Full review at Bookgasm
Relatively early in SAVAGE SPECIES, Jonathan Janz’s glorious, gore-ious celebration of the sleazy, straight-to-video creature features of yesteryear, an illicit campground kegger is overrun by vicious, supersized, intelligent hominids intent on devouring (after dismembering) everyone they meet. A ragtag team of survivors struggles to escape, but the beasts in hot pursuit are picking stragglers off, one by one.
As one survivor glances back through the rear window of their pickup, he sees that one creature “stood in the truck bed with a long-toed foot fixed on [an unlucky victim's] upside-down crotch. It was tugging on the skin of the man’s legs as though trying to free him from a pesky pair of tight pants.”
The vivid, sly style of that excerpt is characteristic of Janz’s mayhem. Even as he embraces all kinds of cartoonish types and the minimal cliches of the central plot, even as the novel in summary can seem like the cheesiest kind of boilerplate genre pablum, the guy never met a sentence that he didn’t find a way to goose. There’s a real delight in the writing that complements his obvious delight in the familiar tropes and tricks of the story. (Janz also sidesteps — or mostly sidesteps — all forms of hipster-winking or ain’t-this-naughty ironic genre revisionism. For this alone, he deserves a deep bow from genre fans.)
That all said, let’s be clear what the purpose is. Right after the clever fussiness of the pants image, Janz has “the creature … ripping off gobbets of [flesh] as it yanked, chewing the pink stuff like a lion at a fresh kill.” SAVAGE SPECIES is relentlessly focused on the blood and guts. The violence doesn’t take long to appear, and then the novel is one frenetic setpiece of hyperbolic grotesquerie after another. Full review at Bookgasm