Mongrels, Stephen Graham Jones, Review

 

Now, clear your mind. Breathe deep. Exhale. If I was to say to you I’ve got this great book here, it’s a coming of age story but there’s a twist. It’s about… Werewolves! What would be your first thought? To what conclusion would your brain jump? YA? I knew it! However, Mongrels is not a young adult book, it’s a finely crafted story told from a teenage werewolf. He lives with his aunt and uncle and they travel the length and breadth of the United States never staying in place too long. I’d heard Mongrels was good and it is, it’s one of those that, although not flawless, is difficult not to enjoy.img_1677

As mentioned, the story follows the lives of three Werewolves, Libby, Darren and the unnamed teenage narrator. They travel and never settle too long and at night, Libby and Darren turn and get up to all kinds of lycanthropy based shenanigans. The Narrator has yet to get his flat tongue and isn’t, technically, a fully-fledged werewolf yet. The chapters change occasionally between current times, with the narrator ageing incrementally, and in the past to when he was younger so we can see events that have shaped his personality. Jones hasn’t just presented us with a situation and expects us to get on with it, he’s fleshed out this hidden sub-culture. Libby and Darren both dispel Werewolf knowledge to the Narrator, we learn what’s Hollywood bullshit and what Werewolves like and dislike. What kills them, why they should always wear jeans and why they avoid French Fried. It feels as if the Narrator is relaying secret knowledge that we, the reader, shouldn’t be privy to. When reading, you may feel that some sections are mundane, like the old trope, is this the most interesting part of your protagonist’s life? If not, why aren’t you showing us that? Then you’ll remember “oh yeah… They’re Werewolves.” Every day is the most interesting day. That’s part of Jones’ talent as a writer, he makes you believe the surface level normality of the pack.

I can normally judge a book by how quickly I get through it. How I want to read it, how I don’t want to put it down. If I find myself day-dreaming about garden gnomes or scaring my cat with cucumbers, then that’s a good indication that I’m just not into it. At no point throughout Mongrels did my mind wander. It’s a wholly satisfying read and the horror that comes with the subject matter is told in such a matter of fact way, that you think back to it when you close your eyes that night. If you read it, let me know when you get to the bit about the tights. That shit is just plain nasty. Anyway, would recommend Mongrels, give it a read then enjoy a basket of live baby rabbits to mull it over.

 

Ben

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Huge Book Haul #noselfcontrol

This month has been a particularly stellar month in terms of acquiring new books. The Christmas financial hangover has finally worn off, we had a birthday which resulted in the inevitable book shaped gifts being received and we had a trip to York in which we showed little restrained in Waterstones. so here is a list of everything we got this month, it is so big we broke it down into categories.

The Hardbacks

  1. Yaa  Gyasi, Homegoing
  2. China Mieville, The last days of new Paris
  3. Kate Hamer, The Doll Funeral
  4. Stephen King, Needful Things

Short Story Collections

5. Margaret Atwood, Stone Mattress

6. Angela Carter, The Bloody Chamber

7.Stephen Graham Jones, After the people lights have gone off

Birthday Gifts

8. Cynan Jones, Evreything (lol)

9.Andrew Taylor, Ashes of london

10.  Bill Bryson, The Road to Little Dribbling

11. Peter May, Coffin Road

PaperBacks

12.John Langan, The Fisherman

13. David Means, Hystopia

14. Jay McInerney, The Last of the savages

15. Douglas Coupland, Generation X

16. Alice Thompson, Pharos

17. Stephen Graham Jones, Mongrels

18.Murakami, Norwegian Wood

19. Nico Lee, A good lie ain’t easy * This was sent to us by the author in exchange for an Honest Review *

20. Chuck Palahnuik, Survivor 

and Two Poetry Books

21. Callum Mclaughlin, Seeking Solace (Callum is a fellow blogger, he has been a great support since we started the blog, he’s always ready with a good recommendation and has eerily similar reading tastes to us, check him out here: https://callummclaughlin.wordpress.com/ )

22.Sylvia Plath, Ariel ( I already have the standard Ariel, but this edition as just too damn beautiful too ignore! It’s also the first of four in the collection by Faber)

so thats this month (so far anyway!). We are now sufferring with trying to decide what to read next! Any Suggestions with were to start would be very welcome and keep an eye out for the reviews to come!

 

Grace & Ben

 

 

Sleeping Giants, Sylvain Neuvel, A review.

 

I went into Sleeping Giants with borderline excitement. I stumbled across it whilst looking for something to read and there it sat in my basket for many months before I purchased it. It arrived and I almost immediately started reading it. I read page after page and I found myself… unenthused. If I am well and truly invested in a novel I can’t put it down. I will sit and smash through it one or two sessions. Sleeping Giants, I struggled with, for reasons I aim to make apparent.

The msleeping-giantsain gripe I had was with the way the story is told. A series of audio logs, news reports and interviews with characters is a genuinely refreshing way to tell a story, but it’s the scale of the tale that makes it hard to fathom. Sleeping Giants is about, funnily enough, a sleeping giant. Some buried, giant metal hand is found and many years later some suspicious man, we assume is dressed in a black suit with an American flag pin adorned upon it, starts assembling a crack team to recover the rest of the pieces. We never find out truly who he is only that A: he’s mysterious and B: a bit of a bastard, who slowly grows fond of his team, in a distant Father way who’s watching their son score the winning touchdown at prom kind of thing. Or however sport works. Basically, the second most interesting character remains an enigma which is frustrating in the bad way. The most interesting character, dare I say, is the robot itself. Its origins hinted upon but never confirmed, and its scale and purpose bewildering to the people of Earth. Which leads me back to the gripe. The method of storytelling. We are presented with an intergalactic, teleporting, almost indestructible killer space robot, and we only get to appreciate the global and potentially universal implications of such a discovery, from such a narrow and blinkered view point. It doesn’t allow you to fully appreciate the world that Neuvel is attempting to create. This is supposedly the first of a trilogy all set in the same universe and if the next two are written in the same format I cannot see how it’ll work. You get a good idea of the direction he’s taking it in, and if it continues with interviews and audio logs you’ll have the literary equivalent of a low budget sci-fi that couldn’t afford to show all the explosions and lasers and giant robot fights. You know, the good stuff.

That being said, Sleeping Giants did pick up in the last 100 pages or so. I did become invested in one character who got me with her no nonsense bad-ass attitude, and I can’t criticise Neuvel’s prose. Regardless, I just don’t know if I’m going to pick up the sequel. I love sci-fi and Philip K Dick makes up a staple of my reading diet but I need to feel the whole world. I can build up the image but I need the foundations or I’m just pissing about in sand. Would recommend if you have a better imagination than me or enjoy reading police transcripts.

 

Ben