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Those of you who follow my writing know that I am a recent convert to the Supernatural fandom, just discovering the show mid-season 7. A great advantage to joining your ranks late is that there is a huge backlog of audio-visual and literary material available to indulge my new passion!  My leisure time has been spent scanning all the back copies of companion books (except seasons 2 and 4 – are they serious about that price?!) and devouring the “tie-in” Supernatural novels.

For those of you who haven’t yet had the pleasure of reading these stories, they are a series of paperback books that deliver “unaired adventures” of the characters in the show.  I am not reading the novels in any particular order.  Having memorized what happens in each season, i.e. which Sam is in play, what conflict is tearing apart the brothers, what Dean is worried about, etc., I can pretty much pick up any of the books and understand its context.  I will admit, though, that I looked up the critics’ and fans’ reviews of the books and have skipped a few of the early books that were very poorly rated (Nevermore, Heart of the Dragon and One Year Gone.  Let me know if you think they are worth my time).

So far I have read four books, most recently, Fresh Meat by Alice Henderson. It’s number eleven in the series, released in February of this year (there are currently 12 books available). Having just finished it, I would like to share my reactions while they are still, well, fresh.
  
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was exciting and well written. I won’t spoil the plot for anyone who hasn’t yet read it, but obviously, it was about Sam and Dean pursuing monster(s).  Bobby was their partner on this hunt, so he was an equal part of the whole story, which was really welcome. The book was set mid-season 7 and the characters all stayed true to their TV counterparts in that time period.  The reader didn’t get a lot of first person insight into Sam, Dean or Bobby’s thoughts, which was a little disappointing, but what was there was genuine. I also liked that the story focused equally on all three heroes, rather than being a “Dean story” or a “Sam story”.  The monster story was also developed very well. I have to say that the story was never too scary, which for me was a good thing.  I almost always read it at night, yet I was never so freaked out that I had to skip pages. 

There were both new and old adversaries. The addition of new mythology made the story interesting, engaging and less predictable. The hunt included a number of plot twists that added mystery and intrigue.  What struck me most about this story, though, was that it had only one speed – fast!  The suspense never subsided!  There was no down-time; no sections that were slow, no boring bridges between perilous events.  I never reached a logical stopping point or a break in the action. It was 355 pages of danger and suspense, which made it fun and fast to read.

Its speed was also its major drawback, though. As I said, there was never a change of pace, even when it would have added to the impact of the story. There were several climactic points, yet the story flew through and past those as if nothing unusual had happened.  More than once I read a section then paused and thought, “Wait, was that it? Did they just…….”  I often went back to re-read paragraphs to convince myself I hadn’t missed something. For example, the most revealing explanation in the book was handled as a rather transactional monologue by a surprising ally. In just three paragraphs, this character explained key events, the ties that bound many of the characters together plus possible escape strategies for their current predicament! This was definitely a “Wait, what?” moment!  Then the end of the book was only one half page from Sam and Dean’s triumph over their last threat! Literally, 104 words from the “will this work??” to white space on the page, and some of those closing words were about Dean being hungry and wanting to drive the Impala! I turned the page to see if there was another chapter! It really seemed like the author had hit her deadline so had to wrap up the loose ends and submit the draft within seconds of receiving a phone-call from her publisher!  I really would have liked some mention of the massive life-threatening injuries sustained by Bobby and the boys and the time it would take them to recover.  I would have liked some reflection on “How did we miss that?” or some recap of what they thought would happen to the minor characters introduced by the story. Oh well, one could say they were no wasted words!

For reading enjoyment, I give the book a 9 out of 10. For writing style, it gets a 7 out of 10 from me. I recommend it as a good way to get your Sam and Dean fix between TV episodes. If you have already read it, let me know your opinion of the story. If this type of review is helpful, I’ll share my thoughts on the other books as well. Happy Reading!




Comments  

lkeke35
# lkeke35 2013-12-13 14:17
Please share your thoughts on the other books. This review was helpful to me in making the decision not to read it. I haven't read any of the tie-in books ,exept two early ones and have been actively avoiding the rest, even though I'm intensely curious about a couple of them.

I've been avoiding them because the two I did try to read struck me as rather shallow. I wanted them to be a bit more in depth abut the brothers thoughts and feeling along with plenty of action but the two I picked up didn't address any of the issues of the seasons they referenced and were rather boring too. (Although one of them had some pretty horrific imagery with giant spiders in it.)

I was diappointed in those two and thought the other books might have the same problem but if you could rec which ones are the better books, I would surely appreciate it. I keep staring at them on the library shelves but when I think back to how disappointed I was in the other books , I never check them out.
nightsky
# nightsky 2013-12-13 22:18
Ikeke35,
I have read 5 books so far (in this order):
The Unholy Cause
Coyote's Kiss
Night Terror
Fresh Meat
Carved in Flesh

Besides this review, I have also written a review for Carved in Flesh. It will be posted sometime in the next 2 weeks. I was considering rereading the other three to remind myself of enough detail to write reviews on those also. They each had their good and bad points.

I think the key to enjoying the tie-in books is to regard them as light reading. I don't think we will ever get as much of Sam and Dean as we would like. By definition, the books are not allowed to "compete" with the official story line so they won't give us any of the answers we long for. I read them to relax - put my brain into complete neutral. I don't have to concentrate on the plot or analyze canon. They aren't (so far) literary masterpieces. They are simple stories about my favorite characters. If approached that way, they are a pleasant, uncomplicated way to fill time.

Thank you for the feedback! After the holidays, I will try to post more reviews!
Milly
# Milly 2013-12-14 05:13
Hi nightsky, I bought this book few months ago and it was my first book of Supernatural. Well I didn't finish yet but I going to do during my Xmas holidays. For me this level of English is a lit bit high so I spend much time with the dictionary and sometime I don't find some expiation because I think there are some slang English.
Anyway I'll give you my review when I will finish. Tks and with this occasion I wish you a good Xmas to you and your family.
Milly
Trucklady
# Trucklady 2013-12-14 09:37
Nightsky, I have all 12 books, I have read all 12 books, and I have enjoyed all 12 books just because it gave me more time with the boys and new experiences. I realized they were just "unaired adventures" when I began reading them. Some were a little slow going but all of them gave me enjoyment and I read some of them in just a day or two because I could not put them down.

I liked the One Year Gone just because it showed that even though the boys were apart, Dean never stopped looking for Sam and Sam kept an eye out for Dean without him knowing. I like that the writers give a short explanation as to which season and episodes they fit their own stories into.

As for the companions, I have all 7 of those also and really enjoy them. I hear you on Season 2 cost and I wouldn't even have that one because of that if it wouldn't have been for me winning an auction that included that book. I have corresponded with Nickolas Knight (his pen name) about a Season 8 Companion but since TPTB at Warner Bros decided not to do any more tie-in publications, unless they change their minds, there won't be anymore.

In closing, would I recommend the books, absolutely but I am just one of those fans that cannot read or watch enough of the SPN so I will take whatever I can get my hands on. Everyone else will have to use their own judgement as to whether or not they think they will enjoy them. I believe you can read the first few pages and some even the first chapter on Amazon.com before purchasing.

Thank you Nightsky for your review and thoughts on Fresh Meat and I would enjoy reading your opinions on the other books as well so please do write on those if you are so inclined to do so.
lkeke35
# lkeke35 2013-12-14 21:26
Oh I have read the companion books. I checked them at the library. I bought most of the fan related books like Supernatural and Philosophy and The Essential Supernatural. I just seem to be having trouble getting into the fictional tie -ins. I keep expecting the intensity of the show. Not looking for spoilers so much as emotional or at least funny. I'll take funny.
nightsky
# nightsky 2013-12-15 22:28
Milly,
Post a comment here if you find any words or phrases you don't understand. We will be happy to explain them to you and all the other non-English readers! (you are incredible for trying to read a book in another language!) If you prefer private lessons, send me an email SPNightsky@att.net. Maybe for every English phrase I translate for you, you could teach me a phrase in your native language! :-)
Sylvie
# Sylvie 2013-12-17 12:21
Does anyone know when the companion book for season 8 will be coming? I keep checking on Amazon, but there is nothing there, not even a coming soon. I've never tried any of the other books, but I will check them out.
Nate Winchester
# Nate Winchester 2013-12-17 15:27
My ranking of all 12 books is waiting in the site queue so after it gets posted, I hope Nightsky, Trucklady, myself, and more can all discuss the books... XD

Quote:
I will admit, though, that I looked up the critics’ and fans’ reviews of the books and have skipped a few of the early books that were very poorly rated (“Nevermore", “Heart of the Dragon” and “One Year Gone”. Let me know if you think they are worth my time).
I have reviewed all of them on my blog (natewinchester.wordpress.com/) (I can provide you with individual book links if you want but didn't want to bombard you). Nevermore, while it had flaws, was the first written and did break the ground for these so I'd give it a chance. It's more forgettable than bad. I liked Heart of the Dragon though I'm guessing other critics who didn't were probably John fans (heck, I am too but I'll credit the book for being ambitious). 1 year gone is... hilarious now that S7 has passed. What do I mean? Well see the quote I posted to the book's wiki page (www.supernaturalwiki.com/index.php?title=Supernatural:_One_Year_Gone).
kerinda
# kerinda 2013-12-24 01:13
Quote:
Does anyone know when the companion book for season 8 will be coming? I keep checking on Amazon, but there is nothing there, not even a coming soon. I've never tried any of the other books, but I will check them out.
I have been looking too but nothing I guess they gave up on it but I hope it comes out soon too if they make it.