Monday, January 23, 2012

The Dead Man - Review

A few weeks ago, author Joel Goldman offered the Kindle edition of The Dead Man (Jack Davis Thrillers) for free and I grabbed a copy, hoping for a good mystery. I didn't let the "thriller" tag deter me (I often avoid thrillers) and read through the grisly prologue with growing interest.

Here's the story overview from the GoodReads book page (the Amazon page was filled with hype, and not much about the actual story):

Milo Harper wants former FBI agent Jack Davis' help. People in Harper's study of the human brain are starting to die--and dying exactly in the very ways they have dreamed...Harper wants Jack to get to the truth and counter lawsuits aimed at the foundation. But when Jack investigates, the truth explodes: a serial killer is lurking inside one of the most advanced research facilities in the world. For Jack, the case will shatter illusions, raise ghosts, and take him onto both sides of the law--and into the path of a murderer's terrifying rage...

This is the second of the Jack Davis Thrillers, but I wasn't too lost on Jack's life without having read the first. Goldman put in backstory when his protagonist was triggered to memories. At first, when this happened during a fairly active scene, it seemed intrusive, but I got used to the style.

All the characters were well-drawn and believable; the "thriller" aspects (blood, gore, graphic violence) wasn't too much to bear, and the story resolutions were effective. That's resolutions--plural--because protagonist Jack Davis has relationship issues to deal with, as well as his odd health condition, and his forced retirement from the FBI.

A lot going on, here. Most was handled well, although the ventures into the points of view of other characters didn't seem necessary, and a few scenes really gave away too much. But then, from the cover and the prologue, I had determined the perp early on. I read along, learning more about Jack and wondering when he would pickup on the clues.

In all, since it had few editing and formatting glitches, The Dead Man was a satisfactory read from a competent writer.

Joel Goldman at Goodreads
Joel Goldman's web site

For more of Kae's book reviews Click here.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Pure - Review

My copy of PURE came from the publishers through

I read a lot of Science Fiction, but dystopian stories aren't usually the ones I choose. I often find them a bit overwhelming with their dismal view of the future. Of course, that's what dystopian stories are about, but many of them focus more on this wrecked and depressing future than on the characters. I like a character-driven story. The titles I've read that give me the characters I can care about have been by Octavia Butler and Paolo Bacigalupi. I'm sure more authors would meet my criteria, but I haven't found them...until now. I've added Juilianna Baggott to this list.

From the Goodreads book page:
"Pressia barely remembers the Detonations or much about life during the Before. In her sleeping cabinet behind the rubble of an old barbershop where she lives with her grandfather, she thinks about what is lost--how the world went from amusement parks, movie theaters, birthday parties, fathers and ash and dust, scars, permanent burns, and fused, damaged bodies. And now, at an age when everyone is required to turn themselves over to the militia to either be trained as a soldier or, if they are too damaged and weak, to be used as live targets, Pressia can no longer pretend to be small.

This overview of Pure snagged my attention, and the character of Pressia pulled me in to her story of surviving a fractured and disturbing world, where odd wraiths can attack from underground, where finding food and water is a hopeful consideration, and where deformities are the norm...deformities such as Pressia's where the doll she was holding when Detonations happened is now permanently fused to her hand. Her physical change is nothing compared to other people. Her grandfather has a fan lodged in his throat that whirrs as he breathes. Her friend, Bradwell, has birds embedded on his back—still alive and living through him. Everyone has some odd alteration...Except for the Pures

The Pures have become nearly mythical, even though everyone can look up to where they live in a massive hermetically-sealed Dome. That thriving mini city is home to people without deformities, without starvation and attacks by Groupies (a multi-fused people gang). A place some wish they could get to, while other want it destroyed.

When Pressia meets the Pure, Partridge, who was driven out of the Dome by his need to find his mother, she learns new things about herself and the blasted world around her. How she assimilates her new knowledge is deftly told. Her emotions, often conflicting, about Pures and the Before, are realistic and heart-wrenching. Partridge, too, is a fascinating character. Through him and another Pure, Lyda, life within the Dome is presented not just as a camera-view of this future place, but with the emotional needs of the characters.

Baggott is noted for her excellent YA fiction, and while the major characters of Pure are in their youth, the story and writing offer excellence for anyone. Although I noted a few plot line conundrums, I won't mention them because 1) they were small and would also be Spoilers, and 2) I was reading an ARC--these aspects in the final book might be different.

Without reservation, I recommended Pure as a fascinating, well written story. It's also the first book in a series. I look forward to the next.