Tuesday, August 4, 2009
893rd Post - Survivor
I mentioned on my facebook and twitter updates in the last week that I have been reading a book called "Survivor" by a writer named J.F. Gonzales. I mentioned that it is a very disturbing novel, easily the most disturbing book I have read in my life.
This is a book about a young couple who go on a romantic weekend to get away from high pressure jobs. The wife is pregnant and about to reveal the good news to her husband when they are separated by a man making a citizen's arrest. Apparently, in California, you can ask a police officer to arrest someone on your behalf if you report to the officer that you have witnessed a felony and can formally identify the person who allegedly did it. Whether he did it or not.
The wife, Lisa, is in turn kidnapped and destined to be tortured and killed in a snuff film. Long thought to be an urban myth, the novel argues that they in fact do exist. I have no reason to think that they do or do not. I have no opinion. But I have been in touch with the author, who told me that he has trusted sources who intimated that they do exist. Fine.
The novel ultimately is about survival, and the things people will do to save themselves when their lives are threatened. What Lisa does to save herself is something I'm not sure I would do; but she did it, and the novel expertly explores the ramifications of her decision and the effect it has on her. How Lisa handles a second encounter with these madman stretches credulity for me a little bit, but just a little bit. And Lisa's final decision regarding her future rings true. Once again, I'm not sure if I'd do what she did at the end of the novel, but it is the type of ending that shows that not everything in life turns out the way you want it to.
I was ready to criticize the author for a possible plot hole in the novel. There is a scene where it would have made a lot more sense for a character to have been killed as others had just been. But finding out who the mysterious client is who ordered the snuff film be made, helps me understand why the character was spared a grisly fate.
This novel is not for everybody. That is putting it mildly. If you are put off by explicit horror, violence, or foul language, then stay the, um, heck away from this book. But if you want to read a book that will challenge your sensibilities, scare the crap out of you, gross you out, and even affirm your humanity, you can do a lot worse than J.F. Gonzalez's "Survivor".
Wanna order a copy? Check out this link.
I have two other novels by Gonzales. They are called "Shapeshifter", and "The Beloved". The first one is about a werewolf. The second one is about a succubus (or is it an incubus? I can never keep those two straight!). I will start one of them this evening. Probably "The Beloved". Sounds dirty.
I have invited J.F. Gonzales to read this blog post. We'll see if he does so. He is also, of course, invited to leave a comment to this post if he wants to.
A local horror author named Steve Vernon has agreed to an interview with me. I am looking forward to it. I will be thinking of "Survivor" as I compose the interview questions.