So after multiple requests, I've created an official map of Eos (the world of the Prophecy Rock Series). I had already created one, a really cheap and dinky one on a whiteboard for my own reference, but it was a great exercise to create a much better looking one. The major cities of Gozin for the Renzai Empire and Mount Syphax for the Vicedonian Kingdom are there, as well as a number of other locations featured in the novels. I hope you enjoy the map and that it improves your reading experience! Let me know what you think!
Here's a special excerpt from Chosen (Prophecy Rock Series, Book 2) coming out this summer. Enjoy!
“Just… who… are you?”
Raden spoke the words aloud as he clutched his chest, his powers raging wildly within. He felt as if at any moment his heart was going to explode. A mysterious force had reached deep into his core, prying his soul from his earthly corpse. He collapsed to his knees; one hand gripping his chest as the other hand barely broke his fall. Every beat of his thundering heart felt like an explosion of hellish anguish coursing through his veins. Thump. Thump. Thump. Raden grimaced painfully, struggling to lift his head. The mysterious force bore down upon him with unbelievable pressure. Howling winds swept across the mountainous landscape, his hair and tattered robe flailing uncontrollably in the sudden typhoon. Through rippling locks of hair, Raden strained to lock eyes with the Vicedonian prince. How can this be?
The Ancient’s symbol for Chosen illuminated brightly on Aric’s forehead. The strange angular marking shone brilliantly as it came alive, tattooing itself into his skin, searing deep into his flesh with excruciating permanence. As the symbol fully manifested, it began to pulsate rhythmically in step with Raden’s own heartbeat. Every radiant burst of light coincided with the unbearable pounding in his chest. Thump. Thump. Thump. Before Raden could even begin to guess what was happening, a deep and primal scream grabbed him.
Aric yelled so loudly that the mountaintop of Sargatum shook from his torture. He grabbed his temple, squeezing down with the palms of his hands, desperately trying to subdue the agonizing storm clawing its way out of him.
Symin raised his right hand. “Stay back! Everyone stay back!” He quickly dropped to the ground, grabbed a hold of Raden by the back of his collar, and pulled him away from Aric with his one good arm. “What the hell is going on, Raden?”
“I’m… not sure. My powers… they’re… they’re out of control.” He forced the words through clenched teeth as his body tightened like a loaded spring.
Aric screamed once more.
Raden looked up and saw the unimaginable. “By the One…”
All those in attendance held a collective breath of fear. They witnessed pillars of ice burst forth from the ground and encase the young prince. Deadly spikes jutted out in all directions, warning the Renzai to keep their distance. The glacial towers glistened brightly from the morning sun as the ice frosted over, thickening the clear ice and hiding Aric from the outside world… at least that was the facade.
In reality, and only to those with eyes powerful enough to see, Aric’s body was being consumed by a growing shroud of thick darkness that seemed to suck in the very sunlight of the morning rays. Whipping tar-like tendrils peeled off the shroud and snapped about. At a glance, Raden thought he saw ghostly faces appear behind the mysterious force, tortured souls with hollowed-out eyes and mouths painfully drawn out beyond normal means. They called out with desperate pleas to anyone who would listen. But just when the faces appeared to fully materialize, the malignant cloud shifted violently and once again they were gone, vanished into a nightmarish prison that they were destined to never escape.
Aric’s body began to convulse violently. Racked by these unexpected seizures, Aric’s cries of pain were now accompanied by a guttural groan that seemed to emanate from deep within the mountain fortress itself. Renzai troops looked around with dread. Aric’s eyes rolled up into his head, leaving only the whites of them visible to terrify his enemies. His body lifted high off the ground, hovering eerily in the air as his arms began to twist in circles, tightening in unnatural positions and stretched to their very breaking points.
“What is going on inside the ice?” uttered Sako. The wound on her cheek began to bleed again, strands of maroon cascading down her pale skin.
A sudden burst of energy exploded from within the shroud, sending a massive plume of midnight-infused smoke up into the early morning sky. It was a darkness so deep that the night seemed to have returned with a vengeance. Soldiers both near and far were forced to drop for cover as they braced themselves from the apparent storm of ice. Powerful gusts of bone-chilling wind battered their bodies, forcing them to hold their ground or risk being blown off the mountaintop entirely.
Sako slammed the broken hilt of Reaver deep into the rocky ground, refusing to back away from Aric as everyone else had done. Despite the unexpected turn of events, her stubbornness would not allow the Vicedonian prince to get the better of her—no matter what the cost. As monstrous winds blew across the mountaintop, she gripped the hilt with both hands, dug her feet into the ground, and held on tight.
“You… will… pay!” she swore loudly, her words drowned out by the roaring wind.
Just then, the powerful tempest increased in ferocity, forcing Sako to readjust her grip… but it was too late. Her fingers peeled apart one by one till the last one gave way. The raging storm grabbed a hold and sent her soaring through the air straight towards the mountain’s edge.
“NOOOOOO!” she screamed.
Then, a booming silence took over.
The whirling storm dissipated in an instant. Evaporating out of existence in a single moment of divine intervention. Sako skidded across the ground, her feet dangled dangerously over the edge as she came to a fortuitous stop. Recognizing the opportunity, she pulled out a dagger from her side, rose to her feet, and leaped high into the air, hell bent on finishing what she had started before with Aric.
“Don’t do it, Sako!” cried Raden. “He’s much too powerful!”
“He… must… DIE!”
Aric watched Sako rise into the air with killer intentions, but he was in no position to stop her. His body was no longer his as it continued to react to the dark energy of the shroud. He still felt the tips of his extremities, yet he could not control them. A heavy presence weighed down upon his chest, pinning him in place as he watched helplessly.
Sako aimed straight for Aric’s heart, the recent memory of her shattered blade enraging her to no end. This time, I take your heart, you bastard!
Aric’s body unexpectedly stopped twisting, freezing still as it hovered in the air. Sako’s eyes widened as she relished her opportunity to deliver the deadly blow. She focused onto a single point on Aric’s chest and gripped her dagger with white knuckles.
Icy tendrils snapped out from the shroud and pierced the sky to greet Sako. They reached for her legs, but skillfully, Sako twisted her body in mid-air, breaking free of its grasp and repositioned herself to still drive down her dagger into Aric’s heart.
C’mon Sako! Do it! Symin prayed that Sako could pull off this miracle feat.
Sako drove the dagger straight down with ferocious momentum. “DIEEEEE!” she exclaimed as the blade zoomed in on Aric’s heart.
Raden’s jaw dropped in horror as a mysterious arm burst forth from within the shroud, grabbing a hold of Sako’s neck and catching her in mid-air.
Excerpted from Chosen by T. Sae-Low. Copyright © 2015 by T. Sae-Low. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the author.
Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
Ender Wiggins is a riveting and multifaceted character who is immediately established as someone of utmost significance to Earth’s survival against the Buggers (he is essentially Earth’s only hope). Ender is a genius amongst geniuses, and I forget that he begins his journey as a six-year-old boy, yet he talks like an adult, as do the rest of his classmates of similar age. At first, it seemed rather unbelievable, but I soon forgot about it as the story continued to draw me in. It then occurred to me that child geniuses probably would speak like adults since they already possessed superior intellectual abilities (i.e. child prodigies who go to college sound much like adults).
Beyond his genius, though, Ender is deeply flawed by overwhelming feelings of insecurity, loneliness, borderline paranoia, and schizophrenia that are all made real by his dysfunctional relationship with his older siblings and fellow geniuses, Peter and Valentine. Due to the fact that Ender is a Third, a derogatory label for children born beyond Earth’s two-limit child policy, he’s unfairly subjected to a litany of prejudices by strangers, authority figures, classmates, and even by his own parents who do love him but simply cannot relate to him. Peter, though, a prototypical bully with sociopathic tendencies serves as Ender’s hell during his early years. Even after Ender leaves Earth, Peter continues to haunt his younger brother’s thoughts with Ender dreading the terrifying possibility that someday he will become just like Peter.
In the novel, Ender is subjected to one intense scenario after the next. From navigating the social complexities of school, reflecting upon his tenuous relationship with older classmates, dealing with bullies who push Ender to his absolute limits, or to the intense Battle Games that are so brilliantly realistic in war strategy, Card pulls it all off effortlessly. To that point, Ender’s Game is now required reading for the U.S. Marine Corps, a testament to the soundness of the battle strategies and leadership training. The only moments when Ender seems to get any rest is in his sleep or during his time playing the fantasy game on his desk (much like an iPad) but both are just as restless as thoughts of Peter or the strangeness of the fantasy game haunt him relentlessly (the meaning of the fantasy game eventually comes full circle and is later explained). All this contributes to a book where there are few moments to breathe; leaving me wanting to flip pages all the way to the end.
The one break from Ender’s tale comes through the chapters of Peter and Valentine as they utilize the Internet to post political rhetoric under usernames Locke and Demosthenes. The chapters are interesting as they serve to set up the scenario on Earth and are well written with Card’s research into history coming to the forefront (including an update with the end of the Cold War and fall of the Soviet Union), but I couldn’t help but rush through these chapter to get back to Ender’s tale.
Ender is not a normal human being and never will he be one, he’s too unique and is fated to be isolated and alone. The common man cannot understand the inner workings of a genius, so sometimes that ignorance can lead to fear. Ender’s pure moments of humanity come in his bitter moments of sorrow as he internalizes the consequences of his own actions. No, Ender doesn’t relish in harming others, but he also understands the long-term consequences of losing and thus cannot allow it to happen. It goes against his logic to do so. At one point, Ender is maddeningly jealous of Bonzo Stilner (despite being cornered by Bonzo in the shower) because Bonzo is allowed to go home after their fight. All Ender truly wants is to go home as well (indeed a very basic human want is to be safe) but he truly has no home to go to and so he must leave the normalcy of Earth behind.
Over time you would expect Ender’s moments of crisis to begin to numb him, but he still mourns like a human, as a child even. Ender is indeed human, but even still he will be destined to die in a fishbowl by himself as a prisoner of his own genius. His lake house in Virginia and his moments on his hand-made raft are where Ender can be as human as he can, and that always means alone.
Ender is special and the enemy Buggers even know it when the end is revealed. Ender is destined for a great purpose in humanity’s time in existence, and the fact that Ender’s contributions go further than simply ending the war against the Buggers (more wars are always inevitable), but Ender’s final compilation of Speaker for the Dead and Hegemon both give rise to a new religion worshipped by people on Earth and the colonies. Religion is his gift to them, giving them hope for the future.
Ender’s cast of characters fully round out the story with every character serving a specific role. Characters such as Bonzo, who pushes Ender to a critical point of both desperation and transformation, Hyrum Graff who guides Ender from beginning to end with an iron fist, Alai whom Ender considers a friend and closest equal but remains hesitant to bridge that gap of friendship, to the precocious Bean who mirrors Ender’s own life and becomes the primary subject of the Ender’s Shadow Series. Valentine serves as Ender’s only hope of normalcy, and Peter is the one who can utterly destroy that dream. I couldn’t help but sympathize with Ender when he finally lets go of his emotions and cries to himself, acting like the child I forget he is.
Throughout the novel, it feels like Ender slowly loses his humanity as he is forced into situations where eliminating his most human basic human emotion is required in order to survive. He must think objectively, sacrificing friends and soldiers in simulated battles to win at all cost, or by isolating himself to keep his army’s moral untainted. Only Valentine is able to reconnect Ender with his tenuous humanity, even though Ender seems to doubt it himself. Much like in their younger childhood (because they still are children), Valentine serves as the shield for Ender, protecting him from the madness and manipulative mental torment of Peter. It is because of her love and willingness to intervene that Ender is able to finally accomplish his goal.
A sign of a great book is that it transcends time and remains relevant to the present. Card’s writing underlies political tensions that are still evident today and his futuristic scenarios seem highly plausible if we were to ever get to that point. His use of desks are essentially what we call tablets today. Telling, too, is the global connectivity of the Internet, primarily used in this novel as a means for political dissemination and platform building by Peter and Valentine. Peter seeks to become Hegemon of Earth and to rule in the aftermath of the war with the Buggers. Peter is a genius, a mad genius in his own right who’s just smart enough to pull off world domination and simply sociopathic enough to instill fear in the reader of what kind of bleak world Earth would be if he were to rule. Peter’s use of a pseudonym rings true as anonymous voices can gain power without repercussions (Cyber bullying, etc…) The dangers of posting anonymously online can be a double-edge sword. Just as great as it is to have Valentine (a child) have an outlet for her political genius… it’s just as scary to have Peter’s madness equally as accessible behind the safety of a computer.
In the conclusion, Ender is haunted by thoughts of xenocide when a surviving Bugger Queen reveals to Ender the Buggers side of the war. As his moral consciousness is tortured, he comes to understand the enemy that much better, making it all the more difficult to harm any bug, leaving Ender feeling emotionally battered and remorseful. Ender rectifies his xenocide by heading deeper into space, searching for a new home for the Bugger race to begin anew. Ender’s Game is a masterful work that transcends time, always feels relevant, and asks probing questions about human nature. Just as enjoyable through the first read to the tenth read, it is deserving of being considered one of the greatest works of literary science fiction.
Book Covers Copyrighted by Delacorte Press
James Dashner’s Maze Runner Trilogy focuses on a young teenage boy named Thomas and his journey through a mysterious (heavy on the mystery) dystopian world in which he not only struggles to figure out where he is, but more importantly who he is. The story begins as young Thomas awakens from a mysterious metallic box and finds himself surrounded by a group of teenage boys of varying ages. Wearing ragged clothing and speaking with a strange slang, Thomas’ confusion is exacerbated by his immediate surroundings. The lush grounds and vegetation are starkly contrasted by looming and ominous concrete walls that keep the boys sealed in the Glade. Haunted by strange and disparate visions, Thomas’ quest for answers truly begins when he steps out of the confines of the Glade and into the surrounding maze.
Dashner hits the mark in his attempt at creating a unique world where every seemingly apparent truth is anything but. Readers will find themselves second-guessing every “revelation” not because the explanations seem unbelievable, but rather because Dashner has masterfully weaved that sense of mistrust into the plotline. Reminiscent of Lord of the Flies, moral questions that come into play between contrasting perspectives of basic survival versus the quest for truth is handled expertly throughout the series. Dashner’s characters also come to life through the pages with unique personalities and motivations. From Thomas to his best friends, Minho and Newt, to Theresa and Brenda and the ensuing love triangle between them, Dashner fills his world with characters readers will be rooting for and against—and even torn between others.
From The Maze Runner (Book One) to The Death Cure (Book Three), Thomas’ adventure ramps up with every subsequent installment. The Scorch Trials (Book Two) really kicks the pace into overdrive. Readers will flip through pages at a rapid pace in an urgent need to discover the answers as to why Thomas and his friends have endured such horrific obstacles that include needle-stabbing-robots, crazed humans called Cranks, and the ominous WICKED organization that appears to be behind everything. The stakes are ratcheted up as the series progresses with unforgettable moments of heartache and pain (let’s just say there was a betrayal in book two and three that left me feeling a little red in the face) leading to an epic conclusion with a satisfying payoff in the final book.
As much as I enjoyed the Maze Runner Trilogy, of which I do recommend, there were a few areas of which I could’ve done without. First off was the unique slang. Although I truly applaud Dashner (and any author really) for trying to push the envelope and create something new and original, I found the slang to be slightly disruptive to my reading experience. After trying to figure out if these slang terms were substitutes for curse words, I eventually found myself making the switch naturally to make the reading experience go more smoothly. Secondly, I found that The Maze Runner starts off rather slow. I understand the need to setup the world and plot, but only at about three quarters of the way through the book did the urgency begin to pick up. Once it does, it’s a nonstop journey to the end, but there were still some moments where I found it to drag.
Overall, the Maze Runner Trilogy was an enjoyable and great read that I highly recommend to lovers of young adult mystery and adventure. Fans of dystopian themed worlds combined with a hint of love, comedy, sci-fi, and sort-of zombies will be pleased.
My latest work, Shadows of Kyrus, is almost ready for launch! I'm finalizing the cover image as we speak and aiming for a release date of July 31st. But here's the description and an excerpt from the novella so you can get a taste of what's coming. Happy reading!
Pilgrim of Fate Captain Bram Paxus has kept vigilant watch over the small outpost village of Kyrus for the past eighteen years. But when the local blacksmith is mysteriously murdered, peace is shattered and the village is thrown into disarray. To catch the killer, Bram unexpectedly finds himself teaming up with a youthful monk named Hydas to solve the grizzly crime. As clues are uncovered, the unlikely duo discovers traces of a sinister plot that goes deeper than they both could’ve imagined. With enemy warriors threatening from beyond the Shaded Woods and the Winter Solstice now in jeopardy, Bram must race against time to find the killer before it’s too late and the village is lost forever.
Lance stood ready at a moment’s notice. His sword and shield gripped tightly in each hand. Lance already knew the Jaguar Knights were exceptionally quick but as fast as lightning like some believed?
Within seconds the first Jaguar Knight’s macuahuitl collided with Lance’s shield, the clashing steel ringing loudly in the deep forest. The Anahuac’s strength was unreal as Lance almost dropped his protection. Momentarily rattled, Lance quickly regained his composure. I will show you my skills, Captain!
Lance swung and blocked, his combat training proving its worth. His eyes were focused as he watched the enemy swing and twirl his blade around his body. The movements were mesmerizing, but he refused to let his focus be shaken again. Lance took a quick step with his left foot and pushed off with his right. With the move, he closed the distance between them within a fraction of a second. His sword was already pushing forward, aimed directly at the enemy’s heart.
The Anahuac spun to his left, dodging Lance’s sword while bringing his own macuahuitl across Lance’s ankles. In an instant Lance was on his back. The Jaguar Knight leaped into the air. Both of his hands gripped the savage blade tightly as he prepared to swing it down upon Lance’s head.
The blade smashed into the dirt, sending clumps of grass and mud everywhere. Lance had managed to roll to his right, just barely avoiding the fatal blow. He grabbed a hold of the Anahuac’s wrist and kicked him square in the face, sending the Anahuac stumbling backwards. The powerful warrior wiped the blood off his mouth with his empty right hand. Lance stood up and kicked the macuahuitl off into some nearby brush. He dug his feet into the ground and prepared for another attack.
Bram moved on instinct. He had been through enough battles in his lifetime thus far to understand the heightened sensations of combat. His sword clashed against the wooden blade of the Anahuac time and again. High and low attacks combined into a mesmerizing dance of death, each of their blades dashing dangerously close to their jugulars. This Jaguar Knight was definitely older and more experienced than his counterpart who was currently engaged with Lance. He was more calculated and patient, making him all the more difficult to predict. The Anahuac twirled his weapon above his head, writhing his body like a snake as he gnashed his teeth with excitement. He feinted forward and jumped back to his original position within an instant. Bram knew he wasn’t going to win this battle by speed. I need to slow him down and keep him still…but how? Bram raised the top of his shield just below his eyes, narrowing the view of his target. He held his sword straight out in his right hand, ready to go at a moment’s notice. Bram took a cursory look at his surroundings, seeing if there was anything in the environment that he could use in his favor. Unfortunately, they stood in a small clearing within the Shaded Woods. Nothing advantageous immediately presented itself.
The Anahuac must’ve seen Bram glance around because he instantly launched his next attack. He feinted again, but this time he landed a mere foot away from Bram’s face. Bram slashed across his body hitting nothing but air. The Anahuac ducked and dove low against Bram’s feet. Bram slammed his shield to the ground just in time, catching the macuahuitl with the bottom half of it. With the enemy’s weapon immobilized, Bram swung at his enemy, but the Jaguar Knight had vanished. Bram spun around quickly only to feel the Anahuac’s shin land flush across his jaw, the powerful quick almost knocking him unconscious. On wobbly knees he struggled to stay upright.
The Jaguar Knight charged at him, kicking his macuahuitl from off the ground in one motion and catching it in the air. He swung hard against Bram with deadly intentions. Bram just managed to raise his shield in time to deflect the blow but the impact rattled the shield right off his body. The Anahuac wasted no time, slashing at the sword in Bram’s other hand, sending it flying off into the distance.
Bram stood there weaponless while still trying to clear the cobwebs from the earlier kick. He could see the Anahuac draw near once more. C’mon Bram. Get it together. Bram watched the blade swing towards his head. He knew he wasn’t quick enough to dodge the blow as the black blades approached with stunning velocity. Bram needed to act now or his head would no longer be attached to his body. Bram stepped in towards his enemy and caught the arm holding the macuahuitl. He twisted the arm upwards and pulled it down, driving his knee across the back of the Anahuac’s elbow. Bram could hear the audible snap of bone. The Jaguar Knight hollered in pain as the weapon fell harmlessly to the ground. Bram backhanded him across the face but still refused to let go. The Anahuac tried to land a desperate blow with his free arm, but Bram caught it in the air. He drew the enemy close and head-butted him with such force that the Jaguar Knight’s nose gushed like a fountain. I have to end this now! Still holding him tightly, Bram buried his forehead into his foe’s skull over and over again until the enemy no longer moved. Feeling the Anahuac’s weight suddenly slump, Bram released the broken arm and dropped the dead warrior to the ground.
Excerpted from Shadows of Kyrus by T. Sae-Low. Copyright © 2013 by T. Sae-Low. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the author.
Into the Dark by Kristen Pham is a refreshing entry that stands out amongst the overly saturated genre of Young Adult Fantasy novels today. Her protagonist, Valerie Diaz, is an emotionally abused orphan who has already had her fair share of tribulations spanning her young 14 years of life. Where the cliche "unwanted hero saves the world" prototype could fall flat elsewhere, Pham expertly illustrates Valerie's motives and inner-struggles in a way that proves believable and honest. Valerie's time at the hospital beautifully portrays who Valerie is at her core, and sets the stage for her forthcoming globe/dimension trotting adventures. Accompanied by her once-imaginary friend Cyrus, bodyguard Thai, and wise-cracking-2pac loving Kanti, Valerie is whisked away to the magic-filled land of the Globe. When it comes to world-building, Pham is at her best, describing the colorful and distinct lands that exist within the Globe, including underwater cities, roaming temples, candy-filled dormitories, diverse peoples and creatures, and even unexpected means of transportation (roller-coasters and self-guided elevators) that children and adults will enjoy reading about.
On their journey to save Henry, a special child who unknowingly reaches out to Valerie for help, Valerie and gang encounter an assortment of monstrosities who stop at nothing to keep her from her goal. Even these villains prove to be more than simple run-of-the-mill ogres and what not, especially Sanguina, as she is cleverly crafted to make the reader both hate, yet wonder, where she's from and who she is.
The one area where Into the Dark does stumble slightly is in its pacing. As a fan of fast-paced adventure novels, I love it when an author can make me feel like I'm running out of breath, yet still manage to balance that between moments of self-reflection and doubt. Pham accomplishes this in most parts, but there were some scenes that felt a little rushed (the group seems to learn how to fight rather quickly). The story definitely builds up to an epic climax, but even still, it could've used a bit more developing in certain areas to have the payoff be even more rewarding. With that said, this is one minor flaw in an otherwise epic adventure.
Pham triumphs in her debut novel, invoking the grandiose worlds, mythological elements, and strange creatures that all lovers of the Fantasy genre will love and seamlessly combines them with the modern day. Teenagers will find themselves right at home with all the pop culture references and familiar struggles that only a teenager could truly empathize with. Readers of all ages will find themselves immersed in Valerie's mission of discovery through epic battles and subtle indications that point to something more sinister on the horizon. The first book in the Conjurors series is a wonderfully engaging read. Book two can't get here soon enough!
4 out of 5 stars!
Available at Amazon
Find out more about Kristen Pham at www.kristenpham.com
Cover Image Copyright Broadway Paperbacks
With the movie hitting theaters, I wanted to read the novel before going to watch it. There have been times where I've watched a movie based on a book, proceeded to read the novel afterwards, and found myself visualizing everything through the movie's perspective. Not a bad thing really, but the greatest thrill from reading a novel comes from each person's unique experience. Anyways, I'll save this topic for a later blog, on to the review!
World War Z by Max Brooks, published in 2006 as a follow up to his popular Zombie Survival Guide, is a wonderfully entertaining read and a pleasant surprise. Admittedly, I'm a casual fan of the zombie/living dead/undead/whitewalkers/whatever you want to call them. Most of my knowledge of the genre stems from the ubiquitous Walking Dead TV series (great show!), horror flicks, and the "I wanna eat your brains" character that we all know and love. So going into World War Z, I was expecting slow-as-hell Resident Evil type monsters chasing down a ragtag group of survivors (an old military vet, a young child, an attractive teenage boy and girl who fall in love, etc...). What I didn't expect was the unique perspective Brooks uses to tell the harrowing tales of survival from multiple global experiences. Stories of being attacked by throngs of decomposing zombies was just the teaser. The heart of what makes World War Z such an engaging read is the belief that Brooks' scenario seems almost plausible today. His social-political commentaries about the inefficacy of modern forms of government rings true - and the direction they will lead us down during a major crisis is a startling scenario. What would really happen if the world went to hell? (Literally). The Redeker plan proposed and utilized by many nations to quell the zombie uprising is shocking not because of what it proposes (basically it suggests using the population of survivors who have no practical survival skills as a diversion), but because its coldly calculated details sound like the only logical plan to ensure humanity's survival. And still, even after the tide is turned against the "Zacks" and humanity has repositioned itself once again as the top species on Earth; the post-war stress, trauma, and memories continue to haunt each and every single survivor. The last bastion of hope is when the next generation, and subsequent generations thereafter grow up in a time when the Zombie Apocalypse is relegated to a single unit in a history textbook. Only when you are that far removed from it will you finally feel completely safe.
Aside from the well-written and uniquely crafted plot, I truly have to commend Brooks on his level of detail and research. A litany of military terms and weapons, war strategies, and tie-ins to actual historical events (complete with footnotes) sounds like a monumental undertaking for a writer, but Brooks pulls it off effortlessly. At times, I did find myself glancing over some of the details about X-28Z-SS Missiles (ok, I made that up) but it sure sounded real to me.
World War Z doesn't have much to truly criticize; it's well-written, thoroughly researched, has an engaging plot full of action and human emotion. The only thing that slightly bothered me was the amount of interviews. I understand the need to have as many global perspectives as you can to paint a full picture, but some tales probably could've been left out. Many are memorable (the Chinese Submarine Commander, the two Japanese survivors, Yonkers, the female pilot, and more) but some I don't really remember either (I can't list them because I don't remember them).
All in all World War Z was a fantastic read, amongst a proliferating genre of zombie this-and-that coming out now, Brooks' work stands above the rest. I highly recommend this book to anyone, especially before you see the movie (although I hear the movie's script is a bit different anyways). Fans of horror, thriller, action, political, historical, and social (wow, he really covers everything) intrigue will find themselves turning page after page of this outstanding piece of literary work.
Oh, and the scene where the monkey pees in the soldier's face made me laugh out loud for a good straight minute.
Genesis is now available on Smashwords for $1.79! Available for immediate sampling and purchase in multiple ebook formats, readable on virtually any ebook reading device! Start your adventure today!
T. Sae-Low's Smashwords Author Profile: http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/tsaelow
Book page to sample or purchase Genesis (Prophecy Rock Series, Book 1): http://smashwords.com/b/317349
A vivid portrayal of the inner turmoil that is inherent to being human. Stevenson's creative allegory of man's desire to be righteous and socially accepted juxtaposed by his sinister and more animalistic wants is beautifully crafted and cleverly paced. A classic that will always remain relevant.
Here's my full interview with BookGoodies. I share a lot about my inspirations, my own writing process, and the current state of the publishing industry. Check it out! For the original post, go here.
I was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. The youngest of three siblings, my parents emigrated from Thailand to the U.S. in the late 1970′s, setting up residence in a one bedroom apartment in the Koreatown District of L.A. As a child, I spent my early Saturday mornings watching my favorite cartoons and playing video games with friends. The rest of my time I spent reading and collecting comic books and anime with my older brother. Inspired by titles such as X-Men, Akira, and Robotech, I buried himself in these imaginary worlds, drawing my favorite characters and creating plenty of my own. I transformed a corner of my family’s small living room into a makeshift art station. Mock covers of my favorite comics and magazines adorned the wall. At school, my journals and homework were filled with doodles in the margins, much to the chagrin of some of my teachers. As I grew older, my love for incredible stories led me towards a degree in history, where I found fact to often be more amazing than fiction. I graduated from UCSD with a degree in History and a minor in Education. Shortly after, I received my teaching credential and have been teaching since, finding it to be a rewarding yet challenging profession, all the while continuing my love for brave new worlds with my insatiable appetite for books and graphic novels.
What inspires you to write?
Truth be told, I’ve always been a writer at heart. I can remember back when I was little, creating a comic strip for an elementary school project. I think we had to come up with a poster for an anti-smoking campaign, and I remember creating my first superhero named SmokeKill. He wore these colorful orange and blue tights, and he could inhale all the bad smoke in the world. I honestly thought he was the coolest character ever, so I turned the poster into a full-on comic book. I recall my teacher being impressed with it, and from that point on, I was always creating strange new worlds filled with fantastic characters. (Well, at least to me they were fantastic).
As far as inspiration goes, I find inspiration for my stories everywhere. Whether it be from a great book, movie, news story, or just being on the train and people watching. I love taking that small spark of inspiration and developing it into an entire story. I enjoy the challenge of seeing how far I can take it.
Tell us about your writing process:
For me, I always have a journal and pen with me (if not I’ll take notes on my phone), but I discover ideas for my stories everywhere. I have to jot them down otherwise I’ll forget, because the next story is already taking its place! Once I have a solid concept for a story, I’ll do the necessary research to make sure I’m comfortable with it. Be it setting, time period, etc…I need to make sure that the world I’m going to create makes sense to me.
Next, I’ll work on my characters, fleshing them out in detail and creating back stories for all of them. That way, I keep details and facts consistent, but I always make changes here and there as the story develops. Afterwards, I’ll outline the story from beginning to end. With a solid outline done, I’ll frame the book scene by scene on index cards. I find index cards easy to use, and I can always have them with me. (Tablets are great and all, but I don’t like typing on them, I prefer to write things down). Once my scenes are complete, I’ll begin writing from beginning to end, and then going back for multiple revisions until I’m happy with the final manuscript.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
Yes…yes I do. I often find myself sitting at my computer, or driving in my car having a full conversation with my characters. It feels odd, but it definitely helps me discover what attributes and motivations best suit their unique personalities. I loosely base some of my characters on people from history, so as to give me a solid starting point. As I write, my conversations with my characters delve deeper and begin to shape and mold them into their own persons.
What advice would you give other writers?
Write and read a lot. Write to practice your craft, and read to see how others are doing it. The difficult thing for me to do at times is to balance out the two. I find myself in “writing mode” where that’s all I want to focus on, but often times I’ll get stuck on a scene, or plot line, and I’ll usually find great inspiration from other works. That’s why I feel it’s a healthy idea to balance the two.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
I decided to self-publish my novel because my original intention was to share my story. It sounds simple, but as I discovered in my research, going the traditional route can be a lengthy and difficult process. At the end of the day, I wanted to get my story out to as many people as possible because I believed in what I wrote. Self-publishing has allowed me to do that with minimal upfront investment. I liked the fact that all I really needed to do was to focus and write my story. The self-publishing process is fairly straightforward, and next thing you know, it’s available to millions of customers.
I think at the end of the day, every writer wants to be published by a traditional publisher, but you can hit a brick wall trying to break through, which can be frustrating. I would advise anyone who wants to get their story out to pursue every path available to you, but know that self-published authors are growing, and are starting to garner more attention (making it to NY Times Bestsellers List, Top Amazon Rankings, etc…). A fair bit of warning though. Know that with the ease of self-publishing available today, there’s a lot of new books entering the marketplace. For your book to stand out, it has to first of all, be a great story. Secondly though, as a self-published author, you don’t have a team of marketing execs getting your book out to the world. You, the writer, will also become a marketing exec because you’re the only person who can really make it happen. I’m finding this step to be a challenging, but very rewarding process as well. It really tests how badly you want to share your story.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
With the advent of ebooks, and all the myriad of other electronic forms of reading, the amount of books available are growing at an astonishing rate. Traditional brick and mortar bookstores are struggling (Borders went bankrupt), and there’s a shift now towards everything being online. I still love the tangible feel of a book in my hands, and the joy of browsing around a bookstore, but when I see my third grade students going to the “store” on their Kindles, it’s a telling sign of how and where books are being read and seen by potential readers. I personally hope bookstores aren’t replaced entirely by virtual ones, but it would be prudent to stay connected with the industry as it shifts from one medium to the next.
What genres do you write?
Fantasy, Teen, Young Adult, Fiction, Middle Grades
What formats are your books in?
Both eBook and Print
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