Reviews: X-Files Origins-The Devil’s Advocate by Jonathan Maberry & Agent of Chaos by Kami Garcia

Let me preface these reviews by saying that there was no way, no way at all that I was skipping these books. No matter how apprehensive I was, no matter whether or not I was already a fan of the authors, or if I raised my eyebrow real high at Garcia writing Mulder and Maberry writing Scully, because THIS IS THE X-FILES. I’ll admit, these books were hard to review because the nostalgia and fandom is so strong…this is probably my strongest fandom connection because MULDER + SCULLY for LIFE. I mean, the characters…I digress. That being said, I tried to look at these more for the story and less from what I expected Scully and Mulder to be like as teens. There has been a ton of negative commentary-parts that fans say the authors are reaching and make zero sense. As an avid X-Files fan, I can see that, but these interpretations are not entirely off base…especially when it comes to Scully. It’s difficult when the character presence is so strong as adults, you come to expect very specific details about their lives as teens, what you assume they were like and why they became who they did. It’s hard to shake those preconceived ideas off, and those who are totally stuck in that place might be disappointed by what they find. If you’re a fan, you absolutely should read these and put them on your shelf next to your Mulder and Scully Funko Pops. I know I will. 

devilGoodreads/Amazon/B&N/iBooks

syn

How did Fox Mulder become a believer? How did Dana Scully become a skeptic? The X-Files Origins has the answers in this young adult origin story.

The X-Files Origins: Devil’s Advocate will explore the teen years of Dana Scully, the beloved character depicted in the cult-favorite TV show The X-Files. Her story is set in the spring of 1979, when serial murder, the occult, and government conspiracy were highlighted in the news.

The book will follow Scully as she experiences life-changing events that set her on the path to becoming an FBI agent.

review

3/5 Stars 

Scully, Scully, Scully. I was so disappointed in her character, but maybe not for the reasons you’d think. A lot of the criticism this book has faced from readers is because of Scully’s sixth sense. Which, if you’re looking at the Scully in the future, you’re probably thinking that Scully worships at the altar of science and this is ridiculous. But if you’ve experienced all of the lovely X-Files series, you’ll recall that Scully had more than one incident where she sees ghosts and has premonition-style visions, so it’s not that far off base and one of her biggest character conflicts has always been her faith and the paranormal. Mulder directly calls her out on the fact that she can so willingly believe in God, but something like aliens is too out there. It’s in her story arc.

Mini rant aside, Scully here is super young. She has no experience with boys, crushes, any responsiblity really. While she’s smart and reclusive, her forays into mysticism are more meditative than anything. Scully here looks up to her older sister. She’s a tag along that just goes wherever her sister takes her. THAT is what bothered me. That headstrong, take charge girl, the one who thinks, who studies, who calculates before coming to conclusions-that girl was absent (or barely visible). So many times Scully just hops right into danger and makes BOLD leaps, piecing things together without second guessing. That is NOT the Scully we know. It’s hard to talk about Scully in her youth without comparing her to who she is in the future. Here Scully isn’t really likable, she’s more wishy-washy and doesn’t have the strongest voice. This would have been okay, because she’s so young and naive, but she doesn’t really learn. Sure she feels remorse for her actions, but I didn’t see much growth. 

The plot is definitely an X-File, not your typical murder-mystery. There’s a sinister, supernatural element that is perplexing, confusing, and all sorts of crazy. It will keep you on your toes and uncertain of what will happen. It’s a chaotic mess, but the kind that pushes you to seek answers and wonder what the endgame is. Plus the idea itself-the whole premise for the villain is insanely clever and wickedly evil. There’s so much more than meets the eye. 

Pacing was so-so, but picks up a lot towards the end.

Scully’s love interest. I liked him. He seemed like a good fit. Smart, resourceful, protective, but also stubborn. Their interactions were awkward and bashful. So cute. There’s no intense attraction like is common in a lot of YA right now. It’s more uncertainty, confusion, and sudden feelings. Curiosity. I appreciated the change of pace. 

The killer and the government agents.YES. They are done so well. You see the corruption, the fear, the manipulation. They were some of my favorite people in the book. They were complex and vicious and the darkness!!! ❤

agent-of-chaosGoodreads/Amazon/B&N/iBooks

syn
The X-Files Origins: Agent of Chaos explores the teen years of Fox Mulder, the beloved character depicted in the cult-favorite TV show The X-Files. His story is set in the spring of 1979, when serial murder, the occult, and government conspiracy were highlighted in the news.

The book will follow Mulder as he experiences life-changing events that set him on the path to becoming an FBI agent.

review

4/5 Stars 

I feel bizarre saying this but Mulder is pretty freaking hot. He’s awkward and nerdy and has no idea what he’s doing with his life. He’s kind of just going with it until he’s hit with this murder that he feels is connected to his sister’s disappearance and the obsession is born. There’s this blend of angst and intelligence. Of yearning after his pretty, Star Wars obsessed best friend, trying to connect with his father, the disappointment that comes with that neglect, and learning what he’s passionate about. This is truly the birth of his interest in catching killers and paranormal. It felt right. It made sense. I LOVE him. 

Secondary characters. You guys, every character is so alive. They’re developed, intriguing, totally compelling. You want to know them. I adored Phoebe. She’s witty, intelligent, gorgeous, she doesn’t care what anyone thinks about her, calls people out on their fears, and is just an all around awesome character. And she’s totally nerdy. She reads textbooks, knows complex mathematics, physics, etc. She’s one fierce girl who somehow feels relatable. Gimble. Yes. Just yes. He’s interesting, a total dork, and a basic ode to the time period. I loved his lines and enthusiasm. He’s the perfect sidekick. Gimble’s father!!! It’s weird, but I became so invested in Gimble’s father’s conspiracy theories and the way his mind worked. Fascinating. You can see where Mulder got his methods from. I got a nostalgic, this feels so familiar vibe. The government agents. Some of their scenes were full of acerbic wit and heavy sarcasm. 

The scenes of the crimes were intricate, graphic without going too dark, and left enough mystery to keep me guessing and trying to fill in the blanks. Towards the end, the suspense was high. I was on edge and sickened. 

My biggest issue with the book was not Garcia’s portrayal of Mulder, but the way the mystery fit together. There were too many pieces that slid into place in a sort of what are the odds way. It was too simple. Too coincidental and we all know there are no  coincidences. 

While I wasn’t a fan of the romantic elements, they were more of a shrug to me, I was glad that Mulder had someone to nurture and encourage him. Phoebe being there for him is what mattered, the romance was secondary, despite Mulder’s frisky teenaged hormones. 

Enjoy your trip down memory lane, 

Jordan

Review: Rot & Ruin-Jonathan Maberry

3.5/5 Stars

Rot & Ruin (Benny Imura, #1)-Jonathan Maberry

7157310

There are moments that define a person’s whole life. Moments in which everything they are and everything they may possibly become balance on a single decision. Life and death, hope and despair, victory and failure teeter precariously on the decision made at that moment. These are moments ungoverned by happenstance, untroubled by luck. These are moments in which a person earns the right to live, or not.

***

“Eat me,” said Benny with a grin.

“Zombies wouldn’t eat you. They have standards.”

Plot: Benny Imura doesn’t remember a time without zoms (zombies). After First Night, the day with the world fell to the living dead, the zoms have taken over the country, electricity is a thing of the past and people are limited to small villages. Although Benny was only an infant when First Night happened, he remembers his parents and their horrific death. Benny is haunted by visions of his mother screaming, his father bloody and ravenous, hands clenched around his mothers neck eager for flesh. After that night, a deep-rooted hatred of zoms and his cowardly brother is all he knows and all he lives for.  Even though his brother Tom is a famous zombie-slayer, Tom scoffs, he knows the truth, when it really mattered, when he had the chance to save Benny’s mother from death he ran scared. Leaving his mother for dead is unforgivable to Benny and drives a mile-wide wedge between the brothers. Benny recently turned 15 and in this dystopian land of heartache and terror, 15 year olds are considered adults and must find a job or have their food rations cut in half. The problem is that jobs are not hard to come by but desirable ones are coveted and snatched up long before eligibility. As the deadline draws near, Benny must do something he swore he never would, ask his brother for help. Forced to join the family business of zombie-hunting or starve, Benny and Tom venture out into Rot and Ruin, what used to be the United States. Benny is met with an evil so sinister that he questions everything he thought he knew, his reality disintegrates and he slowly is met with a bleak reality that will leave him hollow and confused. Rot and Ruin is nothing like he expected nor is his brother. Deadly secrets, twisted, grotesque murders, and corruption are all part of Rot and Ruin and Benny is caught right in the middle. When Benny is confronted with an insurmountable choice that threatens to break him, he becomes the unlikeliest of heroes. With the help of his brother and some surprising new friends, Benny embarks on a dangerous rescue mission that will have you second-guessing the nature of zombies, humanity, and morality.

PROS:

  • Benny. Although as you’ll read below in the cons section that he’s slow on the uptake and pigheaded, his development is fantastic. It’s wonderfully inspirational to watch Benny transform from a naive 15 year old boy to a determined, powerful young adult. As he grows in character, he questions who he is as a person, who he wants to become, and reevaluates what he thought he knew for the first 15 years of his life. He thought zombies were blood-thirsty killers who took away his chance at a loving family but when out in Rot and Ruin he learns about mercy, humanity, and just how far someone will go to save the ones they love from pain. By the end of the book he’s no longer the foolhardy little brat he was in the beginning but a smart, calculated, risky hero on the rise. He puts his life on the line, battling through hordes of zombies, bounty hunters, and spring-trapped terrain to save innocent lives form the horrors of greedy, seedy men.
  • Tom Imura is one badass, sexy slayer. He’s full of compassion, zen, and understanding. He sees the world in a way that’s unique and makes your heart bleed and eyes water. He’s a beautifully compelling character who still has enough sympathy to put zombies at rest and embrace the world with open eyes and hope. Plus he’s a masterful fighter with wicked samurai skills.
  • The men in this story are unafraid to cry with such perfect, gut-wrenching abandon that you really feel a connection.
  • Lilah or the Lost Girl. A little whacked, 10 shades creepy, and a whole lot of terrifying, this girl can kill without mercy, she’s cold, vicious, and on a mission to take out the bounty hunters that took away her childhood, robbed her of her sister, and destroyed her life. Lilah is a feral mix of love and ruthless determination that will leave you wondering what you would have done had you been as wronged and wrecked by man; you’ll find a new understanding for the simplicity of zombies as former humans.
  • Nix. Nix is a fiery redhead with a sassy attitude, a dreamy design for a future outside of her small village and aims to write a nonfiction book on zombies. She fights for her life, kicking and punching her way through always to get back to Benny. She never gives up and puts herself in the line of fire to help those in need.
  • There are some slow points but generally the plot is fast-paced, fueled by mystery and bloodshed. The zombie descriptions and mutilations are gruesomely descriptive in that great way that will leave little to the imagination and might give you a nightmare or two.

CONS:

  • Benny is kind of an idiot. He’s completely and utterly stubborn, so much so that when the truth slaps him in the face he still has his doubts. He can’t get past the assumption that his brother is a weak sham of a zombie-slayer and so his relationship with his only relative is stunted and sad. His temper escalated quickly and is rife with assertions that are off-base and ridiculous. Furthermore, he’s completely daft; sometimes he’ll make a comment or ask a question and you’ll feel compelled to face palm, like come on kid, seriously?
  • There’s little development of characters apart from the 4 main ones; Benny’s friendships are there but there’s not enough that you feel any real compassion or connection to them. Although there are some humorous passages, they’re immature and fall flat.
  • The awkward semi-romantic scenes are somewhat painful to read. If there had been some playful banter or teasing or something to lighten the tragic mood a teensy bit it would have been okay but instead read like a sulky, weird mess.

If you enjoyed any of the following, you’d probably like this:

3432478

8951449

102153499859436AbhorsenTrilogy

Darkness Falls-2katana copy (2)

ThroughGlass COVER REVEAL

Happy reading,

-BB