17707710 (1)Author: J. Kent Messum
Release Date: August 27, 2013
Publisher: Plume
Source: Edelweiss DRC
Genre(s): Horror, Thriller

Rating: ★★★☆☆
Review Spoilers:  Low [One Large Spoiler w/ Warning in Second to Last Paragraph]
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I think it’s pretty safe to say that I am  horror fan. When Nerdophiles has a horror film to review they send me. It’s in the Wildman family blood. My mom still gets freaked out when she hears Rocky Mountain High on the radio when she’s driving highway and lumber trucks pass by. When my sisters were three and four their favorite movie was Scream. My dad watched Killer Klowns from Outer Space with me for the first time when I was probably five and I thought it awesome. Usually I like my horror movies to have some measure of plot and character development but I can even appreciate – at least to an extent – some gratuitous gore films.  I’m not hard to please.

For some reason, though, I’ve never really pursued horror novels with any sort of regularity. Sure, I read some Stephen King now and again but who doesn’t? It’s Stephen King! He’s as ubiquitous as Tom Clancy or John Grisham. I’m making an effort, though, to branch out a bit. I’m trying to embrace the literary side of horror.

Bait was my first attempt and was I think I made a good choice going with Bait over some of my other options. It reads just like the perfect horror film. Okay, so, maybe ‘perfect’ and ‘horror’ never really quite go together. But Bait reads just like any good horror release. I was really surprised by my reaction to it to be honest.  When I watch horror movies I do so pretty mindlessly. The movie is what it is and I just watch it for the fun of it. Generally they aren’t boring movies; something is always happening. Sometimes they are slow to start but eventually they get going. And then suddenly there’s a resolution to everything – or at the very least an end to the movie – and you walk away thinking, “Yeah, that wasn’t a bad way to spend two hours.”

I reacted the same way to Bait. When I started reading it I was getting ready for bed and I figured maybe I would read a few chapters. The next thing I noticed, though, I was forty-six percent of the way through the freakin’ book! I hadn’t even realized it. I just got caught up in the story. I don’t know if it was really a good story. It’s just a classic torture/gore sort of story that you want to mindlessly get through because you need to know how things end.

I liked that. The whole time I was reading this I was thinking, yeah, this would be a pretty decent movie. Though, to be fair, they’ve kind of already made this movie. Several times. The basic plot of Bait revolves around the idea of some very dangerous and shady people taking a bunch of junkies out to some deserted stretch of coast land in shark infested waters and putting them into a sort of game of survival. It is all very reminiscent of the Saw series and the book’s enjoyability is probably on par with Saw 2 and Saw 3 – the last decent additions to the series before it all started to go down hill.

What I didn’t like were the motivations of the people who took the characters and forced them into this situation. This is going to be a spoiler so I’m just going to warn you now. But I am sick and tired of the crazy special forces military people being the antagonists in things. It really gets old and having grown up as an army brat I find it disrespectful that people are constantly demonizing veterans as crazed lunatics and killers. It just really bothers me and I almost stopped reading when I found that out. I really did.

But I kept going and while I don’t know if this was necessarily a good book, like I said, I enjoyed it. I enjoyed it in the same mindless way I would any horror movie on Netflix. So, I think that says a lot about this book, actually. The author knew his source material, his target audience, and his genre. He made it work.

Final Thoughts:
I’m not entirely sure the target audience for slasher films and torture/gore horror films are usually the same targeted by horror novels and thrillers but in the case of Bait they are certainly one and the same. If you’re a fan of the genre at the movies and you’re looking for some light reading you really should consider checking out Bait. I’m not sure I would buy the book because it’s definitely a one time read and you’ll be limited as to how many friends of yours you could lend it to but ifyou can find it at your local library? Definitely give it a chance. But only if you’re a horror fan. I can’t really see other people like it it much.

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