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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
The First One You Expect
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on February 19, 2018
Tony Anastos is a smug, smarmy, self-involved, low-budget indie horror filmmaker. He and his friend, Burt, make and release low-rent slasher flicks, but when they cross paths with Anna, a sexy minx with dreams of stardom, Tony is struck with a minor epiphany. Anna is his new star, and her glitz and glamour are going to catapult both of them into the big-time. She's his key to creating a wildly successful Kickstarter campaign to fund his next film, which will see Anna wow the gore-hounds as a cinema's new, preeminent, slasher villain.

As is the case with prior books from Adam Cesare, particularly Video Night and Con Season, the author's love and affection for the horror genre in all its many forms bleeds through the page. And as with Con Season, you get an authentic insider's feel for the material as Cesare, a former Boston University film student, guides reader's through the behind-the-scenes process of indie film-making. If you've read any of his prior material, or check in with his YouTube channel with any degree of regularity, then you know first-hand just how much a horror buff Cesare is. He knows his stuff and all the various levels of genre fandom, from the low-budget indie flick scene to the sprawling conventions.

All of this is, of course, on display in The First One You Expect, a quick, down-and-dirty horror novella about film-making and the price one may pay, willfully or otherwise, to reach their dreams. Tony's an odd-duck of a character, one that isn't really likable but who is at least depicted honestly. He's not a good guy, but possesses an unusual amount of self-awareness, even as he brushes aside whatever thin, shallow bits of morality remain. He does stupid things and makes plenty of bad decisions over and over again. While he worries about the long-term repercussions of these actions, it's usually not enough to stop him from dreaming big, even if these dreams only serve to dig him a deeper hole. Tony is really his own big bad in this story.

Anna makes a wonderful foil for Tony and Burt, and by book's end I found myself wishing this title were longer than its novella length simply to see more of Anna in action. Like Tony, I wanted to know more about her and get inside her head (an impossibility, as The First One You Expect is confined only to Tony's POV). You can sense a deep sea's worth of story surrounding Anna, even if the story is strictly about Tony's reactions to her. She's a great character, though, and her and Tony's burgeoning work relationship gives this book an edgy noir flavor that I appreciated.

Fun and compulsively readable, The First One You Expect kept me turning the pages, and Cesare's prose is deceptively easy writing that rapidly moves the story along. The ending caught me a bit off guard with its abruptness, and what I wouldn't give for a few more pages to spend in Tony's cynical and bloody world. This is a good one gang!
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on March 15, 2018
This little novella was a fun read that only took an hour or two to read it. The writing is great and the story is very smoothly told. Two friends are making low budget horror movies when Anna suddenly steps in and takes the reigns in the blink of an eye. Things take a serious turn for the worst without Anna showing an ounce of remorse. This is a FAST paced story that rushes to the end a little too quick. When the end crashes in your lap, you're just like "Woah...its over?" I did really enjoy this book, reminded me of Bryan Smith's brutal break-neck speed storytelling with a sexy dangerous vice and the poor sap who's stuck at her side.
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on November 25, 2015
Towards the end of Halloween, I wanted to read something that would fit the mood. I have a bunch of unread Anderson Prunty novels and there was a new C.V. Hunt novel out. I sighed to myself and instead tapped on this novella. I was somehow burned out on Anderson Prunty after reading Creep House and I just didn’t want to add a brand new book to my ever growing TBR, despite that I love Hunt’s work. And the truest thing that J. David Osborne, who runs Broken River Books, has ever said in a blog post or some other social media post I don’t remember where I read it, was that when people obtain or download a book for free, most likely they’re not going to read it right away or they might not read it at all. But I managed to get into this one though and for its length and content, in the spirit of Halloween, it’s totally worth $2.99.

Cesare is known for his horror genre novels, well, I think that’s what he mainly writes. I looked through his repertoire on Goodreads and found a exploitation genre novel much in the spirit of those cannibal exploitation films from the Italians to the recent Eli Roth. And well this one, is kind of sort of the same thing, but on a low budget scale. It’s more like a snuff film actually.

The narrator, who’s name escapes me, is an indie film maker who makes smutty and gore filled internet films that the weirdos out there enjoy. Then he meets a girl who verges onto a sort of manic pixie dream girl. she’s the girl he’s always dreamed of, beautiful, fame hungry and she’s got the sadistic streak he does. So what happens is that together they make a film with a longtime friend named Burt and his horror dream girl gets a little bit too into character. So no more Burt and the narrator is slowly getting famous off his snuff video.

It’s about ambition and being careful for what you wish for. Ever since the main dude’s manic pixie girl committed her atrocity, they begin to feel on edge and their relationships dwindles, but most people didn’t seem to separate the real blood from the watery ketchup at first. And then you question, who’s the real actual sadistic killer in this novella?

The First One You Expect is interesting because you get to read about the underlings of horror films. The ones who can’t afford the high tech supplies but yet still have the brains to make a decent horror out of home made scratch. It’s a tribute to the underground peasants of art. But it’s also a satire in a way, the novella’s got a cheap, campy feel to it. Much like what the main dude directs. It’s got the noir elements, but there isn’t much suspense since you know just from the title and the first chapter. But this would make a great indie film for the festivals. I kind of also got a “failed artist” feel from this novella. The novella is a crime novel, a noir, and a self-deprecating literary novel about a loser artist. It’s kind of like a cut-throat drama and a satirical prod to the underground artists who are just frothing at the corners of their lips to be recognized.

Rating: 4/5
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on February 1, 2015
Fast, fun, and thought-provoking, THE FIRST ONE YOU EXPECT proves that edgy horror can still be intelligent and very well written. It's a simple tale that verges into deep darkness -- but its twists are absolutely unforeseeable, and the book pulls a neat trick, drawing you into an existentialist world populated by bad people drawn so realistically you have to care. It reminded me of THE STRANGER and even more so THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE. It's a very "noir" book, really... noir so dark that it also qualifies as horror. A great (though at points extreme) read. Highly recommended to horror fans, especially jaded fans in search of something fresh.
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on February 7, 2014
Adam Cesare's latest novella is a wicked slice of life from the point of view of a micro-budget film maker whose new production is going to take him places. Whether or not they're places he wants to go, he's about to discover. The First One You Expect is everything you'd expect from Cesare: gripping tension and splatterpunk sensibility driven by the great characterization, wry humor, and deep knowledge of classic horror cinema that is his signature style.
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on July 17, 2014
I didn't know what to expect from The First One You Expect when I started to read it. Turns out it was a really good book that spoke to me in a way. I grew up being a huge horror fan, renting all the good and bad from my local video store. Even in my twenties, my brother and I experimented with short horror films (but mostly stuck to playing heavy metal). And that is exactly who the main character, Tony Anastos, is in this novella. An independent film maker that makes horror movies with his best friend Burt, in Burt's basement. When a new girl starts working at the store Tony works he finds a new leading lady for his movies. Things get weird from there. I don't want to say anymore than that because it's a short book, but believe me, it's brutal.

I was that guy that watched horror movies all the time, and looked at Fright Rags t-shirts, and even went to conventions like the one Tony goes to at the end of the book. I felt like Cesare was telling a story about me or someone I knew. It's a great book that's billed as "weird crime", but I think is more straight up horror if you ask me. There are only human monsters here.

My only negative comment I would make is the ending is slightly disappointing. Basically, the last chapter is a summary of what becomes of the characters. This happened to them, this happened to me, the end. It could have easily been a little longer and dragged out the suspense as to what would become of Tony Anastos, but overall it didn't hurt the book, just left me wanting a bit more. I can't wait to read more from Adam Cesare and I hope to see more from him in the future.
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on June 12, 2015
Adam Cesare created a masterful piece of noir with "The First One You Expect." Tony Anastos has developed a mild popularity as an indie film maker when he comes across the perfect star for his next film. His new work mate, Anna, is lovely but with something extra Tony can't at first put his finger on. Yet he knows it will help make his career. Even his partner Burt knows they've found their ticket to the big time. If the two losers can pull it together and use their new star to make the movie they've always dreamed of. Cesare doesn't let the action slow for a minute, keeping the reader gasping for air and flipping through pages, maybe even flipping back to make sure they read what they think they just read. Cesare writes well, with a realism you don't appreciate until you're done with the book. His characters hit you in the solar plexus and you beg them for another punch. I want to read more like this. Excellent book for a noir fan like me.
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on May 18, 2015
The First One You Expect was my gateway drug to the work of Adam Cesare and there is no doubt in my mind that I will be back for more. 90 pages and written in the first-person, Cesare brings to the table a unique story and glimpse into the world of his protagonist, amateur horror director Tony Anastos. What makes this short tale so great--at least for me--is that there are no cardboard characters. Every single one is complex and believable, which I think is a true testament to Cesare's skills as a writer. We get to know more about Tony, Anna, and Burt through how they interact with one another, rather than being given a ton of back story upfront.

It's important to point out that The First One You Expect isn't necessarily a "horror" story. Although the situation Tony gets himself into is horrifying, the blood and guts aren't really the focus. Instead, Cesare shows us Tony's desperation, his choices, and ultimately the consequences of those choices.

Unapologetic, expertly paced, and tightly-written I highly recommend this to anyone looking for a fresh crime tale that doubles as one of the best character studies I've read in a long time.
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on April 21, 2015
I am falling in love with Adam Cesare's work! I just can't get enough! I LOVE the horror sleaze of it all. The gore and blood and guts are so fun! I will be reading much more Cesare in the months to come.

As for this book in particular, it was the 2nd book of Cesare's I've read (the first being Tribesman). This is about a Kickstarter gone TERRIBLY wrong. We've got Troy, a total horror movie buff that's more or less a slacker wanna be movie maker that pretty much lives in his mama's basement. He works a measly job at a grocery store, and one day meets a new hire, Anna. Little does he know, Anna is even MORE into horror than he is. But in a totally, completely different way. Things quickly snowball, and before ya know it, Troy is in the hot seat after Anna pulls the slickest move to instant stardom ever. It's hard to really describe the plot without giving spoilers, but this book is worth reading for other reasons. It';s got some commentary on the state of the media, the 'guilty until proven innocent' bias, the Crowdfunding plans gone wrong, and the despair of broken dreams.

I'd recommend this to fans of sleazy b-horror movies, schlocky horror books, and people looking for a quick read. It's not heavy, per se, but it does stick with you for a while. You can read into some of the underlying commentary, or not. Have fun with it, or dissect'll still have fun. And even though it is a horror book, there are plenty of funny parts, too.

I'm very impressed with everything I've read by Broken River, and I will be reading more Cesare and Broken River in the future!
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on March 23, 2016
I have read numerous books by Adam Cesare now, and it is safe to say that he is one of my favorites. The guy knows his stuff, and you probably couldn't find a better intro to his work than right here.

The First One You Expect is brutal, funny, tragic, and, oh, so quick. I breezed through it in one sitting, and I'm sure the rest of you will as well. The pause button is sufficiently broken here. You won't need it, anyway. Trust me. It's a Broken River Book, and it's a good'n. Read it!


I'm still a little bummed about Burt. That poor bastard.
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