Resurrection Dreams

February 18, 2016 at 6:00 pm (Reads) (, , )

dreamsResurrection Dreams by Richard Laymon

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I expect older horror novels to be pretty cheesy, but Resurrection Dreams holds the new record with me. The opening chapters center on a socially awkward high school senior who, for his final science fair project, digs up the corpse of a recently dead classmate, hooks her up to a car battery, and attempts to bring her back to life.

In front of a crowd.

With a megaphone.

Sure, this introduction establishes that Melvin (props to Laymon for the perfect name, by the way) is insane, but it raises several questions with me, none of which are easily answered:

  1. How did he get the body so quickly? The accident happened just a few days before the science fair, seemingly not even long enough for a service to be held. Surely that would have been an interesting scene.
  2. How did he manage to get his project into the fair? Surely someone would have noticed the size of his project and asked about it. And despite Melvin hiding his project behind a lot of sheets, wouldn’t someone have noticed the smell? And what about the teachers? Wouldn’t his science teacher wonder why he had to hide such a big display when he had been giving updates on, say, his potato battery project?
  3. What on earth was the hypothesis for this project? And what did his research paper look like? Was it drawn in crayon with a bunch of Joker-esque HAHAHAHA!s all over the place?

(OK, so question three seems a little picky, but Laymon has written books where he goes into the painful minutiae of any given scene. Surely that would have been an opportunity to add a bit of comedy to this story.)

After that opening, the story jumps several years ahead, when Vicki, a classmate who witnessed the above science project, returns to the town to be a doctor there. Laymon gives us a good reason for her to do so, but not for why Melvin is still living in the town. We learn that he had been institutionalized after his science project, but why on earth would he be released under his own recognizance? Is that a reasonable thing to expect for someone who had gone that far over the edge?

Much later in the story, Vicki, who remember is a medical doctor, accepts that someone else hypnotized another person to kill someone else. Hasn’t medical science confirmed for a long time now that it’s impossible to make someone do something under hypnotism that they wouldn’t want to do? Why does a medical doctor believe something like that without questioning it? The answer, I believe, is because Laymon needs her to.

The whole thing is ridiculous. What supernatural element there is in the novel feels forced, and the longer the story goes on without addressing the complications of such a thing, the more ridiculous it gets. The story wouldn’t work without it, but Laymon doesn’t seem to want to spend any time on the logistics of it, so it makes the story feel stupid.

Lastly, Laymon cheats with this story. He pulls a bait-and-switch to make you think that the principle characters are dead, when they really aren’t. I’ve seen other authors pull this sort of thing, but there’s usually some clue there to fall back on to realize how you were duped. Here, it’s just dumped in there, and you don’t realize you’ve been cheated until the final part of the scene. And I went back to check.

Oh, and the sex scenes. Not just here in this book, but in all of them; they’re just ludicrous. He refers to firm mounds, soft mounds, thick shafts, soft walls … the language is like reading some softcore Harlequin novel. It’s laughable. It’s like something a high schooler would write.

I’m done with Laymon. A couple years ago, I had a moment where I told myself that there’s so much good fiction out there to read, I shouldn’t limit myself to reading a bunch of crap. I had a couple of Bentley Little and Richard Laymon paperbacks at the time, which I ditched because I also had some George R.R. Martin and James Morrow books that I hadn’t had the chance to read. There’s a part of me that doesn’t want to give up on Laymon, but dang, I just can’t justify reading this much fiction that doesn’t even make sense. And I’m not just quitting the author here; I’m rage quitting him.

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