Thursday, July 19, 2007

This Week at the Library (19/7)

Last week's reading consisted of The Stand by Stephen King and The Associate by Philip Margolin. I also checked out The Plains of Passage by Jean M. Auel, thinking that it was third in the series, but found out that night that it was not. I returned the book and focused on reading The Stand. I finished it yesterday, and it was quite a read. It was reccommended to me by a number of friends, and a blog I like to read mentioned the book in one of its articles on the Left Behind series. I've been meaning to read it for several months now, but I seem to always forget. Last week I checked it out, though, and I read it. The book is a end-of-the-world horror thriller. A virus called the "Superflu" or "Captain Trips" escapes a military lab and gives western civilization a firm kick in the 'nards. Military officials pass it on to China, the Soviet Union (the book was set in th 1980s at first), and western Europe. The book doesn't mention what happens to the rest of the world, but if what happens in the U.S. is any indicator, nearly everyone dies.

Not everyone dies, though, and the survivors in North America are drawn toward two cities through their dreams. Some people are drawn toward Las Vegas by a man who seems to embody the Devil, and others are drawn toward Boulder, to a very long-lived old woman named "Mother Abagail". The two societies begin to rebuild themselves. As the book's plot unfolds, we see that it's a good/evil struggle with severe religious overtones. That annoyed me, as I had been sold on the book because of the idea that this is a plot that could actually happen -- and some magic floating cowboy is farfetched. Good wins, of course. I don't know that I'll read any more Stephen King since horror isn't my preferred genre, but The Stand was enjoyable. I thought to compare it to two series of books. First is the Left Behind series. However far-fetched the character of Randal Flagg is, he's more believable than the oafish Nicolae Carpathia of Left Behind. Carpatha has a better name, though, so I'll give him that.

The second series that this book reminded me of is Countdown. The Countdown books were written in 1998. They were set in 1999. The first book, January, was set in January of 1999. The second book was February, and the series continued as such until the conclusion of the book at the "beginning" of the Millenium in 2000. The books were meant to cash in on the end of the world hysteria around that time. Some people thought Jesus was going to come back (as they did in in 999), and some thought that Y2K was going to destroy society. I don't know what happened in 2000 in the books, because I didn't get that far. In the beginning, though, society was dealt a grevious blow. On 1 January, 1999, all adults and all children turned into black goo and died. This left the teenagers in charge; scary. The teenagers do as the survivors in The Stand do, although it takes them a bit longer to "rebuild society". They're more concerned with partying . I recall enjoying the books, but as they progressed they included a lot of mystical prophecy, and that annoyed me. I like my apocalypses secular -- religious apocalypses are always silly. I doubt these books are still around, although I did see used copies being sold on Amazon a couple of years ago. I stopped reading around "August", because by that point the "prophecies" were everywhere. The cause of the spontaneous gooification of adults and children was a virus -- this one engineered by the Russians, I think. I never read the end of the book, so I can't be sure -- but I've read synopses of the series.

The second book I read was Philip Margolin's The Associate. It concerns an associate of a big Portland law firm who begins to think that his firm is trying to protect a big pharmaceutical that wants to sell baby-deforming drugs. I enjoyed the book, although I figured out who the "bad guy" was fairly early on. I'll be reading more Margolin in the future.

Pick of the Week: The Stand by Stephen King.

That finishes last week's reading.The third book I selected -- The Plains of Passage -- was actually fourth in the Earth's Children series, so I returned it unread. This week, I picked up:
  1. The Middle Ages by Dorothy Mills.
  2. Theories for Everything by John Langone, Bruce Stutz, and Andrea Gianopoulos.
  3. The Mammoth Hunters by Jean M. Auel.
  4. The German Empire by Michael Stürmer.
As always, I have high hopes.

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