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4.1 out of 5 stars
Savage
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on March 18, 2002
Format: Hardcover
It's been over a year since Richard Laymon's passing and I just remembered what a great writer he was-- 'is' actually, he'll live on through his books!! I decided to pay my long overdue respects in the form of a review.
Let there be no doubt about it 'Savage' is Laymon at his peak!!
I read somewhere that Laymon wrote this book after his editor suggested he tried something different from his usual slasher/ splatterpunk fare. It's breathtaking to read this book and come to the conclusion he's done just that, but also has incorperated almost all of the usual elements that have made him such a winner (in my opinion anyway).
'Savage' is about Jack the Ripper, but it's not like you expect a serialkiller-novel to be. It's a fictional retelling and it also adds so much to the Ripper legend. It's told from the first person point of view and just the mix of Victorian English with Mark Twain-like American slang is worth the price of purchase alone. I won't spoil the plot, I'll just say the book is epic in scope and it heads for one of the most satisfing finales I have ever read. The way the Ripper ends up in the Old West, it's a classic!!
This is for all you knuckleheads out there who still suck their Stephen King books and worshipp their worn off copies of 'Lord of the Rings'. This is so good, maybe they'll call THIS literature in about a 100 years time!
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on June 30, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Trevor Bentley appears at first to be a normal 15 year old boy, but there is a heroic side to him that becomes evident through out this book.
one rainy night he accidentally stumbles upon the infamous Jack the Ripper, and deciding that this may be the only chance any one gets to put a stop to his murderous rampage, he sets out to stop him, Unfortunately young Trev finds him self way out of his depth as he gets himself and a family held hostage by the Ripper on a boat set sail for The new world, America, Trevor manages to escape from the grasp of this legendary murderer, but not before they both find them selves in America.
This story is truly a great adventure, Starting in late 19th century London, to the new word America and then climaxes in the wild west, 3 very unique cultures that all existed at that time, add to this a story of love, friendship and self discovery and of coarse gruesome death in the way only Laymon can tell, and you have what is one of the greatest stories told
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on February 28, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I think its a great story, full of adventures, with an courageous hero (Bentley)and an horrifying devil(Ripper) I read this book about 6 times or more and like the lovescenes with generals daugther and the young cowgirl most...very erotic
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon October 21, 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Savage tells the story of Trevor Bentley, a young man forced to flee England after accidentally witnessing Jack the Ripper's final recorded killing. Mistakenly blamed for the crime, Trevor seeks escape from the authorities and the Ripper on a yacht moored in the Thames. Tragically, the Ripper tracks him to the boat, commandeers it, and forces the owner to sail for America. Trevor is drafted to help man the boat, and can only watch helplessly as the Ripper holds a female passenger captive.

After an arduous voyage, they reach the United States. Trevor escapes from the boat before the Ripper can kill him and manages to establish himself in America. Despite the fact that the Ripper is still at large, Trevor allows himself to believe that his nightmare is over.

The young man is mistaken, however. One day he reads of a multiple slaying in Tombstone, Arizona--three women, horribly mutilated, were found dead in their home. The local authorities attribute the massacre to Indians, but Trevor recognizes the Ripper's handiwork. Blaming himself for allowing the fiend to reach America, Trevor vows to seek the madman out and kill him. The rest of the novel describes Trevor's odyssey across America, leading to his final confrontation with his nemesis.

Savage will probably surprise a lot of Laymon's fans. On the surface, one might pick this novel up expecting an outright gore fest--after all, it's Laymon writing about Jack the Ripper. But the book defies expectations--instead, readers are treated to a happy combination of traditional western and a bildungsroman. Laymon delivers a well wrought tale of suspense, where the violence, although prevalent, is secondary to the main thrust of the story--that is, the unique rite of passage Trevor must undergo before he can be at peace with himself. Imagine Great Expectations, with blood and guts mixed in.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I rank this really close to the top of my Laymon book list. I enjoy his writing-although a tad bit far fetched at times. I wasn't sure how I'd like this 1800's book with a western theme. Well, I can't say enough good things about it. Trevor/Willy was a great character, who got himself in all kinds of trouble. I have to say if your a Laymon fan, get your hands on this book it is well worth the hunting for it!
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on April 18, 2002
Format: Hardcover
After reading the synopsis of this book, I got excited. I usually love tales of alternate history and this one had potential. I was disapointed to find that it's only an average read. The Ripper, evil as he is, is portrayed as no more than an English fop. The hero, Trevor, gives new meaning to the word fickle as he tromps from one adventure to another. The whole story seems disjointed. I found myself scanning a lot. Laymon seems obsessed with adolescence and the sexual obsessions thereof. I haven't read a book of his where some teenagers glands weren't percolating with lust. I would only recommend this book to die-hard Laymon or Jack the Ripper enthusiasts.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Trevor just won't give up... first he's off to fetch his uncle who's a Constable, to take care of a minor domestic dispute... along the way he's attacked, then runs smack into Jack the Ripper... doing what any good 15 year old would do he confronts the mysterious Ripper to save the girl... and ends up in a cross global adventure that puts Tom Sawyer on crack to shame.

When reading this I knew what Laymon was doing right from the beginning... he was writing his version of Tom Sawyer. Unfortunately for Laymon, he is no Twain. The opening of this book shows a lot of promise, we have the tension of the Ripper, the claustrophobia of London at the time, his mother in peril and then we have a lengthy sea voyage that will have you biting you nails to the quick... But then we come to a screeching halt and spend a lot of time in domestic life, riding trains, learning to shoot, traveling with brigands, meeting a few girls and eventually getting back to the story of the Ripper though it take about 300 pages to get there.

This is one of Laymon's longer works, clocking in at just under 500 pages. The biggest annoyance with this book isn't the concept, the idea itself is pretty nifty... some unfortunate soul knows the identity of the Ripper and chases him to the new world... this book should have absolutley ROCKED... but it didn't. First of all there is far less gore in this book than most of his others... which is strange since it is about Jack the freakin Ripper. Also the sex is toned WAY down. What is ratcheted way up however is really bad dialogue and terrible attempts at writing colloquialisms. If I had to read the words Chap, or Passel one more time I was going to slap someone... then when we got to the west everyone said things like shucks, pardner, and russel. But not just once, they repeated the same few key words over and over again. Then by the time we got to the end, Laymon forgot who was British and who was Western when the girl from Texas suddenly busts out in British slang.

If he had just stuck to hunting the Ripper this could have been a wonderful book.. he was doing so well with that part... but the Tom Sawyer adventure failed miserably due to phony, one dimensional characters and uninspiring dialogue. If you have not read any Laymon before, this is not a good place to start, as it really doesn't gel with most of his literary cannon and may give you the wrong impression as to what he writes. Start instead with "In the Dark," "Traveling Vampire Show," or the Beast House series.
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on November 14, 2014
Format: Paperback
Laymon's attempt at mashing together a Tom Sawyer adventure with Jack The Ripper almost completely fails. The allusions to Tom Sawyer with the narrator reading Twain's book to the narrator and a girl finding their way into a cave are accentuated to let you know of the many parallels to Tom Sawyer, assuming the reader is too stupid to pick up on this.

Then, in an attempt to make this coming-of-age boy's adventure he tones down a lot of his typical gory violence. At times the narrator even looks away from the carnage saying that it is unexplainable. Granted there are some scenes of the aftermath of Jack's handy work, but Laymon still uncharacteristically shies away from the gore that has come to define him, which seems an odd choice for a book about Jack The Ripper.

While staying away from the expected gore he maintains his obsession with adolescent hormones as the narrator ogles every female he encounters no matter how injured or possibly even dead they are. It all gets tiresome after awhile until I was sighing each time the narrator described how a female looked and how he could just barely see some part of her body, but felt guilty and looked away. There are still the usual assortment of men looking to take advantage of a vulnerable female but Laymon shies away from that as well. In a Laymon book there are a few decent men but most at best can't help themselves from ogling women to at worst wanting to rape them. This is expected in a Laymon book, but feels out of place in this book which shuns the gore in an attempt to create a boy's adventure.

Basically this is a mish-mash of styles that doesn't work. I'd rather Laymon had just used the story idea to create a usual Laymon gore and sex orgy. It's the perfect premise. It's hard to fault him for trying something new, but it just didn't work out.

Besides the negatives the book does have some good moments. It starts out well. The whole section in England sets up a fantastic story that doesn't follow. The voyage to America is where the disappointment creeps in and then his arrival in America derails any tension that book had built. The tension doesn't return until the end. The boy's encounters with typical western tropes like desperadoes, a train robbery, a saloon gun fight, posses, a medicine show, and learning to become a gunslinger have their moments but all lose the basic point of the story and carry no tension.

Worst of all might be the number of times the narrator thinks about all of the deaths around him, how he's caused them all, and should be alone or dead. His whining about this became really irritating until I wished he would shoot himself so the story would continue with one of the more interesting characters.

The ending almost makes it worth the wait, at least the ending pre-epilogue. Laymon brings back his typical tension and gore, building the moment until the climax with a couple of twists, putting the protagonists in a few tough spots and making their final confrontation with the The Ripper unpredictable, as has always been one of Laymon's many strengths.

I wanted to really like this book, but just couldn't. I won't be re-reading as I have some of his other books, but still am glad I've read it if for no other reason then to have read Laymon trying (and failing) something new.
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on January 7, 2013
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Plenty of books, movies, and TV shows/seasons start with a bang and end with a whimper, but Richard Laymon's "Savage" is one of the more glaring examples in my recent memory and opinion. I wasn't very interested in reading some historical fiction about Jack the Ripper, but the story drew me in and had me for a while. And then something slipped badly.

Divided into five parts, the narrative kicks off with the protagonist, Trevor, witnessing the Ripper's final documented murder in Whitechapel and deciding to go after the sicko. Without giving away what happens next: Part 1 is enthralling, Part 2 has very little in the way of plot but is a welcome breather, Part 3 is contrived as hell, and Part 4 has more downtime where there should be rising tension. By the time I got to Part 5, I simply didn't care anymore. And the climax itself leaves something to be desired.

My main problem is that the story loses sight of its original goal less than halfway through and only regains it near the end. This alone wouldn't be that bad, if the interim weren't adequate at best. In Parts 3 and 4, Laymon seems to be conveying that Trevor is in danger of becoming a savage just like his enemy, but it's not very believable. While it may be easier to swallow than the psychotic breakdown of a certain character in "The Woods Are Dark" (which isn't saying much), the blatant plot machinations make Trevor's evolution pretty difficult to take seriously.

The more I read, the more it felt that the story just lost interest in the legend of Jack the Ripper--our villain barely appears at all, the plot veers off course with a less-than-captivating Western adventure, and the climactic chapters might as well be the climactic chapters of ANY gory thriller. But even without its admittedly loose basis in real-life events, "Savage" is ultimately unremarkable.

5/10
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on December 28, 2009
Format: Mass Market PaperbackVerified Purchase
I've read 5 or 6 Richard Laymon books, and this is definitely my favorite. I wasn't able to put it down until I finished it. If you've enjoyed any of his other books, I highly recommend reading this one as well.
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