Cannonball Read IV

A bunch of Pajibans reading and reviewing and honoring AlabamaPink.

Archive for the tag “Apocalypse”

CommanderStrikeher’s #CBR4 Review #30: Robopocalypse by Daniel H. Wilson

*Audiobook Review*

I’m so sick of hearing about the damn Zombie apocalypse.  Zombies are supernatural and there is absolutely no chance in Hell that they will ever roam the Earth.  There, I said it.  Shut up about it.  I’m so tired of zombie-themed EVERYTHING.  The real threat is robots and technology.  Have you seen The Matrix?  The Terminator movies?  Battlestar Galactica???  The robots want to overthrow their human overlords and enslave us and we keep making it easier for them!

Robopocalypse uses the “found footage” trope that has become popular in film with The Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity.  It has also been used in novels, most notably, World War Z, which I have previously reviewed for the CBR.  In both novels it works.

Robopocalypse starts at the end of the Human/Robot war that nearly destroyed humanity.  Humans are clearing out the last outposts of Archos, the super-intelligent computer that attempted to wipe us out.  They find a file that contains the beginning of the robots rise to power, leading up to Zero Hour, when the robots actively try to destroy humanity.  Everything turns against us, even cars, which are almost fully automated.

I really enjoyed the first few chapters of this book.  The slow but steady increase in robot violence against humans, and a little girl’s toys coming to life and threatening her and her family were creepy.  Zero Hour was flat-out terrifying.  The last part of the book lagged, but overall, it was good read.

4/5 Stars

CommanderStrikeher’s #CBR4 Review #27: Good Omens by Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett

 

*Audiobook Review*

***It is apparently very difficult for me to write a review of a book that I love. I finished this book 3 weeks ago, but I can’t even get halfway through the review.   I can’t define the qualities that make me love a book.  I just do.  If I hate something, I am ridiculously articulate about why I hate it.  I have a 10 minute lecture on why Titanic was a terrible movie, or why Taylor Swift songs make the Baby Jesus cry.  But why I love something is far more ineffable.  My half-assed attempt at a review is below.***

Good Omens is very, very English.  It’s more English than Queen Elizabeth having tea and scones at a Jane Austen convention.  It’s very dry and droll, so obviously, I love it.  I have read this book at least four times now.  This is one of those books that you recommend to nearly everyone you meet.  I also realized that I’ve read a ton of apocalyptic literature for this Cannonball Read.  That’s a disturbing revelation.  The Hunger Games series, World War Z, and Robopocalypse immediately spring to mind.  This was definitely the most light-hearted and ridiculous.

Good Omens is the story of Armageddon.  Crowley is a demon who is enjoying the chaos he has wrought over the centuries until he is given the message from below that the Antichrist is about to be delivered to Earth.  Since he enjoys being on Earth he colludes with Aziraphale, an Angel, to make sure that the Antichrist is raised as impartially as possible.  The problem is that the Antichrist has been misplaced and is now a perfectly normal 11-year-old boy in a small town in England. Chaos ensues while the 4 motorcyclists of the Apocalypse race towards Armageddon.

What really sets this book apart isn’t the plot so much as the writing.  The small jokes are often the best.  Did you know that if you leave a cassette tape in a car for longer than two weeks it automatically becomes a tape of Queen’s Greatest Hits – which is awesome!

This book is a must-read for anyone who likes dry British humor.

5/5 Stars

trib’s #CBR4 review #9 – The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker

A slow-moving apocalypse brings mankind undone. Many of the changes are glacial, others at breakneck pace.

All viewed through 12-year-old Julia’s eyes, The Age of Miracles tells the story of a changed world as perceived by a young woman emerging slowly into adulthood as she matures physically, emotionally and through the forced changes imposed on her by a world in upheaval.

I forget where I saw the recommendation for this, but as a novel of an apocalyptic future, it takes a more sensitive, intellectual approach than many of its genre contemporaries.

I give it a 4/5.

Bothari’s #CBR4 Review #17: Monster Island by David Wellington

Finding a zombie book at the library book sale on half-price day is excellent, even if the zombie book doesn’t end up being very good. This one was pretty good. The zombie apocalypse has already happened when the book starts, and it dives right into the action. It never really explains “the Epidemic,” but lets the reader know that the more populated an area, the faster the devastation hit. Most of the survivors are from third-world countries, where humans were scattered enough to slow down the spread of the zombification.

One of the main characters is Dekalb, a former UN employee who makes a deal with a Somalian warlord named Mama Halima: he will travel by boat to New York City to raid the UN building for AIDS medications if Mama Halima will keep his seven-year-old daughter safe, and take him in when/if he returns. Dekalb is from New York City, and is understandably horrified by the change he sees when he gets there. Even the pigeons are flesh-craving monsters.  The hospitals have been raided, the cupboards are all bare, and the dead are everywhere. He travels carefully through the dead city with a small troop of teenage girl soldiers who are willing to die to give their leader, Mama Halima, the chance to live and rule longer.

The other main character was completely original and creative. Gary was a med student who decided to take matters into his own hands when he saw death was inevitable. He hypothesized that lack of oxygen to the brain between death and reanimation was what made zombies slow and stupid, so he hooked himself up to a bunch of life support machines before he died, and presto! A zombie who can think and talk! Totally cool. And it’s interesting to watch him struggle to remain himself and human while the zombie within fights to take control.

Gary and Dekalb are both fighting to survive, both trying to find the new ‘normal.’ Dekalb and his group of girl soldiers stumble on a small band of survivors, and Gary also finds some unexpected allies. Things get a little weird from there.

I really like the unexpectedness of this book. The writing isn’t tremendous, but there were enough new and interesting things to keep me happy. I’ve seen a looooot of zombie movies, and it was great to encounter a story where human doesn’t automatically equal good and zombies aren’t automatically evil. Monsters, yes, but as Gary says, “I have a right to exist!”

DragonDreamsJen’s #CBR4 Review #11 End of Days by Eric Walters

 End of Days by Eric Walters

I picked End of Days up at a Scholastic Book Fair late this fall and tucked it away as a Christmas gift for my girls. My daughter in Grade 7 told me that many of her friends had read it and raved about it.  That was enough to pique my curiosity, so I put on my warm jammies last night as the temperature plunged to -17 Celsius and curled up in bed to read it.  If not for the grumbles of my husband, I might have stayed up to finish the book because it was VERY hard to put it down.

Imagine that one of the space probes sent from Earth to explore the galaxy suddenly appears to be returning to earth.  Scientists deduce that it has been captured by the gravitational force of something very, VERY large that is now heading towards Earth on a collision course that will impact with our planet 24 years in the future.  Suddenly, important scientists appear to be dying, but in reality they are being whisked away to a secret location to work on a plan to stop the asteroid.  Throw in other groups with different agendas, a brilliant narrative where some chapters begin with T-Minus 17 years, T-Minus 1 year etc. and it is easy to see why I had to finish the book this morning.  Getting other work out of the way so that I could write this review actually took longer.

Canadian author Eric Walters knows how to tell a story from many points of view without every having the narrative feel choppy or disjointed.  The combination of apocalypse and conspiracy theory themes makes this book a perfect one to recommend for the Cannonball Read IV challenge and a great addition to any library.  Classified as YA fiction, this book has enough action and intrigue to satisfy any adult reader who “borrows” it from their teenagers bookcase.  If you live outside Canada, I highly recommend buying this book from Amazon if you can’t find it at your local bookstore!

Paperback format, 316 pages, 2011 by Doubleday Canada

DragonDreamsJen’s #CBR4 Review #9 Telempath by Spider Robinson

Telempath by Spider Robinson

After reading Night of Power by Spider Robinson as my 8th book of the Cannonball Read #4 challenge, I decided to foray into another of his Apocalyptic adventures written 2 years earlier in 1983.  Telempath is a story of vengeance, empathy and the search for humanity that so often appears in Spider’s stories.  We humans have an odd habit of judging our books and other people by their covers instead of their contents.

Imagine what might happen to the human race if a biological weapon suddenly enhanced our human sense of smell to approximately a hundred times more efficient that that of a wolf… the stench of pollution and city life would drive most of the world mad in a matter of days and the survivors would flee as far away from urban centers as possible.  Now imagine that this newfound sense of smell also  identified a new enemy inhabitant on the planet Earth that had, until then, always been dismissed as a ghosts, aliens or other paranormal phenomenon.  Intrigued yet?

This story was well-written and captivating, but the fragmented narrative between the main character and journal entries or transcripts, made the story far less engaging than Night of Power.  The way Spider Robinson wrestles with the basic issues of defining humanity and searching for enlightenment are thought-provoking, but having read these two books back to back, I can’t help but find Night of Power the stronger of these two apocalyptic glimpses into our future.

Paperback format, 313 pages, published  in 1983 by TOR Books

DragonDreamsJen’s #CBR4 Review #8 Night of Power by Spider Robinson

Night of Power by Spider Robinson

Spider Robinson is best known for his Callahan’s Crosstime Saloon or Stardance novels, but he has also written some truly captivating, apocalyptic stories.  Written in the mid 1980s, Night of Power is the tale of a Canadian biracial couple and a white daughter from a first marriage heading to New York during the summer of 1996 just as a race war erupts.   It is full of action and suspense as well as some truly deep philosophical questions about our human nature and prejudice.  To read the novel now, in 2012, is to marvel at how well Robinson was able to predict some technological and societal changes, and yet acknowledging that many of the issues dealt with in this story have yet to be resolved as well as in his tale.

This story contains some very graphic and mature content, so it is not suitable for sheltered readers or a teen audience.  The characters, however, are grippingly real, brilliantly portrayed and heroic in their dedication to one another in a time of great crisis.  Sometimes, pivotal moments in history are able to bring out the hero inside each and every one of us.  Though Night of Power is a work of fiction, the triumph of the human spirit that this novel champions makes you wish we could infuse our own era with some of that spunk!

Paperback format,  287 pages, published  in 1985 by Baen Books and 1986 by Berkley Publishing.

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