It took me a while to really accept that this Cold War classic wasn't satire. Through a handful of characters, On the Beach details Australia's last s...moreIt took me a while to really accept that this Cold War classic wasn't satire. Through a handful of characters, On the Beach details Australia's last stand against an inevitable, agonizing, and entirely unmerited death; following a panicked and brief World War III between the superpowers of the northern hemisphere, radioactive fallout has been steadily creeping further and further south, gradually eradicating all life it comes across. The science is a little folklore-ish, the dialogue a little cornball, and the plot suffers from abrupt, awkward scene changes that hit without warning, but the story's primarily a character-driven piece anyway, so I could take those issues in stride. What did throw me off, however, was how unbelievable and Twilight Zone-y those characters were.
In spite of the book's extremely heavy premise (global extinction), our protagonists handle the news with impossible good grace and acceptance. As the days tick down, each character deals with the death sentence in their own way. No one gives in to panic or fear; at worst you see eccentric denial, or the one girl who begins drinking heavily and partying every night (though by the middle of the story she's become a pure and pristine font of virtue and secretarial skills). In today's age of Terror Threats, the idea of people calmly facing down Armageddon is just unthinkable. Somehow rioting, looting, religious mania, and generalized panic seem a whole lot more sensible than stoicism and civilization. Maybe I've just been reading too much Stephen King lately...
Regardless, in spite of some major flaws and a lackluster opening, the book shines in its final chapters. The cornball dialogue suddenly becomes much less laughable, the characters more substantial. The actual emotional impact of the conclusion caught me entirely off guard. It's a short read with an excellent eventual payoff, and if you're looking for something to shake you out of your Judgment Day comfort zone, On the Beach does the job admirably.(less)
Coming in at a hefty 1,141 pages, The Stand is widely considered one of Stephen King's best works, and for good reason. With all that space to work wi...moreComing in at a hefty 1,141 pages, The Stand is widely considered one of Stephen King's best works, and for good reason. With all that space to work with, King puts together and fleshes out an excellent cast (definitely not a guarantee in his work) and runs them through his authentically horrific post-apocalyptic vision with time to spare for insightful dissection of the modern man and the technological house of cards we've built around ourselves. More than that though, it's reassuringly hopeful, and even though my credentials as a Christian are more than a little expired, it's one of the most moving defenses of God in an age of science and death I've yet read. This is coming right after my experience with Desperation, another King and an absolutely disappointing instance of Christian Horror. But regardless of the Jesus stuff, it's a fantastic book, even if I can see why the editors felt the need to trim a good 40% for its first publishing. An excellent novel to sit down with for the long haul, and a massively revealing piece in the puzzle that is King's endlessly multifaceted book-universe.(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)
Patton Oswalt's first attempt at writing a book matches his stand-up style perfectly. Although the majority of the book is autobiographical in one way...morePatton Oswalt's first attempt at writing a book matches his stand-up style perfectly. Although the majority of the book is autobiographical in one way or another, he changes medium rapidly, switching between essays, poetry, comics, bizarrely enthusiastic movie reviews... the list goes on. Even with some slow stretches, it's still often hilarious, occasionally tragic, and usually interesting. A worthwhile first effort from a man who is madly in love with the written word.(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)
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)
A rockier read than The Drawing of the Three, The Waste Lands gets bogged down in exposition and LOST-style weirdness on occasion, but still holds up...moreA rockier read than The Drawing of the Three, The Waste Lands gets bogged down in exposition and LOST-style weirdness on occasion, but still holds up strong as we follow Roland's band of cripples in their investigation of the necropolis of Lud. Respect for the author came and went, but enthusiasm to find out what was on the next page never flagged once I got into the thick of things. Once you've muscled through the first quarter and the flimsy characters, you're in for a treat.(less)
A man gets wrecked by a lobster and has the worst beach party ever with three of New York's craziest assholes.
Part 2 of the Dark Tower series is damn...moreA man gets wrecked by a lobster and has the worst beach party ever with three of New York's craziest assholes.
Part 2 of the Dark Tower series is damn good fantasy sci-fi, studded with gruesome, mind-bending moments and packed with tension and stress. Unfortunately, it's still written by Mr. King, so you'll find certain lines stand out as just brutally awful and awkward, knocking the book out of the running for a five-star rating. Definitely worth the read regardless if you like bizarre, manly fiction.(less)
Though not as quick to grab my attention from the start as Jeff Noon's first novel VURT, Pollen left me no less blown away and grinning halfway throug...moreThough not as quick to grab my attention from the start as Jeff Noon's first novel VURT, Pollen left me no less blown away and grinning halfway through to its happy / unspeakable climax and epilogue. The pace is more controlled, but the eventual fireworks are absolutely worth the wait.
Set in the same nymphomaniac mongrel-blasted world as VURT, but with only the barest of threads tying them together, Pollen is as finely tuned a heap of symbols and dreamworks as you'll find anywhere, especially in the sci-fi genre it stubbornly insists it belongs in. Purity of love, celebration of lust, and validation of life are blasted through with large swatches of Gaiman or Carroll-esque story worship and a tremendously unorthodox willingness toward the gross and gritty, all told via the stylish, lazy dazed writing of a competent British loony. The whole shebang leaves me looking forward to more of the author's work, confident that he's capable of growth even after a knockout like VURT.(less)
I'd love to go into a long, drawn out review on this book, about how accurately it describes humanity at its absolute worst, love at its most unhealth...moreI'd love to go into a long, drawn out review on this book, about how accurately it describes humanity at its absolute worst, love at its most unhealthy, and despair at its most crushing, but I'm sure it's already been done. This is a tremendously bleak book, but it is well-written and well worth your time. If you read it before, perhaps in high school years ago, I strongly suggest reading it again. It is meaty and thick and has a lot of flesh I'm sure I pass over on my first time through. It's the sort of book that resonates with you, and the more of life you've gone through, the more you can get out of it. Excellent novel to feed your inner anarchist.(less)
In the land of cunts, the effeminate two-dicked hermaphroditic fuck toy is... well, still just a fuck toy.
Razor Wire Pubic Hair is a book about sex, t...moreIn the land of cunts, the effeminate two-dicked hermaphroditic fuck toy is... well, still just a fuck toy.
Razor Wire Pubic Hair is a book about sex, the 4chan's /d/ variety in particular, not so much as a product of love or passion or even a way of life, but just as a function of life, on par with eating, breathing, living or dying. Set in an absolutely unnatural post-apocalyptic sexual utopia, the story centers on a manufactured sexslave and the women who take him/her into their Mad Max-ian (Mad Maxine?) Amazonian Manson family. The story is told through short snippets of time, little moments in which the author drapes every inch of the world with machinery and meat and filthy dripping greases and then has his characters go at it in lesbian cannibal orgies. The fun bit is that he does so with surprising discretion and care, even if he spends the book tearing down everything he can find that is held sacred.
Why read such a nihilistic pile? The appeal lies somewhere between the grinning gallows-humor depiction of this bug-infested world (Some of the one-liners thrown out there take shock comedy to a new level) and the surprisingly sensible conclusions the characters come to. It's still a gruesome, filthy downer for the most part, but let's be honest, you probably wouldn't have given this review a looksee if that sort of thing wasn't right up your alley. Give 'er a shot, help out an author who is by default never making the big time, and enjoy a greasy, hairy, smelly orifice of a read.(less)
If reading The Road taught me anything, it's that the majority of the post-apocalyptic fiction written to date has been much, much too merciful. Main...moreIf reading The Road taught me anything, it's that the majority of the post-apocalyptic fiction written to date has been much, much too merciful. Main characters generally have access to all manner of things that McCarthy has done away with in his father-and-son nihilist's parable. It's as though he went right down the hierarchy of needs and chopped down bits and pieces one by one, in the end leaving behind a surprisingly believable account of the journey of a man and his son as they travel through a lightless, lifeless American nuclear waste in the not-too-distant future. Aimed at the quietly desperate market segment, it packs no clear cut message of hope, but somehow ends up coming across as positive in the face of absolutely overwhelming odds. A good read if you enjoy people at the end of their ropes or need to know exactly why everything will be alright in the end.(less)