ARC Review of Untold by Sarah Rees Brennan

UntoldAs I promised in my review of Sarah Rees Brennan’s Unspoken, we recently got our hands on the ARC of the second book in the series, Untold. When Kate was reading Untold she sent me wonderfully mean texts such as “I laughed out loud at page 61’s description of kissing” and I begged her to tell me all of its secrets, especially if they were kissing secrets. I even picked a mutual friend up from the train station expressly for the purpose of getting this book from him after he had visited Kate in Portland. He was pleased AND confused.

Llllladies, Untold is great. It’s really great. It takes all the momentum from Unspoken, and just keeps moving in really interesting, dynamic ways. I will not spoil anything for Untold, but I will talk about a couple of plot points from Unspoken, if you haven’t read it yet (Why haven’t you read it yet? Go get it!).

All of the things I love about Unspoken are still there in Untold. Kami is still a really great protagonist. The writing is excellent, the characters are charming, and most importantly, it’s everything book two in a trilogy should be. Things Happen in this book, it in no way feels like a placeholder, and it still manages to set things up for what promises to be a very interesting book three. Continue reading

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Late to the Party: World War Z (The Book)

[This is the first in a continuing series, Late to the Party, talking about culture that’s not so ‘pop’ anymore, because sometimes you have things to do for years on end instead of reading the latest book or watching the latest movie.  Max Brooks’s World War Z came out in 2006 and I’m only now getting around to read it.]

On the gorgeous Friday of Memorial Day weekend, my partner and I set off to Portland.  I had heard good things about the audiobook of World War Z and, knowing little about it except that people liked it and there were zombies, we downloaded it for the 3.5 hour drive.

[Note: An unabridged audiobook came out May 14 of this year but was not available for purchase on iTunes on Memorial Day weekend.  Or I didn’t see it.  Whatever.  Either way, this article is primarily about the abridged version of the audiobook, which has been in the market since 2007.]

I do want to be clear about this up front: I like a LOT of this work, both the audiobook and the book.  (After I finished listening to the audio, I ended up borrowing a copy to compare the two.)  Brooks’ prose isn’t necessarily anything to write home about, but the level of research and commitment that he brought to this hypothetical situation is outstanding.  I think that it achieves one of the most important objectives of science fiction, which is an earnest re-examination of our lives as they are through the lens of what they might become.

But (you knew there was a ‘but’ coming!), this achievement makes Brooks’s failures stand out in greater contrast.

Spoilers: There will be some about this work and the seminal zombie masterpiece, Night of the Living Dead.

Continue reading