A fun book. Maybe the 80's nostalgia was a little over-the-top, but I'm a geek at heart and came of age in that era, so I found the pop culture references entertaining.
The audiobook narration by Wil Wheaton easily earns an additional star.
To be fair I don't read horror very often, so familiar plot lines and references to well-known stories that may be enjoyable to fans are completely lost on me. The author, Joe Hill, is apparently the son of Stephen King, which seems to be one reason why this book is getting so much attention. To me, it was far too long (by at least 300 pages) and didn't really deliver much in the end. Bing, the sidekick who dies before the finale, was infinitely more creepy than the supernatural Manx, and the whole story had a kind of comic book feel that made the "horror" seem more silly than terrifying. The book also lost points for crude language and tasteless humor.
I originally gave this 2-stars because the opening and premise were interesting, but after all I can't bring myself to give it more than 1-star.
An unusual coming-of-age story about a girl with an unusual gift.
Rose Edelstein can taste emotions in the food she eats - whatever the person who prepared the food feels, and all the way down to the individual ingredients. At nine, she discovers her mother’s emptiness and despair in a slice of lemon birthday cake. As her ability develops, she becomes privy to secrets that puzzle and overwhelm her, and for awhile she takes refuge in processed foods that have less contact with human hands. But in the end, of course, Rose must come to terms with her "gift" and learn to accept who she is. Through Rose, Bender examines the intricacy of family relationships and the shock of growing up and realizing that the people you love may be seriously flawed, and that everyone has his/her own personal demons.
The climax of the book involves the disappearance of Joseph, Rose’s brilliant and anti-social brother. It turns out that Rose is not the only one with a gift. But Joseph’s case is much more extreme and he has no choice but to isolate himself from people as much as possible. In desperation, he works out a way to escape permanently (i.e. into a chair). I know some people feel this part of the book is simply too bizarre, but I think it’s essential to the plot because it opens Rose’s eyes and shows her that she’s unmistakably connected to her family. This is also reinforced through her father’s revelations. It’s really the thread that pulls the whole story together.
To enjoy this book, I think you have to go into it with no expectations and be willing to follow wherever the story leads. I read it in an afternoon and found myself thinking about Rose for a long time afterward.