• Kallie Lou Weisgarber

Survivor - J.F. Gonzalez

I have to be honest, I have been having a hard time writing this review. I finished SURVIVOR by J.F. Gonzalez earlier today and I am wrecked. I had been hearing about it for a long time, and then I saw Brian Keene tweet about this book. He said that it was the only book that was as emotionally harrowing as Jack Ketchum’s THE GIRL NEXT DOOR. That’s all I needed to read to expedite it up to the top of my TBR cart.

It all started with this really relatable couple, Lisa and Brad. They’re ready for a romantic weekend when their plans are thwarted by a bogus arrest that lands Brad in jail for the weekend and Lisa in a hotel room by herself. But everything is going according to plan for the men that want to kidnap Lisa so she can star in a snuff film.

Yea, you read that right. And no, that synopsis does not do this book any justice. It’s a well-written book that is raw and emotional and possibly the most brutal book I have ever read. Not that I haven’t read extreme gore before, I can read Lee all day. This is just different to me because Gonzalez has this horrific depravity happening on the page but somehow still forces the reader to have a really strong emotional connection to these characters. And honestly? How dare this book be so good.

This does seem to be a book that will divide horror fans. Some of us will love it for its ability to marry schmaltz and savagery, but others of us won’t be able to look past the ferocity for it’s tenderness. Also, I’m not a person that gives out trigger warnings, but this book is full of them. If you are wondering about any specific triggers you have, feel free to DM me and I can fill you in on what you need to know.

This novel is getting 5 stars from this reader. It was well-written, had a few twists and turns that all tied themselves into a nice neat knot at the end of the book, and it had a beautiful roughness to it. It isn’t something I will recommend to everyone, because as I said earlier, not everyone will be able to handle it (not gatekeeping, just stating that some horror readers don’t like body gore and that is okay). I do, however, recommend it to people with really thick skins and to those that liked Jack Ketchum’s THE GIRL NEXT DOOR or Poppy Z. Brite's EXQUISITE CORPSE. This is a book that is going to stay with me for, likely, my entire life.