Welcome to He Said, She Said, a feature for GuysLitWire in which a guy (Book Chic, a recent college graduate) and a gal (Little Willow, a bookseller), discuss books that will appeal to both genders.
In October, we talked about Poison Ink (link) by Christopher Golden. Then LW got BC to read Soulless, Golden's newest YA novel. We're both crazy about this spine-tingling zombie tale.
Times Square, New York City: The first ever mass séance is broadcasting live on the Sunrise morning show. If it works, the spirits of the departed on the other side will have a brief window -- just a few minutes -- to send a final message to their grieving loved ones.
Clasping hands in an impenetrable grip, three mediums call to their spirit guides as the audience looks on in breathless anticipation. The mediums slump over, slackjawed -- catatonic. And in cemeteries surrounding Manhattan, fragments of old corpses dig themselves out of the ground....
The spirits have returned. The dead are walking. They will seek out those who loved them in life, those they left behind...but they are savage and they are hungry. They are no longer your mother or father, your brother or sister, your best friend or lover.
The horror spreads quickly, droves of the ravenous dead seeking out the living -- shredding flesh from bone, feeding. But a disparate group of unlikely heroes -- two headstrong college rivals, a troubled gang member, a teenage pop star and her bodyguard -- is making its way to the center of the nightmare, fighting to protect their loved ones, fighting for their lives, and fighting to end the madness.
LW: It's true - The dead travel fast. The book was extremely fast-paced, and I whipped right through it. Total page-turner.
BC: I agree with Little Willow. While I wasn’t enamored with Golden’s prose in his other teen book this year, Poison Ink, I really enjoyed this one and can see why LW loves Golden so much!
LW: While I enjoyed Poison Ink, I also loved Soulless.
Do you like zombie stories (books, movies, etc) as a general rule?
LW: I like well-written horror stories and ghost stories, and thus I can enjoy well-told zombie stories, but I don't actively seek them out. Though I haven't seen any of the staple zombie films, I think this book would make an excellent film.
BC: Generally, no. Anything remotely horror I completely avoid. I’m very easily scared and then I’m up all night and I don’t get sleep and then I can’t go job hunting because I look like a zombie and I’ll frighten off prospective employers. And that’s not good.
Why did you get this book?
LW: I read anything and everything written by Christopher Golden. The man truly has the Golden touch. He writes intriguing, inventive stories, and he's a great storyteller. In Soulless, he effortlessly balanced everyone's backstories and plotlines, then wove them together tightly.
BC: I got this book firstly because the cover and synopsis intrigued me. I know I said that I avoid horror-type stuff, but what can I say? I can be a masochist sometimes. I’d heard about it earlier this year and wanted to get a copy of it at some point. Secondly, LW really wanted me to read Golden (actually, I’m not really that special; she wants everyone to read Golden, not just me).
(LW starts cracking up, then nods enthusiastically.)
LW: It's true - There's a Golden book for everyone! Okay, continue.
BC: I had gotten Poison Ink randomly in the mail and figured that would be a good start. Once I finished that, she helped me get in touch with Christopher so that I could get a review copy of Soulless.
What did you think of the cover?
LW: I think it's gorgeous. Quite eye-catching. I know the eye on the cover is dominant, but I swear that I didn't intend the pun! I'm just going to go stare at the cover some more now . . .
BC: Ha ha, puns rock!
LW: Yes, yes, they do.
BC: I love the cover and it’s quite honestly the first thing that drew me to the book. I saw it somewhere (maybe on Cynthia Leitich Smith’s blog?) and was like “WOAH. Me. Want. Now.” See, when I notice a book with a REALLY good cover, I tend to lose that whole sentence-forming part of my brain and I become very similar to a caveman.
LW: I researched the tagline and discovered that "the dead travel fast" was used in Dracula, and, subsequently, various films inspired by or related to the book. Apparently, Bram Stoker was inspired by a folk ballad by Gottfried August Burger entitled Lenora, or Lenore, in which it is said (or sung) that "the dead ride quick." Stoker used "the dead travel fast" again in Dracula's Guest. The internet has provided me with the following phrases in other languages:
Denn die Todten reiten schnell. - from the novel Dracula
Pentru că morţii umblă repede! - from the 1992 film version of Dracula
BC: Wow, that’s really interesting! I didn’t know that at all. I learn something new every day, despite being out of school.
Soulless had a big cast. Who was your favorite character?
LW: Tania, the pop star, was my favorite main character. Derek, her bodyguard, was my favorite supporting character. I liked all of the main characters. Each brought a different flavor to the table. I liked how diverse the cast was, and I liked that each person and plotline was important.
BC: I gotta agree with Little Willow - I really enjoyed Tania too (who, by the way, has the same name as the pop star in the Heather Wells mystery series by Meg Cabot; I’ve never seen that name before and then, wham! It's in two different books, but both are pop stars) but that's kinda because I really enjoy reading about pop stars, even though her fame had little to do with her story. But I really enjoyed all the characters; like LW said, each was different and unique, so you had something to look forward to in each section.
Have you ever participated in a séance? If not, would you? Do you believe that mediums can communicate with ghosts?
LW: I have never participated in a séance or spoken to any clairvoyants. I'd have to be a part of a séance or a discussion with a medium to believe it myself. In other words, I couldn't just be an audience member or a bystander, because I wouldn't know if they (the mediums and/or their living 'clients,' if you will) were speaking the truth.
BC: I have not participated in a séance before, unless I’m blocking it out because of how scary or traumatizing it was. I’m not sure if I ever would participate in one, but I’m learning toward ‘no’. As for the belief, I guess anything’s possible, but I don’t think mediums can communicate with ghosts. I could be wrong though, as it’s not like I’ve done much thought or research about it.
LW: I've read many, many books and seen many, many TV shows and films that include ghosts and psychics. I enjoy The Ghost and Mrs. Muir by R.A. Dick (both the book and the film), The Ghost Wore Gray by Bruce Coville, The Doll in the Garden by Mary Downing Hahn -- Oh, stop me before I name a dozen things! Anyhow, I was a huge fan of The Dead Zone television series (not so much the film, and I haven't read the book), in which the main character, Johnny Smith, was psychic. I loved how Johnny (Anthony Michael Hall) spoke with and saw people, dead or alive. He had such a gentle way about him and conveyed such empathy. I rather think that he would have worked well with Phoenix's dad.
Are you spooked by the idea of ghosts or zombies?
LW: I'm not. If I met a zombie and he or she attempted to harm me, I'd certainly fight back and kindly ask that my brains not be eaten. I'd like to think my cats are still hanging around, walking beside me, and that I'm making my ancestors proud. My grandfather passed away a decade before I was born; I would have liked to have known him.
BC: Very much so. As mentioned earlier, I’m easily spooked by a lot of things. So, in my daily life, I try to avoid thoughts about ghosts, zombies, bogeymen, etc. because otherwise it’s hard for me to fall asleep or walk around without lights on.
If there were a sequel, would you read it?
LW: In a heartbeat.
Visit the SOULLESS website:
Little Willow's review of SOULLESS:
Book Chic's review of SOULLESS:
That's it for this edition of He Said, She Said! Little Willow and I have a couple more books in mind for future editions, but we're always open to suggestions of books GLW readers want us to discuss, so feel free to suggest away when you leave a comment on this entry!
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