Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Reviewed by Sin - THE LOST
By Jack Ketchum
One of the most challenging plots, in my opinion, is when readers know something bad is going to happen... eventually. In the meantime how do you keep readers, well, reading? For that answer, I present "The Lost", by Jack Ketchum. The plot is straight forward: Douchebag decides to whip his big gun out and act like a tough guy. Years later, he gets the itch again, as events around him conspire to shorten his fuse by the day. The real story, of course, is what happens between page one and the bad things to come. Who the characters are, and the everyday moments of their lives, make "The Lost" truly powerful. Some people have bigger flaws than others, but they all deserve better than the horror they are steadily, obliviously sailing into. Not that some of them haven't gotten a taste. The book starts off with a brutal appetizer, if you will, before easing you back to wait for the final course.
"The Lost" clocks in at just under four hundred pages, yet it feels like a much shorter read. Much credit is due to the fact that Ketchum makes creating memorable, multidimensional characters look easy. We all know the old cliche, "You'll laugh, you'll cry, etc". Well, you will. Or at least tear up, as I did, though in my case it couldn't be helped. The bastard put an adorable homeless animal in the book, because that's how Ketchum rolls. Human tragedy not enough for you? Bam! Here's a cat whose owners dumped it after they had a new baby. You think it's merely a sad moment, a commentary on people who view pets as disposable, only to find that the furry feline thread runs through the whole book. Done in less skilled hands, I would have barfed. With Ketchum, however, I felt genuine emotion.
So as Stewie said to Brian, before sharing his music video, "Get ready to feel." Especially the simple things, like love and friendship, that teeter precariously in the balance. Not that the characters know. But you will, and you'll keep reading. Even though you know it's going to hurt.