Category Archives: mature themes and subject matter

Review: The Heart Goes Last

51psgf101pl-_sx322_bo1204203200_Book: The Heart Goes Last

Author: Margaret Atwood

Recommend: Atwood never misses. This woman is one of my favorite authors with good reason. That being said it is a challenging read but all of her books are.

I am a huge fan of the work of Margaret Atwood. She asks tough questions through her fiction about what is right and wrong. She examines social issues through her work in a way that is engaging and thought-provoking. I love that they have started to turn her work into equally gripping TV. I think this book has the potential to be one of those shows honestly.

This tells the story of a couple who like so many have lost everything and are living in their car because they have nowhere else to go until they hear about a miracle town where they will be given and job and house. There is one little catch but in their minds, it will be better than living in their car. Desperate, they sign up and find out that not everything is as it seems at first glance.

This book is gritty and deals with dystopia in a way that only Atwood can. The characters are gripping and you feel their desperation as they try to navigate the world they have chosen, not realizing all the consequences. Just when you think you have things figured out the whole world tilts and spins and you are on a roller coaster that just won’t stop.

I read this one in one sitting and couldn’t bring myself to put it down. I borrowed it from my best friend and I think it is going to have to join my collection.

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Review: We Need to Talk About Kevin

80660Book: We Need to Talk About Kevin

Author: Lionel Shriver

Recommend: This is a chilling read but a well written and powerful one.

I’ve had this book sitting on my shelf for a while. I knew what it dealt with and as  a teacher I have to confront the issue of school shootings a lot. We practice for them and plan for them because they happen far too often in our current culture. My best friend grew up in Colorado and had friends who went to Columbine. When we went there on vacation, she drove me past the school because I was a high school kid when all of this went down and had studied the case backward and forwards. A small part of me wanted to see the school in real life. So when I heard about this book, it made my must-read list.

This book tells the story of a boy named Kevin who killed students at his school. It is written in the form of letters from Eva, Kevin’s mother to her former husband Franklin talking about their son and what happened. It is a series of snapshots that shows all the signs were there but that no one really thought it was going to happen.

I enjoyed this book quite a bit. It was intense and required me to put it down several times because I simply needed a break from the instensity.  However as I got to the end of the book I couldn’t really put it down and sat shell-shocked for a few minutes after I finished it. I honestly can’t decide if this book is staying on my shelves or not. It was a really good read but I don’t know if I could bring myself to read it again. However, it might be interesting now that I know what is going to happen to read again in order to see if there are hints to what happens earlier in the book. Definitely worth the read if you can handle the intense scenarios and situations. I will be doing a book/move comparision when I get the guts to watch the movie.

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Book Review: The Castle in the Forest

220px-castleintheforestcoverTitle: The Castle in the Forest

Author: Norman Mailer

Recommend: Well, if you enjoy this sort of thing but for the most part I would say no.

I have had this book sitting on my shelf for almost a year. I picked it up because it is a look at the life of Hitler and his past which I find morbidly fascinating in the way a trainwreck is fascinating. I was not expecting a couple of things when I picked this book up. First of all, I pulled the dust cover off and found a copy of the writer’s obituary tucked underneath. It was not a kind statement about the man. It basically referred to him as a misogynistic stuck up literary snob who happened to be a good writer that helped establish The Village Voice. A few pages into the book I could see exactly what the obit. writer had been talking about.

While he had some interesting insights into the history of one of the evilest men to walk to face of the planet, his Freud worship was well on display and his obsession with the base and carnal made it a less than palatable read. Not that I would expect a book about Hitler to be sunshine and rainbows but the obsessions with sex, insect, and bodily functions was more than a bit much.

This definitely ticked off a checkbox for me because I have finally read a book by this author but honestly I would not recommend it. This one is going in my bag for the used bookstore and will no longer take up valuable space on my very full bookshelves.

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Book Review: The Road

Book: The Road

Author: Cormac McCarthy

Recommend: This one is not for the faint of heart but worth the read.

I have heard so much about this book. It is mentioned almost constantly when discussing post-apocalyptic works as the standard to measure against and now that I’ve read it, I can completely understand why.

This story centers around a boy and his father as they travel through a burned out country where most of the people they meet are corpses or much worse.  The lack of complete detail in this book about why the world is the way that it is actually adds to its intensity. You have no idea why the world burned or what caused their struggle, only that they fighting to stay alive in the grim world they are faced with.

Definitely worth picking up but the gore level and suicidal tendencies might keep younger readers from this one. Not easy to get through but well worth the journey.

Final Rating:

Get it new!

Buy it new 🙂

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Book Review: Every Day

Book: Every Day

Author: David Levithan

Recommend: This one is not for everyone…

I picked up this book because the plot was just too interesting to pass by. What if you changed who you were everyday? What if you woke every morning in a new body but only stayed there for one day and you had lived that way all of your life? How would you deal with the lack of permanence in your life and what would happen if you fell in love? Such an original plot with an intriguing idea. I had to read it.

The book was a good read. The characters were rich and had depth. They were complex and had a lot to consider. Both main characters grew substantially in their quest to somehow be together. I knew that the ending would probably not be a happy one however I loved it. A is so selfless in his love for Rhiannon. However, I had some serious issues with this book as well.

I think the biggest problem I had with this book was it’s obviously pro-homosexuality stance. While the author wasn’t quite shoving it down your throat, it was very clear that it should be thought of as normal. The author is missing something huge. While we should love everyone, not all love is the same and the author seems to think it is. There are other major morality issues as well. The female main character is cheating on her boyfriend and A is forcing each of these people to do things they might not want to do, only stopping at using a body for actual sex because the person was a virgin, but sleeping with someone nude was perfectly okay. While I recognize the difficulty of the main character’s situation, it still isn’t okay to use someone else’s body like that. The author could have written the same story while making different choices and it would have still had the same impact like putting A in male bodies only once he fell in love with Rhiannon or changing his emotional reaction to Rhiannon when A is in a female body. As a Christian, I can’t recommend this one because of this issue.

While it was a good read, it definitely had some morality issues that might make a lot of people avoid this one.

Final Rating:

Get it free

Get it free

 

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Book and Movie Review: The Green Mile

DVD cover

Book and Movie: The Green Mile

Author: Stephen King

A friend lent me this one because I hadn’t read it and hadn’t seen the movie. She insisted that I needed to read the book and then see the movie. I picked it up, feeling a bit of pressure because so many people I know loved it. I have a bit of a rocky history with reading King. I often love the first 80% of his books but find many of his endings leave much to be desired. However I gamely went forward and read it. While this book is not one of those books I couldn’t put down, it definitely was a great read. It had a very different feel than many of his other works.

When I sat down to watch the movie I think the thing that I was most impressed about was that the movie stayed so true to the book. I do like that they didn’t show as much of the second execution as the book described. The book was a bit too detailed even for me. I wouldn’t suggest snacking while reading this one.

Definitely not something I would have picked up on my own but glad that someone handed it to me and told me to read it.

Final Rating:

Get it new!

Buy it new 🙂

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Book Review: Sickened

Book: Sickened

Author: Julie Gregory

Recommend: Feel bad for the author and what she went through but not bad enough to recommend the book…

Someone recommended this book to me. The person who suggested it shall remain nameless because I really didn’t enjoy this one – at all. The story is an autobiography of the author’s childhood growing up in an abusive household whose mother had Munchhausen by proxy. While I feel for the author, the writing is just awful. It feels very disorganized, contradictory and conflicted. The narrator is untrustworthy by the time you are finished and it just seems to feel like more of the same. The ending also left so much to be desired, not because of the material but because of the stopping point. Leaving a reader with an unresolved major issue will annoy your reader. I definitely think this is an important topic that needs to be brought to light, I just don’t think that this book really accomplishes its goal.

Final Rating:

Get it used...

Get it used…

 

 

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Book Review: The Twelve

Book: The Twelve

Author: Justin Cronin

Recommend: If you’ve read The Passage or if you like more traditional vampire books…

I loved the first book in this series. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the second book in the series. I finally found a copy the other day and was ready to dive in. I quickly realized that I didn’t remember who a lot of the characters were and found myself going back to The Passage a bit to review. I normally hate when an author goes back to review who the people are but in this case, I really could have used some review.

As they move across the United States, things are changing. Something is killing off the virals. While horrible attacks are still occurring, they are not overwhelming every settlement. When they begin to realize the awful truth, there seems to be no way to stop the inevitable.

This is a hard book to summarize simply because there is so much going on without giving away everything. In some ways I kind of feel like this book wasn’t planned at all when Cronin finished The Passage originally. While the players are the same, in a way they feel somewhat altered and slightly more shallow than the first book. While it was still good, I guess that nothing can quite compare to the original.

Definitely worth reading if you’ve read the first one and if you haven’t read The Passage, you should go out and pick it up.

Final Rating:

Get it new!

Buy it new 🙂

 

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Book Review: The Handmaid’s Tale

Book: The Handmaid’s Tale

Author: Margaret Atwood

Recommend: It is a very powerful read but not for the faint of heart.

Imagine a society where women are not allowed to read, work or drive. Imagine a society where everyone is desperate for a child and women who could bear children were given to childless families in order for children to be conceived. Imagine being one of those women who were shunned by society and had little to no contact with the outside world. They were completely unloved and pulled away from everything they knew.

This makes me think of the poor women in extremist Muslim countries who are going through the same thing right now. They have lost all their liberty. Doctors who can no longer work, let alone be out in public without an escort. Women who have to hide themselves away from the world anytime they step into it.

The only thing I didn’t like about this book is that it is quickly applied to any Christian. They seem to forget that the women’s movement came from Christianity. Christianity was the one originally responsible for it. While I think our society has taken it too far and corrupted it into women are better than men and can do anything a man can do only better, I don’t know a single Christian who doesn’t think that women should have equality and I know some pretty extreme Christians.

I think it was a great book, I just don’t like when a great book gets turned into a weapon. That being said, this one will be joining my shelves as soon as possible.

Final Rating:

Need more than one copy!!

 

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Book Review: A Stolen Life

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Book: A Stolen Life

Author: Jaycee Dugard

Recommend: This is a tough read and is not for the faint of heart.

I have a massive list of things I want to read. Seriously massive. This one has been on the list for quite some time but I finally got around to it. It was a TOUGH read.

This is a memoir about the eighteen years Jaycee Dugard spent in captivity written in her own words. The man who took her was sick. His wife enabled the situation.

This was hard to read honestly. However, I understand why she wrote it and shared it with the world. I can’t even imagine how hard it must have been to live eighteen years in such insanity. I admire the fact that she was able to get this down on paper at all, let alone share it with the whole world.

This does have very mature content including descriptions of drug use and sexual abuse. Read with caution.

Final Rating:

Get it used…

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Book Review: The Thirteen Hallows

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Book: The Thirteen Hallows

Authors: Michael Scott and Colette Freedman

Recommend: It was well written but there were quite a few negatives. You need a strong stomach for this one.

I thought I was picking up some fairly traditional fantasy. However, this was more modern crime drama/thriller loosely along the lines of the Da Vinci Code combined with an episode of Castle. I wasn’t expecting suspected serial killers with a dash of fantasy. So this one wasn’t exactly my cup of tea.

The big positive for this book was the quality of the writing. One of the best written collaborations I have read in quite some time. The two authors meshed together seamlessly. It made the book very readable. These two author enhance each other instead of bringing each other down.

However, I have a list of reasons that this book might not be for you.

  • Extremely gory. Necessary for the storyline but very graphic.
  • Fantasy based on the life of Jesus that is not based in fact. (Jesus in Britain – where is that in the Bible?)
  • Disturbing sexual content.
  • Reads like a crime drama.
  • Rushed ending so the authors can string us along with a second book.

This is definitely something to seriously think about before picking up.

Final Rating:

Get it free

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Book Review: Out of Oz

Book: Out of Oz

Author: Gregory Macguire

Recommend: Umm.. nope.

I should know better by now. This author is not to be read. Mostly because it will make me furious and want to scream things in inappropriately public places (like the Starbucks were I finished this one). Also because he seems completely incapable of treating his characters with any sense of kindness. At least this one came with a bit of warning…

This follows Rain, the granddaughter to the infamous Elphaba Thropp otherwise known as the wicked witch of the west. Born green, just like her grandmother, they quickly get a spell to mask her offensive shade (where was this when Elphaba was born?) and hide her from the world. They send her to live with the very irresponsible Glinda to keep her out of harms’ way. When she begins to be noticed despite Glinda’s feeble attempts to do otherwise, they ship her off with the time clock to her parents, accompanied by none other than the Cowardly Lion.

I was fine with the book a large part of the way through. That is until Rain ends up with the world love interest ever written. Period. Not only is the pairing horrible because everyone who has read anything Oz knows who Tip ends up being – the characters are WAY too young for this kind of behavior. I was rather annoyed. Then the ending. UGH! I have no words for this just limping off into nothing that Macguire writes.

If you are curious about the Wicked series. See the musical. For once, a play is better than the book.

Final Rating:

TRASH IT!!

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Book Review: Sweet Valley Confidential

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Book: Sweet Valley Confidential

Author: Francine Pascal

Recommend: Um.. no.

I tried to resist. I really did. I knew about this book. I’ve had it in my hands a few times but fought the urge. Today I found a copy at the library and just couldn’t stop myself. I had heard it was horrible. However, after devouring who knows how many Sweet Valley books as a kid, I just had to read the train wreck that is Sweet Valley Confidential.

I was completely obsessed with these for a while as a kid. My mom really didn’t like that I was reading them, which of course, heightened their appeal. So, in a box under my bed for much of my childhood, I had a large collection of these books and read them more often than I cared to admit.

For those of you who are interested in the plot line, let me save you a couple of hours of really bad writing and poorly planned flashbacks that give away too much at once. Jessica gets divorced – again. Todd and Jessica hook up. Elizabeth finds out. She leaves for New York to become a musical theater reviewer (cause that’s gonna be the first job you land in New York right?). She takes a boy home to her grandmother’s birthday to prove that Jessica is going to cheat on Todd. It backfires and breaks her male best friend (get this… no really) Bruce’s heart. Yes that Bruce. The bad boy who almost raped her in high school. This backfires on her. Jessica is seemingly actually in love with Todd. Whoops. She goes back for Jessica and Todd’s wedding and Bruce tells her that he’s moving to New York cause he fell in love. In that second Elizabeth realizes that she has indeed fallen for her almost rapist and is sad that it isn’t her until thirty seconds later when she finds out it is. The book ends with a very disturbing adult scene and then random summaries of past characters lives.

While I wasn’t expecting Victor Hugo here, the writing was abysmal. I think there might be better written fan fiction out there. I really didn’t want adult scenes or to hear the girls swear. I also was just weirded out that Elizabeth was going through guys faster than Jessica. It was just wrong. I really just didn’t enjoy a thing about this and yet couldn’t bring myself to put the bad book down simply because it was train wreck bad.

Yep. Wished I would have stayed far far away. Please do yourself a favor. Leave sweet valley as a good distant memory. I wished I had.

Final Rating:

TRASH IT!!

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Book Review: The Casual Vacancy

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Book: The Casual Vacancy

Author: J.K. Rowling (yes, that one) 😉

Recommend: The writing was great, the plot however… not so much.

I’ve been dying to read this simply because I had to know what an adult by her would be like. If you’ve followed my blog for any time at all you’ll know that I’m a big fan of Harry Potter. I put this book on request at the library though because I didn’t want to put money into something that was just awful. I was slightly concerned that this book would just not have the magic (pun only somewhat intended) of the YA series.

Within the first five pages you knew we weren’t in a magical England anymore. These characters were as mundane (dare I say muggle) as they come. The whole book centers around the death of the head of their town council which creates a shift in the balance of power in their small town. Everyone is dying to get their foot in the door but soon the long-buried secrets of those running for office are being exposed for the whole town to see and it puts the whole town in an uproar.

Let me start with the positives. I wasn’t sure she would be able to write believable, honest characters that were fleshed out enough for adult readers. I was so very wrong. The characters, major and minor flaws proudly on display are complex and have quite a bit of depth. Rowling is the master of character creation and that was the only thing that kept me going.

The plot however, was just disappointing. First of all, this is small town England politics. My immediate thought was who cares and continued along those lines for the entirety of the work. Second, there is nothing truly exciting in the plot. Most of it is just dull and sad. Honestly it was a bit too real for me. If I wanted to hear about people with horrible home lives I would just go to work. Seriously, as a teacher this is a whole lot of what I hear all the time. I found the whole thing petty and just not deserving material to write a book about.

Now, the truly sad. Honestly there is quite a bit of language and some adult material in this book. It is mild in comparison to some things I’ve read but honestly it is almost completely unnecessary. We know you aren’t writing for kids here. You don’t need swearing, sex and drug use to convince us.

All in all, the characters were well-formed but I wished they had been doing almost anything else. Really glad I didn’t purchase this one. I hope her next book is for kids or at least about something more interesting.

Final Rating:

Get it free

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Book Review: When She Woke

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Book: When She Woke

Author: Hillary Jordan

Recommend: Not in a million years.

I found the idea of a modern version of the Scarlett Letter to be interesting so I picked this book up. When I started reading, this is what I found inside:

  • A woman who aborts her baby and is punished for murder by chroming or turning her skin bright red, the color reserved for murders
  • A Christian run society that attacks people for their mistaking, including a sick cult like halfway house that forces those who aborted their children to carry around dolls meant to represent their dead children,forcing them to relive their abortions, watching graphic material and breaking down their minds, driving some mad.
  • A society that ignores the murder of criminals by the hands of ordinary citizens
  • Multiple scenes of very descriptive sex including one including the two people of the same-sex.
  • The heroes standing up for the right to have an abortion

If you are one of my Christian readers, you can see why this book is not something I would recommend. If you are not a Christian, books like these twist the truth completely, making those who believe into cruel monsters driven by rules meant to keep people from things that they think will make them happy. In addition, this book has been largely marketed to teens as YA fiction, but it is about a twenty-six year old woman and the situations in the book are extremely adult in nature. This one is not YA in any way, shape or form. Don’t be fooled by it!

Final Rating:

BURN IT!!!!

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Book Review: The Godfather

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Book: The Godfather

Author: Mario Puzo

Recommend: Great book, a lot of mature content but interesting read, especially after watching the movies.

Have you ever had a book that just seemed to take a long time to get through. Not because it was a hard read but because it just moves slowly even though you are enjoying it? Yep. That was this book. Great read but it took me a few days to get through it (of course watching the Olympics while reading probably didn’t help).

This tells the story of the Corleone family and the mafia in New York. I don’t know what it is about the mafia but I find it fascinating. I was impressed to see how accurate the movie was in comparison with the book! I didn’t expect the stories to be so close but they are extremely similar.

There is a large portion of almost every kind of mature content in this book so don’t expect a clean read when you pick this one up.

Great read but not for everyone.

Final Rating:

Get it new!

Buy it new 🙂

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Book Review: Talulla Rising

Book: Talulla Rising

Author: Glen Duncan

Recommend: Not as good as the first one and I couldn’t recommend that one either.

I received this book as an ARC through a drawing on shelf awareness. Then I realized that it was the second book in a series. So I had to pick up the first one, which I reviewed a few days ago, called The Last Werewolf.

This book follows a character we are introduced to midway through the first book, Talulla as she attempts to save her son from a secretive cult planning to sacrifice him for the chance to walk in daylight.

While the storyline was fast-paced and engaging, the language and sexual content were extremely distracting and ruined the book for me. The author didn’t seem to have any sense of restraint in that area. The strong point of the first book was the writer’s ability to make the character’s age believable. While the writer made it very clear that Talulla was a young werewolf, born in current times, the whole thing felt very rushed and plot driven instead of insightful.

While it’s an engaging read, the lack of depth and the mass amount of inappropriate content makes it not worth spending time on.

Final Rating:

TRASH IT!!

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Book Review: The Last Werewolf

The Last Werewolf

Book: The Last Werewolf

Author: Glen Duncan

Recommend: I want to say yes but have to say no.

I try to be careful when I choose to try to get an advanced copy of a book that it is not in a series. However when I requested Talulla Rising I didn’t realize that it was the second book in a series. This is the first. The problem with getting a book further alone in a series is that if you haven’t read the rest of the series, you have to go back and get caught up or the book you need to cover will not make enough sense to be worth the time. So with that in mind, I requested this one from the library.

The Last Werewolf is one of those books that isn’t quite your run of the mill book but is also not something I would classify as literature either. The strongest point to this book is the voicing of the main character, Jacob or Jake (and n,o the Twilight similarity did not escape me). As you read, you truly get the sense that the main character has lived for 200 hundred years. The author mixes the writing style of some of the great classics with the word choice and phrasing of today in a way that I have never seen accomplished quite so well. This writer knows how to strike that delicate balance of the current times having an influence without losing all trace of his past.

The story line is very engaging, at least once he meets Talulla. The first half of the book, Jake is a whiny, suicidal werewolf who doesn’t seem to care about anything. The second he meets Talulla, everything changes and the book instantly becomes a fast-paced and gripping read.

Now comes the big however. I cannot recommend this one in good conscience. The amount of skimming/skipping I had to do was insane. Sex seems to be almost a third of the book. If I didn’t need to finish this one, so I could review the ARC of the next, I would have abandoned it.

Overall this is a great book ruined by too much adult content.

Final Rating:

TRASH IT!!

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Book Review: Bag of Bones

Cover of "Bag of Bones"

Book: Bag of Bones

Author: Stephen King

Recommend: I am a glutton for punishment but most of the book was fantastic..

I cringed when I picked this one up. I have a love hate relationship with King’s writing. I love about 75 to 80 percent of almost everything I’ve read. I hate the last quarter. He can never end a book in the way I want it to end. I think the most spectacular example of this is Under the Dome but I digress.

I really loved the first 75% of this book. I loved the main character. He was compelling in a way only a couple of King’s characters are. Everything in me wanted everything to work out for this writer. After the death of his wife, he never really recovered. Then he finally went back to their summer lake house, where almost immediately, Mike knew that something strange was going on with his house. There was something else there – something not quite alive but not completely gone either.

I loved the book.  I honestly thing one of the best things about this book is the large amount of references to Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier, a great book. Through those references, it gave the readers an idea of where the story was headed, although it is obviously not the same. If it had been, it would have had a better ending!!

The main character was enough of a skeptic to be believable but not so much that it hindered the storyline. As great as Mike was, little Ki and her mother Mattie made the book. I cant’ say much more about it, without giving away too much. I think this basically goes without saying, but just in case you haven’t read a Stephen King book there is a fair amount of adult content in the book. I definitely did some skipping in certain places, however it was the kind that is at least somewhat important to the plot.

Now I really want to see the A&E special based on the book. I just hope the ending is better than the book.

Final Rating:

Get it new!

Buy it new 🙂

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Book Review: The Night Eternal

Book: The Night eternal

Authors: Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan

Recommend: If you’ve read the first two, you might as well finish the trilogy.

I picked this one up from the library after reading the first two books in the trilogy. This book is set two years after the second book and is the conclusion to the series. The human race is now living in service to the vampires. They have become labor and a source of food. However the small gang from the first two books are still fighting against the vampires, carrying on Abraham’s mission to save the world from the Master.

While this book does bring the whole story to a basically satisfying conclusion, I can’t help but feel like the authors really copped out after the first book. This book’s time gap was a weak excuse to change the relationships of the main characters with very little rhyme or reason to it. The whole book was leading to a very obvious end point and it lacked a sense of suspense because the end was just far too obvious. I think that this would make a great movie, but they didn’t hint at the ending, they slammed the reader over the head with it.

This book was even more of a let down than the second, even though it was better written because it was just too obvious. While it wasn’t a bad read, it wasn’t a good one either.

Final Rating:

Get it free

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Filed under 2012, mature themes and subject matter, Review, Summer book challenge, thriller/horror