Tuesday, 29 January 2013

January Reads.

 Cover images from goodreads.com: Click the book titles below to find them on Amazon!

Warm Bodies, Isaac Marion (2010)
Warm Bodies differs from the majority of novels in it's genre as it is written from the point of view of a zombie rather than someone that has survived an attack. R doesn't remember his name or what he used to do before he became a zombie but he does know that he wants to change. In this novel when a zombie eats a human's brains they share the memories of that person through visions, so when R eats the brains of Perry he knows that he needs to protect Perry's girlfriend Julie from his zombie friends.
I loved that the story was told from R's point of view and the interesting idea that the zombies could potentially be cured as this goes against other zombie tales I've encountered. As a narrator R was a fairly likable but overall I didn't really warm to any of the characters throughout the novel. Although only a reasonably short book it took me much longer to read than I thought it would and at times I didn't feel that the plot was particularly gripping. For me there were a lot of unanswered questions however a sequel is due to be released in 2014 which will hopefully go into more detail but will I read it? I'm undecided. Ultimately I think after reading great reviews my expectations of Warm Bodies were too high and I found myself disappointed which was a shame. The film adaptation starring Nicholas Hoult as R is released in cinemas in the UK on February 8th and the trailer (view here) does look rather good! 2.5/5 - For a different perspective on Warm Bodies check out Niina's review over at Blogger's Bookshelf here

The Sky Inside, Clare B. Dunkle (2008) 
This YA book follows Martin, a teen living in HM1 a typical suburb housed within a protective dome. Things are regularly shipped in and out of the town including genetically engineered children known as the 'wonder babies', one of which happens to be Martin's little sister, until one day someone comes to take them away. Martin makes the decision to try and break free of the dome with the help of his new companion; Chip, his modified bot.
I picked up The Sky Inside from my local library on the recommendation of Goodreads and although I hadn't heard anything about it before the synopsis and setting sounded fairly interesting. Unfortunately I didn't feel that the book lived up to its claims of being a 'fast-paced' thriller' although it did have some promising elements. One notable concept in particular were the game shows and the idea that the people watching them had no idea what they were really viewing. Many residents of HM1 were addicted to the popular game shows, on which no one ever wins, but it turned out that the contestants aren't there because they want to be - they're being tortured. Overall I didn't really enjoy the book and I don't expect to be picking up the sequel The Walls Have Eyes, but the clever ideas that were hidden within it, although not explored fully, mean it deserves more then a 1 star rating 2/5

Ender's Shadow, Orson Scott Card (1999)
Ender's Shadow is the first book in the Shadow Saga the parallel series to the popular Ender's Saga and takes place along the same time line. Instead of following Ender Wiggin the Shadow Saga follows Bean, a minor character in the original book but an important one nonetheless. In Ender's Shadow we learn about how Bean came to be at Battle School and although he is by far the most intelligent student there we watch him, as the title suggests, be overshadowed by Ender.
After discovering that the film adaptation of Ender's Game (due for release in October) is actually based on both Ender's Game and Ender's Shadow I knew I wanted to read the latter beforehand. Being a companion to Ender's Saga rather than a re-telling it would be so easy for Orson Scott Card to get it wrong but fortunately he does a great job of re-telling the story without becoming repetitive. Although the events take place around the same time, and some do overlap, it doesn't at any point feel like you're reading the same story. Bean's life pre-Battle School was rough, living on the streets with hardly any food and practically no friends his invitation to the school really changed his life. The way his background is presented at the beginning and how that picture develops and changes over time as we learn more about him is very effective. If you've read Ender's Game you'll know about the famous twist and I thought the way that element was handled within Ender's Shadow was particularly interesting from Bean's point of view. Although I liked Ender's Shadow and do believe it was well structured considering it is a parallel to another book I didn't enjoy it quite as much as Ender's Game 3.5/5 - Ender's Game review here

The Silver Linings Playbook, Matthew Quick (2008)
Pat Peoples likes to believe his life is a movie and The Silver Linings Playbook follows him on his journey to win back his wife Nikki after leaving a mental health facility. No one wants to tell Pat the truth, that he has been away for several years, that he has blocked out important memories of his past and that he isn't just on a break with Nikki. Along the way Pat meets Tiffany who has been through a bad time of her own and the real story about what happened between Pat and Nikki starts to unravel. 
Not a book I would usually consider picking up my interest in the film adaptation, rave reviews and the fact that the Kindle version was fairly cheap I decided to give it a chance. The most interesting thing about this book would have to be the characters and the way they interact with each other, or in some cases the way they don't. I also enjoyed the mystery element where as the reader you discover alongside Pat what has happened to him over the last few years and the real reason he lost Nikki (something I believe is actually revealed very early on in the film adaptation). One issue I had with this book is that as someone who knows very little about sport after a while I did find the parts which focused on American football, a prominent theme throughout, boring and repetitive after a little while. Its only right to also point out is that the book ruins the plot of several classic novels without warning so if you are planning to read any of the following but haven't yet I would recommend doing so before reading TSLP; The Bell Jar, The Great Gatsby, A Farewell To Arms, The Catcher In The Rye and The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn. I haven't seen the film yet but I hear it differs quite substantially from the book - I'll definitely be renting the DVD when its released 3/5

Also reviewed this month
Slated, Teri Terry (2012) - click here for review
Seriously...I'm Kidding, Ellen DeGeneres (2011) - click here for review
Matched, Allie Condie (2010) - click here for review
Dash & Lily's Book Of Dares, Rachel Cohn & David Levithan (2009) - click here for review

In January I've manged to reach 5/52 books for my 2013 challenge! Find me on Goodreads here
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