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.

Book Review: Earthcore by Scott Sigler

31676014._SY475_Earthcore by Scott Sigler

Published: May 20, 2017 by Empty Set Entertainment

Buy this book at: Amazon \ Barnes & Noble

 

Synopsis:

Deep below a desolate Utah mountain lies the largest platinum deposit ever discovered. A billion-dollar find, it waits for any company that can drill a world’s record, three-mile-deep mine shaft. EarthCore is the company with the technology, the resources and the guts to go after the mother lode. Young executive Connell Kirkland is the company’s driving force, pushing himself and those around him to uncover the massive treasure. But at three miles below the surface, where the rocks are so hot they burn bare skin, something has been waiting for centuries. Waiting …and guarding. Kirkland and EarthCore are about to find out first-hand why this treasure has never been unearthed.

 

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

 

Review:

Just a small disclaimer, I LOVE Scott Sigler. Like really love Scott Sigler. I’ve read everything he’s ever produced and enjoyed almost all of it. When Earthcore was first released all the way back in 2005ish I was skeptical, it was okay but I didn’t think that it was his best work. Now, all these years later, he rewrote the entire thing and re-released it. And WOW! It is so fantastic. The writing structure is a lot cleaner and the characters are a lot more fleshed out. In the first reading I didn’t really care about many of the characters because they didn’t strike me as real people but they did this time.

Connell Kirkland is a tragic figure, I found myself rooting for him, cursing him, and crying for him throughout the course of the book. A few of the side characters didn’t do much for me, like Veronica. I thought she was a whiny bitch and needed to go away. I wish we had seen more of Sonny but the story largely demanded his absence so I understand it.

The premise of this is an interesting one. A mining company stumbles on a lot more than they bargained for and aren’t sure what it is until it’s too late. Could it be claimjumpers trying to steal their find? Other miners that beat them to it? A lost tribe that has lived underground for a few thousand years? Or is it sabotage? Unfortunately for almost all the characters, it’s much much too late before they figure it out.

While I was listening to the audiobook, I found that the narrator distracted me a little for the first few chapters and I was skeptical that I would continue. But I stuck through it and was rewarded, he got a lot better and it was much more enjoyable.

I will stop before I am tempted to spoil the whole thing, all I will say is that it’s time to prepare. Prepare for Mount Fitzroy.

The Best and Worst of 2012

After much deliberation and consideration, I have picked out my top 10 books of 2012.  The five best and the five worst.  It wasn’t as easy as I expected it to be.  Only two or three books jumped out at me as belonging on these lists and the rest were all most equal and needed to be thought over very carefully.  Finally, I reached a consensus.

The Five Best

 

renegade1. Renegade by J.A. Souders.

This book stood out to me by a mile when I considered my best books of the year.  I read it a little over a month ago and I still catch myself thinking about it and pondering over it.  I have recommended it to every person I know and will await the next book with bated breath.  It was a creepy and amazing book that was so much more than I ever expected it to be and created a fan out of me.

daughter of smoke & bone2. Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor.

This is another book that swept me off my feet and enticed me into its world and didn’t want to let me go.  It is a beautifully written book and I expect a lot of great things for the author in the future.  A masterfully woven tale that I couldn’t put down.

nocturnal3. Noturnal by Scott Sigler

While I may not have reviewed this on the blog, it was one of my favorites all the same.  For anyone who doesn’t know, I am a gigantic fan of Scott Sigler.  I can only think of one thing I have read by him that I didn’t absolutely love.  Now this book does have a few moments where even a die-hard junkie like me rolled my eyes, but the overarching story was spectacular.  It was creepy, fun, and interesting for all the right reasons.  Sigler’s horror novels aren’t the kind that will scare you and make you check under the bed, that’s not his style of horror.  His style of horror is the kind that has you wrinkling your nose and thinking, “Oh my God!”

and all the stars4. And All the Stars  by Andrea K Host

This book was a surprise.  I had seen a lot of good reviews for it but wasn’t sure what to expect.  But it was a joy and a pleasure to read.  The characters were real, the story was interesting, and I couldn’t put it down.  Without a doubt one of the best books I picked up this year.

the lost prince5. The Lost Prince by Julie Kagawa

Before last year I had never read a Julie Kagawa book.  I had heard a lot of great things and when I got offered the chance to read this beginning of a new series, I jumped at it to see what all the fuss was about.  The fuss was well deserved because this book was fantastic.  The world building was some of the best I have read and the characters were well-developed and rounded.  I will be reading from his author again and hope to be just as pleased.

 

 

The Five Worst

the rook

1. The Rook by Daniel O’Malley

This book earned its place as the worst book of the year.  It was boring and amateurish.  The interest premise it established was squandered at every opportunity with boring nonsense.  I wanted to quit on this book so many times and probably would have if it wasn’t a book club read.  The long swathes of gibberish that had nothing to do with the plot made this the most annoying book I read all year.

the twelve2. The Twelve by Justin Cronin

POVs that switched and swapped every few pages and a convoluted plot that made everything about as clear as mud are the primary reason this book sucked.  Add in religious references being shoved in your face as nauseum and in the most annoying way possible and I wanted it to be over.  560 pages of purple prose later this book succeeded in making me fall asleep repeatedly and made my eyeballs shoot blood spontaneously to prevent any more pain.

ScarletUS.indd3. Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen

This book made me angry.  It has such a great story and it just pissed it away with typical boring YA garbage.  The heroine was embarrassing to all young girls on the planet and the heroes should be locked up to protect the women of the world.  I didn’t find a single redeeming quality about this book.

immortal city4. Immortal City by Scott Speer

If ever there was a book that should be destroyed for the protection of humanity, it’s this one.  Yet again, another fascinating premise that they author mutilated and destroyed until it was unrecognizable.  I hated the characters, the plot, the villain, and everything in between.  I sincerely hope Mr. Speer goes back to screenwriting, it’s a certainty that he’s more talented at that than novels.

breed5. Breed by Chase Novak

Ugh, what a waste of a tree.  The characters were so irritating that I really didn’t care if awful things happened to them.  The plot dragged on and on and on but yet we never got anywhere.  There was no point to any of it and no resolution in the end.

 

So that’s it ladies and gents.  These are my favorite and most hated books of 2012.  I’m interested in knowing what yours are.  Add a comment and tell me!