Book Review: Commune: Book Three

Commune: Book Three is the third book in Joshua Gayou’s post-apocalyptic / dystopian series. I’ve read  and reviewed both Commune: Book One and Commune: Book Two.

This third instalment follows the Jackson commune as they gather supplies and reinforce their camps in order to endure a bitter winter in Wyoming. Elsewhere, other factions are beginning to form – though not all of them pleasant.

My Photo [Commune Book 3]

Commune: Book Three contains a brief recap of the second book. I appreciated this because I hadn’t read the previous book in a while, and it conveyed that this series is dramatic and episodic, like a television series.

Once again, some new characters were introduced, adding to Gayou’s ever-expanding world. His ability to write about so many characters and settings with increasing depth and creativity is impressive, and I think Gayou’s talent improves with each instalment.

Characters, I think, are really the focus of Commune: Book Three.

There isn’t masses of action, but there’s plenty of interaction between other characters to occupy your attention. There were also some poetry segments, which were ok, but I’m not a poetry fan so I skimmed them fairly quickly.

Clay and Ronny, leaders of a Nevada survivor group, are instant foils (opposites) for Jake and Gibs, leaders of the Jackson commune. I instantly disliked Clay which, though it shows good character-building, made me enjoy the narrative about Clay and his group less. I admit, I perked up more once the narrative switched back to the more familiar, likeable characters from the Jackson commune.

Speaking of familiar characters, Elizabeth, the wilful daughter of Amanda, is given an interesting storyline within Commune: Book Three. She learns new skills and vents the difficulties of being a child in such a ruthless new world. When life is no longer fun and games, but you’re too young to be given adult responsibilities, what can you do?

Romance subplots are also gradually introduced. I discussed the theme of romance in my review of Commune: Book One, saying:

‘It was refreshing to have a stronger female character who builds up a close relationship to a male without it being reduced to a love story.’

In the first book, I liked that male and female characters could form friendships without being complicated by romance. By the third book, developing romantic interests between minor characters was paced well, completely natural, and lovely to see.

If it sounds like I’m referring to the previous two books and my previous two reviews often, it’s because I am. Commune: Book Three ties the events of both books together in a neat and entertaining way, and it was a thoroughly enjoyable sequel to a story I’ve now been tracing across for more than a year.

The ending was descriptive and made me want to read on, without being an overly dramatic or cliché cliffhanger, although it didn’t go entirely where I expected it to, or where I wanted it to.

In summary, Commune: Book Three is another strong performance by Joshua Gayou and I’m interested to see what happens next.

Star Rating: 4/5 Stars

Commune: Book Three is available to buy as an e-book on Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com.

– Judith

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Book Review: Doctor Perry by Kirsten McKenzie

This is a book review for Rosie’s Book Review Team.

Doctor Perry assures elderly patients at the Rose Haven Retirement Home he can offer warmth, sympathy, and understanding. Doctor Perry is lying.

My Image [Dr Perry]

I greatly enjoyed Kirsten McKenzie’s gothic horror novel, Painted, which you can read my review for here.

The narration and writing style of Doctor Perry is clipped and meticulously detailed, creating a nice parallel for Doctor Perry’s own personality.

At first, I thought this book was like a modern-day Sweeney Todd – a concept I was completely on board with. Doctor Perry doesn’t follow this narrative trajectory however, but it is still suitably unsettling.

Doctor Perry is the best character by far; he’s mysterious, psychopathic and darkly interested in in all kinds of science.

I also liked the twin boys fostered by Doctor Perry’s wife because they’re disturbingly violent and almost ghostlike – like something from Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining.

Similarly to Painted, there were multiple moments where a character ‘failed to notice’ something. I mentioned this in my review of Painted too; repeatedly informing the reader what the protagonist hasn’t seen. Personally, I don’t think this a dynamic way to convey information and works better in horror films and television dramas then it does in a novel.

I thought the ending was quite abrupt – I would have loved Doctor Perry to be longer, to provide further chances to develop the characters and storyline.

I enjoyed reading Doctor Perry and it was a real shame when it ended! If you like thrillers, dark science-fiction, or McKenzie’s work in general, I’m sure you will enjoy Doctor Perry too.

Star Rating: 4/5 Stars

Doctor Perry is available to buy as a paperback or an e-book from Amazon UK or Amazon.com.

– Judith

 

Book Review: Black Eyed Susans

A small while ago, I was meant to attend a Waterstones event, where Julia Heaberlin would be speaking about her new book, Paper Ghosts, but it was unfortunately cancelled. However, I was given a free copy of one of her other books, Black Eyed Susans.

Black Eyed Susans is a harrowing story.

Aged 16, Tessie Cartwright was found buried in a grave, marked by a patch of black-eyed susans. She was surrounded by bones – the bodies of previous victims. A man was captured and convicted, and sits awaiting his punishment on Death Row. She remembers nothing about what happened to her. 18 years later, Tessa suspects the real killer is still out there, and wonders if the right man was caught.

Firstly, I know they say don’t judge a book by its cover, but I really like these covers; a beautiful floral pattern is a nice change from more conventional thriller and crime cover designs.

My Photo [Black Eyed Susans 1]My Photo [Black Eyed Susans 2]Black Eyed Susans switches frequently between two main perspectives: the teenage Tessie, in therapy recovering from her ordeal, and the adult Tessa, haunted by her past.

I thought Tessie’s childhood perspective was the most fascinating. She discusses with her doctor what she actually remembers and what she thinks she remembers. The narration clearly conveyed Tessie’s inner-thoughts and attitudes; I felt I really understood her character. Because of this, the therapy scenes were my favourite sections of the book.

I also liked the interview segments which were taken from the trial, as Tessie is asked by lawyers to recount what happened. These sections were deviations from the traditional form of prose, but I enjoyed them as they were only small scenes and helped progress the narrative.

However, whilst I mostly enjoyed Heaberlin’s writing, she also uses lot of short sentences.

This creates a blunt tone. Initially I liked this style. It conveyed Tessa’s adult cynicism and sarcasm. Effectively. It could also create tension. Yet it felt overused. By the end of the novel.

Black Eyed Susans is incredibly sinister and dark. I liked all the twists; I tried to guess throughout what had happened, who was responsible, and why it happened. Unsurprisingly, I guessed incorrectly each time.

I strongly recommend this book, and I’d love to read more from Julia Heaberlin.

– Judith