Review: Lights Out
Paul is a top notch assassin that struggles with suppressing his dark past. His life is turned around when his depraved boss, Aaron, gives him a gift that sends Paul on a painful and perilous journey to escape his life. The gift is a small boy named Ethan that reminds Paul of himself and his past. His commitment to Ethan and his promise to take him away from the evil men in his life is constantly tested as Paul fights his way out of increasingly difficult situations with increasingly deadly men.
Lights Out is entertaining in its ability to deliver quick and intense spurts of violence, but these vicious fight scenes are broken up by long bits of character introspection. Every other sentence explained how the character was feeling and why he was feeling that way. This lends to the complete development of the character and this alone wouldn’t drag the story down except that there is also a lot of detail in the story. Describing what characters are doing, where they are, what everything looks like. Detail is good, but it gets to a point where the story drags because I’m swimming through a river of descriptions that detail even the subtle movements of a character. Every villain in the story seems to be omniscient. Each more powerful than the last. In all cases Paul is subservient to them and is stuck playing whatever game they want. Which it seems that all they want to do is have long conversations with Paul about who he is, who they are, humanities innate brutality, and why he should do whatever they want. All punctuated with short bursts of violence. Right around Chapter 20 and 21 I got completely lost. Jakob, who shows up out of nowhere, takes Paul prisoner, leaves him in a cage, then gives a long speech about how he needs Paul and how Aaron is going to kill him so he better work for him or die by Aaron’s hands. Paul gets beaten up, passes out, and wakes up in the same house where he was first in the cage, but this time Aaron is in the cage. We find out that Aaron and Jakob were working together this whole time on something they need Paul for. And it was all part of a master plan to get Paul into a house with Jakob. But I didn’t understand this because Aaron could have simply asked Paul to show up and do a job for someone like he’s been paid to do since meeting Aaron so many years ago. It could be said that Paul needed to be motivated to complete the job by having something to come back for (Ethan), but while on the job against Chac Mool he basically botches the job and has to be saved by Jacob anyway. But still there were some stand out things in the novel. The deep character development made Paul feel like a real person. The darkness in Paul’s past is visceral and sincerely disturbing. You really get a sense of the inner demons that Paul is constantly fighting. And his flashbacks were jarring reminders of his disgusting past. But this is a story that’s driven by the villains and Paul is just trying to survive the deluge of violence he’s thrown into.