Sentence of the Day: Dekka

Sam: “How are you doing, Dekka?”

Dekka: “Stop asking, Sam.”

Sam: “You have to — “

Dekka: “What? What do I have to do, Sam? They’re eating me from the inside, what do you want me to say?”

Toto: “She’s telling the truth — “

Dekka: “Shut your stupid mouth, you freak!”

Sentence of the Day: Sam

There is a climactic confrontation between teens and killer bugs on a lake!

  • “Be dead, be dead,” Sam muttered under his breath.


A new character shows up 3/4 of the way through this book. He was a research subject and lived in a lab. When the grown-ups disappeared, Toto just continued living in the lab, because he stumbled across a huge stash of Nutella AND Pepsi. And he lived off Nutella and Pepsi for eight months.

The others found him strange because he talked about himself in third person. Then they discovered this other thing about him: he couldn’t lie. He always had to say exactly what he was thinking. But when someone else lied, he knew it too.

They way the others discovered Toto’s skill was this: they would meet another party, and this party would say something, and Toto would suddenly blurt out: NOT TRUE. And Toto turned out to have 100% accuracy.

That’s all he does, the rest of the novel. He just keeps saying NOT TRUE at moments of crisis.

That is a very useful skill to have before the start of any negotiation.

Stay tuned.

Like Buffy!

Trigger Warning: Killer Bugs, and Drake

So many characters in Plague. Each one has his/her/their own story arc, but she’s beginning to develop affinities.

The insects are coming! They’re led by this bad, bad boy named Drake who, even before the crazy time when all the adults disappeared from Perdido Beach, California, was mini-Jeffrey Dahmer, “burning frogs” and “microwaving a puppy” (!!!) He’s absolutely nuts and becomes a kind of Lord of the Bugs, with his own bug army, which he is leading back to town to kill all the kids.

Just then a rush of bugs, a new column of the creatures came over the ridge and poured into the mass of Drake’s army. Different. These had bloodred eyes.

They were not alone.

Brianna stood, arms on hips, glaring down at him.

“You!” Drake said.

“Me,” Brianna said.

To the creatures he said, “Red eyes, serve me! To the town. Kill everyone but Nemesis!”

“You talking to these bugs now?” Brianna said. “I have to tell you: I don’t think they speak psycho.”

“Blue eyes, with me!” Drake said. “Two columns, two armies: blues with me, reds back to town and kill. Kill!”

“What exactly do you think you’re doing?” Brianna demanded.

“Me?” Drake laughed loudly. “I’m going on an epic killing spree.”

“You’ll have to go through me,” Brianna said.

Plague, p. 308


Here It Is: The Thing (Or Things) That Came Out of Roscoe

RIP Roscoe. Very sad. His best friend locked him in a room and nailed plywood boards over the doors and windows. All Roscoe could do was watch as his friend worked, his face looking ghostly and sad.

Don’t every tell anyone that teenagers can’t make the hard decisions.

Now we’re in a forest, p. 253. That monster, Drake, who is really two teenagers in one (Brittney’s the other one — she keeps trying to kill Drake because she’s good, see? And Drake is bad. Only, they’re the same body. So Brittney hasn’t got it all figured out yet.) hears something approaching. Something big.

It was silver and bronze, dully reflective. It had an insect’s head with prominent, gnashing mouthparts that made Drake think of a Benihana chef flashing knives ceremonially. Its wickedly curved mandibles of black horn or bone protruded from the side of its mouth. It smelled like curry and ammonia.

Plague, A Gone Novel, p. 253

Is that a giant cockroach? Self haaaates cockroaches!

She even hates spiders. Which is why Adrian Tchaikovsky’s Children of Time left her feeling a little, how shall we say, detached.

Not content with scaring the bejesus out of his readers with the above description, Michael Grant has to describe how they move:

They ran in a rush on six legs, stopping, starting, then skittering forward again at alarming speed. Their tarnished silver wings folded back against bronze carapaces, like beetles or cockroaches.

Stay tuned.

Penny in PLAGUE, a GONE novel

These characters — a whole slew of them — are as vivid and realized as can be. They talk like teenagers, they drink like teenagers, they swear like teenagers.

p. 220:

“You okay?” Caine asked Diana.

“She’s perfect,” Penny said. “Perfect hair, perfect teeth, perfect skin. Plus she has legs that work, which is really cool.”

“I’m out of here,” Caine said.

“No,” Diana said. “Help me lift her back out.”

“Yeah, Caine, don’t you want to see me naked? I’m still kind of hot. If you don’t mind my legs. Just don’t look at them. Because they’ll kind of make you sick.”

Both of Penny’s ankles are broken. And because all the adults have disappeared, and that includes doctors and nurses, “there was no way to fix her legs . . . and nothing to treat the pain but Tylenol and Motrin.” All that’s holding Penny’s ankles together are “two pairs of socks.”

How did both of Penny’s ankles get broken? Caine broke them. But Penny still has to live with Caine and his girlfriend, Diana. She doesn’t wash or go to the bathroom, which is why Diana finally decides to take matters into her own hands, and drags Penny to the tub (at least there is running water).

Diana maneuvered to bear most of Penny’s weight and lower her bottom first into the hot water. Her twisted pipe-cleaner legs dragged, then followed their owner into the tub. Penny screamed. “Sorry,” Diana said.

“Oh God, it hurts, it hurts, it hurts!”

Did self mention that these books are listed as YA? But there is nothing YA about these characters. She can’t believe she never heard about these novels until she saw a stack of them on Charles’s desk on the lower floor of the London Review Bookshop, a month ago (There are nine books in the series). To her great surprise, the author turned out to be American. And the characters were American teenagers in self’s own home state of California. To think she had to go all the way to London — to the London Review Bookshop — to find out about them.

Pretty good reading, this one. And the horror — the horror — is stellar.

Stay tuned.

Plague, A Gone Novel: Sentence of the Day

  • Edilio (one of the less self-absorbed characters): “You know, Albert, you want so bad to be the big man, the Donald Trump of Perdido Beach, why don’t you go deal with Drake?”

So Donald Trump is not beneath the notice of the ultra-cool American teens of Perdido Beach, California — ?! Who would have thought? (After reading the sentence, self looked up the book’s publication date: 2011)

Better Than It Needed to Be

Self has been reading Plague: A Gone Novel. She’s still less than a hundred pages in, but already she is grateful for the writing: when a book about southern California teen-agers trapped under an invisible dome and having to deal with urges and drinking and plague, not to mention insects that burrow inside them, turns out also to be well- written, she is all : Too much! First the Adrian Tchaikovsky space opera, then this! What are the odds? What has she done to deserve etc.?

The Gone books have two main protagonists: Sam and Caine. The two are twins who’ve been separated at birth: their single mother gave Caine up for adoption, but kept Sam. Caine, naturally, grows up to be a bad boy. Because of his malevolence, Caine has been exiled by the other kids to an island off Perdido Beach. He is accompanied in exile by a beautiful girl, Diana, who’s in love with him. On p. 70, Caine and Diana start making out and then they argue. Caine starts lifting boulders with his finger and flinging them around (so, magic powers!)

“Sometimes I hate you!” he yelled and with a flick of his wrist sent the boulder flying off the cliff and falling toward the water below.

“Just sometimes?” Diana raised one skeptical brow. “I hate you almost all the time.”

They glared at each other with a look that was hate but also something else, something so much more helpless than hatred.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

The Gone Novels, by Michael Grant

There are nine in all. Self heard about them only a few weeks ago, when she was in London. She went to the London Review Bookshop and on the lower floor, where Charles sits, was a stack of colorful paperbacks. She picked up one, and it had a blurb by Stephen King. As soon as she got home, she checked out two of the series, the only two that were available from her local library.

She started with Plague, Gone # 4: It’s been eight months since all the adults disappeared. GONE . . .

The kids are all alone (Self thinks: well, at least they’re in a California beach town, not in some arena). It has a sort of Lord of the Flies vibe (i.e. dystopian), but with drinking and sex (Yes, sex between American teens is a given, or at least it was until the current era).

One teen develops a parasitic infection. It appears there’s a hive of biting insects that lives in his shoulder: EEEEUWWWW) Others develop a coughing sickness.

Three girls, all named Jennifer (LOL) have banded together in a house. One of the Jennifers dies. Here’s a conversation between the two remaining Jennifers:

“Jen . . . I’m going to . . . hospital.”

No answer.

“Are you alive?”

Jennifer L. coughed, she wasn’t dead, and she coughed normally, not the crazy spasms that had killed Jennifer H. But she didn’t answer.

So Jennifer Boyles set off, on her own. She slid on her butt down the stairs, blankets gathered around her. Shivering, teeth chattering.

She managed to stand long enough to reach the front door and open it. But she sat down again very unexpectedly on the porch. Hard on her butt. She sat there shaking until the chills passed.

She tripped walking down the porch stairs. The fall bruised her left knee badly. This destroyed the last of her will to stand up. But not the last of her will to live.

Jennifer began to crawl. Hands and knees. Down the sidewalk. Impeded by her blankets. Delayed by coughing fits. Pausing whenever the chills rattled her so hard she could only moan and hack and roll onto her side.

“Keep going,” she muttered. “Gotta keep going.”

It took her two hours to crawl as far as Brace Road.

Plague, pp. 42- 43

This is good stuff!

Stay tuned.

Too Many Parallels

Self finished Shards of Earth after four days of staying-home-all-day and not-changing-out-of-pajamas, four days of asking herself HOLY COW is-this-the-best-space-opera-she-has-EVER-reador-what and howis-jug-eared-Idris-Telemmier-the-hottest-space-hero-of-all-time?


Plague, self’s current read, is giving her plenty of reason to reflect on January 6 Committee Hearings drama.

How was it fair? Caine was a liar, a manipulator, a murderer. And Caine was probably lying in satin sheets with Diana eating actual food and watching a DVD. Clean sheets, candy bars, and a wonderful, willing girl.

Caine who had never done a single good or decent thing was living in luxury.

Sam, who had tried and tried and done everything he could, was sitting in his house with a raging headache, smelling vomit with a pair of ibuprofen burning a hole in his stomach lining.

Plague, A Gone Novel, by Michael Grant, p. 39

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