Tag Archives: book reviews

Kagemas: Dicken’s A Christmas Carol

INTRODUCTION: A Christmas Carol is one of my favorites of Dicken’s novels, but that doesn’t mean that it is perfect. In fact, quite the opposite, but still, this book has its charm and it is pretty much his most iconic novel ever made. Innumerable movies have been made from it, including my favorite, A Muppet’s Christmas Carol. So, what can we say about this book 200 years later?
SYNOPSIS: a cranky old miser finds himself on Christmas Eve being visited by three ghost whom are there to get him to change his wicked ways.

PROSE: As much as I love this novel and others of Dickens, here he isn’t at peak form. He has one too asides, that while iconic, are just not needed. I refer to things such as “Marley was dead, to begin with.” This is one par with a “It was a dark and stormy night.” He shows a bit but relies too much on telling from some nonexistent narrator. He doesn’t tell us much about what the other characters look like, but Scrooge gets the most emphasis. I know we need to “hate” Scrooge, but he could have described the other characters better. Dickens was better than this, but his uneven prose here, especially for such an iconic book, is annoying.

DIALOGUE: Excellent! A hell of a lot of iconic lines.

CHARACTERS: The only really developed character is Scrooge. The rest are only kind of developed at the end of the book, during the hauntings. Scrooge is a fantastic character, though and a way writers should be building characters and something I like to do myself. Much like Bram Stoker, the dialogue reflects who the character is, his core being, if you read between the lines. Fred for instance is really a horrible character and worse than Scrooge could ever be. He hate people, but parades around like a mirthful little shit who loves people, but really he is fake as fuck. Scrooge may be a misanthrope, but with lines that suggest he thinks his workers are horrible and that Christmas is the one time they can stop acting as if they’re (upper class) are better than his workers and a few other horrible lines, suggesting he is no better than Scrooge, it really shows the subtlety that is in Fred’s character and that he is just pretending to be something he isn’t.

SUBTEXT: Most people put the subtext as Scrooge being an analogy for Dickens himself, but I disagree. I think the movie “The Man Who Invented Christmas” nailed it as Scrooge being England and other cultures at the time whom had banned Christmas until about the mid 1800’s. I did notice though, that while it seems shallow of more subtext, the second ghost, seems to be an analogy for god himself. He even mentions that humans put blame on them, but I cannot recall a time period in history in which ghost were so senselessly victim blamed. Only the heavens seemed to get that. So perhaps there is more to these “ghost” than just gravy.

CONCLUSION: This book still shines in spite of its flaws, that it is almost like Scrooge himself, who, despite the flaws is redeemable and while I doubt that was Dicken’s intent, it still adds character to the novel. Still, there are stronger versions of this book and we never got it, but it is still a testament to Charles Dickens that even a weaker version is still so iconic. Personally, Scrooge is one of my favorite characters ever and I am glad this book gave birth to him and his iconic persona. Christmas truly is a bah humbug and even though Scrooge was eventually redeemed, someone had to mention it and while Scrooge has never put a dime in my pocket, I say, he has done us good and will do us good, so I say God bless him.

This book gets 4 out of 5 and isn’t a poor excuse for hogging up a man’s time every 25th of December.

Kagegiving: Jurassic Park by Micheal Crichton.

INTRODUCTION: I loved Jurassic Park when I was a child. I first read the novel in the third grade, a few years after the movie had come out and I recall enjoying it. I later read The Lost World around the same time the movie came out. This wasn’t the only book of Mike’s that I read and enjoyed a lot of his work. So does it hold up? We shall see!

A group of people come to an island by one of their private investors and find out the world is filled with dinos. Then chaos ensues, because, chaos theory!

There are a lot of differences from the characters in the movie, vs the book. Ian Malcom is more interesting in the novel than the movie. Grant likes kids here, and the ages of Tim and Lex are reversed. Jon Hammond is a douchnozzle and Nerdy is a thin hacker punk. In some ways, this is better than the movie and in other ways, it ruins it.

PROSE: Not good at all! The only bonus is that the accent is quite frenetic until you get into the middle where it bogs down and drags.

DIALOGUE: Very good!

SUBTEXT: Science is not to be trifled with and we shouldn’t be playing God.

This book wasn’t as great as it was as a kid, but what it lacks in prose, it makes up for as one fuckin hell of a story, so it is worthwhile. If you saw the movie first, it is probably a tad bit of a downer and the science is mediocre for a dude who had a biology degree. I can see why he became a writer. Regardless, I think the biggest take away from this novel is the fact that Jon Hammond intentionally sabotaged the park. If you know anything about the MBTI, you know some ENTP’s like to intentionally cause problems so they can solve them and I think this is one of those cases. Hammond was recklessly negligent and risked his team, along with his grandchild. In this movie, he isn’t very family friendly and is a downright Scrooge, just out to make a buck. It is only fitting that Hammond, who lived by the dino also dies by the dino. Fuck this version of Jon Hammond. So is this something to be thankful for? I defer to Grant in the movie that I wouldn’t endorse this book, but it isn’t the worst novel that I ever read.

3 out of 5.

Kagegiving: Game of Thrones Book Review

     Once again I find myself reviewing a book that I just couldn’t pick up. The complete antithesis of what a reader wants in his novel. To be fair, I did make it to page 200, before the boring, mundane, Seinfeld style writing of daily medieval drudgery forced me to desire to commit suicide. I called a hotline, but they told me they loved it and such thoughts were silly. While I didn’t disagree, my plight being misunderstood made me sulk like an emo vampire. So I feel a need to write this review. Remember kids, I read them so you don’t have to, or in this case, partially read them so you don’t have to.

     I don’t fucking know! Something about a battle for a throne, I think. Opining about the days of dragons too. The ongoing day to day lives of tedious people. I think the book is really about testing my patience as a reader, much like Stephen King’s IT. To be fair to Stephen, he was on a hell of a lot of coke to make him a shitty writer. George is, as far as I know, sober. So spin the wheel of plots and fill in the blank as to what this book is about, because George forgot to.

     George gets a lot of praise for killing off main characters, something comic books have been doing for years. This doesn’t bother me in the least. I would just like to know who the fucking main characters are. Also, I would like to see them developed so that I might be able to at least feign a twinge of sadness for this idiocy that is Game of Thrones, but I can’t even fake it. Here are all the characters I recall, the shit head brat, but only because of trailers for the show, the lord king, which George constantly reminds us about every fucking time he enters a room. I’m not sure if this is some weird Monty Python style joke, where instead of blaring trumpets upon his entrance to remind us he is a very important person, they tell us, instead. Then there is John Snow, who is a bastard son of 20 slightly mentally ill people. I know this, because, like the Lord Cunt, I am constantly reminded. Is this to make me feel emphatic towards an under-developed virgin? It doesn’t work, because I don’t give a fuck! There is a three eyed raven in a trippy dream sequence, because some kid was pushed out a window and left for dead as well. Oh and my personal favorite, which is when this book is at its most enjoyable, Tyrion Lanister. The God of tits and wine himself. He is a midget with a serious boner for reading, drinking, fucking, Machiavellianism and dropping badass lines like “I drink and I know things.” Fuck yeah, a character I can finally relate to!

     Concise as fuck! George is often touted as “The American Tolkien” and it shows in his writing, because an Englishman would of written a better book in the shitter than Game of Thrones is. Tolkien builds worlds, is vivid in his descriptions and builds characters well, throughout just one book. It reads like a dream and is fantastic, especially when Fantasy like this, is not my personal favorite genre. George can’t seem to write interesting scenes worth a good goddamn, but man does he know how to write when it comes to sex, between siblings and other rapist. The plus side to this is, I know all of George R.R. Martin’s fetishes.

     It is good. Nothing too medieval, but still with a similar style. Easy to read, no real awkwardness, well from dialogue anyways.

     None that I could discern, except that “Winter is coming” is clearly an analogy for a middle age George R.R. Martin who was clearly desperate for a hit before he entered the winter of life, or in this case, old age.

     This book sucks. I mean, really, really sucks. Not just a little suckage, I mean air lock blown out on a hanger bay in space, level of suckage. I don’t know what it is about this, but the characters suck, the scenes suck, and the world sucks. It is predicated on a fallacy that incest is best, because Martin wanted very little science involved, yet he wanted it realistic. Well George, it is hard to be fucking realistic when incest would have killed all the bloodlines in the book, so there is no world. Nothing seems of consequence and is insubstantial. Magic has very little write up, but I read that in the Wiki write up of this book. The ending is about dragons returning, as if that fucking matters, because I skipped to the end page to find this out. Winter is coming, but who cares? Shit, the most interesting aspect of the novel, the weird seasons, is just pretty much forgotten about, because, as far as I know, winter still hasn’t come in close to twenty years. Maybe winter should find a fuckin’ Viagra. Also, George must be from a warmer climate, because for those of us from New England, winter coming is nothing. Shit, I intentionally go out in blizzards, just to buy beer so I can enjoy the storm. Hard to make me feel a sense of urgency and doom over season that could potentially last 10 years, when a New England winter fuckin feels the same way.

     Regardless, when Martin does things well, he knows what he is doing. It is just a shame there is so little of that competency shown in this book, because he really grips you when he nails it. So what am I thankful for? This nightmare finally being over!

3 out of 5

Kageoween: I’m Not a Serial Killer by Dan Wells

     What you get when you cross Goosebumps with Dexter? You get Dan Well’s I’m Not a Serial Killer.

     You may have heard of this book, a movie was made back in 2016, staring Christopher Lloyd. It was an independent film and currently watchable on Youtube for 2.99 if you want to give it a go. I haven’t seen it yet and probably won’t, because of this book.

     For better or worse, here we go…

     A young man is haunted and tormented by his thoughts of being a serial killer, his parents are split up, his sister is living her life, he is a pariah, he has one friend, he is obsessed with serial killers and he is friends with a kindly old couple. Everything is mostly normal in John Wayne Cleaver’s world, minus the fact that a serial killer is on the loose!

     The characters are a lot shallower than an actual psychopath, let me just say that.

     John Cleaver, because I refuse to say his full banal name, is the most developed character of them all, but still a shallow puddle of a character. I could identify with some of his personality, because I enjoyed horror growing up, I wrote horror growing up and also read a lot about serial killers myself. I also was a fan of Marilyn Manson, among other out there musicians, I loved the Undertaker as a wrestler, I had toy caskets and I absolutely loved villains like Freddy Kruger, Michael Myers, Jason Vorhees, Darth Vader, The Emperor, Lex Luthor and also Hannibal Lector, the reason I got into psychology to begin with, as some of my personal favorites. My parents never ran a funeral home, though. Yes, the idea does tend to occur to you, with all the love for the macabre that one isn’t quite right in the head and you might be very strange human indeed. I mean, who watches the opening scene to Children of The Corn and wants to see more? I did, but that’s beside the point. Regardless, John Cleaver is more than normal, he just obsesses over small things like being a killer because he is an INFJ or possibly an autistic, not because he is a killer, because a serial killer wouldn’t care if he or she was one. You could argue he is an unreliable narrator, I mean, it is 2017 America within the book and the damn town has payphones. Regardless, if he is supposed to be interesting, he could struggle a bit more with right and wrong and the plight of possibility, this doesn’t even scratch the surface. I know because I’ve created stories like this, which has infinity more depth than Dan Wells has created.

     The Mom is the second best developed character who apparently is an empath, albeit, expressed piss poorly. She cares about her kids but cannot understand the weirdness with John. She causes a lot of fights and we get to understand some of the rest from John’s exposition. How much of that is trustful when he is running around saying he is a serial killer, is beyond me, though.

     That is pretty much it for developed characters. Other barley worthwhile to note characters are the aunt, sister, his friend who uses 90’s slang in 2017, his love interest, The obvious Serial Killer, who is obvious and his elderly neighbors. Oh yeah, and his shitty psychologist that diagnosis John wrong and doesn’t seem like a real psychologist.

     Barebones, wonky and uneven throughout the whole book. Most the book is built developing his character and not well, over building suspense Dan really shows a talent for not knowing what he is doing here. He describes no one. I first thought, maybe that is showing he is devoid of a personal bent, but nope, he can describe hair and clothes piss poorly and doesn’t care to develop other characters through showing. Clearly Dan isn’t a people person and that is fine, but could you at least be inductive enough to realize that and make up for it? I used to write a similar style, but mine was because I knew that the audience, was most likely going to come up with their own version anyways, so let them. I do my best not to do that now a days and I think Dan should learn to as well, since we don’t need group of people, looking like they walked out of Pink Floyd’s The Wall.

     Never mind the fact it has awkward segways, no tension until the end, right up to a piss poor “climax”

     There isn’t any in this book outside of what it is like to live with autism, since John, regardless of his semi typical nature, seems to have a lot of the hallmarks of an autistic.

     This book seems like it was written in the 1990’s and was shelved or shopped around until it was published in 2010, when Dan finally found a blind editor, or was able to bypass one, and push this book through. The fact is, it is highly dated and this book doesn’t work in a post columbine world. This kid could and would have been red flagged anytime pass 1999. Just look at what happened to Parkland, a weird kid shot up his school, but he was red flagged innumerable times, the FBI was just too inept to take the kids threat seriously, yet Dan’s character just waltzes around, sending up “signals”, whilst everyone around acts as if their fucks have taken the day off. Factor in the aspect of it being derivative of other, better, more successful works and it makes this book seem even weaker in comparison.

     Still, the best thing I could say about this is that it reminded me of all those, in some cases bad, young adult books I used to read back in the day, like Goosebumps or Fear Street and for that, I will give it an extra star, but the rest of it isn’t worth the time and effort.

     If you want a nostalgia pop, this is right for you, no matter how badly. If you want a good book, skip this!

     2 ½ out of 5 stars

Kageoween: Carmilla Book Review

     Carmilla is one of the earliest vampire stories and the inspiration behind Bram Stoker’s Dracula, apparently. Besides this, the only other known source for vampire mythos prior to Dracula is Varney the Vampire, a penny dreadful, which was sold on the streets for a penny back in the 1800’s.

     Much has been said about this novel, mostly the balls on J. Sheridan LeFanu, for adding Sappho eroticism in a time frame when such would have been on par with child molesting today.

     So, what does it come off as in 2018 and is it really any good? The answer, probably won’t surprise you!

     A young woman lives with a family when strange occurrences start to, well, occur, leading to a less than suspenseful build up to the climax of wow, vampire.

     The prose has moments of sheer beauty throughout its page. If written in a modern voice, I think the story would fail even more. Part of the charm is that 1800’s style narration with beautiful prose in some places and misplaced telling aspects that could of be written better.

     The characters are mostly shallow, but still enough to get an idea for their personalities. No one character really sticks out in my mind, except for the father of the young woman who is friends with the vampress title character. He is a weird scientist of sorts and I don’t mean a literal scientist, I mean, he looks for the simplest explanation of a situation, but in the same breathe is glad that it wasn’t witches. I like this weird, juxtaposition between science and superstition. The original inspiration for Van Helsing is also present, but he isn’t as developed as he is in Dracula, but you can see where the inspiration came from, but it was less homage and more a “Hold my beer” moment, as Bram Stoker showcased he could do it better.

     Unlike other reviewers, most of whom are also male, I don’t find lesbianism to be a subtext of this book. I think it is inferred by men with an inkling of homoeroticism for other men, who have projected their desires on two characters.

     I know Vampires are known for their sensual nature, but they’re predators mostly, they’re also dead, thus they really don’t have a sexuality at all. I also find it weird that these same reviewers never spot male homosexual subtext in Dracula or other novels about vampires. Interview with the Vampire comes to mind with blatant male homoerotism, of which no one ever points out or holds up in esteem. The homosexuality is especially noticeable in the movie of Interview with the Vampire, where the sexual ambiguity between Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise is so thick, you could cut the fuckin thing with a knife. Just like this book, 90’s male homosexuality would have been considered loathsome and horrible, but no praise for pushing the envelope there.

     This book is really short and sparse of form, while giving some of the future tropes for the vampire mythos that we either all know and love or find to be horrible clichés. I wouldn’t say Bram Stoker was so much inspired by it, as being a flat out plagiarist on quite a bit, while extrapolating with better fleshed out characters, subtext and themes. Ironically, Bram himself would later be plagiarized with Nosferatu, a lawsuit ensued which he would win, even though he really had no grounds, notwithstanding his own plagiarism. Still, the story is good, the prose is decent and while the lesbian subtext is inferred by Horny men, the book still has a lot going for it and is well worth picking up.

3 out of 5 stars.

Kageoween: Frankenstein Book Review


     Frankenstein, for all the pop culture surrounding it, isn’t a horror novel. Not in the traditional sense anyways. I see that as a shallow view of the book and a literal interpretation. Much has been said over the years about it dealing with fear of technology, science and modern advancement and given the history of the era, one cannot be faulted for thinking such, especially because Christianity still had a massive foothold. What about the book in 2018 though? If anything, Frankenstein is about the horror of humanity and its decrepit ugliness towards anything that is left of center or queer and the plight of humanity vs growth.

     The book follows multiple narratives and interweaves an intriguing story that really only drags in the middle. The rest of the book advances at a great pace and tells the story with prose that is stylistic, as opposed to seeming outdated. It’s quite easy to understand, although the narrative switch for me, wasn’t exactly clear at one point. Despite all that, the book and its central themes are fantastic with very little to complain about.

     The book has three main point of views, Victor Frankenstein as told through a primary narrator named Robert Wolton, the monster itself and various others through letters. Legend has it that the book was created as the result of a party were all guest agreed to write a horror story and this is the result of such. Marry Shelly was alleged to have struggled with coming up with an idea, which the multiple point of views tend to allude to.

     Victor Frankenstein has the most development of all the characters with the monster coming in second place. Everyone else, even when they seem important to the plot, are kind of just there. Not like background characters, but given the fact they have names and we’re exposed to some of their history through exposition, one would think they would have been important enough to warrant more development then they had.

     Having been written 200 years ago, the prose hold up, very well. It’s similar to the modern novel in a lot of ways by exhibiting concise, basic prose, but still with evocative imagery, so that allows anyone to follow along with the story. Very accessible to the average reader with enough depth to satisfy anyone who demands more from their lit.

     The overall plot, if you can call it that, is as follows: Dr.Frankenstein created a being from unknown science, his monster took on a mind of his own. The monster taught himself to read, speak and learn. Unable to live in society, he is basically exiled and doomed to a life of loneliness, when returns to ask the good doctor to make another in his image and is refused, turning the monster to enact revenge upon him, which results in the death of both.

     Besides writing, the themes is where the story is truly at. One could cull so many different interpretations from this work. It could be seen as the story of Lucifer, cast from heaven, making the renegade angel of enlightenment a lot more sympathetic. Given the time frame though, I doubt Mary Shelly or anyone would of consider admitting to such. One can view this as being a woman in the time frame, constantly turned away from manly endeavors that they’re just not built for, which is why this book was originally published anonymously, I’m sure and only bore her name years later.

     Other interpretations could be relating to being a monster or outcast as a teenager or in our modern area, being an Incel, since the monster is very much Incel like in demeanor with similar demands for a wife.

     Still, none of these seem like very good interpretations, but a few are dated. My own personal interpretation is the monster is representative of intellectualism, which is why the monster’s story is similar to Lucifer in the bible. There is innumerable evidence to back this up, including, but not limited to: The monster rebelling against his creator, the love for learning, being cast out and most importantly being misunderstood by the more emotional humans that plague the lands of this tale. Frankenstein is doing his best to live in a world that values emotion over logic and intelligence and is doing a poor job at such. No matter what, he is constantly exiled and seen as a monstrosity.

     When a young woman is executed for murder of a young child, the monster is undoubtedly to blame. This is fantastic use of metaphor, since the monster is intellect and the child is innocents and people fear that knowledge would lead to a loss of that innocence. So not only are the townspeople enraged, but they are also hasty to point the finger and hang an innocent woman.

     Almost every negative thing in this book is a direct cause of others letting their emotion rule them as opposed to being in control of themselves. They project their worst habits on the monster, enough though the monster is never really described. It leaves one to see the monster as the hero instead of everyone around him, who are all too willing kill, point the finger, flip out or destroy someone without due cause. It is the intriguing concept of humanity in all forms that really drives the narrative and makes it an enjoyable read.

     Frankenstein isn’t horror and the idea it is, 200 years on, is ashame. It’s called the original science fiction novel and while it has those tropes, I wouldn’t call it that either, since Sci-fi is often denoted by its obsession with technology. In a lot of ways, it is a gothic weird tale, but even that doesn’t really do the story justice in terms of describing it. The only way to really describe it, would be to call it what it is, that is character driven lit and our attitudes, prejudices and intolerance to difference in this world, no matter the era that keep this book being reprinted over and over again, to be enjoy and inspire future generations.
Five out of Five Stars