Shallow Graves by Kali Wallace

Rating: 4 of 5

On my list of Best Zombies in YA, Shallow Graves ranks high, right after The Reapers Are the Angels and Raising Stony Mayhall.

I enjoy the playgrounds located in gray zones, especially when there’s a killer who only murders other killers. (Think: Dexter Morgan or John Wayne Cleaver as popular examples.) Are they good for ridding the world of evil-doers? Is what they’re doing righteous in some twisted way? Is murder ever justified, morally or ethically?

In Shallow Graves, the monster with a conscience is a 17-year-old girl who just so happens to be sorta, kinda, but not all the way dead. Her name is Breezy, she’s half-Chinese, half-Irish, bisexual, and she wants to be an astronaut on the first manned mission to Mars. Or, at least, she was all those things when she was alive, back when she was human, before she was a zombie who craves killers, not brains.

Recommended to readers who want a dark fantasy with horrorish elements, who don’t mind an occasional non-linear timeline, who want to read something with little to no romance, and/or just plain want something different than the usual mainstream young adult literature.

Whatever Wallace writes next, I’m excited to read it.

P.S. I don’t think this book needs a sequel but I would love to read a companion novel (or three). The worldbuilding is solid; the characters are there, waiting. Breezy, Zeke, Jake, Violet, Esme, Lyle, Mother, even Rain — potentially endless storylines to explore.

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(Review cross-posted on LibraryThing and Goodreads.)

Where Futures End by Parker Peevyhouse

Rating: 4 of 5

Synopsis: “Five interconnected stories that weave a subtle science-fictional web stretching out from the present into the future, presenting eerily plausible possibilities for social media, corporate sponsorship, and humanity, as our world collides with a mysterious alternate universe.” (source)

My thoughts: Soooo, my heart wants to give Where Futures End 6 stars, while my brain keeps telling my feely place to pump the brakes and rate with more objectivity. Therefore I’m compromising with 4 stars – seriously, though, I think Parker Peevyhouse just raised the bar on YA by, like, THIS much.

Summarizing this book is difficult: there’s science and magic and it definitely has some timey wimey bits. The author describes it as”Donnie Darko + Cloud Atlas”; I can see that. Aside from the overall vibe, I most enjoyed the worlds. They’re not shiny, happy places, that’s for sure, but they felt real and entirely possible. Surprisingly I found the ending rather uplifting…I’m probably in the minority there.

Do I recommend Where Futures End? 100% yes! Only, I’m not exactly sure who I’d recommend it to.

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(Review cross-posted on LibraryThing and Goodreads.)

I Am Not a Serial Killer by Dan Wells

Book cover I Am Not a Serial Killer by Dan WellsA 15-year old boy named John Wayne Cleaver, a diagnosed sociopath obsessed with serial killers, who used to torture animals, loves fire and still battles incontinence, seems better suited for the role of “villain” but Dan Wells proves the opposite in his debut novel, I Am Not a Serial Killer.

What I Liked Most

The exploration of man’s duality: good and evil living within the same being and the choice whether man indulges the “wrong” urges or denies them for the “right” ones. Perhaps this inner struggle is why people are so smitten with characters like Dexter Morgan and Hannibal Lecter, who are, by most definitions, “bad” people. Yet we can’t get enough of them or their stories. Why? We always hope, against all odds, the bad person can change – that they can be redeemed – and the “good” person we know is in there, will prevail. Plus, thanks to their writers, they’re likeable.

And John Wayne Cleaver is likeable with his sharp humor, witty observations and devotion to making the “good” choice.

Continue reading I Am Not a Serial Killer by Dan Wells