Iron House - John Hart
Just finished my advance, free copy of Iron House, and boy, do I have a lot to think about in reviewing it.

I think it'd be proper to begin with the Good of the book. First of all, I like the author of this book. Whatever happens in the course of the book doesn't feel hackneyed, it feels as though he has a real voice and a definite point of view, but that didn't necessarily mean that he was stuck in it, and was miring his book in it. The book's pacing was appropriately fast, which is good for the genre. The characters were interesting and varied, I enjoyed the fact that you go from the heat of the city and into the chilling uncertainty of the country (a favorite setting of mine), and I enjoyed the questions that arose during the course of the writing, most of which were answered in a fitting fashion, timely and with meaning.

The main characters were not a cast numbering in the far too many - a thankful reprieve from other thrillers, whose authors sense the inadequacy of their writing and decide to overload with personalities and personal drama. The main character is a strong choice, and a befitting one. I applaud the author for what I perceived as a dislike for simple definitions of Good and of Evil (in MOST cases), and I got the feeling that if there IS a moral in this story, it's that if a person is wiling to change, then there exists a rightness in forgiving them. I also got a real feeling of balance in this story, where the characters weren't, by any means, meant to forgive everyone who fucks up their lives, and there were cases in which certain characters never forgave other characters. I like it, as it kept me on my toes, wondering what would happen next, when I did not, genuinely, know what would happen next, necessarily.

THAT all being said - here's the Bad:

When I got this book in the mail, my fiance immediately rolled his eyes at the summary of it. I couldn't blame him - the summary showcased a few really weak places in the whole writing. That weakness is a severe amount of cliches, ones that I would have hoped that a published writer would have been aware of. Orphaned children, with the main character being one of them, the main character is an invincible hitman who has the jealousy of another hitman (because, you know, he's so AWESOME), I got the feeling that the author just went ahead and threw mental illness around wherever he wanted, without the proper research behind it, the orphanage featured in the book is an evil place, and the main characters are ALL victims of bullshit, never once coming off as having committing any aforementioned bullshit, with the exception of the main character. Even then, I get the feeling that the author wants me to think of this guy, a mass murderer, as a victim.

Aside from his shrieking annoyance of a girlfriend and the random character who seems to exist only to be the whipping boy of Abigail Vane, no one seems to really care that this guy, essentially, murdered more people than a serial killer.

This leads me to another problem, that being that at the end of the day, I get the elitist feeling from the characters that as long as nothing bad happens to the Inner Circle of characters, then fuck everyone else, with little exception. Does anyone feel ANY remorse for the deaths and general fuckery that they create? Hell no, they got self-pity to work on. For these characters, it's a full-time job that they insist upon.

The wryness of the main characters is appalling annoying, with the main character's girlfriend taking the whole cake. It seemed unnecessary for her to constantly be clutching her face in a frozen scream whenever she discovers something about her murderous boyfriend. I understand the necessity for a realistic character, but my god, it gets annoying. He murdered people, either take it or leave it, either way, you're preggers. Geez.

The main hindrance in this story, as you can tell, is downright laziness with the characterizations. I was also annoyed with how characters were dropped left and right at the author's convenience, and I frankly felt that in the case of at least two characters, I missed out on a proper amount of closure for the story. That being said...

The ending sucked. Normally, if I read a book with this amount of let down, I would knock it down to two or one star, but I felt that two thirds of the book ALMOST make up for the whole mess this author left for the readers. It stinks of either laziness, or lack of prior reading and writing practice. I mean, he is good at pacing - for the most part - but this ending felt hollow, and anti-climatic, on many levels.

At least I got through this thing, and that does say something - in my opinion, if this book got a major re-write, taking away and adding in numerous places, with the author's, admittedly, good taste for pacing left intact, then even the cliches wouldn't stand out so bad. As it stands, it stinks of some of Dean Koontz's worst writing, with shit just left forgotten about at the discretion of the writer for no damn reason. The ending also reminds me of some of Dean's worst slop, and if you read this as well, I believe that you'll see why.