Meh. I have really enjoyed some of Dan Simmons' other books, but this one didn't quite work for me. It is *way* too long, has more characters than isMeh. I have really enjoyed some of Dan Simmons' other books, but this one didn't quite work for me. It is *way* too long, has more characters than is really necessary (I found this really distracting at times), and includes too many action-movie sequences.
The premise is interesting and so are several of the characters, but I had hoped for something that would delve a little deeper into psychology and into the issues he raises early on about violence and humanity. This holds the occasional promise of something more meaningful, but the action sequences and intricate political thriller plotting take precedence over this most of the time, which is too bad, because I think with some severe editing of the action/thriller elements, this could be an exciting *and* emotionally compelling story.
The best thing about this book is in its voice. Simmons tells the story through a variety of characters' perspectives and those characters are distinctive and interesting, even when they are totally unlikable (as many of them are). This isn't able to come through mid-fight or mid-flight very well, but in the chapters where the emphasis is on the characters there is some really good in-character writing. ...more
This is definitely entertaining, though much gorier than I usually like. It's essentially The Shining but with abuse and alien parasites instead of alThis is definitely entertaining, though much gorier than I usually like. It's essentially The Shining but with abuse and alien parasites instead of alcoholism and haunted houses....more
This is somewhere between three and four stars for me. It is definitely worth four stars for the first 250 pages, which were compelling and gripping aThis is somewhere between three and four stars for me. It is definitely worth four stars for the first 250 pages, which were compelling and gripping and had me racing through them at a bar while I waited for friends. The rest of the book is not bad but somehow lacks that sense of urgency--even though that's the post-monster-escape part and one would think that the constant threat of being killed by virals (aka lab-created vampires) would lend a sense of urgency. I found myself skimming bits of it, which is not a good sign. So, I guess I'd say that while the first 250 pages are 4 star material, the other 550 vacillate between 2 and 3 star material, only very occasionally edging up toward that fourth star again.
As many have already said, this is a good book that could be better if it were simply shorter. Less running around, perhaps. Fewer characters (who are clearly meant to be memorable but I don't recognize when they show up again a few hundred pages later). Fewer dream sequences. I will certainly be interested in reading the rest of the series, but I do hope they're not quite this massive.
Finally, this is terribly nitpicky and really the job of the editorial staff to ultimately correct, I guess, but "wretch" and "retch" = two different words. Someone needs to figure that out or stop trying to use those words. People were "wretching" a lot and every time it happened it knocked me right out of the story. (Also, "creek" / "creak" and even, once, "taking" / "talking.") I know there are a lot of words in there, but, seriously, all of them need to be spelled correctly. ...more
I know he can't see because the room is pitch black and I have his eyes.
But I couldn't get past the disconnect between the conceit of the book--that this is a found journal of haiku written by a guy who became a zombie--and its execution. I could deal with a zombie being able to write haiku. I could not deal with his typing some of them and taping them into the journal in the proper position or his inclusion of Polaroid photos of events as they occur. Maybe I'm asking too much of this book, but these elements did prevent me from really giving in to the experience....more
If you're entering into a critical study of the genre and have little to no background in literary theory, this book provides some key concepts that wIf you're entering into a critical study of the genre and have little to no background in literary theory, this book provides some key concepts that will be useful. Otherwise, this book may not have much to offer. These key concepts are generally not new to the field of literary or horror studies, the discussion is incredibly repetitive across the different sections of the book, the coverage of major movements is thoroughly skimmable (and also likely to spoil lots of texts if you haven't read everything Wisker discusses yet), and the basic argument about the value of studying horror fiction is frequently overstated. In addition, I found myself wondering on multiple occasions why Wisker was focusing on films at the expense of the books they were based on (instances that stand out to me are The Shining [in which case she conflates the film and book without acknowledging doing so], Bladerunner [with absolutely no discussion of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?], and I, Robot [again, with no mention at all of Asimov's story]) and whether she understands or has conceptualized a distinction between horror and dystopian fiction. In her attempts to show the value of horror fiction, she sometimes tries to include texts that are normally considered science fiction. That would be okay (there's definitely overlap between the two in lots of cases) if she would just acknowledge this. But she doesn't. One example will serve to illustrate the problem: in all of her discussions of horror tropes, she doesn't mention environmental apocalypse at all but yet she wants to include The Day After Tomorrow, a global warming environmental apocalypse story, based in science, easily read as an apocalyptic or dystopian text, as horror. This is something that could be easily dealt with by including a little explanation or broadening the discussion of horror to include this kind of narrative, but this is just not done. One of the greatest irritations for me in reading theory and criticism about genre fiction is the tendency of apologists for various genres to try to make their genre the best and most widespread and influential genre (I've read a lot of SF criticism and I've definitely seen it there, too). That kind of overselling is really not necessary, however, and, as in this case, I find that it just dilutes the power of the central argument and weakens the credibility of the writer.
On the other hand, having presented all of this criticism, Wisker has some really interesting things to say (or point to) about feminist and post-colonial horror. These subsets of the field are clearly where she normally works and I will definitely look for more of her writing in those fields. I am also very happy to see feminist and post-colonial thought represented so well in an introductory book like this. ...more