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12 November 2010 @ 04:34 pm

Snow definitely had the most interesting and surprising monsters in any book that we’ve read this semester. We’ve read about werewolves, vampires, and zombies and I thought that was really all that monsters entailed. I was very wrong. Everyday innocuous things can become monsters too. In Snow the monsters were inside the snow. I never even imagined that this book would have monsters that inhabit snow or use it to their advantage and hide within the snow.

If I had one criticism concerning the monsters is that the creatures were a little hard to discern. I think that is okay for the most part, but a little more description of them would have been pretty good. I wasn’t overall sure if they were a nano-type creature or a creature that could take the shape of anything. It was really interesting that the creatures could wear humans like a suit and this could have been played for some pretty good suspense.

There were a few times when Malfi dropped the ball on the use of the suspense. First, one of the main characters injured her leg, she fights and fights to claw her way up the stairs and then she is eaten, or it is assumed she is. There was a sort of fade to black and then screams in the darkness. I expected her to return, but she never did. She could have been a good foil for the other characters; the monsters could have used her to attack the people in the town. This could have been a stronger tie in where it seemed that the characters could communicate through some telepathic or otherwise inhuman way.

Second, there was a little girl that was running around with the survivors and at one point, she was thought to be a snow monster of some sort. The main characters just left her. She returned a little later, but they weren’t fooled, they knew she was a monster. They left her because she was a monster, so why not kill her and move on?

One thing I learned from reading this is that there is always a chance to create a new monster, the writer just has to use their imagination and try to think of something new. I enjoyed the monsters immensely, but thought they could have been a little more solid as it seemed to me that they could be thwarted by a strong breeze.

I thought it was interesting that the two main characters didn’t get into a relationship at the end. The main woman was always complaining about her fiancé and the leading hero seemed to be letting down his ex-wife at every turn. I think the author may have lost a little interest in the characters because at the end, they go their separate ways and seem like they won’t even keep in touch. It was strange, but a good turn on the cliché where characters get together at the end of a terrible situation.

My one major complaint with this novel was that in the beginning of the book, there was some pretty strong language that seemed out of place. I know that people curse in everyday speech, but the book seemed to be heavy with cursing for just the first few pages and then it seemed to taper off. I would imagine that once things got harder that the characters would use more harsh language, but getting snowed in during a flight must have been worse than almost dying in a deserted town by being devoured by a snow monster. Anyway, it isn’t that big of a deal, but it did bother me.

On another note: Why is it that there is always that one annoying character that hates everyone, trusts no one and is a danger to the group? The woman that fulfilled this role should have been used for bait. I know that all the characters deserved to live in one way or another, but seriously, why was this cliché there? It was obvious upon reading her first section of dialogue that she would cause problems later on, and I wasn’t surprised when she almost got everyone killed.

29 October 2010 @ 05:49 pm

John Carpenter’s The Thing is one of the most difficult movies to get your hands on. My town, like many now, doesn’t have a video store. There used to be five within a ten-mile radius and now there is nothing but red rental boxes with recent releases in them. I tried all the local stores; none of them carried it for purchase. I even had a friend put it next on his queue for Netflix but it never came. So, I decided to download it from Amazon. After watching, I definitely think this movie was worth the hassle and, after viewing, I wouldn’t have minded having to buy it if it came to that.

This is my first time seeing this movie and must say that despite a few cheesy on-screen computer graphics, this movie stands up well. I am sure there have been a few advances in animatronics and puppetry, but visually, this movie stands up well to that proverbial test of time everyone is always talking about. Yeah, the hairstyles may be out of date, but most are coming back. The roller skates probably never will, though.

This movie really had it all. There were monsters, aliens, hybrids-or something-and a bunch of guys going stir crazy.

The characters are really what made this story. First, Kurt Russell’s character was really the leader of this group. How a helicopter pilot became the leader of a group of scientists, I can’t be sure, but he clearly had an agenda and knew how to stick to it. I felt there was something missing with his character because at one point in the movie the group splits up into pairs and Russell’s partner comes back without him. Before he left, he was a normal guy, when he came back he was super paranoid. I don’t know what he saw out there because this was before “the test” was created but something really spooked him. That seemed a little incongruous to me.

One of the things that I liked the best was the fact that we never knew who was a monster and it isn’t really possible to tell at the end. On the one hand Russell was out in the cold killing the monster. We can assume based on the blood testing they do, that one cell can turn you into a monster, so, how did he survive blowing the monster up as he did without getting a single cell on him. The audience did see him blow up all the buildings, but there could have been a contamination without his knowing it.

One the other hand we have Keith David’s character (Childs) and he’s been out of sight for a while, so we could assume that he is a monster because the monster needs time alone to complete the transition into the look-alike creature. He says he was off chasing Blair, but we can’t know that for sure.

Based on this information, did they kill the monster or did it survive? I think it probably survived because even after being burnt in the Norwegian camp, one cell was able to merge and wreak havoc on the camp. I guess we’ll never know because this movie didn’t make enough to warrant a sequel. I think it’s better that way.

One thing I really enjoyed was the suspenseful scene where MacReady is testing out the blood with the hot wire. The suspense was fantastic by showing that scene the way it did. The audience knew that one of those vials was going to contain a monster and the audience knew it was going to be Doc, when it wasn’t and it was revealed through that blood creature, I jumped harder than I have while watching a movie than I have in a long time.

So, is this a piece of monster fiction? I think it most certainly is. On a scale of one to monster, this gets a monster. We had a shape-shifting creature that can inhabit anyone it wanted to and imitate them perfectly. The monster was able to get inside of everyone’s mind and let the humans destroy themselves. So, not only did the monster exist, its reputation preceded it and made everyone a scardypants, paranoid, crazy guy.

One thing I don’t understand is, if the monster could look like anyone for such a long time, why suddenly change when people are around? I know that one or two of the changes were because it was threatened, but there were a couple of times when the monster revealed itself at the wrong time. I didn’t quite understand that.

Lastly and I guess on another note, wouldn’t it have been better to plan a little bit ahead before they blew up the whole station? I’d say, blow up most of it, but leave a place to live. Come on. Anyway, if you are reading this and haven’t seen the movie, I’m sorry for spoiling it, but you should still give it a view.

22 October 2010 @ 12:23 pm

I think this was a great book. It really felt like the author made the movie script adaptation his own.  Jonathan Mayberry really did a good job of evoking the emotions that I believe readers should feel when reading horror. I was scared, enthralled and disgusted at various times. We want to feel for the characters, we want to experience their emotions and know them. Mayberry did a great job of creating the characters that didn’t feel like cardboard cutouts as some screenplay adaptations can be made into.

The characters were strong. I was able to feel for Lawrence the way that I never thought possible. I could feel the pains he was going through because he didn’t want to become the wolfman his father set him up to be. Lawrence was likable and just strong enough that he was believable as a character that you’d think could truly beat the family curse. It may have been a little underhanded of him to go after his brother’s girl as quickly as he did, but the way she was described on the page, it made it hard not to go for her. I didn’t lose any respect for him as a character because he didn’t immediately go after her as a grieving woman and move in, he gave her time and built his relationship with her.

Gwen, on the other hand, may have moved a little too quickly onto Lawrence. She may have felt a little personal attachment or guilt because she brought him into the story, but she might have let her vulnerability get the best of her. I didn’t dislike her, but I think she could have been a little more reluctant to move onto Lawrence only a month after her betrothed went missing. If there were some sort of history between the two of them I might have been more likely to believe this relationship but honestly, she only got stories from Ben about Lawrence. Maybe she fell in love with the persona of the actor or maybe she truly felt the Nightingale effect. Whatever it was, it may have been too fast but I do believe she acted realistically as a woman of that time.

I think that one of the things that can kill a story written today set in a historical time is the overuse of that day’s language in descriptions and dialogue. Although the characters didn’t use slang as we would today, they did speak in a believable and readable manner. I appreciated the fact that the author didn’t use old English slangs and phrases where I’d have to spend hours studying the dialogue just to find out what they were reading. I really got a sense for the historical London landscape also. In whole, the book did well in keeping me within the story.

So, is this a monster story? I would have to say yes. Even before the real story begins, we are given an introduction to a character that is killed by a werewolf or wolfman. Right at the beginning we are shown a monster stalking a victim. Even though it was never mentioned, just knowing the title let the reader know what was happening. As a monster, I think Lawrence deserves our pity. He didn’t want to be the monster he became. Because of this, I think he would have gladly died to escape the monster.

On another note, I waited to finish reading this before watching the movie. I think that the movie was okay. There wasn’t anything spectacular about it. I didn’t buy that Lawrence and Gwen could be contemporaries. I must say that I did enjoy it probably more than many that hadn’t read the accompanying book. The book offers insight where the movie assumed background. I would have liked to see a scene or two extra from the book dropped into the movie and I wonder if these were left out for the sake of time.

What’s the difference between a werewolf and a wolfman? Syntax? Just asking.

14 October 2010 @ 03:49 pm

I have a list of movies that I hope to see someday. This listing includes movies I’ve read about or heard about that interest me in some way. I keep the list handy so I am sure to try to find one of these movies to check out. This list is much like my books to read list in its scope and length. I know that I probably couldn’t get through either list without taking a month or two off of work and do nothing but read and watch movies. The reason I bring this up is that Alien was on that list until about a month ago. I had never seen the movie and, even though I was interested in seeing it, never got around to it. There were too many movies that I wanted to watch. When the assigned reading and viewing list for this class came out, I was excited to knock this movie off of my to see list and onto my viewed listing. I ended up having to buy this movie and even though I don’t like to buy movies I’ve never seen, this wasn’t a bad purchase.

I will admit that this movie moved slowly at the beginning. By todays, explosion a minute, movie mentality, this movie didn’t take off until about the forty-five minute mark. There were times when I was watching at the beginning, doing my best to pay attention but it just felt like the movie meandered along. The dialogue seemed like throw-away speeches, things mumbled under characters breath. It just didn’t feel like anything was happening. It sort of felt like a documentary that was working to get off the ground and needed some everyday at work footage. That was until I watched the rest of the movie. It all made sense. This was intentional; we were supposed to see a normal, everyday, work crew going about their business. These were just people caught in the worst thing that had ever happened to them.

On top of the story, I was amazed at the visuals. They were fantastic. The movie wasn’t trying to be pretentious; it was just trying to be. The characters were realistic and I don’t think that it was strength or feminine power that saved Ripley, she was just in the right place at the right time.

There were great elements of horror and suspense throughout the story also. The fantastic scene that takes place in the ventilation system is beyond equal. There were jump scenes, gross out scenes, and scenes that have entered pop culture. You only have to mention “chest-burster” and most of the population will know what you’re talking about. Let me say this, they should have listened to Ripley, if they did, they'd all still be alive.

Because I’d only seen Aliens ten or so years ago, and forgotten it, I didn’t know what to expect with this movie. I was pleasantly surprised and proud to own this movie.

Who are the monsters in this movie? Are the humans the monsters? Were they the ones that were invading or are the aliens the monsters? This is tough to explain. This alien was definitely scared, but it went about protecting itself in interesting and gruesome ways. I don’t know that it was ever hunting anyone or trying to do harm, but something tells me it wasn’t completely innocent of all the deaths it caused.

The question remains, is this a horror movie? Yes, it is. Is it a monster movie? Most definitely yes. The monster is real and scary and the best thing about it is that we don’t see it running around, we only hear it and see its aftermath. This sort of reminded me of Jaws in the way that we didn’t see the shark until the very end. I wonder if it is the same reason that Spielberg had in that Ridley Scott just couldn’t get the right look of the alien down.

On another note, I was talking about this movie with a friend and he mentioned that this alien had to be the thirstiest thing in existence. It was always drooling. Maybe it was thirsty, but maybe it was hungry.

14 October 2010 @ 03:47 pm

Here’s a soapbox moment: The scope of this movie is something that is unequaled today. I personally think that one of the worst things to happen to modern cinema is the inundation of computer generated graphics. Sure, they help when things get kind of dicey for the production staff, they can be used in the right manner without being showy and over the top. Movies like Transformers or The Phantom Menace rely too much on their CGI department to get things done. If they used a little bit of the budget to create models as they did in the seventies and eighties movie productions would be much better and more realistic. I know, with the advent of many computer programs, special effects departments can create shadows and light and images that may not be able to be produced by creating a model, but many models used in movies in the seventies and eighties made for a more realistic project. Look at the scenes where Lucas added CGI and background materials added to the original Star Wars, these added items did not match to grainy picture.

As I watched Alien, I was amazed at the scale of the sets. The alien ship where the eggs are found is huge. I don’t see why movies don’t try for this type of thing today. In my opinion, movie companies rely too much on CGI to get a product ready in time for release. There are some that use CGI sparingly and still produce a product that is worthy of merit. Look at Batman Begins I have read that Christopher Nolan has shunned the use of computers for the reason that he wants to make a product look real. I know there are scenes when CGI is necessary, but he doesn’t rely on it so it becomes too prominent. I read that when Martin Scorsese was working on Gangs of New York  that George Lucas visited the set one day and chided Scorsese for building sets. He told him that he shouldn’t have wasted time by building and could have just created the sets in a computer. I’m glad Scorsese didn’t listen. Real is always better. My question is, why can’t producers make movies that look real anymore? The Lord of the Rings trilogy was better because of the use of models. Jackson relied on good set builders and a good camera to make something that looked realistic. It may have been more expensive to create some of the models, but the quality turned out better in my opinion.

I would love for someone to take the first three prequel Star Wars movies and redo them with models and sets and without Lucas like the last two movies in the original trilogy did. They would be much better.

Now, I step off my soapbox. Back to your daily work.

08 October 2010 @ 01:55 pm

I was very excited to read this novel. This book piqued my interest sometime before Thanksgiving last year when my cousin suggested I pick it up. At the time, I was in the mystery classics class and was unable to muster through those stories much less read something else. I knew if I picked up something that really interested me, I’d have a hard time putting it down and completing my assigned readings for school. Needless to say, I was very happy to have this book assigned and read it first, even though I Am Legend was our first assigned reading. This book was kind of hyped by my cousin and I have a feeling that nothing can live up to the hype so I was a little disappointed, but not enough not to be drawn into the story every day I read it.

There are many things I liked about this tale and can learn these techniques for my own writing. First, I liked the fact that the story took itself seriously. It didn’t pretend to be a horror novel in the sense that the reader experiences a horrible set of deaths and they have to go along with the survivors. This was the aftermath of those experiences, kind of like the sequel to every zombie movie that has ever been released. I have never read zombie fiction so I don’t know how this fares against others. I’ve seen Dawn and Day of the Dead so I have some background on how zombies are supposed to act.

Secondly, I really liked the style of this story. I like how it was a collection of the survivalist’s stories and how they intertwined and also how they separated from the other tales. I particularly liked how you could read one section and it was the story of a man or woman surviving in a city and then read another section and see the same city from the surrounding woods. I liked that we were only given the heroic tales. This was sort of like the experiences of the few celebrity survivors. I imagine that if this were a true tale sometime in the future, these people would have been the ones to have movies made from their survival stories.

This leads into one of the weaknesses of the novel. There were too many POV’s. If I happened to close the book in the middle of a section and pick it up again, I would never remember who was telling the story. The voices were practically the same throughout the whole story too. Even though these were all different survivors from different parts of the world, the only thing that really set one character apart from the other was the names of the cities in which they hailed. None of the characters were really described so I couldn’t get a firm picture of who they were or what they were doing in the story either.  They were nameless voices coming out of a recording device and didn’t have much weight to them. If this novel has a weak point, it is certainly this.

Lastly, I really enjoyed the fact that we weren’t given many answers as to what happened before the zombies began to rise. The story assumed that every reader knew where the zombies originated. Sometimes, like in Breeding Ground the explanation really tells too much and draws readers from the story. If Brooks told us that the zombies were created by some government to combat some force, I’d lost my believability. Because the storytellers were just citizens, for the most part, they probably only cared about eradication instead of blame. On the other hand, I did find it interesting that there were virtually no characters that talked at length about the cause of the zombies. I think Brooks should have at least introduced one conspiracy theorist in the mix. That would have brought a little more reality to this story, as if it were lacking some. If there were an apocalypse of this type fifteen years ago and people were talking about it today, there would be theories and stories and conspiracies. Because of that, this novel needed at least one.  

So, the big question: is this monster fiction? Undoubtedly, yes. This story is overrun with monsters as much as a story can be. I loved seeing the zombies at the bottom of the ocean, trying to attack scuba divers and subs. That was great. The monsters were just background to the human story, sort of like a hurdle all of the characters had to get over. They were not in your face scary because they were all dead (not undead), but they were still there in the thawing areas.

On another note, I’ve heard that this will be turned into a movie. I don’t see how that’s going to be possible. There isn't really a main character, except for the unnamed writer, and there isn't really a common story besides survival. I am skeptical that this can be turned into a successful project and think it will suffer from too many Hollywood rewrites that will ruin the premise, change the characters and neuter the story of all interest.

30 September 2010 @ 06:01 pm

So, my seemingly eternal trek to find an enjoyable Clive Barker story is sort of continued. I didn’t dislike this story as much as I found I disliked “Rawhead Rex,” but I can’t say that I really enjoyed it either. I think the reason for that was the ho hum nature of the story and the lack of a character that I could root for.

First, the ho hum nature of the story made for a blandish read. “The Yattering and Jack” had some potential. I could see it from the beginning. You have a character that has its own personal demon. I’ve never thought about the supernatural world in a way that we each have a personal demon that has a job to set us off the path to righteousness. I guess, if you can have a guardian angel, you can have a destroying demon. This demon was kind of boring though. Its strong suit was making lampshades swing and floorboards creak. I would think if a demon has supernatural power, enough to move things in the real world, that it could go beyond lampshades and floorboards. I will admit that it was fun to see the cats destroyed, but that’s only because I don’t like cats. Those scenes, especially the one where the cat explodes, were kind of fun. But we didn’t get enough of the reaction. I know the point was that Jack wasn’t really effected by this demon. He never really bowed to its powers, but we find out, too late I think, that Jack does know the demon is there. Why, then, don’t we get some internal reaction from Jack? That wouldn’t betray his outer calm, but we could see that he was irked, but knew better to show it.

For that reason, I think it was hard for me to root for Jack. We found out too late in the story that Jack knew of the Yattering’s existence. If we knew that Jack knew, we could root for Jack. We could join him in his fight against letting his temper flare, or letting his cards be revealed. I found it hard to sympathize with him when he only said che sera sera when he found out his wife was cheating and ultimately committed suicide. It was also hard to follow him on the quest to protect his children from the Yattering’s temper at the end because I didn’t care for Jack. Yes, he had an ultimate plan to save himself and his family, but the reveal to that came too late. It felt to me like Barker needed to add something to the story and thought this up on the fly and didn’t bother to go back and add little clues to this.

I guess, in hindsight, seeing that he had no reaction to the craziness around him was a clue enough, but that was only in hindsight and not enough for me.

I also didn’t find myself rooting for the Yattering either. He or it was too much of a pushover when it came to his try at conquering Jack. He failed at the little stuff and then suddenly gained an excess of strength and power, enough to make a roasting turkey come to life and to throw furniture and a Christmas tree through the house. Because I saw the demon as powerless, I couldn’t root for him either. This story left me rooting for nothing but the end.

So, where does this fit in with the other monsters we’ve read about in this class? I don’t think this is really a monster story. Monsters, to me, are physical manifestations that are able to affect their prey, both physically and mentally. They frighten their prey because of their sharp claws and deadly teeth. The Yattering had neither and was in fact forbidden to touch Jack. How scary would a game of tag be if you couldn’t be tagged? That, to me, removes all of the monster’s power.

On another note, if you had a demon that crossed your threshold and you had power over it, would you ask it to just clean up your house or would you want more out of it? I think I’d want nothing more to do with it.


I find it a little hard to write a blog post that has to be longer than this story felt. This is a complement, not a criticism because I didn’t go into this book thinking I’d finish it in one sitting, but I did. I couldn't put it down. It was a fun and rather exciting way to experience this story. I would suggest that anyone who has not read this book to pick it up and read it from front to back in a single sitting. 

This monster story was an interesting tale told through the eyes of many people in the town. It was good to see the different viewpoints as they experienced this horror that plagued their little haven. I enjoyed the hopping from month to month and didn’t feel ripped off to not have experienced the days in between, because really, when I am watching something that has to do with werewolves, I only want the changes, I don’t want the in between days where nothing happens and the town has a parade or baked bean supper. To correlate this story with a favorite TV show as a kid, I'll say this,  I never watched The Incredible Hulk hoping that David would stay David the whole show.

Even though this was a monster story, I think it was geared more toward the campfires or backyard tents of boys and girls sharing scary stories. Maybe a little too gory for some children and I’ll be sure to reread it before I let my children read it. Adding to the kid appeal, the pictures were great, but on occasion, they gave away the secrets of the story. For instance, I saw the picture of the priest with the eye patch before the kid in the story did. Because of this, I was even less surprised to find out he was the werewolf. Children may not pick up on this, but it kind of took some of the mystery out of it for me. That was okay though.

I’ve read a lot of Stephen King novels and this is my one criticism, he sometimes reveals the secret or a death long before it happens. I guess we readers feel the little poke at our imagination and hopefully go running toward the inevitable, maybe it amps up the suspense knowing the character is going to die because we are waiting to see how and when and by whose hand.

I really enjoyed the narrative structure of this story. It focused on the meat of the story and nothing more. Yes, it could have been longer, we could have been jerked around more, saw the town implode as they pointed fingers and blamed transients, but I think moving to the important parts of the months was fantastic.

This story fits pretty well in the monster world even though we don’t see the monster all that often, but that’s okay. We get to see people’s reactions to the monster and that’s really what we’re here for, right? The monster was believable as a werewolf can be and I was pretty interested to see where it would go and how the monster was taken down. If I had a criticism, it would be that the monster was taken out way too easily.

On another note, I believe I saw the movie version of this book when I was little. I remember staying at a friend’s house to spend the night and his parents were a little more lax at my television viewing than my parents. Silver Bullet came on and I sat for the hour or two I could handle and then proceeded to have nightmares for the next few weeks. I couldn’t go near a window at night and peer outside for fear there was a werewolf on the other side, ready and waiting, to break through. I remember never being able to walk through a park at night without fearing there was a werewolf hiding in the bushes. I guess one of these days I’ll have to rent it or watch it if it comes on television to see if it holds the scare it did for me when I was a little kid. I doubt it.

17 September 2010 @ 11:27 am

I want to first admit that I’ve never really been a Barker fan. I know he’s a quintessential horror author, one that everyone is supposed to read, but I never really got into his style. I read required stuff previously from Books of Blood and didn’t really enjoy it. The story that sticks out the most is “Dread.” The story is about a psychotic guy that does experiments on his friends to the extreme. I thought the ending was hokey, the characters were cardboard and it overall didn’t work for me. I had a few theories about what happened to the characters, because the ending so ambiguous. Needless to say, I had that story in mind when I picked up this book to read.

I tried not to look at it the same way I did “Dread” because story collections don’t always have across the board greatness on every page. I know that one bad story can bring down the rest when personal opinions are concerned, so I did my best to come into this story without any notions of lack of enjoyment.

I think “Rawhead Rex” went along the same lines as far as likeability went, although I didn’t hate this story as much as I disliked “Dread” I still felt like this story wasn’t all there.

There were a few things that made this story hard for me to enjoy. First, there was the premise of Rex living underground for centuries. This was an interesting start. I didn’t expect this monster to break through the ground and overtake the town but it was hard for me to follow though. What drove him there-I know it was answered, but not to my satisfaction- why wasn’t he able to push this stone out of the way before the ground settled?  As I was reading this, I got a picture that the big stone might be Rawhead’s head, but that didn’t work either. I guess I needed a little more from Barker by way of description.

Next, the whole village is being attacked in pieces, but this doesn’t seem to raise any alarm until the ending. How could you miss the screams of a horse being ripped apart or the shattering lumber of a house being dismantled by fists? Aren’t people in villages, like the one described here, nosy? I know if my house was being ravaged by some monster, my neighbors would take notice. Maybe I’m thinking more US centric than about the English countryside, but I find this a fault.

I also thought there was a “rule” that authors shouldn’t change point of view in the middle of a paragraph or in a single point of view section. If I remember correctly, this was done a bunch of times at the end of a section. The story seemed to jump around a lot there.

One thing that bothered me was if Rex was strong enough to withstand being buried alive for all those years, how is it that he is overpowered in the end? Is it because he hasn’t gained back all his strength from muscle atrophy? I don’t buy that, he rips apart a horse, although I’ve never tried it I’m sure the horse would put up a fight. He also tears through buildings like they are made of basal wood. So his lack of strength is not an issue. It doesn’t appear that any modern means were used: guns, cannons, automobiles. He was just bull-rushed because he's staring at a talisman and taken down. For a monster of this caliber, it seemed like an unfitting end.

This may just be me, but I could never get a solid picture of what Rex looked like. I saw glimpses but the only thing I could think of was the troll in the first Lord of the Rings movie. He was big, angry, but we didn’t really know why. Because of this, I wasn’t really afraid of him, I just thought he was an over sized bully.

So, where does this fit into the monster genre. Well, when I signed up for this class, this is the type of stories I thought we were going to read. I thought there would be novel versions of Godzilla or King Kong. I never thought we’d be delving into vampires and zombies but I guess that was my notion of monsters.

I’m going to do my best to read “The Yattering and Jack” without distaste, but I’ve already picked it up a couple of times, and couldn’t muster through the first page.

On another note, how would you take down a monster of this size if it were just you?

07 September 2010 @ 03:56 pm

Breeding Ground was an interesting novel to read. I liked the premise, although, having a pregnant wife didn’t make the opening of this novel easy to read. I would read some, then put my hand on my wife’s belly and feel our son kicking and think it was some spider thing eating her from the inside out. Because of that, this book was all the more scary for me, at least in the opening.

There are a couple of places this book didn’t hold up for me. First, I felt that society fell way too fast. The main character was only under his girlfriends spell for a little while and when he finally broke free, everything was changed. There was no one walking around, no shops were open and the world had died. I found it hard to follow the character as he went through his village plundering the local shops. I guess he went feral way too fast. I know there is a need to survive and, yes, it is strong, but things broke down too fast. The story lost reliability and readability for me there. I was still intrigued with the story enough to continue, but holding on tightly after that was a little hard.

The second thing that stuck out were the little jibes at the male audience. I remember reading along and then coming upon a short passage where the main character, a male, would think something un-male like. He would think something along the lines of, “because I’m a man, I can only focus on sex or food,” or “I tried to keep my eyes off her body but because I’m a man I couldn’t.” Little jabs at the male reader were unnecessary and it appeared as though the author was trying to make a social statement rather than character statement.

The third thing that kind of drew me out of the story was the sex scene. I am no prude, but I had a hard time reading through that. If this were a movie and my wife chose this time to walk in, I’d have some explaining to do. I really don’t understand the need for the scene and I think that only a female author could get away with just such a scene. If a man wrote it, he would be considered a pornographer or a pervert, but because a woman wrote it, the scene got a pass. I don’t know if I’m the only one that thought that, and if I am, then maybe I am a prude. And really, the main character jumped from one woman to another way too fast.

Lastly, why would the next evolutionary step, because of pesticides, be an insect? Wouldn’t pesticides on our food mean that our next evolution would move as far away from insecticides as possible? This is where the novel fell apart for me. I don’t think we needed an explanation, at least one that could be brushed past so quickly. This explanation came when it was unnecessary and answered no questions. My disbelief failed to be suspended here. The thing that I wished would have been answered was why the deaf characters blood was so potent. Does this mean that the next generation will all be deaf? Answer that one for me.

Anyway, despite all of this, I guess it has a place in the monster genre. The monsters were scaryish, I guess they would be scarier if you hated spiders. This was a new way to take monsters so it wasn’t too bad in that respect. The common themes were there with survival being of utmost importance and the human ingenuity that comes from the need to survive.

On another note, maybe this is my American oversaturation with weaponry, but really, how hard is it to figure out how to handle a gun? I know that most of Brittan is gun free, but come on, it’s point and shoot, not a problem. If you gave a camera to someone that had never seen one before, they’d be able to figure it out without any hassle and that has more moving parts.