Reviewed by Scott A. Johnson
Written by Bryan Smith
Published by Leisure Books
I'm not such a big fan of "torture-porn." Granted, when it was fresh and new, films like House of 1000 Corpses and the remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre raked in a lot of money. Wrong Turn did the whole "incest mutants" thing pretty well. But after a while, it just got old. When the actual story takes a back seat to rape, torture, and cannibalism, what the reader gets is a collection of sordid details without much to connect them.
Depraved certainly lives up to its name, in that every character (even the good guys) seems hellbent to have sex with, or kill (or both) everything that moves. The book opens with a woman, who has been raped, driving down the road with her rapist tied up in the trunk of her car. It's a good beginning, but one that quickly dissolves into a collection of disjointed plot lines and unbelievable coincidences, character choices, and clichés that leave most readers confused and unsatisfied. The story moves from there to a man and woman who stop in a tiny town to get a map when the man is raped, kidnapped, and his girlfriend is never noticed in the car outside. But then she gets raped too. Oh, and there's the rapist from the previous scene...He gets raped. And there's more raping to go around. With a minor dose of cannibalism, which takes a back seat to the joyous pursuit of rape.
The characters in this book start out likable, but then move into the realm of "WTF" when they all (yes, all) begin to screw and murder their way out of the town. It doesn't come across as desperation, nor does it come across as a choice they had to make to save their individual lives. It comes across as "well, things suck...Let's have sex and shoot people." It doesn't get any better in the end as (without giving anything away) the characters seem to forget about their lives interrupted and move in bizarrely unrealistic directions.
Which is not to say there's nothing likable about the book. Depraved gives vivid descriptions of every brutal moment. Smith is very good with descriptive detail and writes red-necks like no one else can. In fact, one of the most horrific scenes in the book (which is a rape scene, but of a sort I've never seen before) is told with such horrific brutality that one can't help but laugh to keep from being violently ill.
On the whole, Depraved is light on actual plot, light on realistic characters, and heavy on the gore, sex, and ass-rape. It doesn't shy away from the gruesome details, but it does seem to shy away on realistic character choices. While Smith is very talented in his ability to conjure images from written words, this book doesn't seem to conjure his best work.
2 1/2 out of 5
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