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4 out of 5 stars
Luminous and Ominous
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon February 28, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition
Survival horror is easy to write. All you need is a zombie or some other sort of end-of-the-world threat to mankind, a small group of determined survivors, and buckets of blood and gore. Transforming survival horror into a thoughtful and emotionally compelling examination of the human condition, that is another matter entirely. That transformation takes talent. And in Luminous and Ominous, Noah Mullette-Gillman demonstrates his talents artfully.

The plot is simple, and in line with the genre. An alien organize arrives on Earth via meteors, and promptly starts to reproduce and take over the planet. Governments collapse. Civilization crumbles. We know the drill by now.

But where the book shines is in Gillman's ability to make the collapse personal. The chapters jump back and forth between the present efforts to survive in the brave new world of Cornucopia Blue (as the alien life form has been called) to how the main characters first joined together as the threat to humanity was just beginning. Often in these stories, the survivors are archetypes. The sassy heroine. The crazy gun guy. The nerd. There are no archetypes in this book; only fully realized flesh and blood characters that you develop a significant empathy towards.

Another aspect of the book that makes the story all the more compelling is the greater philosophical question it poses. In most survival horror, the nature of the threat is obviously worse than our civilization. The bleakness of the genre is that the world is left a shell of its former self, devoid of life. But with Cornucopia Blue, there is a strange feeling that maybe this outbreak is an improvement over mankind. The characters often find themselves stopping to look on in awe at the beauty wrought by the alien life. The life form transform everything from barren deserts to concrete office complexes into lush, vibrantly colored jungles. Colors are more intense. Scents more exhilarating. Textures richer and fuller. Even though Cornucopia Blue is rapidly destroying everything mankind has created, there is an underlying sense that maybe that isn't a bad thing in the grand scheme of the universe.

The book has a few consistency issues that pop up at odd moments. The narrative voice sometimes jumps from the third person omniscient to the first person, if only for a sentence or to. It happens enough that you find yourself having to stop and reread section to make sure you didn't miss something.

And then there is the tendency of the author to use exclamation points at weird times! Otherwise wonderful scenes have the mood shaken with unnecessary exclamation points! It is as if the author couldn't figure out how to stress a point otherwise! He wanted to make sure the reader knew how important this point is!

Yes, that gets annoying after a while. It happens throughout the book.

But these are minor issues that don't distract from the overall experience of Luminous and Ominous. And yes, reading Luminous and Ominous is an experience. It is a brilliantly executed look at the nature of humanity when confronted with extinction.

Reviewer note: Author provided a comp copy for review
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
Both with Cornucopia Blue and with the imagination of Noah Mullette-Gillman. This isn't a book that I necessarily read, but one I seemed to fall into, get grabbed and held by both ears and not released until I'd come to the very last word of the story. I can still see in my mind, even days later, the vivid, neon techno-colored jungle that the world became even as awe inspiring beauty became astounding, stomach clenching horror. Yes, this was indeed an end of the world type tale, but we got to take the journey with a small group of folks and as in life some were likable and some you just wanted to kick right in...to the corner. This was what really helped push the terror because so much felt like it was real life possible. I can't wait to see where the remainder of our little crew of travelers goes in the sequel and what they get themselves into.

Admittedly there were a few small editing type mistakes, but nothing large enough that it detracted from the story for me. Thank you Noah for a great story!
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18 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on January 3, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition
There's nothing fun about the end of the world-but there might be something beautiful.

The alien "invaders" of this unique science fictionish novel are exactly what the title tells us, Luminous and Ominous, a ravenous plant species with a mesmerizing beauty and a will to live as strong-or perhaps stronger-than any human survivor. And therein lies the problem for our protagonists: not just surviving in a new world, but preserving their very sense of what it means to be alive, and be human.

I'm a bigger fan of Noah K. Mullette-Gillman's second novel than I was of the first (and I'm a pretty big fan). The writing is as mesmerizing as the beautiful alien Cornucopia Blue it describes, and the characters' thoughts and struggles pull readers along with them just as surely.

Reading Time: On the Kindle, Luminous and Ominous is a little over 5,000 locations, which would make it 500+ pages in the physical world. But how long it takes to read? I'm hardly competent to say-it took me a weekend: I couldn't put it down.

Recommendation: It's 2011, and apocalypse scenarios haven't been so popular since Y2K. So let's not pigeonhole Luminous and Ominous as strictly science fiction-it's General Audiences all the way.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on December 8, 2010
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
Having read this author's first novel in PB format, I decided to take a small risk and download a Kindle ebook for the first time. I regretted it instantly, b/c the futuristic storyline yet down to earth style, combined with a "leapfrogging" plot made me want to stay up late in the night until I finished the story...or at least until the batteries ran out in my laptop.

The large cast of characters, the intense descriptions of foliage and highly conversational style of storytelling makes this an ideal story for serial adaptation. If I had to describe the story in one sentence, I would say it's like "Lost" meets "John Carpenter's Thing," only much better written with more realistic dialog. The depictions of several individual characters' demises are fairly gut-wrenching (literally in one particularly vivid case), making this more in the SF/Horror genre than a straightforward SF. However, the individual actors' interactions are emotional and complicated, adding a very welcome sense of human drama that is frequently missing in similar "end of the world" stories.

That said, the "end of the world" is far from clear, even by the end of the story. The reader is only able to see world-changing events from the eyes of a select cast of characters living in a certain area of the world, with only a slowing dwindling number of TV channels to piece together the truth. I can easily see future installments of the same events (or future events) told from the POV of other groups of survivors/victims around the world.

Will Cornucopia take over the world? Will it stop at certain geographical boundaries (the Gobi and the Himalayas, for example)? How are the oceans changed? Luminous and Ominous only gives us a brief glimpse into what could be a springboard for a fantastic new SF TV series.

My only complaint is the increasingly repetitive media references. The music references especially added little to the overall story (though perhaps they did allow us to guess Henry's age, and that of the author). Ragnarok, Kali Yuga, and Plato references made the middle third of the book seem more like a Freshman Seminar course than a novel about the apocalypse. But perhaps that was also part of the point: the world will end with not a bang, but a whimper?
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Format: Kindle Edition
Noah took me on a journey into a beautiful but violent end of the world, or is it the beginning of a new one? The story is a visual mind ride as the alien vegetation takes over the world giving life to strange new creatures, and infecting or transforming the human race. The book takes a smart look at not only the alien life form taking over the planet, but also the human struggle of faith and loyalty to one another.

I have seen the end of the world and it is Beautiful
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on January 13, 2011
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
Would someone PLEASE give Henry a hand? This is a descriptive story about alien vegetation domination. Not your light read but then apocalyptic tales aren't. If you're into a creative sci-fi ride with plenty of blood and action then strap in. Noah's thought this one through.

The idea is uniquely told and doesn't hold back. Not short on decriptive scenery, brutal snags in "the walk" back to civilization, and colorful characters (several I could never warm to). The most colorful character is the alien it's self. Leaves one wondering what is going to pop up next. I don't suppose I'll ever look at dogs and bugs the same way again. The various philosophies and playlists were lost on me but in the end I liked that Henry had to make do with a hospital gown and a bed sheet. I felt his vulnerability and loved how he turned the sheet into an escape tool. That's the kind of character I cheer for.

Thanks Noah. Entertaining stuff.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on December 8, 2010
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
Great story here, with an interesting concept, and an even more intriguing undertone. The world has been taken over by alien "plants" in numerous forms. But like most good post-apocalyptic novels, the story is not about what happens to the world, but how the people react. It's these undertones, touching on the individuals and their struggles to understand what is happening, not to the world but to themselves.

The book moves quickly, flashing back and forth between the early efforts and later struggles, but is easy to follow. If you want a story that is completely wrapped up with a happy ending, look for something else. This is a novel that begs for a sequel. There are plenty of unanswered questions, but enough satisfying conclusions not to leave the reader disappointed.

Ultimately, the work comes down to a choice. The cave or the universe, the old world or the new. What choice would you make?
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on December 4, 2010
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
Very interesting story and well worth the price. Alien vegetation (think kudzu) arrives on earth via meteorites and Henry seeks shelter with selected friends in a fall-out shelter in an old hotel. The story moves back and forth between the shelter and their journey a year later from the shelter trying to get out of the infected area. They meet other survivors and are finally captured by soldiers and taken to a "treatment" center in a mall where things go terribly wrong. The story really keeps your interest and moves quickly. I do hope there will be a sequel.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
Noah Mullette-Gillman has sparked the genesis of an utterly unique apocalypse with Luminous and Ominous. From the beginning of the story, I felt the uncomfortable pit of impending doom in my stomach, which morphed to wonder, then horror in a carefully crafted tale.

The story alternates between two time lines, each a few years apart, and cleverly draws the reader closer to a satisfying nexus at the book's end...or is it the end? It appears that a sequel is in the works, and this is indeed fantastic news.

What stood out for me, was the author's ability to combine feelings of awe and wonder, with abject horror. The horror comes in several forms. Thrown at you in the form of impending doom (or worse) or camouflaged in Cornucopia Blue's seductive ability to lower your defenses, and act against deeply rooted human survival instincts. It truly is Ominous in every fiber of it's being, which is the other outstanding aspect of Noah's world-killing Cornucopia Blue. Cornucopia Blue takes it's survival of the species instinct so seriously, and has evolved so perfectly to accomplish this mission, that it's every action and every form is completely dedicated to perpetuating it's Ominous presence. Humanity WILL be given a serious "run for it's money," as governments strikes back at Cornucopia Blue, with all of the vengeance and destructiveness that we can muster to match.

The characters represent "real" people, which means that you won't find Jack Bauer or Jason Bourne among the crew of survivors that band together in an old fall-out shelter to hide from society's implosion. They make mistakes, and live with the consequences, which...in a world filled with Cornucopia Blue, can turn deadly within seconds.

Everyone should become acquainted with Cornucopia Blue. If you find a small purple/blue pod-like plant growing in your backyard (that glows)...you'll know what to do!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on January 31, 2011
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
I did a quick check of this title before I decided to get it. For a new author, Noah wrote a very good end of the world story, that was more about the characters, the dialog between the characters, and the situations they got into then just another end of the world novel. He has some soon to be classic one-liners such as "You're trepassing through Cornucopia Blue, and I can see that the two of you don't have your papers!" that smack of a young Stephen King. Noah is probably tired of being compared to King, but anytime you write an end of the world story after 1977 or so (The Stand) then the comparisons will bound to happen. But Noah's style is his own for sure. But if you liked The Stand, Salem's Lot, or any other of King's early works then maybe you will like Luminous & Ominous as well. You can run and hide from zombies and vampires, but sooner or later the Cornucopia Blue will get you and then........

I would have rated this book 4 1/2 stars, but since we have to rate in whole numbers I went up to 5 stars. A few small edit mistakes here and there, but nothing to distract from the story. This was a new approach to the end of the world and I got to give Noah credit for it. I told someone it was like The Ruins by Scott Smith, but on a global scale. You could go out and spend more $$$ on Kindle books to try to find a better story, but why? For $2.99 this is a very good deal.
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