Friday, November 28, 2014

Stephen King's 'Revival: A Novel'

Stephen King has never been one to shy away from wrestling with the most important issues of life. He knows how to use the horror genre effectively as a vehicle for sobering reflections on God, good and evil, human nature, love, hope and despair, and the meaning of life.

King is also disturbingly inventive when it comes to portraying evil in all its gory detail. It's been said that we all have a better handle on evil than good because we understand it better. Maybe King's just more honest than most about following that trajectory to its conclusion.

In Revival: A Novel, King has reminded us once again why he is the master in his genre. By blending a number of significant influences in his life (Arthur Machen's "The Great God Pan,"  H.P Lovecraft's  Cthulhu, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein) as well as his religious upbringing, he has crafted a tale that I can best describe as bleak. To give you an idea of just how bleak, I offer something  Bertrand Russell wrote in A Free Man's Worship as a means of comparison:

"That Man is the product of causes which had no prevision of the end they were achieving; that his origin, his growth, his hopes and fears, his loves and his beliefs, are but the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms; that no fire, no heroism, no intensity of thought and feeling, can preserve an individual life beyond the grave; that all the labours of the ages, all the devotion, all the inspiration, all the noonday brightness of human genius, are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system, and that the whole temple of Man's achievement must inevitably be buried beneath the debris of a universe in ruins--all these things, if not quite beyond dispute, are yet so nearly certain, that no philosophy which rejects them can hope to stand. Only within the scaffolding of these truths, only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair, can the soul's habitation henceforth be safely built."

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Guard Your Heart: Usher, Nicki Minaj and Honey Nut Cheerios

According to, "Eight–time Grammy Award–winning megastar Usher and Buzz the Bee, the iconic Honey Nut Cheerios™character, are using dance to spread the word that being healthy can be fun and delicious. Starting today, the two new friends are asking people to celebrate and share healthy and happy moments, like dancing to Usher’s new single 'She Came to Give it to You' and enjoying a heart–healthy breakfast with Honey Nut Cheerios. With health issues like heart disease on the rise, Buzz wants to get people buzzing about the importance of physical activity and healthy food choices as part of a healthy lifestyle."

Sounds great, doesn't it? After seeing the commercial, and I couldn't help but wonder how Usher's song helped to get people buzzing about healthy lifestyle choices. Maybe the "she" in the title was coming to give me heart-healthy cereal?

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Zombie Bible: Hungers That Devour and Hopes That Preserve

 "Nothing is broken that cannot be remade. Nothing is ill that cannot be healed, nothing captive that cannot be freed. That is what he taught us."  


I first heard of Stant Litore while looking up the most popular zombie fiction. His books kept showing up on list after list, so I decided to give them a shot.

Of the four books in the Zombie Bible series, I have read two: What Our Eyes Have Witnessed, and Death Has Come Up Into Our Windows. I wasn’t sure what to expect. "Zombie" and "Bible" were two words I did not think I would see sharing a title. "The Zombie Bible series is surprisingly good" is not a sentence I anticipated writing either. Nevertheless, there it is.

According to his website, Mr. Litore's first book, Death Has Come Up into Our Windows, reached the #2 horror bestseller on Kindle in December 2011 before being translated into several languages. While he has continued to write, he has been a guest on numerous Comic Con panels, appeared in podcast interviews for ReelNerds and The Geek Port, and been featured in “The Year’s Best New Sci-Fi” at NPR (March 2014). He has also received coverage in multiple magazines, including the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, the Huffington Post, SF Signal, and Weird Fiction Review (check out the link here for more media coverage). 

Stant Litore takes both zombies and the Bible seriously. He writes, “My first real encounter with the stories of the Old Testament occurred when I was a second-grader. Someone at school gave me a Bible and I took it home and (because I was an insanely fast reader) I plowed through Genesis before going to sleep that night. Those stories were compelling; they had me riveted. And they had me asking all kinds of questions. I wanted my readers to have that experience.”  

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

UnSouled (The Unwind Dystology)

“You should never apologize for existing, Lev. Not even to all those people out there who wish you didn't.” 

To help us better understand the entertainment shaping today's youth, I offer my latest review of books effecting a primarily YA audience. My goal is not to critique the art form as much as look at the worldview in the story. This review will feature UnSouled, the third book in an unfolding series by Neal Shusterman that has earned a tremendous amount of critical acclaim

I believe Shusterman is doing an excellent job writing a YA series about a profound subject: what it means to be human. Unsouled hints in its title that the series is moving into even deeper (and murkier) ethical waters.

Since my reviews of Unwind and UnWholly established the basic premise of the series, this review will simply offer a series of quotes from UnSouled to give you an idea of the worldview that shows up in the course of the story. Shusterman has some strong opinions about societies that are “a mill of commerce, trafficking in flesh, working outside the realm of ethics yet within the law and with the complete consent of society.” And he's not afraid to give 'em.