My hobbies include just about anything, really...except reading, I hate reading! Kidding of course, reading is my favorite hobby! I love not only reading, but creative writing as well. I'm currently working on a novel about a group of paranormal social workers who try to help creatures like themselves cope with being different while also protecting humanity from the more malevolent beings. Other hobbies include music, yoga, comedy clubs, movies, and video games. I read from just about any genre, but my favorites are fantasy/urban fantasy, mystery, science fiction, and graphic novels (that's what us comic-book geeks call them to try to sound more sophisticated). In my secret identity, I work as an accountant for a nonprofit organization . I know...accounting and creative writing don't exactly go together...what can I say, I'm full of contradictions! My rating system: 5 STARS - I absolutely loved this book! I couldn't wait to finish it, yet I also never wanted it to end! 4 STARS - I liked this book an awful lot! It would have been perfect, except for some minor issue or issues that detracted from my overall enjoyment. 3 STARS - I liked this book, but found it somewhat flawed. Probably would not read again, but might still give the author and/or series a second chance. 2 STARS - Overall, a disappointing read for me. It had its moments, but sadly the bad outweighed the good. 1 STAR - I hate the part of my brain that convinced me to read this book!
Much like the haunted town of Red Fox, this book is filled with chills, laughs, intrigue, and suspense!
Now that the events of Darkhouse have been aired, the Experiment In Terror web-series has become a smash hit! Well...maybe not quite a hit...but at least it hasn't been canceled...yet. Now Dex is taking Perry to the haunted Indian reservation of Red Fox to investigate the mysterious occurrences there. Animals have been seen behaving in bizarre ways. Rocks are being hurled by apparently invisible assailants. Cattle is being found horribly mutilated. But once Perry and Dex become wrapped up in the mystery, they soon realize they are in far more danger than ever before. This time they aren't facing a restless spirit causing minor disturbances...this time someone...or something wants them dead! As their terror grows (not to mention their feelings for each other), Perry and Dex reach an inescapable conclusion...if they can't figure out the solution to the horror story...they're going to BECOME the horror story!
Once again, I found myself loving Karina Halle's "Experiment In Terror" series. However, I noticed a change in the tone this time around. While the last book seemed to channel classic horror movies, the mystery-based aspects of this book reminded me more of Scooby-Doo, except much more awesome! But wait... considering my childhood was spent watching hundreds of Scooby-Doo episodes, can one book really out-doo (see what I did there...actually, please don't...that pun was awful, even for me) all of that?!? Well, let's find out, as I present to you...
SCOOBY-DOO VS. RED FOX - THE GRUDGE MATCH!!!
CATEGORY 1 - THE MEDDLING KIDS
Notice the angle of the camera...either Dex is filming the world's shortest ghost, or else he just finds grass fascinating!
Scooby-Doo - Ah, yes, the Scooby gang has become outright iconic...although, in retrospect, I'm not really sure why! Let's face it, they're as one-dimensional as they come...Shaggy is cowardly, Velma is smart, Fred is strong, and Daphne is clumsy...and that pretty much sums up at least 30 years worth of character development! In later years, writers tried to make it seem like the gang had grown up by giving them adult jobs, like revealing that Velma went on to work for NASA...which just made it that much more bizarre when the villains still referred to them as meddling kids at the end! "And I would have gotten away with it too, if it weren't for you meddling adults...Velma, how do you even have time to investigate a ghost sighting, anyway, don't you have a satellite to build or something?!?"
Red Fox - While the story of the last book was certainly compelling, I felt it was Perry and Dex who made the book such an awesome read, and history has repeated itself. Once again, Perry and her self-deprecating humor managed to win my heart. With her insecurities, Perry can qualify as a flawed heroine, but those flaws only make her that much more endearing. Yes, she's hard on herself, but she never crosses the line over to sheer "whininess". Ditto for Dex, who has just enough confidence and attitude to be charming without being annoying. Plus, there is a little more character growth this time around, especially as Perry and Dex become more concerned for each other. Forget the scares, the sweet moments between "Team Derry" are Red Fox's finest moments!
WINNER - Red Fox
Not even a contest! Perry and Dex exhibit more personality in one page than the cast of Scooby-Doo ever did in all their episodes combined! Plus, Perry & Dex are far smarter than the Scooby gang ever was...after the last 200 ghosts they investigated turned out to be a guy in a mask, why did it never occur to the Scooby gang to just tackle the next ghost they encountered, instead of designing traps involving washing machines and surfboards (things they sometimes managed to find in deserted, 200-year-old castles, mind you)?!?
CATEGORY 2 - THE VILLAINS
Above is the titular villain from the classic Scooby-Doo episode, "The Neon Phantom of the Roller Disco"...let's see...neon, roller disco...if only he were wearing a Black Sabbath shirt, then he'd truly embody everything that was awesome about the 70's!
Scooby-Doo - Okay, here is where Perry & Dex have some serious competition. Sure, the earliest SD episodes focused more on traditional villains like ghosts and witches, but as the years (and, I suspect, the drugs) went on, the writers kept trying to out-do each other in coming up with bizarre creatures! Soon we were treated to villains like the Ghost of the Gator Ghoul (how dead does something have to be to qualify as a ghost of a ghoul?), ghosts based on ice-cream flavors, and my personal favorite, the 10,000 Volt Ghost! Good luck trying to top all that, Ms. Halle!
Red Fox - While the first book gave us a more traditional ghost story, the creatures lurking in "Red Fox" are even creepier this time around! I don't want to spoil the surprise, so I'll just say that in this book, animals provide many scares throughout the story. Two sequences in particular involve a deer and a coyote behaving in a truly terrifying fashion.. The first book was more of a really compelling character study with some chills along the way, but in "Red Fox", Karina Halle firmly establishes herself as a brilliant horror writer!
WINNER - Scooby-Doo
This was a tough one, as I found the monsters in this book to be truly terrifying. but I'm afraid the 10,000 Volt Ghost gives Scooby the edge. What really makes the 10,000 Volt Ghost work is the reveal...he was supposedly the ghost of an electrical worker named Voltner, and when he was unmasked, the 10,000 Volt Ghost turned out to be...Voltner! So basically, this guy put himself in mortal danger by wearing a costume comprised of 10,000 volts of electricity just so he could frame himself for a crime! Sorry, Ms. Halle, but you have yet to give us anything THAT messed up!
CATEGORY 3 - THE MYSTERY
"Ummm...why are we investigating some guy throwing a bedsheet over himself and calling himself a ghost anyway...shouldn't we be trying to figure out how our dog is able to FREAKIN' TALK?!?"
Scooby-Doo - You would think this would be an easy victory for Scooby-Doo, as the name almost became synonymous with mysteries...but let's look a little deeper. Yes, the show was in a mystery format...but how hard was it to really solve those mysteries? The plot always involved a criminal in a costume trying to scare someone away, the culprit almost always turned out to be the one suspect who was nicer to the gang than the really obvious suspect was, and the motive was almost always because the villain wanted to buy land cheap. One culprit even went so far as to build a freakin' 100-foot tall robotic snow beast to scare someone off their land...because that was somehow preferable to simply hiring a real estate agent! Apparently in the Scooby-Doo universe, real estate agents charge more than a Kardashian for an appearance...and work even less!
Red Fox - While I've found the characters to outshine the stories in both books now, the mystery of the strange events in the town of Red Fox is still quite compelling. The residents of the town are often bizarre enough to be interesting, and Halle does an impressive job establishing an atmosphere of fear and dread throughout the story. I did feel that the big reveal was a bit of a let-down, but that didn't make the journey getting there any less fun!
WINNER - Red Fox
My biggest problem...really, my ONLY problem with the Experiment In Terror series so far has been that both times, the ending fell a bit flat for me. Once the truth behind the bizarre phenomena of Red Fox was revealed, I found myself saying, "that's it?!?" Still, if I love the first 98% of a book and only find it lacking in the final 2%, that still qualifies as an amazing read! With spooky atmosphere, spine-tingling scares, and a fascinating cast of characters, Red Fox manages to build a far better mystery than Old Man Jenkins wearing a ghost suit ever could!
CATEGORY 4 - LEAST-ANNOYING MOST-ANNOYING CHARACTER
Scooby-Doo - Poor Scrappy-Doo...the butt of at least 1,000,000 internet jokes (actually just the same internet joke retold 999,999 times)! But was Scrappy really THAT annoying?!? For one thing, he was brave...while Shaggy and Scooby were often willing to leave their friends at the mercy of monsters to save their own trembling skin, Scrappy was willing to fight the monsters head-on. Yeah, naming his "Scrappy-traps" after himself seemed a little self-serving, but at least he put himself in harm's way to capture the monster, as verses Fred who would always use Shaggy as the bait...despite the fact that Shaggy always seemed like he was one more scare away from a quadruple heart-attack. And Scrappy was unquestionably loyal, often singing the praises of his beloved Uncle Scooby. Come to think of it...Scrappy was actually quite admirable! The internet insists Scrappy "ruined" the show, but as hard as it is to believe, it seems something on the internet may have been...wrong!
Red Fox - Perry's parents...judgmental, rude, and utterly obnoxious. I have yet to see either of them have even one moment where they come across as likeable. Both of them seem to have an almost-psychotic need to belittle their daughter, constantly berating her with absolutely no consideration for her feelings. Forget the monster-sightings of Red Fox, the biggest mystery of this book is how two totally-screwed up people managed to produce someone as awesome as Perry!
WINNER - Scooby-Doo
Again, not even a contest! Scrappy may have been a bit over-zealous at times, but he has a looooooooong way to go before he ever becomes as hateful as Perry's cruel mother and father. Rumor has it moments after learning his father was Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker's only comforting thought was, "Could be worse, at least I didn't get stuck with Perry's parents!"
CATEGORY 5 - MAKE ME LAUGH
Scooby-Doo - Two cartoon moments made 10-year-old Dave Green laugh harder than any others. The first was an episode of Fat Albert, when one of the Cosby kids fired off this zinger, "You're like a school on a field trip...NO CLASS!" The second was the "Space Kook" episode of Scooby-Doo, when Shaggy and Scooby were locked in a room by the Spooky Space Kook (the ghost of an alien, because, well, why the hell not), and realized the key was outside the window. In order to escape, they jumped out the window...and instead of simply running to safety right then, they then grabbed the key and jumped back INTO the locked room, so they could unlock the door to "escape"! When you're 10-years-old, that seems incredibly funny (who am I kidding, I'd still laugh at that today...)
Red Fox - While both books have had enough scary moments to qualify as horror, in both cases the laughs outnumbered the chills. Considering that both Perry and Dex have sarcasm and rapier wit down to an art-form, their dialogue is often funnier than that of just about any sitcom current being produced (except for Modern Family...that show's hilarious)!
WINNER - Red Fox
Yeah, I was able to come up with one really funny moment from Scooby-Doo, but that doesn't change the fact that 95% of jokes in Scooby-Doo all revolved around Shaggy's obvious eating disorder...why was I supposed to laugh at Shaggy eating dog biscuits, when it was obviously a cry for help?!? When I recommend the Experiment In Terror series, I'm usually praising the humor first and the horror second!
So there you have it, in a stunning upset, Red Fox beats out Scooby-Doo 3-2. Mr. Doo, you gave me some great childhood memories, but I'm afraid Perry and Dex are my favorite ghost-hunters from now on! Like the last book, Red Fox is highly recommended for anyone who likes compelling characters, funny dialogue, and intriguing mysteries!