Monthly Archives: May 2015

World War Z book review

World_War_Z_book_coverMax Brooks writes World War Z as if the worst of the zombie apocalypse has passed. In a Q&A interview style, Max Brooks writes the first-hand accounts of a variety of people effected by and involved in the zombie apocalypse. The interviewees include scientists and doctors that saw the very beginning of the disease, families chased out of their homes by the threat of the living dead, the President of the United States, a pilot whose plane crashed in the middle of zombie breathing ground but managed to find her way out, and so many more…

Interview-style Structure

This is the only novel I’ve read written in an interview style. The interviews were organized chronologically, starting by explaining the beginning of the outbreaks, widespread panicking, contained villages, soldiers traveling across the U.S. and leaving mountains of zombie corpses behind them, and finally with the aftermath.

One reason I didn’t like the interview style was that it created a very choppy structure. It read more like a collection of short stories than a novel. Besides the interviewer (Max Brooks) characters come and go as quickly as their story is told. Therefore, I didn’t get emotionally connected to the characters, often forgot their names, and didn’t care if their entire family turned into zombies and tried to kill them or not.

My favorite part of the interview style were the variety of first-person perspectives that were given. Each character told their own story, that I love.

Audiobook

I listened to World War Z on audiobook and would recommend doing so. The novel was read by a full cast of characters, a different voice actor for every interview, which adds an entertaining twist.

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One of my favorite scenes from the World War Z movie. Photo taken from cheatsheet.com.

 

Movie Adaptation

World War Z the movie, starring Brad Pitt, was released in 2013. I loved the movie (even though zombies are not my thing) so I thought I would give the book a try as well. Besides the title and the presence of zombies, the book and movie have nothing in common. The story line and structure is drastically different, as the movie does follow a certain character (played by Brad Pitt) through the entire movie.

I was pleased to hear that a sequel will be made, World War Z 2, and is expected to be in theaters in 2017. Not surprising considering the original was Brad Pitt’s highest grossing movie of his career.

Overall

The book gets 3 stars; the movie gets 4.5 stars! A very fun style of writing but overall I didn’t love the structure or the story itself, both of which were better in the film adaptation. I’m not much of a zombie enthusiast and although the structure of the book is unique, its still a typical zombie story.

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Looking for a book to read over the long weekend?

Here are a few books I would highly recommend to keep you relaxed and entertained over the long weekend.

Redeployment

Redeployment by Phil Klay

My number one recommendation! This collection of fictional short stories about the Iraq War is perfect for whatever amount of time you want to spend reading. Read a few stories (see my favorites on the full book review) or get sucked into the entire collection like I did. Redeployment is my favorite book of 2015 (so far)!

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Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn 

Even if you’re not a reader, you’ve probably heard this title, and the suspense is excellent! I also enjoyed the film adaptation, if you’re looking for more of a screen buzz this weekend!

a-big-little-life

a big little life by Dean Koontz 

A short, beautiful book about life, love, and one extraordinary dog. Dean Koontz shares his personal story through the memoir of this dog. A great book for any dog lover!

Photo taken from goodreads.com

Photo taken from goodreads.com

Still Alice by Lisa Genova

A story that needs to be heard. Alice, a mother and respected Harvard professor, is diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s. A close-up look at a struggle of love, identity, health, and family, Still Alice is a must-read.

elegies of the brokenhearted

Elegies for the Brokenhearted by Christie Hodgen 

Lost, broken down, alone? This book is a great read for anyone feeling a little bit down in the dumps. No matter how pointless and cruel life seems, there is always light to be found.

Redeployment: fiction from a soilder

RedeploymentRedeployment is the best book I have read in 2015. It is a collection of short stories surrounding political, emotional, and humanity issues of the Iraq War. Phil Klay  provides his readers with true entertainment. His writing is intriguing and dense. Emotion runs high, along with risk. 

Writing Prompt based on Redeployment: fill in the blanks 

Writing

Klay’s writing doesn’t waste a single word. It is dense and relevant. Each short story combines multiple scenes surrounding a certain topic but his aim does not waver. Every story focuses on a different aspect of war or soldier life, making each story a unique and memorable piece of the larger puzzle.

Individual stories

The title story, Redeployment, was by far my favorite. It follows the rocky homecoming of a young veteran, faced with a difficult decision and the inclination of violence as a solution. The story’s emotion is paralyzing.  As the first story in the collection, it demands an attention that does not let up through the entire book.

Money as a Weapons System is another powerful story about the misdirection of funding in the Iraq war, cultural road blocks, and resistance to change.

After Action Report follows the after effects of a solider forced to kill a teenage Iraqi child. What is one suppose to feel after killing a child? Guilt, fear, shame? What about a child shooting an AK with an aim to kill American soldiers? Terror, numbness, pride.

Bodies explores a young soldier’s return from war to find what was once comforting and loving is now cold and distant. Even when the soldier returns home healthy and unscarred, he realizes life will still never return to what was once considered normal.

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Raised topics

Veterans coming home to abandoned homes

Religion on the warfront

War culture

Soldiers’ inability to reconnect to loved ones

Soldiers’ inability to talk about war

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Best Book of 2015 (so far)

My favorite book of the year. 5 stars without a doubt. You should read this!

Writing Prompt– fill in the blanks!

When the call wakes me and I see the name _____ glowing in the middle of the phone, I don’t want to answer. I’m still in that half-dream state, and I’ve got this sense that if I pick up it won’t be _____ on the other end of the line, but _____, which is impossible because ____________.

The above story trigger is the first two sentences of Phil Klay’s short story “Unless it’s a Sucking Chest Wound”. My attention was immediately captured and my curiosity instantly spiked by the lines, and I wanted to share them with all of you! “Unless it’s a Sucking Chest Wound” is one of many amazing stories that appears in Klay’s collection, Redeployment.

Check back soon for my full book review on this one-of-a-kind collection of modern war stories.

Redeployment

Still Alice Book Review

A must-read!

Photo taken from goodreads.com

Photo taken from goodreads.com

Not only is Still Alice populated with great characters and vivid writing, it approaches a topic that deserves more attention. The main character, Alice Howland, is diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s at the age of 50. Slowly, all of Alice’s passions are stolen from her. As a tenured psychology professor at Harvard, Alice’s early symptoms force her to stop attending speaking engagements and psychology conferences. Less than six months after her diagnosis, Alice is forced to stop teaching. It becomes harder and harder for Alice to participate in conversations, she gets lost in familiar places, repeats things she said minutes before, and is unable to comprehend reading material.

Although the Alzheimer’s infects every area of her life, the central focus surrounds how Alice’s family learns to live with her disease. Alice and her husband, John, have three children in their 20’s, all of whom have a 50% chance of inheriting the gene that precedes Alzheimer’s. When Alice’s oldest daughter finds out she has the gene, she has to reconsider her decision to start a family.

Point of View and Structure

The third person limited perspective gives the reader the perfect balance of Alice’s personal perspective of the situation without having the mess of an unreliable narrator. Her dementia comes across clearly without confusing the reader. Genova brilliantly used repetition to describe Alice’s short-term memory loss.

Every chapter represented one month in Still Alice. Genova typically focused each chapter on one or more events that show the progression of the disease. This consistent timeline helps the reader understand how fast the disease progresses.  

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Julianne Moore portrays Alice Howland in the recent film adaptation of Still Alice. Photo taken from movie4k.country

Alzheimer’s vs Cancer: the public opinion

Genova describes the social stigma of Alzheimer’s brilliantly in the following passage:

[Alice] wished she had cancer instead. She’d trade Alzheimer’s for cancer in a heartbeat. She felt ashamed for wishing this, and it was certainly a pointless bargaining, but she permitted the fantasy anyway. With cancer, she’d have something that she could fight. There was surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. There was the chance that she could win. Her family and the community at Harvard would rally behind her battle and consider it noble. And even if defeated in the end, she’d be able to look them knowingly in the eye and say good-bye before she left.

Alzheimer’s disease was an entirely different kind of beast. There were no weapons that could slay it. Taking Aricept and Namenda felt like aiming a couple of leaky squirt guns in the face of a blazing fire.

Overall

5 stars. Read this book! Not only is it an entertaining, emotional story, but it covers a topic every individual should learn more about. Now a major motion picture, I plan to rent the movie when it comes out on DVD and I have high expectations. 🙂

Have you read and watched Still Alice? How did the book and movie compare?

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