Showing posts with label Horror. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Horror. Show all posts

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Review: This Savage Song

This Savage Song book cover
"He wasn't made of flesh and bone, or starlight. He was made of darkness." 
--Victoria Schwab, This Savage Song

In the city of Verity, violence has begun to breed monsters, monsters that lurk in the shadows. Kate Harker's father made a truce with the monsters, making certain areas of the city safe. Kate wants to live up to her father's ruthlessness, and is willing to go to any lengths to do so. August Flynn wants the opposite--born into a family of monsters, all August wants to be human. August goes undercover in order to spy on Kate, but when things go terribly wrong, the two must run for their lives.

Let me start out by saying--this book was dark. And violent. But so well written. Schwab created a whole atmosphere in This Savage Song that envelopes you right from the beginning. Verity is a city where you have to constantly look behind your shoulder wherever you go, and Schwab keeps up this suspense throughout the entire novel, through the unique voices of Kate and August.

I was also intrigued by the kinds of monsters that Schwab created, specifically the Sunai. The Sunai feed on people by stealing their souls through playing music, which is one of the things that August struggles with throughout the novel. He loves his violin, but is deeply tortured by the fact that playing his music can take the life of a human being.

These themes of struggling with what you're supposed to be are woven throughout the story, as Kate is desperately trying to gain the acceptance of her father, desperately trying to be what she thinks he wants her to be. This is what draws August and Kate together--but there's no romance! Gasp! I find that these days, it's extremely rare to find a YA novel that doesn't feature a romance, and it's extremely refreshing to find one that doesn't. Sure, there are hints of something between Kate and August at times, but instead of focusing on a blooming relationship, the novel is able to focus on their struggles as individual characters.

The only reason this book didn't receive 5 stars is because it took me a bit to get into it. Sure, the beginning scene with Kate setting a church on fire was captivating--but it took me a bit to figure out Verity and all its quirks. But once I did--I was hooked.

4/5 stars

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

House of Leaves

"We all create stories to protect ourselves."
-Mark Z. Danielewski, House of Leaves

Admittedly, this book took me a while to get through, not because of the story or the writing, but purely because of the way that the book is written. Not only are there copious amounts of footnotes (that can sometimes be pages long), but the text could be backwards, upside down, struck through, etc. However, I believe these methods add to the nature of the story, which is two stories weaved into one. One follows Johnny Truant, publishing a book left behind by a man named Zampano, becoming increasing more haunted as the story goes on. The second is the actual story that Zampano wrote, which follows follows the Navidson family, who find a new section of their house upon returning from a trip, which is always shifting and changing, haunting those that explore it. The book gets increasingly creepier as the text goes on, furthered by the way that the text is formatted.

The strongest aspect about this book is the way that it is written. It took the author years to write it, and the effort definitely paid off. I think the most fascinating thing about it is the fact that the format just increases the anxiety that the reader is already feeling from the characters. Not only are they exploring this house that is constantly expanding, haunted by the growling, but anxiety is created in the reader because of the complex form, trying to figure out the way the text is connected, intermittently being interrupted by Truant's story. It's fascinatingly complex, and though it took me a while to read, it was definitely worth it. But definitely not for those that don't like horror, because this book is definitely creepy.

5/5 stars.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Postcards and Ghosts

Today was a day for reading, considering I finished two books. The weather wasn't very nice outside, and it was just a perfect day to stay inside, curled up with a good book or two.

Postcards From No Man's Land  by Aidan Chambers follows the story of Jacob Todd, a 17 year old boy who has traveled to Amsterdam to honor his grandfather, who passed away during World War II. However, he didn't realize that not only would he discover that there was more to his grandfather's story than he had previously believed (especially in the way of his caretaker, Geertrui), he also discovers a lot about himself, especially in the way of love and his sexuality. Told in alternating points of view between Geertrui and Jacob, Chambers spins a story that will keep readers engaged for the entire novel, always wondering what's going to happen next.

Once you get sucked into this novel, it's really difficult to put it down. Not only is Chambers an absolutely beautiful writer, he has spun a story that is unlike anything I have ever read, with characters who are intriguing, interesting, and always keep you guessing. Chambers also created such a beautiful and interesting picture of Amsterdam, which makes me want to go and visit all the more. I also wouldn't mind reading another one of his novels, if they are all as beautifully written as this one.

The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson is the second book in the Shades of London series, which follows the story of a girl named Rory, who has moved to London from the United States to attend boarding school. However, while in London, she gains a unique ability that allows her to see ghosts. After the ordeal she went through in the first novel, Rory must now readjust back to her old life. But, with other murders happening around her school, it might be more difficult than she first thought.

This book I couldn't put down. I bought it today, started reading it, and finished it in about 2 and a half hours. And of course, Johnson ended with a cliff hanger, which means we will be left in suspense until the next one comes out, which is never fun. But well worth it. Johnson has created such a unique story, and paints such a beautiful picture of London, that I think a lot of people will have difficulty putting this book down. Not to mention, Rory is an awesome, strong, female main character that doesn't need a boy to complete here, which doesn't seem to happen often in young adult fiction. If you're interested, the first book in the series is The Name of the Star, and I would highly recommend reading it.

Until next time, happy reading! :)

Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Name of the Star

Since I am patiently waiting until I can go home in order to get my copy of The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, I am trying to occupy myself by reading other books in the mean time. Don't worry, I should get the book by next weekend and I will finally get to read it. While I wait for that, I have finished Maureen Johnson's most recent book, The Name of the Star. This was one of the books that I got free from ALAN, and I must say it was a very good read. It was different and exciting. And I enjoyed it.

The Name of the Star follows a girl named Rory, who is moving from Louisiana to London because her parents are teaching at a University there. The day Rory arrives in London a murder takes place, one mimicking the work of Jack the Ripper in 1888. Soon all of London is taken by this modern day Jack the Ripper and fear grips the city. The police have no leads and no witnesses. Until Rory spots a man on the night of one of the murders. But no one else saw this mysterious man. So who is he? And what is he going to do about Rory? Rory is taken on a journey she never expected, and learns the truth about a secret police force that most people don't know exists and about her own abilities.

Not only is this book an awesome psychological thriller, it's also somewhat educational. Before reading The Name of the Star I didn't know that much about Jack the Ripper. Sure I've heard the name and everything, but since it's something that happened in London and didn't really effect people in the United States, I haven't heard that much about it. But Maureen Johnson packs her novel full of facts and such about Jack the Ripper that really explained the whole situation really well. I think she showed the panic that would have ensued his return really well. And also educated me at the same time.

I also liked this whole secret ghost police thing that Johnson created. It was different from your average ghost hunter novel. Usually ghost novels have something creepy going on somewhere, usually in a small town, and a whole team gets together with various technology to find out what's going on. There's usually someone that can see ghosts in the team, and they end up finding the ghost in the end. But this ghost story was different. Johnson created this whole different ghost world, and I found that I really liked it. It was refreshing and new, and I enjoyed every moment of it. And I can't wait until the next one.

Until I can get my hands on my copy of The Fault in Our Stars, I will be reading I Will Save You by Matt de la Peña. Until then, happy reading!

Monday, April 25, 2011


This is the latest (and final) book that I had to read for my vampire class. It has quite an interesting take on the original vampire myth, in that vampires and humans co-exist in symbiosis. Once a human is bitten by a vampire, neither can live without the other. It's quite an interesting concept, one that I wish could be expanded on more in more books. But that won't happen because Octavia Butler, the author, passed away a year after publishing this book. So we will never be able to delve into her world of vampires again.

So Fledgling starts out with Shori waking up and having no clue where she is. She is severely beaten and the houses around her are all burned to the ground. She hunts and heals quickly, and starts walking down a road where she meets Wright. Now Shori looks like an innocent 10 year old, but she's really a 53 year old vampire, as she finds out when she enters Wright's car. She craves his blood. The rest of the novel is Shori's quest to figure out what happened to her. Her whole family is murdered, and Shori herself is somewhat of a spectacle. Her DNA is half-human and half-Ina (the vampires call themselves Ina). Throughout the novel, she forms relationships and friendships and has to learn again what it means to be Ina.

While this sounds like a simple story on the surface, there really is a lot going on underneath the surface. Butler makes the reader think about a lot of different issues while reading this novel. Issues of race, religion, genetic engineering, relationships, morality, addiction, and slavery are all things that hoover underneath the surface of this novel. Like many other science fiction writers, Butler is exploring societal issues through the means of vampires. Through reading a fictitious story, we think about how it applies to our own society. What could Butler possibly be saying about any of the issues she's writing about? It's an interesting thing to think about while reading the book, while reading any book actually. Writers are influenced by the time period they're writing in, and this can be seen through their work. Take any novel, written in any time period, and you can analyze for what it could possibly be saying about that particular time period. We talked a lot about this in my vampire class, more specifically with just the vampire. But this can be applied to any types of literature written in any time period. Books are a window into different societies. And all you have to do is look beyond the surface.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Side Note: Stephen King

So I'm kinda reading two books at the same time, which I don't usually do. I like being able to completely immerse myself in one story and not become confused with trying to keep two different stories straight. I don't really understand how people can do it. The only reason I am doing it (and will continue to do it for the rest of the semester) is because I am currently enrolled in a class called Vampires in Film and Literature. Now you might find yourself saying "What? What can you get out of a class about vampires?" Quite a lot actually, being an English major. Since the rest of my college career will be compromised of reading and analyzing literature, this class fits in really well. What we do is read vampire literature and watch vampire movies, then analyze them in the context they were created in and see how this has changed over time. Sounds a lot different than you first thought, doesn't it? It may seem like an easy class where you don't really do much work, but this is definitely false. This is one of my classes at the moment that requires the most work, since there is a lot of reading and writing that goes along with it. Anyway......this is kind of a long tangent to get into what I am reading. Well, what I just finished reading anyway. For this Vampire class, I just finished reading Salem's Lot by Stephen King.

Now, I'm not usually a horror fan. I can read horror books, but I don't really read them that often. Horror movies are just a no. I cannot watch them at all. They creep me out. Books, however, I'm okay with. And this one is the same. I thought at first it might be kind of hard to read, because part of the summary on the back says "Considered one of the most terrifying vampire novels ever written..." Based on that, this isn't really something that I would pick up to read for fun. I didn't really know what to expect when I started. However, I was pleasantly surprised as I started getting into the story. I was enjoying it.

So this isn't a stab at Stephen King. He's a fantastic writer. But his books never really attracted me because they were supposed to be so terrifying. But this one wasn't as terrifying as I thought it was going to be. It was more gory than scary, there were some very vivid descriptions of people and vampires getting killed and I don't particularly enjoy that in a novel. I did find myself sucked into the story though. I wanted to find out what was going to happen to all the main characters in the novel. Were they going to die? Was the vampire going to succeed? It was one of those books that you just want to keep reading in order to know what happens next. Every time you get interrupted and have to put it down, you get disappointed and can't wait until you can pick it up again. I would say that I thoroughly enjoyed this book, even though it was read for a class. I would definitely recommend it to any one who is a horror fan. But if you're not in the mood for something kind of gory and suspense filled, this book isn't filled. That's what keeps the story going. Salem's Lot is a good read that will keep you thinking about it even after you've finished reading the book.