Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Age of Miracles by Karen Thomas Walker ★ ★ ★ ★

A Time Stealer

Since I first saw the 1971 apocalyptic film “The Omega Man” starring Charlton Heston, I’ve been fascinated with the end of the world.  How many times can you read about the world ending and still find it interesting? It’s endless because the books are never really about the end of the world but about the characters and their struggles with their new lives.
In “The Age of Miracles”, first time author Karen Thomas Walker tells her apocalyptic vision through the reminiscences of an adult Julia, who as an introverted, only child of eleven, experiences the events of the world which became known as The Slowing.  With little warning, the earth’s rotation slows causing, initially, only a few extra minutes in the day and some mild concern. 
But as The Slowing continues and the days and nights become increasingly longer, the entire population begins to realise that they will need to alter their lifestyle.  Midnight can be in full sun and dawn doesn’t necessarily arrive early in the morning.  Decisions must be made as to whether the population sticks to clock time or lives according to the cycle of daylight and darkness.
The scientific facts and worsening health of the entire planet is a backdrop to the central story of Julia coming of age.  Julia’s parents seem to be growing as far apart as the day and night.  Seth, a class mate, for whom Julia has increasingly strong feelings, doesn’t know she exists.  Even her best friend has deserted her and moved with her family to Colorado.
What is most interesting is the layering of the story with the politics of school life, the principles of family and the broader divide in society as each new day dawns a little different from the one before.  When uncertainty is certain, some will abandon their current lives and others will make a stand.
Susan Beth Pfeffer stole a weekend from me when I read her YA novel ‘Life As We Knew It’ with a similar premise and a young protagonist.  So, too, now Walker steals another weekend.  But there is no better way to lose time than watching the world end in the hands of a stunning debut talent like Karen Thomas Walker.

            To read more about the book or this author please click over to http://www.theageofmiraclesbook.com/

About the Author

Karen Thompson Walker was born and raised in San Diego, California, where The Age of Miracles is set. She studied English and creative writing at UCLA, where she wrote for the UCLA Daily Bruin. After college, she worked as a newspaper reporter in the San Diego area before moving to New York City to attend the Columbia University MFA program.
A former book editor at Simon & Schuster, she wrote The Age of Miracles in the mornings before work—sometimes while riding the subway.
She is the recipient of the 2011 Sirenland Fellowship as well as a Bomb Magazine fiction prize. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

'12.21' by Dustin Thomason ★ ★ ★★

An Antidote to Sleep

It’s ironic an apocalyptic novel, where the world is threatened by a disease causing fatal insomnia, should have me up at 2am in the morning. As well as creating sleepless nights this book will fascinate you with facts about fatal familial insomnia disease. Yes it is real—you can die from not sleeping.
‘12-21' also delves into the sometimes bloodthirsty stories of Mayan history and culture. Add this, to a list of rich characters battling their own demons fighting to save a world sliding into oblivion, and you have the ingredients of a successful novel.
Best selling novelist, Dustin Thomason has given us his version of ‘The Andromeda Strain’ with all the key elements that made Michael Crichton novels such an entertaining read. There’s science, drama, well-drawn characters and above all an unrelenting pace that builds until the last pages of frantic struggles.
The quality is not surprising, as Thomason’s 2004 novel, ‘The Rule of Four’, co-written with Ian Caldwell, sold over four million copies worldwide and he was crowned best selling debut novelist of the decade.
In ‘12-21' our journey begins in an undiscovered ancient Mayan temple, in the jungles of South America, where a codex filled with seemingly indecipherable hieroglyphics is discovered by a looter. Travelling to the USA he sells his valuable artefact on the black market.
The Codex falls into the hands of Chel Manu, Antiquities Curator of the Getty Museum, and a world authority on ancient Mayan inscriptions. Chel risks everything in not alerting the authorities to the illegal find as she is desperate to translate the Codex herself.
In an LA hospital, in December 2012, a man muttering in an unknown language is admitted, suffering from the incurable, ‘fatal insomnia disease’. Dr. Gabriel Stanton, an expert on highly contagious diseases, quickly realises they have a deadly virus on their hands.
When Chel is brought in to translate the dying man’s utterings, she and Stanton find themselves inextricably united in a frantic quest to discover the geographical origins of the disease through the deciphering of the Codex.
‘12-21’ is a science thriller of the highest calibre, written with a flair that will certainly place it on the best seller lists. Warning: This book will create insomnia but once the last page is read you will recover.

'12-21' is available in Australia on 22nd August, 2012.  It's a highly recommended read from me. 
Thank you to Penguin Australia for the E-book review copy.  Read on my wonderful Kobo.  For purchasing information on the book, please visit here Penguin Australia "12.21".
About the Author

Dustin Thomason co-wrote the number one International and New York Times bestseller, The Rule of Four. He earned his BA in Anthropology from Harvard College and his Medical Degree from Columbia University.

He co-wrote the 2004 novel The Rule of Four, [1] co-created the 2006 ABC drama The Evidence and has executive produced numerous television series, including Fox's Lie to Me.
The Rule of Four reached the top of the New York Times Best Seller list, where it remained for more than six months. The book was a number-one national and international bestseller and has been translated into more than 25 languages. It has sold more than four million copies worldwide, and was the best selling debut novel of the decade.