Rush

I have to admit I didn’t think I would like Rush by Eve Silver. I had written a previous review about a book that tied gaming skills to surviving an apocalyptic event and it wasn’t very good, so my opinion was tainted going in. Not to mention that my idea of being a gamer is along the lines of my own personal experience, which was Pacman, not current games like Destiny, World of Warcraft, etc. However, I was pleasantly surprised that while the construct of the plot was that teens are pulled into the Game to fight aliens, the game wasn’t truly the focus, but rather it was on relationships, and by relationships I am not referring to the ubiquitous teen romance. The most important relationship in the book is really between the main character and her father.

Miki is already in a tough spot even before she gets pulled into the game. She lost her mother to cancer not long ago and she is struggling to deal with her father’s drinking and her own anger at both of these events. Although she has developed coping methods such as running, and doing deep breathing exercises, she is not doing well and her friends know it. She has become detached from her circle of friends and even her best friendship is strained when a former classmate, Luka moves back to town.

Miki seems to be the only one of her friends to notice the trajectory of a truck about to crash into a deaf elementary student, but maybe that’s helped by the voice she suddenly starts hearing in her head, a voice she can’t seem to figure out. It’s a voice that seems to be encouraging her to rescue the child, a choice that will impact Miki in a way she never would have expected. After being knocked out, she wakes somewhere else and the voice that was in her head is now coming out of a boy who is bent over her. The mysterious boy, Jackson Tate, directs her to suit up and stick close to him because the team, which includes old classmate Luka have a mission. The mission is to kill the aliens before they destroy the earth, but this is no game even if the players are award points, because it’s possible to die in the game. The game she is not allowed to talk about with her friends or her father when she is returned to her life between missions. It’s not like her life between missions is restful downtime, not with her father’s drinking and trying to deal with her angry best friend, a best friend who doesn’t know what she is going through inside the Game. Also, Miki is a little different than the other players, and it’s those differences that bond her to Jackson, but threaten to destroy one or both of them.

I thought the author did a good job of channeling teenage characters and the kind of things that are important to them, without making the characters annoying, which happens often in YA books. This is one of those YA books that even adults enjoy.

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H2O

How bad it is when you are hoping that the heroine of the story will die? That’s what I kept chanting in my head while reading H2O by Virginia Bergin. If Ruby was a secondary character that may have been tolerable, but when it’s the main character, that’s not a good sign. I kept trying to figure out if Virginia Bergin was trying to be ‘tongue-in-cheek’ clever about the foibles of the current teen generation, turns out this was not a clever satire. Ruby is on the other end of the spectrum from Katniss Everdean, there isn’t anything strong, self-sacrificing, sensible, or noble about Ruby, no-sir-e. Worse, there isn’t anything to explain her being a complete ass hat. Yes, her parents divorced after her Dad had an affair and his lover gave birth to Ruby’s half-brother. Yes, her mother remarried and Ruby doesn’t get along with her stepdad even though he’s not a bad guy. There’s really nothing to explain her shallowness unless Ms. Bergin’s message is that all youth are shallow? Lord, help us if that’s true.

No Ruby’s problem is even worse, she’s simply stupid. I mean the whole crisis in the book is that she needs to avoid getting rained on, no I am not kidding. It sounds stupid when I write that, but it’s true. The idea of water is what initially caught my interest to pick up this book, what with reading about the drought crisis in California, etc. I also thought it would be interesting as I live in a city that is known for rain, how would we cope with such a situation here? You see, this isn’t ordinary rain, it’s KILLER rain. Read that with a ‘Snakes on a Plane’ voice…it just sounds ridiculous, right?

The one plausible thing about this book was that the initial setting is the first warm and sunny day of summer in the UK. Having lived there for a number of years, it makes sense that almost every man, woman, or child would be outside on this particular day, the day of the Killer Rain. There is something in that rain that causes an Ebola type reaction, however, unlike Ebola where some have survived, no one exposed to this particular microorganism can survive it. The only ‘lucky’ people are the ones who happen to be inside and see learn what has happened. Ruby is at a party with her equally twit friends, in fact she’s busy getting busy with a boy when his father forces them out of the hot tub and indoors. She is so boy hungry that when her equally braindead squeeze decides to dash back outside to get his music, etc. so doesn’t try to stop him or raise the alarm, oh no, she actually kisses him when he comes back in. A minute later his skin starts peeling off, ewh, though that still doesn’t seem enough to kill the mood for this moron.   It doesn’t seem to matter how many bodies she sees, all she can think about is getting her phone to text friends, hooking up with peely face, and her personal appearance. Yes, during moments when she should be gathering survival supplies in deserted stores, she is busy looting for makeup and trying on sequin dresses because that is something people typically do in an emergency, right?

She even runs across the school nerd and a little girl survivor and his smarts don’t rub off on her in the slightest. And you know that show, “Do You Think You Are Smarter than a Fifth-Grader?”, well in her case the answer is no, even the little girl shows more smarts when it comes to staying alive, such as not going outside unless covered head to toe.

I think even the author quickly realizes what a hateful annoying character she has created, so she tried to do a little damage control by having Ruby go around saving the dogs of all the dead people. However, even that doesn’t rehabilitate her image as she doesn’t seem bothered that one of the dogs has been chewing on a severed arm. No, she is too busy thinking about her hairstyle or something.

Honestly, I think the only reason I kept reading was hoping for some payback at the end of the book, where Ruby’s luck runs out and she dies horribly, I mean there has been a trend lately to kill off main characters in books.

No such luck