Thursday, 24 February 2011

Thomas Emson – Zombie Britannica

During an unprecedented heat wave a zombie outbreak occurs. With the dead rising the living have to fight to survive. The story follows three main characters – Carrie in London, Vincent in North Wales and Craig in Scotland.

There was a great mix of characters in this book. Some of whom were likeable and others that were horrible. The three main characters each had their own storyline and the narrative switched between them throughout. My favourite of the three storylines was probably that of Vincent, trapped in Beaumaris Castle (I’m planning a trip to North Wales later in the year so I will be able to picture the zombies whilst looking around the castle!). I also really enjoyed Carrie’s storyline and her companion Sawyer was my favourite character in the book. Craig’s storyline was the least interesting to me, I didn’t particularly like him or his companions and therefore wasn’t too bothered about what was happening to them.

The book was fast paced throughout which made me want to keep on reading to find out what happened. There was a lot of violence and gore so not recommended for those who are easily bothered by that kind of thing. I quite liked the style of the book although I think that in places it could have been better written, this did not detract from the story at all for me though.

One thing that I did notice that someone should have picked up before sending the book to print is that Britannica is spelt correctly on the cover but it is spelt incorrectly (Brittanica) on the inside title pages.

I enjoyed reading this book, it was quick ,easy and entertaining. I will probably read some more of Thomas Emson’s work in the future.

Monday, 21 February 2011

Jo Nesbo – The Snowman

Harry Hole is a Detective who is on the case of a woman who has disappeared from her home. When another woman is found murdered Harry believes there may be a link and that he may be facing a serial killer which is an extremely rare occurrence in Norway.

I chose this book as part of the Criminal Plots Reading Challenge. I have decided to review this one in the category “A Different Country” although it is also from a new to me series. The book is set in Olso, Norway and I live in the UK.

I liked Harry Hole as a character, he was interesting and quite likeable despite his flaws. I liked the characterisation throughout the book. Whilst many of the characters were not particularly likeable people I did feel like I got to know them and that they were three dimensional and interesting.

The storyline was good and it kept me interested throughout. I did feel that at 550 pages the book was perhaps a little long and I think it would have been better had it been a little shorter as it did seem to be a little dragged out towards the end.

I liked the Oslo setting although I don’t think it made the book particularly different from one set elsewhere. There was the snow of course but there are plenty of places where it snows quite a lot.

I thought the translation was quite well done. One thing that I found a little odd was that the men were still referred to as herr and the women frau (and they weren’t capitalised which I thought was strange but I suppose that must be the way Norwegians write it). I think it was supposed to add to the Norwegian-ness of the book but I found it a little odd. All the other translated books that I have read have referred to Mr/ Mrs/ Miss etc.

This was the first Jo Nesbo book that I have read. It’s not the first Harry Hole book in the series but that didn’t matter, it worked well as a standalone and I didn’t feel that I was missing anything from not having read the previous novels. I would say that the book was average. I enjoyed it and would be interested to read more Jo Nesbo in future especially as I liked Harry Hole but I won’t be rushing to do so immediately as there are the other authors that I will be more excited about reading.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

John Wyndham - The Day of the Triffids

One night strange lights appear in the sky, everyone that sees them is rendered blind. Bill Masen was in hospital with his eyes bandaged and didn’t see the lights and therefore his eyesight is saved. As well as the problem of most of the population being unable to see there is also the problem of the Triffids. Large carnivorous plants that have been bread for their valuable oils are now able to easily prey on the humans.

I love post-apocalyptic fiction and having never read The Day of the Triffids before I decided it was about time I did. I already had some idea of the plot, as I have watched a couple of T.V. adaptations in the past but I didn’t really remember them very well.

The novel was first published in 1951 and I think it has aged really well, it doesn’t feel dated and there are only a few things that occasionally give away its age. The first is when Bill wakes up in hospital and looks out of the window he is surprised that none of the houses have smoke coming from their chimneys. Secondly when Bill finds a nice apartment in a rich area of London to stay in for the night it is mentioned that the rent would have been expensive at about £2000 a year, whereas nowadays the rent would be more than that for a month! The third thing is that the Second World War is not long passed and there are suspicions implied towards Russia. Aside from those few things there is little to give away that it is 60 years old as it still manages to feel fresh and modern.

I really enjoyed the book, it pulled me in immediately and kept me eager for more throughout. I liked that as well as the difficulties of trying to survive generally there is the added complication of the Triffids making the situation so much more dangerous, even for the people who still have their sight.

I liked the writing style and the characters. I did feel at times that a few things were a little too convenient but that did not spoil my enjoyment of the book at all. It is far better than the adaptations that I have seen (but then the book always is better so no surprise there) so if you like post-apocalyptic fiction then it’s definitely one to add to the reading list, I can’t believe it has taken me this long to get to it!

Friday, 4 February 2011

Stephen King – The Gunslinger (Dark Tower 1)

The first in the Dark Tower series, we meet Roland, the last Gunslinger, as he makes his way across the desert in pursuit of the Man in Black and begin to learn about his quest to reach the Dark Tower.

This is the second time that I have read The Gunslinger. I’ll be honest, the first time I read it I hated it, but that was about 12 years ago. I picked it up again because Amanda over at Floor to Ceiling Books had decided to host a readalong of the series. I love the rest of the books in the series so decided to join in.

This time around I enjoyed the book. It took effort to only read the pages being discussed for the weeks readalong post and not just carry on and finish the whole book. In fact, I’m not even sure why I didn’t like the book before (although I wasn’t alone in not liking it). I found the imagery fantastic. I could really picture the bleak landscapes that Roland and Jake were crossing and Roland’s flashbacks really felt alive.

Perhaps I enjoyed it this time around because I know where the story is going (and how it ends) so I wasn’t constantly waiting for answers that weren’t coming. Perhaps it’s because I have read a lot more King since then (at the time of my first read of The Gunslinger I had read quite a lot of King but now I have read almost everything he has published, with the exception of two full length novels and probably a handful of short stories), or perhaps it’s simply because I’m 12 years older than I was back then. Whatever the reason I’m glad I re-read the book. It was nice to be back In Roland’s world and I shall re-read the rest of the series before too long as well as I now have the taste for it.