The Screaming by David Graham
In this interesting thriller full of action, romance, and secrets, police officers and MI5 get together to stop a series of tragedies from turning into serious terrorist threats.
Publisher’s Description: What causes an adolescent – straight A student Brandon P Marshall – to walk downstairs naked, armed with a pair of Glocks, and go all Charles Manson on his family? This is only one in the horrifying trail of incidents that brings together Detective Sergeant Dale Franklin of the Kansas City Police Department and his poster-boy rookie, Steve Abrams.
Meanwhile, across the pond, Dai Williams, in Battersea London, safe inside his improvised Faraday cage, is coming to terms with his special talents – talents that will take ‘getting-into-the-mind-of-the-killer’ to a whole new level.
Al-Qaeda? Drugs Cartels? Internet freaks? David Graham’s The Screaming leaves no possibility untouched as Dai enters a bizarre and horrifying world where kids scream.
Possible spoilers beyond this point.
Kat Mandu says…
What I liked: The idea is great – that cops have to team up with the CDC, MI5, and other exciting agents (one who has mind-reading abilities) to figure out why teens are committing patricide and suicide. Within the first couple chapters, you meet a character named Brandon Marshall who sets things in full stride for the plot when he kills his parents and then himself. When I first read the summary, that was what drew me in. Combine that with a few characters who are trying to figure out what’s going on while dealing with new romances, a threat to teens and families across the continents, and a little bit of telepathy and Graham has a great set up going.
What I didn’t like: Pretty much everything else sadly. It was just…too much crammed into one book. The plot falls through 3/4ths of the way because the attention turns away to focus on the characters and their relationships. Just too much. Too much focus on gay characters – trust me, I love gay characters – but this went too overboard when it came down to it. You have one character who learns how to deal with coming out of the closet within hours at most when he was super awkward about it to begin with. That’s not very…realistic for me. I’ve known people who have dealt with coming out for years. It’s a process, not a temporary shyness, especially with new flings. Too much attention to the tiny details and how shrewdly the characters view each other – quite often people are described as “fat” and that bothers me.
Also though I’m not a hater of profanity, the cursing was too much here too. If you’re not a fan of profanity, sexually explicit scenes, and crude violence, I wouldn’t recommend this one at all to you. But if you don’t mind it, you should be fine.
This had so much potential and it just didn’t meet my expectations whatsoever. I’m only giving it a two.
That being said, the reviewer part of me knows it’s good to be honest when it comes down to it. The writer part of me knows it’s tough work getting a story, getting it published, and then trying to connect with readers. And sometimes a bad rating and review can hurt.
So here’s my writerly advice to the author.
Stay focused on the story. It slips and seems to become “unimportant” because the character relationships take over. You have an amazing set up here, albeit violent. But a “virus” that makes kids go homicidal and the people trying to solve the mystery have no idea whether it’s an airborne virus or related to technology? That’s a great idea! But like I said, a little over halfway through the book, it just goes from THIS IS BAD to “Oh, that? What was that again? Did that happen?” It loses its thriller appeal. Stick with your genre, bud. The thriller feel shouldn’t become an “aww, that’s so cute” feel.
You have too many characters trying to share the spotlight. Sure, George R.R. Martin has a billion or so perspectives. But he also controls the flow so that the story doesn’t get lost in the process. I’d say stick with the KCPD officers and Dai. Leave the rest as side characters who come into the story through said characters. Kathy and Jacob’s point of view should have been intermingled within the plot, not set separately to confuse the arc even more.
You can have subplots without having SUBPLOTS. There’s romance? Sure, that’s great. It lets readers into the minds of their characters. It helps them relate. But you have too many that again, the plot gets buried under histories, spy tactics, and relationship developments.
The main advice is this: STAY FOCUSED. I honestly don’t want to feel like I need an ADHD kind of brain to be able to understand how this story goes. It starts out strong, compact, and intense. Then it just falls apart. When the big bad guy is revealed near the end, it was disappointing. And then nothing was really done about it except for a minor sentence that said what would happen to said bad guy. Spend more time developing the mystery or switch to a new genre so that people can understand the point you’re trying to make. Do YOU know the point you’re trying to make? That’s what’s important.
Luna Lovebooks says…
This book starts out fascinatingly enough. Teenagers are killing their parents and themselves but leaving their siblings alive. Honestly what kept me reading was the fact that I wanted to know what was causing this phenomenon. The author keeps you guessing and throws out every possible scenario, like they would in a real world case.
That being said the explanation seems like it was rushed and thrown in for the sake of ending the novel. I also like the fact that there was a slight paranormal feel to the novel with the special “powers” that some of the British characters have. It almost hints at an X-men vibe.
While there was a slight paranormal feel and there is a definite creepiness factor, it wasn’t as scary as the synopsis and hype leads you to believe. The characters while interesting seem shallow. This may be because Graham focuses on relationships for most of the novel and the plot gets lost at times. While I have no issue with LGBT characters, it seems as if almost every character in this novel is gay and this also distracts from the plot when you have an inner monologue about how cute this or that guy is.
I give this book 2 stars.
If you like this book…