Ay me. I gotz me this book in good faith but all I gotz in return was some bad religion.
WTF = 10...eek.
W = 3
T = 4
F = 3
I feel bad about buying Isolation and since this incident have begun a horror book trade with friends and scouring libraries so I don't feel like I'm wasting my funds on something I can borrow for free. Let's get one thing straight first: I have no problem with this being a Christian fiction book or writer. As I've said before, the only thing I don't really like is feeling like I'm buying into something smallminded, or that I'm being forced to listen to your shitty didactic ramblings on why your particular god is the only god or the better god, and the only other side of it is heathenism. You might ask me why I thought The Exorcist was a good movie and the answer is because the exorcism and possession itself was more or less made a spectacle AND I did not feel like I personally was being lectured. Many authors manage to hold fast to their beliefs and not shove it down the throats of others through their books.
I had three main problems with this book. The first was that I had difficulty relating to the characters because I did not like them and I think they were supposed to be liked. I could not feel for their plight of living off of other people while they converted "the unsaved". I hate it when this voice arises in me, but I found myself saying, "Sheesh. Get a real job." Which is at least a reaction to character, albeit a bad one (hence a 10). Said family of missionaries has returned to the USA for a several month vacation following their many months "working" to "save" some brown people from Satan and such. I do not mean to clump all zealots together, and I am not so ignorant as to suppose that many missionaries have not saved the lives of others through medical help, provision of food and clean water, better shelters, education, etc.. While I am very thankful that there are people who care that much, I'm equally annoyed that there are people who believe that in addition to improving the temporal conditions of the less fortunate, they also have to push the heavenly fortitude of their personal savior (whoever that may be - there are zealots in every belief system). The lives of this particular missionary family abroad were more focused on the conversion factor though there was some mention of more conventional missionary work as well. The village they were trying to "save" fell victim to a series of strange plagues and possessions (the kind that routinely fall upon people who are fanatics - not people who don't have a concept of the opposing religion). So, in short, I wouldn't have been too bothered if this family had an untimely meeting with an axe-murderer, tribe of angry badger-men, or battalion of aliens with scalpels. Not a good way to start a book if you're supposed to like the protagonists.
Father figure has trouble with his super strict faith, mother figure has trouble tolerating her family, and one of the children is basically a crudely-disguised rip-off of Danny Torrance. Which brings me to section two of why I should not have paid 12 US dollars or whatever for this book: it's more or less The Shining with religious ho-hum and half-explained anti-satanist whatnot instead of a kid who can talk to a wise old chef without saying a word and a father driven insane by lingering evil. The end of the book contains a whole diatribe about how Stephen King was a role model, etc.. I think it's okay to have role models, but a little strange when I felt like I was reading a less awesome version of Jack Torrance's Overlook adventures. Thrasher had a goldmine of interesting points to go into as an author: the mysticism and facts behind possession amongst the highly suggestible, the creepy history of the house he chose to describe in such detail only to abandon at the last minute, the unsteady and kind of old-school 50's relationship of the mother and father figures. There was a lot to work with that went untouched. But their vacation home being unreachable in a snow-storm coupled with the son's special ability seemed only a dead giveaway.
Which leaves us at my final qualm: the dead giveaway of the ending. I don't do spoilers, but I will say that unless you are very inebriated while reading this, are deliberately trying not to read this, or have had a lengthy and painful operation to replace your brains with mashed potatoes, you will see this ending coming from about forty-seven miles away. You will see it coming from so far away that you will be able to cleanly step out of the path to avoid a prosaic collision likened to when an elderly woman bumps into the salad bar at Wendy's and spills nothing but a few hard-boiled eggs. If this book were some sort of tongue-in-cheek introspection of itself, I might have been interested. Instead I was assuming it wouldn't be so obvious, and bewilderingly kept on reading, which only made me more angry when I finished it. I love Stephen King's old stuff as you know and so far, I've found two authors who I feel were a little too close for comfort for me. It doesn't astound me so much, because this is after all human behavior: to find someone really awesome and do like the monkeys. But it's my hope that any author of any caliber would encourage all other writers to do what decent teachers all over the world advise their students to do: be yourself. Embrace singularity over the conventionality of paint-by-numbers reading because it made millions for that other guy who doesn't even bother to imitate himself anymore. If you want to yearn after the heyday of Stephen King with a book that at least has the guts to give a shout out to the guy, this text is for you. If you have read Stephen King and would like to read another author, move on.