Posts Tagged ‘ novels ’

The Strain by Chuck Hogan & Guillermo Del Toro

7.5 / 10

There is Resident Evil, Shaun of the Dead, The Walking Dead and tons of zombie genre fiction. The literary scene has its own share of genre outbreak in the bookshelves. Only this time Chuck Hogan partnering with Guillermo Del Toro–who is well known for his silver screen hit Pan’s Labyrinth, created a twist in the genre by mixing the undead with vampirism. They probably are sick tired of how zombies can be awfully stupid villains.

The partnership created The Strain.

The first book of the authors’ recent trilogy doesn’t seem to have been infectious enough. 2/3 of the book is horrendously a drag as the authors squander pages on only setting the characters and plot. You probably can end up skipping some parts knowing that it’ll be another chapter dedicated to some unknown idiot in the story gorged by vampire infected creatures for the reason of obviously pea-brain thinking of characters. As soon as readers get quickly over the nonsense pages, the story can at least entertain enough.

Lastly, exchange of night and day dictates the tone of each chapter. Each transition should then have included the time of each event to add more suspense and to emphasize importance of the two halves of each day.

Chuck Hogan’s The Strain would have been something of a book, only if he didn’t try too hard stretching it to a trilogy. 2.5 out of 5 stars.

The Stinger is one of Hogan’s unique feature of the infected. Very much contrast to the conventional Vampire’s superior fangs.


The Firm by John Grisham


The Firm, John Grisham

8 / 10


You maybe are familiar of this by associating the title with one of Tom Cruise’s Hollywood blockbusters. Though, I had acquired the book before learning from a friend that it has already been adapted on the silver screen. But nonetheless, you know that I am biased on books than movies anyway, so I neglected the easier two hour viewing of the movie and take time to read a hundred-page fiction.

The Firm, I can say is worth the time and eye-stress.  A rag to riches story of the protagonist, but nope, not quite. There has to have conspiracies and twists of a suspense thriller genre title of course for us to be hooked. And so it did, the story revolves around a mafia controlled law firm and how they mold and pamper young talents such as Mitch McDeere in a short span of time. Only that, the legal firm is not all that “legal”.

Everything about the narration of the story is well done, except how the leading character cleverly worked his way out of the corrupted hands of the mafia and the firm. John Grisham plotted it out as an impossible task and it’s just a little bit overcooked that a lawyer Mitch McDeere can outsmart both relentless intelligence of the NBI and the brutality and network of the mafia.  He’s not that too much of a superman ain’t he? At any rate, it can be explained as you read through it, but it’s for the reader to judge.

Anyway, the novel provided much entertainment and suspense, with typical Grisham style I guess—though this is only the first I’ve read from his titles. The Firm did make me consider in buying another title from John Grisham, but it will be a while till I forget his style of writing perhaps.

Gagamba by F. Sionil Jose

F. Sionil Jose, Gagamba Paperback cover


Very much like his famous Rosales Saga, Gagamba (The Spiderman) is one of F.Sionil Jose’s novels associated also to another of his masterpiece, Ermita, in line with the story setting and some characters. I’ve been again learned with his views on the social and politicial subjects concerning the Philippines as he expansively reiterates the country’s cause of inadequate progress after the 1960s, or perhaps its vitiation after People Power.

The writing style is different from his other novels. He builds-up each of the character’s background per chapter and how they end up having the common denominator of consequentially being introduced to Gagamba and being within the famous Camarin when the historical 1990s Manila earthquake occurred. The story telling is entertaining though a bit dragging as you keep on guessing on how many chapters he’s going to allot for how many people. Then eventually you’ll end up on the last chapter—at long last, when the earthquake shattered the Camarin establishment and buries the characters, except for three people.

The novel’s last chapter and ending is a disappointment. I was expecting a little more to it after turning different stories of the characters each chapter, building up my anticipation. In the end, three individuals survived the Camarin’s heavy remains: Gagamba, the cripple (represents the battered but hardworking poor) who took care of one of the victim’s orphan Namnama (represents the country’s youth and hope) and Fred Villa (the corrupt opulent owner of Camarin) who’s source of sin and pride has been taken away by the accident, who I hope will eventually change his ways and be part of the nation’s development and change. The story of the destruction of Camarin depicts the Philippines’ continuing decline towards rock-bottom status. That the rebuilding of this country will depend on the individuals who were given second life by surviving the accident.

F. Sionil Jose’s novel Gagamba tells a story of the Philippines in a post-Marcos timeframe, an interval wherein many Filipino’s hopes and dreams are within reach after establishing democracy once again. To our despair, it seems that the dream has been an illusion all along. After achieving victory in the People Power, we still see ourselves and our nation stagnant in a swamp of poverty and corruption. One man’s power and dictatorship rule is cut, but the deceptive devils along with their intimidating leister are still lurking around, mortifying the very nation’s hope and spirit.

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

Khaled Houssein

9.5 / 10

For those who have been awed by Khaled Housseini’s first novel “The Kite Runner”, his second masterpiece will astound you. A Thousand Splendid Suns is said by many as paramount of his two novels. To me, though with great difficult to distinguish, I felt more attached to his first work The Kite Runner. But I’m not saying that A Thousand Splendid Suns is a title to be put aside, it is in fact a vital gaffe to not open its enthralling pages.

If The Kite Runner obviously focused its story on the different men of Afghanistan, Hosseini’s following to his first work, A Thousand Splendid Suns then gives way to the women of Afghanistan who are most decrepit and oppressed by the many occurrence in the Afghan land. Unlike from the start of The Kite Runner, A Thousand Splendid Suns will not give readers a chance to be prepared from the tears and.

The author perceptibly didn’t negate the women of his native land. He, in truth, gave much importance to them as he gave in details what the women were from the monarch-era to the Russian Invasion and the Taliban takeover up to the present day Afghanistan. The world is to be exposed, with A Thousand Splendid Suns, to the experiences women had throughout the degradation of the great Afghanistan they’ve known.
There are two parts of the book where Hosseini focused on the background stories of two different heroines: Laila and Mariam. Both representing two different generations and type of Afghan women: Mariam as the god-fearing, illiterate, conservative, and submissive; while Laila as the educated, liberated, contemporary, and well-opinionated woman of Afghanistan. Both are to experience the cruelty and sadist twist of fate their unrecognizable country will impose on all Afghan women. They are to endure and even though battered will end up victorious as they find hope in each other (the only thread they are to hold onto) that there will be a better Afghanistan for all women and their children.

Today’s Afghanistan has existing women rights group and organizations that are fighting for the place of women’s equality and place in Afghanistan. Let this eye-opener novel be an inspiration to not just Afghan women but to all who are in struggle with social injustices and abuse in different countries.

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

Kite Runner, Khaled Housseini, fiction, books, afghanistan

9.5 / 10

This first work from Khaled Housseini is definitely one of the best titles out there today. The Kite Runner is one astonishing novel that is written with no highfaluting words and simple writing technique, and yet an impactful masterpiece.

I find The Kite Runner as a representation of Afghanistan and its people. Particularly through Amir, the Pashtun main character who betrayed Hassan, his bestfriend, then finding out on the latter part of the story, as his half Hazara brother. Kite Running is also a symbolism of how the Afghans, including the Housseini, misses their good old times of their country, the years wherein war and violence is unknown to the contented and prosperous cities of Afghanistan.

Like what Afghanistan was before the desolating invasion and war, Amir’s lifestyle was affluent thanks to his rich father who is a well-respected Afghan in Kabul. Baba, Ali’s father, by the way I think characterizes the country’s last king Mohammed Zahir Shah, who is also a person that is deemed also with reverence by his countrymen. He is also called as Baba by Afghanis, as father of the Afghan Nation. He is given much veneration by the author as much as most people reminisce of the old Afghanistan in his rule. Obviously, Baba’s son, Amir, has a name similar to an English translation of “prince”, son of the king.

The pivotal point of the story came when Amir betrayed Hassan of their friendship with cowardice and selfish reasons. Then the incidents that destroyed Afghanistan and its people started. But even fleeing the war-bruised land and having a comfortable life in the U.S., the unpleasant occurrences in his country were nothing compared to what teared down Amir’s conscience. After years of leaving the scourged country of Afghanistan, he made a choice to go back and then to find a way to make up for his mistakes with the help of his father’s closest friend, Rahim Khan.

Rahim Khan, a gentle and compassionate friend of both Baba and Amir, is a bit of a mystery in the story. His character was utilized by the author as a guide and advisor for the father and son characters. The author not saying much of his history and how the friendship with Baba started, the character’s background still remains a mystery to me, even to his very end.

Sohrab, Hassan’s only son has been orphaned by the Taliban and was held captive by Assef, depicted the bruised and tired Afghan people–especially its children, by the unnecessary violence and abuse of the Taliban and the other throbbing episodes that made Afghanistan a battered country.

I can go on and mention all the grief and touching message that I have perceived from the author in the story, but he already succeeded in placing Afghanistan’s story onto my plateau of interest. I felt the cruelty his country and his fellow countrymen experienced, such disturbing reality he has displayed to the world.

The book is going to get you hooked from the very first paragraphs up till the end, you won’t be able to put it down. Though the part that goes to the last chapters a bit slowed my interest, but its not that bad at all.

I wished my reading of this magnificent book didn’t end so soon. I now see myself wanting more of Afghanistan’s story, that’s why I ended up buying Khaled Housseini’s second book: A Thousand Splendid Suns and tuning in to Al Jazeera for the current Afghanistan elections. Like what most Afghans in the world, I too pray that this election be the turning point of change for the country, a change for the better.

The Judas Strain by James Rollins

The Judas Strain, James Rollins, Fiction, Novel

5 / 10

Okay, this is what I get for being lazy in reading book previews or plot synopsis at the back cover of a book. The Judas Strain totally deceived me, of it I thought of being a book about Judas Iscariot, the infamous traitor of the Catholic religion. It seems like I have been the one who received a betrayal after reading it and finding out that the Judas Strain word here is about a doom-bringing disease to the human race not a mess to the modern day to be brought by a Bible antagonist.

This is my first of a James Rollins novel and I already can associate this story to the likes of the usual American action stories or plots. Only, the Judas Strain is mixed of well-researched facts necessary in incorporating Marco Polo’s expedition and scientific studies of micro-organisms that is affecting the human anatomy to the story. The latter twist to the story is a bit too much for the layman though, or the likes of me, who just can’t stop the weight of my eyelids come Science 101 class. Readers like me will need a day in researching for the scientific terminologies and another day in memorizing its complex names being tackled in the Judas Strain.

The book is not a stand alone title; I only became conscious of it while reading it as it turned out to be conspicuous in the early chapters. There are a lot of scenes and characters in the book where you will have to relate to the previous titles of the Sigma Series. This I think affected my assessment of The Judas Strain since I haven’t read the first three series.

The Judas Strain being the fourth of the six and mentioned by many James Rollins fans as the finest yet, seems to be not so fine at all for me. One of the many reason is that, author failed to establish the characters’ personality in the story, particularly the main protagonist, Gray Pierce. Commander Pierce of the Sigma Forces stumbled through several riddles in solving the cure for the Judas Strain and to save his parents and his ass. Most of this puzzles relating to Marco Polo and other archeological stuff. Gray Pierce solved them of course as the main man, but why? I really find it tough he knew such things about Marco Polo and other historical things of some places they’ve been to. From what the author described of him, he is an agent not an archeologist or historian. It made me raise a brow every solving of puzzles by Gray Pierce, though the author tried to explain how, it was not just that convincing. Not convincing as well was how Susan suddenly knew everything when they arrived at the Angkom Thor secret chamber. Maybe it was the bacteria inside her brain but still it was just not believable.

A positive note for The Judas Strain though is its informative facts and rumors of Marco Polo’s expedition and the vulnerability imposed by James Rollins to the protagonists. It made them not so commanding over the villains, adding unpredictability to the story. But still, as what Hollywood heroes always do, in the end acquiring victory and surviving the bullets and explosions from the evil doers.

The Judas Strain is an action-packed title from James Rollins mixed with riddle solving and other historical fact mix. Excitement factors that can make readers turn the pages for more. 3.5 stars is I think fair to bestow to the latest title of the Sigma Force Series, though it didn’t persuade me enough to buy the other five series of it.

The Templar Legacy by Steve Berry

Templar Legacy

7 / 10

I like Steve Berry titles after reading one of his bestsellers, The Alexandria Link. His other bestseller that I found interesting proved to be not a disappointment.

My attention was caught up by this book after getting a glance of its title. A book cover that displays one of the formidable names in a famous Dan Brown Novel. The Knights Templar.

Steve Berry’s Templar Legacy featured his famous fictional character Cotton Malone, a favorite among his other titles. The book will entice your curiosity as the book explains further the details about the Knight’s Templar. The secret organization’s rumored hidden wealth and archives, its connection with Rennes le Chateau–a small town in France turned tourist spot, and the relevance of its modern day clues and symbolisms regarding the whereabouts and existence of the Knights Templar’s legacy.

The book is a 4-star for its entertainment. The remaining one star glory is deprived as I was not that convinced of Malone’s motivation in helping out Stephanie Nelle. De Roquefort’s build up as an antagonist is not that convincing as well or the lack a bit of it. The story has a few weak points, but its still as entertaining as any novel should be. If you also want to explore more and fold other pages about the Knights Templar after reading Da Vinci Code, this must not be missed out on your bookshelf.