Dietland

It was late in the spring when I noticed that a girl was following me, nearly the end of May, a month that means perhaps or might be.

Gods, I wish that this would be mandatory reading for male teenagers. Okay, any teenager. Why? Because it hits home with several hammers the fact of diet culture and how women are viewed in society. I know, but so many still don’t, and it’s best to get them as young as possible.

Is this is an activist story? Is showing reality activist? Protagonist Plum is fat, and have been working almost her entire year to not be it. She’s not living, she’s functioning until she can live as a skinny person, a normal person. Things are changed around when someone reaches out to her.

Simultaneously, violence acts against male rapists and abusers happens. People are confused, shocked, motivated, because whenever do men get what’s coming for them? Maybe a few trigger warnings are at place here: Sarai Walker doesn’t avoid descriptions of said acts.

The comedy tag is mostly for the laughing in disbelief you might do. Because yes, they’re right, and yes, it’s really this stupid. Or maybe you just have to laugh to prevent from getting angry for the entire time of reading it. You wouldn’t want to be considered unfuckable, after all.

Dietland, Sarai Walker, Houghton Mifflin Company 2015

10 Cloverfield Lane

106 min.

I don’t watch a lot of thrillers, definitely not those involving aliens because I really don’t like aliens (I’m sorry, aliens). This movie – like The Invitation – was sold to me as ‘just scary, not gross’, and because I have the human need to be scared by (outrageous) things, 10_Cloverfield_Lane posterI added this to my Netflix list. I was promised very little aliens as well.

10 Cloverfield Lane uses one of my favourite tropes for horror/thriller/scary stuff: are humans not the worst monsters?

Michelle is in a car crash and wakes up in a bunker. The owner of the bunker says it’s for her own sake, because something bad happened outside, but isn’t particularly sharing about what this badness is. Instead, he seems to care more about her fitting into the image of what life in the bunker should be.

It’s easy to say too much, so I’ll stick with ‘Is he being a scary mean guy for a reason, or just because he is a scary mean guy?’. The movie balances nicely between those options, and after finishing it you may find yourself thinking that the other option would have been better.

10 Cloverfield Lane, Paramount Pictures 2016

The woman in Cabin 10

The first inkling that something was wrong was waking in darkness to find the cat pawing at my face.

The narrator being unreliable (or do I only think she’s unreliable?) definitely set my teeth on edge, almost as much as the paranoia slowly building.

Main character and narrator Laura (Lo) has to experience a luxurious cruise for work. If only the tight spaces didn’t remind her so much of the very recent home burglary she experienced.

Instead of work, the luxuries and familiar faces present to distract her, Laura is sure that one night she witnesses a murder. Her frazzled state never ceases, only grows, because there was no woman in that cabin, and is it true that she’s been recently traumatised?

The roll up and conclusion aren’t completely satisfying, but the way towards it is creepy enough for a few hours thrilling entertainment.

The woman in Cabin 10, Ruth Ware, Harvill Secker 2016

Miss Sloane

122 min.

Oh yes, yes please. Miss Sloane bulldozes over the idea of how only men can be cutthroat (in politics). Meet Liz, a lobbyist that eats people and causes for breakfast. While being impeccably dressed.

miss-sloane-posterHer lethal skills are moved to an ‘underdog’ when the head honchos of the gun lobby insult her, making her leave for a smaller bureau. Not completely smooth, because the world of lobbyists is full of egos, including her.
What happens next? As another visitor called it “Oh my God, it was only talking”. Miss Sloane talks. To voters, to politicians, on talk shows. She concocts (outrageous) plans, balancing on an ever thinning rope. It’s a thriller without any blood or guts.
That’s something you have to be interested in, be able to watch without losing focus, because Miss Sloane and her colleagues move fast. Keep up, and you might leave pumping your fist.
Miss Sloane, Canal+ Distribution 2016

The Ice Twins

Our chairs are placed precisely two yards apart.

This is a scary one, out of the ‘humans may be the worst monsters’ category. It just stays unclear for a long time which of the people involved you have to be scared off.

Angus and Sarah have suffered a horrible fate: one of their twin daughters died. To start anew, they move to a distant Scottish island. With a daughter that says she’s Lydia, the girl they thought to have died.
And the little girl isn’t the only one adding confusion. Angus has secrets, Sarah has (paranoid?) doubts, and no matter how beautiful their Scottish surroundings are, they may be too natural for them as London-folk to prosper in.

With twisted turns the reader gets a family drama made gothic by its location. A neatly written novel, one that will make you appreciate electricity, central heating and – if applicable – your plain, ordinary family.

The Ice Twins, S. K. Tremayne, Grand Central Publishing 2015

Wicker

This wasn’t grief Davis felt, staring at her so-still feet pointing at impossible angles to the tight synthetic weave of charcoal carpet.

Is klonen ethisch? Bestaat er zoiets als een ziel en zo ja, kloon je die ook? Wat zijn de regels voor het klonen van mensen, en is de kloon wel een compleet nieuw mens, op zijn of haar DNA na? Kevin Guilfoile oppert een rij interessante vragen, maar omkleedt het in zo’n bizar verhaal dat ze er bijna in stikken.

De dochter van een kloondokter wordt vermoord. De kloondokter komt per ongeluk aan het DNA van de moordenaar en besluit een kloon van hem te maken, zodat hij hem over X aantal jaar kan vinden. Gelukkig wordt verder in het boek steeds meer getwijfeld aan zijn motivatie en acties, maar dat iemand die vast allemaal eden heeft moeten zweren ..doet Davis het allemaal wel heel makkelijk.

Combineer dit met een religieuze antikloonactivist, een seriemoordenaar en een poging tot sociaal commentaar op online leven en de game cultuur en het komt over als een detective die graag de Grote Vragen Des Levens wilt bespreken, maar er ook weer niet te veel tijd aan wilt besteden.

Wicker, Kevin Guilfoile, Joseph 2005

Mr Mercedes

Augie Odenkirk had a 1997 Datsun that still ran well in spite of high mileage, but gas was expensive, especially for a man with no job, and City Center was on the far side of the town, so he decided to take the last bus of the night.

From time to time you need a Stephen King novel. And because I can never remember where I am in the Dark Tower series, I like to try one of his stand alones.

Of course there’s a retired detective who is overweight and alone and miserable, that’s how a detective works. There’s that one unsolved case as well. But this is Stephen King, so you get a look inside of the head of the perk/perp, you get fleshed-out side characters and a peek into the look of police work (lots of note blocks).

No lack of gruesome images and terrifying cliffhangers either. Mr Mercedes demands your time, and you will race (hah) through the story, pretty sure but not completely about how it will end this time.

Just don’t read this before bed. Or visiting a concert.

Mr Mercedes, Stephen King, Scribner 2014