Review: Survivor by J.F. Gonzalez

(Review for Bizarro Brigade.)

One of those rare books that lives up to the hyperbole, SURVIVOR by J.F. Gonzalez is just as bleak, dark, and disturbing as you’ve heard it is. A lot of hard-edged horror novels and films ask how far you would go to protect the ones you love, but Gonzalez takes the notion a step further–having done what was neccessary to survive, can you live with what you’ve done?

At the hands of underground pornographers, an expectant mother makes a ghastly decision to keep her child safe. I’ll not spoil it, but it’s one of the most talked-about scenes in recent genre memory, and for good reason. It’s a devastating moment, and one that’s made even hardened horror fans weak in the knees. Gonzalez handles the details with laudable skill; he doesn’t rub the readers nose in grue, but doesn’t shy away from the unpleasantness, either.

The book’s second half is a little more palatable, playing more as a grisly thriller with a few unexpected twists and turns, but in a story like this no one gets a happy ending. Sharply written, with well-rendered characters and a brave eye for detail, SURVIVOR stands atop the ranks of extreme horror fiction.

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