It puzzles me -- and sometimes frustrates me to no end -- how or why some books get categorized/released as Young Adult. These days it seems the label...more It puzzles me -- and sometimes frustrates me to no end -- how or why some books get categorized/released as Young Adult. These days it seems the label has become so loosey-goosey all that's required is that there be a teen protagonist. Content, language, themes -- all of the meatier, important elements of any book are blithely ignored in the rush to market and movie deals.
There are definitely books that walk the hinterland -- the very, very outer reaches of YA and upon reading them you realize that there's way more 'Adult' in the pages than 'Young'. On any given Sunday it shouldn't really matter ....except for when it does. In the case of Scowler it makes me think about how many people will ignore it and miss out turned off by its YA label, and then it makes me think about the young teen readers who will lack the emotional maturity and mental resilience to process such a dark and disturbing tale.
Yes, it's that good and that dark. Patriarch Marvin Burke is as chilling and disturbing a villain as any I've encountered and belongs in the pages of a Frank Bill novel. The language is vibrant and pulsing -- a living, breathing thing:
The cracks in the dirt now yawned to proportions slutty with thirst...
There it was. A miracle, really, finding this speck of bone in a world of dust. There was a brown spot of blood on the tooth's root, and to Ry it seemed the encapsulation of the bum deal of life: a once-perfect thing plucked and bloodied and tossed to the dirt.
I had originally shelved this as 'horror' but am now removing it because while Scowler is horrific in parts, it has much more in common with realistic, gritty fiction that has a psychological underbelly.
Meh. Having cut my reading teeth on horror, I'm always on the lookout for "appropriate" suggestions to make to kids who come seeking a shivery experie...more Meh. Having cut my reading teeth on horror, I'm always on the lookout for "appropriate" suggestions to make to kids who come seeking a shivery experience of jolts and scares. David Lubar's Weenies series has been one I've gone back to time and time again. Perhaps I've just read one too many Weenie tales, because unfortunately this latest collection feels like Lubar merely phoned it in. There was little pizzazz and very few genuine creeps and giggles, elements I have come to expect from the series.
If you've got a reluctant young reader in your life, and he or she is a fan of the heebie-jeebies track down the earlier books. Some of those are a hoot and a half. (less)
After reading Kemper's awesome review I knew I'd be getting to Preacher eventually -- now after having read the first volume I'm left wondering why th...more After reading Kemper's awesome review I knew I'd be getting to Preacher eventually -- now after having read the first volume I'm left wondering why the hell did I wait so long?!
It's bloody, gory grit and gasoline pulp Texas style, with demons and angels and a possessed preacher, an Irish vampire and a supernatural gunslinger known as the Saint of Killers -- who reminded me instantly of Roland Deschain crossed with Randall Flagg.
Something has gone very wrong in heaven: a terrifyingly powerful entity (the offspring of an angel and a demon known as Genesis) has escaped to earth and binds itself to a mortal man -- Jesse Custer (redneck preacher of a small Texas parish). Jesse needs answers fast as the dead bodies start to pile up around him and the po-po are hot on his tail. Joining him on his quest (and evasion of the law) will be his ex-girlfriend Tulip, and a ninety-something year old Irish vampire called Cassidy.
There's a vicious serial killer on the loose too just to keep things from, you know, getting boring.
The word from up on high is that God has left the building. Literally. Fucked off and left humans to fend for themselves. That's not going to stand for Jesse, and he's decided it's time to smoke God out of his hiding hole and get some answers. Maybe even a little payback, who knows? I surely don't, but I can't wait to find out.
Yeah so make no mistake: this thing is profane. It's violent. But there's an energy and an aliveness running through the story that's absolutely addictive. I can see why this series has stood the test of time (and will continue to do so I'm sure).
But don't take my word for it: in his introduction to the series Joe R. Lansdale calls Preacher "scary as a psychopathic greased gerbil with a miner's hat and a flashlight and your bare asshole in sight." Heh heh. An effective metaphor to make any butt clench up I'm sure. But this is what really got me:
Because there is only one PREACHER, a tale out of Ireland, dragged through Texas with a bloody hard-on, wrapped in barbed wire and rose thorns.
If that doesn't make you want to pick this series up then check your pulse, because you just might be dead.
I could really tear this book a new one if I wanted to, seeing as how it is plagued by incredulous plot twists and nonsensical melodramatic c...more 2.5 stars
I could really tear this book a new one if I wanted to, seeing as how it is plagued by incredulous plot twists and nonsensical melodramatic character motivations that at times positively scream daytime soap opera antics.
Despite these maddening shortcomings, I was able to overlook most of them most of the time as the novel fairly hums along with just enough speed and tension to keep you turning the pages. It's a beach read in the sense that if you are sun stoned and feeling epically lazy, this one has just enough salacious bite to keep you conscious and wondering just what the hell did happen to Amelia that day on the roof: did she jump? or was she pushed?
I liked how the author uses various bits of social media (texts, Facebook, emails, etc) to "reconstruct" a young woman's life and state of mind proving how much can be found there and yet how inadequate all that "sharing" can turn out to be when your goal is to really understand someone. But in the end, it just felt hollow and gimmicky anyway.
I was just expecting so much more here with such a fantastic premise fueling its engine. In the hands of Gillian Flynn and Megan Abbott, I'm certain I would have gotten exactly what I was looking for. Not here though. Not this time.
One thing that really bugged me:
(view spoiler)[when Amelia's case is reopened, why would Kate as her mother be allowed to become so involved in the investigation -- going on interview calls and asking questions. It seems to me, it would have been her job to sit tight and wait to hear the results, not chase them down side by side with the Detective assigned to the case. That took me out of the story every time. If Kate had hired a PI, and was going about this on her own without police involvement, that would have made sense. But to be working with the police and be so immediately included in the investigation in this way drove me mental. Because that would never happen. Especially once foul play was suspected. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Hot damn, what an utter hoot this book is. It's gravel and grit lit but with a lighter, sunnier touch, that bleeds zippy dialogue, colorful characters...more Hot damn, what an utter hoot this book is. It's gravel and grit lit but with a lighter, sunnier touch, that bleeds zippy dialogue, colorful characters and zany situations. It's a road trip buddy picture type deal that very nearly turns into a circus caravan. It's Breaking Bad meets Pineapple Express on the Mississippi Delta where "crackers" and "white trash" abound, as much fiscally as they are hygienically challenged.
Nick Reid is just your regular guy trying to get along as best he can as a repo man -- repossessing unpaid for goods. It can be a dangerous, sticky job coming to take from people what they already consider to be theirs. Nick finds this out the hard way when he comes to repo a plasma TV from Percy Dwayne Dubois (that's pronounced Dew-boys). Percy Dwayne gets the jump on Nick and smacks him upside the head with a fireplace shovel. It knocks Nick temporarily senseless, during which time Percy Dwayne flees the scene with his wife, baby, plasma TV and Nick's mint-condition 1969 Ranchero. The Ranchero is actually borrowed from Nick's elderly landlady who he's quite fond of so he feels honor bound to do everything in his power to get it back from the lowlife who drove off with it.
Thus kick-starts Nick's hunt and chase across the Delta to recover the '69 Ranchero. Joining him will be his best buddy Desmond -- extremely large, black, very fond of Sonic Coney Islands and averse to any place or situation that might have snakes or other biting stinging things.
"I don't go in attics. I don't go in basements. I don't go in bayous. I don't go in the woods."
Along the way, Nick and Desmond will pick up a cast of bayou misfits and miscreants in their bid to track down and steal back the Ranchero. There will be many mishaps and much mayhem along the way.
I laughed. A LOT. Fans of Frank Bill and Donald Ray Pollock looking for something less bloody and despairing, and more slapstick and outrageous need look no further than Nick Reid. There's two more books in this series so far, and I can't wait to see what Nick gets up to next.
Picking this one up I was not prepared for such a trip into dark and depraved waters. This is more than Scudder has ever gone up against previously an...more Picking this one up I was not prepared for such a trip into dark and depraved waters. This is more than Scudder has ever gone up against previously and definitely the strongest in the series since Eight Million Ways To Die. While we've moved along in years out of the 80's into the early 90's, New York City continues to be a seething trap of anger and violence and desperation with all those ways to die and Scudder has stumbled upon yet another one. This time, he didn't even go looking for it, not really. It sort of finds him in a weird, chilling series of coincidences.
Two words: snuff film. Yeah, like I said, dark and depraved waters.
Scudder is moving along nicely in his life these days. He's sober and regularly attending meetings. He's got his girlfriend Elaine (who one dewy-eyed reviewer wistfully and with no irony whatsoever refers to as Matt's snuggle bunny) no matter that she's a call girl and continues to see clients. He's also forged a pretty meaningful friendship with Mick Ballou, the Irish gangster who may or may not have carried around some guy's head in a bowling ball bag, the man who proudly wears his father's blood stained butcher's apron (and which of those stains are man or animal, nobody knows).
I keep coming back to these books mostly for Scudder. He's such a great character to spend time with. But also for the sense of time and place that Block is able to conjure. I find the Scudder books act like time capsules in a way. So much of the plotting of this story relies on VHS tapes and renting them from a video store. It made me remember what that was like and how long it's been since I've actually done it.
I remember when my family got its first VCR ever and it was this huge exciting moment, like we had finally arrived at a Jetsons' version of the future. And with Block, it's so authentic, because he's not writing these books from a 21st century perspective and recreating 1991, he actually wrote this one in 1991 without the long view and hindsight that we have as readers. I love that. That doesn't mean I'm not looking forward to Scudder aging and getting Block's take on a 21st century New York. I can't wait actually.
I'll wrap this up with a note on the ending -- holy shit snacks. (view spoiler)[If Scudder had done this in his heavy drinking days, I would have blamed it on the booze, but to do it stone cold sober, I'm positively shocked. Yet pleased. Satisfied. There was a time early on when I was so angry at Scudder for letting a child rapist walk free (forcing him to donate money to Boys' Town). I was so disappointed with his lack of action then. Well, no one can accuse him of lack of action here. Decisive. Unequivocal. Was this justice or cold-blooded murder? I loved when Scudder tells Ballou about his mentor who told him you don't ever do something with your own hands you can get somebody else to do for you. Well I guess Scudder decided that wasn't for him. If this was going to happen, he was going to have blood on his hands to show for it. I can respect that. (hide spoiler)]
Now I think I'll go for a walk among the tombstones. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)