Book Review: The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones

The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones

Rating:  ★★★★

I read SGJ’s Mapping the Interior late last year and was very impressed.  So impressed in fact, that I went through and added just about everything he’d ever written to my TBR.  So of course I was very excited to read this.

The premise is this: ten years ago, four friends embarked on an illegal hunting trip.  They knew what they did was wrong.  They did it anyway.  Now, something evil is hunting them back.

The story started out very strong.  I heard the term literary horror for the first time last year in reference to another book, and that phrase kept popping up over and over again in my head while I was reading this.  There was symbolism, biting social commentary, the imagery and tone were perfect.

There were times in reading this I was genuinely unsure if I wanted to continue- not because the book was bad, but because it was just that dark.  I cherished every single word I read in that first fifty percent.  I cared about the characters, I cared about Lewis’s marriage.  I cared about their friendships and their pets.  If this had been a novella, and had ended after Lewis’s part, I think it would have been damn near perfect.

However, after Lewis’s part, we shift POVs.  And while I enjoyed those parts too, I think the problem was that I was already so attached to Lewis I wasn’t ready to leave him.  I do wonder if I would have enjoyed this a little more if those parts had been switched around.  I don’t think either Gabe or Cass came across as sympathetic as Lewis did, so it was difficult to become reinvested in their story lines after finishing Lewis’s.

There’s a lot of basketball in this story – so the parts of this that talked about basketball I sometimes drifted off.  I’m less than five feet tall and have always been more inclined towards mental gymnastics then physcial ones, so it’s just not my thing, though I think it was used very well here.  Basketball seemed to make up a decent chunk of the second half, so the pace felt inevitably slower, hence the 4 stars instead of 5.

This is very much a supernatural story with a very supernatural ending, so if that’s not your thing this may not be for you.  The horror aspect is brutal and visceral – so consider yourself warned.  It won’t be for everyone.

But if you think you can cope with it- I highly recommend trying this out.  I was even more impressed with this than the last SGJ book I read, and I’m eager to read his other works.

The Only Good Indians released on July 14, 2020 and can be found on GoodReads or Amazon.  Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for the review copy.

Have you read The Only Good Indians?  What did you think?

Top Ten Tuesday: Most Anticipated Upcoming Releases for 2020

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Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

If It Bleeds by Stephen King

If It Bleeds by Stephen King (expected May 5, 2020) – This is the next novel in the Holly Gibney series.  I haven’t even really read the blurb- but like all new Stephen King books, I’m super excited for it.

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The Girl and the Stars by Mark Lawrence (expected April 21, 2020) – Ugh – This year is going to be my year to catch up on all things Mark Lawrence.  I might even reread Prince of Thorns.  I’m super excited for this one, even if I likely won’t get to it right away.

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins (expect May 19, 2020) – This prequel feels like it is finally my chance to join in with everyone’s love for The Hunger Games.  I never read the books because I loved the movie so much.  I’m sure this book will get a movie too, but I plan to read the book first this time.

A Conjuring of Assassins by Cate Glass

A Conjuring of Assassins by Cate Glass (expected February 4, 2020) – This is the sequel to last year’s An Illusion of Thieves.  I loved that one and I’m confident I’ll love this one too.

Eden by Tim Lebbon

Eden by Tim Lebbon (expected April 7, 2020) – I’d tell you what this is about but I stopped reading after it said eco-thriller.  It made me think of another favorite author, Michael Crichton.

The Kingdom of Liars by Nick Martell

The Kingdom of Liars by Nick Martell (expected May 5, 2020) – This book is set in a world where magic is paid for in memories.  I’m both curious and hesitant about this one.  I can see it being really fantastic, but I can also see the premise setting the book up for trouble. Are there armies of people who remember nothing?  How does that work?  Is magic used sparingly?  I’m remaining cautiously optimistic.

The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin

The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin (expected March 24, 2020) – This novel is based on a short story that was included in Jemisin’s How Long Til Black Future Month? which released last year.  While I wasn’t sure I quite liked that particular story, I loved the concept and I’m hopeful that with a full length novel she can answer some of the questions I had about it.

 

These last three I’ve all mentioned in previous posts, which I’ve linked to below in case you missed them or would like to check them out again.

The Wolf of Oren-Yaro by K.S. Villoso (expected February 18, 2020)

The Book of Koli by M.R. Carey (expected April 14, 2020)

The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones (expected May 19, 2020)

What are your most anticipated releases for the first half of the year?  Leave me a link below so I can check them out!

Can’t Wait Wednesday: The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones

Can’t-Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted at Wishful Endings, to spotlight and discuss the books we’re excited about that we have yet to read. Generally they’re books that have yet to be released. It’s based on Waiting on Wednesday, hosted by the fabulous Jill at Breaking the Spine.

Title: The Only Good Indians The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones

Author:  Stephen Graham Jones

Publisher: Gallery / Saga Press

Genre: Horror

Length: 320 Pages

Release Date: May 19, 2020

Blurb: Peter Straub’s Ghost Story meets Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies in this American Indian horror story of revenge on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation.

Four American Indian men from the Blackfeet Nation, who were childhood friends, find themselves in a desperate struggle for their lives, against an entity that wants to exact revenge upon them for what they did during an elk hunt ten years earlier by killing them, their families, and friends.

Why I’m Excited for It: I think I included Jones in a couple posts recently, and he’ll be featured in an upcoming review, but I recently read Mapping the Interior and I absolutely cannot get that book out of my head.  I liked his prose from the moment I picked it up, and while I wouldn’t necessarily call the plot fast paced, the pacing was appropriate to the length.

Then I got to the ending, and I was just so disturbed by it, my initial reaction was: “I don’t know if I like this.”  But since I’ve put it down, I keep turning it over and over, trying to suss out the meaning and what happened.  Now I feel a need to go binge everything he’s ever written, and this story is no different.

My excitement at finding a possible new favorite author aside, this blurb sounds perfect for a horror story.  Vengeful entities and old secrets between friends?  Yes please.