Friday, December 02, 2005

The Five Best Books of 2005: #5

It’s almost the end of the year. Time for my purely subjective list of the best books I’ve read over the past 12 months. These are works that stood out from the other titles that passed through my hands (and are probably still piled up in my den or bedroom). All are books that moved me on some level, whether through the plot, characters, emotional punch or fine prose. Or a combination of any of those elements.

The older I get it becomes harder to find books that make me want to stay with them until the end. These days I’m dropping a lot of books after page 50 (my 50 page rule went into effect about seven years ago; if a writer can’t interest me in the story after 50 pages, it’s time to move on. I ain’t getting any younger). So what I’m highlighting here over the next five days are the cream of crop for 2005. This is the good stuff. If you pick up one of these titles, you can’t go wrong.

So let’s get started with #5:

Brian Keene’s Terminal is a part crime novel, part horror and part gritty, street-level examination of the desperation that the lower middle class lives with everyday. Tommy O’Brien is a working stiff with a wife and a kid. When he is diagnosed with terminal cancer he makes the monumentally dumb decision to rob a bank. It’s the only way he can think of to fend for his family. Things, as you might expect don’t go well.

Keene’s take on the blue collar life is so dead on you get the impression you’re watching a documentary.

Until the kid with the healing power shows up.

This isn’t a happy book. It’s a stark and brutal portrait of the toll fear and regret can take on a soul. This is one that will haunt you in the middle of the night.

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