ARC Review: Last Days by Adam Nevill

Brooke Banks | 12:00 AM | | | | | |

AT A GLANCE:



Title: Last Days
Author: Adam Nevill
Categories: Adult, Paranormal, Horror
Source: Won a free advanced readers review copy from a Goodreads First Reads Giveaway
Rating: (3 Stars)
Recommend: Yes, for fans of the genre, especially if you like more descriptive writing and don't mind an ambiguous ending
Format: ARC Paperback, 531 pages
Published: February 26th 2013 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published January 1st 2012)
Goodreads
Last Days by Adam Nevill is a Blair Witch style novel in which a documentary film-maker undertakes the investigation of a dangerous cult—with creepy consequences.
When guerrilla documentary maker, Kyle Freeman, is asked to shoot a film on the notorious cult known as the Temple of the Last Days, it appears his prayers have been answered. The cult became a worldwide phenomenon in 1975 when there was a massacre including the death of its infamous leader, Sister Katherine. Kyle’s brief is to explore the paranormal myths surrounding an organization that became a testament to paranoia, murderous rage, and occult rituals.  The shoot’s locations take him to the cult’s first temple in London, an abandoned farm in France, and a derelict copper mine in the Arizonan desert where The Temple of the Last Days met its bloody end. But when he interviews those involved in the case, those who haven’t broken silence in decades, a series of uncanny events plague the shoots. Troubling out-of-body experiences, nocturnal visitations, the sudden demise of their interviewees and the discovery of ghastly artifacts in their room make Kyle question what exactly it is the cult managed to awaken – and what is its interest in him?






Pros

  • really dark, creepy, scary horror that had me actively freaked out while reading during the day
  • liked the mystery, the suspense,
  • the premise, the “presences” and what’s behind the curtain..Awesome!
  • liked Kyle’s voice and the descriptions from his director’s point of view on things



Cons

  • I fucking hate the ending. Didn’t finish the story and left it hanging.
  • it slowed down around the halfway point dragging it along and losing it’s edge
  • the stereotype use: Finger Mouse and douchebag military misogynist showing up at the climax come off as lazy and sloppy and irritating in the latter’s case

MY THOUGHTS


Kyle is our main character and the passionate “I tell it like it is and just follow the story” director in financial ruins. I liked Kyle’s perspective on settings and people in the directing for a video view. His voice is authentic and I found myself rooting for the underdog with integrity over the mainstream movie media as it is my wont to do. Dan, Kyle’s long term bro and camera man, is cool and the “I will deny any paranormal activity until it punches me in the face” type. This is helpful to bring balance and contrast when the questioning of people’s sanity starts kicking in. Max the aging producer with the barbie doll follicles ( ← love that description in the book)  delivers Kyle the story to make a once in a lifetime movie and the means to make to get it done right. Kyle recruits his usual team: Dan and Finger Mouse, the biggest stereotype of the basement dwelling, non-showering, society shunning nerd, who happens to be a video editor. The story is turning out better than anyone could’ve hoped. This is their big break.  Now if only the settings weren’t becoming interactive and Max was as free with the truth as he is with money....


I was intrigued, though struggled with the writing style, by the opening scene. It does set the terrifying mysterious tone for what follows. I don’t know if it was just me adjusting or  an actual change in style but I didn’t have a problem with the writing after that prologue. I actually like the writing with the little details being brought out describing the odd things people notice when their brain is scrambling to find a foothold. I was hooked by chapter one with the wonder at what's going to happen next. It doesn’t take long for things to get get going and I was loving Last Days. In all it’s creepy, horrific, glory. I was seeing things in the corner of my eyes, jumping at every sound  - and I started reading this in the morning too. Broad daylight and I’m jumping at every sound and movement, which my cat happily used against me since I was too busy reading to pet him for hours on end. Vindictive little beast but it certainly was a reading experience.


Around page 230, I noticed it felt like it was going slower, then soon enough I was skimming over passages, specifically where the smells and sights were being described over and over. It’s not told in the same way every time but it was still the same things. I just didn’t retain the same fear. It had just all been covered before so my eyes glazed over because at over 200 pages I got the point already. The action/attack scenes weren’t boring or bad but I wanted to get deeper into the story, the cause, the reasons behind these happenings instead of playing will-they-won’t-they come out of the walls for 400 pages. However, the scenes that pulled me back in where the new discoveries, and the subsequent interviews, because they gave me what I was looking for. The interview passages were fantastic all the way through.


My waning interest was remedied when we finally get the big reveal of what’s behind the curtain. I loved finding out and found it just as horrific, terrifying and creepy as the beginning. I was like this is it. I was back fully hooked into the story and felt my pulse racing again. However, I felt disconnected from Kyle because of his reactions. I mean after everything he finds the heart of the story only to run fleeing back to his tattered rationality when he was clearly in denial. He was pushed too far and I wanted him to fully embrace the problem in order to solve it. I mean after all of this, I kept thinking...”Wait, get terrorized and almost die several times yet you don’t believe the reasons why this is happening? Really? ” The explanation fits everything in consideration and makes sense, so I was prepared to jump and felt irritated by Kyle’s waffling. Of course, his actions make sense for Kyle’s character but I wasn’t his biggest fan at that moment. I wanted to yell at Kyle: Just do it.


And now, biggest problem with Last Days. {Warning: Rant Ahead}


One motherfucking word would have completed Last Days. Yes or no. Everything else is wrapped up and finished except for the fate of one character. One very important character. What I say or think the answer to the question is doesn’t matter. It doesn’t change what’s between the pages. Stories feel so very real to me when reading because it’s not my story. The words on printed (or imprinted for e-copies) in front of me and there’s no way for me to change them so I HATE not finishing a story. (This is probably also why I have such a hard time DNF books.) The official story of Kyle and The Last Days cult is left undetermined , which makes me rage after all I went through with them as a reading. I made a commitment to reading this story and feel betrayed at not getting to finish it.


So you know what? I’m not going to play that “you get to decide” game of “Oh, I want things to work out so the answer is no.” or “Oh, it’s more realistic that the answer is yes so that’s what I choose”. No, I’m going down a different track. Here’s my version: Instead of spending a 400 pages playing will-they-won’t-they with the walls, the presences come out  at page 200 and slaughter everyone. Every living thing worldwide and there’s no satisfaction in the presences dying when the food source runs out because I’ve made them immortal. The Earth is now officially Hell until the end of time. No God to wipe the slate clean or meteorites to restart. Everything sucks forever and ever and I didn’t just spend 2 days reading Last Days. Oh, not the kind of ending you left up to reader’s to interpret? TOO BAD. This is what happens when you leave the door open, because you were born in a barn. I’d prefer that ending I just pulled out of my ass in a rage to be written over this ”oh,  letting the reader’s decide is so clever and edgy” bullshit ending. Or was it, like another reviewer suggested, a lesson to “let sleeping dogs lie”, to leave things go unfinished and walk away from it before you get in too deep? Well, after 531 pages, that’s too fucking late! I just got cheated out of a ending. Fuck. that. noise.
 
Give me the toddler “nuh-huh I’m not telling!” ending and I responded in kind. Seriously, one single word would have solve my entire problem with the ending. Yes or no.


*sigh* And my “interpretation” doesn’t mean a damn thing so -1 star just for the ending of Last Days.


Bah.


Bottom Line: 



3 Stars= Good, I enjoyed it. Has the scare factor and gave me my fix for the darkness.(-2 stars for the ending (GRRR!) and the part that felt slower and subsequently less scary/interesting.)
I don’t ultimately regret it though I jokingly suggested that in my rant and am actually interested in reading more of Nevill’s books (particularly The Ritual). I do recommend it for fans of this genre, especially if you don’t mind longer descriptions and an ambiguous ending.

Quotes (from ARC):



pg. 75,     Gotta lay off the kebabs, big man, Kyle thought in the idiotic ordinariness of flimsy thinking that wafted into a mind recently traumatized by abject terror.


pg. 125,     Kyle had never been interested in art directors; didn’t want places made interesting. He’d found by experience, if he looked hard enough in the right way, a location was already perfect for his purposes.


pg. 130     Kyle asked Dan to offset the frame in a close up and a medium shot to get Gabriel and the barn in the same scene. A good call, because the position framed a powerful view of the silhouette of as shabby old man in the doorway.

pg. 312,     Keeping his hands and mind focused was the only thing that prevented what felt like a total mental breakdown within a maelstrom of terror.


Review

2 comments:

  1. I haven't read this novel, but I have to say I despise open-ended stories of all kinds. I get pissy when short stories do it and enraged when novels do it. It's lazy, is what.

    Then again, there's one exception. I liked the Fluted Girl's ending just fine. I don't know why exactly. (http://windupstories.com/stories/pumpsix/the-fluted-girl/)

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    Replies
    1. Yeah, there's only one exception to my hatred of open endings too. The Mist by Stephen King, the 130 page anthology version. It's wide open and we're left rolling in the mist but it's SO utterly dark, depressing and, most importantly, fitting. There's no other way to end that story. Proof is in just how completely stupid the movie version ending is. Ugh.

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