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Book Reviews Dean Koontz

Odd Thomas * Odd Hours by Dean Koontz

download (7).jpg“Grief can destroy you –or focus you. You can decide a relationship was all for nothing if it had to end in death, and you alone. OR you can realize that every moment of it had more meaning than you dared to recognize at the time, so much meaning it scared you, so you just lived, just took for granted the love and laughter of each day, and didn’t allow yourself to consider the sacredness of it. But when it’s over and you’re alone, you begin to see that it wasn’t just a movie and a dinner together, not just watching sunsets together, not just scrubbing a floor or washing dishes together or worrying over a high electric bill. It was everything, it was the why of life, every event and precious moment of it. The answer to the mystery of existence is the love you shared sometimes so imperfectly, and when the loss wakes you to the deeper beauty of it, to the sanctity of it, you can’t get off your knees for a long time, you’re driven to your knees not by the weight of the loss but by gratitude for what preceded the loss. And the ache is always there, but one day not the emptiness, because to nurture the emptiness, to take solace in it, is to disrespect the gift of life.”

There is a reason why Dean Koontz is one of my favourite writers and I can’t stop reading his books (even though 60% of my library are his). There is a certain lyricism to his words and a way to talk to you about your sadness, your alone-ness, your pure joy and faith and trust.

And Odd Hours is one of those few books which still makes me smile when I read it. The entire action takes place over 24 hours and Odd along with his faithful ghost dog and ghost Frank Sinatra embark on an adventure on Magic Beach to fight off a terrorist plot.

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Book Reviews

Mental Health Awareness Week May 2017 (3 books on the loneliness of the sole survivor)

Every year, thousands of supporters across the UK take part in Mental Health Awareness Week. This year the week will take place from 8-14 May on the theme of surviving or thriving?

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Surviving or Thriving in Books

Taking care of your mental health is important – especially when you’re the only survivor of a post-apocalyptic event:

I am Legend
I am Legend

I am Legend

The book (as well as the well known movie starring Will Smith) deals with severe psychological traumas. PTSD, Sole Survivor syndrome, guilt and depression.
Turning point of his sanity is when Darkseekers have set a trap for him using the mannequin as a bait: he managed to free himself, but when infected hounds attacked him, Sam tried to defend him but she was bitten by a hound and infected. Neville rushed her home and injected her with the Compound 6 in a desperate attempt to save her, but when she showed the early stages of the KV infection, he was forced to strangle her to death. Her death, and more specifically, at his own hands, caused him a severe mental breakdown, and even though he tried to go through his regular routines the next day (during which he buried Sam in Central Park), he went into a rage and angrily drove through the streets of New York at night, slamming and running down large numbers of Darkseekers until he crashed, attempting to commit suicide in Darkseeker’s hands.

Oryx and Crake
Oryx and Crake

Oryx and Crake

Margaret Atwood has managed to create a world in Oryx and Crake where the apparent only survivor of a mass genocide is Snowman Jimmy. Jimmy deals with depression throughout the book and you can see how of the things he once took solitude in like words and sex, are not interesting to him anymore. Although his mental health has never been the best, he is slowly deteriorating and becoming more like his current self, Snowman. Perhaps it’s the negative outlook Jimmy has on life, but it just seems like he never gets a break. He gets temporary moments of happiness, but he never really can find true and lasting meaning in life.
Jimmy suffers from many diseases: an infected food, hunger from the one fish he eats a week as an offer from the people Crake has created and things get blurred in his mind as he has no-one to talk to. His extreme alienation leads him to a deep depression and bouts of inactivity.

“Men can imagine their own deaths, they can see them coming, and the mere though of impending death acts like an aphrodisiac. A dog or rabbit doesn’t behave like that. Take birds — in a lean season they cut down on the eggs, or they won’t mate at all. They put their energy into staying alive themselves until times get better. But human beings hope they can stick their souls into someone else, some new version of themselves, and live on forever.

As a species were doomed by hope, then?

You could call it hope. That, or desperation.

But we’re doomed without hope, as well, said Jimmy.

Only as individuals, said Crake cheerfully.”

Blindness

José Saramago (1995)
This novel is worthy of consideration even though it doesn’t detail a global disaster. Saramago’s acclaimed story deals with an epidemic of blindness, like Day of the Triffids, in a single unknown city and how everything swiftly falls to pieces. Turned into a movie in 2008, Blindness helped earn Saramago the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1998.
With few exceptions the blind characters in Saramago’s novel lose not only their sight but also their ability to tend to their most basic bodily needs, their courage in the face of intimidation, and their sense of morality and decency. When the government attempts to stop the epidemic by placing the infected in quarantine, the women are willing to be raped and humiliated in order to obtain food from a gang of thugs in Ward 3 of the dilapidated mental hospital in which the blind have been imprisoned. The men, including the husbands of the female victims, more or less accept this state of affairs and even encourage the women who protest to tolerate the brutality to which they are subjected. The reign of terror is ended, not by the blind, but by the sole sighted person in the facility, the wife of an ophthalmologist, who decides to slip into Ward 3 while the thugs are raping several other women and kills their leader with a pair of scissors.

The blind prisoners, as well as the blind residents of the city depicted after the mental hospital burns to the ground and some prisoners escape, have forgotten how to use the toilet, and they defecate in the streets, which run with filth. They also routinely walk around on all fours while navigating through an unfamiliar environment, and they either cannot, or don’t care to, wash themselves or their clothes. Except for the small group of main characters led, of course, by the ophthalmologist’s sighted wife, they cannot organize themselves or collaborate on anything other than rape and extortion.

Saramago’s portrayal of those who were born blind or have been blind for much of their lives is equally misleading. The only character born blind and able to read Braille sides with the criminals and uses his literacy to keep an inventory of their stolen goods and the women they have raped. He even leads them for a time after the sighted woman kills their leader. Aside from the Braille-reading criminal, Saramago’s other scattered references to the blind who lived among the sighted prior to the epidemic depict us as unable to cross the street without sighted help and as lacking the moral compass possessed by our sighted peers.

Do you have any books to add to this list? Leave them in the comments below

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Excerpts

The FIREMAN * Joe Hill – Excerpt

FOX said the Dragon had been set loose by ISIS, using spores that had been invented by the Russians in the 1980s. MSNBC said sources indicated the ’scale might’ve been created by engineers at Halliburton and stolen by culty Christian types fixated on the Book of Revelation. CNN reported both sides.

All throughout May and June, there were roundtable discussions on every channel, in between live reports from places that were in flames. Then Glenn Beck burned to death on his Internet program, right in front of his chalkboard, burned so hot his glasses fused to his face, and after that most of the news was less about who did it and more about how not to catch it.

the-fireman-by-joe-hill-extract

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Book Reviews

The Walking Dead: Rise of the Governor

walking_dead_rise_governor_review‘Rise of The Governor’ is the story of the Blake brothers, Philip and Brian who are making their way to Atlanta with Philip’s daughter, Penny. Seventy~two hours after the dead began to come back to life, Philip, his daughter Penny, his friends, Bobby and Nick, and Philip’s older brother, Brian, the weaker of the two brothers leave their home town and head towards to Atlanta where there are rumours of a rescue centre. The story follows the group as they face the unknown and try to understand what has happened to the world around them.

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Book Reviews

Hiero’s Journey

tumblr_nvbbt1kUIP1rz61imo1_5005,000 years in the future, as an aftermath of the Death which happened long ago, mutations have run amok. Some benefit mankind and some are creepy-crawly creatures that actively hunt humans. Telepathy between men and some animals is now possible. I myself love the “morse” which is a super-sized moose that doubles as a horse and companion.

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Book Reviews

The Long Tomorrow – Leigh Brackett Book Review

lb_thelongt

Humanity’s curiosity and invention cannot be repressed, but the attractions of the pastoral lifestyle and the desire to avoid the complications of technological progress cannot be entirely denied, however ultimately misguided.

The book begins in Pymatuning, 100 years after a nuclear war has destroyed every city on earth. In Brackett’s world, it’s the Amish and Mennonites who survive the apocalypse. One day, a precocious boy, Len, and his cousin, Esau, come across a radio, a forbidden piece of technology that may have come from the last remaining city. The object kicks off the adventure as Len and Esau set out into the territories in search of the truth.

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Book Reviews

Son – Lois Lowry – Last Book of The Giver Quartet

“Fear dims when you learn things.”

7e4cbd_666d08f219244434bbabc928532f8597They called her Water Claire. When she washed up on their shore, no one knew that she came from a society where emotions and colors didn’t exist.

That she had become a Vessel at age thirteen. That she had carried a Product at age fourteen. That it had been stolen from her body. Claire had a son. But what became of him she never knew.

What was his name? Was he even alive? She was supposed to forget him, but that was impossible. Now Claire will stop at nothing to find her child, even if it means making an unimaginable sacrifice.Son thrusts readers once again into the chilling world of the Newbery Medal winning book, The Giver, as well as Gathering Blue and Messenger where a new hero emerges. In this thrilling series finale, the startling and long-awaited conclusion to Lois Lowry’s epic tale culminates in a final clash between good and evil.

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Book Reviews

Messenger – Lois Lowry Book Review

d7763e4b7544bf68f368c3b7df40a4e5Like Lowry’s hugely popular Newbery winner, The Giver (1993), this story dramatizes ideas of utopia gone wrong and focuses on a young person who must save his world. Teenage Matty lives with his caregiver in the Village, a place of refuge, where those fleeing poverty and persecution are welcomed with kindness and find a home.

But now he knew that there were communities everywhere, sprinkled across the vast landscape of the known world, in which people suffered. Not always from beatings and hunger, the way he had. But from ignorance. From not knowing. From being kept from knowledge.

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Book Reviews

Gathering Blue – Lois Lowry Book Review

9780440229490_xlgLois Lowry’s magnificent novel of the distant future, The Giver, is set in a highly technical and emotionally repressed society. This eagerly awaited companion volume, by contrast, takes place in a village with only the most rudimentary technology, where anger, greed, envy, and casual cruelty make ordinary people’s lives short and brutish. This society, like the one portrayed in The Giver, is controlled by merciless authorities with their own complex agendas and secrets. And at the center of both stories there is a young person who is given the responsibility of preserving the memory of the culture–and who finds the vision to transform it.

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Book Reviews

David Palmer – Emergence Book Review

emergence_coverBy far my most favourite post-apocalyptic novel, Emergence was written in 1981 and follows the life of Candidia Maria Smith-Foster, an eleven-year-old girl, who is unaware that she’s a Homo post hominem, mankind’s next evolutionary step. Hominems have higher IQs, they’re stronger, faster, more resistant to illness and trauma, and have quicker reflexes. Their eyesight, hearing, and sense of smell are superior as well.

By the time the narrative opens, Candy has acquired a high school education, some college, and learned karate, having achieved her Fifth Degree Black Belt from her neighbor, 73-year-old Soo Kim McDivott, who she is led to believe is merely a retired schoolteacher. McDivott, whom she calls “Teacher”, is actually the discoverer of the H. post hominem species, and has identified and continues to mentor and lead a group of them, the AAs. As part of her karate training, she has learned to release her hysterical strength, which permits brief bursts of nearly superhuman activity.