Today's Grateful List/31 December 2015

  • Going to get answers no matter what

Friday, October 10, 2014

The Reapers Are The Angels

How to describe The Angels Are the Reapers? Sure, it's a zombie story, but it's so different than most other books with that theme that it's hard to know precisely what to say. I finished the book a few days ago and I'm still digesting the story, and I imagine I'll still be thinking about it long after I finish this review.

The Angels Are the Reapers is the story of fifteen year old Temple, born after whatever it was that caused the dead to start returning as zombies happened. It's the only life she's known; she has no clue who her parents were, having grown up in an orphanage very quickly. When the story opens, Temple is alone on a small island with a lighthouse, thinking she's safe for the time being, but it doesn't take long for the "slugs" to begin to invade and Temple has to go back into "civilization", such as it is. It's obvious there's more to Temple's background, but we're only teased about it; Temple finds a community to join, but things go downhill rapidly and she's forced to flee almost as soon as she arrives. How a fifteen year old invokes the deadly wrath of a fellow warrior in the fight against the zombies and finds herself on his personal hit list is only part of the story; how she manages to take on an adult, intellectually challenged male in her travels, abide for a time in a genteel southern home, and face off against mutants round out the tale but still doesn't fill in all the gaps.

Temple may be the young adult heroine of this story, but it's not really a YA novel in tone or message. Temple is fascinating in so many respects, revealing layer after layer to her personality even though she seems not to be sophisticated enough to know what she does about people. She faces down her enemies in deadly fashion, yet it's obvious she still has a conscience. She adapts to her world because that's all she's ever known, showing a grudging respect for the man, Moses Todd, who is determined to hunt her down and kill her. She shows compassion when necessary and is ruthless almost all the time. Her story is going to grip you hard and won't let you go.

If there's anything I disliked about The Reapers Are The Angels, it would be the ending. I'm not going to spoil anything, but I will say that I was disappointed. Though it's well written and entirely believable, I wanted more...more emotion, more explanation, more redemption, more revenge, more everything. And maybe that's the point of the whole story: It is what it is. I know I'll be thinking about it for a long time to come, and I suspect that was the author's purpose all along: To get in there without apology.


Sunday, October 05, 2014

Trust Me I'm Lying

Julep Dupree is a grifter--she cons people for a living. She may only be fifteen, but she's been well-trained by her father in the art of deception and conning people into doing what she wants. It's paid off; she attends the most prestigious private school in Chicago from funds obtained through her "business". But Julep has plans; she's going to Yale someday, and she's going to leave the illegal world behind. Until then, grifting is her way of getting ahead.

Things take a major turn for the worse, however, when Julep returns home one day to find her apartment ransacked and her father missing. Along with her best friend Sam, Julep, who knows her father wouldn't leave without clues, begins searching diligently because she knows it all has to do with a con gone wrong. The problems begin to mount when she is followed and the clues they find only seem to lead to dead ends. Mix in a new relationship with Tyler, the hottest boy in school, and Julep's continued illegal activities, and you've got the basis for a mystery that's going to require every faculty to decipher.

I liked Trust Me I'm Lying a lot, mostly because, despite her questionable profession, Julep is smart yet vulnerable. The mystery is layered and takes a turn into international illegal immigration/sex slavery (though nothing explicit is ever described as far as the sex trade goes), and Julep and her friends more than hold their own when pitted against bigger, badder people who will stop at nothing to get what they want. Julep's desperation to find the only parent she knows runs through the novel, giving her a human side that she often tries to hide from her friends and the reader. She's a tough cookie, but she's still a high school student.

What doesn't work? Well, the book is set in a posh private school and Julep runs with people she'd probably never be able to associate with in real life. Don't get me wrong; I liked her interactions with everyone, even when she's trying to hold herself aloof because of her innate differences. I just don't see it all really working in the real world, but I'm willing to suspend belief for the sake of the story. I also found it odd that Julep could miss school and classes time and again and never really suffer any consequences. But maybe that's being nitpicky in a story that has the elements of an epic heist film and pulls it all off fairly well.

Trust Me I'm Lying is a good read, with a strong story line and even stronger heroine. If her morals are often questionable, Julep still manages to pull you over to her side and draws you into her illicit activities with the ease of a practiced con. I'm hoping there is a sequel because there's a few unanswered questions; nothing major, but enough that I don't quite think Julep's story is done just yet.


Friday, October 03, 2014

Shifting Shadows

This collection of stories from the world of Mercy Thompson is a must read for any fan of the series. Each story (none of which I'd read before) stands alone well and sheds more light on the overall world. I found as I read that I'd become totally immersed in that particular story and when a new one started, I'd be reluctant to move on because I'd invested so much of myself in the one previous. Some tales involve characters we know well, and some are of ones we've only heard fleetingly. So which were the best?

For me, "Silver" was the least of all the stories, a fact that surprised me greatly. I'd thought I'd be swept away in the story of the meeting of Ariana and Sam, but instead, I just wanted the plot to move along. It's still good, and it gives insight into the history that's been alluded to throughout the series. Still not the best, however.

Beyond that one misstep for me, my favorites include "Gray", a terrific Gothic tale of love lost and ghosts of all sorts. "Alpha and Omega" and "Roses in Winter" are both riveting; I read each in one big gulp. But the best, by far, is "Hollow", an official Mercy story that has her right back battling otherworldly spirits just after her almost fatal outing in Night Broken. Absolutely perfect Mercy, as usual.

I'm not a big short story reader, so I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed this collection. Fans of the series will delight in glimpses into the past and present of our favorite shifter and her world.