Killer. Crabs. What more do I need to say?
Clickers, the first novel by J.F. Gonzalez and co-written with Mark Williams, is a fun B-movie style creature feature. It's high on entertainment and gore, making it a breezy read and, despite the story's October setting, it's a terrific summer beach read (unless you see some crabs...).
Ultimately, I dug this book overall, but I did have a few qualms about the story. The characters are paper-thin, and our lead protag, horror author Rick, is about a boring as they come. That he is a long-haired horror writer is the extent of depth the authors can muster, which is not exactly the most compelling stuff in the world. The writing is decent, but could have been improved a fair deal with some better editing. There's a lot of repetition throughout: in one instance, I caught five instances of "again" in the span of two paragraphs. In one sentence, Rick stood and stood on the tips of his toes. Several characters are "zapped" of energy or motivation in multiple instances. According to the intro by Gonzalez, this version is editorially an improvement over past editions from other publishers, so I guess I'll count my blessings that I bought this Deadite Press re-issue instead of one of those earlier copies.
Clickers also has its fair share of cliches. Take, for instance, the horror writer trapped in a "real-life" horror story, the small-town hick deputy sheriff who makes Barney Fife look like a Mensa member, and the old doctor with all the answers. I actually liked this latter character, though, and he provides some neat-o exposition. The rest are pretty poorly drawn stock characters, but I get that the authors were going for that B-movie vibe. It's the monsters that are the most important part here, and the humans are secondary at best. This is a bit of a shame, though, as once the carnage gets going, there isn't really any reason to care for the losses.
So, yeah, there's a lot of First Novel Flaws, but, frankly, Clickers gets by on sheer chutzpah and I can forgive a fair amount if I'm at least entertained. And holy crap, was I ever entertained. The gore-to-page count ratio is pretty satisfying, and I loved the hell out of the killer crab concept. I'm a sucker for these 'terror from the deep' kind of horrors, and Gonzalez and Williams deliver on that front in spades. I had fun with this book, so much so that I finished Clickers last night and started Clickers II: The Next Wave this morning.
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