Saturday, 14 February 2015

Book Review: Vicious by Bryan W Alaspa

IT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE A QUIET, RELAXING, WEEKEND GETAWAY... The cabin is not deserted. It is the summer retreat of Jeremy Liden, an author who has just started to taste the fruits of success and the good life, which includes the summer cottage in Wisconsin. The same weekend Jeremy and his friends decide to get away from it all two dogs seek shelter beneath the summer house porch. Two dogs who have been trained to fight. Trained to Attack. Trained to kill. What Jeremy and his friends find at the house is sheer, snarling terror, and as things get desperate, they begin to wonder if they will ever get out alive. Nature made these dogs, but man made them VICIOUS.

My Review:
Ok, lets start with the good things. The book is well written and the author does a good job of building up the tension as you wonder where and when the dogs are going to attack. The action scenes are detailed and you can easily picture in your head what is going on. The style of writing is uncomplicated and the story flows pretty well. There are exciting bits, there are creepy tense bits and there are killer dogs. Sounds like a good plan for a horror book to me. Actually anything with teeth is a good plan...

I liked the plot itself and it was easy to imagine how you would respond to the situation if you were in it. I'm pretty sure that any plan that you or I came up with would be better than the very dumb things that these idiots were thinking up. I'm not going into details as it would ruin the whole plot but you really need to think through your plans before opening doors and windows or crap is going to happen! I'm all for the characters trying things and having the plans go wrong but these people were doing idiot things that would NEVER work and left me rolling my eyes when it went bad. I found that point a bit frustrating. I think if you are yelling at the book about 'that's stupid!' or 'what are you THINKING?'at least it means you are engaged with the book, which is better than not getting into it at all. So this did not in any way spoil the book.

So, plot niggles? I understand that the whole point of the book was to have them all trapped in the cabin so I can forgive the men not jumping back into the car where they are attacked to drive off for help while the girls barricade themselves inside. From a plot point of view there would be no story if that happened so that was ok. It was other plot things that didn't quite make sense. Every one of the four left their mobile phones and handbags in the car as they went to unlock the door to the cabin. Um, no...Every female I know who carries a phone or bag would instinctively lift those as they exited the car and THEN think about suitcases and bags of supplies. Every guy I know would shove the phone in a pocket and then grab the bags. We already know that cell phone coverage is spotty near the cabin so there was no need to have them leave the things in the car. It just isn't realistic for four young professionals to all leave their phones in the car! Minor issue though.

The characters were a bit of a mixture. I didn't have any great feelings one way or the other for Jeremy and Amelia. That might sound like a problem but in a short horror novel you don't need to love the characters to like the plot. I did like Veronica. She was smart without being snotty and she pretty much deserved a medal putting up with Stephen for so long. Seriously, Stephen was a complete arse in the opening chapters. He's divorcing his wife because she has changed her mind about giving up her career to have his kids-and the way he keeps calling her a deal breaking and saying she knew what was expected of her when they married makes her sound like a brood mare! And of course he would never give up his precious career if the roles were reserved. He forces her to go along on this holiday when she doesn't want to go, he annoys Jeremy all the way to the cabin by messing with the radio, moaning about the lack of facilities and lecturing Jeremy for being able to live without things like TIVO and GPS. He is a complete moron. The gardener is a foul mouthed idiot who moans about doing the job he is paid to do. The cop is a lazy git. The female cop is clueless how to do her job.

To be fair to the author, the characters totally changed when the crisis occured, as would happen when things go so badly wrong. Jeremy went from leader to making dumb mistakes while Veronica came up with ideas that were all shot down by the others. However it was Stephen who became the big brave hero which makes me forgive the author for those first chapters. I guess for him to be heroic we needed to dislike him first! So he redeems himself nicely.

One thing that did really annoy me was the alternative ending. The author chose to write a book with killer dogs, knowing that for the humans to win, the dogs had to be injured or killed. Then he puts in an afterword that apologizes for his story, his declarations that he loves dogs, and a rewritten ending which was really bad. It was as if he was forced to write the story and was now issuing a disclaimer. So why write it in the first place? I mean, it was made clear during the book that the dogs went bad because of human ill treatment-in fact it was mentioned every couple of pages and got a bit wearing after a while. We get all the main characters having sympathy for the dogs all the way through it to the point of me thinking, just let them eat you then! Why write it if you didn't want to write about dogs being hurt> That was just weird.

My other big thing was the 'oh I better shove in a sex scene somewhere'. WTF? There is a mauled dead body outside, two of you have been mauled by killer dogs minutes before, you are totally trapped-so lets have sex even though he is still bleeding over her??? Yes I'd feel dead horny in THAT situation. It added nothing to the story, it felt so out of place and it wasn't even a great sex scene. Pointless really.

Overall it was a decent short read with good horror moments if you can forgive it for a few shortcomings. 
star rating photo: Three Star Rating 3stars.png

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