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Book Review: Cujo

Cujo Book Cover

Rating: 3 stars

“Once upon a time, not so long ago, a monster came to the small town of Castle Rock, Maine.”

Cujo used to be a big friendly dog, lovable and loyal to his trinity (THE MAN, THE WOMAN, and THE BOY) and everyone around him, and always did his best to not be a BAD DOG. But that all ends on the day this nearly two-hundred-pound Saint Bernard makes the mistake of chasing a rabbit into a hidden underground cave, setting off a tragic chain of events. Now Cujo is no longer himself as he is slowly overcome by a growing sickness, one that consumes his mind even as his once affable thoughts turn uncontrollably and inexorably to hatred and murder. Cujo is about to become the center of a horrifying vortex that will inescapably draw in everyone around him—a relentless reign of terror, fury, and madness from which no one in Castle Rock will truly be safe… 

As an avid reader who doesn’t mind horror novels, this book didn’t meet my expectations. I didn’t mind the premise of the story because I love dogs and a dog turning rabid with rabies sounded right up my alley. Instead, Cujo made me feel more sad than horrified, which wasn’t something I was expecting.

However, I did have some enjoyment with this story. What I liked about this book was the premise. A dog who’s very loyal to his family one day goes chasing after a rabbit only to get rabies and tries to kill any human that gets close to him. I found this plot to be interesting because as someone who loves animals, I was invested in finding out how Stephen King was going to make this story more horrifying for his readers.

I also enjoyed how Cujo became associated as the monster Tad was starting to see in his closet in the beginning of the story. When Tad, Vic and Donna first meet the Camber’s dog Cujo, both Vic and Donna are weary of their son interacting with him. Both of them already saw him as a monster before he became infected with rabies. So it made sense later on in the story that he was the monster Tad saw in his closet. It was a nice parallel for these characters who already began seeing Cujo for the creature he became.

While this story wasn’t all that frightening, I did enjoy the horror elements King incorporated into the book. From monsters in the closet to somnambulism and a dog that turns wild, I thought these elements in the story made it a much more interesting read. You see all of these elements of horror in this book via the characters in the story. For example, you find out from Charity that her son Brett used to have a serious case of somnambulism that seems to return in the book while they are away from home. He’s seen walking around the house in a trance feeding their dog Cujo. This scene foreshadows that something bad is about to happen even though none of the characters have any clue what that’s going to be. It’s horrifying because you as the reader already know that Cujo is infected with rabies.

I think what I enjoyed the most about Cujo is that I felt sympathy for him. He never had a clue that his whole life was going to change all just because he chased after a rabbit. In this story, I felt sympathy for him because he was just so care free up until the point he got bitten. He was just a normal dog who suddenly turned into a monster. And I felt for him once that happened. He was in pain from that moment until he died, which to me was more sad than terrifying. In essence, this book made me sympathetic to Cujo because it made me more aware of how rabies impacts animals. It gave me a better understanding of rabies as a disease so I feel like I learned something new while feeling for Cujo.

However, there are a lot of things with this book I didn’t particularly enjoy. For one, I hated how the story switched back and forth between characters. While I normally don’t mind books that have multiple points of view, I felt like in this story it just dragged the plot along. Once Cujo was infected with rabies and started his killing, I felt like there were certain moments that didn’t need to be in the story. You as the reader know already that certain characters aren’t going to be in town when everything really begins, but I didn’t feel like we needed to see exactly what they were doing. This bothered me because the plot of the story didn’t pick up or interest me until close to the middle of the story. So the rest of what I was reading just felt like filler up until Cujo’s rabies took over.

I also didn’t like most of the characters in the story besides Cujo and the two children in the story Tad and Brett. None of the adults in the story had much in the way of character development and I just didn’t particularly care about anyone in the story. I liked the children in the story because they still had their childhood innocence, but none of the adults were people I really wanted to get to know. I think it had to do with the adults having no idea what was going on around them while the children seemed to have more of a sense that something bad was coming. Either way, I wasn’t fond of too many of the characters so I didn’t really care what happened to them.

I especially didn’t care for how it all ended. I was hoping that the ending would be seriously grim with Cujo killing all of the characters in the story, minus Tad and Brett. Instead, it was sad because Cujo deserved a lot more than what he was given and I felt a little terrible for Vic and Donna. I think this is why I had a hard time seeing this book as horror because all the moments I wanted to feel scared I felt sad instead. I felt sad for Cujo who went from a friendly dog to a monster in the blink of an eye. And I felt bad for Tad and Brett, both for different reasons I can’t reveal without spoiling the story.

Overall, I did enjoy reading Cujo because the premise is interesting and the horror elements King did incorporate into the story made it a more fascinating read. But the plot was bogged down with too much information , characters I wasn’t particularly invested in, and an ending that made me more sad than scared that I did have a hard time continuing to read the story to find out what happened next. The idea behind this book made me fascinated to read it, but its execution didn’t meet my expectations at all so I came away from this book disappointed that it didn’t meet its full potential. However, I haven’t read too many of Stephen King’s books so the way I feel about this one isn’t going to stop me from reading more of his work.

 

Book Review: The Creeping

The Creeping Book Cover

Rating: 3 stars

Eleven years ago, Stella and Jeanie disappeared. Only Stella came back.

Now all she wants is a summer full of cove days, friends, and her gorgeous crush – until a fresh corpse leads Stella down a path of ancient evil and secrets.

Stella believes remembering what happened to Jeanie will save her. It won’t.

She used to know better than to believe in what slinks through the shadows. Not anymore.

This book wasn’t at all what I was expecting, which was both a good and bad thing for me. I overall enjoyed the story, but there was a whole lot of things with it too that made me enjoy it a lot less.

For starters, the book cover for The Creeping is absolutely gorgeous. It’s gorgeous in the sense that it’s creepy in all of the right ways, making it where the reader wants to dive within the pages to see what the story is going to be about. I know it was one of the things I saw on Goodreads that made me want to read the story, to find out what happened to the characters. To see if the cover matched the overall tone in the book. Whether it does or not depends on the individual reader.

I also enjoyed all of the horror elements in the story, starting from hearing the story about what happened to Stella when she was a child to her looking to uncover the truth of what happened on that day. There was just so much interesting information about the town she lived in and the other girls who went missing that I was interested to see where it’d lead. It made The Creeping a much more interesting read for me because without it, I don’t think I would’ve enjoyed this book quite as much. I like that Stella decided to take the matter into her own hands because we learn so much more about the town she lives in and what she’s like as a person that we would’ve never known. It added to the overall tone of the book, which made me want to continue reading to see what happened next.

Related image
Via Giphy.

However, there is just so much with this book that I can’t look past that made me enjoy it less. For starters, I wasn’t fond of most if not all of the characters. Because of what happened in her childhood, Stella ends up becoming one of the popular girls at her school and her best friend Zoey makes her choose between staying friends with her or Sam, the first boy Stella kisses. So despite Stella choosing Zoey over him, Sam still cares about her and tries to be a part of her life. He lets Stella treat him like crap over the years in the hopes that one day she’ll realize how much he cares about her.

While she does eventually realize how much he cares and starts to feel the same way, I felt like their whole relationship was completely unrealistic. Especially since she was still friends with Zoey at the time who cares nothing more than about being popular at their school. I also just feel like Alexandra Sirowy added their romance in the story to add some unneeded drama into the book. Because while Stella and Sam grew up together and had been friends for a really long time, I just didn’t really see their relationship develop well in the story. I pretty much felt bad for Sam, despite not liking him that much either because he seemed desperate to win Stella over. I felt like he deserved a much better person in his life and just didn’t understand why he still cared so much about her when she didn’t take his feelings into account at all.

I also hate her relationship with her best friend Zoey. It feels like it’s extremely toxic because all Zoey wants is to be the most popular girl at their school. It’s to the point where I think she’d be willing to end her friendship with Stella in order to stay at the top. While I get there all in high school and haven’t reached maturity yet, their friendship just didn’t sit well with me at all. Even during the moments when Zoey backed Stella up and supported her, I still didn’t like her because there were a lot of moments when she wasn’t there for Stella too.

I also hated the ending of The Creeping. As someone who believes in the supernatural, I felt like there was so much potential to make the mystery of Jeanie’s disappearance so much more than what Sirowy decided to do. We were given all this information about the town and other lore that I was expecting something more to come out at the end of it. I was deeply invested in the book because of the horror in the story and we are given a predictable ending for the story instead. The ending was predictable because it felt like an obvious choice to make this person responsible for what happened to Jeanie. And for me, that was extremely disappointing because I saw so much potential for something extraordinary to happen instead. It made this book that much more of a disappointment to me because I felt like there was so much more that could’ve been explored.

I overall liked reading this book because the horror in the story made me invested to find out what happened next. However, I wasn’t quite keen on the YA elements in the story, like the romance between Stella and Sam and Stella’s friendship with Zoey was too toxic for me to enjoy. I also didn’t like the ending because it felt too predictable and obvious to me when I felt like there was potential for something more. But the horror in The Creeping was exactly what I needed because it kept me reading to find out more.

First Impressions: Alice Mare

Alice Mare Title

Alice Mare is an adventure, horror and puzzle game created by Miwashiba in Wolf RPG Editor.

Alice Mare centers around a boy named Allen. After losing his memory, Allen is placed in a home where four other children live. While at this facility, Allen discovers there to be a World of Dreams. He also learns more about the other children he lives with through storybook telling.

Through exploration, the player will find out what’s going on but can also unlock a total of seven different endings.

Alice Mare is a game that I’m still struggling to figure out how I feel about it. When I first started playing, I was confused and trying to figure out what’s going on. This occurred because the game has the player jump right into the game without any detail. I like that the game did this because it made playing Alice Mare that much more interesting for me. However, I also felt confused when I was playing because I didn’t begin to realize what was going on until later.

Alice Mare 5

What I do like about Alice Mare is the music. I feel that a lot of the music you hear while you play is really beautiful and makes the gameplay enjoyable for the player. Some of the songs that I really enjoyed from Alice Mare include Miracle of the Stars, Playing with Dolls, Murdered, and El Paradiso. It really helped set the tone of the game and gave the player an idea of how things were going.

Another aspect of Alice Mare I enjoy is the character’s stories. I love that Miwashiba gave each of the characters fairytale stories. I really love fairytales and it was easy to see how each of these fairytales was uniquely incorporated into the game. It also made the game enjoyable to me because while I was playing, I was trying to figure out which fairytale each of the children were a part of. I also found that I loved all of these different characters because the player could connect and feel sympathy for them.

Screenshot 2015-09-02 11.49.10

Screenshot 2015-09-02 12.14.00

Another aspect of Alice Mare I really enjoyed was the horror that was incorporated into the game. It wasn’t a whole lot, but enough to make the player see that there is horror in the game. The player could see a lot of these aspects not only through the music, but through the graphics as well. While the music in the game set the tone for each scene, the graphics themselves helped the player figure out what was going to happen to the characters next. This intrigued me while playing because I didn’t know what to expect from scene to scene.

Screenshot 2015-09-03 11.03.26

What I didn’t enjoy while playing Alice Mare was the lack of plot explanation. The player knows that Allen is a young boy, new to the facility he has been placed in. However, the player doesn’t get a vivid explanation of these dream worlds and doesn’t know a whole lot about the characters other than what’s relayed in the game. The player never finds out who Alice is (though the game implies it’s you, though you don’t know for sure).

Alice Mare 8

I also didn’t enjoy any of the puzzles and riddles you had to do to progress in the game. I found them to be confusing and the answers for a lot of them didn’t make a lot of sense to me. The only way I progressed at all was from looking at the Alice Mare Wiki to get the answers to the puzzles and riddles.

So while I did enjoy playing Alice Mare, I’m still conflicted on how I feel about it.

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