Overall the stories here were hit and miss. It’s not that any were outright bad, but that some didn’t hit as hard or leave an impression on me. And ovOverall the stories here were hit and miss. It’s not that any were outright bad, but that some didn’t hit as hard or leave an impression on me. And overwhelmingly the stories read as quite amateurish, which isn’t a criticism, per se, but the inexperienced writing didn’t help in the stories that were also weaker, and unfortunately did effect how seriously (or not seriously) i took the stories.
Bred in the Bone, Killer Con, and Precious Damaged Cargo are three excellent stories that hit human-horror spot on. For the first, i could feel the anticipation and the hidden horror throughout, and was perfectly satisfied when it was revealed. The second i loved as a commentary on society’s fixation with murderers and serial killers, with newspaper articles and books written about all the gory details–this story took that to a place and exposed the horror of not only the killers, but the public obsessed with them. The third one surprised me–i did not see that end coming, and i loved it!
My favourite story, and i think the one that struck me the most, and will likely stay with me a while, is Some Girls Wander By Mistake. I loved it because it explores sexuality and transgender topics, but within a horror setting. And the fact that it’s human-horror suits it perfectly. I also loved it because i knew where it was going, what the twist would be, but i don’t know how i knew. I just kept thinking, “This seems that,” and “It would be so good if this happened” and then it did. I just. Loved it.
After the brilliance that was The Girl with All the Gifts, it was inevitable i would read Carey’s second novel. I was prepared for different; differenAfter the brilliance that was The Girl with All the Gifts, it was inevitable i would read Carey’s second novel. I was prepared for different; different setting, different genre, different vibe… I was not prepared for not-quite-as-good.
This book is a slow burner, setting up the characters, moving them into positions, and setting out several story lines before things really get going. And while that didn’t make the book that exciting, it was still very readable. It was easy to fall into the world and learn more about the characters.
The different story threads were intriguing, and I enjoyed following them all. I’d just be getting into one over a few chapters, then it would change back to another one and i’d forget all about the previous to find out what was happening with this one… it was a good way to keep me reading and keep the book engaging. I loved the way the stories slowly began to overlap and then weave together, and how that affected the characters and their motivations. It was some pretty well executed storytelling.
But still, this book was not above three stars for me. I have quite a lot i wasn’t too impressed with, but to talk [read: rant] about them at any length or in any detail would involve pretty big spoilers. Suffice to say… there were no surprises for me in the book. From the very beginning I could guess how and where things were leading, if not the specific details. The trial, the little boy, the roles characters would play in the narrative… i called it all accurately and early enough that none of it was a revelation to me. Generally, i found the book a little too formulaic. The plot–its twists and turns–were very standard, if you know what to look for.
I will likely read more of Carey’s work, but will hope for more in the vein of Gifts than Fellside. And with The Boy on the Bridge, a book set in the Gifts world, due out next year, i am cheerfully optimistic!
In terms of writing, i enjoyed this volume significantly more than the first. I didn't get the trashy fiction feel at all. Instead the writing is clevIn terms of writing, i enjoyed this volume significantly more than the first. I didn't get the trashy fiction feel at all. Instead the writing is clever and genuinely funny. The introduction chapter, especially, i loved for the way it lightheartedly made fun of certain things. And then throughout the book, the representation of hollywood stars, religion and policemen were particularly well done without ever being too much.
All the story lines from the original are picked up and continued. We see where the time-traveller heads and what his plans are, we see Libby helping him along his path, we see Erica deal with her husband and her job. For me, the standout thread is still the second person 'infection' narrative. It's excellently written, slowly creeping into each of the other story lines, and all without ever giving too much away. I want to know more, i want to know where it's going and what happens.
This volume ends on the introduction of a new narrative, which was just as hooking as the 'infection'. Set in a service station, it starts out quite innocuous, but when a naked person walks in and beats people to death, it gets your attention. I need to know more about this group of people, and what's going to happen. Of course, i need the next volume.
I both liked and disliked the narrative style. The present day and flashbacks, side by side and interspersed. I liked it because it kept me guessing,I both liked and disliked the narrative style. The present day and flashbacks, side by side and interspersed. I liked it because it kept me guessing, kept me wondering, but unfortunately it made the story as a whole not work as well. I couldn't sympathise or root for the characters in the present day, because i didn't know their history; i didn't understand them. To be quite honest, i didn't like any of the characters.
The art, however, is absolutely amazing. It has depth and design and mood... it has so much atmosphere and detail. It was the art that makes this book any kind of good. It carried the entire thing. It held the emotions of the story, it had the horror, the loneliness, the despair, the joy, the love. It's all in the art, not in the words or the plot.