**spoiler alert** This came up as a read for my mystery book club. I'd heard of the Wayward Pines TV show, but haven't seen it. From what I understand**spoiler alert** This came up as a read for my mystery book club. I'd heard of the Wayward Pines TV show, but haven't seen it. From what I understand, it does diverge from the book.
I went into the book knowing it would have a twist, but, miraculously for me, I managed not to spoil myself. If you'd like the same unspoiled experience, read no further!
I figured the twist would be something like "And they're all vampires!!! or werewolves!!!!" or something of that nature. I did not guess at the true nature of the twist. The author says that he's a huge fan of Twin Peaks, that creepy show about a town where everything is just a little bit off, a little bit creepy. I could definitely see that influence in the show.
The author plays with lots of tropes, but managed not to annoy me with any of them. The amnesiac character? So overdone, but I was actually somewhat sympathetic to Ethan. The Hotel California town that you can check out from but never leave? Usually a source of frustration to me, but not this time. Information withheld from the main character just to generate tension? Drives me insane, but it sort of made sense here, because the point was that the bad guys were gaslighting poor Ethan.
Probably part of the reason that I could go along with all this is that the book is an incredibly fast read. I finished in in three or four hours. That's just not enough time to build up much frustration. The sentences are punchy, minimalist, and short. The action is almost non-stop. And the creepy factor builds rapidly. Ethan never feels safe, nor should he.
And the whole Lottery (Shirley Jackson) style of the way that the town is kept under control was truly chilling. The idea of rot and horror lurking just under the veneer of normalcy, that you're not paranoid because they really are out to get you, that's something that still scares me.
After Ethan leaves Wayward Pines, the book lost a bit of that tension for me. There was still a lot of action, but I had stopped believing that Ethan was in real danger and was just waiting for the curtain to be drawn back. And I'm still not sure how I feel about the explanation for everything. However, there are two books left in the series, and I'm pretty sure the twist unveiled in this book will not be the last in the series. There's an explanation under the first explanation. I guess I just have to read further to find out what it is!...more
**spoiler alert** This book is a sort of fairy tale, sort of magical realism.
It has the always-awkward framing device of someone else being told the**spoiler alert** This book is a sort of fairy tale, sort of magical realism.
It has the always-awkward framing device of someone else being told the real story. In this case, the protagonist's daughter leaves her law practice and decides to find out what happened to her father, who disappeared into Burma (Myanmar) about four years ago. The guy left, telling her he was going to an appointment in Boston, and then was never heard from again- detectives could only trace him as far as Burma.
The fact that this book uses the name Burma instead of Myanmanr, which has been the country's name since 1989, should tell you that the author isn't looking for realism in this book. He's spinning out a fantasy of the remote and beautiful jungle and a love story for the ages. It's not about the political realities and atrocities, it's not about the poverty and mud. I would say the book slips into exoticizing the people of Myanmar, and that's part of the reason that the book didn't get many stars.
Anyway, lawyer daughter runs into someone who says he can tell her what happened to her father, she goes through the obligatory disbelief, and then most of the book is her sitting and listening to the real story. Why do authors feel the need to to this? Can't the story stand on its own? It roughens the pacing and dilutes the focus.
So, the father of this daughter is abandoned by his parents because the mom is incredibly superstitious and thinks he was born under a bad sign. When her husband is killed, six years after the boy is born, she just leaves. The boy stays in one place and watches for her so hard that he loses his sight entirely before he is rescued by another kindly villager.
I stopped really reading about here and skimmed, because it was clear that this was some sort of fable and I wasn't taken by it. The author was attempting to be larger than life, but he only succeeded in irritating me with his superstitious, mystical villagers. However, I did skim enough to know that the boy grows into a man, he meets a girl who can't walk, he becomes her legs and carries her around, she becomes his eyes, and it's all very romantic isn't it, these poor people who can only be whole together. Ugh. The boy develops his hearing to the point where he can hear the heartbeats of chicks in their shells, hence the title.
Next, the boy's nefarious uncle (why nefarious? ) evilly plots to take the boy away from the girl by sending him to the city to get glasses. Then the nefarious uncle doesn't relay their letters to each other. The boy never doubts the girl's love, despite the fact that he never hears from her, but when uncle sends him to school in the USA, he goes along with that idea too. Then he never returns to Burma, starts a whole new family in the USA, but all the time he can hear her heart beating so he knows she's okay. Ugh. So many questions. Why didn't he go back after he was done with school? Why did he marry someone else and have children with her (this is never answered even though the questions was actually asked in the book)? Why was he then portrayed by the author as saintly, otherworldly, the soul of patience, a paragon to his daughter? Obviously the author wants us to find him sympathetic (we're even told that he looks like Gandhi) but I just found him to be annoying passive. You can say that's because of cultural differences, but then why just leave a family that will be hurt by your disappearance if you're all about not rocking the boat?
BTW, he returns to his sweetheart just in time to lay in her arms for a night so that they can both die together. He heard her heart failing, you see. Ugh, ugh, ugh. Too schmaltzy and maudlin for me, thank you....more
**spoiler alert** Thanks to Netgalley for an exerpt. I did read the whole book, and the whole book is what I'm reviewing.
Hex is Thomas Olde Heuvelt's**spoiler alert** Thanks to Netgalley for an exerpt. I did read the whole book, and the whole book is what I'm reviewing.
Hex is Thomas Olde Heuvelt's first novel to be translated from Dutch. He says that the ending of the Dutch version is different than the English one, and I am consumed with curiousity to know exactly what's different!
This book touches upon a lot of themes. There's the stifling village of Black Spring, which residents can never leave without being affected by a strange and eventually deadly depression. It's a peek at the dark side of a small and insular community, the fears that can drive it.
Black Spring's residents are cursed in this manner because of a witch named Katherine. Over three hundred years ago, Katherine was executed for witchcraft. Since then she has haunted the town, appearing randomly. She can't be touched without fatal consequences.
However, it's been a while since Katherine has been actively dangerous. Now some of the teen residents of the town are beginning to chafe at the restrictive secrecy required of them. Much more tech-savvy than their parents, these teens are beginning to rebel in small ways.
The tension between generations and the tension generated by a malevolent supernatural presence combines into a deadly climax.
Weirdly, Katherine was sometime painted somewhat sympathetically. There's no doubt that she is better left alone, but the author contrasts her behavior with the behavior of the villagers, and the villagers don't always come away favorably. The author achieves a claustrophobic sense of dread, of evil slowly closing in. It reminds me a bit of Stephen King.
A bit of the phrasing is a little clunky, and the pacing is a bit uneven. But this book is spooky for sure....more