Some people get offended when authors write book reviews, especially of books wherein they have stories. In a sense, it seems like cannibalism. Personally, I’d love to read other people’s opinions about this collection rather than deal with platitudes about how I should be acting. Take this with a grain of salt or trust it as the gospel, but this is the account of my five favorite stories from this collection, and mine was not one of them.
Truth be told, my deeper point of writing this review is to hopefully start discussions either here or on Goodreads, and maybe on Amazon.
I enjoyed this twisted anthology. It is quite dark and diabolical. I expected 26 tales of cold-blooded murder and psychotic rampage, but didn’t expect to find the huge diversity of vision and the balanced array of talent. Reading the author profiles in the back pages revealed a host of experienced authors with several publications under their belts.
This book is so much more than just expertly written tales of murder. There are ‘braindead zombies’ and there are sex-crazed zombies. You’ll also find military robots and time machines, demon possessions and angry ghosts, wandering barbarians and panicked wizards, astral travelers, drug addicts, and you will even experience being poisoned once. Way out from left field come sentient centipedes, genetically-modified pigs, and natural disasters. AMOK!!—the name fits it all.
Picking five favorite stories out of this collection was insanely difficult. My favorites won’t be yours, so read this book and tell the world which ones you liked best—this collection is worth reading. Seriously, there are so many great stories in here. These were my five favorites.
Dark Intentions and Blood by Amy Braun
I’m fascinated with extra-planar possessions and this story reminded me of the original The Exorcist. The twist though is in Dark Intensions and Blood, Amy Braun shows us our world from the demon’s point of view. It’s an absolute candy store. The total joy and freedom this demon expresses on its violent rampage through town is visceral and compelling. I could almost feel the burn of holy water on my skin as I read.
Vengeance, Sweet Vengeance by Ellen Denton
There is nothing quite like having that smarmy marketing guy at the office swoon your beautiful wife. Everyone just laughs at the weak man and loser who can’t do anything about it. Wally Smith isn’t that guy. This story denotes the erosion of a man’s pride and his trust. Somebody must pay—maybe everybody…
Point to the Future by Joseph Jude
All around, I greatly enjoyed this story. A reclusive scientist has created a time machine. Keeping with scientific order and his strict plan, the scientist is receiving timed and dated tennis balls from the future. The same man is sending them back to himself from the future. Yeah, wrap your brain around how that works? Unexpectedly, an axe-wielding madman comes backward through time. You’ll never guess who. Alright—good guess, but can you tell me why? Why?
Swallet by Henrika R. Raymer
This story created such tension and uncertainty, and with such slow and measured steps. At the very beginning, the story even tells you what is happening. It’s about a sinkhole. It takes a little time of reading to grasp the immensity of the situation. Slowly, I graduated toward the mutual feelings of powerlessness and sheer panic like the mobs in the story. The ground beneath our feet can no longer be trusted.
Desensitized by Kerry T. S. Lipp
Hands down, this was my favorite in the collection. The author’s voice spoke to me in a way that I thought, “Is this fiction? Is it?” The narrator was so convincing I thought the author was a girl. It freaked me out when I found out Kerry is a guy. It isn’t so much what the girl does in the story that won me over, but the complete logical breakdown and justification. This story begins as a blog entry about mass murderers, and then immediately cuts to live streaming. I actually had to look up the blog address given in the story to check if it was real. And yes, my dear little narcissist…Marilyn Manson’s Fight Song is the perfect dirge for your viral video onslaught.
Honorable mentions—Alicia is in the Trunk and Boy is She Pissed, The Wish Box, and Close the Door and Have a Seat. These three tales were also chilling and inspiring to me. All of the stories within the anthology fit the title well, but these were the eight stories that connected closest with me.
As for the whole of AMOK!, this collection taught me about writing better stories. Each author possessed unique traits; whether it was characterization, storytelling, point of view, organization, or pace—each author in this anthology showed me something different that will only improve my own abilities as a writer. I also learned of several authors to be on the watch for that I had not yet heard of. If I gave AMOK! a star-rating, I’d give it 5-stars.
Now that I’m at the end of my review, as with my previous anthology reviews, I like to give small insights about my story. My inclusion in AMOK! was Joy Ride. It was inspired by James Holmes and written not long after the Aurora movie theater shooting. On TV everyone watched a bewildered Holmes with orange hair and matching county jumper looking at the courtroom cameras. I remembered thinking, “He doesn’t even know what happened.” He had no clue that he’d done anything wrong and seemed amazed by all the attention he was getting.
Going back in time a little, I lived in Las Vegas during the late nineties. One afternoon a man walked into a grocery store and blasted several people with a shotgun. The story got a lot of local coverage, but Las Vegas is really good at making sure ‘What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.’ It is a tourist destination, shotgun wielding psychos tend to turn away potential gamblers—so ‘Shhh.’ I can’t remember all the details, but I remembered seeing as the police were arresting him, he wore the same expression as James Holmes.
Joy Ride is about a centipede with sentience that eats its way into the minds of its victims, taking over their bodies and going on killing sprees around town. When the host body is no longer useful, it escapes and finds a new vehicle—hence the title, Joy Ride. It is a fun and twisted story, and I am pleased to have this story included in such a clever collection.