Friday, 21 June 2013

Reading Slumps Suck!

As someone who loves to both read and write, a reading slump is just as irritating to me as writer's block and this this time around is no different. I was hoping to read a rather large pile of books this month, but it's now the 21st and I've only read a measly three. Three! Pathetic.
     Right now it's a mixture of laziness, tiredness, and an inability to concentrate on one book that's got me in a reading slump. Technically I'm currently read three books, but I haven't touched any of them for quite a while now; one of the books I was - and am still - really eager to read is Moira Young's Rebel Heart, the sequel to the amazing Blood Red Road, but for whatever reason I just can't get into it. I think it has something to do with the the Delirium trilogy which I finished at the beginning of this month. Lauren Oliver's Delirium is stunning, but I found both the second and third books in the trilogy incredibly disappointing in comparison. Now it's like I'm just not in the mood to read any further in a series in case I read another sequel which I don't enjoy as much as the first book. Silly, I know, but I just can't bring myself to get into it and it's so frustrating - I really want to read it!
     Weirdly, I think another problem I'm facing right now is not having the money to buy so many amazing books that I'm coming across on Goodreads. Again this is ridiculous because I already have plenty of books to read, but there's something about being unable to buy a shiny new one which puts me in a bad reading mood. Thankfully I did manage to buy myself a cheap copy of Maria V. Snyder's Touch of Power earlier this week, so I'm hoping I might get back into reading when that arrives. I've never read any Snyder and I'm really eager to because I've heard only good things about her, not to mention I feel like I haven't read any fantasty in aaaages, so maybe a change in genre will be good for my reading habits.
     On top of that it's also my very last week of uni next week. Ever. Well not quite ever because I am pursuing postgraduate study in October, but it's my last week with all my undergraduate friends and I think there's something about that which is scaring me away from reading. It's like I'm scared of missing something in the real world if I get lost in an imaginary one; I need to make the most of this last week.
     Ultimately I'm still ahead on my book challenge on Goodreads, so that's a plus at least.
     So this is a pretty crappy blog update, but hopefully I'll have something more interesting on here soon. Until then, thanks for reading! J.

Friday, 14 June 2013

Review | Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver

My Rating:

Lena's been to the very edge. She's questioned love and the life-changing and agonising choices that come with it.

She's made her decision. But can she survive the consequences?

Pandemonium is the second novel in Lauren Oliver's Delirium trilogy set in a dystopian world in which love  - or the deliria as it is known - has been declared a disease. Closeness between boys and girls is prohibited and when they reach eighteen they go through a prodecure that stops them from feeling love altogether. They are paired off into loveless marriages and live the rest of their lives unable to feel passion.
     At the end of the first novel (now would be a good time for those of you who have yet to start the trilogy to stop reading) our heroine Lena is left to escape to the Wilds alone after Alex is shot. The second novel in the trilogy takes place between two time frames; one from when Lena is discovered by the other Wildlings and another six months later where she is posing as a cured in New York as part of the resistance.

     As it was in Delirium Oliver's writing style is beautiful. Even if you're not a fan of the plot these books are worth a read simply for the way in which they are told. Her way of storytelling is pretty and poetic; to put it simply, they are a joy to read.
     Oliver should also be congratulated on her character development. Lena is not only one of my favourite dystopian heroines but one of my favourite heroines period. When we first begin the trilogy Lena cannot wait to be cured, as a reader would expect from a girl who has been raised to believe that love is a disease - one that tore her mother from her - she whole-heartedly believes that love is dangerous and that it causes people to hurt, maim and kill in its name. She starts out as a rather meek but believable heroine who gradually changes throughout the course of Delirium, when it comes to Pandemonium Lena has run into the Wilds and it becomes necessary for her to grow tougher.
     Unlike many heroines out there Lena's character progression feels natural and real. This is how I would expect a person to develop if they were thrust from a controlled, civilised environment to a wilderness brimming with escapees. It was a delight to read, in fact my favourite chapters in Pandemonium were the ones which focused on Lena's life during her first six months in the Wilds rather than the ones which focused on her in New York city.
     Lena is not the only person in the Wilds, of course, and though she sometimes irritated me I liked Raven - the leader of this particular group of Invalids - a lot. There was something rather Katniss Everdeen about her, possibly to compensate for Lena's innate gentleness as we no longer have Hana to fill such a role, and she complimented Lena nicely; the reader is able to see the difference between someone new to the Wilds and someone who is accustomed to the harsh lifestyle that they face in pursuit of freedom.
     One of the main reasons that this book was a disappointment for me compared with the first book - which was one of my favourite reads last year - was Julian, Lena's new love interest. When reading Delirium I felt real chemistry between Alex and Lena, but the relationship between Lena and Julian felt weak in comparison; it felt forced simply for the sake of bringing in a new love interest, because apparently not enough YA dystopian trilogies have more than one love interest these days. Personally I felt as though they fell in love far too quickly, especially when compared with the romantic relationship we saw develop throughout the first novel.
     I was really hoping that Oliver would forget bringing in a new love interest and instead focus on the relationship between Lena and her mother who, by the end of the first novel, we have discovered is still very much alive. Considering so much of Lena's fear of love and so much of her life has been shaped by her mother's absence I was hoping for a reunion which would allow the book to focus on the love between a mother and her daughter rather than a pair of lovers. After all it isn't only romantic relationships that the cure for the deliria destroys, it also destroys the ways that families and friends interact with one another to the extent that they are no longer the same people. To me that is just as haunting as no longer being able to love your lover and I felt as though familial and platonic love was glossed over more than it should have been.
     All in all Pandemonium is not a bad sequel, but it's not an amazing one either. I chose to continue with the trilogy because I adored the first book so much, however the first book, despite perhaps not having the happiest of endings, does have a beautifully bittersweet finality to it. I would highly suggest reading Delirium and only Delirium, as Pandemonium falls rather flat in comparison.
     Thanks for reading! J.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Let's Talk About Books | Harry Potter

As a twenty-one year old I'm one of those lucky people who was able to grow up as part of the Harry Potter generation. I grew as Harry grew and, just like they are for many people all around the world, those books were a comfort to me when I needed them most. I discovered Harry when the first film came out, for some reason the books had never appealed to me when I saw them on the shelves, and as soon as I realised it was a series about a magical boarding school I was all over it.
     It just so happened that when the first film came out I had just moved house and school for the fourth time. Unlike the other times we had moved I was now old enough to really miss my old house and my old school and all of my friends. I moved from the beautiful, warm countryside of Somerset to the freezing cold, grey winters of North Yorkshire and I was unbelievably alone. I didn't want to have to make new friends or get used to a new bedroom, I wanted my old friends and my old bedroom but as I was only ten years old I could hardly move away on my own. So for me Harry was a friend; a friend who, like me, had to start a new school in a completely new world to the one he was used to. He was a comfort at a time that I needed comforting most.
     As sad as it sounds over the next ten years I pretty much based my calender around when the next Harry Potter film was coming out and I devoured each book. I adored the characters, the story and the school. Obviously after a while North Yorkshire became home for me - it is, after all, where I was born in the first place - but I never gave up Harry or Hermione or Ron. Harry Potter is, and will always be, a huge part of me.
     It may surprise some of you, then, that I'd be very disappointed if J.K. Rowling one day announced that she was planning on writing a sequel to the series. Would I read it if she did? Most likely, yes. Would I enjoy it? To some extent I probably would, yes. Would I like to know more about Harry's adventures as an auror and the adventures of his children at Hogwarts? Yes, of course I would, but I also like to imagine that future for myself. Not to mention there is a thing called fanfiction, and there are some amazing fanfiction writers out there.
     My main issue with a Harry Potter sequel would be that, no matter how fun the characters were or how interesting the plot, it would never even come close to its predecessor. Albus Potter seems cute enough in the epilogue, but how could he ever rival his father as a protagonist? Ultimately, no matter what trials he might face, his life will never be as bad as his father's. That's not to say that a protagonist has to have a tragic backstory to be a good protagonist, but it does bring me to another point: the villain.
     After Voldemort who could possibly be an impressive enough threat to the wizarding world? The biggest evil to threaten the wizarding world has already been defeated and no matter what might happen I highly doubt that anyone or anything will ever be as bad as Voldemort. Every story needs a good villain just as much as it needs a good protagonist - sometimes we can overlook this if the protagonist and secondary characters are particularly fantastic - and a new Harry Potter villain would be just as devastatingly disappointing as the villain in The Hunchback of Notre Dame II; a villain who couldn't possibly match up to the wickedness we saw in Frollo during the first film. That, however, is for another talk; I could rant about Disney sequels for hours.
     If J.K. Rowling ever really felt the urge to return to the wizarding world and felt she could write something just as wonderful as the Harry Potter series I'd rather see a prequel than a sequel. I don't mean a book about Harry's parents because as far as I'm concerned there's no point; we already know what becomes of each of the Marauders. Instead I'd love to see her go far, far back to the creation of Hogwarts. Even though, again, we already know what happens in regards to Salazar Slytherin I'd happily read a novel about the four founders. I'd love to see what happened to witches and wizards before they had a school - a safe haven - to go to.
     Ultimately, however, I'll happily re-read Harry's story for years. J.K. Rowling spun a beautiful tale of love, prejudice, war and loyalty through seven books and, no matter how much I might miss Harry's world, there's nothing stopping me from re-visiting Hogwarts with all the characters who took me there in the first place. No sequel or prequel necessary.
     Thanks for reading! J.

Saturday, 8 June 2013

Reading Wrap-Up | May 2013

Considering May was the month in which I had my very last exam - an exam that I had less than a fortnight to revise for thanks to my dissertation deadline - I still managed to get through five books. Perhaps not the biggest pile ever but still pretty good, I think, as I only had the latter half of the month to really get back into my reading.
     Let's start at the beginning, and finish at the end:

My Rating: 

The Massacre of Glencoe happened at 5am on 13th February 1692 when thirty-eight members of the Macdonald clan were killed by soldiers who had enjoyed the clan's hospitality for the previous ten days. Many more died from exposure in the mountains. Fifty miles to the south Corrag is condemned for her involvement in the Massacre. She is imprisoned, accused of witchcraft and murder, and awaits her death. The era of witch-hunts is coming to an end - but Charles Leslie, an Irish propagandist and Jacobite, hears of the Massacre and, keen to publicise it, comes to the tollbooth to question her on the events of that night, and the weeks preceding it. Leslie seeks any information that will condemn the Protestant King William, rumoured to be involved in the massacre, and reinstate the Catholic James. Corrag agrees to talk to him so that the truth may be known about her involvement, and so that she may be less alone, in her final days. As she tells her story, Leslie questions his own beliefs and purpose - and a friendship develops between them that alters both their lives. In Corrag, Susan Fletcher tells us the story of an epic historic event, of the difference a single heart can make - and how deep and lasting relationships that can come from the most unlikely places.

The first book I finished in May was Susan Fletcher's Corrag - also known as Witch Light - a stand-alone historical fiction novel centered around a young girl named Corrag who has been imprisoned and is waiting to be burned at the stake. Charged with witchcraft and murder, Corrag is accused of having something to do with the Glencoe Massacre. Then Mr Leslie, an Irish Jacobite, travels from Ireland to Scotland to interview Corrag while she waits for her execution in the hope of finding evidence that King William was involved in the massacre, for if Mr Leslie can somehow prove the king's involvement he hopes to get King James back on the throne.
     The real story, however, is Corrag's. In exchange for her information regarding the massacre she asks Mr Leslie to listen to her life story before she is executed and an unlikely friendship develops between the two. This novel is just beautiful; Fletcher's writing style is gorgeous, and the story is told in such a way that it's as though Corrag is telling her story to you, too.
     If you're a fan of historical fiction then I highly recommend this, but it's perhaps not quite the right novel for readers out there who like something action packed and fast paced; Corrag takes its time, but it's worth the wait.

My Rating: 

There are no laws in Saba's world. When her twin brother is stolen, she pursues his captors through a wild, wasted land. She must become a warrior to survive. On this dangerous road she can trust no one. Not even the handsome thief who saves her life - and steals her heart.

Next I read Moira Young's Blood Red Road and I adored it, which is strange as when I first picked it up I thought I was going to hate it. I first came across it in a bookstore after several people recommended it to me and when I picked it up and flicked through it I was terrified: this book doesn't use speech marks, and the protagonist's voice is pretty, for lack of a better word, distinctive. So I put it back on the shelf. A couple of days later I came across it in another bookstore where it was only £2. The universe was obviously trying to tell me something, so I bought it and one night when I couldn't sleep I picked it up with the intention of just skimming a few pages. I was up until four in the morning having read over half of it.
     It's the characters that really drive this novel forward and that's why I loved it so much. Our heroine Saba lives in a post-apocalyptic/dystopian world with her father, brother and sister until one day a group of men called the Tonton take her brother away and kill her father. Saba adores her brother and sets off to rescue him, and along the way she goes through a lot of crap. 
     Saba is angry and selfish and tough and I love her; if any of you out there are missing Katniss Everdeen then give this book a read. This novel is fast-paced and exciting, a must-read for any dystopian and post-apocalyptic fans out there.

My Rating: 

Trapped in space and frozen in time, Amy is bound for a new planet. But fifty years before she's due to arrive, she is violently woken, the victim of an attempted murder. Now Amy's lost on board and nothing makes sense - she's never felt so alone.

Beth Revis's Across the Universe was the third book I read in May, and something a little different for me as sci-fi is not a genre I read a lot of. Obviously this is something I need to change. Luckily for me this novel was fairly easy to get into as there were plenty of dystopian elements to it and dystopia is a genre I know pretty well.
     A spaceship is leaving for a new planet three hundred years in the future and the novel begins with our heroine Amy being frozen for the voyage alongside her parents who are needed on the new planet. Everything doesn't quite go as planned, however, when Amy finally wakes from her frozen state only to discover that she has been woken fifty years too early, and a search for the culprit begins as other frozen people find themselves in danger.
     I decided to pick this one up after seeing so many other people raving about it, and while I did enjoy it it's not one of my favourite dystopias out there. Amy and Elder were interesting characters to follow but sometimes, I don't know why, they irritated me a little bit. Overall, however, it was an enjoyable read and I recommend it to any fans of dystopia or sci-fi. At some point in the future I'm sure I'll continue with the trilogy.

My Rating: 

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not.

I actually started The Night Circus back in the beginning of April but I didn't get round to finishing it until last month. This is yet another book that I have heard so many people talking about and one that I just had to pick up because the cover is so beautiful.
     The story stars two main characters - Celia and Marco - who, from a young age, are pitted against one another in a competition. They know neither who their competitor is nor what the competition really entails until they are both enlisted into The Night Circus; an elaborate and enchanting attraction which travels the world with an array of astounding performers and peculiar tents.
     It was a beautiful, beautiful read, but it was very description heavy. I don't have a problem with description at all, but when there's a surplus of it I often feel like I'm not getting anywhere no matter how much I read. As much as I enjoyed this when I finally finished it I felt as though I'd acheived something and I'm not quite sure that's the best feeling to have upon reaching the end of a novel. It is the length of time it took for me to feel as though the plot was going somewhere which meant this novel missed out on a five star rating, but I still highly recommend it to anyone out there who loves to read about magic. This is a stunning book and one that should bring hope to any budding writers out there, as the first draft was in fact written up during NaNoWriMo.

My Rating:

What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic’s wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic’s highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country’s most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem.

From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths—until the day June’s brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family’s survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias’s death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets.

It's a real shame that I had to end the month with a book I didn't enjoy very much at all. In fact there were so many things in this novel that I felt could have been better or had more potential that I've actually written a full review on it which you can find here if you'd like to check it out.
     Marie Lu's Legend is a YA dystopian novel - the first in a trilogy - which takes place in a futuristic American society in which there is a severe divide between the wealthy and the people in the slums. We follow two protagonists - June and Day - who are on opposite sides of this divide. June believes Day is behind the murder of her brother and sets out for revenge, only to discover that not everything is as it seems.
     If anything this was a quick read and I recommend it to anyone who enjoys quick reads or perhaps someone who is only just getting into the dystopian genre and would prefer to start with something a little easy. For me there was just no depth; there was a lack of world building and the characters were far too two dimensional. It's safe to say I won't be continuing with the trilogy.

So that's everything I read in May. If you have any comments about any of the books mentioned here then feel free to leave them below and I'll get back to you! Don't forget to check back in at the end of June for another monthly wrap-up!
     Toodles! J.

Monday, 3 June 2013

Jess Suggests | Postmodern Fiction

Ah, postmodernism, a term many English students are very familiar with even when they don't know what it means, and it's not surprising so many people don't as postmodernism doesn't exactly have a set meaning.
     One of the most confusing aspects of postmodernism is that it didn't come around after modernism, but during. Why postmodernism, then? I have no idea. While modernism tried to prove that literature could be completely new, postmodernism arose with the argument that new literature is impossible; stories will always come from other stories. The argument was often given rather sceptically - after all Angela Carter's fairy tale re-tellings aren't particularly charming - but as postmodernism has developed it has become more of a celebration of our oldest stories by giving them new life.
     It is this aspect of postmodernism I will be looking at today by showing you five books which would never have been written if it weren't for an older text to act as inspiration. There are hundreds of postmodern novels out there today so these are just five examples from a very, very long list:

Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie

Haroun's father is the greatest of all storytellers. His magical stories bring laughter to the sad city of Alifbay. But, one terrible day, everything goes wrong and his father runs out of stories to tell.
Haroun, determined to return the storyteller's gift to his father, flies off on the back of the Hoopoe bird to the Sea of Stories - and so begins a fabulous, exciting and dazzling adventure.

Haroun and the Sea of Stories has to be one of the ultimate postmodern reads. There are references from stories all over the world in this book - which makes sense, given that the main character's father is a storyteller - but the main inspiration has to be The 1001 Nights, perhaps better known as The Arabian Nights; the series of tales which originate from Arabic, Persian, Indian, Egyptian and Mesopotamian folklore and from which we have famous stories like Aladdin and Sindbad the Sailor.
     After Haroun's mother runs away with their upstairs neighbour - as she no longer believes that being married to a storyteller is practical - Haroun's father Rashid begins to lose his ability for storytelling. With the help of Iff the Water Genie and Butt the talking Hoopoe bird, Haroun travels to the bizarre and fantasical Land of Gup, where the soldiers wear pages from Shakespeare and there are Plentimaw fish in the sea, to defeat the evil Khattam-Shud, who is so boring he is poisoning the stories.
     This book is an absolute delight to read no matter how old you are, and it's a wonderful book to read if you're looking to rekindle your love for some of the world's oldest stories. It's also a fantastic celebration of postmodernism and of the way that we reuse stories to keep storytelling alive. As far as I'm concerned this underrated book is a must read.

Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

Percy Jackson is about to be kicked out of boarding school... again. And that's the least of his troubles. Lately, mythological monsters and the gods of Mount Olympus seem to be walking straight out of the pages of Percy's Greek mythology textbook and into his life. And worse, he's angered a few of them. Zeus' master lightning bolt has been stolen, and Percy is the prime suspect.

Now Percy and his friends have just ten days to find and return Zeus' stolen property and bring peace to a warring Mount Olympus. But to succeed on his quest, Percy will have to do more than catch the true thief: he must come to terms with the father who abandoned him; solve the riddle of the Oracle, which warns him of betrayal by a friend; and unravel a treachery more powerful than the gods themselves.

Let's face it as far as stories go you can't get much older than Greek mythology. Yeah it can be pretty messed up - Athena burst out of Zeus's forehead fully clothed and poor Persephone was the daughter of a brother and sister who then married her uncle - but we love it all the same. 
     What's great about this novel - and this series - is that Riordan hasn't tried to rewrite the mythology or tame it, he's simply taken the idea of demigods and brought them forward into the present. Not only has he given the mythology the feeling of never having gone away, but he's also made it fun and accessable for younger readers; in a way Riordan is the bridge between mythology and children as Terry Deary is the bridge between children and history. 
     After finding out that he is in fact the son of Poseidon our protagonist Percy is sent to Camp Half-Blood, where all demigods are kept safe and are able to learn how to control their abilities. Throughout the story he encounters a satyr in the form of his best friend Grover, Annabeth the daughter of Athena, a centaur, a minotaur, Medusa, and even Hades and Persephone. This is an ideal book for any lover of Greek mythology and indeed for anyone with an interest in the mythology who feels a little intimidated by the original tales.

Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding

Meet Bridget Jonesa 30-something Singleton who is certain she would have all the answers if she could:
a. lose 7 pounds

b. stop smoking

c. develop Inner Poise
Bridget Jones' Diary is the devastatingly self-aware, laugh-out-loud daily chronicle of Bridget's permanent, doomed quest for self-improvement — a year in which she resolves to: reduce the circumference of each thigh by 1.5 inches, visit the gym three times a week not just to buy a sandwich, form a functional relationship with a responsible adult, and learn to program the VCR. 

Unlike the other books listed here Bridget Jones's Diary is a modern day re-telling of a much more recent classic: Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. Unlike the previous two novels mentioned this is a direct re-telling of its original, yes there are some differences, but the story is in fact very similar to that of Austen's novel.
     We have Bridget Jones, our modern day Elizabeth Bennet, Mark Darcy, our modern day Fitzwilliam Darcy, and Daniel Cleaver, our modern day George Wickham. Through her wonderfully witty diary entries we see the world through her eyes as she struggles under the pressure of being a singleton in her thirties in a world full of friends and family who are desperate to see her settled and married. Sound familiar? Of course. The entirety of Pride and Prejudice is centered around the Bennet family trying to marry off their five daughters to good husbands.
     What's brilliant about this book is that it doesn't jump out as an Austen re-telling or try to shove the 200 year old story down your throat. You don't need to be a fan of Austen's works to enjoy this, but if you are then consider it an added bonus. This book is funny and charming, Helen Fielding has done a wonderful job of bringing a famous story to a modern-day audience.

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . . . 

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

Following Bridget Jones's Diary we have another re-telling of a classic story, one that every child knows well: Cinderella. Originally Cinderella was one of the many fairy tales collected by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, more commonly known as the Brothers Grimm. It's a story which has been told again and again in many different formats including  operas, ballets, pantomimes and film versions such as Disney's Cinderella, Ever After, A Cinderella Story, Another Cinderella Story, and literary re-tellings such as Gail Carson Levine's Ella Enchanted, Amber T. Smith's If the Shoe Fits and Gregory Maguire's Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister. Obviously there's something about this story that we just can't get enough of, whether it's our adoration of true love at the stroke of midnight or simply our desire to root for the underdog, either way Cinderella is not going anywhere.
     And now? Now we have Cinder, a fantastic posthuman re-telling of the classic tale in which our Cinderella is a cyborg. Marissa Meyer has managed to give a well-known, age old story an utterly fresh spin and modernised it for an audience of people who are now obsessed with technology. Meyer has even opened up the fairy tale genre for sci-fi fans all over the world which can only be a good thing because this year sci-fi is huge, particularly with  the completion of Beth Revis's Across the Universe trilogy this January and upcoming films such as Man of Steel, coming this June, and an adaptation of Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game set to be released in November.
     No longer is Cinderella a meek girl who sweeps the floors and waits for her fairy godmother, Meyer's Cinderella is a mechanic who really drives the novel forward by leading the plot in the way that all great protagonists do. Like Bridget Jones's Diary you don't need to be a fan of Cinderella to enjoy Cinder, for while it is indeed a re-telling it has been re-told in such a way that the story and characters feel brand new. This is a delightful book.

Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion

'R' is a zombie. He has no name, no memories and no pulse, but he has dreams. He is a little different from his fellow Dead.

Amongst the ruins of an abandoned city, R meets a girl. Her name is Julie and she is the opposite of everything he knows - warm and bright and very much alive, she is a blast of colour in a dreary grey landscape. For reasons he can't understand, R chooses to save Julie instead of eating her, and a tense yet strangely tender relationship begins.

This has never happened before. It breaks the rules and defies logic, but R is no longer content with life in the grave. He wants to breathe again, he wants to live, and Julie wants to help him. But their grim, rotting world won't be changed without a fight...

You know what would have made Romeo and Juliet better? Zombies, of course! William Shakespeare is credited with writing possibly the most famous love story ever, but it's Isaac Marion who has made the story dead cool. See what I did there?
     Yes apparently a rose by any other name really would smell as sweet, even if it was covered in rotting flesh. Warm Bodies is full of familiar characters disguised by tweaked names; we have our hero R (Romeo), our heroine Julie (Juliet), her boyfriend Perry (Paris), her friend Nora (the Nurse) and R's friend M/Marco (Mercutio). R is a zombie, and after he kills Perry and eats his brain he begins to develop feelings he no longer realised he had for Perry's girlfriend Julie. When Julie learns that R isn't quite what he seems her belief that a cure for the undead can be found is reignited.
     This story is very much a marmite kind of a story. You don't have to be a fan of Romeo and Juliet to enjoy it, but there is a very clear cut line between people who like it a lot and people who don't like it at all. One thing that can't be denied, however, is that it has brought zombie fiction to women; that's not to say that women can't enjoy zombie films and fiction filed under the horror genre - I'm a woman myself and I love a good zombie story just as much as the next person - but in creating a piece of YA zombie chick fiction Marion has introduced a lot more women to the undead in literature, and that can only be a good thing. Try it for yourself, and give the movie a watch too!

So if postmodernism is now something which interests you go and check it out! There are plenty of postmodern texts to be had.
     Thanks for reading! J.