Postcards From a Dying World
News, views, book reviews and commentary from the Science Fiction and Horror fiction underground. Home of the Wonderland award nominated author of Vegan Revolution...With Zombies and Boot Boys of the Wolf Reich.
Monday, October 27, 2014
Book Review: The Specimen by Pete Kahle
The Specimen by Pete Kahle
This review doesn’t make me feel great, I have only met the author through the internet but Pete and I have talked a few times and I think he is a cool cat. I was really looking forward to reading this because I like Pete’s taste in novels and film and thought the concept was cool.
The Specimen is a science fiction horror novel about a very SLOW alien invasion that has happened against the back drop of human history. For thousands of years these body snatcher like aliens referred to as Riders have been influencing our history and infiltrating our species. Most of the narrative takes place in modern New England after group of urban explorers find a jar with an alien rider intact in a closed insane asylum . The Asylum has a history that ties back to the ancient conflict that goes back to events that are explained in interludes.
There are moments of good writing and the story is very cool one. I loved the concept and think there is a good epic here. I give Kahle credit for being ambitious, but I don’t think this book ultimately does its job of telling the story. I finished reading it, but had I not been given a review copy I doubt I would have lasted past the first 150 pages.
The first warning sign should have been three page list of characters at the front of the book. I referred to it often because the characters blended together for me. I kept thinking of The Stand I don’t remember no matter how characters were introduced needing a list.
Many of the characters get their own narrative thread, infact that was an issue I had. This book never built up narrative steam for two reasons. New characters were added constantly and when it did swing around it was broken up with “articles”, journal entries or Classified files. It told the story sure but each non-narrative device (like articles or files) forced the reader out of the story momentum. The disjointed story in that sense never was able to grab my interest.
This review hurt me to write because Kahle’s dedication to telling this story bleeds off the page. I am sure this style works for some. It could be argued that the master Stephen King used this style in Carrie, but that was a shorter book and tactic was used much more sparingly.
There is sequel in the works, I think Kahle has a cool concept to work with but I personally didn’t like the style of writing. When He tells a straight story I enjoyed it. I could see the talent and ability. A more straight narrative in the sequel and the concept is cool enough I will give it a shot.