Top critical review
Fast and easy read but confusing at times, could use more development of character & scenery
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.