Frank Reads: The Night Strangers by Chris Bohjalian

It’s been a while, Frankophiles. I’ll spare you all of my reasons for not blogging for nearly two months. I respect you more than excuses are worth because I know you weren’t born yesterday (although I have been really busy and I’m basically living out of suitcases for October). For what it’s worth, though, on Monday night, I sat down with some time to finally write that blog post I’ve been meaning to write here. And…. I ended up trashing three posts and giving up because my mind was blank.

But what really matters is that I’m here, you’re here, and so we should have some fun, yeah?

First, I have a really important question. I’m hoping that a new reader stumbles upon this and can help a sister out. Every day, Frank’s video blog on 11/22/63 by Stephen King is getting a whole bunch of hits. Because I don’t pay anything for this blog, I don’t get high-end analytics, but I can see that people from all over are coming to ye olde blarg on that post. The problem is… I don’t know where they’re coming from. I would really like to know. So if you happened to get here by way of… there… please leave a comment and let me know how you got here.

(And if you didn’t get here via an appropriately mysterious link to the video blog/post about the Stephen King book, I’d still like to know how you got here!)

And now on to business. Frank and I didn’t have much time for reading over the summer. We started The Night Strangers by Chris Bohjalian in June and just finished it somewhere around mid-to-late September. Below you will find Frank’s standard weirdo video blog as he reviews the book. Then I’ll share my additional thoughts (as always, the dino-sock puppet thinks for himself! … yyyyep.)

So basically… what the dinosaur said. Also, I hoped you enjoyed his paper towel Halloween costume. I worked my fingers to the bone helping him to get the hem lines right.

I did enjoy this book, but I figured out pretty early on what was happening and so it didn’t feel like there were any twists for me. Still, I liked the story lines and the writing (except in the case of the way the twins talked. First they could speak using very sophisticated language, but they then they played with dolls and were kind of naive about things — I don’t know. Something with them just didn’t match up or sit well with me).

The book is well written, and Bohjalian obviously did his homework because it was full of detail. So much so, actually, that it made me super nervous to fly to Boston a few weeks ago. I can neither confirm nor deny that I contacted my friend who has done the most traveling and ask him what the probability was that birds would fly into the engine during  an 8:30 a.m. flight heading northeast. I’m pretty sure he thought I was crazy (meh), but he gave me a straight answer.

And that answer didn’t really make me feel better.

So I spent the whole flight glancing nervously out the window for flocks of birds migrating south. It was a little bit like that scene in Bridesmaids when Annie is freaking out and yelling to everyone about how there’s a woman dressed in traditional colonial garb churning butter on the wing of the plane.

Except I was sitting quietly by myself having an internal panic attack.

But I digress. Except maybe I don’t, though. The things that are truly the scariest to me are the things that could really happen (even if it’s kind of a stretch). So while the paranormal aspect could be creepy and the images in my head of dead people watching Chip Linton sleep definitely made it difficult for me to fall asleep a few times, I didn’t find all of that (nor the witchcraft) as scary. What was scary to me was the fact that I was getting on a plane (I’m already a nervous flyer, and it wasn’t helped by developing an obsession with LOST a few years ago), and that birds might kill me.

Indirectly, of course. The idea of murderous birds is just silly.

Thank God I’ve stayed on topic.

What I really liked about this book was the ending. I think he nailed it. You want everything to work out a certain way and you think that it must because there are these “standard rules of horror” that we follow. (Let’s not kid ourselves. We learned most of them from Scream.) The ending was great because it wasn’t neat. Not everything was resolved, and of the things that were resolved, not all of them ended up the way we wanted them to be. It was messy and it was sad and you could see people for what they really were the whole time — interesting life parallel there.

I think if you read the Stephen King book 11/22/63 and you thought that was scary, you’ll think this is scary, as well. I’d put them on pretty equal footing. I’d like to read more books by Chris Bohjalian to get a better sense of who he is as an author (especially in terms of just regular fiction novels).

But when it comes to scaring myself, I’m still going to stick with my main man since 8th grade, John Saul. It’s a trade off. Bohjalian’s book was much better written than most of Saul’s (particularly the ones from the 70s and 80s), but for some reason, I still find Saul’s brand of horror and suspense more compelling than any other author in that genre (including Stephen King. I’m a free bitch thinker, baby).

Overall, a good read for Halloween.

Have you read this book? What did you think?

And again: if you got here via the Stephen King post, where did you find that link!?


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