Sunday, May 12, 2013

Double Sized Book Review—We Live Inside You / Angel Dust Apocalypse

Know what's fun? Finding a new author who knocks you out of your seat with the raw power of his storytelling craft.

I stumbled across Jeremy Robert Johnson's We Live Inside You on by accident, but with a title like that I couldn't not investigate more closely. I bought the kindle version of the book while my intrigue was still running high, and less than a minute later was reading about a man who got infested with a creepy parasite hivemind that not only took over his body but, increasingly, took over his entire personality. Even the tone of the story shifted in tone as the narrator became more and more proud of the fact that he was no longer merely a meat body but thousands of bodies. His joy in being able to share this bliss with the rest of the world, starting with the occupants of a movie theater who unknowingly began breathing in his microscopic airborne larvae, was really really really unsettling.

There's actually several stories about creepy parasites in the book. My favorite, hands down, was not the aforementioned "When Sussurus Stirs" but in fact the incredible "Cathedral Mother," in which a woman, driven to the extremes of eco-terrorisim in her pursuit of preserving the old growth redwoods of Northern California, stumbles upon a parasitic danger high in the canopies of the very trees she's trying to save.

Not all the stories in We Live Inside You are about parasites, though. There's actually a wide range of stories in here—stories about the end of the world caused by a devastating chant, of ghostly vengeance from beyond the grave, of strange drugs and stranger cults, gritty noir dramas and CDC horror stories, patricide, dead kids, and so much more.

By the time I finished, I was eager for more, and so I zipped back online and a few moments later, Angel Dust Apocalypse was on my kindle. More parasite stories awaited within this book, much to my delight, along with stories about the apocalypse itself that were both sublmine and over the top. You've got a story about a man making a suit out of cockroaches in order to survive in a radioactive wasteland. Or a story about a society where body modification is more than just mainstream, it's the route to fame. Or a story about a bitter young man who hates having to take care of his mentally challenged younger brother. Or how one woman reacts to the news that her husband may have been decapitated in a car crash and she needs to drive north to ID the body by a tattoo. Or of a particularly horrific Native American curse. Or a story that starts off with: "You could bite Todd's nose off."

The stories are raw, visceral, grisly when needed, and powerful. Jeremy Robert Johnson's the type of author who can set you on edge merely with his titles—especially once you're familiar with his writing style. I had to pause in dread and anticipation before continuing the book once I got to the story called "Priapsim," for example...

We Live Inside You / Angel Dust Apocalypse...
  • ... makes the show Monsters Inside Me feel like a Disney movie.
  • ... has a lot of really interesting behind-the-scenes stuff by the author where he talks about his writing style and techniques.
  • ... makes me glad I had a kindle, since if I hadn't, I might have not bothered buying the book.
Grade: A+ (We Live Inside You), A – (Angel Dust Apocalypse)

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