12 December 2010

97. Survivor

Survivor - J. F. Gonzalez

This psychological horror novel is extremely disturbing to read. It felt like i was driving by a horrible car accident that just occured, seeing dismembered bodies in the street, and finding it impossible to look away. The book really did feel like that.

The story is about a couple, Brad and Lisa, who are taking a vacation. That vacation is cut short and Lisa is kidnapped by a group of men who make snuff films.

These are some seriously twisted and demented deviates. The writing tied my stomach on knots. Gonzalez did a very good job with that.

What I found very interesting is that this was a horror novel, but it did not feel like any other horror novel I have read. It also felt like a crime or mystery novel. Yes, there are horrible beasties for the hero and heroine to fight, but it was much more than that.

This book took the reader into the minds of the abusers and the abused. That could be extremely revolting in a few cases. It explained motivations for the actions of characters and how events in their pasts had helped form the people they were presently.

I also found it interesting how the actions of the characters had repercussions. The biggest one being Lisa's decision to try and save her own life by baiting the bad guys with a homeless girl and her infant. The guys take the bait. Lisa escapes. The girl and the baby are horribly mutilated. That whole scene will haunt me for a few more nights. The interesting thing is how throughout the rest of the book that one decision changes the course of everyones lives, forever. It can not and will not ever be normal again. Especially for Lisa.

I also found the charachter of Tim/Caleb interesting. He is the guy who kidnapped Lisa. He has spent his entire life doing dispicable things within an underground extreme porn industry. Despite his serving Lisa up as the star of the next snuff film, he is doing it solely for money and harbors no ill will towards her. He is strange in that way. It really is just business and he is totally desensitized by it all...but that changes. Animal (Jeff) mutilates Mandy (Alicia's infant daughter) and Alicia (the girl Lisa set up) for a film, well, Tim is disgusted. Animal crossed a line and from that point on Tim is planning his disappearance and how he will take down the entire industry. He thinks it will only continue to spiral into more and more deviant practices including cannibalism. He is not wrong.

I found this to be a very well written book that was much better than I expected. I thought I was getting into a quick little horror book that would fit into the same old mold as so many other hack and slash type stories. I was wrong. This writer actually has some talent. His characters have multiple dimensions. The plot twists and turns and creates suspense. There is more going on than it seems on the surface, and yet, I found it impossible to predict where it was going.

I recommend it to horror fans, but only those that can put up with being absolutely disgusted by the worst in humanity. It can be hard to read due to some subject matter, but it is a good read.

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