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Dun dun…dun dun…

It’s that time of the year. That time people are venturing out into the water, and the irrational lizard brain that lurks in my skull thinks of nothing but that damned movie. The one with the two note villain.

Now, I may have mentioned it before, but I have something close to a phobia when it comes to sharks. Though I lived in NE for much of my young life and knew that these toothsome predators were unlikely (though not impossible) in my ecological neck of the…ocean, I still never had much interest in swimming in the ocean. Frankly, even lakes with fish sometimes freak me out. I’m much more comfortable in pools, and even rivers feel a little less stressful (unless they’re coastal. Bull sharks, after all.) than the open water of the Big Blue. It is one of my goals that when I finish with school (hopefully another year or so) and after a little physical preparation, I’m going to go shark diving off Guadalupe Island and see the Great Whites up close.

Yikes, dude.

Talk about facing your fears head on.

But seriously, I’m going to do it. I believe myself a little more each time I say it, too. So the irrational fear has becomes something of a fascination. Instead of imagining the animatronic Bruce from the movie Jaws, I am just thinking “big predator with big teeth, massive appetite and dangerous curiosity.” The curiosity and big teeth being the problem for most people. If you don’t have hands, the way you feel your way through the world is with your chompers….ouch.

Sooo….. given my love of all things horror, I picked up the audiobook of Jaws by Peter Benchley and thought it appropriate for a summer “read.” What I found most interesting was how the story completely and profoundly changed from in the translation from book to movie. I’ve seen the movie plenty of times to note the differences almost immediately, but in the sake of fairness, before I start talking about them, I’m going to go re-watch the film. Look for an upcoming post about this odd couple – the book and the film, Jaws.

Something Like a Review – World of Trouble by Ben H. Winters

Since I’m still awake and I haven’t yet seen this week’s episode of True Blood, I’m calling it Sunday, still. By the time most of you read this, it will be Monday and perhaps pretty susceptible to dreams of the world coming to a resounding end if only to escape Monday morning. I’ll be right there with you, I promise, but for now, I’m still clinging to Sunday and the song that keeps running through my head is this one:

In the third installation of The Last Policeman Books (III), World of Trouble picks up with our hero, Hank Palace 14 days before impact. Maia, also known as 2011GV1, is on her final trajectory with the Earth and Palace is on his final crusade: to find his sister Nico before the world ends.

I won’t go too far into detail, since to provide enough detail to give insight into what’s happening is to spoil the previous books. Suffice to say that Palace is battle born, but determined to find his sister, no matter what it takes. 

While I enjoyed the previous two books in the series, this one was the best of the three and my favorite by far. Perhaps it was the changes in Palace, or in the ambiance of the world knowing it was on the brink of the disaster. Maybe it was the quest he was on; I can’t say for sure what “did it” for me with this book, but I can highlight my favorite part:

…the last page (and a half). The final scene. Not only was it brilliantly fitting for the entire story arc, not only was it the end that the world deserved, it was beautifully, poetically rendered. The first time I read it, I realized that I’d read it way too fast, yet still managed a “wow.” I read it again, slowly this time. I read it a third time, smiled, breathed a sigh and put the book aside.

Happy endings aren’t a prerequisite for a smile, mind you, but fitting ends earn them. This one earned it. To someone picking up the book just to read the last page and a half, it wouldn’t hold the same beauty, but it was something the world had been spiraling towards, and a change that Palace had earned after his trials and struggles.

The previous two books seemed somewhat rushed towards the conclusion, but this one seemed to have a much more fitting pace, as though Winters mastered the arc of the story with the third installation (or perhaps I was just getting used to the genre). In this book, even the heavy part of the arc felt right, felt well-timed, and if not happy – justified by everything that came before, and resolved by everything that came after.

I definitely recommend this one, and would even call it the crowning jewel of the series, the caveat being that without the other books in the series, it won’t have the same impact (the pun was convenient, though not intended. Let’s call it serendipity…).

Medium: Dead-tree version provided for review by Quirk Books

Other: Available in various formats from Amazon.com

Overall rating: 4 stars

Potential re-read: Most likely, even if for just the final scene.

Dead-tree worthy?: This book has made me reconsider whether this series would earn a spot on my shelf. While I may not justify space for all three, I would keep the third one on the shelf with the other two on the Kindle so I can go back through the entire series.

Something Like a Review – Countdown City by Ben H. Winters

So, pro tip, kids, pay attention to the dates you’re selecting when auto-publishing to your blog and double-check the dates you put in your calendar instead of relying on faulty memory. And once you’ve got your dates right, make sure you’ve got those dates assigned to the right posts.

I could give lots of excuses, but instead, I’ll just post the next installment in The Last Policeman Series by Ben H. Winters and let you know that the final installment will post this week. Hope you enjoy!

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World of Trouble, (Book III of the Last Policeman Series) by Ben H. Winters releases today, and because of preventable errors (see pro tip above), I’m going to whet your appetite and let you wriggle on the hook for an extra couple of days.

When we last left our hero, Hank Palace, he was bravely persevering under the impending doom of 2011GV1, Maia, the cosmic death sentence hurtling towards Earth on a 6 month countdown. Unlike many in the world around him, he pursued the truth around a suicide he just couldn’t accept as the final act of someone staring down imminent death. Avoiding spoilers as much as possible, Palace’s hunch was justified and he prevailed. Now let’s hurry down the timeline.

Seventy-seven days to go. No longer a policeman, Palace can’t let go of the only life he’s known and wanted. Especially after a high school crush reaches out and asks for help in finding her husband. Instead of writing off Brett Cavatone as a bucket-list-chaser, Palace uses his skills to find out what really happened, even when it means more danger to him than he could have anticipated.

After the first book, I was very curious to see how this one compared and eschewed nights of homework to burn through it. The idea of the world on the brink of collapse and under the pressures of an impending cataclysmic event is a HUGE draw for me, and Winters does a great job of weaving this tense thread throughout the narrative. I enjoyed this installation more than the first, but I think it was because I was already looking forward to see Palace’s development after certain personal events in the first book.

What I liked most about this one was the mounting sense of pressure that ran parallel to the details hinting at the escalating decay of society around him. I like the slow reduction of the social and technological comforts upon which we all rely. It was uncomfortable to see him go through his investigation without the convenience of phones, or internet, or even the social order that is ubiquitous in our every day life, but easy to imagine in the world Winters creates.

Like the previous book, either I’m not used to teasing out the subtle threads, or Palace’s sleuthing was genius and left me in the dust. The pace with which it resolved was better than The Last Policeman, but it still seemed fast. As I mentioned in my previous post, this could just be my perception and somewhat lacking familiarity with the genre. All in all, this was a very minor stumbling block; the story was deeper, more complex and even the elements that don’t seem possible in the context of our current reality created a plausible world in the shadow of the impending disaster. The end of the world makes the world change, and from the comfort of my room, those uncomfortable changes are believable.

 

Seventy-seven days until impact.

Hold on, kids…the end is nigh.

(Look for the final Something Like a Review for World of Trouble coming later this week…but if you can’t wait, pick up the whole series now…)

Medium: Dead-tree version provided for review by Quirk Books

Other: Available in various formats from Amazon.com

Overall rating: 4 stars

Potential re-read: Maybe, and for the same reasons I posted about previously.

Dead-tree worthy?: Though I’d prefer not to repeat myself (because it’s boring for you to read, and boring for me to type), I’ll say that I’m going to “ditto” my previous post for this question. Since the shelf isn’t getting any bigger while my stack of books is, all I can say is “no” but qualifying it with: “…while I can’t justify space on the shelf, I could justify space on the Kindle, or the time to get it from the library.”

Something Like a Review – The Last Policeman by Ben H. Winters

July 13, 2014 1 comment

I will be the first to admit that I have a particular affinity for Quirk Books. Their sense of humor and mine are pretty well-matched, so when they offered me a chance to read and review The Last Policeman series by Ben Winters, I jumped at it. I had been interested in the first one when it came out, but school being what it is, I didn’t run to get because I didn’t need a distraction. With a light(er) course load now, I took my chance.

As I mentioned in my earlier post, I will be doing a little countdown of my own to celebrate the release of the newest book in the series on July 17th. Look for the second installment bright and early on Sunday, July 13th (no, I won’t be getting up early, I just scheduled it that way. Ahh, technology…).

To risk sounding as if I’m waxing poetic, let’s just say that this book was pretty much a perfect fit for my interests. How could I not love it? The world is ending, and not just the slow (likely) death of destroying our habitat, or the sudden catastrophic end of nuclear war, but the conscious impending obliteration by asteroid 2011GV1, better known as Maia. With six months left until impact, the world and what we know as civilization is in a downward spiral and even though many are questioning or ignoring the rules that governed society, Hank Palace isn’t giving up so easy. 

I was pleasantly surprised to see it was set in Concord, NH, a city that doesn’t get enough attention for the colorful setting and characters therein. It’s been a while since I’ve spent any real “quality” time there, so I can’t say for certain if he’d gotten the details right, but there are enough that are true and long-standing enough that I recognized this world, though warped by an impending death sentence. Not only that, I could believe Hank as a New Englander, a level-headed, salt-of-the-earth type still doing his job, still doing what’s right while half the world is intent on pursuing their bucket list before the end. When confronted with a suicide, he’s not content to accept it at face value, pursuing the truth in spite of the impending end of the world. He investigates the lost life to uncover the real story.

I won’t give it away, but there is valor in Palace’s pursuit, and the adventure gives insight into this pre-post-apocalyptic world that made me want to look deeper into it and see more of it. Not only did I think Hank was believable and real, I found myself imagining that I knew the cop he’d been based on, though my real-life Hank Palace was from a different town and possessed a little less imagination and gumption.

The one issue I had with the story is probably more an issue with me than an issue with the story. The unraveling of the mystery and how quickly he figured the chain of events and the root of the explanation felt artificially quick, almost forced. BUT – since mysteries and police novels (procedural or otherwise) aren’t my normal reading fare, my expectation of a slower reveal and being able to pick up on and follow the breadcrumb trail may be unrealistic, making this my issue alone. Or maybe I just missed the clues. Overall, this was an enjoyable story and I was excited to pick up the next one to see what happened next, especially for the slow disintegration of a doomed society.

Medium: Dead-tree version provided for review by Quirk Books

Other: Available in various formats from Amazon.com

Overall rating: 4 stars

Potential re-read: Maybe. Knowing the end, I would like to go back and see if I can find the breadcrumb trail and determine if the resolution was as fast as I perceived it to be, or if I was just entirely oblivious (which is a significant possibility). For the “yes” side of the re-read question, I love apocalyptic fiction, and for the “no,” crime/police/mystery type novels aren’t my favorite, so while I enjoyed it, it’s not an immediate draw for a re-read.

Dead-tree worthy?: With the ever-increasing struggle for space and the wishy-washy answer regarding a re-read, I’m going to go with “no,” here. I’m being more picky with what books take up room in my life, and while I can’t justify space on the shelf, I could justify space on the Kindle, or the time to get it from the library.

It’s the End of the World as We Know it…

July 6, 2014 1 comment

…and I feel fine…

(You’re welcome for the earworm, by the way.)

Ok, so maybe I just got back from a weekend of being spoiled, maybe I’m sporting a sparkly red mani/pedi, and maybe I have a glass of wine sitting right beside me. Maybe I ought to be doing homework, but instead, I’m watching Thor: The Dark World and drooling over Tom Hiddleston and the thought of him ruling me like a benevolent god, but hey, it’s Sunday, my weekly minimum scholastic requirements have been met, and I’m taking a bit of a break. Things are, in general, looking up, or I’ve gotten on balance enough to roll with the chaos around me. Either way, I have at least the beginning of a track built and enough gusto to get back on what’s there. It may be slow going, but a beginning is a beginning is a beginning.

To kick off a new beginning, let’s start at the end. The end of the world.

I love apocalyptic fiction, and to celebrate the upcoming release of World of Trouble: The Last Policeman Book III by Ben H. Winters on Tuesday, I’ll be doing Something Like a Review on the whole series. The first book will be reviewed on Tuesday, The Last Policeman, followed by Countdown City on Sunday, and a review of World of Trouble on release day!

That is enough for now. Please excuse me while I drool over Tom and Chris Hemsworth, who is “still all muscly and everything…” I’ll be back later with more. Until then…

 

 

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