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Breed.

[EXCELLENT]

Chase Novak is the pseudonym for writer Scott Spencer, the two-time National Book Award finalist best known for his novel Endless Love (1979). Breed, a contemporary horror novel about child rearing set in New York City, is Spencer's first novel under the name Novak.

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THE STORY: Successful New York power couple Alex Twisden, from a long family of lawyers, and his wife, Leslie Kramer, an editor, are distraught that they're unable to have children. After traveling to a clinic in Slovenia to undergo a cutting-edge fertility treatment with the dodgy Dr. Kis, the couple are blessed with apparently perfect twins, Alice and Adam. Happy for a time, the family settles into idyllic Upper East Side normalcy. Sort of. But something has changed--really changed--since that procedure. When the very sheltered twins are old enough to bristle at their unconventional lives (they're locked into their rooms every night at bedtime and try to ignore the carnivorous sounds outside their doors), they go on the run--Adam to a teacher's home and Alice to Central Park, where she takes up unwittingly with a group of feral children living there. But the horror has only begun.

Mulholland. 310 pages. $25.99. ISBN: 9780316198561

San Francisco Chronicle [EXCELLENT]

"If Breed isn't quite as ingeniously plotted as Levin's satanic masterpiece [Rosemary's Baby], it matches the earlier book's propulsive narrative and satirical edge. Perhaps Spencer's usual literary audience might find Breed is a little too bloody and vulgar, but there's no sense here that he's slumming, only enjoying the chance to take a strong horror concept and run wild with it." MICHAEL BERRY

USA Today [EXCELLENT]

"Novak revels in the horror side of the story, especially in descriptions of eerie scenery.... Breed doesn't need love triangles, twist endings or aspects of a gore fest to keep an audience enraptured." BRIAN TRUITT

Washington Post [EXCELLENT]

"The best American horror novel since Scott Smith's The Ruins, The Breed is redolent of Roald Dahl at his creepy best." DENNIS DRABELLE

NPR [EXCELLENT]

"The main problem with Breed is Novak's clumsy effort to offer us a kind of civilized antidote to the Twisdens in Adam's gay teacher, whose main attributes are kindness, selflessness and about-to-be-lunchmeat-ness..... [Breed is] the perfect dark fairy tale for these times, when more than a few readers might secretly find themselves wishing that the world's elites would be brought so low as to start pooping in their own posh living rooms." ANNALEE NEWITZ

New York Times [EXCELLENT]

"This book is a short, fast read, but it would have been much shorter without the parade of minor figures who now take over the story. ... Above and beyond its fatality count Breed has originality on its side; the ending is a true shocker." JANET MASLIN

Entertainment Weekly [GOOD]

"Breed is being touted as a modern-day Rosemary's Baby, but Spencer--author of Endless Love and Waking the Dead--delivers the camp better than he does the scares." STEPHAN LEE

Newsday [FAIR]

"When highbrow authors' forays into genre succeed (Michael Chabon's The Yiddish Policemen's Union comes to mind), it's because they understand how vital the art of world-building is to the process of writing speculative fiction. If there's not a sturdy, reassuring foundation of interlocking ideas beneath a novel about aliens or demons or dragons, the reader will almost always make his way through the book--if he finishes at all--dogged by unwilling skepticism at every turn." SAM THIELMAN

CRITICAL SUMMARY

In Breed, Chase Novak, a.k.a. Scott Spencer, offers a pungent combination of black humor, diabolical wordplay, old-fashioned horror, and tongue-in-cheek social commentary. Imagine if Rosemary's Baby and Silence of the Lambs had, well, a baby. Or two. Or three. The pseudonym suggests that Spencer/Novak is sowing his literary oats in this effort; indeed, the book observes many of horror's conventions, including a few stock characters and some gratuitous sex and violence. But it's all good fun (though as NPR's critic points out, Spencer excels when he focuses on the wilding of his upper-crust protagonists in "grisly narrative schadenfreude"), and Novak's pervasive, self-aware humor is refreshing. To read this novel as a study of hair-removal methods and the eccentric foodways of Dr. Kis's clients--mmm, rodents--is alone worth the price of admission.
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Author:Novak, Chase
Publication:Bookmarks
Article Type:Book review
Date:Nov 1, 2012
Words:702
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