Spoilers and Overshare Version of my Review for S.P. Miskowski’s The Worst is Yet to Come

‘A great, tense, existential horror with a supernatural bite’ says The Horror of Marna Larsen.

Before you read this review, I want you to answer a question for me.

Why is Poppy’s ‘Sit/stay’ (which has an appropriate title but is literally about internet stardom being made into the anthem for the #stayathome movement – which, btw, I modify as #stayathomeifyoucan) when there is a song on the same album literally about staying inside because it is the apocalypse outside? And actually, the title of that one is LITERALLY Don’t Go Outside??? Is it because that would be too obvious or what?

I want to remind everyone this is the spoilers and overshare version. The spoilers and undershare version will be available on Goodreads and the blurb of neither available on Amazon. Thank you.

I’m almost finished with a for-review copy of S. P. Miskowski’s The Best of Both Worlds (I love that self referential title, btw) and since it’s a  companion piece to her previous novel, The Worst is Yet to Come, I wanted a refresher on the source material. The Worst is Yet to Come is something I read during the summer but hesitated to write up a review for, both because the summer is extremely stressful and I generally do very little else during, and because I had almost too much to say about it and had no idea how to begin drawing up a coherent review. It’s one thing to realize I’m not good enough to get published, but I don’t want to let people down because I’m in over my head with this review stuff, too. This is the sort of oversharing you get with a review from me, and people who are not used to it, might not, er…respond so well? (Which is why this is going to be a post for my long-neglected blog and the short, sane version will go on my Goodreads and Amazon.)

So. The teen stuff. I’ve found it’s never possible to resonate fully in terms of references or language. There’s just always going to be a noticeable lag. There are people I talk to who are just a decade younger and I understand like 37% of what they say and rely on faking and emojis. But I related to the two girls because of the commonality. Not just because I was a weird girl but because I literally dragged home an unsuitable friend who lit fires and pierced things without the proper implements or even, at least, sterilized ones.

I admit, it did bug me a little that all the weird girl references were men. Even though that is absolutely true and so it feels authentic. Girls didn’t have access to Roberta Findlay back in my day. There were only the elder gods: Carpenter (Deb was never even mentioned) Lynch, and Cronenberg. (But we at least had Anne Rice.)

I also grew up in the same landscape, the difference being, mine was an island. I failed to live in Seattle epically and far worse than Kim ever could, but I understand the basic sentiment. I am also terrified I will end up dating someone like Charles who, every time the character spoke, I found myself either rolling my eyes or sometimes, actually putting the book down so I could roll my eyes and shake my head at the same time. In fact, I worry sometimes that all men are Charles, but thankfully, my bf believes more or less the same thing about having kids late. He’s forty and I’m thirty-seven so that’s far too late. Yes! Off the hook. Finally, something positive about aging as a female.

But I sympathized with Kim, even when I agreed with Tanya that she could be extremely weak willed. At the same time, as someone who was rejected by literally everyone (including the press which printed this book and I admit, some of the delay in writing this review was hurt feelings and pride) I sympathized with people taking pleasure in my failure and just wanting to give up. There were times even forced motherhood, the thing I’d been so afraid of all my life, would be preferable. I would reap so many benefits from that which are absent from my list of failures and having to put a positive spin on them for social media. (Failure is a learning experience on the road to the real thing! Ugh.) It doesn’t even make me feel better that any publication through a press may have been delayed or even cancelled indefinitely with everything that’s going on. It’s just more excuses.

The short version of all this is, I really sympathized with the characters, even when they were obnoxious, which is something I always appreciate as anyone can like a likable character.

It’s also really funny in that mean way people usually end up distancing themselves from me as friends for.  Like Charles saying the wrong thing to the wrong redneck conservative (a mistake someone who grew up in an area like that would have never made. I always assume I’m in mixed company because I always am). Then again, I ran away from that high school friend who laughed too hard in a way that was too difficult to interpret at NPH’s casting in gone girl during our only friend movie date fast, fast, fast and never looked back. (And I unfriended her even though I am trapped on an island with this girl which is yet another way in which children tether you to completely shitty people. No thank you.)

But I’ve always had a core of weird, angry, pragmatic sociopathy at the very bottom of my soul therefore, I probably related to Briar the most. Which is weird, because we’re told over and over not just in The Worst is Yet to Come but in the companion novel that there is something not right about her. (That’s the term used by the characters who do not have a belief system in place. Those that do, use a different word.) I love that you don’t know if this is just the filter those characters view the world through or not. I don’t know. I believe if you are put physically in an intolerable situation the way children often are, there’s nothing wrong with getting the fuck out of it any way you can. I think it’s possibly also Miskowski’s sense of humor which assumes the girl will interpret Dead Lavender’s advice as: women are built to take shit and be stronger for it and instead reads: if people are threatening you it is perfectly okay to defend yourself. There is also a soliloquy about what it means to be an acceptable female in today’s society and when I read it this summer at work, I snort laughed.

Anyway. It’s a wonderful and important book. It’s nice to see the horror genre stepping forward a bit. You just don’t see a lot of truly existential horror in the way that Shirley Jackson’s work was always, at it’s core, about how horrible both the threat of being alive and the threat of dying are at the same time.

Hey! Were you aware literally all the virus-related articles have the same title and my google chrome search results highlight the gorgeous cover to the right of all the grim news? If I were tired of being told how everything is going to get worse and we are all going to die and hadn’t already read this fantastic book, I would definitely gravitate toward it!

Is that ghoulish of me?

 

 

 

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