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Posts Tagged ‘plagues’

fireman_cvr
I know, there is no postings in September, I apologize. I was catching up on my Netflix binges. And then there was that sudden decision to spend my vacation in someplace other than New York City (where I bloomin reside), so I settled for Vegas where I gambled little, hung out on the Strip a lot and went to a gun range where I got to fire some pretty awesome assault type firearms, the kind of stuff we don’t get to play with here in NYC (and it sucks). So that explains September but I do intend to make it up in October. So here goes, TWO reviews in October. Yes, that’s how the Evil Parrot rolls.

About a year ago or maybe two, I came across an interesting book titled NOS4A2 by Joe Hill and after I read it, I was intrigued. Of course, when I found out that this was Stephen King’s son, it pretty much things together and everything made sense. So, of course, when I found he was writing about some apocalyptic plague that causes spontaneous combustion, I pretty much dropped my tea, teacup, saucer and all. And couldn’t wait for it to find it’s home in the stacks.
The set in a not so distant future, the book is initially centered around the lives of Harper and Jakob Grayson. An interesting couple: a nurse and a writer, respectively. Living a typical average life, with the requisite amount of snogging and the occasional case of the good old in-out in-out. And somewhere along this subtle romance, a plague emerges in the landscape. Draco incendia trychophyton or Dragonscale: it starts out as little black marks that appear on and spread all over the body, and then one day, folks simply burst into flame and become a pile of ash. Crispy critters. Despite all this, life cruises along fine for the Graysons until one day Harper discovers that she’s pregnant. Ah yes, nothing says good timing like getting pregnant during the rising spread of an apocalyptic plague. And then soon, Harper discovers, the black spots on the body. To quote Muppets: “the shit just got real”. The strange part was that despite the copious amounts of sex, the only one that remained unaffected by the plague was Jakob and needless to say, Jakob is having second thoughts about his relationship. Typical wanker. As plague spread, so does the hysteria (sort of like our current election process) and the infected are being rounded up by uninfected folks that call themselves Cremation Crews. By the name alone you can guess what these “crews” do, let’s just say that they don’t sit and have tea and biscuits. Though there is a barbeque of sorts. So as would fate would have it Jakob and Harper gets separated after a run in with a Cremation Crew. She is rescued by some bloke known as the Marlboro Man who apparently has a raspy voice and speaks with an English accent (sort of like an British Scott Ferral) and has this ability to control his spontaneous combustion in sometimes terrifying ways. Jakob on the other hand finds his way onto a Cremation Crew and discovers that despite the fact he’s a failed writer, he’s actually quite good with cremating live (infected) human beings.
After being rescued by the Marlboro Man, Harper is taken to a commune known as Camp Wyndham where there are many infected folks seeking refuge from the Cremation Crews. Headed by a charismatic Father Storey, Camp Wyndham seems like a utopia in the midst of a chaotic world. Unfortunately, we’re all aware that there is no such thing as utopia in an apocalytpic world. Think Terminus from the Walking Dead series (for those of you that watch Walking Dead). As if there is not enough to worry about from the outside of the camp, enter the Storey family (sadly related to Father Storey): Carol (the eldest daughter and female Jim Jones in the making), Nick, and Allie (the young and annoyingly troubled teenager). In the camp, many have embraced their affliction and even found a way to control and prolong their life. In time, Harper learns this and the camp seems to benefit from her abilities as a nurse. When, at some point of time, Father Storey is put into a coma and Carol is made leader, then the façade of the camp is stripped away to reveal that it is nothing more than a Lord of the Flies situation that has been festering for sometime along with some really dirty secrets that have been harboured by certain members of the camp. So between dealing with Cremation Crews and Carol’s Napoleonic fervor, Harper finds herself navigating a very volatile social tightrope where any misstep in any direction could (literally) mean a cooked goose. To be precise, a roasted goose. And somewhere in the midst, MTV VJ Martha Quinn shows up offering asylum on some island somewhere. Yes, you heard me … Martha Quinn.
I must warn you that there is a lot of talking in this book, but … Hill uses it very well to build up the the characters and the suspense for those violent chaotic moments. And when they do happen you’re either cheering, angry, or sobbing like a nancy and it is worth it. But most all you’ll love the Marlboro man. Most post-apocalyptic reads today seem to be centered around the undead, but it was nice to read something a bit more original: a plague that causes spontaneous combustion. Arresting and filled with suspense, Fireman keeps you turning the pages as you tumble onto dark secrets, major battle face-offs, and more twists than a screw. Joe, like his father Stephen, truly delivers. Can’t wait to read the next bit.

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strain_cvrfall_cvreternalnight_cvr

Co-author: Chuck Hogan

Yes, it is a new year, so why not start it off with a bang. So there a triple review.
Guillermo Del Toro is known for his handiwork in films such as Hellboy I & II, Blade II and the ever-talked about Pan’s Labyrinth (which I must admit that I have not seen). So last summer when FX decided to premiere a series called the Strain and it was about vampires, I pretty much went into a bloody eye-rolling hysteria … that was until I found that it was being directed by Guillermo Del Toro. Even better, I found out that the series was based on trilogy: The Strain, The Fall and the Night Eternal. Now you’re probably wondering if the Evil Parrot has finally lost his bloody mind reviewing three books instead of one at time. In all honesty, these books are best enjoyed … serially. And they will be reviewed likewise … that’s how the Evil Parrot rolls. So enough with tbe bollocks and on with the review … shall we?

When a Boeing 777 lands on a JFK tarmac and just sits in complete radio silence for a long while, the airport officials suspect the worst. No, it’s not ebola … though compared to what was in store for the unwitting NYC population, ebola would have been a much prefered pathogen. Enter Drs. Ephraim Goodweather and Nora Martinez from the CDC to determine what was the cause. The discover a plane filled with “dead” passengers and few “survivors”. Also on the plane, and unknown to the passengers, is a very large box with delicate ancient carvings and strangely filled with dirt. So needless to say, the passengers are evacuated and the live ones are quarantined and the “dead” one carried to the city morgue. And then the fun begins. Add to the chaos is the super-rich, sinister Eldritch Palmer with ulterior motives, that …let’s just say … doesn’t have the best of interest for humankind. Sure enough, the FX adaptation may have added a few creative elements such as the foxy Euro-type female hacker that supposedly slows the Internet down (insert a big bloody eye roll here).
In first book, The Strain, we get to see the formation of a rag-tag group of what will become resistance fighters against the strigoi (that’s the word being used for vampires): Dr. Ephraim Goodweather, Dr. Nora Martinez, Prof. Abraham Setrakian (a man obsessed and with a past with dealing with the strigoi), Vasiliy Fet (a New York City rat exterminator, though more intelligent than he sounds) and Gustavo (a Mexican gangbanger). We are also introduced to the one known as the Master, who is the archnemesis and head vampire (or strigoi) that is viciously cunning as he is lethal. There is treachery, betrayal, the occasional hot sexual encounter (mostly between the docs) and the suspense practically clenches your sphincter.
In The Fall, our rag-tag goup is engaged in a constant game of cat and mouse as the strigoi population grows around them. It is during this period of time they learn two things: the Master can communicate telepathically with the roaming strigoi, hence he can track his enemies and secondly, there is the existence of a book called the Occido Lumen that holds the key to the Master’s origin and destruction. Of course there is race that is on to find the Occido Lumen. Now I’m sure you can probably guess what is going to happen. How it does it happen …well, well, well my dear readers you will have to find out on your. Yeah, I’m not going to be tosser and spoil all the fun for you now. To besides reading about it is the best part.
In The Eternal Night, the strigoi has populated the world and using various weapons they were able to create a disruption in the atmosphere where the Earth is covered by a polluted sky and sunlight is only available for a few hours (and that’s on a good day) daily. It has become a world where some humans have become collaborators in order to improve their own standing on the food chain (somehow this doesn’t shock me) and others simply become … sustenance. Aye, think of cows being milked … and you’ll get the idea on that last part. Now try to get a good night’s sleep with bollocks swimming in your mind. Though I suspect many of us have already watched the first season of The Strain, and like yours truly, just can’t wait for the second season to begin … and of course, decided to simply just read ahead. The books are just as intriguing and suspenseful as the televised adaptation, though I must admit that after having seeing the show I’ve carrying the faces of these actors attached the character through the entire trilogy. The Strain Trilogy hooks you in from the first chapter and keeps you breathless with anticipation to get to the other page to see what will happen next. It is the evolution of the vampire like you’ve never read about or seen (unless if you watched Blade II … which just happened to be directed by Del Toro) and makes the Cullens and the Voltari (or whatever) look like a bunch of flower-gathering-dancing-in-the-meadows nancies. There is violence (mostly quick, vicious and dirty), despicable human beings, surprising allies and climactic ending that will blow you way. In other words, just the book(s) you need to keep that adrenaline flowing. And for the most (as the immortal Martha Stewart would say) that is a good thing.

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