Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Anime Inspired YA Thriller

My rating ****
Amazon Link
I was genuinely surprised by how much I enjoyed the book. The descriptive blurb is very accurate. I Am Become Death really is very Anime/Manga inspired even though it's a novel. The similarity between the two jumped out at me immediately because not only are my children YA readers, but they're fans of Anime (and one of them a Manga fan too), so I've become familiar with it myself.

In the story the protagonists Chikara, Renka and Gen, as well as the antagonists Michiko, Yukiko, Kaijin(and later ones) really did remind me of Anime characters. Of course this is only a slight comparison because the characters were more developed in the novel. But the similarities to Japanese animation didn't end there. Just as a reader familiar with Anime would expect, there are plenty of spontaneous sparring events throughout the story, a budding romance between the shy girl and the good looking boy, dark secrets held by many characters, supernatural powers tied in with different religious beliefs and even a few surprises from the past just kind of thrown at you. But as a reader, I have to say it all worked together quite well. The action scenes were very exciting and there was a good deal of suspense injected to keep me reading.
I should also mention that the author did present a fair bit of information about Japanese culture and history in the story as well as different political points of view. I thought it was handled well but I can see how some of those passages might drag a bit for some readers (but definitely not all). However, it's still a great first book in the series. I look forward to the next one.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Two Thrillers and a YA

Savannah Jade - Sandra Cimadori (YA)
I found this to be a wonderful YA read that made a nice change from the paranormal romances that have recently enjoyed such popularity.  While it's not a thriller - it's a very satisfying story that follows a young woman - Savannah Jade - as she struggles with the death of her mother, life in high school, personal relationships and taking care of her family. Faced with incredibly difficult circumstances, the heroine rises to challenges, makes mistakes, and matures over the course of a school year (and beyond). In fact all of the characters are so well developed they could almost step off the pages. I even found eerie similarities to real young people I know.

Although the novel was written with older teens in mind, I believe it has plenty to offer parents and an older audience in general. I feel the author has dealt with several issues facing young people today very skillfully.

It also has one of the best opening lines I've read in quite a while. From there, the story unfolds beautifully. It's very well written yet keeps true to the target older teen audience. 

Five stars. I can't believe it's only $0.99 on Amazon. It should be more.

Sundered - A Zombie-ish Apocalypse (Book 1) by Shannon Mayer (Zombies, Horror, Romance)
There's always time in my reading schedule for a zombie apocalypse it seems. Although to be honest - it is more of a zombie-ish apocalypse as the sub title reads. However, it was still quite entertaining. I'm always surprised when an author can pull off zombies and romance in the same novel - particularly if it involves the zombies in any way. (Of course these aren't undead rotting zombies - but they are still very frightening, hideous cannibals). The other nice change was that the novel begins with the romance already in place - a young twenty something couple trying to have a baby. What should have been a simple trip to the doctor's office for a shot of the latest miracle drug to remedy their infertility problem (as well as a host of other disorders)... Well let's just say... Leave it up to a pharmaceutical company to change all that and bring about the end of the world.

What really stood out for me about the novel was the likeability of the characters. They came across as realistic for a displaced city couple trying to make it in the country. For the most part, the writing was smooth. Although it was shorter than what I normally like to read. Nice cliffhanger at the end. Just be prepared - there's also an excerpt from the next novel/novella included at the end to appease all those readers who hate cliffhangers. All in all I give it four stars.

The Saints Go Dying - Erik Hanberg (Mystery, Detective Thriller)

A very interesting detective/ serial killer suspense. In the story, Detective Beautyman must track a serial killer that targets very selfless do-gooding people referred to as modern day saints. The beginning was great and easily got me hooked. However, as the story moved a long - I found I got a little confused in places and - maybe it was just me but - it felt like there were a few surprises just thrown in all of a sudden. The hacker ability of the detective for example. Like I said - it might just be me. It was still a pretty good story. I would give it three and a half stars - but halves don't show up so it gets a four with rounding.