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Posts Tagged ‘joe hill’

fireman_cvr
I know, there is no postings in September, I apologize. I was catching up on my Netflix binges. And then there was that sudden decision to spend my vacation in someplace other than New York City (where I bloomin reside), so I settled for Vegas where I gambled little, hung out on the Strip a lot and went to a gun range where I got to fire some pretty awesome assault type firearms, the kind of stuff we don’t get to play with here in NYC (and it sucks). So that explains September but I do intend to make it up in October. So here goes, TWO reviews in October. Yes, that’s how the Evil Parrot rolls.

About a year ago or maybe two, I came across an interesting book titled NOS4A2 by Joe Hill and after I read it, I was intrigued. Of course, when I found out that this was Stephen King’s son, it pretty much things together and everything made sense. So, of course, when I found he was writing about some apocalyptic plague that causes spontaneous combustion, I pretty much dropped my tea, teacup, saucer and all. And couldn’t wait for it to find it’s home in the stacks.
The set in a not so distant future, the book is initially centered around the lives of Harper and Jakob Grayson. An interesting couple: a nurse and a writer, respectively. Living a typical average life, with the requisite amount of snogging and the occasional case of the good old in-out in-out. And somewhere along this subtle romance, a plague emerges in the landscape. Draco incendia trychophyton or Dragonscale: it starts out as little black marks that appear on and spread all over the body, and then one day, folks simply burst into flame and become a pile of ash. Crispy critters. Despite all this, life cruises along fine for the Graysons until one day Harper discovers that she’s pregnant. Ah yes, nothing says good timing like getting pregnant during the rising spread of an apocalyptic plague. And then soon, Harper discovers, the black spots on the body. To quote Muppets: “the shit just got real”. The strange part was that despite the copious amounts of sex, the only one that remained unaffected by the plague was Jakob and needless to say, Jakob is having second thoughts about his relationship. Typical wanker. As plague spread, so does the hysteria (sort of like our current election process) and the infected are being rounded up by uninfected folks that call themselves Cremation Crews. By the name alone you can guess what these “crews” do, let’s just say that they don’t sit and have tea and biscuits. Though there is a barbeque of sorts. So as would fate would have it Jakob and Harper gets separated after a run in with a Cremation Crew. She is rescued by some bloke known as the Marlboro Man who apparently has a raspy voice and speaks with an English accent (sort of like an British Scott Ferral) and has this ability to control his spontaneous combustion in sometimes terrifying ways. Jakob on the other hand finds his way onto a Cremation Crew and discovers that despite the fact he’s a failed writer, he’s actually quite good with cremating live (infected) human beings.
After being rescued by the Marlboro Man, Harper is taken to a commune known as Camp Wyndham where there are many infected folks seeking refuge from the Cremation Crews. Headed by a charismatic Father Storey, Camp Wyndham seems like a utopia in the midst of a chaotic world. Unfortunately, we’re all aware that there is no such thing as utopia in an apocalytpic world. Think Terminus from the Walking Dead series (for those of you that watch Walking Dead). As if there is not enough to worry about from the outside of the camp, enter the Storey family (sadly related to Father Storey): Carol (the eldest daughter and female Jim Jones in the making), Nick, and Allie (the young and annoyingly troubled teenager). In the camp, many have embraced their affliction and even found a way to control and prolong their life. In time, Harper learns this and the camp seems to benefit from her abilities as a nurse. When, at some point of time, Father Storey is put into a coma and Carol is made leader, then the façade of the camp is stripped away to reveal that it is nothing more than a Lord of the Flies situation that has been festering for sometime along with some really dirty secrets that have been harboured by certain members of the camp. So between dealing with Cremation Crews and Carol’s Napoleonic fervor, Harper finds herself navigating a very volatile social tightrope where any misstep in any direction could (literally) mean a cooked goose. To be precise, a roasted goose. And somewhere in the midst, MTV VJ Martha Quinn shows up offering asylum on some island somewhere. Yes, you heard me … Martha Quinn.
I must warn you that there is a lot of talking in this book, but … Hill uses it very well to build up the the characters and the suspense for those violent chaotic moments. And when they do happen you’re either cheering, angry, or sobbing like a nancy and it is worth it. But most all you’ll love the Marlboro man. Most post-apocalyptic reads today seem to be centered around the undead, but it was nice to read something a bit more original: a plague that causes spontaneous combustion. Arresting and filled with suspense, Fireman keeps you turning the pages as you tumble onto dark secrets, major battle face-offs, and more twists than a screw. Joe, like his father Stephen, truly delivers. Can’t wait to read the next bit.

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Nos4A2

It is October. The month in which we all tend to indulge in things that give us the hibbie-jibbies. Or possibly soil our undies. Dark things. Disturbing things. Scary things. Things more scarier than Kanye West’s ego, the Kardashian’s fame or the wanks in Washington. Aye, it is the month where Syfy, AMC and tons of other networks on the telly go into overdrive with their horror marathon. And so I shall take a cue. Pleasantries out of the way … and .. here .. we … GO.

Victoria McQueen (aka the Brat) is a precocious young woman with a crappy upbringing and a really cool Raleigh BMX bike which she loves to ride. This, however, is not just some ordinary bike and Victoria McQueen is not your ordinary tomboy. Some days, the BMX bike acts like a knife that cuts the fabric of reality allowing Victoria to cross over into another world by a portal in the form of a covered bridge (aka the Shorter Way Bridge). In this world, Victoria can find whatever she’s looking for from a lost mother’s bracelet to … trouble. Which brings me to Charlie Manx. Like Victoria, Mr. Manx is also very special but to a terrifying degree. Adding to the creepy factor is the fact that he drives around, with the aid of some Igor types (in this case, Bing Partridge … sexually depraved manchild and tosser), in his 1930s Cadillac Wraith that only plays Christmas songs. Aye, it could be worse … think Ke$ha, Mylie Cyrus, or Rihanna. Like the BMX, the Wraith is Manx’s reality fabric cutter that takes him and unwitting children to Christmasland where everything is anything but jolly. On a fateful crossing of the Shorter Way Bridge, Victoria is hurtled in the future, encounters Manx and … survives. The good news is that this is just the beginning of things to come. It is also safe to say that is also the bad news. Hill takes us on what could be easily summed up as a terrifying (literary) joyride … at night … with a psycho … who’s driving with one hand on the wheel … and other holding a semi-loaded gun, playing a game of Russian roulette … pointed at you in the passenger seat. Bloody hell … you say? You’ve got that right.
Charlie Manx is the sort of bloke that would make even your local boogeyman piss himself senseless before he hands in his retirement papers. And yes, would most likely have most of us checking out the closets and basements before turning out the lights and entering a nightmare-marinated sleep. Hill’s NOS4A2 is like a careening, bloody car chase down a dark highway and every page just prods you into turning the next (sleep and bodily functions be damned) page. Most definitely not to be read on a full moon night (trust me on this, you’ll see what I’m talking about), or if you live next to creepy neighbours that wear WWII gas masks. A warning to ALL readers: try not to get too attached to some characters. There … and that’s all I’m going to say about that. As a good, blood-curdling, bump-in-the-night, blood-splattering read, NOS4A2 does not disappoint. Yes, quite the understatement. And Mr. Hill has found a coveted spot in my mental “library”.

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