The best thing I can say about Apartment 7C is that it’s short even for a novella (it’s really more of a short story), so it won’t cost more than abou...moreThe best thing I can say about Apartment 7C is that it’s short even for a novella (it’s really more of a short story), so it won’t cost more than about fifteen minutes of your time. I received a review copy, so it didn’t cost me anything money-wise, but I see that the Kindle price is about $2.50—far too much for something this brief. I should also point out that a chunk of the stated 62-page length is taken up by a preview of one of the author’s upcoming works.
As a point of reference, a Goosebumps novel is almost three times as long. Fans of the young adult series whose reading level hasn’t progressed much further might enjoy something like this: it’s simplistic and completely unbelievable. The biggest difference between the two would be that R. L. Stine has some writing chops, plus the fact that David Bernstein has tacked on an awkward, slapdash torture scene that suggests his short story is supposed to be for grown-ups.
The central character is an elderly woman of 82 who regularly hears her neighbor being beaten and verbally abused by her husband, a caricature of a bad cop. Bernstein tells us that the old lady is, according to her doctor, in extremely good shape. She’s not a fitness buff, an ex-boxer, or anything else that might lead to her doctor’s proclamation that her heart “was like that of a thirty year-old runner’s.” Redundant possessive aside, Beth has been given a young person’s stamina for one reason only: the author needs her to do some pretty physical stuff later.
Beth’s sadness at the death of her daughter (who was beaten to death by an abusive husband) and the ultimate fate of her neighbor don’t spur her into action. Instead, she makes the great leap to planning an insane revenge after a series of dull, ghostly visitations, during which she learns that the cop has killed junkies and prostitutes. Now she's pissed.
The elderly-woman-with-the-heart-of-a-runner then climbs onto balconies and busts out windows in order to exact justice on the cardboard cop. What follows is a torture scene that, while it seems to have been the whole point of the story, is rushed rather than relished. Bernstein appears to have a list of items he’s checking off, and he quickly cycles through them.
While going through the checklist, Bernstein has trouble visualizing what’s happening. Even though his mouth is covered with duct tape, the cop is said to scream about a dozen times before the author later notes that the screams are weak because of the tape—as if he’s only just remembered that it’s there. (And could one even scream at all?) Later, he forgets about it completely, as the victim's pulverized lips are said to resemble “bleeding garden slugs.”
Save your money. There are far better shorts about revenge. For something a little more realistic, I recommend Goosebumps #34: Revenge of the Lawn Gnomes.(less)
It's rare that I neglect to finish a book. I usually do plenty of homework first, choosing books that are highly recommended and/or have subject matte...moreIt's rare that I neglect to finish a book. I usually do plenty of homework first, choosing books that are highly recommended and/or have subject matter of interest to me.
For this reason, my star-ratings are usually at least a three. I enjoy most of what I read because I'm selective about what I do read.
Perhaps I chose too quickly with this one. I assumed that the Vatican Archives setting would give way to a dense, literary mystery of the Donna Tartt or Ruiz Zafon variety.
Instead, I was treated to a simplistic writing style (think Douglas Preston) that seemed more like a movie script than a novel.
I'm not averse to blood and guts (I do like crime fiction), but the descriptions in the early pages of this book --which include brains blown out, a hanging and a flaying in the first few pages-- seem more for the sake of shock value and cinematic potential than real storytelling.
Character details are dropped in as if the author was filling out a Mad Libs template. (Note: character descriptions and details in and of themselves don't necessarily make for well-developed characters!)
I hate that I'm reviewing something I didn't see to its end, but I couldn't complete this with so many books waiting.
This series is probably to some peoples' tastes, but not mine.
For a better read that involves the Vatican library, see Thomas Gifford's "The Assassini" --action-packed and conspiracy-laden without the dumbing-down.(less)