Settle in my reading friends and let me tell you the story of the “Pink Slime”. Once upon a time, fast food restaurants were immune to criticism. Then one day, sometime in 2012, all that changed when ABC News ran an 11 part segment on what fast food meat looks like in its raw form. The most charitable description? “Pink Slime.” “Pink Slime” was defended as being a harmless additive to make ground beef go further, nothing more, but the controversy put all fast food restaurants under careful consumer scrutiny. In 2014, horror writer H.E. Goodhue proposed that “Pink Slime” comes from space and is anything but harmless.
The novel Pink Slime is hard to describe. It’s most like a bizarro novel but less explicit (no anthromorphized/sentient reproductive organs running around) and with a stronger, more real world-ish plot. If you removed the aliens and the Pink Slime, this is the story of a formerly bullied young adult who has the oppportunity to get revenge on everyone who hurt him and in the process becomes corrupt from the power. The thing is, Andy Holstein would not be able to get revenge without the Pink Slime. Immediately after reading it I described this book as being an easy read, which it is, but it’s not necessarily a “beach read”. Underneath the body horror and the Pink Slime, there’s a message about appropriate revenge versus becoming worse than the bullies. Also, “beach reads” aren’t usually this dark.
I don’t want to spoil everything about Pink Slime
but let me give you a little taste (pun intended). Andy Holstein is an overweight athletic store employee whose only genuine friend is a spacy, hyperactive character known as Squirrel. Andy is in love with Cece, a frequent customer who he thinks is out of his league but is also nice to him. Other than Squirrel and Cece, everyone who meets Andy bullies him for his weight and awkwardness. The only place he feels welcome is the local fast food restaurant. Through a convoluted series of events, Andy eats the Pink Slime and gains the ability to turn people into Pink Slime monsters. This is all explained better in the novel, I promise. With his new power Andy goes on a killing spree and…Well, you’ll just have to read the book to find out how it ends.
While I enjoyed Pink Slime there were parts and characters that seemed unnecessary. The one that stood out to me was any scene involving the alien nicknamed Guy. The alien nicknamed Guy was there for exposition purposes but in the end felt like he didn’t have to be there after all. He even said himself that there were aspects of the Pink Slime that he wasn’t familiar with. For a character that explains complicated events, you would think they’d have a good grasp on said events. Unfortunately when you read the book, you can’t ignore Guy.
In spite of some…moments, I do recommend Pink Slime. The book, not the gunk at fast food restaurants.
I may have given up on supernatural/demon horror novels completely if not for The Many (The End is Nigh). After hitting many dead ends in these horror sub-genres that I used to crave, I had the unpleasant thought that nobody was writing anything good and I needed to move on. When I move on from sub-genres, it’s not permanent but when I return I have decreased enthusiasm and patience. Thank you Joe Stone for writing an exciting supernatural/demon horror novel and giving me renewed hope!
The Many is an ensemble novel in which we are first introduced to four characters with separate but related stories until all four meet each other and share the same story. Usually I wouldn’t recommend this style of writing because I can’t keep track of what events happened to what character, but in The Many the four characters are distinctive enough to remember who and what is happening overall. The four characters are Tommy (a high school student with no luck in getting the girls), Jason (a man with close ties to his mother), Amy (a married woman in search of other men), and Nick (a police officer). A recommendation: Follow Amy’s story the closest because she starts and ends the book. These four characters witness different aspects of the demonic virus but the thing they share is that the entities get into their heads and taunt them about their secret sins as a way to (attempt to) possess them.
By now you’re probably curious about this demonic virus. It’s not fully explained in the novel, but that just means we’ll have something to look forward to in the sequel. From what I understand, it has something to do with Lou Parsons and his grudge against the Lenton, Massachussetts community’s priest. Lou Parsons either summons demons or is a demon himself and his goal is to take over the community and make it his. His method is to use powerful body-hacking, landscape-changing demons to take over “regular” people’s bodies while he works on influencing Tommy, Jason, Amy, and Nick to do his most important work (which involves killing the priest). By the end of this book, Lou Parson’s reach has extended from Lenton to all over Massachussetts.
I said it in multiple places of this review and I’ll say it again, reading The Many was such a relief. It has elements of other pre/post-apocalyptic novels such as the world being normal one day and spiraling out of control the next and that the cause of the apocalypse is supernatural, but hen it offers a twist. The creatures have zombie-like qualities such as feasting on human innards and flesh, but they’re not zombies and they have more of a sense of consciousness. This is much more unnerving than reading about mindless flesh-eaters. I like that by the end of the novel, I was excited for the next book because I have no idea what direction it’s going to take. Sometimes predictability is comforting, but I don’t read the horror genre to be comforted. I like that I don’t know what’s going to happen next.
Since I’m excited and that hasn’t happened for a while, I feel safe in saying that if you are also a fan of supernatural/demon horror but you’re in a reading slump, you really should give The Many a chance. If you do, let me know what you think!