Review: It – Stephen King

SYNOPSIS: To the children, the town was their whole world. To the adults, knowing better, Derry, Maine was just their home town: familiar, well-ordered for the most part. A good place to live.

It was the children who saw – and felt – what made Derry so horribly different. In the storm drains, in the sewers, IT lurked, taking on the shape of every nightmare, each one’s deepest dread. Sometimes IT reached up, seizing, tearing, killing . . .

The adults, knowing better, knew nothing.

Time passed and the children grew up, moved away. The horror of IT was deep-buried, wrapped in forgetfulness. Until they were called back, once more to confront IT as IT stirred and coiled in the sullen depths of their memories, reaching up again to make their past nightmares a terrible present reality. – via Goodreads

Man, oh man! I have been itching for a Stephen King novel for some time now recently (ask Natasha, I have been putting off rereading 11/22/63 – it will happen sometime soon), and decided the other day screw it, let’s do It, what with the movie coming and all. I spent a chunk of September reading this because, aside from being a massive book, it takes time to hit a rhythm, but when you do it flows. My problem? Reading snatches of it on the tube every day (when I change three times) is not conducive to slipping into a rhythm.

Now, on to the book. Right off the bat, Stephen King is a master storyteller, someone who can really weave a tale to draw you in, and It is no exception. After each character is introduced to us, you rapidly develop an understanding of their personalities, and can easily discern each from the other – they all have a distinctive voice. The book serves as a constant reminder for the phenomenal character building King can do – each one of these kids brought something to the table with them. Bill, Eddie, Richie, Mike, Ben, Beverly, Stan, each of them had something unique going on.

It skips between 1957 and 1985, and the stories unfold concurrently, which I think is great. You see the encounters come as they are adults, and you make the discoveries with the adult versions of these kids as they make them, and I liked that bit of storytelling. The friendship between these kids is great, too.  I truly enjoyed how this is a book about growing up, friends, fears, reality, abuse, hopes and dreams – heck, just know it has a lot of themes it deals with, and plenty drama. It also goes from that and delivers all the gore, blood and guts you could hope for in the final third of the book – you get your blood and you get a story with heart, so it is a pretty good double whammy.

I had some issues at times that there was some waffling (it can happen in a King novel), and there was a really questionable cop out ultimately with Tom Rogan (for reals?! After all that?!) and Henry Bowers, and I really wanted answers about what happened to Mike Hanlon’s family farm, considering his dad worked real hard on it and made some smart financial decisions for Mike. That being said, there was way more to like about this than not. I thoroughly enjoyed the world building King got into here, too. What a crazy ride!

It is interesting and put together well, and keeps you engaged throughout. It is quite a story and it is engaging. It deals with a multitude of themes, and handles them all rather deftly. I would highly recommend It. It is a long journey, and I felt a little lost after completing this leviathan read, but I enjoyed it. Thoroughly.

Review: The Long Hard Road Out of Hell – Marilyn Manson with Neil Strauss

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SYNOPSIS: In his twenty-nine years, rock idol Manson has experienced more than most people have (or would want to) in a lifetime. Now, in his shocking and candid memoir, he takes readers from backstage to gaol cells, from recording studios to emergency rooms, from the pit of despair to the top of the charts, and recounts his metamorphosis from a frightened Christian schoolboy into the most feared and revered music superstar in the country. – via Goodreads

GRADE 9This is a book I have read a few times over, and I enjoy it every single time I read it. The first time I read it, I was about 17. I was so excited, being a Manson fan and all, and my husband and I lay sprawled on the couch all day, reading together. It is a mark of the book that it is, because my other half will not willingly read, but he read it in an afternoon. It was good. It was interesting. But let’s talk about the book.

Manson has always been a controversial figure. He freaks a lot of people out, others think he is some god, I don’t know. I think he’s a talented artist that had a message to share and found a slid way to do it. I find him to be highly intelligent. He is a nihilist, has an ego, sure, but the man is also exceptionally interesting. I enjoyed that this book handles a bit about Manson and a bit about getting the band together, the blood, sweat, tears, narcotics, and lunacy it took for the band to make it, and how that all came to be.

My husband and a group of friends had a band when they were younger that did really well for themselves, and I know how crazy some of the stories get of playing shows and the people you meet, so I could totally see some of the stories in this happening. Rock/metal is such a different type of genre and the people attached to it see life differently, so I thoroughly enjoyed that. The Long Hard Road Out of Hell is smartly written, and it flows pretty well. It jumps here and there for things, but it all just fits. You cannot help but be drawn in to read more of the depraved work. It is a shocking novel, which I am pretty sure was the intent from the outset, but it is engaging, and it is smart.

I really liked the layout of the book, too, what with the colour photo inserts, as well as the art, sketches, photos, interviews, diary entries, etc. that were littered throughout the book. It made for the book look cool, because the layout is so different from your average biographical book. This makes it a memorable read. It’s also quite a quick book to work through. It pretty much deals with Manson before the super big time, all the way until the release of Antichrist Superstar, which was the band’s ticket to the big time, and how it went with that. I appreciated this. It didn’t carry on for forever and twelve days about decades worth of material. It picked a time frame, and then got on with it. Much appreciated.

Okay, as you can all tell, this is a book I enjoyed. There’s a lot to like about this, even if you don’t like the man. There are some really humorous sections, and others that are really dark and honest, and plenty pages dealing with the depravity and insanity that comes with that world, but it all just works. If you like being shocked, or you enjoy Manson, or think that some of these bands have some crazy stories to tell, then this is definitely worth checking out.

Review: The Butterfly Garden – Dot Hutchison

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The Collector #1

SYNOPSIS: Near an isolated mansion lies a beautiful garden.

In this garden grow luscious flowers, shady trees…and a collection of precious “butterflies”—young women who have been kidnapped and intricately tattooed to resemble their namesakes. Overseeing it all is the Gardener, a brutal, twisted man obsessed with capturing and preserving his lovely specimens.

When the garden is discovered, a survivor is brought in for questioning. FBI agents Victor Hanoverian and Brandon Eddison are tasked with piecing together one of the most stomach-churning cases of their careers. But the girl, known only as Maya, proves to be a puzzle herself.

As her story twists and turns, slowly shedding light on life in the Butterfly Garden, Maya reveals old grudges, new saviors, and horrific tales of a man who’d go to any length to hold beauty captive. But the more she shares, the more the agents have to wonder what she’s still hiding…  – via Goodreads

I picked this up on special on Amazon recently, and the synopsis looked interesting enough and it had a pretty good rating, so I figured why not? I must say, I think this was definitely money well spent, grabbing something out of the blue. There are issues with the book, for sure, but the minute you figure out how to deal with them, it changes the reading experience altogether. I suppose I should explain that.

The Butterfly Garden asks you to suspend reality. I mean suspend a hell of a lot of it. Sometimes you can imagine some of the things happening and seeing how that would interact in a real-world situation, but there are too many things going down that are just a little too fantastical (including a plotsie near the end). However, if you stop trying to compare this to the real world setting, you will be fine. Just read it as fiction. In fact, rather look at it like… an alternate world/reality. Don’t think about how this would be in real life. Also, realise that the characters are ridiculously unaware (the Garden being built, no questions asked about how his time is spent and why there is a giant greenhouse withing a greenhouse, etc.). Like totally blind – super implausible. Again.  As soon as I had made that mind-shift, I was drawn into this.

The story is rather icky. Seriously, kidnapped girls held as a captive harem to a really sick, twisted man – interesting stuff by far. The book also deal with a lot of characters, all really interesting. I was quite the fan of Bliss – snappy, blunt, honest, I understood her. She had a point when she said the Gardener never asked them to love him. Maya was a character I went back and forth between liking and disliking, and that is not a bad thing. She was quite well written. Then there was Avery, a sick tyrant, and Desmond, a spineless fool. The book sort of tried to manipulate you into liking Desmond, and to pity him, but I couldn’t. Twisted individual that he is, weak and useless. At least the book also highlights that and runs that point home, and isn’t too sympathetic of Desmond, although it still wants you to sort of feel for him. Nope. I know that sounds confusing, but that is how he was put forth. Like him, but don’t like him.

The atrocities the girls suffer at the hands of the Gardener and his sons is awful. Truly, there are such sick things going on all the time. Eventually (and I hate to say this), you become desensitised to it, though it is still quite nasty to even consider the events unfolding for these young girls. I appreciated the bond that formed between them, and how real names were given as sad parting gifts.

I enjoyed the pacing. There were times that I thought it meandered (especially around the middle – lots of drag), and could have been tightened up, but for the most part the story just zipped along. The writing draws you in from the off, and even the style in which the story is told is something I highly appreciated. It wasn’t overly complex or anything like that, so don’t expect a super detailed, in depth book here. The jumping back and forth between the present and what happened in the Garden was seamless, effortless, and it didn’t get on my last nerve, as this style can usually grate on me. The Butterfly Garden also flies along, and is really quick to get through, though it is dark and very messed up. The ending, too, wraps things up (there is a sequel, though I see it is not necessarily delving too much into this story). I felt it was a little rushed, so I hope the sequel spends some time just tying up those last ends neatly.

This was quite an interesting read for me, one that had me hooked, one that I stumbled on totally by accident.If you are willing to forget about reality, and are okay with suspending it to the extent of an alternate reality, then I would recommend this one. Even if you can’t, and you don’t mind things not being too realistic, you might like this. I have pre-ordered the sequel, I would like to see how that goes.