#840 The Sweeter the Juice by Mark Henry

The Sweeter the Juice by Mark HenryThe Sweeter the Juice by Mark Henry

In the zombie apocalypse it’s hard to survive. It’s even more difficult to survive if you’re trans. There’s only about one doctor around that treats trans patients and he has a strict bartering system. If you don’t barter with him, you don’t get your treatment. The main character of the story falls behind on her payments. The receptionist strikes a deal with her though. There’s this new street drug, that might do what the surgery would do. If she can find out what it does and how, she can get her treatment for free.

What I liked

I do like the idea of addressing medical issues in a dystopian world. What happens when you have diabetes and have to go to the Hunger Games?

What I didn’t like

I have some personal reservations about this book. If you’re trans–fine, I’m happy for you, really. I’d rather you be happy, than miserable. I’m glad we have more acceptance of the trans community. What I am not glad of is all of the young people who say they’re trans because they think it’s cool. It cheapens the struggle someone else has had to go through.  I’m more of a do something because you feel it’s right, rather than a do something because everyone else is doing it kind of person. We all know someone who has hopped on some band wagon just because it was the talked about thing of the time, then later, they say it was a phase, or whatever.

What does this have to do with this book? Well, where is it coming from? Is Mark trans? Does he have a sister who is trans? A best friend? Seriously, what’s the deal? If Mark doesn’t have some connection to the trans community, it kind of seems he’s written this character and this story because it’s a hot button topic right now. On the good side, this is Mark trying to reach out to the trans community, although with some of the things in this book, the trans community probably wants Mark to reach on back to where he came from; on the bad side, this is Mark trying to cash in on a hot button topic combined with our scary creature flavor of the decade–Zombies.

It just reeks of less than altruistic motives.

This book is also gross.

Overall

Ugh

Weigh In

If you were trans and undergoing hormone therapy during the apocalypse, what would you do?

Considering that a lot of literature serves a lot of people in different ways, shouldn’t most literature be geared to serve someone in some way?

#840 The Sweeter the Juice by Mark Henry was originally published on One-elevenbooks

Advertisements

#470 Endings by Norman Christof

Endings by Norman ChristofEndings by Norman Christof

Wouldn’t you know that this makes my 110th book of the year?

Norman was kind enough to let me review his book and so I read it.

This books is set sometime in the future, there isn’t really any definite time. It’s the third zombie war and Colonel Chaz Sheperd is fighting in the swamps of Louisiana against zombies that just seem to keep materializing out of the rotting organic matter and muck. He sends some men off to check on the positions from other areas because he hasn’t heard anything.

When they come back, it’s bad news. It seems Washington has fallen. At this point Chaz decides to get the heck out of Dodge. What’s the point in continuing to be a war hero when the war has been lost? Chaz takes some supplies and a humvee and goes on his way. He makes his way to Atlanta where he hopes to find his ex-wife and children. When he gets there he finds some hope, but he also finds some other strange things going on.

He finds people telling him that not all the zombies acted like zombies. Some of them could act like people and they did, even infiltrating the local government infrastructure. There were airstrikes ordered on the area.

Chaz reflects on his past relationships. He loved his family, but he also loved fighting for his country. Everyone knows who he is when he tells them his name. He’s revered to the American people and they allow him rights that they would not allow others. As Chaz ventures further into the hills of the Appalachian mountains, he finds companions and more zombies, but they’re not the kind of zombies a person would expect.

He soon acquires another mission.

What I liked

I am not a zombie person. I have never seen The Walking Dead or read the books. I actually think zombies are kind of stupid, but Norman was able to give me a good reason for the creation of zombies. I don’t want to give it away because I really like it, but let’s say it’s something I’ve done a lot of research on and it’s something I think is terrible. I’m not upset that Norman used this thing as a possible contributor to the creation of zombies. I actually think it’s great.

I also really like that Norman chose to have the zombie outbreak limited to a certain area. Usually, when you read zombie stories the zombies are all over the entire world, but someone was smart enough in Norman’s world to create a quarantine. Go people of Norman’s world, you’re smarter than the people of our world today.

Norman was also smart in assuming that any virus or bacterium that could cause a person to turn into a zombie would also rightly mutate into something else. Super-zombies? Yes, diseases mutate.

I know there are other books in this series. At this point I kind of feel that Norman could make a really neat statement about the people in power and them being zombies, but we’ll see.

What I didn’t like

On purely mechanical notices–I noticed a few sentence fragments, not that I’m one to talk. This is basically the pot calling the kettle black. I also noticed that Norman relies heavily on the word “freak” in his description of the zombies. Zombies are freaks, yes, that’s true, but it seems to me the word might be a bit overused.

In a portion of the story, Chaz is somewhere north of Atlanta when he notices some seagulls. The text states that it’s strange that sea gulls would be so far inland. It’s not strange actually. Lake Lanier  is in Hall county and because of its large size it often attracts seagulls. I used to live around the area and I saw seagulls all the time.

Overall

This book isn’t bad for a zombie book.



chaz sheperd, colonel chaz shepherd, endings, Endings by Norman Christof, norman christof, zombie antidote, zombie invasion, zombies, zombies in atlanta, zombies in the south
Books Set in the South, Christof-Norman, Fiction, Post Apocalyspe, Science Fiction, Social Commentary, Undead, what if
One-elevenbooks

#446 The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood

The Year of the Flood by Margaret AtwoodThe Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood

This is the second book in Margaret’s series that all started with Oryx and Crake. In this installment of the series we meet Ren and Toby, mainly, but there are other characters that come into play as well as some background as to what happened in the previous book.

Ren and Toby were both members of a cultish type of movement called The Gardeners. They lived in the modern world along with everyone else. They lived among the people who took a pill for everything, but they lived apart. They would often live in abandoned buildings growing gardens on the roof. Their religious philosophies foretold of a waterless flood. This flood would bring about the downfall of humanity. They are preppers. They stockpile food and learn how to fend for themselves. The children of the community all learn valuable skills.

Ren was brought to the community when she was a young child. Her mother ran away with her from a compound and also from her father. She now lives with a man named Zeb. They’re all gardeners. They don’t eat meat and use plants medicinally. They shun flashy clothes and devices. Amanda soon finds her way into Ren’s life. Amanda lives with Ren for a while with the gardeners. We met Amanda in the previous book. She was one of Jimmy’s girlfriends.

Toby also belongs to the gardeners. She was rescued. Her parents had both died. She knew she was going to be out on the street. There was no more college future for her. She got a job at a place called Secret Burger, a restaurant that makes burgers out of any kind of meat. The secret is that you don’t know what meat went into your burger. The manager there, Blanco, is violent and often sexually abuses his workers. Toby is soon singled out by Blanco. One day protesters come to the restaurant. The protestors are none-other than the gardeners who call them themselves Adams and Eves. They abscond with Toby to their gardens. There she helps with plants. Later on, she becomes an Eve herself and learns all the secrets that various plants and mushrooms hold.

The flood does come. Ren has grown up and has found herself working at a brothel of sorts. She’s a dancer amongst other things. She too was one of Jimmy’s girlfriends, the first in fact. Ren is sealed up in something called the sticky room when the waterless flood hits. The room is sealed off to prevent biohazardous materials from leaking out, so it’s the safest possible place Ren could be. She is able to text Amanda who is on the outside, but she’s still alive. Ren stays in her room for quite while.

Amanda soon finds her and gets her out. Three young men are also reunited with Ren and Amanda. They are gardeners as well. They plan to leave because some criminals, including Blanco are prowling the streets looking for them. Toby is alive and well. She put up a stockpile of food in the beauty spa where she was working. She soon meets up with Ren and the plans now turn into a rescue mission. It turns out more people survived the plague than Jimmy had thought. Jimmy also holds a place in this story.

What I liked

I really liked that I got more background to Margaret’s apocalypse. It’s really neat to see how fictitious apocalypses develop. Who caused them? Why? Are they plausible? How many people survive? It’s all highly interesting.

I liked this group of preppers that Margaret thought up. There are people who are preppers in real life. There is an entire show about it and there are also entire religious groups who are counseled to put away things they might need in case of a disaster. Mostly, it’s just common sense. Disaster can and will happen. It may not be a world-wide disaster or country-wide disaster, but wouldn’t you feel better knowing you had the materials to ride out being stuck in a hurricane-ravaged area if you had to? Of course your would feel better. In a lot of situations people die because they’re not prepared. People die every winter because they don’t have enough heat sources. It’s really a preventable death, but that’s just one example.

What I’m trying to say is that being a prepper isn’t that weird. If you live in an area prone to hurricanes, have hurricane essentials on hand. If you live in an area prone to tornadoes, have a storm shelter. If you live near a chemical plant, have bug-out bags in case there is a chemical spill and you have to leave. Being a prepper is a smart move, of course, it’s never good to let something like being a prepper take over your life. You still have to remember that there is a here and now. Your disaster that you’re preparing for may never happen. You can’t prep for the future and ignore your life now. ¿Comprende?

I think these gardeners had a good mix. They had their religion. They had their activities. They had their structure. They had children’s activities and celebrations, but they also prepped. They were prepared. The children were prepared. They were still living in the now, but prepping for the future. You may think they’re a weird lot, but they’re smart. They really are. Why do you think I have a collection of books about living off the land and doing things myself? It’s so I can have that knowledge on hand in case I need it. It’s very important to be able to survive. That seems like a “duh” kind of thing to say, but people often forget that we live a very fine balance. We can be thrown off course so easily. We need to know what to do in case that happens.

What I didn’t like

The religion of the gardeners is rather strange. I get where they’re coming from, but it all seems so odd. I guess that’s probably because it’s not something I’m familiar with. I don’t really like how these sermons were interspersed in the text along with the gardener hymns. I really tuned that part of the book out. It’s important to the story because that’s how Ren, Toby, and Amanda survive, but it just sounds so hokey. I kind of wished they would have shut-up and went on about their lives.

I would say I’m a spiritual person and I was raised somewhat in an organized religion, so I’m not opposed to any of this. I wish people would profess their beliefs through actions rather than by cornering you and professing what they believe in. That’s kind of what I feel these gardeners were doing. They just went on and on. Actions speak louder than words, but I can’t really say these gardeners did not act, because they did. They followed through with their words; I just didn’t want to listen to their words. I guess I’m more the type that wants you to show me what you believe. If you believe in the great flying spaghetti monster there better darn well be some kind of painting on your wall of the great flying spaghetti monster. You better not just talk to me all about the great flying spaghetti monster and don’t even think about giving me some Photoshopped pamphlet about the joys of following the great flying spaghetti monster. I want to see your faith in action. I want to see you living it.

Margaret is good at painting depraved societies. This society is sad. People worship science and manipulate things they should not. She kind of has this vibe that humans are trash, I know she doesn’t entirely think that because she puts hope in her stories about the human race, but it’s still there a little. She’s right. We can be trashy. We can be careless. We can be unobservant. We can ruin things. We ruin a lot of things. We could very well bring down a disaster upon ourselves. We could shoot ourselves in the foot. Honestly, if there is ever a huge life-changing event that spreads across the world and life sucks for us from then on, it’s probably going to be because we caused it. I wouldn’t go as far as to taut all the ideas the global warming people have, I don’t think New York is going to be in the ocean anytime soon, but that could be part of it. It will some sort of warfare, some sort of experiment gone wrong, or some disease we left unchecked. Maybe we fracked too much and ruined something that we don’t have the knowledge to fix. We really tend to consume before we think. Margaret has captured that splendidly, but it’s also a reminder of how terrible we can be.

Overall

Margaret, you’re so freaking awesome.



amanda, apocalypse, brenda, disease, gardeners, humanity, jimmy, margaret atwood, mushrooms, plague, prepper, preppers, ren, the year of the flood, The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood, toby
Atwood-Margaret, Fiction, Mystery, Post Apocalyspe, Romantic Fiction, Science Fiction, Social Commentary, what if
One-elevenbooks

#444 Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood

Oryx and Crake by Margaret AtwoodOryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood

This probably isn’t the best time to be reading a dystopian post-apocalyptic novel about an apocalypse caused by a hemorrhagic genetically engineered virus, but whatever. I like Margaret Atwood and I liked this book.

The main character in this book is called Snowman; his name isn’t really Snowman, it was once Jimmy. Jimmy used to have a life in the real world. He grew up in a compound. The intelligent scientists of the world all lived in compounds, while normal people still lived out in the world. The space out in the rest of the world was called the pleeblands.

Jimmy’s life now consists of keeping an eye over some strange people. They’re not people like him. They don’t wear clothes. They can eat grass. They can purr. Their stomachs turn blue when they’re ready to mate. Snowman is something of a leader to them. He calls them Crakers. They were spliced together by Crake. Crake is gone now, but Snowman tells the Crakers that he can talk to them. Snowman has created an entire mythology for the Crakers. Most animals are children of Oryx, another ill-fated friend of Snowman’s.

Snowman has decided to journey back to a nearby compound to get things he needs. Along the way we learn the story of how all of this came to be. Snowman used to live in a compound with his mother and father when he was Jimmy. His father worked on genetically engineered pigs that grew human organs. His mother didn’t like the work they were doing; one day she disappeared. For years afterwards government security would accost Jimmy about the whereabouts of his mother. Jimmy goes on. He grows up. In high school he makes a friend.

That friend is named Crake. Crake and Jimmy spend a lot of time together watching the news and porn. Their academic abilities are quite different. Crake is accepted into a first-class university, while Jimmy is stuck with going to a rather unimpressive school. They both get their degrees. Crake goes to work for a very large and profitable firm. Jimmy goes to work writing ads. He spins words.

Conversations with Crake have always been a little weird. Crake hypothesizes about the downfall of mankind. If mankind did fall down, how would they get back up? In some instances it would be impossible. One day Crake shows up on Jimmy’s doorstep and offers him a job. Crake has created new pills that promise to do all manner of things. They’ll keep you young. They’ll keep you from getting STDs, and they’ll also sterilize you, but this isn’t listed on the product details. Jimmy knows the pills will sell themselves, but he goes along with it.

This is where he first meets Oryx and the Crakers. The Crakers are Crake’s creation and pet project. He says they’re a new breed of people. They’re resistant to various diseases. They have their own pest repellent built-in. They don’t understand many of the ways of the world. They’re very innocent. They grow up faster and die at thirty. Oryx on the other hand grew up in a hard life. She was sold into human trafficking at a young age. She did manage to go to school and become somewhat educated. She was also given a job in Crake’s secret experiment.

One day Oryx says she’s going out for Pizza, but she never completely makes it back inside. All pandemonium has broken loose. The world is falling apart. Jimmy gets to watch as everyone dies. He’s immune because Crake vaccinated him. The Crakers are immune because they were engineered to be that way. He promised Oryx he would take care of them and so he does.

What I liked

I don’t think genetic modification is a good idea. It’s just not. We don’t know the consequences of the changes we’re making. That’s why more people than ever have food allergies now. Our food is screwed up because scientists in laboratories have been playing with your wheat, your corn, your soybeans, and all manner of other plants in the name of increasing the bottom line of agribusiness. It may seem like all business, but it’s not, especially when people start to get sick. In this book, Margaret creates a great warning against genetic modification.

Scientists already modify animals; goats being modified to produce spider silk in their milk is old news. I have also heard that some countries are experimenting a little with human genetic modification. None of it’s really verified of course. We simply don’t know what modifying this tiny thing here is going to mean down the line. There could be huge consequences to moving just one little thing around. Margaret gives us a what-if. The world of Jimmy was riddled with genetic modification. Everything was being modified, everything. People were crossing skunks with raccoons. People were crossing snakes with rats. These animals are dangerous. They take over existing animals.

The genetic modifications in Jimmy’s world are everyday things. Everyone is used to it. People even go along with the idea of a chicken modified beyond recognition, which simply seems to grow instead of live. There are strange diseases popping up everywhere, but even stranger medications popping up to treat those diseases. It’s all a matter of business. If people are healthy, you can’t sell them items to get healthy. If you can make them sick, you can certainly sell them items to get rid of that disease. The problems escalate and escalate. The environment falters and eventually someone like Crake takes advantage of that. It may seem out-there and implausible, but it’s not really that implausible. What’s so different about modifying a disease to be released at a certain time? What’s so different about modifying butterflies to be gigantic? We already have the ground work in these areas; we’re within reach. Margaret imagines a world that really isn’t that far ahead.

What I didn’t like

I think Margaret is amazingly creative for imaging this strange world, but it’s also scary. It is a big lesson. Don’t mess with things you don’t understand. Don’t supposedly fix something and then have it turn out to be a disaster later on because you broke something when you fixed it. We’re living in something of a precursor to Margaret’s imagined world. We’re really just getting into the idea of genetic modification, but we don’t really understand it enough. We’ve already had experiences where genetically modified species run out the regular species. We’ve had scares of people being sick with Bt corn.

Margaret also makes another very astute option. Let’s say we did screw up, royally. Let’s say we were plunged back into the stone age. We can’t go back. We can’t get back to now. We’ve made it impossible to get back to now because we preserved nothing. We mined all the minerals close to the surface of the Earth. Those who would have to rebuild, wouldn’t have the ability to mine for ore to make new metal objects. They wouldn’t have the ability to use oil because we’ve gotten all of it that is close to the surface. They would either have to become really creative with what they did have or live like it was way back when. Those are really the only two options. It’s a sad and scary realization. We can’t be as resilient as we would like to be because we kind of shot ourselves in the foot. Nice.

Overall

Once again, Margaret has tickled my imagination. That’s what I’m going to describe it as. She has me thinking of all these what-ifs.



biodome, crake, fiction about plagues, genetically modified disease, hemmoraghic disease, jimmy, margaret atwood, oryx, oryx and crake, Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood, plague, snowman, thickney
Atwood-Margaret, Fantasy, Fiction, Post Apocalyspe, Science Fiction, Social Commentary, what if
One-elevenbooks

#428 Allegiant by Veronica Roth

Allegiant by Veronica RothAllegiant by Veronica Roth

I’ve finished the Divergent series and although I was a bit disappointed with how the last book was going, I think I changed my mind a bit with this book.

In this book we find that Tris and Tobias are mad at each other for all the things they did and didn’t tell each other, but a video has come to light. There are people outside of their city and they need to help of the Divergent, but the city divides into several sides. There is a side that wants to remain true to the faction system and they are led by Tobias’ father, Marcus. There is a side that wants to do away with the factions entirely which is led by Tobias’ mother Evelyn.

Plans are made to go outside the city walls, because no one is really a fan of that, no matter what side they are on. Both of the main sides want to stay in the city and work on their own darn problems. Tris, Tobias, and a few others make plans to leave the city. They rescue Tris’ brother Caleb on the way. When they get out they are met by a person who they thought was dead. Things start to get really interesting.

They are led to a very large building and are told it’s the Bureau of Genetic Welfare. They meet a man named David, who knew Tris’ mom. Apparently, Tris’ mom came from the Bureau. Things are explained. There was a war. People who committed crimes were genetically damaged so the Bureau was created to try to breed the violence out of the people. It would take many generations to see if they were correct.

Tris learns about people who live outside of the cities/experiments. These people are referred to as genetically damaged and live in the fringe of society without access to anything the people in the Bureau have. Tobias learns he’s not really Divergent. It’s just been careful thought and planning on his part to appear that he is Divergent. Tris on the other hand, is Divergent. She’s what the Bureau considers genetically pure.

Tobias aligns himself with a plan to get people from the fringe into the Bureau so they can take over. The plan fails, but Tobias is forgiven pretty easy because he’s genetically damaged and not held to the same type of standards that genetically pure people are held to. Tris is invited to join the council as the Bureau. Tris goes in as a double agent. When she learns what happens to experiments that aren’t going the way the Bureau likes, she knows she has to stop it. The Bureau’s plan is to mentally reset everyone in the city where Tris and Tobias came from. They make plans to take down the Bureau before the Bureau can take down the city.

What I liked

We’re talking about genetic modification and eugenics here, both have their purposes in some aspects, but are largely bad. I’m just going to come out and say they’re bad because they’re bad. It’s not wise to mess with the genetics of something without considering what the outcome may be. There is no possible way to know what would happen to a genetically engineered descendency line. Eugencis is also bad. It’s not a good idea to decide who and who doesn’t get to reproduce or try to breed certain characteristics out of the world. I like that this story illustrates the badness of these things.

I like that the story becomes a little more important in this installment. In the last installment I thought the whole thing was stupid. I was disappointed that everyone was fighting against everyone else and it seemed as if it was for nothing. Their pettiness was still stupid, don’t get me wrong, but I like how the goal became this bigger picture.

Genetics don’t make a person bad. People are themselves and have the right to make their own decisions and live without the intervention of a pesky government. Let’s Tea party! Not. I don’t mean all government is bad, I mean that the government and authority entities can overreach themselves and end up trying to control too many aspects of a person’s day-to-day life, like when the government says you can’t buy raw milk because it doesn’t like it or when a school sends a child home because their hairstyle is too extreme.

I think the ending, although kind of sad, was powerful. I think it made the battle mean all the more. I think it drove the point across even more. I think it wrapped up the severity of the battle.

What I didn’t like

“Do unto others before they do unto you,” is a messed-up version of the Golden Rule. The Golden Rule being, “Do unto others and you would have them do unto you.” Tris and Tobias did unto the Bureau before the Bureau could do unto the city. While this was effective, in the short-term, I think it has a lot of problems morally. What kind of a person are you if you spit in a person’s food before they spit in your food? You think it’s bad that they were going to spit into your food, but you know what, you went ahead and spit in their food anyway. You sank to their level. That’s what we like to call that. You were on the moral high-ground, but  then you decided to come down to the low-ground for a visit before you went back up the high-ground to sleep off your hang-over from all the low-ground party-booze.

He’s a morally upstanding citizen, except for when XYZ is concerned. That’s the kind of situation we’re looking at. Oh they’re good, they’re courageous, but they did this terrible thing to these people this one time, but otherwise, they’re pretty nice; they sent my aunt a birthday card. This doesn’t make it ok. The actions completed by Tris and her cohorts, are not good actions.

Genetics do not make a person inferior, when you start thinking that, you start getting into eugenics and then we start seeing exterminations of peoples on the Earth just because they genetically have a certain characteristic. That is bad. That’s really bad. These losers think that murder was something you genetically did. You were a murderer because you were genetically predisposed to be a murderer. The only scenario where this might be possibly true is if you genetically inherited psychopathy. Psychopaths make good murderers, not that they’re all murderers, some are just really terrible people, but it’s a condition that can predispose itself to being a murderer, which is sad because there are people who actually try to live with this disease and be good people. See, even so, even if you have disease that might possibly in some small chance predispose you to chopping another person’s head off, you can still choose not to. You can choose to be a good person.

The thing is, people meddled in something they shouldn’t have meddled with and then they screwed themselves over, for a long, long time. You know what this reminds me of, it reminds of the tower of Babel. Great stories reflect themselves over and over again in the world. The people of Earth once all spoke the same language and decided in their oneness to build a tower to heaven. God was not pleased. The languages of everyone were confused from this point forward. There were now different languages. It would probably be a lot easier to get along with our foreign country buddies if we all spoke the same language, but if you believe the story, we messed that up a long time ago.

Seriously, it’s like the scenario where someone tells you not the touch the fire. Don’t touch it. It will burn you. Maybe you listen, but maybe you don’t and you touch the fire, now you have a nice scar on your hand. Sometimes, you’re just supposed to leave stuff alone. Leave it working the way it’s been working. If it’s not broke, don’t fix it. I could go on.

Overall

I’m more pleased with the series than I thought I was going to be. It still has too many hallmarks exactly like all the other young adult books floating around these days, but it’s an interesting look at the world.



allegiant, Allegiant by Veronica Roth, chicago, Divergent by Veronica Roth, divergent series, eugenics, genetic engineering, serum, tobias, tris, veronica roth
Fiction, Finding Your Self, Mystery, Post Apocalyspe, Romantic Fiction, Roth-Veronica, Science Fiction, Social Commentary, Young Adult
One-elevenbooks