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30
4.3 out of 5 stars
American Elsewhere
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 17 July 2014
Fantastic novel. Mona Bright is one of the best written lead characters I have come across for a long time. Perfect blend of steel and vulnerability also very funny. The plot is excellent and drip feeds info perfectly to keep you interested without spoiling the big reveals. The concepts are pretty hard sci-fi and I had to read parts back to get a grip on them but because of the excellent writing the themes and ideas are pretty clear. There is a slight issue with some of the descriptions of the 'real' look of certain characters because by definition he is trying to describe the indescribable. The ending is fantastic and really opens up the scale. All in all a great twist on the spooky haunted town genre.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 21 April 2014
When I was a teenager, scaring myself stiff with Lovecraft, I often wondered what it would be like to have an actual conversation with Cthulu or Nyarlathotep, etc. Imagine one of those things putting on a human face and communicating with humans. Well, after a fashion that's what happens here. The Great Old Ones settling down in suburbia.

Great idea and a tale well told. This is my first encounter with RJB. Obviously I'm going to have to read the rest of his stuff now.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 19 June 2014
This is my first Bennet novel and will not be my last.

This is my perfect story, it has the elements of suburban american mixed with mystery, sic fy and just plain weirdness !

I was pleased rather than put aback by the size of this masterpiece as I was saddened when it ended.

I have honestly not bragged so much about a book since Hugh Howeys Wool trilogy about how different it is to anything I have ever came across.

This should win awards, honestly, buy it. I promise you, you will not be disappointed !
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on 8 September 2013
Bought this one to take on holiday. Thought I would enjoy it from the other customer reviews I had read, but it exceeded my expectations. Horror fiction has definitely improved in recent years, with Glen Duncan, Justin Cronin, Joe Hill, the Swedish chap and a few others taking forward the Stephen King/Peter Straub high concept approach to writing, with strong characterisation, humour and relevance to modern life. Robert Jackson Bennett is up there with the best, and American Elsewhere is as good as vintage King, Straub et al.
I have bought some of the authors earlier books, but not got round to reading them as yet, thinking I would start with this one, mainly because the plot outline really appealed. Without giving too much away, there is a strong H.P. Lovecraft/Old Gods slant (much more than one reviewer suggested), combined with a 50's BEM/Paranoia feel which is really well done. The main characters-Mona Bright, the town Elders and the Gangsters from the Roadhouse are all memorable and believable, and the book zips along even though it is over 600 pages long. I really don't want to give the game away, so won't say anything more about the story, but it has science, humour, action, horror in liberal doses throughout. Looking forward to reading the rest of Robert Jackson Bennet's published works and seeing what he come up with next. Excellent stuff.
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on 12 July 2013
Well the book's ok. I bought it on a whim from a bookshop (not from Amazon) as I liked the cover and it felt hefty in the hand. And it was not obvious what it was, at its heart; a SF story, or a supernatural horror? So I took it home and read it.

Some of it is great. There are some very, very good scenes, and there is a dry wit to some of the writing.

Some of it is, well, not so hot. There is a huge - over 100 pages I guess - chunk of exposition, where various characters explain to the main character What Is Going On. If you like exposition then it will float your boat but I prefer a bit more ambiguity, personally. Oh well.

I also felt that it was a bit too obviously structured, like the author had opened up a spreadsheet on how to write a novel, and was simply going through, ticking bits of structure off as he went. Minor character dies? Check. Start the book in the middle of a bit of action? Check. Give the main character a misery backstory? Check. Ending resolves everything? Check. Really I prefer endings which are open, unresolved, ambiguous ... often not really endings at all. But American Elsewhere has a proper unambiguous resolution. I know I'm probably in tne minority there.

Chapter 58 though is excellent. It's only four pages, yet it was worth reading 600 pages of story just to get to those four.
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on 15 October 2014
Started very good, intrigued me, seemed to be leading somewhere fresh and different. A couple of good twists (a perfect American town - the Stepford Wives style), a strange inherited house with a mystery attached. However, this didn't last.

The story began to spin the wheels after about 50%, so I struggled to stay interested. Some characters seemed sort of undeveloped, raw. A couple of good ones are surrounded by ghostly undefined figures. Sometimes it felt there were too many characters in this book altogether, unnecessarily so.

A couple of gaping dead ends. What happened to that scientific chap and why did he end up being behind the mirror? What was this bad guy in the white panama - a kid or indeed a servant? Why the mister First, who seemed to have really supernatural powers fell so quickly to the Mother, who in contrast didn't seem to be all that special? Despite the hints on her superiority? What IS the pact, really and what sorts were allowed to make it?

And why the Bad Child dealt with his ALL-POWERFUL MOTHER (as we are lead to believe) with such ease?
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on 17 May 2015
A great read. I would say this has element's of horror, mystery and sci-fi. It is splendidly written, and the imagery invoked is very realistic (even with the sci-fi elements) though very creepy in places too.

The main character, Mona, inherits a house in a town called Wink which lies in the middle of nowhere, and doesn't appear on any maps. When she reaches the town things seem odd, the people seem strange and there is a mountain with an abandoned laboratory located nearby... Mona wants to investigate the town to learn more about her long deceased mother, who she learns once lived here. The story follows her as she uncovers the mysterious of Wink. To say anymore would honestly spoil things.

Though it starts rather slowly it draws you in and then soon gains pace, sharing it's secrets quite generously. This seems to be a trend of RJB, which I like. Instead of piling secrets upon secrets then revealing everything in the last few chapters in a huge rush, you get answers throughout. It feels rewarding.

Highly recommended.
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on 21 August 2015
In short, I loved this. I'm a sucker for idyllic small towns in America with dark secrets, so the blurb had me right away. If you are a fan of the best works of Stephen King, HP Lovecraft or Twin Peaks this will be a book you'll love. If you're not a fan of those things this will be a book you'll love!

I won't recount the plot but will say that Bennett creates a world full of mystery, secrets and wonder. And most impressive of all is that when the answers to those mysteries start to be revealed the book loses no momentum. The author provides answers to all of the big questions raised and I was left totally satisfied by the conclusion, which is pretty rare, as I'm usually not short of quibbles!

Bennett's writes in a clear and straight-forward manner but many of his ideas sparkle with an intelligence. Whilst Lovecraft is clearly an influence on this book, there is also something really fresh about American Elsewhere.

One of my favourite novels of recent years.
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on 13 May 2013
Once started, I couldn't put this book down! It creeps into your mind and sucks you into its weird nightmare until you can't back out! The author creates a world that is totally realistic, and throws the reader into it screaming. It effectively mixes ordinary crime with Sci Fi and horror, and throws it all into a detailed and real small town setting where everyone lives inside the madness. He gives you a cast of characters that are crazy, thuggish, prim, confused, and anything else you can think of. The sense of growing horror is inexorable. I am now going to read his other books in a hurry! It is up there with American Gods and I haven't been engaged into such a detailed and horrific alter-world since reading Finch. Don't plan to do much once you start reading it! I hope this book gets promoted properly and takes its rightful place in the bookshops - right by the door!
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on 14 March 2014
The town of Wink is not what it seems. Behind the picket fences of small-town America lie secrets that would put Twin Peaks to shame. What lurks beneath is mostly hidden, but things are changing in Wink, and a single unexpected death heralds a family reunion of unimaginable scale.

It's cheesy, I know, but I was hooked from the first page. Tough, no-nonsense Mona is one of the best female protagonists I've encountered in years, and her responses to the threats and puzzles she faces are coloured with bravery and grace. The strangeness of Wink- and beyond- are portrayed with dazzling detail and almost tangible vintage patina. The plot had me gripped, even the parts where the science was mind-bendingly complex, and I was very sad too reach the end. I'll be reading more of this writer's work, for sure.
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