Tag: Dan Wells

Book Watch: Partials by Dan Wells

by on Jul.09, 2012, under Book Watch, Books, Reviews

Partials (Partials, #1)Partials by Dan Wells

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I listened to Partials as an audio book during the trip to and from a summer vacation. The drive was eight hours to and from, and the book itself was around ten hours. When I got home from the trip and unpacked, I found I needed to listen to the last two hours of the book right there and then, rather than wait to finish it during my daily commutes like I normally do.

This happens rarely for me.

Partials is a story about a teenager who has grown up in a world where humans are an endangered species and tries everything in her power to change that. An engineered plague killed over 99% of the world’s population. A little girl at the time, our heroine, Kira has grown up only knowing stories of the decadent world full of working cars, electricity, and babies. The virus has effectively made the human race sterile. No baby born lives past two days thanks to it and the provisional government that rules the survivors of the plague don’t know how to fix it, except to keep having more babies, hoping that one of them will be born immune.

To make things worse, the creators of the plague, Partials, are still out there in the world. Partials were weapons, genetically engineered super-soldiers used by the former US to fight a war, until those weapons turned on humanity. To make things even worse, the society of some forty thousand human survivors is slowly starting to implode, threatening to break out into a civil war.

And Kira needs to stop it all.

What I love about this series is that it is a young adult series where there are consequences. Our main character is a teenager, certainly an exceptional one, but a teenager without the wisdom to see the full consequences of her actions. While readers will be able to agree with her intentions, and know how rash and unprepared her actions are, readers will not have to suspend their disbelief when the characters experience the fallout of their decisions.

Too many times have I read young adult series where the children are effectively smarter and more capable of the adults simply because the adults are too stubborn, too short-sighted, or because of some other contrived notion. That the children take risks and ultimately those risks pay out simply by virtue of the characters being the heroes of the story. That is not to say this is a tragedy or that Kira is in any way incapable but instead Kira both succeeds and fails in a realistic manner given the situation.

The second thing I enjoyed about this novel were the questions it is raised. Say you were in charge of the lively-hood of the last 40,000 humans on earth. A virus is killing off every baby born within two days and researchers just don’t have access to the medical technology needed to fix the problem. What would you do? Institute mandatory pregnancies in a hopes of creating a baby that is immune? What about civil rights and liberty? When does the needs of the specie out-weight the needs of the individual?

Science fiction. Post-Apocolyptic. Young Adult. Thought Provoking Themes. Add onto that interesting and mostly realistic action sequences and a healthy dose of politics, conspiracy, and science, and you’ll think you’ve accidentally started reading a Mira Grant novel.

Dan Wells has created both an interesting cast of characters as well as the beginning of a hopefully entertaining series. The first novel leaves tantalizing story hooks that will likely leave the reader wishing the second book was already available (and if you’re reading this review and the second book is, count yourself lucky!)

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Book Watch: Mr. Monster and I Don’t Want to Kill You

by on Jan.10, 2012, under Book Watch, Books, Reviews

Mr. Monster (John Cleaver, #2)Mr. Monster by Dan Wells

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The second in a trilogy, Mr. Monster exceeds its predecessor in many ways.

Picking up almost immediately where the first book left off, our protagonist is attempting to come to terms that he has unleashed a monster inside himself by killing off a demon. Which is when the murders start happening again and John Cleaver struggles with his inner self, Mr. Monster, over if, or how, he should hunt and kill this new serial killer in town.

My biggest problem with the last book was the introspective rationalization parts where the hero argues with himself over what he should do. In this book I found I had no problems with these parts and I think it is because the clash between the protagonist’s urges seems far more prominent. One area that the story did not excel at for me when compared to the first book was sickening/horrifying me. There was one scene in the first book towards the end that this novel just failed to replicate, although the story did manage to make me worry and feel for the protagonist (or those around him). I was just never intensely horrified.

Again, if you’re fascinated by sociopaths, serial killers, and don’t mind a bit of the supernatural, then I do suggest you read this book.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I Don't Want to Kill You (John Cleaver, #3)I Don’t Want to Kill You by Dan Wells

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I think this was my favorite of the John Cleaver series. It changes up the formula somewhat and we see more character growth overall. The finale has some rather sickening parts that was very reminiscent of the first book for me which helped me enjoy the book more.

I Don’t Want to Kill You is the third book in the John Cleaver series about a young man who deals with a growing urge to become a serial killer by hunting and killing supernatural begins that are killing off people in his home town. The third book picks up almost right where the second leaves off and changes up the formula enough to be new and interesting.

I’d recommend this book for fans of the series and people who like antiheroes or serial killers.

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Book Watch: I Am Not A Serial Killer

by on Oct.31, 2011, under Book Watch, Books

I Am Not A Serial Killer (John Cleaver, #1)I Am Not A Serial Killer by Dan Wells

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I listen to Dan Wells’ writing advice on his podcast Writing Excuses regularly and went a head and decided to listen to his novel by audio book. Because I had been listening to Dan for so long, I already had a few minor spoilers regarding the plot of the story which likely affected my reading of it. I am happy to say I enjoyed the story and would even recommend it to fans of psychological horror. There were a few aspects that kept me from loving it however.

My personal problem with the novel was there were times when I was not that interested in the main character’s welfare. The story has a lot of introspective moments which sometimes fell flat for me, although I am not sure why. There was, however, one particular scene at the start of the climax of the story that really got to me. It gave me chills, which is what a good horror novel should do.

If you’re fascinated by sociopaths, serial killers, and don’t mind a bit of the supernatural, then I do suggest you read this book.

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My Fantasy Football Team for the SPFL.

by on Sep.14, 2011, under Books, Comics, Entertainment, Gaming, Novels, Video Games

So as per my post yesterday, showing off Dan Well’s fantasy football team, I’ve decided to draft my own team in similar style. Afterall if there is only one team in the SPFL (Speculative Fiction Football League) (I would have claimed FFL but I suspect the NFL already has that as their acronym for fantasy football, right?) then Dan’s team would automatically win and we can’t have that, right?

So to be fair, I’ll be picking in a similar style to Dan Well’s choices and I will also not be able to pick any of the choices he has made.

Coach
So according to the snippets of football movies and televisions shows I’ve seen, the Coach is the guy who gets pissed off a lot on the side lines while their team sucks and then ultimately gets liquids poured on them when the team manages to come together and win, despite all the odds. I also think they plan the maneuvers the team does on the field, because I remember scenes of coaches pointing at Xs and Os a lot. So I need someone who is a master of strategy, and for flavor, I want someone who stays cool under pressure. First person that comes to mind is The Riddler but having my coach get beat up at half time by some lunatic in a bat costume (who isn’t a mascot!) would be bad press. There is, of course, Original Universe Spock, whose logic would likely benefit the team heavily but I suspect his cool demeanor would work against his ability to motivate the rest of the team. So ultimately my choice is going to have to come from Shikimaru from Naruto. Sure he is a little young to be a coach, but he is a master strategist. Additionally his usually lazy demeanor would keep him from getting overly heated when his team was losing while still motivating him and his ability to control shadows would keep this team from sneaking up behind him to pour liquids over his head.

Quarterback
So as Dan put it, the QB need to throw stuff and be a good field leader. I’ll translate good field leader into is good with tactics. Well the first choice is Waka from Final Fantasy X. Afterall he played in his world’s version of football called Blitz Ball, and his primary combat weapon is throwing a blitz ball at enemies. However I think he might be lacking in the tactics part, since his team kinda sucked until Tidus came along. Another good thrower would be Donkey Kong but I suspect his tactics would be to just throw passes or run the ball himself, which is tactically sound but not always preferable. I don’t want a QB who is predictable. So I will have to go with Link from Legend of Zelda: A link to the Past. Link is a weapon’s expert, well-known for his ability to throw both boomerangs, bombs, rocks, bushes, and even clay pots. In addition the man has saved the kingdom of Hyrule (and various other principalities) from evil multiple times over without a team or coaching, which would suggest excellent tactical capabilities.

(continue reading…)

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Putting a bit of fantasy into fantasy football

by on Sep.13, 2011, under Culture, Entertainment, Gaming, Writing

I like draft games. Particularly character based draft games. Or rather, I like watching people play character based draft games. I’ve never actually played in one. A character based draft game is where people pick a genre or story or series, and then select characters from it to form a team. Then, usually, you’re expected to explain how the team overcomes a series of obstacles presented by an independent referee, and if you’re feeling competitive, everybody votes on whose team did best.

Or if you’d prefer someone else to do all the obstacle calculations for you, you could play fantasy football, which is the exact same game, where the characters are limited to real life football players, and the obstacles are simulated football games that are played out automatically with other people in your game. I love the term fantasy football, because it draws attention to the geekier aspects of being a football fan. And, as the joke that is almost over done has pointed out, football fans are supposedly the antithesis of geeks/nerds/fans. Many people have pointed out the similarities between playing fantasy football and playing  board games, or drafting games, or even dungeons and dragons.

I bring up these topics because of a post made by Dan Wells on his blog, Fearful Symmetry. He has a passing familiarity with football, like I do, and decided to make up his own team, but instead of pulling from the usual set of characters, he pulled from characters that fantasy fans might find more familiar, like say Jedi, wizards, or aliens. This makes for a particularly humorous post which I invite you all to read:

Fantasy Football: finally a sport I can understand by Dan Wells [FearfulSymmetry.net]

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Hugo Nominations are up! (Part 1 of 3)

by on Apr.25, 2011, under Articles, Books, News, Novels, Podcasts, Short Stories, Writing

The Hugo Award Nominations are available

Man, do we have some great nominations this year. The Hugo Award is the leading award for excellence in the field of science fiction and fantasy. The Hugos are awarded each year by the World Science Fiction Society, at the World Science Fiction Convention. Let me go over some of the ones I am excited about.

Best Novel

FEED is nominated!!

This actually came as light surprise to me. I am not used to having already read one of the year’s Hugo Award nominees for Best Novel. I’ve written about how the book is awesome.  FEED is by Mira Grant, the alter ego of Seanan McGuire and it has a sequel coming out, DEADLINE, on May 31st, a book I am anticipating as much as Ghost Stories by Jim Butcher. So congratulations  Ms. McGuire!

I haven’t read any of the other novels nominated but I do recognize one of the other authors nominated, Lois McMaster Bujold for her book Cryoburn.

Best Short Story

I have not read any of the short stories nominated, however I will be looking forward to Escape Pod in the coming weeks, as they typically make a point of releasing all five Hugo Nominated short stories on as podcasts.

Best Related Work

Speaking of podcasts, Writing Excuses: Season 4, has been nominated for Best Related Work. Created and staring , Brandon Sanderson, Howard Tayler, and Dan Wells, the podcast focuses on various topics related to writing and becoming an author while keeping any particular topic under fifteen minuets because, as they say: “Fifteen minutes long, because you’re in a hurry, and we’re not that smart.” Obviously you’re smart enough to get nominated for a Hugo. Congrats guys!

Part 2 and Part 3 of the Hugo Nominees will be posted in just a little bit!

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Aang vs. Heimdal vs. Racism

by on Dec.22, 2010, under Articles

Remember racebending? If you Google it now, you’ll find people built entire websites and social networks around the issue. It cropped up during the filming of The Last Airbender, where most of the characters were cast by actors of a different ethnicity than their cartoon counterparts. The primary issue being that the main character, Aang, who was supposedly Asian in the cartoon, was portrayed by a white actor in the movie.

Coming this summer is a movie called Thor. And a group is now calling out the movie for how it’s selecting it’s actors. Namely that the race of beings modeled after the Norse gods, is not being portrayed by white actors but with a mixture of ethnicities. The primary issue they’re focusing on being a character named Heimdal who, in the source comic, is white/Norse, and in this movie is being portrayed by a black actor.

Anybody else feel slightly odd after reading those two paragraphs?

Aang vs. Heimdal vs. Racism by Dan Wells (fearfulsymmetry.net)

Above is a link to an article by Dan Wells on his personal blog discussing the obvious similarities of the situations and what is actually different that we might consider one situation racist and the other not . It is a discussion and analysis article but I am curious about other people’s opinions on the matter.

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If I was a better reviewer I’d write stuff like this

by on Aug.19, 2010, under Articles, Films, Reviews, Writing

If I was less of a fanboy, I’d write stuff like this.

http://www.fearfulsymmetry.net/?p=761

Yes yes another review of Scott Pilgrim vs the World. This time by someone far more literate than I. I’ll get here, at some point, but he does manage to cut to the core of why the movie is good, while I was still hung up on the presentation. And he manages to do it completely spoiler free.

The following section is for people who have already seen the film at least once.

So a discussion question for all you people out there. One of my friends brought up what I thought was a rather strange interpretation of the film. They felt that since the film is presented in a very surreal fashion, with action sequences happening suddenly and often in a non-sequitur manor, that all the fantastic elements of the film are instead visualizations of the mental interpretation of how Scott Pilgrim learns to cope with Ramona’s baggage. That in fact, the fights with Ramona’s Evil Exs did not happen, or if they did, they didn’t involve the more supernatural elements shown to us on screen.

So my question: Was this your initial interpretation as well?

He also pointed out something I failed to mention in my review(s) of the film. A significant portion of the visual action of the film is metaphor. On top of the story elements, references, and entertainment value, the writers/director took time to use the surreal aspects of the film to creator metaphors to help you better understand the primary character. I consider this just another reason to like the film.

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