A few years ago (man, it seems like forever ago now) I attended a writers’ conference in the Big Apple which was probably one of the most fun things ever – writers are my people. One of the sessions I attended was with a young, up and comer named J.D. Barker. I can’t remember now what the title of the session was, but now, “knowing” J.D. and having read quite a few of his books, he was probably talking about something like “How to Drag Your Readers Along on a Relentless, Adrenaline-Packed Ride” or “How to Insert the Highest Level of Creepy Into Your Books” or “How to Get a Big Time Writer to Let You Co-Write With Him.” Or, perhaps all three, who knows.
By the time I “met” J.D., he’d accomplished all of these, and then some. He was within months of the release of Dracul, which he co-wrote with Dacre Stoker, great grand-nephew of Bram Stoker. Dracul is the fantastically spooky prequel to Dracula. (Hey y’all, I just figured out Mr. Stoker lives just down the road from me! Howdy, neighbor!). He’d also sweet talked James Patterson (yes, THAT James Patterson)(J.D. calls him “Jim”) into all manner of favors, including reviewing some of his pages (swoooon)(life goals) and a really nice (completely justified) book review. Apparently J.D. had even more plans for Jim: co-writing. To date, J.D. has already collaborated with Jim twice. One was the non-stop thrill ride called “The Coast-to-Coast Murders.” OH EM GEE that thing wore me out. When he and Jim say “Coast-to-Coast,” they are not lying to you. They’re murdering from one end of the country to the other, and they’re doing it at about 200mph. So put the pedal to the metal and keep up.
And then came The Noise. I was lucky enough to get an advanced copy (which gave me the biggest thrill ever). I did a short review (Sorry about that, J.D. and Jim. I was coming off #1’s wedding weekend and I was a whipped puppy) over on Goodreads and gave the book a 4. I really wish Goodreads offered partial stars cause this one is a lot closer to a 5. More like a 4.9999999. I’m pulling away from that all-important full “5” … and I confess: it’s not the book. It’s me. I simply couldn’t handle that level of scary-creepy-freaky. It might have helped if I didn’t read it before bed at night (hello, scaredy-cat! don’t read creepy books right before bed). It also would have helped if I liked sci-fi (sorry, if it’s not Harry Potter, I’m out). These two things – like I said – are not the book’s fault.
J.D. and Jim’s The Noise is one of the creepiest, most frightening books I’ve ever read. Why?
Because it could so easily be true.
Several top scientists are called in by the government to investigate an anomaly among a community of survivalists in the woods of Oregon. In true government-scary-stuff fashion, the scientists aren’t told the whole truth. Because that’s what the government does in these situations, right? Give the smart people all the information they need to solve the problem? My friend Trixie would say, “That’d be too much like right!” Anyhoo, when the scientists are flown into the affected area, they find the place deserted, but for two young sisters. Everyone else apparently went running…literally…because of the Noise. The source of the noise is one of the questions. The strange reaction to the noise is another. The scientists investigate and pay special attention to the two sisters, one who was affected, and one who wasn’t.
The Noise is a terrifying book that I sincerely hope never comes true, but it could. And that, my friends, is the truly scary part.
Read The Noise. But if you read it at bedtime, don’t come crying to me if it makes you shiver under your covers. ‘Cause I told you so.
(So, J.D. and Jim, can we collaborate? Now that we’re on first name basis ‘n all?)