Author Blog Tour Guest Post: David Wellington, Author of Positive

Welcome to the second part of the Working for the Mandroid stop on David Wellington's blog tour for his epic zombie adventure story Positive. This tour is hosted by Pump Up Your Book tours. Earlier we had a review of Positive and now the author himself has stopped by to discuss post-apocalyptic stories. If you're into zombie fiction and are looking for a book with a young, naive teen boy narrator suddenly thrust into a wild and unfamiliar world with danger around every corner, Positive could be the book for you! Let's here from David.

               Aren’t you a little sick of post-apocalypse stories? I know I am. Oh, I’m a big fan of mutant-haunted wastelands, going way back. In the ‘80s, when I was young, we were terrified of nuclear war. Yet our stories about what happened afterward, after the bombs dropped, were strangely hopeful. In the desert you could start over again. The shackles of modern civilization would be gone, all the expectations of a post-industrial society. No more punching the clock—your new job would be fighting off the fifty-foot tall grasshoppers who threatened your town. No more waiting in line at the DMV. No need for a license on the empty highways of the badlands. You would get to start a whole new life, and look like a badass all the time. You’d have a great atom tan and there seemed to be no shortage of hair care product, if the movies were anything to go by.

               But then the nuclear war just… never happened. Today’s fears of the apocalypse are different, more scientifically grounded, perhaps. Maybe just more nebulous. What will your life look like after climate change reshapes the planet? In case of an economic collapse, how much gold do you need to have stored in your bunker? And as our fears grew more diffuse, our apocalypse fiction grew steadily more grim and horrible. Life after The End just doesn’t seem as appealing as it used to. Oh, sure, no matter how bad things get, some plucky teenager might come along and save the day. Maybe. Or maybe the future is just going to suck, and we need to all accept that.

David Wellington on his Post-Apocalyptic Novel Positive

               I’ve written seventeen novels, now. My very first published novel, Monster Island, was about what New York City would look like after a zombie rising. It was grim, let me tell you. Gritty. Nobody had a good time in that book (except, hopefully, the reader). That was back in 2003. I was obsessed with zombies in 2003. Over the years I’ve watched countless movies about zombies and the apocalypse, though, and they’ve just started to depress me. You know? It just seems like things would go from bad to worse, and there was no hope for anybody. Worse—far worse—I’ve seen the people around me, especially the younger generation, start to think that the apocalypse is inevitable. That the year 2000 was the high water mark of civilization, and it’s all downhill from there.

               Which is why I needed to write my latest book, Positive, which just came out in paperback. I needed to write a book that was both post-apocalyptic… and hopeful.

               Is such a thing even possible? Finn, the main character of my book, is living in a pretty nasty world. Twenty years ago a virus raced through the population, causing some to turn into mindless, incredibly aggressive zombies. The worst part about the disease was that it could take twenty years to incubate. You could have this thing in your brain, growing and festering in secret, for two decades—and not even know it. Just one day you would go crazy and attack everyone around you. Of course, society’s response to this turned out to be even worse than the disease. Anyone even potentially infected is branded as a Positive, given a plus-sign tattoo on their left hand and shunned by society. Which is exactly what happens to Finn. He could be a zombie.

               Yet Positive is not really a zombie novel.

               Finn is forced out into the wilderness. A suburbia overrun by looter gangs and deadly road pirates. Think Mad Max but set in a world of crumbling row houses and strip malls. A world where you can be killed at any time for your canned food, your gasoline, even just for the shoes on your feet.

               Yet Positive is not a road pirate novel.

               As Finn ventures west, looking for some kind of security, some kind of salvation, he encounters a city that has fallen back into a primitive state. He finds a medical camp that is twenty different kinds of hell. Eventually he runs afoul of a death cult, which offers protection in exchange for human sacrifice.

               Yet Positive is… well, you get the drill.

               No, Positive isn’t about those things (or at least, not just about those things). It’s the story of somebody who can make his way in that world… and know there should be something better. That there can be something better, if we all pitch in.

               Positive is about the moment after the end of the world. The moment when the dust has settled, when the bodies have been buried. And about what happens next. In my early zombie novels, I had a number of characters ask the same question: What do you do the day after the world ends? Finn is finally the character who can answer that question.

               It’s simple, really. You rebuild. You gather together people who you can trust. People who get your vision. You sift through the rubble—but rather than just scrounging for tin cans, you look for the tools and the people who can make a whole new world.

               Positive is post-apocalypse fiction, sure. I also like to call it pre-renaissance fiction. It’s about what to do when there’s nothing left. It’s about finding hope in a place where hope has died.

               It’s also a ton of fun. Fast-paced, full of action and suspense and a love story for a damaged—but not quite defunct—age. I hope you’ll give it a look.

Positive
David Wellington

Harper Voyager
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in return for a honest review.
Released April 21, 2015
448 pages
Thriller / Suspense

Find it on Goodreads

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Indie Bound

The acclaimed author of Chimera and The Hydra Protocol delivers his spectacular breakout novel—an entertaining, page-turning zombie epic.
Anyone can be positive . . .
Years after a plague killed 99 percent of the population, turning them into infectious zombies, Finnegan and his family live in a barricaded New York City. But Finn's sheltered life fractures when his unsuspecting mother falls sick with the zombie disease—latent inside her since before her son's birth.
Finn, too, can be infected. If he remains healthy for the last two years of the potential incubation period, he'll be cleared. Until then, he must be moved to a special facility for positives, segregated to keep the healthy population safe.
Tattooed with a plus sign on his hand that marks him as a positive, Finn is exiled from the city. But when marauders kill the escort sent to transport him, Finn must learn how to survive alone in an eerie, disintegrated landscape. And though the zombies are everywhere, Finn discovers that the real danger is his fellow humans.

About the Author:

David Wellington was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where George Romero’s classic zombie films were shot. He is the author of an online zombie serial, the Monster Island trilogy; Thirteen Bullets, a serialized vampire novel; and the Jim Chapel missions, including the digital shorts “Minotaur” and “Myrmidon,” and the novels Chimera and The Hydra Protocol. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

For More Information

Visit David’s website.

Connect with David on Facebook and Twitter

Author Blog Tour: Review of Positive by David Wellington

Welcome to the Working for the Mandroid stop on David Wellington's blog tour for his epic zombie adventure story Positive. This tour is hosted by Pump Up Your Book tours and we're happy to have a review for you and later today we'll have a guest post from David himself! If you're into zombie fiction and are looking for a book with a young, naive teen boy narrator suddenly thrust into a wild and unfamiliar world with danger around every corner, Positive could be the book for you! You can see additional dates of the tour at the end of this post.

Positive
David Wellington

Harper Voyager
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in return for a honest review.
Released April 21, 2015
448 pages
Thriller / Suspense

Find it on Goodreads

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Indie Bound

The acclaimed author of Chimera and The Hydra Protocol delivers his spectacular breakout novel—an entertaining, page-turning zombie epic.
Anyone can be positive . . .
Years after a plague killed 99 percent of the population, turning them into infectious zombies, Finnegan and his family live in a barricaded New York City. But Finn's sheltered life fractures when his unsuspecting mother falls sick with the zombie disease—latent inside her since before her son's birth.
Finn, too, can be infected. If he remains healthy for the last two years of the potential incubation period, he'll be cleared. Until then, he must be moved to a special facility for positives, segregated to keep the healthy population safe.
Tattooed with a plus sign on his hand that marks him as a positive, Finn is exiled from the city. But when marauders kill the escort sent to transport him, Finn must learn how to survive alone in an eerie, disintegrated landscape. And though the zombies are everywhere, Finn discovers that the real danger is his fellow humans.

Oh, zombies. Will we ever tire of you? David Wellington has created an expansive novel that crosses much of the country 20 years after the fall of civilization caused by a zombie virus. What many authors would have cut into three novels, Wellington puts into one rapidly paced adventure ride where zombies are the initial drive of the plot, but become a bit of an afterthought by the end. Because, as with all zombie epics, people are always the real enemy.

Positive felt very much like a mash up of a lot of different things I’ve seen or read or consumed recently. It has long sequences that feel straight from Mad Max: Fury Road without the helpful addition of Furiosa. Other sequences could have been pulled straight from The Walking Dead and still others could be straight from any number of books or movies that involved long treks and starving through a terrible winter. Some elements of Positive stand out, but so much felt like it’d been taken from something else that the book never truly begins to soar for me.

Finn is our everyman hero. He’s a nineteen-year-old, post-apocalypse war baby, who doesn’t understand why everyone in his parents’ generation are all so paranoid and acting like they’re just ready to die already. He’s lived in the safe zone on Manhattan island all his life, fishing in the subway tunnels and living a fairly safe life. Then one day over a disappointing dinner, his mother turns into a red-eyed zombie and Finn’s best friend has to shoot her. As one would expect, Finn’s life is never the same.

Wellington’s zombie mythology is unique to the genre – or at least as far as my experience with the genre goes. While a virus caused the mass majority of people to turn into flesh-devouring, red eyed monsters 20 years ago, the remaining population must worry about a potential 20 year incubation period after exposure to the virus, whether that’s through exposure to blood or other bodily fluids both of zombies and those who may be infected, or being bitten. For example, main character Finn is pushed out of his community because his mother turns into a zombie 19 years after he was breast fed, so he potentially carries the virus. Considering this book takes place about 20 years after the initial zombie apocalypse, it makes you wonder why everyone isn’t a Positive, considering I can’t imagine a zombie situation where everyone didn’t have exposure to a zombie at one point in time. Or at least exposure to someone who was exposed. And wouldn’t each new exposure restart your 20 year clock? But this is a zombie novel, so some hand waving is allowed.

After Finn’s exile, book one starts. This is the “survive in the wilderness” story full of looters and crime lords with big SUVs covered in war paint and barbed wire. Finn gets picked up by a driver who happens to keep a harem of pre-teen and teenage girls in tow to help him loot houses and “keep him company”. This is the Mad Max portion of the program.

Book two starts when Finn finally reaches the “medical camp” he was meant to go to all along. The 20 year incubation period has left a great number of the remaining survivors exiled from the walled cities protected by the remains of the US Armed Forces and into work camps that are closer to gulags than anything one would expect to see on American soil. Suddenly zombies are an afterthought and we get a story about military control and political unrest.

Book three is a survival story involving a not-quite forced march through questionable terrain, starting a new community and learning new skills and trying to create a sense of safety. Think of this as the story of pilgrims with all the hopeful rhetoric and posturing that one would expect. There is one group of zombies that appear during this sequence. We see no other zombies after this.

Then finally we have book four, which involves a battle with the real enemies of the world – other humans. Because humans are the worse.

For a book so steeped in the fear of becoming a zombie, there aren’t that many zombies in this book, especially in the second half. I think that oscillation between “ZOMBIES! VIRUS! AAAAH!” and “The bad guys are really other people” kept me from really gelling with this book. There is a nice highlight about a third of the way when Finn comes across one of the few other people with their morals still intact in the whole book and I wish there could have been some more of that. Instead I got Finn becoming increasingly more self-important as he dictated new rules and not-so-serendipitously kept running into someone that was set out to be his nemesis but never seemed that menacing.

I don’t like classifying books by a gender, but perhaps this is more of a “boy” book because it’s told from the first person perspective of a teenage boy who lacks much maturity. His inner monologue, while possibly accurate for someone in that situation, often bothered me with its repetitiveness, immaturity and total lack of perspective. I’ve found with other books like this, people who had once been teenaged boys were less bothered by it than I am.

Positive is a take on a zombie world that felt very cobbled together from other things, though a few original ideas would have helped it soar much more if they’d been explored and expanded on. I know it’s wrong to demand logic of zombie books, but I need a little more of a solid foundation to truly follow along with Finn on his adventures. Instead I kept coming back to my questions about the logic of the whole thing. This could be an exciting adventure through post-apocalyptic America if you’re not as sensitive to those kinds of things.

About the Author:

David Wellington was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where George Romero’s classic zombie films were shot. He is the author of an online zombie serial, the Monster Island trilogy; Thirteen Bullets, a serialized vampire novel; and the Jim Chapel missions, including the digital shorts “Minotaur” and “Myrmidon,” and the novels Chimera and The Hydra Protocol. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

For More Information

Visit David’s website.

Connect with David on Facebook and Twitter

 

Full Tour Schedule

 November 24

Book featured at 3 Partners in Shopping

Book featured at Bibliophile Mystery

Book featured at Around the World in Books

Book reviewed at Cheryl’s Book Nook

November 25

Book reviewed at Read Love Blog

Book featured at Authors and Readers Book Corner

Book featured at My Book Fairy

November 26

Book featured at Crystal’s Chaotic Confessions

Guest blogging at Bound 2 Escape

November 27

Book featured at Chosen By You Book Club

Book reviewed at Books, Food and Me

November 30

Book reviewed and Guest blogging at Romancing the Darkside

Book reviewed at Books that Hook

Book featured at Dawn’s Reading Nook

December 1

Book featured at Harmonious Publicity

December 2

Book reviewed and Guest blogging at Working for the Mandroid

December 3

Book featured at Bent Over Bookwords

December 4

Book featured at Archaeolibrarian

December 7

Book featured at The Dark Phantom

December 8

Book featured at Voodoo Princess

December 9

Book reviewed at Deal Sharing Aunt

December 10

Book reviewed and Interviewed at The Cosy Dragon

December 11

Book reviewed at Bea’s Book Nook

December 14

Guest blogging at Write and Take Flight

December 15

Book reviewed at Kristy Centeno

December 16

Book reviewed and Guest blogging at Natural Bri

Book reviewed at Bloody Bookish

December 17

Book reviewed at A Room Without Books is Empty

Book reviewed at I’m Shelf-ish

December 18

Book featured at Teatime and Books

Book reviewed at A Book Geek

Book reviewed at Ashley’s Bookshelf

 

WFTM Podcast Episode 24.1: Black Cats & More Star Wars

We’re nearly back to our originally scheduled programming! Leslie returns to talk books and comics with Fernando. This week we talked about the future of JK Rowling’s writing, getting gift advise from the Random Penguin folk, the French comic Blacksad starring a man-sized black cat and Star Wars: Dark Disciple (because from here until the end of the year, every episode must include a reference to Star Wars).

Download it from the iTunes store here!

We’re now on Stitcher as well!! If Stitcher is your chosen app of podcasting choice, listen to the Working for the Mandroid podcast here

So what’s in Episode 24.1?

Where we just talk about books and comics!

News:

JK Rowling Talks the Future of Her Writing Career

Penguin Random House Hotline Will Help You Find the Perfect Christmas Gifts

What We’re Reading:

Blacksad by Juan Diaz Canales & Juanjo Guarnido

Star Wars: Dark Disciple by Christie Golden

What We’re Reading This Week:

Fernando: Planning to read Wolverine: Old Man Logan by Mark Millar & Steve McNiven

Leslie: Finishing up The Traitor Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson and Alias by Brian Michael Bendis & Michael Gaydos

Follow us on Twitter @WorkforMandroid and @fernborrego

Email your questions, concerns, thoughts and comments to WorkingfortheMandroid@gmail.com


Intro & Outro Music is “Robot Army” by Quiet Music for Tiny Robots, provided via freemusicarchive.org through a Creative Commons License

Author Blog Tour Guest Post & Contest: Viola Carr, The Devious Dr. Jekyll

Welcome to the Working for the Mandroid stop on Viola Carr's author blog tour for The Devious Dr. Jekyll, hosted by Pump Up Your Book tours. Viola has stopped by to discuss steampunk, anachronism and Victorian-era CSIs as well as give away a $25 gift card to one lucky reader of the tour. The Devious Dr. Jekyll is a fun take on the classic Jekyll and Hyde tail starring a female protagonist in a steampunk version of Victorian England. Take it away, Viola!

Steampunk, Anachronism and Victorian-era CSIs

A cool aspect of steampunk (and its many derivatives) is anachronism. It’s alternate history – you can mess with the timeline. Move historical figures and events around, kill someone off or pretend that an important event from 'real history' never happened. Take what you want, and discard the rest.

I love steampunk, and the Victorian era, but I'm only an amateur historian. For me, so long as the writer gets the sense of the period authentic, they can add in whatever they like – zombies, clockwork people, steam-powered airships – and I'll buy into it.

My Electric Empire series centers on Dr. Eliza Jekyll – yes, the daughter of that Jekyll – whom I've invented and transported to the mid-Victorian-era, as a physician and crime scene investigator. Cool, eh? She's a combination of detective, forensic specialist and mad scientist. CSI: Jekyll & Hyde.

Never mind that, in the real 1850s, there was no such thing as a CSI. I've had to alter history quite a bit, in subtle ways.

Firstly, the physicians of the day were notoriously standoffish about getting their hands dirty – as opposed to surgeons, whom physicians sneered at as mere artisans, little better than butchers. Physicians would be more likely to confine themselves to laboratory testing for poisons or illnesses, which more often than not, they got wrong. So the idea of my physician attending a dirty crime scene in person is ahead of its time.

Oh, and qualified female physicians? No such thing in England until 1865, when a formidable lady named Elizabeth Garrett Anderson bullied her way in through the back door, fighting a hostile College of Physicians every step of the way. But never mind. This is steampunk!

I also had to deal with the fact that in the 'real' 1850s, crime scene investigation as we know it today – searching for trace evidence at the scene – hadn't been invented yet. By modern standards, it was appallingly easy to get away with murder.

Locard's Exchange Principle – the now-common concept that 'every contact leaves a trace' – hadn't yet been formulated. And even if it had been, contemporary science was woefully inadequate to the task. There was as yet no test to prove that a stain was blood, or that it was human and not animal. Poisons such as strychnine were undetectable. Of course, no one had ever heard of DNA, or even blood typing.

Autopsies were done on the spot, in poor light and filth, by inexpert people. And much of the common medico-legal wisdom – such as the idea that a murder victim's retina preserved an image of the killer's face, or that if a dead infant's lungs floated in water, it indicated breathing and therefore infanticide rather than stillbirth – were just plain wrong.

On top of that, police procedure was dodgy, too. Crime scenes were routinely contaminated by curious passers-by, who were encouraged to view the gruesome scenes for entertainment. Crucial evidence was lost, misidentified or ignored because no one knew any better. And identifying suspects properly was impossible, without fingerprinting or a proper filing system for photographic records.

With all these limitations, a real Victorian CSI wasn't left with much to do! Luckily, steampunk and weird science have come to my rescue. Eliza Jekyll has all manner of improbable gadgets: portable electric lights, bottles of special solution, an array of fantastic lenses and sensors that perform feats of detection that are scientifically impossible without a little magic. She reaches conclusions about crime scene evidence that her real-world contemporaries could not.

But hey, it's steampunk! We can suspend a little disbelief here. And in a world where Dr. Jekyll's potion is real and actually works, sinister brass automatons stalk the streets, and the electric underground train has been invented forty years before its time… well, it'd be stranger if forensics didn't happen.

Enter to Win a $25 Gift Card!

Terms & Conditions:

  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive one $25 Gift Certificate to the e-retailer of your choice
  • This giveaway begins October 26 and ends on November 13.
  • Winners will be contacted via email on November 1.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.
  • Good luck everyone!

The Devious Dr. Jekyll
Viola Carr

Release Date: October 27, 2015
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Genre: Paranormal/Fantasy/Steampunk
Format: Ebook/Paperback/Audible 

Find It on Goodreads

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Dr. Eliza Jekyll, heroine of the electrifying The Diabolical Miss Hyde—an edgy steampunk retelling of the classic Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde—investigates a bizarre murder case in an alternate Victorian London while battling her treacherous secret half: Lizzie Hyde.
Solving the infamous Chopper case has helped crime scene physician Dr. Eliza Jekyll establish her fledgling career in the chauvinistic world of Victorian law enforcement. But the scrutiny that comes with her newfound fame is unwelcome for a woman with a diabolical secret. And there is the mercurial Royal Society agent and wolf man Remy Lafayette. Does he want to marry her, eat her, or burn her at the stake? Though Eliza is uncertain about Remy, her dark and jealous shadow self, Lizzie, wants to steal the magnetic and persistent agent, and usurp Eliza’s life.
It’s impossible to push Remy away when he tempts her with the one thing she can’t resist: a bizarre crime. The search for a bloodthirsty ritual torturer dubbed the Pentacle Killer draws them into a terrifying world of spies, art thieves, and evil alchemy, where the price of immortality is madness—or damnation—and only Lizzie’s dark ingenuity can help Eliza survive.
As Eliza and Remy race to thwart a foul conspiracy involving the sorcerous French, they must also overcome a sinister enemy who is all too close: the vengeful Lizzie, determined to dispose of Eliza for good.

About the Author:

Viola Carr was born in Australia, but wandered into darkest London one foggy October evening and never found her way out. She now devours countless history books and dictates fantastical novels by gaslight, accompanied by classical music and the snoring of her slumbering cat. She loves history, and pops down to London’s many historical sites whenever she gets the chance.  She likes steampunk, and thought it would be cool to investigate wacky crimes with crazy gadgets…just so long as her heroine was the creator of said wacky gadgets: a tinkerer, edgy, with a dash of mad scientist. Readers can follow her on twitter at @viola_carr  and online at http://www.violacarr.com.

For More Information
Visit Viola’s website.
Connect with Viola on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest

 

Visit Other Stops on The Devious Dr. Jekyll Tour!

 October 26

Guest blogging at Tez Says

Book featured at 3 Partners in Sh0pping

 

October 27

Book featured at What is That Book About

Book featured at Teatime and Books

 

October 28

Interviewed at I’m Shelf-ish

Book featured at Angel’s Guilty Pleasures

 

October 29

Interviewed at The Cosy Dragon

Book featured at Kristy Centeno

 

October 30

Book featured at Harmonious Publicity

Guest blogging at The Romantic World of Leigh Anderson

 

November 2

Book featured at Mikky’s World of Books

Book featured at Celticlady’s Reviews

 

November 3

Book featured at Kayl’s Crazy Obsession

Guest blogging at Working for the Mandroid

 

November 4

Book featured at Around the World in Books

Book featured at Lisa’s Louisiana Home

 

November 5

Book featured at Crystal’s Chaotic Confessions

Book featured at Curling Up by the Fire

 

November 6

Book featured at Sapphyria’s Book Reviews

 

November 8

Book reviewed at Rhi Reading

 

November 9

Guest blogging at One Book Shy of a Full Shelf

Book reviewed at Doing Some Reading

 

November 10

Book reviewed at Here’s to Happy Endings

Book reviewed at Words I Write Crazy

 

November 11

Book reviewed at Book Him Danno

Book reviewed at Worth Getting in Bed For

 

November 12

Book featured at Chosen By you Book Club

Interviewed at Urban Fantasy Investigations

Book reviewed at Reader Girls

 

November 13

Book featured at Paranormal and Romantic Suspense Reviews

Book reviewed at Moonlight Rendezvous

Book featured at Dawn’s Reading Nook

WFTM Episode 21.1: Terrible People Doing Terrible Things

This week Leslie and Fernando discuss Scott McCloud’s expansive graphic novel The Sculptor before Leslie goes into a rant about thrillers about terrible people doing terrible things so readers can get enjoyment from schadenfreude. For news, we have book cover reveals, open submission period over at Angry Robot (if you have a scifi, fantasy or WTF novel collecting dust), and new Tolkien papers.

Download it from the iTunes store here!

We’re now on Stitcher as well!! If Stitcher is your chosen app of podcasting choice, listen to the Working for the Mandroid podcast here

So what’s in Episode 21.1?

Where we just talk about books and comics!

News:

Angry Robot Preparing for Open Door submission period - Dec 1, 2015 through January 31, 2016

New novella collection of Newsflesh stories by Mira Grant

risenewsfleshcollection.jpg
thelaststar.jpg

Map of Middle Earth annotated by JRR Tolkien found

What We’re Reading:

The Sculptor by Scott McCloud

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

What We’re Reading This Week:

Fernando: Looking forward to finishing Star Wars: Dark Disciple by Christie Golden

Leslie: Finishing up The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins and move on to Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel and Alias by Brian Michael Bendis & Michael Gaydos (for real this time!)

Follow us on Twitter @WorkforMandroid and @fernborrego

Email your questions, concerns, thoughts and comments to WorkingfortheMandroid@gmail.com


Intro & Outro Music is “Robot Army” by Quiet Music for Tiny Robots, provided via freemusicarchive.org through a Creative Commons License

 

Review: Last Song Before Night by Ilana C Myer

Note from the Blogger: I've been lacking motivation lately, so if you'd like to hear more book reviews sooner, check out the WFTM podcast. Any episode ending with a .1 is all about books and comic books. I'm hoping to get back into the swing of writing more reviews regularly, but until I bust out of this obnoxious depression, it might be scattered at best.

Last Song Before Night
Ilana C Myer

Tor Books
I received a copy from the publisher in return for an honest review.
Published September 29, 2015
416 pages
High Fantasy / Magic

Find it on Goodreads

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Indie Bound

Long ago, poets were Seers with access to powerful magic. Following a cataclysmic battle, the enchantments of Eivar were lost–now a song is only words and music, and no more. But when a dark power threatens the land, poets who thought only to gain fame for their songs face a task much greater: to restore the lost enchantments to the world. And the road to the Otherworld, where the enchantments reside, will imperil their lives and test the deepest desires of their hearts.

I have been kind of an epic failure at life lately. Nothing really excites me and I have no attention span or energy to write reviews of the books I have managed to muddle my way through. I fear that this gray lethargy might have colored most of what I’ve read in the last two months. With this knowledge available, please read my review of Ilana C. Myer’s Last Song Before Night with a large “Your Mileage May Vary” warning on top.

Last Song Before Night should have been a bright spot in my otherwise dull interpretation of life right now. It features magicians that weave their magic through song, so much of the writing has more of a lyrical bent to it. The chosen one is a female with untapped potential. It all takes place in some vaguely Edwardian age with the type of giant festivals I believe only take place in fantasy settings. I should have enjoyed Last Song Before Night, but I found that I was dragging myself through the pages, rarely ever captivated by the story it was telling.

Lin ran away from her abusive brother after her mother’s passing, and has been living as traveling Poet for the last year. She traded the life of a noblewoman for freedom and an escape from the cruelty of her family. She arrives with her partner in the capital to compete in a musical competition where the winner is chosen to serve at court. During the lead up to the festivities, she crosses paths with an infamous wizard who has returned from years abroad with a dire warning that also happens to be treasonous. This sets Lin on the path to rediscover the secrets that have kept true magic buried in their land for the last 100 years.

There are a half dozen other characters introduced, including the roguish Darien, who charms away the rich Rianna from her life of comfort with the geeky Ned; Darien’s musical partner, Rayen, who carries around such hatred and jealousy that he doesn’t care whose world he tears apart as long as he gets what he wants; and Marilla, Rayen’s former prostitute girlfriend, who likes toying with the men in her life to get the pleasure she desires from their pain. Meanwhile signs of a blood magic-induced plague are causing everyone to become a little on edge.

This is a high fantasy in the sense that there is an epic journey with all the long bouts of walking one would expect. For the most part, the world building is solid and all the characters have filled in back stories to explain their hurts and motivations. None of these things were where I had a problem.

I had trouble with Gandalf-light, the infamous wizard that swoops into a party, delivers an ominous message via a treasonous song, and then gets Lin wrapped up in an epic quest to return magic to the Poets and stop the Court Poet from destroying the entire country. Mr. Gandalf-light (they called this character by several different names, none of which I can remind at this moment in time) never mentions that the Court Wizard is evil and attempting to bring back an insanely deadly plague. He gives no guidance on how Lin can achieve the goal of her quest. He just says “go do this thing, you have magics and are the chosen one” and she goes off and does this thing. He then pops up on occasion to give reassurances that she can accomplish this task, but stays safely out of the way only to pop up at the end and becomes the reason the thing is accomplished. Not once does he ever explain why Lin has to go on this deadly adventure instead of him, though he’s apparently the most powerful Poet in the land with influence over other versions of magic that don’t exist in Lin’s country. He never clearly explains why her or why now or provides much useful information at all. Instead he would just pop in periodically and I would get frustrated why this character even had to exist at all. He was a useless mentor figure that really needed to serve another purpose.

Or I’m just in the throes of a pretty grey depression and all the walking and intricate mythology couldn’t break through. I had some fairly visceral reactions towards the conclusion of the book, but I had difficulty getting into the atmospheric writing and world building. By the time it felt like anything was ever going to actually happen, I was a bit done with the whole thing mentally. The characters are interesting, though there might be a few too many of them given a main focus (I’m still not sure the purpose of the Riana, Ned, Marialla, Rayen, and Darien trapezoid). I liked that they all had their own pains and scars to drive them (with the exception of Gandalf-light),

The writing itself was fluid and captivating enough to drive me along despite my general disinterest in the plot. Perhaps I would have enjoyed this story more had I been in a better state of mind, but some of the things that dug at my brain a little too much would have probably bothered me still. This is an interesting standalone that seemed to cram to many aspects into a book that never quite came together for me. The writing is lovely, but I wish I could have loved it more.

 

I received a copy of this book from the publisher because I was on the blog tour. All thoughts are my own.

WFTM Podcast 20.1: You're Gonna Need a Lot of Red Crayon

Fernando and Leslie discuss the increase sales of red crayons now that Game of Thrones and Outlander are coloring books, along with some news about Google Books, when it’s weird for a new author to take on another author’s series posthumously, and the next Shadowhunters book cover. The they finish up talking about the robot anthology Robot Uprisings, edited by Daniel H Wilson.

Download it from the iTunes store here!

We’re now on Stitcher as well!! If Stitcher is your chosen app of podcasting choice, listen to the Working for the Mandroid podcast here

So what’s in Episode 20.1?

Where we just talk about books and comics!

News:

Federal appeals court deems Google Books project as fair use

Two More Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Books

Lady Midnight cover revealed - next book in the Shadowhunter universe

Game of Thrones and Outlander coloring books coming out next week

What We’re Reading:

Robot Uprising edited by Daniel H Wilson

·       Nanonauts! In Battle with Tiny Death Subs! By Ian McDonald

·       Of Dying Heroes and Deathless Deeds by Robin Wasserman

·       The Robot and the Baby by John McCarthy

·       We Are All Misfit Toys in the Aftermath of the Velveteen War by Seanan McGuire

·       Spider the Artist by Nnedi Okorafor

·       Small Things by Daniel H Wilson

What We’re Reading This Week:

Leslie: I will eventually finish Uprooted by Naomi Novak and move on to Alias by Brian Michael Bendis & Michael Gaydos

Follow us on Twitter @WorkforMandroid and @fernborrego

Email your questions, concerns, thoughts and comments to WorkingfortheMandroid@gmail.com


Intro & Outro Music is “Robot Army” by Quiet Music for Tiny Robots, provided via freemusicarchive.org through a Creative Commons License