What an….odd book. I couldn’t decide whether to categorize it as horror, or urban fantasy, or steampunk, or sci fi. But I finally figured I’d go with horror as that seemed to be the main theme. The first half of the book, I was enjoying and reading at a good pace. And then just when I thought it was going to finish up, it went off on this totally bizarre, totally weird plot that had me scratching my head throughout. In fact, if the book had finished where I thought it would, I think I would have rated it higher. A good nice solid mystery, characters I mostly liked, and a plot I was enjoying.
As it is, I lost it during the second half of the book. It just got too “out there” for me, even tho I did understand the references. I’ve never liked Lovecraft, so that’s possibly the reason why.
There were some odd choices during the book. It’s told from the point of view of Nate, a 30 something Every Man who’s in a dead-end job that he doesn’t enjoy and is searching for his “meaning of life”. And then we have a chapter told from the point of view of Mandy, a blonde ditz who also lives in the apartment, and you immediately think she’s going to hook up with Nate, and be the other major player in the book. Why else do you get a chapter from a character’s POV? In fact, she’s such a minor character, she barely gets a look in after that. I was starting to wonder if she’d moved out of the apartment. Why on earth would you do an entire chapter from the POV of a character who is so minor that she barely gets any scenes at all, and in fact, doesn’t even want to join in with the others in the search for the mystery of the apartment block?
A lot of the characterization is off. There’s the typical hot artist who dresses funky and sunbathes nude on the roof and totally doesn’t mind anyone seeing her naked like that, cos she’s like, an artist, dude. And of course, all us artists wander around naked in front of other people and don’t think anything of it, right? The computer geek who is female and kinda hot and oh, she’s Indian, of course. The already mentioned Mandy, who’s blonde and super hot and a wannabe actress, but she’s blonde so she’s kinda dumb and keeps checking her credit history even tho she’s not totally sure what it is. The only married couple – he’s a professor of something and also a carpenter in his spare time. His wife is a biologist, and omg is she creepy, like a Stepford Wife, but that goes nowhere.
You know, reading back over this review, it really seems like I heartily disliked this book. But I didn’t. Not most of it, anyhow. The actual mystery of the oddities of the apartment block intrigued me, as Nate discovered each one. And of course, the reveal of the involvement of a certain genius inventor who was ahead of his time and very unappreciated in his own time, had me squeeeeing like a fangirl (especially as I had picked it). The reveal of what the apartment block was, of its purpose, and how the tenants found out, I really did enjoy. It had a good pace, it had me second-guessing everything I thought was going to happen, and it was a good satisfaction when it was revealed.
But the next half, after they figure it out…well, that’s what had me undone. It went into a realm that I didn’t like, that bored me, and just had me rolling my eyes and saying “WTF??” every few paragraphs. The characters descended into total blithering idiots, the type you scream at on screen when the group splits up and one idiot ALWAYS goes down into the creepy cellar with NO lights. They made choices that were totally ludicrous and made you want to slap them.
Honestly, if it had stopped where they discovered the purpose of the apartment block, I would have been happy. I would have put it aside with a sense of “hey, that wasn’t bad. Bit weird, but I enjoyed it…even tho I’ll probably forget everything about it in a week”. But with the rest of it, I was more of a “WTF was that, dude???”. And a major eye roll.
And what was the point to the damn mutant cockroaches????? Gah.