The Shining

Book: The Shiningshining

Author: Stephen King
Publisher: Doubleday
Date: 1977
Genre: Horror
ISBN: 9780345806789
Price: $7.99
Number of Pages: 683
Available Formats: Hardback, Paper back, E-book, Audio

Rating: 3Q, 3P

Links to Author’s Website and Interviews

http://stephenking.com/

http://www.rollingstone.com/culture/features/stephen-king-the-rolling-stone-interview-20141031

Links to Reviews

https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/stephen-king/the-shining/

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/shining-stephen-king/1100292429?ean=9780345806789

Readers Annotation

Jack Torrence has found the perfect working situation: acting as caretaker for a swanky hotel during the winter with his wife and son while having time to write his new book. However, the hotel is more than what it seems, and his perfect situation turns into a living nightmare.

Plot Summary

After getting fired from his teaching job for assaulting a student, Jack Torrence and his wife Wendy and son Danny are in financial straits. Jack needs to find a new job, and with his teaching career ruined, he turns to a winter caretaker position for the Overlook Hotel. It seems like the ideal situation, as he can bring his family with him and work on his novel during his stay. Jack also hopes he can repair his rocky marriage and bond with his troubled son, Danny, whose arm he accidently broke during a drunken argument. However, Jack’s hopes begin to dwindle as a sinister presence in the hotel begins to play with his mind. Danny, who has been told that he has “the shining,” a form of psychic power, is also being affected by the hotel, as he sees horrifying images from the hotel’s troubled past. Danny relies on his imaginary friend Tony to get him through these experiences. What Danny and his parents don’t understand is that his power is feeding the hotel’s sinister spirits. As the winter progresses, Jack begins to decline rapidly and things go from bad to worse for the Torrence family.

Critical Evaluation

Everyone knows that King is a master of the horror genre, and “The Shining” is no exception. The novel stands up as one of his scariest and well-written stories. One of the reasons for this is that he crafts interestingly flawed characters, especially Jack, who struggles with his inner demons throughout the book. Jack is far from being a cut-and-dry hero or villain. Instead, we get to see both his good and bad qualities. Part of the brilliance of the novel is that we get to see Jack’s slow deterioration into madness, but still manage to see glimpses of his humanity and love for his son. None of the characters ever fall into a stereotype, which would have been easy to do, especially for Wendy. At first, you think she’s just another abused housewife. However, as the novel goes on, you get to see her inner strength. She has her own faults, one of which being her inability to take action against her husband. As things get more desprate at the hotel, however, Wendy is able to overcome this in order to protect her son. With Danny, King writes convincingly from a child’s perspective. It is immediately apparent that Danny is special, but he is also just a confused kid who is struggling to understand his powers. Danny’s young age and lack of awareness also creates more suspense, as the readers are more aware of what is going on than he is. King shows with these characters that you can have fully realized characters in the horror genre without giving up the scares.

Appeal Factors

Atmospheric; Creepy; Menacing; Suspenseful

Read-alikes

Starter House by Sonja Condit

Saint Odd by Dean Koontz

Discussion Ideas

  • Discuss the Kubrick movie and how the book is different
  • Discuss the negative effects of isolation on the psyche

Justification of Selection

There is a reason Stephen King has been a mainstay for so many years. He is a master at the horror genre and The Shining holds as one of his best.

World War Z

Author: Max Brooksworld
Publisher: Crown
Date: 2006
Genre: Apocalyptic, Horror
ISBN: 9780307346612
Price: $14.95
Number of Pages: 320
Available Formats: Hardback, Paper back, E-book, Audio

Rating: 4Q, 5P

Links to Author’s Website and Interviews

http://maxbrooks.com/

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/23/magazine/max-brooks-is-not-kidding-about-the-zombie-apocalypse.html?_r=0

http://www.npr.org/2012/09/07/160758839/what-college-kids-can-learn-from-the-zombie-war

Links to Reviews

https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/max-brooks/world-war-z/

http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-307-34660-5

Reader’s Annotation

World War I and II have nothing on World War Z.

Plot Summary

This book chronicles the progression of the great zombie war. The novel begins with how zombies first started to appear in China and how it slowly started to spread throughout the world through various ways. The story tells multiple perspectives, including American soldiers, Israeli political leaders and innocent bystanders. The story chronicles how the war began, what happened during the war and how it concluded.

Critical Evaluation

I listened to this book in audio format and I’m really glad I did. I think this book lends itself to the format better than any of the other books I listened to. The multiple perspectives made for a fantastic cast of voice actors. I especially enjoyed Martin Scorsese’s and Mark Hammil’s roles. The big Battle of Yonkers chapter is one of my favorite in the story. It is the perfect example of what makes this book so great, as it is easily one of the scariest, most suspenseful scene. Although I enjoyed this book for the most part, I don’t see myself reading a book in this format again. I much prefer a more linear story with a central protagonist. Still though, I’m glad I experienced this book.

Appeal Factors

Bleak, fast-paced, compelling

Read-alikes

Robopocalypse by Daniel H. Wilson

Blackout by Mira Grant

I am Legend by Richard Matheson

Awards & Lists

Audie Award in 2007

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

USA TODAY BESTSELLER

WALL STREET JOURNAL BESTSELLER

Discussion Ideas

  • Discussion of the storytelling format and multiple perspectives.
  • Discussion of the gender roles in the novel.

Justification of Selection

I read this book because I have always heard such great things about it. I am a huge zombie fan, but I had originally stayed away because I knew it wasn’t a linear story with a few main characters, but rather a set of separate accounts of the zombie war. I wasn’t sure if this would appeal to me, but I’m glad I read it and even happier that I listened to the audiobook.

Heart-Shaped Box

Author: Joe Hill
Publisher: William Morrowheart
Date: 2007
Genre: Horror
ISBN: 9780061147937
Price: $24.95
Number of Pages: 374
Available Formats: Hardcover, paperback, E-Book, Audio

Rating Scale: 4Q, 5P

Links to Author’s Website and Interviews

http://joehillfiction.com/

http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/there-are-no-rules/interview-joe-hill-on-horns-nos4a2-and-stephen-king

Links to Reviews

https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/joe-hill/heart-shaped-box-2/

http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-06-114793-7

Reader’s Annotation

Buying a ghost over the internet, where’s the harm in that?

Plot Summary

The book begins with Judas, a former rock star who has an interest in occult items. His assistant finds a listing online to purchase a ghost. Judas jumps at the chance and buys a suit that the ghost is supposed to be attached to. When the suit arrives, it comes in a heart-shaped box, and Judas almost immediately begins to realize his mistake. Strange things begin to happen, such as his girlfriend, Georgia, getting pricked while touching the suit. Judas also begins to see ghost, whom he realizes is intent on making him kill himself and those around him.

Critical Evaluation

I thought this was a really solid horror novel. I wasn’t sure in the beginning, as I don’t usually gravitate toward unlikeable protagonists. However, I was pleased with the direction of Judas’ character. I loved the fact that this was a redemption novel for him and that it was as much about him overcoming his demons as it was about the ghost. I was also pleasantly surprised by the character of Georgia. From the beginning, I had her pegged as an annoying character who would meet their doom fairly quickly. However, I really enjoyed seeing how many layers she really had. She quickly became my favorite character in the book. The only issue I had with the novel is that I felt some of the scenes in the middle dragged a bit. However, I think this might have to do with the fact that I was eager to learn exactly what the motivation was behind the ghost’s malevolence.

Appeal Factors

Atmospheric, creepy, character-driven

Read-Alikes

Bag of Bones by Stephen King

Saint Odd by Dean Koontz

Awards & Lists

Bram Stoker Awards: Best First Novel

Locus Awards: First Novel

The Reading List (RUSA): 2008

Thriller Awards (International Thriller Writers): Best First Novel

Discussion Ideas

  • Discuss Judas’ relationship with his father.
  • Discuss Judas’ character development over the course of the novel.

Justification of Selection

This was the pick for the horror discussion group. At first, I was a little wary because I usually dislike reading books with an unlikable protagonist, but I was happily surprised by the main character, Judas. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and would definitely read other books by Joe Hill.

Fall of Night

Author: Jonathan Maberryfallofnight
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Date: 2014
Genre: Horror
ISBN: 9781250034946
Price: 15.99
Number of Pages: 403
Available Formats: Hardcover, paperback, E-Book, Audio

Rating Scale: 4Q, 4P

Links to Author’s Website and Interviews

http://www.jonathanmaberry.com/

http://seansmithsays.com/2014/08/06/interview-jonathan-maberry/

Links to Reviews

https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/jonathan-maberry/fall-of-night/

http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-1-250-03494-6

Reader’s Annotation

The quarantine zone has failed and everyone must fight for their lives.

Summary

This is a sequel to the zombie thriller Dead of Night. The novel picks up immediately after the events of the first book. Stebbins, Pennsylvania’s last surviving residents, including police officer Desdemona Fox and reporter Billy Trout, have holed up in the local school while the military is trying to maintain a quarantine. The survivors are forced to give up the people who have been bitten by the zombies to the military for execution. What the military doesn’t know is that the original host of the disease is still alive and has escaped the quarantine into nearby Bordentown. He purposely attacks a Starbucks because he wants to spread the disease and cause the end of the world. The government is trying to find a cure for the disease but is hitting dead ends at every turn, especially when they find that the creator has killed himself. Things begin to go out of control as the military fails to maintain the quarantine.

Critical Evaluation

The book as a whole is very exciting and tense. Maberry excels in building up the tension and writing the action scenes. He also builds sympathy for both the living characters and even the zombies themselves. His take on zombies has some twists to it that make it different than others in the genre. While the first book was action-packed from start to finish, this book takes a while to truly get the plot going. Maberry spends too much time going over events that were already covered in the first book and has a tendency to focus too much on characters’ inner terror about what is happening around them. As a consequence, the book feels like it’s spinning its wheels in the first half of the book and derails its pacing. However, halfway through the book, it picks up and gains momentum to a level similar to that of Dead of Night. One of the most interesting aspects of the novel is how it ties to Maberry’s other works, primarily the Rot and Ruin series. As a major fan of those books, it was great to see them tied together and gain a better understanding about that series.

Significance of Book

Maberry is an award-winning, bestselling author and is well known for his mastery in the horror, suspense genre. Fall of Night showcases his prestigious skill in the genre with its harrowing, nail-biting scenes.

Read-alikes

The Cell by Stephen King

Drifters by John L. Campbell

World War Z by Max Brooks

Awards and Lists

N/A

Discussion Ideas

  • Discuss the connection with Maberry’s YA series Rot and Ruin
  • Discuss Homer Gibson’s killing philosophy

Justification of Selection

I was interested in this book because I love zombies and apocalyptic stories. I was a huge fan of Maberry’s Rot and Ruin series and Dead of Night, so this book was a must-read for me.

 

Infected, #1

Author: Scott Siglerinfected
Publisher: Crown Publishers
Date: 2008
Genre: SF, Horror
ISBN: 9780307406101
Price: $24.95
Number of Pages: 352
Available Formats: Hardcover, paperback, E-Book, Audio

Rating Scale: 2Q, 4P

Links to Author’s Website and Interviews

http://scottsigler.com/

http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/interview-scott-sigler/

Links to Reviews

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2008/jul/23/sciencefictionfantasyandhorror3

http://www.amazon.com/Infected-Novel-Scott-Sigler/dp/030740630X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1425529841&sr=8-1&keywords=infected+by+scott+sigler

Reader’s Annotation

A parasite has been spread and is infecting people. Can the world survive?

Summary

Infected is a fast-paced, science-fiction thriller about a disease that is turning people into murdering psychopaths. The story revolves around three main characters: Dew Phillips, a CIA operative on the case, Margaret Montoya, a CDC epidemiologist, and Perry Dawsey, a former football player who has been infected. The story opens with Dew and his partner coming to the house of a man suspected of having the disease. They enter the house and find that he has killed his wife and children. They find him in the bathroom, soaked in lighter fluid holding an ax. Right in front of the agents, he proceeds to chop both his legs off. The agents are paralyzed with horror, but as the man proceeds to light himself on fire, Dew’s partner tries to intercede and gets seriously injured by the ax. Dew rushes his partner outside of the now-burning house, where an ambulance rushes him to the ER. After surgery, Dew’s partner succumbs to his injuries and dies, leaving Dew completely devastated and hell-bent on hunting down whoever bioengineered this disease. Meanwhile, Dr. Montoya has just been flown in to look at the body of the infected. This is the first time that she is able to do an autopsy in time, as the bodies of the infected mysteriously disintegrate after a few hours. As the body is already starting to decompose, she and another scientist work quickly and find some very startling aspects that reveal that the disease is a parasite that is so complicated and advanced that it is beyond modern science. The story also revolves around Perry, who wakes up to rashes all over his body that at first drive him crazy with itchiness. As a few days go by, he slowly gets worse.

Critical Evaluation

I thought that the premise for this book was absolutely fascinating. I loved the action scenes and the horror elements of the story. It was suitably gory and scary at times. However, I did have one big problem with this book and that was the characters. I didn’t feel a connection with any of them and at times they just didn’t feel believable to me. The dialog felt forced and at times extremely wooden. Montoya especially grated on my nerves and I solidly disliked her from the beginning. I think I would have really enjoyed this book if it wasn’t for the terrible characters. It’s the type of book in which character development isn’t a main priority, but if the characters are actively annoying it takes away from the pleasure of reading the story.

Significance of Book

Scott Sigler is a New York Times best-selling author who became famous in 2005 for releasing his stories for free through podcasts. Even now, he still releases parts of his story on Sundays through his website. He has earned the attention of a lot of news sources and has amassed a significant fan base.

Read-alikes

Parasite by Mira Grant

Pandora’s Legion by Harold Coyle

Awards and Lists

N/A

Discussion Idea

  • Discuss the use of science in the book and whether or not it adds to the story.
  • Discuss the characters

Justification of Selection

One of the reasons I picked up this book is that I was intrigued by the idea of a deadly infection that drives people to violence and madness. I am a huge fan of zombie fiction and this seemed to have similar themes. I was also intrigued that the infection seemed to come from an alien source, which is something I haven’t really read about.

The Strain, #1

Author: Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hoganstrain
Publisher: William Morrow
Date: 2009
Genre: Horror
ISBN: 978-0062068255
Price: $16.99
Number of Pages: 416
Available Formats: Hardcover, paperback, E-Book, Audio

Rating Scale: 3Q, 4P

Links to Author’s Website and Interviews

http://deltorofilms.com/projects/the-strain-novels/

http://authors.simonandschuster.com/Chuck-Hogan/23149246

http://www.sarahweinman.com/confessions/2009/06/chuck-hogan-on-the-strain-and-collaborative-writing.html

Links to Reviews

https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/guillermo-del-toro/the-strain/

http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-06-171520-4

Reader’s Annotation

A plane full of passengers has arrived at an airport. There’s just one problem: they all appear to be dead.

Summary

This novel is a dark and serious take on the vampire genre. It begins with a dark force that is unleashed on an airplane, who seemingly kills everyone on board. Even more mysteriously, the plane manages to land perfectly despite the deaths of the pilots. CDC Epidemiologist Ephraim Goodweather is called to the scene to investigate the deaths as a possible disease outbreak. Ephraim is puzzled to find that there are no clear causes of death and is shocked to find that there are four people who have miraculously survived. Meanwhile, a mysterious coffin found on the plane is taken by a named Gus, who was hired to deliver the coffin to a man who man who has special plans for it. As Ephraim tries to figure out the cause of the deaths, he meets an old man name Abraham, who claims that a deadly, powerful vampire is behind the attack. Ephraim believes he is crazy at first, but as mysterious things begin to happen, such as the bodies of the plane passengers disappearing from the morgue, he is forced to re-evaluate everything he believes he knows.

Critical Evaluation

One of the best things about this book is that it is brings horror back to the vampire genre. In recent years, the trend was to portray vampires as heartthrobs who sweep women off their feet, such as in the Twilight books. The Strain’s vampires can’t be more different. Del Toro and Hogan make them both terrifying and disgusting, providing a refreshing take on the genre. The writers excel at the suspense and horror, as the novel can be truly scary at times. However, the pacing is uneven, as it takes some time into the book for the action to kick off. Sometimes the authors get bogged down in unnecessary, technical details, which can detract from the suspense of the story. Despite this, the authors still manage to craft an interesting story filled with intriguing and diverse characters. I’m definitely interested in reading the other two books in the series.

Significance of Book

This book has received a lot of buzz since its publication in 2009, primarily because of its connection to Oscar winning director, Guillermo Del Toro. This past summer, it was even made into a television show. The book really has the distinction of putting the horror back in the vampire genre.

Read-alikes

Prodigal Son by Dean Koontz

The Passage by Justin Cronin

The Lesser Dead by Christopher Buehlman

Awards and Lists

Amazon Best of the Month, June 2009

Discussion Ideas

  • Discuss it’s connection to Dracula
  • Discuss Abraham and his past as a Holocaust victim.

Justification of Selection

What really intrigued me about this book is that it’s a different take on vampires. I was getting a little fatigued with all the vampire media, but this book seemed fresh and interesting. It was also a big plus that it was co-written by Guillermo Del Toro.