A Little “Triggered” by Trigger Warning…

trigger warningBefore you ask the question, the answer is no. No, you don’t actually need a trigger warning to read this book. To be brutally honest, I’m the kind of person that’s easily unnerved and a well-timed “boo!” on a Ghost Train can send me into full-scale panic. Yet, sadly while reading this, I didn’t find myself leaving the warm comfort of my living room and wasn’t transported to some upsetting place like I was promised.

The thing is I wanted to like this so much more, because I did appreciate Gaiman’s introduction (my only complaint is that he could have gone further). Still for all his talk at the start of these being unsettling, I found a lot of his tales less-than-scary. Don’t get me wrong, they were, in typical Gaiman fashion, wonderfully weird, amusing and mildly unsettlingly. They were somewhere on Gaiman’s usual scale, between handsomely unique to strikingly strange.  “Triggering” though? Not so much. I think the first line of his intro works as a better title for the whole book- these are “Little Triggers”.

Now, this may realllly sound like I didn’t like this book. Dare to take a sneak peek at my rating and you’ll see that’s not the case at all 😉 In fact, I thoroughly enjoyed a lot of these, respected the way he told each story differently and was never bored. But having had some time to reflect on this (it’s been about a month since I read it- ooh err, I’m always late with reviews!) this was a case of overpromising and under delivering.

That said, it was a really good collection, so here’s some of my highlights and (not-all-that-bad) lowlights:

The Thing About Cassandra– I really loved how this brought back my teenagedom. It was a super clever story, with a good twist.

Jerusalem– I felt a bit meh about this one, though, if I try to articulate why, I might sound like I have “Jerusalem Syndrome” myself. It’s just that I’ve been a number of times and this didn’t capture the city for me. It was a tad reductive.

Click Clack The Rattle Bag– Arghh!! This was the wrong story to read before bed! It was shudder-inducingly creepy!! And probably the most triggering 😉

The Man Who Forgot Ray Bradbury– I thought this was quite genius and absolutely admired concept.

Orange– I loved the style of this one the most and it was quite possibly my favourite. I adored the laugh out loud wit here.

My Last Landlady– atmospheric and a little spine tingling- I loved it!

Nothing O Clock– I liked the “what’s the time Mr Wolf” element- but the trouble is I fell out of love with Dr Who years ago (that whole Amy’s pregnant-not-pregnant thing drove me cuckoo) so it just wasn’t for me.

Ultimately while I wouldn’t advise reader discretion at all (but then I never do) one tip I would give before going in is that it helped to be well-versed in Gaiman, since a couple of stories were connected to American Gods and Ocean at the End of the Lane (which, FYI, are great books and you should read regardless 😉 ) Anyway, that’s enough rambling, my rating was:

4/5 bananas

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Okay, yes, I realise that might be a surprise to some people given the review- but have you ever had a bone to pick with a book you liked before? Let me know in the comments!

41 thoughts on “A Little “Triggered” by Trigger Warning…

  1. Totally get you on this! I remember most of these not sticking with me (I love it when he writes about Ray Bradbury, and the Cassandra narrative was hilarious, and genuinely creepy by the end), though usually I like his short stories. Overall I just felt it wasn’t his strongest collection.

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  2. A bone to pick with a book I liked…. A Court of Wings and Ruin. I still think about that book and have mixed feeling even though I know I liked it, for the most part a lot, haha. Great review! I like the names of the stories!

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    1. Ahh I totally relate to that!! I did like it, but I ended up nitpicking a number of things with it and then I have to spend time after being like “no I did actually like it- why won’t you believe me?!!” 😉 Thank you!! 😀 And yeah they were cool 🙂

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      1. Hahaha exactly! I was back and forth questioning myself if I actually liked it or not but clearly I did cause I read it so quickly. Our minds work in mysterious ways.

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  3. I’m still very slowly working my way through Gaiman’s books (I’ve read 2) so this is all really useful to know. It does sound good and I’ve yet to find any book that’s really unsettling (in a good way) so I probably wouldn’t expect this to.

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      1. Ocean at the End of the Lane which I loved and Stardust which I was less keen on. I just love the film so much I found the book disappointing. At the moment I keep wracking my brain trying to remember if I watched the Neverwhere tv show.

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        1. Oh cool! Yeah the stardust movie is better 😉 And I really liked Ocean at the end of the lane. Oh I haven’t seen a tv version of Neverwhere that would be cool (it’s one of his best books in my opinion) but I did listen to a *fantastic* BBC radio version with Benedict Cumberbatch- and I really recommend it if you can find it.

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          1. I was just on IMDB and I’m positive I watched Neverwhere although depressingly it looks like it was 20 yrs ago (I’m sooo old 😭) which is probably why I don’t remember it (or maybe it’s dementia).

            I’m never sure about full cast dramatizations. In fairness I’ve only tried listening to one but I gave up on it after 10 mins. I may risk it for Ben 😍

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            1. hehehe well now I know it exists and want to check it out!!! 😀

              Yeah I get that 😉 I really don’t like listening to them normally- but this was so so good!! And he was amazing in it!! His voice is just *wow*! 😍 (that sounded less creepy in my head 😉 )

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  4. Oh great review for this book, and it’s definitely one I need to add to my to-read list! I am a massive fan of Neil Gaiman’s books, although there are a few I still need to get around to, so I know this will be one I love as well. Also I’m glad you mentioned about the need to check out American Gods and The Ocean at the End of the Lane first because those are two books by Neil Gaiman I haven’t actually check out yet! 🙂
    Again great reviews! 😀

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  5. Oh my goodness, this review totally triggered me!!!! And you didn’t even warn me. I feel so hurt and angry and helpless.

    I’m pretty cranky right now, so Gaiman’s title elicits nothing but contempt and snark from me. It’s like watching an old fat guy showing how “hip” he is by pulling out his cellphone [from 5 years ago] and flipping it open to get attention.

    Glad you liked it though.

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    1. teeheheheehe I had to resist the urge to just make loads of “triggering” jokes 😉

      hahaha I get that- I was actually really put off by that damn title. I picked it up cos I was looking for something scary and I’ve liked his other work. I wouldn’t have actually read it if he hadn’t deconstructed the concept (and mention its link to censorship) in his introduction. But like I said, he didn’t go far enough (annnnd I could trail off into some political tirade now, but I’ll resist the urge 😉 )

      Thanks 😉

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  6. I still have this on my shelf. I do not know why (because I love Gaiman) but cannot find myself in the mood to start it. It sounds like it did not deliver what was expected but still offered plenty of value. So I am sure I will enjoy at some point. Wonderful review!

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  7. Wahhh there are stories connected to American Gods? That’s pretty cool. Is it subtle or does he make it super obvious? 😀 Really fascinating review though. I also love your perception of the Gaiman scale “handsomely unique to strikingly strange”. Brilliant!! 😀

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  8. I’ve never read anything by Gaiman before! I really like short stories and would love reading a short story collection. I think the title of this is really cool! Hopefully I’ll get my hands on one of his books one day 😉

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  9. I was wondering, upon seeing that it is a Gaiman book, how he would do the trigger warnings bit because as you say, he does do the “handsomely unique to strikingly strange” perfectly. can’t really imagine him going full blown anything else 😀

    I am SO jealous of you being able to write a review weeks after finishing the book… gosh, I need to get that review written as soon as I’m finished with the book or it just won’t work… I envy your memory and brain power! 😀

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    1. hehe I know- thank you 😉 It really didn’t feel like as mindblowing as I kinda expected from the title and intro, but it was still good.

      Hehe don’t worry I write notes so it’s not too reliant on memory 😉 but cos it was so long my thoughts had kind of changed as I thought about it.

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  10. Ah that’s a shame – it would be disappointing to prepare yourself for scariness, especially if there is an introduction that promises it, and not really get it. But good you still liked it overall. I totally understand having a bone to pick with books you like! For me it’s often if I feel like there was one thing wrong in an otherwise amazing story, and I am frustrated that that made it a 4-star read when it could so easily have been a 5-star one! I recently read a book that was brilliant until just after the grand finale, when there was too much resolution that tied everything up in neat little ribbons and brought it down a bit/made it feel a bit clichéd, not to mention changed the tone. You could honestly have just deleted the last two chapters and it would have been fixed! To be fair I think they were more like additional short stories rather than part of the novel… but still. I wish they’d been put separately somewhere instead of incorporated into the book.

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    1. Yeah it was a bit of a shame- it wasn’t totally disappointing, but it could have done with more oomph 😉 Ahh I totally get that!! That happens a lot to me- I’ve had books that I’ve really enjoyed, but ended up sounding so nitpicky over them (including for 3-3.5* books) Ahh that’s such a pain- what book was it?

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      1. The book was Redshirts – it’s a comedy sci-fi and it was a short but very funny and entertaining read (I actually laughed out loud) and had a really fun and interesting concept. So I would highly recommend it! But as I said, maybe either don’t read the last three stories or think of them as separate to the main novel 🙂

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  11. I love Neil Gaiman’s writing and this book is one I definitely plan on picking up. The only short story collection that I have read by Gaiman is Norse Mythology and I really enjoyed that one. 😀 The next on my TBR is Fragile Things as I already own that one. It’s good to know that I should read American Gods before getting to this one. 😉 Great review!!

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