Dauntless (The Lost Fleet #1)

Published Post author

Dauntless Book Cover Dauntless
The Lost Fleet
Jack Campbell
Sci-fi
Penguin
January 1, 2006
Paperback
304

The Alliance has been fighting the Syndics for a century--and losing badly. Now its fleet is crippled and stranded in enemy territory. Their only hope is a man who's emerged from a century-long hibernation to find he has been heroically idealized, beyond belief...

Captain John "Black Jack" Geary's legendary exploits are known to every schoolchild. Revered for his heroic "last stand" in the early days of the war, he was presumed dead. But a century later, Geary miraculously returns from survival hibernation and reluctantly takes command of the Alliance fleet as it faces annihilation by the Syndics.

Appalled by the hero-worship around him, Geary is nevertheless a man who will do his duty. And he knows that bringing the stolen Syndic hypernet key safely home is the Alliance's one chance to win the war. But to do that, Geary will have to live up to the impossibly heroic "Black Jack" legend...

 

Dauntless starts off right in the middle of action. Two forces, the Alliance and the Syndicate, have been at war for a century. Believing that they could strike a critical blow against their enemies, the Alliance fleet has flown into a trap. With their leadership dead and forces surrounded the situation seems hopeless. But on the way to the battle the fleet stumbled across a survival pod. 100 years old and almost out of power, the pod contained Captain John “Black Jack” Geary. Having fought valiantly in the first battle of the war, he became the Alliance poster child to raise morale. Now the legend has returned and is the fleet’s best hope of getting home.

That little description makes this book sound way more epic than readers may see it as, but it is accurate. But that is the premise of our story: cut off behind enemy lines, our heroes must fight their way home. Geary comes from a different time and is quickly forced to adjust to the changes of the last century. War is hell and as it raged each side has committed atrocities that grow to match the monstrous actions of their enemies in a vicious cycle of retribution.

Now to talk about the key thing in any space fleet series: space battles. Jack Campbell does a unique job with the battles here. Physics are actually taken into account, something practically unheard of in fiction on the whole. Is that ship a light hour away from us? Ok, the image we are seeing is what they were doing an hour ago. Can we go faster? No, our ship’s mass will increase and it will tear itself in two. This is not Star Wars where we have little starfighters dogfighting in space. Ships fly past each other faster than human perception can keep up with. Combat is a pure tactics game of outmaneuvering your enemy.

Main character John Geary is interesting, but the rest of the characters are a bit plain. For the most part, the rest of Dauntless’ cast did not get too much time for development. This being the first book makes that understandable. Now is the time for world-building and character development can ramp up later. The page count in Dauntless (and the Lost Fleet series in general) is not that high either. Limited space for plot, characterization, and so forth. While Dauntless would probably not rank among the greats of sci-fi, it is a good light read (especially for those of us who are suckers for space operas).

March 11, 2018

A Dance of Blades (Shadowdance #2)

Published Post author

A Dance of Blades Book Cover A Dance of Blades
Shadowdance
David Dalglish
Fantasy
Orbit
November 5, 2013 (original publication April 11, 2011)
Paperback
387

It's been five long years since the city learned to fear...

In book #2 of the Shadowdance series, the war between the thief guilds and the powerful allegiance known as the Trifect has slowly dwindled. Now only the mysterious Haern is left to wage his private battle against the guilds in the guise of the Watcher - a vicious killer who knows no limits. But when the son of Alyssa Gemcroft, one of the three leaders of the Trifect, is believed murdered, the slaughter begins anew. Mercenaries flood the streets with one goal in mind: find and kill the Watcher.

Peace or destruction; every war must have its end.

 

A Dance of Blades is the rare second book in the series that is just better than its predecessor. The first book felt like it just kind of stopped at the end. Things were really ramping up and then suddenly it was just over. That set-up makes A Dance of Blades feel more like a “part 2” than an independent novel. Granted, there is a time skip. This book picks up 5 years after A Dance of Cloaks. If things had picked up immediately where the story left off, we would have been given a very different novel.

Firstly, the time-skip makes everyone a bit older, giving characters the chance to develop a bit outside the story. The younger characters are given time to hone their skills and mature a little. The older characters sink further into their ways, becoming more bitter as the war for the city’s underworld goes on. It also allows time for the city and factions in the conflict to recover following the giant battle in the previous book. If there were big battles all the time, the story would not be believable. Giving characters down-time and showcasing major events plays out extremely well here.

Along with the old characters, we get a few new ones. New players in the game such as Ghost and Deathmask are wonderful additions to the story. No one in the Shadowdance books is truly a hero or villain; they all lie somewhere in-between and that makes the story much more real. None of the major characters are clichés. We get to see their mental states and how they are all struggling with what they view as the right thing to do. Decisions are made on emotion just as much as logic, giving all the characters the feel of being real people.

The world building, a key feature is any fantasy series, starts to ramp up here as well. Magic becomes more prevalent and its rules start to get explained a bit more. Since reading the Shadowdance series I have learned that it is a prequel to Dalglish’s Half-Orc series (which I have not read yet at the time of this writing) so there may be things I missed here. Overall though, it does a great job at being a sequel and sets things up nicely for the next installment in the series.

March 4, 2018

Fletch

Published Post author

Poster for the movie "Fletch"

Fletch

Meet the only guy who changes his identity more often than his underwear.

19851 h 38 min
Overview

A veritable chameleon, investigative reporter Irwin "Fletch" Fletcher might drive his editor up the wall, but he always produces great pieces for the newspaper. When his next story is about the drug trade taking place on the beach, Fletch goes undercover as a homeless man. Unaware of Fletch's true identity, businessman Alan Stanwyk offers Fletch $50,000 to kill him. Intrigued, Fletch decides to unearth the full story behind the offer.

Metadata
Director Michael Ritchie
Runtime 1 h 38 min
Release Date 31 May 1985
Details
Movie Media DVD
Movie Status Available
Movie Rating Excellent

Fletch is one of the great cult classics of the 80’s. Set as a crime/mystery film, it also wound up being a comedy and that feels somewhat intentional. Fletch is a film that takes itself seriously; there are not purposeful jokes scattered around like in Stripes or Uncle Buck. Fletch (the character) is a comical man but that is pretty much expected since it is Chevy Chase. We do not see him in a diehard comedy role here like in Caddyshack or Christmas Vacation, but it is still Chevy Chase. Comedy is what he knows how to do and that results in Fletch being a wisecracker. If a different actor had played the character, this could have been a thriller instead of a comedy.

Chevy Chase plays the character well and, in a way, plays multiple roles. As an investigative journalist, Fletch uses disguises to get information for his stories in the papers. We see him successfully using multiple disguises throughout the film as he delves deeper into the mystery. Granted, being a little too good at his disguises is what gets Fletch into this mess in the first place. And even throughout multiple personas, his one-liners persist and keep audiences entertained.

As far as mysteries go, Fletch is a more light-hearted film. There is a nefarious scheme here, but it is not something with major consequences if the heroes fail. Think less Goldfinger and more North by Northwest. The mix of classic crime/mystery with Chevy Chase’s touch of comedy really makes this film unique. That being said, you do need to be a fan of Chevy Chase and his dry sense of humor to fully enjoy the movie. It would be a stretch to say his quips are comedic gold, but his dialogue is very well written here.

Fletch is not as well known as Caddyshack or the Vacation movies, but it is certainly on par with them. If anything, Fletch is Chevy Chase’s best work (I personally think his only other film that can compete with it is Christmas Vacation). Again, this was not really intended to be a comedy. But Chevy Chase is Chevy Chase. He is one of those actors where you can do whatever you want to him, you could dress him in a suit and have him as a straight-faced lawyer, but at the end of the day it is still Chevy Chase. And that is what made Fletch really work as a cult classic (unintentional) comedy.

February 25, 2018

Five Nights at Freddy’s: The Silver Eyes

Published Post author

The Silver Eyes Book Cover The Silver Eyes
Five Nights at Freddy's
Scott Cawthon & Kira Breed-Wrisley
Horror
CreateSpace
December 17, 2015
Paperback
464

Based on the bestselling horror video game series, Five Nights at Freddy’s follows a young woman named Charlotte, who reunites with her childhood friends on the anniversary of the tragedy that ripped their town apart. It’s been exactly ten years since the murders at Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza, and Charlotte, who goes by the name Charlie, has spent the last ten years trying to forget. Her father had owned Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza, and had built its four adult-sized animatronic animals. After meeting up with her friends, curiosity leads them back to the old pizza place, and they find it hidden, but still standing. They discover a way inside, but things are not as they used to be: the four mascots that delighted and entertained them as children have changed. The animatronic animals have a dark secret, and a murderous agenda.

 

Five Nights at Freddy’s (the game) is a pretty popular survival-horror hit, something of a modern cult classic. Personally, I have not played the game but when I saw there was a book I thought, “Hey, I could use this to get into it.” Unfortunately, the book had its fair share of issues. If anything, it did more to deter readers who are not already familiar with the franchise. That in and of itself may have been a key issue though; maybe the book makes the most sense if you have already played the game. It is not that the story could not be followed standalone, but maybe knowing the other story from the game would have made it flow better. Although author Scott Cawthon has said the games and book are not in the same continuity.

Scott Cawthon is, you must remember, a game developer. He is not a full-time, professional author. That being said, you should not expect The Silver Eyes to be on par with Stephen King or Anne Rice. The writing here is…ok. It is not bad (there are certainly worse books out there) but books and video games are very different mediums. In game form, the story of Five Nights at Freddy’s is probably told much better considering the popularity of the franchise.

The characters here are fairly bland and, for the most part, fairly stupid. So, they fit the role of teenagers in pretty much any standard horror story. If the characters have the proper amount of IQ points, it is not really horror. But The Silver Eyes did feel very “not horror” for the level of danger presented to the characters. The video games seem scary because if you mess up your character is brutally murdered. The animatronics were threatening, but not that threatening in the book. It felt a lot more R.L. Stine than anything else.

There were a bunch of unanswered questions in The Silver Eyes as well. I know that the video games leave a lot to speculation so maybe the book was trying to emulate that? It is never really clear if the animatronics are just malfunctioning robots or if they are haunted. From what I have read up on regarding the games, it seems like they are supposed to be haunted. Up until the very end though the book does not convey this and even then, it seems sketchy. Oh well, maybe the game is better.

February 18, 2018

Intimacy on the Plate

Published Post author

Intimacy on the Plate (Extra Trim Edition): 200+ Aphrodisiac Recipes to Spice Up Your Love Life at Home Tonight Book Cover Intimacy on the Plate (Extra Trim Edition): 200+ Aphrodisiac Recipes to Spice Up Your Love Life at Home Tonight
Olga Petrenko
Cookbook
Identity Publications
July 28, 2017
Paperback
310

Every couple knows that the key to a harmonious home is a healthy love life, but keeping your time in bed spicy isn’t enough – you need to turn to the kitchen and amp up the flavor.

Olga Petrenko is a housewife who dedicated years of her life to crafting original dishes that combine tradition with innovation, creating new tastes that everyone can enjoy. In the process, she discovered something new: by applying scientific research to her recipes and by using the correct ingredients, all meals had the potential to be the perfect aphrodisiac. After a decade of hard work and experimentation, she finally had an extensive collection of recipes designed to make every bite erotic - Intimacy On The Plate: 200+ Aphrodisiac Recipes to Spice Up Your Love Life at Home Tonight

Every dish in this erotic cookbook pays as much attention to presentation as to flavor and science. If you want to create the right mood for your loved one, you need to feed the eyes before you feed the stomach. Olga has worked hard to make every sensual meal beautiful and visually appetizing so that you and your partner will feel the food love before you even sit down to eat.

Within these pages, you’ll find 200+ healthy, easy-to-cook recipes known around the world to contribute to sexual desire. Using a wide range of ingredients, including dozens of types of vegetables, mushrooms, fish, seafood, fruits, nuts, herbs, and spices, you and your partner will experience the full range of erotic properties the world of food has to offer. You’ll never run out of new and exciting places to take your meals. From appetizers, to main courses, to side dishes, beverages, and desserts, you’ll always have something scintillating to offer up on date night.

 

Intimacy on the Plate was sent to me by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Food is a topic that goes hand-in-hand with human culture. It does not matter which culture you are referring to; anywhere on Earth, food plays a part in society. On the topic of Intimacy on the Plate, people have long since used food when it comes to love. When someone says the phrase “go on a date”, what do you think of? The specific answer may vary a little from person to person but I bet food was involved. Understanding just how this works can really help to spice up your love life.

209 is a lot of recipes and they are broken up into sections. First, there is a section on vegetables, then fish, and so on and so forth. The beginning of each section highlights a variety of key ingredients and how they affect the libido. Some of this information involves modern science, citing how the ingredients can affect hormone levels, increase blood flow, and have other such effects on the body. Other information details how various ancient cultures correctly associated these foods with romance. Another important note includes the different effect that some foods have between male and female physiology.

This information is all useful as well as interesting but of course, the bulk of the book is the actual recipes. For this review, I decided to try out two of these dishes myself. The first of which was “Baked Cod with Cheese Sauce”. The cod itself was fairly simple here, just needing to be thawed in preparation. The cheese sauce (which I will be somewhat vague on as to not give the recipe away freely) was primarily parmesan cheese and sour cream with various herbs mixed in. Pour it over the cod and bake. Normally, I am personally not a fan of sour cream. But this fish was absolutely divine. It is now in my own cookbook as a go-to recipe for guests.

Needing a dessert to go with the main dish, I also tried the “Chocolate Velvet” recipe. Primarily dark chocolate with white chocolate on top, this dessert ended up with a unique texture. It felt somewhere in-between pudding and mousse and was impossible to put down. Needless to say, I ate far more of it than I intended in a single sitting. With how delightful both of these recipes turned out, I will surely be trying more from Intimacy on the Plate in the future.

February 11, 2018

Unity

Published Post author

Unity Book Cover Unity
Jeremy Robinson
Young Adult
Breakneck Media
July 26, 2016
Hardcover
430

Euphemia Williams, known to her few friends as Effie, and everyone else as Eff-Bomb, will punch you for looking at her funny, for using her full name or for noticing that she’s a genius. But when an elite global entity known as Unity takes note of her intelligence and offers her a chance to escape the hum-drum life of a foster-child, she signs up. At best, she expects her time abroad to be a vacation. At worst, an actual challenge. But what she finds, upon being swept up in a futuristic transport, is far, far worse.

En route to a secret location in the Pacific, a meteor punches through the atmosphere triggering an electromagnetic pulse that sends the transport plummeting to the ocean. While fighting to escape the crash and climb onto an island beach, the meteor slams into the sea. A tsunami races across the island, pursuing Effie and her fellow survivors deeper into the volcanic island’s lush jungle.

Beaten, terrified and abandoned, the small group discovers that they are not alone on the island. The locals are ruthless and well-trained. With the survivors looking to her for leadership, Effie struggles—and fails—to keep everyone alive as they fight for survival.

Along the way, Effie uncovers a series of shocking truths: the parents she never knew were part of the island’s strange history, which includes massive robots known as Shugoten, and the meteor that sent them careening into the ocean, wasn’t a meteor at all.

The daikaiju have arrived—and one of them is headed her way.

Jeremy Robinson, creator of the ‘Kaiju Thriller’ genre, and international bestselling author of the Project Nemesis novel and comic book series, launches this new series combining the behind-enemy-lines themes of Red Dawn with the high-tech monster-fighting robots of Robotech, infusing it with his frenetic pacing and character driven plots.

 

Unity is one of author Jeremy Robinson’s first “new” books. For those who are new to his work, most of his previous books take place in a multi-verse (think Marvel comics or Stephen King’s works) and they were all more or less wrapped up in one last adventure in Project Legion. So, Unity kicks things off fresh-ish (more on the “-ish” later). Going in to Unity, I was unaware that it was a YA book and that did throw me a little. Robinson’s previous kaiju books, the Nemesis saga, were not YA oriented so the same was expected here. In no way did that diminish Unity, it was just one of those “oh, okay” moments.

Being a YA book centered around a kickass girl, Unity cannot help but make my brain go to Hunger Games. Effie was fantastic as a central protagonist. She has something of a bad attitude and life has not been easy on her, but at the core of things she is a good person. Her friends manage to remain interesting throughout as the team is built up over the story. The villains are also interesting, though suffering from a bit of generic bad guy syndrome.

This book (and probably it’s sequels) do differ from the Nemesis Saga in one major way, the robots. Nemesis focused mostly on the monsters, not introducing a giant mecha until the 4th book (out of five). In this story, there are no good/allied monsters. All the monsters are the bad guys. This time around humanity uses giant robots to fight back (think Pacific Rim). I say this time around because the characters do mention Nemesis at one point. In the same breath they also name a few fictional kaiju, so it is a little unclear whether this is at some point in the future after the Nemesis Saga or if the character speaking that line just read the Nemesis book. Maybe that will be touched on a bit more in a sequel.

Nothing that Robinson does in Unity can really be described as new. Most of it was already done in his previous books. Giant monsters, giant robots, teenagers saving the world…come to think of it, this was basically the Nemesis saga mixed with Power Rangers. Do not get the wrong impression; Unity is not a knock-off of Power Rangers, Voltron, Ultraman, etc. Jeremy Robinson is certainly recycling old plot elements, but he is using them to make something new. Something new and entertaining. Even though the ideas here are standing on the shoulders of giants, it is still very much Robinson’s own thing.

February 4, 2018

Tammy and the T-Rex

Published Post author

Poster for the movie ""

Tammy and the T-Rex

He's the coolest pet in town!

19941 h 22 min
Overview

An evil scientist implants the brain of Michael, a murdered high school student, in an animatronic Tyrannosaurus. He escapes, wreaks vengeance on his high school tormentors and is reunited with his sweetheart Tammy. Together, the couple try to elude the mad scientist and the police and find a more appropriate vessel for Michael's brain.

Metadata
Director Stewart Raffill
Runtime 1 h 22 min
Release Date 28 December 1994
Details
Movie Media Other
Movie Status Available
Movie Rating Not bad

Full spoilers ahead for this review. This is so wacky that it cannot be properly reviewed without spoilers and if you are truly that upset about spoilers from a near-25-year-old B-movie, seek help.

Tammy and the T-Rex came to my attention when I stumbled across a synopsis for it online. It was something along the lines of: A young Paul Walker plays a high school student who gets dumped onto a wildlife preserve by bullies and is then mauled by a lion. So a mad scientist takes his brain and puts it into a robot T-rex that goes on a rampage of revenge against the bullies while also trying to reunite with his girlfriend, Denise Richards.

I have given that description to a dozen friends since watching the movie and at least half of them tried to call BS on it. But even that description does not fully do the film justice because it leaves out the highly effeminate gay black friend who helps Denise Richards and is also the son of the police chief who is trying to take down Robot Rex/Paul Walker.

By no means does this movie try to take itself seriously (thank God). Like the part where Paul the Dinosaur helps the gay friend off the ground and brushes the dirt off his shoulders with his little T-Rex arms. Or before that, when the tiny T-Rex arms are used to successfully make a call on a pay phone (here is a picture for you kids who do not know what a pay phone is). Or when DinoWalker attends his own funeral and no one notices the giant robot lizard hiding behind a tree 15 yards away. Or when they break into the morgue and hold corpses up to the window for Paul Walker Rex to look at and pick out a new body for his brain. The list obviously goes on and on for a film like that.

For a B-movie, this film has everything you could possibly want. It manages to parody sci-fi, horror, and romance all at the same time. Everyone involved with making Tammy and the T-Rex must have known exactly what they were doing, and they excelled in that regard. Without question, it is my new favorite B-movie. Fingers crossed that MST3K gets to it on their next season. In the meantime, you can find the full film on YouTube here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AfxeN2YN3Q8

January 28, 2018

You Dear, Sweet Man

Published Post author

You Dear, Sweet Man Book Cover You Dear, Sweet Man
Thomas Neviaser
Fiction
Thomas Neviaser
August 23, 2017
Paperback
304

In an attempt to bring his fast food company back to the heights of success it previously enjoyed, a CEO decides to change its image to include a healthy food venue.
The use of a sophisticated, beautiful, adult film model as the centerpiece of the ad and two youthful computer nerds, specializing in holography and animation, leads to a most intriguing and ingenious advertisement ever invented that only responds to vibrations of whatever vehicle on which it is attached; hence, an exciting yet subtle motion to entice viewers to concentrate on the company's message.
The Ultimate Advertisement!
Of course, there are antagonists who are trying to sabotage the efforts of the company, but these attempts are thwarted through the devious and innocent maneuverings of the computer wizards.
The model's temper leads to revenge when her suggestions for the ad are repeatedly rejected by the CEO and board members, and she secretly uses her sensuality and paranormal skills to telepathically force the creators of the ad to produce ads to include unhealthy food images such as burgers and fries. She invents an alter-ego to serve as a replacement for herself in these ads; however, there is one component missing. To finalize her ad, there is a need to add a contrasting overweight and unattractive man. To find that person, the alter-ego must leave the ad, become a human image, and succeed in seducing such a man to return to the ad with her.
In the end, she uses his hunger for a burger and fries to coerce him into entering the ad. As he does, he finds himself in an unexpected predicament from which there may be no escape. As a result, she considers the ad complete, falsely believing the ad will exist forever.

 

You Dear, Sweet Man was provided to me by the author in exchange for an honest review.

You Dear, Sweet Man was a bit of a mix of a story, on more than one level. The synopsis on the back gives too much of the story away. Like, everything. Reading the story by itself gives readers a bit of a mystery element and it works. But if you have skimmed the synopsis, you already know what is coming next. The summary does its job too well; it reads like cliff notes. Which in turn leads into our second point, the length of the book.

It felt like You Dear, Sweet Man could not decide if it wanted to be a novel or a short story. The story features a decent-sized cast and each chapter jumps between their perspectives. We really get walked through the whole process of this ad that the story focuses on. From a business point-of-view that is neat to see but it does make other elements of the story take a while. It felt like the ball did not fully get rolling until the last 1/3 of the story or so. More details could have made this a full-length novel (despite the page count, I read it in about 3 hours due to the small pages and large-ish font) while the synopsis shows it could have been a short story as well.

The characters of the story are a bit of a mixed bag. Some get a lot of a focus in many chapters while others make scarce appearances. The heroes of the story came off as more interesting than the villains. The good guys do get more face-time and that is a factor there. The businessmen running the burger restaurant are nice, normal people instead of the evil businessmen we typically see in fiction, which was a nice change of pace. There is an evil, rival business man but his schemes were more of a subplot than a driving force.

Our true villainess gets more focus, but her character was a bit…odd. By the end of the story it is clear that she is unstable and very used to getting her way. There is a bit of a supernatural element surrounding her but the explanation for it was very rushed. In the span of a page or two she explains how her apparent psychic powers work and the character who learns this just kind of rolls with it. There was also a very adult scene with her, which makes sense within the story but felt out of place compared to the rest of the book. Everything just became very fast-paced at the end and it did not 100% fit the slower beginning and middle.

Overall, You Dear, Sweet Man was a good little read. The premise is interesting, the characters are enjoyable, and it is a good length something short and sweet. The synopsis spoiling pretty much the entire story is what really hurt the book for me. If you skip the synopsis, WHICH I HIGHLY RECOMMEND, this is a 4-star story.

January 21, 2018

Log Horizon, Vol. 1: The Beginning of Another World

Published Post author

Log Horizon, Vol. 1: The Beginning of Another World Book Cover Log Horizon, Vol. 1: The Beginning of Another World
Log Horizon
Mamare Touno
Fantasy
Yen On
April 1, 2015 (English); March 31, 2011 (Japanese)
Paperback
224

Thirty thousand Japanese gamers awake one day to discover that the fantasy world of Elder Tales, an MMORPG that was formerly their collective hobby, has become their cold hard reality. Severed from their everyday lives, they confront a new horizon filled with ravenous monsters, flavorless food, and the inability to die! Amid the chaos, veteran gamer Shiroe gathers his friends, the guardian Naotsugu and the assassin Akatsuki, and together they embark on an adventure to change the world as they know it!

 

Log Horizon is one of those “trapped in a game” stories, kind of like Tron. But there are a few differences from the standard stuck in cyberspace story. For one, the characters have absolutely no idea how they were sucked into a video game. Due to that there seems to be no obvious way to get back home. The rules of this new world do not seem to 100% line up with the game, Elder Tales, either. There are plenty of similarities but also aspects in line with real life, like needing to eat and sleep.

On its own, this first book really does not do too much. Despite being a full book it really feels more like just a prologue. We are introduced to the central characters and get a feel for their personalities. The people stuck in this situation start dealing with the fact that they are stuck in this new world. A fantastic element of the story is the characters ability to fight (or lack thereof). They are all used to playing a video game on a computer. In this new world they have to actually fight, swinging swords and firing bows, and it is terrifying. They are fighting literal monsters with all the sights, sounds, and smells that are present on a battlefield. This is a big change of pace from the many stories where the characters are one-man armies from the start.

Because this is a video game world, the characters cannot die. If killed they just revive in the nearest town like in any other game. This puts a big philosophical question on all these people: if death is not a variable, what is the value of life? These people are all just thrown into a new world together. There is no pre-established society here. No rules, no laws, no government, no stability. Everyone can do whatever they want, for better or for worse.

We mainly just see how all these questions are answered by main character Shiroe and his closest comrades. Standalone, this first book is ok because there is not much plot advancement. A lot of the book is spent explaining things, from the characters figuring out their new world to explanations about how their game (and MMO games in general) work for the audience’s sake. Both these factors lay the groundwork for quite a few things. Many questions are still unanswered by the end of the book, so the story could go in a few different directions. The Beginning of Another World is just that, a beginning. Not phenomenal start but certainly with the potential to lead to greater things.

January 14, 2018

One Among Us

Published Post author

One Among Us Book Cover One Among Us
Paige Dearth
Fiction
CreateSpace
December 12, 2014
Paperback
630

Kidnapped and forced into human sex trafficking, Maggie has only one way out.

Eleven-year-old Maggie Clarke is an average suburban girl known for her intelligence and beauty. Suddenly, her life’s path is tragically altered when Maggie is ripped from her family and thrust into the horrific underworld of human sex trafficking. In captivity, Maggie watches over a young boy, who gives her a reason to live. Robbed of her innocence and freedom, Maggie does whatever it takes to survive.

With the help of Detective Rae Harker, the Clarkes’ frantically search for their daughter. Haunted by his own demons, Detective Harker vows to find Maggie—dead or alive. Meanwhile on the vile streets of Philadelphia, a strange man approaches Maggie with a dangerous proposition, and she risks everything to break free of the network of unsavory characters that control her. Not even she can know how far she will go to get even with the people who ruined her life.

Raw, edgy, and intense, One Among Us ultimately offers hope through Maggie, who grows stronger and more resourceful through her experiences. You’ll be on the edge of your seat, rooting for Maggie as she fights for her life.

**WARNING**18+ Readers Only. Graphic content and subject matter.

 

One Among Us was sent to me by the author in exchange for an honest review.

This is a book that could have gone a lot of different ways. The subject matter is very, very dark; about as dark as it comes. Human trafficking is a subject that everyone needs to talk about, but no one wants to discuss. There was a delicate balance here of how descriptive the text can be vs. should be. Some people will love One Among Us for that and others will criticize the book for it. In its own way, this leaves some aspects of the book open to interpretation.

How you interpret One Among Us will largely depend on if you view it as a work of fiction or as something more real. Paige Dearth seems to have intended to readers to fall into the second category. The book is nowhere near as graphic as it could have been, which makes general audiences more likely to read it. From a fictional standpoint, there were some things the story could have done better. For the large page number, each chapter is very short (I do not think any exceeded 10 pages). Some of these lead right into each other while others skips days, weeks, or months ahead. Time skips are necessary since the story takes place over a near-decade, but the short chapters make characterization hard. Few characters are present for the whole book and the less seen ones all seemed two-dimensional. The stereotypical drug addict, pimp, detective, etc.

From a more real-world point of view, these decisions are understandable. Horrible things happen to a lot of people in One Among Us, but “crap happens” is not the intended message. It is true that many parts of this book are unrealistic. Are some of the characters a bit flat? Yes. Do we really need to see that the drug hustler/pimp has a little good in him? No, not really. Some people do lack morality to varying degrees. Life does often get worse before it gets better and sometimes it just gets worse. Parts of the book do feel a bit forced as we seem to mainly see Maggie’s life when big events are happening. A few “normal” bits might have made those big moments feel more dramatic and helped with further characterization, but again I do not believe that was Paige Dearth’s main point in writing this.

Personally, I found it hard to put this book down and ignored other hobbies to squeeze in extra reading time. The key thing to remember while read this is: This actually happens. Somewhere, right now, even here in the United States and other first world countries, this is happening to someone. Many someones. One Among Us is not a perfect work of fiction, but Paige Dearth is not trying to create a perfect work of fiction. She is trying to get that message out to more people so that real children and young adults like Maggie can be helped. The bottom line of this book can be summed up in one word: hope. I will definitely be keeping an eye out for Paige Dearth’s other novels in the future to see if she addresses similar subject matters just as well as she did this one.

January 7, 2018