Book Review- Savage Season by Joe R. Lansdale

Hey Blogland,

I’m writing through a migraine, albeit a mild one, but bear with me.

I first met Hap and Leonard, Lansdale’s protagonists, in the novella Bent Twig, which is featured in Rogues Anthology, edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois. Maybe not the best place to meet characters, but it was a hilarious romp through the American South.

I enjoyed the tale so much that I immediately added Savage Season, the first Hap and Leonard book, to my TBR list on Goodreads.

savageseasonI have to say that I wasn’t as impressed with this first installment. It was appealing for it’s short length (under 200 pages), but it was still sort of slow. Once the action picked up it was really good though.

I chalk this lull up to the fact that a lot of the book is spent introducing the characters and affirming their relationships to one another. That’s to be expected from a first book in a series, but I already knew the two characters who really mattered, so it was a bit slow.

That being said, I did enjoy this book, and still plan on reading the next one. Eventually. It seems that the books may be fairly episodic, which is perfect. I’ve got a lot of lingering series that are demanding my attention, and I really want to catch up on them. Once that’s done, I can read more Lansdale stories as the urge strikes me.
hap and leonard.jpg
Also, it turns out that Hap and Leonard have become a television series, which aired for the first time in March of this year and has since been renewed for a second season. Huh, I sure have a funny habit of getting into things right as they become popular, without even knowing it. I’ll have to add it to my list of things to watch.

Anyway, I gave it four stars on Goodreads, mainly because it deserved more than just three. It is funny and entertaining, but it’s very straightforward. Few surprises lurked in the pages, and the real highlights are Leonard’s biting and angry lines and Hap’s reactions to them.

Overall, Savage Season is a solid start to a crime/mystery series. I’ll definitely read more of them, but I don’t feel any pressing need to do so.

I finished The Martian over the weekend, and can’t wait to talk about it with all of you. I’ll also be watching the film adaptation for the first time this week, so expect a compare and contrast feel to the book review.

Next for the car audio is Coraline by Neil Gaiman. I’ve also taken up listening to digital audio while doing household chores, so for that I’ve got Elric of Melniboné by Michael Moorcock cued up. So far it’s good, but weird. We’ll have to see how it turns out.

And of course, I’m still working my way through The Obelisk Gate. I’m just over halfway through, so early next week should have it completed.

The Audient Void has accepted all its submissions for issue #2, and the stories are trickling in for editing. Otherwise I’m working on getting Since the Fire into a solid third draft, and writing chapter 8 of Jordinn’s Story.

Those are the goals for this week, at least, that’s what my whiteboard tells me. And while I’m trying to reestablish a routine, the whiteboard is king.

desk
Note: image captured last week, so goals are not accurate.

Also, beyond this, I’m in the process of revitalizing the book club. I’ve got all the new members added, so now it’s just a matter of solidifying when we want to me and getting the book lists in.

I guess I’ve filled in all my free time pretty quickly. Getting right back to all those things I’ve been dying to do for two years. Thanks for staying with me through those dark ages. I look forward to talking to you all much more frequently.

Talk at you soon!

 

BZ

 

 

Book Review- Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Why hello there!

I know it’s been awhile. And I know you all know why by now. I can only complain about my hectic schedule so many times, so just insert rant here.

School’s going well, and my classes are bomb.com this term. Anime Art History and The Literature of Mars. Yes please. I just finished reading H.G. Wells’s The War of the Worlds, and Trevor and I watched the 2005 movie with Tom Cruise. I’d seen it before, but had forgotten just how intense it was! Definitely a nail-wrecker.

Anyway, book club met a couple weeks ago to discuss Gone Girl, and I’m finally here with a little time to give it a review. In general, the Book Club felt pretty much the same about Flynn’s uber-popular novel: Great book, but we have a strong hate/love relationship with it.
gonegirl

*Here come the spoilers*

The first half of the book is spent split between the two main characters, Amy and Nick. Nick’s point of view is in the book’s present, detailing life since the morning Amy went missing. Nick’s chapters are pretty condemning, and though I wanted to root for him (He quoted The Sure Thing the first time they met, he’s gotta be a good guy, right?), the evidence was impossible to ignore.

Especially since Amy’s chapters are all diary entries spanning their entire 5 year marriage. And as the chapters get closer and closer to the day Amy disappears, the chapters get darker and darker. The diary tells the sad tale of a marriage gone sour after years of miscommunications, negligence, and indifference. It broke my heart to read, and it also terrified me. Amy’s chapters showed just how easy it is to take your spouse for granted, and as someone just through with their first year of marriage, it was a cautionary tale.

And then I got to part two.

So, you see, Amy’s chapters? Yeah, they’re bullshit. Turns out, Amy is a complete psychopath. And I mean that in the clinical sense. She has an utter disregard for anything but her own goals. She feels no remorse for her actions, and has no qualms with fabricating her own murder and pinning it on her husband.
amazingamy

So then I cheered, because I’d been right, Nick was a good guy! His wife is just fucking crazy (excuse my French). And then you find out that Nick’s been cheating on Amy for over a year, and that’s why she’s doing all this.

Now, I don’t think that infidelity is grounds for putting a man in jail for life. Especially when the wife is as unfeeling and removed as Amy. It’s understandable that Nick would cheat, really. But that doesn’t make it right either.

As the story progresses, Flynn twists things so hard that the feelings you had toward Nick circa part one are gone, and replaced with an unruly mixture of shame, fear, and awe. Shame, that he cheated and he continues to make poor decisions in that regard. Fear, because you can’t see how he’s going to get out of the web of lies Amy has set up for him, and you really want him to. And awe, because this crazy bitch thought of everything.

Seriously, everything.

And all you want is for Nick to get away. Which was a nice touch. Usually in these kinds of stories, it’s the wife who needs to get away, but Flynn takes the trope and spins it in a new direction. Refreshing.

But, and I hate to burst your bubble, but there’s no happy ending here. By the end you’re left with a sour taste in your mouth, a simmering loathing in your gut, and a tingling in your brain, like a waking limb.

This book is complex, and distressing. Hell, it’s just plain stressing. It keeps you guessing and it keeps you reading. I couldn’t put it down.

But I wouldn’t say I enjoyed it.

This story is beyond memorable. The characters are vivid, and the stakes are high. Also, I read this book while I was taking my Noir Lit and Film class, and it was really neat to see conventions from the genre linger in Flynn’s writing, and equally nice to see he recognize them and then make them her own.

Gone Girl is an extremely well written story that took root in my imagination. And though the story left me uncomfortable, it’s a good thing. Because I think that’s exactly what Gillian Flynn was going for.

Achievement unlocked.

Next up for the Book Club, The Princess Bride by William Goldman. I look forward to a much lighter, humorous read after this story.

As always, thanks for getting this far. I’ll see you next time!

BZ