My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Maybe a 2.5. I've wanted to read something by Oates but I didn't pick out one that really did much for me. Honestly I picked it up because I'm doing an alphabet challenge and needed a Z and didn't want to read actual zombies. The dust jacket says 'powered by the subtle enthrallment of a master storyteller with the imaginative courage to think the unthinkable, accept the unendurable and say what has never been said so searingly and scarily...
Um, nope. Sorry but no. All she did was fictionalize Jeffrey Dahmer's hunting techniques and mix in a little John Wayne Gacy (burying in the earthen cellar). Sorry but that's all this is. It was published a year after Dahmer's murder so was probably written at the height of the interest in Dahmer.
The narrator is Quentin P_ (yes written like that. All names are written with just the first initial and an underscore. We only know his name is Quentin from other characters) and this reads like his journal but is meant to be his internal thoughts so there is chaos and time skips and the like. Quentin is a poorly disguised Dahmer and Gacy. Like them he hunts young men for sex and like them he wanted to keep them with him forever. Dahmer's method of this was to try and lobotomize the and both real killers were known to sleep with the corpses in their rooms as Quentin does.
So this is a relatively short book as we watch Quentin hunt. His family thinks he's getting help (he's on probation for raping a mentally challenged boy). We're treated to sessions with his family, his probation officer, his psychiatrist but most is about being caretaker at his grandmother's former house now turned into a boarding home for students. Quentin likes this (his father doesn't. He still expects Q to achieve something) because of the privacy and that earthen basement he can hide his mistakes.
The rest of the book is about all the men he's captured, raped and killed by accident trying to turn them into the titular zombie. This was, in fact, Dahmer's MO. That is his goal to create a sex slave incapable of leaving him, of telling him no and for some reason, will tell him 'fuck me in the ass until i bleed blue guts.' I'll be damned if I know what blue guts are but okay.
And the construction of the whole thing is weird because RANDOM words are CAPITALIZED in the sentences throughout. Some are emphasizing things but others really make no sense. Couple that with this weird affectation & I said. & he said & she said....all over the place.
The ending was also a big let down in many ways. Quentin spends half the book telling us why he should never do this to anyone who has a family who will miss him and naturally he falls for someone local who does and well you can find out for yourself what does or doesn't happen.
You'd be better off skipping this and going to read some true crime books. They're more frightening because it's true. This is just a very obvious take off on the real thing.
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