Friday, August 27, 2010

BOOK REVIEW: House (2006) by Ted Dekker & Frank Peretti

House is a poorly written, horrible piece of fiction. I really hate being critical towards an artist and I really do like to give people the benefit of the doubt… “Dammit, they tried! They deserve a little credit,” but I just can’t bring myself to do that here. When it takes two, that’s right TWO, established writers to write a piece of shit like this, then I can’t in good conscience be nice about it.

House follows the story of a man and woman traveling back roads USA on their way to a marriage counseler. The characters have names but it really doesn’t fucking matter so they’ll remain nameless…for their safety. Anyway, they’re cruising along and they decide to take a shortcut to get back to the interstate at the suggestion of a local police officer. Low and behold they hit a spike strip and are forced to shack up in an old Inn out in the middle of nowhere. Once there, they meet up with another couple THAT HAD THE EXACT SAME THING HAPPEN…and nobody seems to care. They meet the family of this house and then shit hits the fan. Some of the story progresses lazily, they venture into the forbidden basement, that’s really just a complex maze, they meet some metaphors of themselves, some freaky shit happens, and then it ends. Kind of.

There’s just so much I can’t stand about the book that I don’t even know where to begin. I can’t believe I put in all the effort just to read the whole thing. I knew around page 40 that it wasn’t going to be very good. But nevertheless, being the bad story kind of guy that I am, I pressed on.

I think I’ll start with….hhmmmm…the authors. Ted Dekker and Frank Peretti. The cover of the books states, “Their collaboration is as big of a deal as Tom Clancy and Clive Cussler getting together to co-author a spy novel.” OF SHIT! Trust me, I looked them up before I began to read this thing and I was impressed with their work. They both had a dozen or more novels under their belt, lots of them getting made into movies (including this one, I’ll get into that in a moment), so I figured eh, this can’t be so bad. It was TERRIBLE. I later found out that this book was written by CHRISTIAN HORROR authors. Wow, such a thing exists. I can’t believe it. I don’t really think there’s too much “Christian” about horror. They just call it that because the characters don’t swear. At all. They just say stuff like, “He tried the door. It was locked. He cursed,” to get past actually swearing. I guess it sells books doesn’t it? Plus there aren’t any graphic deaths. Cuz that’s exactly why horror readers are reading…purely for story. Where’s the eye gouging, House? WHERE!?

From my understanding, their solo works are pretty good. I have a couple books from them sitting in the hopper that I haven’t read yet but I will be checking them out soon just to make sure this book was a fluke. I just don’t know if they couldn’t decide on a writing style for this book, so they invented one that sucked or what the fuck. Here, I’ll just pull out a random excerpt for you…

He tried the potatoes, a little mealy.
“Stewart, don’t encourage him,” said Betty, a wad of food in her mouth.
Pete pointed at Leslie, “I want her.”
Randy cut in, eyeing Stewart. “Speaking of catches, where do you suppose those spikes in the road came from."
Stewart sniffed.
“Jack,” said Betty, “why don’t you tell us about your wife? Leslie told us about Randall.”

In this scene, all the characters are sitting around a table conversing with one another. Seriously, what is going on there? Apparently everyone is talking but no one is listening. Pete points straight at Randy’s girl and declares that he wants to bone her. Randy is all concerned about the spike strips in the road and all he can get is a sniff from Stewart. Apparently Jack and Stephanie, the other couple, could give a shit about how THEIR car ran over spike strips too. And Betty has a severe case of dyslexia, jumping back and forth asking questions but not waiting around for answers. COME ON MAN! One at a time please.

This happens constantly throughout the book. It’s actually quite laughable. Which, oddly enough, did make it a little more enjoyable for me. But come on, I need a little consistency. Everything that’s going on is just so confusing. Everyone’s always talking to no one. It’s crazy. OH! When they start meeting up with clones of themselves, just you TRY to keep up with those conversations. Holy shit. Honestly, this reads like something that I wrote. The characters are really flat, they appear to be pulled from other stories and just forced to exist with one another in this story. I was really hoping for quicker, bloodier, and more brutal deaths. BUT being a CHRISTIAN HORROR novel, no one really died until the end. And even then, they really weren’t all dead. Lame.

Instead of reading this book, here’s what you do. Go watch the first half of the movie Vacancy. Then watch the second half of the movie The Hills Have Eyes. That’s more or less what’s going on here, only this sucks and that doesn’t. I’m pretty sure they all came out at around the same time so I’m sure they all collaborated together to make sure they banked off each other’s success. Except House. House got fucked over hard. Cuz it sucks.

And can you believe they made a movie out of this thing? I will be watching it soon just because the events in the book are so outlandish and crazy that I just HAVE to see how they converted it to film. It’s gonna be nuts. I’m actually pumped to see it. I know they always ruin the book making movies and since this blows already, the movie is gonna blow even harder. And it will be the most amazing thing I’ve watched all month. I’m gonna go out on a limb here and call it right now.

Ok House, I’ve ragged on you enough buddy. You’ve got a couple things going for you. The evil dude…The Tin Man. He’s pretty rad. I’ll give you that. He’s basically the Gunslinger from Stephen King’s The Dark Tower…except he wears a tin mask. He’s a pretty evil dude. I’ll let you have one other thing House, you got me. You got me good. I saw the cover, thought it looked cool. I read the mini-synopsis, thought it sounded cool. And I bought the shit out of you. Which turned out to be not very cool.  You sir are one hell of a swindler, lemme tell you.

If I had to recommend this to anyone…I wouldn’t. Unless you like punishing yourself. Or need a quick read, I'm a really slow reader and I finished it in a week. I would, however, give my used copy to someone I hate so they’d be forced to endure it. House is a sub-par story with sub-par characters. There isn’t much here that hasn’t been done before. If I were you, I’d just rent the movie. You’ll probably get everything you need out of there. I know I will.

One final thought, when I, MR. FUCKING GABLE, says its bad. It’s bad. Good job House, you’ve outdone yourself. Time to put you back in the quarter bin on the corner with all the other used up hookers. I mean books.

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