Reviews, rants, and tidbits from an overpassionate novelist

Posts tagged ‘horror’

THE UNBECOMING OF MARA DYER: THOUGHTS & REVIEW

I’ll admit it. I read this book for the cover:

Come on. It’s gorgeous. Emotional. Thought-provoking. I wanted to know what it was about.

I’m going to give you an important piece of information up front: It’s a cliffhanger in the worst way. Very little is resolved at the end. It is not a self-contained story.

Buuuut I am looking forward to reading the rest.

Strengths:

The story blurs genres and borders on literary. Are we reading about the supernatural or simply post-traumatic stress disorder? Young adults who have been diagnosed with anxiety/depression/bipolar are common and this book exaggerates and begs the questions the many of them are asking: How crazy is crazy?

The love interest is a fantastic character. A modern Mr. Darcy with plenty of style, flirtation, flaw, and appeal. Reading this as purely a love story is very reductive compared to what it tries to be, with the many other elements it explores – but it’s probably the most effective and appealing way to read it.

The letter at the very beginning is pretty cool. You find out that Mara Dyer isn’t Mara Dyer’s real name, but simply the name she’s chosen to work with while she writes out this story. She’s telling this story for a reason – this appeals to me immensely.

Flaws:

Of course, its failure to be a self-contained story is a flaw.

I don’t think Michelle Hodkin really meant to portray anything like PTSD, and the way the story is set up is somewhat misleading about it. PTSD is a disorder which involves a person who is unable to stop thinking about a traumatic event. Mara finds it pretty darn easy to move on. After the first seventy pages or so, it’s easy to forget that this girl’s best childhood friend and boyfriend just died. I understand the author probably felt pressure to avoid angsting but… a girl in that situation would probably, in fact, angst a bit. She has every license to angst a bit. And she doesn’t. She just moves along, pursues new relationships, and comes off as a bit of a sociopath. I was truly hoping that the novel would climax in her realizing all of the emotion she’s been repressing – no such luck.

The quotations on the back are misleading. This book is not that scary! Mara, whose head we are always within, operates under the assumption that the scary things that happen to her are not real, but hallucinations and delusions. They don’t fail to operate in that way.

Hope this is helpful.

FEED BY M. T. ANDERSON: THE HORROR, THE HORROR!

This book gave me a panic attack.

I say this as a testament to its power. The vision of this dystopian novel is both beautiful and horrifying. A few generations from now, technology will exponentially expand possibilities for travel – fly to the moon for a vacation, zip across the country in your upcar – but as that technology developed and humanity became so dependent upon them, corporations became king. The government is their pawn.

As the accumulation of this corruption and the technological advancement, people have something called the FEED, a microchip, implanted into their brains. They can communicate with their friends and co-workers instantaneously, enabling telepathy at all times, and Facebook forever frames their vision. Everyone has constant access to the Internet, so School(TM) is a sham of its former self.

Sounds okay so far, right? Well, the FEED also replaces basic body functions, so it’s impossible to disable once it’s been implanted. Carriers of the Feed are doomed to forever be barraged with ADVERTISEMENTS for anything they look at and happen to like – from a pair of pants to a news article – as the Feed tries to catch onto their habits and tastes and know how to market to them.

Constant advertisements full of flattery, cliche language, and impossible promise in conjunction with abounding instant gratification turns people into a society of UNEDUCATED BRATS, who take boundless luxury for granted and are unable to deal with sickness, death, and the realities of the universe.

This book was difficult for me to read, and THAT FACT is the most terrifying of all. I didn’t want to deal with it, the way the characters don’t want to deal with any reality beyond the cocoon of their boundlessly giving Feed.

It was fascinating to read alongside The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson, not to mention Rand’s Atlas Shrugged.

Five stars for horror, vision, and accuracy.

HORROR, WEDDINGS, AND CROCHET :)

I went to the bookstore yesterday on a high from the conference. Never a good idea. Then again, I may singlehandedly save the industry at the rate I’m going.

I’m kidding. What I actually did was sit down with a HUMONGOUS stack of magazines. Like:

This.

This.

Except not that neat.

I looked over the entire back wall of a Books-A-Million and picked up anything that looked interesting to me. I picked up crochet magazines because I used to love to crochet. I picked up wedding magazines because I’ve had some pretty cool wedding stories in my life. I looked over film review magazines because that’s something I want to learn how to do. I looked at horror magazines because that’s a little like fantasy–but, as I decided, not much.

I flipped through to see which one took fictions and checked out a few other sections that I might like to write for. Then I picked a handful that seemed like the best winners for me (and my budget):

Writer’s Journal
Realms of Fantasy
Writer’s Digest
American Girl (which I’ve already discovered does not take fiction submissions)

I also picked up Otaku USA because I’m also running an anime review blog under a persona.

The final think I bought was The Waters and the Wild by Francesca Lia Block. Four things to say about that:

1. I want Jennifer Heuer to do my jacket cover.
2. The synopsis of this book grabbed me…and then I discovered it didn’t do justice to the first chapter.
3. That name is too pretty to be real. It’s either a pseudonym or the lady’s parents are overpassionate.
4.  $17 is too much for that tiny hardback. I only bought it on a binge.

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