Stephen Knight's The Gathering Dead is an exciting tale about a group of special forces members trapped in a zombie-ridden New Yor***minor spoilers***
Stephen Knight's The Gathering Dead is an exciting tale about a group of special forces members trapped in a zombie-ridden New York City. Their chopper goes down while trying to extract a VIP, Dr. Wolf Safire, who has valuable knowledge of the zombie virus and may be able to produce a cure. They are forced to hole up in an office building while they try to figure out another plan to get Dr. Safire and his daughter, Regina, out of the crumbling city.
For the most part, I found the book very entertaining, fast-paced, with well-rounded characters and tensions between them. Even those more "stock" characters one often finds in a-team-of-military-men fiction each had some trait that made you root for them and made them stick out in your mind. However, the book could have greatly benefited from a solid editor. There are quite a few grammatical errors, some repetitive phrasing, and even one or two inconsistencies in continuity (at one point a soldier trades guns with another, then his old one is described in his hand a sentence later, then its back to the new one he just acquired.) But these, for me, did not distract from the page-turning enjoyment of this book. It may bother other readers, but I'm not distracted by the occasional typo. If it bothers you, this book could be irksome.
The detail in the story's technical aspects is what I enjoyed a lot. All the military weapons and gear is well identified and used properly, the tactics of the soldiers seem well thought out and realistic (not being a soldier myself, though, I can't speak to their accuracy; it just made sense to me as a reader,) and the layout of New York was solid and lent itself to an easy visual of the setting. There are also some really original scenarios presented. The scene when the team must descend 26 stories down an elevator shaft I found riveting, as well as the ensuing battle out in the streets. One presented idea about soldiers who have been reanimating retaining some of their training was a nice twist, something explored a bit in the film Day of The Dead. Still, the idea of the intelligent zombie hasn't been fleshed out much, and I think Knight handled it was a pretty solid plausibility.
All in all I enjoyed this book, and it was action-packed enough that I could easily picture it as a solid zombie movie. I recommend The Gathering Dead for the casual reader and fan of zombie and survival fiction....more
The Strange Case of Finley Jayne was rather blatantly released as advertisement for the actual start to the Steampunk Chronicles, The Girl In The SteeThe Strange Case of Finley Jayne was rather blatantly released as advertisement for the actual start to the Steampunk Chronicles, The Girl In The Steel Corset. I don't knock this idea at all, and as an advertisement - one I downloaded for free on a whim - it served its purpose. The titular character of Finley Jayne was engaging enough in this one-off novella prequel for me to want to continue with the series. However, as a stand-alone work of fiction, The Strange Case of Finley Jayne is a little stiff, pretty formulaic, low on detail, and rife with more than a few grammatical mistakes. Take this for what it is - a taste of what is to come with our heroine and an advertisement beckoning you to read The Girl In The Steel Corset. This novella on its own, though entertaining enough, never really jumps off the page....more
Aaron Polson's We Are The Monsters is a tightly-wound story with beautiful prose and a swirling, creepy plot that blurs the lines between reality andAaron Polson's We Are The Monsters is a tightly-wound story with beautiful prose and a swirling, creepy plot that blurs the lines between reality and imagination.
On one hand, We Are the Monsters' characters and setting come off as snapshots of any American small town one could think of. Their voices are real, and most of the set pieces (The Shack, The Pond, The Bridge) become characters in and of themselves. Everything about Springdale and its population seems authentic. Their interactions, their friendships, their tragedies all feel real.
On the other hand, We Are the Monsters is infused with a supernatural undercurrent that left me, the reader, wondering what events could have actually happened and what events were merely concoctions of the narrator's tormented and guilt-ridden mind. That is to say, the tone is set so well that it didn't seem impossible for the dead to walk the earth in Springdale. Each character dealt with their own secrets, and those secrets manifested themselves into something real, something that stalked the streets and forests, the rivers and lakes of this sleepy little town.
It begs the question of what one does with guilt and consequence? These things do in fact have a way of taking on a shape and destiny of their own. We Are the Monsters is a beautifully written piece that entertainingly shows us what can happen when our fears and doubt become bigger than our bodies; what happens when a few good lies turn us into very bad things.
After reading (and loving) Polson's March 2011 offering, We Are The Monsters, I knew I had to find something else by this author to read.
The House EatAfter reading (and loving) Polson's March 2011 offering, We Are The Monsters, I knew I had to find something else by this author to read.
The House Eaters did not disappoint. Though, for me, not as chilling and atmospheric as We Are The Monsters, The House Eaters showcases well Polson's gift for capturing a teen voice and for brisk and entertaining YA horror fiction that also happens to be tasteful and well-written.
The House Eaters is set in Broughton's Hollow, a blip-on-a-map nowhere Kansas town. Nick Gillingham and his family move to the Hollow after Nick's mother loses her job and his father takes a position at Springdale High. (One of Polson's popular stomping grounds, the school is featured in three of his books I've read thus far.)
What transpires after that is a classic ghost story, a tale filled with wonderful characters we want to root for. With a few mysteries thrown in for good measure - most of which involve Nick's own family even more so, it would seem, than the creepy old neighborhood home where our haunter resides, The House Eaters is a satisfying read.
What I enjoyed a lot about the tail was the pacing. The curtain over Nick's troubled family is slowly pulled back as the story progresses, revealing a younger sister, Tabby, whose stay in a mental hospital a year prior may have been the first sign that there's more power in her than it seems; a mother who drinks a little more each day; a father who stays out later and later each night. The ghostly action is spaced well, leaving room for solid and natural character and relationship development. Nick's new ghost-hunting posse - Gage, Saul, and Sarah - make lovable comrades, and his struggles with the quintessentially popular "blood-sucker" Cat and her meat-head boyfriend Dane are believable and interesting.
All in all The House Eaters is very well done and I would highly recommend it. After reading We Are The Monsters, I found myself intrigued with this fresh literary voice. Now another book down in Polson's impressive catalog, I can officially call myself a fan.