Category Archives: Frightful Friday

Frightful Friday: Code Zero: A Joe Ledger Novel by Jonathan Maberry (Audiobook)

Frightful Friday is a weekly meme in which I feature a particularly scary or chilling book that I’ve read that week.

This week’s featured title is the audiobook production of Code Zero: A Joe Ledger Novel by Jonathan Maberry:

  • Listening Length: 16 hours and 3 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Macmillan Audio (March 25, 2014)
  • Source: Personal copy

*Note: This is a review of the sixth book in a series. Please proceed with caution if you have not read/listened to the previous books in this series*

 

Joe Ledger and the other members of the Echo Unit of the Department of Military Science (DMS) have had their share of interesting experiences. From battling the zombie plague to designer viruses, they’ve seen it all. Any remnants of these weapons have been stored in a remote and isolated location known as the Locker. Until now…

After other units of the DMS are decimated in attacks, the DMS is spread thin. Weapons they thought destroyed or locked up are appearing in public locations. Their new nemesis, Mother Night, has managed to break into the DMS’ impenetrable super computer system, Mindreader, gaining access to knowledge that shouldn’t be made available to the public. Even worse, she broadcasts a video of a rescue mission in which a team went in to put an end to a plague of zombies. The same plague the DMS thought they conquered and destroyed. Before doing so,  she dubbed over the sound to make it appear as though the individuals being shot upon are citizens begging for their lives.

This isn’t the first time the DMS has been under fire. The timing, however, couldn’t be worse. The must put an end to Mother Night and her league of rogue “soldiers” before she can unleash something more dark and devastating than before. In doing so, they realize that the individual responsible for their actions isn’t a stranger to the DMS. Her identity shatters the tough exterior of the DMS. Rather than weakening them, however, it makes them stronger, more dedicated and determined to put a stop to Mother Night.

Told in a series of flashbacks to the time Joe Ledger originally joined DMS, Maberry takes readers (or in my case, listeners) on a path through the history of the DMS and Ledger’s existing unit.

Maberry’s Joe Ledger series is one I rush to listen to as soon as it is released. Not only are they truly outstanding novels filled to the brim with action and less than natural enemies, but they contain truly outstanding characters that have grown tremendously since the culmination of the series. Joe Ledger, on the surface, is a mean, brusque, no-nonsense kind of guy.  Yet in the past several novels, Maberry has slowly unveiled a softer, more vulnerable side of Joe.  To me, this has created a more dynamic, more genuine character in Joe Ledger.

Fans of Maberry’s writing will appreciate the return of characters from the past (as well as one from another series). I’ve been a fan of this series from the beginning and have to say, without a doubt, this is the best one yet.

As with the other titles in this series, I listened to the audiobook production of this title. I don’t see myself ever “reading” them.  That’s not to say that the writing doesn’t stand on its own, it genuinely does. Yet Ray Porter’s narration has captivated me. To me, he is the voice of Joe Ledger and the other cast of characters. He completes the package for me, his narration capturing the essence of Joe and the rest of the cast of characters.  I won’t say I wouldn’t enjoy reading the titles, it would just feel different, not complete. If you are new to this series, I highly recommend going with the audio.  Some of the best out there!

I know this goes without saying, but this, and other Ledger novels, come highly, highly recommended.

Other titles in the Joe Ledger series (in order):

Patient Zero
The Dragon Factory
The King of Plagues
Assassin’s Code
Extinction Machine

 

Frightful Friday: Runner by Patrick Lee

Frightful Friday is a weekly meme in which I feature a particularly scary or chilling book that I’ve read that week. This week’s featured title is the audiobook production of Runner by Patrick Lee:

  • Listening Length: 8 hours and 39 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Macmillan Audio (February 18, 2014)
  • Source: Personal copy

Sam Dryden is taking a nightly run when he runs into a young girl. The look of terror on her eyes instantly has his undivided attention. When it becomes obvious that the men chasing after her have deadly intentions, Dryden uses his skills as a retired special forces operative to help her evade capture.  After her attackers flee, Dryden learns that this eleven-year-old girl, Rachel, was held captive in a secret prison. She remembers only the last two months of her life, nothing of her existence outside the prison.

Dryden lost his wife and daughter in an accident five years ago. Seeing the genuine terror and fear in Rachel’s eyes, he vows to help her get answers.  Little does he realize how much his experience in a black-ops will help them in their attempt to elude her captures.

What they learn in the next few days is life altering, for both Dryden and Rachel.  It’s quite possible that the memories Rachel is desperately trying to recover are of a danger so unimaginable that millions of lives are at stake.

I’m intentionally being quite vague in my summary of this title for it is best to be experienced first hand, without any preconceived notions of what may transpire. The best way to put it would be a combination of the thrill of a Jack Reacher novel meeting the science-fiction-esque aspect of a Joe Ledger novel. What results is a novel jam-packed with a unique thrill and intensity.  Each time I paused in my listen of this audiobook, my heart would be pounding.  I made every excuse I could to listen to more, including taking the longer route home or sitting in front of my  house listening to just a few minutes more.

Raul Esparza’s narration of this book just added to the intensity. His tone captured the feel of the moment so expertly, demanding the listener’s undivided attention.

Runner is truly one of the best thrillers I have listened to in some time. I’m new to his work and it is now a personal mission of mine to read it all. I’m ecstatic to see that this is the first in a new series. Dryden’s character is the best of both worlds: a character that is both sensitive and flawed but also intense and unrelenting. I honestly cannot wait for more. Highly, highly recommended!

 

Thank you to Bob at The Guilded Earlobe for the recommendation. Once again, my zombie-loving friend, you are spot on!

Frightful Friday: The Seeker by R. B. Chesterton

Frightful Friday is a weekly meme in which I feature a particularly scary or chilling book that I’ve read that week.

This week’s featured title is The Seeker by R. B. Chesterton:

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Pegasus (March 6, 2014)
  • ISBN-10: 1605985007
  • Source: Publisher

Seeking remote solace to work on her dissertation, Aine Cahill travels to Walden Pond, the location of Henry David Thoreau’s own solitary place of retreat. When she uncovers a journal implicating a secret relationship her aunt had with Thoreau during his stay at Walden, Aine knows she has discovered the perfect topic for her dissertation.  Yet as she reads further, she releases something so powerful and dangerous, an evil that has plagued her family for generations.

Something is lurking on the woods of Walden Pond. A figure, clad in red, that darts from tree to tree, making her existence known to Aine. The evil that resides in Walden Pond isn’t new, it has lurked there, silently, for centuries. Terrible tragedy hits the village and Aine struggles to understand how her family’s dark and sordid past is related to what is transpiring at Walden Pond.  Further challenging Aine’s quest is proving her own mental stability. Haunted by a history of mental disease the Cahill family has battled a family curse for years. Now, Aine is its victim, the evil residing in the wood is determined to bring her life to an end, taking her as prisoner, like so many before her.

I’m not exaggerating when I say that The Seeker sent chills down my spine. Be it the cold chilling setting, the evil young “child,” or some combination of the two, I found myself reading this novel only by the light of day.  The author delved in to the world of madness, leaving the reader unsure of who, or what, to believe. Aine’s character, too, questions this as well: Is it madness, or something supernatural that has plagued her family for generations?

Admittedly, there was a lot going on in this novel, from the Cahill Curse to Aine’s aunt’s connection to Thoreau and an ever-pervasive Moby Dick theme (the allusive white whale). That said, I think the author greatly succeeded at pulling it all together. The ending (no spoilers) leads me to think that there will be a sequel…or perhaps this is just wishful thinking. There is no finite conclusion, no neatly-wrapped up storyline, to this dark and terrorizing tale. That may infuriate some, but for me, it simply fuels my desire to read more! I sincerely hope that this is not the last we hear of Aine and the Cahill curse. Highly recommended.

Frightful Friday: The Troop by Nick Cutter

Frightful Friday is a weekly meme in which I feature a particularly scary or chilling book that I’ve read that week.

This week’s featured title is The Troop by Nick Cutter:

 

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Gallery Books (February 25, 2014)
  • ISBN-10: 1476717710
  • Source: Publisher

Scoutmaster Tom Riggs leads his scouts on an annual trip to the Canadian wilderness.  On this trip, he leads a group of five young men to Falstaff Island, PEI.  The boys: Kent, Ephraim, Max, Shelly, and Newton, have known one another all their lives.  The camp out is relatively short; a boat will pick them up the following day to take back to the mainland.  Or so they think.

Their peaceful tranquility is severed when a strange man shows on the island. Emaciated, he appears to be quite ill. Riggs attempts to keep the strange man away from the boys, for his medical expertise tells him there is something very strong with the man. The man’s body is emaciated, he begs for food with an uncontrollable hunger raging within him. This hunger is endless and Riggs is stunned as he watches the man pick up anything he can getting his hands on and devouring it.  The troop is completely unaware that the military is hunting this man, aware of the bio-engineered horror residing within his body.

Riggs and the boys assume help will come the next morning. They don’t know that the military has established a no-fly zone over the island, the small island quarantined from the mainland just minutes away. Their hope for help is futile, only they alone have control over their survival.  Yet as the sickness spreads and the hierarchy within their group begins to collapse, they are faced with unimaginable terror, fighting for survival from not only the parasite that ravages the body of victims but also one another.

Using journal entries, magazine interviews, and military reports, Cutter provides readers with insight that the scouts themselves don’t have access to. The reader gets a unique glimpse about what is going on on the mainland, off the island, while they are fighting for their lives. A great deal of time is spent relaying  information on the science experiment gone wrong, the source of this terror, all  at the hands of a Dr. Clive Edgerton. Combined together, a novel that is so gruesome, yet so thrilling and addictive, those that have a strong stomach won’t be able to tear themselves away!

While the plot of the story alone had me sold on this book, the added dimension of the crumbling of the boys’ social structure and hierarchy added a completely unique element. The reader is an observer, watching the boys lives fall to pieces. A true story of a survival of the fittest, the conclusion left me completely stunned.

I most certainly won’t recommend this to the weak of stomach (and it would probably be best to avoid eating pasta of any sort while reading this), I would highly recommend it to fans of classic horror. Stephen King himself said “The Troop scared the hell out of me, and I couldn’t put it down. This is old-school horror at its best. Not for the faint-hearted, but for the rest of us sick puppies, it’s a perfect gift for a winter night.”

In my opinion, the plausibility of such a scenario is what makes this novel so terrifying. Science is scary, people! Nevermind the fact the first time I read this novel, about six months ago, my own fourteen year old was away on a camping trip with his Scout troop. I don’t think I slept a wink until he returned!

If you are looking for classic, terrifying horror, this is the novel for you. Highly recommended…with warning :)

Frightful Friday: Snowblind by Christopher Golden

Frightful Friday is a weekly meme in which I feature a particularly scary or chilling book that I’ve read that week.  This week’s featured title is Snowblind by Christopher Golden:

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin’s Press; First Edition edition (January 21, 2014)
  • ISBN-10: 1250015316
  • Source: Publisher

Twelve years ago, the small new England town of Coventry was hit with a deadly blizzard.  People walked out in the snow, never to be seen again.  Now another blizzard is on the way and the small town is fearful of the past repeating itself.

Three “survivors” in particular are mindful of the looming storm. Jake was just a kid when his little brother, Isaac, was killed. Isaac kept warning of icy figures dancing out in the snow. No one believed him…except for Jake.  Now another young boy is missing. 

Doug Manning was out in the blizzard, drunk, when his wife Cherie was killed. He’s mixed up in a whole new series of crimes. Now dating someone who reminds him so much of his beloved Cherie, Doug doesn’t listen to the warnings of others about staying indoors when the blizzard hits.

Joe Keenan was relatively new on the police force when the first blizzard hit. Now a detective, he can’t forget the night he was unable to prevent the death of a young boy and the disappearance of his father, just feet away.

The impending blizzard brings with it the ghosts of those lost in the previous blizzard, awakened by the powerful storm.  The terror they bring proves to be more terrifying and deadly than before. 

In Snowblind, Christopher Golden has produced a chilling supernatural tale rich with all the aspects of classic horror. A dark and terrifying setting, vulnerable characters, and a small town with a deadly past. I don’t know about you, but there’s something about a blizzard that is absolutely horrifying. Beyond the obvious, is it the quiet that it brings down around it, the feeling of darkness and desolation, of abandonment that comes with being snowed in?  All of these characteristics are expertly combined producing a truly chilling read. Perfect to curl up with on a cold winter’s day (just don’t let the drafts get in!). Highly, highly recommended.

Frightful Friday: Mayhem by Sarah Pinborough

Frightful Friday is a weekly meme in which I feature a particularly scary or chilling book that I’ve read that week.  This week’s featured title is Mayhem by Sarah Pinborough:

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Jo Fletcher Books (January 14, 2014)
  • ISBN-10: 1623650860
  • Source: Publisher (egalley)

The detectives of Scotland Yard are already immersed in the hunt for Jack the Ripper when another serial killer, dubbed the Torso Killer due to his practice of leaving behind a headless body, makes his presence known. The police surgeon, Dr. Thomas Bond, is so overwhelmed with horrific images of the dead that he turns to opium for some relief.

It is in an opium den that Bond meets a Jesuit priest, searching for someone…or something. The priest gives Bond a chilling and unbelievable explanation for the deaths and the identity of the Torso Killer. Something supernatural and horrific is at force. At first, Bond is quick to dismiss him but as the bodies begin to pile up, he begins to wonder of the priest is correct in his claims.  The more he investigates, the more Bond believes that he knows the identity of the Torso Killer, an individual quite close to his circle of friends.

Based on an actual series of killings that took place during the reign of the Jack the Ripper killings (but obviously didn’t receive nearly as much coverage!), Mayhem is a brilliantly executed blend of crime procedural and supernatural fiction. I’ve been intrigued about the Jack the Ripper killings for as long as I can remember so it’s no surprise that this book grabbed my attention.  There are quite a few portions of the book in which the reader must suspend disbelief, but this is to be expected in a novel of this sort.

Mayhem is certainly not a book for the weak of heart (or stomach), but fans of Victorian crime fiction and the supernatural are certain to be enamored by Pinborough’s truly skilled writing. She so expertly captures the essence of Victorian London, making it quite easy for readers to slip right into the rich atmospheric setting.

I’ve been a fan of Pinborough’s writing for some time, particularly her Dog-faced Gods Trilogy, largely due to her ability to combine two of my favorite genres: crime fiction and supernatural/horror.  Her writing introduced me to a whole host of talented UK horror writers and for this I am forever thankful.  If you have not checked out her books I highly encourage you to do so! Highly, highly recommended!

Frightful Friday: Ode to Stephen King’s The Shining

This week’s Frightful Friday post is a little different. Rather than featuring a chilling title I read this week, instead I will focus on a title that has continued to haunt me for most of my life: Stephen King’s The Shining.

Since Doctor Sleep, the sequel to The Shining, is due out in a little over a week, I’m doing my annual “reread” of this monumental book.  However, for the first time, I am listening to the audio book production.  Having read this book approximately 15 times, one would think the fear factor would wear off. If anything, listening to this story read aloud to me is even more terrifying.

To kick-off this ode, let’s start at the beginning.  I first experienced this novel when I was thirteen years old. I can remember it vividly: My siblings and I were spending the summer with my grandparents in West Virginia. My grandmother was a librarian in the small mountain town. We would walk up and visit with her, perusing the shelves. I had a habit (and I still do!) of picking the heaviest, thickest books off the shelf.  We were limited in how many books we could check out and I wanted to take advantage of what books I selected. It was then I discovered Stephen King’s novels, specifically The Shining.  This was the book that called out to me:

1877

I picked it up, rubbing my fingers over the cover and the vast number of pages contained within. I went back to my grandparents house and began to read…and read….and read.  A thirteen, this was the longest (and most terrifying) book I had ever read.  Not only that, but I had just discovered an author who would continue to impress and terrify me for the rest of my life.

The thing about King’s writing is that it pervades the very core of your soul. It reaches deep down into your heart, sending shock waves of terror through your veins. In the best of ways, of course.  That summer (I believe it was 1987) changed my life forever.  After reading The Shining I began to devour every Stephen King novel I could get my hands on. I loved and appreciated each and every one of them, but none of them ever compared to this first experience.

As I got older, I made it a point to reread this book as often as I could. At first, it was every few years or every other year. For the past several years, though, I made a point of rereading it every.single.year. You see, it’s not only the content of the novel that draws me to this need to experience it over and over again. It’s the memories that come with that first read and each and every read after.

My grandmother passed away in 2010. While I have many wonderful memories of her life, the fondest ones are of her in the library. Of the first summer I spent away from my parents. The summer I discovered Stephen King. In years since, each time I discover a different edition of The Shining I must have it, adding it to my collection. I have about eight now, the covers varying a bit over the years. Yet the memories of reading that book for the first time remain the same.

So, be warned. Once Doctor Sleep is in my hands, I’m going to do a lot of squealing, singing the praises of the great Stephen King.  But before I do so, I wanted to provide an explanation, an excuse of sorts.

I have never had the pleasure of meeting Stephen King in person. I have tried, on a number of occasions, to attend one of his events but it’s never really worked out in the end. But when I do (I know it’s going to happen), I’m going to shake his hand and thank him for having such an impact on my life….and then I’m going to squeal like a little girl.

Thank you, Stephen King, and thank you, dear readers, for bearing with me!

Frightful Friday: The Edge of Normal by Carla Norton

Frightful Friday is a weekly meme in which I feature a particularly scary or chilling book that I’ve read that week. Have you read a chilling book this week? Tell us about it in the comments below!

The featured title this week is The Edge of Normal by Carla Norton:

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books (September 10, 2013)
  • ISBN-10: 1250031044
  • Source: Publisher

At twenty-two years old, Reeve LeClaire is just getting her life back to normal. A decade ago, she was kidnapped and held captive for nearly four years. Thanks to her incredibly supportive therapist, Dr. Ezra Lerner, over the last six years rebuilding her life.  When Dr. Lerner calls upon her to help another girl in a similar situation, Reeve’s decision to help “mentor” this young victim is a clear indication of her healing.

While the victim, Tilly Cavanaugh, wasn’t held captive nearly as long as Reeve,  an instant connection was evident between the two girls. Tilly’s kidnapper was behind bars and this should have elicited a sense of relief in the young girl, but something still had her terrified.  Once their bond was formed, Tilly admits to Reeve that the man behind bars wasn’t the only man complicit in her abduction. Another man, the one responsible for the cruel and malicious acts toward her, is still on the loose. To make matters worse, the elusive abductor is an expert on high-tech surveillance, allowing him to stalk Tilly, and now Reeve, reaching far deeper into their lives than thought possible.  It’s soon clear that Reeve must not only help Tilly heal from this incredibly devastating event but also protect her from the man that is still out there, a man who taunts her family and haunts her every waking moment.

To understand the sheer brilliance of this novel one must understand a bit about the author’s background.  Several years ago, Carla Norton read about a woman who was abducted and held captive in a coffin-like for seven years.  She became almost obsessed with this story, so much so that she covered the kidnappers trial and ultimately wrote Perfect Victim, an account of the case, with the aid of the prosecutor. The book was an instant success, added to the reading list for the FBI’s Behavioral Sciences Unit and a #1 New York Times bestseller, remaining on the list for 18 weeks.  And, according to Carla herself, the story haunted her and “my first crime fiction is inspired by my first true crime.” It’s not difficult to see the connection between the actual crime and the one that takes place in The Edge of Normal.

In addition to the author’s first hand knowledge of abduction cases, the one thing that makes The Edge of Normal a truly phenomenal piece of suspense fiction is Reeve’s character. Reeve experienced a tremendous amount of abuse during captivity, abuse that has left both physical and mental scars. Despite (and due to) all of this, she decides that she will no longer be a victim. The way she took control of her life, facing her fears (both old and new) is outstanding. A truly strong and powerful protagonist, she wasn’t going to allow any other young woman to experience what she did.

Additionally, The Edge of Normal contains one of the most terrifying and sick individuals I have read about in some time. Referred to as “Mister Monster” by Tilly, Duke truly is a monster, personified. He reaches into every aspect of his victims’ lives, even after they escape.  The reader learns of his involvement within the first several pages of the book and is forced to sit back and watch as he torments his victims. His character continued to haunt me long after I finished reading this novel!

If you are looking for a brilliant suspense thriller with fast pacing, this is the title for you. Highly, highly recommended!

 

 

Frightful Friday: Human Remains by Elizabeth Haynes

Frightful Friday is a weekly meme in which I feature a particularly scary or chilling book that I’ve read that week.

The featured title this week is Human Remains by Elizabeth Haynes:

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Paperbacks (August 20, 2013)
  • ISBN-10: 006227676X
  • Source: Publisher

Despite the fact she doesn’t have many friends, Annabel would never consider herself to be lonely.  Her work as a police analyst and the regular care of her ailing mother keeps her rather busy.  One evening, she returns home and notices a pervasive, foul odor.  Her cat has returned home, drenched in the same odor. She notices a light on in her neighbor’s home.  The couple next door recently parted ways, so when she didn’t see anyone entering the residence in some time she assumed they had moved.  Upon entering her neighbor’s home, the smell increases. Annabel assumes the odor is caused by food that hasn’t been thrown own. Instead, she discovers the decomposing body of her neighbor. How could she and her surrounding neighbors have gone so long without noticing something?

Her neighbor’s demise shocks Annabel so greatly that she begins to look into other similar incidents and uncovers a chilling pattern: Over 20 individuals have been found dead, decomposing in their homes as life continues to go on around them.  They weren’t missed by anyone, simply lonely individuals who passed away unnoticed. Unfortunately, Annabel’s coworkers show no interest in her findings…that is, until they hit a little close to home. One sick and twisted individual is responsible for coaxing…leading these lonely individuals to their deaths.

Human Remains is a tremendously dark, and sometimes disturbing, glimpse inside the world of individuals so lost and lonely that they become vulnerable to persuasion. What makes this thriller unusual is that they aren’t killed by stabbing or gunfire, but instead coaxed and guided to allow themselves to die of thirst and starvation.  The perpetrator, an incredibly disturbing individual wields so much power over them, yet never renders any sort of physical brutality toward them.  He is obsessed with and turned on by decay and the decomposition process.

Additionally, Haynes focuses on the fact that so many individuals go on with life, ignoring the well-being of those around them. This includes Annabel herself, unnoticed and ignored until her life is at risk. Grown children ignore their sick and ailing parents, neighbors ignore one another. It isn’t until the deaths become noticeable that they think to check up on their loved ones.  Annabel’s persistence, aided by young and dedicated reporter, bring to light the real circumstances involving these deaths.

Due to some of the content, this isn’t a novel that I would recommend to just everyone. There are some pretty graphic scenes, including some pretty graphic scenes of a sexual nature.  If you are able to get beyond this, you will be handsomely rewarded with a brilliant, well-plotted thriller.  Passages from the deceased that serve as voices of the dead add a chilling element that borders on horror.  Having read all of this author’s previous work,  Human Remains is by far the darkest.  If you are looking for a terrifying psychological thriller, look no further. Highly recommended.

 

Frightful Friday: Save Yourself by Kelly Braffet

Frightful Friday is a weekly meme in which I feature a particularly scary or chilling book that I’ve read that week.  The featured title this week is Save Yourself by Kelly Braffet:

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Crown (August 6, 2013)
  • ISBN-10: 0385347340
  • Source: Publisher

Patrick and Mike Cusimano’s father is serving time in jail for a DUI during which he hit and killed a small child. It was Patrick who called the police to report the accident…19 hours later. Patrick and Mike live together in their family home along with Caro, Mike’s girlfriend; the accident and what followed continue to haunt them.  While they were not directly involved in the incident, residents of their small town still hold them responsible for what transpired.  Mike blames Patrick for their situation, insisting that they could have covered for their father. Forever tormented by their father’s actions, the two struggle  to get on with their lives.

Layla and Verna Elshere are the daughters of a fundamentalist father. Up until now, they were home schooled, spending hours of their day helping their father promote his church’s message.  Insisting that they need to experience the real world, he enrolls them in public high school.  Both girls are tormented by bullying due to an incident in which one of the school’s most popular teachers was fired.  Layla has rebelled from the conservative life in which she was raised, becoming part of a cult-like group in which Justinian, a young man chillingly similar to Charles Manson. Verna has no one, the tormenting by other students forces her to rely on Layla and her vampiric group of cohorts for protection.

The two families converge when Layla begins a conversation with Patrick at the convenience store at which he works.  The two have a connection, both ostracized from their family for their actions.  Layla is attracted to Patrick, sensing that he is an individual who strives to do what is right. Unfortunately, Patrick sees her as jail-bait, a teen rebelling from a strict family. The result of this odd relationship culminates into one paramount event that shatters the two families’ already battered and bruised lives.

I originally learned about this novel several months ago when inquiring about the “big books” of Fall. Never could I have imagined this novel’s impact and intensity.  Braffet has constructed individuals that really don’t have a lot going for them. That said, they are tremendously genuine and authentic characters, their flaws openly displayed. In doing this the author portrays the loneliness, the isolation that surrounds individuals who just want someone to connect with, someone who can protect them from harm. Unfortunately, in searching for such a result they often perform foolish acts in order to attain a life they think they want.

Braffet tackles the concept of bullying in a brutal, yet wholly honest and genuine way.  She doesn’t sugar-coat the abuse the characters face for each and every one of these actions culminate and permanently shape them as individuals.  No matter what sort of background, be it a happy home with wonderful parents or a battered and dysfunctional home, bullying has lasting effects. It is only when you have a supportive family that you can deal with the bullying properly and directly; unfortunately neither of these families were able to accomplish this.

I’m intentionally being quite vague in describing what makes this novel horrific and terrifying. Doing so would destroy scenes of story and character building that are so outstanding that I feel it would take away from the reading experience.  An incredibly dark and twisted story with seriously tormented and disturbed characters, Save Yourself  is a novel that I continue to think about, months after reading it. While this is my first sampling of Braffet’s work, it will most definitely not be my last.  Highly, highly recommended, a novel that will certainly top my favorite reads of the year!

It’s not secret that Braffet comes from a family of talented authors.  Read this New York Times article about Kelly, her husband Owen King,  and, yes, you guessed it…the rest of the King clan. Can I tell you how much I want to be a part of this outstandingly talented family!?

 

Thank you to TLC Book Tours for providing me the opportunity to participate in this tour!