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Book Reviews: The Bachman Books + Over Sea, Under Stone + Fever Dream + While I Live + Incurable

The Bachman Books by Stephen King

These are four novellas originally published under King’s pen-name of Richard Bachman who was into “rooster worship” apparently. This is an okay collection. It’s not one of King’s better works but it is still better than ‘It’.

Rage
A disturbed teenage boy takes his class hostage for a consciousness raising session. This is alright but the main character is self obsessed and whiny, blaming everyone else for what’s gone wrong.

The Long Walk
A very good look at an alternate USA where an endurance walk is the ultimate in sports entertainment. However the story fails to answer one key question: why do they sign up for it?

Roadwork
A boring unreadable mess about a man who refuses to let a road crew demolish his house. For some reason as I read this I kept picturing Rutger Hauer in ‘Hobo With a Shotgun’.

The Running Man
In the future a poor man enters the ultimate game how to win money to get a doctor for his sick child. This is an okay bleak look at the future.

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Over Sea, Under Stone by Susan Cooper

The 1st book of ‘The Dark is Rising’ sequence. The Drew siblings are on holiday in Cornwall and it’s all very Enid Blyton. Then they find a parchment in the attic and great-uncle Merry tells them it’s their task to find a hidden treasure.

But the minions of the Dark are also after it. So it is race to see who’ll find it first. This is good and full of nuggets of British mythology.

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Fever Dream by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child

Special Agent Pendergast learns that his wife Helen being killed by a lion during a hunting trip in Africa was no accident. In fact it was an overly complicated murder. This discovery unhinges Pendergast even more than usual and he drags his BFF Vincent D’Agosta off to help him locate the killer.

Pendergast’s roaring rampage of revenge goes from Africa to a swamp in the Deep South. People die, Pendergast is clearly losing his mind and a greater mystery becomes obvious.

Helen had a secret life her husband knew nothing about; in fact it seems he knew nothing about the woman he married. Pendergast’s revenge comes at cost (especially to poor D’Agosta) but there is far more going on then he knows about. This is good, the first decent Preston&Child novel since ‘The Ice Limit’. I will be reading the follow up ‘Cold Vengeance’.

Will it answer questions like: What was up with Helen and her family and why on earth is D’Agosta still friends with Pendergast? D’Agosta has damaged his career and his relationship with his girlfriend for Pendergast who in return has manhandled him, patronised him, stalked him, manipulated him and endangered his life. It’s like Bella and Edward.

There was one big disappointing moment in this book and that is when D’Agosta is seriously threatened and we get zero reaction from Pendergast. Still the subtext vibes are as strong as ever no matter how hard Preston&Child make their ham fisted efforts to side step it. When I picture the characters in my head I see Vincent D’Onofrio as D’Agosta and Julian Sands as Pendergast.

Previous Preston&Child novels were ‘Relic’ which told of D’Agosta and Pendergast’s first meeting and was a bit dull despite featuring a museum beast. Then came ‘Mount Dragon’ which had annoying characters and an asspull ending with virtual reality. Then there was ‘Reliquary’ which was dumb and featured evil mutant homeless people and our heroes eating rat tartar. Finally we got ‘Riptide’ which was about treasure hidden in a water pit and is their best work. Then came ‘Thunderhead’ which wasn’t good and was about Anazai treasure. Then came ‘The Ice Limit’ which is their second best work and is about a meteorite.

Then came their long downward trend which began with ‘The Cabinet of Curiosities’ which had general idiocy and Pendergast vs an immortal serial killer and D’Agosta wasn’t in it as he’d been written out. Then there was ‘Still Life With Crows’ which was Pendergast vs he who walks behind the rows in this moronical tale. Then came ‘Brimstone’ which wrote D’Agosta back in as he and his BFF took on Hannibal Lecter-lite. Then came ‘Dance of Death’/’Book of the Dead’ which was a boring two parter in which the BFF’s took on Pendergast’s evil brother and Pendergast was given a love interest in the ridiculous Viola. Then came ‘The Wheel of Darkness’ which was ridiculous as Pendergast looked at a painting and went mad and his ward Constance took up space. Then came ‘Cemetery Dance’ in which the BFF took on boring zombies. Like I said, this is their first good book in years.

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While I Live by John Marsden

This is the 8th in the ‘Tomorrow Series’ saga. I haven’t read books 2 to 7 so I’ve a lot to catch up on. The war is over and Ellie and her friends (those who survived anyway) are dealing with the uneasy peace.

Ellie’s back on her family’s farm and things are okay until tragedy strikes. Now Ellie has to cope with the aftermath and rebuild her life. The war may be over but the fight is not. This good, things are as bleak as ever and will never go back to what they were. I really want to read books 2 to 7 despite the fact that the slang is incomprehensible at times.

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Incurable by John Marsden

The 9th book in the ‘Tomorrow Series’ is an utter mess. Ellie and co get involved in border raids. But the bulk of the story centres on Gavin the feral brat Ellie is caring for in the post war reconstruction. Gavin needs locking up. This is awful.
Tags: 2nd hand book store find, book review, tomorrow when the war began
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