In the post-apocalyptic world of HATER, there are two groups of people: 'Us' and 'Them.' This striking contrast between the 'Haters' and the ones who...moreIn the post-apocalyptic world of HATER, there are two groups of people: 'Us' and 'Them.' This striking contrast between the 'Haters' and the ones who are being 'Hated,' while initially something that seems very simple, creates for very dynamic tension early on in the book.
HATER begins as most apocalypses do--before it begins. Our main character, Daniel, is a government worker who hates his job, hates his position in life and is constantly having to deal with his oftentimes-overbearing children. He and his wife's relationship is suffering, his relationship with his father-in-law in less-than-stellar, and his overall quality of life is suffering due to his living situation. A house too small, a job too mundane, and a family almost in constant turmoil serves to make life one thing--misery.
However--when a calamity strikes the world, thrusts the populace head-over-heels and creates a violent strain of violent outbreaks that may or may not be disease-related, Daniel, and his family's, world changes--for the worse.
HATER is everything that anyone could ever want in an apocalypse novel. Fast-paced, intense, visceral--there's no lack of violence and tension in this book. It moves at a breakneck pace that makes it almost impossible to put down. I found myself glued to my seat (while at the airport) and transfixed (while reading before bed) at the brutal world that David Moody created in HATER. The speed of which the novel moves is, in my opinion, probably the best thing about it. Unlike a lot of apocalypse novels, which slow to a low lull in order to introduce certain aspects of the apocalyptic scenario, HATER never stops. The world, and the condition it is in, is quickly revealed in a rapid-fire succession, making the book constantly exciting and engrossing. My only qualm about the book is more of a personal one than one that stabs at Mr. Moody’s writing. There comes a point in the novel where we are introduced to a Hater’s psychology, and though the transformation from one who’s Hated into a Hater seems to be a quick and sudden process, the act in which it happens is never really explained. As someone who loves reading about that sort of transformation, I would have loved to see that expanded upon. That still may happen in book 2 and 3 though, so I’m not going to discount it as a possibility.
In a nutshell, HATER is brilliant. Fast-paced, utterly-engrossing, absolutely-terrifying—this book is impossible to put down. A definite to-read for any apocalyptic fiction fan.(less)
I don’t read many short story collections. That might be because I prefer novels or simply because I don’t find an interest to pick up any particular...moreI don’t read many short story collections. That might be because I prefer novels or simply because I don’t find an interest to pick up any particular collections in general (save the few of King’s I have.) However, when I was given the chance to read Brandon Ford’s new collection, Decayed Etchings, I immediately jumped on it not only because I’d always been interested in Brandon’s work, but because I knew him to be a talented writer in his own right.
If Decayed Etchings is any a start into his writing, this one should be it.
The collection itself is possibly not what many will expect. I in particular was expecting something more along the paranormal lines of horror or stories featuring the things that go bump in the night. However, there are few monsters here (at least, not monsters we normally associate the word with,) but the people within who can be described as such are aplenty. It is this primary factor which immediately strikes Brandon Ford’s writing as sharp—visceral, even, as he paints pictures of ordinary lives and situations gone haywire due to events of insanity or even the balancing tip of human nature. Stories like Goodbye Elise, Band of Gold and Sledgehammer are a few of these tales, and do well to represent the act of people losing their minds to either their heightened consciences or even from outer forces, and it is for this reason that I say that many of the stories in Decayed Etchings are masterfully crafted in terms of mood, setting and overall execution.
There are other stories, however, that superbly outrank the others by far and show Ford’s true talent—which, I believe, is in pacing, execution and dramatic buildup. Such tales like A Walk in the Part, Camera Shy, I’m Up Here and Famous Last Words are all stories which I can immediately pick out of the bunch and say are possibly the strongest works in the collections. The first tells of a man who deals with sleepwalking and the girlfriend who is worried about it, the second of a man filming a woman with a video camera to judge her reactions. Both stories, as vastly different as they may be, are written superbly and build up slowly. It’s as if the writer himself is dragging a knife across your throat as you’re reading. You’re expecting the killing blow, but it doesn’t come until you least expect it.
However, I will say that with such triumphs, there are a few shortcomings in this collection, though this has nothing to do with the writing itself or the overall execution of the stories. As a reader I found myself saddened by the fact that particular stories seemed to end too abruptly (Cat Call being one of them, as well as Uninvited.) Though stories like these are few in this collection fiction, I would have appreciated more fleshed-out and drawn endings. That may be only as a ravenous result of the massive greed I had for the fiction, but it did jolt me out of the story when there were unnecessary halts in the narrative leaving few answers to the questions that had been building up throughout the entire review.
As a whole, Decayed Etchings is definitely something any horror or crime fiction fan should consider reading. Its bold, fast-paced writing, incredible tense and pacing, imaginative writing and superb executions within the stories themselves are reasons alone to buy this work, but if you’re like me, Decayed Etchings will leave you begging for more of Ford’s work.(less)
I’ll start right now by saying that I’ve never really been much of a comic book fan. Save the few Pokemon comics I’ve read and the various Japanese ma...moreI’ll start right now by saying that I’ve never really been much of a comic book fan. Save the few Pokemon comics I’ve read and the various Japanese mangas (mainly Yu-Gi-Oh! and such,) I have barely touched a comic book in my life. That isn’t to say that I’m not a fan of them, because comic books are indeed a medium that are treasured and sacred among all sorts of literature, but I consider myself more of a text-driven kind of reader than a visual one.
BIRDWATCHING FROM MARS: THE GHOST OF THE WORLD, the debut comic in a soon-to-be-thriving series, tells the story of three different people: two survivors and a senator whom is trying desperately to keep control of an underground security bunker in Utah after the world, essentially, ends after the ‘sky falls down,’ as it was so eloquently put as asteroids fell from the sky. Several hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people died; and in the United States alone, most of the survivors outside of the bunkers have succumbed to cannibalism, as food sources have all but depleted. Our main narrator, Frank, has been desperately walking cross-country from Texas to Utah in order to join the survivors—not only fleeing from the cannibals that now ravage the land, but also in fear of a new kind of creature that has arisen from the depravity humanity has now fallen in.
BfM is not like what I expected it to be. In the past, the majority of comics I’ve read are usually balanced or off-kilter between one of few factors: too much text that’s too hard to read, too many images that don’t go well with the story, and not enough images which essentially leaves the reader to their own devices to imagine what’s on the page, something that I feel comic books shouldn’t strive for in any case. However, when I began reading THE GHOST OF THE WORLD, I found myself instantly drawn in by Barry Napier’s crisp, clean writing—a fact that I have learned to love over the few short years I have known him. Coupled with the mainly black-and-white art by Luis Puig, it made for an exciting read that drew me in instantaneously and had me reading each of the twenty-six pages in this debut issue like a hallucinogenic drug. Never in my life have I been so captivated by a comic book like this, and while my experience may be brief in the matter, I have to say that Mr. Napier’s quick-cut selection to the form has instilled within me a sense of longing for the comic book genre that I have never had before.
While I cannot review the comic as a whole, since it is only the debut issue in a series, I will start by saying that the crisp, clear writing and the easy-to-decipher images make this something to watch out for, especially if the apocalyptic, creature-feature scenario it seems to be building holds up to what has been built up (which I believe it will.)
BIRDWATCHING FROM MARS: THE GHOST OF THE WORLD is a great, exciting start to a new series, one of which I hope to collect in print format within the coming months (and, hopefully, years.)(less)
CONTACT begins with the greatest idea of them all—that somehow, someway and somewhere, life exists beyond the small blue world called Earth. It is in...moreCONTACT begins with the greatest idea of them all—that somehow, someway and somewhere, life exists beyond the small blue world called Earth. It is in these moments of the beginning of this novel that a grand adventure begins to be spelled out. In that adventure rests none other than Doctor Eleanor Arroway, a woman whose intelligence and drive magnifies her far beyond those of her peers.
It is one day, after an extremely-difficult line of work and a declaration that her SETI project will be shut down, that an unknown message begins to come from the Vega star in distant space—a message bearing, what appears to be, schematics for something far greater than anyone could ever possibly imagine.
As a reader of speculative fiction, and a fan of the science-fiction genre as a whole, I jumped into this book with excitement shortly after viewing the movie adaptation that features Jodi Foster and Matthew McConaughey. Thinking that it would be vastly different than the original movie, I ventured forward believing that the book would be something different—something that, regardless of its genre’s tenants, would absolutely blow me away. To say that I was underwhelmed would be an understatement, and for that I sadly have to say that I did not enjoy this book as much as I could have.
With science-fiction, there is always a bridging line between the actual science and the fiction itself that can either make or break a book for a particular sub-sect of readers, mainly those who enjoy the idea of far-off worlds and alien civilizations but are not, in the least, intelligent enough to know specifics details about astronomy, radio waves and other technological jargon. Being a reader following into that sub-sect, I have to say that much of the time, I found the book doing just what it was I feel many science-fiction novels do in order to make up for the fact that there seems not to be enough ‘science’ and too much ‘fiction’—mainly, of course, making the science much too heavy a role in the story. While I don’t necessarily feel that this book lacked the essentials needed to make this a realistic story, I do feel as though the book (and its now deceased author) went to strong lengths in order to make this as set in stone as possible. For that alone I found myself cringing over three-page-long descriptions of certain scientific actions, theories and equations, and while that may have been beneficial to the story, I feel as though CONTACT could have done without so much of the science and more of the fiction itself.
To say that the book is bad would be wrong. The writing is, at times, beautiful; eloquently strung together and written in a way that marks Sagan as someone who also, along with his astounding intelligence, had the ability to write. While reading certain passages, I found myself blown away at how they were strung together, worded, and ultimately assembled to create the overall mood of the science in the story. To say this is a smart book would be like comparing an apple to a seed, and while the scientific endeavors that line this book is great, I have to say that I felt little emotion connection to the characters—particularly Arroway, who, as our main character, should have had a stronger focus within the overall story—that dealt a huge blow to the fictional connection between reader and main character.
While I would not recommend the novelization of CONTACT to most everyone, given its scientific-slant, I can honestly say that the writing itself is beautiful and, if only for a few chapters alone, should be given a chance. While I may have felt a bit disappointed with the novel, that doesn’t mean others will follow my path.(less)
Another one of my favorites. An abused housewife, a relentless husband and a mystical painting--what more could you want in a dark, brooding tale from...moreAnother one of my favorites. An abused housewife, a relentless husband and a mystical painting--what more could you want in a dark, brooding tale from King?(less)
I’ve been taking some time after reading this novel in order to culminate my thoughts on it. It’s not because I’m lazy in writing reviews (because tru...moreI’ve been taking some time after reading this novel in order to culminate my thoughts on it. It’s not because I’m lazy in writing reviews (because trust me, I try to write a review for each and every small press/independent book I read if only because I want to support them,) but it’s because I wanted some time to think about the story in whole. There’s a lot to think about, considering its first print run was somewhere near the five-hundred page mark, so without further ado, here’s my review.
The Tale of the Vampire Bride isn’t what many people would make it out to be. Violent, brutal, heartbreaking and above all else, tragic, it begins with a young Englishwoman’s family traveling to meet a count that has requested to meet our heroine of the story, Lady Glynis Wright. Far ahead of her time and more than against the idea that she should marry what she believes will be an ‘old, fat count,’ our main character is instantly introduced to us in a way that only begins to solidify her personality from the start. As with past experience with Rhiannon Frater’s work (As the World Dies, Pretty When She Dies, The Living Dead Boy and the Zombie Hunters,) the reader quickly learns about their character through minute, seemingly-unrecognizable things that some readers won’t immediately pick upon. The way Glynis pouts, stamps her feet and shows a strong relationship with her father immediately introduces us to a young woman who is, by all means, a feminist, and proud of the fact that she should be able to be an independent woman even in the face of her set-upon adversity. This, I will say, is one of the great trademarks of the novel, as it shapes the character so early on in the story that you can’t help but want to get to know the her more.
However, like all of Rhiannon’s stories, things seem to take a darker turn. When a boulder blocks their path, forcing them to go an alternate route that their guides say will lead them to a place that is ‘evil and foreboding,’ Glynis’ father insists that they continue on the other path. To the grief of the guides, they continue on, but soon they are pursued by a pack of wolves directly to an old, seemingly-run-down castle.
Here, she meets the count that has so inspired unsurety within her life: Vlad Dracula.
There is little I can say at this current time to describe this book without fully giving it away. The Tale of the Vampire Bride is, by all means, gargantuan—not only in forms of size, but story. It begins with a meeting with the count and quickly turns into a terrifying visage of horror as Glynis sees everything stripped away from her, then quickly translates into a tale of survival, perseverance and fear, that of which is bestowed upon our main character not only due to her captor, but her fledging powers and just what it means to have your entire life upended.
Now, to say that it took me a while to read this book would be an understatement. I began reading it nightly and then quickly began to read it more fervently while on a plane ride. I tore through this book like a madman, because one of Rhiannon’s great qualities about her writing is that once you start reading something, you can’t stop. Thus makes the book a compelling read, which eventually leads to the finale—which, I should say, is perfect beyond any means.
Without spoiling too much for you, I’ll simply say this: The Tale of the Vampire Bride is a novel that returns to the old formula. You won’t find vampires sparkling, shimmering or glowing in any sort of way within this novel, nor will you see trivial pursuits of the heart like some books use to overly romanticize them. No—these vampires are monsters, despicable creatures who are either forced to become what they are or fall into it by necessity, who feed on the blood of innocents in order to remain alive and sometimes end up taking life in the process. They are not, however, heartless, at least not in the case of Glynis, the female protagonist which quickly shows what it means to be a powerful young woman. In the face of all odds, she emerges in order to become a strong, independent creature. By the end of the novel, I was so overwhelmed by just what had transpired that it instantly left me wanting more.
As of the date of posting this, a sequel is in the works, one of which I know will instantly launch The Tale of the Vampire Bride and its eventual saga to new and even more exciting heights.
Epic, gargantuan, a return to the old folklore and traditions of the vampire, The Tale of the Vampire Bride is a novel that any vampire fan would love to read, one that should be read, preferably, with the lights down and in a very muted room. You won’t be disappointed when you crack this tome open and begin to read.(less)
One of my favorite all-time King books. Though it's slow buildup is something most people don't enjoy and have criticism about, the end result is wort...moreOne of my favorite all-time King books. Though it's slow buildup is something most people don't enjoy and have criticism about, the end result is worth the effort. Beautifully-literary and haunting.(less)
Witty, smart, intelligent, well-rounded and tied together beautifully. In reading this classic, I can understand why some people wouldn't like it. Giv...moreWitty, smart, intelligent, well-rounded and tied together beautifully. In reading this classic, I can understand why some people wouldn't like it. Given its nature and how it basically leads from point A, to B, C, then back again, it's no wonder why people absolutely love the book or hate it. However, with that said, I have to say that ANIMAL FARM tells an amazing story, one of not only rebellion, but of servitude, loyalty, justice and, some may say, tyranny. (less)
This book is amazing. Gargantuan, breathtaking, incredibly-power and at the same time totally frightening--the human nature is shown to be true under...moreThis book is amazing. Gargantuan, breathtaking, incredibly-power and at the same time totally frightening--the human nature is shown to be true under the most stressful of situations, and in this novel, King does just that. Like looking at a small, miniature world, UNDER THE DOME takes you to a place you could only begin to imagine: Chester's Mill, Maine, which is now UNDER THE DOME.(less)