Listen, I love freakin' spaghetti.. okay? Its signature-style aroma, the soft texture of the noodles, the way the tomato sauce drips carelessly off my fork (Shit, I've worked myself up an appetite now). But here's the thing, not everyone can prepare it well despite its simplicity. It's tricky business. Some people make the mistake of boiling the noodles too long in water which results them in being overcooked and then they're mushy and floppy. Others don't stir the noodles long enough at recommended intervals because they're too busy 'tweeting' or watching the latest House of Cards episode from their phone. The end result? They start clumping up because they're under-cooked.
Now at this point, you're probably wondering why in the hell is this guy talking about spaghetti? Well, because this book had the potential to be some REALLY good goddamn spaghetti. But unfortunately, it lacked that definitive taste and I'll get to that in a minute.
Buuuut first, a word from our blurb sponsors...
Three teenagers have gone missing in the sleepy town of New Paris, Ohio. Did they sign a membership form to become a part of a suicide cult? Or did they wander off to start new lives in New York City or Los Angeles? Best buds, Luke and Garrett, are sick of the swirling rumors and want nothing more than to get away from it all. They have the option of attending the senior class trip at the beach with beautiful bikini-clad girls but decline it in favor of an isolated weekend fishing trip... totally beyond me, but hey, whatever floats your boat (pun intended). Needless to say, this proves to be a disastrous idea.
Soon they find themselves boat-wrecked. A violent thunderstorm threatens their livelihood (did these guys check in on the saturday forecast by any chance?). Seeking shelter from the storm, Luke and Garrett stumble onto eerily empty roads until they find a private driveway that leads to a run-down, abandoned church. Unbeknownst to them, their newfound discovery just so happens to be a vicious psychopath's hideout. Is this coincidentally connected to the teenage girl disappearances or is this merely a fucked up situation in and of itself? Either way, Luke and Garrett's will to survive will be ultimately tested.
I really wanted to enjoy this spaghetti book more than I did which is an obvious shame. It had some pretty frightening moments. The writing provided surreal tension in some places and a genuine sense of claustrophobia within the church made me squirm for both Luke and Garrett. The psychopath was downright menacing and his backstory spiced it up ten-fold. I gasped here and there during moments of terror but then the narrative felt the urge to sidetrack the impending danger by getting so lost in Luke's head at that precise moment (he was the protagonist by the way). I didn't mind this as it allowed me to connect more with him through his raw emotions and thoughts of the dire circumstances he found himself in. Granted, it told me a lot about his crazy childhood experiences with Garrett, his rocky relationship with his parents concerning his career plans for the future, his coulda woulda shouldas in life. This was all fine and dandy, but then his self-talk would start to ramble on and on about things that happened 20-30 pages ago and then it would be regurgitated later. It grew really tiring and repetitive and it threw off the pacing for me.
It also didn't help that Luke would state the 'oh so obvious' in certain situations which would become another minor annoyance. Phrases like "This was bad. really bad" and then moments later "This was not good, not good at all." Did these things really have to be said? The author also continued to break the fourth wall with his readers’ assumed knowledge of horror tropes. It was cool the first couple of times. I even chuckled a little but then it got old quickly. For instance, one character's scream “was like something out of a horror movie. Like nothing I’d ever heard." And this was just one example out of a dozen. And the more times it happened, the less engaged I became with the the story. And add to the fact that Luke wasn't the world's most interesting protagonist. He was pretty generic and vague in tone. Nothing wowed me about him. Relatable? Yeah. Likeable? Somewhat. Edgy and complex? No. That 'award' clearly goes to another character in the story in which I can't disclose here for spoiler reasons. That was when the story was undeniably at its creepy best. And I would have liked it if that particular character got more book screen time.
With a plot that ended up being dull and uninspired, I expected a twist of some kind. I waited in anticipation but never got one in return, not even half of one. The reveals were ho-hum and didn't add anything to what I already knew (or kinda knew). I kept thinking "really? there's gotta be more to this!" but alas, the buck stopped there. I had high hopes for an ending that would turn things around for me but it was severely undermined from an excerpt about the second book in the series. A big blooper if you ask me... and just like that, the intended ambiguity was immediately flushed down the drain.
With all that said, I admired the author's efforts for crafting a decent debut. I was just looking for something with more oomph and all I got was a mountain of noodles with just a smidget of sauce.
2.5 slices of garlic bread for Bone White.
This book was provided to me for free in exchange for an honest review, courtesy of Horror After Dark.
For other reviews like this, go here.