You know, the thing about a shark...he's got lifeless eyes. Black eyes. Like a doll's eyes. When he comes at ya, doesn't seem to be living... until he bites ya ~JAWS (1975)
The perfect beach read (for my twisted tastes anyway) found as summer's door closes on the Sunday of Labor Day Weekend. The book's blurb describes BAIT as: "Survivor meets Lord of the Flies meets Drugstore Cowboy" and that's pretty accurate as blurbs go, with a side portion of Trainspotting to sweeten the deal.
Subtract the worst of SAW's gory torture-porn aspects, I also couldn't help be reminded of it as well -- oh yes ladies and gentlemen, BAIT is a winner, a white-knuckled page-turner with a gaping maw of shark's teeth ready to take a chomp out of your ass at any moment. I'd love to see this as a movie, and its length would have made it the perfect one hour Twilight Zone or Night Gallery episode.
The novel works so well because Messum takes some time (amidst the roiling action) to develop his cast of sad, deplorable and desperate characters. As readers, what are we to think of protagonists plagued by heroin addiction and the jagged guilt of dirty deeds?
The six victims who wake up stranded on a deserted beach are not the people we usually cheer for. It's hard to warm up to them, and unless you've suffered from addiction yourself, it's very hard to relate to them in any way. Despite this challenge, Messum takes what could have easily resulted in stereotypical junkies -- no archetypes or caricatures here -- and turns them into sympathetic characters, nicely fleshed out in a short period of time with minimal details.
On the surface, BAIT is a thrill-kill, adrenaline read, a man versus nature versus man extravaganza. But beneath the surface, there is deep water that runs, not just with sharks, but with thematic purpose tinged with social commentary and observations of the human condition -- our rage, our prejudices, our lack of empathy and understanding, our human ability to dehumanize ourselves and others around us. In some respects, this cautionary tale has an allegorical feel to it all, about justice and second chances and who deserves them.
As the dog days of September draw near, I can't recommend this book enough for a quick and satisfying read.
A free copy was provided through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. ...more
DO NOT pick this book up for character development (there isn't much of that).
DO NOT pick this book up for meaty prose of a philosophical be3.5 stars
DO NOT pick this book up for character development (there isn't much of that).
DO NOT pick this book up for meaty prose of a philosophical bent that introduces new ideas and deep thoughts. Nope. Not much of that either.
DO pick this book up for a pulpy, page-turning thrill where, if you don't ask too many questions, and fully suspend all disbelief, you will be majorly entertained by high octane action sequences of cinematic gore and splendor. Cause we all need that guilt-free catharsis once in a while, don't we? Sure we do!
I picked up this book expecting an adrenaline rush laced with dark overtones of fight-to-the-death, futurized Gladiatorial scenes -- a Hunger Games meets Jurassic Park type of deal -- and that's sort of what I got, with some exceptions.
First of all, there are no "Games" plural, there is a lengthy 200 page lead up to the Game singular -- attached to the Olympics in some weird and wild (and not entirely believable) unseemly epic event of internationally sanctioned blood sport. All the countries of the world are monkeying with genetics in a Frankenstein-ish ethics-be-damned way to create monstrous animal (never human!) hybrids (as Mother Nature weeps in horror). All this effort with the sole purpose of annihilating competitors in Gladiatorial-UFC cage matches and be the only creation (abomination) left standing (if Jeff Probst and Joe Rogan had a lovechild, it would be this scuzzy event).
When you combine scientists with capitalists, great leaps forward are made, always. Throw in a healthy dose of national pride, and anything can happen.
These caged death matches is the "anything" that debut novelist Ted Kosmatka imagines. And for the most part, I was on board all the way.
In the first 200 pages leading up to "the big Event" I really thought Kosmatka was laying the groundwork for something much more profound and significant, but the last 200 pages fail to bear that out. It's standard monster of the week fare -- exciting and fun -- but standard nevertheless. We've seen this before, we've seen it done better elsewhere, yet I still like Kosmatka's spin on things and he definitely shows promise as a full-length novelist.
I wasn't entirely sold on the AI aspects of the story -- there is a "super-computer" that plays a HUGE role in influencing events -- but I never really bought into it. "Brannin/Pea" is pregnant with potential -- HAL 9000 worthy -- but I felt in the end that part of the novel could have been developed so much more effectively.
Final thoughts: Fun (check). Awesome action sequences (check). Book to change your life? Eh, not so much. But they can't all do that. This is an escape hatch book and I really did enjoy it. Recommended!
Severance Package is a wickedly adrenalized, pulsating, page-turning piece of pulp. Like seriously, wtf? Everything is exquisitely exaggerated and unl Severance Package is a wickedly adrenalized, pulsating, page-turning piece of pulp. Like seriously, wtf? Everything is exquisitely exaggerated and unleashed in comic technicolor. I would love to have seen this as a graphic novel actually (or a slick Tarantino cinematic production), since so many of its best characteristics are both visceral and visual.
This novel IS NOT grounded in realism, flirting much more with parody and noir. And what can I say? I loved it! It's bloody and ridiculous. Unbelievable and silly. Yet still manages to keep you riveted and rapidly turning pages to see what the freakin' hell is going to happen next. Awesome for summer. Brain candy of the sweetest kind (that will rot your brain if you consume too much) ... but this ... this is the perfect amount presenting the perfect escape from life's stresses (and asshole bosses). ...more
I was so psyched to get my hands on a copy of this book. I mean, the premise is AWESOME. It's The Running Man meets Battle Royale with smatterings of I was so psyched to get my hands on a copy of this book. I mean, the premise is AWESOME. It's The Running Man meets Battle Royale with smatterings of The Hunger Games running all through it. I just can't get enough of these demented dystopias of staged survival competitions destined for public consumption played in extremis to satiate society's blood lust. In his review Gavin writes: "humanity knows no bounds for violence in a voyeuristic capacity" and isn't that the truth? My favorite of all these stories is Stephen King's Bachman novel - The Long Walk. I've read nothing that comes close to King's imagining of such a deathly scenario, this book included.
Nevertheless, The Crimson Labyrinth is still quite good, with lots of pulpy action and nail-biting peril. Japanese horror writer Yusuke Kishi puts his own spin on the "deadly games" theme by introducing some pretty twisted plot elements I haven't seen before. I also enjoyed how he takes his time building the suspense. The first half of the novel is a man vs. nature survival scenario with a group of people pitted more against their environment than against each other. Kishi shows a fondness for details, describing the landscape, food, and other items and information the group collects from each of their "checkpoints".
This is a "game", but the players don't know how they got to be where they are, or more importantly why. The why remains a mystery until the very end, and some readers may be underwhelmed by the explanation. I thought it was a fairly interesting twist, but came a little too close to the end out of nowhere almost as an afterthought with no real confirmation to send you away with a satisfying "a-ha" feeling. Still, Kishi presents a very tantalizing possibility.
Character development is at a minimum here and I would have liked to get the story from more points of view rather than the two main characters, especially from those characters who meet such unpleasant ends. Details please. What is lacking in character though, Kishi makes up for in style and action. This is quite the thrilling, adrenaline ride. Not the best I've read in the genre, but I am definitely recommending it!!!!
I realized I still had this anthology sitting on my currently reading shelf when I've been done with it since September. I didn't read the whole thing I realized I still had this anthology sitting on my currently reading shelf when I've been done with it since September. I didn't read the whole thing; the hardcore battle/military themes of the stories started to wear on me after awhile. While not completely my cup of tea, it is a pretty impressive collection of short stories from some of the genre's finest authors. This is why I'm not putting it on my 'abandoned' shelf, which implies it was too awful to finish. That's not the case at all.
I picked this up because there was one story I wanted to read in particular: 'The Survivor' by Walter F. Moudy - a very early example of the 'deadly games' scenario we've seen explode in popularity since The Hunger Games craze. I doubt Moudy's is the first published example of the 'fight to the death for public consumption' story, but it's getting pretty damn close I bet (if you know of something published even earlier, please let me know).
Moudy's 1965 story describes a televised battle between US and Russian (of course!) players during the 2050 Olympic War Games. Participants are in a pitched battle in an enclosed natural landscape arena where every bloody death is caught on camera and televised around the world until all of one side is killed. The losing side must pay restitution to the winners. This is a good story, made all the better when you think about its prescience of reality television that would come along some three decades later. No doubt Moudy was tapping into the rise of television coverage of the war in Vietnam. Already by 1963-64, images of the conflict were being regularly broadcast into American living rooms, coverage that would grow exponentially over the next few years.
The other memorable short story in this collection is 'Hero' by Joe W. Haldeman, an early version of his sci-fi, award-winning masterpiece The Forever War. If I'm grateful for picking up this collection at all, it's because it brought Haldeman and his book of interstellar war to my attention. I'm looking forward to it.
One piece of advice: if you do pick up this collection and have not read Ender's Game (what are you waiting for?), avoid Orson Scott Card's short story of the same name because it contains serious spoilers for the full-length novel. Don't do it I tell you! Read the book instead.
This book drips fun and if you're one of those not immune to such things, it will bite your ass so hard with the nostalgia bug, it may take you days tThis book drips fun and if you're one of those not immune to such things, it will bite your ass so hard with the nostalgia bug, it may take you days to recover. Yes, I'm one of those.
I missed the hardcore gaming hysteria of the 80s - though I did play my fair share of Pac-Man and Super Mario Bros. What I didn't miss was the music and the movies. There was a lot of shit, but there was awesomeness mixed in there too, and one of the things this book manages to do is to mine some of that awesomeness. Then it wraps it in an addictive quest adventure riddled with puzzles and clues meant to tickle the nostalgia center in your brain (I think it's located in the lower cortex, or maybe it's the amygdala?)
Either way, this really is the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory for the 80s generation. It was by no means a perfect decade, but it had its moments of glory and splendor. There was a dark side to the decade, but for those of us coming of age, it was a decade filled with promise and innocence too. Much of the wool wasn't pulled from my eyes until the 90s, when arguably the music got much better, but also angrier in its rawness and honesty. In the mid-80s, I was still young, hopeful, and blissfully naive, she-bopping around to Cyndi Lauper. This book made me itchy to try and recapture some of that blissful ignorance, but as the saying goes, you can't go home again.
Then there is the invention of the OASIS itself. I'm still waiting for the hoverboards from Back to the Future II to make it to market, so I'm not gonna hold my breath on this sultry siren song of the most mind-blowing virtual reality version to come to fruition any time soon. I would say we're all better off if it doesn't. I mean, who could resist? (view spoiler)[Live in my favorite movie or TV show? You mean I can be Brody on the Orca? Or hunt demons with Dean Winchester? You would never see me again! (hide spoiler)]
Book? What's a book? Notice how not one novel is mentioned in this story (well, save for Halliday's Almanac thing). There's good reason for that. If you've been sucked into "Neverland on crack" it won't leave much time for pleasure reading. I know the character of Halliday is a gaming geek at heart (which I guess means he doesn't read), but I was so disappointed that there was no referencing of the iconic novels of the 80s. And while I appreciated some of the movie references, I really missed the shout-outs to the horror genre. Not only does this decade mark the rise of Stephen King, but there's The Shining, The Evil Dead, The Thing, An American Werewolf in London, The Lost Boys (I could go on, but I won't).
Bottom line, this is a FUN book, addicting and charming, and I can't imagine it won't be optioned for the big screen. This book is epically cinematic and will likely make an even better movie. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I've re-read this book many times because I love it so much and I get something different out of it every time that I do. I decided to listen to it thI've re-read this book many times because I love it so much and I get something different out of it every time that I do. I decided to listen to it this time just to experience the story on another level.
This was the first audiobook I ever listened to, and I must say it's a lot different than what I imagined it would be. I was expecting something along the lines of a radio play with different voices for different characters and sound effects in the background, like rain or wind or gunfire. Instead, it is a straight reading of the book, word for word, by one guy - in this case Kirby Heyborne. Since I don't have a lot of experience with audiobook readers, I can't say whether Heyborne excels or not. His voice grew on me and certainly didn't detract from the story in any way. I had a few moments where his pronunciation of a few things jarred me, and his voice for Baker sounded too much like Matthew McConaughey while Scramm ended up sounding like Arnold Schwarzenegger. Oh, and Barkovitch started sounding too much like Jack Nicholson :)
Other than those small quibbles, I loved listening to this story as much as I've loved reading it. In some ways, listening made it even better. I closed my eyes, leaned back, and I was on that road with the boys suffering right alongside them, each step becoming more and more excruciating. I could smell the crisp Maine air, feel the road under my feet, hear the loud, sharp sounds of the carbines as each boy gets his Ticket. It doesn't matter how many times I read (or listen) to this story, it never gets old, the tension never falls flat. I'm enthralled from page one....more
Surprisingly emotional and heartfelt ... I think I was expecting all action, but the author spends a fair amount of time developing her characters andSurprisingly emotional and heartfelt ... I think I was expecting all action, but the author spends a fair amount of time developing her characters and making you care. This is a short book, so it was a challenge to become really attached, but by the end I was rooting for Lyn and Uber and satisfied overall with the conclusion (the ending feels rushed though). Furthermore, while firmly planted in the same sub-genre, not as strong a book as Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games and its follow-up Catching Fire. ...more
I'm a huge fan of dystopian books, where the future is bleak and infinitely dangerous and if you're gonna survive, you better check your morals at theI'm a huge fan of dystopian books, where the future is bleak and infinitely dangerous and if you're gonna survive, you better check your morals at the door. With reality TV everywhere we look these days, and the UFC a mainstream pastime, it's easy to imagine a Survivor where tribe members voted out don't go home, but are executed instead. I figure society's perpetual blood lust is never as deeply buried as we think (or hope).
Stephen King describes Battle Royale as "an insanely entertaining pulp riff that combines Survivor with World Wrestling Entertainment. Or maybe Royale is just insane." It really is a crazy, page-turning reading experience that's driven by raw emotion and a rollicking series of action sequences. There's tons of blood and gore, so if that's not your thing, stay away.
I was pleasantly surprised to care about the six major characters Takami spends the most time developing. I thought he did an excellent job considering the main point of the story is to shock and jolt, not to inspire warm, fuzzy feelings. I'm sure the writing lost something in translation -- certain parts are choppy and a bit crude, but that didn't detract from the overall intensity of what was unfolding on the page. I was on the island with these kids, and freaked out the whole time. Battle Royale is a pulse-pounding, adrenaline ride! Not "high literature" mind you, but a great big greasy cheeseburger with fries. Yum!
I just couldn't wait for my public library to add this book to its collection so I went out today and dropped the 20 bucks to own a copy. Very intriguI just couldn't wait for my public library to add this book to its collection so I went out today and dropped the 20 bucks to own a copy. Very intriguing premise that immediately reminded me of Stephen King's Bachman novels The Running Man and The Long Walk. Speaking of the man, Stevie gives this a rave review in Entertainment Weekly available on Amazon. http://www.amazon.com/Hunger-Games-Su...
So this book does not disappoint. It's high octane energy from start to finish. The writing is a bit sophomoric at times, but that's reasonable to expect given the age of the protagonist (16)and the book's intended adolescent audience. Bottom line: great story idea executed with finesse. Suzanne Collins isn't inventing anything new here, but she is obviously comfortable trodding such familiar, dystopian territory and making it her own. There's definitely strong hints of King's early Bachman work, and I couldn't help be reminded of Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery". How could I not?
Is The Hunger Games classic dystopian literature then?...a Lord of the Flies or Long Walk? Absolutely not, but I still had a helluva good time reading it. With reality TV everywhere we look these days, and the UFC a mainstream pastime, it's easy to imagine a Survivor where tribe members voted out don't go home, but are executed instead. I figure society's perpetual bloodlust is never as deeply buried as we think. ...more