Jeremy works at the counter of Video Hut in Nevada, Iowa. It’s a small town—the first “a” in the name is pronounced ay—smack in the center of the state. This is the late 1990s, pre-DVD, and the Hollywood Video in Ames poses an existential threat to Video Hut. But there are regular customers, a predictable rush in the late afternoon. It’s good enough for Jeremy: It’s a job; it’s quiet and regular; he gets to watch movies; he likes the owner, Sarah Jane; it gets him out of the house, where he and his dad try to avoid missing Mom, who died six years ago in a car wreck.
But when Stephanie Parsons, a local schoolteacher, comes in to return her copy of Targets, starring Boris Karloff—an old movie, one Jeremy himself had ordered for the store—she has an odd complaint: “There’s something on it,” she says, but doesn’t elaborate. Two days later, Lindsey Redinius brings back She’s All That, a new release, and complains that there’s something wrong with it: “There’s another movie on this tape.”
So Jeremy takes a look. And indeed, in the middle of the movie the screen blinks dark for a moment and She’s All That is replaced by a black-and-white scene, shot in a barn, with only the faint sounds of someone breathing. Four minutes later, She’s All That is back. But there is something profoundly disturbing about that scene; Jeremy’s compelled to watch it three or four times. The scenes recorded onto Targets are similar, undoubtedly created by the same hand. Creepy. And the barn looks a lot like a barn just outside of town.
Jeremy doesn’t want to be curious. In truth, it freaks him out, deeply. This has gone far enough, maybe too far already. But Stephanie is pushing, and once Sarah Jane takes a look and becomes obsessed, there’s no more ignoring the disturbing scenes on the videos. And all of a sudden, what had once been the placid, regular old Iowa fields and farmhouses now feels haunted and threatening, imbued with loss and instability and profound foreboding. For Jeremy, and all those around him, life will never be the same . . . (Goodreads)
So, this was a little outside my normal fare of novel, but I loved the sound of the blurb (although, dang, that's a long one!). And indeed, it was interesting. I loved the stories intertwining and coming together at the end. The explanation of the strange interspersed scenes on the videos finally all made some sense (although, I feel like the reasoning could have been delved into more). It was well written, but to be honest, not captivating. At first it had a great, creepy vibe, but it just got lost along the way. Also, the jarring switches in narrative made it difficult for me to feel connected to any one character in the novel, which I recognize isn't always necessary, but something I personally prefer. There were definitely times I went back pages to see if I'd somehow missed something, and that's not the best thing to have happen while reading. Anyhow, overall, an interesting premise and very good writing, but not something that really got me at a gut level, and I'll admit did not hold my attention as some other novels can.
Heard of this one? How does the blurb strike you?