book: z

"z" by michael thomas fordam i reading too many zombie books?

that’s the question i had in my head when i started reading Z. though when i read my last zombie book, which was ROT & RUIN, i thought it was exceptional. so why am i feeling zombie fatigue from reading Z?

Z tells the story of a zombie-torcher named josh. not content with killing zombies through his video games, he lets himself get swept away by the thrilling underground world of real-life role-playing. suddenly, he finds himself killing zombies for real–or as real as it can be when you’re killing cybernetic zombies.

but what if these so-called robots are the real thing? josh begins to suspect that something is amiss with his new team of gamers. but it’s not until a close friend is put into danger that josh begins to investigate the real story behind the hush-hush world of zombie-hunting.

after the amazing ROT & RUIN, i have to admit that i’m a little disappointed with Z. they’re not by the same author; and while they are both zombie books, neither one focuses on the same thing. so why am i comparing the two to each other? because ROT & RUIN changed the zombie genre for me. and i was hoping Z would be able to do the same.

Z is an enjoyable-enough read, sure. but at the end of the book, you don’t find yourself praising the book’s ingenuity. you’re just happy that you finished the book. maybe not all that happy with the open ending, but happy that you’ve had an ending.

with ROT & RUIN, we were introduced to the idea of romanticizing zombies. sure, no one’s going to fall in love with a zombie anytime soon (though megan berry, of the undead series, might beg to differ), but jonathan maberry brought forward the idea that these zombies were people too.

we get a similar thing in Z. early on in the book, josh’s mother tells the story of his aunt who got turned into a zombie. and you begin to see josh working out a new perspective on zombie-killing. that is, until he gets invited to the exclusive real-life zombie-hunting underworld. and then, suddenly, his character development gets thrown out the window.

he gets back to the same realization by the time the book ends, but you can’t help but wonder where the author could have taken the story had he: (a) taken out the realization at the beginning of the book; or (b) made the second realization bigger, seeing as the second realization was brought about by a life-or-death situation.

i have to admit, the zombie-game turned me off. i don’t know why, since i enjoyed playing PLANTS VS ZOMBIES, and i remember enjoying BIO HAZARD when it first came out. but for some reason, when josh was playing the game after his mother had told him the story about his aunt, i found it really hard to like josh as a character. and the game he was playing. especially more so when he started his undergound activities.

though i did like the gradual change in his attitude near the end of the book. when he started realizing that things were not as he thought they were. i wonder though if it would’ve worked better had he found out about his love interest’s game plan first before finding out about his best friend’s disappearance.

i’m still trying to decide whether i like the book or not. right now, i’m leaning on the side of the “not.” i feel as if there’s so much wasted potential in the book. but that’s just my opinion. check out some of the others i found online:
torch those z’s
book review: z by michael thomas ford
review: z by michael thomas ford

event: mockingjay launch party

"the panelists for the mockingjay launch party"good day reader!

i’m back from attending the MOCKINGJAY launch party held at NATIONAL BOOKSTORE: BESTSELLERS at robinson’s galleria. and here i am now, reporting about it.

i arrived during the last part of the panel discussion, so i wasn’t able to hear what was talked about. what i did get to hear about was the last three questions: about the blurbs from stephen king and stephenie meyer, about violence in a young adult series, and about favorite characters.

with the first question, the panel discussed their thoughts on why scholastic chose to put an endorsement blurb from stephen king and stephenie meyer, two authors from very different writing backgrounds, and with very different kinds of readers. i agree with the general consensus that scholastic is covering all the bases, making the book attractive to the two types of readers: the more serious ones and the tweens.

i’m not saying the tweens who read stephenie meyer’s books are not serious readers. on the contrary, i think TWILIGHT readers show a good potential at becoming great readers. i mean, to be able to stand a series that basically has no plot? whatever book follows must be an amazing adventure. that and i have friends who liked the TWILIGHT series and are big fans of better books too.

the second question, which deals with the violence present in the HUNGER GAMES trilogy, has everyone in agreement that there’s no alarm about the violent nature of the book. on the contrary, the violence shown in the books are actually a good way of getting children nowadays to open up to their parents about their thoughts on violence. granted that there is an open line of communication between the reader and whoever they need to talk to about these things.

my answer for this question is actually connected to my answer for the last question–which is the favorite character one.

when i started reading the HUNGER GAMES trilogy, i connected with the character of peeta. he’s nothing special, but he gets thrust into the limelight and slowly discovers who he is and what he is capable of. but as the series progressed, i found myself getting drawn to one of the supporting characters: prim, katniss’s younger sister.

now, how is this connected to the second discussion?

katniss volunteered herself to become a tribute after the reaping put prim on the spotlight. prim was the one who was supposed to be part of the hunger games. instead, katniss volunteered in her place. in our time now, many parents would rather shield their children to the violence present in the world. and that’s exactly what katniss had done.

but as the story unfolds, we see that prim is not the naive little girl katniss would like her to be. prim has seen and is seeing what is happening in their world. and that’s exactly the same thing that’s going on in our world. children are exposed to violence no matter how parents try to cover their eyes from it. violence is present in the television, in the radio, in games. and let’s not start on the availability of everything in the internet.

by the time we come to the story’s conclusion in MOCKINGJAY, katniss realizes that she’s never had to shield prim’s eyes from the violence. and while she doesn’t regret what she had done, she does come to an understanding that prim is stronger than she thinks. and that prim can understand, and is not afraid to ask when she doesn’t, what is happening in their world. [and that’s not a spoiler, for those of you who are spoilerphobes.]

and that is why prim is my favorite character: because she is a reflection of our youth. the ones who, if we try to help them understand, can pave the way for a better future. as the famous song goes, “i believe that the children are our future. teach them well, and let them lead the way.”

"the tributes during the live-action role-playing activities"after the panel discussion, the launch party went on to the activities it had prepared for the afternoon. the main feature? live action role-playing of the hunger games. or a version of it.

24 players registered to be part of the game, 2 volunteers representing each of the 12 known districts in THE HUNGER GAMES. and the first round had the “tributes” racing across the room in piggyback and sending arrows flying towards the MOCKINGJAY wall at the back of the events area.

it was all good fun, and the game was designed to shave off pairs upon pairs of players until a winner is called.

i don’t know who won or what happened after the second round, which is a modified version of tag-you’re-it. but i have to say the people there certainly enjoyed the games. i’m not very big on audience participation though, and i was feeling a bit claustrophobic at the smallness of the activity area. so i left to browse around that time.

at the back of the activity area, stalls were set up for the sponsors:

there was cinna’s corner, in which attendees can have a temporary tattoo applied on whatever body part to signify their attendance in the launch party; there was haymitch’s bar where cookies and other pastries were served with blue sprite; an area where you can go online to find out which HUNGER GAMES character you are, and a photo “booth” where you can have your photo taken on with either a “team peeta” or a “teem gale” flag.

"mockingjay launch party extras"truth be told, i’m not a big fan of the “team this” and “team that” phenomena. while the ship wars have been present for as long as fandoms have existed, it’s not until TWILIGHT that these “team” things have become so infuriatingly common.

though it was fun to watch [though, i did cringe at some parts] as fans of the book debated over the qualities of peeta and gale as partners for katniss. these fans are really passionate about the man they want katniss to end up with! they argued about their quality as a partner, the parts they played in katniss’s impressionable years, and whether or not they were the person who made katniss a better woman.

it did get a little heated though, so it was a relief when the moderators cut the debate off. i wouldn’t have been surprised if hair-pulling was about to ensue, even if the debate started off in good fun. it was that heated.

was the event a success? i wouldn’t know. this is only the second commercial book launch i attended, and it’s the first to actually have activities that doesn’t involve the author at all. so i’ve got nothing to judge this event by. that said, the attendees seemed to have a great time participating, and generally bonding with each other, that i would say it was a success in that aspect.

and in the end, isn’t that what matters? events are supposed to bring people from all walks of life together, to enjoy an afternoon celebrating the one thing (or many things) they do have in common.

though, i do hope to see more people in the next event i attend.