The Waking Dark by Robin Wasserman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I think it was Jackman in some interview- Yes, he is valid authority. Wolverine’s abs say so! – who made a distinction between two types of horror in film: the one that’s a bit like Saw, where death is a forgone conclusion and all that’s left to imagine is how bloody/ gory things can get. An odd almost contrary statement was then made where that type of horror was described, “sanitized terror” (I don’t know if I have the words right, but that’s roughly what I recall). Odd, because there was nothing clean about how that dude cut his own leg off, yeah? Except there’s sense in that description, too: it’s sanitized because all the blood and gore were forgone or so obviously going to happen. Death was going to happen, it was simply a matter of how bloody things would get.
Then there’s that other kind: the old school one (No, not of the rubber mold monsters that’s (painfully) obviously fake,) the older than those; the one’s that have your neck hair standing on end because you don’t know what’s happened/ happening. The one’s heavy with silhouettes and shadows, background music, and perfectly times pauses that all propelled the viewer to further imagine what could be next. Imagination was it’s tool… we’d come up the limitless even when… No, especially when it came the terrifying.
Rambling Introductions need a point: this book? This book?! has taken both kinds of horror and crammed as much of both into it as possible. There’s mass killings, murdered infants; there’s bully kids revealing what they’re really capable of; there’s chaos. In short: INSANITY…. And I loved it. The sinister less obvious bit creeps in with how easily it all took place. It’s very Stepford in effect. They all looked on as one horror is heaped on and on and on like it was all, “Next please.” The horrific was acceptable; it’s all so easy in execution and that’s the sanitized horror I’m talking of. So, take a saw to your leg; there’s going to be blood… and that precise things doesn’t actually happens here… there’s still lots of parallels to make! So blood, terror, scary kids then scarier adults: I loved it, even as I was terrified by it.
Bonus (of the delicious variety): I could feel Stephen King all over this. Never mind what could have been chopped up moments with the potential of stopping the flow of terror. The pacing in this was… put To. Die For. Wasserman’s made it her bitch because written as it was, pausing at each moment with that split second of me waiting for that next thing simply raised everything (the sinister, the creepy, the terrifying, and -- this surprised and pleased me most-- even those tender moments in between the said terror/blood/ gore) to something better.
But it’s more than the actual horrific goings-on, it’s the individual kids and their particular stories that added another bonus (of the delicious variety) here. The young ones have been screwed over. Badly. West, Jule, Daniel, Cass, and Grace each stories that add something more. And if that were still insufficient: there’s also the way the same stories get woven together. A Breakfast Club comparison is too obvious a comparison because despite there being a jock, an outcast type, a loner bad-ass type and weirdo in this one, they’re no brat pack (thank gods.)
Hype over this particular title: Completely justified. And with October coming up as it is... well, it’s just is timely, isn’t it? Unless you all are like me, impatient about the next good thing to read in which case: grab a copy of this; get reading.
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