Wednesday, June 29, 2016

How To Defy Classification: A Review of Jeff Strand's Novel: Blister

Since I started reading this sometime this morning and couldn't put the thing down until I was finished, I figured I'd do a quick review of Jeff Strand's latest novel, Blister.

Jeff Strand has a tendency to be a strange sort of author. Trying to put his books into one category is an exercise in futility, since he has a knack for blurring the lines between the genres he writes in. Blister is no exception. At parts horror, crime thriller, sarcastic humor, and sweet love story, it's hard to tell precisely where this one falls on the spectrum.

Ultimately, however, none of that matters, because the story is wonderful, and that's all that really matters.

Jason is a cartoonist who gets sent to his agent's cabin in rural Georgia after doing something foolhardy to retaliate against neighborhood kids being mean to his dog. While there, he hears about the local legend: a girl they call Blister, horribly disfigured five years ago, who lives in a shed behind her father's house. Jason's really a nice guy at heart, though, and he gradually makes friends with Blister, whose real name is Rachel. As he gets to know her, he also discovers that this little town has secrets, and they are terribly bad at keeping them.

I won't get into much detail, since I don't want to spoil the story for anyone else, but when even the characters occasionally think they're living in a farce, you know things are getting interesting.

On full display is Strand's trademark humor, which like my own tends toward the sarcastic and ironic, which meant I laughed out loud more than once, occasionally at times where I wasn't really sure laughter was called for. The story was well-crafted, revealing a lot of the needed backstory without getting bogged down or losing its pace. These are characters you can't help but care about, and at times I found myself wanting to hang out with them and have a beer or something. There's enough twists and turns as the third act kicks into high gear to keep you wondering what's going to happen next, and when the ending finally came around I was both satisfied and sad, wishing I could spend a little more time with these folks.

If you've read Strand's work before, you'll definitely want to take a look at this one, and if you haven't this is a great place to start. Highly recommended!

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