Wonderfully imaginiative and totally off the wall, "The Stupidest Angel" combines an group of strange characters and even stranger circumstances, all the while sending up the phony sentimentality of the holiday season in a blend that would have made Charles Addams chuckle with glee. A delight. For those of us who need an antidote to "It's a Wonderful Life", this is it! (not when the kiddies are around though)
Like all of John Douglas's true crime books, this is a fascinating read. Alas, narrator Jason Klav's personal vocabulary isnt up to the task. Its not just technical terms he mangles, but seemingly any word thats not used in everyday conversation. (Example: demolished building are "razed", pronounced like "raised". Klav's pronunciation is "razzed".) The truly amazing thing is that the producer didnt catch it and make him re-record those sections.
Still I recommend the book.... and that you try to take Klav's numerous bobbles as unintentional comedy, lightening some very dark material.
First of all, please know that if you are looking for the usual Romero style flesh eating zombie mayhem, you will be waiting a long time for it in this story. This novel is a very different thing. It has been said of Stephen King that his stories arent about the haunted house, but about the people that own that house. That same idea is very true about this book. This is the tale of how the presence of the zombies affects the lives of the people who knew them when they were alive. It is also a tale of people and institutions trying to manage a situation for which there is no precedent in the best way that can think to do so, and how that leads to what is both a simultaneously tragic and heartbreaking yet beautiful and hopeful conclusion. Rest assured that for the patient horror-hound the expected zombie horror (that beyond the gross-out descriptions of the undead) does eventually appear, it does so at its natural place in this story, very near the climax, and only happens because of the course of events in the book. This isnt to say that the majority of the book isnt frightening; it is, very much so, but it is the horror of the cold chill and the creepy variety that comes from ideas and implications, instead of the "fight or flight" scares that comes from violent and unnatural events. So if you are only looking for the sort of zombie apocalypse found on the silver screen, you'll be very disappointed, but if youre looking for something deeper, something that asks what it might really be like, youre in for an engaging treat. 5 stars across the board.
Zombies are a hot property right now, and there's a glut of zombie titles on the stands. The great reviews of this one indicate how poor many of the others must be. This book wouldn't exist if it were not for Max Brook's "Zombie Survival Guide". The first third is clearly a "dramatization" of many of Brook's instructions, so much so that you expect the main character to mention having read it! The latter 2/3 is quite derivative of a number of other survivalist/post apocalypse media. In the other reviews here, the ending has been mentioned as a flaw. I agree. There is absolutely no narrative reason for it to end how and where it did, nor is any explanation given. The very worst thing about the book is it's lack of characterization. At the end of the novel, we have very little idea of the personality of the narrator, and even less of those of any of the other characters. Part of this is due to the "diary" format (and Jay Snyder's reading doesn't help this at all), but I can't remember another book so barren in this regard. We learn more of the personalities of the characters in each short section of "WWZ" than we do about our main character here in the entire book. Strangely, despite these criticisms the book still manages to be somewhat entertaining, and it is never boring but if you are going in looking for anything truly surprising, or even original, fergeddabowdit. (I must give a tip of the hat about one point: Bourne does give us a rather clever way to reconcile the slow moving "classic" zombies with the recent hyperactive ones.) Overall, its not a bad way to kill 6+ hours, but it isn't a great work by any stretch of the imagination, and even though I found myself mostly enjoying it, I think if it had not have been the one book that was included with my monthly membership fee, and I had paid out additional money for it, I'd be far harsher in my assessment of the novel than I have been.
I was looking for an unabridged audio version of "A Christmas Carol", and of the many offered on Audible, I naturally noticed this one because it was read by Jim Dale, who does such a splendid job reading the American audiobooks of the Harry Potter series. I was delighted to discover that it was even better than I had anticipated. Mr. Dale is a marvelous actor and storyteller, and brings this classic to sparkling life with his characterizations and inflections. His reading make poetry of the prose. I cannot imagine anyone topping this particular performance. Another triumph for Jim Dale, one which would make Dickens proud, and a delightful treat for all of us. Thank you Mr. Dale, Listening Library, and Audible!
I am not a professional or amateur author. I have a better than average grasp of grammar, but it's nothing spectacular. The basic grammatical errors in this book makes me wonder if it was edited by anyone at all.
This leads to a basic question: If the writing of this book was so sloppy, what about the research behind it?
My brother used to say "every good villian that hangs around too long becomes a good guy". Its true: Lestat bacame a superhero, Darth Vader eventually became a cute kid.. heck if Freddy Kruger had made many more movies, he'd have been helping the Elm Street kids with their homework. Therin lies my problem with "DEXTER IN THE DARK". We get into things supernatural here, including the idea that the thing that makes our hero kill is a seperate entity that lives within him, without which he cannot indulge his favorite passtime. The upshot is that it's not Dexter's fault he's the way he is. It absoves him of responsibility even more than the original childhood trauma that made him a sociopath does. That's my main gripe with the book. Fans of the TV show should check out "Darkly Dreaming Dexter" before listening to this one, because the producers used the original novel as a jumping off point for the series, follwing it rather loosly, and there are distinct differences between the events and characters in the show and those in the novel. Readers should acclimate themselves to this version of "Dexter-world", otherwise jumpijng streght into this book from the TV show migh be too much of a shock. All in all an enjoayble "read". (Hey Audible: please make Dexter's other adventures available to us!)
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