We need to do something - by Max Booth III
Updated: Jan 7
There was (about two/three weeks ago, at the time of this review) not a small amount of hype about the film release of We need to do something – Max Booth’s screen adaptation of the novel of the same name, produced by Spin a Black Yarn Productions, under the protective wing of Josh Malerman (who had, incidentally just won a Bram Stoker). It premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival, and gosh darn it, everyone looked like film stars, and I thought, well, I should probably read the book. So I did.
The book is perfectly suited to a screen or theatre adaptation. I studied Theatre for my degree, so that’s not just a blasé statement, I mean, I can easily see the adaptation into a screenplay, and the potential here, given the limited structure of setting, in it being made into something to watch instead of reading. Given that Booth himself did the screenplay, I figure the integrity of the book will have been maintained. Which is great, because this is a cracking book.
The whole book centers on a family, trapped in a bathroom in a house which finds itself in the middle of a hurricane (not the eye, I meant there’s a hurricane out there and the house is affected by the severe weather). The four family members – Bobby, a young boy, Mel, the MC – a teenage girl, and their parents, each brings into the enclosed forced space, a problem or drama which directly imposes on the others. And the playing out of that forced interaction provides the drama for the entire book.
It’s got the feel of a play like waiting for Godot, but with the tension ramped up all of the way. Things are not quite as they seem, the tension between the parents is immediately apparent, the father is quickly established as drunk, which is then further expanded upon. In fairness, the father, for me, was a leading character, as his motivation for remaining (not becoming) an alcoholic crawl out from the rotten core that is the family unit. Bobby, the kid, provides almost all of the tension release – with his unrefined toilet humor and constant needling of his sister. You fall in love with the rascal immediately, whilst knowing what a strain it must be on his sister. The mother holds the family together, dampening the arguments between all of the four, remaining the adult in the room, despite hiding a secret from the children. And the daughter, Mel, has recently found love, and sex, and companionship with another young girl, who may very well have set up events that led to the predicament they find themselves in.
Ok. So, that’s the setup. There are lines in here that had me physically shouting “Boom! Dear God, what a line.” (I can’t write it, I don’t want to spoil the smack-around-the-face effect it has on the reader, but it’s the first interaction with something outside the room they are trapped within). The book works on a Hitchcockian principle – sometimes it is the thing not seen that makes the biggest impact. It’s class, it's family tension revved up to the max, and it reads like a whirlwind.
There have been comments about the implausibility of how they are trapped, comments that state no bathroom door opens outwards, etc. I have to say it is totally irrelevant, and a disservice to the book to be so nerdy. Who cares? There’s so much going on in the book that by the time a rattlesnake makes its appearance you have already chewed all of your nails off your fingers and lifted your feet off the floor.
The ending of the book is something that for me, felt a little bit flat. I get the principle, but it didn’t provide the closure promised in the rest of the book, but it stayed true to the style and experimentation of the book.
This was always going to be a 5 out of 5 ⭐’s review.
I’m glad I picked this up, Max. Really great concept, delivery, and what a line! 😃
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