Billy by Whitley Strieber
I first read Billy in 1991. I was in Gresham Middle School when I started reading it and it was one of the first books that I read in one and a half days’ time. 1991 was the year that I officially became an insomniac, and all I really could do to pass the time at night was to read. Billy was one of the first books that occupied my time as I slowly became affected with insomnia. People often ask me how I have read so many books, as of this writing 4,068, it's because for the past 23 years I have only slept about 3 hours a night, 4 if I am lucky. So, books became my refuge, my overall excitement, entertainment and Savior in my darkest times, and in my sleepless deprived nights. Billy was one of those books that I just couldn't put it down, and I thought it was a demented, depressed and deprived subject that truly is haunting and nightmarish.
Another fond memory that I have with the novel Billy is when I was at Gresham Middle School my math teacher was named Miss Hill, and Miss Hill also was a reader, and she had just finished the haunting masterpiece Silence of the Lambs and I wanted to read it, and she wanted to read the book that I kept talking about, Billy. Because I was so young and in middle school, she had to get permission from my mother. My mother agreed and we switched books, and that's when I actually fell in love with Silence of the Lambs, and she fell in love with Billy.
So, Billy holds a lot of fond memories for me, but it's so much more than that. It's such a dark book, a kidnapping. A deranged psychopath preying on young boys. It's just a chilling tale that plays with your mind and does give you nightmares. Specifically, if you have kids knowing that there are psychopaths like this, it just gives such a terrifying reality.
Strieber is a different type of writer. If you know his persona, he was the one supposedly abducted by aliens and wrote the book Communion of that experience. He has continued to write books about aliens and of the paranormal, and all kinds of other weird things. If you get past that reality and read some of his horror books, some of his deep dark books, he is a good writer, and can control the reader, send them down an edge of your seat style of writing. Some of his greatest books, such as the odd werewolf book, Wolfen, which is also a movie, and an equally great read. The very original and erotic vampire story, The Hunger, which is also a movie. Also, interesting to note Strieber has written other books also not dealing with Horror. He writes all kinds of styles, from horror, sci-fi, metaphysical. He has a reoccurring theme in many books such as Warday and Natures End, often a future of our earth and its overcrowding and epidemic and slow destruction. He wrote the story The Day After Tomorrow along with director Ronald Emmerich which became the movie starring Jake Gyllenhaal.
I absolutely love his older work like Wolfen, Cat Magic, The Night Church, Unholy Fire, Black Magic, but I've read everything he does. He's such a gifted writer that I think is underappreciated and often overlooked. Yes, his personal reality is a little weird dealing with the aliens and so on, but I think that just adds to his appeal.
Billy is a fantastic read, and being reread again for the third time, it still held up today and I absolutely love it's deep, dark, nightmarish reality of a child being, stalk, hunted, lusted after, abducted, you get to see it through his eyes and it's a horrifying experience.
Billy gives you a truly terrifying bad guy that's remains with you. Barton Royal is a priceless human monster that just transcends off the page as being in the darkness, or right next to you. This story mixes a terrifying experience for one young child, 12-year-old Billy to his nightmarish ordeal of being kidnapped, driven across country in a van and stuck in a basement. Awaiting his fate at the hands of Barton.
What is so reality-based about this book, and touching is you get to know Billy. You get to experience his terrifying ordeal as if you were there witnessing it. Or you begin to think that this could happen to your child, or knowing that this happens to children all the time. It's such a tense filled, edge of your seat at times, suspense intensity.
This is one book I return to often and I highly recommend it for those who love mystery, suspense, reality-based horror. There's a darkness in this book that is both physical and emotional.
Would I Return to it Again: Absolutely, I already have?
Would I Recommend: In a heartbeat. A wonderful written story that gives you goosebumps.
Four Words: Deep, sadistic, nightmarishly chilling.