Thursday, January 12, 2012

Happy New Year everyone! Our first review of 2012 comes from Tina Panik, a colleague of mine and a fellow librarian.

If popular television series THE WALKING DEAD merged with the psychological writing world of Don DeLillo, then Zone One, by Colson Whitehead, would be the result. Having never read Colson Whitehead before, but eager to devour another post-apocalyptic America zombie tale, I started this book with low expectations—how many more times can one tell a zombie story?--  but from the first chapter on, I was pleasantly, repeatedly surprised. 
The writing is exquisite.  This is a book about loss, about identity, about rebuilding.  As meaning of survival changes, each of the characters attempts to maintain their own version of hope, even as they face repeated destruction.  It begs the question, “how many times can the world end?”  It makes the reader wonder, “what version of your own tale is the true one?” 

There are no clear answers; even the story of Mark Spritz (whose name is amusingly explained as the story unfolds) is filled with half-truths, confusing histories, and unconfirmed future dreams.  As he attempts to navigate the reclaiming of Manhattan after the zombie-inducing plague, things continue to break down.  The narrative holds the reader’s attention, reaching a conclusion that is well crafted, and appropriate—a rare accomplishment in this genre of fiction. 

Complicated, intelligent, and refreshing in its presentation, ZONE ONE is a must-read for anyone eager to understand the navigation of survival in dystopia. 

- Tina Panik

Stop by the library and pick up a copy today.

Thanks for reading. Questions and comments are encouraged below.
-Adam Delaura

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Starship Troopers

In my last post, I mentioned that I reread The Ghost Brigades by Jon Scalzi. This in turn prompted me to reread Heinlein's classic, Starship Troopers. Both are great military scifi novels. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to tackle Troopers at the beach (It’s getting a bit cold for that!).  If you haven't gotten around to reading this one, you need to.

Much has been written about Troopers in the decades since it was first published so I'll spare you an in-depth analysis. It touches on a variety of themes such as suffrage, militarism, politics, and more.

Basically, Juan Rico is a member of the Mobile Infantry, fighting an interstellar war between humanity and some arachnid aliens known as the "Bugs", and their allies, the "Skinnies". The novel details Rico's enlistment, training, and rise in rank in the military. The novel features a mix of action sequences, in which Rico's team battle hostile aliens, and Rico's classroom studies in both high school and Officer Candidate School.

While it's not such a light beach read, Starship Troopers is fun and has some meat to it. It's great for a book club or someone looking for a novel with substance.

I recommended Starship Troopers to Paul Aridas, a friend and frequent contributor to this blog. Here's what he had to say:
"Adam recommended I read Starship Troopers, arguing that Heinlein’s piece is essential reading from 1950’s science fiction canon.  I agree with his endorsement. It’s not as sophisticated a work as Catch-22 or as emotionally taut as The Things They Carried but it is enjoyable nonetheless.  Ender’s Game was influenced by this work, and those familiar with any of the aforementioned novels will be able to see the connections of structure and theme.” -Paul Aridas
Stop by the library and pick up a copy.

Thanks for reading.
-Adam Delaura

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Ghost Brigades

On my most recent trip to the beach, I opted to reread The Ghost Brigades by Jon Scalzi, the sequel to Old Man's War. It's a fast-paced military science fiction novel; the perfect accompaniment to a relaxing day in the sun.

The novel tells the story of the life and death of Jared Dirac, a cloned, genetically-engineered super-soldier. Basically, a trio of hostile alien races has united against humanity with the help of a traitorous human scientist named Charles Boutin. The scientist faked his death and defected for reasons unknown. Mr. Boutin’s scientific focus is on consciousness transfers and on computers implanted into soldier’s brains called BrainPals.

In order to better understand the threat facing humanity and find the renegade scientist, the Colonial Defense Forces clone Charles Boutin’s body. They attempt to transfer his consciousness (found saved on a computer drive) into the cloned body. The transfer doesn’t work. The clone of Charles Boutin is then renamed Jared Dirac and it’s given to the Ghost Brigades, an elite force within the Colonial Defense Force. Within a short period of time, Charles Boutin’s memories begin surfacing in Jared Dirac’s mind.

Many questions are raised in the novel such as; will Dirac remain loyal to his Ghost Brigade companions? Will the consciousness of Charles Boutin take over? Can Dirac learn the location of Boutin through the revealed memories? Does Dirac have free will? There’s a good amount of suspense as the story unfolds.  

I found this novel to be quite enjoyable and I would recommend it to any scifi or military action fan.

Stop by the library and pick up a copy.

Also, if you liked The Ghost Brigades then you should read our review of another Scalzi novel, The God Engines

Thanks for reading!
-Adam Delaura

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Death Star: Beach Ball of Death

Here’s another quick beach read, Star Wars: Death Star, by Michael Reaves and Steve Perry. While this wasn't the best Star Wars novel I had ever read, it did spark a conversation among my friends about the engineering and technological challenges to building a Death Star in real life.

Star Wars: Death Star tells the story of the original Death Star, mostly from the perspective of the soldiers and employees aboard the massive space station. (I can't help but wonder if the authors were influenced by that scene in Clerks) There are a whole bunch of characters such as, a Tie fighter pilot, a storm trooper, a gunner in command of the Death Star's super laser, some cantina workers, and a station design engineer. Unfortunately there were too many for me to keep track of and most of them I just didn't care about. (Nova, a storm trooper with a conscience, was the only exception.)

This book was pretty average to me. Nothing special,but not complete garbage either. While reading it, I felt like I was reading the script for some deleted scenes in A New Hope. However, it did serve its purpose for me as a beach read. It fit in well between swimming and arguing over which Jedi is the "best".

If you're a diehard Star Wars fan then you should read Death Star. Others should skip it. I'm just glad to know how that thermal exhaust port was left unshielded!

Stop by the library and pick up a copy.

Thanks for reading. Leave questions and comments below.
-Adam Delaura

Thursday, August 18, 2011


For me, the summer is all about sitting on the beach and reading a book. In my next few posts I'm going to highlight a handful of books I tackled while soaking up some sun.

Star Wars: The Old Republic: Deceived, by Paul S. Kemp, takes place at a dark time. The Sith Empire and the Galactic Republic have been engaged in a long, costly war. Neither side is capable of defeating the other. It seems like a stalemate, until a daring surprise attack on the Republic capital of Coruscant, led by the cunning Sith lord, Darth Malgus.

The attack takes even the Jedi by surprise. As a reult, many Jedi are killed, including Jedi Master Zallow. Coruscant is quickly subdued and the Jedi Temple is destroyed. Darth Malgus hopes that this will hasten end of the Republic and the Jedi.

Malgus is furious when he learns that the Sith Emperor is engaging in peace talks with the Republic. He believes that only through conflict can one achieve a greater understanding of the dark side of the Force. Darth Malgus feels the Sith will weaken themselves if they make peace.

The destruction of the Jedi Temple does more than just give the Sith a bargaining chip at the negotiating table. It ignites a fire of vengeance within the Jedi, Aryn Leneer. She believes the Jedi are failing to respond appropriately to the destruction of the Temple.   She decides to leave the Jedi Order intent on hunting down the Sith lord who killed her master, the fallen Master Zallow. 

The one person Aryn knows who can get her through the Sith blockade of Coruscant is her old friend Zeerid, a smuggler who is in debt to a group of criminals. As fate would have it, Aryn runs into Zeerid shortly after he is forced to accept a job smuggling spice, a highly addictive narcotic, to Coruscant.

This book is full of edge-of-your-seat action and suspense. A rival criminal gang is trying to stop Zeerid's smuggling run, Darth Malgus is unsure of why the Jedi have sent a clandestine operative to Coruscant, and Aryn doesn't know exactly who killed her master. There are shoot-outs, space battles, and epic light saber fights. There's even a shuttle that crashes into the Jedi Temple, filled with dark Jedi, who leap out and start kicking Jedi-butt. What's not to like about that? ... As a bonus, Darth Malgus is an interesting villain, not your average two-dimensional bad guy.

I would recommend Deceived to anyone interested in SciFi, even if you're not a Star Wars fan.

Stop by the library and pick up a copy.

As always, thanks for reading. Leave questions and comments below.
-Adam Delaura