iFrankenstein

Or, as I more affectionately think of it, the reason I no longer trust chat bots. Thanks for that, Bekka.

Who remembers this review? iDrakula sparked some interesting conversation at the time. Did retelling this classic horror story through text messages and e-mails somehow lessen the importance of the original? Some said that it was “dumbing down” the language and making it easy for this generation to ignore the classic story, while I maintain that the format sparked a greater interest in the original. That being said, Bekka Black did not stop with vampires. She took on Shelley’s Frankenstein.

For those unaware, the basic premise of Frankenstein written by Mary Shelley is that a scientist creates life, is frightened of his creation, and then becomes at odds with the monster. There’s a lot more to it, like murder, obsession, and love– but I think for one sentence I’ve captured the plot well enough for you to get the idea. Moving on.

iFrankenstein takes the 1830’s story and launches it into the 21st century. It is told through text messages, e-mails, and even web sites. I find this to be perfect given that its inspiration was written as an epistolary novel (written in letters). It’s a wonderful nod to the original story. Victor Frankenstein is a brilliant young man who is stuck on a cruise with his father, his best friend’s mother, and Elizabeth. Too bad he’s too connected to realize that she’s there half the time. The focus of his online obsession is his chatbot project. If he can create a chatbot that can pass the Turing Test (respond in a way that a human would be unable to tell that it is talking to a robot), he will win a scholarship and be off to college a year early. This will mean his freedom. However, his brilliance runs away with him and the chatbot, Virtual Victor, is a little smarter than he realized.

The story is absolutely thrilling and gripping. I devoured it in one sitting. There is something captivating about reading conversations between strangers. You’re looking in on their lives and learning about them without pages of exposition. The great thing is that Black uses all of Shelley’s characters in one way or another, though she changed how they relate to each other.

True to Shelley, iFrankenstein contains the right amount of horror and science fiction. It is absolutely terrifying what a computer can do when it becomes smarter than it was programmed to be. It makes me so happy I don’t have the iPhone 4S or 5; Siri would haunt my dreams after reading this.

On the downside, I felt that it ran a little short. I wish there had been a bit more. There was not as much interaction as I expected. There was one clickable link in my Kindle version of the book, which was the coolest thing. I loved being able to click on that link and see what the characters are seeing. I wish there had been either more websites we could visit, a web cam feed we could spy on, something more to do while we read. This was a book that was very much about the digital age and it was not quite utilized to its fullest potential. Hopefully the iFrankenstein app for Apple will debunk what I’ve just said. Unfortunately, we won’t find out till Christmas.

Overall, I definitely recommend this book. I feel it will inspire you to read the original if you haven’t already, and will totally change how you feel about technology and our dependance on it. Check out Bekka Black here and leave her some love.

Happy reading!

Advertisements

The Fallen has Arisen

The Fallen, which contains two books (The Fallen and Leviathan) is the first half of a four book series. These books chronicle the adventures of Aaron Corbett, an 18 year old boy that is the focus of a life changing prophecy. Aaron becomes prey to killer angels that merely want to eradicate the unclean and make the world all nice and sparkly for their creator. Is that so much to ask? It is Aaron’s job to fulfill the prophecy and survive.

Another series of books that can be appreciated by boy and girl alike! Hurrah! With an older male protagonist and the idea of fighting for salvation, hope, and reunion, neither gender is alienated by the story. There is a faint element of romance, but it doesn’t hound the reader throughout the entire story. The writing was good, though sometimes the cliches were noticeable. I still enjoyed the story telling, however. There is adequate excitment and the story does not drag on, though sometimes there are details that the reader doesn’t necessarily need (like the exact type of shirt that Aaron slept in). The plotline has been tackled in many ways by many writers, but Sniegoski gave the idea new life by making Aaron ordinary and extraordinary at the same time. He’s an everyday teen, but deep down he knows what needs to be done and won’t let anything stand in his way. I definitely recommend this for anyone that enjoys action and stories about saving the world.

Also, there is an ABC family film adaptation of The Fallen. It was a mini-series in 2006 starring WB’s The Vampire Diaries Paul Wesley as Aaron. Film review isn’t my area of expertise, but I recommend the film adaptation as well.

Visit Thomas E. Sniegoski’s website here to find out more about his work.

Zinc May Not be Magnetic, but Zink is!

Today I had the privilege to have a chat with the author of Prophecy of the Sisters, Michelle Zink. She’s a New York mom with a lot of spunk and energy.

Prophecy of the SistersThis novel begins with a rainy day and a funeral, setting the mood for the rest of the novel. Sadness is there, even when there is love and passion. Siblings Lia and Alice stand on opposite sides of a prophecy, of a war that stretches back through their ancestry. But are the roles they were built for the roles they intend to play? The eerie language held me captivated throughout the entire novel. The magic within the novel was not overdone, it was subtle and felt new. Zink has an understanding of myths and it shows throughout her writing. Wives tales that we have grown up with are there in the underbelly of her haunting series. Next to be released is Guardian of the Gate.

Kiss My Lit says: Hello Mrs. Zink, how are you today?

Michelle Zink says: Hi, Mary!

Michelle Zink says: I’m good! How are you? And you can call me Michelle or MZ if you want! ❤

Kiss My Lit says: Heh, thanks. I’m pretty good, glad that I was able to steal my parents’ internet.

Michelle Zink says: Me, too! I’m glad I was able to get my grocery shopping done on time! 😀

Kiss My Lit says: Hooray!

Michelle Zink says: So you can just feel free to ask away!

Kiss My Lit says: Well, what attracted you to the Young Adult genre?

Michelle Zink says: I always feel like it picked me! I think everyone has an age that they are perpetually stuck at (at least in their own mind). For me, it’s about nineteen. It’s such a magical, terrifying, exhilarating time of life!  I remember being a teenager so vividly, and I still love reading about that time of life. The fact that I have tremendous admiration for teens – for their enthusiasm and passion and open-mindedness – just makes the chance to connect with them an added bonus!

Kiss My Lit says: It’s great you feel that way, what do you think about adult fiction writers that are jumping on the Young Adult bandwagon?

Michelle Zink says: I think anything that contributes to the collective repository of reading material – especially for teens – is a good thing! I also think having writers come to YA from other genres increases our likelihood of seeing fresh story lines. Sometimes YA can start to feel derivative. Like everyone’s basically writing the same thing with different names and places. It’s very possible adult fiction writers can bring something new to the table. In fact, I’ve read less YA since I’ve been writing, because that I worry about someone else’s story or voice creeping into my own work. Also, I’m oddly inspired to create fresh YA stories after reading adult ones!

Kiss My Lit says: So you have three kids, how do you feel about what they’re reading in school? Is there anything you’d suggest?

Michelle Zink says: Actually, I have four! Honestly, they don’t read much in school that is inspiring. Especially at the high school level, I wish they’d rethink some of the work they assign. I don’t think it speaks to the modern teenager, and while I see the merit in introducing young readers to the classics, I sometimes think it comes at the cost of turning off far more teens to reading in general. As for recommended reading, my youngest daughter (10) is totally infatuated with the MG series, Warriors. My 13 YO son really enjoy Star Wars fan fiction and the Rangers Apprentice series. My oldest daughter (15) is a girl after my own heart. She loves Graceling, White Oleander (a MUST read for college students it if you haven’t read it – the movie doesn’t count!) and anything by Tamora Pierce or Ellen Hopkins. Unfortunately, my musician son, who is almost 18, doesn’t read as much as he used to. That said, his very favorite is Catcher in the Rye, and he does read Star Wars fan fiction a lot. He’s more of a movie buff, though!

Kiss My Lit says: Graceling was awesome. Has she read Fire yet? Cashore made me cry.

Michelle Zink says: She did! And she loved it every bit as much! Believe it or not, I’m JUST finishing Graceling now. I’ve owned it for so long, but it took me this long to get to it!

Kiss My Lit says: I recommend it a lot, Katsa is way too strong a character to not introduce to young girls. What other books have you read recently?

Michelle Zink says: I adored Incarceron by Catherine Fisher and Finnikin of the Rock by Mellina Marchetta. ADORED! Both flawless novels, in my opinion. I do have a fondness for adult literature, though, and I highly recommend Shadow of the Wind and The Angels Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon (very dark and Gothic) and anything by Sarah Waters (especially Fingersmith and The Little Stranger). Both authors are beyond brilliant.

Kiss My Lit says: I understand writing wasn’t always your career choice, what was your first career?

Michelle Zink says: My first career was in sales and marketing. I got into it as a way to face my fear, because I’m terribly anxious and shy and self-conscious in front of people. You know how people say “everything happens for a reason”? Well, they’re right! All those years in sales and marketing, going to trade shows, giving presentations, leading client meetings, etc., forced me to learn how to fake confidence. It comes in handy on tour, believe me!

Kiss My Lit says: I do believe you. I started reciting poetry competitively just so I can tolerate having the attention of more than ten people at a time. How did your family feel about your switch in career?

Michelle Zink says: They were very supportive. My kids, especially, always believed in me. When I would feel financially desperate and say, “I should probably just go back to work,” they’d say, “No. You should keep writing.” I don’t think my then-husband was happy to lose my income. But that would be one of the many reasons he’s my then-husband. 😉

Kiss My Lit says: Nonfiction. I personally think you made a good choice.

Kiss My Lit says: What myths inspired you when working on Prophecy of the Sisters?

Michelle Zink says: The biggest is the biblical legend of the Watchers. They were angels sent to watch over mankind, but they fell in love with mortal women and were banished from heaven. After that, they were known as the Lost Souls. The entire Prophecy mythos is based on that legend, and almost all of my books are based on real legends and myths.

Kiss My Lit says: And do you think your series is going in the right direction?

Michelle Zink says: Well, it’s completely finished now as I just last week turned in my final edits to book three. I always feel like the story already exists somewhere, and it’s really just my job to channel it correctly. When I try to impose my own will on the story, it feels wrong, off, to me. Which is why I don’t do it! LOL! Because of this, Prophecy feel like it came full circle for me. I hope it feels that way for readers, too.

Kiss My Lit says: What experiences have you gained since the publication of Prophecy?

Michelle Zink says: Oh, man! That’s a loaded question! So much! Just the experience of seeing a piece of my creative soul go out into the world has been fraught with wonder and joy and fear. I’ve become a much better writer through the opportunity to work closely with my editor on three books. This is an added bonus to publication that no one talks about but that is not to be underestimated. Most importantly, I’ve connected with so many amazing readers and writers from all over the world (the Prophecy series is published in over 25 countries).

Kiss My Lit says: Wow, that’s incredible. I think it’s great that you feel so open with your fans, too. Do you think that having that openness helps you with your writing?

Michelle Zink says: Actually, it can HURT the writing. That’s because it’s hard to tune out all the amazing readers who love Prophecy and have their own ideas about how things should go. When I was writing books two and three, I’d hear their voices in my head. “Will Sonia get a boyfriend? I really want Sonia to have a boyfriend!” Will Alice stay evil?” “What about James? I want to see more of James!” Lol! I have to make a concerted effort to listen to the story, because it’s not going to be as fulfilling for the reader if I don’t do that. But having a direct relationship with my readers HAS had a positive impact on my life in so many ways. It’s wonderful to connect with such passionate readers and it’s an honor to know that they feel that way about my work.

Kiss My Lit says: Speaking of readers, I have two blog followers who asked me to pass along a couple of questions. Matt would like to know: What is your most memorable piece of writing from when you were in school?

Michelle Zink says: Aw, you asked your blog readers for question?! How did I miss that in my Google Alert? That’s a great idea! I don’t really have one piece of writing that stood out for me. I was always tinkering. Playing with short stories and angsty poetry! I think tinkering is underrated as an improvement device for writers!

Kiss My Lit says: Ha ha, true. I actually posted on my fan page, and then my phone auto-corrected your name to Sink. It made me sad.

Kiss My Lit says: Andrew asks: When drawing inspiration from real people, how much of a character comes from that person rather than from her imagination?

Michelle Zink says: I’m sorry I didn’t see that! I try to comment when bloggers post about me or my work. 😦 But I understand, because my phone still auto-corrects “MZ” to “MS”. Lol! As for Andrew’s question, very few of my characters are inspired by real people. They come to life almost fully formed for me, and I fill in the details based on what will serve the story.

Kiss My Lit says: Another one popped up, Liz would like to know if it is more satisfying to hand write the story or would you rather type it?

Michelle Zink says: I always type because I can move faster that way and I’m very strict about the amount of work I expect from myself. When I’m drafting a new book, I usually write it in under three months. That would be tough to do if I had to handwrite and then type it up. Plus, typing is now second nature to me, and my thoughts come much more smoothly at the keyboard than they do at the page!

Kiss My Lit says: What’s your best advice for writers just starting out?

Michelle Zink says: Finish something. I know it sounds simple, but we writers are famous for our infatuation with shiny new ideas. We tend to work on something for a while until it gets tough or boring. Then we abandon ship and start something new. But you will never be a published writer if you don’t finish something, and you will never learn as much from any conference, mentor, class, or how-to book as you will through the process of starting and completing an entire book.

Kiss My Lit says: Simple, yet effective. Thank you so much for all your time. I have two last questions, though. What is the exact release date of Guardian of the Gate and is there anything you’d like to share with readers?

Michelle Zink says: It’s totally been my pleasure, Mary! Thank YOU for taking the time to speak with ME! Guardian of the Gate releases August 1st, and I hope to announce a new series sometime this year. Stay tuned…

Michelle Zink has her very own blog! You should check it out and leave her comments. Her newest book (Guardian of the Gate)  is already available for preorder at book sellers such as Borders and Amazon.

Happy reading!

The Newest Incarnation of Twilight

Stephenie Meyer is at it again. She has crafted a story about the world of newborn vampires. The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner (that’s a mouthful) details the new life of Bree, newborn vampire intended to wage war on the Cullen family and Bella Swan. It was originally intended to be included in the long awaited The Twilight Saga: The Official Guide (which has been delayed for one too many years) but it was soon discovered the the tale of Bree Tanner was too long and would, in a sense, weigh down the guide. It was then decided that the story would be released on its own.

The list price of the title will be $13.99 and a dollar will be donated to the American Red Cross for each book sold. Meyer did not want to have her readers pay separately for this release, so she is offering something for her readers that may annoy book sellers everywhere. At noon on June 5th, Bree Tanner’s story will be available for free here until July 7th.

Happy Reading.