6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Ghoul (Mass Market Paperback)
I liked what Brian Keene did with his great zombie reads "The Rising" and "City of the Dead." Both are good apocalyptic "Dawn of the Dead (Divimax Edition)" style thrillers with plenty of blood and gore to satisfy the masses, and well developed characters. To me, Brian's one of the rising stars of the Horror genre, and I look forward to each new book he puts out. However, I know it's impossible to hit a homerun each time at bat, and that brings us to "Ghoul."
"Ghoul" just didn't work for me at all. It had all the ingredients of a great read, but it seemed as if they were all hastily mixed together, and prematurely taken out of the oven. There are some really good coming-of-age novels out there -- Robert McCammon's "Boy's Life" and Stephen King's "Different Seasons (Signet)," come to mind - but this one isn't one of them. The basic components are there - the bonds of friendship, the last summer of childhood, and the transition from child to adult - but they fall flat. One of the biggest aggravations of the book was the excessive 80's references, almost done in a forced namedropping fashion. After a while, I began to think, okay...I get it; this takes place in 1984....
The character development in "Ghoul" was in need of more...well... development. Timmy Graco, the main character, seemed wooden and wise beyond his years. I have read several reviews already that make this point, stating that Keene often confuses his voice with that of twelve-year-old Timmy's. Timmy's dad, Randy Graco, I thought, had some major development issues. Was he an irrational screwball or a loving father? If anything, he was portrayed as a borderline schizophrenic, teetering between loving, understanding father, and despoiler of childhood imagination. Probably the worst developed of all was the ghoul himself. We get a little bit of history, but not much more than a legend relayed by the town's reverend. And I don't think the ghoul had a name; if he did, I missed it. I would have loved to have known more about how the race came about, more about its motivations - for instance, why it chose this particular town. And as for his physical description and the way he spoke, I could only picture a scrawny, nude Mr. Burns from "The Simpsons."
"Ghoul" attempts to reach the depth of highly regarded coming of age novels such as "Boy's Life," (which I HIGHLY recommend), but misses the mark by a wide margin.
As I mentioned at the outset of this review, I like Brian Keene's work. He's written some really good Horror novels -- "The Rising" and "Dead Sea" are well done and fun reads. "Ghoul," however, isn't one of them.