Book Review: The Culling by Ramona Finn

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Title: The Culling
Series: The Culling Trilogy, Book 1
Author: Ramona Finn
Narrator: Stacey Glemboski
Publisher: Relay Publishing
Publication Date: March 21, 2018

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Purchase Links:
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The Culling
The Culling Trilogy, Book 1
Ramona Finn
Narrated by Stacey Glemboski
Relay Publishing, March 2018
DownloadedUnabridged Audiobook

From the publisher—

In a solar system where The Authority decides who lives and who dies, only one of their own executioners can stop them.

Glade Io is a trained killer. Marked at a young age as an individual with violent tendencies, she was taken from her family and groomed to be a Datapoint—a biotech-enabled analyst who carries out the Culling. She is designed to identify and destroy any potential humans that threaten the colonies: those marked as lawbreakers, unproductive or sick. But when she’s kidnapped by rogue colonists known as the Ferrymen, everything Glade thinks she knows about the colonies, and The Authority that runs them, collapses into doubt.

Pulled between two opposing sides, and with her family’s lives hanging in the balance, Glade is unsure of who to trust—and time is running out.

Now, this is a dystopian concept that I haven’t run into before and fresh ideas are always welcome. Much of the tale’s plot and the behavior of the characters is similar to many other books but that all supports the central theme, that sociopathic tendencies can be harnessed to do the bidding of an evil government without a care or concern.

Glade is one of those sociopaths and, after being snatched from her mother and younger sisters as a young girl, she has been melded, in a manner of speaking, with a biotech system so that she is able to locate and assess candidates for culling and then carry out the procedure. What it boils down to is Glade is judge, jury and executioner; she murders people with the approval of the seven-person Authority and, because she’s a sociopath, she feels no remorse or reluctance whatsoever.

Except when she remembers that her own father was culled and she’s never understood why.

Things could have gone along this way for years but Glade and another Datapoint are taken captive by a band of resisters known as the Ferrymen and their leader, Kupier, begins to have a small effect on Glade and on her perspective. For the first time in her life, she has niggling questions about what she does and why and about the Authority. Back on the space station, she has a different view of herself and her fellow Datapoints, especially Dahn, and begins to fear one of the Authority, Jan Ernst Haven.

Even with the similarities to other dystopian stories, I came to really like these characters (my favorite may be Kupier’s kid brother) and some of the details of their world but there are still missing pieces. For instance, I want to know much more about how Earth came to be uninhabitable, how the people became space colonizers and why the Authority turned into such a force for evil. Perhaps more will be revealed in the next book.

Narrator Stacey Glemboski does a nice job with clear tones and good pacing. She has to work with a bit of a hindrance in that the point of view and even the setting frequently change without warning and it can be momentarily difficult to make the transition as a listener/reader but Ms. Glemboski eases the pain with her quite believable and effective voice characrterizations. I’ll gladly listen to more books she does.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, July 2018.

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About the Author

Ramona Finn writes about courageous characters who fight to live in broken, dystopian worlds. She believes a person’s true character is often revealed in times of crisis, and there is no greater crisis than the worlds that she drops her characters into!

She grew up sitting cross-legged on her town’s library floor–completely engrossed in science fiction books. It was always the futuristic world or the universe-on-the-brink-of-extinction plotlines that drew her in, but it was the brave characters who chose to fight back that kept her turning the pages.

Her books create deep, intricate worlds with bold characters determined to fight for their survival in their dystopian worlds–with a little help from their friends. And, of course, romance is never out of the question ;).

Website // Facebook // Instagram

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About the Narrator

Stacey is an accomplished audiobook narrator and voice actor who has recorded books for many best-selling authors. Many of her favorite books have been for kids and teens, but all genres of narration appeal to her. For Stacey, narration is about having fun breathing life into characters and getting as lost as possible in the story she’s telling. Outside the studio, Stacey is an avid tennis player and fitness enthusiast. She enjoys dog walks, paddle boarding, and most any outdoor activities.

Website // Twitter // Facebook

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Play an excerpt here.

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Book Reviews: Wickedpedia by Chris Van Etten and Deadout by Jon McGoran

WickedpediaWickedpedia
Chris Van Etten
Point Horror, July 2014
ISBN 978-0-545-41587-3
Trade Paperback

 

Cole Redeker is a straight A student, a champ on the debate team, and works at perfecting his pie crust recipe. Such a perfect son that his parents learn to accept his friend Gavin, a slacker who plays bass in an awful garage band. Gavin’s two favorite phrases are “It’ll be fun. I promise.” And “Told you so.”

Cole’s auburn haired girlfriend, Winnie, choir soloist and tennis player, dumps him for Josh, the school’s star soccer player. When Cole discovers that Josh has been copying his history essays from Wikipedia, he and Gavin hatch a plan. History teacher Mr. Drick frowns on sloppy and lazy research, and knowing that Josh is writing a paper on serial killers, Cole plants false Wikipedia articles full of ridiculous facts. When Josh is caught, he is put on academic probation and suspended from the team.

When Josh’s best friend and teammate is discovered dead in the gymnasium, Gavin discovers a Wikipedia entry that foretold his particularly gruesome death. When another friend is partially blinded and burned by poisoned eye drops, Cole realizes that someone is after the students and wonders who will be next.

A good portion of the story is told by Instant Messages among the various students. While the deaths are horrible, the details are not lingered on. Still, not a book for the easily upset.

Reviewed by Susan Belsky, September 2015.

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DeadoutDeadout
Carrick & Watkins #2
Jon McGoran
Forge, June 2015
ISBN 978-0-7653-7008-2
Mass Market Paperback

A three-day visit to Martha’s Vineyard to visit an old friend who is working there, keeping track of bees needed to pollinate crops, turns out to be more than Philadelphia detective Doyle Carrick and his girlfriend, Nola, probably bargained for.  They discover the bee population is fast disappearing and the cause is a mystery.  Nola gets a job manually pollinating plants on a farm and Doyle ends up hanging around, then becoming embroiled in helping to solve the situation.

A lesser plot is the love interest: Doyle and Nola’s hot-and-cold relationship; her association with the young, handsome employer, making Doyle jealous; and his relationship with a beautiful female scientist, raising an equal emotion in Nola.  Of course, both these other characters play a vital role in the main plot.

The action is fast and furious, and the plot moves forward at a rapid pace.  And to boot, there are additional facets to complicate the reader’s progress, including high stakes corporate machinations.  (And we probably learn more about bees and genetics than we ever wished.)

Recommended.

Reviewed by Ted Feit, June 2015.

Book Review: Virus Thirteen by Joshua Alan Parry—and a Giveaway!

Virus ThirteenVirus Thirteen
Joshua Alan Parry
Tor, March 2013
ISBN 9780765369543
Mass Market Paperback

From the publisher—

Scientists James Logan and his wife, Linda, have their dream careers at the world’s leading biotech company, GeneFirm, Inc. But their happiness is interrupted by a devastating bioterrorist attack: a deadly superflu that quickly becomes a global pandemic. The GeneFirm complex goes into lockdown and Linda’s research team is sent to high-security underground labs to develop a vaccine.

Above ground, James learns that GeneFirm security has been breached and Linda is in danger. To save her he must confront a desperate terrorist, armed government agents, and an invisible killer: Virus Thirteen.

Woe to the reader who starts Virus Thirteen thinking he’s going to get your standard pandemic disaster science fiction novel. No, indeed, this is one wild ride from start to finish with a mashup of all the scenarios that make a lot of people antsy just thinking about the possibilities. Take a bit of cloning, some global warming, a dash of power-grabbing, a little transgenics and genetic engineering, throw in some science run amok and you’ve got…

But wait! Don’t forget a whole lot of murder, a distinct lack of ethics and a Homeland Health department that watches your every bite or sip…

And there’s even more!

Besides all the plotlines—and don’t worry, they DO come together and make sense—there are some really interesting characters, good and bad. I was kind of surprised to find myself connecting the most with the secondary characters but that’s a large part of why I find this book so appealing. It’s an indication of how much care the author took with his players, even a neon orange dog and a self-doubting young man of rotund proportions, and I appreciate it.

This is one of the most entertaining and imaginative books I’ve read in a while and I’ll be honest—I’m still not sure if the author is completely serious or perhaps is making fun of all our insecurities about the future. I suspect there’s more than a touch of the latter but, either way, it doesn’t matter because Mr. Parry‘s debut is a winner of a story. He also happens to be a very good writer and his style of jumping from one scene and set of characters to another worked beautifully if his intention was to grab my attention and never let me look away. Along the way, he forced me to give a lot of consideration to where we might be heading if we’re not careful and that is never a bad thing. Joshua Alan Parry is an author I’ll be looking for again.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, March 2013.

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Leave a comment below and you’ll be entered in the drawing

for a copy of Virus Thirteen by Joshua Alan Parry. The winning name

will be drawn on the evening of Wednesday, March 20th.

Open to residents of the US and Canada.