The Conformity

February 22, 2018 at 6:00 pm (Reads) (, , , )

conformityThe Conformity by John Hornor Jacobs

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In the previous two books in Jacobs’ trilogy, he borrowed heavily from existing horror stories, but made his stories unique partly through Shreve’s voice. In The Conformity, he mixes up his formula, and I question if it works as well as he thinks it does.

For one thing, what he borrows from horror is a little too distinctive to borrow: He adopts the giant-person-made-up-of-regular-people idea that Clive Barker used in “In the Hills, the Cities”. I’ve never seen that trope used in any other horror story, namely because it’s so distinctive, an author wouldn’t be able to get away with it without looking like a copycat. It’s not the point of Jacobs’ story like it was in Barker’s, but still, it was impossible to read this book and not think of Barker’s story.

For another, Jacobs goes outside of Shreve to narrate parts of the story, and I don’t understand why he broke that formula. In regards to the story, it makes sense — Shreve is knocked unconscious for several days, and it’s up to others in the Society of Extranaturals to continue the story — but since Shreve can now jump into anyone’s head and experience their lives directly, I question why Jacobs didn’t use this as a way to show what the other characters are doing.

The pacing of the novel feels off, too. The ending comes rather suddenly, when Jacobs spends pages and chapters showing us a side-quest that never serves a purpose to the overall story. It feels like Jacobs was padding the story to get to a certain page-count, which is still odd, when he could have spent more time drawing out the ending of the book instead.

I didn’t thing The Conformity was bad, but I can’t deny I was disappointed, either. Jacobs started out telling a unique, if familiar, story, and then ended it in a way that was weaker than the first two books. I still liked the trilogy enough to want to read more of his fiction, and I would still recommend the series to readers looking for a unique take on a coming-of-age story, but I feel like the author didn’t quite stick the landing here. Consider this book a 7.5 performance from a 9.8 athlete.

Started: December 8, 2017
Finished: December 13, 2017

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