Publisher: Medallion, 2008
Sub-genre: ParanormalRead the full (spoiler-free) review here.
As is common for the horror genre, all the major characters have tragic backstories and are generally miserable people before the action even begins. Which, I'll admit, kind of annoys me. I understand trying to set the tone, but I get bored when every single person is so very very miserable... oh yeah, and then bad stuff starts happening. Someone living a happy life has a lot more at stake, y'know?
The man with the failing marriage, the woman still recovering from the psychological damage heaped on by her abusive ex-boyfriend, the chick who's so very lonely but can't get too close to anyone for fear they'll be repulsed by her habit of cutting herself; all the characters are damaged in ways that might have been interesting if the story had been more focused on them, but instead we have a tale about the alien entity that wants to suck out their energy. Character development was awkward, since we see just enough of the major players to see their broken pieces but they never really get a chance to deal with their issues. Instead, they're dealing with freaky cables dropping from the ceiling and trying to strangle or cut them. Which, y'know, is really not the same thing at all.
With the character whinging out of the way, I did enjoy the dark tone, and I'll admit to having been creeped out a time or two. (The malicious cables were an especially nice touch.) The gruesome varieties of death and torture were imaginative and occasionally disturbing, and the book in general has a nice energy to it that keeps the pages turning.
The pacing was awkward. For the first half of the book, all of the mysterious occurances (with the exception of the first disappearance) are so minor the characters either don't take much notice or assume they're imagining things. Then, all at once, the building goes nuts and begins fusing doors and sucking people into the floor in an attempt to create terror and keep the people inside to provide a steady source of fear energy. Instead of a slow build to a natural climax, it felt more like "slow... slow... slow... suddenlyeverythingallatonceGO!"
Really, this is a story that had a lot of potential, but needed some tightening up. With the action and character development a little more evenly spread out and a few inconsistencies cleared up, this would have been a gripping novel. There are some really great ideas here, and it makes me sad that something with such a promising premise ultimately leaves me underwhelmed.