The exposition and dialogue may be a little clumsy and confusing at times, and the scientific MacGuffins occasionally left me wincing, but The Descent...moreThe exposition and dialogue may be a little clumsy and confusing at times, and the scientific MacGuffins occasionally left me wincing, but The Descent still accomplishes what it set out to do admirably: that being to be the best darn anthropological horror novel about cannibalistic underground demonoids ever. It's fast and fun and predictable and cheesy; if you find yourself in need of a silly weekend body horror fix, you can't do much better.(less)
A short story with a name so bizarre I couldn't pass it up, Hellhounds of the Cosmos is a fun little unpolished mish-mash of Lovecraftian weirdness an...moreA short story with a name so bizarre I couldn't pass it up, Hellhounds of the Cosmos is a fun little unpolished mish-mash of Lovecraftian weirdness and kaiju monster beat-'em-up. It's unlikely I'll remember it a year from now, but as something to fill a bored afternoon with, it did quite nicely.(less)
A really excellent first salvo from promising new author Zack Parsons, Liminal States starts off as the story of two warring men (Warren Groves, the m...moreA really excellent first salvo from promising new author Zack Parsons, Liminal States starts off as the story of two warring men (Warren Groves, the morally-compromised-yet-iron-willed sherriff, and Gideon Long, conniving son of a dying industrial magnate) before evolving into something much, much larger. Easily one of the most satisfying horror novels I've read, Liminal States playfully refuses to stick to a single genre, swapping tones while simultaneously hitting the reader with scenes of brutality, classic horror, and modern-day anxieties.
The book honestly reminded me of Machine of Death, taking a clever but seemingly simple gimmick and running with it much farther and more effectively than I would've ever expected. If it weren't for an unfortunately weak second act, I'd give this five stars, but as it stands it is still an exceptionally good bit of uncomfortable literature.(less)
There are far too many volumes of this for me to want to rate and review and track all of it, so here's my review of GantZ as a whole. Expect a whole...moreThere are far too many volumes of this for me to want to rate and review and track all of it, so here's my review of GantZ as a whole. Expect a whole lot of unexplained sci-fi mystery, garnished with ultra-violence, casual rape, lazy nihilistic philosophy, and teenage superhero power fantasies. The story follows Kurono Kei, an unpopular, untalented schlub who gets run over by a subway train and suddenly finds himself enlisted into an unexplained monster-hunting game, along with a number of other briefly-deceased Tokyo inhabitants. He is given a suit that grants him phenomenal strength, and when placed in this life-or-death situation, his intense will to survive makes him an unparalleled champion compared to the others who, in spite of their gifts, are by and large quickly torn to shreds by the horrible monsters they are pitted against. Time passes, the action escalates, the mystery thickens, the female characters are abused nearly without exception, and the cast comes and goes and explodes in messy splatters every so often.
The comic's not without its charms. The scumbaggy realism of the dialogue and gallows humor help soften the comical seriousness of the story, and there are a decent number of silly, likable, or even relatable characters in the massive cast. The artwork is unusual, incorporating heavy use of CG to create a very detailed, realistic end product, in spite of the fact that most issues feature some form of ridiculous monstrosity. The pacing and writing, while very trashy, are light enough to keep momentum going strong; this is a manga you can easily plow through in a single long sitting. Unfortunately, the plot just gets too muddled and overloaded with twists not to judge, and although it builds up to a very strong second half, the final pay-off is about as disappointing a resolution as you could imagine. I can't say I didn't enjoy it, but it's got some serious weak points and it's not the sort of read I'm about to start pushing on my friends.(less)
It's not John Dies At The End. And that's a good thing, trust me. As good as that opening salvo was, we really didn't need the nefarious Mr. Wong goin...moreIt's not John Dies At The End. And that's a good thing, trust me. As good as that opening salvo was, we really didn't need the nefarious Mr. Wong going that insane again. Instead you have This Book Is Full of Spiders (Seriously, Dude, Don't Touch It), the logical progression to that first mish-mashed slag of Lovecraftian/Kevin Smith-style ultra goremedy, because somehow we managed to salvage some characters and setting and linear plot from that wonderful debacle.
This time around, Wong takes a swing at the currently-impossibly-popular Zombie Horror fad that has consumed the internet for the last half a decade or so, simultaneously lampooning it and nailing all the necessary uncomfortable spots. While significantly less authentically eerie than JDaTE (thank you Jim), it still has some masterful settings that turn the stomach and punch the brain. Overall though it's a more pure-hearted comedy than the first; in spite of a slightly weak opening, I found myself stopping every few minutes for an uncontrollable cackling fit the last 150 pages or so, and that deserves serious praise. Like any good book two of a trilogy, I both look forward to and dread book three for the closure it will bring. If you only read one book about the Satan spiders that live inside your face this year, make it this one.
This review was written primarily so I could use the phrase, "the nefarious Mr. Wong."(less)
While the first two entries in the The Strain series weren't exactly good books, they were at least fun. Del Toro's got a knack for monster design, an...moreWhile the first two entries in the The Strain series weren't exactly good books, they were at least fun. Del Toro's got a knack for monster design, and the series served as an excellent vehicle for that. In spite of the hokey dialogue and action-flick writing quality, my 10-year-old self loved the grotesque ugly bastards.
By The Night Eternal, del Toro's all out of horror ammo. The vampires never manage to do more than occasionally kill off bit characters, and the Master's more concerned with gloaming around his evil lair than doing anything actually impressive. On top of that, the world has essentially ended and it's made everyone so dreary and annoying. The most interesting character went and kamikazed at the end of book 2, and the remaining cast is just generally pretty flat and colorless. There are still some fun spots here and there, but overall I can't say this is worth the read.(less)
A pretty alright collection of four Stephen King short stories, focusing on downward spirals, vengeance, and a little bit of redemption at the end if...moreA pretty alright collection of four Stephen King short stories, focusing on downward spirals, vengeance, and a little bit of redemption at the end if you're lucky. Not quite horror stories or even creepy stories, the intended tone seems to be depressing, settling darkness (suitably enough given the title). Fantastic supernatural elements are kept to a minimum but show up from time to time, while the common-people characters are likable (if occasionally a bit threadbare from showing up in so many other Stephen King stories already). My only real gripe would be that his male characters seem nearly incapable of anything but despicable, self-serving sneakery, but oh well, them's the breaks. Average but serviceable, and better than not reading a book.(less)
An ugly read, but by no means a crude one. Set in the dying days of the sexual revolution, just before the 80's stepped in and reintroduced guilt to e...moreAn ugly read, but by no means a crude one. Set in the dying days of the sexual revolution, just before the 80's stepped in and reintroduced guilt to everyone's diet, Women captures the angry, omnivorous, conflicting nature of the male sex drive better than anything else I've read to date. In spite of the ridiculously high sex content of the book, expect to be nauseated and saddened much more often than aroused.(less)
While Chew: Vol. 2 doesn't really play around terribly much with the series' bizarre premise, and while most characters aren't developed that far beyo...moreWhile Chew: Vol. 2 doesn't really play around terribly much with the series' bizarre premise, and while most characters aren't developed that far beyond were we left off at the end of Vol. 1, it's still a wonderfully-drawn, raucous, grisly, hilarious detective romp that caters to foodies of every stripe.(less)
The darkest heap of corrupted childhood cartoon memories I've ever come across, Pim and Francie is a tragedy on so many levels. Simply "reading" the s...moreThe darkest heap of corrupted childhood cartoon memories I've ever come across, Pim and Francie is a tragedy on so many levels. Simply "reading" the story gives you nothing but a sense of loss, but even worse, the artist's incredible talent and creativity shines through much of the time but falls back into scribbled-out, barely-penciled, partially-erased jibberish on almost every page. Not always, mind you; some pages he's able to put down what he wants to show in incredibly graphic, unsettling detail. Just most.(less)
A steaming slurry of gore, blood, guts, and blasphemy, stirred with a severed bull's cock by a pervert in a John Wayne costume. It's one of the grandd...moreA steaming slurry of gore, blood, guts, and blasphemy, stirred with a severed bull's cock by a pervert in a John Wayne costume. It's one of the granddaddies of modern exploitation comics, setting a trio of douchebag heroes (a jolly Irish vampire/cannibal, a heretic hardass with the voice of God, and the gun-totin' broad who loves him) in the heart of racist redneck Texas and having everyone get their brains blown out with flair and aplomb. Even so, the writing makes me laugh and I am curious how much more torture they can layer on Arseface, the boy with a sphincter for a mouth. (less)
I felt a bit foolish picking this up at first, seeing it as an unnecessary companion piece to the novel House of Leaves, especially considering that t...moreI felt a bit foolish picking this up at first, seeing it as an unnecessary companion piece to the novel House of Leaves, especially considering that the vast majority of the material contained inside is present in the original book. In spite of that, it does what it does remarkably well. Anyone familiar with the original novel will understand me when I say that the author leaves details murky at best; what The Whalestoe Letters does is force a closer look at P.'s writing (some of the most emotionally charged material in the book), and the handful of additional letters added clears the air and has tremendous value in their own right.
I'm strongly considering lending out this book as a stand-alone piece without even recommending the novel it's based on. For an unnecessary companion piece to a favorite novel of mine, that's some very high praise.(less)
I saw the movie first, not out of any strong preference, just because my friends and I love good movies. Heavy movies, strange movies, whatever we can...moreI saw the movie first, not out of any strong preference, just because my friends and I love good movies. Heavy movies, strange movies, whatever we can use to one-up each other. We enjoy books, too, but you can't share them the same way, not with the same immediate results. We all watched Requiem, all felt the same brutal messages and thought them beautiful and most of us swore not to ever watch it again. Some of us did later on down the line. At least one of us loves it, still watches it often. I got around to my third watching this summer, showed it to my girlfriend, and had no clue how to comfort her afterwards. It's something that takes time to settle.
A month ago, my little brother recommends I read the book, insisting that the author's got an unmatched talent. I take him up on it with a smug sense of superiority, certain the book can't match the pacing and sucker punches of the film. I read it, slowly at first as I pace myself through summer, reacquainting myself with the cast, and then in a blur as I finally find myself caught up in the heart of winter. Now I'm finished it, and they're identical. It's the same story of the downfall of four human beings you'd probably like to talk with, hang out with, perhaps even love. They have the same pacing, the same emotional manglings at the same spots, the same unmatched sense of dread throughout. The only difference lies in the details; the movie gives you faces, colors, voices, and "music" as it drags you along indifferent to your will, while Selby's novel is expansive in other directions, showing you more of the people you watch crumble, letting you move at your own pace, as you see fit. If you see fit.
I'm not sure which, if either, is better. They're both gruesome and painful and entirely worth enjoying.(less)
A challenging, playful, and endlessly rewarding read, I think House of Leaves will easily stand the test of time as one of my personal favorites. It i...moreA challenging, playful, and endlessly rewarding read, I think House of Leaves will easily stand the test of time as one of my personal favorites. It is interactive on a level I've never seen before outside of children's puzzle books, but at the same time tells one of the best paced, most carefully plotted narratives you're likely to find.
Expect to make an investment in this book (in both time and colored note pads), and when the going gets tough, push through. I promise you there's something golden buried at the heart of the labyrinth.(less)
I finally think I understand why so many people have told me this is their favorite book in their favorite series of all time. While I don't think I a...moreI finally think I understand why so many people have told me this is their favorite book in their favorite series of all time. While I don't think I agree on that front, it is nonetheless a fantastic example of... whatever genre Stephen King slapped together here. He's matured tremendously as a writer since first introducing us to Roland's dying, bleeding, beautiful world; his characters are no longer transparently two-dimensional and the seams on his Frankenstein's monster of a setting have mended to the point where none of his glaring anachronistic elements clash unnaturally.
This is the kind of book that awakens the high school fantasy geek in people who have long since moved on to meatier fare. This is the kind of book that inspires people who have no place doing so to try their hand at 4,000-page 9-book series about alabaster dragons and blood magicks and unnatural love, probably with some kind of moon cat. And somehow this is also a remarkably well put-together read, filling in a chasm the first three books created and bringing the entire series forward tremendously for it. It's a brilliant read for everyone. If that means you'll have to read the first three books in the series as well, that's okay. I can wait.(less)