Book Review: The Loop by Jeremy Robert Johnson | More2Read
 

The Loop by Jeremy Robert Johnson

 



Alien meets World War Z in this heart-racing thriller as a group of teenagers attempt to survive the night in a town overcome by a science experiment gone wrong.

A small town nestled in the hills of central Oregon becomes the epicenter of an epidemic of violence when the teenaged children of several executives from the local biotech firm become ill and aggressively murderous. Suddenly the town is on edge, and everyone must do everything it takes just to survive…


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Praise For The Loop:

“A wickedly entertaining but also grotesque teen nightmare that’s pretty much Stranger Things meets Rogue One.”
-Kirkus Reviews

“Unputdownable…Fans of The Twilight Zone, The X-Files, and Stranger Things will be especially thrilled.”
-Publishers Weekly, starred review

“A satisfyingly dark satire of, well, everything…Imagine Blake Crouch and Mira Grant re-writing Chuck Wendig’s Wanderers (2019)—fans of all three authors are part of the wide audience who will flock to this heart-pounding and deeply unsettling tale.”
-Booklist

“The Loop is the Cronenberg film we never got. It’s a volcano of a book: violent, compassionate, relentless, and opulently strange.”
—Nathan Ballingrud, author of North American Lake Monster and Wounds

“Jeremy writes like his brain is on fire and he’s in no rush to put it out.”
—Paul Tremblay, author of Survivor Song

“The Loop is hilarious and horrifying.”
—Brian Keene, author of The Rising

“The Loop is a wild and wonderfully scary novel—a genuine thrill ride stuffed with conspiracy theories, science gone wrong, and brutal terror.”
—Richard Chizmar, author of Gwendy’s Magic Feather

 

Praise For Jeremy Robert Johnson:

 

“A shitload of fun.”
—David Wong on Skullcrack City

“A dazzling writer.”
—Chuck Palahniuk, bestselling author of Fight Club. 

“A master of mood, seamlessly combining the literary with the grotesque. Johnson deserves to be a household name…”
—Publishers Weekly

“Genre-bending…haunting and humorous.”
—The Washington Post

“Johnson captures humanity’s absurdity, our grotesqueries, sometimes our triumphs, all the while pushing past the limits of reality, transforming it into something dark, and surreal, and unforgettable.”
—BARNES & NOBLE SCI-FI AND FANTASY BLOG

“A powerful imagination, a great talent for storytelling, writing chops that allow him to tackle any genre, and a flowing, dynamic voice that, if Johnson were a singer, would extend to an impressive eight octaves.”
—Electric Literature 

“Surreal, visceral, and frequently unsettling…One more descriptor, while we’re at it: highly entertaining. Johnson brings a pulpy urgency to the page, which blends neatly with the frequently heady concepts that he utilizes in his fiction.”
—Tor.com

“One of the most exciting voices in contemporary fiction. Jeremy Robert Johnson’s work has always tested the limits of both genre and literary fiction.”
—Bookslut

“Not unlike David Foster Wallace’s wicked and perhaps deranged younger brother.”
—21C Magazine

“A dazzling writer.”
—Chuck Palahniuk

“Jeremy Robert Johnson is dancing to a way different drummer. He loves language, he loves the edge, and he loves us people. This is entertainment…and literature.”
—Jack Ketchum

“Johnson writes with an energy that propels you through some very dark spaces indeed and into something profoundly unsettling but nonetheless human.”
—Brian Evenson

“I’m a longtime fan of Johnson. A master of derangement, he’s been bringing it for years.”
—Laird Barron

“Reading Johnson, you feel you are in the grip of an immensely powerful, possibly malevolent, but fiercely intelligent mind.”
—Nick Cutter

“I’ve seen the future and it’s bizarre, it’s beautifully berserk, it’s Jeremy Robert Johnson.”
—Stephen Graham Jones

“The guy’s a genius. Reminds me of William Gibson—the dark interest in altered states of consciousness, the unrelentingly furious forward movement, and the same kind of unlimited imagination.”
—Ben Loory

“Jeremy Robert Johnson performs stand-up comedy for the gods. As with Clive Barker, there is no glorious mutational eruption that Johnson can’t nail directly through your gawping mind’s eye.”
—John Skipp

“In its most twisted moments, Johnson’s writing is too gleeful to pigeon-hole as strictly horror, and when he steps outside the gross-out game he transcends most other straight literary writers.”
—Verbicide 

“Johnson weaves vivid and fascinatingly grotesque tales.”
—Bookgasm

“I don’t know if Mr. Johnson sold his soul to the devil to give him this gift for nightmare imagery, but by god, this guy can write. Johnson excels at pathology and perversity. A confirmed weirdo and authentic writer of uncommon emotional depth who deserves to be watched.”
—Cemetery Dance



Review:

 

Trauma
Truth
They
Youth
Control
Corporation
Cover-Up
Blood thirsty uprising

Empathy for two young characters, Bucket and Lucy, on receiving end of hate and their journey forward with Lucy the main character into upheaval, the reader is hooked with her survival and strength in the balance, whilst.. “her life had become a living, breathing nightmare and all she could do was survive.”(quote from The Loop)

Visceral, visionary, and surreal, free-flowing nicely crafted dialogue and scenes with the horrifically challenging prejudices and human intolerance in all of which lives just got whole new injection of infectious cacophony of hypnotic directives with murder mayhem madness and chaos imminent, things falling apart with trouble in little Turner Falls.

In the art of film this would be an adaptation inspired by John Carpenter, Ridley Scott, Rod Serling, and Coen Brothers, written by Jeremy Robert Johnson.

This one met expectations, and beat many that did not deliver this year, with great thrill and characters, fluid telling, and a genre almagamating hook.

I have an interview with the author waiting to be posted soon, hold tight for the page release in few days time!



Excerpts:

 

“Half the kids at school called Bucket “Sandy,” ever since they found out he came to the States from Pakistan, and all the kids knew what was really being said. Lucy got her share of nasty bullshit too—plenty of “Loogie” and “Go back to Mexico” and “taco b****” and “donkey f*****,” and after a while she didn’t even care enough to tell them she was actually from Peru.”

“The Hendersons encouraged Lucy to embrace her heritage, whatever that meant. They wanted her to take enough Spanish classes to retain her grasp on the language, while she did her best to bury her accent and speak clear, overenunciated English. They connected her with a school advocate to help her with the cultural and linguistic transition, but Lucy stopped meeting with her once she realized how those visits made her feel alien, as if she were a different species needing special handling. The Hendersons even offered to travel to Peru with Lucy after her senior year, to help her reconnect to her “motherland” and revisit the places she managed to remember from her parents’ near-vagrancy, like Pucallpa or the outskirts of Lima. She knew they meant well, but what they didn’t understand is that the moment they adopted her she placed her past in a small box in her heart, and locked it, and said, That time is done.
Because Peru, to her, was not her culture, or a land to which she felt some intimate connection aside from a few pleasant sense memories. Rather, it was the awful and perpetually unsure world her parents had created for her there. Her Peru was knowing that nobody was waiting for you when you needed them. It was knowing that you found your own food in the morning because not even slapping your parents would rouse them, and by evening they’d be gone again, so dinner was on you too. It was a school system that grew tired of trying to save her from her home and let her fade away so they wouldn’t have to face the shame of their failure. It was a place where nothing was solid, and often the only joy was found in drifting through the city as a hungry ghost.
She’d learned to be small and fast, so anyone who might try to stop her movement wouldn’t see her for long. If someone stared, then she’d stare back and say, “I’m hungry,” and that made her disappear again. Soon the only people who spotted her were those with bad intentions, and she’d learned to spot them too, and to flee.
She learned to listen, and found entertainment in the lives of others. She heard their stories floating from windows and felt she soon understood the city better than most. She fell asleep under cantata shrubs outside the nursery of a new baby named Sandro, stealing his lullabies for herself. She woke at dusk with tears in her eyes.
She learned which stores would look the other way if a ghost suddenly fled their store with a piece of fruit. She found the nooks and tuckaways in the city where the other ghosts would congregate and share what they had found. The memory of these riverside and concrete hiding spots was the only thing—aside from her favorite fruits—that she missed on occasion.
The truth was that Peru was gone, and the worst of it—that life of never-knowing, her parents’ fighting, the accident, the orphanage—was something Lucy had turned into an abstraction. So when the Hendersons pushed her to “embrace her heritage,” she felt they didn’t understand—her heritage was a dangerous feeling in her heart that she did her best to reduce to a permanent ache, and she feared that if she embraced it she might burn to death, like her parents.
The only thing she allowed herself were a few memories—the feeling of the river current, the taste of fruit, the beauty of the highland orchids—and her ability to disappear into the world of ghosts.”

Midway point of this journey she comes to this thinking:

“I am not the Hendersons’ daughter. I am not Bucket’s friend, or Brewer’s girl, or Dr. Nielsen’s patient, or a goddamned orphan. I’m not Loogie or all the jokes at my expense. I’m not a product for your use.
I’m only me. I’m right now. I’m here.
Maybe I’ve lost my mind, but this feels right.
I wish I’d lost my mind a long time ago.”

 



About the Author

Jeremy Robert Johnson is the author of the critically acclaimed collection Entropy in Bloom as well as the breakthrough cult novel Skullcrack City. His fiction has been praised by The Washington Post and Publishers Weekly, authors such as David Wong, Chuck Palahniuk, and Jack Ketchum, and has appeared internationally in numerous anthologies and magazines. In 2008, he worked with The Mars Volta to tell the story behind their Grammy-winning album, The Bedlam in Goliath. In 2010 he spoke about weirdness and metaphor as a survival tool at the Fractal 10 conference in Medellin, Colombia. In 2017, his short story “When Susurrus Stirs” was adapted for film and won numerous awards including the Final Frame Grand Prize and Best Short Film at the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival. Jeremy is intermittently social over at Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter @JRJ_Is_Probable.

 


 

Photograph © Christopher Cleary 2017



Previous Works:

In The River


Review


 

Entropy in Bloom


 

Skullcrack City


 

We Live Inside You


 

Reviewed by Lou Pendergrast on 21 September 2020