Huh. I saw this on the shelf at my friend John’s, flipped through it there, borrowed it, and read the whole thing, and I am still not sure if I have r...moreHuh. I saw this on the shelf at my friend John’s, flipped through it there, borrowed it, and read the whole thing, and I am still not sure if I have read it before or not. This may be attributable to my failing brain, but I’m sure it’s also due in part to the fact that All His Engines is a fairly standard John Constantine outing: there are creepy icky demony things, and John (Constantine, not my friend) snarks at them and gets in over his head but ultimately outwits everyone and is awesome. I like all of that, and Carey pulls off that formula here with aplomb. Still: this is obviously not a standout tale, as I’m still not 100% on whether I’ve read it before. (I think the answer must be yes, or at least yes in part, or else I’m simply experiencing some weirdly specific déjà vu.)
Since this review seems to be turning into an extended episode of someone tapping a microphone and saying, “Hello? Is this thing on?” I will now use this space to complain: why hasn’t any of Paul Jenkins’ run on this title been collected as trades? I loved that run. Am I the only one?(less)
Ryu Murakami (who I always think of in my head as “the other Murakami”—sorry, dude) certainly has talent as a shock artist. This book is brutally effe...moreRyu Murakami (who I always think of in my head as “the other Murakami”—sorry, dude) certainly has talent as a shock artist. This book is brutally effective—in an intrinsically ridiculous, Fatal Attraction kind of way. I can’t even bother getting offended as a woman or, well, a person because the concept is really so dumb—and yet, it’s expertly paced, with (the other) Murakami evoking a sense of dread even when nothing explicitly frightening had so far taken place. That’s some skillful storytelling. And maybe you can rightly claim that it’s wasted on this idiocy (women are crazy! they will seduce you with their beauty and then do freaky-ass shit to you with a saw!), but on the other hand, I can’t and don’t begrudge anyone the need for the occasional doofy horror novel. I mean, I even kind of liked it: I laughed, I shivered, I rolled my eyes. It served its purpose. Well played, other Murakami. Well played.(less)
Damn. My feelings about this book are so conflicted. On the one hand, it contains a few pieces of imagery so staggeringly beautiful that they could ha...moreDamn. My feelings about this book are so conflicted. On the one hand, it contains a few pieces of imagery so staggeringly beautiful that they could have come from a Haruki Murakami novel—gorgeous, surrealistic setpieces that nevertheless are firmly anchored in the characters' stories and personalities. Hill continues to prove himself to be an excellent prose stylist, with an ear for dialogue and an inherent fairness to the way he treats his characters; the roles they end up playing are rarely what one might expect. I enjoyed the first part of this novel especially, in which Hill manages to evoke a real sense of horror and keep the reader ravenously curious as to what's really going on. However, as with his first novel, Heart-Shaped Box, I feel he's stronger in the set-up than in the denouement. Yet that isn't even my real problem with this book: it's that I think I, on the most basic level, vehemently disagree with what Hill is trying to say about the nature of good and evil—as much as I can understand it, anyway. My own views are so just so diametrically opposed to what (I think) this book is purporting that, while I enjoyed it on a, I suppose you could say, visual level, it ultimately left me cold.
However, it nevertheless also still left me excited to see what Hill comes up with next. His twisty mind is one I definitely want to watch; I have every confidence that he’ll write something truly brilliant one day.(less)
These stories are lifted directly out of the back of the original Zombie Survival Guide, so don’t expect any new material here. However, they’re extre...moreThese stories are lifted directly out of the back of the original Zombie Survival Guide, so don’t expect any new material here. However, they’re extremely fun in graphic novel form, and if it’s been a while since you read Brooks’ first zombie book, as it has for me, I think you’ll still find these a treat.(less)
Continues from the excellent first volume (Welcome to Lovecraft) with a sophomore effort that’s equally imaginative and exciting. I shall be needing v...moreContinues from the excellent first volume (Welcome to Lovecraft) with a sophomore effort that’s equally imaginative and exciting. I shall be needing volume three immediately, kthx.(less)
Why do I find published erotica so boring, and dirty fanfic so endlessly entertaining? Well, I suppose one theory could be that few erotic authors see...moreWhy do I find published erotica so boring, and dirty fanfic so endlessly entertaining? Well, I suppose one theory could be that few erotic authors seem to do much to make me care about their characters, and I am a big girl who needs her porn to pack some emotional wallop. Possibly true! But also, most of these stories--as with most of the erotica I've read--are just not hot. I guess my kinks just do not line up very well with the rest of the erotica-reading world?
This collection was better than the last one I read. I am intrigued by the blending of horror and sex, and a few of the stories in this book pulled off something interesting with the combo. This book is also beautifully designed, which is one of the main reasons I picked it up. (I think you're allowed to be shallow when reading about sex.)
The other reason I picked it up is that it has a story by Supernatural writer Sera Gamble in it. I don't think I'm letting any sort of bias/developing girlcrush affect me when I say that it's the standout tale. Actual characters and plot and thinky thoughts! Plus sex. That's how it should be done, guys.(less)
Exciting first volume in a new comics series by Joe Hill that combines horror, fantasy, and Hill's massive daddy issues. There's a fascinating plot se...moreExciting first volume in a new comics series by Joe Hill that combines horror, fantasy, and Hill's massive daddy issues. There's a fascinating plot set up here, with good use of flashbacks, and also some cool characters--both male and female (which is in large part an improvement over Pops). I'm looking forward to the release of the next volume in September.(less)
This book is almost 800 pages long. I knew after the first fifty, definitely after the first hundred, that I wasn’t enjoying it, but I kept readin...moreGAH.
This book is almost 800 pages long. I knew after the first fifty, definitely after the first hundred, that I wasn’t enjoying it, but I kept reading because 1) I’m a stubborn bitch, 2) Dan Simmons has written good books in the past, and 3) I just felt like it had to get better, right? RIGHT?
Not so much. If you want to read a book about an unlikeable narrator—in this case, supposedly Wilkie Collins—bitch about his likewise unlikeable friend/rival/whatever—supposedly Charles Dickens—for 800 pages while some vaguely spooky stuff happens, none of which is scary or interesting enough to sustain the narrative—then this doorstop of a read is the book for you. If not, then don’t be like me—run! Run! Save yourselves!(less)
**spoiler alert** In which King Technophobe turns everyone with cell phones into zombies—or rather, into the Borg. I was more into this in the early c...more**spoiler alert** In which King Technophobe turns everyone with cell phones into zombies—or rather, into the Borg. I was more into this in the early chapters when it was survivors vs. zombies; the Borgian bits bored me a little. I was also a little skeeved that King chose to make a black man in a Harvard sweatshirt the leader of the Borg army—there’s so much nasty stuff one could read into an educated black dude being used as the representative of the mind-enslaving Big Bad. But I am afraid to touch Stephen “magical Negro” King’s racial issues with a ten-foot pole, so I’m just gonna leave it at that.
I’m focusing on the negative rather early here, aren’t I? That’s actually not all that fair—there was in fact a lot about this novel that I enjoyed. King is great at envisioning post-apocalyptic landscapes; what you’ve got here in Cell is basically a more succinct version of the good parts of The Stand. So while it never achieves the heights of the best parts of The Stand, it never hits that book’s low points, either. Also, remarkably for King, one of the main characters is a gay man—a gay man who’s awesome! And who actually survives! The friendship between this fellow, Tom, and Clay, our everyman hero, is by far the best part of this novel. It’s also slashy as hell. At one point, oh-so-hetero Clay actually thinks about how much he is going to miss Tom’s smile. Hee! How has the internet seemingly failed to produce fic for this? I want to read all about Clay and Tom’s wacky post-apocalyptic adventures! Because if surviving the end of the world isn’t the perfect excuse to experiment with your sexuality, I don’t know what is.(less)
This is a young adult book. It’s sci-fi, not horror. Nevertheless, it is quite possibly the scariest book I have ever read. It takes place in a future...moreThis is a young adult book. It’s sci-fi, not horror. Nevertheless, it is quite possibly the scariest book I have ever read. It takes place in a future where, between the ages of 13 and 18, kids who grossly misbehave or who are orphans not considered to be useful or talented enough or who are specially chosen “tithes” are taken away to be “unwound”—broken down to all their component parts and distributed among those who might need a new heart or lung or hand. Each part is kept alive, so it’s not really murder, right?
If you think that’s creepy, it’s nothing compared to the details of how they actually do this. There’s a sequence about 3/4ths of the way through the book where characters are taken inside a Harvest Center and…oh my god. I don’t want to spoil anything by going into detail, but think of the worst thing you can think of. It’s worse than that, and Shusterman writes the hell out of the sequence. It’s truly impressive. And, you know, traumatizing. After I finished reading, I had to fight the urge to call my mom. I wanted a hug.
The one real problem I had with this book was the idea that unwinding was some kind of compromise between pro-choice and pro-life arguments. I have an admitted HUGE HONKING BIAS here (part of me thinks, “Yeah, I could see certain pro-lifers going for a system like that…”), but I have to say, I think this misses the point of what being pro-choice is about by, well, several dozen light-years. Luckily, this bit of backstory is not the focus of the book; if you can ignore it or handwave it away, there’s an engrossing, intense (SCARY!) adventure story to be had here.
I don’t think I would ever give this book to a kid, though, unless it was a kid with parents I really, really hate. Have fun dealing with those nightmares, hypothetical frenemies!(less)
A collection of horror short stories by the author whose work was adapted to make The Ring and, well, Dark Water. The story that was the basis for the...moreA collection of horror short stories by the author whose work was adapted to make The Ring and, well, Dark Water. The story that was the basis for the latter opens this collection and sets the tone for it as well. All of these stories involve creepiness in, on, or related to water in some way, and if you had to pick a single theme most likely to scare the crap out of me, water would be it. This is why I can’t put any stock in astrological signs: I’m a Pisces, and nothing skeeves me out more than a body of water I can’t see to the bottom of. The idea of something lurking beneath the surface…brr.
Does Suzuki take advantage of this fantastic set-up? Yes and no. In at least half the stories, he manages to create a lingering image, something that truly defines horror: endless clumps of human hair working their way free from a clogged drain in a deserted bathroom; the head wound of a dead spelunker becoming crystallized to the rock as his feet dangle into the cavern below; a little girl slowly rotting in the water tank that feeds an entire building. But like a lot of horror writers, he fumbles the dismount. In many of these stories, there’s fantastic atmosphere that just…goes nowhere, or goes exactly where you knew it would, without any last twist or final scare to take you over the top. These stories are still creepy and effective, but with the potential there for Suzuki to dive deep, I felt the collection stayed disappointingly shallow.(less)
An assemblage of lists and essays-in-the-form-of-lists about horror movies, horror books, and horror in a variety of other formats. I’m not a huge hor...moreAn assemblage of lists and essays-in-the-form-of-lists about horror movies, horror books, and horror in a variety of other formats. I’m not a huge horror fan, but I still got a kick out of this book. The humorous lists were unsurprisingly my favorites—top honors definitely go to Vince Churchill’s “Wow, the Black Guy Lived!”—and there were some good reading recommendations to be gleaned from the books section as well. However, there were far too many lists that were basically, “Hey, Here Are My Favorite Examples of the Horror Genre. You Know. In Case You Care, Since I’m Vaguely Connected With the Horror Industry and Whatnot.” Also, reading an essay about Eli Roth’s favorite examples of cinematic genital mutilation in which he pauses to complain that the horror genre is too often falsely accused of being misogynistic? That makes me want to do something pretty horrific to him.(less)
There seems to be some disagreement as to whether this is a humor or a horror book. It was marketed as the former, but I actually think it’s more effe...moreThere seems to be some disagreement as to whether this is a humor or a horror book. It was marketed as the former, but I actually think it’s more effective as the latter. If it’s a humor book, it’s strictly one-note—survival guides expect you to be ridiculously over-prepared, haha! As a horror book—even keeping in mind its goofier moments—it really gets under your skin, makes you reassess your surroundings and your safety in ways, I think, few monster stories do.
It’s also interesting to look at this book as Brooks’ warm-up exercise for World War Z: he’s laying out the rules of his universe here, getting a feel for it. But this book, like I said, doesn’t quite know what it wants to be. World War Z knows. And when it tells you, you don’t forget.(less)
Pretty much exactly as awesome as everyone said it would be. Brooks obviously put an incredible amount of thought into this—the world-building is amaz...morePretty much exactly as awesome as everyone said it would be. Brooks obviously put an incredible amount of thought into this—the world-building is amazing, and that, coupled with the brilliant use of the “oral history” format, makes the somewhat outlandish idea of a “zombie war” seem very real—and very, very scary. The one thing that bothered me was that, proportionally, there were far fewer women’s stories: it takes about 60 pages for a female voice to appear, and even then, most of them are fairly passive—with the notable exception of the Air Force pilot character, who does get one of the most engaging sections in the entire thing. Anyway, aside from that usual bit of crankiness, I really do think this is beyond terrific: dynamic, creative, and truly unique. I’ll be making a careful stash of blunt objects, now.(less)