When Johnny hears a rumor that Sarge’s body is hidden somewhere in the forest outside the campground, he recruits Violet and some of the other campers to go on a mission to find out if it’s true. (goodreads.com)
So I loved the art in this comic. Like a lot. It’s truly beautiful, all the colors and shading. I couldn’t take my eyes off of it.
The story on the other hand . . eh. It’s weird. Why are all these zombies at this military-like camp? Are they training for the zombie army? And why is Sarge just a head on a stick? Not a whole hell of a lot he can do. Is the guy who pushes him around on a cart supposed to be his arms to whip these zombie kids into shape?
And then they’re searching for his body, like it has some kind of mind of its own. I don’t know. I don’t feel real rooted in this world. Granted I think the comic is for younger kids, like middle school at most, so I think a lot of backstory gets skipped. But I end up with a lot more questions than what’s answered, mainly because it gives zero exposition. Not even really trickled throughout unless you want to count the ghost story of Sarge’s body. But even then everything’s existing within a bubble.
Young kids would probably like it. It’s amusing enough and the visual are fantastic. But it’s lacking in its story, for sure.
I received a copy of this comic from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Why is her boyfriend Tom avoiding her – while other boys pursue her as never before? Jenny Thornton has changed. So have her friends. Because of Julian, the Shadow Man, who has returned to terrorize them with a new game, a hunting game, Lambs and Monsters. They’re the lambs, to be stalked, pounced upon, and lost to the Shadow World forevermore. The monsters are the Lurker , a ghostly wolf, and the Creeper, a phantom snake. One by one, Jenny’s friends disappear, leaving behind only a paper doll – and a riddle with clues about who will be next . . . Jenny must find Julian’s hidden base and save her friends before it’s too late. But how can she resist the predatory prince of darkness who has returned to make her his own? (book back blurb)
I reviewed the first book a while ago and my recap for it just went up last month at The Devil’s Elbow. This month I’m recapping THE CHASE and having never read it before, of course it needed to be reviewed here too. Oh such Labyrinth-y goodness.
Granted I was a bit torn with THE CHASE. The pacing was a little all over the place and the first sentence in that blurb is really misleading. Jenny doesn’t have dudes falling all over her now. One guy asked her to the prom who wasn’t Tom. The blurb could have started with the second sentence and have been fine. Anyway, pacing. It lingers on minutiae in this book where it didn’t in the last, giving me drawn out scenes when they were postering (as in handing out posters with Summer’s face on it because everyone thinks she’s just missing) that didn’t really advance the plot at all, or the whole thing with this guy pursuing Jenny, which really wasn’t much of a thing. There’s a fair amount of cigarette lighting in the book and things don’t really start to get rolling until a little more than halfway into the book, which is far. I often felt like telling Smith to get on with it up to that point.
However, I did like the total mindfuck going on up to Game #2. They were just spaced far enough apart in that first half that they didn’t connect too well and too much time passed between them to really maintain interest. Plus Smith likes to drag on with unnecessary physical details and expounding a little too much on what’s going on in people’s heads so that slowed the plot down too. But the mindfucking was good. I wish she spent more time there.
About a third of the way through the book I started having real issues with the type of focus Smith was giving Dee, her Aba, and then a Polynesian woman. It seemed like every POC that popped up in her books were in some way otherworldly and deserving of this . . . other type of description that no one else got. Then I remembered Wing from DE mentioning not liking Smith’s othering of Dee. Not sure what that meant I looked it up. Yup. That’s it. That’s what was really bothering me. It’s almost like Smith’s overcompensating by making all of the POC in her book mystical and gorgeous and unreachable . . . except that just plays into typecasting, doesn’t it? Dee, the angry but beautiful black girl who’s regularly described as having lioness and panther-like qualities, who wants to fight constantly, and who is regularly described as having a savage or barbaric smile (OMG NO). Aba, the mystical black grandma offering pearls of wisdom to help the children along. And the Polynesian women, a cop and there for a second, was described as being model beautiful. It was just so glaring and off-putting.
Meanwhile Michael has some variety of spaniel eyes, Audrey has spiky lashes and bangs, and everyone else kinds of blends in. Smith has a real bad habit of using rather unique descriptors repeatedly. They stand out “nicely.”
Anyway, I’m a big fan of psychological thrillers and horror and THE CHASE fits better into that arena than anything else. I really, really liked the mind games Julian played, wearing the group down before taking them one by one. Truly, it’s perfect. But then we get sort of a repeat ending from book one and I want to say it’s lazy but it also plays into Julian’s character so I’m not sure which way to sway on that one. But I like that Smith went with the brain game with book two. Considering how mentally mangled those kids would be after what they went through, and with losing Summer (I have a feeling she’s not actually dead . . .) their brains would be ripe for poking. And Julian did just that. It’s demented and dark and it made me like the story even more. Jenny is standing more on her own two feet and barreling headfirst into things. Tom is no longer her crutch. Instead she stands on her own and that’s kind of awesome.
I’m looking forward to working my way through book 3 next month. Be sure to check out my recap going up at The Devil’s Elbow on the 23rd!
My recap of the first book in LJ Smith’s The Forbidden Game series, THE HUNTER, just went live at The Devil’s Elbow! Come see just how much Smith was inspired by Labyrinth and if she wasn’t I’ll eat my shoe. Not to mention, in the grander scheme of shitty YA horror from the 90s, THE HUNTER is probably one of the least shittiest. I actually enjoyed this story in all its twisted horror and Labyrinth love and Smith kept the crappy characters to a minimum. Considering the proliferation of teens-as-caricatures in 90s YA horror, I’ll take what I can get.
So come check out my recap of THE HUNTER at The Devil’s Elbow now!
Got a little haul last month, including a book that just made my heart soar:
I have no idea if MY BEST FRIEND’S EXORCISM by Grady Hendrix is supposed to be any good but the second I saw the paperback I just had to have it. It’s so . . . so . . . perfect. And so 80s and my childhood walking around Blockbuster in the horror section looking for tapes to rent. I love it. Also got THE FALL by Bethany Griffin in there thanks to PaperBackSwap. Have I mentioned I love that site?
And then the digital books.
Both of these came from InstaFreebie. I still haven’t actually read any of the books I’ve gotten from that mailer and I’m a little apprehensive. Honestly they don’t look too quality, just based on cover design and how the blurbs read. Those that I have chosen I think are the better of the lot. But some that I’ve seen . . . Ugh. Guys. Put your money into your book cover. It shouldn’t look like you slapped it together in Paint. And if you have spelling and grammar errors in your blurb, I’m going to assume the rest of your book does too.
I got this copy from Penguin’s First to Read and I can’t wait to sink in. I love this series but I’ve been a bit out of it and I didn’t realize I’m actually two books behind in the series, plus some filler stories. I need to get on that ASAP.
New York City in 1978 is a dirty, dangerous place to live. And die. Joey Peacock knows this as well as anybody—he has spent the last forty years as an adolescent vampire, perfecting the routine he now enjoys: womanizing in punk clubs and discotheques, feeding by night, and sleeping by day with others of his kind in the macabre labyrinth under the city’s sidewalks.
The subways are his playground and his highway, shuttling him throughout Manhattan to bleed the unsuspecting in the Sheep Meadow of Central Park or in the backseats of Checker cabs, or even those in their own apartments who are too hypnotized by sitcoms to notice him opening their windows. It’s almost too easy.
Until one night he sees them hunting on his beloved subway. The children with the merry eyes. Vampires, like him…or not like him. Whatever they are, whatever their appearance means, the undead in the tunnels of Manhattan are not as safe as they once were.
And neither are the rest of us. (goodreads.com)
What I liked about THE LESSER DEAD was that it was something different. A fourteen-year-old sort-of child vampire surviving in 70s New York. Excellent depiction of New York at the time. I practically felt like I was there, all the grit and grime and grossness, but also the endearing and nostalgic. I really liked that. Plus it’s a lot of how Joey gets by, how he feeds (kind of repugnantly but at least he recognizes what is and isn’t consent, especially as it pertains to his ability to hypnotize people), and how he passes in the world of the living.
I also liked how the vampires were slightly different and just how in the human world there are classes of people, there are classes of vampires. In this world vampires can’t tolerate direct sunlight and if they get hit with it it leaves scars. No vampire healing from that. They can tolerate cloudy days without little more than a headache and this particular group of vampires doesn’t kill people. Feeds from them, sure, but in order to keep the cops looking the other way they don’t do deaths.
The vampire children part of it was eerie too, especially how that whole relationship developed. I can’t go into details without spoiling, but Buehlman did a good job of making them creepy, that’s for sure. They’re kid vampires and they’re constantly hungry and that has devastating consequences. it also makes the vampires bat around the idea of just what the kids are, whether there are different species of vampires and if these kids are some of them. They do eventually get their answer, but it’s not one they’re going to like.
Joey has a great voice and I think the world Buehlman developed around him was vivid in its darkness and shadows and crusted corners. It’s a New York everyone thinks of, pre-Guiliani. It’s the dangerous city everyone knows and loves, made even more dangerous by the fact that vampires are living in the subway tunnels and feeding on people every night.
But I didn’t love it like I really wanted to. It just didn’t strike me in the way I wanted it to after reading the blurb. It’s not that I wanted it to necessarily be more than what I got but I wanted more out of it. That probably doesn’t make a ton of sense but there you go. Buehlman creates some great characters and sets a great scene. He also added to the vampire mythos and world nicely. But I’m just kind of meh about it. THE LESSER DEAD is a good book and I’d recommend it for any vampire fan. But it just has that little something missing that I can’t quite put my finger on.