. I think it would have been more interesting if the lesser known beings had been more prominent in the story. Everything is so vampires and werewolves these days that it starts to feel predictable.

On the subject of Prince Charming…

Well, that’s the thing…see, there wasn’t a very strong link to the Prince Charming aspect of things. Sure it’s his last name and he is supposedly a descendent of theirs but that’s where it ends. I was expecting it to feature more in the story than it did. It’s mentioned in the beginning and the end but that’s about it. I wanted John Charming to be more directly linked to those ancestors and really he’s more involved with the Knights Templar than anything else. I found that to be rather disappointing since “Charming” was plastered all over the cover of the book, and that was mainly why I picked it up.

Charming and the hot blonde…

Something about his love interest being the athletic blonde woman just seemed obvious and I didn’t love how she was so physically tough, but so emotionally weak. I’m not saying it’s wrong, I just didn’t love it.

——————————————————————————

Complaints aside, I liked the humor and irreverence, especially in the chapter titles. It moved quickly enough and I don’t recall any serious lulls. I absolutely loved Molly’s character and would have been happier if someone more like her had been set up as Charming’s love interest. She’s meek and scared, due to a traumatic experience with poltergeists, but she is so brave in how she handles it, especially her use of Christmas things to keep her feeling safe and happy. Her character seemed more interestingly complex to me than Sig (that would be the blonde).

In the end it was an enjoyable enough read, but I was hoping for more. Will I read future books in this series? Honestly I’m not sure. The next one focuses on werewolves and I’m not all that interested in that particular topic at the moment. I’ve got a lot of books on my list so there is a good chance this series will get pushed to the bottom. But if you’re looking for some light, irreverent, urban fantasy, don’t mind a cliche or two, and are into werewolves and vampires  then you’d probably enjoy it. Until next time…

Happy Reading!

Comments on Classics: Dracula

Comments on Classics

Dracula – 1897 – Bram Stoker – 418 pages

In a nutshell:

Vampire hires lawyer to help him move to England,
danger ensues.

Welcome to my first ever classics review! I wanted to start with Dracula because it was the very first classical fiction novel I read entirely of my own volition. Why did I start with Dracula? I chose it for the obvious reasons. While it was written in the 19th century, it was about vampires after all, so how bad could it be? Of all the books I could have chosen, this seemed the safest bet as far as holding my interest. It’s been over a decade since then, so my memory of the book is a little sketchy at best, but I wanted to start my classical reviews with my first classical read, so I’ll do my best.

I think I was definitely right in choosing this as my first. While I assume most teenage girls would have chosen something more like Jane Austen, I think this was a better fit for me at the time. I was still really picky and impatient with books that didn’t grab my attention right away, and Dracula was better at keeping me focused. It was a challenge though. Being written over a hundred years ago, there was quite a bit of vocabulary to look up, especially names of things we don’t use anymore, like types of vehicles and objects. I was a complete nerd about it however, and kept a notebook where I wrote them all down and looked them up later. I still have all the words and definitions around here somewhere…I should really throw things out more often.

Now, about the story. The thing you have to take into account with Victorian literature is that what was exciting then, is nothing compared to what is considered exciting now. This doesn’t mean a Victorian novel is inherently dull or boring, but it is usually good to temper one’s expectations accordingly in order to appreciate it. What helped keep my interest in Dracula was that the entire story was written as a series of journal entries and letters, which made it more personal, and helped to break things up a bit. There was plenty of horror, danger, and adventure, more than I would have expected. I liked the characters and was surprised at the ending, which I thought would be horribly tragic.

If you’re looking to start reading some classical literature but you want something with a little more punch, this is a great place to start. With Vampires being so popular these days, it’s nice to read where it all began. For the record, Dracula didn’t sparkle. Until next time…

Happy Reading!

The Greyfriar (Vampire Empire Book One)

GreyfriarThe Greyfriar (Vampire Empire Book One)

By: Clay Griffith and Susan Griffith

Official Website

(Steampunk Vampires/YA)

301 pages

Steampunk and vampires. I have to admit they do go together quite nicely, and I was happy with the world building in this story. I’ve always been a fan of alternate history, and the evolution of the world after a successful vampire uprising is really interesting. Vampires don’t like warmth so the civilized world heads for the equator, with Britain setting up camp in Egypt. I liked the quirky details of the vampires, like how they don’t have a strong sense of touch, or how they can float or fly in the air. These extra bits of information make the vampires personal to the story, rather than just the usual generic type.

And now for the Vampire Spectrum!

The Vampire Spectrum

Romantic———-*Cool but Deadly————Gruesomely Monstrous

Greyfriar falls somewhere between the romantic and the deadly vampires. In this story, some vampires are more monstrous than others but on the whole it’s nowhere near the gore of Twelve. The plot feels a bit like Beauty and the Beast, with Gareth, the vampire that wants to be human, which is a fun twist. When it came to the characters, however, I felt they could have been a little bit stronger. As much as Adelle was frightened or in peril, she still came off a little too cool, but the relationship between her and Gareth was nice, in that Beauty and the Beast sort of way. I liked Gareth. His desire to learn about and protect humans was endearing, as was his relationship with cats, especially when surrounded by so many vampires who were ready to go to enslave the entire human species at a moments notice.

Overall, it was a nice story, but not as captivating as I would have liked it to be. I wasn’t totally sucked in, but the books that really grab my attention are few and far between. Could it be because it was a YA novel? Possibly, but I think it was just lacking a certain depth that I was looking for. I still found it thoroughly enjoyable, and a fun quick read at only 300 pages. I’ll probably be reading the rest of the trilogy soon enough, and maybe the story will get deeper as it continues. Oh, and for you Buffy the Vampire Slayer fans out there, the audio book version is narrated by James Marsters! Until next time…

Happy Reading!

Twelve

TwelveTwelve

By: Jasper Kent

www.jasperkent.com

(History/Vampires)

447 pages

I would like to introduce to you the Vampire Spectrum. This is something I invented while trying to figure out how to best describe the vampires in this novel.

The Vampire Spectrum

Romantic————Cool but Deadly————Gruesomely Monstrous

The Vampires in Twelve fall under the monstrous category, a bit like those in Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter, only I think they were a little worse. This book definitely had its gory moments, but not just for the sake of it. The violence is there to make a point, since for a while in the story there is a question of whether or not the vampires are really all that bad. Certain unpleasant moments answer that question nicely for both the reader and the main character.

This novel utilizes real historical events as its backdrop, and I always like a little bit of realism in a story. The idea of taking known history and filling in the blanks with something completely fantastical is not only fun, but it can allow you to appreciate a period in history that you otherwise might have overlooked. I admit, I didn’t really know much about Napoleons invasion of Russia in 1812 — other than it happened — so this story, regardless of its vampires made that history come to life just a little bit more.

The conflict between Alexei and Iuda was the most fascinating part of the story. I could really see him shaping up to be the perfect nemesis for Alexei over the rest of the series, and judging by the book covers I’ve seen, it seems rather likely. Iuda is an amazing character, and despite how truly twisted I believe him to be, I look forward to seeing more of him, if that is indeed the direction the sequels will be taking. The twist at the end was an interesting surprise, and made me that much more interested in his character.

I will most likely be reading the sequels at some point.  Overall, it was a pretty good book, even if it was a little heavy. I’ll take a little break, read some lighter fare and come back to this series later on. Until next time…

Happy Reading!

I don’t like zombies…

…It’s not like anyone really likes zombies, but I happen to find them particularly disturbing.  Just seeing the preview for 28 Days Later was enough to give me nightmares.  What really gets me about zombies rather than their other notable monster counterparts (vampires, werewolves, etc.) is the hopelessness that surrounds them.  You can hunt and kill a vampire with a stake to the heart or protect yourself with garlic, crosses, and holy water.  You can kill a werewolf with a silver bullet, and limit any midnight strolls to nights without a full moon.  Zombies aren’t vanquished or avoided quite so easily.  With no clear way to kill them other than hacking them into tiny pieces, and their propensity for traveling in large groups, there is really no escape.  Hopeless.  Since they just keep coming it seems inevitable that they will catch up with you no matter what you do, and it gets worse.

If you’re attacked by a vampire for example, you would either be killed outright or turned into one yourself.  Sure you’d be a monster, but immortality has its perks.  If you managed to survive a similar encounter with a werewolf, you would simply turn into a beast once a month, which, although unpleasant, could be worse.  But to be turned into a zombie?  That has got to be by far the worst option.  With their slow but relentless attacks, their superior numbers, and the near inevitability of becoming one of them, they truly are the most hope-dashing of all the monsters out there, and therefore, in my opinion, the scariest.

But why are they so popular lately?

Surely zombies have always had some popularity, but recently they seem to have become more ubiquitous (big words >.<).  These days you can’t seem to go very far without running into some mention or representation of them, and I have a theory as to why that might be…

 Vampires in the media over the years seem to have slowly been losing their edge.  They’ve gone from something terrifying to something romanticized and forbidden to being completely de-fanged altogether, starting in the mid nineties with shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and its sequel Angel, and most recently with the sparkly vampires of Twilight.  Now I’ll admit, I loved Buffy and Angel, but Twilight has taken the brooding, not-so-dangerous, vampire to a whole new level, and dragged werewolves along with them.  I’m not trying to bash Twilight here, it’s just that it seems to have made our favorite monsters a bit too cuddly…and that’s where the zombies come in.  I feel that the seeming resurgence in zombie popularity is largely a backlash to the enormous fandom Twilight and presumably other books like it have generated.  People are trying to reclaim their monsters, and you can’t really blame them for trying.

So, are you a huge zombie fan?  Preparing for the zombie apocalypse perhaps?  Or maybe you’re a Twilight fan who just wants me to shut up about sparkly vampires?  Whatever your opinion, share it in the comments! (You can even leave comments if you don’t have a WordPress account.)