Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Ushers Are Hot!

Disclaimer: I received this book from the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Ushers, Inc.

When the streets are full of bloodsuckers, werewolves, zombies and ghouls, where will you turn? The cops don't know how to stop them, the Army's pretty much given up and even the Marines are stumped when their bullets and grenades fail to stop the onslaught.

Have no fear, Ushers, Inc. is here! Four high school movie ushers, who collectively have seen over 42,000 hours of B- and C-horror movies know just what to do.

Did you know copper pennies can stop a zombie in its tracks? Did you know garlic paste is twice as effective on vampires as garlic cloves? Did you know werewolves are absolutely petrified of seeing a Hershey's kiss? Abby Cooper, Head Usher, does.

So, when it's the monsters versus the monster hunters, who you gonna call?  Ushers, Inc., that's who!

First tip: Don't read the prologue if you don't want spoilers! Yes, it offers a cute little preview of the fun and excitement that is to come, but it also reveals the outcome of the final chapter. So, trust me on this one, just start on chapter one and if you're not instantly hooked, just wait until chapter four—that's when the real action starts.

And by action, I mean the most hilarious, cheesy, B-movie antics you ever could have dreamed up. Fans of the SAW franchise should shop somewhere else, because this horror is more akin to that of Fright Night, Big Wolf on Campus, or the original Night of the Living Dead. Not that the stakes aren't just as high for these characters—no one wants to be a werewolf's next snack—but let's say that the suspense, monsters, and gore are kept to a B-movie budget and thus Ushers, Inc. is pretty kid-friendly.

That goes for the characters, too. Abby, our narrator, may be a junior in high school, but don't get her confused with those swooning teen girls from other YA novels—this girl's got bite! Just from reading her voice I connected with her instantly. Snarky, brave, loyal, and pretty darn kick-butt, Abby is one heck of a heroine. And so what if she's got a few thoughts about boys and dances? A girl's gotta have other interests besides battling the undead.

Luckily she's not alone: Tracy, Cliff and Zach are great friends to have when you're in a bind. Tracy's a bit soft-spoken at times, but she has your back when you really need it. Cliff may be a bit of an ass at times and a huge nerd at others, but that brain of his comes in pretty handy when you're trying to find silver in a convenience store. And Zach...well, he may be clueless in the relationship department, but he's not afraid to distract a rampaging werewolf if you're in a pinch.

There is a bit of a romance—after all, what B-movie would be complete without the pre-and-post-battle kisses? But I'm happy to report that the romance wasn't overly gushy, distracting, nor out of place. Which is great, because there wasn't much room for it to work anyway.

This is a short novel—only 120 pages—and so the pacing is pretty breakneck throughout. The beginning offers little introduction to their world—one in which werewolves, vampires, and zombies have been "out of the closet" for seven years now. The history of the monster outing is finally explained in chapter six (page 35), however (besides the prologue) there isn't even a mention of monsters until a rather jarring arrival in chapter four. Kind of important details, don't you think?

Another lightly-handled important detail would be the villain(s) of the story. Yes, despite the majority of the story being about random monster encounters, chapter 15 introduces us to the existence of an evil plot, which means an evil plotter. But it's been 78 pages, and there's only 42 left... You see what I'm getting at here? The villain(s) ended up being kind of a joke, which I guess fits well with the B-movie theme... But still, I would have liked to have had more done with it.

Overall, I'd recommend this to anyone who's a fan of cheesy horror movies, monster movies, werewolves, vampires, zombies, sassy heroines, or YA. This is a light-hearted, action-packed, monster-slaying story sprinkled with just a touch of teen romance that is sure to entertain readers of all ages. Language and gore are kept PG at the most, and romance is nothing above a kiss or two, so though it features high-schoolers, I'd definitely recommend it for the younger teens, too. And while this is finished as a stand-alone novel, I certainly wouldn't mind seeing a second, third or even 27th installment down the line!

Approximate Reading Time: 2.5 hours

Oh, and one last quick note... From the prologue: "Clasping one end [of my bowtie] in my hand I snap it out, watching a long, thin but strong silver chain uncoil until it‟s like the whip that old guy used in Raiders of the Lost Ark." I'm only in my 20's, but am I the only one who cringes when Harrison Ford is called old? I can't even tell if its referring to the actor (now 69) or the character (then 39). Either way, I don't want to admit he's old!