Monday, 20 April 2015

ASHFALL/ASHEN WINTER (Ashfall #1/Ashfall #2) by Mike Mullin

ASHFALL/ASHEN WINTER (Ashfall #1/Ashfall 2)
Mike Mullin

Spoilers for BOTH books below
Summary: Alex is a pretty ordinary teenager who gets to stay home alone for the weekend while his parents and younger sister visit his uncle. A few hours after they've left, the supervolcano under Yellowstone National Park erupts and then it's nothing but explosions and fires for days. Once those are done, it's nothing but ashes... for months.

Characters: The main character is, obviously, Alex. As stated before, he's quite ordinary. A bit of a loner and what could be considered a "geek". He spends hours playing computer games and reading books. He doesn't seem to have many friends and he's not popular with the girls either. However, and this is mentioned so often that you just know it's going to be very important, he's a black belt in taekwondo.

Just in case you missed it.

He's a black belt.


Black belt.

He can kick.

And stuff.

Really, really, really well.

Because he's a black belt. In taekwondo.

You might want to mention again... just to be sure
Anyway. As far as main characters go, Alex is okay. He's a bit on the dull side and not exactly able to carry the storyline on his own, but he's not terrible either. He tends to pass out a lot and he makes many bad decisions.

The real reason you might want to read the first book is Darla. She's a bit on the perfect side, she can do a little of everything, is smart, is strong enough, is funny... however, compared to Alex's dullness, it's really hard to care that she shouldn't be THIS perfect.

The second book introduces us to Alyssa and her autistic brother, Ben. She used to be a sex slave and Alex frees her, thinking she's Darla. Ben is a very nice surprise. He is obsessed with the army and knows all that there is to know about weapons, transports and strategies. It takes some time, but, by the end of the book, you want the siblings to be well.

There's also Alex's family. At the end of the first book, we meet his sister, Rebecca, his Uncle Paul, his Aunt and his cousins. During the second book, we find his parents, who are prisoners in a FEMA camp. They were boring and brought the book down.

Review: This is not going to be pretty. The characters didn't work very well. Alex kept doing stupid things, stupid things, stupid things. Then, passing out. Then, getting lucky because someone decided to save him. It's not that I wanted him to die. But it got boring. Fast.

However, that was not the problem. And here I need to address something that has been bothering me in MANY YA books. Authors don't seem all that interested in developing the plot. You know what they do?

They come up with a somewhat original concept. Something that the readers will find in the summary on the back of the book or on Goodreads or somewhere else and go "huh, this might be cool, I'll give it a chance, it sounds better than that Hunger Games wannabe".

Then, they create a couple. One of the characters is kinda dull. They're there to be the Peeta of the couple. I love Peeta, but you know what I mean. Then we have the witty one. The Katniss.

What comes next? "The government is bad. Baaad. Oh, wait. We can't have the President killing children. That's too Hunger Games. But I need something gritty! I need to shock my readers! Oh, I know. Rapists! And... cannibals!"

And this was only the 15th book that I read that went there!

Seriously. What is it with YA writers wanting to shock the readers with rape and cannibals? It's all I can find nowadays. Guess what, you guys. Not original. And not "gritty", to be honest. Just sick. It doesn't add anything to the story.

Back to the Ashfall series. It was boring. It'd go on and on, many pages about NOTHING in particular. And then BOOM, cannibals. Or a rape comment. Or a random fight where Alex would kill someone. But even that would be boring. Because of the reasons above. It wasn't meant to move the plot forward. It was there just to shock me. It's not like Alex would talk about it later on, not really. Those things didn't really have any impact. And I wasn't shocked. I was bored. It was like playing a video game, taking a long time to focus my energy to use a special power... and then having said power be something pathetic and useless.

Sorry, Mullin. I'll read the last book because I always finish the series I begin. But I doubt I'll ever read anything of yours ever again. The Ashfall series had SO MUCH potential. And then... wow. What a disappointment.


Monday, 10 November 2014

REBOOT (Reboot #1) by Amy Tintera

REBOOT (Reboot #1)
Amy Tintera

Many spoilers below

Summary: Years ago, the KDH virus spread, killing many people... and also bringing back from the dead a lot of them. There was a war and the "Reboots" (name given to those who have come back to life) lost it, so now we have the HARC (Human Advancement and Repopulation Corporation). The HARC controls the Reboots, using them to arrest (or kill) people. Which works just fine for the Reboots, because the longer they've stayed dead, the less emotion they feel.

CharactersOur main character, Wren, was dead for 178 minutes, which is a record. She loves running after the "criminals" and doing whatever the HARC wants her to do.

Then, a new Reboot arrives. His name is Callum and he was dead for 22 minutes, which is also a record... but a pathetic one.

Wren decides to train Callum and has a lot of trouble because he's pretty much still a human, while she's almost a machine, no emotions or anything like that.

Review: I was very interested in this book, as I had really liked the concept. And then... it didn't work. Here's why:

Everyone who was dead over 120 minutes is (emotionally) colder, faster and stronger. The ones who were dead for less than 60 minutes are too emotional, not as agile nor as strong as the others. These are the "Reboot" universe rules. And yet... Wren is constantly having a lot of feelings.

Wren, the coldest Reboot ever

She is always almost smiling, almost laughing, almost crying... the only reason why she doesn't do any of those is because she doesn't want people to see her expressing emotions. The thing is... she wasn't even supposed to have said emotions in the first place.

As soon as Wren meets Callum, she goes from this calculating, cold, killer Reboot to... a silly teenager with a crush. Oh, don't get me wrong, she still kicks ass. But wow, two days after first seeing Callum and she's a whole new Wren. No development whatsoever, she just blinks and that was that.

As for our love interest, Callum... he's supposed to be a guy who's really... hmmm... human. Translation: he's weak, emotional and also dumb. Apparently, being human means you have no survival instinct at all. The coldest, strongest girl ever is going to punch you until you punch her? Give her a nice smile, champ!

"Oh, they want to kill me? That's fine!"

Amy Tintera had an amazing universe right in front of her. The Reboots who were dead for less than 60 minutes were being used as guinea pigs, having drugs injected to them that made them go crazy, as seen with Wren's roommate, Ever. Leb, a human officer, was in touch with a rebel group that wanted to free the Reboots from the HARC.

It could've been a really awesome story of people who had realised they were nothing but slaves, gotten together and decided that enough was enough. Instead, we got the least emotional person ever having a lot of emotions. And let's not forget Callum, who somehow manages to be faster and stronger than he was supposed to. Would that be a result of Wren's great training abilities... or simply the power of love?

Well, I guess Dumbledore would agree with that...

All things considered, "Reboot" is what I'd call a "wasted potential". Sorry, Tintera. I'm very romantic and love, well... love. But you pretty much threw the concept you had AND Wren, our main character who could've been the best kick ass heroine ever, for... teenage drama. Badly written teenage drama that made no sense at all.