Showing posts with label funny. Show all posts
Showing posts with label funny. Show all posts

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Book Review: Skin Cage by Nico Laeser


Synopsis (from the author): Daniel Stockholm was fifteen years old when a parasite hijacked his brain, rendering him paralyzed and reliant on machines that run day and night to keep him alive. 
For nine years, Danny has been confined within a biological prison with only two small windows, through which to view the world around him; a silent witness to the selfless compassion of some and the selfish contrivance of others. 
When the malicious actions of care worker, Marcus Salt, threaten to push Danny farther from the ones he loves, and deeper into the dark recesses of his skin cage, he is left with only one option. He must find a way out.

Review: Nico Laeser is an author name you would remember, and Skin Cage is such  a strange and affecting title for a book. Then, you consider the artwork, which just adds to the overall strangeness. The synopsis adds another level to this - and then - you start reading.

Skin Cage holds the reader's attention from the start, telling us the story of Daniel (Danny) who gives clues to his state. He is paralysed, and can hardly move anything, save for his on occasion or when his head lols to one side or another whilst being repositioned in his chair.

It is told in first person perspective. I've told a few stories like this already and it is a skill that most authors cannot pull off effectively. Ultimately, if you don't care about Danny, the first person narrative starts to grate. However, the author has been smart in keeping his chapters short but utterly readable. It's not a book you can skip parts on and understand what is going on. The author treats his reader with respect by saying 'you're in Danny's head with his thoughts, and in his body through his skin cage - if you casually skim past stuff, we will punish you by not filling in the blanks.'

Here is a story where each word, each sentence and paragraph has been painstakingly thought through before committing to paper and screen. 

Danny's view of the world is a strange one. He has his carers, some, like Cassie and Anna, who genuinely care about him. There are others, like Marcus Salt, who seems to be the villain of the story, but again, Skin Cage is not so explicit in the difference of black and white. 

Despite the engaging narrative and thoughtful 'thoughts' of Danny, which are always interesting, the story is never heavy, but neither should it be taken as light reading.

In the first third of the book, I found myself clocking up the chapters even though I hadn't sat through and read it for say a solid hour. By the second third (forgive me, I have an ice hockey past!) things take a dark and twisted turns. A few 'a-ha' moments arrive. That's not the end of it. Or the start.

By the final third, there was only one thing to do - finish reading this elegant and articulate story and find out the ending. It's hinted at where the story is going. But once Danny escapes his skin cage - a sequence that I thought was brilliantly highlighted in the synopsis but wondered could it possibly work in its execution - wow,  is all I can say.

Skin Cage sounds dark, twisted and disturbing. It is. But it is also funny, engaging and well worth anyone's time and money to read. I say that with the confident knowledge that this book is fighting against millions of others to be seen.

Scenes where a nurse is wondered a character may harm themselves should be disturbing. Instead, the author gives us a humourous scene:-

"Can I have a pen and paper?"
"I'm not going to kill myself with it."

Another scene.

I would love to have the use of my body for long enough to deny him the further use of his.

There's a scene with a car that was my favourite moment in the entire book. It's so good, you will simply have to read it. I must also apologise to the author -Skin Cage has been on my read list for ages - but thankfully, it's been read now. I hope this review will help others to read it sooner than I did!

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Book Review: Jordan's Brains (A Zombie Evolution) by J Cornell Michel

Jordan's Brains: A Zombie Evolution

Jordan's Brains has been on my read list for too long, far too long, but like most things we apply patience to, they turn out to be well worth the wait. I hadn't read a zombie tale in about a year, and the trend seemed to be all very samey. Fortunately, the author has stayed away from the old zombie cliches, whilst giving us some rip roaring funny moments, that quite honestly, I never expected.

J Cornell Michel has a real talent for surprise. There are many twists and turns in this story, and like I have said (without giving anything away which would spoil it) this is a fun zombie read with a heart - one which may be handed to you.

It's also rather scary in parts, with 'Resident Evil' type jumps thrown in aplenty. That doesn't mean we really get used to them - the author weaves quite a bit of suspense into the tale and again, if you can see it coming, you're better than me.

Whilst the story itself is good - and the sheer number of reviews on here have covered that already in depth, for me, the real star was the dialogue. It was funny on many occasions, always interesting, and always going somewhere.

"Do you remember anything about being a zombie?"

"Yeah, but I don't want to talk about it."

You could take that as funny, or poignant, but the book is choc-full of dialogue like this.

"If somebody wants cigarettes during the zombie apocalypse, then I should be the one to help."

With more zombie action than you can possibly take a spade to, I recommend you give this book a try. I loved it. In fact, I would go as far as to say it is the best zombie-themed book I have ever read. Pop culture references that seem so forced in some other books I have read are brilliantly placed in this one. I saw Night of the Living Dead on tv - that was enough to scare me. I can't imagine seeing it on a big screen cinema!

I'm off to find a blue t-shirt with 'This is What A Zombie Looks Like". Then I think I'll re-read this book. In short, if anyone recommends this book or indeed this author to you, get it and read it quick. I absolutely loved it.