NetGalley Top Reviewer

NetGalley Top Reviewer
NetGalley Top Reviewer

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Recent Reads

4.0 out of 5 stars Wildly entertaining investigative adventure!, September 11, 2013

4+ out of 5 stars -- This tale has more twists and turns than could have been anticipated -- I really enjoyed it though I was a bit hesitant after having a less than enthusiastic response to Pessl's previous debut novel.

Disgraced journalist, Scott McGrath, imagines that he sees the enigmatic Ashley Cordova at the reservoir one night while out on his run. This daughter of the famous and reclusive horror/noir/thriller filmmaker Stanislas Cordova is later found dead at the bottom of an old warehouse elevator shaft. At one time, Scott had intended to write an expose of Stanislas Cordova, but he fell flat when he made a fool of himself on television during an interview and lost his credibility and job. Now he's drawn back into the mystery that also involves Cordova's daughter and her death. Was it murder or suicide? With an unlikely supporting pair of teenagers he meets when he starts looking into the case, and with an eye to finally tracking down Cordova, he enlists the help of Nora and Hopper.

What follows in the narrative is a rollicking tale of imagination and the supernatural. The author adds a really intriguing augmentation to the prose by including pictures, newspaper clippings, magazine interviews, screenshots of private website comments, and other assorted items that Scott McGrath peruses during his hunt for Stanislas Cordova. McGrath thinks that there was sordid, even deadly, business during Cordova's film-making and that perhaps the horrors on the screen were actually REAL since everything was filmed at Cordova's isolated estate THE PEAK, hidden in the woods and inaccessible to anyone not involved with him or his films. And perhaps, by finding Stanislas, McGrath can figure out how Ashley ended up dead. The big question, however, is why McGrath can't let this one go. The hunt for the Cordova answers takes him to limits he could have never anticipated or imagined.

I can't say much more without giving spoilers, so I highly recommend you just read it and enjoy the ride! I will say that the way Pessl writes involves a lot of italics, simile, metaphor and descriptive passages -- as well as references to pop culture and extensive trivia. It was a fun book.

PS - I read this book on a Kindle Fire and, though others have said they had difficulty with reading the "extras" in the book because the print was small, I had no issues with that. It was nice to see it in color!

2.0 out of 5 stars As the world turns..., August 30, 2013

Do you like to read books that describe what life on earth might be like after a horrible disaster has taken place? In this series, the moon has been pulled off its orbit and everything that was before is no more.

Oh my! This 4th book in the "Life as We Knew it" series is one that probably should have been left unwritten. To say it is depressing and shocking is putting it mildly. I finished it late last evening and I had nightmares all night long with visions of this horrible post disaster world. The events that transpire and the subject matter are more appropriate for the older teen and young adult.

Jon is the youngest in a family that included his sister Miranda and brother Matt. His mother, Laura, had sacrificed everything when they were stranded on the outskirts of a town in Pennsylvania so that her children and she could survive after the moon's orbit was pulled closer to earth resulting in climate change, tsunamis, famine and epidemics. Now, 4 years later, the survivors have relocated. Several other relationships and the deaths of family members have left the family broken and separated with the remaining few living in different places in the newly established cities and towns. The "clavers" are the rich and important people who live in Sexton while the "grubs" who serve them live in White Birch. They are a very class conscious segregated society where the clavers have power and often mistreat the grubs who live under quite primitive and filthy conditions. Society has devolved into a hierarchy that encourages superiority, prejudice and violence.

I did not like Jon's character at all. I didn't care for many of the supporting cast of characters whose actions and relationships didn't ring true given the times and situations. Despite some grandstanding at the end, which didn't feel believable, I don't feel Jon redeemed himself. The book was depressing and relentlessly miserable. I almost stopped reading it several times but forced myself to push on to the end, hoping that this indeed will be the last one in this saga that went on 2 books too long. The first in the series was excellent, the second less so, and it went downhill from there in my opinion. I suppose fans of the previous books will feel compelled to read this volume as well, but I am definitely done.

Unrealistic in so many ways and not deeply developed enough to provide the details that are needed to make the new world and society structure credible, the story lacks the critical elements that other doomsday scenario authors have done much better. The struggle is, of course, between good and evil, but mostly it is a clash between the "haves" and the "have nots". The violence is extreme and the ability of the clavers to step into their behaviors is scary. I hope there's nothing in this that is remotely plausible should an event like this ever really occur. I guess I just have more faith in humanity than that it would end up as described in this novel. I prefer to hope so.

Amazon Vine ARC

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