Friday, August 26, 2011

Rachel Tsoumbakos, 'Emeline and the Mutants'; Jim Bernheimer, "Confessions of a 'D' List Supervillain'

This week I am reviewing two books by indie authors. Both books are urban fantasies and both books are wonderful examples of the high quality of some of the work that is out there. Also, both books appealed to the rabid gamer that lurks inside of me!
Emeline and the Mutants by Rachel Tsoumbakos
Emelineand the Mutants by Rachel Tsoumbakos is a post-apocalyptic fantasy that manages to mix all the usual elements of traditional fantasy, such as fairies and trolls, with the modern urban fantasy themes of vampires and were-wolves. It the first book by Australian author Rachel Tsoumbakos, and is a worthy first novel. I foresee great things from this author!
The premise of the story is that a successful vaccine for Aids has been embraced but now the unintended side-effects of it have caused mutations, in humans and most animals. The virus that causes the mutations is extremely contagious, and the remaining healthy populace now lives in easily defensible conclaves, surrounded by walls and other defenses. The protagonist, Emeline is a strong female character who hunts and kills the undead and other mutants who prey on the healthy populace. There is blood, and there is gore, and there are adult situations, but Tsoumbakos manages to work them into the plot seamlessly so that while the violence is sometimes shocking, it is a necessary part of the story.
Emeline is a hard girl with a soft center. The story begins with her brother Warrick going missing and presumed dead. There is a conspiracy by the government, and everyone else has their own agenda, which makes for a tale with many twists and turns.
The story of Emeline and the Mutants is one that should appeal to all fans of the ‘Resident Evil’ series, especially those by Keith R A DeCandido, and is one that I could see appealing to fans of the Final Fantasy rpg game empire. As a long-time gamer, I enjoy this sort of a tale. I found the plot absorbing, I cared about the protagonist and the other characters, and found that the action was both violent and fun.
This tale was a bit of a change for me, as I normally do not read Urban Fantasy; so much as I do Epic Fantasy. I am glad I took the chance and bought this e-book!

'Confessions of a 'D' List Supervillain' by Jim Bernheimer
I enjoyed this take on the age-old hero vs villain story. In 'Confessions of a 'D' List Supervillain' indie author Jim Bernheimer has created a dystopian world where mankind relies on superheroes to save them, and the most popular superheroes are The Olympians - 12 common people who were chosen to wield the powers of certain of the Gods of Olympus.

Conversely there are the supervillains, and Cal `Mechani-Cal' Stringel is, by his own assertion, not one of the more successful of them, but he gets by.

The world has been taken over by alien bugs the size of grasshoppers that have attached themselves to every one's neck, reorganizing the world into a hive society of junkies addicted to the bugs in the desperate way that a junkie is addicted to heroin. When they are removed from their victim's neck, the victims are just as desperate as a gutter-dwelling junkie to get them back. The bugs have infected society to the highest levels, which would not have bothered Cal except for the fact that they are seriously messing with Cal's ability to be the moderately successful villain that he enjoys being. Because he works from inside of his mechanical suit, Cal has managed to avoid this fate. Out of necessity, he finds himself trying to get the 'good-guys' back on their feet and back to saving the world like they are supposed to be doing.

As superheroes go, The Olympians are as unlikeable and evil a bunch of shallow, self-serving stars as you could ask for. The supervillains, on the other hand, are actually the better human beings, because they are honest about their motives.

I don't normally like first person, present tense point of view in a story, because I find it difficult to get into into the story. But once I got past that initial issue I have to admit, this story captured and held my interest. Just as I reported in my July 8, 2011 review of
'TheMagic of Recluce', which is also told in the first person, it soon became a non-issue because the story carried me away.

The adventures that Cal has as he tries to re-hab the Olympians and save the world are quite entertaining. There are some adult themes, but though there is nothing graphic I recommend this as a fun adult read. Fans of all things superhero and those who love comic books will love this book. Also available as an audio-book, this is a book that will appeal to the superhero in all of us!


Gary Hoover said...

Thanks for the write-ups! I'm reading Emeline and the Mutants now, and I love the way Rachel has offered a unique take on some classic characters.

Lisa Zhang Wharton said...

Thank you for review. I'm reading "Emeline and the Mutants" now. I just finish the sample and will purchase the ebook and keep reading. It depicted a convincing post-apocalyptic world. I will look into the other books in Audio form.

Mrs Zoomby said...

I'm so glad you guys are liking my book :-D You're making my day :-)

Claire Chilton said...

Great reviews! I'm looking forward to trying both of these books, especially now! :)