06 June 2011

Review: Feed, Mira Grant's Foray Into Zombies

It's summer, which means it's time for reading a little bit lighter fare than usual, correct? It was with this in mind that I picked up Mira Grant's zombie-thriller Feed a while ago. The book had everything I want in a summer read, it looked like a quick read, it had zombies, and it was well-reviewed. In fact, the book was nominated for the prestigious Hugo Award, given annually for the best science fiction/fantasy book. Feed looked trashy and interesting, so how could I say no?

Well, I'm glad I didn't. The book in set in 2039-40 and follows two bloggers, Shaun and Georgia Mason as they cover a presidential campaign. And there are zombies. The backstory here is that a hybrid virus (called Kellis-Amberlee) formed when two separate cures (for cancer and the common cold) combined in 2014. Now, the world has no more stuffy sinuses, and tobacco is big again (why not, without cancer?). However, when the two combined, they formed a virus that lives only to reproduce, and it reanimates the dead. By the time of the book, everyone has the virus in them, it's just that most people have it in the dormant state. Death or exposure to the live virus are enough to trigger an outbreak.

I don't want to go into too much detail here, because Grant (a pen-name for Seanan Maguire) did a lot of research in epidemiology to get this story right, and it's worth reading her take on the spread of Kellis-Amberlee. What I find really interesting here is the speculative view of the future, one in which bloggers provide most of the world's news. Georgia and Shaun get selected to tag along on a presidential campaign and begin to write for what will become one of the most important blogs of them all. Of course, no zombie novel would be complete without a lot of the walking dead, and we are treated to plenty in Feed.

But what really fascinates me about this book is the cognitive dissonance it caused me. On one hand, the writing here is often incredibly stilted. I can't even begin to tell you how many times we are told that Shaun likes to poke dead things with sticks. Or all about Georgia's (our narrator) virus-caused ocular disability (her eyes are always dilated). At times it's maddening, and there are passages that make me think of this tumblr.

And yet, I couldn't put it down. The story was able to overcome choppy writing, and it was riveting. There are times in which the book is just heartbreaking, and there are moments of great humor. Overall, it comes across as an interesting critique of the role of the press in society, all without being preachy. In short, it's a fun book that is able to push beyond its own flaws. Feed is the first book of the (cringe-inducing name approaching) Newsflesh trilogy. The second (Deadline... god, the puns) was released this May, and is now in my wish list. Feed isn't the best thing you'll read this summer, but it's good. And it has a weird way of sticking with you. That, mixed with the fact that it's a fast read make it the ideal book for these hot months.

29 January 2011

Review: A King of Infinite Space

So I found this book on sale the other day for the Kindle. I also picked up Mercury Falls and Russell Wiley is Out to Lunch, but I doubt either of those will be quite as good. While the latter two are comedies or more light-hearted, A King of Infinite Space is a tense detective tale. It's a bit noir, but completely compelling and hard to put down.

Tyler Dilts writes the story of detective Danny Beckett and his partner Jen Tanaka. Beckett is a hardened homicide detective who is still struggling with the loss of his wife a couple of years earlier. They are part of a team investigating the brutal murder of a beloved young high school English teacher.

27 January 2011

Review: Mercury Falls

The world is ending. Or, at the very least, it's about to if Christine and her new-found friend Mercury can't stop it. Christine is a reporter for Christian newspaper, and Mercury is an avid enthusiast of ping-pong. Oh yeah, he's an angel as well.

Mercury Falls is the tale of Armageddon averted. It is nearly the time when the four attache cases (not horsemen) of the Apocalypse will be released and a great battle between the forces of God and Satan shall do battle. The only thing holding up the end of the world is a bit of bureaucracy. Robert Kroese paints a picture of an angelic world so caught up in red tape that they can't even figure out who is supposed to be the Antichrist. If you're a fan of dry humor and irreverence, you'll love this book.

21 January 2011

Review: Macklemore The VS EP (Not a book)

Usually you can expect to find book reviews here at Metro Marginalia, but I think I'm going to open things up a bit every now and again. And right now, I've got some music that I'm dying to talk about.

Macklemore, a rapper out of Seattle, first came to my attention with this post on my favorite baseball blog. It's his tribute to one of my favorite people ever, the voice of the Seattle Mariners, Dave Niehaus. The announcer passed away a few months ago, and to say it shocked me and others is an understatement. When I thought about it, Niehaus has to be one of the five or so voices I've heard most in my life, and he was really the voice of growing up for me. There was nothing better than turning on a Mariners game and getting to hear Dave spin a story.

Well, Macklemore and his producer Ryan Lewis got around to releasing the video for "My Oh My." And it's amazing. Take a look for yourself.


And if that was all Macklemore had ever done, I'd think of him pretty fondly. It's an amazing tribute to an amazing man. But, a cousin of mine was raving about the rapper over Christmas, so I decided to delve a bit more deeply. After all, it'd be pretty great to discover a good rapper from Seattle. 

15 January 2011

Review: Sideways

So Sideways was one of the books I had on my Christmas list this year. I'd seen the movie and wanted to find out if the book compared well. And honestly, I can't remember the last time I was so conflicted by a book. Rex Pickett's writing is terrible, but the story was awfully compelling. I gave it three stars on Goodreads, but I could have easily gone up or down one star depending on what I was really rating.