Horror

Book Review: The Stand

The Stand
Author: 
King, Stephen
Rating: 
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review: 

The book "The Stand" by Stephen King is a novel about a disease. It starts out at a gas station where the disease is first seen in the novel. This book has many different characters as it progresses. The main antagonist is the embodiment of evil. He is basically the Antichrist. Although I didn't like this book as much as some of Stephen's other works because I have a short attention span and some parts are not attention grabbing. It is still a very good book and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who likes horror. This novel is very unpredictable which is one of the main reasons I like it as much as I do. Because there are so many characters in this book, it was very easy for me to relate to their situations.
Reviewer Grade: 9

Reviewer's Name: 
Tabitha V.

Book Review: Cell

Cell
Author: 
King, Stephen
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

The book "cell" by Stephen king is a book about learning to cope with the apocalypse. The apocalypse in this book is very unique and diverse from your typical zombie virus outbreak. While the main character, Clay, is out getting ice cream he watches as people answer their phones. They all start going crazy after they've answered the call, spitting out nonsense and being extremely violent towards each other. He was the only person there without a phone. Through out the story new characters are gained and then lost. I liked this book because I have a lot of trouble finding books that grab my attention. I really enjoyed reading this book, it was very action filled. There were no dull moments. I chose to read this book because of hype around the movie "It". I really liked the movie so I decided to read some of his other work. I would recommend this book to anyone who like very exciting, sad, emotional, and/or mysterious novels.
Reviewer Grade:9

Reviewer's Name: 
Tabitha V.

Book Review: Hearts in Atlantis

Hearts in Atlantis
Author: 
King, Stephen
Rating: 
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review: 

When I started Hearts in Atlantis, all I knew about it was that it was written by Stephen King and there was a movie of the same name that was likely based on it. As I began to read, I found myself enthralled by the coming-of-age story that presented itself. I had no idea it connected to the Dark Tower series, but that detail was almost ancillary, a neat little connection into a bigger picture. Having made it half-way through the book, I wanted to follow the main character’s development into adulthood but, then the story suddenly stopped.

Instead of following a story that had engaged me, the focus shifted to a completely different character, only loosely tied to the events in the first half of the book via one of the characters, who was now in college. Almost in a fractal fashion, this story was half as long as the first, with each successive story growing shorter and shorter, while still being connected to the first narrative in some way, no matter how loose that connection might have been. Finally, the story returns to the main character of the first section, but only stays long enough to say goodbye.

I absolutely loved the first story in this “collection,” and by its strength alone, I would recommend this to anyone. However, the second half of the book felt too disjointed to be interesting, especially with all the emotional energy I had invested in the first story. Sure, they were somewhat interesting in their own ways, showing the relentless march of time toward the modern era, but they simply lacked that fantastical little spark from the first story (incidentally, the same spark that was connected to the Dark Tower series).

A great story with almost unnecessary add-ons, I give Hearts in Atlantis 3.5 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: 
Benjamin M. Weilert

Book Review: I Hunt Killers

I Hunt Killers
Author: 
Lyga, Barry
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

Jasper "Jazz" Dent is the son of the world's most notorious serial killer. After his father was captured, Jazz has just been trying to live like a usual 17 year old. But when a new killer appears who seems to be trying to mimic his father, Jazz knows that it's only a matter of time before people start to believe he's the new killer. So he decides to join the police in tracking down the murderer, not only to convince the town he isn't like his father, but himself. I Hunt Killers has a good mystery, with plenty of twists, and is difficult to predict. However, it isn't the mystery that makes the story addicting; it's Jazz. While some of the minor characters suffer from a lack of proper development, Jazz's interesting (and disturbed) mind makes this book difficult to put down. He is a morally gray character, incredibly messed up, but sympathetic. His fears of being a sociopath are not without reason. In the hands of a different writer, his struggles could be seen as heavy handed or melodramatic. But here, he is written as completely believable. The mystery is a good one, but it's the protagonist (the likes of which you rarely see in a young adult story) that makes this book really good.

Reviewer's Name: 
Kate D.

Book Review: Hold Me Closer, Necromancer

Hold Me Closer, Necromancer
Author: 
McBride, Lish
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

I chose to read this book because it was featured on a list of horror books.
I wouldn't really call it horror but I really enjoyed reading it even if it wasn't what I expected. It's about a fast-food worker named Sam who lives in Seattle and is a necromancer, though he doesn't know it. There is another powerful necromancer in the area who wants to find and destroy Sam. I loved all of the characters, particularly Sam's sidekick Ramon and the evil necromancer Douglas. This book is a perfect balance of humor and dark fantasy and I aboslutely loved it. The only reason I give it 4 stars instead of 5 is because of the ending. So much was just left open and it left me unsatisfied and wanting more. That aside, however, I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who likes horror and fantasy and is looking for a laugh. This is totally one of my favorite books!
Reviewer grade: 10

Reviewer's Name: 
Lizzie W.

Book Review: Frankenstein

Frankenstein
Author: 
Shelley, Mary
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

Mary Shelley's Frankenstein is a book about the horrors of creating life. The book succeeds in developing most of the sidecharacters. You learn in depth about all of their pasts, and the story fits together well. The tragic plot line of the book shows how the decisions made by Frankenstein, the creator of the monster, comes back to haunt him. It almost becomes a game of cat and mouse when Frankenstein chases around his creation for revenge when really, the monster is haunting Frankenstein for his own revenge. Most of the book's themes include loneliness and rejection, and are explained well throughout the back stories of the characters. I feel that the book's only weak point is how the characters face their end. While the characters do indeed learn many life lessons, they never really accomplish anything. None of the characters have sentimental deaths, other than Frankenstein; the book just tells the reader that the character you have just grown attached to...well, dies. The book moves on from their deaths, and then the cycle repeats for the rest of the book. Overall, Frankenstein is a really good book, and I'd recommend it to people that like horror or mystery fiction.
Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: 
Steven L.

Book Review: Frankenstein

Frankenstein: or, The modern Prometheus
Author: 
Shelley, Mary
Rating: 
1 star = Yuck!
Review: 

Frankenstein was a disappointment to me. As per the Romantic period, this novel used lots of scenes in nature to explain the characters’ emotional states. I do not mind a few good cries in a storm, but this novel borders on incessant outdoor melodrama. I decided to disregard both the plot and the setting in a vain attempt to enjoy the novel. I would only focus on the characters. As this was written by a female author, I looked forward to the female characters, which were awful. One, Justine, is a servant and seems only to exist in order to die. Elizabeth, who also seems to share this quality, is regarded as an object to be owned in a creepy incestuous manner by her cousin; she is apparently superior and virtuous only because of her noble birth. So, I dismissed the female characters to focus on the males, none of which were believable. Victor, his friend Henry, and his monster all were overly emotional, and they inspired no sympathy from me. With no likable characters and emotions running everywhere, I would only read Frankenstein if required.
Reviewer Grade: 9

Reviewer's Name: 
Caroline J.

Book Review: House of Furies

House of Furies
Author: 
Roux, Madeleine
Rating: 
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review: 

Louisa is on the run. Leaving the private boarding school she attended, and with no family to speak of, she plans to masquerade as a fortune teller in order to obtain enough money to leave Britain for America. After one fortune telling session goes awry, she finds herself at the mercy of an old crone who offers her a position as a scullery maid at a nearby mansion, Coldthistle. Louisa is excited to have employment, but after seeing strange, solid apparitions in the night, she learns that Coldthistle Manor is a house that attracts the most horrid of visitors, and that their punishment (death) is meted out by the employees of the house. She has to decide whether or not to stay and try protect new visitor and possible romantic interest Lee, or to resuscitate plan A and flee to the Americas.

I enjoyed this entertaining, gothic style horror story. Louisa, our protagonist, is fairly interesting, especially as you learn more about her upbringing and experiences with abuse at her boarding school. She doesn't lack a backbone, which is something I appreciate in a protagonist, especially in a Victorian setting. However, for this reader, Coldthistle and Mr. Morningside are the interesting parts, and as this book is the first in the series, we only scratched the surface of discovering more about them. The mythology of the peoples living in the house is revealed by short vignettes at the beginnings of some chapters, and those creature's appearances were illustrated by someone quite talented. The occasional chapter was also preceded by artwork - pictures have meaning in the book, and some chapters featured a creepy looking wall featuring random, old school looking pictures of things that were usually relevant to the next few chapters.

Some readers have complained that the pacing of the book is a bit slow at the start, but I did not find this to be the case as I was pretty instantly swept up in the mystery of Coldthistle. I will say that I didn't find the book to be especially scary, even after a few extremely gruesome murders, but it was definitely a bit creepy. The lack of scariness, for me anyway, was because despite the pictures and fabulous illustrations, I never really bought into the creepy, gothic atmosphere. The lack of chills notwithstanding, I enjoyed the characters, setting and new-to-me mythology enough to ultimately enjoy the book. I think that teens that read horror novels will find a lot to like here, and I'll be booktalking this one (in high schools, it really is quite gory) in the fall. 3 stars.

Reviewer's Name: 
Britt

Book Review: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
Author: 
Grahame-Smith, Seth and Jane Austen
Rating: 
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review: 

Back in the zombie heyday of 2009, the idea of combining one of the most feminine pieces of literature with the oft masculine-marketed gory violence seemed like an interesting idea. I, for one, didn’t particularly care to read Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice , but this take on the romantic classic certainly piqued my interest. Because of the addition of zombies to this plot, I was impelled to read this story to see how these drastically different archetypes were combined. I certainly wonder if the book would have been more enjoyable if I had read Pride and Prejudice beforehand, or if I would have remained far abreast of it altogether.

Partly due to the severe dichotomy of the original story and the zombie additions, there were certainly moments where I could tell what segments of Jane Austen’s plot were modified to fit the new, apocalyptic sensibilities.
The two concepts worked together somewhat, occasionally adding action to a scene that would have likely been boring in its predecessor, but in maintaining the story and outcomes of the original, the whole experiment didn’t quite “gel” as it could have. Perhaps the addition of the prequel and sequel to this book helps to round out these distinct edges, but I have yet to read those books yet.

When it comes right down to it, I struggled to get through this book. With the language and verbiage retaining is feel from the original, the archaic nature of the dialogue was not as easy to read as I would have hoped. In the end, I was practically just reading Pride and Prejudice, but occasionally “changing the channel” to a zombie film whenever anything became boring.
I applaud Seth Grahame-Smith for following through on this ambitious idea, but it almost seems like anyone could easily merge zombies to a romantic classic if they maintain the majority of the source material.

An intriguing idea that never quite fully “connects,” I give Pride and Prejudice and Zombies 3.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: 
Benjamin M. Weilert

Book Review: Psycho

Psycho
Author: 
Bloch, Robert
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

Once again, I find that the source material on which a famous movie is based is equally as good and equally as famous. What strikes me as interesting is that the quick turn on some of these literary masterpieces from page to screen has largely remained unchanged. Gone with the Wind only took three years before its film debut, The Martian took four years, and Psycho only took one. Clearly, these stories are practically screaming to be made into movies, and most have done quite well as the cultural icons of their age.

Of course, having already seen the film on which this book was based, I was well aware of the twist ending. Nevertheless, reading through this book was almost enhanced by this a priori knowledge as one would probably not have guessed the twist if they were reading it for the very first time. There are just little hints here and there that something is off, but it’s not until close to the end that we find out that everything is not as it initially seemed. Even the visuals provided in the film version helped to aid my imagination in establishing the setting and characters.

And yet, as there always is, there are some differences in the book that did not make it into the movie. I wonder if Norman Bates was made a lot slimmer in the film partly due to Hitchcock’s portly frame. In the book, his overweight body adds a layer to the character (both literally and metaphorically) which helps flesh out (Har har. OK, I’ll stop) more of the explanations as to why Bates ended up this way. Much like One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, being able to get into the mind of Norman Bates was a fascinating examination of someone with a severe mental illness.

A fantastic read equally on par with the Hitchcock classic, I give Psycho 5.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: 
Benjamin M. Weilert

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