Claire Thorne, Fanbase Press Contributor

Claire Thorne, Fanbase Press Contributor

‘Meme:’ Book Review

Daniel just woke up in a hospital room with a raging headache and has no idea how he got there.  Oh, and, small detail . . . the Universe is broken. 

So begins Meme, the first novel by Jack Cusick.  Daniel immediately takes up with the titular character, Meme, a fairly mysterious representative of the “World Police,” who claims to be trying to fix this rather large problem.  It is apparent that Daniel’s circumstances are inextricably connected to this investigation, and the two team up out of necessity (and attraction?) to get to the bottom of things.

One of the benefits of my recent focus on graphic novels and comic books is the opportunity I have to reacquaint myself with stories geared for younger audiences.  Of course, when my son was born (almost nine years ago now . . . OMG, don’t say the word DECADE . . . NOOOOOOOOO!), we spent untold hours reading all the classic children’s picture books.  Every once and awhile, though, I have to remind my mature, adult self why so-called “children’s themes” are still so relevant and important for adults.  So, while I wholeheartedly recommend Little Robot for your kid, I’m also going to enthusiastically recommend it for all the “grown-ups,” as well.

I try to be mindful about not making too many overt comparisons between one work of fiction and another, but reading Tyson Hesse's Diesel #1 immediately brought to mind many of the things I love about Avatar: The Last Airbender.  Olay, saying I love The Last Airbender is a bit of an understatement, so I should probably promise right up front that I’ll do my best to reign myself in.  But, then I’d have to admit that keeping such a promise is probably not very doable on my part.

The creators of Bayani and the Old Ghosts bring us an all-ages adventure tale, steeped in Filipino folklore.  This is the first installment in a planned four-volume run titled Bayani and the Nine Daughters of the Moon and is currently the focus of a Kickstarter campaign (about 80% funded at the time of this writing) to cover the publication costs of the series.

The review I should write about The Girl with All the Gifts is, “Super, super good.  Go and read it right now.  Don’t read any reviews, don’t look for a plot synopsis, and avoid any and all spoilers.  If you don’t know anything about this story, all the better . . . Why are you still here?  Get to reading already.”

But, that would do nothing at all to satisfy my strong need to talk about this book at length.  I’d love to preserve the slow reveal in the opening chapters for everyone.  The “twist” in these opening scenes isn’t particularly hard to guess, but the descriptive power in this early section is masterfully done and deserves as unsuspecting an audience as possible. 

All that being said, if you proceed with this review from this point forward, I’ll going to be blowing the top off Pandora’s box and flinging out many of the secrets.  You are warned.

“A young woman awakes trapped in an enclosed space. She has no idea who she is or how she got there. With only her instincts to guide her, she escapes her own confinement—and finds she’s not alone.” –Excerpt from the Goodreads Synopsis

Beyond this short descriptive blurb, almost anything that can be said about the plot of Alive by Scott Sigler is going to be some degree of spoiler.  This is a story about waking up in a puzzle with only your most basic instincts to guide you from clue to clue.  The main character, Em, is presented to us as a completely blank slate on which the author could write any story.  This feeling of wide-open possibility pervades Alive to its very final moments.

Over the last decade, I’ve been involved in my fair share of crafty pursuits. Embroidery, cross-stitch, quilting . . . then more cross-stitch, with instructions entirely in Japanese. My brief forays into crochet and knitting, however, were fairly frustrating attempts that resulting in unrecognizable blobs of tangled wool and scarves with ungainly stretch marks reaching to my knees. There is something architectural about manipulating loose strings into 3D objects that run circles around my mental powers.

So much of the end-of-the-world literature I read focuses on circumstances that, if not entirely fictional to begin with (say zombies or vampires or alien invasion), are at least comfortably removed from the reality we know today.  Not so much with The Water Knife, in which we find ourselves knee-deep in a Climate Change Apocalypse that is made extra creepy by the increasing numbers of drought-related headlines we are currently seeing.  You know the ones . . . ”California Unveils Sharp Cuts in Water for Agriculture,”  “California Drought Resurrects Population Growth Concerns,” “More Historic Water Cuts for Farmers,” . . . and so on.

I am a long-time X-Files fan and an equally rabid supporter of pretty much everything Gillian Anderson has ever tackled in her career. (Bleak House! Great Expectations! Hannibal!)  I was very intrigued to see she had tried her hand at writing a book . . . especially since this was something other than the standard career memoir, behind-the-scenes tell-all, or other non-fiction fare.  I was equally nervous about the chances that this would turn out to be a worthwhile read, so it was reassuring to see that Ms. Anderson worked with Jeff Rovin, a collaborative veteran of the thriller genre with Tom Clancy’s Op-Center Series, from the very earliest stages of the story development.

In my review for Storm Siren, the first book in Mary Weber’s Storm Siren series, I noted that its primary strength was the main character, Nym.  I loved her intelligence, wit, and strength of will.  She struggled to find her place in a world where those of her kind were feared, killed, and sold into slavery.  She struggled internally with powers she couldn’t control, and that put innocent people around her at risk.  She suffered from self-loathing and guilt.  At the close of the Storm Siren, she had learned some degree of control over her powers, forged more than one close relationship, and begun to see herself as something more than just a weapon to be wielded by others.

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