13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
I'm a big fan of Michael Marshall's "Straw men" trilogy and since those I have read all his novels. He has an eye to the weird but written in an extremely entertaining way. His books will almost always mess with your head (in a very "what the hecks happening here" good way) and as usual I found myself immersed in the story and desperate to know what was what. David, an author who is about to get his first book published, bumps into a stranger who seems to know him - from then on strange things start happening and David finds himself in all sorts of trouble. Meanwhile, John agrees to help out his girlfriends bookclub pal who believes she is being stalked. However it is not as simple as that. As their two stories intertwine, we begin to discover another world - one that, whilst it is obviously fantasy, is actually quite believable. I have to say that when I wasnt reading this, I found myself often looking over my shoulder half expecting someone to be there! I very much enjoyed this - and whilst the Straw Men trilogy will probably always be my favourite from this author, he has never let me down when it comes to a darn good yarn. Excellent!
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Michael Marshall's novels tend to fall into the 'reliable entertainment' category, with the honourable exception of Only Forward which was dazzling but which has proved to be a hard act to follow. 'We Are Here' is indeed a solid, well-crafted story which blurs the boundaries between a gritty New York thriller and the supernatural / spiritual world.
If you've read MM's other novels then you'll be familiar with several of the themes - a hidden organisation with a convoluted hierarchy and nomenclature; the equivocal nature of the paranormal; an emerging, unconventional conspiracy which forces the protagonists to face their fears and failings, and so on. The characters are, in the main, well defined and intriguing, although the lawyer-turned-waiter hero felt so familiar that I had to go and check whether he'd been featured in an earlier book - and a couple of the shadowy villains are a little too obscure for comfort. I had to recap now and then to remind myself who they were. The wannabe writer who works in a coffee bar, serving sarcasm along with the cream and sugar, and lives in a double-wide trailer with only felines for friends was a very touching and nuanced creation, though.
At time, 'We Are Here' sparkles with the creativity and clever observation at which MM excels. The core idea (no, I'm not going to reveal it and ruin it for you) is a very witty, intelligent 'what if?' scenario which should strike a chord with most people who recall their childhood friendships. Similarly, the relationships between the two adult couples are well developed and reflect some very delicate touches - like when Kristina understands that she's reached the point in her relationship with John when she'd usually have a commitment crisis and run a mile.
However, I'm not sure that bringing the religious angle into the plot really added much to it, and it kinda spoiled my delight at the fantastical concept of who the forgotten people might actually be. I also feel that MM has written the weird organisation / conspiracy of doom plot more than once too often. In some ways, 'We Are Here' is a 5* idea which gets wrapped up in a 3* plot. It's delivered with style, but I really wanted to spend more time with the people who are only glimpsed from the corner of an eye. The apocalyptic plot and finale didn't grab me particularly, not like the wit and whimsy of the earlier chapters.
An interesting novel, if not a stand-out superb one. Reminded me somewhat of Chris Fowler's Roofworld, and I can see that it would appeal to the same audience. Like I said; enjoyable and reliable entertainment.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 18 March 2013
This is a hard book to review because it'd be so easy to spoil it and I don't want to do that.
We Are Here mostly centres around two couples. David and Dawn are a writer and his teacher wife who go into New York for the lunch that seals his first book deal. It's a big day for them but on the way home David accidentally bumps into someone in the street. Someone who then follows him to the station and asks him to "Remember me".
The other couple are John and Kristina. A waiter and bar-maid at an Italian restaurant who've been together about 6 months and are at the stage where they are about to either get more committed or possibly split up. Kristina's new friend from her book club has seemingly acquired a stalker and asks John and Kris for help.
Both these stories concern people who live in a kind of parallel world. They are there in the background of our lives but often go unseen or unnoticed. But something is changing. They are coming out of the shadows...
I could talk more - vaguely and circuitously so as not to spoil - about the plot but I won't. Let me talk instead about tone and themes. This is a book about regret, about loss of friendship and the way we forget people. It's also about what it means to really live in a place and be part of someone's life. In that sense it deals with some universal and weighty themes and does so well I think.
However it's not a ponderous literary novel. It's a thriller. It reminded me of Stephen King in places, which is a compliment. I enjoyed several of the characters. The author writes a middle-aged lady with nine cats who lives in a trailer - and he manages to make me really like her :)
It's not perfect. I think it could have been shorter. Particularly in the middle section where dramatic irony is stretched to the breaking point. Also, I was going to complain that there was an un-fired Chekov's Gun in the form of very significant events from one character's past which are mentioned more or less in passing but never really dealt with. However it turns out that this character, and these events, are from a previous book. Also they are mentioned because they affect who this person sees and interprets events in this story, so the gun is fired - it just has a quieter bang than you might think.
Anyway it all comes together in the final part of the book and we get a dramatic action-y ending. It left me feeling I'd enjoyed the ride.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
This book had a name change before it arrived at my door. Now called "The Forgotten,"which is a better title in my opinion, it is both interesting and slightly whacky as we have come to expect from Michael Marshall aka Michael Marshall Smith. He has a rare talent of allowing the reader to calmly follow his storyline and then punching them in the face with a line or two...lines you have to read and reread several times....making sure you read it right!
David is a struggling author and has arrived in New York, with his wife Dawn, to visit the publisher who has happily taken him on board at long last. As they are returning to the station he becomes aware of a man following him. Just as he boards the train, the man whispers in David's ear..just two words...."Remember Me." That is weird enough, but when the stranger appears in his home town, David becomes very concerned. What does this guy want? Does it have something to do with his past? Something he has forgotten?
John Henderson and his wife Kristina live back in New York and when Kristina asks him to help a woman she has met at her book club, he reluctantly agrees. Catherine is also being followed and John believes it is just an ex-lover trying to spook her. Of course, things are not what they appear, and we find ourselves being introduced to a whole otherworldly group of characters who live along side the residents of New York. Not happily either anymore and things are about to get very scary.
I don't want to spoil the plot here, but suffice it to say that Michael Marshall has worked his magic again and his descriptive prose and characterisation are spot on. I love his writing and believe he challenges his readers, making the unlikly seem completely plausible.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
We Are Here is clever. Very clever. This is a novel about blurred lines, boundaries, worlds within worlds and it's very subtley done.
David is about to have a novel published but doubts his ability to write another one. A man appears from out of the crowd and bumps into David. A simple enough incident but one David can't quite shake off. Catherine lives in fear that she's being stalked. Both characters live in New York, the scenes of New York bring this novel to life, they're strangers to one another and yet they have one thing in common; they're both being followed. When the same man appears out of the crowd and almost knocks David off his feet for a second time it's apparent he knows David from somewhere. But where?. Any why the subterfuge?.
Although David and Catherine are central to the plot there are two other characters, John and Kristina, who are probably more important. It's Kristina's friendship with Catherine that links the four together and creates a platform for a series of odd events to develop. How can Catherine's stalker just disappear into thin air?.
Who are these people who seem to be on a collision course with the four main characters?. Are they even real?. Well; that's the point. They're saying 'We're Here' and we're as real as you or anyone else but; do you honestly know who's real?. That's a lot of question marks, forgive me, We Are Here is a novel that raises a great many questions.
So; after initial contact with the four main characters it seems the 'ghosts' have no intention of leaving anytime soon and once seen are hard to ignore. As their numbers become more visible and their world more accessible there's a clever twist to the plot as it seems perhaps it's not them doing the 'haunting'....'Leave Us Alone' they write.
The lines between what's real and what's not are futher enhanced by the deep seated uncertainty within the four main characters. Marshall injects a real sense of unease throughout the novel. Something's going to happen, something big, but you have to hold on and wait!. This novel is slow to brew and at the final point leaves much unanswered.
There are parts of thriller, horror and the supernatural throughout the novel and it's an impossible concept to pigeon hole. At times it swept me away and at others it left me behind. The main thrill was watching John and Kristina step out of their home into a world they didn't realise was there!.
Marvelous plotting and intelligent writing. Not an easy book to read or easily follow.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
When reading We Are Here you can almost see the thought process MM(S) has gone through. Imagine watching Toy Story (or rather Toy Story 2) and then giving it a slightly more supernatural or surreal edge and when the child has grown up. Without giving anything away that's kind of what this is. There is a mixture of first and third person narrative as the story unfolds from someone feeling they are being followed to the eventual discovery of what is really going on. Open ended this could have a sequel.
This is an improvement on Michael Marshall's recent efforts and is actually quite a readable and enjoyable thriller with a twist. Its not as gripping as it could be but distracting enough with enough originality that you want to see how it turns out. However, its not Spares. It's not Only Forward. For anyone who remembers MMS and those novels every one like this feels like a slight disappointment because as good as this is it doesn't match up to what he can deliver. For now I am happy and its good though.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 26 June 2014
I'm a big fan of Mr. marshal, having read all his books from his Smith days and the utterly brilliant Only Forward to Strawmen and Killer Move so this book was a big disappointment. The revealed premise of the story i think is rubbish, the characters mostly unlikeable and pace, which is normally his forye, all over the place. It drags and is boring, slightly picks up and gets a page turner in 2 places but every time it wonders off and just loses it. Really don't know what has happened to this amazing author. Avoid this book. But don't avoid the author. Everything else is very good, and most of his work utterly gripping.
on 5 January 2015
I was extremely disappointed in this book. I've followed Michael Marshall since "Only forward" and through the "Straw Men" trilogy, but this seems way too much like "The Intruders" both in plot and characters, i.e a struggling writer, sinister people etc. But whereas I couldn't put "The Intruders" down, I was so bored with "We are Here" that I just read it a few chapters at a time, wondering all the while when something was actually going to happen. It goes along in a very stilted way, and too much of the same sort of thing happens all the way through. This could easily have been condensed into a short story.
There are some excellent descriptive passages, which makes me wonder if MM is possibly now the struggling writer; these descriptive passages are shoved in the middle of boring narrative, which makes me wonder if he has written them while sitting in cafes etc, then used them as filler for his novel.
There is a distinct lack of character development, though he describes them physically. The two couples in the novel are so unnecessary; the novel would have worked better with only one couple. Again, maybe he used the two separate couples to bulk out his writing, but he could easily have made them into one couple; it would certainly have made things less confusing. also, the use of the first person singular throughout for one character, but also, for one short section, it is used for another character.
The book stutters to an unsatisfactory ending, with nothing really explained.
on 3 July 2014
I've been a fan of Michael Marshall for quite a while now, and always look forward to reading a new book of his. They have always been fast-paced with plenty of action and multiple story lines going on. But this book just doesn't cut it. It starts off OK, but quickly becomes rather boring. There are lots of characters, most of whom just seem to run around New York city a lot meeting a few other people and generally not doing much. Also, it can be a little confusing about which park someone might by in, or which street someone else might be running down. The explanations about who the 'mysterious characters' (I'm trying not to give too much away!) who populate the book are are, and who can see who and why, are also rather confusing. Unless you have an A to Z knowledge of New York City, a lot of the places the characters visit will have little meaning, although looking them up on Google Earth can be fun. There is no pervading air of menace like in his other books, such as 'Bad Things' or 'The Intruders' to give an unsettling atmosphere. It's not a bad book, and the ending is quite exciting, but it does take a lot of effort to stick with the story to get there, and had it not been a Michael Marshall book, I may well have given up. Die hard Michael Marshall fans will no doubt read it, but if you haven't read anything by him before, this isn't the book to start with as it may well put you off someone who can write much better thrillers than this.
I love a good spooky book, and this one certainly looked promising. I've been lucky enough to have found some stunningly good reads lately (The Demonologist by Andrew Pyper, Wool by Hugh Howey, A Beautiful Murder by A K Benedict). This one ranks right up there at the top.
The story is deceptively simple, at least to start with: David is about to become a published author; he and his wife Dawn have been trying to start a family. John (whose story we read in the only first person narrative in the book) lives in New York with his girlfriend Kristina. Kristina's friend Catherine is afraid she is being followed by someone, and John offers to help. And that's the easy part of this book. Where it goes from here is into unknown territory; things that are, at first, hard to get a handle on, but when they become clearer, stun the reader with their clever invention and application. This is a book where stories build, each one individually, then they merge to become a mass almost with its own volition, heading towards what may be redemption or what may be devastation. For some, devastation may be just what they want.
This is a wonderful book; not only is the storyline great, the character well developed, but the writing itself is engaging - real, true to its narrative, riveting, edge-of-the-seat stuff. Totally recommended.