Monday, 8 November 2021

My Year in Books 2021: October

I'm a bit late posting this one, and there are only two books on it. I had a bit of a busy October, and November's shaping up to be even more so, so I'm afraid I haven't had a lot of time for reading.

In case you're interested, here are my reviews for the rest of the year: January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September

And here are the two books I read in October...

The Final Girl Support Group by Grady Hendrix (2021)

As it was my big Halloween month in October, I thought it’d be appropriate to read some books from my ever-towering Abominable Books pile (which I’m still behind with – of course). Maybe it’s because I read and watch horror all year round, but not ever horror book feels Halloweeny to me, so I wanted to choose the right ones. The first one I picked was The Final Girl Support Group, because slasher films definitely feel Halloweeny to me! And Hendrix’s novel is a real love letter to the slasher subgenre. The book’s premise is that a group of women who have all survived horrific and media-grabbing massacres have formed a support group to deal with their trauma. The women and their respective battles – with possibly one exception – are modelled on characters from classic slasher films, and indeed within the world of the novel they have each seen their stories fictionalized into film franchises. Part of the fun of the early part of the book is working out which real-life franchise has inspired each of Hendrix’s characters, and how that has affected the women they’ve become in later life. But there’s a whole other story here as well… the book opens with the news that a member of the support group has been murdered in yet another massacre. When other members of the group start to be targeted, Lynette (the novel’s central character) believes that someone is trying to wipe out the final girls. It’s a great book – definitely recommend it.

My Heart is a Chainsaw by Stephen Graham Jones (2021)

I decided to carry on with the slasher theme. I got Jones’s My Heart is a Chainsaw in my October Abominable Books box, and it seemed like a good pairing with The Final Girl Support Group. But although they share a real affection for slasher films, these are two very different books. Jones’s novel focuses on Jade Daniels, a young woman obsessed with slasher films. Jade is half-Native American and lives with her dad after her mum walked out on them. She’s an outcast – considered a bit weird by most – and she works as a janitor at the high school from where she (only just) graduates. She spends a lot of time watching horror films, and a lot writing ‘extra credit’ essays about slashers for her history teacher. When a body is found in the lake, Jade convinces herself that a slasher is stalking their small town, and that her horror viewing has prepared her for this eventuality. She knows what’s about to transpire, and she knows she needs to find the final girl to defeat the monster. This appears in the form of Letha Mondragon, a beautiful and wealthy new arrival at the school. I should say, My Heart is a Chainsaw is much more than a slasher or a treatise on the slasher. Jade is fascinating and compelling character. Although the book’s in third person, we follow things from Jade’s unreliable (or maybe frustrating) perspective, and I loved this. Come for the slashers, but stay for Jade Daniels!

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