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My Heart Is a Chainsaw

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In her quickly gentrifying rural lake town Jade sees recent events only her encyclopedic knowledge of horror films could have prepared her for Jade Daniels is an angry, half-Indian outcast with an abusive father, an absent mother, and an entire town that wants nothing to do with her. She lives in her own world, a world in which protection comes from an unusual source: horro In her quickly gentrifying rural lake town Jade sees recent events only her encyclopedic knowledge of horror films could have prepared her for Jade Daniels is an angry, half-Indian outcast with an abusive father, an absent mother, and an entire town that wants nothing to do with her. She lives in her own world, a world in which protection comes from an unusual source: horror movies…especially the ones where a masked killer seeks revenge on a world that wronged them. And Jade narrates the quirky history of Proofrock as if it is one of those movies. But when blood actually starts to spill into the waters of Indian Lake, she pulls us into her dizzying, encyclopedic mind of blood and masked murderers, and predicts exactly how the plot will unfold. Yet, even as Jade drags us into her dark fever dream, a surprising and intimate portrait emerges… a portrait of the scared and traumatized little girl beneath the Jason Voorhees mask: angry, yes, but also a girl who easily cries, fiercely loves, and desperately wants a home. A girl whose feelings are too big for her body. My Heart Is a Chainsaw is her story, her homage to horror and revenge and triumph.


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In her quickly gentrifying rural lake town Jade sees recent events only her encyclopedic knowledge of horror films could have prepared her for Jade Daniels is an angry, half-Indian outcast with an abusive father, an absent mother, and an entire town that wants nothing to do with her. She lives in her own world, a world in which protection comes from an unusual source: horro In her quickly gentrifying rural lake town Jade sees recent events only her encyclopedic knowledge of horror films could have prepared her for Jade Daniels is an angry, half-Indian outcast with an abusive father, an absent mother, and an entire town that wants nothing to do with her. She lives in her own world, a world in which protection comes from an unusual source: horror movies…especially the ones where a masked killer seeks revenge on a world that wronged them. And Jade narrates the quirky history of Proofrock as if it is one of those movies. But when blood actually starts to spill into the waters of Indian Lake, she pulls us into her dizzying, encyclopedic mind of blood and masked murderers, and predicts exactly how the plot will unfold. Yet, even as Jade drags us into her dark fever dream, a surprising and intimate portrait emerges… a portrait of the scared and traumatized little girl beneath the Jason Voorhees mask: angry, yes, but also a girl who easily cries, fiercely loves, and desperately wants a home. A girl whose feelings are too big for her body. My Heart Is a Chainsaw is her story, her homage to horror and revenge and triumph.

30 review for My Heart Is a Chainsaw

  1. 4 out of 5

    Lala BooksandLala

    Introducing one of my top 3 favourite books of the year

  2. 5 out of 5

    Kat

    so fucking fun!! sgj is killing it (pun intended) and i cannot wait for the sequel!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Regina

    Like people, there are books that give and books that take. My Heart is a Chainsaw is a book that takes an awful lot from its readers. Patience. Concentration. An in-depth knowledge of slasher films and pop culture references. Tolerance of extreme gore - animal (elk) and human. The ability to sleep. A bit of your soul. I can honestly say I’ve never read a novel like this one. A half-Indian 17-year-old girl named Jade is so obsessed with slasher movies that she’s convinced the plot of one is emerging i Like people, there are books that give and books that take. My Heart is a Chainsaw is a book that takes an awful lot from its readers. Patience. Concentration. An in-depth knowledge of slasher films and pop culture references. Tolerance of extreme gore - animal (elk) and human. The ability to sleep. A bit of your soul. I can honestly say I’ve never read a novel like this one. A half-Indian 17-year-old girl named Jade is so obsessed with slasher movies that she’s convinced the plot of one is emerging in real life in her small Idaho town. Is she delusional and just seeing things she wants to see, or is there really a violent killer on the loose? After an intense opening chapter where very bad, very scary things happen to a young tourist couple from the Netherlands out on the town’s lake, the book downshifts and turns into the slowest of slow burns to acclimate readers to Jade’s life and mindset. Long expository third person chapters with long paragraphs and long sentences are punctuated with first person school papers Jade has written for history class, naturally all using her slasher-passion lens. Through these "Slasher 101" papers, we fill in our own gaps of horror movie knowledge and get foreshadowing of terrors to come. While those terrors do eventually arrive, it’s not until about the 60% mark that gore-seekers will get their payoff. The last 40% of the book is a knockout. You’ll white knuckle your copy while grimacing… and gagging. (My Heart is a Chainsaw might as well come with a “gags guaranteed!” sticker on the cover.) That black-and-white book cover design, with a slash going through it, feels very appropriate. This is a love-it-or-hate-it, no-gray-area read. There’s only a handful of people I’d recommend it to, but to those people I recommend it most highly. I’ll leave you with the ending. My Heart is a Chainsaw has the most unforgettable two concluding paragraphs of a novel I’ve probably ever encountered. I was so moved that I read them five or six times in a row, and I’m still thinking about them the next day. Stephen Graham Jones delivers a final gut punch that convinced me I couldn’t give his book anything less than five stars. The last things it took from me were my breath... then my heart. I’m grateful to Gallery Books and the author for the opportunity to read and review a gifted copy via NetGalley. Blog: https://www.confettibookshelf.com/

  4. 4 out of 5

    Nilufer Ozmekik

    Gory. Raw. Disturbing. Bleak. Challenging. Just let out your scream and get ready to expect the unexpected! If you’re not keen on choosing blood pumping, stomach churning, scaring you sh*tless kind of one of the most jaw dropping, wildest rides you may get, just buckle off, go back to your comfort zone, hide yourself under your bed or blanket whatever makes you feel safe from the monsters lurking around! Because this book forces you to face them . Oh quick correction: not only face them but you Gory. Raw. Disturbing. Bleak. Challenging. Just let out your scream and get ready to expect the unexpected! If you’re not keen on choosing blood pumping, stomach churning, scaring you sh*tless kind of one of the most jaw dropping, wildest rides you may get, just buckle off, go back to your comfort zone, hide yourself under your bed or blanket whatever makes you feel safe from the monsters lurking around! Because this book forces you to face them . Oh quick correction: not only face them but you gotta also destroy them to be the last one standing! I have to admit this book has one of the most disturbing zero opening/ prologue you may ever read. My eyes just popped out! I kept blabbering: wha wha whaaat the ffff...” Am I watching gory opening of European thriller? ( it reminded me of the bleakest Nordic thrillers) I cannot help myself! I want to scream , closing my book, running as fast as I could after that opening! But it already hooked me and dragged me to the story. I was possessed. I couldn’t stop to read it! It was addictive! Even though the author’s legendary present tense writing style was challenging for me to focus and the slow burn approach to present us the chaotic atmosphere of the town and its characters made me impatient, the deliciously intriguing parts started sooner after we learn more about inner demons of Jade Daniels: our heroine: a very tough, smart, has encyclopedic knowledge about slasher movies, missing her mom, struggling with her relationship with her dad, trying to honor her mother’s memory. She knows herself: she is not the last girl standing of slasher movies! But when her native town Proofrock turns into movie set of real-life slasher, she has to learn how to protect herself and teach her friend Letha how she handle the danger as a guy wearing gas mask, carrying axes or nail guns following you! Real life Jason Voorhees , Michael Myers are out there to catch you! But Letha focuses on the main reason why Jade is so obsessed with those movies. The reason behind her obsession is more heart wrenching than you can imagine. Overall: this is effective, quiet intense, bloody, terrifying story! The writing style is outstandingly sincere and unique! It’s not for everyone! But if you are true fan of the horror genre, this book is real treasure and outstanding gift to the literature world. Especially those movie references made the day of my inner geek who enjoys watching slasher movies since her childhood! Special thanks to NetGalley and Gallery Books/ Saga Press for sharing this digital reviewer copy with me in exchange my honest opinions.

  5. 4 out of 5

    megs_bookrack

    **4.5-stars rounded up** My Heart Is a Chainsaw is Stephen Graham Jones most recent and brilliant, love letter to the Slasher genre. It's also one of my most anticipated books of the year. Happily, it did not disappoint. I actually finished this on September 2nd. Subsequently, I wrote a full review, which if I do say so myself, was pretty darn good. Then due to major stupidity on my part, my laptop got inadvertently shutdown and all of my efforts were erased. Normally, I would try to find another p **4.5-stars rounded up** My Heart Is a Chainsaw is Stephen Graham Jones most recent and brilliant, love letter to the Slasher genre. It's also one of my most anticipated books of the year. Happily, it did not disappoint. I actually finished this on September 2nd. Subsequently, I wrote a full review, which if I do say so myself, was pretty darn good. Then due to major stupidity on my part, my laptop got inadvertently shutdown and all of my efforts were erased. Normally, I would try to find another person within striking distance to blame, but unfortunately, there was just me, my dog and a potentially haunted ceiling fan. But I digress...let's try it again: Jade Daniels is a social outcast in her small, lakeside town of Proofrock, Idaho. A half-Indian girl, forced to live with her abusive father, Jade changes her hair color often and views the world through a prism of her vast knowledge of the Horror genre. As her high school career comes to a close, there's not much on the horizon for Jade. She works as a janitor for the local public school system, and it seems she may be doing so well into the future. That in and of itself is fine. If she could just stay away from her Dad and his pervy friend, it would all be okay. When mysterious events around town start mirroring the plot structure of her favorite genre, however, Jade knows it's finally happening. Oddly, she's excited by the prospect. Proofrock has a real-life slasher on their hands! Therefore, she does what any logical Horror Aficionado would do and tracks down the most obvious choice for final girl, so she may teach her the fine art of defeating a Slasher. Sure, there will be a high body count, that's a given. After all, it's almost time for the annual 4th of July celebration and we all know Slashers cannot resist events like that, but the final girl should still be able to stop him. Eventually. I'm always amazed by how much Jones can pack into a story. Each page feels like a Master Class in the Horror genre; full of references and the rules that make my heart soar. In addition to that though, he always doses us full of hard-hitting real world issues as well. There are many layers here, as there are in other novels of his that I have read. This story was so much fun to read. It's intricate, gritty, bloody, gory, smart, sarcastic, biting and fierce. The writing is top-notch and it's going to remain in my mind for a long time to come. Thank you so much to the publisher, Saga Press, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I am sure there are a lot of things I am forgetting to mention about this, but what can I say? I'm silenced by greatness!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Will Byrnes

    “You sure you should be working around kids?” Jade asks. “Or even around, you know, living people?” “Tried the morgue in Boise,” he says. “There was . . . an incident. Ask your dad about it sometime, he was there." Jade waits for him to guffaw or chuckle, because this has to be a joke, doesn’t it? -------------------------------------- “Can’t I just like horror because it’s great? Does there have to be some big explanation?” Before you sit down to read Stephen Graham Jones’s most recent no “You sure you should be working around kids?” Jade asks. “Or even around, you know, living people?” “Tried the morgue in Boise,” he says. “There was . . . an incident. Ask your dad about it sometime, he was there." Jade waits for him to guffaw or chuckle, because this has to be a joke, doesn’t it? -------------------------------------- “Can’t I just like horror because it’s great? Does there have to be some big explanation?” Before you sit down to read Stephen Graham Jones’s most recent novel (well, this week, anyway. The man produces King-ian, Asimov-ian volumes of work), My Heart is a Chainsaw, you might want to prepare a large bowl of popcorn, not that microwave crap, actual popcorn, kernels from a jar or bag into a pot with pre-heated oil, and a lid ready to pop over the top, to keep your kitchen floor from getting covered with flying bits. If you’re like me, there will be a second burner dedicated to melting a slab of butter. Once the popping stops, pour some or all of this heavenly treat into a large bowl. (Well it does not have to be too large as you are probably reading alone.) then drip the melted butter across the top, mix it up a bit. Open up a shaker of popcorn salt and apply. This calls for an oversize cold-drink for help in washing it down. It really should be a Friday or Saturday night. And why go to all this trouble for a book? Because Stephen Graham Jones is taking you to the movies. Cutting edge author, Stephen Graham Jones, on his way to work – image from 5280 Magazine - Photo by Aaron Colussi You may or may not have been around in the 1970s, 80s, 90s, or some of the other decades noted here, but videos of the films made back then have been available for a long time and formed a major part of Jones’s cinematic education as a young person. His life was considerably enriched from seeing a lot of horror movies, slasher films in particular. He loves them. Adrienne King as Alice Hardy in Friday the 13th – image from movieactors.com In this book, SGJ offers up an introductory class on the genre, or sub-genre. (Can’t say how closely it might mimic the course he taught on the subject in his day gig as a college professor. But I would love to see the syllabus for that.) in the form of chapters titled Slasher 101. These remind us, for example, that the slasher is always driven by revenge. His rage is not mindless. That there is usually a significant gap between the commission of the crime that is being avenged and the execution of that mission. That there is always a “final girl,” the purest of heart, who ultimately (usually) either escapes or bests the baddie, for the moment, anyway. In his 2015 novel, Aquarium, David Vann does something similar, calling attention to the structural girders being put in place as he places them, in his case for the literary novel form. Reads like these are always extra fun. Courtney Cox as Gale Weathers - in Scream - image from Den of Geek As Jones walks us through the stages in a slasher film, he echoes the tropes in the novel through his lead, Jade Daniels, a damaged seventeen-year-old Native girl who has seen and caused a huge amount of trouble. She seems to be in conflict with the world more or less constantly, but she is not a bad kid. She does janitorial work for the county. She is smart, resourceful, and a huge fan of horror, particularly slasher films, toting with her Jones’s encyclopedic knowledge of the genre. She is maybe a bit too obsessed with this stuff. I mean, if your only tool is a hammer, every challenge begins to look like a nail. But what if you have, by pure chance, made yourself the perfect tool for this very prominent, thin piece of metal sticking straight up out of your town. A bloated tourist body floats to the top of the lake and blood starts flowing like the elevator at the Overlook. Jade knows, or at least thinks she knows, what’s coming. JLC at Laurie Strode in Halloween - you don’t get to choose your family - image from Den of Geek She writes reports (the twelve Slasher 101 chapters) for a favorite teacher, one Mister Holmes (Grady, (which reminded me of Delbert Grady of The Shining fame) not Sherlock), each one explaining one or more of the tropes of horror films. Each trope is summoned into being in the real world, of course, making this very meta. Metafiction is a form of fiction which emphasises its own constructedness in a way that continually reminds the audience to be aware they are reading or viewing a fictional work. - definition from WikiJade lives in Proofrock, Idaho, proud possessor of several of the elements native to slasher flicks. Teenagers, of course. A lake (Indian Lake) with its own historical spook, Stacey Graves, bent on avenging wrongs done to her family, Stacey Stacey Stacey Graves Born to put you in your grave You see her in the dark of night And once you do you're lost from sight Look for water, look for blood Look for footprints in the mud You never see her walk on grass Don't slow down, she'll get your-- a camp on the lake with its own sanguinary history, and LOL name, Camp Blood, as least that’s what everyone in town calls it. Fifty years ago it earned that designation with extreme prejudice. Robert Englund as Freddie Krueger – from Nightmare 3 - What a Rush! - image from Screen Rant There is not a lot going on in Proofrock, (which MUST BE a reference to T.S. Eliot’s first published poem, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, which, according to Wiki, is a dramatic interior monologue of an urban man, stricken with feelings of isolation and an incapability for decisive action that is said "to epitomize frustration and impotence of the modern individual" and "represent thwarted desires and modern disillusionment.") Jade provides that inner take here. She certainly experiences isolation, and endures frustration and impotence, not to mention personal abuse. Jade is both wishing for the slasher to be real and for him not to be real. Great, if it is. You were right all along. Take a bow. On the other hand, you are likely to be killed. Hmmm, decisions, decisions. She is actually eager for the inevitable bloodbath to begin, finding this strangely exciting. Well, maybe not so strange for a kid with suicidal impulses. She’s got her reasons. Jane Levy (yes, that Zoe) as Mia Allen in Evil Dead 2013 - Image from Screenrant Jade is a Cassandra (another slasher film trope) trying to tell everyone that dire days lie ahead, but no one believes her. The new wrinkle in Proofrock, Idaho is the arrival of The Founders, a group of billionaire families who managed to have some of the national forest on the other side of the lake made un-national, and have begun building an enclave, Terra Nova. Yachts and smuggler boats have begun to appear on the lake, homes are being erected. And the daughter of the alpha male of that crowd befriends Jade. Letha Mondragon (are we meant to think or Arthur Pendragon here?) fits right in with Jade’s narrative. She is the supreme final girl. In case you are unfamiliar with the term, it was coined by Carol J. Clover in 1992. The original meaning of "final girl", as described by Clover in 1992, is quite narrow. Clover studied slasher films from the 1970s and 1980s (which is considered the golden age of the genre) and defined the final girl as a female who is the sole survivor of the group of people (usually youths) who are chased by a villain, and who gets a final confrontation with the villain (whether she kills him herself or she is saved at the last minute by someone else, such as a police officer), and who has such a "privilege" because of her implied moral superiority (for example, she is the only one who refuses sex, drugs, or other such behaviors, unlike her friends). - from WikiThink Alice Hardy in Friday the 13th, Laurie Strode in Halloween, Nancy Thompson in A Nightmare on Elm Street and on and on and on. Sigourney as Ripley in Alien – Get away from her, you bitch! - image from Yahoo! Entertainment The good-girl element of the final girl trope eased over time, offering more kick-ass than kiss-ass, with final girls like Ripley in the Alien series, or Jamie Lee Curtis sticking it to Jason in Halloween. Jade spots Letha as the final girl of the upcoming carnival of blood. She is a really good person, and an actual model, with unbelievable skin. She is athletic, morally strong, and seems to have been sent over from central casting. She is also unbelievably hot, and Jade has a bit of a crush on her. Nevertheless, Jade determines to do everything in her power to see to it that Letha has the weapons and knowledge she needs to go to battle in the inevitable final bloodbath, aka The Body Dump. Marilyn Burns as Sally Hardesty in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre - image from BitchMedia But we know, or at least suspect, since the slasher film story is usually told from the perspective of the final girl, that maybe Letha is not the one. I wanted to push back against the notion of the final girl being a supermodel, valedictorian, or babysitter. Since the 1970s, they’ve all been Jennifer Love Hewitt types. For many girls and women, that’s an impossible ideal. The book’s main character, Jade, has dealt with feelings of inadequacy her whole life. Also, most of the victims are rich and entitled white guys, not 17-year-old cheerleaders. - from the 5280 interviewThe mystery is who (or what) is perpetrating mayhem, and why. That satisfies the need, or, certainly, a desire, for a mystery. Slasher movie bloodlettings are acts of revenge. Ok. So, what is it that is being revenged, why, and by whom? The how is where movie directors and novelists get to come up with creative ways to pare back, sometimes waaaaay back, the character list. Heather Langengkamp as Nancy Thompson in Friday the 13th - image from StopButton Jones always keeps an eye on social content, payload that arrives with the story. It, or at least some of it, usually has to do with Native people and their relationship with the white world in which they are embedded. Very real-world stuff. No Magic Indians need apply. The presenting issue here is gentrification, an invasion by the Uber-rich into a very working class area, upsetting everything, taking public land for private use, trying to buy their way into acceptance, while toting along a significant shortage of moral concern. There is also the existence of racist elements in the town and the Native people getting the lesser end of things economically. When people in Proofrock can direct their binoculars across the water to see how the rich and famous live, that’s only going to make them suddenly aware of how they’re not living, with their swayed-in fences, their roofs that should have been re-shingled two winters ago, their packed-dirt driveways, their last decade’s hemlines and shoulder pads, because fashion takes a while to make the climb to eight thousand feet. Secondary characters run a gamut. Some are cannon fodder, of course, but there is a nice collection of understandable town characters. Jade’s teacher, Holmes, is wonderfully understanding, and has plenty of quirk (and anger) to support it. The town sheriff is a remarkably sympatico sort, with a soft spot for Jade. He may not understand, or accept what she tells him (she is a Cassandra, after all, and there is the very real possibility that he might be hiding something) but he seems to be quite well-intentioned. Her father is a horror, and his bff may be even worse. There is sympathy for Jade in surprising places. They know something we do not. The Founders are mostly cardboard cutouts, which is fine. And then there is Letha (last name not Weapon). While presented as impossibly perfect, she is the one member of that clan given a closer look. Is she or isn’t she what Jade sees her to be, a paragon of final girlhood? Jennifer Love Hewitt as Julie James in I Know What You Did Last Summer - image from ScreenRant Throughout the novel, there is a pervasive sense of humor. The quote at the top of the review is a prime example of that. There is more. Not sayin’ you’re gonna shoot your beverage of choice out your nose, but there is plenty here that will make you smile. ...if you don't have those staged resets, those laughs, then horror just becomes the flat screech, and that's no fun. - from the GQ interviewGRIPES Not much. The deus was messing with his ex, machina, a bit too much for my taste. I could not fathom why Jade was not more curious when a stranger’s cell phone falls into her hands. And I was not entirely thrilled with the last bit of the ending. But these are minor concerns. My Heart is a Chainsaw is both a jaw-dropping, brilliant homage to the slasher genre, and a bonafide member of the club. Sharni Vinson as Erin Harson in You’re Next – image from Wicked Horror So, when you read this, takes notes, consider all that is going on. There will be a test. Pass/Fail. Pass, and you gain three college credits toward your degree. Fail? Well, trust me, you really, really do not want to fail. She’s everything Jade always wished she could have been, had she not grown up where she did, how she did, with who she did. It’s going to be epic, the final battle, the final girl against slasher high noon. Unless Jade’s just making it all up, she reminds herself. Review first posted – August 27, 2021 Publication dates ----------Hardcover - August 31, 2021 ----------Trade paperback - March 29, 2022 I received an eARE of My Heart is a Chainsaw from Saga Press of Simon & Schuster in return for a fair review and some extra-strength fishing-hooks. Thanks to S&S, and to NetGalley for facilitating. ==========In the summer of 2019 GR reduced the allowable review size by 25%, from 20,000 to 15,000 characters. In order to accommodate the text beyond that I usually move it to the comments section directly below. BUT, tonight, August 27, 2021, there has been another no-notice change made to GR posting rules, showing massive disrespect to those of us who post reviews. It would have been nice to have been heard on this before it was implemented. External links will no longer be allowed in comments. Are you kidding me? The main reason I have to use the comments section at all is that GR, also with zero notice, as noted above, reduced the allowable review text by 25%. Are they trying to drive out people like me? It sure feels like it. Doing this with no notice is extremely poor form. Color me bloody livid! Now, where's my chainsaw? It looks like we have found a solution to the ever-tightening GR restrictions. I have posted the entire review on my much-neglected personal site, Coot's Reviews. It has been dragged up out of the lake and is still, remarkably, ALIVE!!!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Melissa ~ Bantering Books

    Be sure to visit Bantering Books to read all my latest reviews. Stephen Graham Jones is pretty proud of himself. As he should be. If you take the time to read his Acknowledgements at the end of his latest slasher novel, My Heart Is a Chainsaw, you will learn how hard he worked to create this story. You will sense how proud he is of it and how deeply within his heart he carries his diehard-slasher-fan protagonist, Jade Daniels. I think he drafted the novel at least three times from the ground up, o Be sure to visit Bantering Books to read all my latest reviews. Stephen Graham Jones is pretty proud of himself. As he should be. If you take the time to read his Acknowledgements at the end of his latest slasher novel, My Heart Is a Chainsaw, you will learn how hard he worked to create this story. You will sense how proud he is of it and how deeply within his heart he carries his diehard-slasher-fan protagonist, Jade Daniels. I think he drafted the novel at least three times from the ground up, over a span of about seven years. He struggled with the prose and to find the right characters about which to write. He just couldn’t get the novel to work. But Chainsaw works now. Amazingly well. Every ounce of Jones’s authorial pride is deserved. Because it’s bloody. It’s gory. It’s a slasher fan’s dream. And the writing in it is extraordinary. Though not everyone is gonna like it. The writing, I mean. (And the novel itself. Slasher tales will never appeal to all.) The story, as it follows Jade in her warped delight when a slasher comes to town, is densely written and filled with references to classic horror films. Jones’s prose has a strikingly distinctive style, too, with unique, obscure phrasing and long sentences. It’s like you’re reading, reading, reading, and you’re not quite sure what exactly he’s trying to say, yet you get it, deep down inside you know what he’s getting at, but if you tried to put it into words, you wouldn’t find the right ones, so you just keep reading, reading, reading, totally not getting it but getting it. Yeah. It’s kinda like that. Chainsaw takes focus, reading stamina, and brain power. Along with a fair amount of patience because the first 60% of the story is tediously slow. But I assure you, the novel’s payoff is huge. The ending is horrifically slasher-y and spectacular, and it goes on for pages and pages (much like Jones’s sentences), making all that comes before it more than worth your while. And the best part of the payoff is you will come to know Jade. Yes, she’s a senior in high school. Yes, she can be a bit grating. I promise you, though, that girl will break you while showing the true meaning of strength. She has the heart of a chainsaw, after all. Loud, roaring, relentless. My Heart Is a Chainsaw is an unforgettable read, and this is one of the easiest five stars I’ve given. Bantering Books Twitter Facebook

  8. 5 out of 5

    Gabby

    DNF at 250 pages I wanted to love this so badly but it was sooooo boring I just couldn’t do it anymore 😭😭😭 I think I prefer this authors books in short story format, this just felt unnecessarily long.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Farrah

    I wanted a good horror book for spooky season and this gave me that and oh! so! much! more. Only thing is, I can't really talk about how this book is so 'bloody' brilliant without spoilers..... It's not until you've finished it that everything comes together. Actually, it makes me want to say something that shouldn't even make sense yet does and that is that 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘮𝘰𝘳𝘦 𝘤𝘰𝘯𝘧𝘶𝘴𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘴𝘵𝘰𝘳𝘺 𝘣𝘦𝘤𝘢𝘮𝘦, 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘮𝘰𝘳𝘦 𝘐 𝘶𝘯𝘥𝘦𝘳𝘴𝘵𝘰𝘰𝘥 𝘸𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘸𝘢𝘴 𝘩𝘢𝘱𝘱𝘦𝘯𝘪𝘯𝘨. For the first 250 pages listening to Jade CONSTANTLY talk ab I wanted a good horror book for spooky season and this gave me that and oh! so! much! more. Only thing is, I can't really talk about how this book is so 'bloody' brilliant without spoilers..... It's not until you've finished it that everything comes together. Actually, it makes me want to say something that shouldn't even make sense yet does and that is that 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘮𝘰𝘳𝘦 𝘤𝘰𝘯𝘧𝘶𝘴𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘴𝘵𝘰𝘳𝘺 𝘣𝘦𝘤𝘢𝘮𝘦, 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘮𝘰𝘳𝘦 𝘐 𝘶𝘯𝘥𝘦𝘳𝘴𝘵𝘰𝘰𝘥 𝘸𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘸𝘢𝘴 𝘩𝘢𝘱𝘱𝘦𝘯𝘪𝘯𝘨. For the first 250 pages listening to Jade CONSTANTLY talk about slasher movies was really getting on my nerves. Even when she was being clever or funny I was still thinking JUST GET ON WITH THE STORY! However I believe that was intentional. I think the author expects readers to feel annoyed with Jade and think that she's not worth their time. After the 70% mark the book becomes frantic, gory and moves fast. It also becomes somewhat illogical. But again, it's worth it to stick with it. The final page left me speechless, incredibly heavy-hearted and with a bit of guilt for spending so much of the book thinking it only deserved a three star rating. Jade's story deserves all 5 ⭐

  10. 4 out of 5

    karen

    oooh, goodreads choice awards finalist for best horror 2021! WHAT WILL HAPPEN LET’S FIND OUT! SPOOKTOBER CONTINUES! REVIEW TO COME! for now, enjoy the song that was playing in my my head the whole time i was reading this, my smile is a rifle. ************************************ i really liked this book...until i loved it. it came at me like a slasher-villain; stalking me quietly for aaaaages before murdering me spectacularly in the last act, and i never even saw it coming. i'd been enjoying it—i may oooh, goodreads choice awards finalist for best horror 2021! WHAT WILL HAPPEN LET’S FIND OUT! SPOOKTOBER CONTINUES! REVIEW TO COME! for now, enjoy the song that was playing in my my head the whole time i was reading this, my smile is a rifle. ************************************ i really liked this book...until i loved it. it came at me like a slasher-villain; stalking me quietly for aaaaages before murdering me spectacularly in the last act, and i never even saw it coming. i'd been enjoying it—i may be a latecomer to the SGJ-appreciation society, but i'm an enthusiastic member, and this one's got a strong opening scene, a good build, and a memorable teengirl protagonist/unreliable narrator named jade whose obsession with slasher films has earned her the same 'spooky loner' status of any tim burton character but alas, there's no conga-line-with-ghosts light at the end of jade's tunnel; hers is an ingrained, bone-deep sadness characterized by loneliness, self-deprecation and self-harm. unlike her peers, she's not looking forward to prom or graduation, the only thing she's impatiently awaiting is a real-life slasher event in her hometown. she views the world through a slasher-film lens, framing her life's events within the context of genre rules and conventions; cataloging the parallels, interpreting the harbinger-y signs, convinced that a bloodbath is imminent, and she's gonna relish watching it all go down. an outsider through and through, she expects her role in the coming events will be as a witness rather than a participant—she's not planning to instigate this slasher-scenario, nor does she aspire to become the final-girl-heroine of such an event, she just wants to watch the inevitable horrors unfold. her peculiar convictions strew breadcrumbs of ambiguity throughout the pages, but nestled alongside all the doubts and logical explanations surrounding her observations is the possibility that maybe—just maybe—she's on to something. its tonal stew of creepy and sad ticks all my horror-loving boxes, and it's seasoned with wry humor and slasher-film references out the wazoo, but it lights such a long fuse, engaging in some prolonged narrative edging, which—for some readers, no doubt, cultivated an excruciating sense of anticipation, but to me, it felt unfocused and repetitive.* and then. the last part is just one giant bolus of horror-movie tropes and references you can practically roll-call: Friday the 13th? here! Get Out? here! The Ring? present! Jaws? blub blub rraaaarr! the scope of it all reminded me of this disney puzzle i had when i was little like that puzzle, i loved seeing everything take shape here and, just as i couldn’t, as a baby-karen, identify all of the depicted characters, i’m sure i missed many references, but they were clearly all part of the same world, contributing their part to the big picture, their pieces all fitting together in such a satisfying way. here, the finished puzzle is a Cabin in the Woods meta-mash rollercoaster of adversaries: slashers and supernaturals and animals, oh my! a concatenation of realizations and retractions and spoke too soons and not quite deads and are we safe yets; a relentless bloodbath parade of stab stab stab and chop chop chop culminating in a breathtaking and unexpectedly emotional catharsis. and when it was all over, i was raw and scoured and spent, and i was grateful for all of it. and now that i know this is going to be a trilogy? my chainsaw heart is revving. * when someone asked how i was liking the book, i said it felt like it had been treading water for ages, and after finishing it, i remembered that comment and laffed and laffed. for reasons. come to my blog!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Larry

    I agree with Kat - this book is a lot of fun, while still delivering the horror with an homage to the classics. Of all of the smart writing within, I especially enjoyed the papers submitted by the main character for her high school History class. Highly recommend! Additional thoughts, a few hours later - if choosing between Grady Hendrix’s Final Girl Support Group and this gem, choose SGJ. Also, this book serves as a reminder of just how putrid AHS 1984 was, and what might have been on the small I agree with Kat - this book is a lot of fun, while still delivering the horror with an homage to the classics. Of all of the smart writing within, I especially enjoyed the papers submitted by the main character for her high school History class. Highly recommend! Additional thoughts, a few hours later - if choosing between Grady Hendrix’s Final Girl Support Group and this gem, choose SGJ. Also, this book serves as a reminder of just how putrid AHS 1984 was, and what might have been on the small screen IF someone as talented as SGJ was involved. Can’t wait for #2!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin

    This wasn’t what I thought. I don’t know what this was and I don’t care! Next! Mel 🖤🐶🐺🐾 This wasn’t what I thought. I don’t know what this was and I don’t care! Next! Mel 🖤🐶🐺🐾

  13. 4 out of 5

    Mort

    MY HEART IS A CHAINSAW is a love letter to horror – specifically slashers – movies from an expert on the genre. Stephen Graham Jones can spin a hell of a yarn. However, while I was hoping this one would make me say “Voulez-vous de beurre?” (Yes, it means “Do you want some butter?”) like Kevin did to Madeline in French class in THE WONDER YEARS [1], it ended up being more like Ross yelling at Rachel “It was 18 pages! Front and back!” in FRIENDS [2]. Oh yes, my friends, it’s going to be one of thos MY HEART IS A CHAINSAW is a love letter to horror – specifically slashers – movies from an expert on the genre. Stephen Graham Jones can spin a hell of a yarn. However, while I was hoping this one would make me say “Voulez-vous de beurre?” (Yes, it means “Do you want some butter?”) like Kevin did to Madeline in French class in THE WONDER YEARS [1], it ended up being more like Ross yelling at Rachel “It was 18 pages! Front and back!” in FRIENDS [2]. Oh yes, my friends, it’s going to be one of those reviews, so buckle the fuck up! [1] www.youtube.com/watch?v=QhRTnRfe8nQ In the late eighties, there was a TV show called THE WONDER YEARS, and since I was close to the age of the main character, Kevin, and somewhat of a dreamer, I connected to it in a big way. Now, if you are unaware – yes, this is the way my mind works with all the useless trivia – it starred a kid called Fred Savage. If you don’t know who that is, the biggest thing I have seen him in since was in one of the AUSTIN POWERS movies…here’s a clue – Mooooole. The theme song was the Joe Cocker version of “With a little help from my friends”, and I never saw the music video until the very late 1990’s, because it had the pictures of the women with the titties. Bored yet? You should be, so let’s move on. [2] www.youtube.com/watch?v=fsvsRZhNVp4 So, if you are the one who didn’t watch FRIENDS, you should be ashamed of yourself! I may be able to forgive you if you are too young, but catch up on the reruns, kid, it’s worth it. Were they on a break? Let’s not open that can of worms again. I’m going to throw a comparison out there which may surprise you, but this one reminded me of THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO. Not the story, there are no similarities I can think of, but the back story in that book (it was a 600+ pages book, if I remember correctly) took so fucking long to get through. Now, I had seen the movie before I read the book, so I knew there would be a pay-off toward the end, which is probably the only reason I managed to push through to the exciting part of the story. It took forever, I’m pretty sure a few plants seeded and later died of old age by the time I was done. The author put me through so much unnecessary shit. I felt like…like…I wanted to say to him what Walter Matthau had said in GRUMPIER OLD MEN: “Why don't you do the world a favor. Pull your bottom lip up over your head and swallow.” (I looked for the YouTube clip but couldn’t find it, sorry). And then I heard Stieg Larsson had died already and I felt bad for thinking such malicious thoughts about somebody I never even knew… So, yeah, my mind went to this: [3] “What am I guilty of?” For the sake of decency, just check out the answer on the clip: clip.cafe/the-gentlemen-2019/what-am-... So, people, are you wondering when I am actually going to say something about the book? Not much fun, reading and reading and reading and…basically, hoping for the pay-off. And here it is: This is a damn fine slasher story which spent way too much time on the build-up. If you can get to 69%, it is all fun and games from there. My honest opinion is, if I hadn’t read some of the raving reviews by people whose opinion I trust, I am fairly sure I would have called it quits at 50%. I took a break and read two other novellas before I got back to it. But, like THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO was a huge success all over the world, readers might be more forgiving than I expect, and this book might be as successful as it deserves to be. I can’t fault the story, so patience will be rewarded... My thanks to Netgalley, the publisher and Stephen Graham Jones for this ARC. My opinions are my own.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Debra (semi-hiatus)

    3.5 stars "Horror is my religion." This book, in a way, is a love letter to slasher movies and slasher movies fans! There are so many references to slasher movies, characters, scenes, etc. I LOVED the Horror facts! Plus, the entire book played out in my mind as an 80's horror movie (those being my favorites). The opening scene grabbed me right away! I wanted to yell, what you are doing is a recipe for disaster.... Jade, the main character was an interesting character in that sometimes I liked her, o 3.5 stars "Horror is my religion." This book, in a way, is a love letter to slasher movies and slasher movies fans! There are so many references to slasher movies, characters, scenes, etc. I LOVED the Horror facts! Plus, the entire book played out in my mind as an 80's horror movie (those being my favorites). The opening scene grabbed me right away! I wanted to yell, what you are doing is a recipe for disaster.... Jade, the main character was an interesting character in that sometimes I liked her, other times not so much. But she had some great lines and was a horror film expert who lives in her own world. Her father is abusive (to put it mildly), she has an absent mother and the town, well, I do not think they know how to take her let alone know what to do with her. She is an expert on horror, final girls (don't' confuse her with one) and what makes a killer tick (injustice). "...final girls are the vessel we keep all of our hopes in." But when bad things begin to happen on Indian Lake (not to be confused with Camp Crystal Lake), her extensive knowledge of horror films helps her predict how things are going to unfold. Through this we learn more about Jade, her past and her vulnerabilities. Horror. Revenge. Triumph So, this one is a hard one to rate and I wanted to sit with this book to think things over. So, after the beginning, which was fantastic, things got slow...as in really slow. I am not one for slow burns so this could be the case of it was me and not the book. But it took some hanging in there. I also had to get acclimated to the author's style of writing. I desperately wanted something to hurry up and happen. But I had to bide my time. Not everything in horror films happens off the bat, sometimes you must wait for it. So, I waited, and waited, and waited...and then you-know-what hit the fan! That later part of the book is where the magic (blood) begins to flow. Who will be safe? Who is the killer? Final Girl? So, how to rate this book???? Parts were too slow for my liking, then there were these mesmerizing passages, the horror trivia that put a smile on this horror film lover's face, and the killer last part of the book.... what a dilemma. Originally, I gave this book a 3-star rating, but I have decided to go with 3.5 stars rounded up. The ending really did make up for the slowness. Thank you to Gallery Books and NetGalley who provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All the thoughts and opinions are my own. Read more of my reviews at www.openbookposts.com

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jenny Lawson

    This book is dark as hell but is one of the best things I've read all year. A love-letter to slasher horror on the surface, but it explores so many deep topics in such a beautiful way...race, neglect, class. Such a powerful book. This book is dark as hell but is one of the best things I've read all year. A love-letter to slasher horror on the surface, but it explores so many deep topics in such a beautiful way...race, neglect, class. Such a powerful book.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Anne

    Nooooo. The writing isn't bad but the plot was (to me) terrible. For a story that revolves around killing, there wasn't much in the way of menace happening. You're mostly just stuck in a loop of babbling nonsense. And that's because you have to live inside of Jade's head for the entire book as she gushes and giggles and talks nonstop about slasher films. It was like listening to an 8 year old tell you about their favorite YouTuber ad nauseam. And that's it. That's the entire book. By the time the ki Nooooo. The writing isn't bad but the plot was (to me) terrible. For a story that revolves around killing, there wasn't much in the way of menace happening. You're mostly just stuck in a loop of babbling nonsense. And that's because you have to live inside of Jade's head for the entire book as she gushes and giggles and talks nonstop about slasher films. It was like listening to an 8 year old tell you about their favorite YouTuber ad nauseam. And that's it. That's the entire book. By the time the killing started, I was more than ready. Hurry the fuck up so I can stop reading this stupid shit, please! Jade sees the signs that a SLASHER is coming to town. Instead of being worried, she's excited for the body count to start piling up. For reasons, she sees it as her job to try to help the beautiful new student learn everything she needs to know to level up and take her place as The Final Girl. And of course Jade has an abusive backstory. But by the time we get to the Big Reveal at the end, it feels incredibly anti-climactic. The plot had already meandered all over the abuse and then away in an attempt to make the end seem like a gotcha! It was not a gotcha!, it was a given. The ending itself was OUT OF NOWHERE. Just...what? (view spoiler)[It's a ghost girl that's been killing everyone? What the fuck? (hide spoiler)] Then there's an epilogue that's even more OUT OF NOWHERE. (view spoiler)[She slurks off into the woods to die because nobody loves her. But then up pops a massive forest fire. Jade saves the town by doing some kind of acrobatics and making her way to the...dam control room? I don't know what it's called and I don't care. She then chops/hits out a window, pushing buttons that raise the dam, thus sending floodwater towards the fire. Ta-da! And then it ends dramatically with the mother bear standing up for the baby bear against a mean male bear and Jade looking off into the sunlight. <--omfg stop (hide spoiler)] I really should have known this book wasn't for me when I saw this part of the blurb. Yet, even as Jade drags us into her dark fever dream, a surprising and intimate portrait emerges… a portrait of the scared and traumatized little girl beneath the Jason Voorhees mask: angry, yes, but also a girl who easily cries, fiercely loves, and desperately wants a home. A girl whose feelings are too big for her body. That? No. My eyes rolled right out of my head at about the same time as my gag reflex kicked in. I'm not saying this is a bad book or that the people who love it are idiots. But I am saying that if your initial reaction to those sentences were the same as mine, I think you'll probably have the same experience with this story as I did. Different strokes and all that. And since I'm seeing as many rave reviews as bad reviews, I'm also thinking this is one of those books that splits readers right down the middle into love it or hate it categories. I just happened to fall into the hate it camp, but that doesn't mean you necessarily will.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    Jade Daniels is a recent graduate of her small town high school in Proofrock, Idaho and everything in her life is absolutely hate worthy. The place, which she has a ‘kind of’ love for, rejects her. Her peers are predictable. Her abusive father and his creepy predator of a friend are real life horror. Jade, obsessed with Slasher films has spent her life wishing and hoping that a slasher would come to Proofrock. When a new girl who lives in Terra Nova, the new rich enclave across Indian Lake, move Jade Daniels is a recent graduate of her small town high school in Proofrock, Idaho and everything in her life is absolutely hate worthy. The place, which she has a ‘kind of’ love for, rejects her. Her peers are predictable. Her abusive father and his creepy predator of a friend are real life horror. Jade, obsessed with Slasher films has spent her life wishing and hoping that a slasher would come to Proofrock. When a new girl who lives in Terra Nova, the new rich enclave across Indian Lake, moves in right before graduation, Jade is positive that Letha Mondragon is a final girl and FINALLY things are being set in motion. Have you ever read a book and thought, Wow, this has been written especially for me. Well, I felt that way with My Heart is a Chainsaw. I absolutely loved this book. My personal love of horror and slasher films in particular definitely helped but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous about reading this. I wanted to love this so much and I was really nervous that I wouldn’t. I needn’t have worried. I adored Jade, she is a very dark, hurt, angry and sad girl. But she is one of the most endearing characters I have ever read. Her knowledge is remarkable, she is a walking, talking encyclopedia of slasher films. Her Slasher 101 sections in the book were my favourite. I loved seeing my personal favourites pop up. I couldn’t keep from smiling. All of the characters are so well written. Their backstories are all interesting and full. It’s a very addictive read, there are lots of twists and clues being dropped by Jade and just like her the reader becomes invested in solving the mystery. The writing was flawless. The story flowed beautifully. If you grew up watching Halloween, Friday the 13th, Scream, A Nightmare on Elm Street or any movies featuring the now widely known "final girl" then this is definitely for you. Even if you didn’t, I still highly recommend this fantastic book. I can’t wait to read the next installment in this trilogy.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Katie Colson

    I honestly don't know what to say. I keep trying to write out my thoughts but they don't make sense. I loved it. Plain and simple. Don't know why it would be a series though. I'll pick up the second book but can't imagine it hitting the same as this one. I honestly don't know what to say. I keep trying to write out my thoughts but they don't make sense. I loved it. Plain and simple. Don't know why it would be a series though. I'll pick up the second book but can't imagine it hitting the same as this one.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jasmine

    My favourite book of the year so far! Five glorious, gory stars. Jade lives and breathes slasher movies. Nearly every thought she has is consumed with them. Jade’s coping mechanism is watching and analyzing these slasher movies in order to manage the pain she feels living with her abusive father and absent mother. Jade is half-indigenous and feels like she doesn’t fit in anywhere. When a dead tourists body shows up in Indian Lake Jade thinks this is the beginning of a slasher movie come to life, My favourite book of the year so far! Five glorious, gory stars. Jade lives and breathes slasher movies. Nearly every thought she has is consumed with them. Jade’s coping mechanism is watching and analyzing these slasher movies in order to manage the pain she feels living with her abusive father and absent mother. Jade is half-indigenous and feels like she doesn’t fit in anywhere. When a dead tourists body shows up in Indian Lake Jade thinks this is the beginning of a slasher movie come to life, and well, she’s not wrong. She uses her encyclopedic knowledge of slasher flicks to predict how it will turn out. Jade’s brain is a confusing place to be. There are times when she’s not sure if she’s awake or dreaming, and as the reader, it sometimes felt like that as well. Have you seen those Tiktok videos of a voiceover saying “do you ever look at someone and wonder what is going on inside their head?” And it plays that electronic music? And the video usually shows someone behaving kind of strangely? Jade’s headspace reminds me of that. I love her, but she is quite the character with an expansive imagination. Needless to say, I loved this book! The more I think about it, the more I am obsessed with it. Not only does this book have gore, but it also delves into deeper discussions. Like what it means to be indigenous in an environment that doesn’t care, what it means to be forgotten. How neocolonialism affects indigenous communities today. As other reviewers have already said, this book is a bit slow in the beginning and requires concentration, but is a wild ride in the last quarter, or so. In my opinion, the payoff is huge. Thanks to Netgalley, the publisher, and author for a digital ARC of this book!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Kay

    2.5⭐ Set in rural small lake town of Proofrock, Idaho, the beginning of this horror grabbed my attention with foreign tourists. I knew I was in trouble when the real story begins and it felt like a chore to pick it up and finish it. Nope, I wish I enjoyed this as much as my friends did, but I can't get into slasher movie references plot, I thought I like slasher movies enough to appreciate this book and SGJ's creativity. Another "Final Girls" nuuu!! **I dnf The Only Good Indians **ID 2.5⭐ Set in rural small lake town of Proofrock, Idaho, the beginning of this horror grabbed my attention with foreign tourists. I knew I was in trouble when the real story begins and it felt like a chore to pick it up and finish it. Nope, I wish I enjoyed this as much as my friends did, but I can't get into slasher movie references plot, I thought I like slasher movies enough to appreciate this book and SGJ's creativity. Another "Final Girls" nuuu!! **I dnf The Only Good Indians **ID

  21. 5 out of 5

    ELLIAS (elliasreads)

    ....feels like she's trapped in a slasher film.... SAY NO FUCKING MORE OMG GIMMIE!!!! ....feels like she's trapped in a slasher film.... SAY NO FUCKING MORE OMG GIMMIE!!!!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Adrian Dooley

    Oh dear. How was this book not for me? Horror? Yes please. Homage to slasher movies? Yes please. A girl with a fascination of slasher flicks who believes a slasher is coming to her home town? Yes. Yes please to all of it. The spiel sounded so good. Sounded like so much fun. The experience was far from it. The book is extremely slow. Mind numbingly so. Very long chapters with walls of text as we spend time in our main protagonists mind. References to slasher movies which are fun at the start but, Oh dear. How was this book not for me? Horror? Yes please. Homage to slasher movies? Yes please. A girl with a fascination of slasher flicks who believes a slasher is coming to her home town? Yes. Yes please to all of it. The spiel sounded so good. Sounded like so much fun. The experience was far from it. The book is extremely slow. Mind numbingly so. Very long chapters with walls of text as we spend time in our main protagonists mind. References to slasher movies which are fun at the start but, nearly every second page has a reference to them and it soon becomes old. Things move at a snails pace as Jade goes about her day with a combination of imagining herself in a slasher movie and trying to figure out what may be coming. Her every thought is put down on the page, just page after page of not a hell of a lot. Two thirds of this book are mind numbingly boring and slow in the extreme. It does ramp up for the final act but at that stage you really dont care what happens. At over 400 pages, it honestly felt twice as long. As I said a great premise that somehow missed the mark and missed it in a big way. If you are a fan of horror I think you will be disappointed with this one. Honestly it really isn’t worth the effort. Thanks to the publisher for the ARC through Netgalley.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Rachel (TheShadesofOrange)

    4.0 Stars This is a fantastic horror novel that infuses Native American culture into the traditionally white slasher narrative.  This book is basically a love letter to the slasher genre. The main character is obsessed with the subgenre, constantly referencing the killers and final girls of the most iconic. The movie references made the story very fun and entertaining. I'll admit that I still need to watch a lot of those slasher movies and unfortunately I did get spoiled a few times. I really enjo 4.0 Stars This is a fantastic horror novel that infuses Native American culture into the traditionally white slasher narrative.  This book is basically a love letter to the slasher genre. The main character is obsessed with the subgenre, constantly referencing the killers and final girls of the most iconic. The movie references made the story very fun and entertaining. I'll admit that I still need to watch a lot of those slasher movies and unfortunately I did get spoiled a few times. I really enjoyed the Slasher 101 essays included between the chapters, which added a light and humorous touch to the novel. Fans of Only The Good Indians will be very happy with this follow up novel. Once again, Stephen Graham Jones manages to weave  Native American culture into a horror narrative in a fresh and innovative way. Compared to the previous novel, I found this one more accessible with a more simple plot. I found this one less scary, but more fun with a lighter tone. My main criticism is that I found the narrative to be a bit disjointed and rather slow. The middle section just felt unnecessarily long and I personally would have preferred a tighter story.  Regardless, I really enjoyed this one. I would highly recommend this novel to just about any horror fans, particularly movie buffs who will appreciate the references even more than I did. Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Tim

    Prior to this novel, the only book by Stephen Graham Jones I had read was "Night of the Mannequins." A book that would be kind for me just to say that I hated rather than express more thoughts on. It was a book that based on the plot description sounded like good old slasher fun, with more than a hint of deconstruction to it… the plot I got was not something I was personally interested in. It was frustrating and not a book I enjoyed. I planned on not reading beyond that, thinking perhaps Jones j Prior to this novel, the only book by Stephen Graham Jones I had read was "Night of the Mannequins." A book that would be kind for me just to say that I hated rather than express more thoughts on. It was a book that based on the plot description sounded like good old slasher fun, with more than a hint of deconstruction to it… the plot I got was not something I was personally interested in. It was frustrating and not a book I enjoyed. I planned on not reading beyond that, thinking perhaps Jones just wasn't for me. Then I saw the title of this book. "My Heart is a Chainsaw" and I read the plot description… that utterly beautiful plot discription promising a love letter to the movies I grew up enjoying. "Fine, you win Jones. One more chance to impress me." (Given the praise he's received, I'm sure impressing me wasn't on his to do list… but, well… yeah.) Oh, it impressed me. It also depressed me. Let me get this one out of the way. This book is an emotional rollercoaster for me as a reader, but it's not one that I think will hit every reader. I started off practically cheering for the book when it referenced things like "Bay of Blood" and "Just Before Dawn" (I mean, sure it references Scream and Elm Street and the other big ones, but deep cuts like those… EXCELLENT), but the more we learned about our lead the less I was cheering. I started connecting to her and shaking my head because damn it, I connect to teenage horror girl far more than most literary characters because it's closer to what I was as a teenager than pretty much any other lead I can think of. Her encyclopedic knowledge of horror films being her fall back to any awkward conversation, being held up like a shield against the world. Things get too rough? Ask yourself "What would Jason do?" and get through the day in a fantasy. She's not in a fantasy anymore though. Patterns are rising and every good horror fan can recognize them immediately. She needs to find a final girl, she needs to tutor her in the ways of surviving a slasher movie… and she needs to remain the background character she sees herself as. Jones proves himself an excellent writer in this one. He hits note for note what you expect in a slasher, but he's also telling a much deeper story. One you may not even notice at first, but I assure you all the clues are there from the start. He pulls it off with a grace one would not expect from this particular sub-genre… but to an extent, that is part of the joke. He wants you to re-evaluate slashers and see that they can hold different meanings and interpretations (up to including essays from our lead at the end of chapters discussing various tropes and themes). Is this a perfect book? No. I have one pretty big complaint. It's an extreme slow burn horror novel for a good portion of the page count. I honestly don't typically have an issue with this and even delight in the build up in say… a haunted house novel. The problem is this isn't a haunted house novel, it is a slasher, and slashers burn bright and fast. They're known for having very little downtime and a constant kill count… in this aspect I feel the tone of the novel conflicts with the homage… on the other hand, what he gives us is a much deeper story than most slashers could ever hope to achieve. In the end I give this a solid 4/5 stars and my highest recommendation to all horror fans. You win Jones, I'll give you other books a try as well. My thanks to Netgalley and Gallery / Saga Press for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca Roanhorse

    Absolutely delightful, which may not be the way one expects a bloody, gory, seriously creepy and tense horror novel to be described. But I loved this book from the moment I met the protagonist, Jade, a half-Native girl in a small town obsessed with slasher movies and wondering (hoping) she's living in one, too. Only Jade doesn't see herself as any kind of hero; she's not the perfect virginal Final Girl who will save them all. That's her new schoolmate from across the lake where the wealthy elite Absolutely delightful, which may not be the way one expects a bloody, gory, seriously creepy and tense horror novel to be described. But I loved this book from the moment I met the protagonist, Jade, a half-Native girl in a small town obsessed with slasher movies and wondering (hoping) she's living in one, too. Only Jade doesn't see herself as any kind of hero; she's not the perfect virginal Final Girl who will save them all. That's her new schoolmate from across the lake where the wealthy elites are building their grand mansions and gentrifying this little corner of Idaho. And so the story spools out in a tour-de-force of voice and character, capturing Jade's horror-soaked world, not just in movies but horrific IRL where she's forced to live with her alcoholic father and be the town pariah...and the only one who sees what's coming. This book might not be for everyone. After all, the last 1/4 of the book is true horror territory, but wow the character work and setting feel so damn real and I was sucked into the world from the beginning. The chapters are interspersed with Jade's extra credit work on slasher films, which helps give the uninitiated a grounding, but honestly I don't think it's necessary to get every reference to enjoy the story. You couldn't pay me to watch Friday the 13th or Scream again, but I'd give all my money to have Jade, earnest, heartfelt and so damn lonely, tell me about them. She's more Final Girl material that she realizes.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Richard Derus

    Real Rating: 4.75* of five, rounded up because my personal ew-icks over slasher films shouldn't count that heavily in judging a book that's utterly upfront about what it is FINALIST FOR THE 2022 LOCUS AWARD—BEST HORROR NOVEL! Winners announced 25 June 2022. SHORTLISTED FOR THE 32ND ANNUAL READING THE WEST BOOK AWARD FOR FICTION! Follow the link to vote for it. I RECEIVED A DRC FROM THE PUBLISHER VIA NETGALLEY. THANK YOU. My Review: There are all sorts of ways to read a Stephen Graham Jones book. Sur Real Rating: 4.75* of five, rounded up because my personal ew-icks over slasher films shouldn't count that heavily in judging a book that's utterly upfront about what it is FINALIST FOR THE 2022 LOCUS AWARD—BEST HORROR NOVEL! Winners announced 25 June 2022. SHORTLISTED FOR THE 32ND ANNUAL READING THE WEST BOOK AWARD FOR FICTION! Follow the link to vote for it. I RECEIVED A DRC FROM THE PUBLISHER VIA NETGALLEY. THANK YOU. My Review: There are all sorts of ways to read a Stephen Graham Jones book. Surfaces work...there's always a story hanging around, you won't be wandering lost in thickets of writing-armpit sweat-watered weeds...references work too, you can unpick your memories of the midnight movies or frightfrests your friends threw (or open IMDb if you're really young)...but I think the best way is to make it through as it's happening, to be there as Jade walks across the graduation stage or through walls or up into skies limited only by the basic laws of physics. The reason I feel that last works best is that, by the time I'd reached the end of this read, and then read Author Stephen's Acknowledgments after the wrenching and impossibly sad final scene, I was so wrung out that I simply accepted that everything I'd just been through had been intended to do what it did to me. As I'm not one to write book reports (ask Mr. Singleton! never turned so much as one in during high school) I'm not going to try to do that at this late date. I referred to this book's immediate older sibling, The Only Good Indians, as "gore with more" and that's an assessment I stand by as applied to all of Author Stephen's books. Part of that "more" is the strangely hypnotic effect of the story arc receding from view...the interstitial "SLASHER 101" essays addressed to the One Good Teacher (of history, naturally) Mr. Holmes are well and truly weirding Your Faithful Reader out. When they switch addressees, it gets even weirder...but in the end, it's painfully intimate and deeply instructive to read them. In common with all Author Stephen's books, you mere peon of a purchaser have no rights. You're not stupid, you've read some of his other work (at least The Only Good Indians!), you're aware that horror is in store. So surrender your volition. Then the entire experience of being in Jade Daniels's rage-filled head makes all the sense in the world. Because then you're not actually sure if ANY of this is happening in meatspace. Is this an adolescent with anger and abandonment issues responding to the end of what never was childhood? Is this a young woman processing the pain and rage of a life that was wished on her by weaker, worse people than she was? There's a sparkling moment of fizzing delight when Jade meets Letha, a beautiful rich kid whose father has a trophy wife and whose presence in the town of "Proofrock" (think a minute, and hard, for more than the surface snicker; that's all it takes to turn it into a shiver), when Jade anoints her "the Final Girl." That's both when the tale gets grounded in consensus reality and when its ascent into the dark and cold vault of Jade's own head is cemented. I'm always a fan of gerunding done with panache...Author Stephen does it with panache. At one point, Jade Holden Caulfields across a lawn, and that's me dead cackling. I think there are few greater pleasures than easter-egging your readers' experience...hoping they'll get most of them. I think the fun of reading a book whose author has chosen a niche to write in, one with an astoundingly vast mythos/history/background to explore, is in part the recognition factor of word-play. Yes, it's about slasher-film homage, and no Holden Caulfield isn't slashed to death (though generations of English students have no doubt fantasized that Salinger met that fate after writing it), but he *is* the prototype of the Angsty Teen too smart for easy answers. With everything Jade's carrying around, she's not one whit less burdened than Holden and possibly by some similar troubles given that she's got A Thing growing up strong for Letha. Adolescent sexuality is always fraught. Parents play their roles in shaping it, either with rule or without them, with clamp-downs or without supervision, there's no right way to ride this roller-coaster. But the issue facing Jade isn't made any easier by her absolute conviction that Letha is The Final Girl, that staple of the slasher film, therefore of necessity being lustrous and almost superhuman in her glorious Otherness. That's how she's supposed to be, right? Jade "doesn't make the rules...just happens to know them all." Her unique and defining obsession with slashers is gong to pay dividends, right? Because she's preparing the Final Girl for her role, unlike most...she won't be surprised by the tragedies. I think I speak for all readers when I say that the way this blows up can only be described as FUCKING EPIC. And from that point on, the cigarette boat is away and the pace does not let up. There are the obligatory twists and turns, the reveals that aren't *quite* reveals, and the accustomed ways that Author Stephen's practiced to get your kishkes kicking and your shvitzer sprinkling. You can't fault the man on delivering the suspenseful goods! If you're in the market for a low-gore delivery of suspense, however, look elsewhere. The way this works is for your expectations to be manipulated so I won't be discussing particulars. Suffice to say I was taken in. More than once. And I'm a pretty well-broken-in reader.... Still, there's no point it wondering why no good deed goes unpunished or how exactly it is that one's expected to walk away from what can not help but feel like a set up straight from a film. The pain and the passionate pull of it will reach some screeching crescendo, won't it, just give it a little more time and it has to! Nonsense, says the Great God Author. By the time we've reached the moment when there is no more to give, when the entire story's gone to the most extreme place that it can go...there is something more in the tank for a send-off, and there's no way that you'll believe your eyes when you get there. Some things just can't be put right. And others can't be left wrong. The issue is...who decides.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Sadie Hartmann

    Review originally published at Cemetery Dance: https://www.cemeterydance.com/extras/... “Do you like scary movies?”- Scream (1996) Sometimes movies take their inspiration from books and sometimes books are inspired by movies. In the case of My Heart is a Chainsaw, author Stephen Graham Jones lets his “horror movie fan” flag fly inside the soul of his teenage protagonist, Jade Daniels. Not only is Jade a horror movie cinephile, but slasher films are the framework of support she has built around herse Review originally published at Cemetery Dance: https://www.cemeterydance.com/extras/... “Do you like scary movies?”- Scream (1996) Sometimes movies take their inspiration from books and sometimes books are inspired by movies. In the case of My Heart is a Chainsaw, author Stephen Graham Jones lets his “horror movie fan” flag fly inside the soul of his teenage protagonist, Jade Daniels. Not only is Jade a horror movie cinephile, but slasher films are the framework of support she has built around herself out of self-preservation. She is an outcast at her school, a burden to her dysfunctional family, and part of a marginalized community in her small town of Proofrock, Idaho. To cope, she loses herself in the comfort and dependability of formulaic horror tropes. At first, Jade comes off so strong on the page, it’s difficult to relate, but give it time. She grows on you. In between glimpses of Jade’s bleak home life and scenes at school, life in Proofrock is getting interesting. There’s a new housing development called Terra Nova, catering to a specific demographic. Members of high society are enticed by Terra Nova and targeted by a killer. The local authorities are pressured to get a lead in their investigation and make Proofrock “great again. Of course, Daniels, with her extensive knowledge of horror tropes, is also on the case (much to the annoyance of resident officials and grownups). This story has a totally different vibe than Graham’s huge 2020 hit, The Only Good Indians. Readers showing up for a similar storytelling tone should set early expectations for Chainsaw to be somewhat lighter horror fare. Jade is quirky, unpredictable, and sassy, which makes for some hilarious dialogue exchanges with other characters. It’s fun being in Jade’s head as she wrestles with her potential as the town’s “final girl.” Jones generously seasons the plot with slasher movie references. Those unschooled in the ways of “slash & bash” can either feel totally out of their element or choose to embrace it as a learning opportunity. The recommendation is to hang on and go for the ride. The payoff is worth it in this modern coming-of-age horror story capitalizing on themes of revenge and redemption.

  28. 5 out of 5

    jv poore

    Jade Daniels is an angry adolescent with a slasher-movie addiction. Constantly clad in her janitorial coveralls, complete with combat boots and often topped by hair as brightly colored as Indian hair can be, she exudes the air of an inexplicably embittered being. May be typical teen angst. Could be, she’s truly had it tough. Either way, the look-plus-attitude tends to keep other students at bay. History teacher extraordinaire, Mr. Holmes, makes generous allowances for Jade’s assignments. He accep Jade Daniels is an angry adolescent with a slasher-movie addiction. Constantly clad in her janitorial coveralls, complete with combat boots and often topped by hair as brightly colored as Indian hair can be, she exudes the air of an inexplicably embittered being. May be typical teen angst. Could be, she’s truly had it tough. Either way, the look-plus-attitude tends to keep other students at bay. History teacher extraordinaire, Mr. Holmes, makes generous allowances for Jade’s assignments. He accepts her SLASHER 101 thesis. Holmes even reads it. But for all of his best intentions, he misses the big picture Jade is trying to paint. Sheriff Hardy has, very unfortunately, gotten to know the poor excuse that serves as Jade’s father pretty well. Tab Daniels is not a fine, upstanding man. So, it’s little wonder that Hardy cuts Jade some slack as she acts out against the world. When Jade meets Letha, the beautiful, confident new-girl-on-the-block; her frustrations find focus. The Final Girl has arrived. Jade suspects that her hell-on-Earth, otherwise known as Terra Nova, is cursed. There’ve always been stories and scary legends, but Jade feels the evil. Which is why she so generously shared portions of her SLASHER study-guide with Letha. Letha sees what the well-meaning history teacher missed and being a genuinely good girl, reaches out to the sheriff with the hopes of helping her new friend. But things in the tiny town take a violent and deadly turn. Certain it’s the moment she’s been waiting for, Jade joyfully flings herself into the danger and mayhem. As the remains of savaged animals and humans pile up, the person (or thing) behind the murderous rampage remains a mystery. I’ve just visited “my” high-school students for the first time this school year. When I asked what they wanted to read, hands-down Thriller and Horror topped the list. And then I went home and picked up My Heart is a Chainsaw. Pretty sure that Mr. Jones wrote this to their deepest, darkest desires and I cannot wait to take this treasure to them. This review was written by jv poore for Buried Under Books, with huge thanks for the Advance Review Copy to donate to my favorite classroom library.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Johann (jobis89)

    3/3.5 stars. I don’t know what it is but I really struggle to connect with SGJ’s books. I want to love them but I just can’t?!

  30. 5 out of 5

    Amy Imogene Reads

    4.5 bloodyyy stars The true horror of this novel has nothing to do with the gore or the slashers. This was deceptively stunning. Concept: ★★★★★ Pacing: ★★ 1/2 Plot layers: ★★★★★ Overall impact: ★★★★★ Oof. How do I review this one. On the one hand, I want to start with the hard spoilers and work my way backward because I haven't see many reviews addressing the elements that I want to talk about. But on the other hand, half of this novel's brilliance comes from the reveals and final steps. I guess we'l 4.5 bloodyyy stars The true horror of this novel has nothing to do with the gore or the slashers. This was deceptively stunning. Concept: ★★★★★ Pacing: ★★ 1/2 Plot layers: ★★★★★ Overall impact: ★★★★★ Oof. How do I review this one. On the one hand, I want to start with the hard spoilers and work my way backward because I haven't see many reviews addressing the elements that I want to talk about. But on the other hand, half of this novel's brilliance comes from the reveals and final steps. I guess we'll see how this goes. My Heart is a Chainsaw was stunning. I had to read it roughly 1.5 times to get to this 5 star rating—let me explain. For the first third, I was NOT feeling the story. As someone who hated Catcher in the Rye for Holden's annoying internal monologues and meandering prose, the main character of Chainsaw, Jade, fit that bill too closely for my tastes. I wanted to reach into the pages and "make her stay on track, dang it!" Lots of pop culture slasher references, meandering thoughts, unlikeable character traits, the whole nine yards and then some. But then some reveals hit us around 1/3-1/2 mark, and I was floored. Absolutely floored. So now, at the halfway point of the novel for the first read, I went back to the beginning. I needed to see what I'd missed and see how the author had gotten us here—because clearly Jade had done what she'd intended to do... which was hide the truth from us and herself. So let's just say that if you're not feeling Jade or the pacing of the novel on your first read, you're not alone. But it is disturbingly worth it. This is a novel filled with guts and gore and slashers and horror. Not a single review disputes that. But it's also about Jade. It's about what she's not saying and not addressing—and yet putting in these pages like Morse code. It's about the true horror behind the curtain and the mind's way of (not) coping with reality. It's about our fantasies, our dreams deferred turned dark and deep, our use of pop culture to explain our present and idealize our future. To touch on the surface plot for a bit, I found the slasher elements of this novel to be interesting. As someone who loves new horror trends and never quite got into the old-school slashers that Jade loves to reference, I didn't find it hard to follow. Maybe a bit heavy-handed, but isn't that the mode of the slasher in the first place? I'm giving this five stars for Stephen Graham Jones' stunning interplay between surface plot and subplot, and his way of taking the familiar "outside" horror that we see in the movies and using it as a mask for the darker, intimate horrors that cut deeper. A strong novel with a bleak outlook on truth and life and personhood, this is one that will linger with me for a long time. Thank you to Gallery Books for my copy in exchange for an honest review. Blog | Instagram

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