27 April 2015

Review: Soft Apocalypse by Will McIntosh

Soft Apocalypse by Will McIntosh

Originally published: 2011 by Night Shade Books

Pages: 368

Genre/s: Apocalypse, Science Fiction

Source: Own library

Find It: Goodreads ~ Amazon


What happens when resources become scarce and society starts to crumble? As the competition for resources pulls America's previously stable society apart, the "New Normal" is a Soft Apocalypse. This is how our world ends; with a whimper instead of a bang. New social structures and tribal connections spring up across America, as the previous social structures begin to dissolve. Locus Award finalist and John W. Campbell Memorial Award finalist Soft Apocalypse follows the journey across the Southeast of a tribe of formerly middle class Americans as they struggle to find a place for themselves and their children in a new, dangerous world that still carries the ghostly echoes of their previous lives.

My Thoughts

McIntosh’s debut novel, Soft Apocalypse, is a bit of a different take on the apocalyptic genre – rather than one event being the tipping point that pushes the world into full melt-down, it’s a thirteen year ride through a gradually deteriorating world.

Soft Apocalypse is told through the perspective of Jasper – who at the beginning of the novel is living with his nomadic ‘tribe’, homeless due to rocketing unemployment that has made their skills and education obsolete. On first impression I didn’t particularly like nor dislike Jasper – he didn’t seem to have any real passion or personality, and I was cautious as to how I would feel after spending a whole book with him. However, as the story progressed, I found myself liking him more and more, despite the fact that he spends a lot of time obsessing about finding true love, which sounds a little odd for an apocalyptic novel, but worked quite well for me.

The story also revolves around Jasper’s group of friends, who initially form his tribe, and later remain close through the ups and downs of the story as the world gradually falls more and more apart. I found most of the characters either likeable and could understand why they did certain things – even if at times Jasper’s never-ending quest for true love was a little irritating, when the world is falling apart in stages, there would be times when the survival adrenalin stops pumping and hormones and the need to be with someone are leading emotions.

For those who like to know all the details of why, when and how the apocalypse occurs, Soft Apocalypse may be a little disappointing. McIntosh limits the story to the characters and what they themselves know through media or personal experience – there are quite a few tantalising hints at what is happening outside the group’s immediate experiences, but I preferred the lack of info-dumping – it fit the plot much better. The parts that are revealed I found infinitely fascinating, the splintering of law and order into different factions with their own agendas, bio-terrorism and engineered viruses were all new ideas to me and were convincingly presented in their implementation, if not in the science.

The action ebbs and flows throughout the story, and perhaps the only real disappointment was the large time jumps where something major had obviously happened to change the fortunes of the characters, but the details fall into the gaps between.

Although I enjoyed the whole of Soft Apocalypse, it was the last third or so that really hooked me in, not surprisingly it’s where the stakes are raised and the action really picks up, and again, it was fitting for this novel.

As the second McIntosh novel that I’ve read, the comparison between his debut and his most recent novel, Love Minus Eighty is easy for me to make – McIntosh obviously aims to make his characters, and their relationships the driver of his novels, and has a knack for tantalising science fiction which poses new ideas without going into great detail of the execution – which is actually MY kind of science-fiction read.

26 April 2015

Sunday Post #4

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Caffeinated Book Reviewer sharing news and new books for the past and coming weeks.

No exciting personal news this week - I think last week was enough to last me for a while!  I did take last Monday off work to have a 'me' day, and I'd fully intended to spend the day in my pyjamas reading books, but I am currently obsessed with playing DayZ - and that's what I ended up doing the WHOLE day.  Oops.

But there ARE books this week - a whole bunch of books I had on my wishlist for a long time were on sale so I snapped them up.

The Knife and the Butterfly by Ashley Perez Hope
Smashed by Lisa Luedeke
Wanted by Heidi Ayarbe
You Are My Only by Beth Kephart
The Great Collapse by Jeff W. Horton
The Unhappening of Genesis Lee by Shallee McArthur
The O'Briens by Peter Behrens

Have a fabulous week!!

19 April 2015

Sunday Post #3

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Caffeinated Book Reviewer sharing news and new books for the past and coming weeks.

My Life
Guys, this has been such an epic week!  My birthday was on Saturday, so the evening before we went to my favourite restaurant for a steak dinner.  Nom nom nom.

And then on Saturday morning, this happened....

Yep, Mr Kat decided after more than seven years together that he'd make an honest woman out of me.  Don't ask me when/where the wedding will be - with family in the UK and Australia, and lots of our friends living in other parts of Europe, it will be a logistical nightmare.  Maybe we will just elope....and upset everyone ;)


I've read five books this week, which is the most in almost forever.  One was a novella, and two were graphic novels but I'm still surprised.  Best of the bunch was The Earth is Singing by Vanessa Curtis.

New Books
I went a bit crazy for my birthday present to myself and ordered a whole bunch of ebooks which I'm too lazy to list all of, but I did get two physical books this week:

A Little in Love by Susan Fletcher
Black Dove, White Raven by Elizabeth Wein

Coming Up
Nothing planned nor scheduled so far this week, but I'm getting used to that now ;)

Have a fabulous week guys!

14 April 2015

Review: Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer

Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer

Series: Southern Reach #1

Published: 4 February 2014 by FSG Originals

Pages: 195

Genres: Science Fiction/Fantasy

Source: Publisher for review

Find it: Goodreads ~ Amazon


Area X has been cut off from the rest of the continent for decades. Nature has reclaimed the last vestiges of human civilization. The first expedition returned with reports of a pristine, Edenic landscape; all the members of the second expedition committed suicide; the third expedition died in a hail of gunfire as its members turned on one another; the members of the eleventh expedition returned as shadows of their former selves, and within months of their return, all had died of aggressive cancer.

This is the twelfth expedition.

Their group is made up of four women: an anthropologist; a surveyor; a psychologist, the de facto leader; and our narrator, a biologist. Their mission is to map the terrain and collect specimens; to record all their observations, scientific and otherwise, of their surroundings and of one another; and, above all, to avoid being contaminated by Area X itself.

They arrive expecting the unexpected, and Area X delivers—they discover a massive topographic anomaly and life forms that surpass understanding—but it’s the surprises that came across the border with them, and the secrets the expedition members are keeping from one another, that change everything.

My Thoughts



How to talk about this book? It’s a little bit of crazy, a lot of WTF and a whole bunch of confusion is probably the most accurate way I can begin. Basically, Annihilation is the journey of the unnamed biologist who is part of the twelfth expedition to Area X – an isolated, mysterious area that Southern Reach (which I understand to be some type of government agency) sends expeditions to on a regular basis to learn its secrets. In theory this all sounds pretty straightforward, but reading it is anything but.

The narrator isn’t named, but her life is so consumed by her job, that it doesn’t feel particularly strange not to know her name. However, there is a lot of information about her life before the expedition, her relationship with her husband, her fascination with other worlds around her, and some rather candid introspection into her own character. She’s particularly comfortable with herself, which is rather refreshing for a main character.

And then there’s the crazy, WTF and confusion. At first introduction, Area X seems quite straightforward, but quickly escalates into some seriously weird stuff. I’ve always struggled with the super-strange in fiction, but I really enjoyed what Vandermeer does with Annihilation – it’s all a bit strange and I won’t even pretend that I understood, nor spent large chunks of time trying to decipher exactly what was going on, but nevertheless I found it strangely addictive.

I have absolutely no clue who I’d recommend this book to, because really it’s quite hard for me to put it in a nice little box and say ‘yes, this person would LOVE it’ or ‘this person would HATE it’. It’s one of those books that’s very hard to predict who it would appeal to, and why. And I’m keeping this all rather short and quite generic, but I was totally sucked in…even whilst I was scratching my head and trying to figure out exactly what was happening.

06 April 2015

Review: All the Rage by Courtney Summers

All the Rage by Courtney Summers

Expected Publication: 14 April 2015 by St. Martin's Griffin

Pages: 336 

Genre/s: YA, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction

Source: Publisher for review

Find it: Goodreads ~ Amazon


The sheriff’s son, Kellan Turner, is not the golden boy everyone thinks he is, and Romy Grey knows that for a fact. Because no one wants to believe a girl from the wrong side of town, the truth about him has cost her everything—friends, family, and her community. Branded a liar and bullied relentlessly by a group of kids she used to hang out with, Romy’s only refuge is the diner where she works outside of town. No one knows her name or her past there; she can finally be anonymous. But when a girl with ties to both Romy and Kellan goes missing after a party, and news of him assaulting another girl in a town close by gets out, Romy must decide whether she wants to fight or carry the burden of knowing more girls could get hurt if she doesn’t speak up. Nobody believed her the first time—and they certainly won’t now — but the cost of her silence might be more than she can bear. 

My Thoughts

All the Rage is not an easy read.  In fact, at times it is so confronting it would be easier to put it down and move onto something much more light and fun.  But this is what Summers does – she takes a girl, in this case Romy, who has been through a terrible trauma and puts her smack bang in the middle of a group of nasty, vindictive teenage girls who would rather place the blame on one person than admit there is something bigger going on.  

And we could argue until the end of time that not everyone is like that, and we’d stand up and do something about it if we were in that situation, but it’s mob mentality at it’s very strongest – to admit your opinion doesn’t match the group would mean social death, and therefore they continue, despite the mounting evidence otherwise.

Trying to describe this book is almost impossible – it’s confusing, gripping, and mentally and emotionally exhausting.  Romy herself is confused and confusing, she pushes people away whilst trying to get closer, and she’s never quite sure how she really feels about people and situations.  She’s close to her mother but doesn’t confide in her, has an easy relationship with her mothers’ boyfriend and a complex relationship with Leon, her colleague and the boy who openly admits that he likes her.

Romy hides behind her shield of perfectly applied nail polish and lipstick – they are her signature, for better or worse (and made me painfully ashamed of my own nails every bloody time she mentioned it – even now as I type I keep looking at the terrible state of them!) and even when it is cruelly used against her, she sticks to her guns – I love a good stubborn character and Romy is right up there.

Summers writing is rather different than her normal style, but I loved it –nothing is laid out neatly and it was up to me to decipher what was happening and put all the pieces together. Normally this wouldn’t be my kind of style, but it definitely works in All the Rage – it’s so reflective of Romy’s state of mind that anything else wouldn’t have felt right.

If you’re looking for a gritty, emotional read, I can most definitely recommend All the Rage.  It’s tough but compulsive reading, and although there’s no happily ever after (and that’s not a spoiler if you know Courtney Summers’ books), it’s a very satisfying, thought-provoking read.

04 April 2015

Review: We All Looked Up by Tommy Wallach

We All Looked Up by Tommy Wallach

Published: 24 March 2015 by Simon & Schuster

Pages: 384 pages

Genre/s: YA, Apocalypse

Source: Own

Find It: Goodreads ~ Amazon


Four high school seniors put their hopes, hearts, and humanity on the line as an asteroid hurtles toward Earth in this contemporary novel.

They always say that high school is the best time of your life.

Peter, the star basketball player at his school, is worried “they” might actually be right. Meanwhile Eliza can’t wait to escape Seattle—and her reputation—and perfect-on-paper Anita wonders if admission to Princeton is worth the price of abandoning her real dreams. Andy, for his part, doesn’t understand all the fuss about college and career—the future can wait.

Or can it? Because it turns out the future is hurtling through space with the potential to wipe out life on Earth. As these four seniors—along with the rest of the planet—wait to see what damage an asteroid will cause, they must abandon all thoughts of the future and decide how they’re going to spend what remains of the present.

My Thoughts

It was the simplicity of the cover that initially drew me to We All Looked Up, quickly turning into I MUST HAVE THIS BOOK when I read the blurb.  I mean, there is a huge asteroid heading for earth and chances are no one is going to make it through alive – this kind of book is just my thing (yes, I am a fan of impending doom).

When I first started reading, I was hooked – told through the perspective of four very different teens, there was so much possibility for drama and characterisation and relationships, as the world falls apart in the face of impending doom.  I liked that the characters were so diverse, and that their relationships to each other developed and changed as the story progressed.  I particularly liked Eliza, whose don’t-give-a-fuck attitude with a passion for photography made her really stand out, and Anita, who finds the potential end of the world far more freeing than restrictive.

However, I did repeatedly mix the two male characters, Peter and Andy up as the story progressed, and even by the end of the book I was still confusing them for each other.  It’s not that their stories were similar, apart from being connected to each other, their stories and personalities were very different, but I just wasn’t invested in them enough to see them as completely separate.

I did find the timeline a little confusing – it’s linear, but big chunks seemed to have been cut out, and I found it difficult to work out how much time had passed between one event and the next, which by the middle of the book meant that every time I put the book down, I wasn’t always looking forward to picking it up again.  Well that was until the last 10% or so, when the plot picked up major pace and that addictive feeling came flooding back.

It’s definitely a book to make you think though, which comes through quite strongly in the characters as the asteroid gets closer to earth and things that mattered beforehand are no longer important – and it was interesting to see how each of them interpreted and put those thoughts into action, or not.

Overall, I liked We All Looked Up quite a lot – Wallach’s writing style made it stand out from the crowd and the idea was pretty well executed, it was only the jumpy timelines and lack of connection with a couple of characters that disappointed me. 


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...