Book Review: Follow Me To Ground by Sue Rainsford

Follow Me to Ground by Sue Rainsford

Rating:  ★★★★

This book is so weird.  I mean that in the best way possible.  I don’t even know how to go about describing it, because it’s just that weird.  Witchy healer does witchy things?  Witchy healer starts an affair with a guy who might not be so upstanding himself and chaos ensues?  Is she good?  Is she not so good?  No one knows.  Certainly not this reader.

It’s like this: Ada starts out seeming like a perfectly sweet, innocent young girl, with some peculiar abilities.  She cures illnesses, which she learned to do from her father.  A man named Samson from the village begins an affair with her.  Her father is not enthused.  Neither, it seems, is his sister.  Throughout this affair, we begin catching glimpses into something darker lurking beneath the surface.  Maybe Ada is not so innocent as she seems.  Maybe Samson’s not either.  Maybe it’s both of them.  Maybe it’s everyone else.  I’m still not sure.

But I think that’s what makes it interesting.  I’ve put off writing this review for probably two weeks now because I still don’t know how I feel about it except to say that I mostly enjoyed it.  The writing is strong and the pages breeze by.  The plot is meandering- not always my favorite- but I think it works here because it’s only 200 or so pages long to begin with.

The magic is confounding, and not too in your face.  It seems like a subtle but necessary element.  If you’re squeamish (like myself), I’m just giving you a heads up, this book is no picnic.  The way the healing is done… it gets graphic.

I read Imaginary Friend not too long ago, and complained that literary horror wasn’t something I wanted to revisit.  Well, I feel like I did accidentally revisit it here, and apparently it does work in small doses.

The ending is ambiguous- we’re left to draw our own conclusions about everything that takes place in those last few pages.  It annoyed me upon finishing, but it’s also the reason I’ve found this so haunting.

Follow Me To Ground releases on January 21, 2020 and can be found on GoodReads or preordered on Amazon.  Thank you to the publisher and Edelweiss for the digital ARC.

Book Review: Mapping the Interior by Stephen Graham Jones

Mapping the Interior by Stephen Graham Jones

Rating:  ★★★★

This is my first experience with Stephen Graham Jones, and I’m really sort of sorry for it. I wish I had started reading his work sooner.   Mapping the Interior is a story about a boy who is being haunted by the ghost of his father.  It’s a quick story, and the plot really is that straightforward.  It can be read in just a couple hours.

The prose is easy to read but also had a really strong sense of voice, which I loved.  It held a rhythm and cadence that felt unique to Jones.  This is a horror story, and it’s a slow burn, at least as far as a novella can be slow.  At first, the ghost just seems like a benevolent spirit, watching over his sons, but after a dangerous encounter with the neighbor’s dogs, we know that’s not quite what’s happening. (Content Warnings: violence against animals.)

The ending snuck up on me, and I wasn’t at all prepared for it.  It’s disturbing, not necessarily scary.  There are a couple flashes of horror between the beginning and the end, but it wasn’t anything that felt so horrific I couldn’t hand it off to a friend to read.  But then the ending came and I had to put the book down, and stop, and digest, and think about it, and think about it some more.  My initial reaction was that I didn’t like the ending at all.  It was a little ambiguous.  It makes you think twice about our heroic protagonist.  It seems to renege on the initial conclusions we’ve drawn.

If you’re wondering why I was raving about Jones all last week, it’s because this book stuck with me long after I had set it down.  It may be with me for awhile yet.  I’ve been putting off this review because I’m still not 100% sure how I felt about it.

If I had one critique, it’s that Mapping the Interior often felt literary: metaphorical and symbolic and allegorical.  But I was never quite able to grasp the meaning or the message behind it all.

Mapping the Interior can be found on GoodReads or ordered on Amazon and I recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good horror story now and then.

Book Review: House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski

House of Leaves by Mark Danielewski

Rating:  ★★★1/2

I have been reading this book for like two months.  A variety of factors dragged it out that long, but part of it was the sheer effort it takes to read this.  It’s more than 700 pages long, and includes about 200 pages of appendices, and over 400 footnotes.  Some of those footnotes I skipped outright, because they were just lists of names or titles of books and movies, but most of them I read as they were given to me.

And then you have pages where the writing is sideways or upside down…. yeah.  So reading this was limited to time I wasn’t on mom or work duty, when I knew there would be no distractions.  Was it worth it in the end?  The truth is… I don’t know.

When this book was good, it was terrifying, and when it was bad, it was mind numbingly boring.  The story is like this: A man known as Zampano dies, leaving behind his scribblings about a film made by an award winning journalist named Will Navidson, who lived in a house that was larger on the inside than it was on the outside.  These scribblings are discovered by a man named Johnny Truant, who allows Zampano’s notes to consume him completely.

The result is an odd mashup of what feels like a dry non fictional analysis of a home made film, parts of “found footage” style storytelling regarding Navidson’s home, and Johnny Truant’s first person ravings about nothing that seems particularly related to anything else.

Is it possible I missed the point?  Yup.  Definitely possible.

I absolutely loved the found footage parts.  They were legitimately scary, and I don’t say that often.  If I had read only those parts, it would have easily been a five star book.

But those wonderfully terrifying parts were dragged down by Zampano’s analysis.  I mean… I don’t want to read an analysis of any documentary, why in the hell would I want to read a fictional analysis of a fictional documentary?  I didn’t.  It was chock full of names and videos and reference points, some fictional, some not, and it didn’t feel like it was adding much of anything to the story.  Sometimes these parts felt endless.

And then we have Johnny Truant.  I’m somewhat on the fence about Johnny.  For starters, he’s an unreliable narrator, and he tells the reader this very early on.  I wasn’t inclined to believe most of what he wrote, but at the same time, his slow descent into madness feels real.  He often goes off on tangents within the footnotes, that seemingly have nothing to do with anything else happening in the story, but also mirror Navidson’s and Zampano’s stories on a metaphorical level.  In the end, I’m simply not sure what they were meant to contribute.

I don’t regret reading this- because my curiosity would never have been satisfied otherwise, but I wish I’d had the good sense to skip the parts I wasn’t enjoying.  If, like me, you’re curious about this one, read the first couple chapters in their entirety to get a sense of the story and what’s being told, and then read only what you want out of it.  There isn’t any big reveal at the end connecting all the parts together.  The story is largely open to interpretation, ambiguous through and through.

If you do hope to read it, I would recommend only a hard copy of the book.  I think this would be near impossible to read or interpret in any other format.  House of Leaves can be found on GoodReads or ordered on Amazon.

Book Review: People of the Lake by Nick Scorza

Rating:  ★★★

People of the Lake is about a girl who spends the summer with her dad in his hometown. It’s a quiet little town on Redmarch Lake, except the people there are weird. They don’t like outsiders. They don’t talk to outsiders. And they are definitely hiding something.

One night, after a party in the woods, a teenage boy washes up dead on the lakeshore, and the following morning a note shows up from Clara’s twin sister, written in a secret language they shared as twins. The only problem? Clara’s sister Zoe has been dead for eight years.

This book was slow to get going. It lingers a lot on unnecessary details. Clara’s inner monologue is often repetitive, as is the recounting of her mornings at the coffee shop. The dialogue often felt stiff and cliched. It isn’t bad per se, but it’s not really good either.

I also struggled with the way Clara was written. She was written very much how I think adults believe teenage girls are, rather than how they actually are. She was never fully realized as a person outside of her teenage girl-dom. There were a lot of tropes and cliches stuffed in that just came across as dated. (A step dad she doesn’t want to know, the weird unfriendly goth girl, the awkward Dad… the list goes on.)

That said, I did enjoy the plot. A lot of the details were held back until the end, keeping me in suspense. Even when I struggled, I wanted to see where the crazy train was taking me. There’s a silly romance shoehorned in at the end that you’ll see coming a mile away. By the time they got to “I love you’s” I was rolling my eyes.

There’s some odd pieces of history going back to the 1400s thrown in, that don’t feel like they ever culminate into anything. They reveal bits and pieces of the town’s history but don’t actually contribute to the overall story beyond what the character’s tell us (and what the character’s tell us is much more coherent).

The spook factor was decent. I loved the imagery of lights in the woods and the howling, accompanied by the ever present lake, so silent and still. It’s definitely supernatural in nature, as a heads up, if that kind of horror is not your thing.

I think this could have actually been great if there had been some stronger editing to get rid of the tropes and repetitiveness, and maybe been trimmed down to a novella size to keep the pace up.  Thank you to the publisher and Edelweiss who provided an eARC for review.

People of the Lake released on October 15, 2019 and can be found on GoodReads or Amazon.

Monster Books on my TBR

My favorite kind of horror always involves monsters.  From the Chupacabra to the Mothman, Nessie to Big Foot- I want to watch it, I want to read it.

Mosasaurus gif

Unfortunately, I don’t do as much of the latter as I’d like.  So instead, in honor of my favorite month for all things scary, here are some of the monster books on my TBR!

Relic

Relic by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child – The first of the Pendergast novels.  I have seen the movie and love it.  If for no other reason than nostalgia.  The monster in this book is described as a chimeric fish, reptile, primate, insect… thing.

Meg by Steve Alten

Meg by Steve Alten – If I’m being honest, I thought the movie was kind of lame.  Sure there was plenty of carnage in that one beach scene- but if you’re going to call it horror, you gotta kill off more of the main cast.  I’m hoping the book does it better.  (In case you can’t tell, the monster in this book is a Megalodon shark.)

The Terror by Dan Simmons

The Terror by Dan Simmons – I know a show exists based on this book, but I actually haven’t seen it yet!  Anyway, I’m dying to read it, but at the same time, Simmons and his 700+ page books also terrify me.

Communion by Whitley Strieber

Communion by Whitley Strieber – I’m told this is one of the more horrifying books out there.  I believe the monster in this book is aliens, but I can’t confirm how much page time they get.  Either way- I’m excited to read it!

Congo by Michael Crichton

Congo by Michael Crichton – Much like Relic, I’m dying to read this for the nostalgia factor alone.  The monster in this book is a highly intelligent, very aggressive, species of gorilla.

The Hatching by Ezekiel Boone

The Hatching by Ezekiel Boone – The blurb describes an odd montage of events for a monster book, but I’m really not that picky.  No idea what the monster is, just trusting there is one.

Below by Ryan Lockwood

Below by Ryan Lockwood – I’m guessing it’s a Kraken?  I see tentacles.  Doesn’t matter really.  I’ll read it.

Admiral By Sean Danker

Admiral by Sean Danker – Yes to all the things lurking in the creepy alien mist on a seemingly dead planet.

Nemo Rising by C. Courtney Joyner

Nemo Rising by C. Courtney Joyner – This is really more fantasy/sci-fi than horror, but with a cover like that I couldn’t leave it out.  Intended to act as a sequel to 20,000 Leauges Under the Sea.

The Anomaly by Michael Rutger

The Anomaly by Michael Rutger – The sequel to this recently released with mostly positive reviews, but the original has actually been on my TBR since it released.  Being that I haven’t read it yet, I can’t confirm any actual monsters, but I’ll be very disappointed if there aren’t.

Do you like monster books?  Which ones are on your TBR?

 

 

 

Three Mini DNF Book Reviews

As a follow up to yesterday’s discussion post, it only seems fitting that I follow it up with my three DNF reviews.  I’ve decided not to rate these, because although I know why I’m not finishing, I don’t want to say I’d recommend or not recommend them, not knowing how they end.

Overthrow by Caleb Crain

I was so excited for this book when I first heard about it.  It seemed like a dystopian novel with some fantastical elements (ESP) and a bunch of dreamers for characters.

What it actually is, is contemporary literature.  This is not my thing.  If I had realized that’s what it was I would have NOPED it right away.  

I made it to page 140 before I decided I didn’t want to continue.  In that time, we read three chapters, so that was strike number one.  Chapter one is 72 pages long.  That’s not a chapter.  It’s a novelette.

In that time I actually did grow to like Leif and Matthew, who I originally thought were the two main characters in the book.  If the book had continued to keep Matthew as the POV character, I actually might have continued.  Unfortunately, it jumped POVs to a character named Chris, who at that point, was one of the least interesting characters.  Chapter three switched POVs again to a character named Elspeth.  Chapter four, the point at which I decided I had no desire to continue, saw yet another shift in POV, to Julia.  Whose presence in the novel at all is questionable, nevermind the utter lack of necessity to give her a POV.  The POV shifts were strike number two.

And the final nail in the coffin was the world building, or lack thereof.  These characters seem to be protesting something, belonging to a wider movement called Occupy.

I have no idea what the hell they were protesting.

Their smaller group within the larger group, whose name I can’t recall (but whose initials are something ridiculous like RFTGFP) believes that people should strive to perceive other people’s feelings.  Leif is really good at it.  He can sense your email password. Chris cannot do it, but believes in it and believes that it’s the most important thing ever.  Or something.

I just didn’t get it.  I mean- yeah I get the larger message, we’d all be better people if we stopped to put ourselves in other people’s shoes once in awhile, but I don’t know why or how the government fits into it.  There’s some talk of Homeland Security, and tapping phones and monitoring computers… but no indication that any of it was done prior to the group hacking someone’s email.  The whole premise is bizarre, and seems overly complicated while also being too simple, and ultimately just not what I wanted.

Just a note on the writing- the author appears to be some kind of literary journalist, so he uses a lot of obscure words and fancy language that feels superficial at best because he didn’t give us a lot of insight into what the characters were actually feeling.  I consistently felt like I was missing some of the context.

Anyway- this is probably going to be a wonderful book for someone, just not me.

I won a free copy of this book in a giveaway on GoodReads.  Links if you want to check it out for yourself: GoodReads and Amazon.

tld_cs

This book has the misfortune of being one more science fiction horror novel in a long list of science fiction horror novels I’ve read this year.  I’ve read at least two other books (and one novella) this year that, simply put, did it better.

This was a buddy read, which is usually sufficient reason for me to push through (no person left behind!), but my two fabulous buddies finished it in a couple of days while I was still hanging out on page 94.  At which point they advised me it did not get better and they’d forgive me for DNFing.

I happily took their advice.

I don’t have any specific complaints except that this felt more like a set up to a bad romance than there was any actual horror being included and I was extremely bored.

The setting was cool.  But I saw almost this exact setting done in The Last Astronaut by David Wellington and Walking to Aldebaran by Adrian Tchaikovsky, both of which were far more atmospheric than The Luminous Dead (not to mention less time consuming).

It’s a shame because I think it could have been good if it had been a novella, or if it had booted the romance and pitted our two MCs against each other as hero and villain.

I am not finishing and I have no regrets.  Links: GoodReads and Amazon.

A Hero Born by Jin Yong

This is the one I feel guiltiest about, because I don’t even think there is anything particularly wrong with it, except that we are just not jiving right now.

I attempted to read the introduction three times before I decided it was way too dry and skipped to the beginning.  In the beginning, we meet two heroes, Skyfury Guo and Ironheart Yang, that feel earnest in their desire to be heroes, but also a little like SpongeBob and Patrick in their competence.

SpongeBob and Patrick Gif

I hate saying that- because I know this is a cherished piece of literature in China, but the whole thing just felt a little cartoonish.

The part that I read was technically all backstory for the hero: what happened in the months leading up to his birth.  I might have continued if the introduction were dropped and the back story was reduced to 10-15 pages.  (If we’re looking at the blurb: “Guo Jing, son of a murdered Song patriot” this is as far as I got in the book, the murdered Song patriot.)  If the pacing is this slow, 15% of the book is back story, I just don’t want to continue.

The action scenes weren’t very exciting to me.  I read once, that the difference between a good action scene and a bad one, is that a bad one will only describe what is happening.  Good action scenes will describe how a character feels when they are in the action.  This is a case where the movements are described adequately, but entirely without feeling.

I had a hard time envisioning the setting and the characters.  The villains, from what I read, seemed like they weren’t going to be very fleshed out at any point in time.  Just hooded figures, evil magistrates, maybe a shadowy emperor or something.  It’s a dated method of story telling.  Understandable, since it was originally written in 1957, but also something I don’t want to read right now.

I might come back to this at some point, knowing what I know and skipping the back story because the premise does sound very exciting (Genghis Khan!) but it’s not going to be any time soon and I don’t want to leave the book unreviewed on NetGalley.  I attempted it.  I made it through 70 dense pages or so.

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley who provided a copy in exchange for review.  A Hero Born can be found on GoodReads or ordered on Amazon.

Have you read any of these?  What did you think?

Book Review: Pet Sematary by Stephen King

Pet Sematary by Stephen King

Rating:  ★★★★

I’m going to write a spoiler laden review here, because this book is older than I am.  You’ve been warned.

Pet Sematary by Stephen King.  That one time, the movie was better than the book.

I can’t believe I just said that about a Stephen King book.  The thing is- most movies based on Stephen King books just suck.  Sometimes, if we’re really lucky, like in the case of The Green Mile, the movie will be at least as good, but I’ve never, ever, said the movie was better. (I’m excluding IT, because I’ve never technically finished reading IT.)

I always read the author notes or introductions or whatever else there is to read in a book.  There was a wonderful little intro to this, a letter from Stephen King to his constant readers, in which he introduces Pet Sematary as the book he personally thinks is the scariest he’s ever written.  The one book in which he felt he might have actually gone too far.

And having already watched the movie, I could completely understand.  Because the movie was fucked up.  In a good way.  I was pretty much stunned into silence at the end.  It did feel like the movie went too far.  It was one of the best horror films I think I’d seen in a long time.

And with the ending in mind, I happily jumped into the book.  I patiently waited through 400 pages of the mundanities (spell check is telling me this is not a word, I’m making it a word) of everyday family life in small town Maine.  And I actually did enjoy most of it.  I liked Louis as a character.  I loved Jud.  I loved the backdrop and the creepy Pet Sematary, and loved knowing how King came to write the novel.

There is very little action in the book.  Sure we get a few glimpses of the horror to come- Church the cat, Pascow’s ghost, the ORINCO truck.  But nothing really happens until the end.  This is the slow burn he’s so well known for.

I think, maybe, if I had read the book before the movie, I might have felt more surprise and more suspense.  I watched Pet Sematary knowing nothing about it.  I read Pet Sematary thinking I knew what was going to happen.  So all the parts where Louis is in the graveyard digging up his two-year old, Rachel forging ever onward to her untimely demise, I get the sense the reader was supposed to be thinking, OMG NO!, but the impact might have been a little lost on me.

The thing is- I was expecting the book to languor in the horror of an evil two year old going all stabby stabby.  I was expecting there to be some slow realization by Louis that what he’d brought back was, in fact, not his son.  I was expecting there to be a longer ending.

What actually happened, is that Louis seems to surface from whatever fever dream possessed him to bring his son back from the dead in the first place, makes a very clear choice to undo his mistake, and then lapses right back into the fever dream.

It almost felt like, to me, King thought, “Oh shit, I’ve gone too far.  I should probably wrap this up.”  And then wrapped it up.  The whole ending, in this 500+ page book, takes maybe 30 pages?  It was disappointing to say the least.

Especially knowing what I know about King’s work.  There are times when it seems like he’s gone too far.  The opening to Mr. Mercedes for example, exploring all the gory and gruesome details of a sociopath driving a car into a crowd of people in need.  Or that short story he wrote, Survivor Type, which I read 15 years ago at my mother’s kitchen table on a sunny summer day and still gives me nightmares.

This, in comparison to those things, in comparison to it’s own movie, seemed tame.

That being said, though I was disappointed with the ending, I did enjoy most of the book.  And I read through all 500 pages insanely fast.  So- it’s worth reading, sure.  Just don’t read it after you’ve seen the movie.  Or if you can’t wait, just don’t expect the book to match the movie.  You’ll end up a little disappointed.

Pet Sematary can be found on GoodReads or ordered on Amazon.

Book Review: Imaginary Friend by Stephen Chbosky

Imaginary Friend by Stephen Chbosky

Rating:  ★★★1/2

I enjoyed most of this humongous book a lot more than I normally enjoy what I would rate as a three star read- so I gave it an extra half star.  I don’t know if I’ve ever said this before- I think I have my ratings broken down on my about me page, but for me: three stars is what I think of as “safe to skip”.  1 or 2 stars is a recommendation to avoid and 4 and 5 stars is recommended to read.  I wouldn’t necessarily recommend skipping Imaginary Friend, especially if you were looking forward to it, but I was a little disappointed with this.

I want to start by saying the first 60% or so is really pretty good.  I loved the picture we were painted of Christopher and Kate Reese and their lives together.  I loved how we got to know the town and all the little folks populating it.  It actually reminded me a lot of one of my favorite authors, Stephen King, in that way.

Here’s another way it reminded me of one specific book by King, what started out feeling like Under the Dome with a less evil villain, ended up feeling like The Stand with a scarier villain than Randall Flagg and a whole lot more confusion.  There’s a heavy dose of religion and Catholic guilt in this book, and it frustrated me, because I wasn’t prepared for it to be included.  As someone who doesn’t identify with any particular religion, it just isn’t my favorite way to present a classic good vs. evil story.  

I was around the 500 page mark or so, thinking the ending was coming soon, wondering what in the heck was populating those last 200 pages.  Well.  The end.  The climax.  The climax is 200 pages long.

It was confusing and it bounced around a lot (multiple POVs) and at times I wasn’t sure if the characters were actually experiencing the events of the book or if it was all in their imagination.  I was frustrated with my inability to pay attention to the events, distracted by the amounts of symbolism and questioning the meaning of the whole story.  It just wasn’t what I want in horror.  I think that’s why the term “literary horror” is one we don’t often see.

The author uses baby teeth as a recurring theme, and while it’s probably the ultimate symbol for childhood lost, or adulthood gained, I wasn’t sure it was entirely necessary, and it felt like an odd choice.  I mean, who really describes a tree house ladder as looking like baby teeth?  I do think there were some other interesting events that were meant to be metaphoric, that provided plenty of food for thought, but I won’t spoil them here.

I did like the pacing.  It’s 700 pages but most chapters were only a couple pages long.  This is 100% my favorite way to structure a book.  It makes me feel accomplished because I’m reading so “fast” and it’s easy to pick up and put down.  I realize this is a silly thing to get hung up on, but I just find reading a book like that much more satisfying.

On another positive note, there was no way I ever would have guessed the ending, so be wary of spoilers as you read reviews for this one.  The book does reference some child death’s, though I don’t recall any of them being too graphic, just a heads up for people who are sensitive to that.

Overall this is a long book that reads quickly and would make for good, creepy October read.

Imaginary Friend releases on October 1, 2019 and can be found on GoodReads or preordered on Amazon.  Thank you to the publisher for providing an ARC for review.

 

 

Book Review: The Institute by Stephen King

Before I get to that review I know you’re simply dying to read- I just wanted to note that I know I haven’t been as consistent in keeping up with the comments not only on my blog but just generally following what all of you are doing.

Remember back in June when I was unemployed?  It only lasted a month (it’s a good thing, but also an exhausting thing).  I am now commuting an additional hour each day to and from work, getting home an hour later than I used to, and rushing to get the dog walked and dinner on the table and the kid ready for bed.

So please forgive me!  I am trying to keep up with everyone still.  Don’t feel obligated to reply to my flurry of comments on last week’s posts.  I know I can be kind of obnoxious returning to comment again and again, but the conversations about books is why I blog. Sure I love the reviewing and stuff- but I honestly just don’t have enough people in my day-to-day life to chat books with, which is why I come and bug all of you :).  On to other things.

The Institute by Stephen King

Rating:  ★★★★

I added myself to the library waitlist for this back in April.  Not kidding.  And by then I’d already been checking to see if I could add myself for a few months.  That’s how long I’ve been waiting.

Anyway- while it wasn’t the epic I’ve been wanting to read since the last time I read Under the Dome, it was still thoroughly enjoyable and well worth reading.  The opening was perfect.  We meet one of the side characters, Tim Jamieson, as he finds his way to the small town of Dupray, South Carolina.  Slowly, we are introduced to some of the background characters.

It was everything I love about King’s characters, the subtle detailing that brings them to life.  The homeless woman who follows conspiracy theories and wears a sombrero, the motel owner who’s too nosy for his own good, the brothers who no one can tell apart and run the convenience store… it never ceases to amaze me how he can paint a full portrait in just a few lines and make the world feel as populated and colorful as the one we live in.

I was so enchanted by these opening chapters and feeling like I was going to get exactly what I’d been hoping for, it was really jarring to switch to Luke’s POV and not see Jamieson again for another 300 pages or so.  I just kept thinking, yeah, but what’s going on in Dupray?  Surely there’s a reason we were introduced to Jamieson so early?

But sadly it wasn’t.  And I think I was so taken with Jamieson as a character and Dupray as the setting that it detracted a little from my enjoyment of Luke and his friends.

A heads up to all the parents out there- this novel focuses heavily on kids, and nevermind happy endings, they don’t have happy stories, period.  What they are put through is horrible.  I think it was made more tolerable by the very fantastic premise, feeling like it was a far departure from reality, but it was still difficult at times.

The pacing was pretty quick, with shortish chapters, and I was never really bored at any point in time.  I made the mistake of thinking I knew how it would end, and I was terribly, horribly, wrong.  I wish I had let my expectations go a bit, so that I would have felt more of the suspense.

WARNING: If you are uber sensitive to spoilers- I recommend stopping here.  I won’t actually talk about plot or events, but more themes and ideas.

 

The ending was pretty shocking, and I don’t often say that of a King book.  Usually I have an idea… good wins out over evil… the villains are served their just desserts…

This ending is much more ambiguous- but it was ambiguous in a good way that made me think.  I know what physically happened to all of the characters, I don’t feel like I’m left wondering about where they’re headed.  But I was given a lot to think about.  Right vs. Wrong.  Moral and Immoral.  How one weighs the greater good against the rights and freedoms of a few.

All in all – this felt like classic King while also feeling like something new.  I enjoyed it for the most part even if it won’t go down as an all time favorite.  If you like King, this is definitely worth checking out!

The Institute can be found on GoodReads or ordered on Amazon.