Parasite by Mira Grant – Not too far in the future, we have invented a tapeworm-like parasite that keeps us healthy by dispensing medicine and just generally keeping us healthy. I had a hard time wrapping my brain around how the tapeworm worked, but it doesn’t really matter in the long run. Anyway, the parasites have been living inside our bodies for years, but now they want their turn at the wheel and start slowly taking over their host bodies. I am sure I will be reading the sequel this novel, but I felt like it was a little too long and the IS THE MAIN CHARACTER A PARASITE OR NOT? question got old after a while. When we finally find out for sure, it’s not even really satisfying. Interesting questions of what it means to be human are explored here, or at least hinted at. It’s actually a series where I think the second book will be a lot better, because there won’t be so much is-she-or-isn’t-she and confusion about what is going on.
Creepiness factor: 6. Definitely a disturbing idea and the “zombies” are super creepy.
Save Yourself by Kelly Braffet – God, I love the way Kelly Braffet writes and I love stories about people who don’t always do the right thing, who are broken, not always likable. Because what person is always likable? All of the people in Save Yourself felt so real, I could have known them in my real life. This is a dark story and the characters are all fighting their personal demons, trying to live in spite of the nightmares they are suffering from. The story takes an even darker turn toward the end and everything escalates to the point of no return very quickly – I almost wasn’t sure what I thought of the ending, it all happened so fast. I truly loved the writing and felt like the characters were living, breathing people.
Creepiness factor: 6, of the suburban variety.
The Woman in Black by Susan Hill – I had a creepy audiobook for this month, for the moments when I was working out or my eyes were too tired to read, and this was PERFECT. The narrator was great. A bit guiltily, I have to admit that this book was okay for the occasional zoning out. I didn’t always feel like I had to be listening very closely to the parts that weren’t about ghosts. There was a time when I was walking home in the dark and I had to stop listening because I got so scared! I, of course, pictured the main character as Daniel Radcliffe the whole time. Though I’m not sure I could watch this movie. I’m much more of a wimp when it comes to ghosts in movies.
Creepiness factor: 8, because of the narrator. I think I would have found a lot of it cheesy if I had read it, but the narrator did a great job!
Night Film by Marisha Pessl – When daughter of controversial filmmaker Stanislas Cordova, Ashley Cordova, apparently kills herself in a suicide, reporter Scott McGrath finds himself once again sucked into the dangerous world of the mysterious figure. Years earlier, he was disgraced as a journalist when he tried to prove that Cordova was as depraved as his films and the family sued him. I actually feel much about Night Film as I do Rebecca. There were things I truly loved about this novel. The way Pessl blurs the line between fantasy and reality, the way that you never really know what the truth is, the way each character becomes connected to the mystery. I did have some problems with the narrative structure and the writing though. It often felt clunky and the overuse of italicized words, I know it’s a minor thing, but it drove me nuts. I also think there are other books that use the facsimile documents technique much more successfully than Night Film did. It felt like they didn’t really add much to the story in the end. I wish the book had been 100 or 200 pages shorter, because it just felt a little bloated. All that being said, I love this kind of story that hinges on a fictional figure like Cordova; I love the creation of an alternate history. This is somewhat of a spoiler, but my favorite part was probably when the three main characters break into the Crodova mansion and the eventual explanation for what happens there. It’s just so perfect.
Creepiness factor: 7. This book is definitely creepy and disturbing, though it didn’t really cross any lines that would make your average reader uncomfortable, I don’t think.
Sweet Tooth Vol. 4: Endangered and Sweet Tooth Vol. 3: Animal Armies by Jeff Lemire- I almost didn’t include these two because I technically read them at the tail end of September, but they win the honorable mention: they are the only books that actually gave me nightmares! It’s not that I necessarily like having nightmares, but I think it really speaks to how much a book affected me and ultimately how well-crafted it is. These comics aren’t even truly creepy – they’re meant to scare. But the post-apocalyptic world in Sweet Tooth is pretty terrifying.
Creepiness factor: 8. So many creepy things in this series!
I feel like I sound kind of grumpy about a lot of these books, but I really enjoyed each reading experience, even if I didn’t always love the book as a whole. Now, onto Nonfiction November! Will you join me?