- File Size: 4830 KB
- Print Length: 668 pages
- Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1511854812
- Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
- Publication Date: April 15, 2015
- Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B00W8FZUKU
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #36,578 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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The Awake in the Dark Series - Books 1-3 (The Awake in the Dark Series Box Set) Kindle Edition
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I bought this set on a whim -- hey, cool, gritty paranormal, why not? -- and I cannot imagine sitting here right now without having read these.
Jeff Grobnagger is me. That's how I felt reading these. There are things he admits, things he talks about, things in his perception of the world that are so familiar, it was physically painful to read them.
I loved every minute of it.
I kept finding myself swiping a big, fat highlights onto paragraphs (I very rarely highlight books, and these three books are full of them) and saying to myself: "Holy crap. Someone else feels that way?", "I do that. Probably not a good thing.", "Ouch, dude. Way to destroy my denial." I had a ton of revelations about myself, faced demons even as Grobnagger was doing the same, and these books primed me to face more demons after I was finished reading them. That sounds hokey, but seriously -- the raw honesty inside these books changed me fundamentally.
How many books do that?
The writing is deeply introspective, philosophical, and perceptive, yet not remotely pretentious. I was captivated, pained, fascinated, excited, and amused (greatly -- lots of awkward laugh-out-loud moments around people).
The paranormal story just made all of that introspective stuff even better. The action balanced all that thinking.
I read a ton, but I rarely do I feel a need to read a sequel -- these have me hooked, pure and simple. Drank the Kool-aid willingly and with gusto, and I will continue to do so. I can see how some people wouldn't be into this style of writing, but for the right people, these books are gold.
Now for the individual books:
FADE TO BLACK
I used to have a friend who would say "This hurts like real life" when a book or comic hit on something particularly truthful. That was the highest compliment he could give a book. For me, Fade to Black hurts just like real life. Jeff Grobnagger, our narrator and very reluctant hero, is trapped in that ironic detachment so prevalent in our generation, trying desperately to stay away from relationships of any kind--friendship, dating, random social interaction, you name it. There were times while reading when I cringed because I've heard myself and some of my friends voice the things Grobnagger says. There's a moment near the middle of the book that made my stomach hurt it was so real.
All of that said, Fade to Black isn't some long-winded psychological rumination of a chronic sad-sack. It's full of action and Grobnagger's narration is hilarious. There are going to be times while reading this that you find yourself laughing even while he's breaking your heart. That old saying about writers sitting down at their typewriters and bleeding? McBain and Vargus nailed that, but also somehow managed to be funny and keep the pace fast. For a book that takes such a hard look at self-loathing, isolation, and emotional responsibility, Fade to Black sure has a lot of kick-a** fight scenes...and magic...and other cool stuff I can't tell you about without spoiling it. I'm only giving it five stars because I'm not allowed to give it more.
Like Fade to Black, the places Bled White really shined for me were Grobnagger's moments of heartbreaking vulnerability. Grobs is an awesome narrator. He's hilarious, he's making a self-effacing joke, a wry observation about farmers markets or the use of the word "bro," doing the nonchalant shrug, then BAM!--he's twisting the knife in your chest just by eating pickles or sitting on the couch in the dark. Grobnagger is trying to grow and change, but his fear of rejection and abandonment just keeps dragging him back into existential meaninglessness. He finds a shiny new way to escape the dark, but the people who've gotten closest to him--a pretty serious feat considering his attempts in FTB to avoid any and all relationships--start to notice that something's not right.
Meanwhile, things with the League of Light are going crazy. People on all sides of Grobnagger start pushing and pulling him toward ends he doesn't really care about and doesn't want to be caught up in. Grobs just wants to be left alone, but destiny or murderers or his girlfriend or something won't let him.
Altogether, Bled White is even more fun and heart-wrenching than Fade to Black. It builds exponentially on the previous book. And, as a side note, Tim McBain and LT Vargus have some of the best endings I've ever read. Once you read the last sentence of Bled White, you'll see what I'm talking about.
RED ON THE INSIDE
When you're reading a series with characters who grow and change, and worlds that develop and are either saved or lost or at the very least finally understood, you expect one of the books (usually the middle one) to be a building book. You know, where not much happens, but things start to get set up for the Big Finale. Not so with the Awake in the Dark series. So much happens in Red on the Inside that it's hard to talk about without dropping a ton of spoilers. I can say, "HOLY COW, IT'S SO CRAZY WHEN--" or "IT KILLED ME WHEN--" but I don't want to ruin even the smallest thing for you. Suffice to say that if you liked Fade to Black and Bled White, you're going to love Red on the Inside. There's action, intrigue, debilitating sadness, the search for meaning, and even a glimpse of what might be a light at the end of the tunnel for Grobnagger.
The thing I love most about Grobs is that he isn't some stationary character who gets fed all the answers and then miraculously saves the day. He's like us. When nothing makes sense, he gets frustrated. When the people he's come to love betray him, he gets hurt. Sometimes he even thinks it would be easier to just give up. Jeff Grobnagger is a real person. He gets tired of all the crap and just wants something--anything--to work out or to make sense. He wants there to be some kind of meaning to life, but he's afraid there isn't.
As much of a downer as I'm making Red on the Inside sound like, these feelings of pointlessness and defeat are rendered in absurd trips to Chili's, drunk dudes trying to cross over into the white world without falling on their faces, and conversations with mysterious disembodied voices. Enemies lash out in horrifying ways, do unforgivable things, and then paint themselves as the better man. And who knows? Maybe they are. And the ending...the ending will cut your heart out in a way that also, weirdly, makes you feel a little bit better about the world. Which is exactly what fans have come to expect from McBain and Vargus.
My point is that Red on the Inside isn't just some throwaway building book to get you psyched about the series's Big Finish. It's a complex story unto itself, completely different from the previous two books, but still unmistakably the next step in Grobnagger's journey. I can't wait to find out what happens next. The whole gang has come so far that life can never be the same for any of them. Where will Grobs go from here?
Most recent customer reviews
This book is deep, but not because it's full of esoteric symbolism, which it is.Read more