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Breed: A Novel by Chase Novak

Breed: A Novel (original 2012; edition 2012)

by Chase Novak

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2393448,266 (3.35)19
Title:Breed: A Novel
Authors:Chase Novak
Info:Mulholland Books (2012), Hardcover, 320 pages
Collections:Your library, Read :), Reviewed, Signed books, ARC
Tags:horror, fertility

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Breed by Chase Novak (2012)



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But at that moment, Adam tightens his grip on Michael’s hand, and Alice likewise squeezes his other hand, and with the childish, trusting touch of these twins, his fate is sealed. He cannot and he will not betray them.

I have to start this review by saying that I don't normally read horror books. Horror is not my favorite genre but I am always willing to read different things. Oddly enough when I finished this I didn't feel like it was horror enough. Yes there were some really creepy and freaky things but for most of this book I was a bit bored.

This book follows a family who is definitely not normal after the mother and father undergo odd fertility treatments to conceive the children, Adam and Alice. I never liked the mother and father, Alex and Leslie. The more I read this the more I hated them. I didn't really like some of the side effects of what they were going through (like the memory loss and especially the loss of their vocabulary). Quite frankly I didn't really connect with any of these characters.

There just wasn't enough creepy and freaky in this. It was a lot of running and hiding and that got old fast. My favorite creepy part was definitely the showdown between Alex and Michael. It was gory but it was fast paced and interesting. I was also left unsatisfied with the ending. It kind of felt like the author just gave up on the book. I don't really see what the sequel will be on but as I have already committed myself on Netgalley to reading it I guess I'll find out. This book wasn't bad but it also wasn't good; it was just okay. ( )
  dpappas | Dec 12, 2014 |
The book ends up being much less about pregnancy and more about the perils of genetic modification, providing an interesting twist on the evil pregnancy trope that carries out through the childhood of the babies that were conceived.

Essentially, the parents’ genetics were so messed up by the treatments performed by the doctor that they start turning into something different from human. Something a bit more animalistic. The children, of course, also have some of this animalistic genetics, but most of the differences don’t show up until puberty. This allows the children to be innocents for most of the book while their parents have gone off the rails from their very first treatment. My favorite part of this book is how it offers a smart critique of pushing our bodies to do something they don’t want to do. Where is that line? How far should we push things with science and at what point will using science make us something different from human? And is that something different going to necessarily be better? Leslie clearly feels that her children were ultimately worth everything she, her husband, and their bodies went through, but the book itself leaves the answer to that question up to the reader.

Beyond this concept, though, the actual execution of the characterizations and the plot get a bit messy. The writing can sometimes wander off onto tangents or become repetitive. Some aspects of the plot are explored too much whereas others are glossed over too quickly. The book starts out tightly written and fast-paced but toward the end of the book the plot gets disjointed and goes a bit off the rails. Part of the issue is a bit of a lack of continuity regarding just how messed up Leslie and Alex actually are by the treatments. Are they still at all human or are they completely untrustworthy? Is there any possibility of redemption for them? At first both seem equally far gone but then Leslie seems to pull back from the edge a bit, thanks to a MacGuffin. It’s hard to be frightened of the situation if the frightening aspect of the parents comes and goes at will.

Similarly, in spite of the book wanting us to root for Alice and Adam (the twins Leslie and Alex have), it’s hard to really feel for them when they come across as extraordinarily two-dimensional, particularly Alice. Children characters can be written in a well-rounded way, and when it’s well-done, it’s incredible. Here, though, Alice and Adam seem to mostly be fulfilling the role of children and not of fully fleshed characters.

Most of these issues are more prevalent in the second half of the book, so it’s no surprise the ending is a bit odd and feels like it leaves the reader hanging. I was surprised to find out there’s a sequel, as I thought this was a standalone book. On the one hand I’m glad there’s another one, because the story isn’t finished. On the other, I’m not a fan of such total cliffhanger endings.

Overall, the first half of the book offers up a thrilling and horrifying critique of just how far people should be willing to go to get pregnant. The second half, however, is not as tightly plotted and drops the well-rounded characterization found in the first half of the book. Recommended to pregnancy and/or genetic modification horror enthusiasts who may be interested in a different twist but won’t be disappointed by a cliffhanger ending.

Check out my full review. ( )
  gaialover | Oct 2, 2014 |
Rating: 3 of 5

Breed started off with terrific momentum and intrigue, then it sort of ... petered out. I don't know what happened or why Novak lost me so abruptly around page 167, but from that point forward I was pushing myself through to the end. Perhaps it was the heavy-handed foreshadowing that ruined the mystery and anticipation? It was SO obvious what was going to happen in the Twisden family. Or maybe this should've been a short story/novella where it would pack more punch? The strongest aspect of the entire story was its exploration of obsession and going against nature for one's own desires. ( )
  flying_monkeys | Jan 14, 2014 |
A book with a blurb by Stephen King always turns out to be a good book for me. In Breed we meet Leslie and Alex, a happy married couple who have everything they could possibly want, except for children. After going through numerous treatments and failing, they find out about a doctor in Slovenia who has had success in getting couples to conceive. Leslie and Alex travel all the way over there and do end up getting pregnant after the sketchy treatment. Five months later, they have triplets; but the third baby is born with extremely deformations and is "discarded". As time goes by, Leslie and Alex start experiencing the side effects of their questionable treatment and what follows is a very fast paced and gory horror story about how their lives get completely destroyed. I really liked it all the way through, even those stomach churning scenes; but I definitely think that the chasing sequences (Alex and Leslie going after their kids) could have been shorter and less repetitive. Other than that, Breed is everything Mr. King said it would be. ( )
1 vote AleAleta | Dec 12, 2013 |
I picked up this book after reading Stephen King's endorsement in Entertainment Weekly...because if Stephen King likes it, I have to try it.

Alex and Leslie Twisden have tried everything in a desperate attempt to have children. But nothing's worked, until a friend recommends an experimental procedure done overseas. Alex and Leslie agree that this will be the last procedure, and that they'll pay anything to become pregnant. Leslie does indeed become pregnant by the time they return to America, but both she and Alex have changed...

Ten years later, Alex and Leslie are raising ten-year-old twins Adam and Alice. They love their children, but every night without fail, they lock their children into their bedrooms. And the twins are growing more and more fearful of the noises coming from their parents' bedroom.

I've noticed a lot of horror mash-ups going on in the publishing world, including this new breed (if you'll pardon the pun) of experimental horrific literary fiction. Earlier examples include House of Leaves and American Psycho, although the first book that came to my mind after reading Breed was The Devil in Silver by Victor Lavalle. Both books employ a present-tense third-person omniscient point-of-view, giving the reader an unusual distance from the characters. In a literary sense, it felt like I was watching the story unfold from a lofty vantage point, which left me with a vague sense of detached discomfort rather than down-and-out terror.

The novel tends to focus on the characters and the horrors of society, rather than on the supernatural horrors of the main plot. Much of the book is spent following Adam and Alice as they escape from their locked bedroom and try to stay away from their frightening parents, who are desperate to bring them back home. The story tends to become a bit repetitive, but the repetition is punctuated by moments of genuine shocked...a man getting impaled on a statue in the middle of Central Park is certainly jarring, to say the least.

Breed has been compared to Rosemary's Baby, which was one of the main reasons why I was so eager to get to this book. And in a sense, it does owe a lot to its predecessor in terms taking pregnancy and turning it into something horrific. But Rosemary's Baby amps up the claustrophobia to a nearly unbearable level, while Breed maintains a detached perspective throughout the entire story.

But if one of horror's most defining characteristics is the unhappy and unresolved ending, Breed delivers in spades. If you like your endings neatly wrapped up or with a modicum of hope, Breed is not your book.

As a whole, Breed felt a little disjointed and rambling, but I'm willing to blame my reading preferences instead of shoddy writing. For seasoned horror fans looking for a fresh voice or more literary writing, Breed would be an excellent book to suggest.

Readalikes: The Devil in Silver - Victor Lavalle. Pepper is an everyday working man who inexplicably finds himself committed to a mental asylum in Queens, where the Devil is said to reside. The writing style is a bit more experimental than Breed, but the true horror comes not from a supernatural monster, but from the workings of the real world.

Sharp Teeth - Toby Barlow. In the spirit of experimental literature, Barlow has written a 300 page novel in free verse about werewolves. Sounds insane, but readers seem to have responded extremely favorably to this style.

The Last Werewolf - Glen Duncan. This title is more of a hard-edged romantic suspense novel, but qualifies as another literary, experimental take on the werewolf legend.
( )
1 vote coloradogirl14 | Nov 21, 2013 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0316198560, Hardcover)

Critically celebrated novelist Scott Spencer delivers a Rosemary's Baby-like novel of gothic horror, set against the backdrop of modern-day Upper East Side Manhattan.

Alex and Leslie Twisden lead charmed lives-fabulous jobs, a luxurious town house on Manhattan's Upper East Side, a passionate marriage. What they don't have is a child, and as they try one infertility treatment after the next, yearning turns into obsession. As a last-ditch attempt to make their dream of parenthood come true, Alex and Leslie travel deep into Slovenia, where they submit to a painful and terrifying procedure that finally gives them what they so fervently desire . . . but with awful consequences.

Ten years later, cosseted and adored but living in a house of secrets, the twins Adam and Alice find themselves locked into their rooms every night, with sounds coming from their parents' bedroom getting progressively louder, more violent, and more disturbing.

Driven to a desperate search for answers, Adam and Alice set out on a quest to learn the true nature of the man and woman who raised them. Their discovery will upend everything they thought they knew about their parents and will reveal a threat so horrible that it must be escaped, at any cost.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:01 -0400)

A couple obsessed with their infertility travels to Slovenia to have an unusual and painful procedure that results in horrible consequences they manage to hide until their twins, Adam and Alice, turn ten years old and start asking questions.

(summary from another edition)

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