Tuesday, September 26, 2006

There's some kinda love and there's some kinda hate

Man on man, the reviews of the Ruins are split on Amazon. The average is 2.5, thanks to more or less equal 1 and 5 star reviews. I say avoid those reviews, because of the spoilers and read the (editorial) reviews on Powells instead. The professional reviewers love it, although many of the Amazon consumer reviews are not finding it to their liking.

I am coming down on the side of the buzz marketers. This book is good. I worried that my learning the identity of the evil thing would lessen my enjoyment. Maybe it did, a little, but there is so much to like. Most horror stories serve up nanometer thin characters and throw poorly described atrocities at you. This book takes a set of well described, flawed people and puts them in a bad situation that slowly gets worse. We see how real people would deal with it. The bad events are so excruciatingly described that I actually said "Oh my god!" out loud while reading it. I wish I had been more inventive and shouted out "Christ on his throne!" or "Holy Mother of Moses," but I guess I was too absorbed.

What about the bad thing? Since I can't describe it, let's pretend it is the swarm of giant mosquitos from the 1993 classic Skeeter. So far (50% read) I am aware of the Skeeters and their nasty ways. One of the ways to make a monster scary is to not show it, and to force us to imagine it and what it can do. The movie Alien did this very well. The books starts with this approach, but appears to b shifting from a suspense mode to a horror mode. Effective horror is a challenge and some will find the Skeeters not that scary or even silly. I for one find their bloodsucking ways terrifying.


Brack said...

I have read some vile and disturbing things in my day (incl. 120 Days of Sodom, Less Than Zero and Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood), but the most visceral shove-the-book-away jibblies I have ever experienced came from the passage in Lee Child's Die Trying in which the protagonist manages to wedge himself into a mine shaft.

I always knew I was scared of heights, but little did I suspect that I had claustrophobia issues as well.


Tripp said...

That scene was truly scary. I myself was once stuck in a cave, but not alone and I didn't need to squeeze around in the pitch black either.