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Series: West of Hell #1
“And ye shall eat the flesh of your sons, and the flesh of your daughters shall ye eat.” – Leviticus 26:29
When two cannibalistic, gravely wounded men stagger into the town of Gehenna, all Hell breaks loose. Infamous outlaw Mad Dog McCall, stuck in the city jail, must fight for his life to escape. The lonely, intelligent, and snarky Karen must make horrific sacrifices to survive the night against the growing army of the dead.
Together they set upon a journey of biblical proportions, fighting against the living and the infected, hoping against hope to find a safe haven in the middle of Hell.
The Old West can’t fathom the zombie horde that is about to consume it.
With both Gehenna and Audition, I had the most difficult time immersing myself in their worlds – and not for entirely different reasons, either. Gehenna was supposed to be a slamdunk for me. I love a little zombie action, no matter what shape or form, and I’ve acquired a growing interest in Westerns, so the mash-up in Gehenna should’ve knocked it out of the park.
That did not happen, not one little bit.
I made it less than 40% of the way through Gehenna in over a month before I grew the cajones to call it quits. I gave it chance after chance, but I had only one thought throughout – and that was, I expected more from this. I am hugely disappointed by how flat and sterile the whole narrative was, from the zombies to the setting; everything lacked any imagination whatsoever.
Karen, who was way too ahead of her time for a whore in a little western town, should have been able to carry to bulk of the novel on her headstrong shoulders – she had the most promise of them all – and yet I found her almost as repulsive as their drunkard, scamming-ass doctor. Another contender for the title of “this novel’s saving grace” was outlaw Mad Dog McCall, who witnesses firsthand the emergence of the zombie infestation from a jail cell, and he dropped the ball, too.
He’s not the only one, though – even the zombies were boring. I didn’t feel their threat or their thirst for flesh, and that was the point at which I decided I’d wasted enough time trying to invest in a novel that wouldn’t invest in itself. I’m willing to read other works by Jason Brant, but as for the West of Hell series, I’m out.
The long-awaited translation of the novel behind the cult classic Japanese movie.
In this gloriously over-the-top tale, Aoyama, a widower who has lived alone with his son ever since his wife died seven years before, finally decides it is time to remarry. Since Aoyama is a bit rusty when it comes to dating, a filmmaker friend proposes that, in order to attract the perfect wife, they do a casting call for a movie they don’t intend to produce. As the résumés pile up, only one of the applicants catches Aoyama’s attention—Yamasaki Asami—a striking young former ballerina with a mysterious past. Blinded by his instant and total infatuation, Aoyama is too late in discovering that she is a far cry from the innocent young woman he imagines her to be. The novel’s fast-paced, thriller conclusion doesn’t spare the reader as Yamasaki takes off her angelic mask and reveals what lies beneath…
*long, drawn out sigh* I think, more than Gehenna, Audition really and truly disappointed me – but, more than even that, it frustrated me. Because it started off great! Check this out:
“Why don’t you find yourself a new wife, Pops?”
It was this question, posed by his son, Shige, that precipitated Aoyama’s decision to remarry.
So, we have a strong start and a promising premise. So far, so good.
Unfortunately, the very next sentence backtracks years and years and years, and the rest of the chapter is catching us back up to that point. What the hell happened to in medias res? ‘Cause if Ryū Murakami had just kept in that scene without backpedaling like decades, damned near, it would’ve been a good read.
Then again, since the entirety of what I read – 40-some pages – is structured with more of the same, I can’t say I’m too surprised.
Maybe I’ll just watch the fuckin’ movie and leave this unread.