Well, for starters, it is indeed very VERY creepy. The characters are almost all anti-heroes with a false sense of...moreWhat can I say about The Merciless?
Well, for starters, it is indeed very VERY creepy. The characters are almost all anti-heroes with a false sense of purpose. While there may or may not be paranormal forces in this novel (must...not...spoil...this...book), the fact that HUMANS are capable of such horrendous things, is terrifying in itself. We're constantly asking which character is the bad guy and if they're all bad guys in their own twisted way.
The pacing is very quick once it gets into the heart of the novel (young girl, tied up, and covered in blood--it's in the synopsis!), and it's very hard to put it down.
The concept is terrifying because it plays on such a huge societal (and controversial) theme: religion. I'm not much of a religious person, but even I can see how terrifying the quote on the back of the novel is: "Forgive us, Father, for WE have sinned." It forces the reader to question if humans are as bad as demons, or if demons are a creation of negative human mentality. When all else fails in our world, why not say that the person we see as slighting us is possessed? Atheists may have a field day with this one, while other religious readers might feel terrified because of the idea that the very thing they fear may be coming to life within these pages.
The ending is definitely one of those endings that doesn't sugarcoat everything, which is perfect. If the rest of the novel is a dark and chaotic tale of sins and damnation, why does the ending have to be happy and peaceful?
While I wouldn't exactly call this a horror novel, I would definitely label it as a psychological thriller, or suspense. This is only horror to those who allow it to be terrifying, and this is suspenseful for those who see that humanity might just be as dark as demons.
The minor issues I had with this were editing, some small issues with continuity, and missed opportunities with some of the characters. At the beginning of the novel, it felt like things were being rushed, just so we could get through the whole introductory part of the novel. If the characters were drawn out a bit more, then this story could have been truly horrifying.
I recommend this to anyone who's into young adult novels with a darker theme. If you're looking for that next gory, heart-pounding, stomach turning story you've been craving, then check this one out.
I received a copy via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review
Feral by Holly Schindler was one of those reads that left you wondering what the hell you just read. While I somewhat enjoyed this one, I was still a bit overwhelmed with the whole premise and wasn't too surprised by the conclusion.
Claire, the protagonist, is a girl who recently survived a brutal attack back in Chicago, prompting a move that will not only change her life, but start the weird events that will haunt the novel. Peculiar, Missouri is not only a very small place with a very weird name, but it is also a place overrun by feral cats. From the moment those cats are mentioned, the story takes on a very creepy tone.
The prose of the novel is beautiful, but the story itself is so weird and random that I found myself struggling to hang on. I gave Feral a three out of five because of this prose and because of the way everything wraps up at the end, but it doesn't mean that I wasn't constantly thinking about this book's strangeness.
One of the things that Schindler did right was making the story as overwhelming for the reader as it was for Claire. We got to see what she went through, while her world started to blend with the world of the dead that she was surrounding herself with.
Though the novel was a bit long-winded and more than a bit strange, I still did enjoy it. Feral is definitely a different kind of book that will challenge you to see what is real and what is imagined. Plus, the cats. Man, if you weren't freaked out by cats before, this novel might just do it for you.
I recommend Feral to readers who enjoy a bit of a psychological thriller. Also, to readers who find fun in weird books full of weird instances. Also, if you like or hate cats, this might appeal to you!(less)
I received a copy via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
Indelible is Dawn Metcalf's second young adult novel and while the ideas behind her novels are incredibly original, I fail to connect with her story telling. I won't lie, I was super enthusiastic to read this one--I mean, look at that cover and that description! Who wouldn't want to read something that both looks and sounds so appealing? And while Indelible will definitely be loved by many readers, I unfortunately found Metcalf's novel to be disappointing and weakly written.
The beginning shows a lot of promise, what with the mysteriously handsome and dangerous boy, the fun and youthful setting, and the idea of magic within the folds of reality.
Joy, the protagonist, starts off as an interesting character who has gone through some seriously dark stuff. At first I felt compassion for her--after all, here's this girl who is terrified, but has no one believing her. But then, I started to get annoyed. Not just with her character, but with nearly every character in the book. First you have the meddlers, then the naggy characters, then you have the very frustrating and slightly creepy love interest and protagonist. Let's just say that after a while, every character got on my nerve.
Okay, I understand where some of the characters are coming from, and perhaps my reaction to how they acted towards Joy might be biased, since my personality would never allow for people to treat me the way they treat Joy, but come on. If a girl doesn't want to talk about something, that's her business. This felt like a huge issue in the novel, as if Joy was fending off people telling her to tell them this or that, which drove me nuts and was a total turn-off. I find it very hard to connect with characters who are either very indecisive throughout a novel, or who let others push them around (without speaking up by the end of the novel).
Like I said before, the beginning of the novel is the redeeming quality, so naturally I enjoyed almost every aspect of it. The pacing was well done, since we're immediately brought into the heart of the situation where Joy's life changes forever. I like that Metcalf doesn't dwell on the mundane at the beginning, since her novel is full of creepy and fast-paced moments. She also creates a dark and uncomfortable tone by using effective descriptions and metaphors.
But as the novel progresses, the story begins to unravel like a badly knitted sweater. The pacing, once comfortable, becomes jerky, the storyline starts to take a few too many twists, A LOT of new information is introduced, which is very overwhelming.
Joy is frustrating because she never quite knows what she wants, the romance in the novel feels forced and lacks that raw power that is usually evident in great romantic novels, and everything just feels like one big mess.
Honestly, I don't know what to make of the novel. The beginning shows a lot of promise, but from the middle to the conclusion, it's almost like Metcalf is trying to make her story more original and more complex, so as to have a reason to write a sequel.
If you like original stories and very stubborn characters, then give this one a read. I may not have enjoyed it, but I know that others certainly will--mainly because of the magic, romance, and adventure. I wasn't a huge fan of her first book, but those who were, might end up loving this one.(less)
I received a copy from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review
Hilary T. Smith's debut Wild Awake is a young adult contemporary novel that touches on grief, mental health, and the expectations that parents often place on us in order to make us either copies of themselves, or better than the disappointments they've faced in the past.
Smith's writing is gorgeous, if not at times a little intense, and it is her unflinching ability to portray a young girl not only on the cusp of escaping her parents' expectations, but also on the verge of finding herself after an intense breakdown, that makes Wild Awake such an intense ride.
Kiri Byrd (check out the last name and its connection to being free as a bird in a world of constrictions?), the protagonist, is a gifted pianist who comes from a slightly affluent family. We are first introduced into Kiri's world after her parents have left her home alone for a cruise--which immediately screams, "Bad Parents" alert. From there, we see Kiri slowly fall apart when left to her own devices with a heavy and dark secret that she unfortunately comes across on her own.
Smith's writing is riddled with very quotable metaphors and descriptions, making it easy to picture what Kiri is seeing. Also, Kiri is so quirky that we can't help but either laugh, or squirm uncomfortably as she slowly loses her perfectly controlled world.
No one, it seems, can understand Kiri's pain, and we're made privy to this information as Kiri sees the world through angst and grief filled eyes. One of the reasons why I love when authors write in the first person narrative is how easy it is to become the protagonist. Unlike with third person, where we look on as unattached strangers, we can navigate the dark passages in the character's mind alongside him/her when in first person. Kiri's slow descent into her own destruction would not be as powerful if it were in anything but first person.
Kiri's story also brings to question the popular notions of madness, drug-abuse, homelessness, and obsessiveness in the arts. Kiri and her deceased sisters' beautiful music or art were the creative outcomes of their personal struggles. Kiri's obsessive piano playing and unrealistic goals hint at her imminent mental break. There's only so much a teenaged girl can take.
The romance is as cute and unconventional as Kiri herself. Skunk is nowhere near perfect, perhaps more broken than Kiri, but they somehow help each other. While fighting off imaginary enemies, experimenting with drugs, and reaching new levels of intimacy, Kiri and Skunk indadvertedly heal each other. Though the romance is a little quick, it also plays into the hurried pace of, "If we don't act now, if we don't do this NOW, then we might lose it all; we might not find ourselves in the end."
The reason why I'm not giving Wild Awake five stars is because it is a slightly messy read. While the writing is gorgeous, all of the bad crap happened so...suddenly that it took me by surprise. I was still reeling by the time Kiri came back to her senses. I remember thinking, "What just happened?" And while this is perhaps the exact feeling Smith was going for, it came off a little intense and messy. I understand Smith wants us to experience Kiri's mental and emotional instability as intensely as Kiri does, but it was, perhaps, too much.
The conclusion, in my opinion, is pretty perfect since it showcases what truly matters in the book.
I recommend this to anyone seeking an adventure and more realistic romance (no blue-eyed, blond, insta-love boys here). Kiri isn't someone you forget, since we all have that one little thing that can tip us over the edge and is capable of changing how we see everything and everyone around us.
Kiri's unforgettably destructive, yet healing summer is all jam-packed into Wild Awake--be prepared. (less)
Dee Doanes's The Man with the Green Suitcase is an interesting story tha...moreReview first appeared on my blog: Book Addict 24-7
I received a copy for review
Dee Doanes's The Man with the Green Suitcase is an interesting story that spans over several characters, rather than the conventional single or double protagonists. The story, though a relatively fast read, was at times hard to follow, but in the end made perfect sense. Doanes explores the complexities of human relationships and the flaws that humanity harbors, while adding a teeny touch of magic and mystery into the mix.
I was constantly surprised by the immense change that some of the characters went through. In a way, it gave me hope that somewhere out there there are people like Doanes's characters. Also, the greed inhabiting some of the characters was disturbing, yet very realistic.
The novel's concept is original and a bit odd. Not in a bad way, but in a I-need-to-get-accustomed-to-this-originality way. Whereas we are used to the typical adult fiction novels full of romance and witty characters, or murderous plots, Doanes's book is simply a collection of different characters colliding in a story full of redemption, hope, and love.
Though the old man isn't mentioned as much as the title would suggest, the story does indadvertedly revolve around him. Stories clash and characters meet, but in the middle of everything is the old man and his green mysterious suitcase.
For a while, after I read the book, I wasn't sure what I thought about this. I mean, if you're title reflects one of the characters in the book, would you not make him more central? But then, I realized, the old man was central to the story line. Without him none of the characters would meet or have inner turmoil. He was the catalyst, the climax for each individual characters' internal struggle or conflict that s/he had to overcome.
The negatives that keep this book from being a five star book, in my opinion, is the need for more editing and the at times awkward dialogue. There were instances where the dialogue felt stilted, overwrought, or too dramatic.
But, keeping to the topic of dialogue, I have to comment on how smoothly Doanes blends the different points of view into a fluid omniscient observation of her world.
The twists and turns in the story the reader does not anticipate create a uniquely mysterious air to the novel. There are a lot, which is ridiculously satisfying. It is nice to know that I've read yet another book where I don't know everything that's about to happen. It's also interesting to have an ever-present tug of curiosity with the open-ended conclusion. (less)
Little Star is the first book I've read by John Ajvide Lindqvist. I was floored. Not by the prose--which was entertaining, but not the best I've read--but how graphic Lindqvist's writing is. Granted, I've watched the films based on his previous novel, Let the Right One In, but I was not prepared for some of the gut-clenching scenes that I was introduced to.
The story opens on a once-famous family that finds and raises a secret "daughter" that is gifted with a beautiful voice. But this anonymous baby has something wrong with her, not physically, but mentally. The reader is then taken through the years as "Little One," as she is nicknamed, grows and becomes odder and odder. We meet another girl named Teresa and that's where the novel begins to slip away from the storyline that the reader has become acquainted with.
Though disgusting, Lindqvist's descriptions of the murders that do occur in the novel are very well written. The reader is left craving the next violent scene and as a result, Lindqvist promptly opens the door for the reader to step through and enter the minds of the various murderers. I think that's one of the reasons why readers are drawn to his writing: because of his ability to make even the most psychotic characters relatable. Also, he writes on disturbing topics with such ease that I can't help but wonder if he himself has committed a few unspoken crimes.
Though addicting and a very quick read (the chapters are shorter, making you read quicker than usual), the pace lagged on various occasions. At times, I felt that little moments told to us from the point of view of other characters (the narrator is third person, omniscient) were a bit dragged out and could have been told in much shorter spans.
Another point that hit me once I was done with the novel was the unanswered questions. The fate of the girl and her closest friend, Teresa, is pretty clear, but yet, we know nothing of what happens afterwards. I don't know if this is a trend with Lindqvist, but I for one want to know what the consequences will be after the characters' actions.
If you're a fan of Lindqvist, then definitely read Little Star. I'm not familiar with his work, but I do love the occasional Swedish novel. Little Star is one of those novels that will fill your morbid curiosity, then sit there churning, while making your world more unsettling as the conclusion approaches.(less)
I just finished reading two short plays by Tom Stoppard called "Dogg's Hamlet" and "Cahoot's Macbeth" from his collection titled The Real Inspector Ho...moreI just finished reading two short plays by Tom Stoppard called "Dogg's Hamlet" and "Cahoot's Macbeth" from his collection titled The Real Inspector Hound and Other Plays. These two plays are slightly eccentric as they interrupt the accepted stories of William Shakespeare with a confusing language of their own called "Dogg". As this play, explained by the author, was written and dedicated to the Czechoslovakian playwright Pavel Kohout. Stoppard explains that "[d]uring the last decade of 'normalization' which followed the fall of Dubcek, thousands of Czechoslovaks have been prevented from pursuing their career" (Stoppard 142). Basically, Stoppard wrote this as a type of rebellion in the current time of Kohout.