Four stars in terms of my personal enjoyment - neat stuff here, malign entities from other dimensions and cults of antiquity and so on. But the styleFour stars in terms of my personal enjoyment - neat stuff here, malign entities from other dimensions and cults of antiquity and so on. But the style was not quite up my alley. The fifth star is for innovation. Granted, Lovecraft borrows heavily from Poe and others, but the influence of these stories in the creation of numerous modern classics is plain to see. Foremost in my mind is the Hellboy series and the novels of China Mieville - some of the best stuff ever written, I now see, has deep roots in Lovecraft.
The attempts to build tension and end with shocking horror are hackish and feeble by modern standards. But I think Lovecraft may have been the first to, or at least the best at, extending and amplifying the peril for one protagonist out to you, the reader, by making the conspiracies and threats both realistic-sounding and global in scope. He does this with a rich blend of pseudo-scientific language cloaked in the deep mystery of the ancient....more
This book would have been infinitely improved by the inclusion of just one, even a single, solitary female character. The rampant gayness was so monotThis book would have been infinitely improved by the inclusion of just one, even a single, solitary female character. The rampant gayness was so monotonous and uninteresting as to actually drain the fun out of the equally copious gore and serial killing....more
This book took me, what, two months to read (!) The fault lay not in the book but my current facebook gaming addiction.
It was exceptionally good, butThis book took me, what, two months to read (!) The fault lay not in the book but my current facebook gaming addiction.
It was exceptionally good, but words fail me to describe why or how. The praise on the jacket and front 3 pages say it much better than I could, and is all entirely warranted and apropos. It knocked me flat, which is why I'm off my game and this is the sorriest review ever.
Ambergris is a bewildering, heady, terrifying city of... well you guessed it, saints and madmen. And squid and fungus. The rich blend of humor, fantasy, and horror really worked, just electrifying. Many of the stories, some 100 pages long, others only one or two paragraphs, were some of the most macabre, satisfying and fascinating horror I've yet encountered. ...more
Three stars is like the 1 star of my graphic novels. I really like them and almost never feel I wasted my time or money, and this one was no exceptionThree stars is like the 1 star of my graphic novels. I really like them and almost never feel I wasted my time or money, and this one was no exception. But it did feel inferior to most. The art was pretty, but distracting. It made it harder, not easier, to follow what was happening both action and story-wise. Nifty and novel premise and conclusion, but not that well executed. ...more
Not a lot to it. It probably says something that I liked the lettering better than the artwork (it was very neat). The best thing that I can say aboutNot a lot to it. It probably says something that I liked the lettering better than the artwork (it was very neat). The best thing that I can say about the book was it was interesting to see the various HHE stories and a lot of background from the perspective of the monsters. Kinda weird, too. I mean, bad things happened to them, so it's as though we're meant to feel some kind of sympathy. Then they spend the next 5 decades doing monstrous things, so exit sympathy and with it, any point. All that's left is lots of the old ultra-violence, but even that is pointless when you don't like the art.
The characterization is severely lacking, too. Maybe I'd have gotten more out of it if I knew the movies better, since knowing the characters appears to have been taken for granted. ...more
I didn't want to like this book, really. But it can't be helped, I love the slasher (they say the first step on the road to getting well is admittingI didn't want to like this book, really. But it can't be helped, I love the slasher (they say the first step on the road to getting well is admitting that you're sick).
In a way, the graphic novel medium is better suited to the slasher than a horror movie. You can add much-needed depth to the story, go farther with the outlandish gore, and it's always on pause! That said, this volume didn't make the most of all that potential. It was merely entertaining, and clearly not for everyone. ...more
Entertaining, cross-genre book that carries the zombie premise to an apocalyptic, planetary scale. It contains descriptions and refinements of every sEntertaining, cross-genre book that carries the zombie premise to an apocalyptic, planetary scale. It contains descriptions and refinements of every scene I can ever remember seeing in a zombie flick, a few of them quite sad or horrifying. Foremost, it is a shoot-em-up tale of people fighting to survive harrowing chaos and crack as many zombie skulls as possible.
That said, there is a lot more to it than troops mowing down or getting overwhelmed by the flesh-eating dead. There was also a great deal of social commentary. In fact, the first half of the book was more about how society(s) respond to threats, crises and epidemics than about zombie warfare. While I appreciate that the author would infuse so much commentary into an fun work of action, most of it was not up to snuff. He attempted to slip in a unique take on each nation/culture profiled, but I still found the descriptions overly stereotyped. The pacing was fitful and a few of the themes became redundant.
The discussions of military 'battle doctirne' were well done, and I thought the idea of a lone, blind Japanese gardener-monk secluded in the woods slaying zombies was pretty inspired. It easily earns 3 stars for innovation, action and post-apocalyptic depiction. However the flaws kept it from coming together overall.
Edit: too harsh a standard, it is better than all my 3 stars, so it gets 4. ...more
[Spoiler alert: you can't really spoil this story because the dominant theme here is unanswered questions, but I try to distill a number of them, so b[Spoiler alert: you can't really spoil this story because the dominant theme here is unanswered questions, but I try to distill a number of them, so be warned.]
This book was quite an elaborate mind-fuck. The unique regression of perspectives within perspectives was fascinating, but in the end became tiresome--simultaneously the book's greatest strength and only flaw.
We all know that the written word will always be superior to any other art form because it employs the imagination to flesh out the images. And our own imagination is a more personal, authentic, and visceral experience than anything anyone else can produce for us. I've always thought this applied primarily to visuals--characters' appearance, experiences and thoughts, the appearance of monsters, settings, the environment, world-building, etc.
The genius of House of Leaves is that it makes this principle work overtime, and extends it to the meta--to the plot itself, and to the multiple levels of reality. What happened to the two primary authors, Zampano and Johnny Truant? What happened to the whole world of the Navidson Report? We are never told. It's like an alternate reality. So throughout the whole book, my brain was working overtime trying to figure out how the state of affairs came about. We are told early on, and this was brilliant, that none of the interviewees cited had ever heard of the Navidsons, or any related events; that none of the citations (over 400!) could be located, though they are tailored to sound authentic. The "editors" claim they spoke to Mr. Truant only by phone, and have lost contact with him, as though he disappeared.
The simplest possibility is that Zampano made everything up completely. But it is clear from the circumstances of his death and the intriguing experiences of Mr. Truant that is unlikely. But if that is not the case then the alternatives are mind-blowing. How is it that "the world" such as it is, our world, so engrossed in the Navidson documentary in the 1990's has completely forgotten it? Has the house or power within it somehow systematically erased all evidence and memory of the documented events? Were the Navidson's completely snuffed out of existence? What happened to the happy ending presented on the surface? And how did Zampano and Mr. Truant (temporarily) escape the effects of this erasure? There are tantalizing hints about their character which may suggest reasons, but I don't know if it was intentional or just my imagination trying to color in gaps. I guess that means it was subtly intentional. Pretty slick.
But again, none of this is ever revealed. On the one hand it is good that my pet theory doesn't get proven wrong. But on the other hand it is bad that we never find out the truth! Too many mysteries go unsolved! Or is there a truth? Very postmodern.
On top of all this is the final layer, the materialist observation that the actual author, good old Mark Z. Danielewski, really DID make everything up. Not bad, Mark. I was really sucked in at several points, especially early on. I just found the endless footnotes and perspective changes slicing and dicing everything up to be distracting. It was too long and segmented to sustain coherence for me. Don't ask me how it could be done, but if these ideas could have been condensed from 700 pages down to a short story or novella kind of length, a nice respectable 50 or 100 pages, I would assign 5 stars in a heartbeat. Getting rid of all that blank space would be a good start; I don't see what that added, other than weight in my satchel.
And wtf was with Navidson desperately reading "a copy of House of Leaves" while trapped in the labyrinth?? Cool gag, neat trick, but damnit, it is never explained! At least I wasn't perceptive enough to find it or creative enough to figure it out. It's just sitting there happily defying logic, an inversion of the levels of perspective into an impossible paradox, M.C. Escher reincarnated and channeled into the printed word.
Another elephant in the room was the business with the Minotaur, the similarities between the house and the legend. The implication to me, and I'm sure people have very different interpretations, was that Zampano thought this was the house's true origin, but attempted to hide it by blotting it out of his writing. His erasure (and Mr. Truant's uncovering of this information) may have ironically saved it from the House's erasure, and ultimately allowed us to catch this inexplicable, partial remnant of the tale, a leaking of some alternate reality into our universe.
Even more key, unanswered questions: What is with the house's impossible age? Why and how does it cleanse itself of any inanimate objects? Or constantly change shape? What about the ever-present growl? Was that the minotaur? Or the remnants of these on other levels of reality--the claw mark in Zampano's apartment, Mr. Truant sensing the presense? Is the configuration determined by the mind of the occupants? Sometimes or always? Which occupants? The list goes on. When people gush about this book, I suspect this is why. It tricks the mind into making up our own story and explanations as you go along. ...more