As I sit here writing my review of the The Mortis, I’m incredibly conflicted. On one hand, there are so many things about this book that I found absolAs I sit here writing my review of the The Mortis, I’m incredibly conflicted. On one hand, there are so many things about this book that I found absolutely fascinating – the premise, the setting, the ideas, and yet some things that I found really, well, awkward.
Although the exact location of the story is never really disclosed, by picking up on some clues in the story I’m pretty certain that it was set in Madagascar – which in itself is pretty cool for a post-apocalyptic novel, which are normally set somewhere far more generic or familiar. There’s a fancy hotel complex, jungle, ocean and some truly fascinating backdrops – it’s pretty much any holiday-maker’s worst nightmare after everything goes to pot. The plot is also interesting, in that a mysterious disease breaks out that doesn’t kill people and it’s definitely not zombies in the traditional sense – it’s much more mental than physical. But that is also one of the reasons that stopped me loving The Mortis, coupled with a gap between outbreak and the majority of the story – I felt like I was missing context and build-up.
Focusing on two main characters, husband and wife Park and Lee, who are on vacation when the other tourists start to act strangely, The Mortis is primarily a survival story – and is equal parts character and plot driven. Sadly, the characters fell a little flat for me – there’s next to no information about their backgrounds, no personality and a distinct lack of chemistry. And yes, they are in an incredibly stressful, uncertain situation, so I wasn’t expecting romance and unicorns, but I did want them to have some kind of connection to each other, either positive or negative. Rather, it felt almost mechanical – and not even in the survival sense that all the other priorities fell understandably to the wayside – simply that I couldn’t imagine them as real people, and that stopped me from forming any kind of emotional attachment.
The Mortis is told through the perspectives of both Park and Lee, but not alternating – Park narrates the first half, and Lee the second, which meant that I got to see events through both their eyes, but it didn’t feel like they had particularly distinctive voices – for the most part they could have been interchanged and it’s possible that I wouldn’t have even noticed.
What The Mortis lacks in characterisation, the pacing goes a long way towards making up for. Despite the gap between outbreak and the start of their survival, there’s very little down time, and some seriously freaky things happening. Despite my love of fast pacing, it’s almost a little overwhelming at times – and although the synopsis insinuates that Cãlo plays a large part in the story, far more time is spent in the wilderness and the hotel complex.
A unique setting, fast plot and interesting premise certainly held my attention, the atmospheric yet distant writing style was memorable, however the coldness of the characters and the lack of more information on the disease and it’s wider effect left me feeling rather undecided about The Mortis, yet incredibly curious about Jonathan R. Millers work....more
How to talk about this book? It’s a little bit of crazy, a lot of WTF and a whole bunch of confusion is probably the most accurate way I can bSo.
How to talk about this book? It’s a little bit of crazy, a lot of WTF and a whole bunch of confusion is probably the most accurate way I can begin. Basically, Annihilation is the journey of the unnamed biologist who is part of the twelfth expedition to Area X – an isolated, mysterious area that Southern Reach (which I understand to be some type of government agency) sends expeditions to on a regular basis to learn its secrets. In theory this all sounds pretty straightforward, but reading it is anything but.
The narrator isn’t named, but her life is so consumed by her job, that it doesn’t feel particularly strange not to know her name. However, there is a lot of information about her life before the expedition, her relationship with her husband, her fascination with other worlds around her, and some rather candid introspection into her own character. She’s particularly comfortable with herself, which is rather refreshing for a main character.
And then there’s the crazy, WTF and confusion. At first introduction, Area X seems quite straightforward, but quickly escalates into some seriously weird stuff. I’ve always struggled with the super-strange in fiction, but I really enjoyed what Vandermeer does with Annihilation – it’s all a bit strange and I won’t even pretend that I understood, nor spent large chunks of time trying to decipher exactly what was going on, but nevertheless I found it strangely addictive.
I have absolutely no clue who I’d recommend this book to, because really it’s quite hard for me to put it in a nice little box and say ‘yes, this person would LOVE it’ or ‘this person would HATE it’. It’s one of those books that’s very hard to predict who it would appeal to, and why. And I’m keeping this all rather short and quite generic, but I was totally sucked in…even whilst I was scratching my head and trying to figure out exactly what was happening. ...more
The synopsis of The Merciless got me curious, but it was the physical book that actually made me pick it up and read it as soon as I took it out of thThe synopsis of The Merciless got me curious, but it was the physical book that actually made me pick it up and read it as soon as I took it out of the packaging. It’s a hardback, without a dust jacket, bright pink and deckled edged – it practically screamed at me to open it, and once I did, I was pretty much hooked.
Sofia is an experienced new girl, and has perfected the art of slipping seamlessly into a new school. But she unexpectedly finds herself part of the popular crowd and although not completely comfortable, she’s so expert at not making waves she just goes along for the ride. I’m a little ambivalent as to how I feel about her as a character – I didn’t particularly like her, nor dislike her. The disadvantage of The Merciless is that there isn’t a massive amount of initial character development, so I wasn’t particularly invested in them.
What Ms. Vega does in The Merciless however, is write a pretty disturbing plot – it’s pretty damn scary and downright addictive, despite the fact that a few times even I, the gore loving horror addict, internally flinched at some of the things that go down inside the inside the house. In that respect, it’s a compelling plot, but it’s also one that I wasn’t entirely convinced of, especially at the end. It just felt like there should have been something MORE, but I can’t really elaborate without giving away major parts of the story.
However, the first thing I did when I finished was try and find out when the next book will be published, not just because it ends on the most horrible of cliffhangers, but I’m so intrigued with where the story goes next.
Overall The Merciless has a lot of great points for horror lovers, and it’s a very quick, engrossing read. Definitely not for the faint hearted but the storyline and Ms. Vega’s twisted imagination promise a lot more to come…...more