storytimewithbuffy

Posts Tagged ‘Horror’

Ancestor

In Book Reviews on August 31, 2014 at 6:00 am
Hodder & Stoughton 2010

Hodder & Stoughton 2010

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started reading this book. This seems to be happening to me quite a lot recently. I must be on auto-pilot when I’m in the library these days. I’m a lot more careful when I’m buying books. Well, obviously. I suppose it’s different when you’re actually spending money. Anyway, the claw marks on the front cover made me think that it was a werewolf book. I’m not sure what it is with me and werewolves lately. I don’t think that I’ve ever read a book that featured them so maybe this is my brain’s way of telling me that I need to. Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that this book isn’t about werewolves. It’s about something much worse.

Cows.

Nutshell blurb: So there’s this island in the Great Lakes and there are these scientists who are using DNA from extinct species to create a new species to be used as organ donors. Of course, it’s all going to go horribly wrong.

It’s such a wonderful feeling to pick up a book without knowing anything about it only to have it blow you away. This was one of those books that made me want to stay on the tube to the end of the line just so that I wouldn’t have to stop reading. (I would like to state for the record, that I have never been late to work as a result of reading a book even though I’ve been sorely tempted on many occasions. *sigh* It’s hard being conscientious.)

Ok, so I know you’re wondering about the cows. These scientists have created a new species from old DNA of something that was wiped out millions of years ago. Obviously, they needed an animal in which to incubate the tiny widdle eggs and so they chose cows. As it turns out, a mistake was made in the creation of these things and they turned out to be waaaaaaay bigger at birth than they were supposed to be. Like 200 pounds at birth. If you can imagine, this would make it exceptionally difficult when it came to giving birth, even for some big ‘ol cows. I’m not going to go into detail. It’s possible that you could be eating a hamburger while you’re reading this and I don’t want to put you off your meal.

I’ll just say that it’s pretty grim.

So, you’ve got these huge animals that are hungry as well as a couple of homicidal maniacs loose on the island (there are a few branches to this story) and it makes for really tense reading. It was quite exciting and I really want to read some more of Mr. Sigler’s work.

The Silence of Ghosts

In Book Reviews on August 20, 2014 at 6:00 am
Contstable & Robinson Ltd 2013

Constable & Robinson Ltd 2013

Nutshell blurb: Dominic Lancaster was injured during World War 2. He returns to London and takes his 10 year old sister, Octavia, to the family house in theLake District to avoid the Blitz.

I haven’t read a ghost story in a while. I’m not actually sure that I’ve ever actually talked about one on my blog until now.

This was a very short book so it didn’t take too long to read. It’s described as “A mesmerizing tale of terror set during the Second World War”. I’m not sure about the terror part, but it was very intriguing.

The things I liked about it:

There were a few characters I really liked. Octavia was interesting. She was deaf, but she could hear the voices of the children who haunted the house they were staying in. Rose was also interesting. She was the nurse that made house visits to take care of Dominic as he was injured.

The writing was in journal format which is something that I like. It gave me a sense of immediacy and peril.

Things I didn’t like about it:

The main character. He was really soppy. “Poor me. I’m injured. What woman will ever want a man like me? Blah blah blah.” I don’t have time for these types of characters. It’s fine if it’s a secondary character but not the main one. There’s one point where he’s like “OMG there are strange noises upstairs. Nursey, would you please go up and check it out? My crutches won’t allow me to climb the stairs.” I really wanted to slap him at this point. What’s she meant to do if there was an intruder upstairs? What he should have said was “Right, get your things. We’re going to a hotel.”. So, there were a few things like that that didn’t really ring true to me.

Also, the ending wasn’t very satisfying. I won’t spoil it for you in case you’re curious enough to read it, but it left me scratching my head somewhat. And it was over really quickly. I barely had time to blink and I had reached the end.

Overall, I liked the story, but I don’t think that it’s very memorable and it certainly wasn’t terrifying. It had the potential to be, but I think that a few tricks were missed.

Parasite

In Book Reviews on July 6, 2014 at 6:00 am
Orbit 2013

Orbit 2013

Nutshell blurb: In the future, humans live disease-free due to a parasite engineered by a company called SymboGen. Things are hunky-dory until the parasites decide that they want their own lives.

Yes, the premise of this book is excruciatingly gross. The thought of having a parasite living inside of me ON PURPOSE is horrifying. Much less the thought that it could become sentient and want to take over my body.

Hence the reason I HAD to read this book.

Mira Grant does a really great job of painting a hopeful future where things like diabetes or the common cold are things of the past. It’s very rare to find people who haven’t jumped on the parasite bandwagon.

The main character is Sally, a woman who had a nearly fatal car accident and whose family nearly pulled the plug on her life support. She made a miraculous recovery and was the subject of study for the SymboGen corporation as a result.

I’m not going to say anything more about the plot so as to avoid spoilers.

What I will tell you is that I really like Ms. Grant’s style of writing. She’s quirky and she has a knack for adventure and action. I’ve only read two of her books so far (here’s the link to my post on Feed if you’re interested in reading it) and I’ve really enjoyed them.

My problem with this book and the reason that I gave it 4 stars instead of 5 is that I felt that it was very similar to Feed. They both featured a future that saw us with some sort of disease-preventing technology that’s gone wrong. And the characters were quite similar.

In Parasite, there’s the main character, Sally who seemed remarkably similar to Feed’s Georgia. There’s Sally’s boyfriend, Nathan, who reminded me of Georgia’s brother, Shaun. There’s the plucky side-kick, Tansy who could have easily been related to Feed‘s Buffy.

Even though the Parasite characters were, in many ways, different from their Feed counterparts they still felt connected to me. As I read the parts with them in it, I found myself picturing the characters from Feed. I’ve never experienced that before. It was eerie, although probably unintentionally so. As characterisation is a huge part of what draws me into a novel, I must admit that it was a bit off-putting.

However, the story was gripping enough that it wasn’t a huge issue for me. It was an enjoyable read and I would be up for reading the next one.

The Shining

In Book Reviews on June 15, 2014 at 6:00 am
Hodder & Stoughton 1977

Hodder & Stoughton 1977

Continuing on with my Stephen King fan-girling, I’ve finally read The Shining. A lot of people have told me that this is their favourite of his books. I’m really sad to say that I didn’t like this one very much. Or maybe I didn’t like it as much as his other stuff. I really wanted to like it a lot more than I did because it’s by Stephen King, but I just wasn’t feeling the love.

Nutshell blurb: 5 year old Danny and his family move into a creepy-ass hotel in Colorado where his father will be acting as caretaker for the winter.

Where this book fell down for me was that there was sooooo much back story and exposition. On the one hand, that’s ok because in true Stephen King style the characters were fantastic. Jack Torrence wanted to be a good person but he was so flawed that he couldn’t be. He lacked the ability to control his anger and he was a recovering alcoholic. He was wracked with guilt for breaking his son’s arm a couple of years earlier yet sometimes he found himself fantasizing about hurting his wife and child. The tenuous grasp he had on his self-control made him a really interesting character. We spent a lot of time in his past, though, which didn’t appeal to me as much. I understood the need to explain the kind of person he was, but there was just way too much of it for my liking.

Danny was interesting as well. He had the ability to know what people were thinking and could sometimes see snippets of what was going to happen in the future. That must be terrifying for a 5 year old. I really got a sense of how alone he felt.

I felt that this book moved very slowly. It would build up to the point where I would start thinking that something was going to happen, but then nothing would. I find that very frustrating in a horror book.

Before you ask, no, I haven’t seen the film yet. I know that it is nothing like the book, but I feel that I have to watch it now.

The fact that I wasn’t crazy about this book doesn’t diminish my admiration for Mr. King in any way. He’s still one of my favourite authors, although I’m really glad that this wasn’t the first book of his that I’ve read. Otherwise I might not be able to say that.

Zombie Apocalypse

In Book Reviews on May 25, 2014 at 6:00 am
Constable & Robinson 2010

Constable & Robinson 2010

Nutshell blurb: In order to boost the morale of a disillusioned British populace, the government decides to host a festival in South London. To facilitate this, they’ve decided to dig up a plague pit that rests under a creepy English church. What could possibly go wrong?

I kind of have a thing for zombies. Or zombie literature, rather. I’m fascinated by the way that authors take a subject that has been done by countless others and re-spin it. Sometimes it doesn’t work so well, but sometimes it knocks my socks off.

In this case, my socks were well and truly knocked off.

This book is a record of this particular zombie apocalypse told from the perspective of many different people through blog posts, texts, police reports, journals, emails, government meeting minutes and such. It’s quite similar to World War Z in that it’s a collection of accounts that describe this event that sweeps across London. The way it differed from World War Z is that it was much more immediate. As I mention in my World War Z post, the stories are told by the survivors so they may have been in peril at one time, but they lived to tell the tale. In Zombie Apocalypse, the records people kept on their experiences were collected presumably once the zombie situation was under control. Sometimes people turned into zombies mid-diary entry or email. It was quite tense because you didn’t know who is going to turn or who will make it.

I really liked the idea that the zombie apocalypse started because someone dug up a plague pit and exposed humans to the disease that was lying dormant all of these centuries. At first no one seems very panicked. People know that crazies are running around attacking people but they don’t seem particularly concerned. Eventually they catch on, but by then it’s too late.

The characters were really interesting as well. There was a diary kept by a woman who was pretty much trapped in a tower block, but had enough food to last for a long time. I really enjoyed reading the police report and the diary of a 13 year old girl. There was a blogger who was an expert on zombie lore. He stayed locked up in his flat watching zombie films. There were many many more but these were the ones that really stuck with me.

In my blog post on World War Z, I stated that I wasn’t sure that this style of different accounts would work, but this novel nailed it. I’m looking forward to the next one.

The Fall

In Book Reviews on April 20, 2014 at 6:00 am
The Fall

Harper 2011

This is the second book in this series. Here are my thoughts on the first book, Strain. I’ll try to give you my opinion of this book without spoilers.

Nutshell blurb: A deadly virus was let loose in NYC and has spread throughout the world. The characters from the last book are now trying to stop it in this book.

Most of the books I’ve been reading lately are part of series. It’s strange how that happens sometimes. It isn’t intentional. What I’m finding is this strange thing where the first book is good, but barely. Then the second one comes along and it is sooooo much better. Such is the case with this book. As well as the book I’ll be talking about next week and the one the week after. You might start seeing a bit of a trend in these next few posts.

I would like to take a moment to let you know how much it annoys me. I’m very unforgiving when it comes to books. There are so many books out there and I’ll never get to all of the ones I want to read in my lifetime. So if something doesn’t grab my attention, I let it go and move on to the next one. I don’t feel the need to invest my time in something that doesn’t hold my interest just because I started it. Strain kind of held my attention. I was able to finish it but it didn’t inspire me and it took me quite a bit longer to read than it should have. I felt that the pacing was painfully slow and there seemed to be a constant build-up that resulted in not much happening. In fact, I wasn’t going to pick up the second book but ended up doing so since I saw it in the library.

As it turns out, the second book is where all of the action is and I really enjoyed this one.

It made me think, though, because I’m reading these other books that are part of series and the first books are a bit slow. Why does it have to be that way??? If I pick up a book about vampires or military clones (next week) or zombies (the week after next) I want it to be full of peril and to be fast paced. In places these first books seem to drag. I understand the need to set the scene and to make us understand the world that we’re visiting and how things work in it, but surely there is a way to do that while stuff is blowing up/being eaten or exsanguinated. It’s not that I have a short attention span but I’ve found in these books that the character development is pretty slow as well. We don’t get to know the people very well in the first one and I found that I cared very little about them to begin with. I need something to latch on to and to care about!

Cut to the second book. This is where it’s all at. The characters are much more developed and now I’m starting to care about them. There’s a really cool character that I like in The Fall called Vasiliy Fet who’s an exterminator. He really comes into his own now that he has to fight vampires. I also feel more sympathetic towards the main character. I’ll definitely pick up the next one.

It’s also making me think twice about my policy of not picking up the second book in a series if I find that the first one is a bit lacklustre. Perhaps I need to try to be a bit more forgiving.

 

 

Rot and Ruin

In Book Reviews on April 5, 2014 at 6:00 am
Simon and Schuster UK Ltd 2011

Simon and Schuster UK Ltd 2011

Nutshell blurb: An infection has swept the globe that turns people into zombies when they die. People can also get infected when zombies bite them. Benny Imura was rescued by his older brother, Tom, when he was 18 months old and their parents turned. Now he’s all grown up and must find his place in this world.

I liked this book for the most part. It’s a young adult book so it feels a bit more sanitised than some of the other zombie literature I’ve read, but I enjoyed it.

This book took a somewhat sympathetic look at zombies and emphasised the fact that they were once people. I liked that approach because most of the zombie stories I’ve read portray zombies as monsters who feed on human flesh. They do that in this story too but some of the characters see the zombie apocalypse as a tragedy rather than a cause for panic.

The result of this approach, however, is that at times the story was somewhat sentimental and shmaltzy. There were scenes in the book that were clearly meant to provoke an emotional response from me but which actually left me felling perplexed. I mean, yes, zombies have families too, however they usually want to eat those family members and therefore should be terminated immediately. I would be horrified beyond belief if any of my family or friends became zombified and I would be really sad and mourn for the people they were, however, I would protect myself and any other living person from those former friends or family members.

As a side note, if you are one of my friends or family members and you’re reading this, please don’t be offended. It’s not that I actually want to chop your head off or in any other way destroy what’s left of your zombified brain but a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do to survive. Let’s not make things awkward by discussing this in too much detail. Be advised, however, that if you die and come back to life…I will mess you up.

Another problem that I had with this book is that the people in it were pretty much good or evil. I have a big problem with that. Is anyone ever completely good or evil? I know that there are plenty of people where one side outweighs the other, but in this the baddies were super evil and the goodies were beyond angelic. I have a difficult time identifying with those types of characters.

The zombies didn’t feel like a constant threat which was another strike against it for me. When I read a book or watch a film about zombies, I want the peril to be palpable. Going outside should feel terrifying. A zombie could shamble out of the shadows at any time! Not so in this book. They just kind of stood around until they saw someone to eat.

Despite these flaws, I still felt that it was a good story. It was fast-paced and had good action scenes (always a plus for me). I think that the YA tag is very appropriate for this and would be more suitable for a younger audience. Readers who have had more exposure to heavier zombie stories might find that it lacks intensity. I’m glad that I read it though.

Cujo

In Book Reviews on March 30, 2014 at 6:00 am
Macdonald & Co 1981

Macdonald & Co 1981

To Cujo, the words coming from THE MAN meant nothing. They were meaningless sounds, like the wind. What mattered was the smell coming from THE MAN. It was hot, rank, and pungent. It was the smell of fear. It was maddening and unbearable. He suddenly understood THE MAN had made him sick. He lunged forward, the growl in his chest mounting into a heavy roar of rage.

I’ve re-discovered my love of Stephen Kings’ work and am making a point to read the books of his that I’ve never read. When I look for his books, I am always struck by how many he has written. I have a lot of catching up to do.

This time around, I decided to kick it old school and read a classic. Therefore, I give you Cujo. (No seriously, you can have him. This dog freaks me out.)

Nutshell blurb: Cujo is a 200 lb Saint Bernard who gets bitten by rabid bats. Thus begins his descent into madness. And his mauling of people.

I must say that the body count in this story is surprisingly low, especially for a Stephen King novel. That certainly didn’t keep it from scaring the pants off of me though.

My favourite thing of any King novel is the way he focuses on characters and their interaction rather than on just the blood and guts. There’s a marriage on the rocks due to infidelity, another marriage on the rocks due to domestic violence, a spurned lover who wants revenge all thrown together with a rabid, man-eating dog.

We all know that there is no cure for rabies and that the only way one can deal with a rabid animal is to kill it. Unfortunately, Cujo wasn’t as easy to deal with as Old Yeller.

I did feel sorry for the dog. Before he went rabid he was the gentlest and most loyal dog who would never dream of hurting anyone.

We do get to experience things from Cujo’s point of view occasionally and like any good villain, he has a reason for doing what he does that goes beyond the need for mindless violence. He becomes convinced that people are responsible for making him feel ill which drives a need inside him to kill those people.

This is actually one of those books that I wish I had read in one or two sittings rather than on my commute and during my lunch hour. Let me tell you something folks, it’s hard to leave the break room when someone in your book is trapped in a car by a slavering, blood-thirsty beast and then have to wait until quitting time to pick up the story again. Talk about painful.

A lot of tension came from not knowing who was going to die. No one is safe in a Stephen King novel and you never really know whose number will come up. The end left me feeling sad and a bit antsy. I won’t spoil it in case you haven’t read it but it wasn’t what I expected.

I was also thinking about getting a dog, but perhaps I’ll just leave it for now.

The Dark Half

In Book Reviews on December 4, 2013 at 7:06 pm

Hodder & Stoughton 1989

George Stark. Not a very nice guy.

Nutshell blurb: Thad Beaumont is a writer. He’s written some books under his name and some under the pen name of George Stark. He decides to ‘kill’ George Stark and write only under his own name, but what do you do when your alter ego comes to life and starts killing people?

This book was deliciously creepy and I’m really glad that I’ve decided to renew my relationship with Stephen King. He’s such an amazing writer and has a knack not only for characterisation but also for scaring the bejeezus out of me. I never know who’s going to kick the bucket in his books. It’s usually pretty safe to assume that most of the characters will be killed off. I try to prepare myself for it so that I’m pleasantly surprised if they manage to live through the book.

I liked the premise of this book a lot. A guy’s nom de plume manifests himself as a real person and kills off the people who killed him off. Also, who knew that sparrows could be so sinister?

Mr. King’s timing is impeccable as well. He never reveals things too soon and when he does it always leaves me breathless. He certainly is the master.

I think that one of the aspects of this book that I connected with deeply was the idea of having a darker half wandering around, knowing what you know with the ability to screw your life up monumentally. It makes me wonder what my dark half would be like.

As with most Stephen King books I’ve read, this one is incredibly gory. If that’s not your thing, you might want to steer clear. Otherwise, it’s a thrilling read that kept me gripped until the very end.

Under the Dome

In Book Reviews on October 2, 2013 at 9:59 pm
Under the Dome

Hodder & Stoughton 2009

Whoa. 877 pages, people. 877.

Before I share with you my thoughts on this book, I want to take a moment to explain to you my relationship with Stephen King.

I was a big fan of his back when I was a teenager. He writes the kind of books my parents would hate. The only books they ever told me that I couldn’t read when I was that age were romance books, but I think that if they had ever read a Stephen King novel they would have taken them right away from me. That made me like the books even more. (Yes, I was a horrible teenager. Who wasn’t?)

Anyway, they fulfilled my childish need for rebellion. There’s a scene in IT where some kids try to light their farts and I remember thinking ‘People write about this stuff in books?’. *Snicker, snort* The stories were good too, but I liked that Mr. King told it like it was.

Once I left my teenage years behind, I stopped reading his books. It wasn’t any kind of conscious decision. I just read other stuff. And then last year I decided that I needed to get back to reading some of his work and I picked up the first book of the Dark Tower series. I was dismayed to find that I didn’t like it at all. I don’t know what it was but I just didn’t connect with the characters. That’s when I had my big revelation.

I’ve outgrown Stephen King.

So, I read a review of Under the Dome from one of the blogs I’m following and for the life of me I can’t remember which one of you it is because it was a while ago. I remember that the person who wrote the post did an embroidery of a quote from the book which said “God bless you, but I don’t give a shit”. (Please identify yourself so that I can give you some credit.) Anyway, it made me rethink my stance on his work. I decided to read the book based on her review.

To my intense delight I found out that I haven’t outgrown Stephen King at all! So forgive me, Mr. King. Forgive me for doubting your literary prowess and writing it off as fodder for my teenage rebellion.

Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, I can move on with what I thought of the book.

Nutshell blurb: A mysterious dome has descended around the town of Chester’s Mill cutting the people inside off from the people outside. No one knows how it came to be there or how to make it go away. The story follows the inhabitants of this dome and how they cope with being isolated.

Boy, what a cast. I think that one of the things that makes Stephen King’s books so scary is that his characters are so real. Characterisation is certainly the most important aspect to me when reading a book. I’ve just put down a different book (that shall not be named) because the characters didn’t spark my interest at all. Mr. King’s characters could easily be friends, family, neighbours, you or me and what’s terrifying is when he puts those ordinary people into hair-raising situations and lets them stew. Or die. Horribly.

It was kind of good that this book was so long because I needed periodic breaks from it. It is packed with action from page 1 to page 877 and it left me breathless at times. One would think that a book that long would have lulls in it but one would be oh so very wrong. It just never stopped. And I loved that.

The dialogue in his books is also always amazing and makes me giggle a bit. It’s colourful, brutal and sometimes quaint. I think that this passage is my favourite:

They were coming up on the hospital now. Stewart saw a gray Ford Taurus pulling out of Catherine Russell.

‘Hey, that’s Dr Rusty,’ Fern said. ‘Bet he’ll be glad to get this stuff. Give im a toot, Stewie.’

Stewart gave im a toot.

In between reading sessions, I was thinking about his other books that I’ve read. (Needful Things is one of my favourites.) None of his characters are alike, that I know of, anyway. I don’t feel like I recognise them from his other books. I’m blown away by the sheer volume of ideas the man has. I know that I’m gushing. I can’t help it. He’s the master.

My one complaint (and it’s a niggling one) is that he used a character from a different author ‘off-screen’ in the story. I’m not a big fan of that. In this book, one of the police officers was once in the army and reported to Jack Reacher. I don’t mind references to characters, songs, films or whatever. I just don’t like it when a character from a different, unrelated story is represented as a character in a book. It’s a personal preference, but it kind of feels like cheating. If it had been by a newly published author, I would have really thought about whether or not I wanted to press on with the story. At the very least there would have been some heavy eye-rolling. But it’s Stephen King so I guess he can get away with it.

I’m sure he’ll be thrilled to have my dispensation.

Anyway, if you can’t tell from my gushing, I loved this book. It made me gasp out loud several times on the train, which is always the sign of a good book. I’ve actually just finished it and now I feel drained. Also the sign of a good book.

It’s certainly not for the faint of heart.

%d bloggers like this: