Monday, February 6, 2017

     The Memory Box - Eva Lasko Natiello 2/5 stars

     There are a lot of books on my tablet. Way, way too many and the Memory Box was a book I had stumbled upon, but just never read. It seemed promising, so I began to read it, and then I began to question my judgment. Caroline is sucked into Googling herself, and finds that there are only three hits, but then she Googles her maiden name and that's where the fun begins. Things quickly unravel, and she finds out that she's forgotten some very important parts of her life. These are things no one should forget. I instantly wanted to stop reading because I didn't like Caroline all that much. As a character, she's weak, and boring. It's the way she reacts to things that annoyed the hell out of me. She volunteers at her children's school and is faced with questions, so instead of just excusing herself she trips, and pulls the fire alarm and makes her escape. It's shit like this that irritated me, and I knew that I should just stop reading, but now I was invested. Why in the hell can't this woman remember key events in her life. Was she hit in the head? Given her grace, she could have fallen and hit her head. Caroline does that a lot.

     It's a highly implausible novel that begins strong but eventually you begin to shake your head, and wonder why this woman is still hitting Google for information. There's a dark undercurrent flowing here, and we begin to wonder who Caroline really is. If Eva wants us to like Caroline, she's failed. If she wants to grab our attention by giving us a tightly paced thriller, she's kind of succeeded. The Memory Box is full of holes though, I mean a lot of holes. It's the why that kept me reading. I may not have liked Caroline, but I wanted to find out why this is happening. There are moments that pull you in, but as the story progresses Caroline's behavior becomes more erratic and she becomes a cunt. If you're an author, you want readers to sympathize with your main character, but in The Memory Box, that's not even possible.

     No one notices that Caroline is slowly losing her shit either. You would think that when someone you care about is sleeping more, chopping off her hair, and acting really odd, someone would notice. It doesn't happen, and don’t even get me started on Andy. Jesus, this guy is an idiot. So the book is a mess that makes you wonder what the fuck is going on. It has so much potential, but when you're main character is a cunt, the story begins to lose its momentum. Seeing Caroline morph is really what the novel's about, and as the books winds down we need to give this woman a cape and name her Super Cunt because the end of the book is really where Eva shines. We finally get the answers we seek, and that my friends is what you call a plot twist. If the entire novel had been like those last few pages I wouldn't have been so pissed off, but it wasn't, and I can't get any of the moments back that I spent reading this novel.

     It's not terrible, but it could have been better. It may have just been my dislike of Caroline that kept me from enjoying this. As a thriller, it's just okay but not something you want to buy. Get a copy from the library, or borrow it from a friend. If you want mindless entertainment, you’ve come to the right place. This is a book that will frustrate you to no end. I wonder if Eva will write another book, and if she does will it be better than the Memory Box? She's not a bad writer, and she had a lot of great ideas here, but they just didn't pan out. I give her at least two stars for effort. Just don't turn your main character into a cunt. 

Saturday, February 4, 2017

 Let's Go Play At The Adams' - Mendel W. Johnson 4/5 stars

      This is one of those books that always end up on someone's top ten list of great horror novels, but I could never get my hands on a copy. One look at the going price for a battered uses copy is insane. Is this book really that good? I was on my library app and saw that one of the libraries my local branch partners with had one so I put a hold on it and waited for it too arrive. I would soon find out if all the hype was truly deserved.

       As soon as it arrived, I ran to the library and with shaking hands, I opened up the cover. This was the moment I had waited so long for but what if it didn't live up to its reputation? Books do that sometime, and it's always frustrating when expectations don't meet reality. It happens all the time. You meet a girl, and you think this could be the one, but she turns into a raving psycho a week into the relationship. Sometimes, books gain a reputation just because of the content or a readers experience with the subject matter. Happens all the time.

      I can tell you that Let's Go Play At The Adams' is a brutal shocking book that drags in places, but Mendal never allows you to get comfortable. It's not a book you enjoy, it's unsettling and gets under your skin. Even after you read it, you can't stop thinking about it. How did this happen? Even the why of it all is unsettling. This was a bold book for 1974. These are kids who kidnap, and torture their babysitter for three days. The planning that goes into it is mind numbingly brilliant, and shows us just how vulnerable we really are. Once you read this you won't look at children the same way again, and that's exactly the goal of this book.

      It's not a book for the squeamish, and as it went on the personalities of the children began to come out. Each child begins to unravel and that’s what the book is really about. We go through a roller coaster of emotions as the days unfold, soon the personalities of the kids emerge. It's a book that in unflinching in its development. Barbara herself begins to change as well, which isn't surprising given the circumstances. Let's Go Play At The Adams' isn't a horror novel, it's darker and deeper than that. It's about the destruction of human emotions, and the eradication of all sense of right and wrong.

     By saying I enjoyed this book what does say about me as a person? I liked that it made me think, and that it's not a novel you can simply read and walk away from. Yes, I liked it, and I wish I could own a copy so I can read it again just to pick up on things I may have missed. I did like this book, and not everyone will which is to be expected. It's not an easy book to read, and it's even harder if you have kids of your own. You may want to sleep with the doors locked after reading this one.  If you're able to get your hands on a copy by all means read it, but understand that this is a dark, disturbing novel, but also important. It takes you to places you never thought you could go mentally. A great book does that, so yes, all the hype and all the accolades this book gets are truly well deserved. 

Thursday, February 2, 2017

    The Sleep - Jim Goforth 5/5 stars


     I was given a sneak peek of The Sleep and should've reviewed this already, but I'm a bit of a slacker when it comes to prompt reviews. I did enjoy this one a lot, and feel that as a writer, Jim is finally hitting his stride. Each novel is better than the one before it, but you can still see who his influences are, yet it doesn't come off as a rip off at all. This is dark, classic horror, with a simple plot, and enough violence to keep fans happy. The Sleeper is the sort of novel that makes you look at thunderstorms in a different way. We know how powerful they are, but then Jim comes along and gives you something new to fear. This is the mark of a great writer. Instead of latching onto the latest trend, or retreading ideas that already exist, Jim creates something unique, and yes quite terrifying.

     The Sleep feels like a movie in book form, and it moves at a steady clip. You are pulled into the story and like the characters, you're a part of the action. It seems like a simple tale dealing with  urban legends, but it's far more devious than that. Each character has their own reasons for embarking on this trip, and of course those reasons are totally selfish. Once the Beaststorms begin, you can almost hear Jim giggling as he literally unleashes hell. If you like you're horror dark, you've come to the right place. If you're at all squeamish, well you should just read something else. What's in these storms will give you nightmares.

      Goforth layers his novel with violence, and gore, but there's a compelling story here. That's what makes The Sleep so good. It's a dark, gritty novel that reminds us that it's the things we can't see that are the most terrifying. When it comes to horror no one writes like Goforth. This is a guy that takes the genre back to it's early days of true terror, and suspense, and writes like a man possessed. This is the future of horror and each novel gets him one step closer to mainstream success.