I'm not going to lie. I didn't like this book. It started off with such promise, but ended up resembling a hack art project cobbled together by a third grader with nothing more than tape, markers and a few popsicle sticks.
The characters were no better than paper dress-up dolls a young girl plays with as a child. They had names, jobs and places to live, but not much else. There was no substance. I could have cared less if they were tortured for hours and left for dead. There were moments I even wished for it. Most of the time I couldn't even tell the characters apart until their names were specifically mentioned. Not one of them really stood out from any other.
The author tried very hard to create a creepy atmosphere; unfortunately, the writing wasn't strong enough to pull it off. Mr. Christopher wrote assuming every reader would be too stupid to figure things out for themselves. It was all telling and no showing. I was extremely insulted to be told not once, not twice, but often more than three times when any character was experiencing a dream sequence. His use of dialogue was flat and confusing; I rarely knew who was talking to whom. Sentences were awkward and broken, thoughts were incomplete and wandered off on wild tangents, and there were so many grammatical inconsistencies that I just couldn't focus and enjoy what I was reading.
The story was unoriginal. I often felt the author was unsure which genre he wanted to write in, flip-flopping like a dying fish between thriller, horror and supernatural craziness. Christopher attempted to squeeze in an interesting twist near the end regarding the cause of evil intentions that manifest in some people's behaviors. He failed miserably. Not only did it pop-up out of nowhere, and too late in the story, but it was also so rushed that it never felt fleshed out to its full potential. Under the pen of a more seasoned author perhaps it would have made for an interesting theory.
The pacing at the beginning made me nervous as the prologue dragged itself through a muddy eleven pages. I was soon lured into a false sense of security as chapters seemingly flew by. Unfortunately, it was due to their shortened lengths, rather than the actual pace of the storyline, that encouraged me to read on. There were so many unnecessary ideas crammed in, like caramel stuffed inside an already perfectly good chocolate bar, that I was left with a bad taste in my mouth. The author was obviously very confused, rushing through the important sections, yet elaborating over parts that should never have made it into the published pages.
I wouldn't burn the book, I have way too much respect for the printed word, and I could see through to the ideas and effort behind the novel as a whole. (There was one supporting character that made me laugh at least once, that has to count for half a star at least.) I was going to give it one and a half stars, but the board would not allow me. So I'll leave it with one star, because it certainly doesn't deserve two stars. Now it sits in my Bookmooch pile, waiting to be requested so that I can pawn it off on some other unsuspecting fool. Hopefully it will end up somewhere far enough away so that the reader won't try to hunt me down and take revenge on me for the pain I have inflicted on them.
Review originally posted at http://www.horror-web.com/reviews/YaBB.cgi?board=Books;action=display;num=1179503975 on May 18, 2007.