154 of 166 people found the following review helpful
on January 7, 2013
The lack of character development and draggy plot only made the extremely disgusting horror scenes more detestable. The sexual deviance was creepy. Not in the way a good serial killer character is creepy. More like constant arousal and blood with poorly written dialogue occasionally thrown in. I like thrillers and well written horror. This was like an adult film "plot" surrounding the real purpose of the movie...only in this case, instead of sex it was pages and pages of nauseating bloody violence. There was also less detailed but prevalent theme of child sexual abuse. I skimmed the bloody parts but still feel queasy.
86 of 97 people found the following review helpful
The Neighbors by Ania Ahlborn is being marketed as a cross between Blue Velvet and Basic Instinct -- but, I think a better marriage would be Disturbia weds the Stepford Wives. A strange tale of suburbia and sacrifice twists through the pages making this an engaging and captivating read. It's got cookies, drugs, dinners, tea and blood. What's not to love about this psychological twisted tale? Harlow is a true female psycho, both cunning, manipulative and determined in her manner and intelligence. She embraces the essences of a mommy dearest and American Beauty hybrid, adding both sympathy and loathing to the dimension of her character. Drew is just another sorry, young sap looking for a mother and love -- or is he? My only issue with the novel is the author's use of Andrew and Drew when referring to the same character. It can be confusing. I suppose the intent is to imply the formal transition to informal through the familiar use of the shortened 'nickname,' but it can be distracting. The impact of the exchange between Andrew and Drew throughout the novel can be argued, and a good thematic case might be made; however, I would have liked it to be a single change as intimacy evolved instead of a constant back and forth switch. Then again, it does play on the psychological indecisiveness of the characters. Well, there is only one way to settle this debate, pick up The Neighbors and read it for yourself. Tell me what you think about this stylistic technique. Did it work for you or distract you? I'm curious to know what other reads think!
68 of 78 people found the following review helpful
on December 22, 2012
Dumb story line, Just gore and guts. No plot. Don't waste your money. I bought it because I read The Seed" by the same author which was an OK book. But this one is a bomb.
36 of 40 people found the following review helpful
I love a good psychological thriller, and Ania Ahlborn does not disappoint in her second novel, The Neighbors. I have now downloaded her first novel, Seed.
It's the most perfect of the homes in a perfect Leave It to Beaver neighborhood. But what lies behind the white picket fence? And why is the house next door, the one into which Andrew Morrison is moving, the only blight on an otherwise picturesque street?
Andrew is moving in with Mickey, a friend he hasn't seen since they were children. He wants to leave behind an unhappy childhood home and agoraphobic, alcoholic mother. However, his new roommate is in some sort of disagreement with the neighbors, Red and Harlow. Andrew can't figure out why, because Red and Harlow live in the perfect house and seem to be the perfect couple.
As another reviewer mentioned, I do wish that Ahlborn would have taken it to the next level and allowed it to become even more twisted, a la Blake Crouch and Jack Kilborn. But, there is a lot of promise here and I'm looking forward to reading more from her.
45 of 51 people found the following review helpful
If only author Ania Ahlborn had made this an R-rated thriller...This book has a quick pace, great set-up, perverse characters, and a wonderful cinematic thrill But the author holds back on letting the plot become too twisted and perverse, and the effect is akin to drinking near-beer instead of the real stuff, or eating a reduced-fat turkey hot dog instead of an all-beef dog loaded with chili, cheese, and relish. This book is good, but it left me wanting a more sordid tale. My appetite is whetted, but not satisfied.
I will read her book 'Sand' and see how I like that, and do recommend this book, just not fully. I'd like to see the unrated version!
22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
The Neighbors by Ania Ahlborn
I was immediately drawn into this story and I really liked the writing of this author. This is Ania Ahlborn's second
book and I just ordered her first, Seed.
Andrew Morrison moves out of his house to start a new life on his own. Moving to Magnolia Lane could be a dream come true or is it Drew's worst
The Neighbors has some really messed up characters, which always makes for a fun read and it is what I like best about this book. We get to
know the characters and their background which is what interested me the most.
The plot was ok, I had an idea of where this was going but the author had taken it a step further. I think there needed to be more of a build up
to the ending or something. I didn't know exactly what would happen but it wasn't an ah- ha moment either.
I look forward to reading Seed and her third novel, Into the Woods, due out sometime in 2013. Ania Ahlborn is definitely
an author I want to keep my eye on.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on February 16, 2013
The cover and the marketing for this book really got me. A seemingly perfect neighborhood with a creepy house? Yes please! And perfect neighbors who are creepy? Again, yes!!!
Andrew, or Drew, or Andy Morrison is a good boy getting away from a horrible situation. He basically gave up his life to look after his agoraphobic, alcoholic mother after his father took off with what he remembers to be another woman. When he sees his mother out of the house with a sack full of booze, Drew has had enough. An old friend Mickey, and he have connected through good old Facebook, and Mickey has offered him a room in his house at a VERY reduced price. This is Drew's chance, and he is thrilled with the picture perfect neighborhood, until he realizes Mickey's is the creepy, dilapidated house every nice neighborhood seems to have. He jumps right in, trying to clean away his, and the house's, problems. Meanwhile, Mickey sits on the couch, gaming his life away, although he is watching his old friend Drew from the corner of his eye. Through his dreams, hopes and cleaning, Drew can't keep his eyes off of the perfect house next door. And the lady of the house seems very neighborly, baking him cookies. Giving him a job. Drew's absolute dream. And the neighbor lady is SEXY!
This is where it falls apart. Every creepy scenario shows its head. Ania Ahlborn does okay, but she feels the need to include everything. Murder, mayhem, mind-control. Sex, drugs, rock and roll. The only thing missing is the mystery. You pretty much know what is going to happen as soon as Mickey starts to stir from the couch and Drew's mom apologizes and promises to clean up her act.
I will read more from Ahlborn, I think she has potential. She writes well, and Drew had some potential. So did the neighbor wife, Harlowe. A few cuts and a couple more drafts and this could have been a 4-star book.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
I loved this book! I have been a fan or horror stories for over 40 years. It is hard to find a good read unless it is Stephen King or Dean Koontz. I have to say that this book delivers. Once I started reading it was hard to put down. What started out as a peaceful story just kept getting creepier and creepier. This is the first book that I have read by Ania Ahlborn, but I will be looking for more!
31 of 39 people found the following review helpful
on December 26, 2012
This is a terrible book. It's violent, gory and there is nothing redeeming about any of the characters. I regret wasting my time and money on this book and after reading (skimming through most), I cannot understand why it received so many rave reviews. Hey, there aren't even any zombies in this book. Well, there could always be a sequel (perish the thought).
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
The setting is idyllic - situated in a small town in Kansas, on Magnolia Lane, the houses are well-kept, lawns are lushly and beautifully manicured, children play together beneath sprinklers and wave joyfully at passers-by, and white picket fences are a reality, not just quaint representations of the figurative "good life." Right next to easily the most beautiful, well-maintained house sits a hovel , not fit for man or beast: dilapidated, it is filled with grime and filth, yet it is here where Mickey resides, and where he has issued his childhood friend Andrew an invitation to stay.
Though only in his early 20s, Drew has had a hard life. After his father left him and his mother, she subsequently developed agoraphobia and a debilitating drinking problem, leaving a very young Drew - then only in the single digits - to deal with everything from paying the bills, to grocery shopping, to preparing meals. He spends years caring for his mostly unresponsive mother, until, at a certain point, he breaks and heads out for his first taste of independence. Mickey's invitation seems to be a Godsend - the house may barely be livable, but Drew makes the best of it.
Soon, the next door neighbors - Harlow and Red Ward - enter his life, filling it for the first time with homemade meals and a sense of well-being. They seem perfect, like figures from a 50s sitcom come to life. However, as maternal as Harlow may seem at the beginning, all too soon, Drew becomes infatuated with this woman who clearly desires him. The situation soon spirals out of his control, leaving Drew, who only wanted to be free from the pain and burdens thrust upon him by his mother, to discover that the grass is not only *not* always greener on the other side, but also that perfect facades can mask truly unspeakable horrors.
This is, of course, billed as a work of psychological horror/thriller, and it certainly lives up to that label. Rather than delving into supernatural monsters bent on torture and killing rampages, this story hinges on the evil that men do, so to speak, and on the most vile, disturbing predilections that even the most seemingly well-put-together people can harbor, enable, and in which they indulge. There is also some gore; while the three or four scenes are perhaps not as explicitly described as the gore in other works in the horror genre, what there is does evoke mental shudders and overall reactions of "ew" and "ugh," and they're all given a fair amount of coverage, in terms of how many paragraphs or pages they fill.
One of the most interesting aspects of this book is that Drew is pretty much the only sympathetic character (at least, in my opinion). He has been through so much, and still retains hope for a better life, while never lapsing into fits of "why me," and never losing his inherent sweetness and naivete. He is a hard worker and his determination to make something out of his life, even when up against nearly insurmountable odds, is truly admirable. Beyond that, he just seems normal and real, which I think is a testament to Ms. Ahlborn's skill at character development.
Additionally, the author certainly knows how to set a scene for maximum dread and impact. The pace of the story may not be the fastest, but it steadily builds, while she reveals how Harlow grew to become who and what she is, and delivers ever-more disturbing examples of how some human beings are capable of being the scariest, most loathsome creatures of which one can conceive.
Other than the pace, at times, verging on entering too slow territory, the only other nitpicky issue I can mention is that, while the reader is given background on Harlow and Mickey so that we can see why they do the things they do, I didn't feel as though Red was as fleshed out in terms of his motivations on any number levels; I just didn't feel as though his love for Harlow was enough justification for some of his actions and/or lack thereof.
Those are fairly minor issues, though, and for me, neither detracted all that much from what proved to be a well-written, deeply disturbing novel. I went into this one not knowing what to expect, as I haven't read Mrs. Ahlborn's first book, so she was a new author to me. I came away from it pretty impressed with her ability to create a rich atmosphere, truly psychologically disturbing penchants and actions, and a protagonist who seemed as real as anyone we could encounter in our own lives, on a day-to-day basis. In short, I'm now a big fan of Ms. Ahlborn's, and I recommend this book to anyone looking for a read that is truly unsettling.