I am a sucker for survival stories, especially those set at sea. Have no idea why. Perhaps it's for the visceral, vicarious thrill of experiencing the I am a sucker for survival stories, especially those set at sea. Have no idea why. Perhaps it's for the visceral, vicarious thrill of experiencing these terrifying events unfold from the safety and comfort of my reading chair. Which probably makes me an asshole, but let's be clear -- it's not the SUFFERING I get off on, but the grittiness and ingenuity required of the survivors to live through the ordeal so that we can all learn from it in some profound way (there is a part of me that uses these stories as self-help manuals -- what to do when stranded on an island, in the desert, in the Andes, in the Pacific ocean, on Mars!)
(waves to Mark Watney -- yes I know he's a fictional character but you get my point).
To call Salvador Alvarenga's true survival story of 438 days (!!!) adrift at sea "extraordinary" just might be the understatement of the century. His tale is the very epitome of extraordinary and then some. Can we just invent a new word please? So okay, extraordinary, but also terrifying and amazing and shocking and unbelievable. How can it be humanly possible for a person to survive so long adrift at sea with few supplies? What will this person eat? Where will they get their drinking water to stave off death from dehydration? Supposing food and water challenges are addressed, how does a person go about developing a mental toughness, a spiritual and emotional resiliency to go on in the face of insurmountable odds, immeasurable aching loneliness, crippling boredom and sensory deprivation?
Jonathan Franklin does a great job here fleshing out Alvarenga's story with as much specific detail as possible pertaining to the 438 days, but also balances this side of the story with accounts from other people who have survived long periods at sea highlighting similarities and differences. He also quotes from scientists and psychologists who have studied survival and the mental, emotional and physical changes humans undergo in extreme survival situations. This helps put Alvarenga's experience into a larger, more meaningful context.
If you do the audiobook thing, the reader for this one is excellent. His voice kept me immersed in the details and drama with very little opportunity for my mind to lose focus and wander. This is a gripping tale of extreme human survival that left me exhausted, humbled, and inspired.
A before and after of Alvarenga and his first haircut and shave:
Child narrators under the age of 10 are tricky to say the least. It can be so easily flubbed and come off as gimmicky or inauthentic. Mostly, I'm not Child narrators under the age of 10 are tricky to say the least. It can be so easily flubbed and come off as gimmicky or inauthentic. Mostly, I'm not a fan. Louis CK's rant about children and their secrets beautifully sums up the why for me.
So this book, with its five-year old narrator Anna, is going to fail or succeed depending on your acceptance of the childish, stream-of-consciousness storytelling style. Anna is in the grips of some nasty peril after just losing both her parents to a bear mauling. What's more, she is saddled with the responsibility of her baby brother Stick, aged 2. Anna's point of view is limited by what she knows and what she is able to articulate (for the record, not a whole lot). There's repetition and tangent after tangent. As with any child, you must have patience. You'll get all the information you need eventually, it just might take a while to get there.
Anna's voice grew on me, it really did. She's bratty and self-absorbed like any young kid, but also sweet and funny and brave. Her thorny relationship with her baby brother is heart-wrenching at times, the way she hates him and loves him in equal contradicting measure. There is tension here and a palpable suspense as we watch two hapless babes in the woods stumble from one threat to another -- sunburn, dehydration, poison ivy, and of course, the black bear who may or may not still be stalking them (and who continues to feed on their parents).
This is one of those books you're just going to have to try and see for yourself whether Anna's voice makes you want to keep reading, or throw the book across the room as if it had cooties. Either reaction is possible.
Some spoilers ahead under the spoiler tag:
(view spoiler)[I'm not certain the dramatic back story of the affair and Anna's parents separation was really necessary. I felt this domestic conflict didn't add much to the story other than to reinforce the on-going theme of the "family unit" and Anna's "we are four", "we are two", "I am one" interpretation.
Anna's months of silence after her ordeal and her long road to recovery was interesting. She was obviously much more traumatized by events than her initial telling of the story would have us believe. The trauma definitely lingers since she is haunted by a nightmare for the rest of her life of getting mauled by a bear.
Two scenes made me tear up:
At the end when Anna and Stick curl up by the front door waiting for "Daddy" to come home.
I look at the door too. It is closed. When the door is open, there is the backyard and then my tree and then the gate where Daddy comes in. He is not home from work. It stays shut and so Stick came down to see if Daddy came and fell asleep.
When Anna and Stick are grown, they revisit the site of the accident. Anna lies in the grass where she is certain her mother took her last breath.
Lying on the ground I can see him. And that's when I know that Mom could see us. If she was still conscious when she was lying here, and if her eyes were open, she would have seen me luring Alex into the canoe....Maybe she saw that I got into the canoe after him and started to paddle with my hands. Maybe she knew that we got away.
This whole book left me stupid happy and deliriously impressed and I spent most of my time declaring:
Jesse would have loved Mark Watney. I lo4.5 stars
This whole book left me stupid happy and deliriously impressed and I spent most of my time declaring:
Jesse would have loved Mark Watney. I love Mark Watney. He's super smart but not just in a poindexter nerd alert bookish kind of way. Watney's got some serious problem solving skills; he's McGyver in a space suit. Give this guy a toothpick, some tinfoil and a ziplock bag and he'll build you an airplane. But don't forget the duct tape. Duct tape is awesome and I will be putting in a supply of it in order to survive the zombie apocalypse.
Watney is also a funny, the glass is half-full kind of guy who gets repeatedly knocked on his ass but finds a way to get right back up again. And who doesn't love a fighter?
The Martian is being referred to as Cast Away in space and that's pretty accurate as those things go. It's definitely an adventure survival story (my favorite kind), and just like Tom Hanks, Watney finds himself stranded and completely alone. The only difference is rather than washing up on a deserted island with a plethora of unopened FedEx packages, Watney finds himself abandoned on Mars with....well, you'll have to read the book to find out.
There's a lot of geeked out science descriptions, but I found most of it to be pretty accessible, even to a softcore sci-fi gal like myself. There's a real balance and warmth to the story as Watney battles with the unforgiving Mars environment that wants to kill him every time he turns around. It's thrilling and edge of your seat stuff with lots of laughs built in to break the inexorable tension.
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
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
Finally finished listening to this as an audio. Meh. I have my problems with it. I may or may not review it, we'll see.
Alright, I've given it someFinally finished listening to this as an audio. Meh. I have my problems with it. I may or may not review it, we'll see.
Alright, I've given it some thought and feel that I should try to capture some of what this book made me feel (and didn't feel as it were). This memoir is essentially two stories that sometimes intersect with each other but more often than not run parallel. One story is Cheryl's 90+ day 1100 mile solo hike of the Pacific Crest Trail when she was 26 years old. The other story is of the tragic death of Cheryl's mother from lung cancer four years previously. That story is one of all-consuming grief, anger, and a downward spiral into dangerous and self-destructive behaviors.
Even though it was the death of her mother which precipitated Cheryl's decision to solo hike the PCT, I felt like the two stories are so very different from each other that it just doesn't work to have both accounts in the same book. I found it jarring each time Cheryl flashbacks to a moment in her pre-PCT life.
Don't get me wrong, both stories interested me. I was eager to read about a crazy girl taking on this extreme physical challenge. I adore man vs. nature tales. And although I found it difficult and somewhat emotionally draining, I also wanted to read about the particulars of Cheryl's grief and the details surrounding her mother's death. I lost my own mother to cancer in July 2010 and I find myself inexplicably hungering for the accounts of other people's experience of such profound tragedy.
The problem I have with the book overall I guess, is that the two stories do not complement each other very well. Some sections in which Cheryl describes the horror of helping her mother die and the depth of the grief which followed are beautifully and honestly written. The scene involving her mother's horse is seared upon my memory.
These sections are at odds however, with Cheryl's account of her selfish, self-destructive behavior after her mother's death. We all grieve differently, and there is no right way. Cheryl's chronic infidelities, drug abuse, and finally her decision to hike the PCT totally inexperienced and extremely ill-equipped I did not find interesting. In fact, it pushed me away rather than drew me in. I felt turned off. It's one thing to do something wholeheartedly rash and stupid and dangerous when you are 26 years old, but to try and wax poetic about it in hindsight in your 40s is not cool. I felt like Cheryl romanticized her hike waaaaaay too much, a reminiscence with rose-colored glasses. Sure she talks about the blisters and the patches of dry skin, the weight loss, the hunger, the thirst, the heat. But she downplays the imminent very real dangers for a happy story that all worked out in the end.
Her PCT hike could have -- should have -- ended quite disastrously. She went about it very naively, with little or no real knowledge or hiking experience. Her mistakes were massive and at times ridiculous. You can choose to laugh about them in retrospect, but the message really should be: kids, don't try this at home. I felt like grown-up Cheryl should have been apologizing for her reckless stunt rather than almost ... bragging about it. Yes, there is a definite tone of bragging and conceit (that can't all be attributed to the audiobook's reader). Maybe that's what turned me off the most, and that is certainly a very subjective, personal response I know.
If you like reading about dysfunctional people as their lives spiral out of control this book may appeal to you. If you like to read about people doing crazy ass stunts then by all means, take on the story of this young woman as she haphazardly and with zealous abandon hikes into the woods with a mammoth pack on her back and boots that are one size too small.
Cheryl's story may inspire you. It did not have that effect on me. ...more
That was exhausting. I am tired, annoyed, frustrated, and hugely disappointed. Writing a review for this one is gonna hurt. ---- My problems with thisThat was exhausting. I am tired, annoyed, frustrated, and hugely disappointed. Writing a review for this one is gonna hurt. ---- My problems with this second installment of Mike Mullin's Ashfall series are many I'm afraid to say, and too big to ignore. I really like this guy, and I wanted this novel to be great in the shadow of its awesome predecessor. Not. Even. Close. Without any spoilers for Ashfall or Ashen Winter, here is some of what's caused my sadness and frustration.
Anyone who knows me even a little, knows I'm a Stephen King fangirl. I love the man, okay? Not in a creepy Annie Wilkes I want to chain him to a bed as my "pet" sort of love, but his books are like meth to me. I'm hooked. I gotta have 'em. But that doesn't mean I can't put my critics hat on when need be too. I don't slaver and drool over everything the man writes. And contrary to popular critical opinion, I have no interest in reading the man's grocery list. Which brings me to one of my more recent King disappointments (it does happen). Under the Dome for me was good, but far from great. And here's why. I bring it up now because it's the same effing problem I have with Ashen Winter:
Under the Dome starts with a bang...and maintains its narrative momentum throughout. It hurtles along at an almost break-neck speed, but for a book that's over a 1000 pages, such a pace begins to wear in places. It becomes an at-times uncomfortable frenetic pattern of -- and then this happened, and then this happened, and then this happened.
Ditto Ashen Winter. It too starts with a bang and hurtles along at lightening speed for (in my opinion) a bloated 600 pages. The action sequences are too many to count, and exhaustively and excruciatingly described.
As with Mira Grant's book Feed, I fear Mike Mullin has fallen in love with his research and wants to include every single thing he has learned. What's worse, no detail is too small. In my review for Feed I write that: "I respect any author who goes the extra mile to "do the research" and "get the details right" but sweet holy Moses, there is no need to put EVERYTHING YOU'VE EVER LEARNED into the story." I didn't think it would be possible, but that's even doubly true here.
Another thing that annoyed me and took me out of the story too many times to count are the cliffhangers which come at the end of almost Every. Single. Chapter. It's cheesy. It made me feel like I was reading a middle school chapter book or a "choose your own adventure" type deal for the kiddies. This is such a sharp departure from Ashfall I really don't know what to make of it. Ashen Winter may feature cannibals and sex slaves but it still felt ultimately "childish" to me.
Now I am woman enough to admit this could be more my fault than the book's fault. I am NOT a fan of action movies. I barely (if ever) go to the movies over the summer because the gigantic, exploding, frantic, mostly special effects all style no substance blockbusters just don't do it for me. I'm more likely to walk out with a headache and a scowl on my face, than jittering with excitement and awe. That's what happened here with this book. Mullin can write action, no doubt of that, but there's just TOO MUCH action and not enough dialogue or genuine suspense. Suspense ONLY works if it is paired with tension and release. Nobody understood that better than Hitchcock. If it's ALL release -- a go, go, go, fast and furious approach -- then you really miss the tension, that vital inexorable build that is so critical to creating suspense.
Okay, last criticism. Because this book is chock full of action, Alex and Darla (Alex especially this time) are running around behaving like movie action superheroes -- jumping, leaping, dodging bullets, getting shot, breaking in, breaking out -- at one point hanging on to the bottom of a MOVING TRUCK Robert DeNiro style à la Cape Fear. Really??? C'mon!!!! As each disaster and run of bad luck kept piling up (fodder for the chapter cliffhangers), I began to think it should have been subtitled: a series of unfortunate events. In my review for A Breath of Snow and Ashes I write: "how many times can any handful of people escape from prison, mob scenes, near death, kidnappings, etc, etc." I can suspend disbelief with the best of them, trust me, but even this was too much for me I'm afraid.
Okay, so that's the ugly truth of the bad news. The good news? Mullin is a very talented writer, and despite my disappointment here, I will continue to seek out his books. The other good news? While I'm not recommending Ashen Winter, I will continue to highly recommend Ashfall; it is awesome, and succeeds in every way where its sequel does not. ...more
I was so psyched to get my hands on a copy of this book. I mean, the premise is AWESOME. It's The Running Man meets Battle Royale with smatterings of I was so psyched to get my hands on a copy of this book. I mean, the premise is AWESOME. It's The Running Man meets Battle Royale with smatterings of The Hunger Games running all through it. I just can't get enough of these demented dystopias of staged survival competitions destined for public consumption played in extremis to satiate society's blood lust. In his review Gavin writes: "humanity knows no bounds for violence in a voyeuristic capacity" and isn't that the truth? My favorite of all these stories is Stephen King's Bachman novel - The Long Walk. I've read nothing that comes close to King's imagining of such a deathly scenario, this book included.
Nevertheless, The Crimson Labyrinth is still quite good, with lots of pulpy action and nail-biting peril. Japanese horror writer Yusuke Kishi puts his own spin on the "deadly games" theme by introducing some pretty twisted plot elements I haven't seen before. I also enjoyed how he takes his time building the suspense. The first half of the novel is a man vs. nature survival scenario with a group of people pitted more against their environment than against each other. Kishi shows a fondness for details, describing the landscape, food, and other items and information the group collects from each of their "checkpoints".
This is a "game", but the players don't know how they got to be where they are, or more importantly why. The why remains a mystery until the very end, and some readers may be underwhelmed by the explanation. I thought it was a fairly interesting twist, but came a little too close to the end out of nowhere almost as an afterthought with no real confirmation to send you away with a satisfying "a-ha" feeling. Still, Kishi presents a very tantalizing possibility.
Character development is at a minimum here and I would have liked to get the story from more points of view rather than the two main characters, especially from those characters who meet such unpleasant ends. Details please. What is lacking in character though, Kishi makes up for in style and action. This is quite the thrilling, adrenaline ride. Not the best I've read in the genre, but I am definitely recommending it!!!!
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
Post-apocalyptic fiction is a siren song to me; I will crash upon its shores any day of the week (and twice on Sunday). I love it in all of its permut Post-apocalyptic fiction is a siren song to me; I will crash upon its shores any day of the week (and twice on Sunday). I love it in all of its permutations and manifestations. I tolerate the dreck, and heap praise on the epic. It’s an addiction I’ve made my peace with, and a pleasure that involves zero guilt. And here’s where I’m going to quote from a review posted by Goodreads member Ceridwan. In a few beautiful sentences she is able to capture some of what is so appealing about these stories:
Much of what I love about post-apocalit is the landscapes it writes into being, all this prosperity and functionality of our modern world run to dust and a lone chimney standing up out of the ruin of nature run its course. I don't even want to speculate on why I find this appealing, because there is something self-annihilating, society-annihilating in my affections. The patchwork houses, the patchwork clothes, an anecdote about a bit of an airplane used to patch the roof that flew away because it remembered its function
YA fiction of late has found the sweet spot when it comes to the “world in the shitter” scenario. Whether it involves dystopian themes (mild or otherwise), zombies, mysterious plagues, or natural disasters, YA fiction is where it’s at right now.
This book is researched and the disaster entertained scientifically possible (some would even argue probable). The details harnessed by the author to describe his destroyed society are excruciating in their gritty realism – and all of this without the aid of zombies or unknown plagues. Impressive. The perilous journey we take with young Alex as he ventures forth into the desolate, ashen landscape to find his family is emotional, complex, and unexpectedly gruesome. There is violence, but not of the gratuitous sort. Mullin doesn’t cheat, and I felt Alex earned every scar, both the physical and the psychological.
It’s been a while since I've read a story such as this so firmly grounded in reality. Perhaps of late I've become a little too eager to suspend my disbelief, and forgive vague world-building and even vaguer reasons behind any societal collapse (okay, I admit it, I'm an easy lay in this context). The charm (and ultimate effectiveness) of this novel is that it did not ask me to roll over and suspend my disbelief once. It is filled with such unadorned gravitas, that I was a little taken aback in the beginning.
This is such a tense story, filled with moments of dread, shock, and frustration. But it is also a story that contains hope, and examines the human will to survive, because that’s what we do, that’s who we are – survivors. Darla is the perfect embodiment of a survivor – though young and frightened and besieged with loss, she still finds a way to carry on, to fight, to live. Their story captivated me, as did the convincing details of Mullin's post-apocalyptic nightmare. I want more! And look forward very much to the sequel. ...more
Each of us can benefit from this sobering read about human behavior in the face of disaster. There are some real surprises, including how infrequentlyEach of us can benefit from this sobering read about human behavior in the face of disaster. There are some real surprises, including how infrequently humans actually panic -- that panic, while it does exist, is not the normal reaction. When faced with overwhelming peril, most of us will become paralyzed and be very slow to act. We will mill about (like cattle), we will look to others, we will gather personal belongings, and most alarming of all, we will forget how to perform the simplest of tasks.
This book has made me acutely aware of my surroundings and my preparedness for any given disaster. It's a real wake up call that most of us are woefully unprepared. If the anecdotal evidence teaches us anything it's that those who survive are usually the people that possessed vital knowledge -- beforehand -- about what to do and seized the opportunity to drill for it over and over again. In the midst of a disaster, too much thinking can kill you. The time for thinking is before disaster strikes, not during. Know where your emergency exits are at all times in any given situation and become intimately familiar with them. Ask questions, demand answers, about what to do in any given disaster scenario. If you've already run over certain situations in your head, (or even better, in real training exercises), you'll be much more likely to respond quickly and effectively. The alternative is paralysis, delay, denial and if you act too late, death. ...more
Jaws is one of my favorite movies of all time. I absolutely love it and have probably seen it at least 10 times. The book IS NOT the movie and pales iJaws is one of my favorite movies of all time. I absolutely love it and have probably seen it at least 10 times. The book IS NOT the movie and pales in comparison. It doesn't happen very often, but this time the movie is better than the book. ...more
***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