No, this isn’t an article about the emergence. It’s a book review.
Title: Cicada Summer
Author: Dallas Releford
Synopsis: The literary equivalent of “Plan 9 from Outer Space.” Only with giant sex-crazed arthropods.
I read, on average, about 200 books a year. I’m a freak that way.
So, it’s inevitable that occasionally I’ll stumble across some pretty bad books. I think it’s safe to say, though, that this is THE worst book I’ve ever read.
Giant cicada-like things emerge to feed on scantily-clad high school girls in the first chapter. It goes downhill from there.
You might expect this book to get the dreaded roach rating, but I give it 2 flies. While it was bad, (Oh, so very bad), it was bad in a good way. I was constantly reading passages aloud to my husband for his amusement (or horror.)
“Charlie felt an eerie twinge of fear enter his mind, drop slovenly down his shoulders, into the bottom pit of his stomach, and hang there until it eventually subsided.”
There were passages all through the book like that–clearly the author owns a thesaurus, but didn’t check the meanings of some of the words. Everything is also written in threes. No one is scared, they are “scared, shocked, and terrified.”
This guy Just. Can’t. Write.
“Turgid prose” doesn’t even begin to cover it. The dialog clanks and clunks along like my high school Chevette.
As the book continues past the initial “girls go skinny-dipping, bloody chaos ensues” cliche, the giant blood-feeding cicadas become more bizarre. First, we are treated to a (clearly plagiarized) two-page technical treatise from a kid’s mom on regular, root-feeding, cicada biology. In the next chapter, the description has changed:
“…resembling an enormous grasshopper with brown scaly skin, long spiked legs and arms was holding Mary Ann by her neck. ‘A damned crustacean,” he declared aloud.'”
Then when a school bus is attacked in the subsequent chapter, the cicadas now have stingers like a scorpion:
“The long tail swung back, the sharp barbed stinger penetrated his stomach while the vicious sharp teeth tore at his paralyzed flesh.”
Well, anyway, these mighty morphing arthropods turn out to have advanced technology, too:
“A small weapon that looks like a flashlight. It emits sound and can destroy whatever it’s aimed at. It’s like an audible laser.”
Obviously, in a science fiction book, you don’t expect the normal rules to apply. Except…some things just are a bit of a stretch:
“Riley was feeling the last hunger pains as he finished installing the last AC unit. He’d let them run all day to make sure the units could cool the building to a freezing 40 degrees below zero.”
You know, I don’t care how many air conditioners you install, you aren’t going to get something BELOW ZERO. They weren’t even extra-special black helicopter AC units!
There is also a clear misogynistic and racist tone running through the book. “Mexicans” are targeted for a variety of nasty slurs about slacking, dirt, drugs, and promiscuity. The lead male characters are forced to constantly “put women in their place”, and when the giant cicadas/crustaceans/scorpions do grab women, the first thing they do to them is strip them nekkid and tie them out spread-eagled. WHUT.
I’ll skip over the ancient Egyptian/pyramid connections , as well as the sooper sekrit government agency that has known about the monsters for years but kept the public in the dark with sleeper agents, since it’s just too complex to go into. And it makes my head hurt.
I was curious, and looked at the author’s website, where there are multiple grammatical errors. (and a sequel to this book is promised threatened.) It’s published by this group, which in addition to not properly titling their HTML page, doesn’t really look….like a professional outfit. It definitely looks like a vanity press/print-on-demand.
I am very puzzled about why my library had not one, but three copies, which seems more than what you would expect for a self-published work. Especially one this awful.