Wednesday, July 9, 2014

World War Z - Book and Movie

Max Brooks presents you with a history of the great war against the zombies, one from which mankind nearly didn't survive. He took the time to travel the globe finding stories from individuals that were in the thick of things as the menace came down on the world, people who helped make a difference, some not such a good contribution, in how the war was fought. And he presented it to the public, giving them a chance to see the behind-the-scenes actions of those that worked so hard to give the people back their world.

Zombies are the new big thing, plenty of people writing or making books about how they take over the world, leaving the last vestiges of mankind to fend for themselves. Brooks takes it a step further, looking more in detail at how the people reacted, handled, and faced the zombie infestation from it's first cases until the near end of the clearing of them so that mankind could take back their world. With personal accounts from a number of different sources, Brooks tries to give the reader a variety of angles from which to take a look at the crisis. 

One of my favorite aspects of this book is that ever bit of it is presented as fact. From the reviews on the back to the jacket information presented, it is all given to the reader as though that reader was right there in the thick of the zombie war with everyone else. This happened and this is why we survived! Another part of the book that really enthralled me was that some of these people who are being presented as heroes started out their stories with how much of a nobody they were. A simple doctor not given all the facts but lucky enough to understand his friend's hidden warning. A teenager whose family thought they were safe until the walking dead invaded their suburb, convincing her father to take the family and trek north. A technologically engrossed young adult who only began to freak out when he lost internet connection. Yet when they were forced out of their comfort zones they made big differences that helped turn the tide of the war. 

I greatly enjoyed this take on the zombie culture, and look forward to picking up more of Max Brooks' work. If you are a fan of the genre, I encourage you to take a look at this one! And for those who think the zombie craze is overrated, here is your book! Presented as a history it is a great gateway into the world of zombies!

A comparison between the book and movie.

I saw the movie about 3 months before I got the chance to read the book. By itself, I liked the movie, the new take on zombies being rather frightening since they were infinitely more difficult to combat with their increased speed. I liked that they tried to find patient zero and therefore a cure for this new virus, but was a little disappointed by the results.

Upon reading the book I and once more watching the movie, I have new opinions on the subject. But first I must say that my one rule when seeing a movie adapted from a book is to take it as it's own. I try not to compare or expect the movie to be exactly like the book, too many times have I been disappointed.

That being said, I have found a way to mostly reconcile the two. The movie is focused simply on one man and his mission of trying to find patient zero and therefore a possible cure. The book however is the behind-the-scenes tale of what was going on in the world while he was doing that. This leaves only 2 problems that did not translate from book to film: 1) The zombies in the book are slow moving - as traditional zombies are, while in the film they are frighteningly fast. 2) The book was never about a cure that couldn't be found, it was simply about surviving the zombies.

By itself I still enjoyed the movie, although it was rather disappointing when it came to what was going on in the world around this man. And he never really found any of the answers he was looking for. But give it a chance if you haven't already seen it. I think it is worth the watch.  

Eyes of the Dragon

The Eyes of The Dragon is the story of a small kingdom led by a mostly wise king, Roland. King Roland has two sons, Peter, the eldest son destined to be a great king himself, and Thomas, the younger brother who is timid and sometimes jealous of his brother. Among those at court is also the King's Magician, Flagg, who has plans for the small kingdom of Delain, plans that he will carry out despite the royalty in his way.

My son is a big reader; with his own bookshelf in his room that now has two shelves bowing under the pressure of too many books! He is 7 years old! My mother found this book by Stephen King and was so excited that he had written a young adult book, since she is a big fan herself. So we stepped out on a limb and began reading this just before bed each night when my son started his 1st grade school year. It was slow going, sometimes he would pick another book to read, when the plot was a little slow for his taste, but as we reached the end and everything began to come to a point, I found myself reading for a half hour at a time because my son kept asking for more! He enjoyed the book!

I must say this is the first Stephen King book I have finished, growing much too frightened midway through Pet Cemetery many years back. But his writing is just as captivating as he speaks out to this younger audience! The characters are ones we can relate to, a not so perfect King, a first born Prince who learned some lessons the hard way, and a younger Prince who made many mistakes but was determined enough to right them. And of course there is the villain Flagg who has the potential to haunt the reader's nightmares for a long time, just as he did every other character in the story. And the pictures were beautiful and well times, exciting my son as he was given an image to go with scenes he could only imagine.

I am not sure that this book is wholly appropriate for children as young as mine, he has a mature taste, but I do recommend it to young and budding readers. This is a great first book to get a young adult hooked on the master of horror himself! I say pick up a copy now and put it on your child's bookshelf for the future! I can't wait until my daughter is old enough to hear it, too!

Monday, July 7, 2014

American Gods

American Gods is mostly the story of Shadow, a recently released convict who finds himself at a loose end when he discovers his wife has died in a car accident. Having nothing to go home to and no job, Shadow agrees to take up employment with a mysterious man named Mr. Wednesday. As the story unfolds and Shadow tries to understand the events taking place around him, he soon realizes that they people he is dealing with are bigger than he was prepared for; gods kind of bigger. Meanwhile Gaiman also presents us with the stories of the people who brought those gods to this country they find themselves trapped in. With a war between old and new on the horizon, Shadow finds himself enmeshed in things he had not even known were an issue.

Once more Gaiman has presented me with a story that fascinated me until the very end. I have always been fascinated by the old gods, ones that have become obsolete as people forget them and the rituals that were dedicated to them. Gaiman not only gives us an explanation on how those gods made it to our country before fading into the background, but he presents us with how these gods would react and handle the weakening of power as people forget them completely. Meanwhile Shadow is caught up in events that he can hardly believe as gods he could not believe in move around him. Trying to understand everything and simply do as he is told, he is confused by the fact that so many seem to think he is important for no other reason than he is. As that story unfolds, Gaiman did a wonderful job of giving the reader only enough information to be on pace with Shadow as he struggles to figure things out, allowing them to be just as surprised as the main character by the truths hidden behind all the mystery that is the gods.

I love Gaiman's writing style, something I really came into contact with as I moved from his graphic novels to actual novels with Stardust. The fact that he is not originally from America did nothing to stop him from telling an amazing story about the beliefs that led to our mixed culture. He weaves a wonderful tale with his writing skills! I look forward to reading more of his work! I highly recommend this book to everyone looking for a tale outside the norm about beings not only forgotten in the literature, but also among the readers. I hope you are just as impressed as I was by this master of writing. Let me know what you think!