My Heart is a Chainsaw by Stephen Graham Jones – Review

A horror obsessed Jade finds out that her hometown Proofrock is in danger—and despite some gruesome killings happening right under her nose, she is a little more thrilled than she needs to be that she’s finally experiencing a slasher in her own life.

Being an outcast in her hometown, a seventeen year old Native American girl named Jade Daniels utilizes horror movies as a coping mechanism to escape her abusive father and the rest of her environment. After discovering two murders that happened in Indian Lake, Jade starts thinking that this might be the start of a premeditated killing spree. In the meantime, the other side of Indian Lake lies Terra Nova; the former Shoshone territory has now been gentrified and altered into a construction site for the wealthy. While most people would be terrified of the continuous murders, Jade sees this as an opportunity to channel her inner Sherlock Holmes and depend on her slasher knowledge to solve the murder mystery.

Jade presents herself as an unreliable narrator from the start and while she is the only person who is paying attention to the suspicious events happening, she is also clouded by her desire to reenact a slasher movie. Her love for slashers act as a fort for her traumatic environment.

When you’re wearing slasher goggles, everything can look like a slasher.

There are two narratives from Jade: one details the events that are happening in Proofrock and the other one displays her speculations as well as her knowledge about slashers in an essay form for her class. Sprinkled with humor, Jade starts investigating who the “final girl” (the sole survivor confronting the killer in common horror tropes) in her town could be. She mentions that “final girls are the vessel we keep all our hope in,” when in reality they’re her own personal vessel of belonging and escapism. The predictable and common plot devices have been a vital crutch in Jade’s life; she has endured such an erratic and unstable upbringing that she clutches onto any form of consistency, and in this case, cliché slasher tropes. Unfortunately, she can’t apply the fictional formulae in the real world:

The real world doesn’t have to follow any special rules. It just does what it does. you can’t pick your genre, no.

In theory, I should really enjoy this book. It has everything I’m usually keen on: a witty sense of humor, a lot of slasher references, grim tension in a classic who-dunnit fashion—but I don’t think I truly clicked with the writing and the narrator. The problem is that Jade rambles a lot, it’s as if we’re constantly immersed in her unfiltered thoughts. This may not necessarily be a bad thing at times, but it makes the plot really plodded and dragged out. On top of that, the ‘huge reveal’ is a bit underwhelming, and kind of difficult to grasp at first.

There seem to be quite a few subplots going on that don’t seem to be cohesive at the end. I do appreciate Jade’s knowledge of the slasher genre, especially the way she illuminates it in her final class papershe’s a walking horror encyclopedia. But sadly, it’s not enough for me to like the book as a whole.

Rating: 2/5

Rating: 2 out of 5.

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