I read a lot of books. Always have. That probably has something to do with why I write. But sometimes I get into a slump and the things I normally read just don’t satisfy me. When I get like that, very little does.
At ConCarolinas earlier this month, I found myself on a panel with some creative voices. We were discussing the horror genre as a whole, and part of the panel topic was the “how far is too far” aspect of horror. A book was suggested – actually, I think James actually suggested that we DON’T read it, but I’m hard-headed – so I went and bought it. The beauty of owning a Nook is that I can buy stuff cheap.
This one… it wasn’t really cheap as far as eBooks go. It cost me $7.99. And the horror doesn’t stop there.
So what the hell is this book already???
The Bighead by Edward Lee
There’s plenty of information on it if you follow that link. I’ll not spoil too much here.
So I cracked open those digital pages and started reading. Alright, I thought to myself, this is going to be interesting. It can’t possibly be as bad as they said it is. Oh, boy… I was so very wrong.
The story revolves around several sets of characters in varying degrees of detail. One thing is obvious, though. Ed Lee really enjoys blood and guts. It’s rare for me to find a book that makes me put it down and walk away, but more than once I had to. From brain-eating to necrophilia to forced brownplay to vomit retrieval, this book is a big, fat, shuddering EEW. Morally, socially, and psychologically offensive, there is something in this book guaranteed to upset everyone. When I have to skip passages and whole pages? Yeah…it’s bad.
The characters are interesting. I spent all 227 digital pages genuinely concerned for Jerrica, Charity, Annie, and Tom. I wanted to know more about them. I wanted to know why things happened the way they did…where the dreams came from…if they were going to make it.
And then…..I got to the last twenty pages of the book. And sadly, as many good books are wont to do, the climax lost me. It felt like the author got to a certain point and went “well shit, I have to end this book and I don’t know how.” So he pulled something out of his butt. I can’t say too much about it without spoiling the big surprise, but to me that big surprise was a bit of a let-down. I understand why he did what he did and why it happened in so many different stages, but still…
Don’t get me wrong…it works, and it works well. The deep-rooted psychological issues of the main characters unfold like the layers of an onion, and as each gains more and more screen time, we start to realize just how screwed up these people really are. Yes, I expected the connection between The Bighead and the other characters. I even understood the problems with the Abbey. What lost me, though, was the nice, neat little package created by the one great revelation.
That having been said, I love the way the book ends. I won’t say its anticlimactic because it really isn’t. It’s big. And it’s not a happy ending. So now the big question… DID YOU LIKE IT OR NOT???
Yes and no, if that makes sense. It’s a fabulous book – well written (a few grammatical borks, but I’ll point the finger at the editor for letting those slip), interesting and perfectly executed despite the contrived ending. I would recommend it in a heartbeat to any horror aficionado who thinks s/he can’t be freaked out, grossed out, or otherwise offended. But honestly, I didn’t enjoy the read as much as I would have liked to. I can get behind senseless violence and doing things for no reason other than because you can, but wow. This was a rough ride.
If you’re feeling really brave, go ahead and buy the book. But take a barf bag with you.
And don’t say I didn’t warn you.