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Review: Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay

Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay

Title: Darkly Dreaming Dexter
Author: Jeff Lindsay
Series: Dexter, #1
Genres: Mystery, Thriller
Publisher: Vintage Books (Imprint of Random House)
Date Published: July 20th, 2004
Edition: eBook

Meet Dexter, a polite wolf in sheep’s clothing…a monster who cringes at the site of blood…a serial killer whose one golden rule makes him immensely likable: “he only kills bad people.”

Dexter Morgan isn’t exactly the kind of man you’d bring home to Mom. Though he’s playful and has a wonderfully ironic sense of humor, Dexter’s one character flaw (his proclivity for murder) can be off-putting. But at heart Dexter is the perfect gentleman, supportive of his sister, Deb, a Miami cop, and interested only in doing away with people who really deserve his special visit. Dex is quite good-looking but totally indifferent to (and, frankly, a bit puzzled by) the attentions paid to him by women. Despite the fact that he can’t stand the sight of blood, he works as a blood-spatter analyst for the Miami police department, a job that allows him to keep tabs on the latest crimes and keep an eye open for his next quarry.

Dexter’s well-organized life is suddenly disrupted when a second, much more visible serial killer appears in Miami. Dex is intrigued, even delighted, by the fact that the other killer appears to have a style reminiscent of his own. Yet he can’t help but feel that the mysterious new arrival is not merely invading his turf, but reaching out to him as well. This new killer seems to be doing more than copying Dexter—he seems to be saying, “Come out and play.” Dexter’s secret life makes for a lonely existence…even a lovable monster can be intrigued by the prospect of finding a friend.

My Review:

What a great book. I’m not typically one that goes for the crime thriller kind of novels but having heard about the TV show (I haven’t watched it yet though) and then reading the synopsis of the book being about a serial killer who only kills serial killers I knew I had to read it.

It’s strange having a protagonist who is so very much a bad guy (and I mean he’s seriously demented). But dammit, Dexter is witty, and charming and darkly humorous and you can’t help but justify his wrongdoings by thinking…well, at least he only kills bad guys right?

Perhaps it’s wrong to side with Dexter — he’s without a doubt a sociopath. But most of those who have read the books (and probably those who have seen the TV show too) can sympathize at least.

But anyways, back to Dexter. He’s not your typical protagonist and that’s what drew me to this book/series. I really enjoyed the mystery part of it and I had fun trying to put together who the other bad guy (not Dexter) was (and no, I didn’t really figure it out btw). But mostly I enjoyed Dexter’s personality. Even though he claims to be emotionless, he is quite the character and if it’s all him faking it then he’s gotten really good at it.

So anyways, this was great. I didn’t put it down much except for having to eat and sleep and whatnot, so that’s always a good sign for me. I am tempted to jump right into the next one, but we’ll see. Even if I don’t jump right into it next, it’s definitely on my list to continue this series. I seriously need some more Dexter!

P.S. After reading some of the reviews I’m tremendously glad that I read this before watching the TV show. It seems most of the negative/mediocre reviews are by those who watched the show first. So I’m glad I was able to enjoy the book a lot since I haven’t personally seen the show yet.

5 Hearts
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Review: The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

Title: The Ocean at the End of the Lane
Author: Neil Gaiman
Series: Dexter, #1
Genres: Fantasy, Horror
Publisher: William Morrow (Imprint of HarperCollins)
Date Published: January 1st, 2013
Edition: eBook

Sussex, England. A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn’t thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she’d claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy.

Forty years earlier, a man committed suicide in a stolen car at this farm at the end of the road. Like a fuse on a firework, his death lit a touchpaper and resonated in unimaginable ways. The darkness was unleashed, something scary and thoroughly incomprehensible to a little boy. And Lettie—magical, comforting, wise beyond her years—promised to protect him, no matter what.

A groundbreaking work from a master, The Ocean at the End of the Lane is told with a rare understanding of all that makes us human, and shows the power of stories to reveal and shelter us from the darkness inside and out. It is a stirring, terrifying, and elegiac fable as delicate as a butterfly’s wing and as menacing as a knife in the dark

My Review:

The Ocean at the End of the Lane is the first Neil Gaiman book I’ve read, although I do have quite a few of his books on my to-read list. So I’m not entirely familiar with his story-telling style and my complaints might fall within the way he does things, but like I said, I’m not sure.

It’s certainly a unique book from anything I’ve read and a highly creative mixture of fantasy, magical realism, and horror. The writing style flows nicely and is easy to visualize for the most part (with the exception of some hard-to-picture kind of things).

Despite the unique world the biggest complaint I have is the lack of world-building. There is a lot of strange packed into this book and I thought it was wonderful! But, I’m a reader that likes to know the whys and the whats. Why is this like that? What are these creatures? Etc, etc. For the most part most things are left up to the reader’s imagination I suppose. Which leaves me asking lots of questions and I’m not sure if I like that feeling or not.

Don’t get me wrong, I like a book that leaves room for interpretation. But, I don’t know, I just wanted more of a back-story I guess. This is really the main reason why this was 3 stars for me instead of 4. The story was really enjoyable and most of the characters were interesting. But in the end I’d like to have had more of wrap-up.

Like I said above, I don’t know if this is just the way Neil Gaiman writes his books, with lots and lots of room left for interpretation. Perhaps if I had known that going into it I would’ve been more open to the idea of not getting all the answers in the end. We’ll have to see once I dive into his other books, which I still fully plan on doing.

That said, I still enjoyed the book and it’s ethereal quality. I have some spoiler-ific theories I’ll share for those who have already read the book:

View Spoiler »

The biggest mystery to me is who/what the Hempstock’s are. My main theory is that they’re angels and the bad things that come through from the other side are demons coming from hell. But then what was the kitten that the boy/narrator brought back? I also played around with the idea that they are the Trinity. But, I don’t think that really fits because of them saying that there have been others in the Hempstock family. So I’m not sure about that.

Overall this was a really enjoyable book, but just be open to the idea that you might not have all the answers by the end. In some ways this can be fun, especially if you just let yourself go along for the ride without needing to find out all the whys and the whats. I suppose the same goes for life too. :)

3 Hearts
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Review: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larrson

Title: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
Author: Stieg Larsson
Series: Millennium, #1
Genre: Mystery
Publisher: Knopf (Imprint of Random House)
Date Published: September 16th, 2008
Edition: eBook

Mikael Blomkvist, a once-respected financial journalist, watches his professional life rapidly crumble around him. Prospects appear bleak until an unexpected (and unsettling) offer to resurrect his name is extended by an old-school titan of Swedish industry. The catch—and there’s always a catch—is that Blomkvist must first spend a year researching a mysterious disappearance that has remained unsolved for nearly four decades. With few other options, he accepts and enlists the help of investigator Lisbeth Salander, a misunderstood genius with a cache of authority issues. Little is as it seems in Larsson’s novel, but there is at least one constant: you really don’t want to mess with the girl with the dragon tattoo.

My Review:

I really and truly did not expect to enjoy this as much as I did. I have no idea why but it just didn’t strike me as a book I would like that much, despite the good reviews. Even so I decided it was worth a shot and I was in the mood for a mystery, so why not?

As a whole, this was probably one of the stronger mysteries I’ve ever read. The details are meticulous, the story is well thought out, and the evidence is presented in a way that you really are trying to solve the mystery along with the main characters. For the most part I loved how the evidence was presented so thoroughly as the characters discovered it. There’s no piece of evidence that is really left out of the readers’ scope and I loved that. It’s not easy to write a mystery like that and very few authors have the talent to do so.

However, being that it is meticulous with not only the evidence presented, but also the side-story going on in Mikael’s life/career and to a lesser degree Salander’s life as well, it had moments where it dragged. In particular the beginning (until about 30% on my Kindle) and the end (from about 75% onward) were rather slow. But the “meat” of the book was amazing and had me positively glued to the story.

Even though those parts did drag a bit, they were also kind of necessary, especially the beginning. I’m not sure that every detail of

View Spoiler »

Wennerstrom’s demise

needed to be revealed to the reader, but it was satisfying to see what happened on that front nonetheless.

That being said, even with those slow parts this book was incredible. I was constantly second-guessing my own predictions and even though I did sort of at least partially figure it out, I definitely didn’t put everything together and even though I did stumble upon some of the ending by putting together clues (and guessing), it wasn’t really very obvious and I certainly didn’t figure out the majority of it (not even close).

So yeah, excellent book and very satisfying mystery. Even the main characters solving the mystery are complex and interesting and not entirely revealed by the end, leaving them a bit of a mystery themselves. Hopefully their characters will be fleshed out even more in the next two books.

I can’t wait to pick up the next one. If it weren’t so late I’d be tempted to pick it up right now, but I’ll probably wait until tomorrow.

4.5 Hearts
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