Posts Tagged ‘young adult’


New cover for my 2013 story of the Apocalypse.

TRANSFIXION has a bunch of 5-Star Reviews.


Here is my favorite review:

Fast-paced, thought-provoking and at times moving

COVER-FINAL copy-small

Solstice Publishing, 320pp.
$4.99 at Amazon

Book Website

“There is nothing about Transfixion that won’t excite you and keep you reading late into the night. So if you’re ready for an ‘end of days’ novel with a one-of-a-kind experience, I say you order now and buckle up.”
“This book was AMAZING! …I loved this story! It was action-packed, constantly moving, and definitely worth the read!”
“Every so often, you read a book that makes you stay up till all hours of the morning just so you can finish it. Transfixion is that book.”
“Fast paced page turner!!!!! Can’t wait to see more by this new author!!!!”
“The plot was brilliant. Kaylee is both brave and resourceful, showing strong characterization. This book is well worth its price.”
“Loved it!!! I couldnt stop reading!!!”
Transfixion is a window into a world gone insane and asks us how long we could fight against insanity before falling prey to it ourselves. It’s The Hunger Games meets The Walking Dead! More than worth a look.”
“I found that I could relate well with Kaylee Colton… The fact that she returns to her book is that she isn’t ready to realize what her new reality is. She would rather hole herself up in literature.”
Transfixion held my attention from the start. A fight to survive against extreme odds with the heroine of the hour nose buried in a book more often the not.”
“Great YA thriller – be hooked!  …The story is cleverly elaborated, focuses on Kaylee and her personal growth. I was drawn in, felt like a member of her comrades.”
“It will have you questioning what you would do if in their situation.”
“She has enough drive to keep you on her side and enough smarts to stop you looking down on her or her choices without Kaylee turning into some kind of action hero movie star.”
“At its core, the novel is a thought-provoking science fiction thriller. At the same time, however, Giambrone weaves in elements of paranormal fiction.”
Transfixion is an action-packed novel that will leave you breathless and full of adrenaline. You might need to stop and take a breath every third page or so. At least, I did.”
“Giambrone’s integration of Kaylee’s coping mechanism with the storyline is a nice touch that could be missed if you aren’t reading too closely. As it is, I think that it enhanced the story and the characters, and definitely made me smile at the end.”
“This book is a great YA book, the violence is not so descript that I would fear young teens reading it, it did not have a lot of sexual content and I have actually already recommended to several teens in the 12-15 age range. I really enjoyed this book, it moved very quickly and had a great flow to it.”
“J. Giambrone did a great job of building up the depth of the confusing emotions the characters were experiencing as they muddled their way through a scary turn of events. He gave the teenage characters faults that were realistic and true to their development.”
“This is a good read, great for YA. I will be seeing if my 13 year old son wants to read it.”
Lastly, this analysis by Kieran Kelly is fascinating:
“Fast-paced, thought-provoking and at times moving.”

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Fast-paced, thought-provoking and at times moving.

by K.R. Kelly

COVER-FINAL-texture - -3 copy.jpgTransfixion
is in the speculative fiction genre that has really come to dominate in the young adult market, and it is a good example of why the genre is popular.

Author J. Giambrone hits the ground running. The reader is not left with much time to draw breath as action piles on action. The pace never flags throughout the book which transitions from a place of surrealism and suspense through watershed moments of growing clarity. In time it reaches a climax in which concrete reality has been recovered – though only through the brave efforts of a protagonist who refuses to let go of her humanity when the entire world has turned dangerously insane.

Transfixion mines some of the same veins of disquiet that have fueled the success of the Hunger Games trilogy, but where Suzanne Collins aims for emotional effect and pathos Giambrone aims for something more elusive – a moral understanding of violent conflict. The result is a bit like what might have happened if Frantz Fanon had got hold of the script of 28 Days Later and insisted that denying the humanity of the zombies would only cause the normal people to become zombies: “There had to be a solution to win without becoming just like them.”

But the “dupes” in this book aren’t zombies – they are anti-zombies. Zombies have stood for many things in political allegory, but they almost always embody the epitome of the enemy “other”. They are implacably violent; they are usually mindless or, if not, they are utterly deranged; they are always incurable. In short, they are unquestionably legitimate targets for violence who are to be killed without compunction. In films zombies are killed for self-defence, but there is also a common tendency, first established in Dawn of the Dead, for protagonists to prolifically splatter zombie brains just in order to perform banal tasks like going from place to place.There is no reason too trivial to be worth taking the “life” of a zombie.

In short zombies are the human-shaped essence of life undeserving of life. Transfixion‘s “dupes” turn this notion on its head. These are every bit as implacably violent as any crazed zombie, but even more deadly for their ruthless and calculating rationality. For those embattled few survivors of the shock and awe of the initial onslaught of violence, the dupes are zombies. You kill them and you don’t think about it, or at least pretend not to. The dupes could literally be their brothers and sisters, but the shared humanity is forgotten by both and lost in both. One side is driven mad by a brain-altering signal, and the other side simply follows suit in many respects.

Young Kaylee Colton resists this amnesia and the disjuncture which creates a rift in humanity. In a brutal world she struggles to recreate a sense that she herself is a real person: “She was not herself, and she wasn’t sure which version of herself she wasn’t.” But, she never quite loses sight of the personhood of the other – even the knife-wielding maniac who will kill her without compunction. And she is right.

The reader is taken inside the mind of a dupe and find not the haze of hatred, but a different sense of reality. Now we are in the territory of Philip K. Dick – the science fiction author for whom reality was fragile and fungible not just in epistemological terms but in political, psychological and social terms. Under the guise of “out there” explorations of drugs and virtual reality, Dick made many astute political and social observations. He explored the significance of what academics would now refer to as a “subject position” decades before the term was coined. To put it another way, Dick’s writing and Transfixion have more in common with Battlestar Galactica than with The Matrix.

And that is the problem of the dupes. They are not different in nature. They are not inhuman. It is the mental landscape they inhabit that is different. That is not to say that their reality is somehow valid. The world they inhabit is not only ultimately senseless, it is extremely limited. The filters through which they see everything turn these human beings into remorseless killers who act like mindless zombies without the mindlessness. For this, Giambrone gleefully indicts the medium of television – the carrier signal of their derangement: “The sign on the door said “Editing,” and a sickly blue glow throbbed out from inside the dark chamber.”

Any young adult who has read this review this far should probably read Transfixion. The novel is a lot more accessible than my review and I really haven’t given any major spoilers. Despite all that I have written, it is still basically action driven and all of the political and philosophical considerations are delivered as subtext.

For adults the above also applies, but if you are thinking of acquiring it for a young person to read I have just one caution. Transfixion is very much in the soft science-fiction/speculative fiction allegorical idiom. The sense of suspense and mystery may lead more literally minded youngsters to think that the resolution will involve the standard denouement where the villain is unmasked and vanquished. This does not happen. Some will definitely find that unsatisfying, but then maybe it might cause them to reflect on the nature of such conventions.

TRANSFIXION is now available through Amazon.



New upcoming sci-fi anti-war novel for YA readers.




Divergent (2014)

Posted: July 1, 2014 in Joe Giambrone
Tags: , , ,



Finally got to this, eager to see what they’re feeding the youth these days. It’s no Hunger Games, despite obvious attempts to imitate. The girl, Tris’ family ties were so weak and tacked-on that whatever emotion the film attempted to elicit just never materialized. Then it fell into a paint by numbers rote, and I really felt like I’d seen it before in other guises.

Divergent has a few good ideas going for it. However, it felt confined, stifling and too long with most of the action taking place at this dilapidated training camp type operation. It didn’t mix up the scenery enough, nor the storyline, and it became predictable and too familiar.

When the ending rolled around it made glaring moral miscues that seem to be a plague of this rancid place and age – heroes who torture people. If you need to be told that heroes don’t torture people, there isn’t much point talking at all. It grates on my bones that American writers are so oblivious to what they’re selling. Or perhaps they’re closet sadists? They torture small animals in their spare hours? What the fuck is wrong with this culture?

In a seemingly anti-fascist narrative, the affinity for fascist methodologies and attitudes really does leave one wondering.





Another holiday season rental courtesy of the family.  Mortal Instruments hits every cliché and Hero’s Journey formula point in the book.  A mind-numbingly predictable exercise in raking in dough from teenage girls.  The series goes the extra mile and throws in every supernatural imaginable: werewolves, vampires, witches, demons, demon hunters.

When they also threw in the “I am your father” shtick from Empire Strikes Back I had to clean vomit off the TV.  Painful.

I suppose it had lots of FX and magic and pretty young actors innocently lusting after one another.  Sounds like a winning franchise, and one I won’t be revisiting.  The girl in the lead was particularly lacking in charisma and watchability.  With a muted Kristen Stewart vibe, she read her lines and the plot moved along without me.  It was all such a stilted, mechanized, orchestrated puppet show that I couldn’t have cared less really if the demon hunters managed to knock out their video game demon enemies or whatever.  None of the drama ever escalated beyond the video game aesthetic, and none of it rang particularly true on any level.  Shame.

I’ll take it easy with one snarky quote.  From the SF Chronicle, Peter Hartlaub:

“It desperately gathers clichés like a teen fantasy Frankenstein that doesn’t realize its secret identity: parody.”

Apparently the books are supposed to be better.  Up next, also courtesy of the family, 2 Guns.



As long as I’m panning some recent YA tripe, I might as well propose alternatives.  This story of a mentally challenged young woman stuck in my mind, and I just stumbled over it again while looking for highly rated films on Amazon Prime (a streaming movie site with a growing library).

Patricia Arquette plays Alice, a deaf and abused girl who’s treated like an animal by her rural monster of a father.  Kept in a pig pen, they keep her alive but aren’t happy about it.

One day a neighbor brother and sister stumble upon the shack where Alice is kept.  The boy becomes fascinated with rescuing her from the horrible conditions, setting him up in opposition to the potentially murderous father.

As Alice is civilized and cleaned up, she starts to have feelings for the boy, who’s destined to go off to college.  Unable to understand the complexities of life, Alice becomes single mindedly devoted to the boy.  He, after saving her from the life of a tortured animal, must confront the new sentence awaiting Alice, the life of a freak, an unloved and unlovable wretch.

This emotional tear jerker was directed by Diane Keaton and features very strong performances by all.





Twilight For Witches


My daughter picked this one, and even she was yelling out, “It’s so young adult!”

Yes, from the Stephanie Meyer school of teenie paranormal romance, we have an epic forbidden love between a Caster and a Mortal.  What more is there to say, really?

If you like your feelings schmaltzy and dripping from every pore then run, don’t walk, to your local RedBox.  It’s a shame though, as the story had some potential, interesting plot developments and such.  But the ham fisted ridiculousness of the writing may be seen as a detriment in some quarters.