What I Read in October (featuring the worst book I've ever read)

What I Read in October

What do you think of my new feature photo? It was time for a change. I also thought I might try a few horror/thriller books this month, because Halloween (not that I really care about it), and picked authors I'd never read before (mostly).

What I Read in October

Twenty years after surviving a school shooting Tanner Khan and his fellow classmates reluctantly agree to hold a reunion. Although they suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, they come back to their hometown and reunite in the defunct school building. Old flames are rekindled, fears are ignited and their lives are about to explode in a whirlwind of memories, haunted by the spirit of David Ray, the troubled teen who killed many of the students. Once they are inside the school, they discover that a dark entity has joined them. It has come to collect a debt long overdue and someone has to pay - Goodreads

Let me start by saying that I couldn't force myself to finish this book. I gave up around the halfway mark because I couldn't stop rolling my eyes. I hated everything about this, from the one dimensional characters to the lack of interesting vocabulary, to the ridiculous plot. I thought I might enjoy elements of the story, but I don't think I've ever attempted to read a book that was so badly written.

The characters were so basic. Their speech is written like a person who has never met another human being. No one talks like a commercial irl. I can't imagine any survivor of a school shooting being so open and friendly to the press (who probably made their lives hell at the time). No one out of schooling age refers to their ex-peers as their classmates. Come on, Bennington.

The author declined to describe any of the early pivotal plot moments in any detail. Instead we are treated to long, drawn out physical descriptions of all characters, where a brief line or two would have sufficed. I honestly couldn't give two shits about the hairstyle of a room mate of a character we meet for all of two minutes in the first chapter. It's as if Bennington doesn't believe his readers have enough imagination to come to their own conclusions about how a person looks. Which is rich.

The characters were also heavily stereotyped. The high school jock who becomes a cop. The pretty and oblivious girl, with terrible choices in men, who marries an abusive dickhead. The nerd who grows up to become cool. The high school girls who never get over their first boyfriends, to the point where it's creepy. But that's okay because they were sooo in love.

What I Read in October

Then suddenly a ghost of the shooter is introduced like an unhappy Casper, just lingering in windows of the boarded up school and apparently killing youths. And everyone in town is all "Ah yes, must be a ghost and definitely not a murderer!".

There are also long stretches of chapters where Bennington outlines things that are happening that have some significance, but instead of going into details or making them at the very least interesting, he says something like "Then she did this and was happy about it". This is lazy and it's boring. I don't want to know any background information unless it's relevant to the actual plot, which by the halfway point I realised was weak af. It was less about coping with trauma and dealing with closure and more about the outlines of a ghost by this point. Obviously I can't speak for the rest of the book because I was bored to tears and literally couldn't bring myself to finish it - and apparently there are twists - but this was awful.

Rating: 0/5

What I Read in October

Desperate to solve the most difficult case of his career, Detective Vincent O'Malley travels to a small town in Upstate New York, where he meets the beautiful, haunted Holly Newman and attempts to unearth the clues hidden deep in her mind - Goodreads. To pad out the synopsis a little bit, O'Mally is searching for a child killer who leaves the children's book The Gingerbread Man at the crime scene.

It's been years since I read a cop drama and I didn't expect too much out of it. These types of books are usually easy reads that you find in every paperback chart and supermarket shelf across the country. Not exactly a masterpiece, but not a bad read. I never went out of my way to read anything by James Patterson or Harlan Coben - but Karin Slaughter and Chelsea Cain were my mid to late 00s favourites. The characters can be relateable yet predictable (e.g. the damaged cop who is trying to fight all the wrongs of his youth and the tough, no nonsense female detective who is desperate to prove herself) and the plots can be inventive, but also at the same time they could also be any given episode of CSI.

I was right to trust my instincts. There was nothing special or moderately interesting about this book. It was 300-odd pages of boredom, a middle of the road blah novel with cry baby "strong" characters that didn't inspire enough passion to even give a so-so review. It's well written, I'll give Maggie Shayne that and it gets another point for drawing me in. But that's it.

Rating: 2/5

What I Read in October

Ten years ago, Quincy Carpenter survived a horror movie scale massacre. In an instant, she became a member of a club no one wants to belong to, known to the press as the Final Girls. 10 years later, Quincy is doing well - maybe even great thanks to her Xanax prescription, caring boyfriend Jeff, a popular baking blog, a beautiful apartment and a therapeutic presence in Coop; the police officer who save her life all those years ago. Her memory won't even allow her to recall the events of the night; the past is the past.

That is until Lisa, the first Final Girl, is found dead in her bathtub, wrists slit, and Sam, the second, appears on Quincy's doorstep. Blowing through Quincy's life like a whirlwind, Sam seems intent on making Quincy relive the past, with increasingly dire consequences, all of which makes her question why Sam is really seeking her out. And when new details about Lisa's death come to light, Quincy's life becomes a race against time as she tried to unravel Sam's truths from her lies, evade the police and hungry reporters, and most crucially, remember what happened at Pine Cottage - Goodreads

Quincy is a deeply flawed character with some major issues, the majority of them stemming from the massacre at Pine Cottage (a name which becomes very annoying, very quickly). She is struggling to piece together that night and how her life now has to be lived, mostly by isolating herself and placing all her attentions on moderately miserable boyfriend Jeff, and over-eager first on scene at the massacre, police officer, Coop. As hard as I tried, I found each character inherently unlikeable. Particularly the protagonist. If it's not the murderer's fault, it's her mothers. If it's not her mother's, it's Sam. If it's not Sam is someone else. She's a 30 year old woman with no semblance of responsibility until the very final chapter.

I did enjoy the story and on reading the blurb, I found it quite unique. Yet, once I'd finished it, I kept thinking it was very familiar. It took me all of four minutes to realise that a lot of this plot is not too dissimilar from a very well known (and rubbish) Canadian TV show called Slasher.

What I liked most about Final Girls was Sager's story telling. It's woven as a perfect stream of consciousness, save for the odd flashback scene, so that you're never quite sure where the truth lies.  I didn't actually see the twist coming for a change, but it wasn't exactly a shock on reveal. Final Girls is the definition of a page turner. While it's not the most impressive book I've ever read, I couldn't put it down. 

Rating: 3.5/5

Stars Above (The Lunar Chronicles) by Marissa Meyer

What I Read in October

The universe of the Lunar Chronicles hold stories - and secrets - that are wondrous, vicious and romantic. How did Cinder first arrive in New Beijing? How did the brooding soldier Wolf transform from young man to killer? When did Princess Winter and the palace guard Jacin realise their destinies? With nine stories - five of which have never been published - Stars Above is essential for fans of the bestselling and beloved Lunar Chronicles - Goodreads.

I didn't care much for the epilogue style ending to Winter, I had expected more than the casual wrapped-up-in-a-bow happy conclusions that Meyer offered (but that's not to say that I didn't enjoy it). So, I promised myself that I wouldn't read this for a while and obviously I was lying. I'm still hung up on this series and considering I finished it in July, that's some mean feat. I adore Marissa Meyers writing and this addition to The Lunar Chronicles collective only makes me love Cinder's world even more. Like the other books of the series, I couldn't put this down. It pained me to turn off my Kindle and rejoin the real world.

But it was never going to be as enthralling as a full length book. Plus, they were just too short! They were little more than snippets of a life. They left me wanting way too much and I have nothing left to read. However, some of the stories were beautifully written and have opened up old wounds that hadn't yet fully healed. I particularly enjoyed Carswell's Guide to Being Lucky, mostly because I miss his sassy charm and hidden depths. I didn't really care for Something Old, Something New. It was a bit sappy, but still entertaining nonetheless.

Rating: 3.5/5

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