Thursday, 25 September 2014

Survivor by JF Gonzalez

Firstly I love the cover but it has nothing to do with this book, so not sure why the author decided to update it to this.

My first foray into hardcore and I was not overly impressed with the story line or the amount of grossness, I was pleased the author stayed away from animals (although there is one very brief paragraph) however, there are multiple rape scenes, tortures, mutilations, the making of snuff films, mentions of child pornography, bestiality, bondage, some cannibalism, so enough gore and splatter that this should be a fantastic read.

The whole “Hitcher” style kidnap at the beginning is well done, up until the police are involved; “Desperation” by SK crept into my mind with the no emotion cop (who later becomes an emotional wreck?!) and the whole being put in jail on a Friday afternoon and not being allowed out until Monday morning seems a little odd and convenient – can’t two high profile lawyers call in a few favours! It’s only a traffic offence not mass murder, yet.

After an explosive and riveting start; I was lulled in to an exquisite sensation of skin crawl and then suddenly slapped with a big yuck.

The main character, Lisa, is kidnapped, chained up and told she is the star of a hardcore S&M snuff film; well if that does not make your skin crawl then having her watch the would be rescuer suffer the torture, rape and mental breakdown that has been promised as “bonus content”  should be enough to scare the pants off you.

However, I found the most disgusting part of the book to be the suggestion that Lisa blurted out to save her own skin but this was badly set up at the beginning of the book and then the deaths which could have been a pivotal mind twist were glossed over IMO. 

The actual suggestion was repulsive, but then who knows what we would promise faced with certain torture and death.

A cat and mouse type of search and rescue is instigated by her husband , when he finally makes it our of prison, which is all a little to handy for the time line, the story sort of takes a nose dive after that.

None of the characters are likeable or believable. They are caricatures of what they could be.  The “good” side is too syrupy and the “baddies” act like total idiots in the end.

To have the “set-up” guy switch his mind set so quickly all the time got on my nerves; he is either an abused and traumatized kid post bunny torture and has no empathy or he is in it for the money but really cares, he can’t be both! Or at least not in the way JFG tells/explains it.

The Big Cheese in it all just seemed like a bumbling twit in the end and was a bit Al Capone (tax evasion - let down) in his eventual capture.

I found the over padding of the good guy vs bad guy image a little nauseating and predictable. As for the planting of a red herring, it’s supposed to divert your attention not scream at you “it was me! coooeee over here” or put at least put in a few more.

The elderly assassin is inspired, although I would have liked her story extended much more as there are about 30 years missing in her story. Her vicious killing of the security guards but decision to leave Brad (hubby) alive so her can wriggle free and phone the police is just horrible storytelling and again with the letting your characters do stupid things just to aid the story line shows very poor skill, and commitment to the story.

The end fight scene was such an anti-climax, firstly Lisa’s body seemed to have her head on the wrong way around; the rapist/killer was able to enter her from behind but she then bit off his nose? 

Then in her half stabbed, half-starved, waif like body state with no weapons training and having been in a catatonic condition for several days/weeks (time line is a bit off) how was she able to kill two big, strong men (who are proven killers) on her own and then drive herself through the Nevada desert (with no sat-nav!).   

Lets not even mention that said big, strong torturous killers, supposedly into the "hardcore S&M" scene scream like babies and act in total agony when she bites their nose - whoops I did. 

JFG really backs away from some of the kills, just some vague descriptions on how brutal they were, basically lots of build up to a damp squib throwaway line. As for the whole S&M scene – laughable, clearly no research done.

Despite the long winded comments from the author at the beginning that this is the final and most brilliant version, it has some serious consistency errors and definitely some typos that would have benefitted a good beta read and editor, which is surprising as I think this author (my first book by them) is quite high profile and has a fair few books to their name.

I did enjoy the ending. I loved the wrap up bits and I needed some soothing and loving after all the actual gross splatter thrown at me. There was no ambiguous ending and I enjoyed that, I want to be told a story not make up half of it myself.

Would I read this author again, maybe, if another title gets flashed up to me (or someone would like to suggest one) but I won’t be searching them out.