Twisted – Sue Hollister Barr
BMI – 1992
Twisted is, perhaps, the worst novel I have ever read. It is boring, disjointed, stupid and pointless. In an interview, the author herself referred to this novel as a “fucking piece of shit” and admitted that it’s padded with “formless, utterly embarrassing mush.”
This is a book about a group of hippies who find themselves travelling across America in a van together. On their voyage, they realise that they were all family members in a past life. The Carnes, the family they belonged to, were particularly dysfunctional, so dysfunctional, in fact, that their issues start to bleed into their next lives.
Here are the problems with this book:
- The plot makes no sense. The characters are thrown together in a frustratingly lazy way. I get that the author wanted to capture the care-free, happy-go-lucky atmosphere of the flower-power generation, but the idea of a group of 10 random hippies abandoning everything in their lives at the drop of a hat to form a band and travel cross country is dumb and cringey. As the book goes on, it becomes apparent that they were actually drawn together by some paranormal force, but that makes no sense either. Is it the wickedness of the Carnes or their family ties that brings them back together in their next lives? Either way, the reader is expected to swallow a remarkably narrow version of reincarnation.
- There are far too many characters in the book. They’re all dull, dislikable stock characters; there’s the junkie, a token black guy, the crazy one, the witchy one, the gay one… Also, each of the 10+ main characters has at least two alter-egos. The only remotely enjoyable part of the book was when they die.
- “Far out! Like, the dialogue is totally excruciating, man.”
- The author seems unsure as to what horror is. Some scenes are surprisingly gory, but this is basically a shitty thriller that is confused by the ridiculous paranormal element of the plot. Yes, there is an element of the supernatural here, but it adds absolutely nothing to the suspense of the story. I honestly believe that this book would have been much more tolerable if it was a more straight forward murder-mystery. The author has acknowledged that she was not a horror fan at the time of writing the book and that she only wrote this book for money. She admitted, “When I was teaching writing, I would tell my students that the one genre I couldn’t cover was horror. I morally objected to it. I thought it was sick and I’d never read it.” Ugh. How annoying! I am absolutely convinced that I could write a far better horror novel than this.
- Twisted is poorly written. Not only is the plot stupid, it’s also poorly executed. The narration goes back and forth in time and flips between the perspectives of the 20+ characters. The stuff in between the murders is horrendously tedious too. Absolute garbage. The author has admitted that the publishing company demanded an extra 50 pages to be added to the book after she had submitted it. I honestly believe that her first submission was probably a lot more enjoyable.
- The cover is pretty cool but very misleading. There is no angry green twisty man in the book. Also, the tagline “The Sins of the Father Never Die” is dumb.
I actually feel a bit bad about this review. I don’t have any qualms about attacking the work of non-fiction authors because non-fiction should be able to withstand attacks, but attacking the product of another person’s creativity (that is being presented as such) feels a bit mean, and as far as I can remember, this is the first time I’ve really done so on this blog. Then again, this book was so bad that I feel that I would be doing the world a disservice by not expressing how terrible it is. The fact that the author has also admitted that the book is awful makes me feel a little better. As a matter of fact, she was so unhappy with it that she actually self published a new, apparently much-improved, edition of the book a few years ago. I definitely won’t be checking it out, but it probably is better than the edition I read. The edition that I have comes from BMI books, a scam company that was apparently created so that the publishing house could get out of paying the authors any royalties, so if for some reason you were curious about reading Twisted, I would suggest buying the new edition.
The new edition also has a much improved cover; the angry green face on the original edition has transformed into a surprised shoelace. Priceless.