“December Park” by Ronald Malfi

Horror, Thriller

december-park-malfi-250x330December Park by Ronald Malfi was far better than I was expecting it to be. Mostly because I definitely judge a book by its cover, and it has one of the uglier covers I’ve seen. Design aside, December Park  was a pretty solid read. But reader beware: this one was lengthy. I didn’t mind it much because I enjoyed the story and the character details, but for those looking for a quick scare this 756 page thriller might not be for you.

The whole book had a very Stranger Things vibe to it, so if you’re a fan of the show, you’d probably enjoy the book. It focuses on teenager Angelo Mazzone (Angie for short) and his four friends in a usually peaceful, small seaside (bayside? cape-side? I don’t know the difference) town in Maryland. The town, Harting Farms, has recently seen a number of disappearances and nobody knows why. The police say they’re runaways, but the town believes they have a serial killer on the loose: The Piper, who lures the children away. When Angie and his friends see the cops recover the body of one of the missing kids, they decide to insert themselves into the investigation and catch the Piper themselves. Set in the early 90’s, the gang of boys patrols Harting Farms by bike. Again, very Stranger Things, just a different decade. The difference with December Park is that there’s nothing supernatural going on here. It’s all just straight up human psychopaths.

I really liked this book. I thought it had a bit of a slow start, but I’m glad I stuck with it. Even though I was reading about a group of teenage boys, it didn’t seem like I was. Told from Angie’s perspective, it’s written elegantly and the story flows together really well. I loved all of the characters, except for the ones I was supposed to hate. My only complaint is the ending. While the suspense built for the entire book and the end definitely creeped me out, I still can’t decide how I feel about it. It threw me for a bit of a loop and I had to reread the chapter just to make sure I had interpreted everything right, and I’ve got some mixed opinions. Read it for yourself and you decide.

Rating: 4.5/5

“Dark Matter” by David Crouch

Sci-fi, Thriller

This book seriously messed with my head. Maybe it’s just been a little too long since I took dark-mattera science class, but if you ask the people on Amazon.com, it messed with their heads too, so I know it’s not just me.

“Dark Matter” tells the story of Jason, once aspiring physicist, current mediocre physics professor, living with his family in Chicago. I have no idea why but I imagined him as Kiefer Sutherland. We’ll roll with it. Anyway, Jason is more or less satisfied with his average life. He always imagines what it would have been like if he put his career before his family, but in general is happy with where he ended up. Until he gets kidnapped and shoved in a box and wakes up in a world where he did put his career first and his entire life has changed.

Jason wakes up in a world that is the same, yet not his own, with people he has never met. His wife is not his wife, his son was never born, and everything is familiar yet vastly different. He is determined to get back to the world that he knew, where his wife is his wife and his son exists, yet has no idea how to get there or what has happened to him. He spends the rest of the book trying to get back to them, encountering road blocks at every turn. It’s difficult to give an accurate description without giving the entire plot away, but there’s the gist of it.

“Dark Matter” was a quick read. While some of the sciencey parts required a couple of re-reads before I really figured it out, I got through the whole thing in one sitting. Crouch creates a tale that sucks you in far enough that you need to know what happens, and spend the whole book trying to figure it out. It was filled with twists I didn’t see coming, and I couldn’t put it down. If you’re a fan of science fiction and thrillers, this is definitely the book for you.

5/5