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4.5 out of 5 stars
The Survivor
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 6 September 2012
Folowing on from the huge successes of THE RATS and THE FOG, James Herbert came up with this interesting story of a Boeing 747 crashing near the little college town Of Eton, shortly after its take-off. All passengers are dead, horribly mutilated and burned. All except one, our hero, Keller, who walks away from the crash virtually unharmed. The story follows his efforts to work out what happened on board the plane, why it crashed, and, most importantly, why he was the lone survivor.

As Keller and the airline investigates, a series of bizarre and macabre events occur around the village. A courting couple are menaced by something outside their car. A fisherman is attacked by fetid rotting corpses from the river. A local priest has strange and terrifying visitations in his church. These events and more tell of how there is a shadow and a menace over the town, while Keller and Hobbs, a spiritualist, try to work it all out.

The central premise here is quite intriguing - why Keller survived? - and offers a good hook to get into the story. The writing, as usual, is very descriptive and some scenes and vignettes build up a good atmosphere. It is the ending which marrs the book, and the climactic encounter - though moderately exciting - isn`t a big enough pay-off for the mystery of the build-up. It is annoying also how the main supernatural threat is very barely linked to the conclusion, and instead just seems to disappear, rather than playing a part.

THE SURVIVOR is okay, but is not Herbert`s best work. At its most basic it is a ghost story, a theme that Herbert tackled later on in his career with more style and substance. A slow and slightly baffling film version was made, with Robert Powell in the lead role [famously, Herbert fell asleep when he watched the movie becauase he couldn't understand the story], but you`re better off with the book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 8 September 2012
Keller somehow survives a plan crash which has killed over 300 people but somehow he just walks away but he has lost all his memories of the incident. Being the co-pilot he feels responsible in someway, frustrated with the fact he can't remember what happened or how he survived and a strange irresistible force pulling him to the town of Eton where the crash had occurred he is determined to find out what happened. While investigating and some help from a friend Tewson (who is involved in the investigation) he soon finds something unease about it all that nobody can put there finger on.

A spiritualist/medium called Hobbs turns up saying the voices of the passengers have communicated with him and that they are angry and confused and they need his help for whatever purpose. After Keller shows him the door and getting on with his investigating, strange deaths start occurring in the town and he soon decides to give Hobbs a chance and they discover that among the souls of the passengers there is an evil spirit who is committing the killings and is corrupting the other souls and wants Keller life.

To save all the souls of the dead passengers and to stop the killings Keller & Hobbs must discover what happened to the plane which means unlocking Keller memories which may cost them there lives.

The Survivor has been the best James Herbert book I have read so far it really gripped me I just wanted to know the mystery of the crash. Lots of creepy stuff i.e an evil girl who carries a doll around just great James Herbert as usual :)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 26 February 2013
This has to be the fifth or sixth time I have read this book, and it still is stunning in the way the story unfolds. Though the ending is known, it still holds a fascination . This is James at his best, the small inter related stories of individuals in addition to the main characters helps the reader come to appreciate what is happening in this story and that it aafects more than just one or two people. This is my favourite James Herbert book, and probably my favourite book. James leaves Stephen King standing, especially his early books, and his books are so filmable, though the film of this book was awful despite having the splendid Robrert Powell as the main character. Could do wit a remake withe a decent script writer and keep the story in England. I digress, Survivor is a great read and deserves the 5 stars I gave it.
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I read this book as a teen upon another persons recommendation and I recommend it myself to lovers of the occult horror genre, as a forerunner of films like the Sixth Sense or an afterrunner of those like Carnival of Souls...The backdrop is very English and the tale has excellent scenes and twists and the classic and bloody revelatory denouement is dreadful...Many chapters have grotesque and perverse characters whose behaviour actually presages what has become almost the notorious norm in todays fallen Britain although it's unlikely Herbert was attempting prophecy much less approves of degeneracy...The novel is very creepy and describes such scenes as a church full of the Dead from an aircrash from which there is only one guilty survivor,The oddly incredibly lucky pilot...As was typical then and as it is now,wicked Germans are portrayed as the apotheosis of evil but this is the normal creepy subtextual propaganda for Anglo-Amerika and most fictions cryptically or grossly represent a useful enemy as a fiend for the likely prejudices of the reader...The tale is very black but its end does embody a transcendental uplift after the chronic trip of the sly narrative through the writers evolutionary imagination...A film was done but was set in the unlikely and plebeian locale of Australia which must exclude the twee or smug backdrops of England and its foggy, atmospheric landscape...A memorable read from a Ghost and Horror writer wholly S.Kings equal in the spooky genre,bleak,grim,grisly and a truly worthy weird read.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 22 July 2012
I am making my way through all of James Herbert's books on my Kindle in the order that they were published. Having read his first (The Rats) and second The Fog) books I naturally came to this one. I am 43 years old now and read a number of his books in my early teenage years, though not this one. Had I read this at night when I was a young teenager I don't think I would have wanted to turn the light out. This book is awesome! The story line is fast paced, not a dull moment and Mr Herbert certainly knows how to make the hairs of the back of your neck rise. A bomb destroys a fully laden Boeing 747 jumbo jet shortly after take off from Heathrow and the only man to survive, it seems, is the co-pilot. At first he has amnesia of the entire, albeit short, flight but as the story progresses he recollects more and more. At the same time there are some horrific goings on in the quiet town of Eton where the plane came down. The story gets better and better as it goes and ends in a climax.

I really did enjoy this book and is my favourite James Herbert book so far.

Note on the Kindle version: Vary good with no proplems whatsoever with typos or formatting.

Next up: Fluke. Now this looks a strange one; a dog who appears to be a reincarnated man with flash backs to his former life. I wonder how well Mr Herbert will bring this one off. Looking forward to reading it.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 14 October 2010
Hello all

Having read most of Herbert's work and the reviews on here it is noticeable that some people don't get this book. An aircraft crashes above Eton leaving only the co-pilot as a survivor who tries to piece together what happened if only to put himself at ease with the possibility of human error and his own feelings of guilt. Various threads interact these being the above co-pilot, an air crash investigator and his pet theory, a spiritualist trying to help the lost souls find peace, and a town subjected to hauntings and horror. For those who didn't get the child/doll part of the plot a black magician was using other bodies/souls to haunt the townsfolk and lure them to death. The ending that appears to leave some people cold was straight out of the Tales Of The Unexpected TV programme, and for me is the only ending that could have worked as all other possibilities are discounted in the story. The characters are well-crafted and it is an enjoyable book to read.
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James Herbert's third novel, The Survivor blends plausible manmade horror with the supernatural, with the result of a fast-moving, intriguing and thoroughly entertaining read.

They say third time's the charm and that may well be true here because as much as I like The Rats, The Survivor is a far more skilfully crafted story with noticeably more confidence in the telling. More multi-faceted and maintaining mystery to the end, Herbert is definitely in charge of his craft by this book. He doesn't even give over too many pages to unnecessary `bedroom' scenes with this one.

I read The Survivor comfortably in one sitting, never losing interest in the plot or being put off by the pace or tone. Whereas The Fog becomes quite samey and reveals the truth too soon (in my opinion anyway), The Survivor makes variations and holds on to its secrets to the end.The only annoyance about the book so can't really complain!

Unusually for a large publishing house Kindle release, the issue contains numerous typesetting errors, possibly from conversion to Kindle format without subsequent proof reading. It doesn't spoil the reading although sometimes jars your eyes to a halt.

One of the better Herbert novels and well worth it for the entertainment.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 4 January 2000
When I lent this book to a friend, she said she got very irritable and short-tempered while she was reading the book. Then when she went on holiday with the family, her son was acting the same way. She asked him if he was reading The Survivor, when he said yes, she immediately took the book away from him and told him he could not read it anymore until they were home. That's a great story about how this book can affect a person. It can disturb your mind. James Herbert is a fantastic writer. He is so graphic with his descriptions you almost feel that you're watching a movie as you turn the pages. This is the first book by him that I ever read and I've read everything since then. If you like horror novels, I guarantee that if you read this book you will become an avid James Herbert reader. He is the best. And The Survivor is his best. But be prepared. You just may have some strange reactions to this book.
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on 3 October 2013
This, James Herbert's 3rd published novel, was his first venture into true 'horror genre' as I and many others understand it - 'paranormal' and metaphysical fiction, as distinct from the physically horrific/'slasher' branch. The Rats and The Fog might better be categorised (if categorised fiction has to be, and apparently it does), as 'gruesome sci-fi'.

The Survivor strikes me as the product of an author not yet quite sure he really believes that what he's writing is possible. Nevertheless, it IS intelligently worked out and persuasive, and I found it to be an entertaining read, well worth my £3 for the Kindle edition. I'm just surprised that, despite my having had a secondhand paperback languishing on my shelves for years, I hadn't read it before - an oversight which I'm glad to have corrected.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 6 July 2013
James Herbert is (was) a talented author and I will miss his terrifying stories and his scary characters but I never get bored of his books. This is a good story and I'd recommend it to anyone who likes a real horror story.
KARRIE.
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