I'm such a sucker for a good ghost story so I really wanted to like this book more than I did.
In a lot of ways it was well written, especially the eff...moreI'm such a sucker for a good ghost story so I really wanted to like this book more than I did.
In a lot of ways it was well written, especially the effortless prose that sucked me in and kept my attention throughout the whole book. The main character I liked as well, even if she was extremely naive about the situation for longer than was really logical, her no nonsense attitude and take no bullshit ways were amusing to watch. I even didn't mind the gothic setting, the references to Dickens, the similarities to books like Rebecca, and the familiarity of the plot which has been done and done so many times.
No, the problem is that this book just falls flat, at least for me, in the execution of the ghost story lying at the heart of it. It's just not particularly creepy or scary or unnerving or unsettling in any way. I mean, I'm fine with the lack of gore, that's not really required to give me goosebumps, but at no time while I was reading it did I ever think, "Man I'm going to have a hard time turning out the lights tonight," and when I woke up at 3 am I didn't lie there listening to the creaks of my old house and think of this book. I can't put my finger on why that is, but somehow the same effortless prose that pulled me in seemed really underwhelming when describing the actually haunting incidents in the book. Which can work for horror stories I think if the author is going for something else entirely, like humor or gore or something, but really is a problem in a story like this which tries to build on straight up gothic atmosphere.
Anyway, I was disappointed, but still liked it enough to actually finish the book. I'd maybe even try another book from this same author in another genre, just not another horror novel, I think. (less)
So I've been on sort of a Stephen King kick lately. He's someone who I read extensively from my teenage years through my early twenties, but really ha...moreSo I've been on sort of a Stephen King kick lately. He's someone who I read extensively from my teenage years through my early twenties, but really haven't touched for over a decade until this last month. I had really forgotten how fantastic he can be when he's firing on all cylinders and how entertaining he can be even when he's not. I have to admit that I'm one of those weird Stephen King fans who likes his short stories and novellas better than most of his longer works. I even tend to prefer his shorter novels to his longer ones. So overall, I liked this a lot.
It's interesting, because after reading a bunch of reviews, I'm pretty sure that some of my favorite stories in this collection were the more unpopular ones, which really says a lot about personal taste of the individual reader. But all, even the ones I didn't really care for, were well written for what they were.
My favorites were:
All That You Love Will Be Carried Away - This one was my hands down favorite of the collection and probably goes into my top five favorite Stephen King stories ever (which includes Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption and A Good Marriage). If I were going to award him an O. Henry prize, it would have been for this story and not the one he won for.
Everything's Eventual - Which had a really great voice with the main protagonist. This was the only one I wished was longer, because this seems like a bigger idea than just one for a short story.
L.T.'s Theory of Pets - Again another piece with a distinctive voice (I swear, I know people just like L.T. in real life), which I found really quite funny, but with an ending that was quite sad.
The Virus Road Travels North - Which admittedly, is not a new concept, but the execution here was great. It actually gave me the willies reading it, which is rare for this horror reader.
That's not to say that the others weren't solidly entertaining, most of them were, although there were a few that I thought were clunkers.
Finally, one of the best things about this collection was the introduction, where he talks about the health of the short story and his experience with releasing one in an e-format. I think the short story form is probably heather than it was in 2001 when this was published (although not to the level of say, fifty years ago), but it was still an interesting read.(less)
After reading this collection, I've decided that Richard Matheson is someone that I really, really need to read a lot more of. He has such a clear sty...moreAfter reading this collection, I've decided that Richard Matheson is someone that I really, really need to read a lot more of. He has such a clear style, distinctive voices for his characters, and is so, so good at building suspense. This collection is utterly fantastic, he is obviously one of the best that the horror genre has to offer, and I'm so glad that I read it.
My favorite story in this collection has to be "Through Channels" with is a textbook case of sketching just enough of the story to let the reader fill in the horrifying details themselves. The way it's crafted is just freaking brilliant. My other favorites out of an extremely strong collection were "Crickets," "Slaughter House," and "Legion of Plotters."
Now that I've read him, I can definitely see his influence on the writers that followed him and the horror genre in particular. I can't wait to read more of his stuff.(less)
This a very entertaining read. True, I'm a soft touch when it comes to all things zombie, because adding zombies *always* makes a story better, so I w...moreThis a very entertaining read. True, I'm a soft touch when it comes to all things zombie, because adding zombies *always* makes a story better, so I was definitely predisposed to like this book.
Still, I will admit that in a lot of ways, this story really isn't anything new, and the basic plot of journalists uncovering a conspiracy during a Presidential run has been done countless times. Unfortunately the both conspiracy and the main villain are rather simplistic and obvious here. And while I liked the main characters, they were a bet too precocious - especially Georgia who is constantly able to interpret and anticipate what's going on around her 100% accurately including deciphering everyone else's motivations and anticipating their political moves, despite the fact that she's 24 and this is the first presidential campaign she's ever reported on. Even so, overall it's well written enough for me to suspend disbelief.
What really shines is the world building. This isn't really a post-apocalyptic story, but a story about a society that's still dealing the rippling effects of a catastrophic worldwide event twenty years before, which puts a fresh new take on the genre. This is a civilization that is completely defined by terror of the undead to the point that it shapes legislation, technologies and even the way people interact with each other. So between the world building, well written characterization that made me care what happened to the main characters, and the page turning energy of the story I couldn't put the book down, despite the book's faults. I'll definitely be picking up the sequel.(less)
Wow, this is so well crafted. It's such a hard book to describe, with it's eerie, creepy, weird, haunting and interesting psychological suspense plot...moreWow, this is so well crafted. It's such a hard book to describe, with it's eerie, creepy, weird, haunting and interesting psychological suspense plot and characters. I also really love her writing style, which is wonderfully clean and elegant. And the first person/unreliable narrator is used to an amazing effect here, especially in the way things are revealed layer by layer. It's well paced too and easily devoured in one afternoon. I honestly can't believe that this book hasn't gotten the same attention as her short story The Lottery.
I'm going to have to dig up more of her work, because this just kicks so much ass.(less)