Truer words have never been spoken. To quote from my much beloved Supernatural:
Endings are hard. Any cha
"It's not how you start, but how you finish."
Truer words have never been spoken. To quote from my much beloved Supernatural:
Endings are hard. Any chapped-ass monkey with a keyboard can poop out a beginning, but endings are impossible. You try to tie up every loose end, but you never can. The fans are always gonna bitch. There's always gonna be holes. And since it's the ending, it's all supposed to add up to something. I'm telling you, they're a raging pain in the ass.
Anyone who has ever fallen in love with characters enough to follow them through many pages and various books is familiar with that aching feel of needing to get to the end but never wanting it to be over. Closure to a series, that “final” book that has to come eventually gives rise to such a vast array of contradictory emotions – even when the ending delivers more than you could possibly have ever hoped for, but especially when it doesn’t. Oh the betrayal! Oh the crushing disappointment! See? It’s not how you start, but how you finish.
I began Y: The Last Man series back in April and I was a smitten kitten from the start. Oh yes, can you spell "shameless fangirl"? The premise is just simply fantastic and oh so deliciously tantalizing with possibilities. What would happen if one day without warning ALL the men on the planet just up and died, including any Y-chromosome carrying mammals … ALL that is except for the unassuming, underachieving twenty-something Yorick and his pet male Capuchin monkey Ampersand. Yes, starting this epic story would be easy ... finishing was gonna be a bitch.
Because I was able to absorb / inhale / ingest all sixty issues in a few short months I did not have to face the long, agonizing wait between issues, or the anxiety that the creator would die before finishing (a common nightmare I had about Stephen King before he finished The Dark Tower series and one that nearly came true when he was struck by a van and almost killed while out walking one day near his home in 1999).
I loved getting this story all in one rush – the momentum never slowed, I never had a chance to forget characters, or salient plot points. I was living and breathing the adventure and like any addict, I never wanted it to end. But all good things must, and this series is no exception. I feared the ending as much as I craved it. Disappointed I did not want to be ... I couldn’t face feeling robbed or cheated. After coming along for the ride this far, and thinking about little else in-between, I expected BIG. EPIC. EXTRAORDINARY. UNFORGETTABLE. Keep my expectations reasonable? Never!
I had nothing to fear I’m so drunk with happiness and relief to report. If you choose to start this series (and I HIGHLY recommend that you do), you will not be disappointed with how it finishes. Heart-pounding, heartbreaking, white-knuckling, shocking, and bruising – this is just some of what to expect.
(view spoiler)[ Agent 355’s death ranks as one of the most shocking moments in storytelling history for me; I DID NOT see that coming and was totally devastated, screaming “NOOOOOOO!” at the page. I also sobbed my eyes out when it came time to say good-bye to Ampersand. ::sniffle:: That feces throwing little fuck really grew on me. I love that we get a look into the future, to see how Dr. Mann’s work played out, what happens to Yorick’s clones, and of course, what happens to Yorick himself. His final escape and ambiguous end was much appreciated. Alas, poor Yorick!(hide spoiler)]
I’m not a graphic novel aficionado – in fact, I’m quite the newbie. I can say this series has taught me a lot about the magic and strength of the format, how it combines images and text together in a way that isn’t film or novels but some intoxicating lovechild of both. Before reading this series I assumed graphic novels by default would be heavy on action and seriously lacking in character development. Boy, is my face red. I can’t remember the last time I came to care about people (and monkey) the way I did here. I also became addicted to the snappy dialogue that's intelligent and filled with irony, humor and pop culture references. And that action? It’s there alright and just as addictive.
I will definitely re-read this series at a later date.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I have been on a zombie reading frenzy lately – I see a zombie book and I must read it, I can’t help myself. And the books are coming fast and furiousI have been on a zombie reading frenzy lately – I see a zombie book and I must read it, I can’t help myself. And the books are coming fast and furious, especially in the YA area. Some are good, some are awful, and some are outstanding. Jonathan Maberry’s Rot and Ruin falls somewhere just shy of outstanding. It reeks of EPIC WIN.
So yeah, I love this book and before I go all fangirl over Tom Imura and squee my head off let me highlight why you should start this series:
1) It is very well-written -- that’s not always a given, even from talented authors -- see my review of David Moody’s Autumn: The City. Moody is the man, but even he can write a zombie novel that sucks. Maberry has already established his reputation in the horror genre (his Ghost Road Blues snagged him a Bram Stoker Award for Best First Novel). This is his YA debut and I’m impressed to say the least.
2) It is a highly charged, emotional story where some heavy shit goes down and you really fucking care who it’s happening to. This comes back to the all-important character development. I don’t scare if I don’t care, and I cared plenty here (even about the zombies!!!) Through the eyes of 15 yr old Benny Imura, we come to understand that zombies are not just mindless monsters out to gouge and consume humans. We see the tragedy of what they’ve become. Benny’s older brother Tom forces him to confront who they used to be:
Look at that woman. She was, what? Eighteen years old when she died. Might have been pretty. Those rags she’s wearing might have been a waitress’s uniform once….She had people at home who loved her….People who worried when she was late getting home.
So the zombies are not just plot devices or mere window dressing here; they serve a real purpose and are an important part of the story.
3) It’s a fascinating examination of what fear does to people. Just imagine a world that survives an actual zombie apocalypse. As groups of survivors ban together in fenced enclaves to try and eke out a semi-normal existence, who will these people become? How will they interact with each other, with the world that’s left to them? I know it’s a personal bias of mine, but I figure a zombie novel hasn’t done its job if it doesn’t convincingly show that humans can be the real monsters. Maberry hits that out of the park and I want to smooch him for it.
They held each other and wept as the night closed its fist around their tiny shelter, and the world below them seethed with killers both living and dead.
4) Tom Imura – squeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! It’s been a long time since I’ve been this excited over a character from a book and reading as much YA as I do, most male protagonists are still battling hormones and attitude. But not Tom. Tom is in his 30s. He is a survivor. He is a specialist. He has been forged in battle and now is as strong and unbending as his katana - (no, not that! ... the Japanese long sword he uses). In a world that's been plunged into Hell and lived to tell about it Tom has retained his humanity. He is deep and soulful and will kick your ass in 2 seconds flat. He’s a mix of Master Li Mu Bai from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Morpheus from The Matrix, and my beloved Dean Winchester from Supernatural. How could a girl NOT fall in love?
I was going to put my sober, hyper-critical hat on and give this four stars, but piss on that. For all the reasons described above and more, I'm happy to give this book five, fat fearsome stars. ...more
Love the premise of this book -- one day a plague of blindness strikes an unnamed city. Those blinded and under quarantine soon realize there are evenLove the premise of this book -- one day a plague of blindness strikes an unnamed city. Those blinded and under quarantine soon realize there are even worse fates than losing one's vision: it's losing one's humanity. Chilling, compulsive reading.
Saramago offers up keen insights into the human condition -- what we become in extremis, the heights we reach, the depths we sink to, and under the right circumstances, how quickly we revert to our most primal and baser urges. I love stories about what happens to "the group" that's thrust into an alien setting without social rules and obligations. It usually doesn't take long for humans to throw off the shackles of civilized conduct and resort to a more brutal "survival of the fittest" approach. William Golding showed this in Lord of the Flies, as did Scott Smith in The Ruins, and Stephen King in his novella The Mist.
I've always thought, when the shit hits the fan, I'm heading away from society, into the bush. The further away from the mob, the better.
***Please indulge me while I float this older review for a horror novel that remains near and dear to my heart. If you are looking for some genuine th***Please indulge me while I float this older review for a horror novel that remains near and dear to my heart. If you are looking for some genuine thrills and chills this Halloween season, this may be the book for you. Happy All Hallow's Read!
I just don't get the storm of criticism aimed at Scott Smith's second novel, The Ruins. Why do people love to hate this book? I found the story to be brutally convincing and the characters believable (if not always very likable). These are college-age kids backpacking in a strange country. Four of them are American and tend to be not too bright and a lot self-absorbed. But that's realistic.
Sure the story is about man-eating ivy and that may strike some readers as too silly to be scary (a la Little Shop of Horrors) but that's not where the real horror lies anyway. The vine is merely a plot device to trap the college kids in the jungle and force them to confront (and attempt to survive) a series of terrible events.
So it's not high brow literature or anything but it is a visceral, visual novel filled with moments of genuine terror. Under such conditions of extreme physical danger and psychological stress, the six travelers succumb to various coping mechanisms; when they are not turning on each other, they are turning on themselves. The situation becomes a fascinating microstudy of human behavior -- "the group in peril" scenario we've seen before in classic stories like Golding's Lord of the Flies, Saramago's Blindness, or Stephen King's novella "The Mist".
So I stand strong in my defense of Scott Smith's The Ruins; I just can't figure out why those of us who do seem to be vastly outnumbered. The amount of vitriol being launched against this book verges on hysteria and is completely unjustified. My advice is to not let the nay-sayers keep you away from this book. Give it a chance; like me, you just may think it's great. ...more
First of all, when Stephen King goes out of his way to blurb a book, I pay attention. About The Troop he says:
"This is old-school horror at its best.
First of all, when Stephen King goes out of his way to blurb a book, I pay attention. About The Troop he says:
"This is old-school horror at its best. Not for the faint-hearted, but for the rest of us sick puppies, it's a perfect gift for a winter night."
I'm a sick puppy! Right away, I perk up like one of those Pointer dogs on the scent. Secondly, the book description refers to The Troop as Lord of the Flies meets The Ruins. Oh yeah! You just pressed two of my book buttons right there. I'm lighting up and going off all over the damn place.
So yeah, Stephen King is not lying or exaggerating. This book IS NOT for the faint-hearted. It's for the sick puppies -- it will make you squirm and gag and cringe and hold on for dear life. It will also creep you the fuck out and make your skin crawl off in self defense. Your skin may never speak to you again actually.
I usually run an image free zone in my reviews, but for this book, I'm hoping a picture speaks a thousand words.
Here are some of the faces this book made me make:
Get the picture? I'm a horror veteran, and let me tell you, this book scarred me. There are scenes I will NEVER forget. If they invented brain bleach tomorrow, it still couldn't erase the shock and ewww and WTF? from my mind.
Five stars for totally creeping me out and giving me a raging case of heebie jeebies. I could not put this book down and I will be recommending it to other sick puppies. Plus, I actually CARED about the characters. Newt!!! And perhaps (view spoiler)[having one of the boys turn out to be a bonafide animal torturing sociopath is a bit of overkill, but so what? I admire the author's commitment to grab you by the throat, full-throttle storytelling. (hide spoiler)]
Nick Cutter is a great pseudonym for a horror writer. Let's hope we hear more from him in the future.
A free copy was provided by the publisher through NetGalley for an honest review.
This review has been posted at Busty Book Bimbo where you can also find my Q&A with the author Nick Cutter. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Over the years this has remained one of my favorite pieces of King's writing. In a phrase, IT IS AWESOME. The first time you read it there is so much Over the years this has remained one of my favorite pieces of King's writing. In a phrase, IT IS AWESOME. The first time you read it there is so much mystery, tension, what the bleep mindfuck going on that it literally keeps you on the edge of your seat. As a science fiction story, I proclaim it a classic.
You really want to come to this novella completely blind, because the reveals are so rewarding you don't want to be robbed of them early. But I have discovered upon subsequent re-reads (and now my first "listen") that the story has legs no matter what you know or don't know when you begin it. As with The Long Walk, there are rewards every single time I read this story.
This isn't King at his most emotional or epic -- this is King at his most cut-throat, imaginative storytelling best. He is having delirious fun taking a group of people and putting them in an unknowable, impossible situation. He has created a locked room mystery -- a puzzle -- with a very real and logical solution, but I bet you five dollars he'll keep you guessing to the very end!!
This story is such kick-ass, high-octane energy you will fly through the pages and come out the end grinning like a monkey. I just love it.
[A word on the reader: Willem Defoe is pretty awesome except for the voice he uses when speaking for Bethany. Ahhhhh! Nails on a chalkboard. He makes her sound like an 80 year old Fran Drescher who's smoked and drank whiskey her whole life!]...more
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
I had some idea what to expect when I picked up the late Michael Crichton's sci-fi thriller Sphere because I'd seen the movie years ago -- a movie I l I had some idea what to expect when I picked up the late Michael Crichton's sci-fi thriller Sphere because I'd seen the movie years ago -- a movie I love by the way despite a lot of lambasting from the critics and grumbling from the book's fans. Sure it isn't perfect (with its moments of cheese and flubs); nevertheless, the exciting, chilling core of Crichton's story is evident and for me the film still stands as a great example of escapist cinema, that mesmerizing addictive blend of science fiction and horror.
But I'm probably more forgiving than most. One of my favorite movie genres is space horror. There's something about the claustrophobic squeeze of the 'group in peril' scenario as it hurtles through the freezing, oxygenless void of space where no one can hear you scream. Or the imperiled stranded on an uninhabited, hostile planet where the very environment wants to kill you -- Alien, Aliens, Moon, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Event Horizon, and Pitch Black just to name a few.
Sphere is not set in space, but it might as well be. It takes the reader deep into the darkest part of the ocean where unfathomable pressure forces threaten to crush and demolish, where the only breathable oxygen is what you bring with you, where the landscape is as alien and inhospitable as anything found in outer space.
A thriller should thrill. It should keep you turning the pages long into the night, white-knuckled and on the edge of your seat. Horror should unsettle and disturb you, compelling you to look over your shoulder and under the bed for that unnamed threat. Science fiction should challenge your concept of reality, bending your mind to what's possible, to what could actually be. In Sphere Crichton is firing on all cylinders as a storyteller, accomplishing all three of these seemingly without any effort at all.
It's such a treat to see an author in this much control of his narrative. I read this compulsively, voraciously, rarely coming up for air. I can only imagine the inexorable tension I would have experienced had I not seen the movie and therefore knew most of what to expect. Even so, the whole experience remained thrilling and deliciously unnerving. The pacing is pitch perfect, each devastating reveal coming at the exact right moment. Who or what "Jerry" is becomes a maddening puzzle, his voice and demeanor as terrifying and memorable as HAL 9000....more
Despite the gushing praise this book has been receiving -- including a blurb by Josh Whedon -- I approached The Girl With All the Gifts with a fair amDespite the gushing praise this book has been receiving -- including a blurb by Josh Whedon -- I approached The Girl With All the Gifts with a fair amount of trepidation. I'm a zombie traditionalist at heart, which means my foray into "experimental" zombie fiction -- literary or otherwise -- has met with mixed results. I normally don't like my zombies to talk, fall in love or have existential crises. Hell, I don't even want my zombies to run; I'm all about the Romero shuffle (though there was something truly terrifying and unsettling about Danny Boyle's fast-moving zombies that scared the piss out of me). Even for a traditionalist like me, there's exceptions to every rule. And I found a few more buried like awesome treasure in the pages of M.R Carey's novel.
In case you didn't know, M.R Carey is the not so cryptic pen name for the super-talented Mike Carey. This gentleman knows how to tell a story, where the pulse points live and when to go for the jugular. He also knows that without giving the reader characters to care about your story is gonna have all the pop of a wet firecracker.
A lot of what we get here we've seen before. The world is in the shitter. The zombies (or hungries in this case) have risen up and wiped out humanity. It's about twenty years later and our entry point into the story starts at a fortified base that doubles as a research lab. There are doctors and soldiers, fences and guns. But there are also civilian teachers and children who are their students. And here's where the story takes a bit of a twist: If you do not want to know anything else about this book then beware some mild spoilers ahead under the spoiler tag
(view spoiler)[These aren't ordinary children; they're infected with the zombie virus but have not fully succumbed to it. The children can think, learn, talk and feel. But don't get too close, because they will chew your face off.
Melanie is one of these children. She's precocious and extremely intelligent but she does not know she's a zombie despite her rigidly controlled life in a cell surrounded by soldiers who keep her muzzled and their guns pointed at her head. With no memory of who she is or where she came from, Melanie persists in her ignorant state until a cataclysmic event forces her to confront both the reality and the mystery of the monster that dwells within. (hide spoiler)]
Like a lot of my favorite zombie stories, this one soon slides into the 'group in peril' scenario. A rag tag group of survivors, including Melanie, are left to fend for themselves beyond the safety of the fences where the hungries thrive. Where will they go and what will they have to do in order to get there in one piece?
I love the chemistry of this group and the characterization. They all start out as stereotypes but as the story moves along, each of them evolves from an archetype into a real person with depth and distinctive personalities. I'm a sucker for character, and I felt I got it in spades here. Another rewarding aspect is the time spent describing the zombie virus. Usually the answer to what makes a zombie even possible is ignored, but not so here. Carey offers up a pretty interesting scenario that for me anyway, leads to a very satisfying climax.
Is this a perfect read? Nope. There are a few incredulous moments (view spoiler)[like why was Parks so quick to use his gun and only his gun when noise is the enemy? Shouldn't he have had a machete or a crossbow as a first line of defence? (hide spoiler)] and a few places where the narrative dips and nearly stalls; however those instances are rare. For the most part this is cinematic zombie gold. It's a heady mix of tension and release, adrenaline and emotion. A must-read for all zombie lovers and the zombie curious. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I don't know how I'm going to do this, move through the hours like someone who wants to still be breathing when I had so firmly made up my mind to st
I don't know how I'm going to do this, move through the hours like someone who wants to still be breathing when I had so firmly made up my mind to stop.
Wow. This little book has completely floored me. I was not expecting something so deep, so very melancholic yet shot through with the irrepressible human need to hope. Not just irrepressible, Summers shows us that hope is irreducible. Stripped to its basest core, hope just might be the evolutionary urge that has kept us going as a species for millennia -- in the face of disasters and war, atrocities and cruelty, in the face of bottomless grief, crushing despair, paralyzing loneliness and love lost. And I have no doubt that when the zombie apocalypse comes, it will be this amazing capacity to salvage hope from the ruins that will save us.
In This is Not a Test we meet Sloane, a young woman who has lost her ability to hope and thus, her will to live. She is alone with a father who beats her, abandoned by the only person in this life she has ever loved, her older sister Lily. Lily always told her they would escape together, that she would wait for her...and then she didn't. The depth of this betrayal slices through Sloane leaving her panicked, floundering, numb, then finally resigned. Her sister always said that Sloane would die without her -- and now Sloane has decided that she was right. At the point when Sloane knows she cannot possibly continue to live for another single intake of breath, zombies come pounding at the front door. The world is in chaos. Death is in every backyard, on every street corner. And suddenly, the young woman who was going to take her own life, is now running for it.
Yes this book has zombies but PLEASE, if that's not your thing, don't let it keep you from reading it. This is a story rich with emotion because Summers has such a genuine talent for creating memorable, unique characters. A book of six teens where every voice is distinctive and grounded firmly in reality is rare and precious. Hell, that's rare and precious for fiction period. The way these kids relate to one another, approaching with caution, testing for vulnerabilities, seeking approval, acceptance, a safe unconditional embrace, just left me riveted. I can tell you, I WAS IN THAT HIGH SCHOOL with them. I felt their fear and pain. I watched them come together, pull apart, rage and cry ... and I cried with them. Oh yes, there were tears people.
So many reviewers have pointed out that this book isn't about the zombies, but I would add that it's not just about the zombies. Because unlike some other books, the zombies are more than mere window dressing here or a fleeting, ill-defined threat. While there are very few actual sightings and encounters, there remains a stifling, almost suffocating sense of them at all times. In fact, there are several truly terrifying scenes, scenes that only work because Summers understands the critical relationship between tension and release. There is so much quiet in this novel, that when she ratchets up the suspense to a scream in the final 40 pages it's enough to make your heart beat right the fuck out of your chest.
I really loved everything about this book. I could search for flaws, as I'm sure they exist, but I'm not going to. I got lost in it. I thought about it when I was away from it, and I couldn't wait to get back to it. I was reading it on the bus on my way home today and nearly missed my stop because I was so engrossed. Read this! READ IT! I can't state it any more emphatically than that. Don't believe me? Read Catie's review. She'll convince you.
P.S. and I was so excited to learn that Courtney Summers is Canadian! Yay, Canada :)
Women and men. Girls and boys. People I might've known but can't recognize anymore. There is every shade of blood--black, brown, red, pink. All eyes looking at us through that same milky film that sees us for what we are and what they are not anymore.
Whoah. This is some really good shit. Color me very impressed. I'm not sure what I was expecting when I picked this one up, but it totally de4.5 stars
Whoah. This is some really good shit. Color me very impressed. I'm not sure what I was expecting when I picked this one up, but it totally delivered on tension and suspense, a palpable dread, and a suffocating sense of doom.
Just as a launching off point I'm going to throw two pop culture references at you that I couldn't stop thinking about while reading this book. The first is the music video "Just" by Radiohead. Remember that's the one where there's this guy who just lies down in the street for no apparent reason and when this other guy starts screaming for a reason why he's done this and when the man finally tells him, everyone who is in earshot lies down too, as if whatever he's said is just too huge and overwhelming for the mind to process that the only human response is to collapse.
The second reference I'm going to throw at you is a Twilight Zone episode from the '80s called "Need to Know" where everyone starts going insane in this small town and it's eventually discovered that the source of the problem is not a physical disease, but an idea, a single short phrase, that is being passed from person to person by word of mouth. That horrible phrase is nothing more or less than the purpose and meaning of existence; the moral of the story being -- Knowledge we are not ready to receive will drive us mad.
I freaking love that Radiohead video and I was twelve years old when I saw that Twilight Zone episode and it scared the crap out of me (which is Trudi speak for I loved it). So in a lot of ways I was already primed to love this book where a mysterious pandemic plague is causing the "infected" to go on homicidal killing sprees before killing themselves. In the escalating chaos and confusion, the source of the infection is identified as having seen something the human mind cannot fathom, a creature that is so beyond our comprehension we are literally driven mad by it. But who is to know for sure, since no one has survived to confirm what it is that they saw.
Your only defence is to close your eyes, and keep them closed.
Humans hide in houses behind windows that are painted, covered with blankets or boarded up. They dare not venture outside for water or food unless they are blindfolded. If you thought surviving the end of days was tough with all of your faculties and sight, try doing it completely blind and feeling hunted and watched the entire time.
I love survival stories of all kinds: but an apocalypse scenario where the group must survive together is my favorite. And it's done so well here, I really can't stress that enough. The way the tension builds gradually as the unknowable threat outside the doors of the safe house becomes more menacing and tangible. How so much is implied rather than relying on big gushy scenes of gore and explicit violence. How the daily trek to the well blindfolded to get fresh water becomes an exercise in exquisite pulse-pounding suspense to unnerve the most steely-nerved of all readers.
Did you hear that? Sssshhhhh. I think it came from behind you. Whatever you do, don't open your eyes.
Readers who have a perpetual desire for answers and reasons may find the lack of explanation here troubling. I didn't. I was okay that we really don't know what the hell is going on and can only guess (and imagine our worst fears). If something like this ever goes down for real we'll be just as much in the dark as the characters in Bird Box discovering we are as much at the mercy of our ignorance and fear of the unknown as anything that may or may not be hunting us. ...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 love to be scared and suspended in a state of heebie-jeebies. I crave the dread, succumbing to the paranoia and to that always elusive (but much des I love to be scared and suspended in a state of heebie-jeebies. I crave the dread, succumbing to the paranoia and to that always elusive (but much desired) sensation of epic creep. I don't mind when authors reach for the gross out (that's all fine for a good bit of schlocky fun); but where horror's beating heart really lies -- where it lives and breathes in the darkened shadows -- is in the dread and creep. That's how it all began with Gothic fiction. Those are its roots baby, and on some primal level as voracious consumers of the tale, this is still what we crave when we ask somebody to "tell us a scary story".
Of course, horror by its very nature and definition is extremely fluid and subjective (I would argue the most subjective of all the genres). What scares and unsettles us is so specific to the individual. Horror can be, and often is, in the eye of the beholder. It's an emotion that happens in the nervous system, not the brain. Horror can be smart and demanding of its reader/viewer, but the desired experience is to feel during and think later.
I'm always on the hunt for the next thing that's going to scare the pants off me. Over the years, there have been long dry spells. I'm getting older, and more critical. I don't scare as easy as I used to and most of my horror consumption of late has been of the film kind, not the book kind. That doesn't mean I stop looking.
I'm always looking.
When a co-worker brought I Remember You to my attention, I was intrigued. It was in translation from Icelandic. I had never read anything by an Icelandic author before and this particular one was being touted as terrifying. So I took a chance, and I'm really glad I did. This is a ghost story, and like a lot of the best ghost stories, there is a mystery that demands to be solved.
I Remember You is a duel narrative that switches off every chapter. The first narrative is of three friends who travel to a remote abandoned village in Iceland. Their plan is to renovate a property there and make it a travel destination for those seeking natural beauty and escape. From the first moments of their arrival, the friends begin to notice strange occurrences. As the days pass, things get stranger and more frightening as the group realize they are trapped with no easy escape.
The second narrative follows a doctor whose son disappeared three years previously. His body was never found and the loss continues to torment him and his estranged wife. As the chapters flip back and forth (often ending on a cliffhanger), the tension and stakes ratchet up accordingly. The two dueling narratives eventually collide and combine in a most satisfying way. This isn't a fast-paced story. It takes its time. Each reveal meant to be savored.
I recommend reading this late at night, preferably with the wind howling high and loud outside your window and if the lights should flicker, well -- don't be alarmed. It's just the wind.
I enjoyed this book a lot. It's moody and atmospheric and creepy as all hell in parts. This would make a fantastic movie (I'm going to betray my reader heart here and say it would probably make a better movie than book). I love ghost stories on film and if you love any of the following movies, you will probably love this book.
Wow. This one came soooo very close to getting five stars from me. I am a horror buff and I LOVE to be scared ...really, truly freaked out. Not grosse Wow. This one came soooo very close to getting five stars from me. I am a horror buff and I LOVE to be scared ...really, truly freaked out. Not grossed out (I'll take a bit of that in good fun) but creeped out. My ideal physiological response to horror is when I get the heebie-jeebies (pardon my use of technical terms here) -- you know, the tingling spine, sweaty palms, paranoia, pounding pulse. I'm addicted to dread, and if you can make me want to sleep with the light on I will love you forever and ever.
I’ve pretty much seen it all when it comes to the genre; sometimes suffering from “been there done that” fatigue. It takes a lot to freak me out these days, but that’s not to say it’s impossible. Because it isn’t. I can suspend disbelief with the best of them. In fact, I want to. I won’t fight you. Give me something to work with and I’m your gal. I don’t want to say I’m easy, but pretty close ;-)
I didn't have any expectations when I picked up this book. In fact, I can't even remember where or how I heard about it. The premise caught my eye though, because I'm a sucker for "group in peril" scenarios and getting lost in the woods. I've been lost in the woods ... there's nothing scarier in my books. It doesn't take long to start feeling hunted. I mean, there could be anything out there. Anything.
The first 200 pages of this book are some of the creepiest I've read in a loooong time. There's this irresistible slow build that sucks you in to the primeval environment. As the situation worsens and becomes more threatening, Neville's tight descriptive prose has put you into the story so completely that the threat feels unbearably close. Read this camping or tucked away in a cabin somewhere remote and I guarantee you your blood will chill. I read it with all the lights on in the middle of a city and I still didn't want to look out my back window into the darkness. The thought of going camping again this summer is giving me serious heebie-jeebies.
The book shifts gears in Part II (240 pages in) and for awhile, I thought something was lost in the momentum and intensity. It starts to feel like a different novel altogether, about something else entirely. That feeling lasted for about 100 pages. Fortunately, the last 60 pages are an outstanding turnabout, an adrenaline rush that, while lacking in the epic creep from the first half of the novel, nevertheless delivers the goods on sheer terror. ...more
I just want to get this out of the way from the beginning – Read. This. Book. The writing is so very good and for a plot that seems oh so familiar andI just want to get this out of the way from the beginning – Read. This. Book. The writing is so very good and for a plot that seems oh so familiar and tired there is newness here, a freshness that just sucks you in making you forget all the other times you read about the end-of-the-world and zombies. Bick has a lot of original ideas to add to that YA zombie canon growing seemingly out of control; zombies are hot right now, there’s no doubt about that. So how do you distinguish yourself from the pack?
Bick’s success starts with her characters and when that’s your foundation you’ve already won half the battle. Alex, Tom and Ellie all in short shrift and with seemingly little effort become characters I worried about. Their safety and well-being wrapped me in perpetual anxiety. When a book can make you care for characters so much that you’re just sick to your stomach to read ahead because you just know things are only going to get so much worse, that’s good writing.
Like any zombie fare worth talking about, Ashes shows us we have much more to fear from ourselves than from the flesh-eating creatures now walking the Earth. There are some nasty humans in this book and I’m confident we haven’t seen the worst of it yet. This book will also make you pull your hair out. You can’t guess where the story is going and you start to get the feeling pretty early on that no character is truly safe.
There are a lot of original details I could gush over right now – like the dogs, the nature of “the Change” itself and the impact it’s having on one particular enclave of survivors – but I won’t. These details are best left discovered as you read. Since this is Book 1 of a projected trilogy, you have to know that things are just getting started and I love that I’m DYING to get my hands on Book 2.
Mucho thanks again to my friend May who snagged an autographed ARC for me at ALA! The only downside is now I have that much longer to wait for the sequel ... D'oh! ...more
I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to read such a horror classic by one of the masters who has influenced so many others, including Stephen King.I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to read such a horror classic by one of the masters who has influenced so many others, including Stephen King. First off, what I loved:
1) What’s not to love? Matheson manages to accomplish a haunted house story that is not only supremely eerie and filled with a creepy atmosphere that’s sublime, but a full-on assault of the senses as well. This book does not pussy-foot around – it is in your face practically from page one all the way through to the end.
2) Belasco House – even the Overlook Hotel has nothing on the absolutely sordid, depraved history of Hell House. One of the most riveting scenes in the novel is when Fischer is describing the house’s past in gritty and illuminating detail. It created images in my mind I won't ever be able to erase. Ever.
3) Tension and suspense are rife in this novel and so expertly handled. Matheson really is a master of his craft. (view spoiler)[I’m reminded of one scene in particular when Dr. Barrett becomes trapped in the steam room. And how Florence Tanner meets her end in the chapel (hide spoiler)] Positively ghoulish! I loved that I was never quite certain what was going to happen next, on edge with the uncertainty of how far things were going to go.
Why I’m giving it four stars instead of five:
1) What would have been shocking and new to audiences in 1971 has become a tad too familiar today. While this speaks volumes to the book’s cultural and literary impact – the fact that it has been copied and imitated by so many on film and on the page nevertheless detracts from the book’s overall contemporary wow factor.
2) I have to say while I found the scientific explanations to be somewhat interesting, Dr. Barrett’s endless condescending descriptions of his work became insufferable after a while and robbed some of the book’s momentum. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Laymon is my guilty pleasure, and I may as well confess to this now. He had already passed away by the time I discovered his books. For most of his wrLaymon is my guilty pleasure, and I may as well confess to this now. He had already passed away by the time I discovered his books. For most of his writing career, Laymon was considerably more well-known in Europe (particularly the UK) than in North America. This all changed when an American publishing company -- Leisure Books -- began to re-release many of Laymon's novels in mass market paperback. Good news for horror fans -- because his books are now inexpensive and easy to find, a whole new generation of readers (myself included) discovered Laymon's "unique" storytelling style.
Laymon's writing is not for the faint of heart. His books are rip-roaring reads punctuated by graphic violence and sexual content. The best of escapist fiction, Laymon is not trying to save the world with his writing, nor offer any great moral insights. What he does do, and very well, is give readers a page-turning tale that will scare the bejesus out of them (most of the time). So if you're looking for a fine dining experience, keep away from Laymon; but if you long to indulge in a greasy cheeseburger with fries, then Laymon is your man. And who doesn't crave a greasy cheeseburger every now and again? That doesn't make us bad kids :-)
This is one creepy-ass unsolved mystery, and I haven't been able to stop thinking about it. The true story of the Dyatlov Pass Incident and the inexpl This is one creepy-ass unsolved mystery, and I haven't been able to stop thinking about it. The true story of the Dyatlov Pass Incident and the inexplicable deaths of nine experienced hikers is one of those strange but true tales that leaves a person shuddering from the heebie-jeebies.
Remote and inhospitable Ural Mountains, Russia. February 1959.
A group of nine university students -- 7 men, 2 women -- set up their tent for the evening.
The experienced hikers begin the ritual of settling in for the night ahead, removing packs and boots and outer layers of clothing.
The stove in the middle of the large canvas tent remains unlit. Whatever happens next, occurs before the evening meal.
For reasons unknown to this day, all nine hikers suddenly abandon their tent and go running out into the frigid night improperly clothed and in sock feet. So desperate were they to get away, some of the hikers cut their way out of the back of the tent rather than go out the front.
When the bodies are later recovered some have died from hypothermia, others are found in a deep ravine with violent injuries such as crushed ribs, fractured skull, and one of the hikers is missing her tongue.
What force or event could have possibly compelled nine seasoned hikers to all lose their shit at the same time and act in such an erratic and life-threatening manner? To leave the sanctuary of their tent and flee into the frozen night barely dressed to certain death?
It has been established that it was no avalanche. So what else does that leave?
Over the years, theories have abounded, from the plausible and sane to the completely nutty. Donnie Eichar goes on a quest halfway around the world to retrace the steps of the Dyatlov group searching for the truth of what happened that night. In his quest he meets some colorful Russian characters, including a tenth member of the Dyatlov group who turned back at the last minute, a decision that saved his life.
This book is really three narratives woven together -- 1) the Dyatlov Incident pieced together from photos and journals the doomed hikers painstakingly kept along the way 2) the search and rescue which followed and 3) Eichar's trips to Russia and his own trek to Dead Mountain.
As I followed in the hikers' footsteps, reading their journal entries, seeing their smiling faces in the photographs, I couldn't help become emotional for the horror I knew was waiting for them. It's a story that's as sad as it is unsettling.
After three years of research and exhaustive interviews, Eichar is able to put forth an interesting theory about what exactly happened that night, one that certainly has more substance than UFO's or the Abominable Snowman. Yet, it's still only a theory. The maddening, pull your hair out aspect of this story is that we will probably never know what happened that night. It is a secret that the young hikers took to their untimely and tragic graves.
Photo: Yuri Yudin hugging Lyudmila Dubinina as he prepares to leave the group because of illness, as Igor Dyatlov looks on smiling
MABERRY, YOU BASTARD!!! I knew you would do this to me!! ::sobbity sob::
Review to follow when anger and choking tears subside.
In the first book Rot &aMABERRY, YOU BASTARD!!! I knew you would do this to me!! ::sobbity sob::
Review to follow when anger and choking tears subside.
In the first book Rot & Ruin, Maberry spends a lot of time putting us into the world as it exists almost 15 years after a zombie apocalypse. We need to know about how things are now, how people live and how they relate to one another. This is Benny's world. Maberry also spends a lot of time and care developing a cast of characters he wants us to fall in love with before he puts any of them in peril. In this he shows a keen talent for details. I know I fell in love almost immediately, and when peril does descend I was sick with anxiety for everyone's safety and survival.
Rot & Ruin has its moments of high octane action, but it is primarily an emotional story about two estranged brothers who must learn to bridge the gulf of misunderstanding that separates them. In a lot of ways it is a coming-of-age story focused on 15 year old Benny as he learns about the world around him and what it is that his brother does out there in the Rot and Ruin beyond the safety of the fences. Benny discovers nothing is what it seems – cowards become heroes and heroes reveal themselves as villains. And zombies aren’t nearly as monstrous as living men
Because Maberry did such a fantastic job in the first book creating a convincing world peopled with convincing characters, he is able to let loose and go full throttle with Dust & Decay, which is dizzying in its action sequences. It is a white-knuckle read through and through, peril at every corner, imminent death sitting on the shoulders of every character we’ve come to know and love. I was an absolute MESS reading this. I just knew something horrible would happen, I just didn’t know what and how bad it would be. The very few quiet or tender moments in this installment work because they are in such stark contrast to the otherwise absolute chaos.
Dust & Decay has a very Western feel; the lawless and perilous Rot and Ruin is very much reminiscent of the American Wild West where heroes are made and villains thrive. The vast, emptied landscape is the backdrop for a battle waged among the good, the bad and the ugly. It is nail-biting, nerve-wracking stuff -- dramatic, cinematic, and totally epic.
Maberry still has a lot of story left to tell, and I’m definitely looking forward to that, but I will never, EVER, be able to forgive him (view spoiler)[for killing my Tom – NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!! Why oh why? (hide spoiler)]
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
This is my second go-around with this sprawling, epic compendium in preparation for tackling the follow-up. I'm so glad I did a re-read because thereThis is my second go-around with this sprawling, epic compendium in preparation for tackling the follow-up. I'm so glad I did a re-read because there was a lot I had plain forgotten and much more I had gotten tangled-up with the television series. Only reading the source material again, did I realize just how much the producers of the show actually changed from Kirkman's comic. The fundamentals of the story are essentially the same, but the devilish details have undergone quite a makeover. I have to say, as much as I'm a fan of the comic, most of the changes I approve of and in some cases, even prefer.
Carol's character is much more likeable and awesome on the small screen (certainly not as needy and neurotic as comic book Carol). The invention of Daryl (my favorite on-screen character) and his uber-violent, redneck brother Merle (played oh-so-convincingly by Michael Rooker), have been magnificent contributions to the ensemble cast.
(view spoiler)[I definitely prefer Lori's on-screen death (grisly and upsetting as it was), to the comic's quick gut-shot death (even though that was quite shocking in its own way with little Judith in her arms). I'm glad they didn't put Dale and Andrea together in the show, though I do wish they hadn't made Andrea so unlikable. Her character in the comic is kick-ass and great. On the show? Grrrrr... I want to smack her most of the time.
It remains to be seen what they will do with Michonne's character but I'm glad the show did not go as dark and disturbing as the comic with what happened between her and the Governor. That was some sick shit I did not need to ever read or see. Loved how the show handled it overall. Television Michonne seems more together and not as damaged. She's not talking to voices in her head either (at least not yet). (hide spoiler)]
The Walking Dead launched in the fall of 2003 and shows no signs of wrapping up. Kirkman has created a post-apocalyptic zombie soap opera, where the soap is made out of lye. The story is harsh -- almost nihilistic in its way -- extremely violent, and peppered throughout with characters hooking up in almost sure to be doomed relationships. Because really, no one is safe, and you come to terms with that pretty quickly. Kirkman is not fucking around here. He has a vision and you just know it’s going to involve a lot of gore and heartbreak. No one should feel safe with zombies gnawing at the door and the world collapsing in on itself -- and you will not feel safe reading this series.
Rather than take years to ingest this story -- painstakingly patient -- issue by issue -- I gorged unapologetically over a gluttonous three days. This 1088 page compendium weighs nearly five pounds, and it was a bitch to maneuver in bed at night, but to get so much of the story so quickly was worth it. I’m not one of those people that can eat her chocolates one a day; quite often it’s the whole box in one sitting stomach ache be damned! This first compendium collects up to issue #48 (Book Four in hardcover or Volume Eight in soft).
The Walking Dead is archetype apocalyptic zombie horror. The story gripped me, shook me, unsettled me and left me panting for more, but make no mistake, there is nothing original here (at least not yet). The zombies are your average grasping, gnawing, slow-moving creatures seen in any Romero movie. The survivors are shell-shocked, hardened, weary and a bit mad (as you would expect). At the collapse of civilization as we know it, people begin doing whatever they have to do to survive, and that ain’t always pretty. The strong begin preying on the weak, and when the worst of human nature begins to reveal itself, survivors realize the zombies are the least of their problems in this new world order.
I thought a graphic novel about zombies cast in black and white would look dull and lifeless on the page. I now think color would have been overkill in this case, detracting from the story. The art is simply outstanding – emotions and action, both subtle and in your face, are captured perfectly. The violence is extreme and I was not prepared for that (don’t ask me why). It takes a lot to shock me these days, and there are sequences that did just that. (view spoiler)[Totally did not see the rape and torture of Michonne coming. I really thought there would be a last minute reprieve / rescue. And if I didn’t see that coming, you know I didn’t expect Michonne to turn the tables on the Governor and mutilate his body. Gruesome stuff! But very well-presented. It felt earned not gratuitous. Lori’s death, along with the baby, shocked me too. Like holy moses batman, that was intense and so unexpected. (hide spoiler)]
While the unrelenting nature of the story appealed to me, I cannot say I’ve fallen in love with any of the characters. Don’t get me wrong – these are well-developed, flawed beings whose actions and motivations seem all too real. However, for me, there is a coldness present that prevented me from really warming up to anyone, even the “hero” of this story, Rick Grimes. I felt the same way when I read Stephen King’s The Stand – epic story by a master, but no character stole my heart.
This won’t keep me from reading on in the series though, because I HAVE TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS NEXT. Everything ends on such a OMFG note that I felt assaulted and struck mute. Sweet. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
This is a re-read for me, in preparation of hitting up Volume 2, and I gotta say, I'm still excited about what this series has toOCTOBER COUNTRY 2013
This is a re-read for me, in preparation of hitting up Volume 2, and I gotta say, I'm still excited about what this series has to offer. It's a claustrophobic tale set in a quarantined Midwestern town that has recently fallen prey to a rash of re-animations. The dead are coming back to life, but not in the way you think, or with the same dramatic gore and apocalyptic consequences we have come to expect from the walking dead.
This isn't a traditional zombie tale. First and foremost it's a story about a cast of characters thrust into a very unusual and distressing situation. What happens when the dead and gone who have been grieved and laid to rest suddenly barge back into our lives again, not just walking, but talking? With needs, and fears, and memories?
What happens when the outside world beyond the borders of your sleepy little town becomes fearful and paranoid and only wants to contain whatever mystery is unfolding in your backyard, holding you under scrutiny and behind roadblocks leaving your town to not only fend for itself but ride out whatever traumas yet to unfold?
Officer Dana Cypress is caught right in the middle of the inexplicable "revivals" along with her sister Martha (or Em) who has a terrible secret. Then there's the rookie journalist May who senses there's much more going on in the town than meets the eye.
This is a story that takes its time, and by the end leaves you with way more questions than answers. But the pull of the mystery is so addictive, you'll be desperate to get your hands on the next volume. It's a story that's rich in atmosphere, a creepy-crawly sensation of impending doom, but doom that's on a more personal scale of individual tragedy, rather than unleashing a free-floating anxiety for the fate of the entire human race.
The graphic art is crisp and clean and terrifying where it needs to be. The nature of small town life is realistically portrayed and the panel after panel of snow and cold had me thinking of Fargo and that a lot can happen in the middle of nowhere. My one complaint is that the three main women characters (Dana, her sister Em, and reporter May) are very similar in appearance, at least at first glance. I was better equipped to tell them apart this time around, but it still took some practice. It's a shame that they should be artistically rendered so similarly, because as characters, each woman is very different with her own distinctive voice and personality.