- File Size: 342 KB
- Print Length: 57 pages
- Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
- Publication Date: February 22, 2011
- Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B004P1J2U4
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #242,044 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
Shapeshifters Anonymous Kindle Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
The premise is terrific. The protagonist, Robert Weston Smith, suffers from bizarre blackouts two or three nights a month, then discovers that he's been eating some pretty bizarre things during these blackouts. When his doctor can't find a rational explanation, he fears he may be turning into a werewolf and turns to a highly unusual self-help group, Shapeshifters Anonymous, where he meets with others like him.
Tongue is all the way in cheek in this one, and Konrath's dry humor works rather well in the beginning, which bears at least a passing resemblance to reality. Once Smith settles in at the meeting however, the story winds up spinning out of control very rapidly. Soon, he learns that he and his fellow shapeshifters are in deadly peril from Salvation Army Santa Clauses, who are demented followers of the real Santa Claus, who has been hunting shapeshifters for centuries. The climax is a huge battle between the forces of ho-ho-ho and those of the Animal Kingdom.
Any comic will tell you that timing is important in comedy. You have to give the audience just enough time to appreciate one joke before moving to the next. Konrath loses track of that principle, however. Rather than mine the comic possibilities of a group of people who turn into animals, he rushes into the big fight scene where he stacks one bizarre visual gag on top of another. Of course, these aren't visual gags in the cinematic sense... readers can't see the bizarre battle on screen where some effective FX work or comic acting might make it funny. Instead, they are descriptions of a deranged Salvation Army Santa doing battle with a turtle with vaguely human features. At some point in the narrative (and in my case it happened rather quickly), those descriptions lost any amusement factor whatsoever.
I realize that humor is very subjective and some people may find this entire concept hilarious. Unfortunately, I didn't. The snappy jokes of the first third of the book turned into, for me, the equivalent of a bad professional wrestling Battle Royale, and the story became a bit of a chore to finish, even at fifty pages. I admire Konrath's imagination and the highly unusual storyline he concocted here. I'm just disappointed that he couldn't maintain that premise for the entire length of the novelette.
Having seen Konrath’s books promoted heavily recently, I decided to preview his style when this non-series short story was offered free. And I was not disappointed. The story is quite funny, with a giggle or an outright guffaw inhabiting nearly every page. Weston’s characterization is just deep enough to make the situations in which he finds himself believable. And the dialog is crisp, filled with puns and double entendre and quick repartee.
I have only two minor issues with the story and length is NOT one of them. While the actual story occupies only 80% of the Kindle download, the story has a definitive beginning and ending with a logical progression of plot in between. However, the final status of one supporting character is not cleared up in the end, even though all others are specifically mentioned. I would imagine the omission to be an oversight by the author or else that paragraph became an accidental victim of the delete key. Either way, it was noticeable.
The other issue is that the promotional blurb does not indicate that this is a Christmas story. Reading it at the end of February is all right, but it would have made more of an impression (translate that as incentive to purchase other books by Konrath) had it been promoted during Christmas.
Nevertheless, I will probably never hear the words to the song “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” without thinking of this story. And I certainly will never look at a donation kettle the same way again.
The story wasn't perfect. Maybe if it were longer, some of the issues of timing would resolve themselves more naturally. Parts of the plot felt a bit rushed, such as the romance. Not out of place, just rushed. I would definitely pay (again) for a longer version of this story, or for a longer story about different people set in the same universe.
All-in-all, I'm happy to rate this story with 5 stars. While it had some weaknesses, I was so delighted by the read that the weaknesses do not get in the way of the entertainment.
Everyone has different taste, and not every book is for every person. While Konrath has mostly written in the horror or thriller genres, this story does not have the feel of horror to me. It's closer to urban fantasy, which is more my taste than horror is anyway (generally speaking). If you are looking for deep literature, this is not the story you're looking for. If you're looking for horror, read the reviews (even though people are terrible about not giving spoiler warnings) and decide for yourself. If you're looking for a story with no juvenile humor, this may not be for you. Konrath has a particular style, a particular kind of humor frequents many of this books. It's not for everyone (as I can tell by the reviews), but I enjoy it immensely.
My biggest complaint about this story is that it is too short. I want more!
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