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Very good collection overall
on March 23, 2012
This is a very good collection of stories. I wish I had time to talk about them all, but I'm afraid I'm going to have to limit myself to the prize-winners and a few favorites.
"Trinity County, CA" is an almost-buddy-film kind of story that starts out slow. And confusing. A lot of terms are thrown around that make sense later (and add depth to the beginning if you re-read it) but come across as a mess of jargon when you first meet the characters. However, if you can fight through that (it doesn't last long) the story picks up pretty well, especially after you figure out what it is the main characters do. And boy, oh, boy, is that a fun ride! Lots of action and a great fight/battle scene, not to mention an intelligent sidekick, made me smile by the end.
"Sister Jasmine Brings the Pain" starts out great, with a gun-toting nun and a cyborg canine who sounds like one of the dogs from the Pixar film Up. It turns out that the Apocalypse has come. Well, actually, all of them have come at once, from that impending ice age and giant ants to zombies and cell-phone induced madness. There's a whole list of things to survive. The humor doesn't stop in this story and neither does the action. The android, Caper Williams, Girl Detective, and her psychic spider "muppetbot" made me laugh out loud.
"The Ghost of a Girl Who Never Lived" is a heartbreaking examination of the power of grief and what people are willing to do to bring back the ones they love, as seen through the eyes of a "body". It's good. I really felt the pain of the "body" who only wanted a chance to find herself.
I wanted to like "The American". It starts out beautifully, but after a while the lack of information, far from creating a sense of mystique, only made me confused. The ending tries, and nearly succeeds, in being inspirational. It's a good ending. Looking back, I think it's a good story. And yet, I kept wanting something more after it finished.
Those are my thoughts on the prize winners. In the extra stories, my favorites included:
* "Silent as Dust" - a very good non-ghost story that I feel should have stayed that way.
* "The End-of-the-World Pool" - A story about friendship and dares that turn out more dangerous than they appear on the surface. It's the kind of story I hope my boys will read when they're older.
* "Beautiful Winter" - a lovely fantasy (romance?) that seems to be inspired by the fairy tale, The Twelve Months, but with far fewer tasks.
* "Mean-spirited" - This story is twisted. Sick, even. And yet, somehow, I love it, the ending especially.
* "Aim for the Stars" - Beautiful.
I'm really glad I bought this for my Kindle app.