Random Musings by Frodosco

Posts tagged “Thriller

Mini Review Monday: I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga

MiniReviewMonday

I Hunt Killers

Summary From GoodreadsI Hunt Killers

What if the world’s worst serial killer…was your dad?

Jasper “Jazz” Dent is a likable teenager. A charmer, one might say.

But he’s also the son of the world’s most infamous serial killer, and for Dear Old Dad, Take Your Son to Work Day was year-round. Jazz has witnessed crime scenes the way cops wish they could—from the criminal’s point of view.

And now bodies are piling up in Lobo’s Nod.

In an effort to clear his name, Jazz joins the police in a hunt for a new serial killer. But Jazz has a secret—could he be more like his father than anyone knows?

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It’s time for another edition of Frodo’s Hobbit Sized Reviews on Mini Review Monday! Short and sweet just like 2nd breakfast!

I ran across I Hunt Killers on Netgalley when all three books in the trilogy were on there thanks to the newest one, Blood of My Blood, coming out in September. I didn’t want to get greedy though, so I decided to just get the first book and see what I thought, and I’m glad I did.

I Hunt Killers is disturbing, but not because of the murders or the tales of a serial killer. It’s Jazz and his messed up mind that make the book have a creepy, almost dirty feel to it. Being brought up by a serial killer, and one that not only didn’t hide that fact, but tried to train his son to be an even better one than his father was, had some serious side effects on Jasper’s psyche. It is chilling, an surprisingly realistic in depicting his budding tendencies to become a sociopath, all working in the book’s favor.

Jazz has to constantly battle his father’s teachings and the way that he sees the world because of them, something that causes issues with his friends, his girlfriend, and more than anything else, himself. He is always afraid that he’ll become his dad, that he’ll use his training for something evil instead of good, and that he’ll hurt those closest to him. To top it off his memory is shaky at best, and he can’t remember details of much of his childhood, including what happened to his mother.

The thrill of the chase and the way that Barry Lyga explores the depths of the human mind and the lengths it can be pushed to before it snaps make this book a very compelling read. It was another one where I took it all in one sitting, not wanting to miss a detail with a similar passion to the main character, and I Hunt Killers definitely made me want even more.

The small town made a lot of what happened possible, but it might be the only negative I have about the book. I never really got a great feel for what the place was like outside of a few specific areas, and while they weren’t specifically needed, it would have been nice to know the surroundings a bit better. Being as small as the town is it also constrained some things, forcing limitations of what the author could do, while giving them an easier manipulation of time because things took longer to come to pass versus the same scenario in a city. It will be interesting to see what happens later in the series when there is more room to work with.

Overall this was a great, thrilling read. I am looking forward to continuing the series in the somewhat near future, and learning more about what type of person Jazz will become, though I have my hunches. It is pretty graphic though, so keep that in mind if you consider picking it up. Thanks as always for reading.

Four Smiling Frodos w Background

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Book of the Week: The Murder Complex

BookOfTheWeek

Book of the Week

Every Saturday I will talk about my favorite book that I read during the week, whether it be a review or a spotlight, or maybe having the author over to talk about it. Who doesn’t want more happy bookish goodness? ^.^

This week I’m gushing about: The Murder Complex by Lindsay Cummings

Summary from GoodreadsThe Murder Complex

An action-packed, blood-soaked, futuristic debut thriller set in a world where the murder rate is higher than the birthrate. For fans of Moira Young’s Dust Lands series, La Femme Nikita, and the movie Hanna.

Meadow Woodson, a fifteen-year-old girl who has been trained by her father to fight, to kill, and to survive in any situation, lives with her family on a houseboat in Florida. The state is controlled by The Murder Complex, an organization that tracks the population with precision.

The plot starts to thicken when Meadow meets Zephyr James, who is—although he doesn’t know it—one of the MC’s programmed assassins. Is their meeting a coincidence? Destiny? Or part of a terrifying strategy? And will Zephyr keep Meadow from discovering the haunting truth about her family?

Action-packed, blood-soaked, and chilling, this is a dark and compelling debut novel by Lindsay Cummings.

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The Murder Complex does live up to its name. It is full of violence, of gore, dead bodies, and killings galore. The book is pretty action packed while keeping a steady, sometimes even methodical pace, as the main characters strive to learn more about themselves and the world they live in. It’s dystopian meets thriller in the best of ways.

Meadow is a young bad-ass that is all about survival and fighting through any obstacles she believes are in her way. She’s ruthless when she has to be, a protector of those few she holds dear, and a sweet big sister to Peri. I will say that I found Meadow to be a bit slow on the uptake in certain situations and also very quick to believe large shifts in her reality without a second thought. She doesn’t waver, but she doesn’t really question much either, choosing to attack first and worry about the rest later. She kind of reminds me of someone…

katnisseverdeen

Zephyr is a very intriguing character because of how different his world view and perspective is from Meadow’s. He’s been in the slums all of his life, living under the boot of authority, and despite that he is quite the funny guy and usually has a positive and light outlook. He’s just as devoted to those he cares about as Meadow, but he’s better at expressing those feelings in a seemingly normal way. Watching him learn more about who and what he is really was fascinating, even if it was pretty obvious.

That obviousness carries through the entire book. The Murder Complex isn’t going to surprise you very much in terms of plot, it is straightforward and fine with that being the case. However, luckily it doesn’t need to be shocking or incredibly innovative because it takes those dystopian tropes and uses them extremely well. The book is good at what it wants to do, and shock and awe simply isn’t it, but there is enough substance for it not to be needed.

Instalove

The romance in the book is rather insta-love for my taste and I’m not sure how much it adds, if anything. Perhaps in the future books for this series there will come a time when the way the romance is set up will work to its benefit, but for now there just wasn’t a lot of depth there, or reasoning behind them falling the way they did. It was a little disappointing, but romance isn’t why you’re getting The Murder Complex anyway.

The action scenes and the descriptions of bodies and weapons are excellent. The banter between characters is solid and the familial bonds are strong. I was left wanting for more information about what happened to the world and why things got to be so bad so quickly, because the brief bit that this book described wasn’t enough. I’m hopeful that the character development and the bonds they create will improve in the coming sequels. Thanks as always for reading.

Four Smiling Frodos w Background


Fade to Black by Francis Knight: Frodo’s Review

Fade to Black

Summary From GoodreadsFade to Black

From the depths of a valley rises the city of Mahala.

It’s a city built upwards, not across—where streets are built upon streets, buildings upon buildings. A city that the Ministry rules from the sunlit summit, and where the forsaken lurk in the darkness of Under.

Rojan Dizon doesn’t mind staying in the shadows, because he’s got things to hide. Things like being a pain-mage, with the forbidden power to draw magic from pain. But he can’t hide for ever.

Because when Rojan stumbles upon the secrets lurking in the depths of the Pit, the fate of Mahala will depend on him using his magic. And unlucky for Rojan—this is going to hurt.

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When I decided to buy Fade to Black it was for a few reasons; I really liked the cover, the idea of the city built upward to a greater extent then even what we have today outside of perhaps some Asian countries, but most of all I thought this would be a really interesting and fast-paced action story with some magical elements. I certainly got what I bargained for with the first two areas, the cover is still a really nice design and looks great on my shelf, and the descriptions of the city were excellent and gave me a vivid depiction in my head as I went through the adventure.

However, the aspect I had been looking forward to most, the action story with magical powers, was not quite what I had in mind. I knew with a title like Fade to Black that the odds were this story would have a darker edge to it, and I was actually quite pleased to find that was the case, but it was the action parts that were somewhat lacking.

The beginning of the story is very slow and Knight is incredibly methodical in how he sets up the later stages, and while he does a good job in foreshadowing, there is almost too much build up and not enough substance to keep me going save for my desire to see where this went based on my feelings prior to reading. The characters are somewhat interesting and the world itself is certainly intriguing and I wanted to know more, but I didn’t feel a tie to anything that was going on. Simply put, I had very little emotional investment for the first third of the book or so.

Let Me Love You

Rather than having the reader organically develop feelings and connections with the characters as they go along, it seemed like Knight felt or understood that there was little there to create any empathy, and so instead they threw a very disturbing and gut-wrenching scene in and figured that would do the trick. I can’t say that it did, all it achieved was ensuring what I already had assumed, this book is dark at its core.

While it may seem like I didn’t like Fade to Black, and for quite a while that was the case, toward the latter half of the book I did finally connect with some of the characters and when the action picked up I was swept up and brought along for the ride. The displays of magic near the end of the story were great and the tension was very real and impactful. The romantic aspects as well as the fear and hope concerning the people of the Pit were excellent and their agony became my own.

Life is Pain

“What about the main characters?” you might ask. Rojan is kind of a sleaze-ball, and only the horrible things he sees first hand were able to bring any kind of good character out of him, but he sticks to character and there is something to be said for that even if he isn’t someone you really root for or like. Jake is a traumatized woman who turned to weapons and the classic icy exterior in order to cope. She also has the stereotypical softer core, but I guess there are stereotypes for a reason because it works for the most part.

that's nice i guess

Pasha is the last “main” character, but I don’t want to say too much about him because it would give a lot away. Unfortunately, Pasha does bring the religious undercurrent that permeates the book, and not in the best of ways either. I couldn’t tell if Knight was on a particular side when it came to that, and maybe there wasn’t a specific religious message given, but the way it was done felt slimy and not at all satisfying (Lion King anyone?).

Eww, gross

Overall the book was alright, but nowhere near meeting my expectations for it. The beginning was too slow, the characters too often were stereotypes and cliches and little else, and by the time the action and magical elements picked up most readers will probably have checked out from boredom or the seedier bits that weren’t expressed in the summary. It isn’t one that I would recommend, but not a “don’t read” either. Thanks as always for reading.

Two Smiling Frodos w Background


Day 83: Red Leaves by Thomas H. Cook

Day 83

Summary From Goodreads

Eric Moore has a prosperous business, a comfortable home, a stable family life in a quiet town. Then, on an ordinary night, his teenage son Keith babysits Amy Giordano, the eight-year-old daughter of a neighboring family. The next morning Amy is missing, and Eric isn’t sure his son is innocent.

In his desperate attempt to hold his family together by proving his-and the community’s-suspicions wrong, Eric finds himself in a vortex of doubt and broken trust. What should he make of Keith’s strange behavior? Of his wife’s furtive phone calls to a colleague? Of his brother’s hints that he knows things he’s afraid to say?

In a “heart-wrenching and gut-wrenching” (New York Daily News) race against time and mistrust, Eric must discover what has happened to Amy Giordano and face the long-buried family secrets he has so carefully ignored.

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I found Red Leaves at a big Half Price Books sale in the cities, the cover stood out from the rest and the summary drew me in as a potentially gripping thriller/mystery. I wasn’t disappointed!

One of the most fascinating parts of Red Leaves was the developing psychosis of the main character Eric. As he learns more about the situation his family, and more specifically Keith, has been caught up in he becomes increasingly suspicious about everything and everyone. This is further intensified by him learning details about his family that he had managed to ignore or refuse to see when he was younger, it causes him to start questioning everything he though he knew about his life and what his family is capable of. He doesn’t trust his brother, his wife, his father and he especially does not trust his son. The further he sinks into this constant skepticism the more paranoid he becomes, creating scenarios where there are none and making details out of the past that never existed. Red Leaves shows how when the cracks start to show in the foundation how easy it truly is for everything to fall apart.

The writing style choice by Cook was very risky in my mind but it worked after I got over the initial surprise. When I began the book I couldn’t quite pinpoint what felt so off, but after a few pages it dawned on me, Red Leaves is written in a passive voice. One of the things English teachers will tell you about writing right away (or at least this was the case with mine) is that you want to write in an active voice, writing passively can cause disconnect between the reader and writer as well as a myriad of other issues. When you reach the end of the book the reasoning for this style choice is made apparent, though I’m not sure it couldn’t have been avoided if Cook had wanted to. It does take getting used to but I don’t think it hindered Red Leaves at all.

The plot was wonderful and easily the highlight of the book. By using the psychosis Eric goes through as the book progresses it keeps the reader from determining who might have been behind Amy’s disappearance. It forces you to try and make your own assertions, deducing which of Eric’s paranoid discoveries are real and impactful on the case and which are just delusions his troubled mind has created. Along the way the characters around Eric, from his wife to his son and even to Amy’s father and Eric’s brother Warren, all change and transform in front of Eric’s eyes as well as the reader’s but in different ways. While Eric sees everyone behind a lens of suspicion the reader has a slightly clearer view, but even still Cook is masterful in hiding what really happened leaving all options open to the reader’s interpretation.

My main complaint about the book is the ending. Part of it did not surprise me but the “who done it” reveal was disappointing to say the least. It left me feeling like all the emotions I had built up for the characters and the desire I had to finally determine who was the guilty party was for nothing. Though characters were impacted they were not done so nearly as much as they could or should have been. It felt like a cop out which was terribly disappointing after the vast majority of the book had been so thrilling. Overall though I did enjoy Red Leaves and I think it is a solid mystery/thriller. Thanks as always for reading and come back tomorrow for Day 84!

Mount TBR Challenge #56/150+; 2013 TBR Pile #56/50; Goodreads 2013 Reading Challenge #83/365

Three Smiling Frodos w Background


Waiting On Wednesday #3

“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by the fantastic people over at Breaking The Spine that highlights upcoming releases that we are excited about.

For this week my pre-publication selection that I can’t wait for is:

The Racketeer by John Grisham

Set For Release On: October 23rd, 2012

Summary From John Grisham’s Website:

Given the importance of what they do, and the controversies that often surround them, and the violent people they sometimes confront, it is remarkable that in the history of this country only four active federal judges have been murdered.

Judge Raymond Fogletree just became number five.

His body was found in the basement of a lakeside cabin he had built himself and frequently used on weekends. When he did not show up for a trial on Monday morning, his law clerks panicked, called the FBI, and in due course the agents found the crime scene. There was no forced entry, no struggle, just two dead bodies—Judge Fogletree and his young secretary.

I did not know Judge Fogletree, but I know who killed him, and why.

I am a lawyer, and I am in prison.

It’s a long story.

John Grisham has been one of my favorite writers for years now and I can’t wait to read his next book The Racketeer! I’m so happy that I don’t have to wait much longer (it comes out next week, squee!) to dive into it. The summary sounds pretty good don’t you think? I think Grisham is an author that you have to experience if you haven’t already, so many of his books are must reads!

Thank you for stopping by! Feel free to leave a comment on what you think about The Racketeer, John Grisham, or your own Waiting On Wednesday post! ^.^