Dangerous, daring, slimy, foul, and most of all, very well written. You'll need a strong constitution for this one, but it's so, so worth it. The dirtDangerous, daring, slimy, foul, and most of all, very well written. You'll need a strong constitution for this one, but it's so, so worth it. The dirty bits aren't just "porny", they're straight up porn. But not in a titular way. Maybe at first, yeah, but the deeper you get into Hopper's screwed up life, the more grimy and uncomfortable and sad these encounters become. There's a decent mystery here, but that's almost beside the point, which is the character of Hopper. In a similar way as with TAMPA, this isn't a book you recommend lightly to others, but yeah, this one is worth your time....more
This might come off as too much complaining, so let me say at the top - I really enjoyed this book. It had all the elements I hope to encounter in a wThis might come off as too much complaining, so let me say at the top - I really enjoyed this book. It had all the elements I hope to encounter in a weird book, it was pretty well written, there were one or two truly funny moments that took it from being a book to being a memorable book.
High concept is harder to pull off than some people think. The concept is only 1/3 of the whole. You need a strong, interesting concept to pull a reader to a book, and Billings has that here: old Atari games buried in the radioactive Nevada desert form into one giant cartridge that attacks Denver, and turns the city into a large video game that our hero, Jimmy has to beat to save the day. That's a really good setup, yeah?
The next piece is character. If you don't have an interesting character that I can root for (or against, depending) then your concept is only going to carry the book so far. At some point, my interest will wane because there are no stakes for me the reader if there are no stakes for the character. If it's thinly-drawn caricatures of people bouncing around in this conceptual world, I'm not hanging around for long. Again, Billings nails this as well. Jimmy is a former video game prodigy from the 80s who now works in a Chuck E. Cheese. He listens to YouTube whisper videos to soothe him while he cleans vomit from the play tube. Life sucks for him. And then the Atari game attacks, and he seems to be the only one who gets what's going on, and the only one who can save the day. High-five to Billings here for a uniquely odd character that drew me in and made me care about what was at stake for him.
The final piece of the puzzle, when you have a great concept and an engaging character, is to do something with them. Give them a story. This is where the complaint comes in. Billings was so, so close here. There is a good story, but I just feel like it could have been a little better. The Atari cartridge jumps from one game to the next as Jimmy defeats each level - Centipede to Frogger to Space Invaders to, finally, Donkey Kong. There's a lot of rich material to work with here, but for some reason, Jimmy doesn't get to do a whole lot with it. He doesn't even technically beat the Frogger part himself, but instead becomes a spectator for a few pages. And then the final Donkey Kong sequence is basically about 2 1/2 pages long. We barely get into Jimmy's biggest hero moment, and then it's gone.
That's my only complaint, and I suppose it's also praise for Billings's little book. I wanted more. I didn't want to breeze through it so fast. She has the essentials that make a great high-concept story, but at 70 pages, we don't get to spend nearly enough time in this world. I don't know if it's ironic or hypocritical of me to make this complaint, considering my own history, but there it is. Billings left me wanting more, and I look forward to finding more from her. 8-Bit Apocalypse is a great, little book that I recommend to anyone, gamer or not, because it has all the elements of a good story. I had fun here, and if this is indicative of the quality of all the NBAS books this year, then you'll want to get your hands on all of them. Bravo, Amanda....more
I wonder if it was frightening to be around Stephen while he wrote this book. It had to be, as deeply into this disturbed character he gets. We go soI wonder if it was frightening to be around Stephen while he wrote this book. It had to be, as deeply into this disturbed character he gets. We go so far into the mind of William Colton Hughes, we begin to develop our own little ticks and phobias and paranoias as we read - touch three things and check the locks again before you turn the page, because shit, who knows what's coming next. And you won't. I didn't. Granted, I suck at seeing the ending coming, but still, when I got there, wow. What a knockout punch of an ending. And what an amazing first book right out of the gate for Broken River Books....more
Vince Kramer puts the `bat-shit insane genius' into bat-shit insane genius. This book is worth your time simply for the meta-argument asides between iVince Kramer puts the `bat-shit insane genius' into bat-shit insane genius. This book is worth your time simply for the meta-argument asides between its Narrator and its author, but those are interspersed throughout an equally ridiculous, hilarious, wonderfully self-aware story about death machines and sandwiches and the mentally challenged. This book is as offensive as it is funny. It really is the best thing, ever.
If you take yourself too seriously, you won't want to read this book. If you like to have fun and wish to be entertained, then this is the book for you. I look forward to ignoring this book for several months, until I practically forget all about it, just so I can pull it off my shelf again and experience it all over like it was the first time. It won't be, of course, because there can only be one first time reading this hilarious book, but that's the best I'll be able to manage. The hard part will be avoiding that re-read for as long as possible. It will be a difficult sacrifice, but it will be worth it....more
Let's call it 3 1/2 stars. If nothing else, Rector knows how to make a narrative hum right along. Imminently readable, solid plot, maybe a little lackLet's call it 3 1/2 stars. If nothing else, Rector knows how to make a narrative hum right along. Imminently readable, solid plot, maybe a little lacking in the characterization. For a first-person narrative, it never felt like the main character was telling this story. Felt sort of detached, and thin, but still a satisfying thriller that will take a couple days to zip through. Of the 3 Rector books I've read, this one might be my least favorite, but again, not a bad book at all. Read it. If you dig crime and thrillers, you'll probably dig this one just fine....more
Was it well-written? Oh, yeah. Almost... too well-written. Felt a couple times like the plot was a bit too overThis is an odd one to rate and review.
Was it well-written? Oh, yeah. Almost... too well-written. Felt a couple times like the plot was a bit too overtly manipulated to steer the story toward a particular conclusion, but maybe I'm just being picky.
Was it entertaining? Hell, yeah. It was hilarious, in the way that sociopaths can be hilarious with their overriding desire to please themselves at the expense of all others (and specifically, Celeste's inner thoughts about those around her.) The voice of this novel felt so real and so alive, it would be hard to believe that this specific person doesn't actually exist out there, somewhere.
Was it arousing in uncomfortable ways. Well, yeah. As a guy, it's difficult not to imagine my own 14-year old self being in that situation, and how amazing it would have been. But then my 14-year old son would walk into the room while I was reading, and that fantasy reading world would come crashing down around me like a controlled demolition. That's when the creepy factor really sets in with this book. Removing yourself from Celeste's fantasy world (which is all-encompassing, as this is written from her first-person perspective) makes the book uncomfortable. Imagining if the gender roles were reversed, makes it creepy as fuck.
Bravo, Alissa Nutting, for creating one of the most memorable characters I've ever read. But this is not a book I plan on revisiting any time soon. Or ever. ...more
David Barbee showed us what he’s got with A TOWN CALLED SUCKHOLE, but his next book, THUNDERPUSSY, confirms it – Barbee is one of the best authors ofDavid Barbee showed us what he’s got with A TOWN CALLED SUCKHOLE, but his next book, THUNDERPUSSY, confirms it – Barbee is one of the best authors of weird fiction out there right now.
THUNDERPUSSY is a consistently funny, perfectly over-the-top Bizarro update of the super spy adventure. Declan Magpie Bruce, Agent 00X, is everything you’d want in a spy. He’s hypersexual, majestically mustachioed, and armed to the teeth with fun spy gear like a suitbot that transforms his clothing to whatever environment or situation he’s in. Ever wonder how James Bond always shows up in nice new threads all the time, despite never carting luggage around with him? Had to be a suitbot.
That’s one example of dozens of great, weird ideas that pepper the pages of THUNDERPUSSY. While James Bond continues to be re-imagined as Jason Bourne, Barbee goes the other direction and puts a shitload of fun back into the spy genre. ...more
More like 3.5 stars. Good writing as always, but lacked the narrative drive of the first one. The peril never seemed very ... perily. I know that's noMore like 3.5 stars. Good writing as always, but lacked the narrative drive of the first one. The peril never seemed very ... perily. I know that's not at all a word, but it's early in the morning.
Terry Rand is trying to find (and save) his former best friend, Chub, who got mixed up in an armored car heist gone wrong, and is going to be whacked after the crew killed the guards, who were all former cops. There are subplots about his sister's secret acting career, and his mother's despicable side of the family, but the parts never really come together as a strong whole.
I've definitely read better from him, but even the least of Piccirilli is still better than a lot of writers' best efforts....more
Very good meta-romp of a novel disguised as a slasher film, chock full of nods to classic horror slashers, and some inventive verbs that movie fans wiVery good meta-romp of a novel disguised as a slasher film, chock full of nods to classic horror slashers, and some inventive verbs that movie fans will appreciate (like: the killer "Hoddering" after his victim). The style is unique and rather like reading a screenplay, but that has its limitations in that the narrative seemed to lack characterization while also speeding a bit too fast through scenes. I had to re-read a couple parts to get the mental image. It took a bit to adjust to the style, which reminded me of reading Palahniuk's PYGMY, another novel with a unique voice/style throughout. But once you get the cadence down, and once you get to the bloody third act, you'll be hooked....more
Just a great, great book. JDO's Oklahoma setting is grimy and dirty and real and fantastic, as are the characters that inhabit the place, especially DJust a great, great book. JDO's Oklahoma setting is grimy and dirty and real and fantastic, as are the characters that inhabit the place, especially Danny Ames.
I love Danny Ames. He's more than a simple badass strongarm. He's got a momma and a little brother. Thomas was the good boy in the family, and Danny takes so much pride in that. When Thomas goes missing, Danny is hellbent on finding him. It becomes just as much of a search for the only good part of himself. Danny put Thomas through school, and let people know that whenever he could. But now Thomas is involved in some shady dealings, and Danny knows that his own bad influence is to blame. That he's just as responsible for Thomas's disappearance as those behind it. His pain is as much over losing his brother as it is for being his mother's surviving son, the bad one that she failed at raising up right.
As the narrative goes on, Danny begins to lose teeth. One by one, they come loose and he nonchalantly spits them out. JDO doesn't bother explaining this, but he doesn't have to. For me, losing his teeth represents Danny's own rottenness. Danny's a violent man, so deep into drugs and their surrounding world that he can't see the other side anymore. And once Thomas goes missing, it's like the final piece of him that had any redeeming value is gone, and he begins to rot away.
J. David Osborne is in select company after this one. Sallis, Piccirilli, Donald Ray Pollock, JDO - all must-buys and must-reads from here on out. He's that good, and LDDRE is the proof. It reads like it was written by a young Cormac McCarthy who grew up in the age of cellphones. This isn't bluster, it's truth. I implore you to check it out and decide for yourself. ...more
I dug the tech but didn't give a shit about the main character, or really any of the characters at all. Wilson tries hard to show us how frightening tI dug the tech but didn't give a shit about the main character, or really any of the characters at all. Wilson tries hard to show us how frightening technology without humanity behind it can be, but he forgot to give us compelling humans. Maybe he just prefers writing about robots....more
Can a sequel be better than the first book? In this case, I think so, though there's more to it. This might take a minute to make my point, but followCan a sequel be better than the first book? In this case, I think so, though there's more to it. This might take a minute to make my point, but follow me here.
This is the sequel to novel DRIVE, which was made into a movie starring Ryan Gosling. (hey girl, read the fucking books, too) I fucking loved that movie. I saw it before I read the book, and I'm kind of glad I did. After reading DRIVE post-movie-viewage, I found the book to be quite a bit more distracting and random, less focused than I had been expecting. The movie, of course, changes quite a bit while still maintaing the tone of the novel, but after being able to compare the two stories side by side, I preferred Hollywood's plot, which almost never happens. It was tighter, less random, more focused.
About a month after I finally read DRIVE, I got the sequel DRIVEN from the library. It's really more of a continuation than a true sequel. This isn't a new story that happens to be about the character Driver, it's a conclusion to one of the storylines from the original novel, giving it more of a focus than the first. But without the original, there would be no DRIVEN, so the two really go hand-in-hand. This book finishes what the first started and really gives more of a fleshed-out image of Driver.
So, I liked this book more than the first, but only because of the first and what this one carried to a conclusion. Therefore, my advice is read them both, back-to-back, then go rent the movie if you haven't seen it yet....more