by Frank Peretti
Genre: AudioBook – Fiction – Horror – Creature Feature
Some monsters are real.
Reed, a city cop, has dragged his introverted wife, Bec (short for Rebecca), deep into the forests of Idaho for a guided survival camping trip. They soon discover that the guided portion of their trip may no longer be the case. And even worse? The survival part became an inescapable essential when they are attacked in the middle of the night by massive wailing monsters and Bec gets carried away into the expansive wilderness.
Enter into deep wilderness where the rules of civilization no longer apply. A world where strange shadows lurk. Where creatures long attributed to overactive imaginations and nightmares are the hunters . . .and people are the hunted. – Amazon
This was one of those books were I almost bought it half a dozen times. But something about the description made me shy away from laying down my cold hard cash for it. When I saw the audio version at the library I kind of shrugged and said, “Alright, I’ll give you a try this time.”
The audio version of this book is read by the author, Frank Peretti, himself. Which was kind of fun and his style of performance kind of felt like a dad reading you a story at bedtime. Granted, I’m not sure you should ever read this to a kid at bedtime… Unless you want them to dreams of massive beasts ripping people’s head’s off…
Most of the time I enjoyed his performance of the story, he had some great range when it came to the male characters and gave some engaging emotion with his performance, but when it came to the female characters I found myself wishing for a different reader. I know I’m being picky, but it really bothered me that the women in this audio book where all high-pitched whiny creatures. It didn’t help that the leading lady, Bec, had a disabling stutter to boot. I was listening to this in the car at one point and started yelling at the darn thing saying, “I get it! She has a stutter and she’s upset! Just spit the *expletive* *expletive* *expletive* thing out! Gaaaaaahhh!!” Yeah, it really bothered me. I understand that it was a device used to show Bec’s growth in a direct way as the story progressed, but it was just so infuriating because the way the stutter was performed it was all wet and spitty sounding, like half of it was done with his tongue sticking out. If I had been reading this I don’t think it would have bothered me at all, because you can kind of skim past all the stutters. What I will say about her stutter is that it actually added to the difficulty for her when hunters were trying to rescue her. So I was glad that it played a bigger role than just the very transparent “growth of character” thing.
Whew, ok, I’ve been wanting to get that rant out of my system for a while. On to the actual meat of the story.
After Bec and Reed get separated you start getting the story from two sides. One, on the search, rescue and answer-seeking side with Reed and the other on the wilderness-survival and monster POV side with Bec. I actually really enjoyed the story from there on out but in a removed way. As if I never got attached to the characters, but stayed on the outskirts as an interested, if uninvested, observer. Like a scientist studying the behavior of two groups of animals, which was certainly a theme in this story. You see the pack mentality of the humans as they hunt the creatures and the author did an incredibly thorough job of exploring the behaviors and culture of the monsters. This book became more about the primal qualities of humans than it was about big scary creatures in the woods. There were some fun chase sequences in the beginning, but most of the suspense and fear was sucked out of the middle by overexposing the monsters to the reader. By the end, the excitement came back when the twist was revealed and then the final fight sequences were back up into a fun and exciting pace.
This was one of those books where, if I had been reading it, I probably would have lost interest in the middle and then forced my way through it. But, because I was listening to it, I found it generally entertaining and I did enjoy, although wasn’t thrilled or chilled by, the more explorative middle of the book.
Two out of Five stars for this one. It’s an interesting read for those who most enjoy monster fiction. If you won’t find the behavioral study of the specimens an engaging portion of the story, you should probably skip this one. And in either direction, I think this would be a more enjoyable read than it was a listen.
I’m curious, when was the last time you screamed at a book? Or is that just something I do?