The Night Worms Review Team loves to come together around a book. SAVAGES by Greg F. Gifune was a happy accident. I shared Matt's photo of SAVAGES to our group chat with a "Hey, this cover, huh?? Wow!"
And then Matt talked about how this was one of his favorite books and before you know it, we're all buying it and agreeing to read and review it as a big group.
So here we are! It's about that time. ~Sadie Hartmann
I love it when a book is set on a tropical island. It's cold as hell here in Canada and it helps me escape. There's nothing better than feeling the hot sun beating down on your skin, the cool ocean water sweeping in from the tide, the putrid screams of your friends being brutally murdered. Wait... What?
Savages by Greg Gifune is a castaway style survival story with a deadly twist. A small group washes ashore a mysterious island after a vicious storm claimed their boat. Battered and defeated, the survivors gather what little strength they have left and make a last-ditch effort to endure with the hope of being rescued. Only, they are not alone on the island. Faced with an unimaginable evil, survival takes on a whole new meaning.
There is so much to like about this book. The story is a creative blend of survival and slasher that makes for a bloody good time. One second the characters are trying to build a shelter and search for food, the next they are attempting to escape a horrible death at the hands of a monster. I really enjoyed how that story kept evolving and you get to learn the backstory of the island involving unit 731. After that, shit gets real for the characters on the island.
I gave Savages 4 / 5 stars. This incredible story is fast-paced and full of the gory-goodness you'd expect from a slasher. The savage is loose, and there is no escape.
Savages holds every horror trope I love. Deserted island, survival, evil forces, the exploring of abandoned buildings, gore, guts, and more gore. YES PLEASE!
Set in an uncharted small island, Savages begins with a small chapter titled After, quickly gripping you with the aftermath of the events that are about to unfold. So right there you are HOOKED! Then we rewind and fall into chapter one with one of my favorite characters in the book, Dallas, floating in the ocean alone and hurt. See, him, his wife and some friends were on vacation when a storm hits them, while on a boat and leaves them in shambles, out to sea trying to survive for several days. Separated from his friends he comes upon land and shortly thereafter reunited with most of his crew along with the captain of the boat. I mean just right there we have an amazing story. Survival on an island with no rescue in sight is a horror story within itself but nope that’s not all we’re dealing with. NOPE. Add to this an evil force willing to protect this island by killing anything in sight, now we have double the horror, AND I’M ALL FOR IT!!!!!
This book was enthralling from beginning to end, and might I add it has the perfect cover and title for its content. I definitely fell in love with Gifune’s writing style. The way each chapter ended so ominously making the transition from chapter to chapter feels like the closing of a curtain in a play. “Night was on its way, and there’d be no stopping it. All they could hope for now was that it planned to come alone.” Another aspect of the book I thoroughly enjoyed was the character development. Each character had its change from start to end but I think I was greatly pleased, albeit quite disturbed, with Herm’s development, adding a touch more to the title of the book.
Overall a very enjoyable fast-paced read! Now please excuse me as I go buy all of Greg’s other books!
I think I've always been a fan of the "shipwrecked on a deserted island" trope. Watching an interesting/diverse cast of characters get thrown into hostile living conditions while trying to survive is pure unadulterated entertainment. Think, THE LORD OF THE FLIES by William Golding, CASTAWAYS by Brian Keene, THE FORGOTTEN ISLAND by David Sodergren and of course one of my favorite TV shows, LOST.
Gifune does an amazing job with the set-up here. Identifying personality traits with potential conflicts and revealing some flaws/weaknesses that we get to tuck away for future reference. A very promising beginning.
Now, things start to happen on the island and I won't get into these plot details because this is where the element of surprise serves to enhance the horror.
I will say that I loved the way Gifune applies multiple sources of pressure to his characters.
Environmental pressures, pressures of basic survival, the pressure of getting along with people under stressful living conditions and a predatory pressure.
All of these layers build upon one another slowly like someone shaking a carbonated drink with their finger hovering over the pop-top. Something or someone is going to blow.
My favorite aspect of this story has to be the character arcs. When we first meet everyone, we are given a pretty standard rundown of who they are as a stereotype. The alpha-male. The bimbo. The nerdy outcast. But then, as they are stretched past their breaking points, their true natures are exposed under fire and we get to watch these stereotypes evolve into complicated, authentic individuals who are capable of the unexpected. My favorite being Quinn, but I'll let you figure that out for yourselves. I gave it 4/5 stars because there were some info dumps for the sake of explaining important elements of the story. Telling not showing.
Instagram: Mother Horror
Savages follows a group of friends after they have a shipwreck and wash up on an island in the middle of the Pacific. The only issues are that they might not be alone on the island and it’s not just the elements that are after their lives. I didn’t think I was a fan of the shipwrecked-on-a-deserted-
I think that, for a book with a plot that could become really overdone, Gifune did a great job making this a unique story. I can say that I have read a lot of shipwreck novels, but I haven’t read anything quite like this. It actually gave me some real-life information to google and now I have some more random knowledge about really weird subjects to share at parties. Overall, I’m giving Savages 4 stars. It lost a star for me because the characters knew too much. I don’t see how an EMT, a history teacher, and a survival expert are all lost on this island at once. They just knew things that a normal group of friends probably wouldn’t have.
I would recommend this book to anyone who likes weird historical facts, shipwrecked horror tropes, and the supernatural. It’s a fast read that will leave you feeling lost when you finish it.
I had a blast reading Savages. So much so, that I picked the book up and had blown through 150 pages of it before putting it back down. There is a lot of bloodshed and violence in this book, and I’ve gotta say, I really loved it. The character interactions were great, and although they were friends, the personality clashes make for tense moments even when there wasn’t much going on. Another plus with this story for me was the villain. I love the little bits of history thrown in and the way that this monster came to be.
My only complaint with this book was the characters themselves. Yes, I said I loved their interactions with each other, and that they served the story well, BUT that being said, I really didn’t care for any of them. Not only that, but 3 of the characters in the book were just plain annoying. Other than that, I have no issues with Savages. A fun, gruesome adventure on an uncharted island is propped up by an excellent antagonist and constant tension, making up for characters that I just couldn’t get behind. Greg Gifune is an author I’m going to be on the lookout for.
This is the fourth book I've read this year with basically the same plot. I suppose I'm not tired of them if I keep reading them, and it sounds as if other people are still into them too since writers keep writing them.
This is a simple synopsis of all four books: Group of people suddenly end up on a deserted, uncharted island. However, something/someone is on the island and now they are being hunted. Group of people are picked off in extremely grisly ways one by one. Obviously all four books have more going on that just that, but they all share that basic plot structure. Gifune takes his castaways and lets them wash up on the island and try to set up some kind of camp before amping up the action. The initial tension in SAVAGES is between the group of friends that have survived their boat being capsized. One character is an alpha-male adventurer type who is the obvious leader but continues to butt heads with the one friend who has been picked on and bullied all of his life. The group also has to deal with missing friends and those that are probably mortally wounded. Things are not looking good for our group of survivors. Then a new threat appears.
As the friends are hunted their base instincts kick in, and all of them have to dig deep within themselves to survive this new threat. But horror has a pattern, and readers expect lots of blood and carnage before the last epic fight/standoff with the Final Girl. Even though these stories all end up the same way, they have details that set them apart and make each reading experience unique. And all of the antagonists are very different. Gifune's bad guy is really interesting and not something that I saw coming.
I liked some of his characters and had mixed feelings for others, but I was definitely invested in Gifune's group of castaways. Some deaths were definitely more painful for the reader than others. And like I said, the thing that is hunting this group of friends is not something that's been done before, and so I didn't see it coming at all. Well, I mean up to a point. At some point in SAVAGES, it becomes mostly clear what the friends will be dealing with.
I had a good time reading this book so no, I'm not tired of Islands filled with carnage stories, even though I've read four of them this year alone. I think I liked a couple of the others a little more, but Gifune's book is still worth picking up. I mean, If you are reading this, I'm assuming you like island castaway carnage stories too.
Well, that escalated quickly! And I want more!
This was a fun little romp into the crash victims left on a deserted (or is it) island. This quickly becomes something of a pumped-up Lost: the know-it-all cockfighting for position with another male, the married couple and the bimbo girl (the skipper, too! *insert music*). As we know from any read with this type of plot, things start to spiral as people grow a bit more insane with each passing day. Throw in something killing them off and then BOOM - we have some tense, horrifically gorgeous bloody moments!
I needed just a tad more character development with this story. Here's the thing - I love to hate characters and I pretty much didn't like any of them except for Quinn... and maybe Dallas, which I'm fine with but if you're going to give me survivors to savages, I need more on the characters. I did enjoy some of the character arcs but mostly I felt a little wanting. And there were a couple of things I wanted to know more of (but not from Herm or Gino for goodness sakes - though they seemed to know EVERYTHING with abundance). I loved little inklings thrown in such as the magazine - but then... nothing. I felt like this was leading to some other kind of explanation that got lost in the blood and gore.
I will say though that whether it was the author's intention or not, I loved the back story of the island how it kind of paralleled the survivor's experiences albeit an unplanned experiment of its own. *wink*
SAVAGES Review by The Horror Hypothesis
“The longer we’re stuck here, Dal, the less human we’re going to get.” -Greg Gifune
“They were all spiraling down more and more each day, each hour, each moment. Farther and farther away from who they had once been and still believed themselves to be.” -Greg Gifune
I love when horror writers exploit the thin line that exists between our primal lizard brain and the veil of humanity. Greg Gifune’s SAVAGES takes the classic William Golding, LORD OF THE FLIES, approach to exposing this truth, but adds several unique twists to the formula that I shall not spoil here. Half of the fun of this novel is being led alongside the survivors into Gifune’s strategically placed reveals. Each successive chapter uncovers more and more about the mystery behind the deserted island where the main characters are marooned, and as they start to get picked off, one by one, the reader is left in a whirlwind of fight or flight madness. It’s like LOST if LOST wasn’t a confusing, dire mess. SAVAGES answers the main question it raises. What does it take to lose our humanity?
4.5 out of 5 stars.
Instagram: The Horror Hypothesis