Symbiont by Mira Grant

wpid-20150112_192434.jpgSymbiont by Mira Grant is the second book in what was to be a two book series but is now a trilogy. Thatthe-mad-reviewer-reading-challenge-2015 statement alone gives the impression this second book may have been lacking in quality content. It kind of was.

Parasite, the first book, had a good pace, was a quick read, and had a plot that moved along. Symbiont was a quick read as well, given it’s a 500 plus page book. The tapeworms meant to keep humans healthy have started to revolt and attack their hosts.  Sal and her companions must figure out how this is happening before the tapeworms cause humans to cease existing in their current forms.

Where the book falls short is in the overall story. The story got bogged down in the main character’s self reflecting and repetition of thoughts/events that happened. At the end of book one, Sal has realized what she is and how she came to be that way.  Book two starts up pretty much where the first one ended, and from there a few things happen, but the repetition really gets in the way.  Sal has to come to terms with what she is, which is understandable and something that readers would want to know about.  However, that self-reflection happens way too frequently and starts to become boring.  

I doubt this is the exact reader reaction Grant wanted. Reading her acknowledgement at the end of the book makes it clear she had a lot more to say than what would fit into two books.  Which is nothing to complain about.  If an author chooses to expand on their original plans, please do so.  Artistic creativeness has its own boss and can often take someone to a different path.  This time it seems to be a bit of a stumbling block.  The book was an Okay read – this is a very obvious second book and didn’t allow for too much progression of overall story or even decent character development. It’s just not what I was hoping for.  Maybe I’ll feel differently once the third and final book comes out.  For now however, I’m left with a feeling of slight disappointment.

Shows Worth Watching: The X-Files

Welcome to a new monthly feature that I’ll be doing: Shows Worth Watching. Once a month I’ll write about a t.v. show that I think is worth the time it takes for viewing.  Shows will be a mix of old ones (i.e., no longer broadcasting), and current ones.  Hope you enjoy it (and if you can think of a better feature name than Shows Worth Watching, I’m open to suggestions 🙂 )

Picture from Wikipedia page

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Fox Mulder: image from Wikipedia

The first t.v. show I’d like to discuss is The X-Files.  A ground breaking show that aired on Fox from 1993 to 2002 and came from the mind of Chris Carter.  Why am I starting with a show that is over 20 years old? Well, if you have to ask, you clearly have never seen The X-Files. All jesting aside, The X-Files is the first because, 1) I love it, 2) it was an excellent show that achieved cult status fairly quickly and then became really popular, and 3) it combined a lot of topics that were interesting, compelling, controversial, and thought-provoking.

FBI agents Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) are teamed up to investigate unsolved cases that appear to be paranormal in nature – know as The X-Files.  Mulder is a skilled profiler and has an unyielding belief in the existence of extraterrestrial life.  Part of this belief is steeped in the mystery surrounding the disappearance of his sister, Samantha, whom he believes was abducted by aliens when he was 12-years-old.  Scully is a doctor and a skeptic to events of the paranormal and alien life.  The FBI teams these two up as a balance to one another, and as a way to possibly debunk any of Mulder’s proof of paranormal or alien existence.  This teaming works well – the chemistry between the two actors was evident and the characters respect each other as well as their ideas, enabling both to see the others viewpoint.

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Dana Scully: Image from Wikipedia

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The Lone Gunmen: Image from Wikipedia

Their boss, Walter Skinner (Mitch Pileggi), FBI assistant director, works well in his role too.  At first he seems not have too much interest in any of Mulder and Scully’s cases.  As episodes progress, Skinner starts to side with the agents and becomes more than a boss, often helping them when he can and sometimes even covering for them.  The Smoking Man (William B. Davis) is the main nemesis of Mulder and Scully throughout the series.  He seems to be one who is hiding a lot of information and gets in Mulder and Sully’s way whenever they seem to be on the verge of discovering something.  It is eventually revealed that The Smoking Man is part of the Syndicate, a group of men who appear to orchestrate many lies and cover-ups, providing the basis of a government conspiracy to cover-up the existence of alien life that will be featured frequently throughout the life of series.  Another group of characters that needs to be mentioned, who showed up periodically, and became fan favorites is The Lone Gunmen.  Known mainly by their last names: Langly, Frohike, and Byers.  They were conspiracy theorists and often assisted and provided information to and for Mulder and Scully.  The Lone Gunmen became allies and friends of the agents and were always delight to see when they appeared in an episode.  The Lone Gunmen had a brief stint in a series of their own, but it didn’t last long (and truthfully, I don’t even remember it).

A major plot line that ran throughout The X-Files was Mulder’s search for his sister.  Mulder’s sister was seemingly taken by aliens when he was 12. This incident stayed with Mulder and is part of the reason why he is so adamant about the existence of alien life. Several episodes focus on clues about her disappearance and a growing suspicion that the FBI and the government know a lot more than they are willing to admit.  This really becomes the overall mythology of The X-Files and carries from season to season, culminating in the series finale.

When not focusing on the mythology of aliens, The X-Files featured episodes about the paranormal, unbelievable, and unexplained.  A few of my favorite non-mythology episodes were: Miracle Man, Duane Barry, Dod Kalm, and Home.  These episodes ranged from the spiritual, to the grotesque, to the legend and lore, and everything in between. The tag line of The X-Files was “I Want to Believe”. Something that Mulder was desperate to stay true to and something that fans of the show took to heart.  As a viewer, the show made you want to believe.  The conviction of Mulder’s beliefs combined with Scully’s level head-opinions and the government conspiracy threaded throughout the series made believing seem realistic.

The last two seasons of the series were a little less likable.  David Duchovny has mostly departed the show and Robert Patrick stepped in to play Agent John Doggett. Patrick is a fine actor but the departure of Duchovny and the lack of focus on the mythology of the series was disappointing.  Duchovny did come back for a few episodes and the series ended in the 9th season to a somewhat satisfying conclusion. The show also spawned two Movies: The X-Files (Fight the Future) and The X-Files: I Want to Believe.  The first film was the much better of the two with the focus being on the mythology, but any fan of The X-Files was content with even a mediocre second film.

So, if you are looking for a series to watch that is in the sci-fi realm, The X-Files is for you.  Like most series, the first few episodes are a little rough in terms of look and production value with improvements evident as the series progresses.  The acting is good throughtout the run and some excellent appearances by well known and loved actors (Bryan Cranston, Tony Shalhou, Lucy Lawless, and CCH Pounder to name a few) are well worth the viewing.  I’m obviously a fan and of the show and hope that you will become one too (if you aren’t one already!).

2015 reading list, so far…

2015 is upon us and with that, I decided to go through my books and figure out which ones I haven’t read yet.  Turns out I currently possess 44 books that I haven’t read yet. Forty-four! A sample of some is pictured below. Cleary I have an issue with buying books before I’m ready to read them. Not only am I a reading addict, I’m also a book buying addict. This isn’t exactly a problem I want to cure, but one that I need to try and get under some semblance of control.

imageWho am I kidding. I’ll never get it under control. When a new book comes out that I want to read, I buy it. I’ve tried waiting but that never works. I want to have that first edition, first printing book. Not because I think it will be worth something one day, only because I’m compelled with forces beyond my control to have that brand new book.  There are other addictions that are far worse to have, so I’m happy this one isn’t a self-destructive one.

Obviously I have a lot of reading to look forward to this year.  Therefore, I once again am participating in The Mad Reviewer Reading Challenge. Last year I signed up to read and review 26 books.  Sadly I fell short of that goal and only read/reviewed 19 books. I read more than 19 books but I had a hard time doing a review for each one. Hopefully this year I won’t have the same problem and will meet my goal (which will be 26 again, no need to push myself when I fell short last time). Another goal I’ll give myself as part of this challenge is to read at least half of my current “to be read pile.”  Reading 22 from the stack I currently have seems like a reasonable goal, right? I’m hoping it is.

So, here’s to a lot of reading to look forward to in 2015! I’ll see how it goes, along with how many new books get added to the “to be read pile” this year.