Sunday, January 30, 2011

Reflectere (poem)

I climbed. I tripped. I fell.
Catatonic, like a marionette whose strings were still enmeshed
with Yesterday’s calloused fingers, those quintuplets of impasse;
I was tugged and tossed into a labyrinth with no exit
where I was clobbered by the ghostly howls from the chambers of my heart.
From my lips tumbled a few sound bites—a prayer?—that
beseeched for a crack in the wall or Ariadne’s thread to lead me out.

I fell. I bled. I wept.
The sky’s teardrops bruised the petals of forget-me-nots below,
just tantamount to the way a colorful soul was subdued into sepia by too much torment.
I beg you, brandish the brush again and paint me some gossamer wings; let me soar.
Let the somber sky turn me into a mermaid of the clouds
so I can swim and wrap the stars in the lazy cradles of my palms.
Splash hunter green on a canvas of a frosty pallor—
let me turn my bleak world into a masterpiece from the blackest of coals.

I wept. I wiped my tears. I got up.
The firmament’s King always wakes up to thaw
the monsters beneath my bed;
every scar obtained from the turbulent night
was fate’s personal signature on my soul,
embedded not to remind me how hard I fall,
but to magnify my strength when I finally cut the strings of the past.

I got up. I held my head up. I climbed again.
Looking at the world from the correct end of the telescope,
let me be reborn like a phoenix rising from its ashes.
Even the desert has its own oasis, even the night has its constellations;
a rose can’t be a rose without thorns.
No need for knights-in-shining-armor or any ersatz prince
for she, my personal heroine, smiles back at me from the looking glass.



-from the first issue of The Sentinel (AY 2010-2011)

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Review: Beastly

“What matters most is what’s on the inside.” I know this saying has been around for several decades already—centuries, even—but if you face the ugly truth nowadays, not everyone really believes this.

Beastly, a re-imagining of the classic Beauty and the Beast fairytale, reuses this clichéd saying and amplified it by setting the story up in contemporary New York, roughly telling its readers that even (or maybe especially is a better term?) in the modern times, most people will always judge you based on how you look. The main protagonist is Kyle Kingsbury, a teenager who has everything a normal teenage boy could ask for: looks to die for, fame, the money of his news anchor dad--you name it, he has it. However, Kyle is extremely narcissistic and he loves to make fun of people who are less fortunate than him when it comes to the financial or looks department. At one occasion he humiliates an ugly goth girl named Kendra in front of the whole school, not knowing that she is actually a beautiful witch. As a comeuppance, she curses him to become a hideous beast, and says that only a true love’s kiss can get him back to normal.

I think the story is quite adorable—in a teenybopper-ish way—interspersed with occasional thought-provoking moments. What I liked about this “love story” is not the romance itself but the transformation of the hero from the jerk that he was to a mature and selfless person in the end. The very point of the tale is that true love sees beyond physical features, but before you can love someone else for what they are inside, you must see beyond your imperfections first and love yourself for who you are. Kyle, being vain and all, can't do this easily and the readers journey with him as he tries to accept it. The readers spend more time with this gradual character change as it occupies more or less the first two hundred pages; it does the last hundred too, though now heavily laden with romance, which of course is essential as it would be the means to lift the curse.

In truth, Kyle doesn’t have everything he wants—he loves his father so much but he isn’t sure if the latter loves him back. Mr. Rob Kingsbury is a busy man, but the way he tries to make it up to his son (which usually involves lots of material things) hurts Kyle/Adrian.  I felt genuinely sorry for the boy because every scene with his dad is painful. I almost tear up when his father dispatches him to a separate house with the maid just so no one would see what the famous Kingsbury’s son looks like now (for some reason Mr. Kingsbury reminded me of Mr. Samsa from Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis; I felt the same dislike toward the character too). With no mother to speak of and deprived of paternal affection, I think Kyle's/Adrian's general behavior is sort of explainable: he wanted all the love he could have because he couldn’t gain the ones he truly craves for.

The love interest, Linda Owens, is not a beautiful girl but is described as very smart. She has plain features: flaming red hair, golden freckles, gray-green eyes, and crooked teeth. She lives in a shabby apartment in a dangerous neighborhood and she reads lots of books. In a way, her relationship with her father is almost the same with Kyle/Adrian’s; Daniel Owens is a drug-dealer and he beats Linda up, but Linda stays with him because he loves him, unlike his other daughters. She constantly worries about him, even if he trades her off to the “beast” for a bag of drugs and his life. I couldn’t put a finger on it, but there’s something lacking in her character, like she’s not molded into a three-dimensional person that she should be. Maybe it’s because the story is told from the POV of the beast? *shrugs*

Anyway, the novel also includes online chat sessions of Kyle/Adrian with teenagers who are cursed to become creatures like him. These little conversations are a tad amusing and creative, alluding to a lot of fairytales with new twists.

Again, I think this is a cute book—a cool little break from my Kundera reading I must say. I have to be honest though: I think the last part trudges along the edges of Twilight-like romance, but it doesn’t quite fall into that pit. Maybe it was just my side that doesn’t like super sappy moments, but whatever. I still find this story adorable and I’m giving it a thumb up.

Needless to say, I'm going to see the movie.
Okay, back to Milan Kundera. XD 

*Adrian is the name he gave himself after he's turned into a beast.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Of College Quizzes and Pointless Banters

For almost a week now, my little sister has been reviewing for her exams/recitations in her Logic and Constitution subjects. She will just sit quietly in a corner, her nose buried in a book or a self-made reviewer written in a yellow paper. It's the first time I ever saw her getting serious in her studies--never once in her high school or elementary life did she ever read her notes at home before an exam. I started teasing her about it, and for the most part she would just duck sheepishly; sometimes she would shoot something not-very-witty back, and that would start our hilarious (but really pointless) banters.

For so many times she would ask for my help--about the liberty of abode, or the bill of rights, about the types of logical oppositions and premise conversions. Sometimes, when I would pass her without a comment, she would ask me for tips about memorizing/reviewing. I tried my best to help her, and I'm glad to say it's working for her.

I don't know, but the moment Aila asked me to help her, I felt as if a missing piece of our sisterhood has found its way to our little jigsaw puzzle. Maybe because I've seen siblings helping each other in doing their homeworks and I've never experienced it until now. I'm not really sure and it's a bit too shallow, but that's what it felt like. Aila is a proud girl and would normally do her own thing, turning down suggestions from others and succeeding on her own. I would respect whatever she wants because she wouldn't accept any help from me anyway, and I usually just leave her alone when it comes to academics. When she called me over and requested for some review sessions, I was more than ready to say yes.


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from our LOGIC review session :)


Our review sessions are fun. I will try to simplify everything for her to understand; she would insert snide remarks about how her professors make everything so complicated, then she would proceed to mimic their weird mannerisms before I pulled her back into focus. She's a fast learner (or 'understander'?) and I never felt so much fun before when helping someone else studying. She's so precious. Sometimes, when I came home from school, she would share her irritation about how the quiz was cancelled after reviewing for it, then would request another session. XD I love it when she pulls her sheepish face when she says that haha.

I don't want for her 'hell week' to be over secretly. It might be a bit shallow, but I love having these sessions with her. :)


Friday, January 21, 2011

Review: Zombies vs. Unicorns (Round Five)


ZOMBIES VS. UNICORNS ROUND FIVE!
Story Reviews for Cabot and Clare
from Zombies Vs. Unicorns Anthology 

___

Princess Prettypants
by Meg Cabot


When I read "Princess Prettypants", I suddenly missed my Liza Frank stickers and school supplies I once had in my grade school days. From that statement alone you should already have an idea what kind of creature our first author wrote about for this round.

Meg Cabot, bestselling writer of the famous series The Princess Diaries, decided to take a plunge into this geeky debate about what creature is better for weaving great fiction, choosing the side of—surprise!—Team Unicorn.  In her contribution, Cabot was able to create a hilarious and rainbow-colored high school tale (literally and metaphorically) about love, magic, expectations, and sweet revenge.

"Princess Prettypants" is like a mini chick-lit for high schoolers with a mythical twist: there's a classic Cabot heroine and a storyline propped up with a cute rainbow-farting (no kidding) unicorn as some sort of a deus ex machina, so no other evidence is needed to prove this. It sounds like a dud in this anthology of awesome literary explosions, right?  Not exactly: Cabot sprinkled a little bit of wicked playfulness on her style, using all the fluff mentioned above to poke fun at most people’s stereotyped view of unicorns. For the record, that’s plus points in my book.

Basically the story is about a girl celebrating her seventeenth birthday, where she receives a unicorn named Princess Prettypants—poor thing!—as a present from her quirky aunt. A friend gets into trouble and our heroine rides her unicorn to save the day. I swear I can imagine a silly little flick in my head, and if that’s what Cabot is aiming, then she succeeds.

One of my guilty pleasures is liking anything that oozes with cuteness and sweetness…except if we are talking about young adult novels. I make it a point to steer clear of the overly cheesy and hackneyed variety, not because they are bad, but because they pop out like mushrooms in bookstores—different titles and covers but containing the same thing—trying to lure teenyboppers in their bandwagon. I think that too much of this is not good for a reader’s mind...but whatever, people read with different motives, mine may be different from theirs.

Anyway, I used to think that Cabot is one of the writers who do this—maybe she still is—but this tale told me she can write something that can actually float my boat even for a while. My constant thought while reading the story is “Cabot really created something that mocks a bubblegum-colored unicorn?” Take that as a metaphor. It's a first, I think.

I liked it. I sound like Justine Larbalestier haha.
____

Cold Hands
by Cassandra Clare


Cassandra Clare is perhaps one of the most famous authors under the fantasy/ paranormal romance umbrella nowadays, having penned the Mortal Instruments series (I’m still reading the third book, City of Glass) and its prequel series, the Infernal Devices. So I know how she wrote about shadowhunters and demons—now I found out how she wrote about zombies.

Coming from Clare, I sort of expected that her contribution to the anthology, “Cold Hands”, would be a love story. Here the dead are not your typical flick zombies; they don’t eat brains and entrails, all they ever wanted to do when they come back to life is to be with their loved ones.  The town of Lychgate has this curse and no one who lives there can go anywhere else because the dead will follow them. This precipitates for the world to create the moniker “Zombietown” for the place. Adele and her lover, the Duke-in-waiting James, are happy despite living there. But when James is killed, everything is thrown off balance until James attempts to take his rightful place—at the throne and right beside Adele.

The story was decent. It’s not something I’ll give a thumb down, but it’s not one of the stories here that took the cake either. The idea of the dead becoming part of the norm is cool, I think, but if you notice the glaring plot holes that come with it, it wouldn’t be as great. The characters are okay, too—tragic figures in the middle of a somber setting. I was relieved that Adele didn’t fall into a Bella Swan-like trance when James died, though for a moment I thought she’d be like that, considering how much she claimed to love the man. The title already gives away clues as to what would happen, so I expected the implied necrophilia at the end (guh, my exposure to this kind of literature is making me so immune and I don’t know if it’s a bad thing or not).
Anyway, there are mini-stories incorporated in the main storyline to make it colorful in its own way, and I liked it. Over all it's a really good story.
 ____

MY VERDICT FOR THIS ROUND:
Team Unicorns- 1
Team Zombies- 1
ANOTHER TIE! :)

Total as of Round Three:
Team Unicorns- 2
Team Zombies- 5

(Round One is HERE)
(Round Two is HERE)
(Round Three is HERE)
(Round Four is HERE)

Since we're only a round away from the end, it's safe to say that the Zombies, for me, win. :P I'm still going to review the last two stories though.

Review: Zombies vs. Unicorns (Round Four)

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ZOMBIES VS. UNICORNS ROUND FOUR!
Story Reviews for Peterfreund and Westerfeld
from Zombies Vs. Unicorns Anthology 

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The Care and Feeding of Your Baby Killer Unicorn
by Diana Peterfreund 

Remember that cliché saying about not judging a book by its cover? It’s a good advice, proven time and again, but I suggest we add another word at the end: ‘don’t judge a book by its cover and title’.
That’s basically what I stamped in my head after reading Diana Peterfreund’s short story “The Care and Feeding of Your Baby Killer Unicorn”. I automatically rolled my eyes when I read the title, expecting lots of cloying fluff and cutesy goodness that only girls with unicorn fetish will like. The impression lasted for only a few paragraphs into the story, because when the plot finally leaps from the springboard that Peterfreund set, it didn’t offer a warning or even a reader’s “harness” of any sort—and it soared high.

“The Care and Feeding of Your Baby Killer Unicorn” is not as lighthearted as it sounds; in fact I felt like there was a little tinge of Final Destination in the beginning, what with the group of young friends frolicking around a place where they could possibly meet death, plus a psychic heroine on the forefront.

The main plothole comes right under your nose—when exactly did the story take place? Obviously it’s a modern society but one where unicorns exist and are feared. Unless it’s an imaginary timeline it isn’t really believable. Be that as it may, it seems like it’s indeed a made-up timeline, so when the readers accept that fact they can easily go on without so much ranting about it.

The character development of Wen, the protagonist, is the main reason I’m taking my hat off to Peterfreund. Wen is full of doubts and fears, still a neophyte when it comes to using her supernatural abilities, pressured by her parents’ expectations, and traumatized by an event in the past that messes with her present. She’s practically this balled up negativities in human shape—couple that with her sometimes-stupid thought processes and impulsiveness, and she will easily become one of the weakest antiheroines that you’ll encounter in modern literature. That never happened though, because Peterfreund knows how to play with characterization: she shows Wen’s strengths gradually, which, ironically, are sometimes accentuated by her weaknesses. The author triumphantly created a powerful picture in the end, when Wen makes up her mind and stands up for what she believes in.

This is perhaps my favorite unicorn short story in this collection.
____
Inoculata
by Scott Westerfeld 


I will try my best to not to fall into a fangirly pit at this point, but I can’t be sure if I can make that a promise. After all, we’re talking about Scott Westerfeld here—author of the Uglies series (Uglies, Pretties, Specials, Extras) and the Leviathan trilogy (Leviathan and Behemoth), which I both loved. There is no denying that he’s one of my favorites, and his short story contribution didn’t let me down.

“Inoculata” follows the story of the last survivors of a zombie apocalypse, zeroing in on Alison, one of the four youngest members of the bunch. Within the barbed wires surrounding the marijuana farm that keeps them safe from the hungry zombies, their lives only revolve around hopes of escape, rationed foods, zombie attack drills, and saving ammunitions. That is until Alison learns of a secret from a fellow survivor Kalyn—one that can allow them to go out into the world without fearing for their safety.

Westerfeld really has a knack for creating dystopian worlds; the bleak and hopeless setting of this story reminded me of how great he can be when it comes to world-building. There’s no way you can’t be sucked in, especially if this world’s strewn with characters that you’ll easily care about/ hate/be intrigued by in the first few pages. What makes it more appealing is that Westerfeld throws a science fiction-ish element here again, in the form of an “illness”. This propels the story into a great direction, one that is left to the readers for interpretation in the end.

In this collection, I think this is the counterpart in of Alaya Dawn Johnson's Love Will Tear Us Apart, at least when it comes to the characters. Seriously—half-zombies, and it’s because of some kind of an infection? Same-sex relationships (female to female this time)? You see the similarities and they click together. “Inoculata” is a little less personal since it doesn’t focus much on romance. Instead, the spotlight is on the characters’—and the world’s—possible future with all the zombies still roaming the world.

Unsurprisingly, this is an awesome read. My only rant is that it felt a little hanging in the end, though I suspect that Westerfeld did it in purpose.
____
MY VERDICT FOR THIS ROUND:
Team Unicorns- 1
Team Zombies- 1
IT'S A TIE! :)

Total as of Round Three:
Team Unicorns- 1
Team Zombies- 4

(Round One is HERE)
(Round Two is HERE)
(Round Three is HERE)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Review: Zombies vs. Unicorns (Round Three)


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ZOMBIES VS. UNICORNS ROUND THREE!
Story Reviews for Lanagan and Johnson
from Zombies Vs. Unicorns Anthology 

___
A Thousand Flowers
by Margo Lanagan  


When we think of unicorns, this stereotyped image of a beautiful white horse galloping around with a virgin maiden on his back will pop in our heads, an atmosphere of magic and mystery lingering around it.  Margo Lanagan snatched this picture of fluff from my mind and twisted it in the most sickening way possible, then served it to me on a silver tray that was her story, “A Thousand Flowers”. 

In my honest opinion, this is one of the most stomach-turning tales compiled in the Zombies vs. Unicorns anthology—and that’s saying something, because I don’t easily get squeamish no matter how gory or brutal a piece of literature (or even a movie) is. This one breaks the record for me; it’s so haunting and disturbing. So you ask, “Aren’t we talking about Team Unicorns? I thought Team Zombies have all those disgusting stuff.”  Seriously, if you ask me what’s more likely to make me puke—an undead gnawing on gray matter or bestiality—I’d certainly choose the latter.

The story revolves around a princess who’s found naked in a forest—presumed to be defiled—and a man named Manny who’s accused of a crime he doesn’t commit, which, as you may have guessed, is raping the princess. Throw in pregnancy and a unicorn in there, and let your imagination do the rest. :P I commend Lanagan for weaving a strong story that plays around the “virginity” concept about the mythological creature in question. Her gritty style is completely new to me, and I have to say I’ve never felt uncomfortable reading something like this before. Every image etches itself on my head, and that’s bad for my part, because I wanted to forget it right after I finish it. I think I’ll give it a thumb up for that—for the ‘ick!’ factor—but I have to admit that I’m not sure I like this. *shrugs*

One of my only rants here is how Lanagan readily dropped Manny’s POV after the reader has grown accustomed to him, and then shifted to someone else’s perspective just because someone has to attest what happened to the princess and the unicorn. For more than half of the story I thought it’s all about Manny; I was ready to commend her for developing his character. Really, there are problems about writing in first person point of view if that character dies. :P 
____
The Children of the Revolution
by Maureen Johnson 


Reading Maureen Johnson is a magic in itself—how can you feel very comfortable laughing out loud and still feel creeped out at the same time? While not exactly original, Johnson’s contribution “The Children of the Revolution” is perhaps one of my favorite zombie tales in this anthology, because she has obviously reduced me into this little walking (or reading) dichotomy.

The story follows Sofie, an American college freshman who goes with her boyfriend to get a scholarship(?) or some sort of a study program abroad, only to realize later that it means student labor in an English farm. When she sees the chance to escape from this “slavery”, she snatches it no matter what the consequences may be. She gets to babysit a rather strange set of kids adopted by a popular Hollywood actress, and only realizes that she had just made her situation worse when it is too late…

I really enjoyed this story. For one, it reminded me of one of the local horror flicks that I used to love back when I was still a wee thing—if my memory serves me right, it also has an oblivious heroine who applies for a babysitter job, and the toddler turns out to be some kind of a monster (a tiyanak). :P Yes, that’s the one with the dense protagonist who will be prodded by her motherly instincts from time to time so she will go “awww” over the monster babies and then get herself into trouble. “The Children of the Revolution” has the same premise, but what made it really likable is all the sarcasm and satire that Johnson crammed in it. Toying with the bizarre religion of the Hollywood actress is my favorite; the insanity of Lazarology proved to be a very effective plot device for a zombie story (and it makes fun of several religious fads in real life, if you think about it). Reading Johnson’s descriptions of the kids sent shivers down my spine. There’s something very scary…and yet so cute about them, and after I felt that I went “I hate you Johnson, why do you make me feel like your thickhead character!”

This is a very entertaining read, and Johnson ended it perfectly with her quirky humor.
____
MY VERDICT FOR THIS ROUND:
Team Unicorns- 0
Team Zombies- 1

Total as of Round Three:
Team Unicorns- 0
Team Zombies- 3

(Round One is HERE)
(Round Two is HERE)

Monday, January 10, 2011

Inspiration: mutualism

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I have to admit, I'm on Tumblr initially just for myself. I want to rave about my favorite books and authors, follow people who I share the same interests with, learn a few things, entertain myself. This is not the first time I received a message like this, and every time I do, I am always reminded that whatever I do will always have an effect on somebody or something else (and this doesn't apply just to Tumblr--everything in real life as well), whether it's good or bad.

I agree that it always feel so good when you inspire somebody else...it's just, sometimes, I forget how to inspire myself. When I scroll down the messages before I turn off the computer yesterday, I felt a little 'eureka' moment. Maybe I'm being a little dense, but I just realize that these messages inspire me too.

Mutual inspiration? I'm such a thickhead (or maybe I should invent the word thickheart, because it's more appropriate? haha).

These little messages and thank yous, coupled with my own need to satisfy my literary hunger, keep me going. :)

Subwoofers for Your Thoughts

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They will always think of you as a hat, not a boa constrictor eating an elephant.

So you are this girl who stays up late at night and ponders a lot about what will happen when the first ray of sunlight falls on your face, when your day officially starts as a restless college punk. Instead of getting some rest you either attempt to break your eardrums with the loud rock music from your iPod or reread the best bits of the book you last finished, the ones with the words that never fail to strike a chord with you when you let your eyes roam over them. Instead of going to dreamland--oh, remember that wondrous place you love--you sit up on a corner of your upper bunk and bob your head to Arctic Monkeys and Pinkfloyd and My Chemical Romance and Panic at the Disco and Fyleaf and Incubus.

Sometimes, when you feel like screaming--but you can't, because it will wake up everyone within the four corners of your little world--you snatch your sketchpad from under the piles of newspapers and books; then you draw, sometimes angrily, sometimes thoughtlessly, sometimes somberly. You tried to remember the last time you draw something when you're happy. You failed.

Sometimes you wish the night will last forever. Sometimes you can't wait to see the sun.

Either way, it doesn't change who you are when everyone else is asleep. Have you ever felt like a prisoner who's free to go wherever she wants? Always. So you grasp your crayons and permanent markers, doodles on your bedroom wall (because, you know, the regular prisoner does that) and thinks that maybe this is it. Maybe you're meant to be just caged in the situation where you are now. When other eyes will see those drawings, they'll lick at you with candy-flavored tongues, but what can they see? Nothing but the intricate lines and curves and colors; they can't know what drives you to create them if they can't go past the superficial value of it. And that only reminds you how alone you will be.

You drown yourself in music. You drown yourself in the worlds that spring from the pages of your books. You drown yourself in the lands you create with your writing, your doodles, your imagination. When prying ears and eyes shoot direct at you, they won't understand, because everything that will run in their minds is all about "how boring can that be?" and "how can she do that?" And you don't care, because the instruction manual that you have in your head says they won't understand. Some will try to, just so they can say they know what you're going through. But how can they? Sometimes you can't understand yourself. You let them think what they want to think, because...that's how they roll.

So what you did is let those fingertips dance on your keyboard, because what did they say--the best way to keep your secrets is to broadcast it to the world? Ha-ha (and here's the part where you wish there's a font for sarcasm). And you know that is the way of attention-seekers, telling the world to leave them alone (freaking ironic and you don't understand, but you try it anyway because maybe, JUST MAYBE, it works). So here's your crappy blog, your outlet of emotions, the subwoofers for your thoughts. You don't care if somebody else  reads this and you don't care if somebody finally knows your thoughts. What you care about is you need this out.

There. You have those words finally out.
Last step? Surrender to your Father because even before you type everything here, He knows what you feel.

And for whatever mystery, when you type that last step...you feel free. :')

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Review: Zombies vs. Unicorns (Round Two)

ZOMBIES VS. UNICORNS ROUND TWO!
Story Reviews for Novik and Ryan
from Zombies Vs. Unicorns Anthology 

___

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Purity Test
by Naomi Novik


This second tale defending Team Unicorns is my first Naomi Novik read--it might sound as if I'm made of fail, but I've never heard of her before I got my hands on this anthology. After finishing "Purity Test", I'm not certain if I should put her other works in my 2011 to-read list. "Purity Test" is a playful, humorous story of a talking unicorn looking for a woman worthy to be considered his heroine. In New York he finds young Alison (who repeatedly insists she’s not a virgin anymore) and decides to take her with him to rescue a couple of baby unicorns from a dark wizard.

Novik has a fairly good concept here—toying with the myths that unicorns are only attractive to virgin maidens—but in my honest opinion, this is not a very satisfying read. If I would compare it to a few of the humorous narratives I’ve encountered in literature, it just pales in comparison. This sounds a tad harsh but I think it tries too hard, with all those hackneyed jokes and dialogues. I didn’t find it funny at all. I agree that there are some very adorable parts (which are in fact almost droll), but that’s not enough to propel the plot to an interesting direction.  *shrugs*
____
Bougainvillea
by Carrie Ryan 


Like the previous story, this is my first for an author I’ve never heard of before. But unlike Novik, I think I’m definitely going to book-hunt for Ryan’s masterpieces.

“Bougainvillea” revolves around the story of Iza, a girl living with her dictator-governor father in the island of Curacao.  It takes place after the Return, or the time when the dead started to rise and roam around the world, infecting and killing people. She and her father lived in Miami before, but when rumors about the Return spread, they flee for an island that has a fairly good fuel supply and build defenses around it. Iza silently ponders on her father’s callousness and his relationship to her and to his people; she mixes those questions to the ones about her self-esteem, all the while taking in the situations of their world confined by pirates and the walking dead (called “mudo” in this story). All her doubts, fears, and anger make Iza a memorable heroine albeit a bitter one, turning the story into a thrilling zombie tale with a twist at the end.

The story is chopped into two alternating parts: the “Before”, which is mostly about the time Iza spends before the Return, and the “Now”, the time she spends in Curacao. I like the rather gloomy tone of the narrative; it’s not told in first person point of view, but you can really feel as if you’re walking in Iza’s shoes. There’s a lot of good imagery too, well-executed between being morbid and beautiful  (i.e. the one where Iza describes the sea water beneath the cliff as being stained red—sometimes with the petals of bougainvillea her mother used to throw there, and sometimes by the blood of people who didn’t survive).

An awesome read! I've researched about Carrie Ryan after I read this and discovered that she's written zombie novels before: The Forest of Hands and Teeth, The Dead-Tossed Waves, and The Dark and Hollow Places. Hmm. Looks like another series I should watch out for. *grins*
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MY VERDICT FOR THIS ROUND:
Team Unicorns- 0
Team Zombies- 1

Total as of Round 2:
Team Unicorns- 0
Team Zombies- 2

(Round one is HERE)