Depths of Paradise: A Dry Tale

Depths of Paradise: A Dry Tale

Written by Vance Albright

Self Published

271 pages

There will be Spoilers

 

The Cover: The cover of this book is inspired. It is a close up of one of the characters, Mya Kendig, I believe. She’s wearing diving gear and the reflection is of the monster attacking Jade. The title is in big red letters and the author’s name is at the bottom.

The cover is eye catching to be sure. A lot of work went into it.

The back of the book is standard fare. The exception to this is the sinister yellow eyes plastered on the back. A nice touch.

 

The Writing.

The writing is fine. However, it’s too formula. I have a feeling this author was inspired a little too much by Severed Press authors. I can’t be sure.

For example, every time a new character is introduced, they are only done so to die. That’s it. The reader has no reason to really care about anyone. It’s basically in the book to fill pages and say “Look how scary my monster is, it kills people,” that’s fine, for a movie.

A book, you’re allowed to explore, follow characters, and develop them for more than a single chapter before turning them into lunch.

This writer just wanted to raise the body count, I guess?

Also, there are several times the writer mistakes words. When talking about crash sites. He uses the word Sight. A lot. I think almost every time.

Other words are used too. Squid is used for the squad. Gradual is used for gratitude. Lots of tiny mistakes like this are scattered in the book. It is difficult but you need to do your best to check every word to the best of your ability. Don’t just rely on computers.

Chapter 35.

I am not sure what is up with this chapter. It is as if the writer wanted some kind of a montage of things to go by and didn’t quite know how to pass the time. It was the weakest chapter in the book.

 

The Characters:

 

The characters of this book feel a little shallow at times and talk like computers.

Liz and Okada are in a relationship and while at work, none of that relationship stuff comes into play, at all. It’s very strange to not see any friction there. I think some inner conflict might have made the book better and more realistic.

Samuel is way too arrogant for a cryptozoologist. He really fits the mold for a legit, cranky old scientist who’s never wrong. He is a major troll for the most part.

Mya Kendig is a Cosplayer who never cosplays. She is very concerned about what other people think. Her parents are the worst. For a short time they are in the book, they are just terrible. However, she doesn’t have much of a part in the book for as much time as we spend with her. She only encounters the monster once and spends most of the time in her apartment and at work.

Riley. She proves as the character with the most arc. It’s not a very big one. She’s the only one who seems to have any character growth and seems alive. Easily my favorite character in the book.

Max Varian: Varian is Varan with an I in it. Just so you know. Now you do. Max is the Biologist who’s basically forced to lie to Mya the whole book and make her think she’s nuts. He sticks to the script the whole time after they meet, and you’d think he’d break it since she is the only one to see the monster and live, but nope.

Detective Browner: The typical detective, you’ve seen him a thousand times before.

Jade Kendig: Lunch.

Ashly Cross: Computer expert whose character doesn’t seem to be used for much of anything. I read the book but besides running the gun on the ship towards the end she seems kind of useless.

The Water Panther: I must admit, I didn’t think this would be the monster of choice. However, this cryptid has little to do with the Ocean or Hawaii. It has more to do with the Great Lakes region. As for this “Infrasound” it uses. I did some looking and can’t find any evidence that it disrupts electronics at all. I didn’t look too much but I think this is just the author’s invention. I mean, I like the concept and all, so good work.

Sometimes while reading the book, the characters mix too well and you lose track of who’s talking. A lot of it is just planning and investigating, lots of talking and not much action in this book. The characters have a lot of nothing to do.

 

The Setting: The waters off of Hawaii. That’s pretty much it.

 

The Story:

It starts out with a Prologue. Personally, I don’t like these things. It tells us how this Niihau base was built, describes it, and tells us what it’s for, the dolphins that are being trained there, and everything. The problem is nothing ever happens at this special base. The Dolphins don’t even really play a part until the end in an overly complicated plan. In all, prologues suck, just start with chapter one.

The story actually starts with the Lucky Dragon. A fishing trawler that gets attacked by a sea beast, then reports, investigations, team gatherings, and meetings.

I’m going to be honest, after a while, like I said, it gets a little tough to read. Most of the cast is so mechanical and they all start to blend.

Every so often the writer introduces new characters at random to die, then the “Suijin Squad” investigates the death.

Most of the stuff Mya does has no real effect on the story, Riley and Browner too. Take these three out of the story and it would have the same conclusion. Mya isn’t even allowed to be part of the final confrontation with the beast.

She even drugs Riley at one point to stop her from going on a submarine trip out of fear. Like clockwork, the monster attacks the sub and you know how it goes from there. I wonder, what would have happened if Mya was wrong and the Sub tour turned out to be fine. There were so many things that could have taken a weird, unexpected twist. It does not. It’s a little sad.

The story goes to formula. It happens exactly the way you expect. An overcomplicated plan involving attack dolphins and underwater mines.

The story ends with a big splash and sadly, everyone lives. Okada “Sacrifices” himself but somehow makes it to the surface. Everyone’s fine. The monster dies and even though we know there are more out there because of some weird and random POV chapters from the monster, Max tells Mya that the “Depths of Paradise” are safe again.

Even he knows there might be more monsters out there. So, he lies until the very end.

The book has a happy ending but it takes it sweet time getting there.

Final Thoughts:

This book could have been about a hundred pages shorter. The final plan to kill the monster was insane, attack dolphins? I mean, you know where it is. You know where it kills, you know what it kills. No one ever comes up with the idea of using simple tactics first. Bait and trap it. Simple things first?

Nope, they just let it kill more people while they talk about it. This book could have moved a lot faster than it did.

It’s not a bad book, it just has some pacing problems. If you start with a bang like this book does, you should do your best to keep it up. Slog is a hard thing for a writer to take on and sometimes it can get the best of us.

I do wonder what this author comes up with next and I think it can only get better from here. Just watch the word usage. Site and Sight, stuff like that.

Three out of five stars.

Changes. I hate change but sometimes you need it.

For the two of you who might read this, you will notice there was no November review. After so many chances, I’ve given up on Severed Press as a publisher.

Out of all the books I read, only two were moderately alright. The rest was trash. I hate being so harsh. I really do but you can read the past reviews to know what I thought of those “books”

I have decided to take Narbosaurus and Night World down. I don’t want them associated with that kind of quality anymore. Ripoffs, “homages” bad writing and all the rest of the stuff, I couldn’t take it anymore.

Once I get done writing my latest novel. I’ll send it, Narbosaurus and Night World into the new publisher and hope they take it. After that, I need to focus all of my energy on writing. No more novel writing for me, at least not for a while. I have plenty of ideas, I’d much rather just write all the time and not worry a second about selling anything. But I have too.

No one is going to do it for me. At least not yet.

Things are changing, but for now, only for the better.

Zombie Bigfoot: Yeah, this is a real book. Check out the Disclaimer, it’s the best part!

Zombie Bigfoot

296 Pages

Published by Wild Yonder Press

Written by Nick Sullivan

 

Cover:

As you might expect, the front cover has the Zombie Bigfoot’s face on it. It’s not the most creative cover but covers are hard so this is okay. It gets the point across well enough.

The back cover has way too much information on it. The front cover already spoils the concept of the zombie Bigfoot. We already know what’s coming. The back blurb is two paragraphs long and asks “Will they find bigfoot?”

Yes. Yes, they will. The book is called Zombie Bigfoot.  I don’t understand why when your title is so on the nose, you’d try to make any sort of mystery about it. It’s like showing someone where the treasure is, then handing them a map. What’s the point?

Also, it tells about the author on the bottom of the page. It says “This is his first novel” Maybe never tell people it’s the first one. No one needs to know how many you’ve done or haven’t done.

 

Writing:

It’s not too bad. The structure is pretty strange in places. Some chapters are broken up with bigfoot markers. I was told if you had to change scenes in a chapter, you started a new one. This book will have several things happen at once in the same chapter, and none of those things are worthy of their own chapter because they are so short.

There are lots of ellipsis in the book. People will trail off with stuff like Bigfoot… So many dots. It’s not nearly as bad as something like Ghost Rig or something but it does show up quite a bit to be annoying.

This book should have only been about a hundred and fifty pages long or so. There is so much filler that goes nowhere and doesn’t contribute to the main story that it’s tiresome to read at points. The writer is an actor of some kind of book narrator and actor. I didn’t look any of it up but it feels like he really wanted to ‘bring his characters to life’ but all it feels tedious after a time.

Otherwise, it’s all alright for the most part. No big mistakes or glaring issues besides the chapter thing.

 

The Setting:

Every Bigfoot movie basically takes place in the same place. Somewhere in the deep nowhere. This book is no exception. It happens in Idaho. Nez Perce Forest, if you think Bigfoot, you usually think the Pacific Northwest, but I guess Idaho and Montana is fine too.

There are only so many times you can describe trees, rocks, and grass before you get it. This is where the story takes place.

There is a camp in place too but the place is poorly defined and it’s pretty hard to get a clear image in your head, it’s just a gathering place for the characters when they aren’t running around in the woods somewhere.

 

The Characters:

All of them are extremely stereotypical. You have your evil hunter guy who’s obviously only there to kill bigfoot. The super-rich billionaire who can’t seem to get anything right but still tries his best. The Native American tracker because in these kinds of stories this is their main job.

The beauty, you know the one who befriends the beast? Yeah. The actual Indian tech support guy, the overweight tech and sound guy. The jack of all trades hero. Face it, you’ve seen all of these characters a thousand times in movies like this.

However, the writer decides that the Bigfoot needs to be a character too. Not just a character, but intelligent, human-like personalities, names. I don’t actually understand why this needed to happen. It would be enough to have one monster but the writer feels its time to have a whole family and its good to humanize them and to make you care.

There are other characters that are thrown in towards the end of the book, but they are just to make the body count rise. No one cares about them.

 

The Story:

Remember. This book is almost three hundred pages long. This is the basic story.

 

The professor goes to the woods, gets hurt. Friendly Bigfoot helps him get better. Professor returns to the world and is obsessed with convincing the world that hey, Bigfoot is real! To the point where he fakes evidence and gets caught. For being so smart this guy is an idiot and ends up dying, killing himself over the embarrassment, something.

Now the daughter is looking for bigfoot due to journal dad left. However, now they have a team of experts to search for the beast and catch it, funded by a Billionaire who keeps messing up and somehow isn’t in jail by now.

What no one knows is there is a pesky green rock that turns things into zombies. A couple of people find it, it turns them into zombies. They meet up with bigfoot, bigfoot “kills” them, but gets bitten.  There are two monsters.

That’s basically it. A mysterious green rock? No, it’s never explained really. Don’t bother worrying about it. A plot device.

The Zombie Bigfoot of the title doesn’t even show up until about page 123 or so. By now the book with this thin of a story and plot should have just about over by now. That should tell you just how much padding and poor pacing there is in this book. It gets tedious at times. A book like this should get to the point as soon as it can. Not make the reader wait to see anything meaningful. It’s Zombie Bigfoot, not some grand epic of amazing, memorable characters.

No one watches Friday the 13th for its amazing character development. This book feels like it should be in the same concept level of a slasher movie and misses its mark when it tries to be more emotional than it needs to be. With a name like Zombie Bigfoot, you expect horror, I guess. Nothing on the book came off as scary.

Also, this book has two epilogues. Two. I don’t understand why. It was as if the author was desperate to reach some magic three hundred pages but just couldn’t quite make it.

All the characters act exactly as you expect them to.

 

Final Thoughts.

This book isn’t terrible, it’s not great either. Everything happens almost like its formula. If the writer had heard these things, these exact stories a thousand times and said “I’m going to elevate this into the next level”

It just makes it mostly tedious to get through. When stuff does happen it’s a little underwhelming, you expect it to go down exactly like it does. There is no surprise here. I just think it could have been a lot faster paced if it were about half the size. Two hundred pages, max. Not three hundred. The filler really kills the tension.

This is supposed to be the start of a series, I guess? If it is, I think I’ll skip the rest of them. One was enough for me.

Three out of five stars. I don’t know why this book is reviewed so highly on Amazon, I wonder if they read the book and not just are judging it by its cover?

Chasing American Monsters: A brilliant let down

Chasing American Monsters.

Written by Jason Offutt

Pages: 339

Published By: Llywellyn Books

No spoilers for this kind of book and it’s going to be a little different than the others listed so far.

 

Cover: The cover for this book makes it look like it came from a different time period, the 1800’s maybe. That’s the intention. It has three pictures of monsters on it. Maine Goatman, Washington Bigfoot and the Ozark Howler.

It claims to have over 250 monster entries, too.

The back of the book starts out as some kind of circus announcement and gives a quick rundown on what’s inside. It’s nothing terrible.

 

The Book:  This book covers all 50 states in the United States. If you get this you are likely going to want to head right to where you live and read all about the nightmares in your state.  Each state also has an image of a random cryptid

The Pros:

The book has lots of interesting things in it you might not have heard of, especially if you’re just getting into cryptozoology.

The writing isn’t dry. Each entry is good to read and it doesn’t make you feel if you’re just reading a textbook.

Each state is introduced properly. Famous people, a little about the size, population and attractions that you want to see. For example, he mentions Wall Drug, South Dakota for my home state.

The length of the book is good to keep people busy for a while.

I really enjoyed this book.

The Cons:

Some of the entries are way too short. The details are lacking. Some of the illustrations in the book feel like they came out of an old video game.

Hoaxes are included. Like the Hodag in Wisconsin. My guess is just for more word count.

Repeating entries. Do you like Bigfoot? Well, you better. Because the thing shows up in just about every state. It gets old pretty fast. The South Dakota entry is interesting because apparently, the Bigfoot around here wears a top hat, suit and uses a cane. This book could have benefited from a Bigfoot section, or just make another book about it.

Final thoughts: This book is great. This book is amazing for anyone into cryptozoology or just getting into it. It’s well written, entertaining and, well, there is a massive problem. Once I discovered about halfway through the book.

Like any good monster hunter. I searched online for more information about the book. I found entries! Not just any entries though. I found every entry in this book, online. Not just similar, either. It was written by the same guy in 2015, at least. Even the state introductions were the same. The only difference was the online version had more pictures. Other than that, it was word for word identical.

I get that sightings of cryptids can’t be varied too much. You can go to a thousand different websites and get the same information, sure. Each site will have its own style, worded differently and different presentation.

This book, however, well.

Unless the internet dies, all of the information in the book can be found, for free. I paid seventeen dollars for it.

Unfortunately, in my view, this book is a scam. If you’re paying for something you can get for free on your phone and computer at any time you want. That turned all my joy into depression in seconds once I found that out.

https://mysteriousuniverse.org/2016/09/exploring-american-monsters-south-dakota/ This is the entry from my home state. The word for word entry from the book I bought on Amazon.

This book would be good for people without access to the internet, or kids who are into this stuff who can’t be on the internet as much as they’d like. However, for everyone else. It’s free, as of this writing.

It kills me to do it, but this book only deserves one star for scamming people like it did.

If you’re going to publish a book. Make sure that book information can’t be found on the internet. I’m not sure how this book got made like it did. I’ll be sending an E-mail to the publisher to see what they say about it.

Cryptid Zoo: No mystery here, it’s just Jurassic Park with Bigfoot done poorly.

Cryptid Zoo

Written by Gerry Griffiths

Published by Severed Press

139 Pages

There might be spoilers

 

The Cover: The cover reminds me of that scene in the movie Meg. Where the kid is standing in front of the glass and the giant shark bites into it. In this, the cover is a kid standing in front of a giant octopus. I mean, it’s not a bad cover. I liked it.

The back cover gives away the whole plot. Its four paragraphs of stuff that should have been condensed way down. I don’t know who thought it was a good idea for it to be so long. But reading it, it’s basically Jurassic Park. Exchange John Hammond for Carter Wilde and cryptids for dinosaurs. There you go, that’s all there is to it.

 

Writing: This book is pretty well written. The chapters are all even length. None of this one paragraph or one-page chapters. They all seem to be about three pages long, or close to it. There aren’t any glaring mistakes, overuse of ellipses. The quality of writing is good as far as I could tell. Everything flowed well enough.

I’m willing to say this was one of the best written Severed Press books I’ve read up to this point.

 

Characters: This is where the book starts to fall apart. Most of the characters, you really don’t get to know anything about them.

Nick, Gabe, and Meg Wells: Family selected to go to the Cryptid Zoo. Along with several other nameless people. I think Nick works in Marketing for Wilde’s company, but other than that. Not too much is special about them. Nick gets “Visions” towards the end but it only comes up once and makes no sense.

Bob, Shane and Rhonda Pascale: Again, if these three weren’t in the story, not much would change. They wouldn’t even be missed. Shane has a little more to do but his inclusion in the story is just frustrating, Gabe’s to come to think about it.

Christine: The tour guide. She guides the group through the zoo explaining what everything is. That’s her only job in the book.

Burt Owen: Super Special Effect Animatronic Wizard. Now, why is this guy even here? He is hired to build a life-like version of the cryptids, but I can’t find a reason why. Maybe I missed it, but why do you need cryptid robots again? Seems pointless to me.

Ivan: Worst Head of Security in existence. I think a lot of things had to willfully be this dumb for things to go so wrong in this place. This guy is no different.

Dr. Joel McCabe: World’s dumbest villain.

Professor Howard: She’s the “good” person in all of this mess.

Carter Wilde: Only shows up in the beginning, the billionaire behind this mess.

Jack and Miguel: Cryptid Hunters that seem to hang around the zoo for no reason.

All of these characters are very flat, really. None of them are that memorable and they tend to blend into one another at times. Not terrible but not special, either.

The Story:

Cryptid Zoo is a really watered down version of Jurassic Park. This book is 139 pages long. Nothing really happens until page 90.

I’m not kidding. It goes like this. The first chapter makes Cryptid hunters everywhere cringe. They land in the desert, somewhere, and go Chupacabra hunting. They basically get bait, cover it with goat blood and wait for one to attack.

If it were that easy, I think we would have found one ages ago. Anyway, they Taser the thing and box it up. It’s not exciting or tense in any way. Everything goes off without a hitch.

The next scene is some lawyer that never appears again in the book going up to talk to the Super Billionaire Wilde to tell him the status of ‘the project.’ The book spoils it the title spoils it but this Carter guy never really expresses how it is a childhood dream. Lawyer expresses concern it’s not ready in typical fashion the billionaire doesn’t care! Make it ready for a test group, pick some of the dumbest employees we have for the trip, go!

Cut to Nick coming home from, somewhere. He has to break the news to the wife they’ll be spending their 95th anniversary in a mystery location, and they get to bring the teenager along!

They all go to a plane at 11pm. It’s a 737 or something like that. The attendant demands all their electronic devices! They never make an appearance again in the story. They are lost forever once they are gathered up. The plane flies for three hours. I don’t know where then they land to get on a bus and drive until they hit the zoo, it takes them until morning. We learn nothing about the characters really.

After this, it’s all touring. They walk around the zoo with Christine. It has no impact like it should. These are cryptids, monsters on the fringes of reality. None of the characters seem too impressed with anything they see. This takes up the majority of the book. We learn more about the things they eat then the monsters in the cages, really.

All we really learn is that “Some of the things are clones,’ How. We don’t know. How many monsters in total are in the Zoo, we don’t know. Why are there animatronics in the cages, we don’t know. There are lots of questions that are just never addressed really. Its frustrating.

The most exciting thing that happens before the end is also one of the dumbest. The giant octopus is shown figuring out how to open things and how it can fit through tight spaces. Later, it opens the hatch. The hatch isn’t mag locked, or anything. It slips out of its massive tank through the hatch big enough for it to fit through and makes it way to the pool. Then it eats Bob and Rhonda. The park employees cover it up in a hurry. Seems dumb but that’s what they do.

This place is so poorly designed that it can’t really be called a zoo at all. Everything about it made me want to bash my head into a wall. So many things could have been prevented with ease but, no, its frustrating.

The only character I haven’t mentioned yet is McCabe because he’s the dumbest villain ever. His plan is to sell the cryptids off to the highest bidder, the plan is over complicated and dumb. How they track him down doesn’t make much sense either in the end. But his plan is to blow the place up with C4, let the monsters cause chaos and escape with some Chupacabra kids to sell.

How dumb do you need to be? You have access to ALL the genetic material of all the Cryptids in the place. Surely if you can smuggle freaking C4 into the Zoo with the lax security this place has, surely you could get more than enough genetic material out of the place to build your own zoo, sell whatever you want without ever being caught.

Why did you feel the need to blow the place up, again?

Anyway, in the last few pages of the book the monsters escape, there seem to be a random number of them in the place. The Bili apes take the place of the velociraptors and do the worst of the damage to the nameless people we don’t care about.

Nick, Meg, and Gabe manage to escape through an insane number of back doors, stairwells and other things at the last minute, oh and Nick has a “Vision” only the one. It’s not explained, it never happens again. He never mentions it to anyone, yet later on, someone asks him if he has another vision. This book has consistency problems.

Eventually, the three of them escape, and all the cryptids do, too, the book ends by wrapping up what happens to McCabe, he’s caught like the idiot he is.

 

Final Thoughts: As of right now this book has seventy-one reviews on Amazon. I don’t know how it got so many or why so many of them are as highly rated.

I was bored with this book. It wasn’t a terrible book, it was just such a carbon copy of Jurassic Park with Bigfoot and company instead, that it made me groan. This version was stripped of all tension, excitement, and intensity it should have had. The octopus had more personality than most of the people in this book.

A good two-thirds of the book can honestly be skipped. If you read from page ninety on, you wouldn’t miss much and understand it just the same as you would if you read the whole thing.

The book is boring, put together in a hurry. It’s easy to read but that’s because nothing really happens in it until the end. You can’t be bothered to care much by the end and are left wondering why you spent the money and wasted the time.

If you want to rip the concept of something off, fine, but at least try to make it your own, put some thought into it. Try to make it something special. This is not special.

 

Two out of five stars. I really expected better than this.

Mandible: A simple story idea that turned into a trainwreck.

Mandible

 

Written by Ian Woodhead

150 pages

Published by Severed Press

There might be spoilers

 

The Cover: The Cover is an overturned double decker bus surrounded by giant bugs. That’s it. The cover to Bug Hunt was better than this, and I’m pretty sure no busses are even in the story.

The back cover is just as simple. The news said recent tremors are nothing to worry about. Then from the underground armor-plated flesh-eating bugs show up and a group of, yeah. This is woefully inaccurate. This is the story for about five pages.

Writing: This book is extremely bad with the inner ramblings. There are literal pages and pages dedicated to how a character is feeling and thinking. Only to twist it all around and be meaningless. It is super easy to get lost while reading when one of these situations begins. I found myself re-reading parts several times and tried to make sense out of it.

This book is also filled with British slang. I’m an American so a lot of these things I didn’t quite understand or care to look up. It wasn’t good or bad but it was distracting. Coming to a word that comes up as a typo really breaks up the flow of reading. It might bother you, it might not.

Placement problems. This book is written in such a way that I couldn’t visualize what was going on or where it was taking place. Is it a mall, a market, a mini-mall, what? Sometimes it feels they are walking in just one building, other times it feels as if there are shops on the street. Honestly, this was a huge problem for me. The location made little sense.

Writers can see everything in their head but if they can’t show the reader it all turns into a horrible mess. I tried to read and read again what the surroundings were, but I was lost in the book most of the time. It was irritating.

There are some minor typos, too. Also, the author, in some places he mixes up the races Deltin and Mentil (Mental??) at times. The names are in the book so few times that it doesn’t really matter anyway.

 

The Characters:

In this book, no one does much of anything but run around and whine about how screwed they all are. I hated all the characters in this book because they were whiny and pathetic. Worse, they were forgettable. I didn’t want to know what they were doing and I hoped they all met violent ends. There is even a whole chapter dedicated to a “Family” the man is a wuss and the “New wife” and daughter are pure evil.

Don’t worry about them. They die in the same chapter they are introduced in. Nothing but filler. Soldiers in the book, filler.

None of these characters mean anything. They are hollow, empty and nothing more than plot points. Does anyone really inner monologue this much when in a life and death situation? I nearly stopped reading this book several times when characters I didn’t care about started talking or thinking about things that had nothing to do with the story.

It’s okay to have lots of characters but make them matter. Keep their objectives clear and always try to move the story ahead. There is seriously a part where they start talking or thinking about high school long after the action begins. What, why?

None of the characters in the book will stick in your mind if you manage to get to the end.

 

The Story:

The book, the back of the book promises a giant bug story. I imagined something like an updated version of an old movie from the ’50s and there wouldn’t have been anything wrong with that. This is not that story.

This story only features giant bugs in the beginning. Then it takes a left into the insane asylum that is a pretentious writer who thinks simple is overrated. Instead of a relentless story of humans against bug, we get the story of things we don’t care about. It goes like this.

There are ancient insect beings living under, read CORE of the earth, that are fighting. One is called Mentil, the bad guys because, reasons, I think they eat meat. The other kind is the Deltin, the “Good” guys, because of other reasons. Apparently, they went for millions of years without realizing anything lived on the surface world.  The Mentil want to invade the surface and that’s about all that comes of it.

Everything in this book is vague. It feels like this should have been a part two or three in a series because the book just expects us to care about all of this when really all most of us showed up for was a giant bug story because that is what was promised.

Things happen. Nothing that I cared about, I’ll be honest I started to skim the book towards the end because my eyes started to blur and refused to look at it after a while. I wish I could say this was because it was “gross or too violent” but really, it’s just mostly boring.

There is a part where they kill the Mentil soldiers with ordinary weapons, knives and just straight fire, but the story continues to push the idea that they are “Unstoppable.” I don’t buy it for a second. Any tension is killed when ordinary people just start killing these things.

The end of the book ends with some guy “Melding” with a Mentil and becoming a hybrid of boring and terrible all at once. It makes little sense.

 

Final Thoughts: I wanted a big bug story. Nothing in the book indicated it would turn into what it did. I hate wasting my money on surprises. It would be like renting a giant spider movie, but the only giant spider in it, is a poster on a wall and the real story is about a moving truck on delivery between apartments.

That is the number one problem with this book. It lies to the reader and gives whoever buys it, buyers remorse.  The characters were bad, the story chugged along at a slow pace and was infested with flashbacks and ‘feelings.’ There are also parts that shift so violently from one page to another that you have to wonder if pages aren’t really missing somewhere in the book.

This book took me a whole month to read. I almost gave up on it.

If this were part of a series where the two species of insect men play a bigger role, then sure maybe this would be a little better.  All of this nonsense in a book like this is just too much.

If your cover has giant bugs on it. Keep the story focused and moving along to the point where the reader wants to turn the page, not throw the book into the nearest fire. Seriously, this book was hard to finish.  You’d best leave the giant bugs under the ground where they belong.

 

I give it two stars, just for being finished.

Not of Us: If Lovecraft had written the Predator, it might be like this.

Not of Us

 

Written by Richard Schiver

 

Published by Severed Press

 

141 Pages

 

There will be Spoilers.

 

The Cover:

It reminds me of a movie poster. There is a raft in the foreground with a hand coming over the side that’s not quite right as one finger is way too bendy. There is an island in the background with a smoking volcano sending black smoke into the sky while it’s raining. The whole scene is pretty amazing to look at, too bad it’s a lie. The volcano never even so much as makes a flake of ash, it never rains and the monster never gets on a life raft at any point. It’s nice to look at, I guess.

The back of the book is way too long and fills up the whole thing. It should have been condensed into one, two paragraphs at the most. It basically asks the question “Would you sacrifice your life to save the world?” Sigh, yeah, one of the oldest hero tropes there is.

 

Writing:

Almost perfect. This is the best written Severed Press book I’ve read so far. There is no plague of ellipses, no super short chapters, no pretentious asterixis to mark when chapters end no chronic overuse of military titles flooding every page. None of that! This book feels like it was written by someone who actually cared.

Sometimes the Japanese names are misspelled on super rare occasions, but yes. The author really paid attention to as much as he could and it shows.

The other main problem, the insane amount of flashbacks. Most of the book is just characters thinking back to the past, not just days ago or anything like that, but when they were kids and what they did years before the war. It happens so often that it’s hard to get to know any of the characters in the current situation at times. Also, when it switches, it can do so instantly making the book hard to keep track of what’s going on, also the logic in the book doesn’t make much sense either at times.

I think the author did this to build up the word count.

Otherwise, the book is well written overall.

 

The Characters:

These are literally split up into two camps. The American Aircrew who crashes on the island, and the Japanese soldiers who’ve been there for months.

The Americans consist of Mark, Bob, Tyler, Ray, Corey, Pete, and Willy. All of these characters feel like real people, even if they do make some really stupid mistakes throughout the book.

The Japanese are far less memorable. As the author just seems able to pick Japanese names out of a hat and, well, they’re on the team now. The one who is named the most is Arata, the leader of the group. Who is constantly having troubles with the “Old timers” that are never really defined as to how many there are running around or what they have for weapons?

The characters in this book all fall victim to the Severed Press curse. They all die or in this case, are transformed.

The Monster: No explaining this one. It changes behavior at points through the book and a lot of it makes no sense at all. It feels like the author doesn’t want to know what this thing is and has trouble defining it himself. It’s clearly a Lovecraftian beast, but at the beginning of the book, it acts like the Predator, from the movies, hanging people up and the like.

Then it changes into a full-on abomination, it can infect and absorb people like the Thing(1982). This Monster is all over the place and the parts where it shows up are honestly the worst parts of the book. The thing is so overwhelming and unstoppable that it borders on the verge of being boring because it has no personality. Even Lovecraft’s monsters had personality, that’s what made them truly scary

The Story:

It starts off with a wounded airship and an arrogant Captain who thinks that they can make it home. He’d rather risk the whole crew to save a bomber that had “Become a part of their lives” Well, he fails and they crash land in the ocean near a nameless island with a very dormant volcano.

They get to the island and set up camp in some caves in the volcano.

The Japanese are hungry and sick. They haven’t had a supply ship in three months and with the War going how it is, they are pretty sure they are abandoned. Worse yet every “Winter” cycle something comes out of the trees and kills a few of them, hangs them up in the trees for the men to find.

Oddly, nothing much really happens in the book. The Americans spend most of the time in hiding, waiting for rescue and the Japanese spend most of the time looking for them. A couple of them get captured, one guy gets eaten by a snake.

The best parts of the story happen when the two forces explore the island. The history is hinted at, the strange carvings they find that don’t make a lot of sense later in the book. The abandoned “Centuries” old village that the jungle won’t grow in.

All of this stuff makes you want more and to turn the page to see what happens next. I have to admit the stuff that got my imagination hooked was all of this history and the idea of what might have been. But instead, we go back to the monster.

The story makes little sense because once Bob figures out its an “Infection” he decides that no one can leave the island alive and they are all infected. Even though he knows the Japs are all on the island and none of them have transformed into a hideous sea beast like Anthony does. If they were all infected, it would a whole island full of monsters instead of men.

Then at some point, the beast goes full Lovecraft and has loads of Tentacle play to make any hentai fan happy. But the creature is mostly boring. It’s untouchable, they can’t kill it or even hurt it at all. Just a mindless hunter that eats people, and to me, that’s one of the worst things a monster can be. It’s the same reason I don’t like Zombies, but at least you can put them down.

Speaking of Zombies, I expected that eventually the Americans and Japanese would put their differences aside to fight the monster together, as it’s the true enemy but that never happens. Not even a hint of it. I get that this is World War 2 and all, but the Japanese already know there is a monster hunting them and maybe they’d want to kill it.

But no, they are brutal to one another to the end. It’s really disappointing, actually.

All the Japanese get killed or absorbed. Most of the Americans get executed. Bob and Ray get infected by whatever it is and actually get rescued by an American sub. Bob knows he can’t leave so he causes a racket on the sub when they are running in silence, the enemy sinks them. Then on the last page, trapped under tons of steel. Bob opens his eyes.

 

Final Thoughts:

This book is the best Severed press book I’ve read, and one of the most frustrating. I feel as if this could have been a story about humanity facing the unknown despite hating one another. If you could have found a way to make it work, even when people were at their meanest, I think you could have had something a reader could really connect to.

There are lots of implying that when the American die at the hands of the Japanese, they are comforted by warm, white light, or hear the laughter of children. The Japanese just die. It’s clear who the author thinks the good guys and bad guys are.

As for the logic problems. Bob thinks that no one can leave the island because they are all infected. According to the book, people have been coming and going from the island for quite some time. If Bob is somehow right, the world is doomed anyway.

The secret location of the island. What? The supply ship knows where it is. I’d assume the Japanese Government knows where it is. The Americans know where it is. You can’t just break off a patrol without asking permission and informing people where you’re going. So, the idea that the thing will never be found or seen again is insane on many levels.

The monster and the abandoned village. What is keeping the monster on the island? Why is it trapped there at all? It seems like an extremely aquatic Lovecraftian beast to me. It makes no sense that it was stuck there, there didn’t seem to be anything holding it back. Implied ideas only go so far, with the ancient ruins under the island. If they were supposed to be the thing warding the strange thing off, it didn’t do a good job of it.

Overall, too many questions, too many things that just didn’t add up, but it is worth a read. The author does a good job, for the most part.

Three stars, give it a shot.

Antartica: Keep this under the ice.

Antarctica

Written by Eric S. Brown

Published by Severed Press

123 Pages

 

There will be spoliers.

 

The Cover: The cover is a blatant lie. It is a real-life picture of a base with some gray giant monster standing in the center of it all that’s obviously art photoshopped into it. This is in no way related to the book. The closest the book ever comes to this scene is the very last page, and not even then. Again, I warn you, it’s a lie.

The back of the book tells us that a year ago a giant monster was discovered under the ice, something that could have only been called a “Kaiju” and military and corporate-funded team are about to discover truths that could “end mankind”

This cover and the title of the book is boring. I mean come on. Antarctica? I bet I could think of five better titles for this book in just a few minutes. The title doesn’t tell us much of anything about this book besides where it takes place.

 

Writing:

While the last book had short chapters. This book has none. That’s right. No chapters at all. Just three asterixis when the scene changes. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book this long before that wasn’t required to have chapters. I don’t know if the author thinks it’s special or what but it just comes off as annoying.

The book is written alright, for the most part, it suffers from titles. Agent Markson is almost always Agent Markson. There’s only one in the book. At another part, the word Sergeant appears so many times so often that your brain starts to tell you that the thing is spelled wrong. If you turned it into a drinking game, took a drink every time someone’s title appeared on a page, you’d die.

The book seems to put together well enough, but it’s about as shallow as a pond. Every character is defined by their job title and the Author makes sure their title is said enough so you might care about them. You really won’t, also characters only show up just long enough to die.

This book should have been a lot longer than it is for the characters to come into their own.

There isn’t much to say about this book’s writing style, it’s bland for the most part and you’ll forget most of the details it tries to tell you by the time you turn the page. It’s so bland that almost nothing happens for the first forty five pages of the book. Nothing exciting, nothing thrilling. When your book is as short as it is, maybe snap to the action a little quicker?

The Characters:

Spoiler Alert, again, like most Severed Press books, all of the characters die. In this book, they die horribly. Some of them only show up just to add to the body count. I am willing to bet all of the non-important characters in this book are people the author knows and he just wanted to give people random parts but didn’t quite know how to do it. With that in mind, I will just showcase the main three characters of the book. The ones I thought had the most page time.

Dr. Sam Jessi: This is the leading expert in the United States and the world….in Kaiju. Yeah, this character is confusing for a few reasons. One, why doesn’t he just work for the Government at this point. He lost “Three Jobs” because the government agents take him away on secret missions. At this point, why not just make the gig a forever job. Two. How does one become a leading expert in monsters? This is a world where the only monsters that have ever shown up are stories. Or is it, I don’t know. Three, I don’t know what he looks like. I don’t think the book describes him anywhere with any detail.

Agent Markson: No first name. This is your typical man in black character who acts exactly how you’d expect. Nothing really special about him in the story other than he shows up a lot.

Dr. Ashley Hall: She gets the most physical description in the book. She’s a twenty-something supermodel with lots of Ph.D.’s and Sam’s direct opposite being a pure science type. Sounds like the writer has a type.

All the other characters that show up only to die in that same scene or soon after. There are too many characters in this book and none of them get the time needed to become actual people. It’s very disappointing.

The Setting: You saw the title of the book right, well it’s there but it’s a lie too. All of the action takes place in a base they built under the ice. This whole thing seems impractical to be built in just a year in such brutal conditions, but this seems to be the case.

 

The Story:

We start out with Agent Markson and a couple of nameless goons in Sam’s office, basically kidnapping him to do yet another job, this is apparently the fourth time this has happened. Why doesn’t he just work for the Government? Once Markson tells him that they found a real-life monster dead under the ice, all of the pages before this one are pointless when Sam just gets up and goes with them immediately.

45 pages later….

From the corpse of the frozen giant comes our monster. It’s a, um, I have no idea. It looks like a demon mixed with the Gillman. It dispatches a few people at lightning speed and they eventually take it out.  Go team. Then, uh oh. It turns out the momma giant had lots of kids, so they swarm out of the dead mouth of the monster. Not one of the things looks like another. It was as if the writer was just trying to combine as many things as he could to make people confused as much as possible. Nothing makes sense.

Chaos reigns and nobody knows what’s going on. The military in this book sucks, no safety procedures. Nothing. It’s extremely frustrating and the gore here is more important than the actual story. This book was created for shock value only, but this is the thing that’s going to “end mankind?” I mean, how are these things meant to get to the rest of the world? If you care about such things, stop.

In one particular scene, one of the nobodies is crucified by one of the monsters. What? Who wrote this nonsense? Who thought that was a remotely good idea? There are so many questions for about three seconds until you just say “okay” and move on.

The book turns into a bad copy of Aliens and Doom. Even one of the nobody pilots tries to be this book’s version of Ripley. A character with absolutely no screen time goes back into the base. Finds the armory, the one room no one could get to, I guess, and arms up with as many weapons as she can carry and tries to go save people.

The only one she saves is Sam, who, by the way, spent most of the book knocked out because he’s an idiot.

Everyone else dies, this is a typical Severed Press book ending. However, as they are flying away. Sam sees something big rising out of the snow! Then the book ends.

Final Thoughts: This book is bad. It’s shallow, bland and focuses way too much on the violence just to have violence in it. The cover is a blatant lie, every theme is ripped off from other, way better ideas. Doom, Aliens, and even a little Indiana Jones. None of it goes anywhere or means anything.

Why would one of the monsters crucify a victim? Are they sadistic prehistoric monsters that understand how symbolism works? None of the characters are developed or useful, the worldbuilding is nonexistent.

This is bad, do not read this. Don’t waste your money. It feels like an unfinished, chaotic disaster.

One out of Five Stars. What a disappointing story.

Bug Hunt: Big Bugs, Small Story.

 

Bug Hunt: Big Bugs, Small Story.

Written by Gayne C. Young

Published by Severed Press

130 pages.

 

There will be spoilers.

 

The Cover: While Authors generally don’t pick their cover, I get the feeling this guy got to pick his. It’s a man in camo and holding a knife at his side standing in front of a giant Mantis. The words Bug hunt loom large on the bottom of the cover in bright and big yellow letters that almost remind me of Fortnite’s font. The cover is very green overall.

The back of the book is the plot. Basically, a guy looking for revenge turns the latest hunt into a nightmare is the really important part. It does spoil some stuff about how the hunts are conducted with what amounts to Ant-Man tech being used to shrink rich people to go on safari to hunt, well, bugs.

The cover is misleading, at least to me. It reminded me of Jaws. It makes you think that the Mantis is going to be the main monster bug that’s going to cause all the main trouble. That’s not the case and it’s a little disappointing.

 

Writing:

Holy short chapters.

There are chapters in this book that are barely two paragraphs long, and none longer than just a couple of pages at the most.

I don’t quite understand why some of the chapters exist at all, they don’t further the story and it’s obvious to me that some of them were just put in to pad the length of the book. Especially the ones about the techies. One of them plays a game for 14 hours straight and thinks it’s weird that the other one doesn’t answer his text. Honestly, this could have been taken care of with one line of dialogue or one tweak to the story to get rid of it entirely. I’ll explain later.

The flow of the book feels off sometimes too. They’ll be doing one thing, then the next chapter has the scene sometime later, doing something else. Imagine if you’re reading this line, then the next one was about the final thoughts of the book, without going through the rest of the stuff. It’s jarring at times.

The book suffers from the overuse of the exclamation point. They say using it too often is like laughing at your own jokes way too often, I mean the very first line of the book ends with one.

The book also has a bit of an overuse of the ellipses. While nowhere near as bad as Leviathan: Ghost Rig was, it is noticeable and tended to get on my nerves a little bit.

There is some odd word usage too. Example on page 39 “Seemed Seemingly” shows up. Seemed is a bad choice of a word to use in any book. This is a personal opinion but something should either be or not be something. Seemed is, flimsy when describing something.

If a character is speaking it makes better sense because people by nature tend to not know something for sure. When it’s describing something through the narrative, it’s either fazed or not fazed, strong or not.

Maybe I’m wrong here but if the narrative isn’t sure what’s going on in the book, how can the reader? We only know what you tell us and if something seems like something well, that just seems like the writer wasn’t sure either.

These are all nitpicks.

Despite how much time I spent on them. Despite being short chapters and all, the main characters all feel like real characters. They are developed, they have personality. They are consistent. I believe this is the first Severed Press book I have read where the characters all feel like real life people. Well done.

The Characters:

Burke Tyler: The professional hunter. He’s been doing this for a long time and dreams of saving up enough money to chill out on a lake for the rest of the time. He’s a great shot, drinks a little too much and is how you’d expect a professional hunter to be.

Champe Carter: The rich guy who needs a thrill. Good shot and knows what he’s doing. He can’t wait to go into bug world and shoot something.

David Braxton: Champe Carter’s …and everyone’s Boss in the story besides Scarlett, the Head of MicroTech.

Scarlett Braxton: The overly energetic, young wife of David Braxton, who’s sleeping with Champe in secret.

Bert Mikosh: He’s the cook, out of all the characters on the trip we see him the least. He cooks stuff.

Andrew Matthes: The cameraman, he records every hunt and makes sure to get the money shot of each bug kill, although I don’t know why. It’s clear that revealing the video to anyone else could make you get disappeared as the hunts are a secret and videos always tend to leak, eventually. Either on accident or malicious intent. Drones could do his job and they could record everything just as well.

The side characters are Alex, Eric and Maria Flores. Alex and Eric are interchangeable and serve the same purpose. Maria is the “Private Investigator” who discovers the affair, she also is the one who puts the bugs into the hunting area, after this and one other thing, she is never heard of again in the book until the very end.

The Setting:  Outside of the controlled environment, It’s the real world. The controlled environment is basically a lawn turned into a jungle type setting.

 

The Story:

Bug Hunt starts out with action. They are in the middle of a hunt and it goes wrong. Someone named Joel dies. Joel is never mentioned again really. I’m not sure if what we’re seeing is a flashback, a video or just Burke telling a story. It really doesn’t matter. Its basically to show you how dangerous this is!

The story progresses as you’d think it would, nothing out of the ordinary happens besides the setting of the hunt and the prey. Champe is all excited then he convinces Burke to let Scarlett come along, too. I don’t know why she’d want to actually go but there it is.

The story isn’t all that eventful until David finds out his wife is sleeping around with Champe, gets pissed and decides she needs to go away. Now, logically speaking a super billionaire type like him should have been able to find out a way to make her disappear than the method he chooses to do it. This makes little sense to me this is the route he chooses.

Anyway, somehow Maria knows how to operate the multi-million dollar secret shrinking tech and manages to flood the hunting area with various kinds of bugs. As far as I know, no one told her how to do it. Eric catches her in the act and gets shrunk too. Later he gets killed by a housefly.

Despite what the cover suggests, there is no main villain bug. You’d expect that the Mantis would have a big role, and they sure play it up in the book on how dangerous it is. There are even three of them in the book but none of them pose too much of a threat in the long run.

The only one the Mantis kills is the Cook, a character we don’t know much of anyway and only has one major scene if you could call it that.

Then it turns into your basic survival story, and it turns out Andrew knew who Scarlett was the whole time but didn’t say anything until now. You’d think that would be important information to let the others in on, just on principle alone, not until after someone dies.

The book picks up speed after this. They try to survive but the old Severed Press curse returns once again, and that’s a little disappointing.

Then the book ends in a “happy” way. I guess.

Final Thoughts: The book is a basic revenge story where the vengeful one doesn’t care who gets hurt in the process. Nothing is taken too seriously. Even after people die, they still find time to laugh and no one really seems to care all that much, or as much as they should. Champe cares the most but Burke quickly shuts him down.

The idea that the place didn’t have emergency generators in the camp just in case something went wrong to keep the electric fences active if the power went out, is insane. Also, why is the airlock not right next to the camp, its across the hunting field?

You’d think in the case of emergencies they would keep the exit, entrance and the camp really close together, this is not the case either, but when your clients are super wealthy, people are going to notice if they disappear.

All the legal wrangling in the world isn’t going to change that. Also, you’d think there would be a separate control panel in the hunting ground airlock so there wouldn’t be a need for a technician to be on duty constantly, and the hunters could leave immediately in case of an emergency. There were many logical things that were missing in this book that were needed to be omitted to make this thing happen.

The biggest problem is science. Ant-man had it right. If you were able to shrink a human down that far, we would be able to lift at least fifty times our own body weight too and jump just as high as a flea, at least. The bugs would have been a threat but a hundred- and fifty-pound man while shrunk down should at least be able to move about 7,500 pounds. So, between the characters, none of the bugs should have been that dangerous if they saw them coming.

At least according to the research that I’ve done.

This book is a good read if you have a long trip to go on or need to kill some time, but the chapters are too short and just as your getting into one thing it switches to something else. Thinking beyond the pages just a little bit causes it to fall apart.

Like, why would Scarlett go on this hunting trip If she wanted to keep the affair a secret? Wouldn’t the CEO of Microtech know exactly who was going on these safaris at all times? You’d think the second Burke added the Plus One on the safari trip list, it would have raised a flag somewhere.

The company is called Micro-Tech and it shrinks things, yet the shrinking tech appears to be a secret. What else does the company do?

Three out of Five stars. It’s well written, for the most part, a decent story if you don’t think about it too much. If you’ve already read it, great. If you haven’t and you’re already to this point, well, I didn’t spoil everything but chances are you didn’t want to read it anyway if you got here.