Note: I received a complimentary eBook of Cathartes Aura and the Apocalypse Zoo to review.
Cathartes Aura is a turkey vulture who lives in a zoo. The book contains his observations after an apocalyptic event when no one comes to the zoo. It portrays what happens when the caretakers are no longer there and the animals are hungry and eager to get out.
Poetry and verse were never my strong points. I am a numbers person and something that is as open to interpretation as poetry is usually difficult for me in the sense that I never seem to get out of it what was either intended or what the consensus seems to take away. That does not mean I do not enjoy poetry and verse; I just tend to keep my opinions to myself, especially after so many heated discussions in college.
I am not sure I can accurately explain why, but I thoroughly enjoyed Cathartes Aura and the Apocalypse Zoo. It may be a bit daunting at first because of the verse, but if you do not concentrate on the structure, it quickly reads like regular prose in most sections. In addition, the writing was extremely successful in emitting the emotions of the vulture and the tempo seemed to reflect that as well. For example, during the more stressful moments, I found myself reading faster. That was impressive; it always impresses me when writers accomplish this technique regardless of whether it was intentional.
I completely understand hesitation due to the combination of vulture point of view, apocalypse and verse, but it works. Not only do I look forward to reading Eighty-Six' next work, but I will most definitely return to Cathartes Aura and the Apocalypse Zoo. This is the type of literature that I will re-read every so often because I get more out of it with each reading.
I do not presume to know what the author intended for the reader to take away from his work and for that reason, I would not normally comment. However, this seems to be overlooked a bit and I do believe that is a shame. Will it enjoy the success and reputation of more traditional poetry and verse? No. But I can see how this could have a cult following. In fact there was one line that made me chuckle and I added it to my favorite quotes.
I could easily go on for another page or two about Cathartes Aura and the Apocalypse Zoo. There were several other things I wanted to include but maybe you should just read it and find out yourself. Then if you want to discuss, I will be happy to meet you on the book's Goodreads page.
Give it a try. 4 out of 5 stars.
Note: I received a complimentary eBook of Cathartes Aura on the Road from Nowhere to review.
Cathartes Aura the turkey vulture has returned to observe the remaining humans in the area and their behavior. Some come together peacefully and some want to dominate. The reader gets to observe the groups separately as Cathartes Aura flies around looking for food and then ultimately as they find each other.
As I was reading, there seemed to be something missing for the most part- emotion. Remember that the vulture is the narrator and observes the human activity. Now a few descriptive words sneak in there, i.e. "exultant voices" or "bright-eyed girl," but even those are subtle and few. On the other hand, when speaking of himself, the vulture observes that he would "...rather die reckless than starve skeptical." Of course this makes sense because why would a vulture assign emotional descriptions to humans? Okay, I don't know that this was the reason Eighty-Six wrote this way and in fact, this tactic could be for a whole different reason; I can think of one other reason myself and it would be an interesting topic for discussion. The point is it's there. I'm not a writer, but that sounds awfully hard to accomplish; I can't even accomplish that in this review.
The other interesting reaction I had toward this book is that I felt nothing for the characters. There are the admirable characters and the obligatory not so admirable ones, but I did not have any strong feelings for either. While this does not sound like a good thing, and may be only my reaction, I propose this is not a bad thing. Again, I think it comes from the fact that the reader sees the characters from the vulture's point of view and a vulture obviously will not assign any sort of moral value on actions. For me, it was an interesting divergence from everything else I read.
With this type of writing, I know there are a lot of people who will say that I simply read too much into all this; I have argued the same point many times. What difference does it make? The beautiful thing about verse and poetry is that one reader may see complete bologna and another will find the answer to life, the universe and everything. Verse may not be your thing- apocalyptic vulture verse even less so. That's okay. I am new to this whole poetic apocalyptic fiction genre so the only thing I can go by is whether or not I enjoyed reading it. I did.
I debated between three and four stars. I think Cathartes Aura and the Apocalypse Zoo deserved four stars partly because of its originality. Now anyone who reads apocalyptic fiction knows that wandering humans eventually stumbling upon one another has become practically cliché. For that reason, Cathartes Aura on the Road from Nowhere's story line did not impress me as much as the Apocalyptic Zoo did. However, after going back and pinpointing the tone, or lack of it for the most part, I reconsidered my rating. Maybe this is where a half star may have provided me with a desired compromise, but it is not an option. So I will simply round up.
4 out of 5 stars.
This review is going to be a little different from all the others I have written, so please bear with me.
The reviews I post are a little different than the ones I keep. The reviews I keep on my computer begin with the exact description of the book, usually from Barnes and Noble. Then I write my summary of the book and that is what I use to begin the review I post. I am parting from that with this review because this time it actually makes a difference.
I do not remember how I came across this book. Somehow, I was offered a free eBook to review. I must have read the description because I never enter any giveaways if I am not interested in the book. I already had a couple of books on my 'to read' list before this one but I replied I would be happy to review the book. When I was ready to actually begin reading, I went back to the synopsis and this is what I saw:
"In the Zones, a troubled society walled off from the outside world, nineteen-year-old Dylan lives in the crossfire between rampaging gangs known as hoods, and tyrannical government guards.
Trapped in a brutal reality, he confronts the helplessness of his situation the only way he can—through his art. By day, he takes on the role of protector, caring for his little sister, Lil. By night, he lives a secret life, breaking the curfew and braving the dangerous Zones to paint the perimeter wall with his subversive images. But with the eye of the warden upon him, and the hoods tightening their grip on the Zones, inaction is no longer an option. He must do the one thing no one else has dared to—unite the downtrodden residents and reawaken their hope."
I immediately thought, "Oh no. What have I gotten myself into?" I imagined Footloose with art instead of music and dancing, and a novel instead of a movie with a cute, although a bit nerdy, Kevin Bacon. Or maybe a superhero with special powers of art. Come on, 'by day.... by night...' Doesn't that sound a little super-heroish? Then I felt really bad because I just knew I was going to dislike this book and would probably give it a bad review. However, I brushed those thoughts aside, determined to read the book with an open mind. So I began...
And then I had to continue reminding myself, for two and a half chapters, to keep an open mind. The book is only 156 pages long in my e-reader and after more than two chapters, I was a little concerned because I was having a difficult time getting into it. I was really beginning to worry because I do not have a single artistic gene in my entire body and I should have considered the description more carefully; this book and I were not going to part on friendly terms.
Then at the end of chapter 3... WHAM! There it was- that moment when you are sucked into a book and would rather read than sleep, shower or care for your children. Unfortunately, it was in the middle of the night when that moment arrived. Considering what happens at the end of chapter 3, I started to get a little nervous and kept looking toward my window worrying that someone was out there. Then when I decided I really needed to tear myself from the book and get some sleep, I could not sleep. I kept thinking about what I would do if I had to live in the Zones.
I obviously had turned a corner and was enjoying the book. I pretty much knew around page 100 that I would give Project Hope 4 out of 5 stars. The next day, I even sent my husband away with the kids so I could be alone in a quiet house and finish my book. Project Hope was absolutely not what I was expecting. It was sad and horrific. I was outraged at how callous some of the characters were. It really brought home the sentiment that a crisis brings out the best and worst in people. That is what this book portrays.
I admit that I saw the end coming. I was 90% sure of the ending and of course I was excited when I got there and sure enough, I was right. What I did not see coming was that on page 152, I started crying. That is when I knew I was giving the book 5 stars.
5 out of 5 stars.
When I first started reading the book, it came across as a wilderness survival type story, even with Mia’s special gift. I usually don’t read those types of books, but I really got into Eden. It was a great story and the whole wilderness survival theme lasts for about 97% of the story. I didn’t get bored once.
I understand how some will immediately find the story corny, implausible, convenient, etc. You have a Special Forces operative, scientist, homeopathic nurse, an architect and a kid who happens to be a pro climber on one plane, not to mention Mia and her special gift. How could this group not survive? Seriously, the deck is completely stacked in their favor.
You’d be surprised. Holley gives a perfectly reasonable explanation as to how all these people happened to be on the same flight. In addition, even though they have amazing skills, it was fascinating how there were circumstances when it did not matter in the least.
I thought the writing was excellent and I had no problem getting into all the characters. I could feel their fear, frustration, pain, suffering and so on. Taking into account the ending of the book, which I will not ruin for you, and assuming Holley maintains the level of writing and character development, I expect to be giving the next book five stars. No pressure…
WARNING: THIS IS NOT A BOOK FOR CHILDREN OR EVEN YOUNG ADULTS. IF YOU ARE 18 OR YOUNGER, STOP READING THIS REVIEW RIGHT NOW! EVEN THIS REVIEW IS INAPPROPRIATE FOR SOME.
And there will be spoilers.
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars, Genre: Apocalyptic/ Erotica, Pages: 434, Reading Level: Easy
Book Description from Barnes & Noble:
“A virus devastates humanity. Few men survive. The rest are monsters. The women are dead, except Evie.
Through a quirk in her genetics, she survives. When her physiology begins to evolve, she must come to terms with what she is and accept her role in finding a cure.
The mutated hunt her. The men brutalize her…except three. Cryptic warrior, contrite lover, caring enemy; they are fiercely protective of the last living woman, but divided in their own agendas. Can they come together to protect the only hope for humanity?
Evie must survive.
Content advisory: Guns. Gore. Sex.”
How would you like to be the only human female left on the planet, with men everywhere? Men who adore you. Men who will do anything for you, pleasure you when you want and won’t mind sharing you with other men. And the way this book is going, men who wouldn’t mind if another man joined in.
Hello mommy porn!
Here’s the thing- before writing this review, I looked up classifications of this book. Post-apocalyptic seems to come up the most. Others include, fantasy, horror, thriller and even space exploration, of which there is none. Do you know what DOES NOT come up? Erotica. So why did I include erotica in my genre? That is a very good question. The answer is- because the main character is a sex addict. Yessiree. The only human female left on the planet is a sex addict.
I’ll try to summarize the book a bit. A murderous, incestuous, rapist, Muslim, misogynist, sociopathic terrorist releases a virus that turns humans into aphids and women are just pretty much killed off and the reason that he is not attracted to Evie is because he is turning into a bug and NOT because he is the only gay man to survive the apocalypse. Evie is immune and begins to take on ladybug features because ladybugs are aphids’ natural predators. But Evie soon discovers she can send messages to the aphids if she has skin on skin contact with men. So when she has to do mental battle, she strips down and has the men around her do the same so they can hold her while she engages in aphid mind control.
Oh, did I forget to mention that one of her three main squeezes is a priest?
I know what you are thinking. I am totally pulling your leg because the previous two paragraphs really make no sense at all. Well I’m not. And I can prove it. Read the book.
However, don’t get all nice and comfortable, ready for some hot, steamy mommy porn. There is a lot of killing, gore and rape. After all, having every single man on the planet pine for you comes at a cost. You may get chained up and brutally raped from time to time, maybe someone will try to cut off your breasts, etc. But it’s totally worth it, right? I mean seriously, in the post-apocalyptic world, it’s raining men.
I am having a bit of fun about it, but I know it’s like a whole hive thing and Evie is the queen; I just don’t know that it works all that well.
What Did Not Work
The constant stirring between Evie’s legs. It got old. Everything turns her on. She could be held prisoner, mistreated, fearing for her life and her captor turns her on. Not kidding people.
The level of neediness. Someone else had to bathe her at one point. She needs skin on skin contact to keep the nightmares away and two men work better than one.
The fawning. I love you Evie. I’ll do anything for you Evie. Even if you never touch me again, I’ll die for you Evie. Blech. Her husband was the only one who spoke like a real man, in my humble, feminine opinion. That’s why I keep referring to this as mommy porn. I guess some women like it; I don’t.
There are some editing/ proofreading issues that are borderline distracting.
What Did Work
Mommy porn. Need I say more?
Well I will anyway. It may sound convenient that she is well trained with weapons and fighting techniques and goes into this already prepared. But in spite of the fact that she is well-prepared, she still ends up in bad situations. Since it’s a trilogy, I don’t think it’s a huge spoiler to say she makes it, but she doesn’t make it unscathed.
What Would Have Made this Book Better
If it had been classified as erotica.
If it had been a spoof of apocalyptic fiction.
If there had been one man who said, “Eh. No thanks. I’m gay.” Really? Sociopath bug boy is the only gay man who survived the apocalypse?
If there were a few other women like her and some of her sex puppies had been tempted by someone else, causing a big cat fight. Now that would have been AWESOME! But in all seriousness, maybe one or both of the next two will bring this into the story, but there have to be other women out there like Evie. I want to see what happens when they meet.
Will I read the next book?
Absolutely. I am looking forward to more it’s raining men mommy porn.
However… read at your own risk. I debated between 2, 3 and 4 stars, but at no point was I tempted to put the book down. The only thing that would have persuaded me to put the book down was if Evie had run into some gay men and they all fell head over heels in love with her. Well, there’s always book 2…
Reviewed by Christina
Update- October 14, 2013
YOU TOO CAN PREPARE FOR THE APOCALYPSE!
I revisited the discussion thread of this book in a Goodreads group and one thing we kept going back to was how conveniently, well prepared Eve is for the apocalypse. So I decided to start making a list of things to do so that you too can be prepared.
Make sure you are on a birth control that works for years, preferably one that decreases the frequency of your monthly visitor, if you are female of course. As one member commented, no period during the apocalypse= awesome!
Waxing, especially you women. Brazilian is probably best but make sure you get those legs, underarms, moustache anywhere else that might eventually get those thick, coarse granny hairs. It would be most embarrassing if you end up hooking up with every man you run into and you are presenting them with your own personal jungle.
That brings me to condoms. If you are going to hook up with every man you run into, make sure you are really, very well stocked with condoms. With no doctors around, you don’t want to catch something unseemly. And while you’re at it, maybe stock up on penicillin so if you do get something unseemly, you can get rid of it.
Make sure you are married to a survivalist. Even if he is 86ed early on, you will be well-trained and well-armed.
Make sure you are fluent in many languages. You never know when you will run into a dog that only responds to German commands.
Make sure you own a crappy car. That way when you are looking for transportation after the apocalypse, you will have mad skills like hotwiring.
Make sure you have many pairs of panties. Again, hooking up with so many guys + you being the only female survivor = torn or lost panties.
It helps if dead family members come back as spirit guides.
If you do not yet have one, get yourself a voodoo vagina. It may come in handy.
If you are a sex addict who absolutely cannot get enough, make sure you have an electronic device that can get the job done in the event there is no male available. The toothpaste drawer is the perfect place to stash it.
Sorry, I forgot to check if the book was available here to review. Here is my review from December 29, 2013-
My stated policy on reviewing works by independent authors is that if it receives less than three stars, I will not post a rating and review. I guess I should clarify. That is if the author requests I review something he or she wrote. If I pick something up on my own, I will review it.
So far, the Druid series was not so good. The angels came across as intellectually challenged, sort of special needs. There was a lot of repetition. And a couple of Bobby Ewing incidents. Blech. Dallas really did leave a lasting impression, and not a particularly good one.
In addition, it almost felt like fan fiction. I got the impression that some of this was borrowed from True Blood.
There is some good porn in here if you are not squeamish. Eros touches on the non-violent rape fantasy, you know, you don’t want to have sex with the guy, he’s insistent but makes sure you that you verbally consent, even though you know you shouldn’t but it is oh, so naughty and you can’t resist, and even as you’re doing it, you know it’s wrong. Etcetera.
Anyway, it got two stars because the sex scenes are pretty hot and I love the covers. That’s about it. And I am probably being generous because it is Christmas. Will I continue with the sequels? If they are offered free and I feel the urge for something completely different from my usual genre, sure. Otherwise, no.
Dear Travis Hill, please, please, PLEASE write novels in this same story. PLEEEASE! I want to know what happens next. I want to read about the wars. I want to know more about the agreement. I want to know what happens to criminals. I want to read about the dangerous district. I want more! As long as it is as good as this short story. No pressure.
Obviously, I loved this short story. I usually stay away from short stories, but thanks to the moderator of a Goodreads group in which I participate, I am beginning to change my mind. First independent authors, now short stories. Departure is both.
First, this is probably not entirely appropriate for the kiddos. There is sex. BTW, kudos on the sex. It’s not overly graphic but it’s hot. It’s nice to leave things to the imagination once in a while.
Second, the author does state that this is his version of a love letter to his wife. I’m a big nerd and this would be the absolute best love letter I could possibly receive. So bravo. The reason I mention this is because even though it is science fiction/ dystopian fiction, yes it is a love story- love for his wife, love for his children. The main character is a family man.
I actually cried. Gentlemen, please don’t let that fool you. There are a lot of interesting teasers in here. I am disappointed that I can’t immediately go find the subsequent novel and hope the author continues this story. However, I won’t rate down for the fact that so far, there is none. I know others don’t like that, but I am completely okay with it.
Did I mention that Departure is free on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords? Well it is. It’s free. It’s 45 pages long. In the grand scheme of life, the universe and everything, what do you have to lose? Not much. Give it a try.