by Camela Thompson
My husband and I spent the last week in the Tenderloin district of San Francisco. To say we didn't know what we were getting ourselves into is a giant understatement. I'm still sorting through my thoughts and trying to put them into words, but suffice it to say that staying in a part of town named after a cut of meat is never a good idea. Research your location and read reviews. We both made it through the week physically unscathed, but I will never forget the screaming that lasted the night or cowering on the floor during gunshots.
A room with a view.
On to better things! Because traveling out of the neighborhood got riskier later in the day, I spent the afternoons and evenings writing and reading. Don't worry--I still ate a ton of great food and went sight seeing. I was just on a modified schedule. Below are some of the literary highlights.
Ready Player One
The world created by Ernest Cline is easy to believe in. The country has fallen apart, the gap between the rich and the poor is even wider, and the future of the planet is bleak. It's only natural people would abandon reality for a virtual world. We're already headed in that direction...
After a bit, I grew frustrated with the story. The heroes of the idolized creator of OASIS (the virtual world) were all white males. The 80s culture, movies, books, and video games were all catered to heterosexual white males. I couldn't understand why my friend loved the book so much until the two-thirds of the way in. Then I got it.
Since finishing the book, I've recommended it to several gamer friends. Ready Player One has an interesting concept and is very well written. Hang in there until the end. I doubt you'll be disappointed.
To get my thoughts on this classic, tune into Shadows on the Sound. Next week we'll be reviewing Frankenstein. If you've read the book, leave a comment or shoot me an email and we'll read it on the air. For now, I'll just say that it was easier to get through than Dracula.
Spoiler: If you've read my horror reviews, you know there is one thing that drives me up the wall. The minute a dog appears, I grow angry because I know the author is going to deploy an old and reliable trick to demonstrate just how horrible his antagonist is. I still loved this book, although when I read it again I'll be skipping some scenes.
Joe Hill's writing style is a bit reminiscent of his father (Stephen King), but it's obvious he's gifted in his own right. I loved the protagonist, a foul mouthed, unstable woman by the name of Vic McQueen. Her failures and self awareness provided a strong female character I could root for. The bad guy was diabolical. But he wasn't exactly a vampire. There were a few nods to the world of Doctor Sleep, but the characters were Hill's own. Everyone was deliciously flawed and motivated.
If you like suspense, strange worlds, and antagonists so bad they make your skin crawl, get this book.
The second book in The Strain series had a better pace for me than the first. The first was almost tedious in its build to the discovery of the strigoi. The science slowed it down. Neither of these gripes held true in the second book. I couldn't put it down and enjoyed the tireless devotion to the cause Abraham Setrakian brought to the table. Fet is still my favorite in the written series, and Zack is much more tolerable in written form than on the screen.
Of the books listed in this post, The Fall gets the weakest recommendation. The television series does a much better job representing women. The books make Nora look weak and useless, entirely ruled by her emotions and unable to make a significant contribution. The other women featured in the television series are entirely absent except for Zack's mother.
This is a guy's guy book. Even though I appreciate the monsters that Hogan and Del Toro bring alive, I'm disappointed by the absence of characters I can relate to. It seems they didn't get the memo: Women read and enjoy horror, too.
Have you read any of the above? If so, do you agree or disagree?
Freelance writer and Dark urban fantasy author featuring vampires with bite.