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Koko (Blue Rose Trilogy #1)

3.55  ·  Rating Details ·  7,601 Ratings  ·  232 Reviews
At the unveiling of the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C., four surviving members of an army platoon are reunited. Their current lives vastly differ in social station and degree of success however, they still can't shake tmemories of the hell they endured together in S.E. Asia; there is one reminder of the past that raises its ugly head
Hardcover, 562 pages
Published September 6th 1988 by Dutton Books (first published 1988)
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May 18, 2010 Maciek rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those who like long, character driven stories
Koko is a lenghty tome. My paperback copy spans 640 pages and promises great things - a haunting nightmare of four Vietnam veterans, reunited 15 years after the war, thrust back into the horrors of the war when they learn about a chain of murders comitted in Southeast Asia - the murderer always leaves a playing card with the word "Koko" scribbled on it. The word has eerie connotations for the four men - they believe that a former member of their platoon is behind the murders.

After Floating Drago
Mar 03, 2015 Arah-Lynda rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned, i-said
It has been at least a decade since I last tried to read this book, which I had attempted before on two previous occasions. And I knew how far I had gotten each time, if not by some whiff of remembering; then at least by the markers I had placed where I had stopped each time. It was the pure principal of the thing that fuelled my surpassing both those afore laid markers, not the prose or the characters or the story. If memory serves me correctly I bought this book based solely on my experience o ...more
Apr 17, 2017 Ron rated it really liked it
Shelves: whodunit, horror, war
If you’ve thought about reading Koko, then Be Like Mike and Just Do It. Stephen King fans may appreciate this book, and know about the connection with his friend, Peter Straub. These two guys are like bookends in the horror genre. At times, they even have a similar way of writing. But Koko is its own thing. It’s not like Straub’s earlier book Ghost Story (saw the movie – have yet to read the book). To me, that was horror. Koko has horrific acts – psychopathic killer, atrocities committed in war. ...more
Dirk Grobbelaar
Apr 08, 2010 Dirk Grobbelaar rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror, books-i-own
Tricksy Review

Where to start? An uneasy read, this.

There is real madness to be found here. A brooding, heady insanity.

Koko, the novel, is a disjointed, psychological, somewhat confusing affair. Why then is it such a good read? Well, because that is also the best way to describe half the characters in this piece of work. There is certainly method to the madness here. And Koko himself? He's certainly a disturbed man… and it rubs off.

This book is not a quick read, it's everything but, and when I
Jon Recluse
Nov 19, 2011 Jon Recluse rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, thriller
This is the epitome of mystery/thriller writing, penned by a master of literary fiction at the height of his powers.
Four men, bonded by the horrors of war, reunite to hunt one of their own, when a series of brutal killings a world away leads them back into their shared pasts, to face the specter that haunts them all.....KOKO.
A dense, complex book that showcases all of Straub's impressive skills as a wordsmith, disassembling and recreating the world around the reader, word by word, sentence by se
Paul Nash
Mar 30, 2017 Paul Nash rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror, 2017
Just finished book one of this trilogy. This has been a group read with The Eclectic Club.
I really don't know what to say here. This book fucks with you. It leaves you feeling dirty at times.
Was I confused?...several times! A lot became clear but there were still many paragraphs and sentences that read like the mad dribble you'd hear at your local nut house.
But did I like that confusion...that mad dribble? I sure did.
This book was totally fucked up but I enjoyed it enough to give it 4 stars a
Bill Khaemba
Finally finished it :) Buddy Read with the awesome The Eclectic Club It was fun ride but it had some bumps along the way :)
May 10, 2014 Kirstin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Koko is absolutely brilliant! This book reads like a recollected nightmare and the twists and turns will leave you dizzy.

Apr 02, 2017 Josen rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017-library
Review to come......not even sure where to start with this one, lol!
James Renner
Jul 23, 2011 James Renner rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Found this novel staring at me from the shelf of a used book store about a year ago. I picked it up, saw it was a first edition, and decided I had nothing to lose at the discounted price of $2.50. As I walked it to the counter, a single playing card fell out of the middle of the book, where, I assume, someone had marked a page. Only later did I come to discover how disturbing an omen this was.

My only exposure to Peter Straub (excellent Slate interview here) before this book was through his colla
mark monday
the atmosphere of degradation, regret, self-loathing, and impending doom was pervasive and absorbing. the author shows a sure hand with characterization and a steady one with narrative. the identity of the killer was unsurprising but well-conceived. and either as an extended metaphor for What We Did Wrong in Vietnam or as an ominous tract on the depths that some men can sink in their hunger for self-destruction, Koko certainly succeeds.
Apr 09, 2017 Liz rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Will put my thoughts together at a later date when I have more time. This was another group read that took a long time to get through, but that's not a reflection on the quality of the book - life just got in the way a lot!
Benoit Lelièvre
I hate to be a dick here but the perceived value of having been written by Peter Straub seems to have carried a competent, yet otherwise dated and overweight thriller for close to thirty years now. Don't get me wrong, there's a lot to like about KOKO. It has a lot to say about war, PTSD and the meaninglessness of murder, but there is material that sprawls over pages of this book that haven't aged all that well. The countercultural tour of Southeast Asia among others have been done to death since ...more
S.B. Redstone
Dec 12, 2011 S.B. Redstone rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
No one could say that Peter Straub can't write a beautiful sentence or that his description of people and places isn't excellent. I love his usage of language. This is 562 pages long. But, what I have found with horror writers, they seem to have a need to prove that they are better writers, which is ridiculous, and begin to picture themselves as great literary figures. And that is what I feel happened in this book. After forty pages, I had no idea who the main character really is; I have bits an ...more
Julie Failla Earhart
Peter Straub is considered one of the greatest thriller writers of our time; second only perhaps to the master Stephen King. Yet, somehow I missed never reading anything by Straub. When Anchor Books re-released Koko, the first book in the “Blue Rose Trilogy,” I jumped at the chance to review it.
The Washington Post claimed that the 1988 work was “brilliantly written…an inspired thriller…(Straub’s) finest work.” I was ready, eager, anxious, and waiting when the almost six-hundred-page paperback la
Rabbit {Paint me like one of your 19th century gothic heroines!}
DNF @ Pg 121: I'm having such a hard time focusing on this book when I'm reading it. I find Straub's writing,on his own, really dry. *Sighs* I also really like the anthologies he has edited/complied. *feels like a loser with an unpopular opinion*

I feel really bad, but I will read 20 pages and space out, re-read them, and nothing registers that much. This rarely happens to me. I did really try, but I just feel like I'm just draaaaaging this one along.

I hope other people really like it though. I
Apr 21, 2013 Holly rated it it was amazing
Shelves: library-books
Great read; kept me guessing until the end. What a shocker!
Jul 03, 2012 Ethan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror
Totally and utterly amazing. I bought this book for two reasons: it was written by the co-author of The Talisman, and it was a hardcover book in good condition that cost me $1.00.
This was the first book by Peter Straub that I read, and it absolutely blew me away. While this book is not exactly a horror story, it does have spine-tingling moments. One public opinion I resent is that horror fiction has to involve supernatural occurrences, but in this case I have to agree. This book does not incorp
Oct 20, 2009 Kate rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I know I tried to read this book... It had something to do with the Vietnam War, but I never found out what "Koko" meant and I couldn't shake the idea that it was about a gorilla...
Jim C
Apr 19, 2017 Jim C rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the start of a trilogy. In this one, members of a Vietnam unit come together in search of one of their own. They believe that the person they are looking for is committing murders and leaving a card with the word "Koko" written on it. They also believe this ties in within an incident that happened in Vietnam during the war.

I would classify this book as a mystery book within a psychological thriller. It is also one of the darkest books I have read. It delves into child abuse, killing of i
Thomas Strömquist
In Koko, Straub surely succeeded in both depicting monsters and keeping tension without any supernatural parts at all. This is on my to-read list in original language, because I did feel the translation was lacking in parts.
Duncan Ralston
Long-winded but worth the read.
He could have told the same story, shortened by about 200 pages. I love stories about Vietnam and PTSD so this still resonated.
Sam Reader
Apr 13, 2014 Sam Reader rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"So what's it like to kill someone?"
"I can't tell you."
- Unnamed Cabbie and Michael Poole

Koko is brutal. It is, perhaps, the most disturbing and uncomfortable book I have ever had the "pleasure" of reading. I phrase it that way because I can acknowledge that the book is well-written, that Peter Straub has an amazing turn of phrase, and that there is a brilliant thread at work here. But what Straub manages to do with Koko is to explore the feelings of trauma, guilt, and psychological sufferin
 (shan) Littlebookcove
Right off the hook with this book Peter puts you in the story of Four Vietnam veterans that reunite after what has been 15 years after the war, they all made their little ways in the world after the war, but to some of them the war is still very fresh in their minds, and one horror of it, a chain of murders is committed in south Asia. The murderer always leaves a trademark card. And one the four men know well, so well in fact that they think it might be one of their old platoon.

This took me on a
Claudia Putnam
Jan 17, 2014 Claudia Putnam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literary-fiction
I'll stick my neck out and characterize this book of Straub's as litfic. It's as good a Vietnam novel as the best of them. It's horrific, but not horror. Read it a few years ago and don't have enough details in my mind to write a full review, but I remember that it's vividly told and characterized, and very well written. The book has something to say and says it well, and I'm surprised it's not brought up in more reviews of contemporary war novels, the way, say, The Things They Carried is (deser ...more
Jun 13, 2014 Madila rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"The past is in the past because that's where it belongs."

" story existed without its own past, and the past of a story was what enabled us to understand it."

I enjoyed Straub's novel. The prose is fluid and, at times, poetic. The story just didn't resonate with me. Maybe my expectations were off...I was hoping for a little horror and it didn't even need to be supernatural. The book is deep, it simply didn't connect with me.
Jaime Contreras
Aug 02, 2011 Jaime Contreras rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, thriller
This was little hard to decipher but once one does, it is an in-depth psychological trip into guilt, madness and grief as shared by four veterans. These men witnessed mayhem and now its seed has rooted and burst forth. This novel is deep and foreboding but worth the read. But, I have never tried to read the next book in the series because I was satisfied with this novel entry.
Anna Ligtenberg
May 14, 2012 Anna Ligtenberg rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
ISBN 0451162145 - Tough book to review, but a pretty quick (not easy, just quick!) read, Koko is worth the time! I often feel like the number of typos that get through is a good indicator of how highly (or lowly) the book is seen by the publisher and Koko has a mere 6 in 595 pages - but two mistakes really bothered me. Early in the book, Conor's shirt has yellow letters and two pages later, the letters are orange; late in the book, Koko leaves a note which reads, in part, "I have no name" and is ...more
Tee Jay
Apr 13, 2010 Tee Jay rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People with insomnia
Shelves: thriller
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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Peter Straub was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on 2 March, 1943, the first of three sons of a salesman and a nurse. The salesman wanted him to become an athlete, the nurse thought he would do well as either a doctor or a Lutheran minister, but all he wanted to do was to learn to read.

When kindergarten turned out to be a stupefyingly banal disappointment devoted to cutting animal shapes out of heavy
More about Peter Straub...

Other Books in the Series

Blue Rose Trilogy (3 books)
  • Mystery
  • The Throat

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