Friday, April 29, 2011

Horns - Joe Hill (Audio)

Once I had established that Joe Hill was Stephen King's son, and then got a taste of his brand of entertainment (Heart-Shaped Box), I didn't need much persuasion to order his newest release "Horns" on audio as well.  "Heart-Shaped Box" was truly creepy, in the best way possible, so I locked all the doors and turned on all the lights when I started "Horns".  But ahhhh.  Not so fast.  It appears we have an author who might just enjoy keeping us slightly off-guard.  (Now what other author does THAT sound like?)

Synopsis:  Ig Perrish really isn't a bad guy.  He is the guy who always tries to do the right thing, to help others less fortunate, and be a good friend.  But when his childhood sweetheart is murdered, and he is demonized by his community for being the one to have killed her, his life slips into the abyss. 

A couple of years into this mess, after a night of drinking, Ig wakes up with horns growing from his head.  Suddenly, he has the power to extract deeply buried confessions from anyone he comes in contact with.  Ig is horrified at what he hears...his family despises him, his friends want to kill him for what they think he did to his girlfriend, and random people admit to the most awful, embarrassing things.  Initially, this is a curse.  But then Ig decides to use his gift to try to determine what exactly happened on the night his girlfriend died.

My thoughts:  Whereas "Heart-Shaped Box" pretty much terrified the reader, this book took us down a different path.  Sure there is plenty of heartbreak and devastation and scenes that made me close my eyes and cringe, but there is also humor and irony and social commentary built into the package.  I wasn't quite sure how to take it all, and I'm not confident in how to DESCRIBE it, but I knew I liked it.

Hill still has kept a couple of important things consistent from this first book - his edge and his insanely real characters.  His prose is rapid-fire, at times crude as hell (alot of eye-bulging from me), and in your face.  And he is completely unapologetic about it all.  Take that, and that, and that, he says.  I felt I had been yanked around alot, because I was sitting there feeling sympathy, then I was enraged, then I was confused, then I wanted to cry, then I was laughing.  You know those Scrambler rides at the carnival?  I think I had messed up hair by the end, and some whiplash.

The characters were just as real and fully realized as you or me.  Hill HAS to have based these people on someone he knows.  They walk right off the page (or in my case, the disc) into your life.  In some cases, you don't want them in your life because they are pure evil.  I've seen evil guys on paper, but one particular guy in this story was off the chart, and he turned my stomach every time he showed up.  You will not finish this book with any emotion resembling apathy.

For those of you who like everything explained and neatly wrapped up in the end, you won't find it here.  I still don't really know what happened totally, although I have my theories.  I'm not sure I am comfortable with the ending.  But I will overlook all of that because Hill has moxie.  He does what he wants, he doesn't pander to common opinion or a formula.  I love that about an author.  He also gets credit for creativity (Horns? Really?).  Must be all that Kiss music he listens to while he is writing. 

A few words about the audio production:  Fred Berman was the narrator for this production, and again this is a new voice for me.  Which I find amazing.  I listen to audios year-round, and 9 times out of 10 I'm listening to someone I've never heard before.  I liked Berman's work in this book, and it appears he has quite an impressive resume. I'd enthusiastically listen to his other work (which includes Skippy Dies).

4.5 out of 5 stars                  


14 comments:

Zibilee said...

I just love reading your reviews.
You have a way of getting down to the brass tacks of the book, and I love that you had such a visceral reaction to this book in particular. I know we talked about this book a lot, and even after all that, I can't really say how I felt about the ending. I agree that Lee was the epitome of evil though, and really want to take the time to read Heart-Shaped Box. Fabulous review, as usual :)

Kate said...

I think I liked Horns even more than Heart-Shaped Box, I am definitely a fan of Joe Hill!

caite said...

I was about to start reading "Heart- Shaped Box" but now that you made that comment about terror...I am not sure...

Anita said...

You write such intuitive reviews!! I'm going to keep Joe Hill on my list when I'm in the mood for this type of book

Jenny said...

I love this review too! You def. have convinced me I need to read this author. (BTW, Jason agrees AND he got the first book in Tim Dorsey's Serge Storms series because of your glowing recommendations!)

Martha@Hey, I want to read that said...

This isn't my usual genre but review makes me want to check these stories out.

Avid Reader said...

Oh, this sounds good. I'm going to have to add it to the list. I know what you mean about sometimes knowing you love a book, even if you can't say exactly why.

Marce said...

I enjoyed Horns also, I definitely want to read Heartshaped Box, that sounds amazing, terror, I am all for it.

This was a great review. I agree he just gives it 'take that', brilliant description.

Jenners said...

I like moxie in an author. And it does amaze me that with all the audios you listen to, you still find new narrators.

Trisha said...

One day I will get on top of things and read Hill (and the three billion other authors I keep meaning to read).

rhapsodyinbooks said...

rats, rats, rats! it sounds great but i need the tied up bow at the end!

SuziQoregon said...

Aaacckk!! I still haven't read Heart Shaped Box and now there are two Joe Hill books on my 'need to read' list!

Iliana said...

Haven't gotten around to this one yet but it's on my list. I thought Heart-Shaped Box and some of the stories from 20th Century Ghosts were so freaking creepy - I can't wait to read more! :)

Melissa said...

I know I mentioned that Heart-Shaped Box didn't work for me, but your enthusiasim has me convinced to look for the audio of this one.