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8/14/08

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Wolf’s Hour

I’ve said before that werewolves are my favorite mystical beast, that they’re under represented in films. Yet I’ve also never read a book about them, something I had to change. Wolf’s Hour had been sitting on my shelf for years, it’s longish length, over 600 pages, kept me from diving in. But I’m sure glad that I did. The book is at the same time, an exciting adventure-war story and a in-depth account of a werewolf’s life. Michael Gattlin is a spy in the British army during WWII, he’s dropped into France to find out an important secret, which then leads him deep into the depths of the Gestapo, a concentration camp, until he ultimately nearly single-handedly saves the war effort for the Allies. He’s fighting evil Nazis at every turn and bedding beautiful women at every stop. Throughout his adventure through war torn Europe, we’re taken back to his childhood in Russia, where we learn about him being bitten and his painful changes into a wolf, where McCammon has a refreshing new take on the werewolf myth. The book is very well written, extremely detail oriented and undeniably fun; the only parts that I could have done without are Gattlin's sexual encounters, where the writing devolves into a cheap romance novel, with heaving breasts and feverish thrusting. But if you’re a werewolf or WWII fan, the book is well worth reading, it deftly mixes the two, along with enough real-life events to keep it grounded. Grade: B

The Policy

I discovered Bentley Little a couple years back, thanks to a Stephen King blurb about him in EW, and he’s quickly become one of my favorite horror writers. Although once you’ve read one of his books, they all start to seem very similar, he definitely has a formula. The four I've read all build in the same manner, each with very familiar lead characters and all the titles seem to be The Something. But they're undeniably scary in sections, and he comes up with some wicked ideas. The Policy is doubly uncomfortable because it deals with insurance, a subject that is never fun. A young couple is harassed by an insurance company that forces people to buy their coverage by destroying any part of their life that isn't covered. So if they offer you job insurance, and you don't buy it, your job will soon be gone. And they get far, far dirtier than that. It's a decent, fairly brainless read. - Grade: C+

Forever Odd

I read Odd Thomas a while back and really loved it. I'd say it's my favorite Dean Koontz book so far, which is saying something, since I've read 20 to 30 of them. As soon as I finished the book, I was wanting more, and quickly tracked down the sequel. The book picks up right where the last one left off. Odd, if you don't know, can see dead people and uses his skill to solve mysteries. In this story, a good friend of his is kidnapped by an extremely evil woman, with some very strange tendencies and life goals. I wasn't in as much love with the story in this book as the first, it takes a while to get going, but towards the end it really hums. I really enjoy the writing style, Koontz writes from Odd's perspective, so it's very different than his usual writing. A fairly good sequel, that didn't quite go where I was hoping, but ultimately I had a good time with it, and look forward to the next book in the Odd series. - Grade: B-

Breakfast of Champions

I'm a big fan of Kurt Vonnegut, he's one of my all-time-favorite authors, although honestly I've only read 5 or 6 of his books now, including this one. They're so good, I guess I'm trying to savor them a bit, recently just reading Slaughterhouse Five. I was somewhat familiar with the Breakfast of Champions story from the 1999 Alan Rudolph film, which after reading the book, does a pretty good job of adapting it, although it has a much softer ending. This is an extremely strange book, even by Vonnegut standards. The book is about Dwayne Hoover, a rich car dealer in a small town, which means he has a ton of power, so everybody ignores that he's going crazy. Kilgore Trout is a brilliant writer that nobody's heard of. They're on a collision course that will cause disastrous results for Hoover's town. But the book is so much more than that. Vonnegut manages to break down the whole human condition, with biting criticism and hilarious musings in just a few hundred pages. Towards the end of the book Vonnegut begins to work himself into the story, in a way that I've never read before, it's an extremely strange writing device. Although it's not as accessible as some of his other work, it's another brilliant Vonnegut book. - Grade: A-

Trailer for Breakfast of Champions - Directed by: Alan Rudolph


2 Responses to Summer Reading:

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