Sunday, 21 February 2016

Book review - Upon Waking - J.R Park

This is the first book that I've read from this author, and I can tell you for nothing that it was one hell of a read. From the offset, we have about a third of the book laying the foundations for a couple of the characters, before really hitting the main body of the story. When I say hitting, that is a total understatement. It grabs you around the throat, spits in your face and drags you almost unwillingly into it's sordid content.

I had already read a couple of write ups from some reviewers on this book, (reviews work you know) so followed their advice and prepared myself both mentally and physically.. (cup of tea at the ready) So was I sufficiently prepared? Kind of...

Although I knew that it was going to be an extreme piece of fiction, there are parts that I don't think anyone can really be fully prepared for. It took me just over an hour to read it, an enthralling, nail biting, adrenaline and terror filled hour.

When Gary Brown's son; Henry goes missing, he approaches a private investigator, Kathryn, an ex-police offer to try to locate him. Through her contacts, she manages to trace his last known mobile phone signal to a quiet street, where she stumbles upon the main character in this story - Cassandra Brown. A woman that is seemingly living a normal, quiet life in a middle class, suburban neighbourhood.

Cassie is an extremely large, powerful woman, with an immaculately clean house; it seems that she has quite an obsession for cleaning. The aspect of the story shifts, as other characters find themselves waking up in various rooms around her house. This is dealt with in the form of each of their aspects being played out as an independent chapter. A relatively simple concept in itself, until the story begins to unfold, and the madness really begins.

I'm going to leave it there with the description to save any spoilers. What I will add, is that this book really manages to catch the reader off guard. You get the first impression of Cassie as a normal woman living a normal life, you sense that something isn't quite as it seems, (its the horror genre) however you can't put your finger on what until things start to.. happen.

When they do begin to happen, expect absolutely horrific scenes, that even the most hardened of readers will find shocking. I mean really, its absolutely intense and handled in a way that you actually find yourself willing for these poor people. Yes its gratuitous, but its also befitting to the story. It kind of ambles along at a steady pace, but then we get hit with another brutal moment without any prior notification. However, it's all addressed and justified by the creation of Cassie. She is a truly despicable person, totally devoid of remorse or empathy. Her actions are totally self centred, sadistic and psychotic, she's not a person that you would like to meet, yet the truly terrifying part is that it's feasible that you actually could.

The book is well written, there are no confusing plot lines or unnecessary twists. Its a short, severe tale that may leave you like you have been hit around the head by a professional boxer. Yes, there are extreme scenes, two in particular will be enough to make a man's eyes water, but this is horror, and they're written well enough to shock without being gore porn.

I've gotta admit, I really enjoyed it. Once I picked it up, I didn't put it down. It was depraved, and in some people's eyes, wrong, but I love that in a book. 

Again, a warning that this book isn't for everyone, please be aware that there are parts that can shock. If you are fine with that, prepare yourself for one hell of a powerful read.

My rating 5/5

I will be reading more work from this author.

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