Sunday, January 29, 2012


Feed, by Mira Grant

Publisher's blurb:

The year was 2014. We had cured cancer. We had beat the common cold. But in doing so we created something new, something terrible that no one could stop. The infection spread, virus blocks taking over bodies and minds with one, unstoppable command: FEED.

NOW, twenty years after the Rising, Georgia and Shaun Mason are on the trail of the biggest story of their lives-the dark conspiracy behind the infected. The truth will out, even if it kills them.

(Buckle up!  It's another unfavorable review.  I'm sorry.  I'll try to read something I'll react to more positively, next time.  I promise, I'm not purposely picking books I know I won't love;  I'm just awfully picky, I guess...  Or let's say I have "very discriminating taste", shall we?)

I started reading this novel expecting much more than it was able to deliver.  Honestly, I'm surprised by the high reviews it's received.   Not that it's an absolutely dreadful book-- it has enough going for it to avoid that designation-- but it's just not outstanding.  I mean, this novel made it onto an audience-picked "Top 100 Killer Thrillers" list (hosted by NPR, if you're interested).  It's number 74 on the list, and sadly, it doesn't deserve that spot.  (But then again, I'm sure many others on the list don't, either.  We have The Da Vinci Code at number 6, for example.)

Don't read this novel if you want a "traditional" zombie story; here, the zombies are in the background-- an established fact of life-- and the real focus is on a rag-tag team of journa-bloggers covering a political campaign.  That's right-- it's got politics.  It's also about relationships-- particularly the incredibly strong bond between an adoptive brother and sister (Shaun and Georgia-- aka George).  That might not sound too bad (though not what you expect if you think you're in for a zombie novel)-- and parts of it aren't-- but there's plenty of room for improvement.  (I'll go into lots of disjointed detail below.)

Some reviewers note that the story picks up its pace toward the end of the novel, the first in a trilogy.  Personally, I'm not sure that it's enough.  I'll probably at least start the second novel, eventually, but if it's not significantly more interesting in very short order, I doubt I'll invest more time in the series. 

My (Less Spoilery) Observations (Okay, Mostly Gripes):

•   Blogging has made a big comeback, in the future, serving as what many view as the most reliable source of news and entertainment.  I have no trouble believing that traditional media failed to meet the needs of the public during the first outbreaks, but I don't like the way "old-fashioned" blogging is described:  "Before then, blogging was something people thought should be done by bored teenagers talking about how depressed they were.  Some folks used it to report on politics and the news, but that application was widely viewed as reserved for conspiracy nuts and people whose opinions were too vitriolic for the mainstream."  Um, okay...  Maybe ten or fifteen years ago.

•  Then there's the doctor from the CDC who "violated national security to post details on the infection on his eleven-year-old daughter's blog.  Twenty-five years after the fact his words-- simple, bleak, and unforgiving against their background of happy teddy bears-- still send shivers down my spine."  So... This is 2014 (if I remember correctly), and the brilliant doctor at the CDC can't find a better way of distributing his vital, potentially life-saving information than on his 11-year-old daughter's blog?  Who does he think reads that?  Fewer than twenty other 11-year-olds, most likely.  Not the best way to spread the word far and wide.

•   Georgia is supposed to be a relatively "straight-news" person, I think, and yet pretty much every snippet from her news blog is nothing more than her opinions.  At one point, she crescendos a snippet by describing another character as "a man who seems most likely to escalate the unending conflict between us and the infected into a state of all-out war".  Yes, very unbiased.

•   It seems more than a little silly that the young seem to dominate the news-blogging techie world.  This is set around 2039/2040.  A man who's 30 in 2012 will be 57 in 2039.  So why aren't there more people in their 40s, 50s, and 60s doing techie-blogger stuff?  It's bizarre that it's so youth-centric.  Or do people magically lose their tech savvy if they've lived through the zombocalypse?

•  There is way too much repetition of and reference to a few things:  security measures, blood tests/testing units, and Georgia's "retinal KA"/sunglasses.  I think I'm an expert on all three, now.  I get that they were important elements of the story-- and in the case of the first two, the world as a whole-- but at some point, you don't need to explain every little thing.  People tend to remember after the hundredth time something's described. 

•  Speaking of the blood tests-- I guess the number of them indicates the degree to which people have given up their freedom... and their level of terror-- but good grief.  There are so many of them, and some of them are so redundant.  You have to take a test to leave a hotel?  You have to take a test when you enter a garage... and another to enter the elevator just a few steps away?  And another to exit the elevator??  Why not just have everyone fitted with a permanent testing unit/monitor that performs a scan at regular intervals?  Hey, I know!  It attaches to the base of the skull, and as soon as amplification is detected, it shoots a tiny but strategically placed blade through the brain or spine.  Great idea, huh?  ;o)

•   Inconsistencies.  There were too many of them.  For instance:  We're told that the gutsy bloggers of the world are the ones who go out to eat in restaurants, visit theme parks, etc., making it sound like most people just hole themselves up in their homes as much as possible.  (Which, if 87% of the population is unwilling to leave their homes, how can restaurants and theme parks-- of all things--  afford to stay open?  Basic economics fail, as they say.)  Later, there are huge gatherings of people and references to the fact that Sacramento resents the Bay Area because (among other things) it gets "the big tourism dollars".  Um, excuse me, but how in the world are there "big tourism dollars" anywhere, if 87% of people are nervous about going out for supper at a local restaurant? 

•  More inconsistencies.  At one point, Georgia says that "there have been no indications that infected individuals are capable of emotions as complex as hate.  Further, they're not dead.  If rights end where the grave begins, shouldn't they be protected by law like any other citizen?"  So, she's going to fight for the rights of the undead?  I get the impression it's more about her dislike of Tate than Zombie's Rights.  And then, later on, there's a reference to the danger of Tate "escalating the unending conflict between us and the infected into a state of all-out war".  ...But how can there be war when one side is a group of "people" unable to feel or think like people?  Makes no sense
Later, we read that "a fresh mob wants to infect, not devour," and throughout the book it's suggested that the virus itself is somehow guiding the actions of the infected.  ("Once the virus is awake, you cease to be 'you'"... blah blah blah... "The zombie is a creature with two goals:  to feed the virus in itself, and to spread that virus to others."  So why in the world does she defend them against Tate?  Why argue semantics-- whether or not the zombie can "hate"?  Why does she make it sound like the infected should have more rights, when the conscious person-- the soul-- has already gone, leaving nothing but a vessel for the virus?  It's just crazy.

•  In the first pages of the novel, we are introduced to the way this zombie virus works, and we learn that when zombies get into larger groups, they are automatically, immediately more... intelligent, I guess you would say.  Pack intelligence is an interesting and new (to me) aspect in zombie tales, but I'm not sure how logical it is.  (And yes, looking for logic in zombie novels is probably an illogical thing to do.)

•  The nod to George Romero's zombie movies is amusing... as is the inclusion of a character who calls herself "Buffy".  The reference to T.S. Eliot's "The Wasteland", however, seems awfully contrived.  (Or maybe I'm just jaundiced because I didn't enjoy being made to read it in high school.)

•  Semi-modern slang such as "'Sup" (short for "What's up") and "'rents" ("parents") has survived into the late 2030's/early 2040's.  It's amazing(ly irritating)!  It's bad enough that I have to hear it now; must we be burdened with the thought that it might still be in use that far into the future?  How in heck does "'rents" survive the zombie apocalypse?

•   Buffy reminds me of Luna Lovegood, but without quite so much daydreamy vagueness. 
Even the description of some of her clothes-- broomstick skirts... tie-dyed leggings... knee-length glitter tunic... star-and-moon hologram hair clips.

•   You'll be happy to note that Craigslist survives the zombocaplypse. 

•   "Poultry and fish are safe, but a lot of people avoid them anyway.  Something about the act of eating flesh makes them uncomfortable."  Ooh, more people turning into vegetarians.  I'm sure that reading that makes some people's day.

•  Does the author have something against Texas?  Georgia describes it as "a state famed for its belligerence, hostility, and political instability".  Sure, I assume that's the Texas of the future, but still... 

• "He is, in short, a politician who understands that the dead are the dead, the living are the living, and we need to treat both with equal care."  ...What does that even mean? 

•  There were a few times when Americans used British slang-- like "full stop" instead of "period".  Odd-- especially since the author is American.

•  Apparently Apple is still around... making top-of-the-line blood testing units, of course. 

•   There are blood testing units on the entries of vehicles (and homes and most other buildings), right?  Wouldn't that be kind of
dangerous if you were seeking speedy refuge during an outbreak?  These blood tests must result in a lot of unnecessary infections.

•   The fact that large mammals can be infected is an interesting touch, but I don't think there are many viruses that affect all or even most mammals, so it seems far-fetched.  (Which is entirely relative, considering that this is a zombie novel.)

•  The repeated use of the word "folks" drives me crazy.  Politicians definitely do (over)use that word, but good grief.  Give us a little variety!  Besides, the politicians weren't the only ones "folks"-ing left and right. 

• The senator from Wisconsin refers to our intrepid trio of bloggers as "a bunch of Bay Area blogger kids", which struck me as odd.  Would a Wisconsin senator use "Bay Area" to describe them?  Seems like a descriptor a Californian-- or at most a West Coaster-- would think to use.   (Maybe I'm being a tad too picky here.  I was increasingly bored and/or irritated when I made these notes...)

•   Even if it's not mentioned, just assume that Georgia raises one or both eyebrows every fifth page.  She occasionally spices things up by putting her hand up in the "stop" position.  Meanwhile, Shaun's go-to response is a mocking salute that somehow manages never to look ridiculous or rude, or something.

•  Georgia "has" to wear heels to the party?  She describes her dress and adds that "situations that call for me to wear it almost invariably require hose and heels."  Require.  Must be some post-zombocalypse law, 'cause the last time I checked, you could wear flats or even dressy sandals to even a fancy par-tay.  Believe it or not, they won't shoot you on sight if you're not in stilettos.  Sensible shoes, gals; it's the way to go-- especially after zombies take over large parts of the world.

•  I don't think this is marketed as a YA novel (and there are aspects of it that might explain that-- language, violence-- not that those seem to matter, these days), but most of it has that vibe.  Not a judgement; just an observation.

•  I think this is one of those stories that would be better as a movie than as a book.  I would rather have watched than read it.

•  "If you want an easy job-- if you want the sort of job where you never have to bury somebody who you care about-- I recommend you pursue a career in whatever strikes your fancy... just so long as it isn't the news."  Oh, gag.  Seriously?  Let's glorify journalism!!  Hurray for journalism!!  Because it's the most important, dangerous job in the world!  Soldiers, police (and other law enforcement), firefighters, etc. never die in the line of duty, obviously. 


For a while, I wondered if there would be some sort of romantic development between Shaun and Georgia.  (Hey, they're not related by blood!)  There was just such an odd dynamic between the two of them...  Very touchy-feely.  

•  I found the presentation of religion and the Republican party annoying.  I was initially pleased when it seemed that there was going to be a "reasonable" Republican candidate-- one of the good guys and a Republican!  What novelty (in a modern novel)!  But gradually it became obvious that Senator Ryman was less a conservative than a RINO.   He's even described at one point as a "moderate leaning toward liberal"!  What a let-down, that even this novel's Republican candidate couldn't be a real conservative.  Then there's stuff like this:  "...half the party has embraced the idea that the living dead are a punishment from God and we poor sinners must do 'penance' before we can enter the Kingdom of Heaven..." and "Would he bow to the religious nuts who have been taking over more and more of the party in recent years?"  Really?  *sigh*

•  "Where did the senator stand on the death penalty?  Given that most corpses tended to get up and try to eat folks, he didn't see it as a productive pursuit.  What was his opinion on public health care?  Failure to keep people healthy enough to stay alive bordered on criminal negligence."  (And on and on.)

Basically, it felt like the author used Senator Ryman (and the novel as a whole) to present several of her own political opinions-- and some of the logic just doesn't make a lot of sense. "If you're killing someone for the crime of killing people, doesn't it sort of contradict the spirit of the thing if their corpse is going to get up and immediately start killing more people?"  Uh... except in this world, people turn into a zombie when they die, no matter how they die (as long as the brain is intact).  So... if you let the death row inmates die of natural causes, they're still going to have to be "put down" when they reanimate (or prior to reanimation).  Only in that case, you might not know they're about to die and reanimate, whereas if you execute them, you can be ready for reanimation-- or just choose a method of execution that precludes reanimation altogether.  It's an extremely weak argument against the death penalty.

•  So we have Ryman, Mr. Ideal, who is a "moderate with liberal leanings"-- and the only other Republican candidates I recall are a woman who's basically a media whore who'll do almost anything for publicity and Governor Tate, the far-right ("Bible-thumping") religious nut.  Of course.  He has a military background.  (Ooh, sinister.)  He's pro-gun and anti-abortion.  So, duh, he's evil and insane.  

• Now for more on the religion issue.  For a while, I was interested by the more philosophical approach to zombies.  But it gets old after a bit-- especially when there's a religious nutcase (Governor Tate, aka one of the Bad Guys).  And then there's Buffy.  She's described as being so religious.  She says grace before meals.  She prays before going to sleep.  She attends church regularly (before going on the road).  And yet she is the one character who believes in ghosts (???), writes porn, has premarital sex-- and eventually turns into a traitor, when someone takes advantage of her weakness and her religious beliefs.  One big fat UGH.

•  When it was "revealed" that Tate was one of the Bad Guys, I was SO SHOCKED!  I nearly fell out of my chair, you guys!  I mean, like, who saw that coming, right?  ;o)  Ok, maybe it wasn't meant to be shocking.  The fact that it was "revealed" with about a quarter of the book still to go might be an indication that the author knew it was painfully obvious that Tate was Evil.

•  The whole "listening in on Tate" scene-- what he said and the way he phrased it-- smack
ed of an old episode of Scooby-Doo and the de-masking scene (every episode had one!) in which the Evil-Doer goes on about "those meddling kids and their dog".  Heh.  And Tate is just about as nuanced as those cartoon villains, too, I'm afraid.

•  So, let me set the scene.  The major characters are listening to the feed from a bug.  Tate (a Bad Guy) is saying some very self-incriminating things.  And then the author hits us with this:  "Unaware that he was being listened to, Tate continued:..."  My mouth probably fell open at this point.  Yeah, it's kind of insulting that she thought her readers weren't smart enough to have figured that out on their own.  She had to spell it out for us.  Sheesh.

•  I'd suspected that Georgia was going to die, just about the time that she said that she "knew" Shaun was going to die someday, and she'd have to do this or that.  (I was still illogically kind of surprised when it actually happened-- but there you have it.  I'm always surprised when a writer kills off a main character, even when I've predicted it.)  So, maybe we were supposed to know she was going to die.  If not, then there's a bit of a boo-boo when a chapter begins with a snippet Georgia wrote that is credited not to her news blog, but to something called "Postcards from the Wall, the unpublished files of Georgia Mason".

•   I snorted when I read that part of the Bad Guy Contingent is... ready? ...the Tobacco Companies!!  (dun! Dun! DUN!!)  I expect it will come into play in the second or third novel.  So far all we know is that the "tobacco companies"-- that's as specific as it gets-- are involved, along with the CDC.  I'm just waiting for The Oil Companies to be unmasked as more Bad Guys. 

Something I Actually Liked:

•   "This is the truth:  We are a nation accustomed to being afraid.  If I'm being honest, not just with you but with myself, it's not just the nation, and it's not just something we've grown used to.  It's the world, and it's an addiction.  People crave fear.  Fear justifies everything.  Fear makes it okay to have surrendered freedom after freedom, until our every move is tracked and recorded in a dozen databases the average man will never have access to.  Fear creates, defines, and shapes our world, and without it, most of us would have no idea what to do with ourselves.  Our ancestors dreamed of a world without boundaries, while we dream new boundaries to put around our homes, our children, and ourselves.  We limit our potential day after day in the name of a safety that we refuse to ever achieve.  We took a world that was huge with possibility, and we made it as small as we could."

All in all, I certainly won't be reading this one again, and I probably wouldn't have read it the first time around, if I'd known how little I'd enjoy it.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Making Money

Making Money, by Terry Pratchett

Official blurb:
It’s an offer you can’t refuse.

Who would not to wish to be the man in charge of Ankh-Morpork’s Royal Mint and the bank next door?

It’s a job for life. But, as former con-man Moist von Lipwig is learning, the life is not necessarily for long.

The Chief Cashier is almost certainly a vampire. There’s something nameless in the cellar (and the cellar itself is pretty nameless), it turns out that the Royal Mint runs at a loss. A 300 year old wizard is after his girlfriend.  He’s about to be exposed as a fraud, but the Assassins Guild might get him first. In fact, a lot of people want him dead.

Oh. And every day he has to take the Chairman for walkies.

Everywhere he looks he’s making enemies.

What he should be doing is . . . Making Money!

I read this with Donald, after we watched the made-for-TV movie adaptation of Going Postal, which is a (the?) previous (first?) installment in the story of the main character, Moist von Lipwig.  Before watching that adaptation, I was skeptical of anything written by Terry Pratchett, even though I knew Donald had enjoyed some of his novels.  It wasn't anything personal against Pratchett; it was just that I'd mentally labeled his writing as "Fantasy" and had similarly labeled "Fantasy" as "Not My Thing, Really"-- even though, ok, I did like the Harry Potter series... and the Lord of the Rings trilogy... and probably several other things that might fall into the fantasy genre.

The thing is, genre is rarely cut and dried.  Usually, the same work of fiction could legitimately be placed in at least two or three genres, depending on who's doing the placing and what element or aspect of the work they choose to give the greatest weight.

For whatever reason, I am prejudiced against "Fantasy".  I realize and admit it.  When I hear "Fantasy", I think, "Oh boy, dragons and swords, Quests, people with silly, complicated names, muscular mighty men (diamonds in the rough, secret heirs to the throne), wizened wizards, (all-too-often scantily-clad) battle-maidens-- and a bunch of  fancy-schmancy, utterly pointless 'World-Building' that makes a 200-page story mushroom into an 800-page 'Saga'.  Meh, no thanks."  Now, I don't know if I've ever actually read a fantasy novel where those things were true-- or rather, where that was all the novel had to offer (because let's be honest, several of those stereotypes are pretty accurate, in many works of fantasy)-- but that's what I envision, and it doesn't appeal.  (Not to me, that is.) 

However, I'm trying to change my bias against fantasy, because there are so many instances where something that could easily be labeled as such does hold my interest-- much more than my (perhaps unfair) idea of "Fantasy".  Yes, there's world-building, but that can be a good thing when it isn't the whole focus of the novel, or when it's well done, woven into the story instead of presented in mind-numbing blocks of "world history".  There may be dragons and swords (A Game of Thrones comes to mind), but that doesn't have to overpower other elements of the story. Basically, I ought to give fantasy a fair chance, precisely because of authors like Terry Pratchett.  If an author writes compelling / amusing / entertaining stories about relatable characters, I don't much care whether they're set in Middle Earth or Minnesota. 

Now, on to this particular book.

Was it my most favorite book ever?  Well, no.  Am I likely to encounter my favorite book ever, in my thirties or onward?  No.  I am of the belief that it's extremely difficult for books we read as adults to come close to "measuring up" to the books we loved as adolescents/young adults.  It's only natural; we're more impressionable at that age, and we haven't been exposed to as much.  The first time you encounter a particular literary device, genre, or type of character, it's completely fresh and new, and you can't help but admire the author's supreme creativity.  You bond with characters and stories differently, under those circumstances. By the time you're thirty, you've been there, done that.  ("Yeah, that was pretty good, but I've seen this before.")  ...Besides, I hardly ever call anything "my favorite", anymore.  Or in other words, I don't have a single favorite book.  (Having a favorite anything feels like something I left behind in 7th or 8th grade, honestly.)

All that said (wow, I'm in a rambly mood this morning!), I did enjoy the book-- parts of it very much-- and if Pratchett's other works are comparable to Making Money, I am certainly interested in reading more. 

A few more specific observations/comments/etc:

•  Pratchett really enjoys having his characters end sentences with "yes" (as a question), doesn't he?

•  I love the fact that the world where this is set includes fantastical beings from all over the map-- werewolves, vampires, golems, dwarves, imps... and too many more to name, really.

•  This fantasy world (Discworld)  has a slightly Victorian England vibe that I like. (Obviously.  It should go without saying.   I mean, don't you know me at all?)

•  This novel felt more like humor than fantasy.  Witty, clever humor that just happens to be set in a fantasy world populated by fantastical beings (as well as very many beings that could at least pass for human). 

...And that's all that comes to mind (since I don't believe I took any notes while reading this one... I very rarely do when I'm reading aloud).

I give it a thumbs-up.

Monday, January 2, 2012

The House on the Strand

The House on the Strand, by Daphne du Maurier

Well, this is one of those times when I have to wonder what I missed.  I was looking forward to this novel based on its popularity and my enjoyment of Rebecca, but The House on the Strand left me, if not cold, at least cool.  I'd hoped for something better.  However, I don't recall being as impressed by Jamaica Inn as I was by Rebecca, so maybe I should've expected less from this one, too.

I went into the book knowing little more than that it involved time travel, which always sounds interesting, at least.  I'll admit, I was thrown for a loop when the protagonist's identity was revealed.  Here was a (40-something?) man, when I'd been picturing a young(ish) woman.  Then there was the rather confusing (and dull) introduction of the cast of medieval characters... and the fact that, when it comes right down to it, I'm not usually drawn to stories set in that period of time.

Given my expectations, this was something of a let-down, though it did get a little more interesting once Vita and the boys were introduced.  Still, the relationships between the characters irritated me more than anything else, and I didn't really like anyone-- not even the perfect Isolda.  (I think that by the end of the story, I came closest to liking Magnus, which is odd, because I found him especially annoying through much of the book.)  Generally, the story seemed to just ramble much of the time and have no real point-- nor a satisfying conclusion.  This is not one I see myself returning to.

More specific observations, reactions, etc.:

•  Reminders of Rebecca (though it's been such a long time since I read it):  There's a character named Magnus, which made me think of Maxim.  There's a reference to a house that must have burned to the ground, I think... Then there's the fact that there are inquests in both novels.  

•  The inclusion of the name of the author's real-life home (Menabilly) was interesting.

•  "The wimple that framed her features was adornment enough, enhancing the charms of any woman, plain or beautiful."  I've never found wimples to be very flattering.  Besides, they make me think of nuns... Not that a nun can't be beautiful, but you get my point. 

•  Richard's relationships are all so weird and negative... I mean, a certain degree of that would be realistic... and maybe all of it is realistic, for many, but how depressing...  He "could have done without" his stepsons.  He insists that he loves his wife, but he rarely treats her with affection-- more often, he seems to think of her with annoyance, contempt, or dread-- the stereotypical "can't relax until I've gotten my shrew of a wife off my back" style of husband.  

•  Richard's not the only one with weird relationships.  Apparently everyone was cheating on everyone else in medieval times.  A little of that, ok, might be necessary for the story, but it felt like everyone had a Secret Lover.  

•   "Her jeans became her-- like all Americans, she had a stunning figure-- and so did her scarlet sweater."  Huh.  I didn't know all Americans in the 19-whenevers had stunning figures.  I wish the same could still be said today-- not that we're the only country sadly lacking in stunning figures.  Chubbiness-- the unwanted side effect of living in the land of plenty in sedentary times.  

•  The American wife and guests seemed to regularly use British slang/terminology.  Odd.

•  "'Naturally I've talked to your wife,' he agreed, 'and apart from a few feminine quirks she's a very sensible woman.'"  Ugh!  Yes, those "feminine" quirks.  Because men are always perfectly sensible. 

•  The frequent use of the word "mizzling" caught my attention.    


•  I guessed pretty early on (not much to my credit, since it seemed so obvious) that someone would be hit by a train while under the drug's influence.  

•  How come a car horn was enough to rouse Richard from his trance, yet the thunder of a passing train couldn't get through to Magnus?   (Other than that, the whole story was completely plausible-- the time travel drug, the pseudo-scientific explanations of how the drug works, the fact that they just happened to go back to witness the play-out of a fascinating story of love and hate instead of a typical, boring farmer's life, etc.)

•  I don't understand the instant and enduring love for Isolda.  I would like her more if she wasn't the fantasy love-interest of so many of the characters.  Also, she seems to not care much for her children.  She expresses some concern for them before she decides to run away, but it almost seems like an afterthought, and while he's still living, she appears to be more interested in meeting up with her Secret Lover than with being a good mother.  

•  "I had the impression that everything he said was leading up to something else, to some practical proposition that I must take a grip on myself, get a job, sit in an office, sleep with Vita, breed daughters, look forward contentedly to middle-age, when I might grow cacti in a greenhouse."  Well?  And what's so awful about living a normal life?  Does he have a better idea?  Something other than living in a fantasy world, mooning over a woman who's been dead for hundreds of years?  (I'm not impressed by his little drug-induced midlife crisis.)

Incidentally, I'm having a hard time deciding how to categorize this novel... It's partially historical, somewhat suspenseful, with a touch of romance and some elements of science fiction.