Thursday, August 30, 2012

Book review: Partials by Dan Wells

The human race is all but extinct after a war with Partials—engineered organic beings identical to humans—has decimated the population. Reduced to only tens of thousands by RM, a weaponized virus to which only a fraction of humanity is immune, the survivors in North America have huddled together on Long Island while the Partials have mysteriously retreated. The threat of the Partials is still imminent, but, worse, no baby has been born immune to RM in more than a decade. Our time is running out.

Kira, a sixteen-year-old medic-in-training, is on the front lines of this battle, seeing RM ravage the community while mandatory pregnancy laws have pushed what's left of humanity to the brink of civil war, and she's not content to stand by and watch. But as she makes a desperate decision to save the last of her race, she will find that the survival of humans and Partials alike rests in her attempts to uncover the connections between them—connections that humanity has forgotten, or perhaps never even knew were there.

Dan Wells, acclaimed author of I Am Not a Serial Killer, takes readers on a pulsepounding journey into a world where the very concept of what it means to be human is in question—one where our humanity is both our greatest liability and our only hope for survival.

If I had known that this book was the start of a series, I would not have read it... Because it's so freaking good! With only a prequel out, and the next book in the sequence coming out in February, I'm kicking myself in the butt for falling for another series. Problem is, I'm a very impatient person, and after reading this book there are still so many questions that were left unanswered, and many more that appeared near the end.

One thing that I really enjoyed was the well fleshed-out world that this book takes place in. The book takes place in post-apocalyptic America, in what was Long Island. The last remaining humans live there, and, due to an engineered virus called RM, every baby both dies within a few days of being both. On the mainland are the Partials, genetically engineered super soldiers who are unfriendly, to say the least. I was surprised that I actually enjoyed the post-apocalyptic thing going on in this book, since I'm not really a fan of it usually, but it was used and mentioned only when necessary. The conflict and focus isn't on how everything is in ruins, and how nature is slowly retaking the abandoned parts of the city, it's about RM, and the race the main character, Kira, is in to find a cure.

Kira is a solid enough character; my only complaint would be that, for a sixteen year old, she's a bit to mature, too knowledgeable for her age. At the start of the story she becomes a medical intern for the only hospital's maternity ward. Yes, in the society she lives in, she would be more quickly educated, but I still an not sure the author can really get away with her being sixteen without a bit of eyebrow raising. The thing is she needs to be sixteen, the story demands that she be sixteen, but I'm not completely sold.

Otherwise, the story is solid, and though I haven't read the prequel yet, the author seems to have thought out the implications of the events that happen in the book. The Partials, in particular, are very well thought out, and I ready appreciated the detail put into how they work and why. The book drags a bit for the first almost half (though the first half isn't boring, and is definitely necessary, it's mundane, and mostly involves showing the reader how the last remains of humanity are living on a day-to-day basis), but once you hit the halfway point things start happening very quickly, and it's becomes worth the extended intro. Remember this is intended to be a series, and needs a solid base with which to work with.

Genre: YA Science Fiction, Apocalyptic
Pages: 480
Writing: 4/5
Plot: 5/5
Characters: 3/5
Worth the Read?: Definitely, if you're willing to get caught up in a series

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Atlanta Trip

So, last week, I went up with the boyfriend and a mutual friend to Atlanta for a little mini-vacation, and it was quite a trip!

The reason why we were going up to Atlanta in the first place was because the friend had one last semester at Georgia Tech, and needed to drive himself up there anyway. So we hitched a ride for a little five-day adventure. I've only driven through Atlanta before this trip (since I-75 cuts right through the city), so I jumped no the chance to see a new city.

My two road trip buddies.

Yay for Georgia!

We didn't really do much when we got there, more chilling than anything. But we did go to a particularly cool bar called Ormsby's.

It was a pretty snazzy bar, and the space was beautiful.We only stayed for a drink, but it was definitely worth the visit.

In the end, though, the best part will have to be the plane ride. I've always loved flying, and this time was no different (though it was a pity that I didn't get a window seat, but whatever).


Friday, August 17, 2012

It took long enough!

It's been a very (very) long time coming, but the pool finally has a new pump and filter. Thank god!

This was the old pump/filter setup we had going. The pump, while it did work, was incredibly noisy, due to a mishap when the pool was drained and the pump was allowed to run dry for a short time. We think the bearings were damaged from that incident, and ever since it created an awful whine whenever it was on. The filter was a godawful DE filter that was installed when the pool was built (in, like, '87) and it's caused us nothing but trouble. It was hard to open, hard to clean, and hard to maintain.

And this is the new setup. In addition to a new pump (1 HP, rather than the 3/4 HP that was installed before) and a nice new (plastic!) cartridge filter, we also some nice little landscaping to make the area cleaner. It took my dad and me a good two full days to dismantle and install the whole mess, but we finally have a quiet pump and a good filter again! Also, now that the new filter is easier to clean (and actually works...), the pool, which was always on the verge of turning, has finally returned to a nice clear(er) blue. Until now my sister and I would joke that we didn't have a pool but rather a hole in the ground with water in it. But now we have a pool again!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Assassin's Creed Movie

This is probably old news for the more hardcore Assassin's Creed fans, but Ubisoft decided to make a full-length Assassin's Creed movie, with Michael Fassbender (of X-Men: First Class and Prometheus) as "the franchise's iconic hooded hero".  While this news definitely gets me excited, it also comes with some apprehension: I mean, how many video game-related movies have you seen recently that stayed true to (and had the success that) the original game had? Ubisoft knows this (and has been burned in the past -- remember how Disney murdered Prince of Persia?) and will be making the movie -- not with Sony Pictures, after negotiations fell through -- but with the newly founded Ubisoft Motion Pictures, and will be produced by Fassbender's own DMC Films.

It gives me hope that this movie will stay true to the game and that it'll bring fans the same enjoyment. It won't be the first time Ubisoft has dabbled in some film making; they made Assassin's Creed: Lineage a while ago, and while the mini series did leave a bit of an overly green screened aftertaste, they were surprisingly well done.

I suppose, in the end, we'll just have to sit put and wait to see what will happen with this whole movie thing. It's reassuring that Ubisoft refused to partner with Sony Pictures in order to maintain creative control; if the movie actually ends up in theaters, you can count me in. Until then, we can distract ourselves with the soon-to-be released Assassin's Creed III.

Assassin's Creed: Lineage

Friday, August 10, 2012

I Remember #1

I remember, when I was much younger and still shared a room with my sister, we would put on the radio at night, so we would fall asleep to music. It was a small, cheap radio, the type with that distinct plastic-y, distant sound. It would be on really low, just loud enough to distinguish the vocals. Back then 93.1 FM used to be a dance/trace station.

I remember the first time I was introduced to that station, to dance music in general. A childhood friend of mine had invited me to come with her to an auto parts convention, with her parents. Her father was a mechanic, and went to this convention every year. What two twelve-year-old girls were supposed to do at an auto convention, I'm not sure, but I do recall all the funky free things we would get at all the booths. Weird little digital clocks with company name stamped on them. Small plastic-aluminum packets of that heavy-duty orange hand cleaner. Erasers in the shape of the Goodyear blimp. Half the fun was collecting all the funky freebies. But the best one must have been the radio.

It was also stamped with a company name; it was one of those super cheap ones, with only an on/off switch, a volume dial, and a scan button so you could painstakingly climb the FM band one station at a time. It was a clear red, so you could see the insides, and a silvery button plate where the logo was printed. It was probably one of the best freebies the convention offered.

After a few hours at the convention, after we all piled back into the car, I fiddled with my prize. The radio came with a pair of cheap earbuds. The single AAA was even included. And so I turned on the little thing and scanned away. And that's how I found the dance station. Back then I wasn't too familiar with music genres, but it was then that I knew that I loved dance music. More the vocal stuff than the instrumental, but still, dance music.

And so it went on at night, to quietly serenade my sister and I to sleep. It's a scene of peace that I'll always remember: a dim room, the streetlight's glow filtered by blinds and curtain, with a tinny radio murmuring dance music into the night.

I've been trying to recreate the scene ever since 93.1 changed to a rock station, to a classical station, then to an easy listening station. But recently I downloaded the iHeartRADIO app... interestingly enough, the Pride Radio station plays that right blend of 90's-style dance music that I first heard on the radio all those years ago. And while my phone's speaker lacks the plastic tinny sound I grew so accustomed to, I can again enjoy a still night of grade A nostalgia.

Friday, August 3, 2012

New Phone

After a long on-again, off-again relationship with my first generation Blackberry Curve (yes, the one that came out in 2007), I gathered up the money for a new phone. I wanted an unlocked phone (I want to choose whether not to get a data plan, on my own time; I didn't want to be forced to get one based on what phone I wanted), and after much deliberation I got the Sony Xperia Arc S.

It ended up being $300 on Amazon, for the white one, and has all the important features I wanted to have in my next phone: a large screen (at 4.2" it's only .1" smaller than the screen I've gotten used to on my Archos 43), a good camera (8 MP, since I rarely bring my point-and-shoot around with me anymore), and a microSD slot. You'd be surprised how many phones lack that last feature; I probably would have gotten the Lumia 900 if had an card slot (and was able to upgrade to Windows Phone 8, but that's a whole other story).

It's frozen on me a couple times, but no more than my sister's jailbroken iPhone, it responds quickly, and has a battery that lasts for the entire day (which is impressive, seeing as I'm on it a lot). It runs on Ice Cream Sandwich, and the only bad thing about that is the fact that the music app DoubleTwist doesn't work right on it, but since the stock music app syncs perfectly with Windows Media Player, so I have no complaints. It came with an 8 gig memory card; eventually I plan on getting a 32 gig one so I can use it as my official music player.

All-in-all I'm satisfied with it; it has a nice weight in the hand, solid but not heavy, thin but not small. For a more comprehensive spec list, go on over here.

And it begins again...

What? A blog post?

Over the past year or so, I've kind of abandoned this blog, I know, and I've decided it's time to bring it back. During my absence I've graduated college, and moved back home (and I have to say, I've missed the weather, the area, the friends). The blog itself has gotten a whole top-down redesign. If you were a follower before the change, you'll notice all the old posts are gone, along with the visual changes; I changed the name of the old Stars and Confetti and replaced it with this new blog. So while the old blog still exists (somewhere....), the url won't bring you to the old, blue-and-pink, college drama blog. That blog has gone supernova, and I've decided it's time for a clean(er) slate. Though I'm sure that there'll be plenty of drama to report, sooner or later.

Here's to the future, to my own and that of this blog!