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The Cabin at the End of the World: A Novel Audio CD – Audiobook, June 26, 2018
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The Bram Stoker Award-winning author of A Head Full of Ghosts adds an inventive twist to the home invasion horror story in a heart-palpitating novel of psychological suspense that recalls Stephen King's Misery, Ruth Ware's In a Dark, Dark Wood, and Jack Ketchum's cult hit The Girl Next Door
Seven-year-old Wen and her parents, Eric and Andrew, are vacationing at a remote cabin on a quiet New Hampshire lake. Their closest neighbors are more than two miles in either direction along a rutted dirt road.
One afternoon, as Wen catches grasshoppers in the front yard, a stranger unexpectedly appears in the driveway. Leonard is the largest man Wen has ever seen but he is young, friendly, and he wins her over almost instantly. Leonard and Wen talk and play until Leonard abruptly apologizes and tells Wen, None of what's going to happen is your fault. Three more strangers then arrive at the cabin carrying unidentifiable, menacing objects. As Wen sprints inside to warn her parents, Leonard calls out: Your dads won't want to let us in, Wen. But they have to. We need your help to save the world.
Thus begins an unbearably tense, gripping tale of paranoia, sacrifice, apocalypse, and survival that escalates to a shattering conclusion, one in which the fate of a loving family and quite possibly all of humanity are entwined. The Cabin at the End of the World is a masterpiece of terror and suspense from the fantastically fertile imagination of Paul Tremblay.
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About the Author
Paul Tremblay is a multiple Bram Stoker Award finalist and author of the crime novels The Little Sleep and No Sleep Till Wonderland. He has served as the president of the board of directors of the Shirley Jackson Awards, and his essays and short fiction have appeared in the Los Angeles Times and numerous year's-best anthologies. He has a master's degree in mathematics and lives outside Boston with his wife and two children.
- Publisher : HarperCollins Publishers and Blackstone Audio; Unabridged AUDIO edition (June 26, 2018)
- Language : English
- Audio CD : 1 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1538550342
- ISBN-13 : 978-1538550342
- Item Weight : 7.7 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.8 x 1.2 x 5.6 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,241,304 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Reviewed in the United States on December 16, 2018
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From that premise, the novel is able to explore a wide variety of deep ideas. It touches on the concept of what family and love mean to people. It explores the concept of sacrifice, and the fundamental psychological differences between forced and willing sacrifices (more on that in a moment). It explores religion, skepticism, delusion, and belief. These are the kinds of big questions with which great novels ought to grapple, and it was refreshing to read a novel that did explore them.
It was particularly refreshing that the novel doesn't force its author's conclusions about these questions down the reader's throat. Much of the novel, for instance, focuses on the question of whether the home invaders' actions would genuinely save the world or whether they're delusional. That allows the reader to grapple with such questions as the "goodness" of a god/universe/higher power/whatever that demands such sacrifices on the one hand, and the power of sincere belief to lead people to commit atrocities on the other hand.
Never fully explored explicitly but always lingering beneath the surface of the novel is the topic of what sacrifice really means. Psychologically speaking, our literature and mythology is full of stories of sacrifice because what humans have learned during our evolution is that we can make sacrifices today to ensure a better tomorrow. When translated into the terms of literature or mythology, these sacrifices can be exaggerated to the point of actual human sacrifice, as they are in this novel. However, there's a fundamental philosophical question of whether an unwilling sacrifice really does anything good at all, or whether sacrifices must be willingly given. The novel raises the question at one point, but leaves it for the reader to question whether a sacrifice prompted by the actions of home invaders could be considered willing under any circumstances. Admittedly, I wished the novel would explore this on a deeper level, but even raising the topic at all accomplishes quite a bit.
Throughout the book, I was engrossed by the straight-forward yet sincere style of writing from a variety of characters' perspectives and the narrative remained engaging even during the slower moments when nothing terribly exciting was happening. These moments were regularly punctuated, however, with moments of pure terror that make this book "unputdownable." The characters, for the most part, are vividly drawn, and the reader is often placed in the uncomfortable position of empathizing even with the villains of the story.
Indeed, while I was reading, I was consistently prepared to give this book a five-star review. In fact, I still award five stars to the bulk of the text. However, the ending simply doesn't work. It's been widely criticized by others. In some cases, I think people felt the ending lacked clarity. That is not my criticism, however. To me, it's pretty clear what happened, but I still didn't find it satisfying.
There are three main reasons for my dissatisfaction with the ending. First, the final pages are marked by a shift in perspective to the first person plural in a stylistic decision whose purpose I understand but with which I completely disagree. It is jarring to read and doesn't seem to contribute to the story's impact. That leads directly to my second complaint, which is that while the novel should be reaching a climax, its pace actually seems to slow to a crawl, partly due to stylistic choice and partly due to the fact that the true climax (in terms of reaching a peak in terms of both action and emotion) seemed to occur significantly earlier. Finally, I simply don't think the ending offered the best conclusion to the story. I don't want to spoil anything, so I won't say exactly what I would prefer to have happened, but a different ending occurred to me that would have highlighted those intellectual questions I was so enjoying, whereas the actual ending, while it doesn't exactly undercut them, seems to leave them hanging.
I do recommend this book. In fact, I think that for the bulk of its length, it represents the best of Tremblay's work that I've read to date (which is saying something, as I've also enjoyed his other works). It's just unfortunate that the ending failed to live up to the rest of the book's promise.
My biggest problems with this title, in no particular order:
- The prose is a slog to read through. It jumps back and forth between very plain straight-forward narration, and moments of very vague metaphorical language that I get the sense the author thought would come across as far more profound than it actually does. I'm making this one up, but think of a sentence like "I reached for my phone, the way a lover might reach across the bed for their partner after waking up from a nightmare in the middle of the night." Just woo-woo language shoved in for no real reason.
- There are some very bizarre choices of perspective throughout. The book is written primarily in third-person, although several chapters are from the perspective of more than one person, somewhat confusingly jumping between them paragraph-to-paragraph. It gets more confusing in the final few chapters when it jumps to first person, and then to a very hard to read final chapter which is written in first person from the perspective of two individuals. An example sentence would be "John and Dave walked to the end of the room, and we thought about how familiar it looked to us." I guess I kind of get what Tremblay was going for here, but it's very hard and makes it hard to keep track of whose head you're currently inside.
- I'm going to spoil a big moment here that I wish had been spoiled for me, as a parent of a young child. Read ahead at your own risk. A young child is shot in the face. If this were a substantial book that left a big impact on me, I'd have no problem with it, but for such a meaningless 250 pages I really could've done without it.
- Extraordinarily disappointing ending that doesn't resolve anything and leaves the major questions of the book unanswered. I get that this is the point, and again, if this were a really substantial novel that left me with a lot to think about, I'd enjoy such an ambiguous ending that puts character before story. But it's not. It's a 250 page mystery thriller that failed to endear me to the main characters, and I just wanted to know what was happening.
- The audio book is among the worst narrations I've ever had the displeasure of listening to. The narrator has a very strange cadence and inflection; their voice pitches down at the end of each sentence to a degree that it's very distracting. They also commit my audiobook cardinal sin: pitching their voice way down when speaking for a character with a deep voice. I have an imagination - I won't get confused if I hear someone saying a line for a 6-foot 300-pound man in a voice that's higher than that character would sound in reality. But when they pitch their voice so far down it just sounds comical and instantly takes me out of the story.
All that being said it was a fairly engaging afternoon read, but I wish I'd spent it on another book.
Top reviews from other countries
What I didn't like I couldnt put my finger on and tbh I still cant. I couldnt like the characters, the story was interesting but the characters couldn't lead me through it. I'm up to the bit where pretty much everyone is dead and they are leaving the cabin but that was a month ago and I just dread picking up my kindle again. I'm really sorry to the author for the poor, unhelpful review. But I will read other books by him.
I read about 35% and gave up. I am a youngish retiree and from page 10 I was worried that this would be the last book I would read before I die. That left me with dread and terror. The writing is not particularly good but the style is obscure and diffucult to grip. The initial fight sequence was nonsence. The arguments and logic were silly.
I'll move on, in search of a better book to end my days.
It makes little sense, is far too descriptive and none of the questions it raises are answered. A waste of my time.