Friday, January 2, 2009

Jake's Wake - John Skipp and Cody Goodfellow

So I started and finished my first book of 2009, and it looks like this is going to be a good year. Jake's Wake is a fun filled horror fest of zombie-riffic magnitude.

Short Synopsis - Jake is a Jerk... see how close the words are? Jake is scum of the most terrible sort, womanizing, abusing, just plain evil nasty guy. But he's got charisma... and he decides to throw his rock band plans to the wayside and use this charisma to run a church, being a psychotic television evangelist and massing quite a few fervent followers. Then Jake's penchant for womanizing gets the best of him and he ends up dead... but not for long! Those who were closest to him, and thrilled to be finally out of his evil clutches will have an evening to remember when Jake comes home from his own wake... even nastier than before.

This book is hard to put down, it's so out there and yet so engrossing all at the same time. There is plenty of sex and gore in this book to keep those who worship the red stuff happy. As I said... Jake was not a nice guy before he died. We follow three of the women in his life and their new men as they find themselves trapped in Jake's old house with his living and not quite breathing corpse. And Jake has plans for them.

At first the characters are so aloof and filled with hatred that I wasn't sure there was going to be anyone for us to root for, but as the evening plays on several of them begin to shine and give us hope. There are even one or two that the reader will become attached to. We don't get much background on anyone other than Jake, Gray, and the three women, but it's the ones that we don't get the background on that we end up caring the most for.

There are very strong religious themes in this book that might irritate those who hate reading anything along those lines. The book never approaches "preachy" but it's hard not to get into religion when the main baddie was a fake evangelist. There is a lot of subtext here on people who are searching for hope being easily lead, and charismatic leaders who preach the right words being able to control them. The book never degenerates into Christian bashing, nor does it wave the Christian recruiter flag, it is more a commentary of the Jim and Tammy Fay Bakers in the world. But never fear... this book really doesn't rise much beyond a fun filled horror novel, no real thought required.

I have to admit that the ending was unexpected, not all of it, but a chunk of it was out there... strangely if you had told me that the book would end like that, I probably would have said "No, that's a terrible ending!" but as I said, I didn't expect it... and it worked for me. On the whole this is a very strong book with a lot of enjoyable parts and a satisfying ending.

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