Near the Bone by Christina Henry
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Maybe it's unpopular opinion time.
I mean, if you compare this with a lot of the other self-pub stuff out there in the horror market, it falls in that line. You've got a monster in the mountains, a tragic perma-victim abused by a kidnapper for 8 years, and a chance encounter with a group of modern yahoos. Stir, shake up, and let the blood fly. If this is all you're looking for, then go for it.
But, me, well, I've been reading an average of 500 books a year, going on 6 years now. Before then, I was averaging about 300 a year. I have the freedom to pick up tons of randoms and indulge in "what is popular" at any particular moment. I'm able to pick up on trends that may not bother perhaps a large segment of the population, but when I happen to pick up 50-100 books a year, all new ones, that all share a common theme, I feel honor-bound to mention it, especially if it's rather dark and ugly.
More and more and more books, whether Horror, SF, or Fantasy (for these are the ones I focus on) are nothing more than female victimization novels with single-dimensional male characters that either A: are massively abusive, or B: are useless tools.
Let me just say something. I'm a man, and I'm a huge reader, and I have a very sensitive soul. If so much of the f**king market is designed to try to convince me that my entire sex, and by extension, me, are this f**king evil, then the most natural thing in the world would be for me to actually kill myself or stop reading altogether. I don't want to be a self-hating man. None of these stories come close to accurately describing myself or anyone I know. And while I am not excusing actual bastards in reality, I have to be clear about this:
I don't see the point of allowing this little butt-nugget of misandry to keep defining the whole industry any further than it already has. It's hateful. It's inaccurate. And women are just as likely to abuse people as men. But no, the new stereotype has gone off the deep end and it's disgusting.
But wait, aren't you a huge fan of Horror, Brad?
I am. But I'm a bigger fan of good writing, with characters of both sexes being delightfully complicated, rich, and full. I don't have a problem with massively nasty situations so long as it's not some kind of cardboard cutout or an obvious political agenda to smear a whole sex in the mud when the grand majority of them are innocent.
Is this book the worst offender? No. Not at all. I mean, William was a right nasty piece of work that would have belonged in the nastiest, isolated parts of the world over a hundred years ago. But no, he lived in modern times. When it's very unlikely he would have gotten away with even a third of what he did, even in his most misogynic throwback moments. He was a true monster.
Sorry, I guess I just get sick of this cookie-cutter kind of portrayal of men because it feels like every other modern book I pick up that is either up for nomination for some kind of award or is shouted about all over the place all wind up having the same damn theme. Men hating women.
In actuality, these are all women writers, promoted by female-dominated agencies, for publishers that are taking a hit for not having women at the very top of their pyramid, and there's a PR problem.
On top of this, they scream that men aren't reading anymore.
I wonder if there is a connection.
There's a thing called manufactured consent. One of the most common tactics is to keep repeating a thing over and over and over until all the people believe it.
It doesn't even matter whether it is done on purpose or not. If all you readers keep reading the same kinds of talking points over and over and over, you'll start believing it. It's human nature. It's also propaganda.
Stop the hate.
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