Nine Lives is available for purchase at Barnes and Noble and Amazon.
Nine Lives by George M. Moser
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This may be a strange thing to mention in a review but other bibliophiles will understand – the first thing I noticed about this book was the unique smell. It wasn’t the normal scent of freshly printed ink on paper. It reminded me strongly of an oatmeal dish that I sometimes prepare – the clean smell of oatmeal augmented by a dash of cinnamon. I sat and sniffed this book for a good fifteen minutes before I started reading. The smell lent a comfortable sense of home that accentuated the family theme in the book (though it contrasted sharply to the horror). I’m not sure where the book acquired this smell – I won a free signed copy of the book through goodreads first reads, so it may have picked up the smell with Mr. Moser.
The main character, Michael, is the guy you love to hate, the self-absorbed individual so wrapped up in himself that he doesn’t think about anyone else until it’s too late – that’s what keeps getting him into trouble. The story is essentially a portrayal of a dysfunctional family trying to live the American dream (which is really an Ancient Egyptian dream evolved because we have to give credit to Ancient Egypt for the development of Western Civilization).
I’m one of those people who can read real life murder cases and not get squeamish. I can play the shooter-style video games and not flinch. However, I am a cat person and, a couple of years ago, I had a beloved pet pop out a window screen, escape the house, and he was hit by a car. Moser’s visuals of the stray cat’s first death scene left me in tears and I had to put the book aside for a little while.
The writing style falls somewhere between Gothic Lit and Modern Horror, without being one or the other. Other reviewers have commented on the repetition found in the text; this is one of the flaws that I noticed. Mr. Moser gives details where they aren’t needed, which lends to this repetitiveness, but there are areas where details are needed and not given. Example, in the chapter Lieutenant Steve, Moser mentions, “the chimney . . . could use some tuck pointing.” I have no idea what tuck pointing is so the description doesn’t work for me. These two issues are what resulted in a lost star for the review. The story is also written in past tense, which doesn’t bother me, but it could put off other readers.
Other reviewers have pointed out the similarity to Stephen King. Like King’s work, I kept imagining this as a movie, which made the horrific details all the more graphic. I felt this book may have been written in homage to King, who is never mentioned by name but we are reminded of him by similar themes that appear in Nine Lives. The similarities are more symbolic rather than being stolen ideas – when the symbolic theme appears, I expected the story to turn out like King’s but Moser surprised me by putting his own twist on each situation and by not doing what I expected. Not giving me what I expect in a book always pleases me.
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