These days she writes only young-adult fiction, but close to 20 years ago she was, as far as I was concerned at the time, the absolute cutting edge of horror. Very much a reaction against the bestseller coziness of King, Koontz, Saul, and V. Andrews, Abyss published mostly unknown young writers who were literate, underground, cool, and defiantly horror. Burroughs or J.
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Shelves: horror Just about everyone has known at least one guy who always hooked up with crazy girlfriends. Nicholas and Nakota, the central characters in The Cipher, are made for each other. Both are college-educated underachievers. Nicholas works in a video store and only writes poetry when he is drunk, which is often. Nakota, also known as Shrike and whose real name is something like Diane, is manipulative and just downright Just about everyone has known at least one guy who always hooked up with crazy girlfriends.
Nakota, also known as Shrike and whose real name is something like Diane, is manipulative and just downright mean. She tends bar at Club 22, an establishment for full-time alcoholics, and hangs out with what sound like remarkably untalented artists.
Nicholas has to admit he probably loves her. She may love him. Their general fucked-upness is what they have in common.
That, and The Funhole. The Cipher accepts the Funhole on its own terms, because Nicholas and Nakota do as well. They are like kids, grown up, drunk kids who live in squalid circumstances, but kids who think the hole in the backyard might go to China.
Bad things happen to what goes into the hole. Their is some unpleasantness with a pickle jar full of insects and later a mouse. A camcorder -- this was written in -- brings back a deeply disturbing video that can never be described in detail because no two people see the same thing twice. It is scary but kind of nice down there, and he soon has a little hole of his own on his palm.
All this sounds ridiculous and it is, but Koja makes it work. Her success is the creation of Nicholas as a narrator who is both mesmerized observer of the transformations around him and, and he grows to admit, their catalyst. Others are brought into the "secret.
She is jealous of his relationship with the Funhole. The Cipher is a peculiar nightmare of a book. It creates its own claustrophobic world so convincingly that it comes as a shock when you learn that some characters have to leave for work or visit their mothers. It all comes down to Nicholas an the Funhole, an aperture both inviting and repulsive. One day it may smell like freshly baked bread, The next day it smells like a corpse.