Monday, October 27, 2014

Review: "The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde" Classic a Month #10.2014

The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
2 out of 5 stars

This was another disappointing read for my classic horror month. I think I am just too familiar with these stories (Jekyll & Hyde, Frankenstein, Poe) from pop culture references. They don't surprise and shock me like they are supposed to. The biggest plus to this read was that it was a short story, only 92 pages on my Kindle. If you've never read it and don't know the story at all, then by all means, read it and you will probably enjoy it. Also, stop reading this review now, because there will be tons of spoilers. :)

The basic story, that man is not truly one, but truly two, is told thru different narratives and is more of a dry science report than a story of good and evil. Dr Jekyll is the "mad scientist" who tries to come up with a solution to his impatient gaiety of disposition. Basically, he wants to be able to do bad things and get away with it. He creates a formula that transforms himself into a hideous, pure evil creature, Mr Hyde. As Hyde, he goes and does as he pleases and as Jekyll, he is still the good, respectable doctor.

If each...could be housed in separate identities, life would be relieved of all that was unbearable; the unjust might go his way, delivered from the aspirations and remorse of his more upright twin; and the just could walk steadfastly and securely on his upward path, doing the good things in which he found his pleasure, and no longer exposed to disgrace and penitence by the hands of this extraneous evil.

Jekyll's friends, Utterson and Lanyon, have a few confrontations with the abominable Hyde and begin to question his relationship with Jekyll. They fear that their friend is being blackmailed for something, as Jekyll has made over his will to leave everything to Hyde. (In case he disappears.) Utterson, being Jekyll's lawyer, obviously seriously questions this but gets no answers from the doctor.

Time goes on and Hyde kills a man and goes into hiding. Jekyll strives to keep the evil under check and go about his normal life, but he soon begins to slip. "I was slowly losing hold of my original and better self, and becoming slowly incorporated with my second and worse." After Lanyon dies and leaves Utterson a strange account of his last visit with Jekyll and an even stranger account of meeting Hyde, Utterson determines to go to Jekyll's home and figure things out once and for all.

Utterson arrives at Jekyll's laboratory and only finds the twisted body of Mr Hyde and a thick letter addressed to him in Jekyll's handwriting. Jekyll gives the full account of all that has transpired and how he finally succumbed to Hyde. "My devil had been long caged, he came out roaring." Jekyll refuses to let Hyde carry on living though and kills himself/themselves. (Would that be a murder/suicide?)
(This is the best thing ever and 
you will have it in your head for days!)

Monday, October 20, 2014

Review: "Bury Me Deep"

Bury Me Deep by Christopher Pike
2.5 out of 5 stars

It's that time of year when all I want to read is spooky books that give me the shivers, so who better than the master of teen murder himself, Christopher Pike?? Bury Me Deep was the first book I picked up from my stack and it was just kind of an okay read. Not as great as Master of Murder (but what is?) or Die Softly (which I realized I haven't reread yet!), but not as horrible as Monster. It pains me to write this, mostly because I skinned my elbow and can't lean on the desk, but main character Jean is boring and should have died. Spoiler: she doesn't lol.

Jean is a healthy, all-American, 18 year old girl on her way to Hawaii for spring break. Her 2 BFF's, Mandy and Michele (called Jill on the back cover, oops typo!), arrived 2 days before her due to a snafu with her evil science teacher and so she is flying out by herself. She's super excited to go and maybe lose her pesky virginity to a hot young surfer. On the plane, she meets a young hillbilly named Mike who won a trip to Hawaii and is oddly melancholy about it. They have a brief conversation about the trip and some dark cave that Mike has heard about and then he tells Jean "You're sitting in my seat". Then all of a sudden he has a seizure or something and he dies, right there on the plane. Yeah. Creepy side note: Pike dedicated this book to his nephew...Mike. Gee, thanks Uncle Chris lol.

Jean is obviously freaked out about it all but tries to put it out of her mind as she arrives in Hawaii. Her friend, Mandy, meets her at the airport with a lei and an "Aloha". "What does Aloha mean, anyway?" "Hello, goodbye, let's have sex." Mandy is a ditzy, fluffy girl (135 lbs is "fluffy" in Pike-verse) with a heart of gold who also wants to get laid. Specifically with the scuba instructor she met the day before, Johnny. And she doesn't want Jean interfering or taking Johnny for herself. Not that Jean would ever do that. Except of course, that's exactly what she does, unintentionally, as soon as she meets Johnny. Mandy kind of goes into the background after that, being the rejected fluffy girl. And don't worry about Michele, she's too busy actually doing what the other girls just wanted to do...

So the majority of this book is about scuba diving and honestly, it's boring and too much info. There's a whole chapter about the girls learning to dive in the hotel swimming pool. I could probably go dive right now with just this book as my learner's manual. Hot Johnny and Michele's guy Dave take them all out and despite her initial reservations, Jean thinks diving is totally rad after they finally get in the ocean and wants to do it every day. Dave and Johnny used to have a 3rd partner, Ringo, who I'm sure would have gone for Mandy but he like died mysteriously or something. Nothing to worry about though, I'm sure.

After the dive, Jean goes back to the hotel to rest and suddenly starts having weird prophetic dreams. She dreams of a bathtub full of blood and this is truly nasty: She wanted to turn the water off. Jean reached out for the faucet and turned it. But suddenly a gust of red steam rose up from the bloody tub. It hit her in the face. It smelled of death, of morbid decay, and it made her feel faint. Gross. When she wakes up, the tub is full of...ketchup. Okay, her dreams aren't totally spot on yet. Later, Jean goes out with Johnny and he tells her about Ringo, who died diving for sunken treasure, and then they almost have a make-out sesh on the beach but get interrupted by Johnny's beeper. I almost got in trouble in senior year English because my mom kept paging me once. My classmate covered for me by coughing a lot til I could get it turned off. I think I still have the beeper somewhere too. It's like a relic in a museum now lol.

Johnny's mom is a drunk and a total buzzkill for their date, so they decide to meet up again the next day on Johnny & Dave's work boat. Before that though, she has another dream, about a dark, underwater cave. She runs into Dead Mike and he shows her a skull buried deep in the cave, that has a suspicious hole in it. Then he does this neat trick with a white, heart-shaped balloon that explodes in her face and wakes her up, where she's hanging over the balcony about to die. Dave saves her and thinks she's some crazy chick with a death wish. Which she kind of is.

When they go out on the boat the next day, Jean talks Johnny into taking her to this island that she just HAS TO GO TO, because of her dream. Mandy tags along and after about 5 minutes of diving, freaks out and Johnny has to take her back up to the surface. Jean is supposed to follow but instead goes even deeper and OMG finds a cave just like in her dream. And shocker, there's a skull there. No one believes her of course, so she starts researching. That's what I would do on my fabulous vacation in Hawaii. She finds out a bunch of crap, like that Mike actually died scuba diving and not on the plane like she thought. Turns out she's been having these dreams for a while now and never knew. She decides to go visit Mike's grave on the island (what??!) and a tree branch falls and knocks her on the head and she sees what really happened to Mike. He was diving and found the skull and "someone" (ie: either Dave or Johnny) decided to kill him to keep him quiet. They inflated his bouyancy thingy and he rocketed to the surface, his heart exploding on the way. Yick.

Jean wakes up and just knows it's Dave, so she rushes off to the hotel, but finds that something else has happened...Mandy is dead. She was either pushed or jumped off the balcony and went splat on the cement below. Mandy must have landed on top of her head. The crown of her skull was crushed flat. The delicate bones that made up her pleasant expression were shattered. There was blood everywhere. But it was still good old Mandy. Now Jean is convinced that Dave killed her friend too and tells Johnny the whole story, but he thinks she's crazy. She goes off on her own to try to get the skull out of the cave, to prove it to everyone.

While down there, Dave ("someone") attacks her, and tries to kill her the same way as good old Mike. Luckily, she keeps her cool and manages to get back to the surface safely. Once there, she just happens to run into Johnny, who went after her. He helps her back onto the boat, where Dave and Michele are conveniently knocked out, and Jean starts piecing a few things together that didn't make sense before. OMG it's Johnny!! Duh. Suddenly, Johnny is a homocidal maniac, killing Ringo over buried treasure and then Mike and finally Mandy. Jean jumps overboard and tries to swim away but Johnny comes after on a wave runner (jet ski) and tries to run her down. She does some fancy manuevering and eventually, he runs into a bank of coral and goes flying off the bike, breaking his neck. Bye, Johnny. Jean has one last dream about Mike, who is totally at peace now that his death has been figured out, and she heads home, still a virgin.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Review: "Northanger Abbey" Classic a Month #9.2014

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
3 out of 5 stars

I hate to say it, but this book was boring for me. I actually started it once and had to put it down for a week or two. I know this is a lot of people's favorite Austen book but it just wasn't for me. It's a very quiet story and despite the promising Goodreads summary, not a lot happens.

"Jane Austen's "Gothic parody". Decrepit castles, locked rooms, mysterious chests, cryptic notes, and tyrannical fathers..."

So that makes you expect an almost scary story with maybe some murder thrown in, right? Nope, sorry. You get a few misdirections and spine-shivering moments, but that's it. Catherine Morland is the "heroine" of this story, really just in her own mind though. She is a plain, average girl from a plain, average family, who of course wants her grand romantic gesture, just like any girl. At the age of seventeen, Catherine is lucky enough to have kind and thoughtful neighbors who invite her to the city of Bath for the summer. There, she is sure to meet her dashing hero and have her happily ever after.

The first half of the book centers on her stay in Bath and her first time in "society". She immediately befriends a young woman named Isabella who is exactly the type of girl that Catherine thinks she wants to be. Beautiful, popular, and a horrendous flirt. Isabella takes a liking to Catherine's brother, especially when she thinks he comes from money. She uses her feminine wiles to ensnare him along with his sister. Catherine, being a naive country girl, does not realize she is being used and spends most of the story defending her bosom friend. Until Isabella dumps Catherine's brother for someone better and richer. Cow. Add that to the fact that Isabella's brother likes Catherine and is horribly dull, and that whole family can just go away now please.

Catherine also meets a young man named Henry Tilney, who has the potential to be her dashing hero. He was one of the best parts of the story. His dry wit and quiet sarcasm were quite refreshing. Yes, quite. Mr Tilney also has a sister, Eleanor, who is very nice and quiet, the opposite of Isabella. This book could almost be a story of sibling relationships. It might have been more interesting.

The second half of the book takes Catherine to the Tilney's abbey home, where her imagination runs rampant, due to all the gothic romances she reads. Reading will always get you in trouble, am I right? ;) There is a strong prejudice against "fluffy" novels throughout the book: "real men" do not read such nonsense, women must be ashamed of it, etc... Henry adds another notch to his eligibility belt with this little passage with Catherine:

C: "But you never read novels, I dare say?"
H: "Why not?"
C: "Because they are not clever enough for you-gentlemen read better books."
H: "The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid."

Henry encourages Catherine's imaginings by telling her a mysterious story on the way to the abbey and of course she jumps to all kinds of conclusions, especially concerning his dead mother. Henry's dad is not the most pleasant person and Catherine just assumes he had a hand in his wife's untimely death. She is wrong of course and Henry corrects her very harshly. All is forgiven eventually and the two young people grow fond of each other and things look promising.

Then Henry's dad gets some mis-information from Isabella's spurned brother and basically kicks Catherine out of his home. She goes back home broken-hearted and unable to even speak to Henry before she leaves. Luckily, he finds out what happened and rushes off to see her and make things right. And Catherine gets her dashing hero and happily ever after. The End.