Thursday, December 30, 2010

Book 56 - Afraid

Ever since Jack Kilborn / J.A. Konrath switched to e-publishing, it's been increasingly hard to find his titles in print (and sadly there was no e-reader under the tree for me this Christmas.)

I picked up Afraid at a used book sale, a major score since it's been on my TBR list for almost the entire year. Though I've read only one other book by this author - Whiskey Sour (J.A. Konrath) - the hype surrounding Afraid has kept my interest piqued.

It didn't disappoint.

As James Rollins' blurb on the cover suggests, Kilborn starts the action on page one and the horror never stops. A town is terrorized with unimaginable torture, by "men" of extraordinary strength. The premise is not supernatural - in fact, you can almost believe this type of "universal soldier" might already exist somewhere.

Not the kind of guy you want to meet in a dark alley.

After a string of paranormal romance and YA fiction, I was ready for something grittier. Kilborn certainly delivers. The pacing is spectacular. It wasn't until about the half-way point of the book I realized there were no chapter breaks. When time is tight - as it was this week - I tend to sneak in a chapter here and there when I can. The lack of chapter designation "tricked" me into reading more, until I simply ran out of steam.

I'm a huge fan of Kilborn's writing style. It's tight and clean, not a single word of extra fluff. The dialogue serves its purpose, voice is consistent, and the description is minimal but effective. I've bought a lot of horror books in my time but never read any author who could do "gore" so well. Afraid isn't for the weak at heart.

The story isn't predictable and the characters - even the bad guys - are sympathetic. But I've yet to find a book that actually scared me, and I truly wanted this one to be the one. While the gore factor was high, Afraid fell a little short on suspense.

I suspect this will be the last book of the year for me, which means I've fallen well short on my 100 books in 2010 challenge. I know 56 books is nothing to be ashamed of, and really, the challenge pushed me to read when other distractions might have played a role. Still...

For 2011, I'm issuing myself a new challenge - 75 books and 26 movies. I just need a catchy title. Got any ideas?

The Book in My Bag Today: Living Dead in Dallas, Charlaine Harris


  1. 56 books in a year sounds pretty good to me. I have no idea how many I read. I'm going to keep track in 2011, though.

    Flicks & Fiction or something like that. Stories & Stars? (I'm in an alliterative mood tonight apparently) hahahaha

  2. Woohoo! I'm glad you finished it in time! I love Kilborn's horror finesse! I totally agree with you, the scare factor wasn't there, but the to die for ;)

    Hey 56 books is an amazing accomplishment! I totally high five you my dear!!

  3. This sounds goooood! Oh and don't knock yourself for not making the goal. I don't know anyone who could have done that...unless reading books is what they do for a living.