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

 

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Themes in: War of the Worlds

War of the Worlds is a science fiction novel by H.G. Wells about when Martians invade Surrey. It was published in 1898, towards the end of the Victorian period, known as the Fin de Siècle (end of the century). To find out more about the plot, and what I thought of the book, you can read my review here:

Otherness

This is the most apparent theme in the entire novel.

The Martians are not human and so are obviously, well, alien. Wells uses language such as ‘strange and ‘monster’ to emphasise how different these creatures are. The Martians are scary and powerful; they bring new technologies with them that humans have never even seen before. They are different, they are intimidating.

‘Machine it was, with a ringing metallic pace, and long, flexible, glittering tentacles. […] Behind the main body was a huge mass of white metal like a gigantic fisherman’s basket […] The monster swept by me. And in an instant it was gone.’

(War of the Worlds, Chapter 10)

The predatory, animalistic language such as ‘tentacles’ and ‘fisherman’s basket’ once again emphasises that it is the Martians who are the invaders, and the humans who are the invaded.

However, Wells not only makes the Martians “other”, but makes the humans “other” too.

The narrator observes the chaos and catastrophe once the Martians attack; homes are destroyed, streets are turned to rubble, and humans flee. Whilst this is happening however,  the narrator begins to describe the humans  less as individual victims, and more as a homogeneous group, stampeding. He uses language such as ‘the host’ and the ‘multitude’ which is language typically ascribed to alien or other beings.

‘Their skins were dry, their lips black and cracked’

(War of the Worlds, Chapter 16)

Furthermore, this dehumanising language suggests people have begun to lose their human appearance and behaviours in the face of panic – becoming something strange, something they’re not.

As a side note, I feel this line would not be out of place in Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad. Heart of Darkness is another book which touches on themes of invasion and otherness, and contains many racist depictions of African slaves as “other”.

Thus, the alterity of both human and aliens in War of the Worlds can be interpreted in a variety of ways.

1. For example, the fear of an unknown, alien population invading white Victorian Britain reflects fears of reverse colonialism. This was the fear that people from countries colonised by Britain, such as India, would attack or invade Britain in revenge.

2. The fear of a technological, scientific invasion also reflects fears of the increasing modernity of Victorian England. Science was making new discoveries and the capabilities of technology were expanding. This might have made some feel uneasy.

3. Furthermore, the invasion of the unknown and the unusual reflects fears regarding the end of the century. For readers in 1898, the 20th century loomed ahead ominously – nobody knew what it would be like, nobody knew what would happen next. So why not imagine an alien invasion?

– Judith

 

Book Review: Intraterrestrial by Nicholas Conley

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

Intraterrestrial is about Adam Helios, a bullied teenager who hears a voice claiming to come from the stars and fears he’s going mad. Following a terrible car crash, Adam is left seriously injured and his consciousness is abducted by the alien presence contacting him for months.

My Photo [Intraterrestrial].jpg

Intraterrestrial was decently written, although there were some frustrating uses of synonyms. As well as using the word ‘finger’, ‘appendages’ and ‘digits’ also get thrown around and this was just unnecessary. Synonyms can provide variation if you’re afraid of repetition, but sometimes the repetition of simple words is fine. No one says “I have hurt my appendages”.

My Photo [Appendages]
I am, of course, just poking fun at the situation.

Adam was a well-developed character; he felt very much like an ordinary kid – a sympathetic loser, if you will.

However, I wasn’t sure how to interpret Adam’s adopted status; the book makes it clear Adam was adopted as an orphan from India and Adam himself struggles at times to feel as if he belongs with his American parents. On the one hand, this is fair enough, and gives Adam some interesting background. On the other hand, the book also hints he may be abhuman or other-worldly in some way, and is thus contacted by aliens. Yet stressing Adam’s differences too much, and making Adam both “other” and Indian could be problematic for some.

I liked the open rebuttal of the “chosen one” stereotype and Adam’s genuine surprise that he is not The Chosen One; the way in which the expectations of Adam, and the reader, were challenged made it quite a witty scene.

I’m not a huge reader of science-fiction, so I preferred the chapters describing Adam’s mother, waiting for her son to recover in the hospital. These scenes helped provide some reality, in the midst of Adam’s alien experiences, and were easier to picture and understand.

I also couldn’t work out who Conley’s target audience is.

Concepts such as imagination-powered aliens, the importance of creativity, and Adam discovering more about his special identity, seem as if they would be best suited in a novel for children. Yet some the book contained explicit swear-words and gory, bloody details, suggesting Conley had an older audience in mind.

I did like the idea of being drawn into an alternative world inspired by your own mind – for example, the alternative world of Labyrinth is taken from Sarah’s childhood toys and stories – but I found the execution of this in Intraterrestrial slightly too abstract. I have a pretty active imagination, but I really struggled to visualise the aliens and worlds I was being told to imagine.

On a more positive note, Intraterrestrial has a proper ending! I’ll explain.

I find that often, especially in books sent for review, the narrative ends with a cliffhanger designed to make you buy their trilogy. Sometimes this is done well and other times, it isn’t. However, Conley doesn’t do this; instead he wraps up his story well by the end of the book and this was great to see.

Ultimately, I thought Intraterrestrial was okay, but probably not the book for me. If you’re a die-hard science-fiction fan though, you might want to consider giving this a go.

Star Rating: 3/5 Stars

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

– Judith