Friday, June 20, 2014

Biters/The Reborn

I like books like Biters - The Reborn, which have two stories with one on each end of the book. I don't like reviewing them so much, because when I like one story and not the other I have a hard time coming up with an overall rating. This was the case with this book, and unlike most of the other reviews I've seen for this book, the story I liked was "Biters."

"Biters," by Harry Shannon, is a zombie story. Normally this would be a strike against it, because, as much as I like zombie stories, the trope is pretty much played out. Unless there's some new twist to the story, we really don't need any more books or movies about small bands of survivors trying to get by in a zombie filled world.

Luckily, this isn't that sort of book. "Biters" is essentially a crime story which uses the post-apocalyptic,  zombie-filled world as a backdrop. It's a tale of love, betrayal, and revenge. It's not one of the great classics of world literature, but it was entertaining.

"The Reborn" by Brett J. Talley wasn't as good. I can see why other people enjoyed it. It had all the elements of a god post-apocalyptic sci-fi thriller. Even the idea that reincarnation has been proven and the government is using that knowledge to weed out the reincarnations of murderers and rapists in utero is a pretty cool idea.

The first problem I have though is that the way this idea is presented sounds like so much technobabble BS (though I could be wrong on this as I am not a biologist). Apparently reincarnation was discovered after a murderer was convicted by hair strand from which only a single strand of junk DNA was recoverable. A scientist was found who testified that that single strand was as unique as a fingerprint (unless my I'm wrong that strand would have been present in one of the man's parents, so right off the bat this sounds like BS). Then decades after the guy was executed, another murderer is found with the same strand of junk DNA. instead of assuming that the scientist was lying or mistaken, the courts throw out every conviction based on DNA evidence (despite the fact that only cases in which conviction rested on a single strand of junk DNA would have been called into question by this). Then someone discovers that after a criminal dies another criminal is born with junk DNA that matches the strand of that criminal's DNA (which would seem to invalidate the whole "this strand is as unique as a fingerprint" theory). Somehow, instead of interpreting this as evidence that this theory is BS, this becomes proof of reincarnation.

On top of the fairly crappy sounding science, the protagonist goes through some fairly unbelievable personality changes for no apparent reason.  Also the story relies far too heavily on the backstory of the DNA business and the rise of a man called Khan, which effectively makes this feel like two stories mushed together.

If I could, I'd give "Biters" four yo-yos and "The Reborn" three, but since they're one book the thing gets an overall 3.5.

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