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Gr 9 Up
A high school junior, Locke has been aware of his fits of blind rage ever since he bit the tip off a bully's nose back in elementary school. In an effort to cope with his unpredictable Jekyll-and-Hyde nature, he has even invented a name and persona for the pugnacious personality that periodically seems to seize control of him: the venom. He has been estranged from most social contact, but Randall, a recent friend, has been laid back and accepting, so much so that he invites a reluctant Locke to a party to meet his wider circle of friends, other artsy and angry outsiders in all their teen guises: punks, queers, emos, skaters, hip-hop kids, headbangers, neo-hippies, and goths. Suddenly, Locke feels both accepted by and drawn to two of the group's most troubled members: Casey, a confused and combative gay kid who shares his violent pathology, and Renee, a girl he begins to fall in love with just as he is starting to realize the scary significance of her dark past. In order for him to maintain these stormy relationships, Locke discovers that he must abandon his defense mechanism and start dealing with the fact that he and the venom are, in fact, one and the same. Revealed in first-person chapters interspersed with graphic-novel-style illustrations mirroring Locke's ongoing battle with his inner self, this is an authentically voiced story that includes sex, drugs, drinking, violence, and, ultimately, Locke's move toward maturity through self-knowledge and subsequent self-control.-Jeffrey Hastings, Highlander Way Middle School, Howell, MI
This city is absolutely gray today. Gray all over. The sky is a perfect shade of miserable gray that manages to emanate a coat of gray over all else — the buildings, the stores, everything. Somewhere in the distance, I see an American flag waving on top of an apartment building, a glaring peppermint-red-and-white in the overwhelming gray. I think of the Towers. I think how if they were burn- ing now, everything might not seem so gray, and then I hit myself for that thought, because it's incredibly uncool of me to think something like that. Venom talking.
My trench coat flaps a little bit in the breeze, and I smile. It's nice. It makes me feel like Dracula or Moriarty or something. The cigarette in my hand helps, too — just that much more dramatic and badass. It's a Marlboro, though. I don't think either Dracula or Moriarty smoked Marlboros. So I dunno, maybe I'm looking like a vampire James Dean.
Heh. Vampire James Dean. That's good. That could be a band name.
I wipe ash and a little roof grit off my glasses with the back of my hand and take another drag from my smoke. The breeze blows a little harder; my coat flaps a little more. I feel the venom bubbling somewhere between all my organs, deep in the core of me that's mental and emotional all at once. It rises up just a tiny bit, swimming around behind my eyes before settling back down. It's a whale breaking the surface, coming up for air to remind me how huge things can get when they live somewhere so deep. Gray days always make the venom churn, but in a surprisingly good way. On gray days the venom makes me feel immortal.
Mom grunts as she comes up the fire escape ladder, and then pads over. "When are you going to quit? You told me you'd quit." She sounds tired.
"I thought we were both going to quit."
"Don't get smart. Nobody likes a smartass. Give me one." She takes the smoke and provides her own light. We both stare out over the city in all its depressing glory, her beginning a cigarette and me finishing one.
"What a miserable day," she mutters.
"I kind of like days like this. Dark, but no rain."
"Yeah, you would, kid."
We keep staring until I have an infinitesimal line of white between the ember and the filter. I flick my cigarette off the edge of the roof in a perfect, high arc with a slow, relaxed spin. As it disappears, I wonder what would happen if it landed in a baby carriage, and then I have to mentally slap myself for thinking it. It's the venom again, the worst kind of impulse. Uncool.
Mom glances at me out of the corner of her eye. "How you feeling?"
"I'm doing okay. Just...thinking about things. You know?"
Mom rubs my shoulder in that way that rocks my entire body back and forth. It signals the end of our checkup — I'm keeping myself sane, she's keeping herself informed, all is right in the world, let's have a Fresca. I've been okay with the venom lately; my mom understands that that's not necessarily a good thing. The venom doesn't really go away but sits and broods, festers, considers its options. Of course she worries.
"You want a quesadilla?"
"Yeah. Can I have some soup, too?"
"Kidlet, you can have whatever you want. C'mon."
Following Mom downstairs, I try to ignore the sinking feeling in my gut, the nagging sensation of doom at every turn.
After quesadillas, my mom lights another cigarette and asks me what my plans are for the rest of the day. "Why?" I ask, mid-soup-slurp.
She shrugs. "It's a Saturday. I figured you'd be going out or something."
"Well, not until tonight, no," I say, taking my dishes to the sink.
"Oh. Who're you going out with tonight?"
"Randall. He wants his outside-of-school friends to meet me."
"That should be fun."
My mom smiles and says nothing. I can almost hear her thoughts from where I'm sitting. Oh my GOD, you have a SOCIAL LIFE! Other kids your age! GIRLS, maybe! "Well, as long as you're not busy today, will you take Lon out to get some books? He has a project for school he needs to research."
"Chapter and Verse down the street, actually. He's been scouting out books for a week. Just wants to go pick them up."
"He already knows what books he's getting?"
She nods, smiling even wider. "Just needs to pick them up."
I shake my head in disbelief. "Smart kid," I mutter, and skulk into my room to get my coat.
Lon's standing by the bookstore's door, bouncing around like he desperately needs to pee. "Come on, Locke," he whines. "What if someone already got them?"
"Calm down. Nobody took every book you picked out." I flick my cigarette end into the gutter. "Now, if you'd put them on hold like Mom told you to, they'd be sitting safely behind the counter."
Lon makes a face. "I thought you and Mom were quitting."
Poor kid. We'd both promised him that we'd quit sometime around July. It had started pretty well, too: Mom and I happily going around the house, crushing our hidden packs, patches latched firmly onto our biceps. Our resolve was short-lived, though. Mom had to start working overtime here and there, the stress got to her, and she started up again, and being a recovering smoker in a house with an unrecovering recovering smoker is somewhere between agonizing and impossible. But this here was the first Lon had said about any of it, at least to me.
We make our way up to the biology section, and Lon starts pulling out books about sea turtles left and right. My little brother, the genius. The scholar. He gets things done while I daydream and fade into my own fucked-up world. He knows what needs to be done and how to do it, so he does it. Always in control. Unlike me. Unlike the venom.
He glances up at me. "Hey, Locke, do we have enough money? I don't want to be wasting any of your money on — "
I pat him on the back. "Don't worry, Leonardo. Mom gave me her credit card for these." Physical contact: opiate of the younger sibling.
Lon turns pinkish. "Don't call me that. What if someone was listening?"
Who would be listening in on Lon? He's ten years old (although if you ask him, he's almost eleven), and while he knows quite a few more people than I do, I doubt one of his best friends is hanging out at the bookstore, trying to hear his full name. Not that I'm an expert or anything. Having friends is not my strongest suit.
We get to the counter and load up the books. The checkout lady, a wrinkled old woman who looks like the procreative result of an elephant and a corpse, looks at the books, then at the credit card, and then back at us. "Photo ID, please." I pull Mom's passport out of my bag as well as mine. It's a standard family rule: When you've borrowed the credit card, bring Mom's passport and your own, to show that you're family of the cardholder. Except that doesn't work this time, because the lady glances at the passports and scoffs. "I'm sorry, but I can't accept these pieces of identification."
The checkout lady looks up at me as if I'm a salty pain in her ass and sighs. "Look, sir, just because you have this woman's ID doesn't mean anything. You could've stolen it."
A flash of cold goes through me, red-hot and persistent. "But that's my passport there. Locke Vinetti and Charlotte Vinetti. Same last name. I'm her son." But then it hits me: Mom changed her name back to her own when she and Dad split. This could be a problem.
"Names look different to me," she says, pushing the books back at me with disgust.
I despise this kind of shit. This woman spends her whole day cooped up in a bookstore, laser-scanning barcode after barcode, and the minute she sees something that, through countless idiot technicalities, does not meet company standards, she uses it to screw someone over, just to add a little excitement to her life. And if you call her on it, she can just smile and apologize and say it's her job, and she can do it too, because we're kids and she's an adult, right? "You have to be kidding me." I start sweating, profusely. This is not a good sign. The entire room seems to push in on me. "I mean, our addresses are the same. Look at us. She and I even look alike."
"Young man," she drawls, "I cannot sell you these books. I'm inclined to believe this credit card and ID were stolen or are fake." She gives me one of those tight-lipped smiles and looks away.
Because we'd do that, right? Because this kid here, this quiet little kid clutching a handful of books on fucking sea turtles, he's the kind of kid to tug on his older brother's shirt one day and ask if they could steal or forge both a credit card and a U.S. passport so they could go on a Zoobooks-themed shopping spree at the local bookstore. That's exactly what he'd do. Makes perfect sense. Jesus tap-dancing Christ.
I point to Lon, gritting my teeth. "These books are for him. For a school project. Please."
She sighs again, as if to say, I got out of bed for this? and waves her hand to the side. "Next customer, please."
My eyes shoot to Lon, then back to the hag. How dare she? How can she do this to a fucking kid? She won't let a ten-year-old kid carrying two passports and a credit card that 99.9 percent prove that he is, in fact, the son of the cardholder. Because of some procedural bullshit. She's doing this to ME. TO ME.
No. She's doing this to my little brother.
I break. I feel something in the back of my head flex. It's slightly painful, like I've pulled a muscle, but the next thing I know, my veins are alive with fire. Every muscle's taut, and my eyes glaze over with bright crimson. My blood turns black. And it feels fucking fantastic.
Venom is go.
Both of my fists come slamming forcefully down on the counter. "LOOK, LADY," I bellow, "JUST BECAUSE I DON'T HAVE A PORTRAIT OF THIS WOMAN TATTOOED ON MY DICK DOES NOT MEAN SHE'S NOT MY FUCKING MOTHER!"
The wrinkled lady looks at me like I've just punched her in the uterus. A hush sweeps through the room, and all eyes, ears, and furrowed brows are on me. It doesn't faze me, though; I'm too far into it. There's no going back on this now.
A large clerk, Asian, concerned, walks over to me and calmly asks, "What seems to be the problem, sir?"
"Me? My problem," I spit, "is that I have produced valid, government-issued ID that proves that I am allowed to purchase items on this credit card, which I have done at this very store in the past." I begin to get slightly choked up, the first wave of venom wearing off. "Now, apparently, this senile old bag here believes that I've stolen this credit card and passport. However, if you'd like to call this phone number, which the credit card company will verify, you can speak to this woman who will assure you that I am her son. I don't think it's necessary to do that, but hell, this woman here, whose goal it is to make my life an obstacle course, seems to think it's completely warranted. That is my goddamn problem."
The clerk puts up his hands in defense and swipes the card. I sign the receipt under Mom's name and storm out, Lon's books in hand, the glare of the old woman burning a hole in the back of my coat.
As we walk away from the store, the venom crawls back into hiding, leaving me reeling. I begin to get the shakes. A lump catches in my throat. I start panting. I reach for a cigarette and can hardly fish one out of the pack; the first one twitches out of my fingers, and I have to pick it up and jam it into my mouth. Maybe...okay, maybe, for the sake of argument, I did just overreact in there a little bit. It's no big deal, right? I'll probably never see that woman again, and they were kind of asking for it, and —
— and then I see Lon. He's walking next to me with his head down, his face as red as a beet. His brown hair is matted with sweat, and he has his hands jammed firmly in his coat pockets.
"Lon? Are you okay?"
He won't even look at me. "Jeez, Locke. Why'd you have to go and do that?"
I try to say something and can't. Jesus, what the fuck did I do that for?
Why is the venom doing this? What more can it want?
The city called to me with a funeral dirge.
As I stared over the edge of the skyscraper, some seventy stories above the frenzied New Yorkers squirming like insects below me, I heard the city call me out to play, in the form of an orchestra of sorrow and anger, a symphony of enraged madness. Every twisted little deed, every back-alley deal and big-budget brutality of this fine city, added its voice to the choir of the damned and the desperate. The city's song was the closest thing it had to a soul, tortured and scarred though it was; it was the sound of energy and emotion pulsing through the very core of this place, the invisible heart of darkness that beat its killing rhythm through the sewer, skyline, sidewalk. I heard it in the back of my head, like a buzzing hornet whirling angrily in a jar, begging its captors to let it out so they can see what it's made of. It was miserable, yes — the core of this city was rotten, to say the least — but also inviting, impressive. I focused on it, let its words and melody billow in my brain until the tone became deafening. It fed me power unthinkable and thoughts unspeakable.
All the song needed was a vessel, and that was my use. It was the paint, and I, the canvas.
There was the prickle of apprehension as the doors to my mind and soul flew wide open, the transformation setting off my basic reptilian defense system; then the becoming began.
From my eyes, my mouth, the tips of my fingers — the song of the city wrapped its inky cloak around my body. Pure negative energy, the physical form of hatred and pain, twisted around my body and clothes, coating me in a suit of shadows. I became a corporeal conduit of every twisted deed done around me, a well of free-floating malevolence and misery. I could control the energy with my mind and body the way an electrode would control electricity. Soon my entire body was cloaked in pure ink black, leaving me a walking silhouette, an animate shadow. This power was my curse and my tool. With it, I could use the pain of others to right the many wrongs that plagued this place and the people who dwelled in it. The venom, my parasitic dark side, had given me one incredible power: that of channeling negative emotions into physical energy, creating darkness that was as real and powerful as light. I was a fallen guardian angel, the gargoyle upon a church of sin and despair, a cathode ray for desolation.
The glittering lights of Manhattan twinkled red, like bloody stars in the night sky. Now, dressed in the city's darkness, I could respond to its funeral song, soar out into the night on wings of rage, and enact vengeance on those who deserved it.
"I am Blacklight," I bellowed into the rank night air, "and the night is mine!"
I leaped from the edge with a laugh and soared down into the degenerate streets below me.
Text copyright © 2008 by Christopher Krovatin
Posted November 4, 2008
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I absolutely loved this book, just couldnt put it down. This book should be read by people older than 13 years old(alot of adult rated words and scenes). There are a whole bunch of scenes where you can relate to yourself, such as the relationship between Locke and Renee or Locke and his family. I highly reccomend this book to anyone.
2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 20, 2012
Great book/storyline, but my one problem was all the unneccessary language used by most of the characters. It was not needed for most of the points it was used for. Otherwise, great book, but not recommended for ages 13 and under, as it has many bad scenes.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 26, 2012
Posted July 4, 2011
!!!WARNING!!! MAY CONTAIN SPOILER ALERTS okay so i had read the back of this book at the store and knew i was gonna like it, so i askd mi dad and he bought it for me. while we were in the car on the way home, i couldnt stop reading it!!!! i love how Locke was this kind of shy guy and when he meets Renee, she totally shakes his world up for him! he goes from being this 'quiet-with-nothing-really-happening-in-his-life-kind-of-guy', to this 'dont-mess-with-me-unless-you-want-to-get-seriously-hurt' kind of guy within a short amount of time. his venom makes his life a living hell but when he tries to control it for Renee, it would listen for a time, but then it would make bad things worse and he almost lost everyone he loved, including Renee. on a personal level though, Locke reminds me of mi boyfriend, Brian. a completely normal guy when theyre with friends and such, but if you piss them off, all hell breaks loose and only extremely close friends can calm them down. so that could be another reason to why i like this book so much^^ in mi opinion this is the best frikin book everz! its most definitely a MUST READ!!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 27, 2011
Posted July 6, 2010
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I absolutely love this author. He has an amazing way of describing and writing books. What drew me to this book was the cover and I had already read his first book Heavy Metal & You which was amazing so I was super excited to read this which I read in a couple of days because it was so good. I think if you have an anger problem then this is a great book to read because I think you will really relate to Locke and his struggle with anger or the "Venom". It is told from the point of view of a guy, but thats what I love about it, its told in a different perspective than the usual girl point of view. Me being a girl, I found it very interesting reading from this different perspective. Bottom line this book is amazing and is a must read for anybody that loves books.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
This book is a very well rounded book. It focuses on a lot of aspects about teenage life and also what some of the problems that they face are. Also the author doesn't sugar coat things he says them like they are and sometimes uses foul language to get the point across.all in all this book is wonderful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 15, 2009
This was a good book.It wasn't the best ever like I have said about some of the other books I have reviewed but it was a very enjoyable book.I couldn't put it down but unfortuatly I had to.This book has a lot of action in it!This is not a vampire book but it is kind of like it. This book is about a boy that is about 17 or 18 that had anger problems. He calls his anger the venom. When he gets angry he gets really mean!Not like mean mean but ungly mean.This is until he meets a girl much like himself.This book has romance and action in it. I would recommend that only teenagers and up should read this book.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 10, 2009
Venomous is a fabulous book about a boy who has an issue with an overpowering problem of anger. However, that's not what he calls it. To him it is the "Venom" and all his life he's been the weird kid everywhere he went with only one friend for support. Through this friend he meets another kid with the same problem that he has. And through THIS kid arise a whole new set of problems that he has to deal with and work through...but how's he going to do that when he can't even control this Venom living inside of him??Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 29, 2009
Locke Vinetti has anger issues. Except these are not just regular anger issues. He's plagued by the venom: a monster-like character that takes over whenever something gets him angry. When the venom releases its power there's no stopping Locke. Locke tries to control the venom, but he simply can't.
Then Locke meets some new friends and the girl of his dreams, Renee. She is able to control this beast inside Locke by just simply being around him. But nothing this good can last for long.
Soon, the venom starts to come between Locke and Renee, and now Locke is more afraid than ever that he'll lose control and hurt someone he loves.
Krovatin writes an interesting tale about a teenage boy trying to overcome a monster within himself. The author creates a world that any reader can delve into, and he also captures the personality of Locke perfectly, to create both sympathy and loathing for the main character.
VENOUMOUS is a good read for any teenager trying to overcome the bad pats of themselves, the monsters that lurk within.
Posted May 16, 2009
As a teenager, I found that I could really relate to the characters in this book, especially the anti-hero of the story, Locke. The story was fast paced and filled with lots of humor and edginess that kept me interested. However, I felt uncomfortable reading through some of the material in this book (ie: Locke's uncontrolled, violent outbursts and the graphic descriptions of his love affair with girlfriend Renee). This was an interesting read, but I don't think the content in this book is necessarily appropriate for teens, or at least me anyway...Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
This was deffienatly one of the better 'young adult' books I've read. The only thing I'd probably change is that the format of the chapters switching between reality and Locke's imagination was rather confusing. It was diffenately an interesting look into how someone's mind might work, which was very intriguing. Contains some mature themes that some younger 'young adults' may not appreciate. Over all a great book.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 9, 2009
I got this book because my fiance pointed it out and I thought "Why not buy it for him. I'll read it and then I'll let him read it." The only problem is ,even though i just finished it, I want to read it again. This book is funny and demented in its own way. To be honest it somewhat reminds me of myself, except that I don't beat the crap out of people. This book is amazing and everyone should read it.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 6, 2008
OMG this book was so great I loved it. I usually don't like to read but this book was so cool and I would totally read it again.
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Posted September 24, 2008
This book was filled with hilarious moments. Especially between the mother and the son. You can really relate to this person and feel for the situations he is put it. it also has a realistic love story between Locke and Renee, which makes you foot for him in the end.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 30, 2008
Posted December 11, 2008
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Posted July 28, 2010
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Posted December 13, 2009
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