Review: The Rule of Three by Eric Walters

The Rule of Three
Eric Walters

Farrar Straus Giroux
I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in return for an honest review.
Releases January 21, 2014
405 pages
YA / Action / Post-Apocalypse

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One shocking afternoon, computers around the globe shut down in a viral catastrophe. At sixteen-year-old Adam Daley’s high school, the problem first seems to be a typical electrical outage, until students discover that cell phones are down, municipal utilities are failing, and a few computer-free cars like Adam’s are the only vehicles that function. Driving home, Adam encounters a storm tide of anger and fear as the region becomes paralyzed. Soon—as resources dwindle, crises mount, and chaos descends—he will see his suburban neighborhood band together for protection. And Adam will understand that having a police captain for a mother and a retired government spy living next door are not just the facts of his life but the keys to his survival, in The Rule of Three by Eric Walters.

Eric Walters has made me paranoid. I am constantly looking over my shoulder, waiting for the inevitable disaster that will leave humankind helpless and devolving into animals. I feel inclined to horde guns and canned goods, barricade my windows and doors, and start stock piling gasoline in my garage (which can’t be safe). Eric Walters may have just ruined my life. It will never be the same. Thanks for that.

The Rule of Three is a bit of an odd little book. It’s the days and weeks following some sort of EMP or computer virus that knocks out all the power and computers in the world, and the events that follow within a small community. It follows 16-year-old Adam, son of the local police commissioner and novice pilot, through the not-so-every-day moments after a life-as-we-know-it level disaster. Luckily he lives next door to a slightly eccentric elderly man, who Adam assumes used to be a spy and is quite the survivalist, stockpiling supplies, food, chlorine tablets, and grenades just in case.

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Review: I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore

I Am Number Four
Pittacus Lore

HarperCollins (2010)
440 pages
YA / Science Fiction / Action

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Nine of us came here. We look like you. We talk like you. We live among you. But we are not you. We can do things you dream of doing. We have powers you dream of having. We are stronger and faster than anything you have ever seen. We are the superheroes you worship in movies and comic books - but we are real.

Our plan was to grow, and train, and become strong, and become one, and fight them. But they found us and started hunting us first. Now all of us are running. Spending our lives in shadows, in places where no one would look, blending in. We have lived among you without you knowing.

But they know.

They caught Number One in Malaysia.
Number Two in England.
And Number Three in Kenya.
They killed them all.

I am Number Four.

I am next.

I have issues with the creation of this book. The entire system that resulted in its publication bothers me, but I’m going to put that aside and judge it on its own artistic merit or lack thereof. Because the process or the creator shouldn’t affect one’s outlook on the final creation, right? Yeah, something like that.

I went into I Am Number Four having seen (and laughed at) the movie adaptation, but a bad movie adaptation of a popular YA title is nothing new so I decided to give the book a shot. This is all to say that I knew for the most part where things were going, who all the characters were and what would ultimate go down. This means there would be no twists or secret foreshadowing, but that’s okay. I knew that going in.

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Review: Insurgent by Veronica Roth

Veronica Roth

HarperTeen (2012)
525 pages
YA / Dystopian / Action

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One choice can transform you--or it can destroy you. But every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves--and herself--while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.

Tris's initiation day should have been marked by celebration and victory with her chosen faction; instead, the day ended with unspeakable horrors. War now looms as conflict between the factions and their ideologies grows. And in times of war, sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge, and choices will become even more irrevocable--and even more powerful. Transformed by her own decisions but also by haunting grief and guilt, radical new discoveries, and shifting relationships, Tris must fully embrace her Divergence, even if she does not know what she may lose by doing so.

I went into Insurgent with somewhat low expectations because I was not exactly impressed with Divergent. It felt very generic and, despite the interesting qualities implied in the world building, I never really could submerge myself into the story completely. I saw all the twists from far away and didn’t really get caught up in the story until the very end when the action really kicked in. Despite that, I know it isn’t a bad book. Mostly I continued reading it because I became very fond of Four, despite his mystery not being that mysterious. I still believe my opinion was colored by having read a book I absolutely loved a million times over right before, but even so, Divergent didn’t leave me on pins and needles to see what happened in its sequel.

This is the point where I feel compelled to begin cursing. Upon finishing Insurgent, I reread the last two pages five times, closed the book, shock it really hard to prevent myself from throwing it across the room, and silently cursed Veronica Roth for what can only be called crimes against my sanity. Insurgent slapped me across the face, demanded that I not sleep until I finished it, and then left me unstable and with the extreme urge to beat my head against the wall. In a good way.

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Review: Amped by Daniel H Wilson

Have you ever found yourself at a complete loss of what to say in a review of a book, not because you don’t have things to say about it, but because you’re so preoccupied with thoughts of other books that you can’t piece together a coherent sentence? That’s me tonight. All I want to do is gibber incomprehensibly about Dearly, Beloved (which I haven’t even read yet) and how seriously cool Ilsa J Bick is and how Gabriel Rodriguez is possibly the best comic artist of ever. I can’t seem to find it in me to write something comprehensible about how Amped gave me the heebie-jeebies in a matter of pages, how freaked out I was at the thought that intelligence – even artificially created – could become a character trait to shun and segregate against. How I had super bizarre dreams about androids fighting red necks all ninja-style.

Okay, I think I’m ready to write this review now.

Daniel H Wilson

Knopf Doubleday
288 pages
Releases on June 5, 2012
SciFi / Action

Preorder it from Amazon here

Technology makes them superhuman. But mere mortals want them kept in their place. Enter a stunning world where technology and humanity clash in terrifying and surprising ways.

Some people are implanted with upgrades that make them capable of superhuman feats. The powerful technology has profound consequences for society, and soon a set of laws is passed that restricts the abilities—and rights—of “amplified” humans.

On the day that the Supreme Court passes the first of these laws, 29-year-old Owen Gray discovers that his seizure-suppressing medical implant is actually a powerful upgrade. Owen joins the ranks of a new persecuted underclass known as “amps” and is forced to go on the run, desperate to reach an outpost in Oklahoma where, it is rumored, a group of the most enhanced amps are about to change the world—or destroy it.

Up front I have to say that the idea of a microchip implanted in a human’s brain that could not only solve all the problems of fetal alcohol syndrome or Down’s syndrome or general mental retardation, but also turn the human in question into a super genius is amazing. I think the smarter people are the better. I do not fear intelligence and love listening to people talk about things they’re so much smarter about than I am (as long as the subject is interesting, of course). I don’t think being smart makes you elitist or a bad person or evil. I just think it makes you really smart.

But I also am aware that there are some people who fear intelligence, who don’t like feeling stupid or unknowledgeable, who probably were never that fond of learning. Because I know those people exist, Amped gave me serious mental issues. I mean, there were times I had to put down my Kindle, take a few deep breaths and try to get the chill bumps to go away. This is because I am paranoid and don’t underestimate the cruelty of which people are capable.

The beginning of this book is my waking nightmare.

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Author Blog Tour Review: The Green Memory of Fear by B.A. Chepaitis

Over the last few week's I've been reviewing the five books in Barbara Chepaitis' Jaguar Addams series in preparation for her tour stops here at Working for the Mandroid. Yesterday Ms. Chepaitis contributed a guest post regarding writing the series. Today I review the most recent book in the series, The Green Memory of Fear, which happens to be the creepiest of the lot.

To learn more about Barbara and the series, visit her website, her blog or on Facebook.

The Green Memory of Fear
BA Chepaitis

Wildside Press (2011)
171 pages
Adult / Sci-Fi / Action

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On Prison Planetoid three, Jaguar Addams uses her empathic gifts to make criminals face the fears that drive their heinous acts. Very few escape the telepathic web she weaves around them. . . .until now.

When Jaguar takes on a home planet assignment, investigating a psychiatrist on trial for abuse of a little boy, s he finds a killer unlike any she's faced before. Dr. Senci's psi skills are a match for her own, and unless she consents to do as he wants, he'll use them to kill everyone she loves. Once she realizes who and what he really is, she leaves the Planetoid to go after him. But Supervisor Alex Dzarny isn't about to let her go it alone, even if it means losing his own life to save hers.

It’s been a really long time since I’ve spent so much time with a character within a couple of weeks. It’ll feel kind of weird not having another Jaguar adventure to move into as my next read. I’ll to remain satisfied that this fifth volume in Chepaitis’ Jaguar Addams series is the best of the lot. It’s creepy, entertaining and surprising in ways that the previous books didn’t even touch.

The Green Memory of Fear follows a few months after the events of A Lunatic Fear. Jaguar and Alex are remaining a bit standoffish despite the advancement in their relationship in the previous book, and they are both trying to recover from the contamination that had such drastic effects on their psychic abilities. In this frame of mind, Jaguar finds that she’s receiving signs leading her to a new case that would take her back to the home planet to act as a researcher, something she’s never done. Upon finding out she’d requested the job, Alex knows something is up and everything starts to converge, filling in blanks in both of their characters as they both finally have to confront their own fears in the same way they’ve been using on the prisoners.

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Review: A Lunatic Fear by B.A. Chepaitis

This is the fourth in a set of reviews of the Jaguar Addams series by BA Chepaitis. You can read my review of The Fear Principle here, The Fear of God here, and Learning Fear here. Every Thursday in April I’ll be reviewing another book in the series, culminating in two stops for Chepaitis’ blog tour for the latest in the series, The Green Memory of Fear, on April 25 and 26.

A Lunatic Fear
BA Chepaitis

Wildside Press (2004)
171 pages
Mystery / Sci-Fi / Action

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Jaguar Addams is back. Three prisoners are brought to Planetoid 3 with symptoms of exposure to chemicals that can come only from illegal moon mining -- but who's running the lunar mining game, and where are they processing the Artemis byproducts? Alex and Jaguar are caught in a hornet's nest of politics, profits, and psychoses, as both are driven into a moon madness that cannot be denied.

Normally by this time in a series, I start getting burned out by the author’s narrative pattern and bored of the characters, especially in a cast as small as the one in Chepaitis’ Jaguar Addams series. That wasn’t the case with A Lunatic Fear. Chepaitis still managed to create an all new situation to drop Jaguar and Alex in the middle of that didn’t have much of anything in common with the previous cases. This time people are going mad and it’s assumed that illegal lunar mining and processing might be the cause behind it.

That’s not to say there isn’t a formula to the series. Again there’s a larger conspiracy with many different players and characters secretly playing both sides. Jaguar finds herself in mortal peril a time or two. Actual jaguars are used to cause a distraction. The good guys do illegal things and in the end they all come out clean, back to life as normal. None of these things bothered me though.

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Review: Learning Fear by B.A. Chepaitis

This is the third in a set of reviews of the Jaguar Addams series by BA Chepaitis. You can read the first one, for The Fear Principlehere and the second for The Fear of God here. Every Thursday in April I’ll be reviewing another book in the series, culminating in two stops for Chepaitis’ blog tour for the latest in the series,The Green Memory of Fear, on April 25 and 26.

Learning Fear
BA Chepaitis

Wildside Press (2000)
190 pages
Action / Sci-Fi

Purchase it from Amazon

On Planetoid Three, Jaguar Addams establishes an empathic link with the darkest criminal minds – forcing offenders to face the fears that drive them to their most desperate acts. But her maverick ways also drive her bosses to distraction, and now they’re sending her back to school.

Jaguar must go to a university where a controversial History of Empathic Arts is being taught. Posing as a professor, her job is to determine the agenda of an anti-empathic extremist group on campus. But someone at the university knows who Jaguar is, and is invading her mind – testing the limits of her empathic skills as she learns a very new fear.

I must apologize to Ms. Chepaitis. I read the majority of Learning Fear while under the ever increasing pain of a raging ear infection. I fear it might have influenced my ability to enjoy this volume of the Jaguar Addams series in the same way as the previous volumes. I also am not entirely sure I can put together coherent thoughts right now, so this review will be a bit shorter than usual.

The best quality about this series so far comes from the different framework Chepaitis uses in Jaguar’s adventures. The first volume of the series was an introduction to the world and its rules. The second transported the majority of the story into a virtual reality realm. This third novel takes Jaguar off of her planet prison and drops her in the middle of a small college campus in upstate New York where she’s slightly off her game and uncomfortable in her surroundings. This total change in scenery brings with it a whole new cast of characters while also separating Jaguar from her would-be love Alex, so they can both secretly pine for each other and forcefully deny to themselves that there’s any romantic feelings. It’s kind of fun to watch.

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