Book Review – Seafire by Natalie C. Parker

★★★★ 4 Stars

Genre: Adventure / Post-Apocalyptic
Publication Date: August 28th, 2018
Publisher: Razorbill

“Four years ago this had been a fantasy. Trapped on a beach with nothing but a gut wound, her best friend, and this very ship in pieces. Caledonia could only dream of the day she had the means to stand up and fight. It had come sooner than she could have hoped, the morning Pisces looked at her square in the eyes and said she wanted revenge. It came as they bent their minds to the task of recovering their ship. It came one girl at a time.”

Oh, I am conflicted. Flighty as the tides that carry in the flotsam and treasure alike. Let me just say that I adore this novel. In most aspects, I do. But the traits I didn’t like are extremely troubling in a relentless way that niggles at the back of your head. This book is its own contained Stop & Go Station, a whiplash of dark and urgent and whimsical and tranquil that is still somehow extremely addictive either way it goes. But it also makes you nervous because it’s very obvious when someone’s bound to die.

I really appreciate the simpler prose. Parker doesn’t inject what is really a pretty straightforward story with lacy, flowery padding. My biggest issue was how the characterization was handled, but I’ll get to that. The plot of Seafire concerns a young woman, Caledonia, who along with her best friend, Pisces are the sole survivors of a massacre upon their ship, in some kind of apocalyptic era where the world is extremely hot and oceanic. The waters are controlled by a warlord named Aric Athair who forcibly recruits children and turns them into soulless murder machines.

The praise suggested it was inspired by the film Fury Road, which I was afraid, because it was the praise that compared the two, that Seafire would just be a straight rip-off. Thankfully, it’s not, though there are distinct shades of that movie in this. If you liked it, you’d probably like this too. I did, anyway. Continue reading “Book Review – Seafire by Natalie C. Parker”

Book Review – The Plague Council by Eliza Taye

★★★★ 3.5 Stars

Genre: Science Fiction / Post-Apocalyptic
Series: Oceania
Publication Date: July 21st, 2018
Publisher: Independent

It is a fact that I met The Plague Council by the sea, and read it there with its heart beating in waves at my feet. Hearing the ebb and flow of the ocean firsthand is an injection of new life when the blood in your mind feels stagnant and sad. The best circumstance to read a new book.

The Plague Council begins what I believe will be a really original science fiction series, taking place in a post-apocalyptic society that is dying but has the chance to be renewed if they can relocate to the bottom of the sea where disease cannot reach what’s left of them. A different ebb and flow, of life versus death. I like that it’s a reverse reinvention of the Atlantis myth. Rather than rediscovering an older culture’s “Atlantis”, they build their own.

I’m drawn to the water as much as the wind. People share a lot in common with the ocean, beyond even the cautious phrase of science and reason, and more complex than the simple fearfulness of superstition.
We are made of its body, we need it. Importantly it also has the will to be merciful or murderous as it chooses. The ocean is a creator and yet also destructive towards its creations. Sounds much like a human personality, doesn’t it?

This story asks some interesting and sometimes uncomfortable questions about what people should choose in the case of a widespread disaster – in the wake of complete trauma, could we go back to the sea? Would it welcome us after what we’ve done to it, or destroy us? Who would be saved and who would be forgotten, and why? Is this more power than we should ever be given that some should decide these things while others have no say?

The writing is descriptive and clear, but I do wish some of the characters besides Jessica were more fleshed out. This prequel is a promising start though. I’m eager to start the main series and see where it takes me.

Book Review – Eden by Michael Robertson

★★★★ 4 Stars

Genre: Post-Apocalyptic / Horror
Publication Date: September 27th, 2014
Publisher: Independent

“They’ve more than coped. They’ve thrived. Who’d have thought that the next evolutionary step for humankind would be to take away our ability to think? Remove our ego, and we stop destroying one another.”

Eden is a pair of twin stories, “Eden” and “Pandora”. In both, the dead live again but incomplete, trapped in a sleepless state of blind hunger by a virus or else a curse. Eden stands out as different because here, existence as a zombie is seen for how undeniably tragic it is. Thought-provoking and bleak, it might be beautiful poetry if it didn’t involve eating the human you used to be.
I’m not normally a huge fan of zombie books but I enjoy them if they are unusual or fresh, and this short novella does a good job of that for being a read of only an hour or so.

“Eden” is the stronger short, being about a father and son living, or shall we say surviving in a government containment center, left to watch the remnants of their desolate world die through screens alone. They note that it seems disturbingly peaceful now compared to how it used to be, which carries a lot of terrible implications for them now that they seem to be worse off than the undead. This is definitely the better of the two stories, and you grow surprisingly close to the son, Mark, and his predicament as he begins to see less and less light from his future.

“Pandora” is confusing because it seems to start in the middle of the event, without really explaining what led to it. There is an elusive box that unleashes the undead, but why did the characters even have this, and how in the world did they get ahold of it? “Pandora” is good, but could’ve branched out. It feels like something was lost in the midst and it leaves so many questions in its trail.

Book Review – Lychee Light Club by Usamaru Furuya

★★★★★ 4.5 Stars

Genre: Horror / Dystopian
Manga Demographic: Seinen
Publication Date: April 26th, 2011
Publisher: Vertical

What makes a human? Emotion? Fear? Intellect? Or is it just flesh?
I always hesitate before labeling a book “insane”. “Insane” doesn’t tell you anything. But… a guy gets impaled through the stomach by a toilet in this book. I’m afraid the word I need for this doesn’t exist, so I’ll have to settle for “insane”. “Pathologically brilliant” may serve as a better substitute, if you so prefer.
Somewhere in the dimension beyond where anything is offensive was this story’s birthplace. It’s a great statement about dogmatism, but the blackness of its humor has pinned open more than a few eyelids, so be prepared!

Lychee Light Club is a mad dystopian drama about a high school chess club that devolves into a death cult à la Lord of the Flies. They become obsessed with Nazi occultism and eternal youth, and don’t care who they have to blind, disembowel or execute to get it. Mostly adults and bullies they don’t like at first, then each other. No one’s really off the table.

I imagine this is what LotF might’ve been if it had had a bleak industrial setting and Roger had usurped the group instead of Jack. Club captains Zera and Jaibo are much like Roger and Jack, with their callous cruelty multiplied by ten. Kamiya and the original Light Club’s members are almost voices of reason. Almost. But they too have shed their fair share of blood.

The club’s ultimate downfall is a robot they create together to bring them this coveted eternal youth – named Lychee for the fruit used to fuel him. Lychee is made out of human bits and scrap metal, but the human in him is what becomes their undoing.
A little bit of involuntary nausea and perhaps splurging is inevitable with some of this manga’s imagery, but it’s by Furuya, so it’ll be the prettiest nausea you’ll ever get.

I don’t turn down ero-guro books as a rule if I happen to find them. They tend to be obsessive and erotic and disgusting, and kind of like force-feeding your future nightmares new material, but every one I’ve ever read has been so good. Ero-guro is above all a genre of satire and is very self-aware. Lychee Light Club is in part an affectionate parody of the controversial artist, Suehiro Maruo and his (in)famous masterpiece, The Laughing Vampire, which had a similar dystopia. Maruo even shows up in a cameo as a crazy old street prophet. Fitting..?

The Laughing Vampire… oh, I could go in circles for months about how much I enjoyed that book. It’s kind of disappointing that many readers won’t get that Light Club is an homage to it, but it’s hilarious for those who do.
This comic’s not for everyone. The foul content is top-capacity, and you probably wouldn’t be able to let your poor old obaasan borrow it, but if you’re tired of reading stable and regular manga, the Light Club’s always waiting for you.