World After (Penryn & the End of Days, #2)

17849112First Lines: Everyone thinks I’m dead.

Ok, so if the beginning of this book wasn’t a big ol’ spoiler for the previous book, I would definitely give you more information.  But as it stands, that one sentence is all you get for first lines.  This was a book I moved to the top of my to-read list like a year ago and I finally tried reading it.  (I move quickly, you see.)  But first, I reread Angelfall to remember the story and the characters.  Best. Idea. Ever.

*Potential Series Spoilers Ahead*

To Penryn, the world after the angel apocalypse looks nothing like the world she knew before.  Making it seem normal again isn’t easy, especially after a group of people attack her sister, Paige, thinking Paige is a monster.  What ends in a massacre leaves a family torn apart and Paige disappears.  Desperate to find her again, Penryn takes to the empty streets of San Francisco, but a question lingers: where is everybody?  Her search reveals the angels’ plans and the depths they are willing to go to for control.  Meanwhile, Raffe can’t rejoin the angel ranks unless he gets his wings back.  But stuck between helping Penryn survive or his wings, which will he choose?

Y’all, I love this series.  There’s something that’s so different about it and I wish I could put my finger on it. But I’ll do my best.

Penryn is such a fascinating lead. She’s independent and self-reliant for such a realistic and reasonable reason: her mentally ill (and unstable) mother has never been able to care for her or her sister. So for Penryn to be clever and resourceful makes sense. She has strong survival instincts that only come more in handy in this apocalypse. I love that she’s sassy and a fighter. It makes every scene where she gets to fight back that much more exciting.

The minor characters also are a complete joy because they are so nuanced. I adore Raffe, I have a crush on Dee and Dum, and I have a place inside of me where I just want to pummel the angels for destroying Penryn’s world. But even the angels (looking at you, Uriel) have nuanced motivations and personalities. There was one moment in this book where Uriel was startled by something that happened and it sticks with me because it shows that he wasn’t planning on something happening the way it did. Penryn assessed the situation perfectly and I just can’t get over how simply perfect that one little sentence was.

The action is as amazing as ever. We haven’t seen the last of the scorpion creatures and they certainly bring a level of insanity and terror to every scene they are in. They’re just creepy and wrong. But at least we have Penryn around to kick butt (literally…just wait and see what she does in this one!) and take names. The fights are intense and I just love the way a couple of them turned out.

The world of this apocalyptic Silicon Valley is just amazing. I may never have been there, but it doesn’t matter. I can picture all the destruction and devastation as easily as if I had seen it myself. Ee pulls in a lot of landmarks that also help set the scene well.

What I loved best about this book was this tension with whether or not Penryn and Raffe would find each other again. There are a few…twists…that come along the way that I thought were well done.

Seriously, is there anything this book can’t do?

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Riders (Riders, #1)

51whxqrej2l-_sx331_bo1204203200_First Lines: When I open my eyes, all I see is darkness.  Can’t move…can’t speak…can’t think through this jaw-grinding headache.

On a recent run to the library, I loaded up on a number of YA books I’ve been meaning to read for some time.  A couple were new, a couple were older.  This was one I was like, “Eh, I like Rossi as an author and this has been on my list a while.  Let’s go.”  Besides, I can’t say I’ve ever read a Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse story before.

Gideon’s only goal for the last year has been to be a US Army Ranger, but everything changed in a moment.  Recovering from an accident that definitely killed him, Gideon finds that he has bizarre new powers and a metal cuff that appeared on his arm.  His death has turned him into War, one of the four horsemen.  Over the next few weeks, he joins forces with the other horsemen, Conquest, Famine, and Death, as well as the girl who brought them all together to stop an evil intent on destroying the world.  But they fail.  Now, bloodied, bound, and drugged, Gideon is being interrogated by the authorities in what has turned into an international incident.  To save his friends and the girl he likes–and, you know, the planet–he needs to convince government officials that the world is in danger.  But will they believe him?

Let’s start with this: this is a very unique story.  Not just with the whole four horsemen thing (although that is definitely cool), but even the chronology of the story is different.  We get the story kind of backward because it’s told through Gideon’s recollections rather than in actual chronological order.  So it gets interrupted sometimes and a few times Gideon kind of spoils what happens because, well, he knows what happened and he just hasn’t told us yet.  Yeah, it sometimes makes it a little harder to follow the story, but it was also a unique way of telling it all.  And I kind of liked it.

I also liked getting to know all of the horsemen, though I will add that I didn’t think they all got fully developed.  They all have a background that we get to know and they all have unique personalities to help them stand out against each other, but I didn’t really feel like we got to know any of them really well besides Gideon.  But in a way, this didn’t really bother me.  Gideon, for one, isn’t exactly the most observant character when it comes to human qualities.  He’s very drawn into himself and coldly observing what is going on so he can react and take action when needed.  It’s part of who he is.  So it sort of made sense that we didn’t know these characters as well as we would like because even he doesn’t really know them.  And besides, the story doesn’t exactly revolve around all four of them.  Gideon’s the one telling the story, so it’s mostly about him.

But I did really like how his character was developed.  Gideon is a very angry person (*cough* War *cough*), but there’s a reason for it.  And it was really cool to see how his past tinged everything that happened and who he is.  But really the coolest part is his military background because that sets him apart from a lot of other narrators.  It makes him methodical and emotionless while also showcasing how smart and kind he can be.  It was a really interesting combination and I was drawn into it.

The action of this was pretty good, though it took a while to really get rolling.  With the strange narration being told in reverse and the lack of action, it took me a few days to really sit down and start reading this.  I kept putting it off in favor of doing other things.  There were some moments that felt jolting, but mostly it was ok.

Overall, I thought this was definitely one of the more unique stories I’ve read this year, even if it had a few minor issues.

Knowing

Knowing is Everything…

I am so behind on my movie reviews, which is bad since I watch movies all the time.  Oh well.  What makes it here makes it here, I guess.

Now, I know some people are already looking at this like, “Really?  You watched a Nicolas Cage movie, especially this one?”  Yeah, I did.  It’s probably been on my Netflix list since it came on video 3 years ago and well, no one moved anything better up to the top of the list before this shipped.  So I felt I had to watch it.

In 1959, an elementary school decides to make a time capsule for their grand opening.  The children draw what they think the future will look like in 50 years.  However, one odd child, Lucinda, hears voices and writes down a series of numbers for her part of the time capsule.  When the time capsule is opened in 2009, Caleb Koestler gets Lucinda’s piece.  Caleb gives the writings to his father, John, who realizes these numbers are dates that correspond with tragic events and many lost lives…and three events have yet to happen.  He investigates Lucinda and her family, hoping for more information.  When Caleb starts hearing voices and seeing things, John knows he has to give everything he has to solving this.  What is happening?

I’m not really into sci-fi stuff, so this wasn’t exactly something I would go jumping up and down over anyway.  I didn’t even know it was a sci-fi until I was watching it.  I mean sure, the numbers thing, I suppose that’s sci-fi, but I saw it more as an apocalyptic movie, which I usually don’t count as sci-fi for some reason.

I know Nicolas Cage gets a lot of flack for being a bad actor, but the truth is I kind of like him.  At least in National Treasure, I did.  This was alright for him too.  It wasn’t the greatest, I didn’t get the total sense that he was as heartbroken a widower as he was supposed to be.  I did get the sense that he would do anything for Caleb, which I suppose is the whole point.  So his acting was good where it counted.

The story line is a little…odd.  Convoluted.  There’s just so much going on.  I think maybe 45 minutes tops were devoted to developing the characters and understanding Lucinda’s warnings. The rest was action, like a plane crash and John’s attempts to find out what was going on.  The last hour took place in a single night.

I liked the movie alright right up until the last twenty or thirty minutes.  Part of the problem was the characters started acting rashly because they were panicking, but it just seemed…fake, I guess.  I don’t know.  Then the ending just came out of nowhere like, “Really?  That’s how you’re going to wrap this up?”  I was confused and it was all so sudden.  Like, BAM!  Here’s your ending!  Thanks, have a nice day!

So all in all, it wasn’t as awful as I think most people make it out to be just because Cage stars in it.  It’s not.  But the ending can definitely throw you for a loop.

Zombicorns

First Lines: Pre-zombification, my dad was already obsessed with corn.  He told me almost every day that corn was in control of us.

My lovely roommate and her boyfriend recommended this to me when they saw I was reading a book about zombies while they were talking.  Since it was written by John Green (and they kept chanting “Zombiecorns!”), I decided to go for it.

This follows Mia, a young girl who happened to retain her humanity in a world that is turning to zombies because of mutant corn.  It rotates between present narration and memories, making the story feel more in your face.

Keep in mind, this is only a novella.  It’s about 60 pages long and I believe it’s only available in ebook style.  I had it emailed to me by my roommate’s boyfriend, who happened to still have it on his computer.  I’ve heard you can get it for free, but I’m not sure from where.

This is totally not something I would have read on my own.  I like zombie stories, so long as they aren’t zombie apocalypses.  When they told me what this was about, I was seriously leery.  But I did, so that if there were any jokes made this year about it, I’d get them.

It wasn’t terrible.  It wasn’t John Green’s normal writing style, either.  It took until about chapter 4 for me to realize our narrator was a girl.  There was nothing before that to help me out.  It was all first person narration, so I couldn’t tell.  I just figured since all of Green’s other main characters were guys, this one was too.

It was actually a little sweet and a little suspenseful, too.  But very, very weird.  Mutant corn that turns people into zombies?  Odd.  And that took quite a while to get used to.  It was pretty good after that.

If zombie apocalypses happen to be your thing, check this out.