Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Cellar by A.J. Whitten.

What You Need To Know:  This poorly-written Twilight-with-zombies will have fans, but there are far better teen horror books. 

Summary: Meredith lost her dad months ago in a car wreck caused by her sister Heather. Now, Heather has become an emo poster-child and Mom is a shopoholic. But when the amazingly handsome and charismatic Adrien St. Germain moves to town, Heather falls instantly in love. Meredith however, senses something not right about Adrien, and seeks answers in the decrepit house next door. But, can she believe what she sees?

 What Worked: The writing here is atmospheric; the death and decay of Adrien’s world is well communicated.

What Didn’t: (spoilers ahead) Where to start… Although I’m sure this isn’t the worst book I’ve ever read, it is certainly the worst book I’ve read this year. 

 I’ll start with my biggest gripe: halfway through the book, it comes out that Meredith has a condition, Fuchs’ disease, that causes her to “see things that aren’t there”. However, five minutes on Google proved that Fuchs’ doesn’t cause hallucinations. While there are macular diseases that do cause visual hallucinations, it is very unlikely that a healthy 16 year old girl with no other symptoms would start to hallucinate. Basically, the condition is used as a all-too-convenient excuse for why nobody believes Meredith’s suspicions. Sloppy research and bad writing make me Hulk-out.

Honestly, I am a pro at suspending disbelief.  I read a lot of sci-fi and fantasy.  But what this book asks me to swallow is just too much..  Let me count them down. 
  1.  Adrien, the undead guy,  is wicked hot. He’s a sexy zombie. Yes, you heard me.   "Zombie" and "sexy" are two words that should NEVER be put together. 
  2. The undead guy wears sunglasses all the time. Because he has no eyes. Just maggot-infested holes. Nobody really comments on this, or it’s seen as being “hot”.  Yes, rotten parasites are so appealing! 
  3. The undead guy has Cullen-like psychic powers. He can bring people, particularly women, under his spell and make them do whatever he wants. And he does. Repeatedly. 
  4.  The undead guy also has powers over animals. He also has a host of carrion eaters – beetles, vultures, hyenas, piranha, doctor fish, and crows – that obey his commands.   Again, nobody seems to notice this, because hyenas are common in Massachusetts.
  5.  The undead guy doesn’t just rely on his persuasive abilities; he has a whole medieval torture chamber set up in his basement. Which he uses. Repeatedly. 
  6.  The undead guy has a slowly rotting mother with whom he’s engaged in a century long power struggle; however, that doesn’t stop them from feeding on the populace. Together.
  7. The wicked hot eyeless psychic carrion-whisperer torturing brain-eating undead guy is the romantic lead.
Honestly, I could go on, but this whole story is one big contrivance. Obviously, Adrien finds the damaged (literally!) Heather. Naturally, he chooses her as his “forever love”. Certainly, they’re cast as the leads in Romeo and Juliet. And of course, it all comes down to a bloody and unbelievable zombie showdown, including the dead dad.

Who would I give this book to: Nobody. But, I can see it finding an audience.

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