Review: ‘Degrees of Freedom’ by Simon Morden

.

Degrees of Freedom

Metrozone #3

Author: Simon Morden 

Format: galley

Publisher: Orbit

Release Date: 6/1/11

Length: 384 pages

Acquired: Net Galley

[excerpt]

.

.

The blurb:

The Six Degrees of Samuel Petrovitch:

  • Michael is an AI of incalculable complexity trapped under the remains of Oshicora Tower. Petrovitch will free him one day; he just has to trust Michael will still be sane by the time he does.
  • Maddy and Petrovitch have trust issues. But Petrovitch is pretty sure she loves him.
  • Sonja Oshicora loves Petrovitch, too. But she’s playing a complicated game and it’s not clear that she means to save him from what’s coming.
  • The CIA wants to save the world. Well, just America, but they’ll call it what they like.
  • The New Machine Jihad is calling. But Petrovitch killed it. Didn’t he?
  • And the Armageddonists tried to kill pretty much everyone by blowing the world up. Now, they want to do it again.

Once again, all roads lead back to Petrovitch. Everyone wants something from him, but all he wants is to be free …

.

My spoiler-riddled thoughts:

I’m a bad book reviewer. Baaaad. I’ve had this book in my ereader since shortly after the release of the first book in the Metrozone trilogy, Equations of Life. I even finished reading it a couple of days after it was released on June 1st. I’ve just been a slacker and have little excuse for not getting this review done and for that, I apologize profusely. Because this book… was awesome.

I think one of my issues with putting off this review (though this is by no means the only review I’ve had pending for weeks!) is that there is SO MUCH information in this book to cover! In all of them, really, and I’m lamenting the fact that I didn’t go back and reread the first two before diving into this one because Mr. Morden packs a ton of information into each book and then refers to it, directly or not, in each subsequent book. So yes, even after a month or two, it’s possible to forget multiple little tidbits that can leave you thinking, “Huh?” as it’s referenced in a later book in the series. At least, it’s possible for me.

So… on to talking about Degrees of Freedom! And spoilers. Be warned. I toss out spoilers like Samuil Petrovitch tosses out curse words in Russian.

This third and final (that I’m aware of) installment of The Metrozone trilogy finds Sam in the Freezone, nearly a year after the Outies nearly overran the Metrozone in a violent invasion that killed tens of thousands. Everything north of the Thames has been isolated and dubbed the Freezone, with Sonja Oshicora as its leader and Sam as its symbol of perseverance and hope. Michael, the AI that’s the remnant of the intelligence Sonja’s father created as part of Virtual Japan which became the New Machine Jihad before Sam took it down, is still buried beneath the ruins of Oshicora Tower since an attempt by America to kill it. Him. Michael is a him and he’s Sam’s friend and Sam is determined to free him.

But the world is watching and the Freezone’s one year of freedom from outside intervention is nearly over. All Sam wants is freedom. For himself, for his wife, for his friends and for Michael. He’s been planning something in secret, planning for a vision he had in Theories of Flight and he’s nearly there when, what else? Everything goes to hell. Sam, who is well on his way to becoming a genius post-apocalyptic bionic man, always seems to get blindsided and have his careful plans stomped into bitter little bits of disappointment and regret. But then again, he’s quick to think around a problem and figure out a solution so he’s well-suited to face whatever comes his way.

Or is he? He’s pretty much estranged from his wife, Maddy… Pif is imprisoned in America and his one hope of freeing her is someone from his past that he’d rather not be involved with… there’s suddenly a nuclear threat in the heart of the Freezone… and the New Machine Jihad has risen again. As if that weren’t enough to be going on with, Sam has been betrayed and he doesn’t know who to suspect so he kind of suspects everyone. All while he’s trying to save Michael while the CIA is trying to stop him from doing so. Yeah, that whole raining/pouring thing.

Of course, as an ardent fan of this new trilogy, I had complete faith in Sam during the shit storm through which he was attempting to navigate his way to freedom. I wasn’t worried at all. Not a bit. Nope.

One of the many things about this story that’s somewhat amazed and delighted me is how quickly I became familiar with -and fond of- the main character, Sam Petrovitch. His brashness and devil may care attitude are endearing and I quickly noticed when he acted out of character or did something that I wouldn’t have expected him to do. One example is his tendency to swear in Russian. A lot.

At one point, he’s discussing the nuclear threat with Cardinal Carillo:

“We’re in Armageddonist territory here, Your fucking Excellency, and if I don’t have some answers soon, it’s going to be too shitting late to do anything about it.”

After that sentence I had a waitjustaminuteSamdoesn’tswearlikethat! moment. And then I read the next sentence and had a good laugh about it, partly because I called the unusual nature of his cursing in English and partly because he wasn’t very good at it:

“I’m not used to swearing in English, but I’m making the effort because you’re a Yank, and it’s important that you understand just how trouser-pissingly scary this all is.”

Being brilliant and having saved the Metrozone from annihilation not once, but twice before, doesn’t keep Sam from getting down in the dumps now and again. He’s only human -mostly- and he gets depressed, too.

‘He knew it wasn’t meant to be this way, and yet there he was, underground, damaged beyond repair, out of battery power, threatened by entombment, nuclear annihilation and a woman scorned. Pizdets.

This story is so fast paced, the plot literally flies by and keeps you holding onto the edge of your seat, or clutching tightly to the edges of your book, rather… wondering if Sam will accomplish all that he’s set out to do… if he’ll manage, once more, to pull it all together and win the day. Or if his plans will fail miserably as the best laid plans are wont to do.

For anyone who has yet to pick up this series, I highly, highly recommend it. Morden has created a world and characters that I would be delighted to visit again. Aside from the re-reads of this trilogy that I’ve got planned and Thy Kingdom Come, Morden’s collection of short stories that preface the events in Equations, that is.

.

Fave quotes:

“What if an AI shows signs of independent, creative thought? What if it can empathize? What if it has the capacity for generosity, altruism, compassion?” ~Father John to Sam

“Far be it for me to point out some flaws in your plan, but are you a complete mudak?” ~Sam to Dalton

“I don’t know what to say. I’m supposed to be the king of the futile gesture, and here I am, trumped by some stupid Yankee lawyer.” ~Sam to Dalton

‘Misdirection. It was harder work than mere secrecy.’

‘Everything was temporary. Nothing lasted forever, not things, not people, not love, not time itself.’

“I haven’t got the energy. Find me a power source. Or vodka. Both, preferably.” ~Sam to Valentina

“My voice is permanently stuck between sarcastic and condescending, no matter how hard I try for the dizzying heights of irony.”

“Talking geek at you always made you horny.” ~Sam to Maddy

“We’re dealing with people who are comfortable with nuclear terrorism. Stabby, shooty stuff might be the least of our worries.” ~Sam to Lucy

“How come this is so obvious to me, but not to you bunch of emotionally retarded grown-ups?” ~Lucy

“Old Man Oshicora had a sense of humor, as well as being a cold-hearted murderer. I suppose the two aren’t mutually exclusive.” ~ Sam to Tabletop

“Amongst all the other things I’ve also fucked up, this has to take the crown jewels for the thing I’ve fucked up the most, right?” ~Sam to Tabletop

“Lucy, I’m tired of this. Tired of trying to fix things that shouldn’t be broken in the first place. i want to make something new that doesn’t have to be squeezed into an earlier pattern.” ~Sam

“I wouldn’t want anyone’s burka spontaneously catching fire because of something I’ve said.” ~Sam to Yasmina Surur

“Hi. My name’s Samuil Petrovitch, and I now run this show. If someone wants to own up to being in charge, speak now, because what you say will have a dramatic effect on your life expectancy.”

“I feel some shock and awe coming on.” ~Sam

“It’s as if a whole world of cultural meaning has cried out in terror and been suddenly silenced.” ~Sam

“This is revolution. Where is end? I do not know. All I know, this is beginning and we must be brave.” ~Valentina

“Meh, if I’m going to fail, I may as well fail spectacularly.” ~Sam

.

Advertisements

Review: ‘Spirit’ by Graham Masterton

.

Spirit

Author: Graham Masterton

Format: galley (also available 4/15/11 on audio book)

Publisher: Unbridled Books (also on Twitter)

Release Date: 11/2001 (first published in the UK in 1995)

Length: 432 pages

Acquired: from the publisher via NetGalley

.

.

.

Publisher’s summary:

Laura and Elizabeth Buchanan’s lives were changed forever when their little sister Peggy was found dead in the icy water of the family’s pool.

But Peggy never left her sisters. As Laura and Elizabeth grow up, a string of inexplicable deaths threatens to shatter their lives. Each corpse shows signs of frostbite–and each victim’s dying moments are tortured by a merciless little girl in a white dress.

.

My thoughts, which contain spoilers:

As the synopsis states, Laura and Lizzie Buchanan lose their younger sister during the winter of 1940 when she fell through the ice over the family pool and drowns. While this understandably devastates their parents, Laura and Lizzie are quite young when it happens and so, again understandably, aren’t affected as dramatically by Peggy’s death. In fact, a few nights later, they build a snow girl out in the yard and dress her in Peggy’s clothing which unwittingly and perfectly unintentionally, binds her spirit to them.

Only the spirit of young Peggy Buchanan doesn’t manifest as Peggy Buchanan. Rather, she takes the form of a girl from a favorite story which was read to her often by her eldest sister, Lizzie. The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen was a rather scary fairy tale and the lost spirit of Peggy Buchanan not only takes the form of the girl from the story, she is also able to manifest the Snow Queen herself when she takes her revenge and the Snow Queen is a frightening entity.

For some reason, spirit Peggy feels that she needs to protect her older sisters. Forever. And by protect, I mean kill and or maim anyone who does them harm, does them wrong or even just gets too close to them. While it’s expected for lost little Peggy to want to take revenge on someone who has hurt one of her sisters, it didn’t really make sense to me that she would feel the need to harm a person who hadn’t actually done anything but help one of them out… or someone who made one of them very happy later in life.

I had two distinctly different feelings while reading this book. The first was that the story was exciting and properly horrifying at times and I couldn’t wait to see what happened next, when Peggy would  manifest again, what Lizzie and Laura would do about it. The second, drastically different feeling was that kind of feeling you get when you read the same line over and over, your eyes start to glaze over and you thumb ahead to see how many pages you’ll have to suffer through before the end of the chapter.

While the premise of the story was good —very good, mind, else I’d not have requested the book from the publisher– Masterton either didn’t fully develop his characters to understand what was going as the years passed in the story or he just plain dragged the thing out too long. Way too long. Most likely both as I feel that the book was indeed too long and so there were more glazed eyes inducing scenes than there should have been. Also, the characters were just… well, kind of dense.

There were far too many scenes that made me roll my eyes and sigh in frustration as one of the other of the surviving sisters was utterly clueless in regards to what was going on around them when they’ve had multiple experiences over the course of a decade or more. They know of multiple people who have died of extreme cold: one particular person was frozen during the summer, others were nearly instantly frozen solid and even in winter, that’s something that just doesn’t happen. There were multiple occasions in which the water in a pool suddenly froze and it would even get freezing cold in a house filled with blazing fire places. Yet the sisters didn’t immediately deduce that Peggy’s spirit was there? That was just too unbelievable for me.

While I did enjoy parts of this story immensely, my overall impression was that it wasn’t as entertaining as I had hoped and the characters weren’t at all believable. To be honest, I was somewhat relieved when I finally finished and I most likely won’t read another of Masterton’s books, much less recommend this one.

...

Fave quotes:

“Have a care now, you don’t want to go breaking your ankle. Even a phenomenon ain’t worth that.” ~Dan Phillips to Lizzie Buchanan

“There are three worlds, and there always have been. The world of the living. The world of spirits. And the world of the truly rested, the empty world, which is the world of absolute peace.” ~Eusebio the gardener

.

Review: ‘You Believers’ by Jane Bradley

.

You Believers

.

Author: Jane Bradley

Format: galley (also available in hardcover)

Publisher: Unbridled Books (also on Twitter)

Release Date: 5/03/2011

Length: 416 pages

Acquired: from the publisher via NetGalley

.

.

.

Publisher’s summary:

You Believers is a powerful, cathartic story of casual evil and of how the worst things can be faced so that we might not only survive, but grow. A young woman goes missing, and her mother uproots her life to find her daughter.

But it is not just the heartbreak or the deep mystery of the hunt for lost loved ones that Bradley so convincingly explores. Rather, with the help of an amazingly dedicated searcher, family and friends somehow learn to move past unspeakable horror and celebrate the tenacity of the human spirit.

Offering a vision that is at once ruthless and utterly compassionate, Bradley renders the search for logic, meaning, redemption and even hope in the domino force that is human nature. Part Southern gothic, part crime, part haunting suspense story, You Believers takes us on an infinitely harrowing journey that rewards the reader with insight into how we might endure horrible events with faith, strength, and grace even while it reveals the ripple effects of random violence.

.

My thoughts, some spoilers included:

Shelby Waters finds the missing. Sometimes she finds them alive. More often… she doesn’t. And so her job isn’t only about organizing searches, traipsing through fields, forests and marshes or questioning friends, loved ones and potential witnesses to the disappearance of the missing, it’s also about preparing those friends and loved ones for the worst, even if they don’t realize precisely what she’s doing. She tries to incite hope in those whose loved one stepped out the front door one day and just never came home, even as she quietly prepares them for the worst, while using every resource at her disposal to find that person, alive or dead.

Shelby knows loss. She knows tragedy. She was once one of those people who lost someone she loved… her sister Darly. From the start of their search for her sister to the tragic end, she experienced the wide range of emotions that one goes through when looking for a missing loved one: fear, hope, grief, horror, hatred, loss, never-ending sorrow. The loss of her sister prompted her to start REV, or Rescue Effort Volunteers, in order to help people bring their loved ones home, one way or another. She’s seen the worst of people and she’s seen the best. It just seems some days that the worst far outweighs the best and it’s hard to remain optimistic in the face of the horrors that human beings can sometimes inflict upon one another.

Not only do we see the story of the disappearance of 30-year-old Katy unfold from Shelby’s point of view, we also see the thoughts and emotions of Billy, Katy’s fiance as well as those of Livy, her mother, as they hope for the best while fearing the worst. Despite Katy’s step-father and local police playing down the disappearance and making assumptions about where Katy may be, both Billy and Livy know that something bad has happened. Despite Katy’s proclivity to party and run off with other men, those closest to her know that’s not what happened. And as the weeks pass and become months, the hope of finding Katy alive sadly turns into the hope of just finding her, putting her to rest and punishing whoever was responsible for taking her from them.

Lastly, we see the points of view of the men responsible for Katy’s disappearance. We see their thoughts and motivations and their fears. At least, the fears of one of them. The other is fearless. He is evil incarnate and he is scary as hell because he can pretty much pass himself off as a nice, normal kid. But he is far from normal. We don’t see how truly despicable he is until he commits his second crime during the course of the book. The crime that will be his undoing… because his victim escapes.

She tells afterward of a voice that spoke to her in her mind and talked her through her ordeal. A voice that kept her from panicking and essentially gave her the means to not only escape but also to garner enough information from her attacker finger him for another crime… the crime against the missing Katy Connor. She swears afterward that Katy was the one who spoke to her and while she’s sad about the implications of her believe, she’s grateful to have had Katy’s voice and her help. She knows that Katy helped her to survive.

This is a powerful story of loss and grief, and how Katy’s loved ones begin to deal with the pain of her loss and look forward to the future. It’s also a cautionary tale, I think… as it warns of potential evil walking around disguised as someone normal, someone like you, that can change your life and the lives of your loved ones in an instant.


Fave quotes:

‘Katy Connor thought she was safe. She was supposed to be safe at three o’clock in the afternoon in the parking lot of a strip mall on one of the busiest streets in town. She did nothing wrong. She bought a bag of clothes and walked to her truck.’

‘There was still the kindness of strangers out there, even at thirty thousand feet above the world.’ ~Livy Baines

‘Some nights I just want my mind clear of all the awful.’ ~Shelby


.

Review: ‘Badlands’ by Seleste deLaney

.

Badlands

Author: Seleste deLaney

Format: galley (available for purchase as an audio book at Audible.com or as a Kindle ebook)

Publisher: Carina Press

Release Date: 2/28/2011

Length: 104 pages

Acquired: from the publisher via NetGalley

.

.

.Publisher’s summary:

After a brutal Civil War, America is a land divided. As commander of her nation’s border guards, Ever is a warrior sworn to protect her country and her queen. When an airship attacks and kills the monarch, Ever must infiltrate enemy territory to bring home the heir to the throne, and the dirigible Dark Hawk is her fastest way to the Union.

Captain Spencer Pierce just wants to pay off the debt he owes on the Dark Hawk and make a life for himself trading across the border. When the queen’s assassination puts the shipping routes at risk, he finds himself Ever’s reluctant ally.

As they fly into danger, Ever and Spencer must battle not only the enemy but also their growing attraction. She refuses to place her heart before duty, and he has always put the needs of his ship and crew above his own desires. Once the princess is rescued, perhaps they can find love in the Badlands— if death doesn’t find them first…


My thoughts:

The idea of an America forever divided by Civil War was intriguing to me and along with the seriously cool cover art was what prompted me to request the galley for review. I assumed upon reading the summary that romance of some sort would enter into the story but even a few dozen pages into the book, it became evident to me that the romance was the prominent plot factor and the cool, post-Civil War storyline was mere background noise.

The idea of Ever charging into battle topless is not a wholly unreal development. I’ve read books which feature warriors, male and female, who were made all the more fierce and deadly by their willingness to leap to the battle clad in naught but their skin. The fact that Ever remained topless for over a third of the rather short story took it a little far though, I think. Still, once she was clothed, I enjoyed the book much more.

My biggest complaint is that the story felt much too rushed. It seemed to take place over just a few days and I felt that it could have taken longer. That it should have taken longer. There could have been much more explanation to the scenes than a few paragraphs and not only would doing this have made for a longer book, but a more fleshed out and enjoyable book. A bit less of the main characters staring at each other with longing and/or tortured expressions and a bit more background and descriptive text would have made me like the story a lot more.

That being said, I felt that deLaney did a fine job of fleshing out the characters in such a short time. I came to like and care about almost all of them more than I thought I could, considering the length of the story. I think I was especially impressed with the way she wrote Henri. I wanted to loathe this character but found myself rather liking her instead, in part due to the way she performed her medical duties so capably despite very obviously not liking Ever in the least… but even more so because of her care for her crew mates when she herself was betrayed and injured.

Ever had a hell of a temper and seemed to let it cause her to lose sight of her goal in the story, which was a bit surprising, as duty-oriented as she was. I was left wondering what it was that caused her to express so much rage than was warranted at certain moments in the story.

While I can’t find any information regarding a continuation of this story, I’d most likely be interested in reading one were it written. I’d like to see what happens next, now that all of the yearning and denial is over with! I’m mostly curious about what, if anything will happen in the Badlands in regards to their resources and the state of the Monarchy (also how women became the dominant sex in that society), who will be the president of Texas (*wink*) and whether the Civil War was actually our Civil War and this reality is what came of the Union losing.

 

 

 

Review: ‘Savannah Grey’ by Cliff McNish

.

Savannah Grey

Author: Cliff McNish

Format: galley (available for purchase in hardcover or for Kindle)

Publisher: Carolrhoda Books

Release Date: 4/1/2011

Length: 266 pages

Acquired: from the publisher via NetGalley

.

.

.

Publisher’s summary:

15 year old Savannah Grey has never felt she’s belonged. She keeps her distance, so she’s surprised by her attraction to the new boy Reece.

Then strange things begin to happen: nature, it seems, is exerting an overpowering force on the world. Birds behave strangely; gusts of wind blow leaves so fiercely they seem to lure people away. And Savannah learns she has supernatural powers.

Nature has a purpose for Savannah and her friends. For they are on course to meet the vile and evil Orcrassa, who wants to destroy the world by corrupting nature. And it wants Savannah Grey to help realise its savage intent.


My thoughts, which will definitely include some mild major spoilers:

While I’m not exactly within the target audience for this book, I requested the galley and did my best to find something good in it. I have read and enjoyed many YA books and then recommended them to teens and adults, alike. That won’t happen with this book. Aside from asking my 16 year old daughter to give it a try, that is. I wanted the opinion of someone actually in the target audience to see if perhaps she had a different impression of it. Upon finding out why I wanted her to read the book, however, my daughter declined. She said that if I didn’t like it, she wouldn’t like it.

The book blurb, while short, sounded interesting to me, hence my request for the galley. Even now, I think that something good could have been done with this story idea but as it’s written? No. It just doesn’t work. I’ll give a quick run-down of the story and then explain why.

Savannah Grey, the main character, is a hapless orphan who moves from foster home to foster home, never truly feeling at home. She’s had the same best friend for years and Nina is the only person in Savannah’s life that she feels a real connection with. Until she meets Reece. She feels a kinship with him that she can’t explain, she feels drawn to him.

Then she discovers that they both appear to have the same affliction in their throats and realize that it’s a weapon that they’ll need to fight a monster. In order to protect this weapon until it’s ready to fight the monster, Savannah can and will attack anyone who gets near her. Rather, her body will attack them, since she can hardly maintain control of her extremities or her voice if her ‘weapon’ feels threatened in any way.

Also, interspersed with Savannah’s point of view chapters were sections from the point of view of one or another of the monsters in the story, namely the Ocrassa, an ancient entity with no earthly predators. Some reviews I read enjoyed the inclusion of the monster POVs but I found them distracting and perhaps a bit overkill because in light of the ending of the book, it seems that the Ocrassa’s power and infallibility were trumped up.

Okay… there’s really not much more run-down to cover. Unfortunately, I have more to say in picking it apart though I really feel the need to explain why I didn’t enjoy this book. Again, spoilers will abound so if you have any  desire to read this book, consider yourself warned.

First, I need to cover how awkward it was to read about the main character’s throat trying to attack people. I felt from the get-go that it was her voice that was the weapon and while there was something in her throat that was causing her voice to create monster-killing sounds, it was not her throat that was ‘attacking’ people. It was her voice and every time I read something about her ‘throat’ feeling threatened, etc., it just resonated poorly with me. Further, the idea of a sound, a ‘detonation’ according to the story, from one’s throat literally knocking them to the floor was a bit over-the-top for me.

My second biggest problem was with the inconsistency of the writing. At this point, I don’t recall precisely everything that I found so off-putting but there are a couple of instances that spring to mind. At one point, Savannah was testing her newly developed powers that she assumed would assist her in the fight against the monster and she realized that while her vision was greatly enhanced, she was unable to see in the dark. A few pages later, she mentally lists night vision as one of her powers. Later in the story, Savannah was looking through a window into a parking lot and then a couple of sentences later, she “ran to the window” to look out. Of course, this is an uncorrected galley so my hope is that the published book will have taken care of inconsistencies like this.

Savannah’s connection with Reece was understandable, especially considering the twist at the end of the book, but to chat for a few minutes and then simultaneously realize that this weird growth in their throats is a weapon that’s getting ready to fight a monster? It seemed like quite a stretch and I had to check to make sure the galley wasn’t missing a page or three of dialogue in which they’d had an involved discussion or perhaps saw or discovered something that made them realize that a horrible, nightmarish creature was after them and that it was their duty to fight it with their throats. Of course, that intuition could possibly be explained by the aforementioned big twist but it still lacks believability. One plus I saw with the twist that McNish added was that it would at least explain why Savannah’s ‘throat’ wouldn’t even allow her to kiss Reece.

The rest of it, though? Why the monster allowed her to live while researching her weaknesses? Knowing that a weapon is gaining strength to kill it, it rings hollow to me that an ancient and intelligent force would bother with research. When it kills anything that might be construed as a threat and it knows that Savannah is a threat, why would it go to great lengths to gather information about her? It wants to be sure this strip of a girl is a worthy opponent before it killed her? In a book full of hard to swallow occurrences, that one took the cake for me.

Finally, the coup de grâce on my unfortunate reading experience was the ending.

The very.

Abrupt.

Ending.

Review: ‘Equations of Life’ by Simon Morden

.

Equations of Life

The Metrozone Series #1 (aka The Petrovitch Series)

Author: Simon Morden

Format: galley

Publisher: Orbit Books

Release Date: 4/01/2011

Length: 296 pages (Amazon states length of paperback to be 400 pages)

Acquired: from the publisher via NetGalley

.

NetGalley’s summary:

SAMUIL PETROVITCH = A SURVIVOR. He survived the nuclear fallout in St. Petersburg and hid in the London Metrozone – the last city in England. He’s lived this long because he’s a man of rules and logic. For example, getting involved = a bad idea.

But when he stumbles into a kidnapping in progress, he acts without even thinking. Before he can stop himself, he’s saved the daughter of the most dangerous man in London. And clearly: SAVING THE GIRL = GETTING INVOLVED.

Now, the equation of Petrovitch’s life is looking increasingly complex: RUSSIAN MOBSTERS + YAKUZA + SOMETHING CALLED THE NEW MACHINE JIHAD = ONE DEAD PETROVITCH.

But Petrovitch has a plan. He always has a plan. He’s just not sure it’s a good one.


My thoughts, which might be considered somewhat spoilerish by some:

A quick blurb from Publisher’s Weekly before I get on with it:

In a dark near future, the U.S. has become a theocracy, Japan has been destroyed, and the U.K. has devolved into near-anarchy. Ph.D. student and Russian expatriate Samuil Petrovitch, living in the decaying London Metrozone, foils an attempt to kidnap a mysterious woman called Sonja and finds himself caught up in a war between Russian mobsters and a ruthless tycoon. As things escalate, Harry Chain, an enigmatic cop, and Madeleine, a sexy, violent nun, are also caught up in the war. Morden occasionally gets too cute and there are a few moments that border on deus ex machina, but Samuil’s mix of action and research makes him a fresh and engaging character, and the escalating scale of danger and violence moves the plot along briskly. Though pitched as the start of a trilogy, the book stands nicely alone.

I agree that it stands alone nicely. Wait… except for that whole cliffhanger at the end of the book thing! I had a couple of other upcoming releases in my reading queue that I intend to read before book 2 in this series, ‘Theories of Flight’ (which is due for a May 1 release), and I had to talk myself out of starting Theories as soon as I’d finished Equations. I restrained myself, however… mainly because I didn’t want any impressions of the beginning of book 2 to cloud my review of book 1. Which I am getting around to discussing, I promise. Still, I very much look forward to continuing Petrovitch’s story in the next book, which I have waiting for me on my e-reader. Calling my name… taunting me.

The covers of the books in this trilogy really caught my eye, and nearly gave me a headache. It’s just really hard not to stare at the covers, you know? All joking aside, the cover art combined with the story description were what prompted me to request the galleys of these books from Orbit. The publisher’s site has an interesting little article regarding the covers of the books in the trilogy and the cool factor helps with the headache-inducing factor. ;o)

And so we meet Samuil Petrovitch, twenty years after Armageddon. 22 year old Samuil is a refugee from Russia, living in the London Metrozone, the last city in post-Armageddon England. Young Sam is somewhat brilliant and is a post-grad working on some heavy-duty science, and doing it quite well. He generally keeps to himself though he has a certain air about him… he’s hiding from something and so he keeps his head low and minds his own business.

Until, that is, he foils a kidnapping and nearly dies in the process. Why would he risk himself, his health and his work to save a stranger? Especially when doing so not only put his health at risk but indebted him to a crime lord and placed him smack dab in the cross hairs of the Russian mafia! Neither situation is one that Sam wanted to find himself in and to complicate matters, the police are now hounding him.

Everybody wants to know why he saved the would-be kidnap victim and everyone thinks he has ulterior motives. So rather than sinking back into comfortable obscurity, Sam finds himself at the center of attention. When treachery strikes and the entire Metrozone is in danger of obliteration, Sam realizes that he’s the only one who can stop it, with the help of a seriously ass-kicking nun who may be the only person Sam can trust. Madeline saved Sam’s life when he rescued Sonja and ended up nearly dying in her church. Now they share a connection that will cause her to drop everything to help him save the girl once more, save his incredibly important work and hopefully, save the entire Metrozone. But will they be on time?

The whole concept of Armageddon and the world moving on afterward is fascinating to me. I enjoy apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic books though they admittedly depress me from time to time. This book was in no way depressing and kept me interested straight through to the end where my first thought was, “What? That’s the end?! NOOO!!!” And then I remembered that  I have book 2 waiting for me and I stopped whimpering.

Morden sucked me right into the world of the Metrozone and kept dangling the carrot representing the story of Armageddon before my nose without letting me have more than a nibble at a time. So while the story and the way it played out were in themselves satisfying, I was definitely left wanting more and wanting it now. Probably more than Samuil’s fate, as I can make assumptions regarding that, I’m anxious for more back story. What happened to start Armageddon? What happened to Samuil in St. Petersburg that caused him to recreate himself as a refugee in the Metrozone? Will we get more of the history of this fascinating post-apocalyptic world? I certainly hope so. I’m definitely in for the whole series and will discuss the next books here as I read them.

 

Fave quotes:

“I’ve walked into someone’s private crusade. So what did they do to you? Kill your rookie partner, blow up your car, boil your pet rabbit?” ~Petrovitch to Detective Inspector Chain

‘He decided to put a brave face on the situation. It might be his last few minutes on the plant, but he was determined to go out with his middle finger extended in salute.’

“Good morning, this is Samuil Petrovitch. You might remember me from such incidents as hunted like a dog through the streets’ and ‘kissed by the boss’s daughter’.” ~Sam

Review: ‘Life, Liberty, And The Pursuit of Sausages’ by Tom Holt

I had the opportunity to read a galley of Tom Holt’s hilarious Life, Liberty, And the Pursuit of Sausages last week and am squeaking this review in just before the book is actually published on February 21st. Picture Indiana Jones, sliding beneath the closing stone door in the hidden corridors beneath the palace in The Temple of Doom. Okay… this isn’t really like that, but that was a great scene, you have to admit.

I requested this galley largely in part due to the suggestion of a good friend who had the chance to read the book before I did and I’m exceedingly happy that I did so. Despite, or more likely, because of the many mind-warping aspects of this story, I highly enjoyed reading, puzzling over and laughing with-though never at-this book.

 

A short blurb about the book:

Polly, an average, completely ordinary real estate solicitor is convinced she’s losing her mind. Someone keeps drinking her coffee. And talking to her clients. And doing her job. And when she goes to the dry cleaner’s to pick up her dress for the party, it’s not there. Not the dress – the dry cleaner’s.

And then there are the chickens who think they are people. Something strange is definitely going on – and it’s going to take more than a magical ring to sort it out.


More than a magical ring, indeed. Perhaps a magical… pencil sharpener? Sure! Why not?!

Between a dry cleaner’s that relocates at random, a housing development that periodically disappears while the pristine, untouched land where it used to be comes up for sale again, and a couple of knights that have been duking it out for hundreds of years, in the dry cleaner’s toilet, no less… there’s plenty going on to keep one interested. There’s a real estate solicitor who keeps finding her coffee cup empty to the one that keeps finding hers full… what’s funny is that they work in the same office. Literally,  in the same chair at the same desk talking on the same phone in the very same office. At the same time. But they’ve never met. Something is certainly odd!

The absolute silly kept me laughing and more importantly, kept me reading. The sheer ‘what the hell is going on?’ feeling that the bizarre events elicited in me was plenty to keep my interest up and keep me reading. Despite jumping from character to character, at times right in the middle of a sentence, it didn’t make the flow of the story any more difficult to follow. Was I confused by the events of the story? Sure. Was I interested in the plight of the characters? Absolutely. Did I enjoy the hell out of it? You know I did. I generally take breaks between chapters as long as the ones in this book but upon scanning the first sentences of a new chapter, I was sucked in and just had to find out what mind-boggling events would transpire next.

Definitely a fun read and you can choose to either fly through it or stop between chapters to ponder the possibilities… and the ridiculousness of such expensive sausages!

A few fave lines: “The world would be an OK place if it wasn’t for people.”

“It’s one of the basic laws of human nature that a man suddenly finding himself in possession of an unanticipated pencil sharpener will immediately proceed to sharpen all the pencils in his possession.”

“His satnav seemed to have given up entirely. It kept warbling, ‘At the end of the road, phase-shift into an alternate universe,’ so he switched it off.”