Posted in Reading Challenge, Reviews

The Boy on the Bridge by M. R. Carey

A million years ago (ok, ok, earlier this year) I read The Girl with All the Gifts by M. R. Carey. The Boy on the Bridge is its prequel. Carey’s new spin on the zombie apocalypse is precipitated by the cortyceps fungus, making an army of mindless undead who know only hunger–that’s the premise established in the first book. Except that the boy, Stephen Greaves, has discovered a second generation of the fungus’s mutation, and these blood-drinkers are sentient… and children–that’s the stage set for this second book. In-fighting and politicking between scientists and the military land Stephen, our autistic genius main character, in a very dangerous mine field, trying to keep his new friends from killing or being killed by his race, humans 1.0. I listened to the audiobook for both volumes, so I should point out that the voice-acting as well as the writing are great.

The main complaint about this book seems to be that it isn’t as thrilling as its predecessor, and I will agree; but I’d argue that this sets out to be a different kind of book. Carey’s scope in Girl is macro, where we feel the weight of the fate of the world. In Boy, already knowing the fate of the world, the scope becomes micro: for this novel, the whole world is the 10-person crew on the bus, which expands to include the zombie children once Stephen learns of their existence (and narrows as characters are killed). The writing is certainly up to snuff. Again Carey brings us beautiful and insightful language. Who else comes up with her cropped white hair like exhaled smoke. Terrific stuff.

This book got a lot of people buzzing. NPR said that “Carey uses this larger crew and the slightly earlier timeline to explore the anxiety and desperation of living on the precipice of a breakdown.” The Verge compares Stephen to the main character of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, another book with an autistic boy as the main character, which isn’t an unfair comparison, if a bit limiting. As readers here, we get to experience all of Stephen’s emotional distress, anxiety, fear, and love from the inside, as well as the way he is treated and thought of by other characters.

The Verge complains that “From the beginning…its character dynamic is so strikingly similar…Once again, there’s an underage genius who’s underestimated by his travel companions, except for the nurturing mother-figure.” While it’s certainly true that Carey has created a formula that works and used it twice, he himself (in the narrative) states “all journeys are the same journey,” and it was only a few books ago that we heard Ann Patchett say the same, “just about any decent writer you can think of can be boiled down to one story. The trick, then, is to learn not to fight it, and to thrive within that thing you know deeply and care about most of all.”

Greaves goes about the rest of his waking up ritual, in spite of the fact that he hasn’t been asleep. It’s not just to forestall questions. He needs to do it because each day has a shape, and the waking up ritual is one of its lode-bearing components.

“Don’t be scared,” he slur. “It’s okay, it’s okay.” But they’re not. and it isn’t.

He wants to find who did this and teach them the going rate for eyes and teeth.

His hands are shaking. There is no sequence here. None of the things he is doing are on the long, long list of things he has done before.

Reading Challenges
Here we go for reading challenge updates:

Hashtags for the challenges that had them:
#popsugarreadingchallenge
#rockmytbr
#diversereads2017
#whatsinaname2017
#AnneReadAlong2017

October is zooming! How is it half over already??? Are you ready for nanowrimo.org???
Much Love,
Jobe

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Posted in Jobe Update, Reading Challenge, Reviews

Reading Challenges Progress Report

With the end of June our 2017 reading year is officially half over! I’ve read 18 books so far this year, with piles of TBR and just bought stacking up everywhere (of course).

PopSugar #popsugarreadingchallenge Full List

No. 4 An audiobook Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt
No. 10 cat on cover Abarat by Clive Barker
No. 11 pseudonym The Girl With All The Gifts by M. R. Carey
No. 15 subtitle Abarat: Days of Magic, Nights of War by Clive Barker (Abarat book 2)
No. 17 mythical creature Tithe by Holly Black
No. 39 first book in series you haven’t read yet Divergent by Veronica Roth
No. 35 set in a hotel Lost Girls by Alan Moore, illustrated by Melinda Gebbie
No. 29 unreliable narrator Dead Beat by Jim Butcher (Dresden Files book 7)
No. 28 a novel set during war time Insurgent by Veronica Roth (Divergent book 2)
No. 13 a book by or about a person who has a disability Cinder by Marissa Meyer
No. 14 a book involving travel Allegiant by Veronica Roth (Divergent book 3)
No. 47 a book with an eccentric character Proven Guilty by Jim Butcher (Dresden Files book 8)
No. 51 a book about a difficult topic Autonomy and Rigid Character by David Shapiro
No. 17 mythical creature White Night (Dresden Files book 9)
No. 46 genre you’ve never heard of (“men’s adventure”) The Destroyer #46: Next of Kin by Warren Murphy
No. 16 book published in 2017 Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew Sullivan
No. 27 a book with a title that’s a character’s name Ash by Malinda Lo
No. 52 a book based on mythology Small Favor by Jim Butcher (Dresden Files book 10)

 

Challenge Completed Status
PopSugar 18 45% main
35% advanced
Audiobooks 7 70% Byte
28% Megabyte
Pages 6,920 58% Bonsai
29% Shrub
Colors 9 of 9 100% completed!
Reread 2 50% Déjà Vu
25% Feeling Nostalgic
TBR 6 50% Pike’s Peak
25% Mount Blanc
Rock My TBR 6 50% completed
Diversity 6 50% completed
Full House 18 72% completed
Books You Buy 8 35% Making Inroads
Memoirs 0 of 25 Dropping out
What’s in a Name 3 50% completed

Book Dragon’s Lair Audiobooks 7 books
Book Dragon’s Lair Pages Read 6,920 pgs

My Reader’s Block Colors & Read it again, Sam Colors Challenge is completed. 2 of my books count as re-reads.
My Reader’s Block TBR Pile 6 books, half way to Pike’s Peak.

The YA Book Traveler Rock My TBR #ROCKMYTBR   6 books

Diverse Reads from Read Sleep Repeat and Chasing Faerytales #DiverseReads2017   6 of 12, right on schedule.

Book Date Full House 18 of 25

Non Fiction On TBR for 2+ years: Divergent by Veronica Roth More than 500 pages: Allegiant by Veronica Roth Page Turner: The Girl with All the Gifts by M. R. Carey Middle Grade book: Ash by Malinda Lo
2017 published: Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew Sullivan Published pre 2000: Autonomy and Rigid Character by David Shapiro UK/European author: Abarat: Days of Magic, Nights of War by Clive Barker Back List book from fav author: White Night by Jim Butcher book 9 Dresden Files Book from a list: Cinder by Marissa Meyer
Award Winner: Abarat by Clive Barker Books about books Size word in title: Small Favor by Jim Butcher book 10 Dresden Files Two Word Title: Proven Guilty by Jim Butcher book 8 Dresden Files Debut book: Tell The Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt
Food on cover or title Cozy Mystery: Dead Beat by Jim Butcher, book 7 in the Dresden Files Book from childhood Diversity book: Lost Girls by Alan Moore, illustrated by Melinda Gebbie Australian/NZ author
Western USA/Canadian author: Insurgent by Veronica Roth Not really for you: The Destroyer #46 Next of Kin by Warren Murphy Attractive cover: Tithe by Holly Black Borrowed

purch
Book Date Read What You Buy 8 of 23 or 35%, which keeps me in the Making Inroads category. This is the hardest challenge to make progress on because I can’t stop buying books, so even when I’m reading books I’ve bought I’m still just keeping afloat in the lowest categories. I decided that if I buy a book after I’ve read it—but in the same year—then I can count it as bought and read. That’s fair, right? Possibly the most fun aside from buying the books and reading them has been organizing all my purchases with a shelf on 50bookpledge.ca.

The Cutest Blog on the Block Memoirs ZERO! I agreed that if I hadn’t read any memoirs by the midway point then I would drop this challenge. Sad to say goodbye but I wasn’t doing it justice. Memoirs just wasn’t in the cards for me this year.

The Worm Hole What’s In a Name #whatsinaname2017   3 of 6
Halfway through the year and halfway through the challenge. Pretty good since I have yet to choose a title based on one of these categories specifically (which I imagine I will have to do before the year is up.) Are you having better luck than I am?

Readers Forever,

Jobe

 

Posted in Reading Challenge, Reviews

February Reads in Review

A new month, a new batch!

Book No. 3
My third finished book was The Girl with All the Gifts by M. R. Carey. This book was super fast-paced and exciting, so it’s no surprise that this book is being made into a movie! I’ll definitely be doing a compare and contrast once it’s out and I’ve seen it. This is a new spin on the zombie apocalypse story because the main character is a sentient zombie, and struggles to understand the world around her and her place in it. For all of our main characters, life is on the line at every turn, and only by working together can they hope to survive! A thrilling adventure from beginning to end. A prequel is rumored to be in the works. And since I listened to the audiobook I’d just like to add that the voice acting was great, too. PS: I love a book that I can’t predict!!

Reading Challenges
And now for everyone’s favorite game, categorizing the book into my reading challenges. For the PopSugar 2017 reading challenge I marked this off as No. 11, uses a pseudonym. Apparently M. R. Carey is a pen name for a well known British comic book author and artist (but I don’t know who!). For the Book Dragon’s Lair Audiobook challenge this one was an audiobook, so I’m at 2 of 10 for the Byte level. For the Book Dragon’s Lair Pages Read challenge, this 460 pgs puts me at a total of 1,238 pgs toward 12k pgs on the Bonsai level. For My Reader’s Block Color Coded challenge this cover color is Yellow and is 3 of 9 completed. This is not a re-read, so for Read It Again, Sam I’m still at 1 of 4 at the Déjà vu level. For My Reader’s Block Mount To Be Read (TBR) this was not on my tbr list so I’m still at 1 of 12 for the Pike’s Peak level, and Rock My TBR challenge is still at 1 of 12 too. For the Diverse Reads challenge (here and here) this book qualifies as diverse because one of the four main characters is black. Interestingly, the movie version chose to make two of the other main characters black instead. Weird, right? I’m interested to see what the movie-makers and author have to say about the changes. This book fits the optional mini-challenge for February, which is having a Person of Color (POC) as a main character. For The Book Date Full House challenge I marked this book for the Page Turner category. For The Book Date Read the Books You Buy challenge it doesn’t count because I got it from the library (don’t worry, I will be buying books this year). For the Whatever I Think Of Memoir Bingo challenge it doesn’t count because it is not a memoir (I swear I’ll get to one soon!). For The Worm Hole’s What’s In A Name challenge, it fits the alliteration category (Girl, Gifts) so I’m at 2 of 6 completed. Below are the hashtags of the challenges that had them.

#popsugarreadingchallenge
#rockmytbr
#diversereads2017
#whatsinaname2017

I hope your February reading and writing has been absolutely fantastic and you can’t wait to see what March brings. Write strong, Read strong.

Love!
Jobe