Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Bane by Joe Donnelly

by Joe Donnelly
2014 Impera Media, originally 1989 Arrow?

It's in first person and the protagonist is a writer, so there's two pet peeves right there.  I've been concerned lately about 80s novels being updated for recent Kindle releases, so I've been on the look out for subtle clues.  Nice of Donnelly to go ahead and bash me over the head with it in the opening.

"I'm listening to Queen, too bad Freddie Mercury died years ago and not two years in the future."

He then proceeds to throw in Twitter and the Robert Murdoch phone-hacking scandal, which was already dated by the 2014 republication date.  Luckily he quickly gets this out of his system and we're back to a world without cellphones where people still write letters.

A writer goes back to his hometown Arden, a small Scottish town that has been plagued by clusters of disasters throughout history.  He meets with two childhood friends that were involved in a tragedy they can't quite remember and It this is Stephen King's It.

Instead of an interdimensional clown demon or whatever, the source of the evil is a force of madness summoned from another dimension centuries ago to dispatch an invading Roman Army.  So less stupid that It.

This goes on way too long, but I'm trying to be a big boy and develop a patience for books over 200 pages.  I stick it out for a couple decent scenes of villagers going insane and murdering each other, but that's about 5% of the text.  The last 15-20% are the heroes travelling underground to dispatch the monster the same way they did as children and it least they don't use a friggin' inhaler.

I have a bias against first person, and this novel confirmed that bias.  One chapter goes full third person, even calling the original narrator by name, while other scenes were "I learned about this later from police reports" or "The terrified eight year old told me about it in precise detail" and the like.

He also throws in what is supposed to be foreshadowing - "This was to be my last good day until the crisis ended", or "I now know what horrible blah blah", which has the effect of broadcasting "Everything ended up fine" every couple chapters.  Kind of the opposite of dread and tension.

The characterizations were okay, but these late 80s horror novels just got way too long for their own good.  For this kind of page length you need a lot higher body count.

You can get the criminally overpriced Kindle version here, or borrow with Kindle Unlimited.

Click here to read a preview.

The original paperback is currently cheaper.

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