If there's one thing Mr. McKinney has perfected, it's the art of hooking you with his opening! It's a skill so many authors struggle for years to learn, but his instincts have led him unerringly to the Bull's Eye right from the start.
Another sign of a great author is the ability to describe a situation so that you can see it - without boring you to tears! How many times have you read about the location of every plant in the room, whose garden they came from, and when? Tolkien was a habitual over-describer, IMO. That's definitely not the case here. By the 4th paragraph, McKinney manages to project a clear (and disturbing!) scene into our minds, shocking enough to instill in his audience a desire to read on, to learn how this situation came to be.
As with most self-published authors, there are a few mistakes here and there, but they're not as glaring, distracting, or as frequent as they could be. And he has a MUCH larger vocabulary than is common among his peers.
There is a depth here that short stories don't often contain; honestly, that's why I rarely read them. They seem like fragments to me. Somehow, McKinney has managed to find a balance between the gore, the hope, and the tenderness. He finds inspiration in the midst of madness and is skilled enough to share it all with us.
The more I read from Mr. McKinney, the more I WANT to read! In this, the second of his stories I have read, the author has found a new voice and (IMO) a new level of skill.
"In Extremis", the first McKinney book I read, was a great stand-alone novella. The detail was fantastic without being wordy, the characters were easy to understand without going very deep, and the story itself was quite creative - not easy in this day and age when we think we've seen all there is to see regarding zombie horror.
He's already proven he can capture our attention with a single page, that he knows how to be concise, and that he knows how to balance sentimentality with horror. Now he's shown that he also understands that most basic concept so many new authors don't grasp - human nature.
In "Feed", McKinney exposes an entirely new side of himself. We're more focused on the protagonist, digging much deeper into who he is than we did with the nun. The author is more open with emotion and vulnerability, providing a character we can all identify with on some level as opposed to a generic "good" person. Who among us has never felt lonely, out of place, or uncomfortable in our own skin?
Even the secondary characters were spot on. A struggling mother who loses control for just a moment. A macho man of mystery. A manipulative seductress with evil intentions. All are colorful and contribute to the story; none feel out of place.
I'm very impressed with what I've seen from McKinney, and the few faults I might otherwise mention are so insignificant when compared to the whole that they become irrelevant. I would love to see a full novel (or better yet, a series) from this author.
This isn't a story; it's an experience!
Less than two pages into this, I blinked and realized I was staring at the last sentence. The world just disappeared! There were no other tabs, no sounds, no pets twitching in their sleep - I forgot to even smoke. I can't remember how long it's been since I lost myself in another world so completely. I take that back; it was during the Song of Ice and Fire series about 6 years ago.
BRAVO, McKinney! Now that I'm done raving, the actual story...
Obviously, this an engrossing tale. We're treated to an extremely limited environment (could use a little more in that arena now that I think on it) that is so enriched by colorful characters and mystery, we begin to feel part of it somehow. Maybe we're the fly on the wall or the beaten down hat atop Mack's incredulous eyebrows.
Mack seems pretty accepting of Joe's tale, especially for the curious fellow he's originally portrayed as. However, what many readers would see as a flaw, I see as further evidence of McKinney's innate ability to capture our imaginations. It's possible Mack just isn't very bright. It's also possible these characters live in a reality where such things have been known to happen before. Who wants a character who's completely consistent (aka predictable) anyway?
I admire this author a great deal, having now read three of his stories that seem to have all come from different heads. It's rare to come across someone so creative they don't even have a comfort zone, much less do they confine themselves to one. McKinney's voice is unique, bold, and mesmerizing.
This is the first I've read of Lori's work and to be honest, I didn't want to take the time to write a review before devouring the next book!
Before we move on, credit must be given where it's due: Lori R. Lopez makes fewer grammatical mistakes than any other self-published author I have seen. I noticed one incorrectly spelled word and only one comma error. This is allowing for the extra commas and sentence fragments that contribute to the flow of the story; Ms. Lopez.'s creative license. These deliberate "errors" should ONLY be included by authors skilled enough to use them seamlessly. Too often, the use of them is attempted by authors who don't know what they're doing; we've all cringed as we've seen them jump off the page. Kudos to this lady for her intellect and instincts!
In addition to this rare skill, Ms. Lopez displays a very broad vocabulary, necessary to prevent any story from becoming dull and/or monotonous.
The pace of this story was perfect. The descriptions were enough to give us mental images yet not so detailed as to cause any lag. The narrative thoughts of our protagonist are interrupted often enough by action to thwart tedium while giving the boy just enough time to effectively communicate with his audience. I noticed no lulls and never felt rushed. Again, not an easy skill to master!
The story itself is touching albeit horrifying. A boy on the cusp of becoming a young man has been raised in a time when zombies are commonplace. Mankind is struggling to come to terms with the zombies' existence even as they fight for survival. When the boy's own mother is in danger of being infected with the virus responsible for zombieism, he must make a choice: protect the caring woman who gave him life, or stick to his unconventional ambition to protect zombies?
This story is for young adults as well as any adult who remembers how challenging it was to be one. I give this opinion because understanding and compassion for the boy is essential to appreciating the tale.
I greatly enjoyed the experience of reading Ms. Lopez's work and can't find any aspect to criticize!
WOW all those republishing dates!!! I'm going to have to read it again and see how much has changed.
It's been some time since I first read this book and reviewed it on Amazon. One thing I've learned is when you review a book immediately after reading it (when all the little things are still fresh in your mind) and again later (when it's more of an impression you're left with), the reviews can be wildly different.
That said, what I remember most about this book is the impressive display of originality/creativity. Mr. Finegan is one of only a few authors capable of introducing completely unique ideas and situations to his audience no matter how vast the quantity or variety of books they may have read. Even if he had nothing else to offer, his work would be inspiring!
Fortunately (for us), this is not the case. Finegan has much more to share. Something we unhappily grow accustomed to in low-price and/or free ebooks is a complete lack of editing. It keeps us from immersing ourselves in the stories, constantly distracting us at best and forcing us to decode at worst. Into the Mist is an oasis in that desert of tedium! I can't emphasize enough how refreshing it was to read this book. Mr. Finegan restored my failing faith in the literacy level of modern authors.
The only reason one star is missing is because I felt at times the characters were somewhat underdeveloped, inconsistent, or juvenile. Few stories are perfect, and these problems were really quite minor when compared to the work of other new authors in the genre. This is just one person's opinion, and I believe the moments of brilliance and the quality of the writing far outweighed these minor inconsistencies.
I'm looking forward to re-reading this book with high hopes I will have the pleasure of editing this review later to add the last star. :)
A delightfully chilling tale the writers of The Walking Dead would drool over! It would fit seamlessly into the series, and Jessie is a character with more than enough depth and complexity to make a wonderful permanent addition to the cast. I imagine the various paths Jessie could now take and find myself fervently wishing for a sequel.
At first, we sympathize with him as he faces one of the hardships of a country boy's life. Suddenly the world as he knows it is gone, replaced with fear, horror, and the heavy responsibility of life-or-death choices. I found myself quite proud of him when all was said and done.
His father is also someone I'd be proud to know. He doesn't hide from or try to deny reality as many would do in his shoes. He does what's necessary. As hard a man as he is, he's also reliable and caring when the time is right. He proves he's willing to sacrifice absolutely anything for his son's safety. Who wouldn't respect a man like that?
McKinney's style is rather brilliant - taking familiar characters and creating new situations and conflicts for them to handle. It allows his readers to identify and empathize with them to a depth not commonly found in shorts. Right away we're emotionally invested, and I see his ability to grab us that way as a rare talent.
I don't want to spoil it by mentioning anything specific about the plot, so I hope summing this rambling up to 3 parts will be enough. :)
1 - It really feels like the background of a The Walking Dead starring role, only better written.
2 - Truly caring for these people is such a rare experience (even in novels!); how could anyone turn it down?
3 - Plot and characters aside, this is the most well-written story I have (yet) read from McKinney. I'm happy to report that I was quite lost in this story from its start to its finish, which means there were very few errors!
Once upon a time I wondered if I was rude to have only entered 1 of my neighbors' homes (in 10 years). Jerry has made me feel like a genius instead!!
This one was about as far off McKinney's beaten path as he could go! I've said it before and I'm saying it again: One of the greatest things about this author is that he doesn't seem to have a comfort zone. Each story is wildly different from the last.
Stu is the kind of guy (nearly) everyone can identify with. He's at a point in his life where loneliness has become unbearable, and he's getting desperate as he worries the entirety of his life will be spent miserably.
Imagine his excitement when a mysterious, single, good-looking, friendly woman moves in next door! WOW does she smell great too! This could be the ONE.
Poor Stu. He really shouldn't have tried so hard. See, there's a reason she remained mysterious and somewhat aloof. Unsuspecting Stu soon stumbles upon her secret...
McKinney taught me to enjoy short stories after a lifetime disliking them. The rushed paces, the abrupt endings, the lack of character development - None of these apply to this author's work.
If (like me) those are reasons you avoid short stories too, I recommend you give ANY (yep, any!) McKinney book the chance to change your mind!
I read my share of horror, but this one really creeped me out!!
Colin has been in a downward spiral for years. A quiet, soft-spoken man who keeps to himself, he's not close enough to anyone for them to have noticed his plight (and possibly tried to help!) Dark thoughts building and left to his own devices, the incessant ticking of a clock infuriates him so much it pushes him over the edge. We continue to follow him as his psychotic break swiftly reaches new levels of depravity. Then, as he is prone to do, McKinney serves up a shocking ending!
This one got to me because, unlike most of this author's stories, it smacks of possible reality. There have been people set off by less who have done more! I wonder if there's a Colin in my neighborhood just waiting for that switch to flip...
Thanks for reminding me to keep the doors locked, Jerry!
Dickens gone wrong - but done right!
Mr. McKinney sets an example for aspiring (and some current - ahem!) short story authors everywhere. He's mastered the art of creating novels we can read in about an hour, yet somehow they never feel rushed or underdeveloped. His work is surprisingly rich and detailed, his characters those we can empathize with, and his endings shocking and twisty for those of us bored with stories offering the usual fare.
McKinney is an undisputed master in the art of creating mental images - whether it's something you want to see or not!
This is not my favorite of McKinney's work because, to me, the characters don't seem very original. Creepy dead twin girls - The Shining. Loving yet very insensitive husband with an oddly accepting wife who's great to him anyway - same book/movie. Even the creepy caretaker-type figure; it's been done before. I'm accustomed to pure originality from this author, so I'm probably being a little tough on him.
Characters aside, the setting and story are EXCELLENT! The descriptions are so spot on and detailed, Mr. McKinney has images jumping into your mind from beginning to end. It's very fast-paced. At no point are we given a chance to catch our breath or even think of boredom. Frankly, we're too creeped out to think of anything but what awaits us on the next page. I thought I even smelled the decaying, maggot-infested raccoon!
This is a very entertaining story packed with elements of horror, the supernatural, mystery, and crime. How this author manages to combine so many genres and still make it work, I will never know and always admire.
The bonds of childhood, particularly between siblings, can be quite intense. When 2 boys lost their sister, the parents were by no means the only ones who suffered.
Fast forward a couple of years. This resilient family has survived tragedy, and the boys are closer than ever before. Spud is Charlie's shadow as they sneak out one night to investigate a thrilling site near a shunned house.
It's when they get there that things very quickly turn into a gruesome, unthinkable nightmare!
Jerry McKinney has a unique talent for creating characters so genuine you would swear he's lived with and studied each one for at least a year. He's one of the most insightful authors I've ever had the privilege to read.