Jurrasic Park (novel)

After being surprised by Jaws (novel) I was really curious how much Spielberg changed for the movie. While I have reviewed the Jurassic Park series and while the movie is pretty much a cultural phenomenon, I’m not going to regurgitate the plot because the general plot is the same. What I’m going to do is basically talk about the differences and while I actually really enjoyed the book for some pretty damn different reasons.

So the book for Jurassic Park, while having a lot of the splendor and wonder of the movie, there is actually a lot of smart ethical questions and corporate evil in the book. In fact, Hammond is actually an eerily evil sociopath that is hell-bent on basically being his own god, no matter who dies in the process. The book never feels preachy about the ethical issues and the science but expertly feels like a grim kind of foreshadowing of how everything goes belly up. Another huge difference is the body count and gore in the book which is definitely past the pg-13 boundary and a lot of characters die in the book that don’t in the movies. The climax is more intense and well, a bit more brutal but also more realistic and fitting. Pretty much the only part of the book I couldn’t stand was Alex, Tim’s now younger sister (in the movie she was the older); she’s annoying and I swear she almost gets her, Timmy, and Grant killed at least half a dozen times in some pretty idiotic ways. Hammond maybe my favorite part of the book, starting as the kindly if not delusional grandpa figure he was in the book to becoming a heartless bastard as the story unfolds. The book is reasonably paced and Crichton had a great way of not talking down to his readers but not dumbing his themes down. In the end, I highly recommend the novel for Jurrasic Park, especially on Audible like I enjoyed it. May the gaming gods bring you glory.

Godzilla: Cataclysm

Godzilla: Cataclysm: Bunn, Cullen, Wachter, Dave: 9781631402425:  Amazon.com: Books

Where does the line between god and monster lie? For those that still survive in ruin, the line has blurred. The kaiju, the monsters of the world have turned their fury towards humanity, especially that of the legendary Godzilla. There is no reason, only death and despair in the titan’s wakes. Have the massive beasts finally decided to retake the world for themselves or has mankind pushed the boundaries of science and greed too far? When a small family comes upon something that can potentially begin regrowing life, their village is in desperate peril as Godzilla reemerged, angry, and with a vengeance.

So to begin, this review goes out to a longtime friend of the blog, Autobot who requested I cover this comic. Cataclysm is a really cool book I think Godzilla fans will really enjoy. I love the gritty, war-torn look of this little village inside of one of Godzilla’s footprints. The monsters look great and there is a good variety between well-knowns like Mothra and Destroyah but also a few lesser-known ones that look pretty kick-ass. It’s a really quick read that feels pretty self-contained which is nice. In the end, I had a lot of fun with this book and it’s well worth a read for Godzilla fans new and old. May the gaming gods bring you glory.

Batman: Earth One (V1)

AARDVARK COMICS #1 (OF 1) (AARDVARK VANAHEIM 2017)

With The Batman finally hitting theaters soon, I thought I’d visit a series that seems to have been a big inspiration for the movie. While I was against this rendition at first, even damn near hating it at first, I cooled off and gave it a fresh chance. Was I wrong or simply proved right?

A new figure has emerged in the dismal city of Gotham, overrun with mob violence and crime on every street. This figure we know as the Batman, Bruce Wayne but far from the legendary detective and badass. Batman is a brawler in a costume with a lot of anger and not much else. His longtime guardian, butler, and trainer Alfred warn him he’s on the path to suicide as a nonlethal soldier in an impractical costume that relies on brute force instead of guns or weapons. Looking for revenge for his parents’s murders, the rising bat follows a train of clues, running parallel to broken detective Jim Gordan and superstar Harvey Bullock that bring him to the corrupt and sadistic mayor of Gotham: Oswald Cobblepot.

So I was pretty wrong in this case. After years and years of perfect Batman, this was a pretty refreshing if not really flawed look at Batman. I mean REALLY flawed. Alfred was a huge standout in this book; I love how he harbors resentment for Bruce and he’s bitter being strung along by duty and his own morality but he’s tired and he’s watching someone he ultimately cares about toss his life away fighting a war he isn’t even trying to win. I do love Penquin in this book and Colin Farrel is a spot on in The Batman so far as the Earth One version. I will saythe story itself is pretty standard and runs awfully close to Batman: Year One and Batman Begins so there is nothing really special there. While I love the reversing arcs of Gordan and Bullock, Gordan does come off as a sap in this book who just gave up which bugs me but at the end he sees the light a bit. The book ends with a nice cliff hanger that teases Riddler as the next big foe. In the end, it’s definitely a good Bat story that delivers on the characters and meh on the story but well worth looking into. May the gaming gods bring you glory.

A Head Full of Ghosts

Head Full of Ghosts, A: Tremblay, Paul: 9780062363244: Amazon.com: Books

How many of us have found ourselves losing ourselves in a over the top paranormal reality show? I think most of us have at one time or another, whether we genuinely believe or as a guilty pleasure. Well for Merry Barret, that was her childhood. When her older, sweetheart sister Marjorie starts acting out in some outlandish and disturbing way, the family finds itself pariahs of the neighborhood and focus of a hot new show based on her “possession”. The Barrets were average though financially struggling middle- class family and while the show seems to help that problem, the family begins disintegrating under the pressures of religion, mental illness, and repressed trauma as Merry Barret recounts the story of what really happened on the infamous shows years after, leaving us to wonder if what was really real?

This is the first book I’ve read by Tremblay and what I’ve seen to be his most popular. I don’t say this much but this book actually made me feel something really deep and I got to give Paul Tremblay credit for that. Merry Barret is a really sympathetic main character you really do feel for as the story goes on; her family I related to but I hated them because of Merry and her plight. I like the approach the story takes, leaving quite a bit of ambiguity at play. While not an outrageous ghost story, this is a very tense and tragic story of how mental illness and greed can destroy a family. I won’t recommend if you want something flashy and gory but I highly recommend it as a quick psychological horror drama. May the gaming gods bring you glory.

Revival

Revival (novel) - Wikipedia

What becomes of our future is unclear, but sometimes those we meet are destined to be connected to us, whether we want them there or not. Jamie Morton was a small boy when he met Reverend Charles Jacobs, a young, idealistic pastor with a beautiful family. And a fascination with electricity. After a ski accident, Jamie’s brother loses his voice; with nowhere else to turn, Jacobs offer’s a cure using electricity. Miraculously the boy is cured. Then comes the day when Jacob’s life crashes and his family gruesomely dies in a car accident, the pastor blasts god and mankind in a dark sermon after, disappearing. Years down the road as fate would have it, Jamie and Jacobs would reunite as Jacobs is a traveling carnie. Jamie, now a heroin addict, is in a bad way until Jacobs offers a electric cure. Charles Jacobs, hero to so many, seemingly able to use the “secret electricity” to cure dozens but when sinister aftereffects start arising, Jamie realizes his old friend is truly mad and maybe up to a glorious undertaking that can be deadly.

Over the past decade, while Stephen King will always be a hero of mine, I can’t say I’ve enjoyed many of his books this past decade. While I liked The Outsider and as much as Under the Dome pissed me off, it still wasn’t a bad book. That being said, Revival is a damn great book. Charlie Jacobs is a really good King villain who’s really sympathetic but throughout the story, slips more and more into madness, making you question how long this dude has really been nuts. I like the theme around a sinister preacher pretty much tampering with a power we barely understand. I like Jamie Morton and how the book follows his life. The ending I thought was pretty surprising and dark, actually one of my favorites to a King story. While I can’t call it horror in the conventional sense, its a damn good story. Also, for those that put off by the word count of some of King’s books, Revival is just about 400 pages so it’s a really quick read. In the end, I really recommend Revival as one of the best King books in a long time and I highly recommend it. May the gaming gods bring you glory.

Jaws (novel)

Jaws (novel) - Wikipedia

The original reason not to go in the water, how many few movies have ever become as legendary as Jaws? Well, like Spielberg’s other book based classics Jurassic Park , Schindler’s List, War of the Worlds, and Ready Player One, Jaws came from a novel as well. If you aren’t familiar, Savior covered Jaws (1975) back when, so I’m going to skip the synopsis and stick to the novel’s content.

Well, let’s start by saying Jaws is a story of many things, and the shark just kinda feels there for most of it. The story mostly focuses on the town of Amity’s struggling finances, Sheriff Brody looking into political corruption and his budding marital issues that becomes a whole other tangent as Ellen Brody sleeps with Matt Hooper…oh and did I mention a shark is killing people? Seriously, if you thought there was a serious lack of shark in the movie, well, the book doesn’t give you much more except for some gory aftermath. While their are some good tense moments towards the end, there are a whole mess of times I unintentionally laughed my ass off or asked WTF aloud much like IT (the novel) . For example, the comical over the top reaction to finding the first victim, Ellen and Hooper’s WTF sexual fantasies, and the cartoonish, sleazy mayor gave me a lot of laughs. Like the movie, Quint is awesome but he doesn’t show up until almost 2/3s of the way through the book. I also have to give the book credit on the serious downer ending. As for pacing, the book is a slow draw; on audiobook I feel it’s more effective because I feel like if I was reading it I would’ve lost myself easy. So I honestly have to say the book is meh overall and I think the movie is a much better story and unless you were a super fan of the movie, the book is pretty skippable. May the gaming gods bring you glory.

Hannibal (book)

Hannibal (Harris novel) - Wikipedia

Seven years have passed since Clarice Starling brought down Buffalo Bill and Hannibal Lector disappeared into the world. Clarice persevered through the ranks of the FBI but one raid gone wrong has plummeted her from grace; over the years Lector has stayed with her, writing her but still unfound. His past victim, the twisted and deformed Mason Verger is out for revenge against Lector at any cost and paths are going to cross, but is the real evil Dr. Lector or his former victim?

Now as I had to say with my reviews of Red Dragon (book) and Silence of the Lambs¬†(book) I’ve never seen the movie but I’ve been told numerous times it wasn’t one of Ridley Scott’s best. I will say the book is a damn good read and a pretty bleak but strangely beautiful end to Clarice Starling’s story. I really liked Lector in this book, who is portrayed as almost an antihero compared to Verger. Verger was my favorite villain of the trilogy; he was pretty much a sick bastard who got worse and came up with a pretty messed up revenge plan. The book is the longest of the three but it flows really well is paced pretty good. I’d say if you really liked the other two books, this is good finale to the story of Hannibal Lector and Clarice Starling. May the gaming gods bring you glory.

IT (the novel)

It (novel) - Wikipedia

Are you ready to float with me on one of those strange kind of reviews where I go off the beaten path a bit? Yep, IT, the King classic about seven childhood friends haunted by a interdimensional spider clown who vow to meet when the creature would inevitably would return in their hometown of Derry, Maine. So between Savior and I we covered It (1990) , It (2017) , and IT Chapter Two¬†(Review) but neither of us covered the book until now. All seriousness, IT is a 1,163 page novel so it takes a bit of time to get through and you shouldn’t read this unless you are really in it for the long haul.

My biggest question going in was which iteration was the closest: the quirky melodrama of the 90’s, the super dark fright fest of 2017, or the WTF extravaganza of Chapter Two? Well, honestly all 3 but mostly the 90’s and Chapter Two are the closest in tone. I imagined Pennywise being way more Tim Curry than Bill Skarsgard; your personal fear of clowns weighs heavy on how much this book will freak you out. There’s a lot of different shapes Pennywise takes in the book than the movies but for the most part, they are B movie monsters ( he basically becomes mini Rhodan at one point as well as a mummy, werewolf, and a fucking dog at one point). Honestly, if I had to sum the book up, it’s a B movie epic combined with a drama.

For positives, the book is well written and you really do care about the characters. The first chunk of this book, about 300 pages, is actually pretty strong and Georgie’s Death is a well done intro. The book is strongest as a coming of age story and when it’s dealing with the trauma the adults must face going forward. As a horror story, this book is pretty damn subjective, even more so than most as I said before. Either you’ll shit your pants from fear or piss your pants laughing.

For the negatives, there’s 3 that royally kill the book. First, as I’m sure you’d surmise by the page count, this book is padded to hell. Easily there’s 300 pages that can be chopped out and not really make any difference.. Secondly, the last act, flipping constantly back and forth is jarring as hell; quite a few times I lost track of what was past and present. The last is the actual finale which just feels both anticlimactic but also insanely over the top at the same time. With this, I’m kinda obligated to mention the infamous Chud ritual towards the end of the kid half; it is pretty WTF, its as bad as you’ve heard, and I feel like King was on some pretty deep drugs during the Chud/ turtle moments- you’ve been warned.

So, I’m going to say IT isn’t a terrible book but holy shit its overrated much like The Shining . I’m disappointed but I can’t say its far from the worst books I’ve read. I can’t recommend reading it unless you are a very dedicated reader, super fan of the movies, or like myself, a writer studying the craft; for most of us, stick to the movies. May the gaming gods bring you glory.

Alien: Prototype

Amazon.com: Alien: Prototype: 9781789090918: Waggoner, Tim: Books

After a near death encounter with the infamous Xenomorph species along with Amanda Ripley, Zula Hendricks has taken a security lead gig on Jericho 3, a a developing colony. The aliens haunt her nightmares and have taken a toll on her body but her drive to rid the galaxy of the beasts is still ablaze; at least she’s nowhere near Wey-Yu. But the terror never stops for long, a deranged scientist gets his hands on an egg and the experiment kicks off to study the beast, but something’s different; the host was a longtime medical guinea pig infected with the traces of a highly contagious flesh eating disease. What does this mean for the new born Xenomorph? One of the universe’s deadliest monsters has evolved…

Prototype is a actually a pretty good Alien story, despite the stock movie cover which originally put me off. The plague alien ( they call it a Necromorph in the book but I don’t want to compare Alien to DeadSpace ) is actually pretty badass and a really cool idea. Hendricks is a pretty good protagonist dealing with the pressures of being a leader and dealing with new kind of monster. I like that this story is a damn good case of how much devastation 1 Xenomorph can cause. While it’s connected to Isolation and a follow up comic, the book stands pretty well on it’s own. It’s well paced and it doesn’t take long for things to happen. In the end, Alien: Prototype is a fun Alien standalone that adds something new to the dreaded acid blooded monsters and is worth checking out. May the gaming gods bring you glory.

Nos4A2

NOS4A2 - Wikipedia

I really enjoyed Heart Shaped Box by Joe Hill, son of horror legend Stephen King, who I’m happy to say has crafted his own identity as a writer. Nos4A2 cemented as a Joe Hill fan.

Vic McQueen was a girl who had a interesting way of finding missing things and escaping her parents toxic, failing marriage. No matter where the lost things lay. A powerful creative, with the help of her favorite bike, she can summon a bridge a bridge called the “Shorter Way” that allows her to travel incredible distances instantly, but at a devastating cost. With the help of Maggie, a fellow creative, she learns a bit about her ability but is warned to fear the Wraith. Not all creatives are good and a black Roles Royce Wraith takes children with the help of the Gasmask Man and whisks them off to Christmasland, where the children will be forever happy without their souls, exchanged for sharp teeth and a devotion to the driver of the car: Charlie Manx, who wants to live forever to bring joy to the children and to end Vic, no matter how long he has to wait to do it. Can Vic save her family from a ageless villain and his ride?

I absolutely love this book. The characters are great and honestly, Charlie Manx maybe my favorite literary villain of all time- he kind of reminded me of Mary Poppins, Mister Rodgers, and Dracula rolled into one. The book, while about 700 pages moves at a constant pace and never drags and never feels like its speeding. Hill writes simply but balances detail and has some really good, freaky imagery. I have to give Hill credit for telling a different kind of vampire story while still having nods to one. My only complaint was the ending felt a little muddled but all things considered, it was a fine ending. In the end, it was a damn good horror I highly recommend. May the gaming gods bring you glory.