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The Cipher by Kathe Koja
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The Cipher (original 1991; edition 1991)

by Kathe Koja (Author)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3711750,001 (3.77)23
Winner of the Bram Stoker Award and Locus Awards, finalist for the Philip K. Dick Award, and named one of io9.com's "Top 10 Debut Science Fiction Novels That Took the World By Storm." With a new afterword by Maryse Meijer, author of Heartbreaker and Rag. "Black. Pure black and the sense of pulsation, especially when you look at it too closely, the sense of something not living but alive." When a strange hole materializes in a storage room, would-be poet Nicholas and his feral lover Nakota allow their curiosity to lead them into the depths of terror. "Wouldn't it be wild to go down there?" says Nakota. Nicholas says, "We're not." But no one is in control, and their experiments lead to obsession, violence, and a very final transformation for everyone who gets too close to the Funhole.… (more)
Member:NathanielStoll
Title:The Cipher
Authors:Kathe Koja (Author)
Info:Dell (1991), 356 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:
Tags:to-read

Work details

The Cipher by Kathe Koja (1991)

  1. 10
    Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes (sturlington)
    sturlington: Urban decay and the thin spaces between realities.
  2. 00
    The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValle (sturlington)
    sturlington: Read these books back-to-back and they seemed very similar in certain ways.
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» See also 23 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 17 (next | show all)
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
What a read.... I am still scared after finishing this book. This book is heavy heavy heavy on body horror.

I am not that much fan of the horror novel other than soft horror I try to read. But this book amazed me a lot and what a writing style of the author Koja. Normally, I am unable to read through many horror novels, but this one was a unique and refreshing adventure all the way through. The prose took a little getting used to, but it certainly made the novel feel more surreal, as if experiencing someone's fever dream.
Kathe Koja's classic horror novel was the winner of the 1991 Bram Stoker Award, and was recently named one of io9.com's Top 10 Debut Science Fiction Novels That Took the World By Storm.

This is a excellent horror book written by Koja and I highly recommend it if you like supernatural horror. I have received the ebook copy from Meerkat Press for review. I am greatful to introducing me to this book and new author Kathe Koja, I am interested now to read her other books in future.
When I started the book initially I wasn’t fond of the writing style of author and it took time for me to get adjusted to the writing style of the author. But as I continue reading I felt that this is marvellous work of horror fiction and got adjusted to the writing style of the author.
Briefly, The Cipher tells the story of Nicholas and Nakota, who discover a mysterious black hole/portal in the utility closet of Nicholas' apartment building. The book involves Nicholas' deterioration after he puts his hand into the hole and ends up with a black hole of his own, on his right hand. What happens next is you need to really read the book till end and enjoy the story and writing style. I recommend this book to Stephen King horror novels fans to read once.

Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3540100906 ( )
  devendradave | Sep 20, 2020 |
The Cipher will make your skin crawl. Not horror like, don't read at night, but horror like, don't turn out the light and maybe don't open that closet door right now. I'm a BIG Stephen King fan, and that might be my gold standard for creepy horror stories - and this is absolutely on that level. You might leave with a question or two, but you'll definitely enjoy the creepy ride. ( )
  LilyRoseShadowlyn | Sep 16, 2020 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I had a very difficult time reading this book. I wasn't a fan of the writer's style. I found myself having to go back to re-read portions from the very beginning just to understand what was happening. I wanted to give the book a fair chance so I forced myself to read it in it's entirety. Unfortunately, I still didn't care for it very much. It just wasn't my cup of tea!
The book was described as being in the horror genre but I felt that it would have been better classified as "depressing existential angst". There wasn't a single spot of light or joy in the lives of the protagonists and the entire tone of the book followed in that pattern. The story wasn't scary or suspenseful, it was just bleak. The writing seemed to get easier to understand as the book continued but it lagged at times and the whole story just seemed to be one downer after another. Honestly, if the protagonist lives an empty, meaningless, and dull life, and surrounds himself with the same sort of people, why would the reader care how he came to an end?
I guess that my idea of horror is more in line with the writings of Dean Koontz or Stephen King. ( )
  McKemy | Sep 8, 2020 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I've read Koja before. As a matter of fact, it was another of her Bram Stoker award winning novels, SKIN.

I enjoyed THE CIPHER a little more than SKIN, but I still wouldn't recommend this book. THE CIPHER has the same problem that SKIN does: extremely annoying characters. And no; I do not believe that a story's characters have to be likable to be an enjoyable book. But for some reason, I just cannot get past it in Koja's work.

I almost gave it 2 stars, but the premise of the book is fun, so I gave it a boost. ( )
  Mordecai42 | Sep 8, 2020 |
What a ride, what a ride…

Hard to tell, what this is exactly – body horror, cosmic horror, gore, psychological drama, all of this, and then some. Koja’s flowing prose, a stream-of-consciousness narrative, grittily humorous and beautiful in its descripions of squalidness and fear had me drawn in from the first.

Nakota, the narrator’s sort-of girlfriend (when and as it suits her) is as heartless, selfish and bullying a bitch (think Lucy from the “Peanuts” show) as you’ll hope to never meet, is the first to discover the black hole in the closet, dubbing it the “funhole”. Her ideas of fun are certainly more than twisted, I for one had a hard time fathoming what exactly is supposed to be so funny about a black hole of nothingness that kills, twists and horribly mutilates whatever gets too close. It’s Nicholas, the Linus to Nakota’s Lucy of all people, who seems to be triggering these events by his nihilis attitude. As we wach him drifts along and Nakota recruiting more and more devotees to her newly-founded cult, we may be sure that it won’t end well.

Or is any of this even happening? After all, narrator is evincing from the first all the symptoms of clinical depression and may well be sliding into full-on psychosis as the story devolves.
A read that will stay with my, hard as I may try to forget it. ( )
  Nooiniin | Aug 14, 2020 |
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Epigraph
Could my wish be fulfilled,
I would want to be the balm
For a sore,
Dissolved
By your saliva.
---Shikatsube No Magao

Conscious or unconscious, it doesn't matter in the real world.
Rick Lieder
Dedication
For Rick
Impossible without you
With all my love
First words
Nakota, who saw it first: long spider legs drawn up beneath her ugly skirt, wise mouth pursed into nothing like a smile.
Quotations
Because that's what the Funhole was, wasn't it, that was the key and clue: a negativity, an absence, a lack.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Winner of the Bram Stoker Award and Locus Awards, finalist for the Philip K. Dick Award, and named one of io9.com's "Top 10 Debut Science Fiction Novels That Took the World By Storm." With a new afterword by Maryse Meijer, author of Heartbreaker and Rag. "Black. Pure black and the sense of pulsation, especially when you look at it too closely, the sense of something not living but alive." When a strange hole materializes in a storage room, would-be poet Nicholas and his feral lover Nakota allow their curiosity to lead them into the depths of terror. "Wouldn't it be wild to go down there?" says Nakota. Nicholas says, "We're not." But no one is in control, and their experiments lead to obsession, violence, and a very final transformation for everyone who gets too close to the Funhole.

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