January 30, 2022

Taste the Books: Review Morsels #28 Mira Grant's Novella Quartet 2015-2019


Intro


Hello beauties!

Welcome again to my own brand of mini reviews! I never thought I'd do minis, until I recapped a few of my long reviews in some digest post in 2014, and then guest-posted some shorties for a blogging event in 2015. And Karen from For What It's Worth started praising my short recs/recaps 😊. Just to be clear,  I'm NOT taking a break from writing long reviews - no such luck LOL (though for anthologies, shorter books or books that I didn't enjoy/I don't have enough to say about, I decided to stick to minis). But while I'm making up my mind about a new book I've read, I might as well give you the short version 😉. Just be warned - this feature will be VERY random!

Note: all the mini blurbs (in italics) are of my own creation.

Rolling in the Deep by Mira Grant
(Rolling in the Deep #0.5)

★★★

Rated 3.5 really.

An expedition to the Mariana Trench to film a documentary (more like a mockumentary) about mermaids takes a tragic turn when the crew, troupe and scientists aboard, plus a company of women who wear their tails for a living, find themselves face to face with the very horror the network was sure they would have to fake.

***

Rolling in the Deep is the prequel for Into the Drowning Deep, except I'm pretty sure it didn't start that way, especially since it gives away the big reveal at the end of the (at the time still unwritten) novel. I guess Grant decided only later to expand her mermaid universe (and I know from her Twitter that she would have written a whole series about it if the publishers had let her), which makes this novella more of a curiosity than a proper Book 0.5 in the (would-be) series - though it does give us the facts that predate Book 1 (but then again, it's not like ITDD doesn't hold its own nicely without them).
Now, RITD does suffer from the comparison with ITDD, and it's probably unfair, but since I came to the novella after reading the novel, there's no undoing first impressions. The real mermaids are more in your face (literally...), and the professional ones, as a group, are probably the best developed characters in the novella - despite its having a lot of diversity and potentially interesting (but ultimately bland) candidates to the title. Bottom line, if you read the novella first, you might appreciate it a tad more, but it will spoil the ending of the novel for you. However, if you're looking for a short, yet tense piece of murderous mermaid horror (with a touch of funny toward the end), this one delivers.

Note: definitive review (due to time commitments, I've decided not to write full-length reviews anymore for short stories, novellas and anthologies, except in special cases or unless they're part of a series...which does apply here, but only to an extent).

Final Girls by Mira Grant

★★★★★

The scientist who created a ground-breaking, but questionable virtual-reality therapy, and the visiting journalist who's hell-bent on debunking it, once put together through a simulation where they're teens and friends, are thrown into a nightmarish life-or-death scenario, while one too real killer is on the loose at the lab.

***

Adrenalinic, heart-tugging, able to pack so much into so short a page-count like only McGuire/Grant at her best can do. Plus with believable science and masterful (if familiar) horror scenarios, and teen characters whom you wish you could hug - who cares if they're avatars of grown women, and if one of them doesn't really know the drill because she wasn't alerted to a "small" feature of the experiment beforehand. I mean, even when drugged and put into a virtual environment, who's to say a part of you that you never had the chance to unleash isn't in control, or isn't living the life that you "could" have and doing the things that you "would" do?
Look, I get why, even among those who liked this book, a bunch weren't big fans of the ending, or were really bummed about it. I understand how it can seem like a waste of a strong character. But mind you: the ending is supposed to be both heartwarming AND tragic, IMO - not to mention, thought-provoking. And are we sure that the most damaged characters are the ones who aren't aware of the damage itself?
What I'm trying to say is, I loved it, and it broke my heart a little, and even with THAT ending, it repaired it just so. And it hit close to home in a way, and maybe it will do the same for you, because who knows what kind of person we could have grown into, if the things around us had been different. If only there were enough simulations for us to go through and be SURE.

Note: definitive review (due to time commitments, I've decided not to write full-length reviews anymore for short stories, novellas and anthologies, except in special cases or unless they're part of a series).

 Kingdom of Needle and Bone by Mira Grant

★★★

Rated 3.5 really.

An ex scientist, now pediatrician, whose niece was patient zero in a new, terrifying variant of the measles, takes matters into her own hands while the no-vaxxers run rampant, but there's so much more to it than meets the eye.

***

One year before the first coronavirus outbreak, Seanan McGuire, in the guise of Mira Grant, was predicting the future (except it's a different kind of virus we're talking about here, and it comes with a different, even more awful aftermath). And with regards to the alas-too-plausible science and the social commentary on vaccines and body autonomy, KONAB delivers. The plot and the characters, though, take a back seat to the message, which is driven home with the subtlety of a ton of bricks. Also, for a book with a mission, it doesn't do a great job when it comes to having us sympathise with the main character. Finally, there are a few convenient/unexplained occurrences. Why the 3.5 stars then, you say? Because the ending was a shocker and a game changer, and it had so many implications that it sent my head spinning and scrambling in order to fully comprehend what I had just read, and it ultimately made a fabulous point about purity of intentions and how far you would go - and sin - for a good cause.

(If you want a better articulated review, Carrie has got you covered). 

Note: definitive review (due to time commitments, I've decided not to write full-length reviews anymore for short stories, novellas and anthologies, except in special cases or unless they're part of a series).

★★★★

Rated 4.5 really.

A Scooby-esque squad of four 19 year olds - a lesbian orphan, her foster brother, her longtime unrequited crush and the latter's twin brother - accepts a last case involving a supposedly haunted house (and related to the orphan's parents' murder), only to find themselves face to face with an age-old, unimaginable horror.

***

The writing alone, with its poetic quality, depth and warmth, would make a winner out of this one. The horror aspect - familiar yet uncharted - and the atmosphere would be able to grab any reader who enjoys the genre, regardless of the other ingredients. But where Grant/McGuire excels is at crafting tridimensional characters whose hearts so often beat in time with ours - especially damaged, yet brave kids/teens/youngsters who know how to love fiercely (in the widest sense) and want to protect their loved ones at all costs. I'm not utterly crazy about the ending (which also leaves some loose threads), but I loved all the rest - and I badly want a foster sister/brother of my own now.

Note: definitive review (due to time commitments, I've decided not to write full-length reviews anymore for short stories, novellas and anthologies, except in special cases or unless they're part of a series).

So, have you read/are you planning to read any of the above? And if you have, what do you think of them? Do you post mini reviews? Do you like to read them?

15 comments:

  1. Seems like a mixed bag, but mostly good. I actually had to catch my breath while reading your review for Final Girls. I can only imagine it matched the intensity of the book.

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    Replies
    1. Haha, at least I know it did! Sorry for your breath though LOL.

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  2. I think I may decide to read In the Shadow of Spindrift House since I like the premise. :) I loved reading your reviews. :)
    -Quinley

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    Replies
    1. Thank you! Let me know what you thought of it if you do!

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  3. Final Girls sounds super interesting and I'm kind of curious where Kingdom of Needle and Bone goes since it's so relevant to now but written before.

    Also...when did she write all of these???!!! lol SO many books! Pluse all the ones I do know of.

    Karen @For What It's Worth

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    Replies
    1. She writes up a storm! She has other ongoing series too, apart from Wayward Children, and they have like 10+ books! I haven't read the Toby Daye series, but I plan on reading the InCryptid one soon.

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    2. I've thought about the Toby Daye series- and I liked the first InCryptid.

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    3. LOL, there are 10 book in the InCryptid series up to date - it's hard to keep up with her!

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  4. I read Rolling in the Deep when it was released, and I loved it. I was surprised when Into the Drowning Deep came out because the first one felt finished. But I ended up loving it too!

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    Replies
    1. You probably loved RITD more than me because you read it first LOL. Anyhow, she writes murderous mermaids like no other does 😂.

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  5. Not my kind of reads although Final Girls sounds interesting.

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  6. I liked Rolling in the Deep (oddly more than the full length novel that came later- not sure why) and really wish there were more coming, because- killer mermaids and the Mariana Trench? What's NOT to like?

    Final Girls sounds awesome to me especially since I've been posting about sims and virtual reality lately lol- I'm like ooh I wonder what she has to say about THAT?

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    Replies
    1. It's probably a matter of what one reads first in cases like these...I mean, the novella is perfectly fine, though lighter on characterisation for obvious reasons 🙂.

      Ha! I think you would like FG!

      Delete
    2. Yess I read this one first so maybe that's why.....

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