Book Review

Book Review: The Girl With All the Gifts 

It’s nearly autumn! That means we’re getting closer and closer to Halloween: my second favorite holiday. I’ve already decorated my apartment and purchased both of my Halloween costumes! Since I’m already in the holiday spirit, I’ve decided to review a horror novel for this week. So, today we’ll be discussing The Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey.

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As far as horror goes, this one is more suspenseful than scary. It deals with the aftermath of an apocalyptic event that has caused much of earth’s population to either die or become zombies. There are still some humans left, and they are desperately researching the zombies, trying to learn more and find a way to immunize against this plague. As a disclaimer, I really hate zombies and typically don’t find them interesting, but I wanted to challenge myself to read this book and I’m very glad I did. I won’t go into too much detail about the origins of these particular zombies, but I will say that I found the explanation to be a really interesting take on the zombie genre.

Overall, this is a study on what it truly means to be human. There are two types of zombies here: the mindless ones who destroy without thought and the hungry ones who can speak and learn and rationalize who and what they are. I found this to be much more interesting than the traditional type of zombie. Of course, as the human characters are thrown into the mix, the label of monster becomes relative. Who is the true monster here? What defines a person? These are concepts brought up in this novel that are very interesting to ponder.

I would definitely recommend this book to horror fans who don’t need a ton of action or gore to stay interested. This one is definitely more character focused, so it might appeal to non-horror fans as well. It was a slower paced book, but it still felt like a fast read because I was so engrossed in this world. This is the first book I’ve read by this author, and I’d definitely be happy to pick up another.

Book Review

Book Review: The Ruins

Every once in a while, I get on a kick where I just want to read and watch horror movies. There’s something exciting about being  scared sometimes, especially when you know you’re really safe on your couch. One horror novel that I really enjoyed recently was The Ruins by Scott B. Smith.

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The general plot of this book is that a group of travelers who are exploring the Mexican jungle find themselves at the mercy of some very dangerous ancient plants. I don’t want to give too much else away about the plot in order to avoid spoilers, but I definitely enjoyed trying to figure out exactly what was going on.

I can’t say that any of the characters really stood out to me. This one is definitely more focused on plot than character, but it was still a really exciting read, and it moved very quickly. The atmosphere is consistently creepy and the plot is not as predictable as many horror novels. I also really loved the setting of the Mexican jungle. It was exotic and much different than a lot of horror novel settings which rely heavily on cliches.

I haven’t read any other books by Scott B. Smith, but I’d definitely love to read another one to see if it is just as good as this one. Also, for those who may have seen the movie based on this book, I can assure you that the book is MUCH better!

Book Review

Book Review: We Need to Talk About Kevin

Title: We Need to Talk About Kevin

Author: Lionel Shriver

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Quick Takeaway: This is a fascinating read that explores the issues of nature vs. nurture using the subject matter of a mother who never wanted children and her deeply troubled child.

Who Should Read This? I would absolutely recommend this book to lovers of psychology because of the “nature vs. nurture” theme. It is also very dark, so I would also recommend it to anyone looking for character-driven horror.

Review: This is a brilliant book about the nature of evil. Are people born evil? Is evil a learned behavior? I don’t want to go into the details about the plot of the book because I don’t want to give anything away, but this is the type of book that is character-driven while still including a lot of plot and suspense elements. Eva is an absolutely fascinating character. I found that I could relate a lot to her, but it would not at all surprise me if others find her to be very unlikable. I have never been particularly interested in having children, and this is a major theme in the book. Are there some people who should never be parents? Are some children just born bad?  As a character study, I found the character of the mother Eva to be far more interesting than the character study of the son Kevin, but the bits that focused on him were also very well-written and intriguing.

Final Thoughts: This is a great book about human nature and the nature of darkness. This book is not for the faint of heart, but it is sure to be a great conversation starter for a book club.

 

 

Book Review

Book Review: The Vegetarian

Title: The Vegetarian

Author: Han Kang 

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Quick Takeaway: The Vegetarian by Korean author Han Kang tells the story of Yeong-Hye, a woman who swears off meat after experiencing recurring, blood-soaked nightmares. The novel tracks her swift mental decline and describes how she is treated by South Korean society and her family.

Who Should Read This?  Anyone interested in mental illness, South Korean culture, or dark/absurdist scenarios.

Review: I picked up this book after reading a really interesting review about it in the New York Times Book Review. I must say that this is one of the most original books that I have read in quite a while. Despite the name and the description, this book is not preachy or actually trying to convince readers not to eat meat. Rather, it is a really interesting character study about a woman’s decline into madness. This begins when she has horrifying bloody dreams and becomes obsessed with avoiding meat because she thinks this will cause the nightmares to stop. Her family has no idea how to handle her. Society has no idea how to handle her. This book is very much allegorical about South Korean society, but I found the mental illness aspects to be the most interesting.

If I had to try to classify this novel, I think I would describe it as literary horror. There are many horrific elements and descriptions, but the focus is definitely the characters rather than the events surrounding the book. I found Yeong-Hye’s relationships with her sister and brother-in-law to be the most interesting. The moments with her sister were very realistic and intriguing. The moments with her brother-in-law, a photograper, were incredibly absurd in a strangely artistic way. I don’t want to give too much away, so I think I’ll just leave that there.

Final Thoughts: Not everyone will like this book. It is pretty experimental and sort of falls between genres, but I was impressed by it and I think that there’s a good chance that literary horror lovers will enjoy this one.