Scary Creatures, Scarier Humans

Sometimes the humans are just as threatening as the creatures.

27414411This chilling sci-fi horror story brings together Tuck Drake, who woke up from a 400 year stasis and realized he was one of the only non-mutated human survivors on his ship, and Laura Cruz, a hacker aboard a ship which just crashed into Tuck’s. Laura is part of a crew of  shipraiders, archeologists who search the cosmos for  remains of Earth so they can build sustainable life on a new planet. Tuck’s ship holds what’s left of Yosemite National Park; these seeds of new life are exactly what Laura’s team needs. In trying to protect the remains of Yosemite, Laura and Tuck have to fight off  some of the scariest creatures I’ve ever read about, avoid being destroyed by rogue technology, and even scarier, defend themselves against a rival family who go to alarming lengths to undermine their efforts.  Latinx characters – by description, language and cultural references – are center stage, a welcome change from standard sci-fi fare. Characters are well constructed, and the scary, intriguing narrative delivers some interesting plot twists. The fear this book delivers is unrelenting.  If this were a movie it would be too scary for me to watch, but as a book…yesss!!

Pitch Dark, Courtney Alameda, Feiwel & Friends

Love and Soul reaping

Did I mention I also love comics and graphic novels?

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Kim Reaper: Grim Beginnings is a sweet, queer love story that manages to be funny and creepy at the same time. Becka has been crushing on Kim and one day decides to ask her out. As Becka approaches her, Kim disappears through a portal, which Becka is then sucked into. She lands in a house and discovers Kim at her part time job – she’s a grim reaper. Understandably Becka is freaked out so Kim calmly explains she’s not a murderer, she just shepherds souls into the afterlife.  Kim is still new at the job and is only allowed to harvest animal souls; things get complicated when she decides to harvest a human, and has to face the consequences. Kim and Becka have a sweet relationship; Kim introduces Becka to the cool things about being a reaper and Becka shows Kim how much fun it is to work in a bakery.  They do their best to grow their relationship in the midst of reapings, possessions, zombie uprisings and dealing with Kim’s reaper bosses. They have their ups and downs but they come through for each other. The colorful art’s somewhat whimsical style supports the story well, easily being both charming and disturbing. The narrative around the relationship keeps the focus where it belongs – on the relationship itself, not their sexuality or culture. We get to see how two people can enjoy a life together – even if that life involves soul harvesting.

Kim Reaper: Grim Beginnings, Sarah Graley, Oni Press

These Undead Give Me Life

Dread Nation is the book I really can’t shut up about. 30223025

The Civil War is interrupted when, instead of fighting each other, soldiers find themselves having to fight the dead rising up from the battlefield. Given the times, African/African-American slaves and Native Americans are forced to become the zombie killers. Young female slaves are sent to special schools to become Attendants, trained in defending young white women from the undead – and the untoward intentions of young men. The premise is exciting and very well executed. This book stands above others because the issues surrounding the premise – racism, colorism, sexism, classism – bring the plot to life completely organically.  The zombie battles and other supernatural elements play out in creepy detail. A particularly pleasing element is the cover – unlike covers which whitewash or have little to no connection to the story, this one is a beautiful rendition of the young zombie killer in all her brown-skinned, scythe wielding glory. This one belongs on the top of your “to be read” pile.

Dread Nation, Justina Ireland, Balzer + Bray