Review: Alive by Scott Sigler

aliveAlive (Generations Trilogy #1) by Scott Sigler

Published July 14, 2015 by Del Rey

Buy this book at: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Synopsis: I open my eyes to darkness. Total darkness. I hear my own breathing, but nothing else. I lift my head…it thumps against something solid and unmoving. There is a board right in front of my face. No, not a board…a lid.

A teenage girl awakens to find herself trapped in a coffin. She has no idea who she is, where she is, or how she got there. Fighting her way free brings little relief—she discovers only a room lined with caskets and a handful of equally mystified survivors. Beyond their room lies a corridor filled with bones and dust, but no people…and no answers.

She knows only one thing about herself—her name, M. Savage, which was engraved on the foot of her coffin—yet she finds herself in charge. She is not the biggest among them, or the boldest, but for some reason the others trust her. Now, if they’re to have any chance, she must get them to trust one another.

Whatever the truth is, she is determined to find it and confront it. If she has to lead, she will make sure they survive. Maybe there’s a way out, a rational explanation, and a fighting chance against the dangers to come. Or maybe a reality they cannot comprehend lies just beyond the next turn.

 

Rating: 2 star out of 5 stars

 

Review: I cannot begin to tell you how dismayed I am to be giving a book by Scott Sigler just two stars. I can honestly say I don’t think I have ever given one of his books less than four stars. For me, Scott Sigler is an auto-buy, auto-read author. If he puts it into print, I will read it. And every single time, I have loved it. Until this time. When I first heard this book was being published I was a little surprised. Young Adult is not really the Sigler wheelhouse. Dick jokes and very colorful language is part of the writing style, none of which can be in a young adult book. But he’s an extraordinary writer so I didn’t worry about it too much. Surprised but not worried. In hindsight, I should have been worried.

Now, in order for me to be intellectually honest, I also have to mildly rebuke the author a little. On the podcast for Alive, and apparently on the book (at least the advance copies), he felt it necessary to add a little notation that said if you’re going to review this book, please don’t post spoilers and ruin it for other people. This shocked me. My jaw literally dropped. Scott Sigler has never been someone that didn’t understand the reader/author line and always been very respectful of any and all feedback. But this was not okay. Once that book is out into the world, you no longer control it as an author and you certainly don’t control the way it is read or reviewed. If someone doesn’t wish to be spoiled, they should probably not read reviews. Or look for ones that specifically state no spoilers. Let’s not repeat this pattern Scott Sigler, it’s not a good look.

Alright, all that finished. Consider yourself warned, there be spoilers ahead.

***SPOILERS***

Let’s talk about the redeeming qualities about this book first, that’s the shorter of my two lists. The premise of this book is very good, it’s intriguing and mysterious and horrifying at time. It was executed badly but the premise was great.

Em was a character with a lot of potential. A scared little girl who is thrust into a position of authority when she doesn’t know anything more about the situation than anyone else. Where Em fell short was that she ended up being largely boring. Most of her verbal dialogue and inner dialogue alike are “I’m the leader, I think that person wants to challenge me to be leader but I’M THE LEADER!!” Seriously, she repeats this so many times I was praying someone would actually challenge her leadership so she could stop stressing about it.

All of the other characters really don’t matter. Bello is very important to Em for some reason that I never figured out, she didn’t do anything except sit around, look pretty and be boring. O’Malley has some potential to be interesting because I got the sense that he is a secret trouble maker, he always seems like he’s supportive of Em but I think he’s undermining her behind her back. Bishop is scary and violent but, oh, those dreamy eyes and muscles of his. We hear a lot about liquid eyes and taunt muscles and flat stomachs too. Which brings me to my biggest problem with this book:

These kids are supposed to be 12 year olds stuck in adult bodies. Why are they all so sexually interested? Kids at 12 have crushes based on who looked at them across the playground, not because they are enthralled with their muscles and boobs. 12 year olds haven’t figured out what boobs are yet. So on one hand you have prepubescent kids acting like 16-17 year old kids, but then also calling these mysterious people who locked them away “grown ups”. I am pretty certain that most kids stop referring to adults as grown ups much earlier than 12 years old. It was very strange.

The kids, Em in particular, at times struck me as both a much younger and much older child and it did not make sense. She also seemed very disingenuous as a female character, often times she read like a boy. This could be explained by something I heard the author say in his podcast when he was asked how difficult it was to narrate a 12 year old girl. (Note: while in quotations, this is not a direct quote, but it’s close), “It really wasn’t that hard because the world of Alive is post-gender, post-race, post-everything except the caste system that they don’t even understand yet.”

This leads me to a question, if your world is post-gender, why differentiate between girls and boys at all? Presumably the “grown ups” that are cultivating their bodies for their own use don’t need to breed because they can live for millennia, so…why was this important anyway? And why exactly is everyone so obsessed with how attractive the opposite gender is, if it is really irrelevant? It was the strangest remark I’ve ever heard, I listened twice just to be sure I heard it correctly. And I am not sure what this caste system is because we were too busy obsessing over leadership and muscles to explore it at all.

While we’re on the subject of gender in characters, what the fuck was with dressing 12 year olds in too-small, too-tight, busting-at-the-seams Catholic schoolkids outfits? And everyone was so completely hot? Are we really sexualizing 12 year old children? I found that to be one of the more disturbing aspects of the whole book. My brain just kept screaming “Stop it! These are children! Literally prepubescent children!”

I will walk away from that for awhile and move on to tropes. This book has all of them. Smoldering eyes, liquid eyes, scintillating muscles, flat firm stomachs, boobs popping out of shirts, wistful glances across fields of flowers. There was so much purple prose I was inspired to quote from Willy Wonka. Sigler, you’re turning violet Sigler!

Lastly, the plot. It was boring. 70% of the book was walking, arguing about leadership, gazing longingly at each other, and occasionally doing something they think is a bad idea (I shouldn’t look in that room, oh I did anyway, OMG that’s awful I shouldn’t have looked!) Then when we finally started getting answers I was presented with Brewer the Cheshire Cat who I thought was supposed to be the bad guy, but apparently isn’t. But if he is a good guy, then why the hell was he talking in so many circles. I also lost my mind when Brewer gave them a lecture about “why tell you when I can show you, that’s so much better”….and then proceed to TELL them for about 6 pages everything that was going on. That was followed with 10 more pages of the actual bad guy, Matilda, once again telling them everything they need to know about what’s going on. I thought showing was better? I could almost hear the author over my shoulder whispering in my ear, “Are you so super surprised? You never saw it coming did you?” Honestly, no I didn’t see it coming but it also wasn’t that great either. My final feelings once I turned the last page were a big, whomp whomp.

Unfortunately, this trilogy will tie directly into the larger Siglerverse very heavily, I can see that, so I have to read the next two. I really don’t want to, but I will. Maybe it gets better, if not, I’ll let you know.

Coming tomorrow….

Crushed_banner_2I had the pleasure of receiving an ARC for this great book and the opportunity to participate in the blog tour. I read the first book in the series if you remember (https://stefani140.wordpress.com/2013/10/24/cracked-by-eliza-crewe/) and gave it 4 stars too. And if the ending of this book is anywhere as good as the rest of it has been, it’s gonna be a really fun ride.

So join me tomorrow for the review and lowdown on where to get this book tomorrow. But be patient, it won’t be posted until after work but I will try as I might to make it as soon as possible.

Until then, content yourself to visiting another blog tour participant, Bookshelf Reflections.

Review: Red Cells by Jeffrey Thomas

red cellsRed Cells by Jeffrey Thomas

Published March 18th, 2014 by DarkFuse

Buy this story at: Amazon

 

Synopsis:

Private detective and mutant shapeshifter Jeremy Stake (hero of the novels Deadstock and Blue War) has fallen on hard times in the far-future city of Punktown. When he is offered an opportunity to masquerade as another man to do his prison sentence for him, Stake agrees, but this is a new type of penitentiary—existing in its own pocket universe.

In this isolated prison, a series of gruesome murders have occurred, and the inmates soon force Stake to investigate. Can Stake catch a killer that might not even be human, without becoming just another victim?

 

Rating: 3 star

 

Review:

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this story from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you DarkFuse!

A story that is under 100 pages has no excuse to be boring, this one was boring. But it was also not badly written. In fact, I think if the story was given more time and space to develop then it could have been really good. As a short story, however, it felt rushed and hectic.

The character of Stake was an interesting one. He is a mutant who can assume the physical form of another human. He is normally a private investigator but things are tough and he agrees to do a stint in prison for someone else. Naturally chaos follows and gives him a mystery to solve. I liked him as a character, though he was a tiny bit stereotypical for a private investigator type. However, because the story was so short I felt like I didn’t really learn much about him. Since he is the main character in two novels this is not to be expected, but it would have been a nice addition.

The story was also a good one. A prison that is located in pocket universe and something is killing the prisoners. That is very interesting. But unfortunately, the story was told to me almost exclusively instead of showing me. That was annoying. Don’t tell me! For heaven’s sake do a little bit of creative writing and show me.

It was also pretty predictable. As soon as they described the killer to me, I thought….well of course it’s that X thing/person that they told us about. And it was. This could have been done a lot better. I have no doubt that the author can write better than this, I can see the talent there. But this story did not showcase that talent at all.

Wanted: More Hours in the Day

Whew, what a few weeks it has been.  I went on a business trip to North Carolina for the day job last week.  That was a lot of fun but a lot of work.  I was working extra hours at that office nearly every day plus 2 days of travel.  Now I’m back and the first thing out of everyone at the office’s mouths was “Hey, welcome back…can you work overtime?”  Cue sigh here.  It’s nice to be considered so valuable around here but really, I’d just barely walked in the door!

I’m working hard on my rewrite of Schooling of  a Monster.  I have heard rumors that a certain publisher is accepting un-agented manuscripts right now that are right up my alley as far as genre goes.  I really want to get this done so that I can try that and see how it goes.  I look at it this way, what’s the worst thing that could happen?  They tell me no?  Heard it all before and the word no does not intimidate me. 

I know I promised links for Helium articles far too long ago and haven’t had time since.  So I shall do so now!

What are some of the more common myths concerning domestic violence?  Do you think you know?  Find out here!

Have you ever wanted to increase your vocabulary in just seconds per day?  Now you can, read it with me to figure out how.

If you will need surgery anytime soon, this  article will be of particular interest to you, it discusses the side effects associated with general anesthesia.

Lupus is a disease that affects thousands worldwide every day.  But what causes this auto-immune disease?  I explore that in this article.

Imagine for a moment that you’re camping with your family, you hear a noise from the trees and turn to find a cougar looking right at you!  What do you do?  Let’s all find out together here.

Perhaps you’ve heard someone compared to a wolverine because they seem to devour anything edible within their grasp.  It’s a rather common phrase, but how did this assocation come about?  Are wolverines really that greedy?  Now you can know by reading here.

Sea cucumbers, it’s a strange name for an equally strange creature.  Find out just how strange in this article.

I have a bunch more that I’ve done in the last few weeks, but for now I think that will suffice.  I don’t want to overwhelm anyone’s brain too much.  Have a wonderful hump day and leave me a comment if you feel so inclined.  I love knowing you guys are out there!

Business Trips

Like I promised, I am here way sooner than my usual gap between posts.  It’s been a busy week but I wrote a bit on Helium and wanted to keep everyone updated.  The day job has been exhausting and really limited the amount of writing I can do because I’m just do tired.  But on the plus side they are sending me to North Carolina for a business trip to train our team out there the week of the 12th.  That is going to be really fun, I have never been on a business trip before.  I am a bit nervous but mostly excited.

I’m also considering writing more fan fiction, probably for Supernatural.  I remember that I started a story on a Fan Fiction website back during the summer break between seasons 4 and 5 but never got around to finishing it.  And now after the finale of season 6 my mind is racing with all the possible theories and possibilities for season 7.  I won’t share my ideas here in full, but let’s just say I think I figured out who God is and it’s not Prophet Chuck.  I might just write that new fan fiction after all because I just love this idea I thought of.

I do have a few new articles on Helium but I cannot post links yet.  The purchase deadline isn’t passed yet so they are not available on the website yet.  I’ll make another post this weekend when the links are available.

Happy Friday!

Same old, same old…

It’s been quite awhile since I actually had the time or inclination to post on here.  It’s strange but I seem to completely forget I have this place until I look at my history and think, oh yeah I do have that blog I should really update it.  I have basically been working myself into oblivion lately.  The day job has been pushing me ever further into a nervous breakdown with constant overtime and hundreds of new expectations every day.  But until the writing can pay the bills, we have to do what we have to do right?

I have been considering something as far as my novels go, publishing it myself as an ebook.  Ebooks are exploding in popularity as the paper book market continues to shrink by the month.  But publishing yourself as an ebook takes out the publishing game that is almost impossible to win and gains you an audience without investing thousands of dollars like typical self-publishing schemes.  I have not decided on this yet, but just know that it is in my mind and being considered.  If that would be something you’d be interested in me doing, let me know cause I want to know if there’s an interest out there for me to go that route. 

I also have decided to invest more time in my freelance writing on Helium.  So I will post some updated links here, please give them a click cause it helps me make money and you may just discover something interesting too.

Ever wonder what the most common STDs are in women?  Find out here.

Learn the best ways to grow oregano, dill, and peas for all levels of gardening skill.

Should Happy Meals be blamed for rising obesity levels in children?  Find out what I think, with just a little bit of added sarcasm.

And the newest edition, discover some of the most rare breeds of cat in the world!

I hope you enjoy the latest batch of my freelance work, and I promise to update these links more often now that I am writing more.

Brain Feeling A Little Mushy?

Somehow I always seem to forget that his blog exists, then I need it for something and suddenly remember.  I had a fantastic Samhain, aka Halloween, and I hope all of you did too.

It is yet another November and we all know what that means, it’s Nano time!  This year I am writing the sequel to Schooling of a Monster, which should be amazing.  In this sequel Micah is on his own and hunting without aid.  But when the police suspect that a monster is kidnapping baby girls in the area, he begins to question his competance.  I am calling it, Rock-A-Bye Baby.  Check out my Nano page for the cover I made today, just search for me with my screenname steffiebaby140.

Speaking of Schooling of a Monster, I still have no finished the rewrite.  But that is my goal for December so that I can send it off to a new potantial publisher early next year.  Humanity is going alright, though I will have to put it aside for awhile.

Update on personal life:  I recently got to actually spend time with my fiance.  It was fantastic and I was devastated to have to send him home.  Wedding date is tentatively planned for next August, that is all I have planned for now.  This wouldn’t be such a pain in the butt if he lived in the US or wasn’t opposed to thwarting the US’s immigration laws.  Why is it that the people who want to do it the right way are punished for doing so? 

That is all for now, off to write my 1,667 words for today.

Stef

Ever feel like your beating a dead horse….

Welcome to my world!  I accepted long ago that there are patterns to the Universe, that good things come in groups and bad things come in groups.  But I tell you, sometimes I sit here and wonder how I get myself into these situations.  I’m not going to bore you with all the details, but in both my personal and private life all I can do is seemingly the same crap over and over.  At some point I will have to stick a wrench into things and do something different, or else I’m just living up to the definition of insanity.

Not much is going on with my writing, I’m too stressed and overwhelmed with personal stuff to really get anything useful from it.  I am making significant progress both on the rewrite of Schooling of a Monster, and the new piece I’m working on, Humanity.  I have 2 weeks off of work coming up that I will be having a lot of unexpected free time so I can work a lot then.  Let’s just say that I was planning some major life changes for those two weeks until it all went screaming to hell faster than I could blink, and now I intend to vegetate and recuperate in that time.  I will keep you updated on everything of course.

On a happier note I have almost finished the new Dan Brown book, The Lost Symbol.  I must admit that I was mildly annoyed with Mr. Brown at one point but that faded quickly since the twist that I normally don’t like turned out to be very important and integral to the plot.  I am back on board and the second major plot twist left me with my mouth hanging open in shock.  Definitely a great book for those that are a fan of Brown’s work, but if you’re expecting The Da Vinci Code 2.0 then you might be a bit disappointed. 

Also, if any of you have never seen the HBO series Big Love, I highly recommend it.  I was interested initially because I was raised Mormon, so polygamy is not an unfamiliar thing to me and I wanted to see how close to the mark they got.  The series is spectacular, and so close to reality it was a big eerie for me.  I have nearly finished season one in a little over a week and plan on getting season 2 and 3 as soon as I have the funds.  Have a great Thursday, the Supernatural dry spell of reruns is nearly finish, yay!!

What’s in the Works

Somehow every time I decide to pay more attention to this blog, I seem to forget that it exists for a few months.  But what a few months it has been, both work related and personally.  I hope all of you had a wonderful Christmas/Yule/Hanukkah/etc and that the gift fairies were very good to you.  Before I wander completely off track into a deep discussion of my recent months and all that stuff that I am sure no one needs to hear, on to what I am posting for.  I just wanted to keep everyone up to date on what I am doing in the writing world.  Of course I mean besides Helium and my freelance work.

Schooling of a Monster – Yes, old news I know.  But I am currently working on a complete rewrite and edit of it that I think will make it a lot better.  The old version is still on Authonomy  and I urge you to check it out there and put it on your bookshelf if you have an account there.  I highly recommend it, the books are a lot of fun and I need to focus on that site a lot more.  I will be updating that version as soon as I get the individual chapters rewritten so keep an eye on it even if you have already read it.

Crimson Scream – I still haven’t finished this one, even though it was my Nano novel 2 years ago.  I got stuck on a bunch of plot points at the end and pushed it aside.  But I am still working on it and will be finishing it soon.  Then it can be edited and probably posted on Authonomy as well.

Last Days of a Saint – I finished the Nano part of it in time, but it was a close call.  Halfway through November I decided that I didn’t like who these characters were becoming so I started over and am much happier with it.  It’s nowhere near done and for now has been placed on hold while I work on other projects.

Humanity – I may have mentioned this as a short story that I did, but that is not what I’m referring to now.  This is a brand new novel that I started based on that short story.  I am very excited about it and will share more details with you along the road.  This is in the very early stages right now but it is getting a lot of my attention.  Let’s just say…it’s vampires like you’ve never read them before.

Those are all my official projects right now, but I have so many more ideas that I could just burst.  If you want an update on anything specific feel free to leave a comment and I’ll address it as soon as I can.  Blessed Be my good people!   ~Stef