Ravenous is bad. It gets zero stars, which is a first for me. I had high hopes for this book, which was on a...moreRant coming...
There is a SPOILER WARNING.
Ravenous is bad. It gets zero stars, which is a first for me. I had high hopes for this book, which was on a Halloween list put out by my library consortium. “Live Girls,” by the same author, is supposed to be a minor classic. And I am a horror fan.
Full disclosure: I did not finish this book (less than 75 pages), but I did skim the remaining chapters and read the ending.
What exists of the story is a combination of gore, clichés and unremitting bleakness. For the author, appearance equal character. Weakness or stupidity or meanness comes with an accompanying physical trait or deformity. Actually, lots of writers do this to some extent, but if it’s something the reader notices the author has overplayed his or her hand. I noticed, believe me.
Most of the characters have miserable lives, and are some combination of weak, stupid or mean. I get the impression the author isn’t a happy person. I worry about him. The picture on the back cover shows him holding a cat, which isn’t always a bad sign (my Christmas cards feature a warm photo of me and my cat), but the friendship between the hick sheriff and his feline companion is one of the few healthy relationships depicted in this book. The other relationships are marred by infidelity and abuse and hopelessness.
Anyway…when I read the part where the sheriff remembers going into the spooky old house as a kid and imagining seeing a dead body I chuckled and thought ‘he must have read Salem’s Lot.’ Well yes, he did. The author rips off whole characters and scenes and plot riffs from Salem’s Lot.
The sheriff is a pitch perfect version of the dimwitted law enforcement agent. He’s got dead people running around and deputies getting eaten and a serial rapist on the loose while he sits around scratching his head. In real life, he’d be leaping around like he had hungry fire ants in his trousers. This inaction reflects a lack of research on the author’s part; that is to say, the sheriff acts just like a movie sheriff would act. And of course, he never thinks vampire or werewolf. I’m not saying he should believe it is vampires or werewolves, only that the associations are pretty obvious. We live in an age where people eat Count Chocula, for God’s sake!
The werewolf curse is spread by having sex. I would guess that the author ripped off Charles Burns’ wonderful graphic novel Black Hole, except I doubt he read it. He probably ripped it off from Rabid, a 70’s horror flick. Many horror writers seem to only read H.P. Lovecraft and Stephen King and watch horror movies. I get the impression they’re stuck in a 1970’s time loop, when Stephen King produced his best work. Except for one mention of a cell phone, Ravenous could have been written in the 1970s. It has a 70’s vibe; perhaps the author wrote the draft many years ago, put it away and found it when he cleaned out his sock drawer. I think it’s very possible.
And then there’s the ending. The bad guy wins. I can take an unhappy ending if the story is well-told, but this isn’t well-told. Enough.
Sometimes I feel like I’m not a real horror fan because I hate so many of these books. Maybe the better explanation is that these are bad books. I do like horror. I liked Joe Hill’s “Heart-Shaped Box,” Max Brooks’ “World War Z,” Scott Smith’s “The Ruins,” and even Dan Simmons’ “The Terror.” (less)
The stories of the women in this book are heartbreaking. My problem is that the author even tells them. What happens if you talk about helping a woman...moreThe stories of the women in this book are heartbreaking. My problem is that the author even tells them. What happens if you talk about helping a woman fake her virginity on her wedding night, and the woman's husband finds out? Apparently, word of the book has leaked out in Afghanistan, a place where women can be imprisoned for leaving their husbands. See this link, here - http://www.npr.org/templates/story/st....
I am not going to question the author's motives because I think she is a sincere person. But I don't like the fact that she used these women's stories and made money from it. She says that she will donate part of the book's profits to the women in question, so that is good!
I haven't been posting all that much to Goodreads because I started a blog. It's called Encephalo Ray, and it's a comic book blog! It's big time: Paul Cornell (Captain Britain and MI:13) and Lea Hernandez (Rumble Girls) linked to my entries! So if you want to be part of my audience of literally dozens, go to http://encephalo-ray.blogspot.com/(less)
Scalped is a crime thriller set in South Dakota in the Prairie Rose Indian Reservation. The main character is licensed bad-ass Dashiell “Dash” Bad Horse, who returns to the reservation after 15 years. Dash gets into a scuffle with the goons of tribal leader Red Crow, who is so impressed by Dash’s head-stomping skill-set that he makes him a cop. Red Horse needs the extra muscle, what with the opening of the new casino.
Dash soon sees some familiar faces. His mother, Gina, is an Indian activist who hasn’t spoken to her son in years. She isn’t happy with his new career choice, to put it mildly. Dash’s childhood sweetheart, Carol, is now married – sort of – and has a full-time career as a drunk. She’s also Red Crow’s daughter. Dash’s FBI supervisor, Agent Nitz, has a hard-on for Red Crow & Dash’s mom, and is using Dash as a sort of human battering ram.
Huh? Oh, that’s right: Dash is an undercover FBI agent. Since this information can be gleaned by reading the back cover of the graphic novel, it isn’t much of a revelation. That’s the basic set-up. What happens next is not unexpected: sex and violence and evil doings. The material is stripped down to the bone. With 100 Bullets there is a briefcase with a magic gun. With Scalped you have to settle for a gang of deformed meth addicts, in a twisted parody of superhero comics.
First volumes are usually tough reads because there is a lot of set-up, but Scalped jumps right out of the gate. There is oodles of graphic sex and violence. The violence isn’t realistic: Dash seems invulnerable, like Superman. Nobody is that much of a bad-ass. The meth head gun fight is ridiculous; you have to be totally incompetent to not even hit the guy. Some of the dialogue is pretty over the top, also: “beat that acid-throwing pussy with a pump handle…when you’re burying his ass alive…this ain’t my dick you’re feelin’, chief.” And then there’s the swearing. Yes, some of it is really creative, but there’s too much of it. Why not include some other dialogue?
What makes Scalped real are the characters – they’re angry; they’re damaged; they’re real. For me, the most sympathetic is Red Crow. He is plainly in love with Gina and gives Dash a job, which is a plain act of kindness. Red Horse acts like he cares about Dash. Why? Well, maybe it’s that soft spot he has for Dash’s mother, or maybe he’s Dash’s father. He sure does his best to keep Dash away from his daughter.
Scalped is an extremely well-done graphic novel; it’s also extremely depressing. Unless these characters change it’s going to be hard to give a shit about them. This is an unfortunate by-product of aging (if you don’t know what I mean, you’ll just have to wait and see): ten years ago I would have eaten this series up. As it is, I will be reading future volumes. Recommended. (less)