Tag Archives: apocalyptic

Supernatural (2005- TV Series)

The CW

Status: Ongoing (13 Seasons)

My rating: 5 of 5

Warning: Mature Audience/rated TV-14

Two brothers, Sam and Dean Winchester, travel the country in the 1967 Impala that is more home to them than any building has ever had the chance to be. They start out searching for their father who has disappeared while hunting the demon that killed their mother years ago. Along the way, Sam and Dean hunt as well–fighting monsters, ghosts, demons, the stuff of nightmares, and saving people from horrors they can’t even imagine. Sometimes their efforts go utterly unnoticed; other times, they meet incredible people who help them on their journey. Regardless, they always have each other, except for those rare, horrible times when they just don’t. And somewhere along the line, hunting simply becomes who they are–it’s no longer just a revenge mission or a search for their father. Sam and Dean are, quite simply, hunters; they save people, they save the world. A lot.

I’ve put off reviewing Supernatural for, like, 2 years now because I love it so very much, and I know I can never do it justice in a review. So know that first, before I delve into details; this show has my heart in a crazy way that almost no other story ever has, and it has continued to consistently for years now. I couldn’t say exactly what makes this show so incredible, largely because it’s a lot of little, subtle things combined. I love the characters, first and foremost. Jensen and Jared do such an amazing job of getting in their characters’ heads and of portraying them deeply and transparently, as do the immense number of wonderful guest cast members. So much so that, although this is at times a monster-of-the-week kind of show (much less so as you get to later seasons), it manages to be highly character driven. The characters grow and experience a lot of internal conflict over the course of the series as well, which is another thing I love–the show evolves as it goes, so that just when you think they’ve done it all (I mean seriously, we hit the biblical apocalypse in season 5) you find yourself seeing things afresh, finding new frontiers. And the writers do such a great job keeping the balance between all the angst (and yes, here there be angst) with family support and outright humor (e.g., recently in the midst of this big series of episodes focusing on busting into an alternate dimension to save family members–lots of angst and tension–we get a random crossover with Scooby Do that, while darker than typical for the cartoon, is brimming with laughs and fun as well). I guess what I’m trying to say is that Supernatural somehow manages to be a lot more than hot guys fighting scary monsters and saving the world, although yes, it’s definitely that. It’s family and understanding and acceptance and so many things that I long to see more of, and I highly recommend this show.

Created by Eric Kripke/Starring Jared Padalecki, Jensen Ackles, Katie Cassidy, Lauren Cohan, Misha Collins, Mark A. Sheppard, Mark Pellegrino, & Alexander Calvert/Music by Jay Gruska & Christopher Lennertz


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Author: Stephen Kingcell

My rating: 4.5 of 5

Clay Riddell has finally gotten his big break, signing a ridiculously good deal for his comic Dark Wanderer as well as a sequel. But his euphoria doesn’t get a chance to last for long as the world around him seems to go mad in a matter of minutes. People lose all appearance of reason, attacking each other, biting, running cars into buildings and people. In the following days, as Clay manages to make contact with a few normal people, it becomes apparent that this madness is linked to using a cell phone . . . and these days, who doesn’t use one? Distraught and desperate, Clay and his new companions, Tom and Alice, begin making their way across country in an attempt to reach Clay’s estranged wife and son–while doing their best to avoid run-ins with those who have come to be known as “phoners”. Especially as the phoners’ behavior becomes increasingly concerning and odd.

Stephen King is an amazing author, and while Cell is probably not my favorite of his books, it is certainly both an exciting and a thought-provoking read. It actually reminds me a great deal of Patterson’s Zoo, only better in every aspect. The idea of someone hacking the cell phone system is both chilling and just possible enough to get under the reader’s skin, however improbable the reprogramming of millions of people’s brains using such a signal is. I admired that King limited the story, kept it to a select group of individuals, kept the reader from knowing everything that’s going on, and never revealed the actual source of the problem. It made Clay and his companions’ experience seem much more present and real, more emotionally gripping. And this is certainly an emotionally loaded story, full of adrenaline and horror and sorrow and worry, but also of affection and laughter and joy, surprisingly enough. I enjoyed the characters and found that each brought something indispensable to the story. On a much more detailed note, I loved the allusions to Clay’s comic and his attention to signage and fonts (which is carried through by using different fonts in the text at key moments); I just found that this added a nice extra touch of character development. For those interested in a chilling cyberpunk zombie story that’s a bit open-ended, I think Cell is a great choice, one I would certainly recommend.


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Grasshopper Jungle

Grasshopper Jungle
Author: Andrew Smith

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

There are days that define our lives, sometimes without even seeming particularly outstanding. Austin Sczerba was having one of those days, but at the time, it was just another day hanging out with his best friend Robby, skating and smoking lazily. . . . Then they ended up getting beaten up for “being queers” and had their shoes thrown on the roof of the local nearly-abandoned mall. Late that night, sneaking out with Austin’s girlfriend Shann, the three return to the mall to retrieve their stuff. Only, things get weird when the two boys leave Shann in the car to nap while they climb up to the roof. And during the course of the evening, things happen that none of them ever expected: kisses, secret stashes of old experiments gone wrong, the beginning of the end of the world. Poor Austin’s soooo confused!

I really enjoyed reading Grasshopper Jungle. Having said that, if I had read this two years ago, I probably would have freaked out. Because, let’s face it, this book is spilling over with swearing, smoking, sex, and general over-the-top irreverence of all sorts. And if you’ve got a problem with that, you should probably avoid reading this one. Still, somehow Smith takes all of that and melds it into Austin’s character, making it more than that. He’s a complex, confused teenage boy, and this story drags the reader into all that complicated mess–a complicated mess that sees the connections between past and present, between all sorts of seemingly unrelated occurrences that do eventually loop around to connect. I would tend to compare Smith’s writing to that of Sherman Alexie; he writes the world as he sees it and doesn’t give a damn what anyone else thinks about what he’s writing. This is the sort of book that–if they ever bother to read it–parent groups would be up in arms about. But at the same time, there’s something vibrant and engaging about the story. Honestly, the one thing I really had issue with is not related to any of that at all–rather, it’s that the science fiction aspect is very old-school B-rated movie, in other words, kind of cheesy. But, that’s really just a carrier for the other aspects of the story; it’s one of those books in which the underlying plot is almost unimportant, comparatively. I think I would recommend Grasshopper Jungle, but only to those adult readers who are able to view it open-mindedly (and NOT to younger readers; 18+ in my opinion).

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Authors: James Patterson & Michael Ledwidge

Jackson Oz has known for years that something’s wrong with the animal population–freak attacks and unusual behaviors are growing exponentially. But it seems like no one in the scientific world wants to listen to him. He believes he has evidence, but people don’t even want to look at his theories. It doesn’t help that Oz doesn’t have the degrees to back up his opinions, and neither does the fact that he has no idea what’s causing this outbreak of animal violence or how to solve it. He gets his break–sadly and terrifyingly–when a research trip to Africa leads to his group’s being attacked by a pride of all male lions–an attack that Oz captures on video for the world to see.

Ever since I discovered James Patterson’s books, I’ve loved them, and what I’ve read that was done with Michael Ledwidge (Daniel X) has also been excellent. Having said that, Zoo was quite good–original, exciting, and suspenseful–but I honestly didn’t enjoy it as much as I have his other books. Part of that is just that it was written for an adult audience, and for Patterson’s writing style, I prefer his young adult books–I think he brings the characters out better in them, maybe. Although Oz and Chloe were great characters, they were so totally caught up in the events taking place around them that I felt like they got lost a bit. Also, as an animal lover, I found it distasteful that so much of the story was about animal violence; however, the authors did make a point that it was humans’ messing up the environment that caused the animals to behave that way. Which leads me to the biggest problem I think I had: I’m no scientist, but the whole plot setup just seemed a bit far-fetched, especially the solution that fixed in days what had been building for years. Having said all that, the plot was intriguing to the extent that I was able to allow myself to go along with it . . . horrifyingly intriguing, gory, and thought provoking (again, to the extent that I was able to let myself go with it). I thought all the short segments from other people’s perspectives around the world helped to flesh out the magnitude and horror of the story well. So . . . I think Zoo is a fine option for mature adult readers who are looking for a horrifying, gripping thriller, but not so much for the serious reader. I honestly probably won’t read it again (whereas every other Patterson I’ve ever read is on the definite re-read list).

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Armageddon Summer

Authors: Jane Yolen & Bruce Coville

The members of the charismatic Reverend Beelson’s congregations are convinced that he’s right: the world’s ending on July 27, 2000. And based on that belief, they’re packing up their families and heading out to Mount Weeupcut, the only safe place to be for the chosen few, according to the Reverend. In the wake of their respective families’ dissolution, Jed and Marina find themselves dragged along by their remaining parents. Marina wants to believe, if only because her mother believes and she so desperately needs for her mother to be right. Jed doesn’t give a care–he’s just there to protect his dad who’s been a bit batty since Jed’s mom left. When these two meet up on the mountain, they find something in each other they can relate to, someone they can really talk to without feeling judged for their unbelief. Which is good, because if Reverend Beelson’s right, they’re going to be stuck with each other for a long time.

I normally shy away from books like this; they’re just a bit too angsty and mercurial for my taste. But a Jane Yolen/Bruce Coville combo was something I just couldn’t pass up. Armageddon Summer was much better than I expected, even knowing and respecting the authors as I do. I guess the best way to put it is to say that it was tasteful and non-judgmental. Even though they were largely writing about folks who were clearly nuts, they also showed the good sides of those people. Furthermore, they depicted with painful honesty the challenges of faith and uncertainty, especially in circumstances such as when everyone around you is fully convinced or when your parents clearly believe and want you to. I think the struggle of what to do when your beliefs and your parents don’t mesh is a key element in this story–one on which I truly appreciate the authors’ thoughts. The writing itself is, as expected, flawless, engrossing, thoughtful, and dynamic. I really enjoyed the alternating voices between Marina and Jed, as well as the interlacing of snippets from radio broadcasts, sermons, and conversations for flavor. I don’t think Armageddon Summer is for everyone. Some might find it offensive; others may find the challenges it raises to their own beliefs to be disconcerting. But for the brave and the thinking reader, I think Armageddon Summer is sensitive, thoughtful, poignant, and well worth your time.

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