Tag Archives: James Patterson

Zoo

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).

1 Comment

Filed under Book Review

Confessions: The Paris Mysteries

Authors: James Patterson & Maxine Paetro

It really seems Tandy Angel’s gotten her fairy tale ending: reunited with her long-lost boyfriend, heiress to a large chunk of her grandmother’s considerable fortune, living in Paris. But happily-ever-after isn’t exactly in the works. James disappears after only one night’s blissful reunion. The Angel siblings’ ill-earned reputation has preceded them to school all the way across the ocean. And an evening’s wandering through her grandmother’s house leaves Tandy with suspicions that her beloved sister Katherine didn’t die in an accident but was in fact murdered. Frustrations rising, Tandy does what she does best–turns her significant intellectual capabilities toward unearthing Katherine’s murderer and once again finding James.

Confessions: The Paris Mysteries follow through with the same cynically engaging characters and complex plot as the previous volumes in the series. I love it! Tandy Angel, for all her flaws, has an appeal to me that most detectives do not–and honestly perhaps it is because of her flaws that I love her. I think the same can be said for the entire Angel family; their solidarity in the midst of all their oddness and troubles is strangely appealing. The plot in this volume is complicated and multi-faceted, yet consistent, with some impressive surprises thrown in to keep things interesting. Notably, I think this story shows personal growth in Tandy, something I always value greatly in a character. One thing that bothered me about The Paris Mysteries is that Tandy is led to question the trustworthiness of Jacob, their guardian and basically the only decent adult any of the Angel kids has ever known–but (spoilers) the story progresses to an even greater trust in him, so I guess it’s an affirmative plotline in the end. I would definitely recommend Confessions: The Paris Mysteries to anyone who likes a good detective story, and particularly to those who have already enjoyed the earlier volumes of the Angel family’s exploits.

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Review

Confessions: The Private School Murders

Authors: James Patterson & Maxine Paetro

As though she hasn’t had enough stress in her life with her parents’ recent death, Tandy Angel is now confronted with multiple additional frustrations. Like the stress of coming off the experimental drugs her parents had given her all her life–and the stress of experiencing the real emotions those drugs suppressed for the first time in her life. Or the worries of her brother’s trial–did he actually kill his pregnant girlfriend? What about all these murdered private-school girls who are turning up around the city? Not to mention the unexplained deadly animal infestation in her building. Or her missing beloved James. Or the new guardian who has shown up in their house–although actually, Jacob as a guardian might not be a bad thing; he’s definitely an improvement over her Uncle Peter.

As with the first volume of Tandy’s story, Confessions of a Murder Suspect, this is an exciting, suspenseful, and intriguing tale. The Private School Murders follows close on the heels of the first volume, detailing all the craziness that is the life of the Angel family. There are multiple issues, mysteries, and miscellaneous problems arising in this story; however, I must admit that it’s all very in keeping with the character of Tandy to be involved in all of it. Her private detecting is a nice blend of smarts and observation, coupled with strong determination and a touch of sass. The storytelling device of letting her figure out something but not actually telling the reader until some time later works surprisingly (frustratingly) well in this book, adding greatly to the suspense. I think I prefer this volume over the first Confessions, largely because Tandy seems much more . . . human, I guess. It’s nice to see her vulnerabilities and uncertainties. The thing I probably love most about this particular volume, however, is the inclusion of Jacob–the Angel kids’ new guardian. It’s unusual and rewarding to have a story with an involved, competent adult who actually cares about the kids he’s responsible for–and let’s face it, Jacob’s a pretty cool adult. On the whole, I’d give Confessions: The Private School Murders pretty high points; definitely a recommended read.

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Review

Half-Minute Horrors

Editor: Susan Rich

Do you love the sort of short, startling stories that are best told late at night around a campfire? Or maybe you’re the sort that doesn’t really think it’s possible for a story to be properly scary in only a page or two, but you’d like to see them try. Regardless, this collection of one- to two-page short stories is sure to horrify–and possibly change your outlook on closets, lasagna, and strawberry bubble bath forever!

Half-Minute Horrors was a lucky find at a used bookstore for me–I’ve never seen it anywhere else. This collection features (extremely) short stories (and a few comics) by some of today’s leading authors and artists. The variety is impressive, yet they all prey on our deepest fears, utilizing surprise, disgust, and the ever-useful twist to create stories that are sure to leave the reader, well, horrified. Yet even while being certifiably creepy, these stories are honestly appropriate even for elementary-age children–as long as they don’t get freaked out too easily or have nightmares. I definitely enjoyed this collection, and would recommend Half-Minute Horrors to anyone who likes scary stories–especially if you don’t have much time to enjoy them.

Featured Authors/Illustrators: Lemony Snicket, Jerry Spinelli, Kenneth Oppel, Richard Sala, Erin Hunter, James Patterson, Sonya Sones, Tom Genrich, Michèle Perry, Angela Johnson, Jon Klassen, Arthur Slade, M. T. Anderson, Yvonne Prinz, M. E. Kerr, Adam Rex, Dean Lorey, Sarah Weeks, Gloria Whelan, Holly Black, Faye Kellerman, Lisa Brown, Pseudonymous Bosch, Nadia Aguiar, Sienna Mercer, Jack Gantos, Stephen Marche, Brad Meltzer, Lane Smith, Carol Gorman, David Rich, Jenny Nimmo, Margaret Atwood, Mariko Tamaki, Brian Selznick, Francine Prose, Ayelet Waldman, R. L. Stine, Adele Griffin, Aliza Kellerman, Mark Crilley, Allan Stratton, Sarah L. Thomson, Katherine Applegate, Avi, Gail Carson Levine, David Stahler Jr., Carson Ellis, Tui T. Sutherland, Abi Slone, Joseph Delaney, Alan Gratz, Brett Helquist, Josh Greenhut, Neil Gaiman, Lesley Livingston, Jon Scieszka, Vladimir Radunsky, Alison McGhee, Daniel Ehrenhaft, Melissa Marr, Chris Raschka, Stacey Godenir, Dan Gutman, Alice Kuipers, Frank Viva, Libba Bray, Joyce Carol Oates, Jonathan Lethem, Michael Connelly, Lauren Myracle, Barry Yourgrau, Aaron Renier, Gregory Maguire

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Review

Witch & Wizard

Authors: James Patterson & Gabrielle Charbonnet

Whit and Wisty Allgood have spent their lives being basically (if a bit hipster, in a good way) kids. That all changes one night–it would have to be in the middle of the night, wouldn’t it?–when they are awakened by a new government barging into their home, arresting them, and accusing them of being a witch and a wizard. Not that they’ve ever done anything remotely magical in their lives. As life as they know it is brutally overturned, Whit and Wisty’s perspectives on themselves are forced to change as well–finding yourself spontaneously bursting into flames, seeing into other dimensions, and transforming Traitorous Jerks into weasels will do that. But will their new capabilities be enough to save themselves and their parents? Not to mention their world?

Witch & Wizard is a breathtaking story–fast-paced in a word-turned-on-its-head sort of way right from the beginning. The author uses the really-nice-people-in-a-really-dark-situation cliché to excellent effect (hey, it’s cliché because it works). And to be fair, the characters are actually pretty cool–interesting personalities and relationships and not complete goodie-two-shoes by any means. My one real complaint is that the very beginning of the story is this crazy we’re-about-to-die situation which isn’t resolved by the end of the book. Okay, Wisty remarks on it and promises it will be resolved in later volumes, but still. Overall, however, Witch & Wizard is a good dystopian thriller with a nice first-person, two-voice, perspective and plenty of action. Worth reading; I’ll probably check out future volumes.

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Review

Confessions of a Murder Suspect

Authors: James Patterson & Maxine Paetro

Imagine awaking in the middle of the night to find your parents dead–possibly murdered–and yourself and your siblings the primary suspects. Most of us would freak out. Not Tandy Angel, however. Cool, calm, and collected describes Tandy perfectly as she sets out to uncover who really killed her parents. Perhaps a bit too cool, calm, and collected. . . .

As murder mysteries go, this is a definite winner. Actually, I really don’t go in for the genre much (they get old after the fifteenth essentially-identical plot), but I picked up Confessions of a Murder Suspect anyhow because I’ve come to love Patterson’s writing. (He’s probably my favorite recently-discovered author.) I wasn’t disappointed with this book. As with his other stories, Confessions is full of strong, unique characters–notably the four Angel siblings–and the rest of the plot follows from the characters. So it doesn’t read quite like your typical whodunnit. It works brilliantly, nonetheless. I would recommend Confessions of a Murder Suspect both for murder mystery lovers (it’ll be a nice change of pace) and for those who don’t care for the genre (as an interesting character study and all-around good story). Check it out!

1 Comment

Filed under Book Review

The Final Warning

Author: James Patterson

Over the past few months, Max and the flock have gone from being a huge secret, on the run with no one but each other to rely on, to being huge news, with at least one real parent to share between them. Of course, their skills (read “flying”) and newsworthiness mean that everyone wants to use the flock members for their own ends. While Max will never go with the exchange-freedom-for-promised-safety route that is offered, it does seem that the kids might just get to spend a bit less time running for their lives and a bit more time actually saving the world . . . whatever that actually means. They’re still working on that one.

The Final Warning begins the Protectors arc of Patterson’s Maximum Ride series. As always, it exhibits great characters, a nice brisk pace, and a relatively kid-friendly yet gripping story. I really admire Patterson’s commitment to making a story that kids and adults can both enjoy and can discuss together–that has to be difficult to write. The feeling in this book is “similar but different” in comparison to the earlier Maximum Ride volumes, as the kids have more of a chance to play, discover (and struggle with) romantic feelings, learn about things beyond basic survival skills (for instance, climate change and Antarctic wildlife), and unleash a while volley of new and unexpected abilities. I think The Final Warning is a good start to the new story arc, and I look forward to seeing where Patterson will go with the flock over the next few volumes.

Note: Apologies for spamming Maximum Ride over the past few weeks; they’re just really good stories that I’ve greatly enjoyed. Since originally writing this post, I’ve finished the series. I’ll pass on reviewing the latter four volumes on the blog for now, but I would also recommend reading them. Great series.

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Review