Sunday, February 28, 2016

Serial Killer Heaven


By Ryan Harding & Jason Taverner

Publisher: Deadite Press

Pub Date: December 1, 2015

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Reincarnage is one of those novels in which it is so indebted to movies that it is easier to discuss with comparisons from the silver screen than from the written page. It reads like a super tribute to the 80s slasher films, the ones with an unkillable serial killer terrorizing an unsuspecting populace. There is another nod of the head to those films, I am not even sure they have a name for it, in which a dystopic power throws a group of people into a seemingly inescapable situation where they are picked off one by one. CUBE, IDENTITY, even THE HUNGER GAME series are just varying examples of those films and they feature one of my favorite themes in movies; the innocent against an unbeatable evil. Interestingly these two horror sub-genres which seem to be combined in Reincarnage include my least favorite (the slasher film) with my favorite (for lack of a better term, Murder by Dystopia).

In Reincarnage (God! I love that title!) 11 people wake up in a hotel having no idea how they got there. It doesn't take long to realize they are in a walled off region where the government has placed the world's worst serial killer and mass murderer, an ex-Vietnam Vet nicknamed Agent Orange. He isn't just the worst serial killer ever but also indestructable, coming back to life no matter how he is killed or what is done to him. The government keeps him happy in his walled off prison by supplying him victims from time to time. The novel focuses on these 11 people and how they try to survive and fight off Agent Orange. It is not a spoiler to say most of them do not survive and we get to read about their demise in great detail.

It's a dynamite plot if lacking in believability but that is simply something it shares with most of the 80's slasher films it derives inspiration from. Both Ryan Harding and Jason Taverner are impressive writers. They go into creative detail in the action segments and this is the strength of the novel. If one is looking for the best slasher horror novel in print, you will be in the running with Reincarnage.

Yet that is why it doesn't take home the proverbial bacon for me. When I do read a slasher novel or even a splatterpunk novel, of which this is solidly in the same ballpark, it becomes alive when I identify with the victims. I didn't find any of them all that likable or three dimensional, even the two that we eventually should care for. For that reason, the relentless violence became a bit tiring for me. I also had trouble with why they were chosen. There is a lot of positioning and theorizing on part of the victims but I was hoping for more solid explanations in even a fantastical setup like this. It seems secondary to the bloodbath.

But if you are looking for a literary bloodbath, you won't be disappointed. Overall, I enjoyed this novel for what it is; a very imaginative excursion into the serial killer department of the splatter novel. If it is ever made into a movie, and it should be, I will definitely be in line to see it. As for the novel, if you are into the science fiction/supernatural serial killer scenario, this will be the book for you. If you are looking for a little bit more, maybe not.

1 comment:

  1. You got me, hook, line and sinker. If it sounds terrifying, I want to read it. If you want another horror novel to add to your reading list, look at "Lucifer's Son", I'm adding it to mine.. it looks awesome.