An Eternally Long Hiatus with Capital Letters

So, hey.

Approximately one year ago I experienced what I can only describe as a mental crescendo. I played french horn at school and during orchestra practice I always looked forwards to the building crescendos when my fellow brass homies and I would build to an awe-inspiring melodic and dramatic musical peak using the full force of our pre-cigarettes and mid-compulsory PE and games lessons middle schooler lungs, diaphragms and concentration. It was fun, explosive and made you feel like you feel like a powerful superbeing when it hit just right and our music teacher (the blessed but unfortunately late Kenneth Morrell) punched the air in delight. Then it would dip again and the audience would be left stunned by the explosion that still somehow lingers in the air. Well, maybe it wasn’t that impressive. We were just a middle school band but it’s nice to exaggerate your nice memories sometimes.

Imagine that in your brain. But the crescendo doesn’t end after the peak, it keeps going. Occasionally it’ll back away slightly, ebbing but still noisy in the background, before swiftly ramming right back up to just before the peak. That.

But I’m doing better now. A lot better. Sometimes the ebbing starts up again, but it’s not as severe and I have things to help keep it at bay now, and a better understanding of some things and when I need to go easy on myself.

It’s an odd thing to be told by a doctor that you have anxiety. Everybody has that, surely? We get anxious about tests, job interviews, meeting new people… it’s a thing our brains do so that we were wary of big kitties with large teeth back in the olden days. This anxiety is different, apparently. It’s anxiety with a capital A, and it’s a vicious little demon.

After my doctor gave me some information about Anxiety (see?) and a prescription I went home, sat on the sofa and thought… “Ohhhh… so that’s what that is.” That gnawing in my stomach, the trembling hands, the racing thoughts and constant, endless repetition and control. It’s Anxiety.

But like I say, things are pretty good right now. That took up about half of this past year, and the rest has been rebuilding and doing things that make me feel like I did years ago in brass band when we made Mr Morrell punch the air and whoop. Running, watching films and playing awesome games mostly, but there’s time for that yet :)

(Total props to Hyperbole and a Half: really helped me figure some things out)

The Walking Dead The Game Season 2: CRY HARDER.

In which we welcome the return of episodic heart-destroying interactive gaming experiences. Ladies and gentlemen, The Walking Dead The Game season 2 is out:

walking-dead-season-2-logo

Telltale Games, you can have all of my awes. I was afraid that after the amazing season 1 and intriguing (yet teasing) 400 Days that we would be in for a disappointment. That nothing could live up to the hype. I wanted to explore other survivor’s stories, but I wanted to be sure that wor Clementine was ok. Well fine, she might not be ok, not after all that has happened, but alive at least. Did she find Omid and Christa? If not, who is she with now? Is she alone? Oh god I hope she’s doing all right.

Then I surprised myself again by being so concerned about a fictional character. That’s the beauty of the series I suppose, and the stroke of genius that decided it should be episodic: it draws you in, gets you hooked and then buggers off for weeks on end leaving you bleary-eyed and needing to know more. Between release dates you get to read about plot rumours and discuss theories with other players and fans, which only adds to the excitement and tension. Charles Dickens knew how it worked, and it still rings true today because humans love a bit of tension and intrigue.

I don’t want to talk too much about the game at this point, because I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who might be hanging on until the price drops or has it in their “I’ll get around to it over the holidays” pile, so I’ll keep the details and my interpretations to myself for now. I’ll just say that if you were invested in the first game and the 400 Days DLC I think you’ll be pleased with this new offering. I will say that you may need someone or something nearby so you can have a quick hug every so often, or a nice comforting cup of tea. You’ll be ok :)

NOW GO AND PLAY IT.

Shh. It’ll be fine.

GO.

Oh, and pick up The Wolf Among Us too, it’s dead good.

Dude, Shut Up.

I love going to see my favourite music acts playing live, and what’s nice about liking a range of musical genres is that you get to experience being treated differently by the venue, spend some time gazing at people you don’t usually come into contact with, and enjoying the atmosphere. When you go and see acts associated with people wearing black and frowning, you get treated a lot worse than when you go and watch a classical performance by a local symphonic orchestra. It’s all part of the experience, and I quite enjoy it. I’ve been to intimate concerts where you feel more in touch with the act on stage, and I’ve been to massive sell-out arena shows where you are a speck in a huge crowd. I’ve also been to arena shows where the act makes you feel like you’re actually at a more intimate show and that was lovely. Props to Leonard Cohen for that one, such a class act.

Despite the excitement of going to see an act you’ve admired for a while (often years) in the flesh doing their thing, some things I could do without. One thing I’ve noticed becoming more prolific over the years (and I reckon it’s totally got something to do with the increased use of social networking) is members of the audience trying to talk to the act on stage. All of the time. I didn’t pay for my ticket, travel, ice cream and accommodation to hear your worthless arse blether on about what your favourite song is, let them play their setlist.

I went to see I Am Kloot in Newcastle the other week and it was really good. The concert was held in a small local theatre which isn’t really set up for musical acts but it was cosy and the sound carried well, and there was some doylem who was a bit over excited and kept trying to engage in a dialogue with the lead singer. From the back of the bloody room. At first it was a bit of a laugh, but then it just got tedious. “PLAY MY FAVOURITE SONG NEXT, I LOVE IT. I LOVE YOU. I LOVE YOOOOU PLAY IIIIT PLAY RADIAAAATION!!”

Hey guy, knock it off. I’m not saying we should sit in silence during a concert and it’s nice when an audience is excited, but let them play and stop interrupting to give us yet another winnit of wisdom that no-one asked for. It’s so rude. I reckon that because we live a lot of our lives online now and we’re invited to give our opinions in news articles (never ever EVER read the comments sections), Twitter, Facebook and blogs (hello irony!) people seem to think that it gives them a license to do it in real life. Sorry, no. If I don’t want to read something that someone has spaffed onto the internet, I don’t have to. Short of plugging your ears 24 hours a day there’s nothing you can do to avoid being aurally assaulted by someone desperate for attention.

So please… stop embarrassing yourself and annoying everyone. Chances are if you’re not on that stage, no-one gives a toss what you think. Go and get some ice cream and relax while people more talented than you do their thing. It’s ok. Shhh. Good.

Taking Risks: Without Much Risk. It’s a start.

The way I see it there are three kinds of people in the world: people who like everything to be safe with no alarms and no surprises, people who gleefully leap into the unknown (figuratively or literally… you never know with these types) and the rest of us who try to stay fairly central but occasionally edge towards either extreme depending on how big a risk or chance you feel like taking that day.

I’m quite happily in the middle, but I do tend towards the safety crowd with our lists, internet reviews, published studies and scientific research while gazing wistfully up at the base jumpers, rock climbers and high-elevation balloon pilots and wishing the ground wasn’t quite so firmly attached to my feet. I’m worried that if I’m not careful I’ll end up fully integrated in the matching jumpers, same holiday every year, only eating in chain eateries and having at least three contingency plans before even stepping foot out of the door tribe before I’ve had a chance to try life out properly. Noooo!

So what do you do when you want to take some risks but in a calm, rational and slightly less risky manner? A couple of weeks ago I spent four days mooching around a part of the country I’ve never visited before to visit groups and projects for work, alone, with no experience or knowledge of the area, terrain (not that that matters, I’m not Bear flipping Grylls), infrastructure or local customs. I’m from the north. I don’t want to offend the locals with my talk of stotties, plodgin’ and steppin’ in clarts. It could be Wicker Man country for all I know. Anyway what… oh yeah. It was a scary prospect, especially as I haven’t done project visits for a few years, but I figured that with a bit of planning I could be professional while managing to fulfil my urge to take a big bloody risk now and again.

I planned the basic structure of my trip, which was just which train I would catch to get down there, which one back, where I would sleep and arrange timeslots to carry out visits. Everything else, I decided, would be left to figure out at the time. While many of my colleagues were planning every little detail and taking a long time about it, I could relax and get back to work. In the end it was a damned good trip; I was able to do my job to a standard I was pleased with, and I got to explore and get stranded in/find my way about a new area without really knowing what might happen next. Of course thanks to 4G, little notepads (for jotting down handy bits of information you pick up as you’re going around) and GPS as long as you’re not in Death Valley or up a mountain there’s little that can go wrong really, but it feels as though you’re being a pioneering explorer and that’s the main thing :)

So I suppose if you’re like me and you like to think rationally but fancy throwing caution to the light breeze, why not try these handy tactics:

1. Lists are fine, but just use them as a guideline, not a rule.

2. Missed that bus? There’ll probably be another one in a bit, relax.

3. Locals exist, sometimes they know things.

4. Eating a banana at the side of a busy road may attract some interesting words from strangers driving past but just smile and wave. Food first, dignity second. You don’t know those people anyway.

5. If you’re going to be travelling in and out of a transport hub regularly, be nice to the baristas at the coffee shop that you know is nearby because you’ll be popping in a lot. That way you still get a routine but in a new place. It totally counts. 

But most of all: Who cares? This time next week it’ll be over and you can still have the nice “Ooh I did something new” glow.

Because really, the only thing we have to be scared of is our own minds, and they can be right uppity so it’s pointless listening to them. I guess if all else fails just imagine being taunted by Tommy Wiseau. FOREVER.

Chip chip cheeeeep.

This Trendy “Strong is the New Skinny” Thing (and what it could mean for the next generation of girls)

tehren:

THIS. ALWAYS THIS.

Originally posted on Sophieologie:

This girl is 17 and a CrossFitter. She’s obviously a genius and a badass.

*UPDATE: Here’s a PG-Version of this blog post, for those of you who wish to Spread the Strength among those of innocent ears*

First of all, hi everyone. It feels like I haven’t blogged about anything sociologically substantial in a while, and I might be a bit rusty so please pardon the potentially poor prose.

Anyhoozle.

Now that I’ve graduated from McGill and no longer have to whittle away the hours of cushy student life by blogging nonsensically about sociological things, what have I been doing with myself?

WELL. That brings me to today’s topic.

My strange, wonderful, and illuminating journey working in the fitness industry.

View original 2,437 more words

Oh No, I’m Not Cool Anymore

When I was 17 I made a really stupid decision. I was at a party with some friends, and went outside to talk to some people who I wanted to get to know better. One of them offered me a cigarette and in an adolescence-induced fit of insanity, I took it and let someone light it for me. Idiot. I don’t remember even liking it that much, but it gave me an excuse to hang out with these people a bit more; people who seemed to be on a similar wavelength as far as our interests and outlooks went, and I wanted to be in the gang.

Of course if I had possessed any sense I would have realised that if these people wanted to be my friends it would have been based on my personality and not whether I picked up a silly habit. Hindsight is an accursed thing. By the time I realised this it had become a habit; just something I did like so many other people. We know it’s unhealthy and dangerous, but everyone needs a vice, right?

Silly. Still, as we know life is one long self-improvement project and I’m happy to report that as of today I am:

tabs

Which I think is quite good.

I’ve been wanting to knock the tabs (to use the local vernacular) on the head for a while. Smoking and running don’t really go together, and it’s a gross and deadly habit. Last year my maternal grandmother died of lung cancer having smoked for at least 40 years. She gave up a number of years ago which was an amazing achievement, but it caught up to her in the end. Mind you, if she hadn’t given up things could have developed a lot sooner. At least the last few years were smoke-free. I decided I didn’t want to be a 40-year smoker “having” to give up because of old age, pressure from my family or simply because I couldn’t climb stairs without wheezing. I wanted to quit while it was still my decision. So I did.

A lot of friends, acquaintances or whoever talked to me about Champix, nicotine replacements and electronic cigarettes, but the method I decided to use was to go cold turkey. That was… well, I felt like I was on drugs for about a week. Weird drugs that made your skin crawl, your head swim and your blood boil. There were occasional bouts of euphoria but these would last about five seconds before being replaced with a strange sadness, yearning and light-headedness. Thankfully I managed to avoid any serious meltdowns, and once the physical nicotine dependence wore off it was just a matter of tackling the mental addiction.

The thing about nicotine is that the physical addiction is easy to break. It only takes a few days for it to leave your bloodstream; the hardest part is identifying and combating the mental addiction. Once you realise that any stress relief you felt from smoking before was simply alleviating nicotine withdrawal and that cigarettes don’t actually do *anything* for you, it’s up to you to figure out why you started and continued to smoke.

For me it was because I wanted to feel as though I belonged to something. The cool kids all smoked, and I wanted to be a cool kid too. In my favourite books and films the subversive and intellectual characters smoked like chimneys, and I wanted to identify with those people. I forgot that I wasn’t living in early to mid-20th century Paris or New York. Once I realised that it’s far more admirable to carve your own path and be remembered for more than having a silly habit, things got a bit easier. Of course when you’re floating around the room and you feel as though you’re crawling out of your own skin, it’s useful to have some quick mantras to refer to:

1. You will never look as cool as the old movie stars.

Seriously. This will never be you:

James and Marilyn

The best a real person can hope for is this:

HAWT

Yes that’s Dot Cotton from Eastenders, but it was tricky finding photos that wouldn’t be seen as “lol look at this old lady she’s dying” or invade privacy.

2. It’s gross and it makes the outdoors look like crap.

Ah, what a glorious day. The sun is shining, the flowers are blooming, and… what’s that over there? Oh. Some nasty litter. Not just any litter, litter that has been in people’s mouths and then thrown willy-nilly onto the ground.

Ewww

Oh. Ewww.

3. You smell bad and you should feel bad.

I used to think that the worst smells in the world were things like wet dog, poop, and the fur shrug that woman sitting next to me was wearing when I was riding the DC Metro a couple of years ago, but now I’ve had to add smoker to that list. The absolute worst smell? Wet smoker. Especially when they’ve warmed up a bit. No amount of Febreeze in the world can effectively cover up that stink, no matter what the adverts say.

You know what smells nice? Soap. Simple, clean soap. And being able to still smell soap on yourself even hours after you’ve showered is really really nice. Mmm, soap.

So there we go. I used to do something stupid, and now I don’t do that anymore. It wasn’t easy, but there are worse things in the world. I realise that I could still develop a smoking-related illness even though I’ve given up, and that I could easily relapse, but that’s all on me and would be no-one’s fault but my own. But for however long I’ve got to enjoy my relative youth (30 is the new 20, because I say so :P), I’m going to give this clean air thing a good old try. I may not be cool, but at least I smell, look and feel better :)

Formative Years

I was born in 1982. Lots of things happened during that decade, but none of them really made much of an impact on my soft little developing brain. Then the 90s began and due to excellent timing and coincidence, a little Nerdly Wife (although back then I was just a Nerdly Lass) started becoming more curious about the world and developing her own tastes. It was a rather strange start to the decade; the first female (still up for debate) prime minister finally buggered off, but the Tories remained in power. Everything was brightly-coloured (possibly to distract us from our new, somewhat grey leadership), and it all seemed… saccharine and detached from reality.

Thank Cthulhu for Britpop and the advent of Cool Britannia.

Grunge had drifted over the Atlantic in the late 80s and while it was nice and everything Britpop finally gave us 90s kids something to identify with. Where the hell is Seattle? I dunno. Hey look, this guy is from Sheffield. I’ve been there. Britpop started in the early 90s and hit its peak in 1995, the year I turned 13 and started high school (I’m a product of the three-tier educational system). Marvellous.

At that time kids my age in Northumberland were allotted into two main camps; hippies and charvas. Each group named the other using extremely simplistic terms, but I was quite pleased that the charva kids didn’t want to hang out with me. They were scary, they wore tracksuits and their music was terrible. I embraced my new-found classification and decided to see what it was all about. I’d like to think that Britpop was the first thing that influenced my tastes, outlook and ideologies, which probably sounds silly but bear with me.

Britpop introduced me to nerdy creative guys:

Nyawww...

Nyawww…

Jarvis

Could do with a bit of feeding up, but that’s ok.

Neil Hannon

I like your glasses, Mr Hannon

My favourites were Graham Coxon from Blur, Jarvis Cocker from Pulp (and now simply “Jarvis”) and Neil Hannon from the Divine Comedy. I learned that smart nerdy guys are hot. A very valuable lesson.

The real pioneers of 90s “Girl Power” weren’t primped and plucked airheads showing their knickers:

I hated the Spice Girls. Hated, hated, hated them. People who liked them and thought they were “Like, totally showing guyz what for teehee” were, in my opinion, ditzy morons who wouldn’t know female empowerment if it smacked them in the face.

TEEHEE LOOK AT OUR BOOBIES

Yuck

Nope. Nope, nope, nope.

Eschewing the sparkly “GRRL POWAAAH” brigade, I focused my attentions on the bands Garbage and Sleeper. Both of these groups were fronted by women who seemed a lot more to my tastes.

Louise Wener from Sleeper

Louise Wener from Sleeper

Shirley Manson from Garbage

Shirley Manson from Garbage

Yeah! These women sang about relationships, sex, how miserable it is to simply be alive sometimes, and life. There was no need to stomp around shouting about how independent they were and how girls would take over the world, just decent songs about real things that affect EVERYONE, regardless of gender or status. That’s female empowerment.

The end…

Eventually all good things must end, and after the peak and eventual decline of Britpop things were left open for other acts to come in and have a go. In 1997 Radiohead released “OK Computer”, and for me it made the transition from bouncy Britpop to more “serious” music and discovering more esoteric genres as easy as sneering at an East 17 reunion tour poster. The rest of my teenage years saw me flirting with hard rock, goth, industrial, electronica and the seemingly endless “post-whatever” classifications, but Britpop laid the foundation for the person I became and for that it will always have a soft squishy place in my memories.

Also as time has gone by and my old idols have matured, I learned that even if you start channelling the insane Open University lecturer look you’ll still be hot:

Professor Cocker

Professor Cocker

Funtography 4: Fun with the Fisheye2

Happy New Year, nerds! I hope whatever you were doing to welcome 2013 made you happy, and if it didn’t then at least it means that things can only improve. Hooray!

I spent my post-Xmas limbo week (the week between Xmas Day and New Year’s Eve) getting reacquainted with my old friend 35mm film thanks to being gifted a Lomography Fisheye2 camera by my sister-in-law, and it’s been a hell of a lot of fun.

Lomography is a genre and method of photography that uses “toy” cameras to capture and share analog photographs (ie. on rolls of film) with other Lomo fans, and because of the often slightly shonky construction of these cameras, the little quirks and foibles associated with Soviet-era photographic technology. Basically… crappy plastic cameras that occasionally make pretty photos through sheer luck, tinkering and messing about. Exactly the kind of thing I enjoy.

The Fisheye2 has been updated slightly from the original Fisheye to include a hotshoe with viewfinder attachment, a tough metal body, a bulb setting and a switch to make shooting multiple exposures easy-peasy. The result is that the new Fisheye is hardier, has more features, a proper fisheye viewfinder, and is cute as a button:

Awwww

If you’ve used any sort of old-skool film camera before operation is fairly self-explanatory. There’s a shutter release button, an on/off switch for the flash, and wind wheel/crank for moving film along a frame and winding it back into the canister when you finish a roll.

T'other Side

The lens is set at F8 with a focal length of 10mm, and it can’t be removed from the camera body. The supplied lens cap is cute, but not very secure and it will pop off with any small knocks or inside your bag. Apparently a better cap is in the works, but I think it goes quite nicely with the brand if I’m honest. A bit shonky, but charming.

(By the way if you like the nifty little wrist strap the camera is toting, you can visit the store of a lovely Etsy seller known as FunkyMutt – she makes dog collars and camera straps. I use one of her larger straps on my K5 and it’s so comfortable and awesome)

Another nice feature of the Fisheye2 is the LNB slider:

LNB

This lets you either lock the shutter (so it doesn’t go off in your bag/pocket/at the slightest bump), shoot a normal exposure, or switch it into bulb mode for long exposures. In normal mode the camera shoots at 1/100s. There is no light meter on this camera, so it is strictly “shoot it and see”, but if you have experience with taking wild guesses depending on the light available and the ASA (ISO) of the film you’re using, it’s not a big deal. It reminds me of snapping things with an old Kodak Tele-Instamatic that an aunt gave to me when I was six and would eagerly await the trip to the photo developers to see what delights I’d created. Good times.

Using the Fisheye2 is easy as hell. Peer through the viewfinder (or not; sometimes “shooting from the hip” can make some pretty awesome snapshots), release the shutter, wind the film along and there you go.

Time for some sample shots? Yes, I think so! All of these photos were taken with Fujicolor C200 film that I picked up from my local Boots. Other brands are available (‘natch), but this particular variety was on offer at the time.

Bulb Mode:

Westwards

Streaks

I had a lot of fun getting these shots, especially as I had to guess how long I should open the shutter for. One thing I would recommend is finding a sturdy flat surface or tripod if you don’t want jiggly photographs, as the camera body is very light. One thing missing from the Fisheye2 which was slightly disappointing is a tripod mount, but I got around this by using a cheap mount for a smartphone which perfectly fit the height of the camera. I then broke the mount by dropping it on the ground later, but hey.

Multiple Exposures:

Oops

Fifteen

Also very, very fun to do. There’s no limit to how many exposures you want to use on a single frame, so go nuts. You can combine the different shutter modes, use the flash for some shots, or just shoot and shoot and shoot to see what happens.

Normal Mode:

Monument

Green Bike

The Fisheye2 shoots with a 170 degree field of vision, which means that images in the centre of the frame look relatively normal, but towards the edges they curve in a fairly lovely way. As you get closer to your subject it appears slightly distorted and bulbous, which is also fun.

Mishaps:

I mentioned earlier that the construction of Lomo cameras was a little iffy, and one thing they are notorious for is light leakage:

Leaky Statue

Leaky NH

Like I give a damn. You can buy apps that let you add light leaks to smartphone snapshots, so when they happen by accident it’s quite nice.

If you’d like to see more of my first forays into the world of Lomo you can visit this Flickr set. None of them have been post-processed, so everything you see in the frame was done by the camera and an incident when I accidentally triple-exposed some frames during a film rewind error.

SO THEN…

What do I think? I think if you miss the olden days of snapping and hoping, or want to get away from sterile, prescribed methods of photography and try something a little more chaotic, you can’t go wrong by messing with a toy camera. The one big downside is that buying rolls of film and getting them developed is a lot more expensive these days, but the excitement and pleasure at discovering that you’ve made something interesting is worth it. Developing your own negatives and prints is also an option, and if you have the space and equipment for your own darkroom (or have easy access to one), let me know so I can visit because The Nerdly Household doesn’t have any space to set one up in ;)

Magical Disappearing Nerd

Oh, hi…

So, how are you all? I’m sorry I haven’t updated since… forever… but it’s because I was having all sorts of adventures and… Actually, I’m just very lazy. Sorry. Anyway, during my downtime I’ve been acquiring some decent topics to write about, so hopefully I can start being active again. Sorry.

I still need to do a bit of planning and pondering, but some topics I thought I could cover in the next few weeks/months may include:

1. The Walking Dead The Game conclusion.

2. Funtography 4: Lomo Adventures.

3. The trouble with M&Ms.

4. That time I got Gangnam Styled at in the park.

5. My hopes and dreams for 2013 (although I haven’t decided what my hopes and dreams were for 2012 yet so uh…)

Yeaah. Nice to see you all again though, we should definitely do this more often.

The Walking Dead The Book: Part 2

I warned you this was coming.

On October 25th my Kindle took delivery of the latest book in The Walking Dead The Book Possibly Expanded Universe series, The Road to Woodbury. I started it on Friday evening and finished it last night. It’s taken me until today to sort out my opinions and final thoughts.

The Road to Woodbury picks up some time after Rise of the Governor when Bonkers Blake has started to rule the town, and follows Lilly Caul’s adventures through the Zombocalypse. Lilly is a character who has been in the comic, game and now the book (so far she hasn’t appeared the TV series, but it’s early days), but unlike The Governor her personality seems to have been completely changed for each appearance for some reason.

WARNING: SPOILAAAAHZ (Comic and game).

Ok. This is Lilly from the comic:

In this incarnation Lilly didn’t get much backstory and was just a resident of Woodbury who worked with The Governor to assault the prison. She wouldn’t have made much of an impression had she not shot and killed Lori and Judith Grimes. Moving on.

In the game Lilly is this dainty filly:

We meet Lilly and her father Larry in episode 1. She’s an intelligent woman with anger issues, and after her father dies and gets his head crushed by a cement block her attitude doesn’t really improve and things get a little crazy. Her final appearance is in episode 3 when after an argument gets a little too heated, she nicks your RV and drives off into the distance. Lovely lady.

Just The Book Bits:

Book Lilly seems to be a completely different person. An anxious, self-doubting young woman, we meet her in a tent community hanging out with her old friend Megan. We get to learn about her backstory, and that her father is someone else and died in a more heroic way than keeling over in a walk-in freezer. Over the course of the book some nasty things happen and Lilly veers from stressing the hell out to engaging in some post-apocalyptic humping with a guy who taught her how to chop logs.

Eventually, after being kicked out of the tent community after getting duffed up by some guy who was annoyed that she only saved two of his kids and Mr Log Chopper killing him to save her life, the group find Woodbury. The town seems ok but has a sinister underbelly and some seriously dubious entertainment. We meet The Governor again, and we get to see how he’s been getting on since the last book.

After a bit Lilly gets sick of the way things are run and decides to rebel with some pals. It doesn’t go to plan, and although some changes are made to Woodbury’s systems she ends up cleaning up guts in a sort of undead gladiator arena in the final chapter. Yeah, great.

I honestly struggled to see the point of this book. I think we were supposed to be enthused by following Lilly on her journey from nervous nellie to courageous curmudgeon, but it was all a bit futile. The most enjoyable parts were the ones focusing on The Governor and getting to see his mask slip occasionally, which made me feel sorry for him for a while until he did something horrific again. Poor Governor.

I suppose the book does support the overriding theme of The Walking Dead in that the Zombocalypse will transform humanity and only those who adapt and fight will survive, but I felt that the ending was rushed which just made Lilly’s struggle and character development seem pointless. I’m glad I read the book so that I could get a little more detail about the evolution of Woodbury and its inhabitants, but I think that focusing so much on Lilly was a bit of a mistake. I’d have much preferred to follow the alcoholic doctor or Mr Log Chopper, who seemed to be far more interesting characters with more depth, but what’s done is done.

In conclusion: Yeah it was ok. Not as good as the first book.

SPOILAHZ COMPLETE

And that’s the story of how the little pig that thought it could fly found out it couldn’t.