A Review of Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk

The narrator of this story is a man utterly bored with his life. Because he feels it has no meaning and we’re all living to pretty much die he can’t sleep. His extreme somnia leads him to visit a doctor so he can get sleeping pills. His doctor doesn’t want to prescribe him anything. He tells him instead to visit a support group for people with serious illnesses. That will put some perspective into his life. Out of desperation, he takes the doctor’s advice. What he finds at these support groups helps. When he sees death right in front of him he suddenly feels reborn and crying in the arms of these people on the brink of death gives him the ability to once again sleep like a baby. Until Marla Singer shows up. He recognizes right away that she is also a “faker” there to feel alive and he knows that she knows that he is also a faker. Suddenly his safe haven is no longer safe and insomnia returns. Until he meets Tyler on a beach. After a night drinking he asks the narrator to hit him. Reluctantly the narrator does and the fight club is born. But after awhile this isn’t even good enough and things start to escalate… chaos ensues.

This is the second book by Chuck Palahniuk that I have read. While this one wasn’t as disturbing as Haunted, this is an exceptional book. I had previously seen the movie many times, so the twist ending isn’t much of a twist for me. It probably isn’t for anyone at this point with Tyler Durden being so deeply enmeshed in pop culture at this point in time. This book was the author’s debut in 1997 and was born from a short story he wrote when he was bored at work one day. Not only is the writing good, but there’s actually some really good social commentary about how we deal with others and our own self involved society.

The only thing I really didn’t like about this book is the abrupt ending. While there was resolution to the major plot, I feel like it didn’t give a real resolution to the character relationships. The end left me wanting a whole lot more and I got excited when I saw there was an afterward but it really didn’t address anything from the story.

I really enjoyed this book. I give it a solid 5 out of 5. I think the social commentary is even more relevant today than it was when it came out 20 years ago. He calls it a single serving lifestyle and in today’s world everything is meant to be thrown away. We are even more self absorbed than we were when it was first written. I highly recommend this book. I think it would make a good book club read as well. There are a lot of social and personal issues worth discussing. It is very graphic in its descriptions of violence and some sexual activity.

A Review of Devin: A Compelled Novella by Anthony Puyo

Anthony Puyo is an up and coming author who cut his teeth in the horror genre. I read his debut novel, The Compelled, last year. This novella takes place in the same place and the same time. A cataclysmic event has plagued the earth and no one knows what is happening. Some kind of illness or disease has started spreading that causes people to go completely insane and their only objective is ripping and tearing the flesh of everyone they see. Devin was mentioned early on in The Compelled and this is the story of what happened to him after he was separated from the group of survivors he was with.

He essentially finds himself kidnapped and at the mercy of a vigilante who wants to exact revenge on the boys he believes to be responsible for the rape and murder of his daughter. Rex wants Devin to help him figure out which of the three boys he has captured killed Martha. But as Devin slowly begins to realize, Rex is coming apart at the seems and not everything is what it seems. Devin is at the heart of this murder mystery and he needs to solve the crime before Rex kills him.

I loved The Compelled and this was a wonderful foray back into the heart of the post apocalyptic world Anthony Puyo has created. Appearances by characters the reader is already familiar with makes them feel like they are running into old friends. And this book stands on its own. This is a separate story happening at the same time as the big picture and you don’t have to have any knowledge of what has happened. The extra tidbits are more like easter eggs for long time fans. The only criticism I have for this book is there is a lot of slang and the book reads more like a tale told by someone you met on the street. I think the slang works for the dialogue because a majority of the characters are young adults. But I would’ve liked a shift to more traditional writing for the narrative portion.

I would strongly recommend both these books to any fans of survival horror. It is fast paced action, lots of gore, and the suspense makes you not want to put it down. I would caution for strong language and extreme gore and violence. I give this one a strong 4 out of 5.

A Review of Joyland by Stephen King

Devin is 21 and in love. He’s about to finish college and Joyland is the perfect place for a summer before his life really starts. Joyland is as carny as it comes and upon getting hired Devin learns that it harbors a few secrets of its own. The legend of Linda Gray sparks something in Devin and he hopes to be one of the lucky patrons who see her ghost haunting the only dark ride Joyland offers. In a summer he hopes is endless, Devin learns the amusement park game, meets new friends, and is never far behind the not quite cold trail of the Linda Gray murder.

The carny atmosphere that King weaves in this story is rich in character and tradition. It is apparent that he has done research. I felt fully immersed and quickly picked up “the Talk” that only carny from carny, someone born into a carny family, truly knows. King also gave an authentic feel to the 1970’s era, using music and description of clothing.

This book is a slow burn. There is not a whole lot of action or much going on until close to 80% through. But King keeps the reader interested with in depth character development and he takes his time building the Joyland lore, breaking of tidbits at just the right intervals leaving the reader hanging on for a little more. Once the story picks up it really picks up and by then you are so invested in the characters that what happens to them matters and it gives you no chance to put the book down. The reader has to know what happens.

Where I was just so-so interested in about 70% of the book, I loved the last quarter so much that everything else was totally worth it. The build up made sense. The great pains taken in building Joyland to what it became was vital to the plot. I give this one a 4 out of 5. The ending is worth the entire book.

A Review of American Gods by Neil Gaimen

We first meet Shadow Moon as he is being released from prison three weeks early due to the tragic death of his wife. Not knowing what to do next, he is asked by a stranger if he wants a job. Shadow has no other options so he takes the job blindly. In Neil Gaiman’s own words this is a release from prison, a road trip, and a corrupt town all balled into one big book.

My biggest problem with this book is its sheer length. While parts of it are really good and engaging, drawing you right in, there are other parts that have so many useless facts that I felt really hard pressed to keep listening. Shadow is a very personable protagonist and even with his flaws you find yourself becoming increasingly fond of him and what he continues to go through. It helps that all the other characters are so vile that they make him shine in comparison. I can’t get into the antagonist without really giving anything away. It really kept me guessing throughout the story. I think that’s another one of this book’s greatest points, it leaves you wondering just enough so that you keep reading even when you don’t really want to.

I gave this book a 4 out of 5. It is seriously bizarre and has some strong sexual content that may not be for everyone. I’m a fan of bizarre and at times it was even too out there for me. I’ve always heard amazing things about Neil Gaiman and this is the first book I’ve read by him and I have to say I’m a bit disappointed. I may have started with the wrong book from his library. I will give another a try to see if my opinion improves. This was definitely not a bad book. I liked it. But I expected to be floored due to the reception he’s received and I just wasn’t floored by this and I will probably never read it again. But I do encourage everyone to give it a try and see for themselves.

A Review of Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Nick and Amy started out with the perfect life. Beautiful man meets beautiful woman and falls in love. They date, the get married, but their happily ever after doesn’t seem so happily ever after, after all. Job loss and financial problems take their toll and their relationship begins to unravel. Things aren’t good between them on their 5th anniversary when Amy goes missing after an attempt at a nice crepe breakfast. All signs point to foul play and Nick is the primary suspect. All he has is the beginning clue of their annual anniversary treasure hunt to begin to unravel what could have happened to his wife.

The first thing I want to say about this book is that it is too long. It is incredibly wordy and this made the book really hard to get through at times, tedious even. Also, the characters are all utterly unlikeable. All of them. Just when you think you have a glimmer of hope for one of them, another turn of events makes you hate them. They have no redeeming qualities. This is truly a cautionary tale of what a relationship should not be. I have never seen a more unhealthy relationship than Nick and Amy’s. And to me, the worst part is that I think the author was trying to go for some sort of bizarrely romantic ending and it was the opposite of that. I finished this book seriously disgusted.

The first half of the book was really slow. I would say it is the 2nd half the picks up but not until the last third that I became really interested and finished it in one setting. With that said, this book is a rollercoaster of events. I had the plot spoiled for me while I was reading but even with the main plot spoiled there were still a bunch more twists and turns. Just when I thought I had a grasp on what was happening something would happen to make me completely rethink it. And despite hating the characters, a small part of me pitied them and even rooted for them a bit. I can’t explain why. I loathe them as people which is not usual for me. I normally relate to at least one character and can find something about even a loathsome character to enjoy. Not so with this story.

I would recommend this book to someone who enjoys crime thrillers. I think it is a good example of a whodunit that makes you constantly second guess yourself through out. But based on the slow burn of the plot, the overabundance of irrelevant information, and the vile nature of the characters I would have to give this one a 3 and thats being fairly generous.

A Review of The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde (Thursday Next #1)

Thursday Next is a military veteran of the Crimean War. Since leaving the military she has joined the law enforcement field, currently working in the LiteraTec office of the special operatives or spec ops. She thought she would enjoy it but it was starting to get stale.That is, until a man from spec ops 5 comes to see her and then she is instantly promoted because of her prior knowledge of the most wanted criminal in the world, Acheron Hades. He has recently stolen an original Dickens manuscript of Martin Chuzzlewit. Besides the excitement of her job, her love life isn’t going so well. The man she loves and also blames for her brother’s death is finally tired of waiting over a decade for her and is set to wed someone else. She doesn’t know what she should do about it.

This book is a literary Geeks dream. Thursday lives in a world that values literature above all else: vending machines that will read you Shakespeare, societies dedicated to authors, dead authors houses as major tourist attractions and historical sites. The book references and puns are never ending. The characters names reflect their personalities. The antagonist is named Hades. The political character is called Jack Schitt. There are an abundance of plays on words.

Also, her uncle has invented a way for people to go into books called the prose portal, which brings classic literature to life in a whole new way. And with this comes the ability to accidentally change the story. So you can see how this opens up so many possibilities for the story.

I don’t usually care for Crime dramas but this is so much more. Thursday is charming and witty. Even after on Hades is an interesting and well-developed character who I found hard not to like. If you are a book lover and if you do enjoy word games and pounds I think you would really like this book. I would give it more than 5 Stars if that was possible.