14 Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
Audie Award Nominee, Science Fiction, 2013
Padlocked doors. Strange light fixtures. Mutant cockroaches.
There are some odd things about Nate’s new apartment. Of course, he has other things on his mind. He hates his job. He has no money in the bank. No girlfriend. No plans for the future. So while his new home isn’t perfect, it’s livable. The rent is low, the property managers are friendly, and the odd little mysteries don’t nag at him too much. At least, not until he meets Mandy, his neighbor across the hall, and notices something unusual about her apartment. And Xela’s apartment. And Tim’s. And Veek’s. Because every room in this old Los Angeles brownstone has a mystery or two. Mysteries that stretch back over a hundred years. Some of them are in plain sight. Some are behind locked doors. And all together these mysteries could mean the end of Nate and his friends. Or the end of everything....
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|Listening Length||12 hours and 34 minutes|
|Audible.com Release Date||June 19, 2012|
|Best Sellers Rank|| #1,522 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
#45 in Supernatural Thrillers (Books)
#59 in Adventure Science Fiction
#140 in Science Fiction Adventures
Reviewed in the United States on July 5, 2021
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This book is 386 pages and I read it through Kindle. It tells a story part mystery, suspense and manages to harken back to Victorian sci fi (yes there was some back then) steam punk, HP Lovecraft, the Matrix, dimensional travel, monsters, all introduced as working parts of the story arc.
So much to unpack.
This is a story that attempts to world build in an actual building.
Everything is larger than it should be and is distilled into descriptions that include the critical and mundane. I advise you NOT to try to understand everything or figure it out as you go or, like me, you may end up continually going back in the book to see what you must have missed.
The characters find a sort of doomsday device or so we think, but in an unusual form and unusual place...then we find monsters, some human some not, reluctant and undercover heros and some confusion.
The book starts out slow. Very slow.. The most exciting aspect will be some brightly colored bugs.
Now, these are not ordinary roaches but some a quite large and have something weird going on.
It is significant but not in any real way, though you will think it is as you keep hearing about it.
I was left wondering who spends time examining roaches to the point of counting body appendages, that roach would have been crushed by a book/shoe/pot/couch so fast I would have missed any significance.
Then a significant amount of the story is dedicated to the casual vandalism of the characters who are curious and stupid enough to go where they should not be, puck locks, tear up walls, peel back roomful of paint but have no money to repair the damage.
I kept thinking.."who does this ish?"
Do not expect clues of much to drop or it to be a page turner. That only occurs in the last 3rd of the book.
I found the books long on description of everything.. Everyone in the story is a self absorbed only half awake ass#$×@ except one guy who lies about who he really is ...but even the characters know he must be (spoiler alert) black ops or CIA ..or Men in Black..or..something.
Character depiction is so dispassionate, and glimpses into their past so surreptitious that I failed to invest in the story, the world or the characters and wondered why certain tidbits were shared.
Because of this way of story building, I managed to read 7 books in the time that was set aside for this story. It was a slog for me. I set it down a lot to do other things. LOTS of other things.
What made me finish it was constant monitoring and harassment by members of my book club. Thanks, guys.
So why 4 stars?
I felt it was interesting to a different type of sci fi reader and so tried to put aside my own bias to give it a fair analysis.
This story makes references to Scooby-Doo and Victorian inventors. Also there is a tad of name dropping and jargon/info about movie making and working as a temp.
Somebody tried the tactics of Deep blue sea on us by killing off the obvious probable savior.. 🙄🙄
Because I do not care for "whodunnits", Victorian or micro macrocosm world building (when world's are alluded to and a story is told in a very small space) this was not a good book to me.
But I could see its appeal to sci fi readers that like a good mystery and old school sci fi that tries to kill us with physics, mechanics, and science.
Would I read a sequel to this? Probably but I will not seek it out. My booklet will have to pursue this..
It took me 2 weeks to finish a book that should have taken me 2 to 3 days at most.
Did I learn anything? Why certainly (but I have forgotten whatever it was)mostly this book underlines how diverse sci fi is.
I found certain parts sophomoric and trite. I will not say the writing was lazy, but parts have been done before. There was not much new here, I had narrowed down the most likely to betray (I was right) and in what fashion. I also was right about who might die though I was hoping one of my choices were wrong.
This book reminded me of the movie "the knowing" for encrypted writing, Jules Verne and Wells for involved physical descriptions, Scooby Doo the Matrix, etc.
I found myself wondering who/what inspired the writer. Certain real life inventors did. HP Lovecraft most definitely did.
Writing in the 1950s, 1960s sci fi style, this book encompasses a group of tenants who fancy themselves sleuths and whose "meddling" gets them and the world in trouble. (Famous line at the end of Scooby Doo was 'you, meddling kids')
Our hero is a BORING, everyday underachieving. Who seems to have more preternatural luck than intellect or common sense and he was evidently born to be nosy in all the ways only the privileged can be.
Nate and his buddies suffer from too much time on their hands, no life or life goals, and a nominees and self absorption that makes it ok to vandalize other peoples property.
The narrative seems to be since they pay hella low rent, they have a right to explore and know everything about their entire building.
If they had not had their mystery to unravel, no doubt each of these idiots would be hall, pool and building monitors stopping and following everyone who did not live there and threatening to call 911 of said persons refused to id themselves.
In a ratty, delapidated,dilapidated, infested, old building that they could not hardly afford.*
I did not like it, mostly because I detest sci fi that gives so much physical description and placement of objects I feel I need an registering and computer degree and should be taking notes, but also because I detest busy bodies and KARENS of which all these people obviously are, except Tim who is being paid to act like a Karen*
All of this only has merit if there is something deep to learn in the case of entertainment, hundreds of pages dedicated to descriptions and snarky 20 somethings who all appear to have the latent karen gene*. It is is a yawn.
3.5 stars. This is probably a love or hate book for most. The main character is not endearing, the story not original (or enlightening )and yet, the approach was intriguing.
* latent Karen gene: a sense of belonging or proprietorship of a certain location that makes the Karen feel it is their job to police a space, be nosy, tear up things and in general make everyone else miserable while their "world saving" antics cause real harm. It appears benign when slowly unfurling in their 20s and 30s but is a full fledged paranoia/neurosis by aged 50.
We all know how Karens act, see if you can spot the Karenesque flavor in each of these people as this book slogs on.
...and like most Karens, they are so busy looking out at what seems different an ominous that they ignore the evil in their midst and cause tragedies because they failed to understand the " banality of evil " and that mostly when we " meet our enemy...he is us." ( Both famous and apt book quotes)
Either that or I just never got around to it until now.
Take your pick.
First of all, I'd like to comment on the utter genius of the cover. Usually, I judge a cover on whether it's serviceable to attract reader attention or not. It's a rare cover which warrants commentary and they're usually fantasy (and made in the 1980s or 1930s).
In this case, I find 14's cover to be shockingly effective as wanting me to open the book and find out what's inside. It's evocative, perhaps deliberately so, of the 4th Silent Hill game. Silent Hill 4: The Room wasn't the most popular of the franchise due to the heavy backtracking but I consider it the point before the franchise became a parody of itself and the last period when Silent Hill was genuinely scary.
It's the little things which scare me and what's more little than a locked room?
The premise of the book is Nate Tucker is a data-entry drone at a magazine with no prospects and no real future. He's a likable enough everyman and his position is familiar enough to most people my age to illicit immediately sympathy. Nate is in desperate need of a new place to live due to his roommates bailing on him, so he takes advantage of an acquaintance's suggestion to seek out an apartment building with a checkered history.
The building isn't magically perfect. It's got green cockroaches with extra-legs, bad parking, and every room is different in size. The neighbors are all a collection of weirdos with some being the desirable kind (the sexy artist girl who sunbathes on the roof) and others being less so (a militant fundamentalist always in everyone's business). Nothing, however, leaps out to say this is a dangerous place.
Well, except for the locked room on his floor.
Oh, and the room which is vacant because it's last few (dozen) occupants committed suicide.
And other things.
For $550 a month, including utilities, Nate is willing to put up with a lot. Unfortunately, these above problems are only the beginning. Peter Clines walks a careful balance between revealing the secrets of the building while not taking it to the point a reasonable person would run screaming. The characters remain likable but they also remain intelligent, which is a quality largely absent from the horror genre except for The Cabin in the Woods.
Individuals expecting a story filled with gore and murder will be disappointed as 14 is more a story of cerebral horror mixed with gradual dawning terror than shock scares. Some people have compared it to Lost with its mixture of character-building and the surreal. On my end, I consider it closer to an episode of the Twilight Zone or Outer Limits.
The relative absence of cheap scares is what makes this such an effective horror novel. Indeed, I compare it to a movie I recently reviewed called Into the Mouth of Madness. Given Into the Mouth of Madness was one of my favorite horror movies of all time, I'm not as at all unbiased here. There's a connection to the Cthulhu Mythos for fans of the series but I won't spoil that actual connection to encourage people to people to read it cold.
Really, I think a lot of horror authors could learn from Peter Clines the skill of making likable characters. All of them read as believable individuals you might meet, say, in your apartment building. This makes any potential deaths or trauma they suffer all the more intense as you don't want them to come to a horrible end, unlike the majority of [insert profanity] who exist in horror movies as monster fodder. I'm particularly fond of the character of Xela and I kind of wish Peter would write a sequel with her (whether or not that's possible) because she's so entertaining on page.
Despite this, I'm not going to give 14 a ten out of ten. This is going to be a strange sort of complaint because it's related to much of what I find appealing about this book but I think Peter could have gone darker. The Twilight Zone rarely needed a high body count, or one at all, to make itself the seminal work of horror television it was. However, for much of the book, things relatively lighthearted. While he does some serious damage to the characters, I expected the sheer scope of the final revelations to blast some cast member's sanity.
It's the Diet Coke of Lovecraft. Which, I say as someone who wrote a book set in the Cthulhu Mythos starring a character more akin to Conan than Giles. There's nothing wrong with Diet Coke Lovecraft, though, and I love it when it's done by Brian Lumley. I also loved it when it was done by Peter Clines. It's got more calories than Lovecraft Coke Zero and that's more than enough for me.
Buy this book. You won't regret it.
Top reviews from other countries
We have ludicrous segment with room 14 which makes no scientific sense at all then a final segment with an limp adversary (who you’ll see coming a mile away).
In essence, although there are a couple of very matter of fact deaths, there’s very little of any consequence in this book.
There’s some amusement to be had with the interplay between residents of the building, with their geek knowledge, but not a lot.
Nate Tucker, a data in-putter, is on the lookout for an apartment he can afford and he finds the perfect one very quickly. But he’s warned by the previous tenant that it “has an odd vibe to it.” Nevertheless Nate moves in and meets his new neighbours, an eclectic lot who socialise over beers on Friday evenings on the roof garden. Each apartment seems to harbour some peculiarity so, driven on by Nates curiosity, the other tenants are soon resolved to uncovering the mysteries of their block. Unfortunately, they need to work discreetly under the nose of Oskar, the decent but vigilant apartment caretaker, who doesn’t treat meddlers within his building too kindly.
What captivated me with this novel was the depth of the enigma that began to unfold as their surreptitious investigations uncovered puzzle after intriguing puzzle.
However, about three quarters of the way through, just as everything is gearing up for the final sequence, the tone of the book changed from gripping mystery to action. This was good too, but not as good as the first part of the book. But all in all 14 is a most enjoyable and interesting novel.