Review: “We Need To Do Something” by Max Booth III

Posted: August 11, 2021 in Novel, Review, Scary Stuff
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I’ve seen Max Booth’s tweets on Twitter a bit, but this was the first time I’ve read one of his works. I was spurred to do so by the trailer for the upcoming film adaptation, which looks terrifying (click this link to watch it). I had an audio book credit and the novel looked short enough, so I downloaded it and got to listening.

We Need To Do Something follows Melissa, a teenage girl who gets home from a friend’s as a massive storm hits the area and tornado sirens wail. As her family hides in the parents’ bathroom (no basement in the house), a tree falls in front of the door, trapping them inside. As Melissa, her little brother Bobby, her mother Diane and her father Robert, struggle with time, hunger, and their own dysfunction, they’ll also go on the ride from Hell. Possibly in more ways than one.

This novel is predicated on the concept “Hell is other people” and I love it!

What I really was blown away by is that everything takes place in the bathroom. Even flashbacks take place in the bathroom, presented as dreams or as hallucinations rather than as full flashbacks. This really gives you the sense of isolation and claustrophobia the characters are feeling. And this space acts like a pressure cooker, forcing them to confront their problems, themselves and each other. It is intense, and the confusion Booth weaves into the narrative only makes it worse. Are they really experiencing all of this? Is part of it something supernatural, or is there an element of shared delusion? You’ll read till the end asking those very same questions.

It doesn’t help that when the outside world does make an appearance, it’s only to make things crazier. Truth be told, you could learn a lot about writing tension from this novel.

As for the characters, you get to know them quite intimately. You also come to like them quite a bit–well, most of them. Robert, Melissa’s father, is an alcoholic with serious anger and toxic masculinity issues, and does not see the irony in calling his daughter a “snowflake” at one point. You love to dislike this guy from early on. But the others, you do start to feel sympathy for the others. None of them are perfect–Melissa has her own anger, Diane has been suffering for years and probably wishes her life was closer to a fifties sitcom than what it really is, and Bobby exists to annoy his sister and make fart and pee jokes–but you do grow to like them. And Melissa especially has more to her than what you meet in the first few pages, which at first glance is a typical phone-obsessed teen who’s annoyed with her folks.

The one downside is that there’s a lot of ambiguity and not everything you’d think would be clarified is. Now, for me that doesn’t really take away from the novel, but for others it’s going to be frustrating.

Altogether, We Need to Do Something by Max Booth III is a terrifying rollercoaster of a novel. On a scale of 1 to 5, I’m giving it a 4.5. Grab a copy, use the toilet real quick (not during a storm, though), and get settled in. You’re going to want to read this one.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’m hoping to get you my thoughts of Audition by Ryu Murakami by the end of the week. And when the movie for this novel comes out, I’ll probably review that too. And I’ll likely have more to say in the near future. Point is, there will be more from me soon.

In the meantime, however, I’ve got work tomorrow, so I’m getting ready for bed. Good night, sleep tight, and pleasant nightmares!

Comments
  1. High praise, it sounds fantastic. I watched the trailer. Holy porcelain tile, Batman, that’s a huge bathroom. (Good trailer!)

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