I have a great many P. A. Douglas books on my Kindle device. So many, in fact, that I was disconcerted to realise I'd never read any of them. Yet his synopses always attracted me. Armageddons? Old Ones? Zombies? Count me in. Killer Koala Bears from another Dimension maybe less so, but I still bought it, figuring a day would come when I was in the mood to have a laugh rather than read something intense.
Yet it was Watchers that I found demanded my attention when I was scrolling through my phone yesterday, plotting which book I would next tackle.
Sadly, it did not live up to its synopsis.
Watchers follows all-round slacker Kyle as he finds himself in the middle of some kind of nasty outbreak - one in which people's insides burst out of them, their skin sloughs off their bodies and they melt into any subject they happen to be touching. THEN they get up off the ground and attempt to infect any one not so melted withing their vicinity. Kyle finds himself trapped in the local supermarket when the cloud causing such monsters descends around the store, and soon has to fight for survival with a few "lucky" survivors.
Sound familiar? It should. Stephen King wrote this novella (The Mist) about 3o years before Douglas, and he did it infinitely better. The similarities end with the characters here being almost universally unlikable with even protagonist Kyle's redemptive arc failing to convince. The characters also generally behave in odd and often baffling ways. And whilst Watchers might be entertainingly gory in places and have a somewhat interesting twist on what caused the outbreak, it has little of the amazing tension which made The Mist such a classic.
Furthermore, I found the ending to be a let down. I won't spoil why that is here, except to say the most intriguing part of the tale is not explored in enough detail. There were also numerous copy editing errors spread throughout the novella, with the worst of those being incorrect words which rendered some sentences nonsensical.
So as much as this was a let down, I'm not done with Douglas yet. Every author is entitled to a "just okay" book, and I'm hoping the next of his I choose to read ends up being that much better.
2 Burst Eyeballs Popping Out of an Infected's Face for Watchers.