In one word: Frenetic
Cannonball Read Bingo: Machines (I mean…it’s in the title!)
All right, peeps. I’m here to tell you unequivocally that you need some Stephen Graham Jones in your life. Full stop. I am a casual horror fan. I cannot and do not watch horror TV or movies (nope nope nooooope) but do like reading horror. I’ve read a lot of the classics, but it’s been a hot minute since I took in something in from the genre. My first horror in a while was Jones’ “The Only Good Indians” that I wrapped up only a few weeks back. That thing was a whole experience (check out that review for more) and very different in terms of pacing and structure and themes from other horror books I had read, overall just very unique. So I had some pretty high expectations going into this, and Jones was again firing on all cylinders. This book was just as bonkers as the other one except entirely different in terms of pacing and structure, and themes. Almost like it was written by a whole other person. He’s a smart cookie.
This book is a love letter to the slasher genre. It is highly referential about slasher films, and also is possibly its own slasher wherein Jade is trying to figure out if an actual slasher is happening in her sleepy hometown, and if so, how is she going to be ready? And/or is it in her head? Or is she the villain? The pacing of this book is both frenetic and frantic, as we follow town black sheep Jade through the end of high school. Interspersed in the goings-on of her life, we get essays that she has written for extra credit for school, which is all her talking about slasher films. Jade knows her stuff because Jones knows his, as he has a great affinity for slasher films that started in his youth (per the acknowledgments). As I mentioned, not a big horror movie fan, but I was familiar enough with the big ones for it to work, and a genuine horror fan would likely be giddy with glee.
It’s a slow burn, with the suspense building for the first 2/3 but the last 1/3? Buckle up. Get a helmet. Give a heads up to your emergency contact. MAYHEM. SO. MUCH. MAYHEM, and I don’t even know what is happening, but I’ve heard a sequel is already in the works.
Final note: I recommend having at least one or two emotional support friends lined up. This is the horror movie of books in that you are going to be remarking (possibly out loud) WHAT and ACK and HOW IN THE with great frequency, so having someone you can send text thoughts to is vital.