Hometown by Matthew Keville

hometown
Hometown by Matthew Keville

Published by BooksGoSocial

Published on 1st August 2014

771 Pages

Horror/Young Adult/Coming of Age

Purchase from Amazon AU/ Amazon US/ Amazon UK/ Fishpond AU/ Book Depository

My rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

I received a copy of this book from the publisher, BooksGoSocial, and the author via netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Belford. 1994. The fall that no one would ever quite get over, if they survived it at all, of course. This fall isn’t quite like the others. School is back in session, the weather is starting to cool down, and people have started to disappear. Some don’t come back, others are found brutally torn apart, and some are found dead with no apparent cause or reason. As the season marches on, more and more townspeople are giving into IT, whatever it is, they’re changing, becoming different, violent. Soon all that’s left is an unlikely band of teenagers who haven’t been changed, they must band together to defeat this centuries old being, whatever it is, because if they don’t, then they won’t have a future to look forward to. The thing that has awoken lives in the mist and preys on the town. Can they defeat it and live to tell the tale?

This is hard one for me to review and rate. I requested this book almost a year ago. It was one of the first ones that I requested when I first joined up to Netgalley and became an ARC reviewer. I love horror stories. I don’t know why, I just always have. I love the creep factor, the unknown, the chills, the goosebumps, and all of the stuff in between. I just love a good scary, creepy story. So when I read the synopsis for this one, it was a bit reminiscent of The Mist by Stephen King, but it still seemed to have it’s own identity. I began reading it and had a bit of trouble getting into the story and connecting with the characters. After it took me days to get even 5% through the gargantuan novel that this book is, I let my impatience win out, and I decided to DNF it and put in on the back burner for a while. Lately, for whatever reason, this book and another longer novel from Netgalley have been popping into my head, so I thought, why the hell not, lets give it another go. I’m not going to lie, I didn’t magically fall in love with it, it was a hard slog for a while there.

Firstly, I had issues with the overall culture of the world that Keville had created. Yes, it’s a horror story, but it’s so centred around sex, drugs, boys who think it’s totally fine to bash their girlfriends into submission, girls who are so low in self confidence that they’ll part their legs for any guy who asks and who don’t seem to understand how they are worth so much more than just a piece of arse for a guy who needs to get off. So I struggled a bit with this. I’m all for strong female leads, so this was a totally different angle for me. The main thing that kept me interested enough to actually become connected to the characters was one character called Angelina. She’s a strong female lead in every sense of the term. She’s doing her best against boys who think they can own her, her father’s misguided hopes for her, racism from boys she won’t sleep with, and any other number of things that fly at her from left field. She’s the one thing that kept me invested long enough in reading through this book so that I actually reached a point where I gave a shit about where the story was going and what was going to happen to these characters.

So yeah, I struggled a bit with the other parts that are so central to this story, as sure, growing up you run into character like those in this story. Rough heads who are into booze and drugs and copious amounts of sex. People who’s intentions aren’t the best. But for me, I didn’t grow up in a society that normalised it. There were rough people around when I was growing up, but there was no way in hell I was going to let them treat me worse than they expected to be treated by any number of people. So it took me a little to be able to relate to a fair few of the characters. In the end, I still couldn’t relate to some of them, though I understood where their lack of self confidence and drive came from.

I ended up enjoying the main group of characters so much. I really had such a soft spot for Vicki, she was a great character, and I kinda love how her issues weren’t really spoken about, you kinda had to keep reading to find out what her deal was. She was a great character and I really enjoyed her.

The story itself was good, but I feel like it became so convoluted. It was probably made worse by the formatting of the copy that I received as there’s no real chapters as such. There’s different POVs but in my copy they weren’t bold or underlined or even separated from the body text at all, it was like the characters name had just been typed twice, it took me a little bit to realise that this wasn’t in fact a typo, it was meant to be formatted differently. Another thing with the formatting was, we are reading about the story happening in present time, but we’re also getting information from a couple of different sources that were written after the happenings at Belford in 1994, these headings were not bold or set apart from the text. The entire book literally just flowed through in one giant text block essentially, there were no page breaks no heading breaks no nothing. So it made it a pretty damn hard slog to get through it in that respect. If I had have been reading a properly formatted version of this story, I feel like I would have succeeded in finishing it 12 months ago when I, by rights, should have. So I’m sincerely hoping that any ebook copies of the book was properly formatted and edited so that paying readers don’t have this problem.

The story also was SO FREAKING LONG. We’re talking 771 pages. That’s long. I don’t care who you are or how much you read. I read a fuck tonne, and that’s a long book. I felt like in a way it was good having the story run that long because it meant that we got every single little niggly bit of information in a story that really needed information to work properly. However, I also feel like, on the other hand, that it should have gone through at least another 1 or 2 rounds of editing because it did not need to be this long and include this much information. I know that Keville and his editor probably wanted the reader to get a real feel for the characters in this town and therefore empathise with their plight more, but it just needed more editing. It did not need to have that much information in it to work. Also, at one point, I began to get so annoyed because of the amount of damn characters that we were being introduced to. I started not even caring about people’s names at one point because we were getting thrown a lot of different characters and the cast seemed way too big. I know that I was having trouble keeping the characters straight at one point, but I soon got passed that and was able to remember who was who. I get that a big part of that was because, this wasn’t just a story that followed a handful of people, this was a story that was, for all intents and purposes, about a town and the evil that happened in that town and the trials and tribulations that the townsfolk went through. I get why there were so many people and stories being woven through the main story line, but once again, another couple of rounds of editing I think would have really helped this book out.

This book deals with a lot of issues. It’s essentially a coming of age story set against the backdrop of a horror story. It deals with love, love, grief, sex, eating disorders, racism, LGBTQ+ and the prejudices that come with it, it deals with domestic abuse, violence, abuse, rape. It’s a heavy story and that’s even without the underlying thing that was at the crux of it, which I’m not going to go into lest I ruin it for someone else. I’m hoping I’m not the only one who saw through the horror part of the story to the reality of it.

All in all, this book turned out to be a decent read. I was sceptical a couple of times whether or not I would actually finish it this time, but I’m really glad that I did. To be honest, it’s probably not something that I’ll read again unless I can get a decently formatted copy, then maybe I will just so I can pick up stuff that I’m sure I missed on the first read through. I do admit that I think this would make a fantastic movie, and even though the stories weren’t really anything alike at the core, I couldn’t help but compare certain aspects of this story to The Faculty, a 1998 sci-fi movie staring Josh Hartnett, Jordana Brewster, and Clea DuVall. There were SO many similarities that I think I enjoyed it more because of them. If you like an in depth horror story that deals with more than just your run of the mill scary monster and looks at the deeper horrors of real life, give this one a shot, you may like it.

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