I am insanely addicted attracted to stories about "the group in peril", when people are thrust into an alien setting absent of any social rules and ob...moreI am insanely addicted attracted to stories about "the group in peril", when people are thrust into an alien setting absent of any social rules and obligations. Under such circumstances, 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. That’s not just the pessimist in me coming out, but the realist.
What we become in extremis is both fascinating and frightening in the heroic heights we reach and the craven depths we sink to, and how quickly we revert to our most primal and baser urges. One hundred thousand years of evolution gone in the blink of an eye. William Golding shows us this in Lord of the Flies, as does Scott Smith in The Ruins, Jose Saramago in Blindness and Stephen King in his novella The Mist. These books teach us that there are even worse fates than losing your life – it's losing your humanity.
In House of Stairs, William Sleator proves just how quickly humans can be stripped of their humanity. First published in 1974, I imagine Sleator was influenced at least in part, by some of the more famous psych experiments of the first half of the 20th century including the Little Albert Experiment and the Milgram Obedience Experiment. Just a few years prior to its publication there was also the infamous Stanford Prison Experiment – a study designed to ostensibly observe the effects of becoming either a prisoner or prison guard. Twenty-four students were selected out of 75 to play the prisoners and live in a mock prison in the basement of the Stanford psychology building. Roles were assigned randomly. This “experiment” degenerated so rapidly into violence and the dehumanization of its subjects that it had to be stopped after only six days. Good times.
The five 16-year-old protagonists here are subjected to much the same mindfuck (pardon my French), enclosed in a never-ending space of stairs – there are no walls, no floors, no doors, no ceiling, just stairs, going up, going down. That’s the set-up. What follows is pretty tame by today’s standards, and in my books does not hold a candle to Lord of the Flies; however, it still makes for pure, unadulterated compulsive reading. It doesn’t surprise me that in 2000, the American Library Association, with teen participation, chose it as one of the 100 Best Young Adult Books of the last 50 years. Recommended!! (less)
Not really what I had in mind -- overall, a disappointing read. This is Old Testament God to the max and a little overdone. He is childish, surly, imp...moreNot really what I had in mind -- overall, a disappointing read. This is Old Testament God to the max and a little overdone. He is childish, surly, impetuous, temperamental, and overall a giant asshole. The Serpent on the other hand, is charming, patient, kind, wise, warm and protective. The story is really about Eve though, and told from her point of view.
She begins "life" as an innocent, totally a blank slate. The Serpent is her teacher, as appointed by God, who is busy "educating" Adam. The story's entire premise is to celebrate "free will" -- While Adam and Eve may have been exiled from the Garden, what they gain is worth much more to humanity -- better to be a cursed mortal in a harsh world with the freedom to choose, than be an immortal slave in utopia (at the mercy of God's whim and amusement).
The theme is heavy-handed, and while the goal seems to be to humanize Eve and explore her plight, rescuing her from the smear campaign she has suffered under for millennia, the story falls flat. Her "rape" -- while attempting to be original and controversial -- just didn't work for me. (less)
I read this book when I was a teenager and can hardly remember a thing about it other than that it scared the crap out of me at the time. Small town,...moreI read this book when I was a teenager and can hardly remember a thing about it other than that it scared the crap out of me at the time. Small town, evil kid, and a horrible, dreadful scene involving a cat that I've completely blocked from my mind. (less)
Well, you wonder why I always dress in black, Why you never see bright colors on my back, And why does my appearance seem to have a somber tone. Well, there's a reason for the things that I have on. "The Man In Black", Johnny Cash
Marvel's ambitious undertaking to adapt King's magnum opus has been hit or miss for me. The first five volumes (essentially a re-telling of Book IV - Wizard and Glass) did not work for me, most likely because Wizard and Glass is my least favorite of the series. While I eventually grew to appreciate the story for what it is, young Roland will never beat out long, tall and ugly Roland. So I actually skipped over Volumes 3-5 and didn't pick up the graphic novel series again until Volume 6 The Journey Begins.
I was so relieved and super-psyched to resume the story as it's finally reached The Gunslinger. Roland’s young battles are behind him, all has been lost, and he is now on the road to the Dark Tower as a solitary traveler, embittered, battle-weary, with no tears left to shed. This is the Roland I adore. This is who I want to read about and see captured in the panels of graphic novel.
In the previous volume, Roland finally meets up with Jake, and I loved how the Way Station encounter is handled. This volume focuses on the slow mutants attack and ends with Roland's palaver with the Man in Black himself.
I did not hate this volume by any stretch, but the series is now venturing into sacred territory and I didn't cotton to several of the storyline alterations. Not to mention, most of the art was just...not good. Inconsistent shall we say. I didn't like how in some panels Jake and Roland are very chiseled and there while in other panels they're barely there at all, kind of just shadowy impressions, blurry lines and all.
While I wanted to love the prolonged and "extra" interactions between Jake and Roland, something seemed not quite right about how they were speaking to each other. I can't put my finger on it really. But my gut just wouldn't leave it alone. And the climatic "go then, there are other worlds than these" scene fell flat for me. I didn't feel the punch or the emotionality I should have.
The last section capturing Roland's fireside conversation with The Man In Black is well executed. It strays little, if at all, from the original source material, a lot of the text lifted right from King's novel. Still, there are gaps even in this pivotal scene that I wish weren't there.
It's probably a mistake to read these graphic novels and judge them against King's books. Different format and all that, but I can't help it. And while I'm desperate for more Dark Tower, I'm probably much better off to just go and read the novels again rather than trying to find solace and satisfaction in the colored panels of a comic. A re-read is definitely on the table, but I will stick it out with the graphic novels too. When and where they've worked, I've been extremely pleased. (less)
Ever wish there were more than one of you? To sit in on that boring meeting, do the grocery shopping or clean the yard? Be careful what you wish for!...moreEver wish there were more than one of you? To sit in on that boring meeting, do the grocery shopping or clean the yard? Be careful what you wish for! Remember when Homer tried cloning himself with the magic hammock on The Simpsons? Didn't work out too well for him either :)
16-year-old David cannot resist the temptation to clone himself when he discovers a machine designed to duplicate organic matter. The results are not what he imagined; in fact, David is soon fighting for his life.
I really enjoyed this! It has tons of appeal factor for younger and/or reluctant readers and those wanting to get their feet wet in the sci-fi genre. It's got great momentum and the pages just turn themselves. It's fun, a little scary, and without getting too heavy-handed raises some important questions about the pros and cons of human cloning.
And if you really want to get metaphysical about it, there's room to consider whether clones even have a soul and what does that mean if they don't? Sure to raise some great discussions among the 12-15 crowd. (less)
I've definitely got a weakness for books / movies that deal with memory. Forgotten tells the story of 16-yr-old London, whose only memories are not of...moreI've definitely got a weakness for books / movies that deal with memory. Forgotten tells the story of 16-yr-old London, whose only memories are not of her past but of her future. Huh? Sounds weird, doesn't it? Well it is weird, and while London's unusual plight is by no means fully explained, I was never left with the impression that it involved something supernatural or paranormal. If anything, this book is very much grounded in realism, save for this one unusual detail of London's malfunctioning memory.
I read this book in one huge gulp, just tearing through the pages. The premise is so original that I was hooked from the beginning and instantly came down with a case of "the gottas" -- as in, I just gotta know what happens next!! I remember (no pun intended) experiencing a similar case of the gottas when I read Lisa McMann's Wake, another compulsive page-turner featuring a young girl with an unusual affliction.
If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend that you do! In it, McMann introduces readers to Cabel (who I crowned the boyfriend we all wish we had in high school). And he still is IMO, but whoa mama, has he got some serious competition in Luke. I mean, is this guy for real or what? At times, he was almost too saccharine-sweet perfect and I didn’t know whether to puke or to run screaming to the dentist. I did neither, because in the end he completely won me over. Grown men who wish to woo their long-term partners would seriously benefit from taking a few pages from “the book of Luke” – this guy has got it figured out gentlemen. Trust me.
So yeah, while there is mystery in this story, and while there is high school drama, this is mostly a teen romance. I don’t want to lie to you about that, in case you might have been getting other ideas. But it’s a romance that is tested by a pretty unusual problem – that being the girl has no past memories but a whole life of future memories. This makes her present very interesting. Forget girl meets boy, try girl meets boy over and over again because she can never remember him. Okay, I know it’s a stretch, but I promise if you suspend disbelief for just a moment, the story really will sweep you up and away. This part of the book reminded me a lot of the movie 50 First Dates.
How would you live if you weren’t able to remember what happened yesterday, but you know what will happen next week? A year from now? Ten years from now? Do you accept your fate? Do you try to change it? Most importantly, do you keep your mouth shut about the fate of others? Imagine knowing when someone was going to die, even how they were going to die? That is one burden I could live without. I am a firm believer in ignorance is bliss. I think. And ultimately, that’s what I loved about this book the most, it made me think. Are our futures written in stone? Is it destiny or free-will? (less)
Even when Laymon isn't at his best, I still find myself turning the pages and unable to put the book down. This is dreadful, compelling stuff -- trash...moreEven when Laymon isn't at his best, I still find myself turning the pages and unable to put the book down. This is dreadful, compelling stuff -- trashy but satisfying, everything a pulp-riff-page-turner should be. For me, Laymon is the equivalent of a greasy cheeseburger and fries -- consume in moderation and enjoy!(less)
I've put off writing a review for this book because I always struggle with the great ones and Woodrell's Winter's Bone is one of those (with a capital...moreI've put off writing a review for this book because I always struggle with the great ones and Woodrell's Winter's Bone is one of those (with a capital G). It's craft and heart and drama and beauty. It's poetry and grit, entangled in an embrace of love and hatred.
Woodrell offers up a stinging portrait of impoverished life in the Ozarks, where kin saves as often as it condemns. The hill people of Ree's world live by their own laws separate from that of the state -- of paramount importance, don't be a snitch and mind your own business. Bad things happen to anyone who talks too much or asks too many questions. Unfortunately, sixteen year old Ree has a lot of questions that need answering with only her to ask them. Left on her own to protect a shattered mother and two helpless kid brothers, Ree is desperate to uncover the whereabouts of her meth-making father. She must venture into the cold and ice and pass over hostile thresholds where she is neither invited nor wanted.
Ree’s fierceness and courage stole my heart. She ranks as one of my favorite literary characters OF ALL TIME. Her stubbornness and smart mouth made me smile as much as it made me fear for her safety. Ree has her own set of rules to live by that include, stepping in to do for her brothers where her parents have failed and “Never. Never ask for what ought to be offered.” Ree is an old soul, mature beyond her years, forced to grow up fast and smart in a world that has teeth and a taste for blood.
This is a harsh story, one where the author pulls no punches. Woodrell is not out to romanticize this hill life or the hardscrabble characters living it. He wants us to see the ugly, to feel it in our bones, but for all of that there is tremendous beauty here as well, not just in the prose that SINGS but in the simplicity of a proud people who do what they must to survive in an environment that does not forgive weakness or stupidity lightly.
I cannot recommend this book enough. I am also going to recommend Kemper’s review here, because he does such a wonderful job capturing the book’s honesty and intensity. If I haven’t convinced you to read Winter’s Bone, he will.
***A note on the audio version: Outstanding! Emma Galvin captures Ree’s strength and vulnerability perfectly. Woodrell’s prose is so gorgeous it soars when read aloud.
Love and hate hold hands always so it made natural sense that they'd get confused by upset married folk in the wee hours once in a while and a nosebleed or bruised breast might result. But it just seemed proof that a great foulness was afoot in the world when a no-strings roll in the hay with a stranger led to chipped teeth or cigarette burns on the wrist. `Winter's Bone
While I don't read him anymore, I read a lot of Dean Koontz in my late teens/early twenties, and this had to be one of my favorites. Loved the time-tr...moreWhile I don't read him anymore, I read a lot of Dean Koontz in my late teens/early twenties, and this had to be one of my favorites. Loved the time-travel angle. Koontz offers a unique and thoroughly engaging spin. For a rip-roaring yarn, you can't do much better than this one. (less)
Wow, freaking wow. I had no idea I would be sucked into this novel the way I was -- I couldn't put it down! I know that phrase is overused, but seriou...more Wow, freaking wow. I had no idea I would be sucked into this novel the way I was -- I couldn't put it down! I know that phrase is overused, but seriously, I couldn't put it down! And when I did have to abandon it for life and work, I couldn't wait to get back to it. This is so different than Cain's other noir novels where sex and violence, scheming, backstabbing and a dead body feature so prominently. Unlike Double Indemnity or The Postman Always Rings Twice, Mildred Pierce is a full-length novel that takes its time delving deep into character and focusing on the minutiae of one woman's epic financial rise during the Great Depression (and her extremely damaging and twisted relationship with her eldest daughter Veda).
Veda -- what a vile and loathsome (and brilliant) literary creation. Don't get me wrong; I had my problems with Mildred too, but Veda just takes the cake. I've never wanted to scream and slap someone across the face so badly as I wanted to with her. (view spoiler)[When Mildred FINALLY loses her cool and starts to choke her, I'm actually cheering her on! Yes! Choke on that, you witch! (hide spoiler)]
There's something very Shakespearean tragic about the entire Pierce clan -- such flaws and blatant hubris marking their unraveling. Cain isn't writing a love story or a novel of redemption. He shines a light on greed and pride in such a way that you must look, even though it's so ugly, so distasteful. Cain is a master in this, capturing 1930's California and a woman's place in it. Without ever losing the propulsive thread of his tawdry, daytime drama narrative, Cain is able to show the sneering side of class consciousness, the brute realities of gender roles, and the poisonous type of love that can bring a family to its knees.
Veda may be a villain, and easy to despise, but I became so frustrated with Mildred's choices and blind (not to mention unhealthy) devotion to her daughter that I came to despise her a little too. Can we say that by the end of all this mess everyone gets what they deserve? Well, this is Cain, so I'll let you figure it out.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
In his introduction to Skeleton Crew, Stephen King writes: “a good long novel is in many ways like having a long and sa...moreMake you pee your pants scary!
In his introduction to Skeleton Crew, Stephen King writes: “a good long novel is in many ways like having a long and satisfying affair” whereas the short story “is like a quick kiss in the dark from a stranger.” My literary proclivities definitely lean towards those long affairs. I don’t read a lot of short stories nor am I a fan of the format. At least give me a novella! Stephen King is one of only a handful of authors who can make me a believer in the beauty and effectiveness of the short story. For a man who has been lambasted for his “bloated” novels – King himself has referred to his condition as "literary elephantiasis" – he can still write a short story like nobody’s business. Stories that will stop your heart, chill your blood, and see the world in a new way.
King has written hundreds of short stories over his lifetime but for me none can quite compare to the ones collected here in Night Shift. The majority of these stories first appeared in the men’s magazine Cavalier, written before Carrie’s publication in 1974 and the gargantuan financial windfall that followed. King has talked quite a bit about what life was like before that watershed moment:
There were some hard, dark years before Carrie. We had two kids and no money. We rotated the bills, paying on different ones each month. I kept our car, an old Buick, going with duct tape and bailing wire….
There is a rawness in these stories that reflects the drive and hunger of a young man consumed with his craft. For me these stories burn bright and hot as if King wrote them in a fever. I can picture him now pounding them out on his wife’s Olivetti portable typewriter between the washer and dryer of their cramped trailer’s tiny laundry room. King didn't write these stories for the money, cash-strapped as he was with two small kids, he wrote them because he had to.
There’s another reason why I love the stories in this collection – they represent King’s early fascination / obsession / dedication to fear, to what haunts, creeps and crawls. King knows what scares us, because it scares him too. He gets it, it’s not a put on and these stories are as authentic as fear gets. In the introduction he writes:
The thing under my bed waiting to grab my ankle isn’t real. I know that, and I also know that if I’m careful to keep my foot under the covers, it will never grab my ankle….No waking or dreaming…but only the voice of the writer….He’s telling you that you want to see the car accident, and yes, he’s right – you do. There’s a dead voice on the phone…something behind the walls of the old house that sounds bigger than a rat…movement at the foot of the cellar stairs. He wants you to see all of those things, and more; he wants you to put your hands on the shape under the sheet. And you want to put your hands there. Yes.
I think Poe and Lovecraft would agree.
For me, this collection contains some of the best examples of the modern horror story. King has tapped an artesian well of contemporary fears and anxieties penning macabre, ghoulish tales that deserve to be called classics. Not to be missed: “Children of the Corn”, “The Boogeyman”, “The Mangler”, “Strawberry Spring”, and “Quitter’s Inc.” My deepest thanks to King who was the first to convince me that sometimes even I, can be seduced by that quick kiss in the dark from a stranger. Oh yes. (less)
I usually like to end my year (or start) with Stephen King, so I decided upon this feisty freebie available online here. I first read this back in Oct...more I usually like to end my year (or start) with Stephen King, so I decided upon this feisty freebie available online here. I first read this back in October as a short story included in the Stephen Jones anthology A Book of Horrors. I enjoyed it then very much, but I really dig it as a graphic novel.
I love the coloring used - almost a sickly underwater green, black and bruised shades of blue - and I love the facial expressions. I'm not a graphic artist by any stretch of the imagination, but I found the close-ups of the eyes very effective.
This is also a very text heavy adaptation, so if you don't like your comics to be swimming in words, that will probably be a turn off. I didn't mind it though. I love how King's words build mood and atmosphere and a slow, inevitable creep towards something sinister.
In my original review of the short story I made comparisons to those great speculative machines of the past famous for churning out stories of the weird and the macabre -- Tales from the Crypt, Twilight Zone and Night Gallery to name the holy trinity. King himself has described his adolescent obsession with horror comics (before such comics were disbanded as lewd and contributing to the delinquency and illiteracy of juveniles). Good call guys. Job well done.
King's love for the genre eventually culminated in his collaboration with George Romero producing the cult classic Creepshow, a cheesy romp of delight and a fitting homage to the great horror comics of the past from two rabid fanboys. This story - "The Little Green God of Agony" - could have been slipped in there and filmed with all the others without missing a beat.
King is no stranger to excruciating pain. His long road to recovery after his near fatal accident has definitely influenced his approach to the subject. Fans won't be surprised to see him turn his writer's eye to a pain so intolerable one can only imagine the body itself has been possessed by an evil entity that feeds off the agony. While the ending is not that surprising, it sure is sweet getting there. (less)
This was an okay enjoyable read with plenty of atmosphere and gothic elements to recommend it, but for me, it was almost “textbook” gothic… what do yo...moreThis was an okay enjoyable read with plenty of atmosphere and gothic elements to recommend it, but for me, it was almost “textbook” gothic… what do you call it – a pastiche? Right down to calling the sprawling Victorian mansion Hill House. There are some genuine eerie moments and I don’t regret spending an afternoon curled up with this one, but unfortunately it’s one of those books that you know you’re going to forget in a day.
As my friends know I don’t read many mysteries, but when I do they generally fall into the “family secrets” sort where the protagonist goes poking around to uncover some dark and demented family past. The reveal and wrapping up of the mystery here can be seen coming a mile away, even if you’re not paying the least bit of attention, so that was disappointing too. If I’m going to invest the time to unravel a mystery, it better keep me guessing right up to the end. I want to be surprised and shaken. Overall this was a well-constructed novel, ably paced and written, but turned out to be more of a reasonable facsimile of a modern gothic tale, rather than the genuine article. (less)
Patrick Ness is a magnificent storyteller and master wordsmith in possession of a vibrant imagination. His Chaos Walking trilogy is tremendously uniqu...more Patrick Ness is a magnificent storyteller and master wordsmith in possession of a vibrant imagination. His Chaos Walking trilogy is tremendously unique and exciting, and his A Monster Calls brought me to my knees with its merciless emotional elegance and purity of Truth.
More Than This shows glimpses of greatness, but never quite reaches that level of soul-satisfying, heart-stopping, mind-melting resolution for me. It's an existential tale of seeking -- the search for meaning, for Truth, for understanding and forgiveness and discovery of self -- where redemption and final destination are displaced for the all important journey. This is a story without a climax, a story which poses many questions and offers no definitive answers.
The characters are great. I loved them. Especially Tomasz. I want an entire book just of that kid. Seth's back story and his relationship with Gudmund (while taking up very few pages of the novel) burns bright, so vivid, so emotional. I quickly became astonishingly invested in their story after only a few scenes, in what they meant to each other and how they expressed their thoughts and feelings. So tenderly realized. There were times I did not want to return to the "other story" going on, I so wanted to stay with these two and find out everything about them -- everything that came before and everything to come after.
Patrick Ness, you need to write a love story. I believe you have it in you to break all of our hearts.
But this is not that book. This is something else. It defies categorization, and sometimes that's a wonderful, brilliant thing. Here, I'm left feeling a little let down and yearning for more. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
This one was a bit weird for me, but I found it compulsive reading anyway. The content is a little brutal at times, falls on this side of disturbing,...moreThis one was a bit weird for me, but I found it compulsive reading anyway. The content is a little brutal at times, falls on this side of disturbing, and plays mind games to boot. The six interconnected stories are essentially mysteries; there is a puzzle to solve for each one and the explanations can be fun. But that's not quite my thing.
What did intrigue me were the two main characters, and the parade of killers they cross paths with. Upon reading the author's afterword, I'm convinced now that these stories are not meant to be taken as "an exploration of humanity's dark side". The killers we meet are inhuman and for the most part, lack human motivation. They have a desire and compulsion to kill that is inexplicable -- and this is what separates them from the rest of us. At one point the narrator explains to the reader:
It was clear enough that some humans killed other people or wanted to kill people, for no reason at all. I didn't know if they became that way as they grew up, or if they were simply born that way. The problem was, these people hid their true nature and lived ordinary lives. They were hidden in the world, appearing no different from ordinary humans. But one day they would have no choice but to kill. They would have to leave their acceptable lives and go hunting.
This is a chilling observation that may carry a fair amount of truth in it. Sociopathic killers who walk among us bereft of any moral compass or empathy may not be broken humans, but an entirely different species; in fact, not human at all. They've just learned to walk and talk like us. Thinking about that scared the crap out of me and why the world Otsuichi creates is one in which I was eager to escape from, and one I'm not eager to return to. (less)
3.5 stars I worried about starting this one. It's tough for a book with so much hype surrounding it to meet reader expectations, but it's doing that a...more3.5 stars I worried about starting this one. It's tough for a book with so much hype surrounding it to meet reader expectations, but it's doing that and more so far. Sigler's writing style is lean and mean. Several scenes rank among the grossest I've ever read, to the point where I'm laughing and cringing at the same time. Funny and scary, my favorite combination.
This book is 90% plot-driven. It moves from one action sequence to the next, and I usually tire of that type of story-telling pretty quickly. But not so with Sigler. What a ride. His powers of description are enormous. If Hollywood doesn't option this for a movie I'll be gob-smacked. So this book won't change your life or anything, but it's a fun, high-octane read, and there's nothing wrong with that.
I'm giving this three stars because overall, the stories are okay and several are completely forgettable. But I also encourage you to pick up this ant...moreI'm giving this three stars because overall, the stories are okay and several are completely forgettable. But I also encourage you to pick up this anthology because a few are outstanding and it would be a crying shame if you missed them.
Making it to Outstanding:
"What Maisie Knew" by David Liss: At turns creepy, sick and disturbing; absolute compelling reading. If this premise has come up before, it was new to me and I loved it. The zombies are not the monsters of this story. The squick factor is off the charts.
"Kids and Their Toys" by James A. Moore: Think The Body meets The Girl Next Door. There is a reason why children shouldn't play with dead things. I haven't been this creeped out since reading "Children of the Corn".
"Twittering from the Circus of the Dead" by Joe Hill: Mr. Hill hasn't totally blown me away with his novels, but his short stories are EPIC and this one is no exception. If only all Twitter feeds were this engrossing and suspenseful! What starts out as a young girl's whiny bitch-fest in installments of 140 characters or less, morphs into heart-stopping terror.
"Family Business" by Jonathan Maberry Easily my favorite of the bunch just because Maberry took what were the ingredients of a major story and turned it into a kick-ass novel called Rot & Ruin. Read the novel first though because the short story contains major spoilers.
My generation's Love Story. Really enjoyed this one, and despite the fact that more than half of Sheffield's musical references were over my head, the...moreMy generation's Love Story. Really enjoyed this one, and despite the fact that more than half of Sheffield's musical references were over my head, the book still moved me. Sheffield has written a manifesto for all us mix tape geeks and I thank him for it.(less)
***An open letter to Neal Shusterman (please par...moreBRAVO! OUTSTANDING! EPIC ADVENTURE! SHEER DELIGHT! HEART STEALING! HIGHEST POSSIBLE RECOMMENDATION!!!
***An open letter to Neal Shusterman (please pardon me while I squee my head off):
Dear Mr. Shusterman (or can I be so bold as to call you Neal?) After completing the Skinjacker Trilogy I do feel like we are old friends and maybe even knew each other in a previous life. Also, I could kiss you smack on the lips and that seems to call for a first-name familiarity.
My first introduction to the Everlost realm charmed me to the very tips of my toes and to the very ends of each strand of my hair. The tale's sheer originality enthralled me from beginning to end. You could say I got lost in Everlost (and loved every nail-biting, white-knuckled moment). There is sadness in this story of dead children who lose their way "into the light" and find themselves stranded in this in-between place. Their journey of discovery is filled with child-like wonder, fear, and yes, even horror. Sometimes, especially horror.
Could the sequel ever live up to its predecessor? I approached it with caution and much trepidation, but what the hell was I worried about? For you, Neal, had so much more in store for your readers yet. What joy to be swept up in an epic adventure! More delectable characters are introduced while the ones we have come to know are pushed even further to their limits. The fascinating world-building continues, the details delicious, the page-turning pace sublime. The tension of Book 2 builds to a crackling crescendo and a maddening cliff-hanger. How long would you make us wait for Book 3???!!!!
Fortunately, not that long (you could teach Mr. George R.R. Martin a thing or two about deadlines I daresay). Everfound is everything it should be and everything I hoped it would be. I don't say that lightly (though I'm still feeling a little giddy and light-headed in the glow of having just turned the last page). You sir kept such awe-inspiring momentum going through all three books only to ramp it up OFF THE CHARTS in this final installment.
You really were saving the best for last weren't you, you magnificent bastard? Not once did you have to repeat yourself, not once did you have to milk a great idea for extra points, you STILL had new stuff to show us, you STILL had places to take us that we've never been or imagined. I could not guess how it was going to end, I couldn't even be sure you wouldn't break my heart. "Edge of my seat" seems too trite and overused an expression, but that's where I was Neal -- on the edge of my seat.
Before I close I would like to sneak in here some of the other elements that make this trilogy so great -- how it tackles the meaning of life and what makes life so precious in the first place -- that it's memory and remembrances of things past that make us who we are. Yes, you've given us a grand adventure Neal, but you've also given us a part of your heart I think. For I feel much love went into these novels, and that I am certain is what makes each of them worth loving right back.
And just in case there was any doubt left -- I do love them, all of them, very very much. My sincerest thanks for introducing me to Everlost, taking me on this marvelous adventure, and getting me home safe again.
Forever yours, Trudi (should we ever meet, you can definitely call me by my first name)(less)
Bret Easton Ellis wasn't even out of college when his debut novel, Less Than Zero (1985), marked him as a rising literary prodigy at age 19. His writi...moreBret Easton Ellis wasn't even out of college when his debut novel, Less Than Zero (1985), marked him as a rising literary prodigy at age 19. His writing explored themes of the self-absorption and hedonism of the American 80's, and in a way, highlighted the emptiness and despair experienced by the so-called Generation X'ers. His characters are often directionless with very little to redeem them in the reader's eyes.
Ellis continued these themes a few years later with The Rules of Attraction (1987), but it wasn't until the publication of his controversial novel American Psycho (1991) that Ellis truly became a household name. In it he takes an unflinching look at what happens when a psychopathic killer succumbs to his most gruesome sadistic urges. The line between reality and fantasy blurs beyond recognition as wealthy New York investment banker Patrick Bateman struggles to hide his alternate homicidal ego. It is a dark and terrifying journey not easily forgotten.
Now Ellis is older and wiser and I think with Lunar Park (2005) has attempted to offer up something not so salacious or self-indulgent, and in many ways more terrifying than anything he has done previously. This is a ghost story of the most unusual order. It's a cross between Stephen King's The Shining with a little of Child's Play and Poltergeist thrown in for good measure. There is a haunted stuffed toy that becomes carnivorous, and fictional characters that seem to be coming to life, including the savage and disturbed Patrick Bateman from American Psycho.
Lunar Park received the 2005 IHG Award for Best Novel. I will warn you that if you are thinking of picking up this book, and I highly recommend that you do, not everything gets resolved and I found the ending to be a little confusing (and dissatisfying). In spite of this, it's still an amazing and creepy read. I hope Ellis decides to focus his literary talents on the supernatural now that he's proven himself to be so capable. (less)
I couldn't wait to get my hands on this; word-of-mouth promised a heady, hilarious horror romp. Unfortunately, it did not live up to the hype for me....moreI couldn't wait to get my hands on this; word-of-mouth promised a heady, hilarious horror romp. Unfortunately, it did not live up to the hype for me. Think Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure meets Ghostbusters (or depending on your frame of reference, maybe “Ghostfacers” a la Supernatural), with Lovecraftian-style monsters, a twist of Rod Serling and a dash of psychotropic drugs to really mess you up. Sounds promising, no? Brilliantly mad? Genius even? The only problem is it falls way short of sustaining the insanity in any meaningful or satisfying way.
It is moderately amusing in places (I smiled but did not laugh out loud). Our heroes are basically doofuses (and that’s the point) but I wasn’t given the opportunity to really invest in them. The plot is outrageous and just too ambitious. It was like "enough already!!! C’mon!!!" Because the entire novel reads like one long, really whacked acid trip, you never know what’s going to happen next. Normal rules just don’t apply. Everything has a dreamlike (nightmarish) quality. That should be a good thing, but in this case I eventually just got terribly bored – oh look, another creature with eyes on stalks and baby arms for legs. Oh jeez, see that jellyfish hanging from the ceiling? Watch out for the wormhole!!!!
This book had sooo much potential and "Wong" certainly has a vivid imagination, but overall, it boils down to a "much ado about not a whole helluva lot". (less)