To NaNoWriMo or Not?(Personal Pros and Cons)

To NaNoWriMo or Not?(Personal Pros and Cons)

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Chances are, if you’re reading this blog, you know what NaNoWriMo is since it seems to be everywhere in internet-land. Just in case, though, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. Participants sign up and endeavor to write 50,000 words on a new novel in the month of November. It’s a fluffy of fun, stress, and writing.

I did NaNoWriMo last year, and while I didn’t technically “win”, I ended up with a complete manuscript. It was a lot of fun and I’ve always liked a challenge, but I’ve been going back and forth on if I want to participate this year.

My Current Writing Status:

The main reason I’m iffy on participating this year is because I’m in the middle of a WIP we’ll just call by it’s code name right now, Heroes and Villains. I’ve been working on the rough draft of this story since August, and I’ve been writing A LOT. It normally takes me around 3 months to create a finished first draft, so I thought I could write this draft and then move to something new for NaNo while giving this story time to breathe.

Sounds good, right? Well, it would be. Except, the thing is. . . Heroes and Villains is a long story. Like, way longer than I thought it would be. So far every completed manuscript I’ve written was YA, and I’ve learned I tend to draft around 70K for a first draft, especially since I rarely use subplots in the very first draft. But Heroes and Villains isn’t YA. It’s also science fiction, and it follows 3 different groups of people. It’s a lot of story, which means that right now I’m at 85K and not even anywhere near the conclusion. I won’t be done by November 1st.

Of course, I could always take a break from Heroes and Villains to draft something new, but I really love these characters so I’m not sure I want to, even while my brain says I could use a break. Thus, my current dilemma.

My Potential NaNo Project:

I don’t like to go too in-depth with my writing projects before they’re done, but IF I were to do NaNo this year, I’m really excited about the project I picked. I already have a lot of the story in my head, which normally doesn’t happen(I am definitely a pantser). It’s a YA paranormal story that deals with souls, physic abilities, and organized crime. I wanted to explore the concepts of things like selling your soul(and just souls in general, because it’s an interesting thing to explore in fiction), and then the idea came to add in a thriller component. It would be a fun story to work on. Right now it’s code title is Organized Soul Crime(the beauty of working titles is they can be terrible, and simply descriptive).

So the question remains. . . to NaNoWriMo or not to NaNoWriMo? Here are my pros and cons for my personal participation this year:

PROS:

  • New story! As much as I have loved immersing myself into the world of Heroes and Villains(it has my FAVORITE character I’ve ever written and I sincerely hope I get to introduce him to the world some day), my brain has been knee-deep in an apocalyptic future for awhile. It could use a change of gears, especially since I’m definitely starting to stall out.
  • Community! My town has a pretty active NaNoWriMo group from what I’ve gathered. There’s that, plus the online community. I remember that was one of my favorite parts of NaNoWriMo last year.
  • Accomplishment. I am stubborn & I like a challenge. I can admit it.
  • My idea would take me back to writing YA, which is definitely where I feel most comfortable.
  • I’m kinda in love with the premise of what I want to write.

CONS:

  • I’m afraid of taking myself out of the world of Heroes and Villains. Like I said above, I am stalling a little bit. I’m still making progress, but I’m in the thick of the story now and I need some ideas of bridging from point B to point C. Taking a break could be great for the story. . . or it could be terrible, because I’m not about to abandon 85K of story.
  • I’m not sure I’m in the right head space to make time for NaNoWriMo this year. I know I have the time, and I can make it if I want, but I’m not sure I can.
  • I don’t really need the motivation, because I already write on a pretty regular schedule. I don’t write everyday, but I do write enough to normally get 70-90K in 3 months, which is a good timetable for me.
  • NaNoWriMo starts TOMORROW. It’s a bit of a panicky time to make this choice for me. I’d normally would have liked to prepare earlier.

My Dilemma:

So the question remains. . . to NaNoWriMo or not to NaNo? Knowing me, I’ll probably make a decision on November 2nd. But hey, at least it will be a challenge if I really do decide to go for it this year! For those of you planning to participate in NaNoWriMo–what are you working on this year? Anyone still on the fence like me?

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Reads for Your Halloween

Reads for Your Halloween

Halloween isn’t my favorite, but I do appreciate a creepy atmosphere. Therefore, while everyone else is at their Halloween gatherings, I plan to curl up on my couch and read some spooky reads and potentially some creepy TV tomorrow. Since Halloween is right around the corner(the corner of midnight, that is) I thought I’d share some books that I consider good Halloween books–for various reasons. Scary levels may vary.

Only Human Evils Here

For those readers who are not a fan of monsters or the paranormal, there’s still plenty of potential Halloween reads. These books may not have monsters of the non-human variety, but that doesn’t mean they’re not thrilling.

1. Dangerous Girls & Dangerous Boys by Abigail Haas

Dangerous GirlsDangerous Boys

These two books aren’t connected, except that they’re written in a similar vein, and I highly recommend them both. Dangerous Girls is more of your standard mystery(with still quite a lot of twist) and Dangerous Boys is more of a psychological thriller.  There might not be monsters, but these books will still get your blood pumping. For Halloween, I’d probably pick Dangerous Boys over Dangerous Girls, but you can’t really go wrong either way.

Scare factor(scale of 1-10): I’d give Dangerous Girls a 3 and Dangerous Boys a 4.5
Thriller factor(scale of 1-10): Dangerous Girls–6, Dangerous Boys–8
BOO! factor(frequency of monster appearances): N/A. No monsters here.

2. Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

Dark Places

Gone Girl is definitely Gillian Flynn’s most known book, but I vastly prefer Dark Places for a variety of reasons. There’s something cold, human, and calculating about Dark Places and the way it will just seep under your skin. I’ve read this book twice, and afterwards I always feel I need to take a shower to get the bad human off me.

Scare factor(scale of 1-10): 2
Thriller factor(scale of 1-10): 8
BOO! factor(frequency of monster appearances): N/A. No monsters here.

3. Complicit by Stephanie Kuehn

Complicit

The thing I think is really potentially creepy about Complicit is how while reading you just get the sense of impending wrongness. It’s a short and quick read, but one that haunts me.

Scare factor(scale of 1-10): 5
Thriller factor(scale of 1-10): Most of the book is about a 6–the end is definitely towards a 9, though.
BOO! factor(frequency of monster appearances): N/A. No monsters here.

Non-Scary Creatures

In case you want creatures, but you don’t necessarily want scary, there’s a book for that too. I could only think of one book for this category, so I’d be curious to know if there are more non-scary creature books out there(other than books in the paranormal romance section, that is–books with non-romantic monsters that still aren’t scary. That’s an interesting sub-category to explore.)

1. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

A Monster Calls

I can’t really evaluate A Monster Calls on my scary-scale, because this book is so much more than that. It’s haunting and beautiful, and the illustrated version is lovely. It’s such a great book about grief and loss and I’m not sure I’ll ever find a book I feel portrays grief more perfectly.

 

Up the Creep Factor

These books aren’t scary in the way that make you want to check under your bed for monsters, but they do deliver the creepy factor. You know, instead of haunting you with outright gore, they simply make you get goosebumps and want to double check that you’ve locked your door at night.

1. We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

We have Always Lived in the Castle

This is such a haunting book. It could have also fit into the “simply human evil” section, but it fits better here because of the atmosphere. Those books were thrillers, whereas We Have Always Lived in the Castle is simply a slow-moving ball of. . . creepiness and strange families.

Scare factor(scale of 1-10): 3
Thriller factor(scale of 1-10): Mostly a 3–maybe a 5 at certain parts.
BOO! factor(frequency of monster appearances): N/A. No monsters here.
Creep Factor:  This book gets an 8.

2. Another Little Piece by Kate Karyus Quinn

Another Little Piece

Another Little Piece is probably the goriest book in this post. This book is not for the faint of heart(which there are plenty of disembodied hearts in this book, so you know, proceed with caution). It’s gory and a little gross and downright confusing, but it’s also a wild ride that makes you simply unable to stop until you know what’s going on.

Scare factor(scale of 1-10): 7. The gore amps up the scare factor for this one.
Thriller factor(scale of 1-10): 8. This is very much a race of a book.
BOO! factor(frequency of monster appearances): 2-ish. Not monsters, necessarily, but there’s definitely a supernatural element.
Creep Factor: 8.

3. The Madman’s Daughter by Megan Shepherd

Madman's Daughter

Nothing says “Halloween” quite like vivisections, a mad scientists, and. . . creatures. Lots and lots of creatures.

Scare factor(scale of 1-10): Around a 5. There’s a bit of gore in this one that drives it up as well.
Thriller factor(scale of 1-10): 6.
BOO! factor(frequency of monster appearances): 7. Mad scientist. Experiments. Kinda gets creatures up and moving.
Creep Factor: 7.

5. Pretty Dark Nothing by Heather Reid

Pretty Dark Nothing

I don’t actually remember the events of Pretty Dark Nothing all that well, but I do remember feeling sufficiently creeped out and the fact that demons were a pretty big part of this book, which seems to merit an inclusion on a Halloween reading list. After all, it’s not every horror book that goes for the big guns of supernatural creatures.

Scare factor(scale of 1-10): 2. I don’t remember this book every being outright scary.
Thriller factor(scale of 1-10): 5. There’s a lot of mysteries to solve.
BOO! factor(frequency of monster appearances): 7. Demons.
Creep Factor: 7.

All Things Paranormal

These books have paranormal elements and don’t fit into another category better. For the most part, these books aren’t scary at all, but if you still want a paranormal/Halloween vibe without scares OR creeps, these might be your best bet.

1. The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Raven Boys

The Raven Boys isn’t at all scary, but there are plenty of paranormal elements that make it a decent Halloween too. Maggie Stiefvater is a very atmospheric writer, and it’s an easy book to get lost in.

Scare factor(scale of 1-10): 1. This book isn’t really scary at all–there’s a few very tense scenes, and that’s it.
Thriller factor(scale of 1-10): 3. There are some mysteries, so it keeps the thrill factor up a little.
BOO! factor(frequency of monster appearances): 0 monsters, but a 3 for paranormal abilities/things in general.

4. The Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco

Girl from the Well

This IS a ghost story, though after a bit it tends more towards the sad than the scary(though it does have a pretty frightening opening chapter). I toyed with putting this book in this particular category or the creepy one, but decided it fit better here.

Scare factor(scale of 1-10): 5. Most of this book isn’t particularly frightening, but the opening is definitely a 9 and is quite graphic.
Thriller factor(scale of 1-10): 4.
BOO! factor(frequency of monster appearances):10. It’s narrated by a ghost, so there’s pretty much no part where there isn’t a paranormal element coming into play.

5. White Cat by Holly Black

White Cat

This book has a little bit of everything. I haven’t read much urban fantasy, but White Cat definitely stands at the top of everything I’ve read. There’s curses, some mystery, and a whole lot of conniving.

Scare factor(scale of 1-10): 2. Not really scary, but there was one scene that made me wince because of graphic violence.
Thriller factor(scale of 1-10): 4. There’s some mysteries to solve.
BOO! factor(frequency of monster appearances): No monsters, but most of the main characters have a paranormal ability. Judging on the frequency those are used, this book would rate an 8.

6. Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard

Something Strange and Deadly

Something Strange and Deadly doesn’t rate very high of the scary scale, but there’s a lot of Halloween potential here. After all, this is a zombie book with necromancers–a perfect fit for the day.

Scare factor(scale of 1-10): 3. More scary by the power of suggestion than anything else.
Thriller factor(scale of 1-10): 4. There are some heart-racing scenes.
BOO! factor(frequency of monster appearances): 4. The zombies don’t show up that often, but they’re definitely present.

Perfectly Atmospheric

In case creepy, paranormal, or thrilling isn’t your style, perhaps you want a more atmospheric read instead. These are the books I think are a good fit for that category.

1. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

Ocean at the End of the Lane

This book is like the definition of the word “atmospheric”, from beginning to end. It’s not particularly frightening, but it does deal with the idea of fear a lot, in particular childhood fear and growing up. It’s not a book that will make you quiver, but it’s a very knowing book all the same.

Scare factor(scale of 1-10): 4. It’s not really scary, but the concept of fear is definitely present, albeit in a more distant way.
Thriller factor(scale of 1-10): 1. This is definitely a slower paced book, and that’s part of the beauty of it.
BOO! factor(frequency of monster appearances): 4.

2. Beware the Wild by Natalie C. Parker

Beware the Wild

This book has an awesome cover, a haunted swamp, a great southern setting, and a girl trying to find her brother. What more could you possibly want?

Scare factor(scale of 1-10): 4. There’s a few frightening scenes.
Thriller factor(scale of 1-10): 6. The plot of the girl trying to get her brother back amps up the thrills and necessity on this one.
BOO! factor(frequency of monster appearances): 6. The haunted swamp is definitely lurking in the background the entire time.

Make Me Shudder

These are the books I would consider genuinely scary, like don’t-turn-off-the-lights scary. These are the books you read when you decide to court your nightmares.

1. Unwind by Neal Shusterman

unwind

Unwind is a Dystopia novel, but it’s by far the scariest Dystopia novel I’ve ever read. The world in this book is bleak, bleak, bleak, and your characters are not safe from bad things AT ALL. Also has a scene that is probably the most disturbing thing I’ve ever read.

Scare factor(scale of 1-10): On the whole I’d give it a 4, but there is one scene that is a 10++ on the scare scale, and that scene is why this book is included in this section.
Thriller factor(scale of 1-10): 7. The main characters of this book are on the run for a good portion of it.
BOO! factor(frequency of monster appearances): 0.

2. The Diviners by Libba Bray

The Diviners

You know what’s scarier than a serial killer? A serial killer back from the dead who has his own theme song he sings while happily carving people up. Which is described. Graphically. In 1920s New York. Also known as the only book besides The Hunger Games to give me an actual nightmare.

Scare factor(scale of 1-10): 8. There are some disturbing scenes in this one.
Thriller factor(scale of 1-10): 6.
BOO! factor(frequency of monster appearances): 4. Serial killer ghost & all that.

3. Mary: The Summoning by Hilary Monahan

Mary

The legend of Bloody Mary has been so done at this point that it takes a new spin to make the urban legend truly frightening. And this book does EXACTLY that. Summon Mary the right way, and you can send her back. Summon her the wrong way, and she’ll follow you–not only in mirrors but through every reflective surface. Get rid of your TVs, your windows, your cell phones, your car mirrors, etc. This book takes that concept and runs with it, and it becomes so frightening through the power of suggestion.

Scare factor(scale of 1-10): 8. Bloody Mary is scary again.
Thriller factor(scale of 1-10): 3. It’s mostly just scary.
BOO! factor(frequency of monster appearances): 8. Once Bloody Mary enters the story, she doesn’t really leave.

And now, after that long list of suggestion, the question–are YOU planning any themed reads for Halloween? I’m planning on reading through a horror anthology, I think.

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Book Review: A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray

Book Review: A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray

A Thousand Pieces of You

by Claudia Gray

A Thousand Pieces of You

Expected Publication Date: November 4, 2014
Length: 368 pages
Publisher: HarperTeen

Obtained Via: I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review via Edelweiss from the publisher. I was not compensated for this review, and this is no way affects my opinion of the book.
Format Read In: E-ARC
View at the Traffic light:

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the story morning glory

 Marguerite Caine’s physicist parents are known for their radical scientific achievements. Their most astonishing invention: the Firebird, which allows users to jump into parallel universes, some vastly altered from our own. But when Marguerite’s father is murdered, the killer—her parent’s handsome and enigmatic assistant Paul—escapes into another dimension before the law can touch him.

Marguerite can’t let the man who destroyed her family go free, and she races after Paul through different universes, where their lives entangle in increasingly familiar ways. With each encounter she begins to question Paul’s guilt—and her own heart. Soon she discovers the truth behind her father’s death is more sinister than she ever could have imagined.

A Thousand Pieces of You explores a reality where we witness the countless other lives we might lead in an amazingly intricate multiverse, and ask whether, amid infinite possibilities, one love can endure.

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A Thousand Pieces of You appealed to me immediately because of the gorgeous cover and the fascinating premise. I find multiverse stories inherently interesting–as in, if you have multiple universes to play around in, all quite different from each other, you have to work to make that story boring. A Thousand Pieces of You wasn’t boring, but it wasn’t quite as exciting as I had hoped for either.
A Thousand Pieces of You starts with the main character, Meg, in an alternate universe to her own. Meg’s parents are scientist working on multi-dimensional universe travel, and it’s revealed early on that Meg’s father was killed by a graduate student, Paul. Along with another graduate student, Theo, Meg sets off to span the universes looking for Paul and getting the revenge. However, it’s clear early in the story that all is not as it seems and Paul might not be as guilty as Meg originally expected.
The parallel universe parts were by far the most exciting. There were times I thought I would just be completely happy with Meg exploring new universes, never mind hunting someone down. The way A Thousand Pieces of You treats multiple universes is fascinating! Basically, every choice every time spans a different universe. That means big choices and outcomes(so for example, there would be a universe in which England won the American Revolutionary War), but also smaller ones–one particular universe that Meg travels to is almost identical to her own, except her parents made a scientific breakthrough a few years earlier.
What gets really interesting, however, is the body-jumping. In the A Thousand Pieces of You world, you can only travel to a parallel universe if an alternate version of you exist in that universe, because you take over your alternate self’s body. This limits the universes the characters in A Thousand Pieces of You can travel to, and I found this concept really fascinating, especially how it plays out in the book later.
Due to the nature of the plot, the universe-jumping in A Thousand Pieces of You often feels like a fast race to catch someone and fix the universe. I found the book was strongest when the characters didn’t spend more than a day or two in each universe. There’s a universe in which Meg lives in Russia, and the characters get stuck in that one for quite awhile. This is the stretch of book that felt less fast-paced and ultimately contributed to a lower rating for a few reasons. One, Meg is basically stuck waiting on someone to fix her Firebird(the device that allows her to travel across universes), so until then it’s mostly just her playing pretend. This is also where the bulk of the romance happens, and, well, it gave me a gross and icky feeling for one primary reason.
(Warning: These next paragraphs talk about issues of sexual consent and contain slight relationship spoilers)
In the Russia-universe, Meg realizes that her alternative self has feelings for Alt!Universe Paul. Due to something that happened previously, however, the default-universe’s Paul is basically asleep in his alternative self’s body, as he doesn’t remember who he is. Alt!Universe Paul is in love with the girl he thinks is the Meg’s he’s always known, but it’s default-universe Meg. Meg is quite enamored with Alt!Universe Paul, and they end up having sex.
This will never feel anything but gross to me, because even though default-universe Meg is pretty sure this universe’s Meg feels the same way about Paul, she can’t be sure. Alt!universe Meg is basically asleep in her own body as default-universe Meg uses it. It’s definitely proven in the book that different versions of the same person can make radically different choices, so default-universe Meg really has no way of knowing if alt!universe Meg would have slept with that universe’s Paul or not. Even though they’re both versions of Meg, they’re still slightly different and it’s not default-universe Meg’s body or her choice. Even though they’re two parallel versions of the same person, I can’t logic my way out of the inherent consent issue I see.
Default-universe Meg does think about this later and is torn over her decision, so I’m glad the issue was at least addressed, but I would have liked to see it done more in-depth. Meg thinks about how she may have taken something away from that universe’s Meg–a night that should have been her’s–but it’s only one quick line of thought before the story bounces back to the action. Even though I was really enjoying A Thousand Pieces of You up to that point, it just raised so many issues and then failed to deal with them that I was immediately taken out of the story.

finalimpression2

A Thousand Pieces of You had me loving the premise, but feeling a little more iffy on the story execution. There are some really great parts here, and I’ll probably continue the series, but the parts that left me torn really did damper my feelings on the book intensely. 3/5 cupcakes.

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Top Ten Books/TV Show Episodes to get in the Halloween Spirit

Top Ten Books/TV Show Episodes to get in the Halloween Spirit

top ten tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, which features (you guessed it!) top ten lists on a given topic each week. This week’s topic is. . . .Top Ten Books/Movies/TV shows to get into the Halloween spirit. Because I’m not a huge movie person, I’m bending the topic a little bit and recommending 5 READS and 5 WATCHES, but my watches are all specific TV show episodes.

Halloween Reads

I have a post coming up recommending some Halloween reads in-depth, so I’m not gonna get too into why I picked the books I did, but here are 5 books I think are in the Halloween spirit.

1. Another Little Piece by Kate Karyus Quinn

Another Little Piece

Another Little Piece is DEFINITELY a Halloween read. There’s hearts being torn out and razors and mysteries and all sort of delightful things.

2. Complicit by Stephanie Kuehn

Complicit

File this one if you prefer your Halloween reads to be more thriller than monster in nature.

3. Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard

Something Strange and Deadly

Something Strange and Deadly is just such a great Halloween read because of the atmosphere. It’s not particularly scary, but there are necromancers and zombies and it’s a lot of fun. It’s a very Halloween-lite book, but it does well in that role.

4. We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

We have Always Lived in the Castle

This is my newest book obsession. I read it a few weeks ago and LOVED the creepy family vibe. I’ve read some of Shirley Jackson’s short works before, and now I have to get my hands on the rest of it.

5. Unwind by Neal Shusterman

 

unwind

Unwind is a Dystopia, but I like including it on list like these because it gives some variety to the scary & paranormal. While not a horror novel, Unwind has some SUPER chilling scenes and if you want a nightmare, this book just might do the trick.

 Halloween Watches

So, like I said, since I’m not a big fan of movies, I’m dredging up some TV episodes I find super CREEPY or DISTURBING. And I picked these with a purpose, I did. I went through my shows and found episodes that were a)Creepy enough(some of these genuinely creep me out and some I observe in more of a distant “yes that’s a bit creepy” way), and b)could be watched by themselves without needing to know a whole lot about the show. I went for more stand alone episodes.

1. Hush from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”

season 4 episode 10

AKA the most legitimately terrifying episode of TV I have ever seen. While I admit that most of these episodes or shows have creeped me out at some point in time, HUSH was the only one I thought I might actually have nightmares about. It’s an absolutely fantastic episode, too–not only is it supremely disturbing but it’s incredibly written and just overall well-done. One of the most memorable hours of TV I’ve ever seen.

2. Blink from “Doctor Who”

series 3 episode 10

Remember when I said above that some of these episodes I didn’t find personally scary? Yeah, this is one. I don’t think the Weeping Angels are all that terrifying as villains in terms of outcome–you still get to live your life, albeit in a different time than you originally thought–but what makes this episode creepy is the editing. Seeing the Weeping Angels advance towards the camera is pretty scary at times. This is also a great episode for this list because even if you’re never seen an episode of Doctor Who before, this one is fairly easy to follow since it’s pretty much an entirely self-contained episode.

3. Bloody Mary and 4. Family Remains from “Supernatural”

Season 1 episode 5 , season 4 episode 11

Okay, so I couldn’t pick just one episode from Supernatural. There are never a lack of monsters in the show, but most of the time the episodes aren’t frightening as much as they are kinda gruesome(to an extent, because this IS a CW show. Though it makes for a very interesting case study in the different ways one TV show can produce such a variety of blood spatters). That being said, these two episodes are some of the scarier ones in my opinion. Bloody Mary is pretty self-explanatory. Family Remains is more scary in the “I will never be able to sleep again” way.

5. Pilot from “Sleepy Hollow”

season 1, episode 1

There are probably some episodes of Sleepy Hollow that are creepier than the pilot(I’ve only seen the first season), but it’s such a serialized show that there really isn’t any such thing as a standalone episode. For that reason, I picked the pilot. Plus, as pilots go, it’s really good. Sets up the show, the characters, the tone right from the beginning.

These are my suggestions for media to consume this week. Personally, I plan on reading a horror anthology of short stories I haven’t read yet and roping a friend into watching “Hush” with me. We’ll see how that goes! Do you have any reading/watching/listening plans for the Halloween mood?

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Zombie Books for Readers Who Dislike Zombies

I hate zombie books. And zombie movies. And zombie TV shows. If the word “zombies” appears in a synopsis, 90% of the time I’m out. I could list all the reasons I find zombies boring and too over-used all day. Let’s just say that when the cultural resurgence of a fascination with zombies started a few years ago, all I wanted to do was bury deep underground to get away from it. I’d walk to class and people would make jokes about the zombie apocalypse, or I’d go on twitter to see people talking about things like The Walking Dead.

For the most part, I’ve managed to stay away from any visual zombies. I haven’t always been as lucky with books, however, either because I didn’t realize there were zombies until I started reading or because my curiosity about other aspects of the book made me steel myself and endure the zombie aspects. Some of those books I set aside quickly, and a few I managed to finish and even enjoy, though I’m no zombie lover. So today, I’m sharing 3 zombie books for readers who dislike zombies as much as I do.

1. The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey

The Girl with All the Gifts

How we got here: Disease/medical reasons
Zombie Depiction levels: Out of the three books on this list, The Girl with All the Gifts stays closest to your typical zombie/hungry for brains story. There are some very detailed depictions of the “hungries”, as they’re called, and several paragraphs upon paragraphs describing medical research.
Why it’s worth sticking through: Despite occasionally steering into “too-stereotypical-zombie-story” for me personally, The Girl with All the Gifts had some redeeming factors. First, there’s a thorough exploration of humanity through the zombie story line. That’s not exactly a new trope, but I like how Carey did this. There’s a group of zombie children that exist somewhere on the scale between the hungries and old humanity, and that method of exploration felt new. Also, The Girl with All the Gifts was very much an adventure-on-the-run story, just. . . with zombies.

2. Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard

Something Strange and Deadly

How we got here: Necromancy
Zombie Depiction levels: Fairly minimal. I remember two prominent zombie scenes, neither with much detail.
Why it’s worth sticking through: Historical zombies are by nature at least 25% better than modern zombies, fact. Plus, much of Something Strange and Deadly is the main character, Eleanor, finding her place in the world and how she relates to people including her family. That all just happens to take place with the dead rising in the background. This is also a personal preference, but I tend to find zombie stories much more palatable when there’s a supernatural reason behind them in the story–in this case necromancy–instead of infectious disease.

3. This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers

This is Not a Test

How we got here: Unknown
Zombie Depiction levels: A constant presence in the background, but the zombies are all pretty vague. There is a twist in the fact that most of the (non-zombie) characters recognize most of the zombies, though.
Why it’s worth sticking through:This is Not a Test isn’t really a zombie book at all–it’s a character study that just happens to have the start of the zombie scare as an inciting incident. The zombies are definitely a threat throughout the entire book, but the focus is on Sloane and how she long ago gave up the will to live and has to come to the consequences of being stuck with people who want to survive.

I enjoyed each of these three books for different reasons, though my favorite(and my vote for one to try first) is Something Strange and Deadly. Now that I’ve shared my recommendations–how do you feel about zombie stories? Big fan? Not so much? Any recommendations of other books that would fit in with this list?