Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Halloween Reads: Warm Bodies, The Last Werewolf, and Virals

It's been a week since my last post, and for that I blame graduate school and their need to give me papers to write. In any case, I wanted to get out little blurbs about the books I read for the month of October- Isaac Marion's Warm Bodies, The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan, and Virals by Kathy Reichs. I'm going to post about Will Lavender's book Dominance later this week; I finished it the other day and need to digest what I've read before I post about it.

1. Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion
This was a cheesy story about the power of love overcoming the zombie apocalypse. Literally, that's what happened. Apparently, when zombies eat someone's brain, they relive that person's life experiences (I imagine it's something like eating psychedelic mushrooms, but I really wouldn't know in either case). So this zombie, R, who's truly frustrated that in his undead state he cannot express his emotions and how he feels about that whole being dead thing, eats a young man's brain and falls in love (through his victim's memories) with his dinner's girlfriend. And, in true supernatural romance fashion, she falls for him. And this love manages to turn him from undead into un-undead. Or he comes back to life. I don't know, I was a little annoyed by it.

Really, it's a zombie version of Twilight, where instead of the vampire being abstinent and sparkly, this slightly rotting zombie experiences love again, and this reverses the 'rotting from the inside out' (yeah, Marion took a stab at making the zombie apocalypse into God punishing the world for their sins. People were so rotten on the inside that they became zombies. I don't really know..) I thought it was an inventive story, because I've never really seen a zombie apocalypse book from a zombie's point of view. Not that I thought they had a point of view, anyway. They're supposed to just be reanimated corpses, not creatures with thoughts and feelings. Sheesh. Points for creativity, but points lost for cheesy romantic crap.

2. The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan
This book, plus recommendations from my bookstore coworkers, really makes me want to pick up more of Duncan's books. I think this was a great book, about the existential crisis of the last werewolf on Earth, Jake Marlowe, and his encounters with werewolf hunters, and vampires, and lots of smoking and alcohol and promiscuous sex. Now THIS is what I expect from supernatural creatures. 200 years on Earth would make anyone nonchalant about everything going on in the world, and being a werewolf creates even more distance between Jake and the rest of society. The Last Werewolf was really well written, witty, and adventurous, and I could in no way have predicted any of this story. Way to keep me on my toes! It was a great time, and the same coworker who recommended Duncan's other books also burned me a copy of a soundtrack for this book, recorded by The Real Tuesday Weld. Seriously though, how many books are awesome enough to get their own soundtrack without being made into a movie in the process?!

3. Virals by Kathy Reichs
No. Just no. Group of teenagers rescue a half wolf, half dog puppy from a laboratory where he is being experimented on, and are exposed to a new strain of parvovirus that can spread from dog to person. And it mixes with their DNA and converts them into Virals, with powers that turn on under stress, and apparently only when they need their powers. Oh, and they're working on a Nancy Drew + Hardy Boys-esque mystery, trying to solve the murder of a young woman after discovering mysterious dog tags on the island that they're not supposed to be on in the first place. With high school romance and drama unfolding around them. Kim Possible meets Animorphs meets the Hardy Boys.

Really not pleased with this book. It was so weird, and nothing really happened in the first half of the book. I really thought there was going to be much more regarding the teens' powers, and it was mostly about this murder they were solving. From 40 years ago. And their powers kick on at the most convenient moments, which is complete crap. If you have mutated DNA, you either have your powers all the time, or they're under your control, or you have absolutely no control and they pop on and off whenever they choose to. In this book, they really only kicked on when they were needed, and that's just a little too convenient. Come on, Reichs, give your characters a little bit more of a challenge! I will not be picking up Seizure, the second adventure of the Virals. (also, stupid name for a group of part canine teenagers. but that's just me).

I really wasn't too pleased with the choices I made for October/Halloween, with the exception of The Last Werewolf. Dominance is also a good book, which I'll be reviewing on here in a few days hopefully. And for anyone interested, I HIGHLY recommend The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. I'm a little over halfway through it, and am completely hooked on it.

Happy reading!
- Justin

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