Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Review: Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King

Title: Mr. Mercedes
Author: Stephen King
Publication Date: 
Target Age Group: Adult
My Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5

Book Jacket Blurb:

In a mega-stakes, high-suspense race against time, three of the most unlikely and winning heroes Stephen King has ever created try to stop a lone killer from blowing up thousands.

In the frigid pre-dawn hours, in a distressed Midwestern city, hundreds of desperate unemployed folks are lined up for a spot at a job fair. Without warning, a lone driver plows through the crowd in a stolen Mercedes, running over the innocent, backing up, and charging again. Eight people are killed; fifteen are wounded. The killer escapes.

In another part of town, months later, a retired cop named Bill Hodges is still haunted by the unsolved crime. When he gets a crazed letter from someone who self-identifies as the “perk” and threatens an even more diabolical attack, Hodges wakes up from his depressed and vacant retirement, hell-bent on preventing another tragedy.

Brady Hartsfield lives with his alcoholic mother in the house where he was born. He loved the feel of death under the wheels of the Mercedes, and he wants that rush again. Only Bill Hodges, with a couple of highly unlikely allies, can apprehend the killer before he strikes again. And they have no time to lose, because Brady’s next mission, if it succeeds, will kill or maim thousands.

Mr. Mercedes is a war between good and evil, from the master of suspense whose insight into the mind of this obsessed, insane killer is chilling and unforgettable.

My Review:

Although this book has many elements of a classic detective story, there is one main noticeable difference: you already know who the killer is at the beginning of the story. So why would you want to spend time reading this book?

First of all, this is the master, Stephen King, and he weaves a tale like no other. This book being no exception. He knows how to string us along, keep us entertained, keep on ratcheting up the suspense, and keep us guessing. And yes, there's plenty to guess about, even though the killer is known right up front.

Second, this is a THRILLER, as opposed to a MYSTERY, novel. And, as I've alluded to above, the thrills start from page one and don't let up until the VERY last page... and beyond. (I hear there will be two more books featuring Detective Hodges.) Watching this cat-and-mouse game between Detective Hodges and the killer as each tries to outwit, and psych out, the other is fascinating.

Third, the characters in the story, as in all of Stephen King's work, are very well developed. The heroes are your every day, average people, with their own flaws and idiosyncrasies, trying to stop a deranged killer from escalating the violence he already started right at the beginning of the book. Even the villain is well-developed. It's hard to feel sorry for someone so hell-bent on mass killing, and yet Stephen King allows the reader inside the killer's mind and life, and you almost feel sorry for him at certain points in the story. Almost.

Fourth, Stephen King takes the well-known tropes of the classic mystery story and turns them on their heads. Detective Hodges is your typical hard-boiled old-school detective, yet what makes the story really interesting are his side-kicks Jerome and Holly. Their methods are less formulaic, more chaotic, more modern. And the three of them together make an awesome team. My only beef I have is that I wish they played more of a role right up front, but I do like how Stephen King ushers them  to center stage in the story.  (I won't give away the point in the story where this happens, but you'll definitely know it when you see it. Keep an eye out for "the hat".)

I purposely didn't provide many details because I didn't want to spoil a thing. I wish I could go into more specifics to sell you on this book. Just take my word for it. It's one of Stephen King's better works, and it's a damn good thriller story in general. Go check it out!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Review: Indelible by Dawn Metcalf

Title: Indelible
Author: Dawn Metcalf
Publication Date: July 30, 2013
Target Age Group: YA
My Rating: 4 out of 5

Book Jacket Blurb:

Some things are permanent. Indelible. And they cannot be changed back. 

Joy Malone learns this the night she sees a stranger with all-black eyes across a crowded room—right before the mystery boy tries to cut out her eye. 

Instead, the wound accidentally marks her as property of Indelible Ink, and this dangerous mistake thrusts Joy into an incomprehensible world—a world of monsters at the window, glowing girls on the doorstep and a life that will never be the same.  

Now, Joy must pretend to be Ink's chosen one—his helper, his love, his something for the foreseeable future…and failure to be convincing means a painful death for them both.  

Swept into a world of monsters, illusion, immortal honor and revenge, Joy discovers that sometimes, there are no mistakes. 

Somewhere between reality and myth lies… 

My Review:

This book I received from Dawn at Book Expo America 2013 and, unfortunately, am now just getting to the review of it, even though I read it last year. So what did I think? Excellent! I read her debut book prior to this, Luminous, and I have to say that her storytelling is improving as she goes along. One of the things I love most about this book is that she's created an entire world - the world of the Folk, which is a kind of re-imagining of traditional faeries - and somehow, seamlessly, this world exists alongside ours and she makes that perfectly believable. 

The Folk have existed for a long time, and their purpose is to "mark" humans that they feel are important. The mark, or signatura, signifies that a human "belongs" to one of the fae. Indelible Ink and Invisible Inq are beings who have been created to place such marks on humans.

Enter our heroine, Joy Malone, who, while out dancing one night with her friends, catches sight of Indelible Ink. Humans are not supposed to be able to see the fae, so Indelible Ink stabs her eye in order to remove her sight. However, instead of blinding her, he accidentally marks her as belonging to him.

That's when things get crazy for Joy.

Because now that she has been marked as Ink's assistant, others from the Folk come calling, wanting Ink to do jobs for them and asking Joy to pass messages to him. 

And here I'll stop with my own synopsis, because this covers two things I absolutely love about the book. (Also, I don't want to give too many details away. This is a great ride of a book which should be experienced.)

First, the book is creepy, and creepy, as anyone who knows me, is right up my alley. Just the opening scenario of Joy catching a glimpse of this strange boy with black eyes who doesn't seem to exist in the real world, and who attacks her, basically. Then all manner of strange beings appear and disappear, notes and threats start appearing wherever she goes, etc.

Second, the world of the Folk is both Alice-in-Wonderland-loopy and yet also has a strange internal logic to it all. There are rules in this other world, which may be strange to the reader but do hold together and are passed out to the reader as you delve deeper into the book. Yet you also get the sense any number of strange things can happen in this world, and any number of stories exist within it (apparently, as book 2, Invisible, will be coming out in September 2014).

In addition to these more atmospheric qualities, the main character is refreshing because she actually plays an active role in the story, unlike other books I've read in this genre. I also love how she has "real-world" problems typical of any teenager, and she has "fantastical" problems related to her role in this new world of the Folk. And that she learns things along the way to actively solve her problems.

If I had to complain about anything (which explains why I didn't rate it 5 stars), it's this: I find it a stretch as to how accepting Joy is of being attacked by Ink and how their relationship seems to progress rapidly from there. It's a bit of a stretch for me. I don't know if I'd be that accepting.

Aside from that, however, this book gets a great recommendation from me, especially in light of the fact that book 2 will be coming out soon. Hurry up and grab this one while you still have time.