Posts Tagged ‘terrorism’

Book Review: Hybrid by Brian O’Grady

DNA strand.Summary:
Amanda Flynn’s life changed forever when her Red Cross relief team was exposed to a deadly virus in the Honduras, leaving her the sole survivor.  Seven years later, when she thinks most of the horror is over, the virus resurfaces in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and she finds herself forced to team up with various government officials, a priest, and a coroner, in a fight against a deadly terrorist plot.

I admit that I bought this book in a haze that I call “Kindle Sale Fever.”  Periodically Amazon has sales of Kindle books where they suddenly cost 99 cents to $2.99, and I tend to impulse buy.  Oops.  (I mean, if you’d told 7 year old me such a thing would even be possible one day, I probably would have curled up and died in pure bliss).  In any case, the Amazon blurb led me to think this was more in the transhumanist/zombie genre than evil terrorist plot thriller, which I tend to avoid.  It’s nothing against the genre; I just don’t do politics in my happy fun reading time.  So, this book was already facing a challenge to satisfy someone who doesn’t tend to like that kind of story.

At first, it definitely was working for me.  The plot of Amanda Flynn mysteriously surviving the illness and escaping the CDC to avoid being treated like a guinea pig was engrossing for the sheer humanity of it.  The initial break-out in Colorado Springs was also intriguing with the virus killing some people but healing others from serious illnesses like childhood leukemia.  At a certain point though it started to feel like O’Grady was trying to do too much.  The book was trying to straddle multiple genres and plot-lines that didn’t quite mesh.  Among the things going on: new general trying to prove himself, survivors who turn psychic, Amanda dealing with her guilt, new African-American head detective dealing with being head detective in a largely white city, priest having crisis of faith, little girl miraculously healed of leukemia, coroner who might be a sociopath, definitely evil dude who hallucinates (or might not be hallucinating) some random Russian guy, head of the CDC trying to figure out the spy in his office, and Arab dude who may or may not be defecting from the terrorists to the Americans.  See what I mean?  This would be totally fine if they all somehow tied up in the end, but the main issue in the book of these survivors with psychic powers is just kind of dropped.  We get far more information on the foiled terrorist plot than on the effects of the virus on the survivors, and that is by far the more interesting part of the story.

It’s also bothersome that the main character, Amanda Flynn, is the least well-rounded and likeable.  The priest and the coroner are far more interesting and well-rounded, showing that O’Grady can write characters well, but Amanda simply rings false.  Perhaps part of this is that we see the priest and the coroner before they become infected and are still entirely human.  The story of Amanda and her survival in the Honduras is simply never fully told, and I think that would have helped a lot, even if addressed only in a flashback.

Overall, although the story itself is not for me, it does suffer from some characterization/plotting issues.  Thus, I would recommend it to huge fans of terrorist thrillers, who would probably still enjoy it.

2.5 out of 5 stars

Source: Amazon

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Book Review: How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff

March 30, 2011 3 comments

Flower and butterflies on black background.Summary:
Daisy’s stepmother has convinced her father to send her off to England to live with her aunt and cousins, and Daisy really doesn’t mind.  She hates her life in NYC anyway, and life in the countryside seems like a welcome change.  Her cousins are quirky and fun, and Aunt Penn is sweet and practices a relaxed parenting style.  When Aunt Penn goes away for a work trip, terrorist acts occur in London effectively leaving the kids on their own.  On their own to explore feelings and actions they might not otherwise have felt free to.

The big rumblings about this YA book is that there is incest in it.  In the grand scheme of shocking incest though, this incest is just….not that shocking.  It’s between two cousins who’ve never met until they’re teenagers.  *shrug*  Plus, the incestuous relationship is really not the main focus of the story at all.  It holds center stage for maybe two chapters.  Two very chaste chapters.  Oh sure, an astute reader knows what’s going on, but there are no lengthy sexual passages.  The most we get to witness is a kiss.  So, this book is really just really not about incest, ok?  If that was keeping you from reading it, don’t let it.  If that’s why you wanted to read it, go read Flowers in the Attic instead.

So what is the story about?  Quite simply, it’s about the impact living in an age of world-wide terrorism has on young people.  On their perceptions, decisions, morals, and more.  As someone who was only a sophomore in highschool when 9/11 happened, I feel safe in saying that Rosoff depicts the experience of a young person growing up in this world very well.  The mixture of relaxing and having fun while the adults panic around you with nights of fear are perfectly woven.

Daisy’s voice is wonderful to listen to.  She’s an appealing, funny narrator with an acute wit.  She is truly someone to like and root for.  Similarly, her female cousin, Piper, who she becomes a pseudo-parent to, is extraordinarily interesting and appealing.  In fact, I’m hard-pressed to name a character who isn’t well-rounded.

Unfortunately, all of these positives about the book come to a crashing halt at the end.  All I can tell you without spoiling the ending is that Rosoff did not take her themes as far as I was hoping she would take them.  In my opinion, she copped out, and I was sorely disappointed.  The ending reads almost like the beginning of the Beauty and the Beast fairy tale, and I was just left feeling as if Daisy and her cousins had let me down.  What could have been an extraordinary book became just average.

Thus, if you are looking for a YA take on the impact life with terrorism has had on the younger generation, but aren’t expecting anything mind-blowing, you’ll enjoy this book.  If what you’re after is shocking YA, however, look elsewhere.

3.5 out of 5 stars

Source: PaperBackSwap

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