This is a really awesome comic. I already knew Hill's horror was great from his novels, but paired with Rodriguez's fantastically creepy and often gor...moreThis is a really awesome comic. I already knew Hill's horror was great from his novels, but paired with Rodriguez's fantastically creepy and often gory imagery, it just goes to a whole other level. I liked the character of Bode and I loved the character of Kinsey, and the concept of the story—a house with magical doors that lead to other lives and worlds and the ability to "become a ghost"—is intriguing. And despite being a horror comic, the story doesn't rely on "BOO" type scares, the horror of it comes from the plot and the reactions of the characters, which makes for a really compelling story that I'm looking forward to reading the next installments of. (less)
This was one of those books that took me a little while to get interested in, but once it caught my interest I was completely hooked. The plot, at fir...moreThis was one of those books that took me a little while to get interested in, but once it caught my interest I was completely hooked. The plot, at first, is a fairly typical young adult fiction storyline: an American girl moves to London to go to school while her parents are on sabbatical. She has to navigate the different culture and her new school, making friends and flirting with her love interest. Where the novel diverges is with a recent crime that seems to emulate the work of Jack the Ripper. Copycat killers aren't uncommon, but where it gets weird is when the new Ripper doesn't show up on any of the numerous CCTV cameras around the city, including the areas in which the murders are beginning to take place. Here, Johnson adds a supernatural element to the story which works well with the merging of historical and modern day London. While there were moments in the story that were too bantery (always the main issue I find in young adult fiction), overall the characters were realistic and not caricatures, despite including some characters who are frequently stereotyped—the Southerner (the book's protagonist is from Louisiana), the working class man who uses Cockney slang, and so on. The plot keeps moving and definitely held my attention, waiting to find out what happened next. Be warned; the book ends with something of a cliffhanger setting up a sequel, which isn't due out until next year. I'm definitely looking forward to it. (less)
The third and final story in the Demon's Lexicon trilogy is from the point of view of Cynthia "Sin" Davies, a dancer at the Goblin Market who is cautiously allied with Nick, Alan, and Mae to stop the magicians, while also competing with Mae for leadership of the Market. While she also has to take care of her younger brother and sister and deal with financial worries, the others have problems of their own—Mae with her brother (Jamie, who sadly had a much smaller role for much of this book, although it fit the plot) joining the magicians and Nick and Alan with the promise Nick once made a demon. Sin was a little bit more of an outsider at the start of this book than Mae was at the start of The Demon's Covenant (the second book, which was from her perspective), so it was nice to get some more insight into her strengths and insecurities and feelings. I think she might have been my favourite of the three "narrators," particularly for the background information she gave about the Market and its history and participants. The plot was also better managed than in the previous books; while they were, I felt, slightly rushed toward the end and a little bit lacking in closure, this novel drew the plot out over the course of the story for a dramatic conclusion featuring a number of twists and turns and surprises from all of the characters. But the plot didn't take away from the character development at all—instead, it added a lot of reason as to why Sin acts the way she does, showed the depth of Nick's love for Alan (and vice versa, although that had been well-conveyed in the other books as well), demonstrated how brave and smart and wonderful Mae is, and so on. Overall, I loved this book. The first two were good, but this one was really, really great.
Yes, this is a book about a man going back in time to change the course of history. It's not the first, and it won't be the last. There is a plethora...moreYes, this is a book about a man going back in time to change the course of history. It's not the first, and it won't be the last. There is a plethora of media covering the alternate history that would have occurred had Hitler been killed before he could become the leader of Germany, and another plethora speculating the opposite: what if Hitler and the Nazis had won World War II? Some stories are more serious while others are more of Quentin Tarantino's farcical Inglourious Basterds ilk. And Hitler's rise to power is far from the only event altered in such stories. Harry Turtledove wrote a novel in which the Confederacy won the Civil War, and Newt Gingrich one where the south at least won at Gettysburg. Alan Moore's graphic novel Watchmen speculates on a United States that won the Vietnam War. Even fictional history has been changed, from Back to the Future to Doctor Who.
In most of these stories, the time-traveller doesn't go back in time just to make a small alteration to the historical record; it's usually some big event or, as a character in King's novel calls it, the watershed moment. In 11/22/63, as the title indicates, it is Kennedy's assassination, and high school English teacher is Jake Epping is the one sent to stop it. Epping steps back in time through a wormhole in a local diner and finds himself near Derry, Maine in 1958.
Note: Derry is a fictional town in Main that, along with Castle Rock (which surprisingly does not get a mention in this book) serves as the setting for many of King's works. However, readers with sharp memories may notice that Derry in 1958, specifically, was the backdrop for another of the author's novels, a fact that becomes obvious as Epping meets two young children named Ritchie and Bev, and talks to them about their fear of clowns. This connection may lead readers to believe that there will be a far more supernatural element to the novel than there actually is, but it does add a creeping suspicion of some underlying evil beyond even the fantastical concept of time travel and alternate realities.
Anyway, Jake Epping goes back and, as you would expect a man in 1958 who plans to assassinate an assassin in 1963, does his best to lay low—first in Derry, then in Florida, and finally in a little town in Texas, where he goes back to teaching, and even meets a nice girl with whom he can settle down for a while. As you would expect a man in 1958 who plans to assassinate an assassin in 1963 who also happens to be in a book written by Stephen King, all does not go as planned. As the day grows closer, time and reality twist and tangle until the novel reaches it's thrilling conclusion.
Well, okay, thrilling might be an overstatement. Anyone familiar with his work knows that endings aren't Stephen King's strongest suit (Under the Dome, anyone?). However, this book was engrossing up through the very end, and definitely one of his stronger finishes. But enough about the ending—you don't really want to know if Jake Epping manages to stop Oswald, do you? So let's back it up and talk about the worldbuilding.
Unlike some of his endings, the worldbuilding in King's novels is rarely lacking. As I mentioned, he created not one but two towns and populated them with enough well-developed characters and minute details that you'd think you remember them from passing through on some family vacation in Maine. He created an entire universe for The Dark Tower and beyond that has slipped references and connections to the series in many of his other novels, linking their worlds together. The setting of 11/22/63 isn't as fanciful as Mid-World, but once again Stephen King fills his novel with a real sense of place—tiny facts and characters who round out the world he has created.
The plot is equally compelling focusing not only on the bigger picture of a plot to kill the president's would-be killer (complete with speculation on what butterfly effect type repercussions it may have) but also, again, on the little details. On the school play at the school where Epping—now under the alias George Amberson—teaches in Texas. On the life of a man Epping met back in 2011. On the mysterious, "yellow card man" and on Glenn Miller's "In the Mood." In many alternate history books, the change occurs near the beginning, with the rest of the story exploring the fallout. In this novel, it is about the lead-up, and while that day in Dallas is still the climax, it is not the only event of importance.
I always have difficulty ranking books, so I don't want to put this in my Top Five Stephen King Books, or my Top Ten, or whatever (although I suspect it would make the latter list and perhaps even the former). How could I compare 11/22/63 to The Dark Tower or Different Seasons or Needful Things, some of my other favourites? But I would definitely say that this one is a favourite, and one I'd certainly read again (which I think is high praise for an 800+ page book). If you like history, or time travel, or tearing the fabric of reality, 11/22/63 is for you.
The second installment in the continuing adventures of Nick and Allen Ryves is from the perspective of their friend Mae Crawford, and I think the choice is an improvement over the first novel. Mae's narration is smart, funny, and—for reasons that are obvious within the plot—much warmer than Nick's POV. Plot-wise, the story picks up where The Demon's Lexicon leaves off, and the aftermath of the big revelation involving Nick causes friction between the brothers, as well as having an effect on Mae and her brother Jamie. I like the new character, Seb, who is introduced, and I was glad to see Sin again (it looks like the third book is her point of view, so I'm looking forward to that). It was a quick read, but the characters were well-rounded, and the plot was a lot of fun. I wasn't terribly fond of the love triangle that seemed to be developing in this book, but it looks like it's going to work out in a reasonable way, so that's alright. I also like that none of the characters are introduced strictly to be love interests, which seems to happen a lot in YA fiction, but the only one who would've fit that description is Seb, and by the end he definitely had a part in the plot.
P.s. I saw something on the author's blog about getting tired of people comparing her books to Supernatural. That's fair, but co-dependent brothers (the younger of whom has demon blood and a destiny the elder is trying to save him from) who hunt evil, and then in this book you add in their father's journal? There's a reason people might make the comparison.
3.5 out of 5 stars. I've been wanting to check out this series for a while, mainly because I have friends who really like Sarah Rees Brennan's fannish...more3.5 out of 5 stars. I've been wanting to check out this series for a while, mainly because I have friends who really like Sarah Rees Brennan's fannish work. And I definitely wasn't disappointed. The worldbuilding wasn't the most interesting thing — it's mostly set in the "real world" but with more magic and very little explanation of what that magic is or where it comes from (at least not as much as I would've liked, I always want ALL THE WORLDBUILDING)—but I liked the characters (particularly Jamie) and their interactions with each other. I believe the sequel is from Mae's point of view, so I'm really interested to see how that will differ from Nick's in terms of the connections between the characters and how they are portrayed. The plot was sometimes a bit overdramatic, but I like the ideas explored with regard to emotions and how people relate to each other, particularly in terms of the two brothers, Nick and Alan. It had some good action, and the tension really built up toward the end into something that I feel like I probably should've seen coming and yet totally didn't. There were a few too many similes/metaphors, some of them a bit ridiculous, it was a little too banter-y at parts (I'm not really surprised about this, considering), and the characters other than the main four (Nick, Alan, Jamie, and Mae) weren't very well-rounded or fleshed out, but as a young adult book with paranormal/supernatural elements, you could do a lot worse. I'm definitely going to read the sequels.(less)
This is the fourth of Elizabeth Knox's books that I've read, and it confirms that her biggest strength is in her ability to create setting and atmosph...moreThis is the fourth of Elizabeth Knox's books that I've read, and it confirms that her biggest strength is in her ability to create setting and atmosphere. Like The Vintner's Luck and The Angel's Cut (both of which I liked better than this book, although I preferred it over Billie's Kiss), this story puts supernatural creatures into a richly-described historical time period, although this one also has several storylines that occur in modern times. In this book, the creature of choice is vampires, and although Knox uses the typical vampire lore (averse to light, sucks blood erotically) as the basis of her myth, she takes some interesting twists in this story about a caver, a Jesuit priest, an artist's widow, and their connections to a vampire named Dawn. I occasionally found it difficult to follow all of the interconnecting and diverging storylines, as it sometimes seemed as though the action was jumping from time period to time period within a single chapter or even passage, and I never really felt an emotional connection to these characters as I have in some of her other books (*cough* Xas—and although I said I would put this above Billie's Kiss, I was far more interested in the protagonist of that book than I was in Brian "Bad" Phelan). However, as usual, Knox's prose was beautiful and she really delved into creating the backdrop, so the richness of the writing made up for what was lacking in the story and characters.(less)