Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Double Cross, Rise Again, and Personal Demons reviewed

Thanks to Harriet for doing what she does so well. She is truly one of a kind.

Double Cross
Carolyn Crane
Bantam, $7.99
ISBN: 9780553592627

In Midcity, mastermind Packard charmed and subsequently granted Justine Jones with mental powers that she does not want. However, she has no choice so instead of hiding in trepidation as she prefers, Justine fights in the shadows against paranormal criminals although she fears her attraction to her boss.

Packard’s former best friend and current enemy Midcity’s new mayor Otto has high levels of power that match his adversary as both are at the top of the pyramid. Instead, she chooses Otto over Packard. However, Justine also uncovers a plot to kill all high caps like Packard and Otto, and that her manipulative former boss is not as evil as she originally thought. Serial killers with power never seen before are stalking and murdering the high caps.

This is a fascinating street-lit fantasy starring three interesting protagonists, but it is the grim Midcity that owns the electrifying story line. Justine assumes Packard is evil while Otto is benevolent, but soon realizes both high caps are neither pure good nor 200 proof bad. With a strong whodunit, sub-genre readers will appreciate the dark world of Carolyn Crane as Justine learns things are not always like they seem. Harriet Klausner

Rise Again
Ben Tripp
Gallery (Pocket), $15.00
ISBN: 9781439165164

It is the Fourth of July and Forest Peak, California Sheriff Danielle Adelman realizes her sister Kelley has run away. Kelley knows that while her sister’s body came home from Iraq, her mind is not in Forest Peak. Before Danielle can look for her, a warning comes over the radio that thousands of from Los Angeles are moving in the direction of Forest Peak looking for safety.

Los Angeles is ground zero; the place where the zombie plague began. The first ones are the George Romero kind who eats human flesh. Later generations are a bit smarter; reanimate quicker and has 1% cognitive ability. Danielle leads a group of survivors to a place of safety before taking off on a quest to find her sister. Her journey is in vain, but the people she left behind lost their freedom when mercenaries arrived and took over. Danielle and her allies try to find ways to rescue the civilians from criminals pretending to be soldiers. If she succeeds she plans to keep this group safe from the zombie apocalypse.

George Romero will love Rise Again (except perhaps it being in California instead of Pittsburgh), a zombie thriller that would make a terrific action movie due to a strong cast of starring characters struggling to survive by choosing to become heroic or malevolent. Danielle is a natural leader who has saved lives by leading her troupe to safety while her concern for her sibling is a powerful emotional driver. Part of the fun is the death of communication as the group has no idea what has happened on other continents in Ben Tripp’s fabulous futuristic apocalyptic thriller. Harriet Klausner

Personal Demons
Lisa Desrochers
Tor, $9.99
ISBN: 9780765328083

Frannie comes from a deeply devout family. However, when a loved one dies she questions whether religion has even a grain of truth. In fact in the seventh grade, she is tossed out of Catholic school.

Attending Haden High School which she calls Hades, seventeen year old Frannie is attracted to the new student “devil eyes” Lucifer “Luc” Cain. He reciprocates though his interest is involved in collecting her soul as he works for Hell. The angels become concerned with losing her soul so they send Gabriel. To her shock, she is attracted to “Angel Reyes” Gabe, but for entirely different reasons than why she likes Luc.

Personal Demons is an interesting high school drama starring old buddies forging a triangle of sorts with Frannie. This makes for a unique refreshing battle for a soul as free will reigns leading the audience to wonder whether she will pick the devilish bad boy or the angelic good boy. The key cast seems genuine whether they are human, demon or angel and the setting especially at “Hades” High School is perfect with the range of student types supporting the prime tug of war. Young adult readers will enjoy Lisa Derochers’ version of damn Yankees. Harriet Klausner

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