The lovely Abbey and Tabitha started the Blogger Book Nook (a bloggers reading group) last month, and I was really excited to have a little extra motivation for reading. I adore reading but with Dougie, I don’t get as much time any more, however, in the spirit of October and Halloween, this months reading prompt was about all things spooky. I didn’t get time to take part last month so I knew I wanted to make time this month for the Spooktacular Q&A…
Q1) Has a book ever scared you silly? If so, which one was it and would you recommend it?
The Shining always scared me. I took Joey from Friends’ idea and used to put it in the freezer when I was younger. I really loved the book and I would recommend me, but it stuck with me afterwards and did give me nightmares – it’s not a cosy bedtime read!
Q2) Who is the most terrifying character you’ve ever come across?
The character that terrified me wasn’t a typical ‘scary character’…Has anyone ever read The Yellow Wallpaper? It’s a short story by Charlotte Perkins Gilman written in 1982, and it’s a collection of journal entries by a woman who was diagnosed with what her husband calls “temporary nervous depression –a slight hysterical tendency.” The story documents her mental health and her descent into psychosis, and it terrified me.
Q3) Zombies, ghosts, or vampires – which are your favourites to read about?
I love love LOVE zombie books. Especially post-apocalyptic zombie books! I do have a soft spot for Dracula, but give me zombies any day. There is a series called Newsflesh published under Mira Grant, which I absolutely love – it combines blogging, politics and zombies – mini review below! There is also a trilogy called The Passage by Justin Cronin, which is a kind of vampire/zombie post-apocalyptic sci-fi series and I love it. The story begins in 2016 and involves vampire-esque creatures who are infected by a contagious virus, and surviving humans are trying to work out how to live in a world shared with bloodthirsty virals.
Q4) Do you find horror movies or books scarier? Why?
I definitely prefer to read horror books, but I think I find them scarier in the cinema as I’m not good with jumpy, creepy things, and I think sitting in a cinema can help with a creepy dark atmosphere and building suspense, whereas as much as I love getting lost in a world in a book, if you’re sat on a busy commuter train reading a horror book, it’s not quite the same!
Q5) What scary books would you recommend to someone new to the genre?
I think the classics such as Dracula and Frankenstein are great places to start, but they are quite long. The Woman in Black (I wrote my whole BA dissertation on The Woman in Black so I know it VERY well!) isn’t too long so could be a good starting point. If you love zombie things like I do, I can’t recommend the Newsflesh series more!
Mini review – Feed, Mira Grant (Newsflesh series)
Initially, I found this book quite hard to get into – there was a lot of information to take in, and the narrative jumps from the protagonist, George, to excerpts from several personal blogs, and it took me a while to fully grasp who was who. Feed follows a group of bloggers on a presidential campaign, and when things start to go wrong, they continue covering the campaign, searching for the truth, whatever the cost. The story describes the different types of journalists/bloggers that exist, including Newsies, who want the hard facts, Irwins, who want to educate as well as entertain – the brother of the protagonist, Shaun is an Irwin, who will literally go outside into hazardous zones and poke zombies with sticks, while filming all of it for their website – After the End Times, and Fictionals, who write fictional content such as poetry. The story looks very deeply at the way in which it is really blogs that have become the primary source for audiences to get the news, and how the blogging community was such a widespread group of people, all committed to working together to get the news out. It showed what an incredible tool blogging can be, and the impact that it can have.
Although the novel (it’s the first part of the Newsflesh trilogy) is a zombie book, it’s really more of a political thriller – a book with zombies in, rather than a book all about zombies. When you first meet the characters, the zombies, or the ‘infected’ have been around on Earth for over 20 years, and this was one thing that made the story hugely appealing to me.
Although it is in part, a story about survival, and the shock and terror of having zombies around, the story showed how, while they were still a terrifying threat, the world had found ways to adapt and therefore keep living and moving forward. This gave the book a much more interesting angle than a typical zombie novel.
The depth that this novel went into, particularly when talking about new technology such as the testing kits which everyone had to do several times before going anywhere to make sure they weren’t infected, and the way in which the zombie attacks were described was incredible. It was beautifully woven together and the imagery in the book was so rich. The book gives a lot of the history of how the zombies came to be there (I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who hasn’t read it so I won’t go into too much detail) and about how the world has advanced and how they deal with zombie attacks. Although fortunately we can’t relate to zombie attacks, the detail about blogging and the desire to get the next breaking story and higher ratings is something that is extremely relatable, and so believable, and at the very heart of the story, is the relationship between a brother and sister, which I absolutely loved.