The Hollow Ones by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan
If you know me personally, you know I love the horror genre. I used to help run a haunted house on Halloween night as a kid. I grew up on horror movies and marveled at the crazy macabre tales and monster designs. It may seem odd for me to say that, because so few of the novels I read are in the horror genre. And unfortunately, that is because the medium has been a disappointment, especially when it comes to the big names like Stephen King. But I always had hope that one day I’ll find some true horror in literature I enjoy. And then I saw a book by Gullermo Del Toro and I get interested. When it comes to horror films, the holy trinity of horror has always been John Carpenter, Del Toro, and Alexandre Aja. For me, these three really have done no wrong, and I was curious about what Del Toro did in the novel world. The book being reviewed today is The Hollow Ones, and it’s written by both Del Toro and Chuck Hogan.
So what is it about? It begins with a plane hijacking and two FBI agents tracking down the perpetrator. In an action packed opening they track down the man as he tries to kill his own family. In a struggle, the murderer dies and his madness seems to infect one of FBI agents at the moment of death. FBI agent Odessa, finds she must kill her partner to survive.
Soon after Odessa is put on leave, but it all doesn’t seem right. Her partner wasn’t crazy. It was almost like he was infected with the madness of the murderer. When she goes back to work, she is given odd jobs and meets an elderly FBI agent in a hospital. He tells her that she is not crazy. There are supernatural things in the world and she must seek out Hugo Blackwood for help.
So the good and bad? Let’s start with the bad. The beginning of the book is great. Its classic Robert Ludlum mixed with The X Files. It even sets itself up as a X Files/ Fringe like mystery with the FBI investigating the paranormal, but then it goes nowhere. It’s boring, dull, and just uneventful. It’s a lot of talking and none of it seems important. I was 25 pages from the end and nothing had happened yet. It’s like the three part X Files episode that starts with a good hook and it just gets duller until the very end of part three. It’s just not good. The characters are bland. The monster is lame. There seemed to be no stakes and nothing is suspenseful at all. There is no action from the beginning until the final twenty-five pages. And frankly, by the time I reached that final chapter, I did not care anymore because I had been bored out of my mind.
The good? The beginning is fantastic. It is an explosive hook that towers over the rest of the book in entertainment value. There’s also some very good ideas. Hugo Blackwood is a good idea in concept, but he is executed so poorly. But was hard to relate to him at all. Then there’s subplot that takes place with a black FBI agent in the 1960s Mississippi. The agent encounters with the local white officers and KKK as he tries to do his job is more tense, suspenseful and entertaining that the actual plot. Also, there is a theme of the monster pulling power of the angry long dead slave ghosts. It’s a unique idea but again is never expanded or built upon.
Overall, this book was a slog. It felt like one of most boring episodes of the X Files. That is it. There are better supernatural mysteries and hundreds better than this. Despite Del Toro’s name, it just not good. Skip this book.
1 Smoothies out of Five
Overall Rating: A Dull Boring Supernatural Mystery.