I have a pathological terror of anything on or in my skin.  I'm allergic to numerous antibiotics, and spent much of my childhood covered in hives.  When I was seven, I got a plantar wart from swimming class and it was a horrible source of shame to me.  It was even worse when the doctors removed it.  I still have a scar.  I also have dermatitis herpetiformis, which is the skin version of celiac disease--Google at your peril.

So the idea of triangular eyeball aliens that grow and reproduce under the skin and then burst forth in a glorious haze of blood and gore freaked me out.  A lot.  So, the author did his job.  I was also really impressed in that he managed to make me feel empathy for the main character, even though he goes on a violent rampage.

The second book in this series was also very good, but I had a bit of an odd experience when I reviewed it.  This was early on in the era of Me: Blogging, so I didn't have a lot of experience and I thought far more of authors than I should.  Don't get me wrong--I enjoy the works of many authors and find them to be very funny and smart on social media.  But, hero worship for authors is never a good idea.  They're human beings who make stupid mistakes just like you and me.  So when the author commented on my post, he asked me to remove a phrase that he considered a spoiler for book one.  I did not think it was a spoiler, but I obliged.  I now regret it.

Here's the deal: I am 99% sure that I did not @ him on Twitter when I posted my review, because I use the auto-post thingy and that doesn't @ anyone.  So, he had to go looking for my review.  If I've learned anything from interacting with other librarians and authors on Twitter, it is this: do not search for reviews of your books.  No.  And even if you break that rule, don't comment.  Especially if it's a neutral-to-negative review.  Then we get to the Kathleen Hale-is-stalking-you #HaleNo point, which is just a bad place to be.

Not only did he go looking for (and find) a review of his book, the author asked me to remove something that he considered a spoiler.  It was the outcome of one scene in the first book (the MC castrates himself to save himself from one of the alien triangles), and really didn't impact the outcome of the story, other than the MC didn't die.  Now, if I were reviewing the first book, I wouldn't have mentioned it.  Let's look at it another way:

If I were reviewing The Empire Strikes Back as a new moviegoer back in the 80's, I would never, ever, ever think of telling everyone the paternal twist at the end.  And honestly, let's face it: cutting off one's own dingle-dongle to save one's life really doesn't pack the same emotional punch as finding out that the dread Lord of the Sith--who keeps trying to kill you and your friends and Force chokes all the poor sots who get in his way--is your dad.  I mean, that's messed up.  It's like thinking about your parents doing it.  Eugh.  Poor Luke and Leia had to think about Darth Vader having the sexytimes with their mother.  Plus they had a thing for each other, which is why you don't split up siblings.

Ahem ... if I were reviewing The Return of the Jedi, I might toss in a reference to "Luke's internal conflict about his father" because this is a series of films that you should watch in order.  If you haven't bothered to watch them in order, then that's on you.

So, bottom line: I was completely within my rights to say whatever I wanted to say about the first book in a review of the second, because it's not my job to make sure you read things in order so I don't accidentally *spoil* it for you.  And I was a complete pushover for jumping to do what the author wanted me to do.  He thought it would "give readers a chance to bail" before everything got spoiled.

I do not like to be ordered around.  My mother will confirm this fact.  I do not like it when people tell me, "You cannot do that," when the "that" in question is something that is Not A Big Deal.  Like, "Don't murder people" is a command I can definitely get behind.  "Don't be a jerk to people" is another good don't.  But then you get the ego-don'ts and the petty-don'ts like: "Don't look at me like that."  "Don't sit down when I'm talking to you."  "Don't write about this."*

I will indeed write about it, especially since this author, who is, I grant you, immensely talented in his adult work (just not Alive; I'll get to that in part two of this review) felt it "necessary" to include an "OH-SO-POLITE REQUEST FROM THE AUTHOR" which reads, in part:

"Not to be presumptuous, but I have a favor to ask--consider the people after you who want to experience the story's twists and turns for themselves.  In other words, my request is this: no spoilers. Pretty please ... If your broadcast to the world includes key plot points or reveals, other people lose their chance at the moments of discovery that can make fiction so special."

What the actual frankincense? I am actually so ticked off about the--yes--presumptuousness of this little request that I can't use my words.  Dude, you are a good writer.  You don't have to do this.  This is like the kiss of death when you have advance reader copies going out to bloggers who *gasp* have opinions about books and like to write engaging reviews of said books.  Going back to my interaction, what exactly is considered a "key plot point and reveal"?  I think that's a little bit different for everyone.  I actually like spoilers because then I know what I'm getting into.  I can get really emotionally invested to the point of being depressed, so if I know what's going to happen, this lessens my anxiety a lot.  I'm not kidding.

And what would this ideal review look like?  "Awesome book!  Everything was great!  I loved the setting and the characters and the plot!  Can't wait for the next one!"  That's not a review.  That's a reaction.

Here we are, then.  Let me, once again, be clear: I really enjoyed this author's past work.  I will probably read the last book in the series to see how everything turns out, because the writing was good and creepy.  I did not enjoy his latest book.  I do not enjoy being patronized and ordered about as to how I can talk about a book.  I'd like to think that I do a relatively decent job of not spoiling all the twists and turns of the books that I read, and if I do go into something, then it's because it was problematic.  In short, I am not an idiot.

I understand that by publishing this, he'll probably find it (even though I purposefully left out his name).  That's okay.  That's the internet.  Spoiler!

*This is where everyone on Facebook would be like, "Heck, yeah!  First Amendment!"  However, let us realize that the First Amendment is talking about the government's reaction to what you say.  It doesn't penalize other citizens from criticizing you.  So if you say, "Vaccines give you autism!" the government can't restrict what you say, but people on the internet can totally mock you because you're an idiot.


  1. I know where you're coming from. I had one author who ARGUED with me about one point in a review - a good review, mind you - where I mentioned something that didn't make sense to me. It still diesn't - but she argued anyway. And then she argued some more. I published her comments, but I won't ever review anything by her again. There was another who complained of spoilers not to me but on her own blog! And she didn't bother mentioning even that until my review was up on January Magazine, a bigger site than mine. Likewise, I won't be reviewing anything of hers again?

    I think your writer would probably be kicked off Goodreads if they did it on that site. You're not allowed to comment.


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