Monday, August 27, 2007

Knowing that Joe Hill is Stephen King's son was bound to influence my impression of his first novel Heart Shaped Box. I'm not a huge Stephen King fan, but I've read a few of his books and liked most of them. Regardless of my personal opinion of the man's writing, the fact remains that he's a horror mainstay and for Hill to enter the same profession, let alone the same genre, takes some serious cojones. But he can definitely hold his own. In this book an aging heavy metal rock god, Judas Coyne, buys a ghost on an online auction. Well, he buys a deceased man's suit, to which the ghost is supposedly attached. Much to his surprise and increasing dread he does actually receive the ghost, who he finds is out for vengeance against him and anyone who helps him. Of course, things aren't that simple and Jude must fight with everything he has not only to stay alive, but to find out what's really going on. The pacing was swift, the writing was on the literary side, and Hill reveals character depths you wouldn't normally expect from this genre. Plus it was gross and gory and creepy and scary. I hadn't expected much, but it was a nice surprise to find myself enjoying the hell out of it.

Bad Monkeys by Matt Ruff was no Set This House In Order. But it wasn't horrible, either. It was a fast, twisty story of vigilante mayhem as told by Jane, an operative responsible for taking out irredeemably evil people, to a psychiatrist after her capture by the police during an operation gone bad. I didn't see the ending coming, which was a nice surprise. So, while I was a little disappointed it wasn't truly great, I had fun with it.

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