Universal Harvester

Universal Harvester

Book - 2017
Average Rating:
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"Jeremy works at the Video Hut in Nevada, Iowa. It’s a small town in the center of the state―the first a in Nevada pronounced ay. This is the late 1990s, and even if the Hollywood Video in Ames poses an existential threat to Video Hut, there are still regular customers, a rush in the late afternoon. It’s good enough for Jeremy: it’s a job, quiet and predictable, and it gets him out of the house, where he lives with his dad and where they both try to avoid missing Mom, who died six years ago in a car wreck. But when a local schoolteacher comes in to return her copy of Targets―an old movie, starring Boris Karloff, one Jeremy himself had ordered for the store―she has an odd complaint: “There’s something on it,” she says, but doesn’t elaborate. Two days later, a different customer returns a different tape, a new release, and says it’s not defective, exactly, but altered: “There’s another movie on this tape.” Jeremy doesn’t want to be curious, but he brings the movies home to take a look. And, indeed, in the middle of each movie, the screen blinks dark for a moment and the movie is replaced by a few minutes of jagged, poorly lit home video. The scenes are odd and sometimes violent, dark, and deeply disquieting. There are no identifiable faces, no dialogue or explanation―the first video has just the faint sound of someone breathing― but there are some recognizable landmarks. These have been shot just outside of town. So begins John Darnielle’s haunting and masterfully unsettling Universal Harvester: the once placid Iowa fields and farmhouses now sinister and imbued with loss and instability and profound foreboding. The novel will take Jeremy and those around him deeper into this landscape than they have ever expected to go. They will become part of a story that unfolds years into the past and years into the future, part of an impossible search for something someone once lost that they would do anything to regain." -- provided by Amazon.
Publisher: New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2017
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780374282103
0374282102
Branch Call Number: F Dar

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OLATHEAllisonB Jul 06, 2017

Mysterious and murky, this novel attempts to be profound about loss and grief, with some success. Darnielle maintains a bleak and haunting tone throughout the setting of small-town Iowa, and the mystery running as a common thread between the chapters has a surprising conclusion. At times, though, the language comes across as pretentious, rambling on without saying anything important. An occasionally interesting read, but not a memorable one.

CRRL_MegBingham Jun 22, 2017

Awesome read. Universal Harvester is a serious homage to David Lynch mysteries such as the newly revived Twin Peaks on the Showtime network, classic horror movies such as The Ring and David Cronenberg's Videodrome.

s
ShannonFell
May 30, 2017

It is so hard to write a review about this book. It wasn't satisfying, memorable, or worthy of a recommendation.

SareM91 May 09, 2017

A slow-paced book about loss and longing. It says the genre is horror but it is not horror! So don't go into this thinking it's horror because you will be very disappointed.

Cynthia_N Mar 13, 2017

Eerie read! I must admit I feel like most of the readers who have reviewed this book, I'm just not sure whether I liked or understood it. That being said, it was a worthwhile read and I believe this would make a great horror movie.

d
Dreamstime
Mar 10, 2017

A confusing plot. Love the setup and the location, but it was a slog to reach the middle. Not my cup of tea.

b
bradallen
Dec 30, 2016

I am not certain I even know how to review this book, but I could not put it down. The story is creepy yet in the most subtle and mellowest sense. The writing is quite plain yet mesmerizing. As the book moves beyond the creepy set piece of its first part, it becomes less creepy and begins to open up into a larger narrative. There is a vagueness as to what may or may not be going on in this novel that allows it to expand in your mind and let you come to your own conclusions as to what you're reading. I still don't quite know how to process Universal Harvester, but needless to say, it's fantastic second novel by Mr. Darnielle.

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