Saturday, May 28, 2016

The View from the Cheap Seats

I was lucky enough to get a review copy of The View from the Cheap Seats, and after reading it, Ive come to one inescapable conclusion: Neil Gaiman is an evil genius with supernatural powers. It's the only explanation. How else could he write a book that's a collection of speeches, introductions, and essays that's not only a great read, but makes me want to run out and buy copies of all of the books he writes about.

The book includes a selection of nonfiction that Gaiman has written throughout his career. The earliest seems to be a review of a book called [Gumshoe] the he wrote for Punch back in 1989, and the most ones dating to 2015. He writes on a lot of topics. There are plenty of essays on books and comics as would be expected from a professional in those fields. There are also several on music including a few, to no surprise on [[Amanda Palmer]]. There are even some deeply moving essays, including tributes to deceased writers and friends and an article on the plight of Syrian refugees.

If you're a fan of science fiction, fantasy, horror, comic books, or just like good essays, then this is book is a must have.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Disappearance at Devil's rock

Last year, Paul Tremblay's A Head Full of Ghosts was viewed by many as the best horror novel of the year. While others may disagree, I don't think Disappearance at Devil's Rock is quite as good, but it's still a very good book.  I think this has to do with the subject matter, which is the disappearance of a child. This is something that parents will find extremely horrifying, but as a single guy, it doesn't really do as much for me.

The book is about a mother whose teenage son vanishes from a local park while he's on a late-night hike with some friends. Soon strange things start happening. The mother sees a shadowy vision of her son. His diary pages mysteriously appear in the living room. A dark figure  is spotted peeping into neighborhood windows.

My main gripe is that I thought the book started off a little slow, and didn't really pick up until about 1/4 of the way into the book when the mother discovered that her son and his friends had been secretly meeting a man called Arnold. At that point I had a hard time putting the book down. I don't know that this book will be my favorite of the year, but its certainly going to be in the top 10.

Monday, April 04, 2016

The Fireman

I was lucky enough to get a review copy of Joe Hill's next novel, The Fireman,  from the publisher. It's set in an apocalyptic world, where an infectious fungus causes people to spontaneously combust. The main character is an infected and pregnant nurse who is aided by a fireman with the ability to control fire. The nurse escapes from a psychotic husband to a campground full of infected people who have learned how to avoid combustion by group singalongs.

The the book drags quite bit. It's obvious that the camp is only going to be a temporary solution. The infected are surrounded by people who would kill them if they were discovered. The camp's leader seems to be turning into a religious fanatic. Anyone who doesn't fit is ostracized. It's blatantly obvious after a couple of chapters that things are going to fall apart there, but we still spend about half the book in the camp before the hero sets out on a quest to find a new refuge in Martha Quinn's Island.

Frankly I don't think this is Hill's best work. The novel suffers from a bit of bloat, and would have been much better if the camp scenes had been trimmed a bit. That said, it was still enjoyable if predictable read.