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  • Mama
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4.1 out of 5 stars
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on July 5, 2011
At its core, Mama by Robin Morris is a thrilling, edge-of-your seat chase thriller. However, the thrill of the chase is secondary to the development of the characters--both protagonist and antagonist--as they are each faced with circumstances that are unfamiliar. It is a fun read, easy to get into and packed with scene after scene of relentless action.

The Conovers--mom, dad and two kids--are on their way back to Illinois after Jeff Conover's failed attempt to find work as an actor in Los Angeles. The action starts and ends on this trip, and as one who has taken the same route as the Conovers through California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah and into Colorado, I appreciated the descriptions and detail Robin Morris uses to set the scene. There is a hopeless feeling--even an empty one--knowing the land is so barren that help may be too far away. This, in itself, can elevate the stress levels, but throw in a crazy Mama (who may not be what she seems) and her three kids hell-bent on death, and the stress level is sure to go through the roof.

I enjoyed my time reading Mama. It is well thought out and pieced together with care. There are a few bumps in the road, but nothing that would throw you off the path.
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on May 25, 2011
If you've read Dean Koontz's INTENSITY, you know how it feels to find that this time an author's visibly pulling out all the stops. MAMA gives the same feeling that you can go through the whole tale and never once think there's a single twist missing-- it's all fitted together that well.

It's the construction that makes this great. Morris's prose isn't the most colorful, but after a page or two you start to see that dusty old bricks can be stacked up into ingenious art too. One thread after another creeps into the tale, sometimes teasing us for a hundred pages before it rips things open. And while the concept (being stalked across the country by... you'll see) is easy to follow, there are a LOT of threads within it. Between them it has

* a vicious, supernatural villain, who lives by four words: "That's what you're for."

* a very ordinary family dragged into nightmare in slow motion. You'll even forget how many other stories have tried to use the idea too; this is the real one.

* suspense from slow burn to scorching chases with everything in between.

* supporting characters that really do add fresh perspective to the central ones.

* struggling across highways, hills, and towns that are pure America, where every loose wire in the car could be life and death, but not just yet...

* characters of every level that die when they need to, or just when they really should survive.

MAMA brings all this together the way most writers only hint they could pull off. This is the good stuff.
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on August 9, 2011
Mama is the epitome of a thriller, with lots of twists and turns, monsters, and a healthy amount of gore! While primarily a horror novel, there was also the underlying story of a family and their struggles in life. Both stories worked hand in hand and each made the other better and more complex. The action was non-stop, and so was the creepy factor! Mama and her children were very unique villians, and absolutely make me want to rethink any possible road trips in my future.

I think the characters made this story for me, as much as the plot. The Conover family is headed back to Illinois after Jeff's career as an actor has hit a dead end. His wife Lee, although she won't admit it to her husband, is more than happy to not live the Hollywood life. Alison is your typical angry teen, furious at what she sees as her father's failure and how it is "ruining" her life. Of all of them, 9 year old Michael was my favorite character. He was sweet and smart and just a lovable kid. Mama and her family, even though the villians of the story, were relatable in their own way. Mama came from a different world, a world in which you had to be hard and cruel to survive. In her own way, she was trying to teach her own children an important lesson. I never thought I would find a murderous villian a sympathetic character, but there were definately shreds of humanity with Mama and her kids.

I think this was a very unique twist on horror, with a very engaging plot. I wouldn't recommend it for the under 17 crowd necessarily because of the level of gore, but I definately recommend it for those who love a good, creepy read!
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on April 27, 2014
There are *NO* spoilers in this review.

I bought this book after seeing it mentioned at goodreads and thinking it would be a good story. Although I thought the plot was interesting and rather unique compared to other horror books I've read, I felt there were a few things missing.

As for what I liked, it was definitely an interesting story line. The way Mama makes herself visible is something I rarely read in books or see in movies, and the way she uses her children to help carry out her actions is bizarre. Trying to visualize the action when she and her kids were committing horrific acts made for some unusual mental imagery.

There was a a lot of action in the book, which was both good and bad in my opinion. On a positive note the frequent action left me often wondering how the book was going to end.

There were a few times where I was a tad teary-eyed (not bawling... lol) based on what I'd read, so I was able to build a little bit of sympathy for the characters, but not a lot, and that was one of the things I didn't like.

On that note, I really wanted to see significantly more character development. I knew a few basics about the people involved, such as the daughter's relationship with her friend and the son's obsession with bugs. Considering the majority of the book focused on this family's plight in their attempt to escape what they see as as crazy woman, I had a hard time feeling sympathy for them since I didn't feel I "knew" them. There wasn't much of an emotional connection.

I also would have loved to have seen more descriptions of the scenery and the action, even if that meant taking some of the action out of the book to limit the length. When reading a book I always visualize it (can't help doing that, and I'm sure most or all of you do the same), and it was often difficult visualizing the action in "Mama" as I kept expecting to read something more illustrative. My mental imagery just didn't have the same details it's had when I've read other horror novels.

There was a lot of backtracking in time which often confused me. For example, in one part of the book the father is talking to the mother in a store. When the next chapter begins, the mother is walking into the same store. I had a lot of "Wait a minute, so-and-so was just doing such-and-such" moments whenever these time reversals occurred, and sometimes there would be multiple time changes/jumps in the same chapter. I've seen this type of writing in other books, but in those books it wasn't done with the regularity or frequency as it was in "Mama."

The author presented the story from different points of view within the same chapter, and I found this confusing at times. For example, the father would be referred to as "Jeff" if the story was coming from the mother or father's perspective, and a few paragraphs later he would be "Dad" if the story was coming from the son or daughter's point of view. While I do like seeing a story from different characters' perspectives, I'm not used to this changing as frequently as it did in this book.

Despite the aspects I didn't care for, I have no regrets reading the book. I'd love to see it made into a horror movie as the industry could really use a story line as unique as this one.
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on November 9, 2011
Rated 4 out of 5 Stars!
Is there anything worse than traveling cross country in a car with kids? Or Parents?
Dad won't turn on the AC because he's worried the car will overheat. Mom has made sandwiches and stored them in a cooler for meals instead of pulling over at a restaurant in a strange new town. Miles and miles of highway and little money for sightseeing and unforeseen circumstances. Well apparently Robin Morris can imagine something worse and she lets us in on the secret with her new Horror, Mama.
Book Summary: As the Conover family drives from L.A. to Chicago strange things begin to happen. Nine year old Michael sees a face form in the window of the family car. Two creepy children stare at fourteen year old Alison at a motel. A car follows the family for many miles, then hits their car and drives away.

Wherever the Conover family goes, wherever they look, they see a large woman and her children coming closer. The woman and her children are superhumanly strong. They can enter a locked room without opening the door.

Confused and scared, the Conovers can't comprehend what is happening to them. Everywhere they turn they see the woman and her children. The woman is Mama, and as she teaches her children, like a lioness teaching her cubs to hunt, the Conovers realize that they are the prey.
Robin Morris's story line is reminiscent of a Dean Koontz plot where really bad and unbelievable things happen to normal people. The fact that `Mama' and her weird brood can move through floors, walls and cars add to the creepy feeling that anything evil can happen at any time. It permeates the story as the Conover's make their way toward Chicago, each family member struggling with regret and anger at the changes being made in their lives.
I like Robin Morris's writing style. She tells the story through each character's point of view. You get a chance to know and understand each of the Conover family. The father, a failed and self-absorbed actor, mom is seemingly in a world of her own while worrying about her family. A young teenage girl on the verge of slipping in to the seedier side of L.A. and angry that her plans are laid to waste by the move, and her younger brother who is shy and imaginative and identifies with insects better than his family.
Having noticed the Conover family on the road, Mama decides to use them as an educational tool for her children. A lesson in cruelty.
I am happy to say that Mama was not predictable. Just like the Conover family, I had no idea who or what Mama and her evil brood were. I did not predict the ending and was entertained the whole way.
Robin Morris is a fantastic new author and will be welcomed into the Horror community with open, although shaking, arms.
Recommend, recommend, recommend! 4 out of 5 stars! Tammy G with The Kindle Book Review.
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VINE VOICEon September 12, 2011
The Conover family - Jeff and Lee and their children Allison and Michael - are driving across country, moving from California to Illinois. This in and of itself is bad enough, but then they notice that they are being chased ... followed by an uncanny, large woman and her three children. What does she want with the Conovers? Why is she trying to kill them?

I must say that this was a freaky story - after reading it, I think it will be awhile before I start wanting to take a cross-country trip again ... The slow build-up of suspense and eeriness is beautifully done, creating a slowly increasing tension in the reader. The action is seen from multiple viewpoints - sometimes we're with one of the Conovers, sometimes with Mama or one of her children, sometimes with a Nevada patrolman who ends up getting caught up in the whole mess. On some occasions, the author will show us the same scene from different viewpoints, so we can get a full appreciation of exactly what the characters are going through. It is a highly effective ploy and the reader becomes quite attached to the characters. And, since this is a horror novel, that really is a pity ...

Nicely done! Horror aficionados should definitely check this one out!
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on April 20, 2012
I read this book in two one hour sittings (well, "walkings" because I actually read while I walk). It's fast paced, and yet the author manages to round out the characters nicely, feeding background as she goes rather than info-dumps anywhere in the book. Really well executed and one of the creepier books I've read in a long time, this is an incredibly cinematic novel. I am just SO glad I didn't start reading it while stuck in a Super8 Motel in Canyon County a couple weekends ago... I would have gotten less sleep than I already did that night!
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on April 12, 2012
Cool original story and an original antagonist. That's a claim that a lot of new horror books and movies like to make but this is the real deal. Very fun read for real horror fans.
Sincerely,
Sam
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on August 28, 2012
Interesting book. I love books that are a little out of the norm. Things you don't really think can happen but they make you wonder. The characters were well developed and likable. I would read more by this author.
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on July 14, 2013
If you have nothing else to read go for it.I choose this book thinking it was written for the movie named mama.
It was very slow going but you would become curious about the ending
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