The Movie Was Better

18628363The Shining by Stephen King
My Rating: 3/5 Stars

The movie was better. A small part of me wanted to just drop the mike and walk away. But I like to expound upon my perceptions, even if I’m doing it for my own pleasure and edification. First, I’d like to thank Trudi (aka The Busty Book Bimbo) for throwing down the gauntlet and calling yours truly to the red carpet. Yes, she may have called me out a while ago, but I’m from West Virginia, and we tend to talk and move a little slow. And, yeah, I had the movie version in the back of my mind with Jack Nicholson at his finest level of insanity. Rather than break the spell, I wanted to hold onto my crazy ways.

THE SHINING was a slow bleed for me. Sure, it was freaky and crazy and had a certain level of insanity and madness, but it’d take me about three days to bleed out. The movie version, however, bled me out in less than twenty minutes. That shit was crazy. And grotesque. And strange. And weird. And the way Jack Nicholson pounded away at the keys…well, that reminded me of the great man himself slaving over his typewriter in the 1970s with a gleam in his eye and a razorblade in his hip pocket.

But Stephen King never quite captures that level of horror for me, where I’m sleeping with my Honey Boo Boo nightlight and sucking my thumb for a week at a time. He freaks me out a little, like an itch I can’t quite scratch, and I may look over my shoulder once or twice, before I move on with my life. And, sure, I get the feeling that he might be a little bit nuts, because genius and hovering outside the norm walk hand-in-hand across I-95. But that’s where I meet the brick wall going at 70 mph in the slow lane.

The story dragged along a bit longer than necessary. Sure, the man can spin a yarn better than Calvin Klein, but a little brevity never hurt anybody, and unfortunately, you won’t find it here. That being said, though, I’m glad I was taken to task for my novel skipping ways, and I shall make a more valiant attempt in the future at staying on top of things. When I do, I shall most definitely alert the proper authorities.

Oh, and I may never stay in a hotel in rural Colorado. But I’ll kindly thank Stanley Kubrick for that one.

Shithead Of The Year

7061684Sandman Slim by Richard Kadrey
My Rating: 4/5 Stars

If our personalities are derived from the characters and novels we tend to enjoy (in my case both reading and writing), then I’d make a strong candidate for Shithead of the Year. Hell, I don’t even need a running mate. I suppose I could leave it at that, and just walk away, probably leaving more than a few of you scratching your heads. But I might as well expound upon my point, because once you start shoveling shit you might as well keep going.

You see, James Stark is a character I’m not supposed to like. In fact, he burns jackets, kills people (bad ones), and even manages to piss off a few angels just for fun. He’s the kind of guy you’re better off pretending you don’t know. If he does happen to come around, you barricade your front door, and then you call the fuzz. If the cops can’t keep him at bay, then you leave LA (it’s filled with people more fucked up than Stark anyway), and head somewhere safer like Mexico or Colombia.

Despite all of that, though, I actually liked the bastard. I rooted for him to rein hell-on-earth and kick the shit out of evil, and ruin a few more coats. I could almost feel his hatred coursing through my veins, and rather than be turned off, I was actually a little turned on. To be fair, it wasn’t all fireflies and sparklers, and I did manage to cringe once or twice, based on yet another terrible path he took. But if I didn’t see at least a fault or two, I’d probably be in more trouble than I already am. So maybe there’s the slimmest of slim chances I’m not completely fucked up.

In the spirit of Stark smashing a few faces, SANDMAN SLIM smashed together more than one genre, and made it work. The plot and dialogue raced forward (other than enough editing errors that I couldn’t help but notice); all the characters were filled with warm and gooey goodness (smirks); the action made it seem as though I was driving on two-wheels down Wilshire Boulevard (without traffic); and I even discovered another reason to hate a junkie or two (when you read it, you’ll see what I mean).

Like this novel so aptly proves time and again: What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

I received this book for free at Left Coast Crime.

Open Orifices

18002456The Troop by Nick Cutter
My Rating: 2/5 Stars

Reading a book about a guy drinking his own piss would have been easier to swallow than this particular novel. To be clear, this isn’t a bad book. It’s not even a poorly written book. The structure, with letters and interviews and the plot moving forward, kept me on edge, while the slaughtering and stomach-churning antics kept my nausea on red alert. If I could have punctured a hole through my brain without doing any permanent damage, I might have briefly considered the notion, before I permanently discarded in the ocean. If I could have jammed about five thousand volts of electricity through my body without the need for a diaper, it might have been a viable alternative. But in the end, selective amnesia works just fine, and I plan on using it to its fullest.

What disturbed me more than tapeworms exiting through open orifices was there wasn’t a single character that I could stand behind without worrying about taking an elbow to the chin. THE TROOP made me want to march in the opposite direction in a most expeditious manner, and I kept reading through sheer determination and a need to push myself to the limit rather than some impending notion that there was a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. I probably looked away from the page as much as I looked at it.

This tale made me realize that coming up with the absolute worst case scenario and working backwards isn’t necessarily a good thing, especially when the boat was stuck at full speed ahead, and I couldn’t find a way to turn off the engine or drop anchor. I plan on employing a taste tester to consume my food before I do, and if I see any suspicious or slightly pale or slow-talking individuals, I plan on running first and asking questions later.

And if you want to read a review by a reviewer or four who actually knows what the hell he or she’s talking about, you might want to take a gander at what Dan or Trudi or Kelly or Karen has to say on the subject. Since after wiping my brain, I will now consume applesauce, Jell-O, smoothies, and liquid vegetables for the rest of my days.

I received this book for free through NetGalley.

Stone Cold Sober

16130549Doctor Sleep by
My Rating: 3/5 Stars

I’d like to thank Kemper and Will and Dan and Delee and Trudi for pretty much doing my job for me and writing such excellent reviews that I don’t even have to offer up one of my own. Ha, you crazy bastards, who would I be if I let you off that easily?

King might just be one crazy son of a bitch for calling this a sequel to THE SHINING (I should probably add here that I have never read said novel) when it’s about as much of a sequel as the James Bond films are to one another (especially the Pierce Brosnan versus Daniel Craig versions). But I love him anyway, even if I didn’t exactly love this novel. Sure, this is vintage King where the man breathes and breathes across pages and pages of exposition and dialogue and prose and where the number of characters could fill a village and where the man knows evil so well he can pull it out of a hat as easily as a rabbit, a frog, or a Siamese cat.

Even though I was stone cold sober when I started DOCTOR SLEEP, I felt as though I had imbibed a few by the end of the story, passed out, and was revived with steam as a one-toothed raven-haired beauty breathed into my mouth. Had the steam not done the trick, I might have passed out all over again. Dan Torrance swaggered and swayed his way through this novel (at least he made an effort to change), so I must say he wasn’t exactly my favorite character. Abra, on the other hand, proved every bit as precocious as her fourteen years allowed, and I rooted for her every step of the way.

The length proved a bit daunting at times as words upon words piled up, and there were so many characters that it was sometimes hard to keep track. It meandered and bobbed and weaved and bounced along more than a few backcountry roads. We switched time zones, and we nearly switched coasts, and I found myself staring at a plaque from the Overlook Hotel. For a brief moment, I felt as though my entire universe had been stripped away right in front of me.

Stephen King has no equal…in punctuation. He punctuates and paragraph breaks like no other writer I’ve seen before, and he does it with such dexterity and effortless ease. He must have taken a punctuation class that no other writer in the entire universe was privy to. In the end, that’s okay (not that he needs my approval), and I applaud him on his uniqueness. It’s probably safe to say that I could decipher a Stephen King novel based on punctuation and paragraph breaks alone.

Even if the master may have backed off a step or two on his game, he’s still well ahead of the rest of us mere mortals. It’s certainly not a bad read, but on the other hand, I wouldn’t say it’s one of his best efforts either.

Catastrophe Meet Wayward

17920175Wayward by Blake Crouch
My Rating: 4/5 Stars

A fate worse than death awaits the townsfolk of Wayward Pines. Prison could be considered a picnic. In prison, there are rules, laws, restrictions, and armed guards, who in theory at least, help keep the peace. Wayward Pines has no such laws and restrictions. Sure, there’s a guidebook handed to every new resident, all inhabitants have been implanted with microchips for security reasons, an electrified fence and razor wire help solidify the perimeter, and snipers keep occupants between the crosshairs…and hell is an inferno that is run by Lucifer for the greater good of the underworld.

If you want to totally and completely destroy a man’s soul without actually taking his life—consider this a more interesting social experiment than prison—just put him in the midst of a makeshift town, with other ne’er-do-wells just like him, put the meanest, nastiest, cruelest motherfucker you can find in charge, and then surround the boundary with a sea of mean and nasty motherfuckers, secure the perimeter with an electrified and razor wire fence, and then you’ll have hell on earth. Oh, and you may want to bring a mortician by periodically to collect the bodies. Otherwise, you can let it all play out on the TV monitors from the comfort of your own home. Now that, my friends, is reality television.

Plenty of normal characters, and even a psychopath or two, grazed these pages. A few of the more prominent ones were Kate Ballinger, Theresa Burke, Pam (no last name), David Pilcher, and of course, Ethan Burke, who has a bit of the tragic hero in his blood. But tragedy kept me flipping pages as trees and scrub brush and an abby or two went up in flames. I was a rubbernecker on this side of the road, thankful that I could keep right on driving, because there was no way in hell I planned to stop for this crazy train.

While there’s certainly a mystery here, with a dead body that appears fairly early on, the real pleasure here, sadistic as it may be, is the horror that surrounds this town, and the horrors contained within. Catastrophe meet WAYWARD, and neither, I’m sure, will benefit from the introduction. As my eyes opened wide, the continued hallucinations nearly took my breath away. And if I hadn’t already been to Boise and realized it’s actually a decent place, I’d have probably wiped Idaho from my Christmas list.

I received this book for free through NetGalley.