I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Final Girls by Mira Grant
Published by Subterranean Press on April 9th 2017
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Also by this author: Feed, Deadline, Countdown: A Newsflesh Novella
What if you could fix the worst parts of yourself by confronting your worst fears?
Dr. Jennifer Webb has invented proprietary virtual reality technology that purports to heal psychological wounds by running clients through scenarios straight out of horror movies and nightmares. In a carefully controlled environment, with a medical cocktail running through their veins, sisters might develop a bond they’ve been missing their whole lives—while running from the bogeyman through a simulated forest. But…can real change come so easily?
Esther Hoffman doubts it. Esther has spent her entire journalism career debunking pseudoscience, after phony regression therapy ruined her father’s life. She’s determined to unearth the truth about Dr. Webb’s budding company. Dr. Webb’s willing to let her, of course, for reasons of her own. What better advertisement could she get than that of a convinced skeptic? But Esther’s not the only one curious about how this technology works. Enter real-world threats just as frightening as those created in the lab. Dr. Webb and Esther are at odds, but they may also be each other’s only hope of survival.
‘Reality was a hard habit to quit sometimes, especially for someone who knew what lies could cost.’
Esther Hoffman is a journalist seeking the underlying story of Dr. Jennifer Webb who has created a new virtual reality therapy program which uses horror movie style dream sequences in an attempt to change the long-term behavior of its patient. Esther is convinced that Dr. Webb is nothing but a con artist and during their interview, Webb suggests she personally experience the program and Esther agrees, hoping to get the inside scoop. While inside the sequence, Webb decides to join Esther in the zombie apocalypse simulation in an attempt to develop a relationship with her and possibly change her outlook towards her program. The problem is, while the two are locked inside a fabricated horror movie, there’s actual horror developing in the real world.
‘Everything they were before they came here is behind them now, and soon they will be free, soon they will be able to start to heal, soon—’
Grant is no doubt a skillful short story writer, able to develop characters and plot effectively, drawing in readers with her consistently original narratives. Final Girls is a fantastic blend of science fiction and horror with a Nightmare on Elm Street feel to it where dreams quickly become a reality. This novella manages to even touch on more serious topics regarding doctors and treatment and the dangers of such an effective program like this falling into the wrong hands. The creative blend of science fiction and horror in the beginning did, admittedly, morph into something less unique by the end, transitioning instead to a storyline more commonly seen, but Final Girls is still a worthy read if you’re looking for some thrilling psychological horror.
I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Boy on the Bridge by M.R. Carey
Series: The Hungry Plague #2
Published by Orbit on May 2nd 2017
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Also by this author: The Girl With All the Gifts, Fellside
Once upon a time, in a land blighted by terror, there was a very clever boy.
The people thought the boy could save them, so they opened their gates and sent him out into the world.
To where the monsters lived.
In The Boy on the Bridge, M. R. Carey returns to the world of his phenomenal USA Today and word-of-mouth bestseller, The Girl With All the Gifts, for the very first time.
Expectations are a bitch.
The Girl With All the Gifts was one of my all-time favorites of 2014 and I was filled with trepidation when this prequel was announced. Sure, there was a story that could be told but did it need to be told is the real question. The Boy on the Bridge is a prequel story that tells of the original mission of the Rosalind Franklin, the mobile science lab that Melanie essentially hijacks in Girl. Knowing the end result of the mission will lead any reader to understand that there can be no happy ending, only a story to be told. It’s bittersweet to see this new crew of scientists searching the world for a cure to the hungries, still filled with a chance of hope for the few surviving individuals of the world.
“Things don’t end, after all. They only change, and you keep changing with them.”
The Boy on the Bridge wasn’t nearly as compelling as I had hoped or anticipated. The writing was oftentimes overly technical which resulted in a definite detachment from the emotional tale at its center and it seemed as if Carey was writing it as something that had already passed rather than something happening presently. I often found myself wondering if my overall opinion would have been different if this had been released prior to Girl. If I had been more interested in discovering these intriguing details of a widespread infection if I didn’t already know the outcome. I’m not really sure. I don’t feel Carey was being opportunistic by writing this but simply chose to expand on this fascinating world he created, and that’s fair. It’s also fair that I simply didn’t care for it and think Girl was solid and complete enough to stand on its own, but it is what it is.
I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Twilight Pariah by Jeffrey Ford
Published by Tor.com on September 12th 2017
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Three friends go looking for treasure and find horror in Jeffrey Ford's The Twilight Pariah.
All Maggie, Russell, and Henry wanted out of their last college vacation was to get drunk and play archaeologist in an old house in the woods outside of town. When they excavate the mansion's outhouse they find way more than they bargained for: a sealed bottle filled with a red liquid, along with the bizarre skeleton of a horned child
Disturbing the skeleton throws each of their lives into a living hell. They feel followed wherever they go, their homes are ransacked by unknown intruders, and people they care about are brutally, horribly dismembered. The three friends awakened something, a creature that will stop at nothing to retrieve its child.
“You can’t kill the dead. You’ve got to outsmart them.”
Tor.com released a “Fall of Fear” sampler which included A Long Day in Lychford by Paul Cornell, Switchback by Melissa F. Olson, The Murders of Molly Southbourne, and this title. This one enticed me the most. I’m also a terrible sucker for a great cover, and this one is a winner. It gives you the impression the story you’re about to embark on is atmospheric and eerie, and something perfect for any horror fan. Admittedly, I had high hopes having heard great things about Jeffrey Ford but this one a total dud. The blurb on the cover “Richard Linklater meets Stephen King meets Indiana Jones meets, well, Jeffrey Ford” by up and coming author Paul Tremblay is admittedly extremely off base. Just because something is tagged as horror doesn’t make it the next Stephen King and just because there’s some mild excavation of an old house doesn’t make these characters the next Indiana Jones, let’s be real.
The Twilight Pariah is a novella that tells the story of a final college summer between three friends. Maggie, the budding archaeologist of the group, convinces Russell and Henry to help her excavate an old privy at the Prewitt mansion. Ironically, the only thing I kept thinking about was an article I had recently read about archaeologists digging up Paul Revere’s outhouse. But also, there’s nothing particularly horrifying about the prospect of digging out an outhouse. Of course, finding a skeleton of a horned child should change things when shortly after a series of horrifying murders start taking place in town, but that sense of horror simply never coalesced. The characters are nothing but cardboard cutouts with a few quirky descriptive lines thrown in as a half-assed attempt to differentiate, which is pretty typical of characters in most short stories/novellas but there isn’t a credible plot to at least support the lacking characters. Ford tries to take this centuries-old mystery and link it to the present but it was a pretty flimsy connection, to say the least. And that ending. It felt like the author realized he was past his word count limit had to wrap shit up, pronto. Lackluster characters, middling plot, and an inadequate conclusion. Disappointing.