Title: The Laughing Corpse by Laurell K Hamilton
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Summary (off goodreads): Harold Gaynor offers Anita Blake a million dollars to raise a 300-year-old zombie. Knowing it means a human sacrifice will be necessary, Anita turns him down. But when dead bodies start turning up, she realizes that someone else has raised Harold's zombie--and that the zombie is a killer. Anita pits her power against the zombie and the voodoo priestess who controls it. Notice to Hollywood: forget Buffy the Vampire Slayer; Anita Blake is the real thing.
Review: I remember the Laughing Corpse being one of the Anita books that I liked the most. Rereading reminded me why it's such a good one. We really get to see Anita do what she does best in this book: raise the dead. It's all about her zombie raising skills and not a lot to do with the vampires. We also see how badass Anita actually is in this book.
The book starts out with a very rich man asking her to perform a human sacrifice to raise a zombie. Anita, of course, refuses. She doesn'...more I remember the Laughing Corpse being one of the Anita books that I liked the most. Rereading reminded me why it's such a good one. We really get to see Anita do what she does best in this book: raise the dead. It's all about her zombie raising skills and not a lot to do with the vampires. We also see how badass Anita actually is in this book.
The book starts out with a very rich man asking her to perform a human sacrifice to raise a zombie. Anita, of course, refuses. She doesn't sacrifice humans and, her boss who is in the room, agrees despite the high price tag. Not long after the cops call Anita to help investigate a murder.
This is the first time we really see Anita working closely with the police. She holds her own among the men and we see her be tough but caring at the same time. She can handle seeing the brutalized corpses but it has a huge effect on her. She sees that dead child, that mutilated family, over and over in her dreams, in her head. Anita values human life, even after it's not alive. Zombies don't have legal rights but she hates seeing them suffer.
We meet a voodoo priestess in this book, Dominga, who, after Anita insults her, tried to kill her. I like that Anita doesn't always have the brightest moments. She insulted an all powerful priestess and it was incredibly stupid and heroic at the same time. I like that, sometimes, Anita is just an idiot. As a result of this moment, Dominga sends two Zombies to kill Anita. Anita wins, but barely.
She is also frequently accosted by Harold Gaynor's men, the man who wanted her to perform human sacrifice and raise a zombie. She frequently turns them down and even more frequently comes out with the upper hand. It's only when she's drugged does she finally get caught off guard and kidnapped. She holds her own around them and never seems to lose her cool. I like that even though she's small, she's not weak.
My favorite part of Anita (and, subsequently, the absence of this is what made me dislike the series later one) is her Animator abilities. At the end of this book we get to see how powerful Anita really is. She kills to men to save herself and raises and entire cemetery. Some of the corpses were over 300 years old. It's one of my favorite scenes because she is ruthless. You always hear her say that if she has to choose, she'll always choose herself. She kills both Dominga and Gaynor without a second thought. They threatened her, she tried to get them arrested legally and when that didn't work, she killed them. She knew that if she didn't, they wouldn't stop coming after her. It's interesting to see that despite valuing life, she won't hesitate to kill to save herself. She says at one point in the book that they don't have the right to take her life from her.
I recommend this book to all the supernatural lovers out there. Anita Blake series starts off as one of the best female protagonist series I've come across. You get a woman who manages to be tough and feminine all at once, something that's rare for female characters. It gives you just the right of supernatural mixed with real life and manages to skillfully meld the two together.
Title: Pretties by Scott Westerfeld
Summary (Off Goodreads): Tally has finally become pretty. Now her looks are beyond perfect, her clothes are awesome, her boyfriend is totally hot, and she's completely popular. It's everything she's ever wanted.
But beneath all the fun -- the nonstop parties, the high-tech luxury, the total freedom -- is a nagging sense that something's wrong. Something important. Then a message from Tally's ugly past arrives. Reading it, Tally remembers what's wrong with pretty life, and the fun stops cold.
Now she has to choose between fighting to forget what she knows and fighting for her life -- because the authorities don't intend to let anyone with this information survive.
Review: This is the second time I read Pretties and I think I liked it more than I liked the first time. Once again we follow Tally, only this time she's pretty-minded. Yet, somehow, she still manages to have a crazy amount of problems.
Even pretty-minded, Tally seems to know things aren't quite right. I liked that Westerfeld managed to balance Tally's strong personality and the brain lesions. Sometimes she has to remind herself what pretties say and do and that she shouldn't be causing conflict. That didn't mean she wasn't effected by her brain surgery. She was, but not in the same way as the people around her. In some ways, her brain still fought to be free.
Zane is first introduced to us in this book. I was very torn about Zane. I really liked David, from Uglies. However, Westerfeld made it impossible for me to dislike Zane. It's really great writing when an author makes you feel exactly what the main character does. Tally had the same troubles. You were supposed to like both characters because Tally did and making her choice was not any easier than when you, as the reader, had to make it.
Shay also makes my heart ache. It seems like, once again, she gets betrayed by Tally. Granted, sometimes I just wanted to punch Shay in the face, especially when she felt that Tally had chosen Zane over her, chose to give him the cure instead of Shay. Instead of letting Tally explain exactly what happened, she accused Tally of betraying her once again. It's this part of Shay that has always bothered me. She has a entitlement complex, one that often rears its ugly head. However, that doesn't mean she's not right sometimes. It was Tally's fault that the Specials came to the Smoke. It was her fault that Shay got turned pretty and, at the end of the day, it was Tally's fault that Shay started cutting herself and was eventually turned into a Special. You feel bad for Shay and hate her all at the same time, something that's hard to do when it comes to characters.
I know that a lot of people complain about the slang in Pretties. There's a lot more of it in this book than there was in Uglies but I liked the slang. I always like the slang because I have this weird addiction to languages. I think it's hard to not only create new slang but still have your readers understand it. When they used the term "bubbly" or "pretty-making" or "totally bogus" I knew exactly what all those things were and I love that. I love that the author understands this is a book that takes place in the far future, when present day is so far in the past, our way of life is as unfathomable to Tally as ancient Egypt is to us. In a world like that, language, slang, communication is not going to be the same. Westerfeld not only understands that but embraces it.
As much as I like this book, it's not without its faults. There were a lot of parts that were slow going. There were some parts you just had to push through because you knew it would get better. I mean, we're not talking Sam and Frodo during The Two Towers or anything, but there were points that I just was starting to wonder when something was going to happen. The book starts out very exciting and ends very excitingly but there are some parts in the middle that I have to remind myself that it gets better.
I love the ending of the book. It really is a powerful ending. Tally is forced to face Maddy again and face the consequences of her decision in Uglies. Maddy really hates her for allowing Az to die and blames her for it happening. She continually believes that Tally is pretty-minded, that she'll go back to being that way once all the excitement is gone. Maddy accuses her of being shallow and self-centered when, really, she was just a kid given a really heaping pile of bad luck. Zane almost has permanent brain damage because the pills she was given to cure herself were meant to be taken together. And, once again, the Specials manage to find everyone. Even though the tracking device wasn't on Tally, it was permanently attached to Zane's jaw, she was the one who had taken him to the hospital when his headaches got bad. Once again she betrayed everyone that she loved and, once again, she was forced into something she didn't want in her life. She was forced to become a Special. Not just any Special, a sect that Shay ran called the Cutters.
This is the first book where Westerfeld touches on some sensitive subjects: the idea of cutting to gain control. I am by no means an expert on the reasons people decide to start cutting, nor am I going to claim to be, but from what I've been told by people who go through that experience, Westerfeld isn't that far off. Shay starts cutting herself because she wants control in her life. Everyone has manipulated her all her life. She was, in a lot of ways, manipulated into going to the Smoke, into becoming a pretty, WHEN she was a pretty and even into being a Special. She never had a moment of her own decision. Cutting prevented her from being pretty-minded. It allowed her to have control over her life.
This second installment of the Uglies series was a great one. It wasn't afraid to push the envelope yet still provide a fun and engaging story. It made you laugh, cry and cringe, all the way through it and really makes you wish it continued on forever. I recommend it to all out there who love sci-fi and dystopian society stories.
You can read these reviews and all others at im_writing or my Goodreads account.
Books so far this year: 9/75
Currently Reading: Deja Dead by Kathy Reichs and Specials by Scott Westerfeld