Porter’s uproarious, intelligent debut centers on Raymond Champs, an illustrator of assembly manuals for a home furnishings corporation, who is charged with a huge task: To determine whether or not the world needs saving. It comes to him in the midst of a losing battle with insomnia — everybody he knows, and maybe everybody on the planet, is suffering from severe clinical depression. He’s nearly certain something has gone wrong. A virus perhaps. It’s in the water, or it’s in the mosquitoes, or maybe in the ranch flavored snack foods. And what if we are all too sad and dispirited to do anything about it? Obsessed as he becomes, Raymond composes an anonymous survey to submit to his unsuspecting coworkers — “Are you who you want to be?”, “Do you believe in life after death?”, “Is today better than yesterday?” — because what Raymond needs is data. He needs to know if it can be proven. It’s a big responsibility. People might not believe him. People, like his wife and his boss, might think he is losing his mind. But only because they are also losing their minds. Or are they?
By day, Raymond Chandler draws the illustrations to instruction manuals for a furniture company. By night he battles insomnia and depression. On his way to and from work each day, he notes the sad, soulless look everyone around him seems to have in their eyes. He wants to know how all the world seems to have fallen into this state of being and why does everyone seem fine with it? He comes up with the idea to put together a questionnaire, first testing it out on his co-workers by posing it as a required bit of paperwork "coming down from corporate"... a "I'm just the messenger kind of thing", though as people start to fill these surveys out, he secretly reads the answers trying to find a common vein that would explain the outbreak of depression.
This was a quiet, quirky little read. Nothing much in the way of tension or action occurs, but there is some thought-provoking and humorous social commentary to be had by readers who can relate to battling depression or struggling with a less than satisfying current reality when held up against youthful, rose-colored dreams. My favorite parts were the actual survey answers -- I thought they were pretty revealing in how people can get so caught up in being proper or politically correct that they forget what their own opinions or feelings really are. They actually convince themselves that sub-par is perfectly fine and eventually stop striving for anything better than the "getting by" level. Everyone forgets or fears actually being honest with themselves.
While I enjoyed the survey Q&A bits, and a few humorous moments here and there, much of the rest of the book -- if I'm being completely honest here -- bored me a bit. And ugh, I really did not like Raymond's wife, Brenda. She was a special kind of bitter. There was a bit of a twist at the end but it left me a little confused and wondering well, if you're going to go that route, what was the point of the rest of the story?! I could see this kind of story making an interesting film, in the vein of something like Punch Drunk Love or Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.
The undulation beneath him took a moment to register. And then he realized it was her. She was … moving against him, and not as in she wanted to get free.
She didn't want to get free, huh? Well. That's a good sign. Proceed, I guess.
That's so me during every BDB sex scene.
Disclaimer: This is going to be long as fuck. I had to suffer, so now you have to suffer.
I have this uncle in his early 50's. He's loud and boisterous. He insists that all the ladies want him, for he is unimaginably virile (he mentions it often). His wardrobe can be compared to that of his 19 year old son. Though, that's a stretch, because his son has started dressing more like a classy young man instead of a lazy teenager of late.
My uncle wears graphic t-shirts, long, baggy shorts, and huge sneakers with elaborate designs. He wears a flashy big-ass silver chain and a baseball cap - always worn to the side. He’s constantly cracking inappropriate and cringe worthy jokes and he insists on using all the slang the youngins do nowadays.
The older he gets, the cooler and more hip he tries to be. The cooler and more hip he tries to be, the cornier he appears. It’s like he’s clawing desperately at his youth. It’s sad and embarrassing, and I assure you that most of his family has tried to tactfully breach the subject, but he's stubborn. Oh, and he knows it all. He has a heart of gold, my uncle. I will attest to this. He’s a lovable person and he’s full of life, but, man, there's no way around it - he just tries way too hard.
This book is my uncle.
The book means well and it has heart, but it's drowning in bad jokes, corny slang, and cheesy sex scenes. There's a good story deep down inside this series with interesting characters that have rich personalities and compelling backgrounds, but the further we go, the less those characters shine through. Every time we get a glimpse of them and start to feel nostalgia for the fantastic chemistry of all these characters together, somebody makes a goddamn Miley Cyrus reference and I want to pluck my eyes out.
*Plucks eyes right out.
There are references to brands, products, celebrities, movies, etc. It never ends.
• ... styles at Pottery Barn.
• ... his Gucci loafers no doubt ruined.
• ... two Chanel perfume bottles knocking over.
• ... like she'd gone to Sephora
• ... when it came to her and her sex, he was fully capable of going wrecking-ball ...
• ... went total wrecking ball on the billiards room.
• ... her smile was about as genuine as Courtney Stodden's.
• ... enough attitude to make Kanye West look like ...
• ... now he was channeling Howard Stern's father.
• Yup, that was defo Ben Stern.
• He would probably cut Taylor Swift off ...
• Hell, even her hair belonged in a Pantene ad.
• It made her think of Beetlejuice ...
• Geena Davis and a lower-BMI, less angry Alec Baldwin …
• He looked at his Gucci and Prada and Chanel bottles ...
• God, if only V didn’t hate everything about the Apple company, she could have had an iPhone in her hand and asked Siri what to do.
(Plus 8 more mentions of iPhone and 3 of Apple.)
• And when he was finished, she went numb and nearly fell out of her Nikes.
(Plus 5 more mentions of Nike and even one mention of Nike's Just Do It slogan.)
Lastly, 2 mentions of the infamous Lanz nightgown AKA The Fucking Boner Killa.
• … was all about the Lanz nightgown she’d put on: flannel, and big as a circus tent, the white-and-pale-blue pattern was like a cloud around her, billowing everywhere.
Yes. This is a real thing.
And there's the slang:
• Annnnnnd. (9 times.)
• Drama burger. (Once, but "drama" is said by multiple characters 9 times total.)
• And a bag of chips.
• More than one character thinks. Like. This.
And these are only the things I remember.
We all already know that she loves her H's and that she's always naming her characters something stupid. In this one, we have a new character named s'Ex. I shit you not.
Ms. Ward, please:
Dafuq are you doing?! No, seriously. WTF are you doing? Is there no one editing/proofreading these books? Have they nothing to say about this? Is no one close to Ward noticing this shit? This is ridiculous. I would be embarrassed to put out a book like this.
Here's the thing. I might-could, maybe, possibly, mayhap overlook the celebrity references, the brand and label references, the awful, cringe-inducing, eye-rolling and lazy slang, and the ridiculous wording of inner thoughts, IF all these things didn't come interchangeably from ALL THE CHARACTERS. It's not like only Beth makes Miley references, only Wrath has the bad slang, and only Butch refers to brands and labels. All the characters do all these things. You know what that is? LAZY FUCKING WRITING.
It's like Ward isn't even trying anymore. It could be argued that maybe her writing was never good and it's just obvious to longtime fans now. I will agree that her writing was never great, but I reread Dark Lover the week before reading The King and, while it was cheesy as hell, the writing and attention to detail were superior. Dark Lover was Ward just coming out with the BDB world, fresh-faced and eager to please. The King reads like something Ward just tossed together at the last minute with nary a thought. It's the product of an already subpar writer who found a LOT of fame over the years and has chosen to ride that fame wave instead of hone her skill to ensure she puts out a top-notch product.
I tell you now, friends - Ward gives no fucks about her craft. I promise you. No fucks. She long ago stopped bringing flowers and whispering sweet nothings in our ears. She's no longer trying to impress us. This Ward, complacent and well-settled into our relationship, is sitting on the couch all day with her hand in her pants, asking you to bring her a beer. She gives no fucks that the magic is gone and you can either take it or GTFO.
And yet, we stay. We take our "no fucks," we bring her a beer, we pay all her bills and we hang on her every word every year, because we felt her love once. It was glorious and we know it's in there and maybe, if we hang on long enough, we'll bask in that glory again one day.
K. Gtg. Defo c u next year, because, obvi, I abso hate myself. Duh.
*There are so many more things to say, but you should just take a look at my 40 status updates on Goodreads. Yes, I said 40. Never in my life have I updated a book 40 times. Let me tell you, that I actually made hard decisions to pick and choose what I updated about, because the choices were that plentiful.
Two things I failed to realize:
- this is a short story
- this is a short story set in a well-established series
The latter is totally my fault. My brain skimmed right over the fact that the blurb says the protagonist is the hero of 2 other novels. The first isn't clear. Not my fault. My rating isn’t taking either of these things into account, though. That wouldn’t be fair. Also, the story appears to be a standalone. I could be wrong, but it reads fine on its own.
The premise is awesome. You have a private detective who’s also a mutant shapeshifter with a “badass” vibe. Then you have a prison (that exists in its own pocket universe) full of prisoners that are different types of life forms/aliens. There are a number of gory murders and shit that our cool cat MC, Stake, gets roped into investigating. Recipe for awesomeness, no? Unfortunately, the execution is seriously lacking. There just wasn’t enough time to build up the intrigue, before the MC easily figures everything out.
I haven’t read any of the other books in this series, but I get the impression that Stake is a bit of a Gary Stu. There’s a character that is hard to talk to due to a physical condition. No problem. Stake figures out how to calm him and get him talking coherently the first time they meet. This dude has a large group of friends who aren’t able to properly communicate with him, but Stake does it right off the bat. Ok.
On his second (maybe third?) day in the prison, Stake gets randomly tipped off. This is bizarre, because the “tipper” has been at this prison for some time. The killings had started before Stake arrived, so why hadn’t they divulged info to anyone before? Unless Stake is speshul.
Finally, nearly immediately, Stake knows whodunnit. It’s not like this is some obscure conclusion, either. When he first hypothesized, I thought that it was a logical guess, but way too obvious. And yet, he was right. He asked one witness one question and very soon after figured out whodunnit. How immensely stupid is everyone else at this prison that no one made the connection sooner? He walks in and in no time, he figures it all out. C’mon. Really? Where’s the suspense? There isn’t any.
There’s also little action. There were a couple of scenes that had the potential to be really good, but they flew by in a minute. Other than that, it was basically Stake having the villain info dump him.
This is a super-quick read, but, unfortunately, not a great one. Admittedly, I was enjoying it until I realized that the climax I had been anticipating had already passed. Big disappointment that. I would have been disappointed sooner had I known it was a short story. I thought I was maybe 25% into a book and so, I was intrigued at where the story was going. Instead, the story was solved and nearly over. Wtf.
Despite my dissatisfaction with this one, I may be picking up the first book in the series. The premise and the writing were admittedly good. I just think this would have made a better full-length book, so that the story could be fleshed out a lot more. The MC in this one isn't the MC of all the books in the series, so there's potential there.
This may be more enjoyable for already-established fans of the series and/or hero, but I wouldn’t bet much on it. It read like it was supposed to be a standalone and as such, it just wasn’t up to snuff.