[Note: Please disregard the other review for this book dated 10/25/2007. Somehow the review was posted to the wrong book under "Anonymous" so I am unable to edit or delete it. I meant to post that review for The Keeper, NOT The Missing. Sorry for the confusion.]
10/8/2010 - The Missing is an end-of-the-world horror story. After I finished reading the Missing, it sort of felt like I just stepped off a roller coaster and needed a moment to steady my knees before moving on. I had to think about the story for awhile so that I could understand exactly why I felt so disturbed by it. The way Langan describes characters' chain of thought and actions, their souls are totally exposed to the reader. People's random petty thoughts and unwholesome impulses (quickly quashed for the most part) are documented so no person seems 100% good or, for that matter, 100% bad either.
The plot is that a long-dormant virus, mutated by events in the Keeper, is unearthed in a small town and spreads throughout the population. This virus is sentient and shares its thoughts and malice with all its hosts. It turns people into vicious, ravenous beasts that feed on humans as well as any other living thing they can find. The creatures are similar to vampires in that they are light sensitive, sleep during the day, and heal quickly, while their manner seems more like zombies or the Rage-infected from 28 Days Later.
I enjoyed reading this book more than I did the Keeper, probably because the mood wasn't quite as dark and there didn't seem to be the same political/philosophical overtones. Also I love apocalyptic fiction and The Missing falls into that category, although the emphasis was on the horror instead of individual survival.
Mental illness is a common theme in Langan's writing and plays a big part in the Missing. Maybe that is the reason this book gave me the creeps so badly. The majority of the characters in the story had some form of mental disorder, although most function well enough to hide it from others. The thought of losing my mind or personality to mental illness has always terrified me. Now that I think about it, the loss of self really is one of the most frightening aspects of the virus as well.
I had so-so expectations of this book after reading "The Keeper", but boy was I wrong! I loved this book! Takes the best elements of the best zombie/vampire/virus/alien/end-of-the-world stories and masterfully blends them together.
I have never read from an author quite like this. Sarah Langan has been described as "poetic" in her writing, because she can put things on paper that most people wouldn't know where to start. Her graphical descriptions of emotions are so imaginative and on-target that her words grab the reader and take them on this dark, creepy journey.
While the story line in The Missing and The Keeper are really ominous and erie, you can't help but to keep on reading. She is an amazing writer, and while horror isn't generally my "thing" I look forward to more work from Ms. Langan because it's a bit of an escape.
If you're sensitive, don't read it before bed. It's like a horror movie on paper. Unbelievable! AND she leaves room for another sequal....
Bill L. reviewed The Missing (aka Virus) (Keeper, Bk 2) on
"The Missing" is not exactly a true sequel to Sarah Langan's first book "The Keeper" though it does make reference to events that happened in that book. I really liked this book, more than "The Keeper" and that was a good book. I am looking forward to seeing what she does next.
This is from the back of the book: " A remote and affluent Maine community, Corpus Christi was untouched by the enviormental catastrophe that destroyed the neighboring blue-collar town of Bedford. But all that will change in a heartbeat... The nightmare is awakened when third-grade schoolteacher Lois Larkin takes the children on a field trip to Bedford. There in the abandoned woods, a small cruel boy unearths an ancient horror-a contagious plague that transforms its victims into something violent, hungry...and inhuman. The long, dark night is just beginning. And all hope must die as the contagion feeds-for the malevolence will not rest until it has dvoured every living soul in Corpus Christi...and beyond."
Anonymous reviewed The Missing (aka Virus) (Keeper, Bk 2) on
The Missing is not run-of-the-mill typical horror. Looking at the reviews here and on Amazon, people seem to either love or hate it. Having just finished the book, I have really mixed feelings but there is no question that it kept my interest to the end.
Susan, a 23 year old girl, is at the center of the horror. Once a pretty, sensitive young girl, she has become a mentally ill, promiscuous alcholic who silently wanders the streets of the small town of Bedford. People fear and shun her as she invades the dreams of virtually everyone in the town. And then one night she dies ...but soon she returns. And when Susan comes back to town, she brings all the town's nightmares with her.
This is a very literate, intelligent novel. The horror here is equal parts pyschological horror and gory, monster-in-the-dark frights. The author has a beautiful way of saying things that makes you pause in the middle of the story just to reread a sentence. The main character of Liz, Susan's sister, was easy to relate to and I liked both her and Bobby, her boyfriend.
On the flip side, I can think of two reasons why I didn't love this book. First, the tone of the book is too dark for me. I think this probably turns off alot of other readers as well. Most of the characters are not likeable and the author does a good job of showing us all their faults and inner demons. Also, the setting itself is depressing. The town of Bedford is dying because the paper mill, its only industry, is shutting down. The mill has poisoned the environment, everyone is depressed, there are no jobs, it is cold and acid rain continually falls.
The other reason I'm not crazy about The Missing is probably more of a personal irk. I feel like the author was trying to make a political point in this book and it is not one that I particularly agree with. If you read between the lines, it is all about greedy capitalists taking advantage of the downtrodden workers, industry polluting the land and stealing from the people, the rich versus the poor...I hate being hit over the head with someone's political views (particularly liberal ones) when I just want to enjoy a good scary story.
Even with these faults, I think it is a good book and I would recommend it. Some people will enjoy it and others won't. It made me think much more than it made me shiver, which is generally not what I'm looking for in a horror novel.
I did not enjoy this book much. While the story line was unique, the details were pretty predictable. It was interesting enough to keep me going, but it was worth only 2 1/2 stars for me. Good beach book if you like things that eat people.