Well, my friends, October is upon us. And since this is the month that brings us All Hallows Eve, Top Five Fridays will have a scary flavor to them. Cue the smoke machine and the minor pipe organ piece.
To ease us into the Halloween mood, I’m starting off with my top five picks for books that should have been scary . . . but just weren’t. These are reads that promised terror and ghouls and the depravity of mankind between their covers, and then promptly delivered no such thing. At least in my eyes.
– The Rising – Brian Keene
Over the past few years, I’ve become enamored with zombie books. Don’t ask me why or how, but it is what it is. Considering that I still find the original, black-and-white version of “Night of the Living Dead” almost too creepy to watch (and, as a matter of fact, I could not watch it for the longest time), this is strange. But at any rate, in my search to find said zombie novels, I came across this doozy. The short line? I thought this was one of the silliest pieces of “horror” drivel I’d ever read. Wise-cracking corpses? Killer bunnies, goldfish and deer? Puh-leese.
Hollowland – Amanda Hocking
Ah, Amanda Hocking. My hero. Seriously. Anyone who can turn self-publishing into a million dollar business has my attention. This is one of the first books I downloaded and read after getting my Kindle for Christmas a few years ago because I was so intrigued with the story of small-time author makes it big. The good? Despite all its flaws, there is something readable about it. The bad? Um, characters? Plot? The guy crush and other faceless dude hanging out in the apocalyptic entourage just felt so underdeveloped. And, the whole story had the same feel and tone throughout- whether they were traipsing through the countryside or battling zombies. Plus, there’s just an oh-no-she-didn’t-go-there “love scene” that borders on cringe-worthy.
– No Easy Hope – James N. Cook
A more apt title? No Easy Read. This yawnfest tells the tale of two wealthy (like filthy stinking rich wealthy) and single men who are utterly prepared for a zombie invasion. That’s about it. There’s no plot, no excitement and a whole lotta talk about guns and ammo. Oh, and the two characters have the biggest bromance I’ve ever seen (I’m wondering if their cycles matched up once they found each other again amidst the walking corpses).
– Zone One – Colson Whitehead
Now some might be wondering why I’d include this book in a Top Five list of bad tales. Unlike the yarns above, this book is very well written. Almost too well. And maybe that’s my beef with this story. It’s a zombie book, for Pete’s sake, not War and Peace or Little Women. Zombies, in my humble opinion, don’t need a lot of flowery language surrounding them. And, just another personal thought, giving the character a new, post-outbreak name is fine (and the main guy in this dud is Mark Spitz), but do you have to write Mark Spitz over and over and over and over? I mean, you can’t call him Spitz, or Mark, but each and every time use the two names together? Ugh.
– Trapped: A Novel of Terror – Jack Kilborn (J.A. Konrath)
The final bad read in our list today is a cannibal-centered tale set on a deserted island somewhere around Michigan (I think?). Hoo, boy. This story tells about the camping trip of a group of six delinquent teens and their married-but-it’s-a-strained-marriage counselors/guardians who are just trying to partake in a simple camping trip. Enter in a mad scientist who’s created a whole lot of savage types who just happen to carry around knives and forks because they’re into b-b-q of a human variety (totally not making this up!), a baby (the main couple’s child) who never ever wakes up and cries, and a lot of clichéd writing including backgrounds on each and every character stuck on the island, and you’ve got one mess of a book that makes the reader feel trapped.
So there you have it, my friends. Steer clear of these, er, books, and stay tuned for better options for scary reading. And, just curious, what have you read (or tried to read) that is just not good?