Friday, April 10, 2009

Castaways

Genre - Horror
Year Published - 2009 (Published by Leisure Books/Dorchester Publishing Co, Inc.)
Length - 280 pages
Written by Brian Keene

Rating: 5 Skulls

Plot Summary:
They came to the lush, deserted island to compete on a popular reality TV show. Each one hoped to be the last to leave. Now they're just hoping to stay alive.
It seems the island isn't deserted after all. Contestants and crew members are disappearing, but they aren't being eliminated by the game. They're being taken by the monstrous half-human creatures that live in the jungle.
The men will be slaughtered. The women will be kept alive as captives. Night is falling, the creatures are coming, and rescue is so far away. . .

Review:
In the Author's Note, Keene discusses his idea behind Castaways. It was originally written as a short story for In Laymon's Terms [an Anthology in tribute of my favorite horror author - the late, great Richard Laymon] *Note: In Laymon's Terms was conceived in late 2001 and has yet to see print! Arg!!

Anyhow, if you've read Laymon's "Beast House" series [The Cellar, Beast House, The Midnight Tour, and Friday Night in Beast House] Castaways is, in part, about the "beasts" from Laymon's series. You see, Keene's short story already appeared in Keene's short story collection Fear of Gravity and was a hit with his fans, who asked Keene to turn the short story into a full-length novel - and he obliged! [How cool is that?!?]

In the beginning of the novel, Keene establishes the main characters - we have:
Becka - a 22-year-old Penn State Graduate
Jerry - in his early 20's and owner of a video store in California
Stefen - a Welsh music producer out of Nashville
Jeff - the "pretty boy" - an Adventure Tour Guide in Colorado
Richard - a drummer from Kansas
Sal - a stock broker from Long Island
Pauline - a 41-year-old dancer/model and former NFL cheerleader from Tampa [she's the "airhead"]
Roberta - a 54-year-old librarian from New York
Troy - [my favorite character] a skinny, foul-mouthed, tattooed auto mechanic from Seattle [who brought his lucky Seahawk cap]
Raul - the black guy - an machine shop owner from Philadelphia
Ryan - a 21-year-old hairstylist from Los Angeles [yep, he's gay]
Shonette - the black girl - a 25-year-old single mother of two from Detroit, Michigan
Matthew - a 28-year-old loner from Pennsylvania

The above introductions all take place within Chapter One [and already, the "beasts" are watching. . .

We also meet some of the crew members of the show:
Mark - a mullet wearing gentlemen from Tennessee
Stuart - from New York
Jesse - from Florida
and the Host of the show, Roland Thompson

If you are a fan of the television show Survivor [I only watched the 2nd & 3rd seasons] this book reads exactly like the series! Keene's writing is such that immediately, you know who you like and who you don't.

When tropical cyclone Ivan starts heading towards the island where Castaways is taking place, members of the crew take off to the large freighter that is just offshore from the island, leaving the contestants and the three crew members who stayed behind to fend for themselves - not only against the coming storm, but from the "beasts" that they are yet to be made aware of. . .

This book is a page-turner. A super-fast read [I read it in only two days and I am by no means a fast reader - that would be my wife]

I have several books written by Keene, however the only ones that I have previously read are The Rising and City of the Dead [the best zombie novels ever written, in my opinion]

Whether you are already a fan of Keene or not, you should definitely read this novel, as it is excellent!

Jason

6 comments:

Wings said...

Interesting, sounds fun! I will add it to my ever growing list of books to read.

thebonebreaker said...

Wings,

It is definitely "fun"!
As for the list - I hear you brother! :-)

J

Johnny 666 said...

Hmm, on one hand it sounds interesting enough, but on the other, I fucking hate reality tv, and even reading about it turns my stomach:-)

His other books sound interesting though, so I will pop his name on my list of authors to check out.

Oh, the plot kinda reminds me of Wrong Turn 2, but I hope it's more like The Ruins by Scott B Smith (yup, the same book the film was based on), that was a seriously tense page turner!

thebonebreaker said...

Johnny,

Really, the reality part of it all is just the minor background plot. The first chapter is about the show, however with the approaching cyclone, the 'voting off' part is re-scheduled till after the storm passes - needless to say, that is the least of the contestants worries, as the beasts quickly show up and began wreaking havoc!
[also, the short story was written well before Wrong Turn 2 was even thought about]

Definitely be sure to check Keene out though - he is a fantastic writer!

P.S. The Ruins was a great read! :-)

J

Johnny 666 said...

Ok, you have convinced me, will check it out! I'm ploughing through books at the moment, am just finishing up on Joe Hill's '20th Century ghosts', defo worth picking up!

thebonebreaker said...

I have not read 20th Century. . . only Heart-Shaped Box, by Hill


Enjoy Johnny! :-)

J