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I have read several James Herbert books in the past and this one has been knocking around on my bookshelf for some time and taking the train up to my parents gave an ideal reading opportunity. It is 394 pages in length so it will take a while to get through it but a 6 hour round trip by train just about covered it.
Whilst over the past few years I have gone off horror stories slightly I have always found that James Herbert isn't quite as graphic in the plots as say Stephen King is. He tends to lean a bit more on the suspense side of things rather than out and out shock horror. This book wasn't in my opinion one of his best offerings as really it appeared to be more like two short stories slightly clumsily rolled into one.
I personally think that James Herbert as an author is a bit like marmite you either really like his books or you hate them. I, for the majority of his novels, am in the former category.
The basic plot at first appears to be that of a murder mystery novel but with the odd bit of rather strange suspense thrown in as well. The novel is written in the first person which I must admit does irritate me at times but it is a way to stop the plot lines from jumping around all over the place which has worked quite well in this instance.
The story starts with the main character, James True, finding himself murdered. (Yes the plot is a bit of an odd one) We find that this character was having an out of body experience when it happened. But just who would want to kill this married father of one who was an advertising agent? Just who would have an axe to grind against him? The police aren't up to much so James must investigate this himself but as a 'disembodied spirit' things are not going to be easy and when he does discover the truth his blood would run cold, if he still had any that is.....
What I thought of it.
For me the novel really only got going in the last third of the storyline and the first third had very little to do with the main plot at all and frankly in my opinion was not exactly needed. The first third covers the back story of the main character from his childhood up to finding himself killed - the vast majority had little bearing on the rest of the novel. During this part of the book I did nearly give up on it on two occasions, not something I often do with books but the first 100 pages or so were so dull it was a drag getting through it. After the actual main plot kicks in then it does become much harder to put down and it was worth battling through the first 100 pages. His back story is mainly explaining about his past out of body experiences and his education, work etc. For me this was a rather long winded method of giving the only real character description in the whole book.
One thing I have always had against James Herbert is that his character descriptions are never very detailed. Whilst we get the basic appearance of them we get little about their personality or little quirks which can be so important. This did lead me to having to flip back through the book at times to remind myself of exactly who a character was.
Whilst James Herbert's writing style is rather simplistic it has the advantage of not being heavy going and therefore you can get through the novel fairly quickly. His sentence structure at times works well to draw you into the novel especially in the last third of the book. The use of smaller sentences to build the suspense works well in the final few chapters. Also Herbert's use of dropping the names of who is saying what when there are only two people in the conversation does help these parts of the story flow better even though you may have to concentrate a bit more to keep track of who is saying what.
The second part of the novel does work well and if I were to read it again I would possibly skip to this part of the book and read it from there in order to avoid all the tedious bits at the beginning. Really the two storylines could have been separated into two short stories which may have worked much better.
Some of the characters:
The main character, James True, is the kind of person who wouldn't really have an enemy in the world, a devoted husband and father so as is stated in the first paragraph of the book coming back to his body and finding it dead was a bit of a shock to him (well it would be to all of us). The first person writing style is his life story - such as it is.
Oliver and Sydney are James' two business partners and his best friends. Oliver like James is an advertising agent whilst Sydney is the firm's accountant/bookkeeper and is responsible for keeping the peace between the other two.
Moker is a strange hermit like person who is rarely seen out without being fully wrapped up, face and all. When James first sees Morker in one of his out of body experiences there is something that makes him uneasy.
A fairly good read but the first half could have been missed out. The writing style is solid but not outstanding.
Nobody True - James Herbert - No price taken out of library
Nobody True is the story about a young man, James (Jim) True who throughout his life suffered from Out of Body Experiences. During one of these experiences (OBE's) he is murdered and mutilated... But he doesn't feel dead, he doesn't act dead.... So what's going on?
I'll stop with the plot spoilers there as I don't want to ruin it; yes I want you to go read it yourself! (Or check out the Amazon reviews, I almost spoiled the ending myself there)
I want to start with Herbert's style of writing, I love it, I am a big fan of first person style novels as I feel it draws you even further into authors mind. I almost felt like I was with Jim in his travels and part of his life, I knew his family and friends I was totally immersed in his world.
Nobody true is set in London so a lot of the places are familiar and thus easy to envisage. I built up a pretty strong image in my mind of the characters and places. Herbert does well to explain his surroundings and characters in a way that doesn't distract too much from the storyline. It subtly blends in making it easy to become part of his world.
The only distraction this novel had was random footnotes that to me seemed pointless and broke up the storyline. He places these footnotes at random points throughout the book, they go on to explain aspects which could easily have been explained in the storyline. It irritated me as I would lose my place in the book and ended up having to re-read each paragraph after reading, the mostly useless, footnotes.
Considering this book is a horror novel its pretty easy reading, yes there is murder, mutilation, necrophilia and general goriness but it's not enough to give you nightmares, no, no if anything it plucks at your heartstrings as you feel the helplessness of Jim trying to protect his wife and young daughter from a serial killer only he knows about.
But this review isn't all good, now this next bit might just be my pure hatred of cheesy things (Thoughts of Dr Who and Rose Tyler churn my insides).... But this book has a cheesy ending... A VERY cheesy ending so much so that I threw the book down and went on a 5 minute rant about how the ending ruined the tense, emotional, fearful horror story... I'll admit it was comforting at times but pure, 100% cheese.
All in all I was pleasantly surprised by this book; I think my colleague was also surprised by how much I liked it. I told him I wasn't a fan of horror and when I came into work with raving reviews (minus the last chapter) he was pretty blown away. I definitely recommend this book it is very easy to read and incredibly entertaining the world outside was lost when I was in this book.
Following the main character in the book, James True, who stars to experience OBE'S (Out of Body Experiences) at a very early age of 7 - where he saw himself choking on a hot potato. Happening more and more throughout his life, he begins to learn much about his ability, with the most noticeable incident happening when he was 17 in a motorcycle incident; the great amount of detail the author used for describing the scene was brilliant, particularly because of the first person viewpoint that the book is written in. This first person narrative was particularly interesting, giving us an insight into Jim's (James) thoughts, feelings, and emotions.
We then start to learn about James' (Jim as people call him) life, which is all relevant to the later stages of the book (including his advertising company and his family and friends).
After an argument between James and Oliver (a good friend and business partner) over merging their company with another, which James completely disagreed with. After James finds that Oliver is still on drugs (which had broken up their friendship before), Oliver storms out; soon after James collapses on the bed, and begins another OBE. On his journey, he learns about Alex Moker (a nasty and hideous serial killer), whilst also visiting his family to kiss his mother and daughter goodnight, until he suddenly felt something was right, like the link to his body had being broken, like he was on his own. Travelling back to his body, he was shocked to find he had been murdered - not just murdered but mutilated (nothing at all for his soul to go back to).
Now alone, no way back, and no way of contacting the real world, he begins to learn more about himself (his current form and his life before being killed). He begins a journey, learning what his friends and family are really like, and who his killer was.
I particularly like the great amount of detail the author uses in this book, describing his OBE experiences almost as if we were living them. You are presented with several questions throughout the book also, and left wondering where exactly the story would lead, although this soon becomes very clear.
I would definitely recommend a read of this book!!
Thanks for reading
Nobody True is James Herbert's 21st novel and doesn`t disappoint us with this proud selection in his masterpieces of, horror and Fictional writing.
He always seems to be able to keep each and every new book fresh and new, with exciting new characters and events, usually building up into a crescendo of suspense and excitement.
I have been a huge fan of Herbert's for some years now i don't think i know a book i have been disappointed with.
I am hoping this review will, give you an insight as to what the book is about, i will try to "wet your appetite"but i don`t want to give too much away.
So here goes and i hope you enjoy it!
The best line and is vital to the book is the line said by the central character James True is "i wasn`t there when i died...."
Now this is a great little eye opener to get your interest in the book started and to make you think "hey hang on! how can that be?"
Certainly had me intrigued.....
The story revolves around a central character named James
True, who is able from a very early age to be able to have "Outer Body Experiences" where his inner self is able to leave his physical being and float away, (his soul if you like.)
It is vital to the plot of the book that we know this, and at the beginning explains why he thinks he can do it and how it is manageable.
This is a credit to James Herbert`s writing skill as it draws you into the story from the start, and you won`t even know it is pulling you towards the direction it wants to take you.
He is an only child and has an estranged relationship with his mother, which is also explained through the book, his father as far as he is aware hasn`t ever been around.
This is a sad part in the book as it explains in detail why the relationship is like this with his mother.
OBEs (as James True then goes on calling them in the book)
is what he was doing when his body is mutilated in a hotel room, and he comes back to find he can`t re-enter his body as usual and the conflict of , terror, panic, and sheer disbelief that someone would do that to him.
He has or (had) as far as he was aware no enemies that would want to do such a brutal thing to him.
Imagine you are able to do this and come back to find you can`t re-enter your body, i think i would be a bit freaked out too. It does make you wonder why you can`t re-enter a deceased corpse.
As we progress through the book we get to know more about this character and how he put himself through college, also how he built up his company with his partners, Oliver Guinane, and Sydney Presswell.
The entrusted friends and colleges that he had a volatile relationship with and makes you wonder what has saw in them at all, but remain as close as they did to each other.
We also get to meet the beautiful and intelligent Andrea True who is of course his wife and their Daughter.
It is very important to the storyline i don`t tell you anymore about them as they are vital to the conclusion of the story.
You can`t help but feel sorry for his wife and daughter.
We also get to know there was a bit of past history with Oliver, sydney and Andrea.
Herbert has a knack of bringing these characters to life and to make you believe they are real people and to feel the empathy and sorrow they are going through as well.
It is written with a true passion and a feeling for all things supernatural.
It will have you wondering if this is really as possible to do as some people swear they have had these OBE`S.
Now James goes on a crusade to find out who would do this and Mr Herbert in his own unique style alternates between his investigations and what the police are up to and their suspicions and feelings about what went on.
You will find yourself 100% behind this man and urging him on to get justice for him and his family.
Poor James true! not only can`t he get back into his own body but along the way finds out a few home truths about his family life he knew nothing about, as well as looking and finding clues about his murderer.
Sympathy and empathy comes in here as you can`t help but will him along to find closure.
You are fully aware that this is only a book, a story from someones imagination, but that doesn't stop you from getting involved with all of the characters, and whilst reading it you are each and everyone of them in turn.
You get a real sense of what they are going through and their feelings and emotions.
I`m sure Herbert must research his subject matter thoroughly before hand, as the attention to detail is just great and his writing style is so confident you can`t help but not believe what you are reading, and read in in true confidence.
This storyline is based around London, and as i read it even i recognised some of the places, and names he referred to throughout the story.
I was amazed it could recall where i had seen them years ago .
This novel, will make you laugh, cry, scream, and get involved more than you intended to, and i can guarantee you won`t want to put it down.
The ultimate climax of the book has its usual twists and turns but i can tell you, it will keep you guessing to the end who done it and why.
This will have you screaming "why" at the book as we get to the killer and who he/she is and why they done what they had done.
There is also a surprise ending for James True as well at the end of his journey, that will have you in tears.
The lay out in the book is good, and it is split into nice bite sized chapters of the novel.
You can read with ease and know instantly where you have left your hero and what he was doing.
This novel is not very guilty of going back and forward in time, in my opinion i think this is only done as and when the plot or storyline needs it to.
When you find out who the killer is, you will not know whether to be angry, sad or have just plain contempt for him/her.
It is not that often a book has me crying out when reading it, but you get so involved with the characters you forget your surroundings and where you are, in the real world.
I think if a book can do that to you, then it has been worthwhile purchasing.
Would i recommend this book!
Yes i would, this has all the right ingredients, of a superb suspense, supernatural, and good old fashioned murder mystery.
If you enjoy this book then i am sure you will become a fan of his and read more of his novels.
?I wasn?t there when I died. Really. I wasn?t. And finding my body dead came as a shock. Hell, I was horrified, lost, couldn?t understand what the fuck had happened.? James True is one third of the True, Guinane, Presswell enterprise that operates in the hurly burly world of advertising. Having discovered the strange ability to leave his body at the age of 6, out of body (OBEs) experiences have been a regular feature ever since passing out in a Bournemouth boarding house having swallowed a hot piece of potato. Married to Andrea with a young daughter called Prim, James True tells the curious tale of how events unfolded after he was murdered whilst experiencing an OBE. The difficulty is that he is still present and yet he isn?t, his physical body having been savagely mutilated in a hotel room whilst on an idea generation weekend with his business partner, Oliver. The main suspects include a mysterious serial killer who he has encountered whilst out of body and the previously mentioned close partner, Oliver Guinane who happens to be a former lover of his wife, Andrea. To add to the suspicion, Oliver and James had been heard having a loud disagreement about a pending merger with another large advertising firm with Oliver disappearing into the night in a rage. Publicly, the prime candidate seems to be Alex Moker, a hideously deformed porter who works shifts in a hospital morgue but has a penchant for murdering people with a knitting needle. The curious thing is that the victims invariably do something to totally degrade themselves before they die which is totally out of character and simply doesn?t make sense. However, there are factors present that suggest a modus operandi that differs from the feared serial killer giving the police food for thought and reason for doubt. As this stage, I?ll leave
you to discover who it is that turns out to be the killer of James True; whether True resolves the problem of no longer having a body and the more wide reaching aspects of the plot that surround his mother and father. I would start by saying that I?ve been reading James Herbert for many years and this is very typical output for those legions that class themselves as fans. For the uninitiated, James Herbert has been writing horror/fantasy novels since The Rats was first published in 1974 and has clocked up 20 works of fiction. He is published in 35 other languages and has been the Premiere British horror writer for the last four decades. Here, all the trademark Herbert nuances are there including: a punchy (chapters are typically10 pages long), flowing style, strong powers of description when outlining pen pictures of his characters, a momentum that gathers as the story develops and a rousing finale that brings the strands of plot together. All literary competencies we?ve come to respect and expect ever since The Rats was published all those years ago. I?m not quite sure as to whether James Herbert has been caught up in all the spiritualism that has exploded in popularity on channels like Living TV but there are plenty of references to ghosts, spirits and out of body experiences in the story. Tangents are explored even to the point of expounding theories of what plains our souls roam once we have departed this mortal coil. Quite clearly the driving force for this story, the author does do the subject matter credit with the subtle infusion of the various strands of theory even if it?s difficult for cynics to take too seriously (this is fiction, remember) At 502 pages, Nobody True is a reasonably long read although I did find the time went quickly as I got caught up in the story. It was interesting to note
the way Herbert wrought significance from the title towards the end with a thoughtful reflection of those people who had apparently let the main character down. By widening the main events to draw in the bizarre circumstances surrounding his father?s marriage and the reasons for his mother?s cold, hostile demeanour, the reader comes to realise the significance of the title even if it may be a little late in the day as far as the story goes. Some aspects of this particular book don?t quite work out. The obligatory twist(s) in the tale isn?t/aren?t really that mind blowing and the addendum at the foot of some pages proved to be something of an irritant. The narrative is also intended as something of a cautionary tale but I?m not sure that the characters ever reach the point where empathy gets the reader to care enough. Then again, there is no opportunity for them to do so. As it transpires, just about everybody appears to have an ulterior motive of some description and the little sub-plots that spring up merely serve to isolate the main character even more as the story goes on. Whilst I did like the first person style and the approach of telling the tale as though it was to just one person in a small room, none of the other characters create anything like the same rapport with the reader. Moreover, some of the gore and degradation may even be seen as gratuitous in some quarters and probably unnecessary to build the suspense and horror in the latter stages of the plot. I was a little nervous that the author used the Turkish nationality in one particularly horrific exchange, which may also attract criticism. Still, this will sell well if only based on Herbert?s phenomenal past pedigree and huge fan base. All the ingredients are there for the customary best-seller: sinister killer, mystical aspects, ghosts and vulnerable victims in peril. In something like 25 years, &
#73;'ve only missed one book of his (Once) and I?m sure I?ll be back for more. I just hope the next one is stronger than this. Thanks for reading Marandina ISBN: 0-330-41167-5 Published by Pan Books RRP: £6.99 although on sale at Tesco for £3.73 now
?Life is pleasant. Death is peaceful. It's the transition that's troublesome.?
Few authors can write about life or death in such a dramatic and all encompassing way as James Herbert has in Nobody True. For this reason I number him amongst my favourite writers in the mystery and thriller genre with the sure knowledge that when I pick up one of his books I know I?m about to go on a dizzying journey filled with passion and heartache in fairly equal measure, Herbert really is the very best of British authors.
?Birth and Death are the two noblest expressions of bravery?
James True was a slip of a lad when he first had an out of body experience, an oversized boiled potato caused him to choke nearly to death and in the process propelled his inner self to rise above his actual body and observe his Mothers frantic efforts to dislodge the errant spud and bring him back to life. James survived this close encounter of the Maris Piper kind and thought little of the out of body experience (OBE) until it happened again when he was aged seventeen. On his journey home from art college a young boy ran out in front of his motorbike causing James to swerve drastically, much to the annoyance of the rain soaked road which endeavoured to spill him from the motorbike and in so doing fracturing his skull and breaking a leg.
James remembered nothing of the accident but he did remember standing on the pavement observing the accident and the immediate aftermath, watching as worried pedestrians ran to his aid as he lay prone in the road. Thankfully James survived the road traffic accident but his curiosity of OBE`s was awakened and he set about developing the skill to use as a benefit and a way of relaxing throughout his adult life. Unfortunately an OBE was to prove his undoing, after a particularly hard brain
storming session with his advertising agency partner, James used an OBE as a means to relax and escape the never ending grind, the only trouble was that while he had left his actual body in the hotel room someone gained access and murdered him. Unable to rejoin his ruined body James floats about in abject despair as it slowly dawns on him that he is destined to spend eternity in a sort of afterlife flux state. So begins a journey to find out who is responsible for his brutal murder and why he was killed when it seemed he had no enemies at all, what James discovers along the way shakes his lost soul to its very foundations.
?Death is the most beautiful adventure in life?
This is a tough book to read, not because it is not well written, I assure you it is. It is tough because it requires the reader to think about the very essence of death and the effect it has on loved ones and acquaintances. I could feel the despair as James True realises that he will never be able to communicate with his wife and daughter again, the despair when he realises that his life is over just when it had reached its peak, and the abject misery that envelopes him as it dawns on him that there will be no more tomorrows for his real self. Each of the characters in Nobody True is well developed and either had me liking them immediately or wishing for their undoing. The way in which James` daughter?s utter heartache is portrayed as she realises that she will not see her daddy again is heart rending as is his wife?s stoicism.
?There is no cure for birth and death, save to enjoy the interval?
Why was that? Well, James Herbert has always been a very graphic writer in my opinion, on more than one occasion when reading his other books I have winced at the descriptive horrors contained therein. It seems he has channelled this utterly compelling descriptiveness
to full effect in Nobody True so that the eternal OBE of the lead character is not only believable but also has the reader filled with empathy very early on. The physics of the OBE are also painstakingly explained so that when James True can walk through walls or people it seemed like the most natural thing in the world to me, kudos to James Herbert for making the characters so utterly believable.
?Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone?
It will come as little surprise that I give Nobody True the full five stars. It is a violent book with bad language and uncomfortable wording aplenty, sort of a ?Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold? with blood, guts and violence! Don?t let that put you off though, because above all else it is a darn good read.
Hardback ISBN: - 140500519X - £12.59 at Amazon
Paperback ISBN: - 0330411675 - £5.59 at Amazon
Take a big dollop of Fluke, a spoonful of Others, a pinch of The Dark and the tiniest drop of The Jonah, stir it up and you may well have James Herbert's new book 'Nobody True'. Or perhaps I'm being a little unfair on the whole thing, lets take a peek. Nobody True, (don't make the same mistake as I did calling it Nobody's True, sounds easier) is the newest output of Britain's greatest horror writer James Herbert. Although I'm sure that I'd call him a horror writer anymore, supernatural, that's more the word. But even so he's moved away, like Stephen King into other directions. 48' and Others show that perfectly. Once of course did have that spooky supernatural gobliny stuff, but it didn't go down too well. Hence I think he's gone back to the more human side of things. Now you may disagree with me after reading the book yourselves, please feel free to question my judgement. James True is 7 when he remembers his first out of body experience (OBE, from now on), he happens to be choking on a hot potato when he finds himself floating above his body, it happens several times after but most notable of it when he is injured in a motorcycle accident when he is 17. From this moment on he begins to explore his OBE's, fine tuning them until he learns to leave his body at will. And this is what gets him in some major trouble! The first quarter of the book concerns the life and growing up of Jim True, with the odd, tiny, no more than 2 page chapter which bears no relevance to the story at the time. What I have come to realise though is that Herbert has found the formula to keep you reading this book! We meet his mother, the harridan who's behaviour and obvious mental health problems prove so important for his own healing. We meet his partners Oliver and Sydney from their advertising company, its subtly dropped in that Andrea, James' wife was one Olivers live in lover. Then
the big event happens, Oliver and Jim argue in a hotel room over the possible merger of the firm into a much larger one. Guess who's for and against? It ends up with Oliver storming out after doing a few lines of coke, Jim proceeds to drink the mini-bar, collapses on the bed and floats out of his body........... During this flight Jim encounters the hideously deformed Alex Moker with realising the part then have to play. He floats off to kiss his wife and child goodnight, suddenly he has the feeling of a snapped link. Jim rushes back to his body to find he is.... Dead Not just dead but literally chopped into pieces, murdered to put it politely. So now of course he wants to know who's killed him, which is going to prove which difficult as he cant be seen, heard, nor can he touch anything. But boy does Jim give it a go! The rest of Jim's journey is trying to work out who killed him, is he a victim of a serial killer?. He learns some very unpleasant truths along the way, encountering some very nasty and ugly situations. Does it come to a happy conclusion? This is a Herbert book for Gawds sake. This book is written in a first person narrative, which gives us a fascinating insight into James thoughts and feeling. This is the main reason I liken it to Fluke, its written in the same style and manner, absolutely wonderful in its simplicity, demonstrating the perplexity of the character at his predicament. But I promise you James doesn't turn into a dog, or any other small furry creature! Herbert has undoubtedly done his research on OBE's, souls and death, explaining to us why James isn't a ghost, nor a spirit (hurt my brain too the first time around!) He does encounter spirits, but thankfully stays well clear of any discussion around hell, heaven and GOD. There are no religious overtones in this book at all, no preaching, no nothing. One of the biggest problems I had whilst reading this book was wo
ndering how the hell the story was going to go forward, it doesn't stutter at all, but you do think, how is a man who couldn't touch, speak be heard, etc ever going to be able to work this out? But the story does turn out to be a smooth progression, and the ending both a surprise and a triumph. Herbert has the 'twist in the tale' down to an art form! Some may find the explorations of his plight and the whole subject of OBE's, etc too scientific and too in depth for a horror story, yes you have to think a bit instead of ploughing through like most horror stories. However its managed in the most interesting way, making this book a delight to read, I finished it in less than 2 days and in a couple of days time I'm going to read it again to ensure I get all the bits out of this book. I'll give you some advice though, remember that phrase 'its like someone just walked over my grave', you'll find out exactly what it means, and boy, is it uncomfortable! Macmillan 2003 £10.99 ISBN 1-405-04173-0