Friday, October 19, 2012

Audiobook Review: Ex-Heroes by Peter Clines

The world is changing fast. Some people have developed special abilities that turn them into superheroes almost overnight. But all in all, that's not too bad, right? These new heroes are helping to fight crime and generally, they're making the world a safer place. Unfortunately, there are other changes also taking place.

In Peter Clines' novel, Ex-Heroes, we're introduced to a super league of heroes of sort, including Stealth, Gorgon, Cerberus, Zzzap, Regenerator, and the Mighty Dragon. For a while, they are doing just great, becoming familiar and more comfortable with their new found powers. But, before long, the dead start rising and they're no longer dealing with everyday gang bangers and thieves; our heroes find themselves in an all-out war against the undead!

Peter Clines (and friend)
Ex-Heroes jumps out of the gate and doesn't let up until the final, earth-shattering reveal. Clines takes the reader, or in this case listener, on a thrilling journey in which the heroes battle the zombie hordes while trying to figure out what the hell caused the collapse of civilization. But, don't think that just because this is a book about superheroes that you're getting cardboard-copies of Marvel or DC's finest. These are damaged, tortured, and altogether human heroes who fight and curse and get a little horny from time to time. This is gritty superheroism and probably a lot more realistic in its approach to caped crusaders than what many may be used to.

In terms of performance, the audiobook is read by Jay Snyder (who narrates and handles the male roles) and Khristine Hvam (who handles the female roles). Each actor portray their characters with incredible skill and depth and Snyder's voice is absolutely perfect for the story's narration.

I thoroughly enjoyed the audiobook adaptation of Peter Clines' Ex-Heroes, which by the way, happens to the first in a newly-landed four-book series for the author. Ex-Patriots and Ex-Communication are the second and third in the series and the author is currently at work on part four. Ex-Heroes gets **** out of *****.

Check out the book trailer for Ex-Heroes below, and pick up a copy of this excellent novel on audiobook or in paperback or e-book today!

Book Review: The Five by Robert McCammon

I've been a huge fan of Robert McCammon's work for a long, long time, so when his novel The Five was released back in May of 2011, I was quick to order it. I also quickly devoured it, savoring every chapter, every word. It's been a while since I finished it, and I'm finally getting around to reviewing it, so Mr. McCammon, I apologize for the delay.

Let me start by saying The Five is unlike any other story written by Mr. McCammon. This novel is largely grounded in reality, with a slight supernatural angle, if it can even be called that. The events that occur are eye-opening, world-shattering, and oddly-enough at times, touching.

Artwork by Vincent Chong
The story follows a small indie rock band called The Five as they struggle with the hardships of being a small band with a small, but stable following, as they are making their way across the country on a tour that is most likely going to be their last. The band is made up of five castaways from other bands, some more successful than others, and the music industry has taken its toll on each one of them. The band goes through the progressions and gets through the shows until one night in the American Southwest, things change.

During a televised interview with a local car salesman, the band is noticed by a veteran of the Iraqi war who has not come home 100%. Guided by his ghostly "Sergeant," the veteran makes it his mission to kill the five members of The Five.

Artwork by Vincent Chong
The Five is a remarkably poignant story of love, friendship, loyalty, terror and violence, all set against the rich backdrop of the American Southwest and the gritty rock-and-roll lifestyle. Beautifully written and a pure pleasure to read from cover to cover, I loved this book and give it my highest recommendations. If you have read any of Robert McCammon's work previously, then you're going to be surprised by The Five, and not in the way you might expect.

I give The Five a full ***** out of *****. Pick up a copy today and prepare to be blown away.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Book Review: Niceville by Carsten Stroud

Niceville by Carsten Stroud is an odd little book. Part crime story and part supernatural mystery, Niceville is not your average friendly read - and like Martha Stewart says, that's a good thing.

Stroud, author of such novels as Black Water Transit, Cobraville: A Novel, and Lizardskin, among others, fills his story with a number of wily characters doing all sorts of nasty business, from grand theft and blackmail to cold-blooded murder and throughout it all is the spectre of something weird.

You see, Niceville has a tinge about it. There's something wrong here. Some say that it has something to do with Crater Sink, the thousand-foot deep circular crater filled with black water that lies on the edge of town. There are all sorts of tales and theories about that crater, and none of them are good. There's also the unsettling fact that in Niceville, 179 people have mysteriously vanished over the past 100 years.

This book, which is the first in a trilogy, begins with the disappearance of Rainey Teague. Security camera footage shows the boy standing in front of a store window looking at an old mirror one minute and the next, he's gone. Detective Nick Kavanaugh, an ex-special forces soldier, takes on the case. Meanwhile, a trio pulls off a deadly high-stakes robbery that quickly goes bad. The stories then branch out and weave through each other in the most unusual of ways. Everything is linked and everything is linked to Niceville's past.

I was immediately drawn into Niceville by its weaving storyline, straight-shooter dialogue, and realistic characters. This is a gritty novel that is different from anything out there right now. Creative, unique, and complex, Niceville is one of those novels that people are either going to love or hate, for those very same reasons. I happened to really enjoy my visit to Niceville, even though the people there aren't the "nicest." I was glad to learn that it is the first book in a series because the mystery of Crater Sink is largely avoided here. It is more of a background piece in Niceville. And while the book does have an ending, there are a few things left unexplained, which I hope the author plans to wrap up in the two planned sequels, The Homecoming (June 2013) and The Departure (June 2014). 

All in all, Niceville is a compelling story unlike anything I've read before. I give it **** out of *****.

Check out the book trailer for Niceville below: