Even when King is off, I still find him to be the best. This one is a miss for the master. This is the second book in the Bill Hodges/Mr. Mercedes Trilogy. It is the story of Morris Bellamy, a fan of a JD Salinger type of writer, but imagine if Salinger had turned Holden Caulfield into a sell-out advertisement agent before he stopped writing. You may not be outraged by the indignation, but Bellamy was. He was driven completely insane by the idea, driven to the point of murder. Bellamy’s monomaniacal fan-boydom is the driving force behind the book. While I would say it is a miss, I enjoyed the hell out of it and would still recommend it with gusto. I look forward to reading book three.
I picked this book up again recently because my recent project had me thinking about it. I last read it fifteen years ago, and loved it. After reading it again, I still enjoyed it, but not on the same level I did when I first read it. I found that all the best parts I still remembered, but the bulk of the book, the parts I forgot, were very forgettable. It is a short read, and if you haven’t read it, you should. But don’t read it twice.
I have never been a huge Koontz fan. I view Dean Koontz as the McDonalds of genre fiction. Nobody really likes it, but a lot of people go there. Or maybe Coors Light is the better comparison since Coors light can do the trick, but you aren’t going to like it while it’s going down, and you may need to chase it with whiskey just to get the burn you need. The House of Thunder is very much a Coors Light. It is a novel with promise but no punch. It has a pulse but lacks a soul. Enough mixed metaphors? Okay, then let’s talk about the book.
First let me say that if you want to read this book, I suggest you don’t. It is crap, but if you insist, then stop reading this now. I will not hold back on spoilers. Deano spoiled it enough for everyone just by writing it.
Still reading? Okay then, let’s continue. The House of Thunder is a book about a young woman that wakes up in a hospital with no knowledge of how she got there. Then she starts seeing people from her troubled past, people that murdered a childhood boyfriend. There is some wonderful scary bits in this first 100 pages, but Deano being Deano, spoiled it all to shit by having her start to uncover a conspiracy in the hospital. This fragile, emaciated woman that had just came out of a coma begins running around and seducing the doctor. Just when the whole story becomes completely unbelievable, Deano outdoes himself by having it be a town wide conspiracy. Everyone is in on it except for lover-boy Doc. Around this time you as a reader will be ready to leave the book on the transit bus for the next poor sucker to pick it up and waste several hours reading it, but I wasn’t that smart. I finished the book. Want to know the big kicker, the big surprise ending? It was Russians. Yep. Russians. Now, go read something else, something that really burns going down.
This book was an interesting duality of fascinating subject matter about a subject that I really couldn’t care less about. Joshua Foer wrote a very good book about his personal journey from being a B-rate journalist to the National Memory Champion. The problem is, training for a memory competition is pretty boring stuff, incredibly boring really, mind numbingly god-awful boring. Yet Josh was able to write a book about it and make it interesting. The trick he used? It was the same trick that won him the championship. You take something boring and make it memorable by adding perverse, tantalizing details. By dispersing glimpses into the drunken debauchery amongst memory athletes, scathing accusations of savant fraud, and humorous antidotes Foer has made this a book I won’t soon forget.
If you are looking for something original and horrifying unlike anything you have read before then The Wretched Walls is not the book you should read. It is a book of the standard haunted house variety with vengeful and lurking specters dancing through the walls and cryptic messages being found. It is, however, a lot of fun. Brian Kaufman dove into the standard haunted house story and didn’t shy away, with strange discoveries happening throughout and mysterious element building to a conclusion that is both satisfying and unclear. As someone that reads a lot of horror, The Wretched Walls was nothing new and nothing extraordinary, but as someone that writes a lot of horror, I can also appreciate the angles and methods used throughout this book to make a creepy good read. Download a copy, nestle yourself into a cozy chair, and try not to look down the dark hallway. The Wretched Walls
I have read many of Card’s books, and I have always found them enjoyable. This was the first complete fail of his that I’ve read. Well, maybe complete miss was a bit strong. I was into the book for the first half and was excited to keep reading. Then he lost me. If you plan on reading this book, stop reading this review now. He lost me by doing the one thing a writer is always cautioned against doing, the one thing that will make people put down the book and refuse to finish it. He killed the main character. While I want to admire him for doing something that goes against the grain and spits in the eye of convention, I can’t. The reason is, Card killed the main character midway through the book. Death is the end. Game over. I was no longer invested in the story. I didn’t care how it turned out. The book had the feel of a post-party hangover after that point.
I was apprehensive about reading this book, knowing it is a political book and knowing Card’s politics, but he makes a case in this book that polarizing your beliefs is about as damnable as anything you can do. I agree with the sentiment. I am a liberal and an atheist, but I am also someone that sees all sides of arguments and am always willing to exchange thoughts with people that can be civil.
James Gleick offers here a fun look at one of the world’s most important and respected thinkers. Having never read anything about Newton since I was a child, I was stunned by how much of a pompous, arrogant bastard I found Sir Newt to be. To rail against the church for conducting itself in Latin only to publish his own works in Latin to keep it out of the hands of the commoner in the height of ass-holishness. The Hooke feud is a great story, but I felt it was under-developed in this biography, if Neil deGrass Tyson’s Cosmos is to believed. All in all, this was a fun read and gave me a better understanding of a man that I’m happy to admire from a distance.