Monday, 12 November 2012

Lilith - Toby Tate

I love a good horror story. Unexplainable things, mysterious voices, giant monsters, it's all up my alley. So, when I saw the description of a new book called Lilith, it sounded like just my kind of book. I was excited to read a horror novel and made it the next book for me to pick up.

Lilith tells the story of Hunter Singleton and his wife Lisa who are invited aboard the USS Gerald Ford in a group of media to write an article about the boat. However, strange things are afoot upon the ship. Crew members start doing strange things and as a deadly hurricane makes its way towards Manhattan, things take a turn towards the worst.

I wanted to like this book. I like monster books. I like spooky stuff. I'm not the hugest fan of military books but they can be really good. However, this book was hard to read. So many things rubbed me the wrong way and I could not get over it.

Firstly, the characters. Hunter is the definition of a Gary Stu, a character too perfect to exist in real life. He's charming and kind and has a super hot wife and at one point, a demon(?) kidnaps him to be her sex slave. Yes, that is a thing that happens. Also, he just so happens to have knowledge of everything forever. He was in the Navy, he's smart enough that the CIA lets him in on classified information and my personal favorite, as they are wandering some homeless tunnels, he criticizes the tunnels but understands that at least they're shelter because he was once homeless. … what?

This is the second book featuring Hunter and Lisa which is something I hadn't realized going in so I can forgive some lack of characterization due to not having read the first book. However, there is absolutely no character depth whatsoever. The only motivation I spotted in any of the characters in the entire book was lust. Because there is a lot of strange sex going on in this. Which leads me to another point:

There is a lot of strange sex in this book. Now, I get that sex is a thing that happens in a lot of books and most of the time, it fits in with the plot and the reader moves on. Not so here. There are random sex scenes between characters that will never be mentioned again. There is a disturbing amount of description about female characters and how exotic and hot they are whereas male characters are only described by what race they happen to be (aka I think one of the characters was black.) It felt creepily like reading someone's fantasies than a forward plot development. Although there was a reason for the sex, it still was gratuitous and uncomfortable for the reader.

Something also gratuitous and uncomfortable for the reader was the amount of Navy speak going on in the text. I get that using jargon is helpful for creating atmosphere and believability but between the amount of it and the fact that none of it was explained, it made it incredibly hard to follow what characters were talking about. I still don't know what the CHENG was, although I think it was a person. Or maybe a robot. Or maybe a sex robot? This reader will never know. Or she will because she just googled it. However, I shouldn't have to google "CHENG navy" to find out it meant Chief Engineer. Because an author can just write that. 

I'm going to skip over the fact that the main villain hates the Navy because a sailor ran over her dog when she was a child. That just feels like rubbing salt in the wound at this point.

To be honest, it's a miracle I made it through the whole book. It became more about giggling through its absurdity than actually reading it very early on. I would not recommend this book and I would honestly wonder how this got published in the first place. There is a lot of good horror out there. Don't waste your time with this.

Lilith comes out in January from Dark Fuse.


  1. Hmmm....I read a copy of this from the author, and I have to take issue with some of your points. Did you actually read the book all the way through? The CHENG, for instance, is first called by name and identified as the chief engineer before the acronym CHENG is ever used.

    The character of Hunter is supernaturally seduced by the antagonist, showing that he is most definitely NOT perfect. In fact, he makes several mistakes leading up to that point.

    One of the female characters is black and one is half black, half Chinese, which is talked about early on, as well. The only person that mentioned one of the women being "hot" was her husband.

    I agree about the gratuitous sex, but I also think it was conducive to the storyline.

    I'm partial to thrillers, so maybe I'm being picky, but your points don't seem valid to me. I like this author and would like to see more books by him.

  2. Oh, I read the book all the way through. I wouldn't have reviewed it otherwise. I'll admit maybe I missed them calling the CHENG by name originally but using only acronyms makes it easy to do so. I'm a regular reader who doesn't know Navy acronyms and while I could figure out CO was Commanding Officier, most are not obvious. Especially when mixed up with super technical gun talk and the like. I know the author used to be in the Navy so I can see how he might have not realized how much he was using jargon but it really threw me out of the book.

    Being supernaturally seduced by a sex demon who supernaturally seduced pretty much every character except her own brother is not much of a character flaw.

    Isn't Hunter also half white half Cherokee or something? And I'm sorry but when someone is described as having "kinky black hair, exotic Asian eyes and a gymnast's body", as a female, I just laugh out loud. While it may be true, it just sounds some mystical magical female dream. And her being half black, half Chinese is only mentioned once at the end. It may have come up in the earlier book but I had not read that.

    Agree to disagree on the gratuitous sex, I suppose. It just seemed jarring and uncomfortable to me, especially as a female reader. It really read more as fantasy than as plot.

    I like thrillers, too but this was just poorly written and uncomfortable to me.