November 6th, 2013


Book #44: Extinct

Extinct by Ike Hamill.

This was a new one for me. The characters in the book ruined what might have otherwise been an interesting story. (But, after reading the one-star reviews on Amazon, I suspect the story ended up being as bad as the characters.)

The blurb of the book was what hooked me. It was something like: "When most of the human race goes extinct, how will the rest survive?" That's one of my favorite plotlines, and the cover image was spiffy (I know, I know), so I decided to give the book a try.

eBook readers like to start you on the first page of the story, but I like starting at the cover. I enjoy seeing the dedications (if any), notes, and the all-important copyright page. Why important? Because that's where the publisher is listed and I can make guesses as to if it's self-published or not. The copyright page of Extinct almost made me stop reading. I'll reproduce it in whole:

This is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and events have been fabricated only to entertain. If they resemble any facts in any way, I'd be completely shocked. This book may not be reproduced in whole or in part without the consent of Ike Hamill. Unless, of course, you intend to quote a section of the book in order to illustrate how awesome it is. In that case, go ahead. Copyright 2013 by Ike Hamill. All rights reserved.

That's it. That's all that was on the copyright page. No mention of even a fake or self publisher. Nothing. Just that bogglingly unprofessional paragraph. Not even an isbn! Gah!

But since I had the book, I gave it a try. Turns out the story started much earlier than I expected, before all the people vanished. (Which is too bad, as fewer characters would have made the book slightly better.)

We're introduced to Brad. Brad lives alone in the woods. He does something with computers, thus can work remotely. One day Brad goes for a walk in the woods. He finds a vine that moves. A spiked vine. It wraps around his ankle. He goes home, his leg swells up like hell, and so he takes a nap. He wakes up days later.

Does this worry Brad? Nope. He goes back to his normal life. A week or so later he walks out into the woods again. The vines have grown like wildfire. They actively reach for him. They give off a scent that sends him deep into daydreams, long enough that the vines can cross half the distance to him. He wakes up enough to notice that, then back to daydreaming. He wakes up again, describes this as a game of Red Light, Green Light with the vines sneaking up on him. Telling himself he's no botanist, he figures this is fine plant behavior and goes back home and to his life.

A week later he returns again. The vines have taken over a giant field. Some kind of massive rock/animal is living in the middle of them. The vines go crazy trying to get him. The scent is there. They make some kind of sound that draws him in. The vines have flowers, one of every color in a row, so a red flower with an orange next to it and a yellow next to it, down the rainbow. Finally Brad wonders if this isn't normal.

Who does Brad call?
A) The FBI
B) The police
C) His old college roommate from 20 years ago who once took a botany class

C. Gods above, the characters (all of them!) were just so stupid. Except the kid. The other main character was a kid who was smarter than anyone else (not really that hard, I guess...). Worst of all, whenever he was in the same scene with adults, the adults got even more stupid just so the kid could look smarter!

With much struggle, I made it to 50% of the book before I started skimming. Sadly, the writer did have some skill -- the scary scenes were actually scary, and there were a couple of them. I really wanted to know how he'd wrap the plot up. Based on the Amazon reviews, it's good that I stopped reading, because the book actually went downhill from there and apparently the plot made no sense at all and was never explained.

The book may be on sale at Amazon right now ($2), but I couldn't recommend it if it were free.

Further proof that Amazon reviews mean nothing anymore: It has 27 five star reviews, 28 four stars, and 15 three stars. I'd give it one.

Walking Dead, SHIELD, Kindle

I've found the only way I can enjoy watching SHIELD. I watch it like I used to "watch" TV: as background noise. Don't really listen to it, don't look at the TV.

Now and then I did pay more attention, and things were so unrealistic. Example: Annoying what's her face hacker was giving a briefing on whatever, sharing all the info she googled. She whined about her security cuff, left. One character said they were being really hard on her. Other responded that she lost their trust. First one: Well with this [briefing] she's come a long way towards earning it back.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, over. She did ONE JOB, one basic task that is part of the job they hired her for, and that makes her even an inch more trustworthy? NO. NO IT DOES NOT.

All the dialogue was just so unbelievable too. What's his face, leading man McFighting Fighter said outright he wished the enemy was something he could fight instead of something he didn't understand -- so cliche! The more I listened to it, the more I heard how badly written it was.

I won't even comment on how unrealistic the episode's final action scene was. Gods above, how stupid and unrealistic.

So, I think I've finally given up on this show. I may continue to "watch" it, but I won't watch it.

The Walking Dead. I'd be so done with this show if I thought the change that happened this week was permanent. Collapse )

I feel very disgruntled with TV at the moment.

Kindle: I've been going back and forth on getting one for years. I have an iPad that I do all my reading on, but it's very big. Taking it when I have to go somewhere is a pain -- it doesn't fit in my purse at all.

Someone who is no longer on my friends list (for unrelated reasons) told me a Kindle was basically no different than an iPad when it came to ebooks. I used that information as part of my decision-making for buying it. Unfortunately it was very, very wrong. I assume that former friend had no idea what an iPad was or what it does.

Kindles do not have a touchscreen*. iPads do. That's a massive difference. The Kindle controls are so clunky that I feel like I've gone back 20 years tech-wise. I know I shouldn't be surprised, since the Kindle cost about $90 and my iPad over $900**, but I wish I hadn't gone into it with the expectation that they were anything alike. (*You can buy a Kindle/touchpad hybrid, but the default Kindle does not. **First gen iPad. They're a lot cheaper now.)

It is a lot smaller though, which was one of the reasons I bought it. It's about the third of the size of my iPad, and could easily fit in a purse:

(Forgive the glare. Also, I have no idea what that line is on the iPad screen, but it's not a crack.)

So, I think I'm going to keep using my iPad for reading at home. It's just too nice and easy to use. But, when I have to take my reading with me, I'll grab the Kindle.

I should say, if one doesn't compare it to an iPad, it's a nice little device. It feels great to hold, it's tiny (yet a good size for reading from). I keep coming back to the limitations though. I could read from my iPad in the dark, but the Kindle has no backlighting. That same ex-friend said the Kindle is easier to read from (text clarity), but I find that's not at all the case. ...I keep trying to write about the positives of it, yet I keep coming back to the negatives.

Let's leave it at this: If you're trying to decide between an iPad and a Kindle, and money isn't an issue, get the iPad. If you want an ereader you don't have to pay hundreds for, get the Kindle (or some other dedicated ereader). If you're deciding based on features, the iPad. Ease of carrying around, the Kindle.