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AFRAID
by Jack Kilborn, read by Phil Gigante
Brilliance Audio, April 2009
Unabridged pages
$24.95
ISBN: 1423383087


Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

It's never a wise idea for an author to kick off his self publicity with "don't buy this book." It's too tempting for the reviewer to say that's good advice. AFRAID isn't that bad. However, it's not unspeakably terrifying either, which is the reason Kilborn so solicitously warns readers away, despite the tempting prices of the paperback or Kindle editions.

AFRAID delivers by the bucketful what is called a "psychological horror" but the novel is really your basic slasher story. A helicopter crashes outside a sleepy town and the inhuman survivors stab, chew, slice, rend, rip, gut, claw, flay, dismember and otherwise creatively torture the majority of the inhabitants to death. It turns out that the helicopter contained "super soldiers" modified to be stronger and faster than most humans, to heal more quickly, and to be impervious to pain themselves. In all the long history of "super soldiers," does the government ever pick loyal volunteers? Of course not; it has forcibly modified criminal psychopaths and, now that it has made them better at killing and given them a personal grudge, set them loose. Naturally, the budget for all these modifications didn't include an off switch or failsafe (or psychological profile of their creator, himself no poster child for mental health). The body toll passes that of some minor wars while the listener takes bets on who will survive.

Bloody survival stories have a long, lucrative history and plenty of fans. It's a legitimate genre, so I wish the author had not advertised AFRAID as psychological horror and gone for the target market by admitting that it's gore by the gallon washing over a perfunctory plot that openly emotionally manipulates the audience with every trick in the book, up to and including a plucky kid and his dog.

Gigante does a good job of reading his voice is clear, and he delivers the dialogue with urgency and gravitas. AFRAID would pass the time on a long and tedious car ride, but like so many other books of this kind, it is immediately disposable once you know who dies and how. This is too generic to be a keeper; it's never going to be scary the second time around

Reviewed by Linnea Dodson, April 2009

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)


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