Video Night By Adam Cesare

cover for video nightVideo Night by Adam Cesare

green44.5 Stars

I love 80s nostalgia. The first I experienced of this was with Brian Keene’s Ghoul. Who knew that so many years after that book’s release that the 80s would storm into modern popular culture to the point where people are bitching that they’re tired of it?

Those people obviously didn’t grow up in that decade. But I did, and I hope that this look back to how things were done 30 years ago remains a thing for a long time.

Before Stranger Things, or It Follows, Adam Cesare also had a book set in the 80s, and ode to a time when hunting for the freakiest, goriest movies was sometimes a real struggle. There was no Internet, no Netflix, no Amazon dot com. Back then you had to be patient. Or, like Billy and Tom, you watched the same damn movie over and over again because you’ve seen the entire horror section at your video rental store.

In Video Night, that’s what our heroes do when we meet them. Friday nights are video night at Billy’s that takes place in his parents basement where they have a VHS player and a rare large screen television. But in the background, there is an alien species bent on taking over the world by infecting humans and using their bodies to breed.

I don’t want to go too deep into the plot for fear of spoilers, but what follows is basically an 80s horror film in book format with certain tropes intact and very well done. The characters were real, the prose was well-written with great flow and fun to read, and the monster was interesting. The only real issues I had was with the monster, actually. Although fun to watch, they didn’t seem alien enough to me.

I think this book is perfect for the generation X audience. As we head into our mid-forties, it’s fun to take a look back at where we come from and the adventures we had in our day. But I would recommend this one to anyone interested in the pop culture boom of the 80s, especially how it helped to shape modern horror movies and books.

The Cabin At The End Of The World by Paul Tremblay

Cover for The Cabin At The End Of The Worldgreen5 *4 1/2 stars

Author: Paul Tremblay

Publisher: William Morrow (June 26, 2018)

I have to admit something before I start: home invasion stories are not my thing. They’re too real, too much of a possibility – and a terrifying one at that. I like my horror filled with monsters and ghosts, vampires and werewolves. It’s the fantasy of horror I enjoy getting lost in, not the gruesome reality well within realms of real life possibility.

Now that that’s out of the way, what an incredible read The Cabin At The End Of The World is!

I truly believe that you should go into this one blind as I did. All I knew was what the flap jacket said. So! The basics of the story are: We follow Wen and her two dads, Eric and Andrew, who adopted her on a remote location for their vacation when their cabin is invaded by doomsday cultists (maybe) who have a terrible message for them. Let’s leave it at that and move on.

Reasons why I loved this book:
1. The characters breathed from the page. They were so real.
2. The pacing was fantastic. We start off a little slowly, but not much, because once Leonard enters the picture and starts talking to Wen the intensity starts and doesn’t really let up until the end.
3. Likewise, the atmosphere of this one is great and adds to the intensity of the story.
4. The story had me invest myself into it and the characters. I felt for each one, and I found myself heartbroken, if not completely traumatized, on more than one occasion while reading this.
5. I felt like this book was a great statement regarding our present media and the whole ‘fake news’ aspect of the news. Who do you believe? What is there to know?

What threw me off?
1. I felt like this book was supposed to keep you guessing as to what is actually happening, except that I wasn’t guessing. I honestly felt, and this could simply be my own perception of the story, that it was going only one way, not the other.
2. This leads to the end of the story, which, do not worry, I won’t spoil. As mentioned above, I felt that what was happening in this story had to be one situation or the other, and therefore would have to end that way. It didn’t.

I know that this is vague, but I’ll leave it at that. I don’t want to use certain words that might give away the ending, and this story is a journey story that you really have to experience for yourself without any outside influence.
This book had me pause in reading it for about a week. It also had me riveted to my seat while reading it until I finished it. I still think about this book with vividness and it’s been two or three weeks since I’ve finished. Not everyone will enjoy this, but I certainly did. Recommended, and I’m certain that it will make into my top reads of 2018.