Posted in Book Reviews (updating), writing

Jezzie “Badass” Flanagan is Useless: Along Came A Spider Flops Hardcore

We’re back with another installment of “I read Along Came A Spider so You Never Have to” because we’ve hit a major character arc: Jezzie Flanagan is useless.

What’s Going On Now?

It hasn’t been too long since page 161 (I’m on page 198) but in the world of James Patterson, things move quickly, and that might be why he sells so many books: people have short attention spans and like things that move beyond the speed of ‘story.’

Like what I did there? “Beyond the speed of story.” Yes, I also enjoy my genius.

So how has the plot moved forward? Well, we get a cringeworthy scene that goes like this: “To top it off, the temperature was about three degrees with the windchill. It was sleeting. The streets and sidewalks were covered with icy slush. A couple of times we joined the street people warming themselves over their garbage can fires. ‘You motherfuckin’ cops always cold, even in the summer,’ one of the young fucks said to us. Both Sampson and I laughed.”

Dear God. My skin shriveled.

While the cops were scouring the town for any information people would have on Gary, they stopped to warm themselves at a garbage can with some homeless people? And one of them just said some weird, rude shit? And then they laughed? It’s not believable. What is believable is that Patterson wrote it as a filler buster.

We get more information about Sampson. Now on page 162, we learn that Alex Cross thinks “it’s weird how well I know his every move. He’s (Sampson) been dusting his glasses like that since he was twelve. Through rain or sleet or snow.”

Who cares?

Patterson is full of these little irrelevant details that are meant to be characterizations of his protagonists but instead they just come off as some sloppy bullshit he threw in last minute as an attempt to bring them to life. It leaves them dead.

Anyway, Sampson and Cross run into an old woman who gives them a tip on old Gary, and they follow Gary to Wilmington, Delaware, where Gary is busy throwing a birthday party for his daughter Roni, with his wife Missy. Gary was absolutely miserable but played it off well and then “…had a reoccurring fantasy–he murdered everyone attending a child’s birthday party. A birthday party–or maybe a children’s Easter egg hunt. That made him feel a little better.”

That’s the end of chapter 36. It’s like Patterson is attempting to create an edgy, dark character and instead created some emo kid from 2001. Which, I suppose, would be ahead of its time, because this book was written in 1993.

Gary evades the police because he overheard a little boy at the party say they saw a routine policeman drive by. While Gary enjoyed the thrill of the chase, the police spoke with Missy who informed them that ‘Gary could easily have his Ph.D in math’ because that’s the only way to prove you’re smart.

Once they leave, return the hotel, we get this riveting paragraph about “the team”: “We were tired and frustrated after the near-miss with Gary Sonja/Murphy. We drank a lot of hard liquor in a short time. Actually, we got along well. ‘The team.’ We got loud, played liars poker, raised some hell in the tony Delaware Room that night. Sampson talked to Jezzie Flanagan for a while. He thought she was a good cop too.”

We get no indication of why Jezzie Flanagan is a good cop.

And then, the big reveal: Jezzie and Alex Cross kiss in the hallway.

Why?

WHO KNOWS.

Who knows what makes Jezzie so attractive to Alex. It would be nice if we, the readers, could get some semblance of an explanation for why these two would end up together, but this is literally only the second time Jezzie has had a block of quotes or even a decent scene. We know nothing about her, only that she’s also a cop with a unique spelling of her name so that must mean she’s someone important. What is Jezzie to Along Came A Spider? A love interest. And there’s nothing I hate more than a woman in a story just to be someone’s piece of ass.

Women characters can be huge assets. They can push along a plot with their compassion or their toughness. They can be very strong characters who deal with the world on their shoulders. They can get away with being masculine and feminine and work well as a surprise accomplice. Women characters are vital. They don’t have to be there just as a sex toy for the male characters. I feel bad for Jezzie Flanagan. She’s got a bad part to play.

Gary goes crazy in a McDonalds, shoots some guy in the head, shoots a cop, and Alex Cross dives in front of a sniper to save Gary’s life so they could learn more about Maggie Rose Dunn.

I summed up ten pages in one sentence so you don’t have to.

I’m reading this book for you all. Not for enjoyment at this point. Please, I implore you, hit the like button. I’m basically torturing myself for you guys.

Until next time

Don’t forget to hit that follow button and join me on instagram @alilivesagain

Posted in Book Reviews (updating), writing

Hello New Followers

I haven’t been active on this account for a couple months because life got in the way. University has started up and I absolutely abhor my major. I’m working to fix this. I have went back to work as well, almost full time, after taking a year off. Things are moving forward, but not quite in the direction I want.

Luckily, all of this terrible, no good, very bad depression has lent for a great opportunity to read. What better way to combat your depression than by escaping into another world?

I have started reading books by Carlos Ruiz Zafón, a wonderful Spanish author who has sadly passed away from cancer. He’s left behind his brilliant magical realistic pieces for book lovers everywhere. I’ll be reviewing The Angels’ Game, The Shadow of the Wind, Labyrinth of the Spirits, and Prisoner of Heaven when I finish the latter two.

I also decided to pick up a book by James Patternson because I read Fear Nothing by Lisa Gardner and was obsessed with its hilarity. It wasn’t written well (in terms of falling prey to”cliche characteritis”), but compared to Along Came a Spider by James Patternson, it might as well be considered a masterpiece. More on this later.

I wanted to come on here and update everyone considering I’ve upped in followers in the last few months.

Is there any book you all suggest I read? Either to rip it apart (critically and analytically and sometimes hilariously) or to praise it? Pop your suggestions in the comments below.

Until next time.

Don’t forget to hit that follow button and join me on Instagram @alilivesagain

Posted in Book Reviews (updating), writing

Hollow Kingdom: Final Review

It’s been a long journey from Dennis and S.T.’s house with Big Jim, to Kraai the crow, Migisi the eagle, The One Who Conquers, The Weavers, and The One Who Keeps. The world Kira Jane Buxton creates, at first glance of the back cover, feels magical, grotesque, intriguing. The characters introduced in the first few chapters: Genghis Cat, Winnie the Poodle, and those throughout, like the Humpback whales and a pack of wolves, are filled with personality and never really heard from again. There are so many unsatisfying things about this book, I’m not sure I can fit them in this one post. But I’ll try.

I’ve said before the plot is ingenious: a crow tells the story of how humankind fell. We learn about Aura, the way creatures of the Earth communicate with one another, and we learn how each of them sees humans, from S.T’s fantastical obsession with the resourcefulness of humans (or MoFo’s) to the murder of crow’s less than tasteful view of humans (or Hollows). It’s obvious that Buxton appreciates, loves, and admires animals. It’s a shame she can’t write.

But first, let’s talk about the GOOD things about Hollow Kingdom.

The Good

There are moments Buxton can actually write. The way she describes action–the crows attacking or getting away from danger–is quite realistic. She has a knack for metaphors. Each chapter is riddled with them (we’ll talk about that later), things like “Looking for signs of twisted limbs, hungry vermillion eyes, and neck bones with no rules,” or “Then it flattened its ears to its head and expelled a roar, a roar that tore through the bones of the building . . .” They are great for creating feeling and some are powerful imagery. 

She’s also created a character. I wouldn’t consider S.T likable, but I wouldn’t consider him generic either. He has his own personality, and that personality just happens to harbor extremely cheesy catch phrases and a disturbing sense of loyalty to humanity. He is quite dedicated to first curing humanity and then to keeping Dennis alive and then to carrying out his life as a crow. His big character arc is finally realizing that he is indeed a crow with MoFo mannerisms, not a Mofo in a crow body. What should be a big turning point for S.T. is kind of washed away behind the reason humanity fell. 

Unlike some commenters on Goodreads, I actually enjoyed the toast to nature. The trees, the animals, everything connected and communicating on their own wavelengths (Aura) sounds divine and certainly out of the range of abilities for humans; we’re quite incapable of communicating well, if 2020 has shown us anything. I think where Buxton falls short is the presentation of Aura. 

Which brings us to:

The Bad

Let’s start with how overwritten this book is. The metaphors. They’re great every once in a while, but when every page is riddled with at least ten or fifteen “pendulous trucks” and elephants that “smelled like churned soil and freedom” and an “ancient song of sorrow that the evergreens shook from their leaves” and “calling on the ocean with our breath,” it gets a little tedious. While those are all great descriptions, don’t get me wrong, imagine 304 pages of that, consistently, partnered with lines like “crumble-cheese turd burger” or “yard demolishing fuck trolls” or “pubic badger” or “you could have heard a dust mite queef in there” or “fuck off, you douche flute” or “butt-splosion of information” or “cheese cups, ass clubs” or “scrotum-sanitizing mouth” or any of the other cheesy lines that permeate this book. It reminds me of first-time writer workshop attendees who know that adjectives and metaphors and similes can often carry semi-good writing, so their pieces becomes soggy with figurative language. 

Let’s talk about nictitating membranes, too. I’m fully aware that they are the part of birds that kind of slick across the eyeball in a blinking fashion. I’m also fully aware that Buxton personified a crow who doesn’t really see himself as a crow, so why would he regard his blinking as nictitating membranes licking his eyes or “make [his] nictitating membranes shut out the world momentarily?” Why can’t he just blink? 

We’re also introduced to side characters like Genghis cat, Winnie the Poodle, A fairy Pitta, a polar bear, a spruce tree, an armadillo, a highland cow, a camel, an elephant, a humpback whale and a pack of wolves. We get a conclusion, sort of, on Genghis cat and Winnie the Poodle and the polar bear who is the last bear on the ice. In the beginning of the book it was whimsical, and I looked forward to hearing the view of the world through just a few side characters continuously, but that never happened and they sort of came out of nowhere throughout the book, breaking up the flow of the story. We get short bursts of personalities, but it doesn’t really add much to the plot, other than Genghis cat joining up with the Orangutan(aka The One Who Opens Doors). Winnie the Poodle dying only symbolizes there’s no humans left to help the domestic animals, and we already knew that. 

What happened to the humans, after all? Well, we get some insight on that from Ghubari. He says, and prepare yourself, “it was a virus.” Not like AIDS or Ebola, but “mans creation” from “the internet.” He continues with, “. . . it started with the addiction. Technology was an intangible seductress, a siren calling for ships to meet her jagged rocks. It was a virus that spread through the systems, through the network, chips, watches, phones, tablets. Through eyes, skin, and synapses.” 

So something within the technology seeped into the skin and changed everyone into Cassowaries and giant spiders. 

I’m not kidding. 

Buxton doesn’t refer to The Hideous Ones as Cassowaries, but they’re described as humans who now scream in “the language of a raptor.” They have “hideous skin and jet black holes where there must have been eyes” with “colossal legs propelling them to great heights, and they snapped and shrieked with breaks the color of death.” The weavers have mandibles and eight legs and some weird stuff is going on with them, they silk up other humans and animals and suck them dry, so I’m not sure what kind of computer virus can turn you into a spider, but that’s what we get, folks. The Weavers and The Hideous Ones are the result, according to Ghubari, of humans evolving, their “last-ditch effort at survival.”

To sum it up, S.T says, “addiction to an electronic world caused the downfall of the Mofos. They’d forgotten to connect with each other, to connect with the creatures who missed them and to Nature as She called for them to come home.” 

Preachy, but we get it. 

The Ugly

There’s nothing really ugly about this book, but because I started with “The Good” and “The Bad” it felt wrong not to put “The Ugly.”

Conclusion

I don’t believe any of the reviews on the front of this book. It wasn’t “hilarious” or “exuberant” or “movingly written.” It was “eh.” 

I’ll be reading the sequel simply to bring you guys more Kira Jane Buxton. At the end of Hollow Kingdom, S.T is lead to a human baby in a house, abandoned obviously, and untouched by the technology-spider-cassowary virus. We obviously have to find out together whether there are other babies around the world, whether the human race survives, or whether the animals reclaim the world. I don’t really care which it is, I just have to know one or the other. 

My next full review will be on The Morality Play. I’m almost finished with it. 

What are you all reading this month?

Until Next Time

Don’t forget to hit that follow button and join me on Instagram @alilivesagain or on twitter @thephilopsychotic.