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AUTHOR: Gord Rollo
PUBLISHER: Leisure Books
In this book, a group of childhood friends stumble upon, and awaken, a
horrifying entity that periodically arises to wreak havoc and spread
death and misery in their small town. And it seems to know what scares
them, using images of their own worst fears against them. After a
struggle with this creature, they think they’ve beaten it, put it
behind them, and moved on with their lives. Until one day… it comes
Does that plotline sound familiar? If it does, you’re not the only one
who thought so, apparently. One of the blurbs on the back of this
advance reader’s copy I was given to review says this book is superior
to Stephen King’s “It” “, in every possible way.”
Stop. Just… stop.
I admit I’m a huge Stephen King fan. But even if I weren’t, there’s no
way I could say this book is superior to “It” on any level. I’m not
reacting like a jilted fanboy when I say that, either. This book had
some major flaws, King comparisons aside.
First, the characters were all one dimensional. We learn almost nothing
about any of them. Consequently, they’re pretty hard to care about. Say
what you will about King’s tendency to write bloated books, but at
least the background and flashbacks in “It”gave The Losers some depth.
You were genuinely saddened, for instance, when Eddie Kaspbrack died.
You just aren’t as attached to Rollo’s characters, because you never
get to really know anything about them, and don’t have the same
emotional reaction when one of these characters dies. All these
characters are just kind of dropped into the beginning of the story. We
don’t live with them and experience anything through their eyes before
the story starts unfolding. Or after it starts unfolding, for that
matter. And some of the more (you’d think) important characters drop
out of the book almost completely for long stretches.
The creature’s origins are kind of neat, I’ll give Rollo that. But this
is an idea that would have made a better movie or graphic novel than it
did a book. There was just something so undeniably campy and comic
book-y about his back story. It seems to fall just short of truly
working well here.
The creature’s powers are many, and can be used to great effect.
However, they are applied in an uneven and sometimes inconsistent
manner. You’ll find yourself reading this story and thinking: “If he
could do THIS back then, how come he can’t do THAT now?” If you’re the
sort of person that gets a smug sense of self satisfaction out of
spotting the continuity errors in “Star Trek” episodes, you may get a
kick out of spotting them here, as well. Rollo goes out of his way to
make the creature really powerful at some times, but in order to keep
the plot moving, he has to “dumb him down” by limiting his powers in
ways that don’t always make sense other times. The creature’s master
plan is also kind of convoluted. It makes sense up to a point, but the
creature’s powers could probably have secured his goals in a much more
straightforward manner hundreds of pages before he tries to deliver his
master stroke. I found this to be irritating.
And then there was the creature himself. Wise cracking and almost
jovial, in a demented and evil kind of way. But just like the worst
Freddy Krueger depictions, he’s almost comical at times. One of his
favorite things to do, apparently, is make himself invisible and
inaudible to everyone but the protagonist he’s tormenting at the
moment. He’ll then do things like dance and sing while the hero is
being questioned by the police about a murder the creature committed.
This creature is supposed to be the personification of evil to these
kids, and he just comes off as silly rather than menacing. His corny
dialogue doesn’t seem to make too much sense, either, given his origin
(which we learn about in great detail toward the end of the book).
In fact, all the dialogue in this book is pretty bad. It’s wooden and
stilted. No one – kids or adults – really talks like these characters.
Not to harp on the “It” comparisons again, but one thing you have to
give Stephen King is he writes realistic dialogue. In “It”, his
characters, as kids, talked like kids. Believably. And his adults said
things you could picture real people saying. The dialogue just flowed.
In “Crimson”, it limps along, taking you out of the narrative at times.
Gore fans won’t be disappointed, as there’s some good stuff on that
score to be had (I particularly liked the part where the cop gets the
sledgehammer to the face). And the early descriptions of the creature’s
physical appearance are pretty gruesome. You can see why he’d be a
terrifying sight to behold. Until he starts cavorting around the
interrogation room, that is.
To give Rollo some credit where it’s due, the intro to this book is
pretty intense. Most exciting intro to a horror novel I’ve read in a
long time. It is to books what the first ten minutes of the 2004 remake
of “Dawn of the Dead” is to film. The epilogue is also kind of creepy,
and fits the story and characters well. But these bright spots aren’t
really enough to justify spending the time on this otherwise
unremarkable story. Oh, and King’s intro to “It”, with Georgie
Denbrough getting his arm ripped off, and Bill helping his wife get her
sanity back by riding Silver down the streets of Derry, baseball card
in the spokes and all, Are better. I’m just sayin’.
Why You Might Like It: Good,
fairly innovative concept for a villain. Good gore. Reads kind of like
an action packed, gory comic book. Great intro, good epilogue.
Why You Might Not Like It:
Wooden, unconvincing dialogue. A silly, rather than scary, villain.
Internal plot inconsistencies. Reads more like a comic book than a
horror novel at times.
I can’t find too much to recommend about this book. If your time is
very limited and you aren’t obsessed with the “terror from your
childhood” thing that books like this and “It” have going on, skip it.