by Brian Keene
Review by Don Smith
Spectra Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 0553587382
Date: 31 May, 2005 List Price $6.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Of course, things just get worse - mostly because of his incompetent friend John and the third member of the trio, Sherm, a sadist with a hidden past.
Brian Keene does a beautiful job tracing the lives of Tommy and his friends from the bad news to their holdup. Readers see the underbelly of trailer parks and low income housing in the white parts of the border town of Hanover. Hanover rests between Maryland and Pennsylvania, what is surprising is that folks in their situation are prone to listen to the country music station, and Tommy would rather blast "gangsta rap" and relate to the urban lifestyles of the "hip hop thugs".
What is of course felt throughout the book is his love of Steven King. Even on the dedication page, he says to a couple of friends, "We are ka-tet." which is a common phrase used through out King?s Dark Tower series. Also it is felt with the obligatory "special kid" which was unimaginatively named Benjy. Benjy can see the "dark stuff growing inside" and he will tell the "monsters" are waiting to take the dead to their dark world.
For the first ten chapters of the book, it was unclear why Terminal would even be considered a science fiction book or a horror novel. Granted, Keene sprinkles his love of comic books and science fiction movies and stories throughout the tale, but he also sprinkled much of the "hip hop" influence he seemed to enjoy. It should have been a crime novel.
But when Benjy, introduced way too late in the book, is taken hostage along with his single mom and several of the customers and bank employees, he begins to heal a heart attack victim, and the hapless John who has been shot in the stomach for breaking a cardinal ethnic rule. It became clear why this was a sci-fi/horror novel. Frankly, the boy could have been forgotten altogether and it would have been fascinating to see the story played out.
However, Keene has such an amazing style of writing that he weaves his characters together and one begins to almost believe Benjy is a character instead of a plot device inspired by King?s work.
Terminal is a wonderful read with a serious depth to it, and to be recommended to all. Tommy's life, while it may not be a "bowl of cherries" to borrow another a cliche, the reader can at least think, "Better him than me."