(Cover picture courtesy of Goodreads.)
Beat the game. Save the world.
Pandora’s an average teen, glued to her cell phone and laptop, until the day her long-lost father sends her a link to a mysterious site featuring photos of her as a child. Curious, Pandora enters the site, unwittingly unleashing a global computer virus that plunges the whole world into panic: suddenly, there’s no Internet. No cell phones. No traffic lights, hospitals or law enforcement. Only Pandora’s Box, a virtual-reality game created by Pandora’s father, remains up and running. Together with her neighbors, gorgeous stepbrothers Eli and Theo, Pandora must follow the photographs from her childhood in an attempt to beat the game and track down her father—and rescue the world. Part The Matrix, part retelling of the Pandora myth, Doomed has something for gaming fans, dystopian fans, and romance fans alike.
[Full disclosure: I received this book from an unknown person that is not the author or the publisher. There was no expectation to review it as far as I know so of course this review is honest. See here for more details about the Mystery of the Randomly Appearing Books.]
Doomed is an okay book as long as you don’t think about it too much.
What I mean by that is on the surface it has an okay premise (technology being destroyed, world going into chaos) but that it’s executed in such an implausible way that you can’t help but think that there’s no way this could happen. First off, I seriously doubt that there would ever be a virus that destroyed everything electrical. Computers, cell phones, the internet, electricity, etc. But hey, it’s science fiction so I’ll buy into that. Then throw in a computer hacker genius early high school graduate who’s going to Harvard and things start to get really annoying. These things happen in movies; rarely in real life.
Pandora is an okay character I suppose. She acts like such a brat, but that’s somewhat believable considering her circumstances. The fact that she never really changes throughout the story from that bratty mold is annoying though. She keeps telling Eli and Theo how she’s not a damsel in distress yet she has panic attacks left, right and centre and rarely does anything for herself. It’s always the boys coming in to save her butt. Nevermind that the boys themselves are so one dimensional that you would expect to see them in some trashy tween flick.
Okay, so the only redeeming feature about Doomed is that although it’s over 400 pages, the writing style is really simplistic. I got through it in about 2 1/2 hours when a book that long should have taken more like 4 hours. It makes for a decent amount of suspense but as I said before that’s only as long as you don’t think too hard about the whole thing. The authorities that chased Pandora and the boys were completely incompetent caricatures that were totally incapacitated by the lack of technology despite the fact that radios still were working! Who uses radios and walkie talkies the most? The police!
If you want a fast-paced science fiction novel, go ahead and read Doomed. But if you actually think about what you read I don’t recommend this book.
I give this book 1.5/5 stars.
(Cover picture courtesy of Goodreads.)
She was created by the gods as a gift to humanity. Then there was the urn.
Pandora, the first woman on Earth, was endowed with many gifts: beauty, intelligence, domesticity, and curiosity. She was at once lover, sympathiser and nurturer. Zeus presented an urn as her wedding dowry. Neither she nor her husband, Epimethos knew what it contained inside, and Hermes, the Messenger, warned them never to open it.
So the story goes… according to Grandpa.
Two precocious children visit their grandfather and beg him to tell a story. It wasn’t ‘on a dark and stormy night’ or ‘once upon a time’ type of story either.
[Full disclosure: Luciana Cavallaro sent me a free ebook in exchange for an honest review.]
Unlike the other two stories about famous Greek women that I’ve read by Luciana Cavallaro, we don’t get to hear Pandora’s story from her own lips. That’s why I was initially a little apprehensive about reading her newest short story, but I was worried over absolutely nothing. Despite hearing a second hand account of her life, Pandora came across as yet another strong woman who was given the short end of the stick in later stories.
Although I’m an avid fan of Greek mythology and have been for many years, I actually learned a lot from Boxed in a Curse. The Pandora myth was never very detailed and I love how Luciana Cavallaro researched for more details as well as added in her own believable ones. Instead of accepting the ‘she was just really curious’ version of events, she delved deeper into the myth and peeled away the theme of ‘women are evil’ that’s found quite a bit in Greek myths. No, Pandora is not evil or just curious. She was a complex woman who really didn’t know how to act in a world full of men but was still intelligent and strong.
Told through the eyes of a grandfather telling his grandchildren the story, we’re really transported back to that ancient time when humanity was new. It doesn’t really feel like we’re being told what’s happening, but rather it’s described very well and the narrator allows us to draw our own conclusions about the ‘moral’ of the story and about Pandora’s character. Does all of the blame for humanity’s ills lie squarely at her feet? Of course not! I don’t want to give too much away, but after reading Boxed in a Curse you’ll definitely have more sympathy for the first woman.
I give this short story 5/5 stars.
(Cover picture courtesy of Rankopedia.)
Once a proud Senator in Imperial Rome, Marius is kidnapped and forced into the dark realm of blood, where he is made a protector for the Queen and King of the vampires—in whom the core of the supernatural race resides. Through his eyes we see the fall of pagan Rome to the Emperor Constantine, the horrific sack of the Eternal City at the hands of the Visigoths, and the vile aftermath of the Black Death. Ultimately restored by the beauty of the Renaissance, Marius becomes a painter, living dangerously yet happily among mortals, and giving his heart to the great master Botticelli, to the bewitching courtesan Bianca, and to the mysterious young apprentice Armand. But it is in the present day, deep in the jungle, when Marius will meet his fate seeking justice from the oldest vampires in the world.
If not for Pandora, Blood and Gold would be my favourite novel by Anne Rice. The story of Marius, a logical Roman man, kidnapped and turned into a vampire against his will. But what stands out for me is the amazing amount of detail Anne Rice puts into her historical fiction. The splendor of ancient Rome, the horror of the Black Death, the energy and creativity surrounding the Italian Renaissance…all of the settings come alive and you feel like you’re really there along with Marius.
Marius himself is a very complex character. His traditional Roman upbringing and his naturally logical personality clash very well with Pandora’s free spirit and dreamy personality and it makes for a very interesting relationship. However, since Pandora mostly focused on their relationship, Anne Rice doesn’t spend nearly as much time on it. Instead, she focuses on the relationship between Marius and Armand, his student and the courtesan Bianca in Renaissance Italy. Blood and Gold certainly fills in a lot of the questions I had from reading The Vampire Armand. If nothing else, it paints Marius in a more sympathetic light!
Blood and Gold isn’t for everyone. If you get annoyed by long, detailed descriptions of historical events and daily life, you won’t enjoy Blood and Gold. But for someone like me, who loves it when a writer showcases their knowledge of the era, Blood and Gold is perfect.
I give this book 5/5 stars.
(Cover picture courtesy of Books are a Garden.)
Anne Rice, creator of the Vampire Lestat, the Mayfair witches and the amazing worlds they inhabit, now gives us the first in a new series of novels linked together by the fledgling vampire David Talbot, who has set out to become a chronicler of his fellow Undead.
The novel opens in present-day Paris in a crowded café, where David meets Pandora. She is two thousand years old, a Child of the Millennia, the first vampire ever made by the great Marius. David persuades her to tell the story of her life.
Pandora begins, reluctantly at first and then with increasing passion, to recount her mesmerizing tale, which takes us through the ages, from Imperial Rome to eighteenth-century France to twentieth-century Paris and New Orleans. She carries us back to her mortal girlhood in the world of Caesar Augustus, a world chronicled by Ovid and Petronius. This is where Pandora meets and falls in love with the handsome, charismatic, lighthearted, still-mortal Marius. This is the Rome she is forced to flee in fear of assassination by conspirators plotting to take over the city. And we follow her to the exotic port of Antioch, where she is destined to be reunited with Marius, now immortal and haunted by his vampire nature, who will bestow on her the Dark Gift as they set out on the fraught and fantastic adventure of their two turbulent centuries together.
[Summary courtesy of Goodreads.]
Pandora is part of Anne Rice’s New Tales of the Vampires (although they’re not that new anymore) and there is virtually no difference in writing quality or style from her more popular The Vampire Chronicles. What is different, though, is that we finally see the stories of formerly minor characters who aren’t really connected to Lestat. Lestat, although he is a very interesting character, does get annoying after a couple of books, so a book from the point of view of Pandora was perfect for me.
Pandora is a woman during Pax Romana, or the golden age of Rome during the later years of Augustus. Anne Rice paints a picture of a strong-willed woman very much in control of her own life and doted on by a loving father who is far from the average pater familias. She is a free spirit, a dreamer and when she falls in love with Marius, the logical, cold Roman man, it makes for an interesting relationship. The dynamics are definitely not that of a traditional one!
As with all of her novels, Anne Rice has done the research and paints a believable picture of ancient Rome in its glory and during its fall. From the reign of terror of Sejanus to the murderous paranoia and sadism of Tiberius all the way to the spread and eventual acceptance of Christianity, Anne Rice takes readers on an amazing introspective adventure. Pandora is actually my favourite book about Anne Rice’s vampires not just because I love Roman history, but because Pandora herself is one amazing three dimensional character.
I give this book 4.5/5 stars.
*Unfortunately, Amazon only has Pandora available in a double book with Vittorio the Vampire unless you want to purchase a used novel.