Saturday, April 21, 2012

Review: "The Uninvited" by Jonathan Daniel

This is not a book to read if you don't like gore. If you're a horror aficionado, though, it's your kind of read.

The main character is Owen Thompson, a store manager who's rewarded for his work with a trip to a tropical island belonging to the owner of his company. He and other high-performing store employees show up expecting a week of killer parties and good times. For Owen, it's also a chance to face some inner demons from his wife's tragic death in the tsunami that devastated Thailand.

Unfortunately for Owen, personal growth has to take a back seat when he wakes up hung over the first morning and walks into a monster chewing on the body of one of the workers. From there on, Owen and two other survivors are forced to run and fight for their lives from the creatures while trying to figure out how to get off the (extremely isolated) island.

There is a similarity to zombies in the way the creatures are presented: They eat humans, they used to be human, and they lose all vestiges of their former personalities once created. They aren't slow or decaying, however. They're fast, strong and viciously intelligent. It shows in the way they handle their "food":

Finally, deciding that it had waited long enough, one of the creatures moved forward and grasped the man by one knee. It raised one claw to his leg and pushed it into the calf muscle. The man's head rose and he screamed with fresh pain. The creature pulled its claw downward, in slow and jerky motions, opening a large wound on the outer side of the man's leg. When it had reached the ankle it stopped and reached across the man so that it could repeat the procedure on the other side of his leg. The blood that poured from the wounds stained the boulder and ran down the jagged edges of the rock.
With a fast, hard motion, the creature pulled the entire calf muscle away from the man's leg.

I could wish that the course of Owen's and Jessica's relationship hadn't been so easily predicted; with the early scenes that set up another of his acquaintances as a love interest, it was clear the author couldn't allow Owen and Jessica to walk off into the sunset together. But I have to admit that the way Owen ended their relationship was unexpected.

The book's ending was sufficiently difficult, and although the author glossed over a few details I would have liked explained more — in particular, the exact cause of the transformation to monsters — this was a good, entertaining horror read.