Tag Archive | horror

Review : Hush, Hush

Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick
Pages : 355
Genre : YA, Fantasy
Series : Hush, Hush, book 1
My Rating :

What it’s about, in my Words :

When Nora gets paired up with Patch in biology class, she is more than displeased : not only is she unfairly split from her best friend Vee, she also has to work with the most rude, uncooperative guy you can imagine. Only, Nora fins herself more and more attracted to the mystery that is Patch : both sexy and dangerous, he seems to always be around when weird things happen. Nora’s life is in danger, and she needs to get a clear answer before it’s too late.

As Lenore very well said about Hush, Hush in her review, “[…] people seem to either passionately love it or hate it. I didn’t feel that passion.” I can see why people ended up on both ends of the spectrum, but I was left somewhere in the middle.

Hush, Hush is certainly gripping : I read it fast and, in all honesty, I had a hard time to let it go. I wanted to know what was up with Patch, I wanted to know who was after Nora, and I wanted to know how this would all conclude. The mystery is fascinating and Fitzpatrick did a great job of building a dark atmosphere for the story.

On the other hand, the characters really took away from my enjoyment of the book. There are definitely some problems in the relationship between Nora and Patch, where she constantly goes back to him even though she fears him. That doesn’t work for me and cuts deeply in any sexy mood there could be. I loved her best friend Vee, who was a bit silly and all about cute guys and brought some humor in this dark story – that is, until she advises Nora to go out with a guy after he shows up to her door drunk and violent. What!? That’s some friend for you! So yeah, definitely big problems there and I could see why some readers were completely turned off by those.

Fortunately, Nora was okay for me. She did some stupid decisions, yes, but it was a bit like watching a horror movie and yelling at the stupid girl not to go upstairs : it’s predictable, silly, but fun! I only wish she could take some distance from her situation and see how creepy and unsafe her relationship with Patch is.

Even though there’s a sequel following, Hush, Hush is a complete story that doesn’t leave you on a cliffhanger. The conclusion left me a bit confused as I found things to be contradictory, but I still enjoyed to see what it came to. There were a few twists I hadn’t predicted and I was glad that my questions got answered. The dark, horror-movie style atmosphere also worked really well for me, making it easy to imagine the scenes and the action.

In the end, even though it wasn’t perfect, Hush, Hush is a fast-pace novel that definitely engaged me enough to want to read the next book, Crescendo.

Also, don’t forget my awesome giveaway of 2 copies of Hush, Hush! Enter here!

Review : The Passage

The Passage by Justin Cronin
Pages : 766
Genre : Fiction, Vampires, Horror, Post-Apocalyptic
First in a series
My Rating :

In short : Post-apocalyptic setting involving zombie-vampires, a bunch of survivors and a 100 years old teenager.

From the Back of the Book :

First, the unthinkable: a security breach at a secret U.S. government facility unleashes the monstrous product of a chilling military experiment. Then, the unspeakable: a night of chaos and carnage gives way to sunrise on a nation, and ultimately a world, forever altered. All that remains for the stunned survivors is the long fight ahead and a future ruled by fear—of darkness, of death, of a fate far worse.

As civilization swiftly crumbles into a primal landscape of predators and prey, two people flee in search of sanctuary. FBI agent Brad Wolgast is a good man haunted by what he’s done in the line of duty. Six-year-old orphan Amy Harper Bellafonte is a refugee from the doomed scientific project that has triggered apocalypse. He is determined to protect her from the horror set loose by her captors. But for Amy, escaping the bloody fallout is only the beginning of a much longer odyssey—spanning miles and decades—towards the time and place where she must finish what should never have begun.

“Not another review of The Passage!” is what you’re probably thinking if you haven’t read the book, aren’t planning on reading it or read it and didn’t enjoy it much.

Well, I’m sorry, really, but the book is really huge and is making my “to be reviewed” pile look twice as big as it actually is!

So.

I didn’t love The Passage as much as I wanted to. The premise had everything to grab my attention, but sadly the actual reading wasn’t as captivating as I had hoped it to be.

It’s not bad; many loved it and I can see why. First, I found Cronin’s writing to be really good. He has a distinctive voice and I found that to be refreshing. He also clearly has a huge imagination and a talent for detailing – which is a big part of the 766 pages. Lots of detailing. I enjoy details in descriptions, action, characters and I felt Cronin gave me everything I needed to recreate the scenes in my own mind. The precision was such that it felt a bit like watching a movie.

I love the idea of a vampire apocalypse; Cronin’s monsters really are monsters, and there’s no romance or other glittery feelings motivating their actions. They are all hunger and thirst and teeth, menacing creatures you wouldn’t want to meet in a dark alley. Or anywhere else, for that matter. The horror was present through every stage of the story, setting for the characters a terrible world where the key word is survival.

Now even though I could talk in length about the characters (which I mostly loved), I’m going to skip to the most negative part of the review, because sadly there is one. You see, I could have really, really loved The Passage. The story was reminiscent or early Stephen King and I love stories of epic length, especially when the characters fascinate me so. Sadly, the “epic length” was just too much; I felt, especially in the middle, that the story was dragging a bit. After a captivating 200 pages at the beginning, I felt let down. It doesn’t help that the story cut from the present to one hundred years in the future, and even though I had read about that fact in other reviews, I still had a hard time connecting with the new characters. I think the book could easily have been a 100 pages shorter with a better pace.

Also, the back of the book is partly misleading, as all this happens in about the first 200 pages of the book. After that, the story moves into that dark, horrific dystopian setting with a different group of characters.

From what I heard, book two will be out in 2012. I’m hoping that by then my disappointment with The Passage will have faded a little and that I’ll love the memory of the book more. It was a good story and I am curious to see where it leads to, but I really wished I could have given it five big stars.

Review : Bad Girls don’t Die

Bad Girls don’t Die by Katie Alender
Pages : 346
Genre : Horror, YA
My Rating : 

Lately, Alexis’ sister has been acting weirder and weirder. Let alone the fact that her eyes inexplicably seem to change color from time to time, she’s been acting strange, using words she normally wouldn’t and loosing track of time.

Soon, Alexis realizes something evil is taking over her sister, and she’ll need all the help she can get to get rid of it.

Bad Girls don’t Die was your typical horror story : old house, weird temperature changes, doors opening and closing by themselves, creepy dolls, etc. If your looking for a good ghost story, this could be the one for you!

Alender’s writing flows easily and creates the creepy ambiance any ghost book would need. I read it at night, and I was truly scared at times (although, to be honest, I am easily scared when it comes to ghost stories!) Still, I enjoyed the author’s style; it was easy to read, uncomfortable when it needed to be and Alexis’ voice sounded right. Although the story was slightly predictable, I was curious to see what the ghost would come up with next!

Another thing I appreciated was the use of photography through the book. I know a thing or two about photography, and Alender clearly knows a thing or two about it, too. I really, really enjoyed how close to reality its description was. Finally a photographer who doesn’t take pictures in the dark as if in the light of day!

I don’t have much more to say about the book, but I did enjoyed reading it and went through it quick. It’s to be enjoyed for what it is, but it doesn’t reinvent the genre. Still, a good old ghost story is always good from time to time, and this one perfectly fit my end-of-October-start-of-November mood.

Review : The Ghost Writer

The Ghost Writer by John Harwood
Pages : 369
Genre : Mystery, Horror, Ghost story
My Rating : 

Gerard Freeman grows up on the windswept southern coast of Australia in the late 20th century with a controlling mother strangely silent about the details of her childhood in England. His only solace is steadfast English pen friend, Alice, to whom he confides everything. What was Gerard’s mother, Phyllis, hoping to escape when she left England?

The Ghost Writer is a slow, fascinating story where fiction becomes reality. From Australia to England, we follow Gerard Freeman as he discovers his family’s past through stories written by his grand-mother, Viola. It was a good read, very well written and mysterious. I wouldn’t qualify it as an horror ghost story, but rather as a gothic mystery with ghosts in it. It wasn’t scary as much as intriguing and dark. There were only a few scenes that I felt really were scary.

Such a slow-moving story can only work if the writing captivates the reader, and personally I really loved Harwood’s style. His descriptions were not too lenghtly but detailed, creating realistic scenes. I could see the places and characters as if they were before me. I think the best way I can put it is to say that his writing was “precise”. Here’s an excerpt I like from page 99, and that I think illustrates well what I mean :

Even in normal circomstances, the Reading Room has a labyrinthine aspect; some have compared it to a spider’s web; but because it is possible to see over the tops of the rows of desks and across the central bookcases, these sinister possibilities lie mostly dormant. If all light were to extinguished, one might imagine that the regularity of its construction, with the rows of desks radiating out from the centre like the spokes of a wheel, would still render escape relatively straightforward.

I loved how the main story was interwoven with Alice and Gerard’s letters, and his grand-mother Viola’s short stories. The letters gave a more intimate touch to the narration, and the stories were intriguing enough for me to forget that they weren’t the story I was reading. They created the book’s mystery as I tried to figure out what exactly was their relation to Gerard’s story.

There were two things though that prevent me from enjoying this book more. The first one was the pace of the book. I love a slow story, but in some chapters I thought it was a little too much. I was glad it was interrupted by Viola’s short stories, which by themselves were really worth the read.

The second thing is the ending. I liked the idea behing it, but not how it was presented. In the last 50 pages or so, the rythm picks up and we get answers to our questions, but I still felt something was missing for me to feel completely satisfied. On the other hand, the ending had some surprises in it; only a few things I had figured out, but since we don’t have all the pieces until very far into the story, I wouldn’t say it was predictable.

Let’s say I appreciated the journey, but not the destination.

Review : The Devouring

The Devouring by Simon Holt
Pages : 231
Genre : Young Adults, Horror
My Rating : 

I picked up The Devouring with no expectations. I think I saw the cover in a “Lookalike” at Pop Culture Junkie, but I had no idea what the book was about. So I read the dust jacket and decided to give it a try.

When Reggie reads about the Vours in a mysterious old journal, she assumes they are just the musings of an anonymous lunatic. But when her little brother, Henry, begins to act strangely, it’s clear that these creatures exist beyond a madwoman’s imagination, and Reggie finds out what happens when fears come to life.

To save the people she loves, Reggie must learn to survive in a world of nightmares. Can she devour her own fears before they devour her?

I’ve always loved horror movies. Most of the time, they divide in two categories : absolutely scary or incredibly funny. This seem to be true for horror books, too, and The Devouring was definitely on the scary side. With the action beginning right from the start, the book is a fast paced story that brings you quickly to the end, with a few surprises on its way. I read it in almost one sitting, unwilling to put it down before knowing how all this would end.

One of the book’s strenght was the characters, and most importantly, Reggie. I thought she was a complete character, in turns strong and scared, driven and unsure. Reggie is an horror fan, and you can see it in various moments, by her references to her favorite books and movies of the genre.  She also has an interesting family story, and while I sometimes had a hard time connecting with her character, I did appreciate how this story comes into play through the whole book.

I would definitely recommend this book to horror fans. It’s a little too much to be called paranormal, but if you like nightmarish stories with a few gory details and a teen protagonist, this might be just right for you! The book will take you through the most various fears, from drowning to spiders with a killer clown on the way (I HATE clowns! They scare me, so you can guess, I didn’t really like that part!) Plus, the setting was original enough and there wasn’t a dull moment.

The Devouring, which has just been published to paperback, ends up with an opening that suggests a sequel. And sure enough, I found out that a second book is to be out in September! With its cool title and yellow-smoke cover, Soulstice promises to take the battle against evil even farther. And I SO want to read it! Not in September though; I wanna read it now! 😛

Review : Coraline

Coraline by Neil Gaiman
Pages : 162
Genre : children, fantasy, horror
My Rating : 

Coraline was my first read for the 24 hours read-a-thon, and what a read! Well written, original, scary, amusing, magical, are all words I could use to describe this book. There are few modern tales I could compare to the classical ones that I lived for as a kid, but Coraline certainly is one of those. It’s one of those stories I’ll read again and again… and again.

When Coraline explores her new home, she steps through a door and into another house just like her own… except that it’s different. It’s a marvelous adventure until Coraline discovers that there’s also another mother and another father in the house. They want Coraline to stay with them and be their little girl. They want to keep her forever!

Coraline is great on many aspects; one of them was the strenght of the characters, numerous for such a short book. Gaiman needs very few words to create portraits of them that are interesting, by using a rule many authors seem to, sadly, ignore : show, don’t tell. In their actions and in their words, the characters reveal their personnality. From the two ladies living downstair to the cat, each of them jumps off the page, incredibly real. Coraline is no exception. She is very child-like, curious and intelligent; all great qualities for a little girl who likes to explore.

Another aspect I enjoyed was the “message”, and how subtle it was. Again, Gaiman shows rather than tells, making the message part of the story. For me, it was a beautiful tale of how life is beautiful, the good as well as the bad. Coraline discovers, through her adventure, that a perfect life would only be boring, and that she likes to keep it surprising. I also loved how she went to save not only her parents, but also the soulless children she had just met.

It’s creepy, surprising, a little scary. The writing is simple, but the story isn’t, making it a fun read even for older readers.  I’m not surprised this story was made into a movie, and I regret not seing it when it came out in theatres. I will certainly watch it as soon as I can get my hand on the DVD!

coralines-movie-capture