Friday, March 24, 2017

Kayla Krantz's Sequel, Alive at Sunset... Not Recommended...



ALL AT ONCE, the blackness was upon him. It drowned out his senses, and not only did he not know where he was, he had not a clue who he was. When the blackness had come, it had buried pieces of him deep into the unconscious folds of his mind. Groggy and unfocused, his mind had turned to a blazing pit of non-understanding. He wanted to do nothing more than sleep, but he couldn’t—not in this place. 
When he opened his eyes, he found his sight wasn’t of any use to him. His eyelids threatened to droop from the weight of his exhaustion, but he managed to keep his eyes open to survey his surroundings, which looked gray and hazy. Around him, a field stretched away for miles, but it was hard to tell what else it contained through the thickness of the fog. The air weighed him down, making him feel uncommonly heavy. Frosted grass crunched beneath his feet with every step, but he wasn’t aware he had been moving. The sudden feeling of his legs made him stumble, and the crunch of the icy ground seemed deafening as he struggled to catch himself from falling. He kept his balance and looked around, hoping to see anything familiar. 
The haze compromised his vision like a set of walls he somehow had the ability to walk through. If he could see, would it even matter? He pulled himself from the thought and whipped around frantically; the haze remained thick on all sides. “Hello!” he called out. His voice echoed strangely in the barren land, but he got no response from within the depths of the darkness. 
Tiny lights floated in the haze, resembling large fireflies; they were the only signs of life he could see. He couldn’t make heads or tails of the place, but he knew he would get no closer to finding an answer if he stayed put. He sighed and walked forward again, wary of falling. The icy grass beneath his feet seemed to be the most reliable thing. An answer had to be here somewhere—he just needed to look harder. If he let panic sink its fangs into him, then all rationality would go out the window. 
He kept walking, feeling drawn to some unseen source. He frowned deeply. What was out there, calling to him? There was the possibility nothing was out there at all. He might follow the longing in his heart until he collapsed from exhaustion. Either way, he had to find out…he had no other hopes, nothing else to accomplish besides discovering where his feet were taking him. 
He crept forward, and a tree branch smacked him gently across the face. He swiped out in defense, but once he realized it wasn’t a threat, he groaned and pushed it away. The fog seemed to thicken. It formed tendrils that ran down his throat and made blindfolds over his eyes like white cataracts. He waved his hand in front of his face, desperate to clear the haze out of his eyes and even more desperate to catch any glimpse of his surroundings. He stumbled over his feet again and fell forward, arms out in front of him as his chest collided with the ground. 
“Ooff!! The sound slipped from his mouth involuntarily as he blinked, his vision swirled black to mix in with the fog. The cold grass blades brushed his nose, the ice turning to water as his breath landed on it. He sat up, furiously wiping at his face, not noticing the dirt under his nails. He looked around, hoping the fog would be thinner toward the ground, like smoke, but he still couldn’t see a thing. He exhaled dejectedly and stood to his feet. Stumbling aimlessly along, he hoped to find something, anything, to alert him to where he was. 
A piercing scream sounded from somewhere deep in the fog—a pained wail from a female. He didn’t jump from it, almost like part of him expected it…or he had heard it somewhere before. If he found the source of the noise, would it get him out of this strange parallel universe? The screaming stopped as suddenly as it had started, and he frowned. It would be impossible to pinpoint the source on his own. 
He smacked at the heavy tendrils of fog that gouged at his eyes and clung to his cheekbones. He wouldn’t be able to stand the haze much longer; it was driving him insane.
 “Where the hell are you?” he yowled into the white smoke around him, finally losing his hold on his temper...
The piercing female scream sounded again, right by his head, shattering his eardrums, and distracting him from his current threat. He held his hands over his ears and pushed himself forward on his elbows, trying to free himself from the bind of ivy. The scream beside his head dulled for a moment, and he seized his opportunity to act. 
He reached into his pocket for his precious dagger and managed to pull it out. In one quick, efficient movement, he sliced the thick tendril off of him. It fell limply to the ground like a deadened hand. The moment he was free, he wasted no time scooting away from his prison. The ear-shattering scream had risen to unbearable levels—the sound seemed to radiate from the very ground itself. The red color he had seen earlier was bright and fluorescent, radiating out into the air from something hidden in the fog. 
He couldn’t see “it” exactly so he took a hand off of one ear—a risky move with the deafening scream—but he reached out and grasped the item, trying desperately to see if whatever it was, person or object, could help him. Pain shot up his arm, and he found that the harder he tried to pull his hand away, the more attached to him the item was. Nearly paralyzed, struggling between life and death, he fought to stay conscious, but he wasn’t sure how much longer he could do so. The pain was everywhere at once, alerting him to places in his body he hadn’t known existed...
When he was about to give in and let this place take the last of his life, the pain and the fog vanished all at once as if it had been a staged performance. He could see his surroundings, see the strange place he had somehow ended up in. Beneath the haze, the sky held no light. The ice melted from the grass, and the shrunken blades grew luscious and long. 
In his hand, where the red light had been, he clutched a bone with a heavy, beautiful, long-stemmed rose wrapped around it. With the haze gone, Chance knew who he was once again. He knew everything.
~~~





I've been having parts of a song come to mind the last few days as I was reading Alive at Sunset. "One way or another, I'm gonna getcha..." No wonder, I realized since the serial killer in Krantz's two books must have that as its theme song! The other songs, by the way, were inspiration to the author as she wrote...

Krantz continues to provide a compelling, suspenseful story as she moves into the second book of what will be a trilogy. Readers discover as this book begins that Chance has been in a coma for three years.  In the meantime, Luna has left home and gone on to college where she's living with a new friend Amanda... During the entire three years, Luna visited the hospital to verify that Chance is still in his coma...and she is safe!

But, now, Chance has awoken...

And there is where issues began... First, we soon discover that Chance has been employed as a nurse, without any credentials whatsoever. Ok. this did not make sense, added only a disruption to the story, and the beginning of disbelief on my part. Krantz seems to not be able to separate the basic setting for the story and build it, free of the fantasy or paranormal happenings in the book. Chance could have been hired as a nurse aide or other service worker in a hospital and still could have performed the damage he accomplished there! 

And then, Chance sees the opportunity to get to Luna through her roommate, setting up Amanda as a dumb blond character that, while believing Luna that Chance could have been a killer...but now, he's been in a coma and is oh, so nice...Duh!
So she allows Chance to move in with her and Luna! And then, there are major discussions between Chance and Luna, while Amanda is in the apartment, without NO disruption??? Just NOT believable, especially since Amanda was jealous of Chance.

In the earlier book, Luna had got into major problems with her father who chose to take Chance's opinion over Luna's... We had no other character development for her father or mother for that matter. In the second book, the parents are back in the book, again, with no background on either to make them more real to readers. Yet a major event occurs, and Luna is traumatized...with no explanation whatsoever about making up with him after what happened in the last book.

Frankly I am amazed, chagrined, and totally puzzled how his young author has developed such a creative skill to present her stories, yet fails so badly with basic character development, setting, and ensuring that the story is believable...  Their is no continuity for minor, but important characters. They seem merely tools that are used to support the main characters and readers recognize that we are missing much about the overall scope of the book as we would normally expect...and receive...

In the second book, Chance is a "normal" serial killer that merely went about the business of taking revenge on those that cost him three years of his life. It became even more of a slasher story since the murders were senseless, quick, and did only one thing, hurt Luna...

At the same time, Krantz adds a human touch to Chance, which does soften, only slightly, his bloody thirst, when he discovers one of this heinous actions has resulted in more than expected...




As I've said, the basic story line is suspenseful, but only in the true slasher situation, where you're totally involved in who is going to get killed next. I did not feel the intrigue coming through in this second book as was experienced with the paranormal DreamWorld aspect. And the totally unbelievable concept that Chance moved in with Luna and had free access to her is pure mind-boggling nonsense. Sure, she had been traumatized and was facing a similar situation... but having the roommate date and have sex with a killer while the girl about whom he has an insane obsession is in the other bedroom... well, it boggles the imagination.

I am being specific about the critical issues in this book, because it is obvious to me that the author has much talent. It is my recommendation that she reads more genres (and different types of music!) other than what she obviously wants to write in. She needs to learn about the basic outline of a novel that surrounds the specific genre activity. So far, she's not making it happen and readers soon lose interest in the blood, guts and gore... Sad to say...



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