I’ve been a quiet fan of Kristopher’s work for a while now. Everything of his I’ve read has mostly delivered but Full Brutal is the current king (read: evil cheerleading queen) that is going to be tough to dethrone. The tactical ruination showcased in the first half of the book trumps the visceral violence of the second half. In a way it almost reads like 2 separate stories but it certainly works as the main character evolves. This is written in first person and the main character, Kim, makes Joffrey Baratheon or Ramsey Bolton look like bugs bunny. BUT the awesomeness of her voice and Kristohper’s writing makes this book insanely readable and even though you should be hating her guts she’s kinda... fun. Especially in a “what could she possibly do next” kind of way. Her motives, dark humor and twisted logic make her fall somewhere between car crash interesting at worst and a riot to cheer for at best (based on the reader’s own psyche, those could be reversed and it still wouldn’t matter because he nailed it) The final 20-30 pages come off with a cinematic energy rarely seen in words on paper. If that doesn’t make sense, it will once you finish the book. It’s longer than I expected but reads infinitely easier and faster than I expected in a Richard Laymon kind of way yet completely owned by Triana and his blistering first person. Would’ve easily finished in a day if my iPad didn’t die. Maybe Kim killed that too.
Sixteen-year-old Kim White is not like most of her peers. For one thing: she is attractive, popular, and comes from a wealthy family, but she hates it all. She’s “grown weary of the same brats and bitches” in her life at school and has no interest in sex or in being touched or losing her virginity to some “hairy flesh-bag… belching out testosterone-fueled lies and flexing their incomplete, teenage bodies.” She, however, is intrigued by how her friends tell her sex has changed their lives: “suddenly your childhood is gone, and the whole world just looks different.” Even more intriguing to Kim is the hardcore bondage porn she discovers on the Internet. She begins to think losing her virginity “to an adult—and a teacher at that—would be an unconventional, drastic move. It would be a dark and dirty thing with all of the makings of a game-changer.” And thus, the fun—and the terror—begins in Kristopher Triana’s latest dark thriller, Full Brutal (2018).
In 1954 author William March published one of his last works, The Bad Seed (it was filmed in 1956). In the psychological thriller, it is revealed that eight-year-old Rhoda Penmark’s charming and sweet personality is a façade for a scheming murderess. Both the book and the movie were shocking and popular at the time, but Triana’s Kim White is light-years away from Rhoda. Chances are Kim achieves a level of violent, psychotic mayhem seldom reached by most characters in horror fiction. Discovering that sex does not give her the release or change of life she expected, Kim goes on a murdering rampage which she does find fulfilling—temporarily—a rampage that needs to be constantly escalated. And those she doesn’t actually kill, she arranges and manipulates things so their lives are made miserable much to her inhuman glee. She feels next to no remorse for her increasingly grotesque and hideous actions and no real regret.
As events and the number of victims in Full Brutal escalate, enough blood and gore flow from the pages of the novel to fill numerous volumes of the controversial “splatter punk” movement in horror fiction, originating in the 1980s. Triana’s novel is charged with enough gruesome violence and kinky sex to make one of today’s masters of such fiction, Ed Lee, squirm and turn his eyes away from the page in fright and dismay.
It is improbable that a sixteen-year-old girl could pull off so much cold-blooded murder, body mutilation, evisceration, cannibalism, autosarcophagy, and torture (both physical and mental), but Triana’s rapid-fire, explicit, and vividly realistic writing is such that readers are likely not to give that much thought—wondering, instead, what is going to happen next. Likewise, Triana does not provide a lot of detailed insight into Kim’s motivation other than the satisfaction her despicable actions provide her. Ironically, when Kim reflects upon herself, she usually sees a victim or someone who is tremendously proud of her intellect and machinations; her ability to control and affect the lives of others. She is a flesh-eating disease, a serpentine monster out of control for whom “hurting people is an art” to be “enjoyed”—a monster the likes of which today’s society often sees reflected in “mass shooters and suicide bombers.” Ironically, at one-point Kim, who is the first-person narrator of the story, comments, serial killers “aren’t in the news much anymore. We have new monsters,” but the serial killers are “still out there.”
Reading Full Brutal is much like watching one of those real-life videos which captures cars and trucks and their drivers rear-end and collide with the vehicle in front of them in what appears to be an almost endless chain of pandemonium—only much more vicious and appalling with the reader gasping, wondering how much more is to come and when and how it might end.
Clearly, Full Brutal is not a book for just anyone or horror fans who limit themselves to “quiet” horror. Triana brilliantly takes readers into the mind of a very dark, relentless being. It is Traina’s gifted writing which brings to life a “bleak, pessimistic, dark” aberration and her deeds—someone no reader would ever want to encounter in real life (but know they exist based upon the far too frequent horrors of today), and yet are bound to find both mesmerizing and terrifying—if they make it to the end of the book.
Before I read Full Brutal it was described to me as American Psycho meets Heathers, which sounded rad so I was in. First of all that certainly is one of the best ways to describe it, and I also have to say Kim White gives Patrick Bateman a run for his money. From the very start no time is wasted as you're sucked into the mind of a sixteen year old sociopath whose one true joy is the misery of others, but only as long as she's the one creating the misery. Triana's writing urges the reader on and gently guides you down the spiral of pain she causes like a devil on your shoulder whispering 'don't stop'. Just when you think it can't get worse it does, and does again, and again. You can't help but keep turning the pages because you HAVE to find out what she'll do next to crush her enemies while having a bite or two of them along the way. This is an amazingly well written dark, dark story and I loved it. If that's your kind of thing then don't sleep on this one.