Eleven Twenty-Three

Posted: 01/23/2012 in Books

Eleven Twenty-Three by Jason S. Hornsby

My second stop on the Permuted Press, Black December tour was Eleven Twenty-Three by Jason S. Hornsby. I read the book, took a week to think it over, and I’m still a bit perplexed by this one. I’m can’t figure out if I liked it or not. Maybe I’ll figure it out in the course of writing this review.

Eleven Twenty-Three is definitely not a typical zombie story. I’m sure some will not classify it as zombie at all. It involves regular folk getting all crazy and murderous, and that’s usually enough for me. It’s got that great “I’m afraid my loved one or neighbor will kill me” tension that’s a big part of any good zombie tale. The outbreak in this case takes place in a very small Florida town and is time specific. People only go nuts at 11:23 (a.m. and p.m.) and after eleven minutes, shit goes back to normal. The town is quarantined and cut off from the rest of the world, so there’s plenty for the residents to start going crazy about, even when they’re not literally going crazy. At the center of the story is the main character, Layne, and his small group of local friends; all of them kind of drifting through life, talking more than doing, and living without much purpose.

THE GOOD: Hornsby has got some good story-telling ability. Even when there is not much going on, Eleven Twenty-Three never seems dull or boring. He also creates some really nice, flawed characters. There are no heroes in this tale. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that pretty much all of the characters are unlikeable. However, they’re all pretty interesting and none of them are over-the-top. While none of them are heroes, none of them are villains either.

THE BAD: Eleven Twenty-Three is long, which isn’t bad, but at its worst, it’s also long-winded.  I probably should have expected this right off the bat after reading Hornsby’s acknowledgements, which is a novella in and of itself, thanking everyone from his cat to Slyvester Stallone.

But what really hurts the book the most is that it is at times confusing and ultimately, unsatisfying. There’s a lot of build-up, questions, and conspiracies that really had me invested. At the end of the day, I just didn’t feel that there was enough payoff .

THE UGLIES: Like I said earlier, many zombie fans will not consider this one a zombie novel. Local residents go crazy every 12 hours at random (as in: only like 1 out 3 people turn zombie). They are murderous, biting, scratching, and clawing at anything within bite range. If there are no immediate victims, they start to abuse themselves. I found this take pretty interesting and fresh. It opens up a new set of survival questions: How do you prepare when you know you or your loved one could become zombies no matter what you do? How do you keep yourself and a zombie alive for 11 minutes before everything goes back to normal?

THE VERDICT: Goddammit! I still don’t know if I liked this book or not. I’ll give it a lukewarm recommendation. I just wish that Hornsby gave us more answers in the end.

  1. bibliopirate says:

    Lukewarm might be the harshest review a product can get. Not great, not even astonishingly terrible. Just middling.

  2. That certainly is not my intention. A lukewarm recommendation is better than no recommendation in my opinion. Astonishingly terrible can work sometimes in film, but an astonishingly terrible book usually just gets put down. Eleven Twenty-Three is definitely not a bad book, it just left me feeling a little disappointed, and most of that is due to the face that the first two thirds of the book are really engaging.

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