A short, bizarre fable of urban decay, lifting elements from the supernatural horror and murder mystery genres without fully committing to either. The...moreA short, bizarre fable of urban decay, lifting elements from the supernatural horror and murder mystery genres without fully committing to either. There's not much of a plot to speak of at all, and what storyline there is wanders off into a long digression about disaffected teenage sex and violence before coming back around in the last thirty pages to a highly symbolic and frankly pretty baffling ending. As a sort of literary experiment in writing beautifully and poetically about the bleak, dirty, diseased side of modern life, it's interesting; as a coherent, satisfying story, it falls short.(less)
Harris may be better-known for her lighter works of magical realism, but she can write a twisty, dark psychological thriller like almost no one else....moreHarris may be better-known for her lighter works of magical realism, but she can write a twisty, dark psychological thriller like almost no one else. Like her earlier Gentlemen and Players, this is a multiple-perspective narrative which toys with the many assumptions readers make about identity, reality and truth in fiction. What seems at first to be a straightforward psychological study of a murderer-- a premise which has proved sufficient to inspire many perfectly good suspense thrillers in its own right-- is something much, much more complex and compelling.
There's a lot going on, almost too much at times, but Harris never lets a thread drop, and the many plot twists both large and small never seem forced. While I guessed the secret at the heart of Gentlemen and Players fairly early on, I never saw any of blueeyedboy's twists and turns coming. It may prove frustrating for those who like their narratives straightforward, but for anyone who enjoys ambiguity, unreliable narrators, "puzzle" novels and good old-fashioned psychological creepiness, I can't recommend this book highly enough.(less)
Another absolutely beautiful, haunting psychological thriller from French. In the Woods is one of my favorite books ever and I didn't think the sequel...moreAnother absolutely beautiful, haunting psychological thriller from French. In the Woods is one of my favorite books ever and I didn't think the sequel could possibly compare, but in some ways I think The Likeness is even better.
The mystery is intriguing, the suspense is gripping and the characters are vividly drawn, but what sets this apart is the sheer emotional resonance French is able to create, without sacrificing the pace or excitement of the story. I identified with Cassie's struggle to maintain her identity and objectivity while being irresistibly drawn into Lexie's life, because as a reader I experienced the same struggle-- knowing from the beginning that these characters and their way of life were doomed, nevertheless, I fell in love with them, and longed for a Whitethorn House of my own. But nothing beautiful can last forever, and French's handling of that painful truth is lovely, deft and heartbreaking.
I don't usually enjoy having my heartstrings tugged, but this isn't the melodrama of sentimentality, it's the gentle dreamlike ache of nostalgia and missed chances and forgotten past lives. And it's something no other modern author has captured quite so well. I don't know what French's next book will be about, but I know it'll be an exhilarating, emotionally exhausting ride, and when it's over I won't know if I want to laugh or cry or just shut myself away from the world and think deep thoughts for a while. I can't wait.(less)
I love moody, dark, character-driven mystery/thriller novels, especially those set outside the US, so this sounded right up my alley. Upon finishing i...moreI love moody, dark, character-driven mystery/thriller novels, especially those set outside the US, so this sounded right up my alley. Upon finishing it, though, I had absolutely no idea what all those positive reviews on the back cover were talking about.
As a mystery, this novel was profoundly disappointing. Of the two main plots (the murder of a family man with a shady past and a creepy loner's descent into violent psychosis), one is wrapped up after an agonizingly drawn-out investigation with a solution that comes completely out of nowhere, and the other turns out to be entirely pointless and irrelevant. The psycho, Vincent, is fairly creepy and easily the most interesting character, but he's little more than an elaborate red herring.
The other characters, and there are way too many, are either bland or actively unlikable. There's a particularly irritating romantic subplot involving angsty single mom Ann Lindell and a married fellow cop that, again, comes completely out of nowhere-- having two characters spontaneously develop uncontrollable lust for each other for no apparent reason is not a great way to set up a potential relationship.
After finishing this I was left with the feeling that everything I'd read had been completely pointless-- the plots and subplots were resolved weakly or not resolved at all, nothing really tied together, and there was no reason to care about any of the characters or events. Maybe some of it was a translation issue, but it also seems like the author was too caught up in trying to make serious commentary on the human condition to remember to write a good mystery.(less)
Two kids arrive in a mysterious little English town and discover Their True Destiny, which has something to do with ancient artifacts, illegitimate ch...moreTwo kids arrive in a mysterious little English town and discover Their True Destiny, which has something to do with ancient artifacts, illegitimate children, reincarnated angels from space, hippie cults and unscrupulous reality TV hosts. And bees, for some reason. It's about as incoherent as it sounds, and the mediocre writing style and flat, uneven characterization doesn't help. But it is a quick, fast-paced read with some exciting moments, and as a kid I probably would've considered it a decent supernatural adventure story.(less)
I love this book. It's brain candy, but it's really good brain candy-- tons of pop-culture references that aren't even that dated almost 10 years late...moreI love this book. It's brain candy, but it's really good brain candy-- tons of pop-culture references that aren't even that dated almost 10 years later, a female lead who's tough and intelligent and much cooler than your average chicklit heroine, a decent mystery to unravel, and of course a brilliant (if derivative, but then again that's the point) setting.
There's something deliciously twisted about the idea of murder and mayhem lurking just below the surface of the happiest place on earth, and Goldman absolutely makes the most of the concept, particularly in the unlikely and inspired setting of the novel's climax. Upon rereading most of the plot twists seemed pretty obvious, but I remember it kept me guessing well enough the first time around. Recommended if you're looking for a witty, quirky mystery with a unique setting.(less)
A good, quick read that felt very much like a missing episode of the show. It adds a lot to the characterization of Donna's family, particularly her g...moreA good, quick read that felt very much like a missing episode of the show. It adds a lot to the characterization of Donna's family, particularly her grandfather, who gets to kick some ass and generally be awesome here. Since it's technically set after series 4, with the main story told as a flashback, it's very sad for those (like me) who loved Donna, but it's also a nice send-off for the character in a way that couldn't be done on the show proper. (less)
I unashamedly loved this book, which is saying something given that it's set post-season-2 and therefore does not feature my two favorite Torchwood ch...moreI unashamedly loved this book, which is saying something given that it's set post-season-2 and therefore does not feature my two favorite Torchwood characters. It's laugh-out-loud funny, and makes very clever use of the Facebook-status gimmick (a much more effective nod to current technology trends than the "Second Reality" business in Another Life), even managing to make it subtly creepy at one point.
Yes, the plot concept reads like crack fanfiction, but that's all part of the fun. Don't expect anything too deep or meaningful (as if you would from a tie-in novel), but as a light, goofy diversion, it's... well, almost perfect.(less)
This was okay, but probably my least favorite of all the Torchwood books I've read so far. The story wasn't exactly boring, but it didn't fully hold m...moreThis was okay, but probably my least favorite of all the Torchwood books I've read so far. The story wasn't exactly boring, but it didn't fully hold my attention either and at times it felt like it was taking forever to slog through it. The characters and their banter feel kind of flat as compared to the other novels, and the subplot with Owen and "Second Reality," the thinly-veiled Torchwood-universe equivalent of Second Life, was implausible and relatively pointless despite some effort to tie it into the main plot at the end.
And yes, the editing was bad. I'm not normally a typo-counter, but even I can't overlook a supporting character named Sandra suddenly being referred to as "Susan" with no context or explanation. If you're a completist and want to read all the books, don't expect much from this one; if not, you can probably safely skip it.(less)
This isn't a novel so much as a collection of interconnected short stories, and might have worked better in that format. There are a bunch of subplots...moreThis isn't a novel so much as a collection of interconnected short stories, and might have worked better in that format. There are a bunch of subplots that ultimately don't really have anything to do with each other, instead serving to illustrate a "typical" week in the life of the Torchwood team; of course, if you're at all familiar with the show, you'll recognize right away that one out-of-place factor makes this week anything but typical.
It's interesting to get a look at the slightly smaller-scale cases Torchwood handles, and some of the barrage of cool ideas Abnett throws at the reader really are cool (the Amok is an awesome, creepily executed concept that I'd love to see as a proper TV episode). And the romance between James and Gwen is actually rather touching, even with the inevitable shadow of the reset button hovering over it the whole time. But the ending, once the characters figure out what the reader has known all along, is very abrupt and unsatisfying, which makes the whole thing feel like a disjointed mess. Still, the writing is pretty good and no one seems too out of character, so it's worth a read for Torchwood fans.(less)
Recommended for those who like the Whoniverse stories that skew more toward the horror genre than straightforward sci-fi-- this is a tale full of bloo...moreRecommended for those who like the Whoniverse stories that skew more toward the horror genre than straightforward sci-fi-- this is a tale full of blood, gore and lovingly described bodily ickiness. For that, it's pretty effective, and the characterization is fairly well-done, though Owen's romantic subplot felt very tacked on; apparently it isn't a proper Torchwood story if one of the team doesn't randomly fall in love with a minor character who will never be mentioned again.
Overall, not the best of the Torchwood novels, but not bad-- again, it reads like a horror novel, so if that's not your thing or if graphic descriptions of cannibalism bother you, give this one a miss.(less)
The start of what looks to be a fairly unique series, even though it follows the standard modern-fantasy formula of "hapless guy/girl thrust into secr...moreThe start of what looks to be a fairly unique series, even though it follows the standard modern-fantasy formula of "hapless guy/girl thrust into secret vampire/werewolf underworld." What sets it apart is the tone, which swings back and forth between light absurd humor and dark heavy existential drama, yet somehow works because it's all so consciously cheesy and over-the-top (come on, there's a werewolf character named Lupe Garou).
The protagonist is a little too self-consciously badass at times and could easily become a Gary Stu depending how the series progresses, but again, given the pulpy over-the-top feel of the whole thing, an average-Joe main character would probably be jarring. And the author really likes to throw in literary and mythological references, not very subtly, and I can't quite decide if this is a positive (as a former English major it's fun to play spot-the-ref) or a negative (um... it's a bit pretentious, isn't it?).
In general, a very fun read, and I'm looking forward to checking out the rest.(less)
A light, fun, though ultimately rather sophomoric read. The gratuitous cursing didn't bother me, but the author's treatment of female characters did--...moreA light, fun, though ultimately rather sophomoric read. The gratuitous cursing didn't bother me, but the author's treatment of female characters did-- out of the three main women in the book, one is a creepily oversexualized, underage evil-nymphet stereotype, and another is a waitress who, though a very sympathetic character, is overweight and therefore treated as disgusting and undesirable. (Interestingly, one of the main male characters is also passingly described as very large, yet somehow the author doesn't feel the need to endlessly wax poetic on his jiggling girth whenever he appears.)
The romance between Cathy and Earl was very sweet, though, and the action scenes were especially well-done, and... I can't bring myself to dislike anything that features both Lovecraftian abominations that live under the fridge and zombie cows. I'd read more of Martinez's stuff, but I really hope the next book is less obnoxiously sexist.(less)