The Blurb on Other People’s Words – Zombie: Lockdown

May 21, 2013 at 1:46 am (horror, Reviews, writing) (, , , , , , )

I’ll do my best to do this anthology justice, but I’m still coming down from my Star Trek high (I just returned from watching In Darkness). Then again, this book gave me a bit of a zombie high. I really enjoyed all of the stories which, despite their common prison theme, had a surprising amount of variety and differing flavour from tale to tale. This was due in part to the spectrum of main characters, ranging from typical prison tough guy to much more placid intellectual criminal. There was gore, some of the stories quite visceral in places, but a lot of the horror came from that sense of isolation and entrapment, from hopelessness in the face of a grim and likely brief future.

Choosing favourites from this group was difficult, but there were three that slightly edged out the others (only slightly, mind you):

No God Waiting by T. Fox Dunham – I really liked the superman/experimental aspect to this story. It gave the tale a historical feel. The main character was somewhere between a creep-show comic book character and a dark champion . This was one of the more gory tales, but it seemed appropriate based on the nature of the story

Isolation by Rebecca Brown – This one offered up a real element of claustrophobia, along with deprivation and desperation. I found this one particularly chilling.

Death Row by Joseph Rubas – The story at the top of my list. The main character is both despicable and oddly moving at the same time, and I found myself quite invested in him by the end of the story. An impressive achievement, considering circumstances.

If you enjoy zombie fiction this is a great read. A firm thumbs up for this one.

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The Blurb on Other People’s Words – Kevin Hopson

June 5, 2012 at 12:10 am (Reviews, writing) (, , , , , )

Early Release for Bad Behavior – by Kevin Hopson

I was asked to read this digital short and if possible give it an honest review. I like stories of a horror or thriller genre, so I agreed. I don’t normally include spoilers, but I can’t comment on everything I feel I need to without them.

The story presents us with the main character, Jake Evans, a prisoner on death row, lamenting the conditions of his surroundings, and the restrictions imposed upon him. To his surprise, he gets transferred to a special compound at Lansing, in a very hush-hush, rough way, where he is subjected to an unusual medical procedure involving a machine like nothing he has seen before. The experiment is interrupted by a police raid and from there, the full truth of Evans’ tale is revealed.

Even though I did enjoy this story, to tell you the truth I noticed two issues right from the start. There were grammatical errors suggesting the story could have used a better edit, and there was a discord between the narrative and the storyline. Written in first person, I was expecting thoughts that reflected a less-educated criminal mind-set, and in places the narrative does capture this, but use of fanciful words like “differentiated” in the opening paragraph, “physical affliction” for pain and suffering, and terms like “piss off” followed a few sentences down by a word like “altercation”, and a later use of “propensity” sent conflicting messages about the narrator.

Why would an inmate be using words you would expect from a university professor? While it makes some sense later in the story, I felt it damaged some of the suspense. Did the writer intend this as a clue to the reader? Possibly, but it was pretty blatant and I thought it revealed too much about the narrator. To me, the story would have been more intriguing written in third person, or at least with the language toned down a little, so as not to give too much away.

The descriptions were good, and in some cases quite clever, and the writing flowed reasonably well. I was interested enough in the story to keep reading, despite the issues I mentioned. I was a little let down by the ending, mainly because I was “looking” for something to be different in the protagonist so it didn’t strike me as the “reveal” it should have been, but I can say that the ending was satisfying in that it brought closure to the tale and it didn’t leave you scratching your head.

While I can’t say I loved this story, I did find it entertaining. I would probably rate it a 3.5 if I could, leaning slightly more towards a 4. Better than average but not one of my top picks.

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