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Review: Bedbugs

November 10, 2011

Things are going well for Susan, Alex, and their baby, Emma, but it’s getting pretty cramped in their small New York City apartment, so Susan wants to move.  It’s not like they’re rolling in money though, since Susan has quite her job to pursue painting.  When they find a two bedroom apartment on Craigslist for a reasonable rent, it seems too good to be true.  They decide to have a look anyway and since they’re charmed by the apartment, they rent it.  They’re excited at first, but it doesn’t take Susan long to develop an unease about the place. and she becomes convinced it has bedbugs.  Alex hasn’t seen any bugs or been bitten, but agrees to have an exterminator take a look.  The exterminator finds no evidence of bedbugs but Susan is sure they’re there.  At least she thinks she’s sure and she begins to fear she may be losing her grip on reality.

Bedbugs, by Ben H. Winters is a creepy, compelling book.  On one page, I was convinced there were indeed bedbugs and on the next I was sure there weren’t and Susan had slipped over the edge.  I couldn’t wait to get to the end and even consider flipping ahead early (something I NEVER do) but I stayed strong and enjoyed the tension in the story as I raced through the pages.  Between the compelling narrative and the relatively short length of the book, this is a quick read that will keep you on the edge of your seat.  To add to the discomfort of the reader, there are silhouettes of eggs and bedbugs scattered throughout the pages of the book.

I’ve seen this book compared to Rosemary’s Baby, and while the nature of the stories is different, I can understand the comparison – both books are about women questioning their perception of reality and both keep the reader guessing right up to the end.  As soon as you think you have it figured out, something changes.  I don’t often read horror, but I do enjoy a book with creep factor from time to time, especially when they’re as tightly written as Bedbugs is.  Be sure to check it out the next time you’re in the mood for a little paranoia.

Review copy provided by Quirk Books. I am an Indiebound Affiliate.
52 Comments leave one →
  1. November 10, 2011 5:26 am

    Yikes! I know I can’t read this book just from the title alone.

  2. Natalie @ Book, Line, and Sinker permalink
    November 10, 2011 5:42 am

    Oh, gosh this is definitely NOT the book for me. My paranoia of bed bugs knows no bounds and is compounded by my love of travel. I’m always zooming around on trips and consult bedbugregistry.com (scary!!) before I stay anywhere. In addition, I take extra precautions. Case in point: Despite our gorgeous accommodations in Ireland, our luggage was always left near the door or in the bathroom. I stripped all beds and examined the mattresses, carpet, and headboards before feeling ok about the rooms.

    In addition, when we arrived home, my husband and I brought our luggage around the back of the house into a screened porch. From there, I bagged small loads of clothes and then carried them one at a time to the laundry room. The clothes–dirty or clean–went into the dryer for 90 minutes and then were placed in the wash on a hot cycle and dried again. I did this because even though our hotels were ok, our baggage was commingled with other bags in the cargo area of the plane for 8 hours. I was paranoid that other travelers might not take as many precautions. I triple garbage bagged our luggage after emptying it and placed it in the detached garage.

    I realize my actions may seem excessive but bed bugs frighten me so much–I’ve read horror stories online and in NY Magazine about the mental anguish people suffer as a result of infestations.

    While I love Quirk Books and often feature their titles, this novel isn’t going to make it through my front door!

    • Natalie @ Book, Line, and Sinker permalink
      November 10, 2011 5:44 am

      Sorry, could you fix my typos–love of travel and an if that needs to be an of. I’m typing on my phone in the dark–lol. 🙂

    • November 10, 2011 1:37 pm

      Oh Nat, another reason why I like you 🙂

  3. November 10, 2011 6:50 am

    Haha – loved “Be sure to check it out the next time you’re in the mood for a little paranoia.” Not sure when that will happen but I’ll keep it in mind 😉

  4. November 10, 2011 7:08 am

    Kathy, loved your review, and I am now sorry I returned this one to the library unread –as I never got to it:( love creepy!

  5. November 10, 2011 7:53 am

    Glad you enjoyed it. I doubt I can ever read this one, I had enough of a few months’ experience with real life bedbugs that reading about them will give me double paranoia.

  6. November 10, 2011 7:58 am

    Right now there is a problem with bedbugs in Montreal. Reading about it gives me the shivers so I don’t know if I want to read this book! But the author must be talented to take this topic and successfully create a suspenseful story.

  7. November 10, 2011 8:00 am

    I had thought about reading this one, and then for some reason, I didn’t. It sounds like just the creepy type of story that I would love, and since I have never been afflicted by bedbugs, I carry no paranoia about them. This book would probably scare the pants off of me anyway! Great review, Kathy! I will be looking for this one!

  8. November 10, 2011 8:18 am

    I have this one and was planning to read it for Halloween, but somehow Halloween went by too fast! I’ll get to it though, because I loved Rosemary’s Baby!

  9. November 10, 2011 8:19 am

    Oh, this sounds excellent, right up my alley.
    we will not discuss the whole flipping to the end thing….

  10. November 10, 2011 8:41 am

    This sounds like one of those books that will make the reader paranoid, rush out and wash their sheets, and never want to go to a hotel again!

    A student came into my library on crutches the other day. She had an open cut on her foot, visited family who had bed bugs and the bugs got into her cut causing an infection. She’s been in the hospital for a month and now has to have surgery! Talk about ewwww

  11. November 10, 2011 8:51 am

    Wow, this sounds like a really weird premise, but also a really creepy, compelling, interesting premise! I wouldn’t think of bedbugs as the catalyst for questioning one’s sanity, but it certainly could go that way, I suppose. LOVE the sounds of it! Thanks for opening my eyes to this one!

  12. November 10, 2011 8:52 am

    O that just ain’t right. I feel bad for this chica already. Great honest review.

  13. November 10, 2011 9:18 am

    Now that sounds right up my alley. Paranoia is a definite creepy read, great review.

  14. Mandy permalink
    November 10, 2011 9:39 am

    I agree wholeheartedly. This book was so good! I can’t wait to read more from this author.

  15. November 10, 2011 9:52 am

    I’m sure I would itch like crazy all the time I was reading this book. Think I’ll skip it. 😀

  16. November 10, 2011 10:16 am

    I NEED to read this book! I love everything about it.

  17. November 10, 2011 10:55 am

    Just the thought of bedbugs totally freaks me out. I’ve never seen one and I never want to! I’m afraid to read this book … lol

  18. November 10, 2011 11:12 am

    This makes me want to squirm, just the thoughts of bed bugs in your bed is unsettling.

  19. November 10, 2011 11:17 am

    The trailer was enough for me, lol! I am itching just reading your review! I can think of a few friends to recommend this too though! They will love it!

  20. November 10, 2011 11:43 am

    This is a book I would love to get my hands on. I just love reading stories that creep me out. Is this the same author that wrote Sense & Sensibility & Sea Monsters?

  21. November 10, 2011 12:14 pm

    I don’t think this book is for me, but I am so curious! I think I might have to take a step out of my comfort zone to try this one.

  22. November 10, 2011 12:17 pm

    I almost didn’t read this review. Because I could be that woman! Once I get it in my head that there are bugs anywhere, I can’t stop scratching and feeling a crawling sensation. I am the queen of the horror novel, but no way I could read this!

  23. November 10, 2011 12:36 pm

    Yay! So glad you liked this one! I thought it was such a creepy read and loved it! Definitely keeps you guessing, doesn’t it? Great post!!

  24. November 10, 2011 1:27 pm

    While I enjoy Ben Winters, I just couldn’t read Bed Bugs! It would make me all itchy and squirmy – you’re a braver woman than I.

  25. November 10, 2011 1:37 pm

    I cannot read this. The school recently had a lice outbreak and let me tell you…I flipped out! The Girl was clear but I checked her and checked her and checked her for I don’t know how long. I was scratching for days even though there was nothing there! Nope, this would not be for me.

  26. November 10, 2011 1:37 pm

    I think this is toooo scary for me, Kathy, but I really loved your review!

  27. November 10, 2011 1:58 pm

    Sounds like an insect version of Hitchcock’s “The Birds,” which still scares me. My daughter recently had a bad experience with bedbugs while on vacation, and I was tempted to make her sleep in the garage for a few days.

  28. November 10, 2011 2:28 pm

    Didn’t you just itch the entire time you read it?

  29. November 10, 2011 2:55 pm

    This might be too creepy-crawly for me, but it does sound good!

  30. November 10, 2011 3:43 pm

    Oh my…I am terrified of bed bugs – I might not be able to handle this one. Eww!

  31. November 10, 2011 3:44 pm

    Bedbugs are in beds to stay, ugh, yes it would make my skin crawl

  32. November 10, 2011 5:38 pm

    I know…what Ti means…once you work in a school system and you see the nurse hanging out at your door with a yellow pencil…the itching starts…

    Loved your review, Kathy, and I want to read this one but I am afraid for so many reasons….lol…

  33. November 10, 2011 6:11 pm

    That trailer was good. Okay, it’s been a long time since I’ve read a scary book but this one is calling to me. I want to know if she’s crazy or not!!

  34. November 10, 2011 7:05 pm

    I like creepy, as long as there isn’t a huge ick factor. I think this would suit me fine!

  35. November 10, 2011 7:12 pm

    i’m wayyy to paranoid as it is to read a book like this.

    btw, this has nothing to do with this post, but i’m reading a lisa lutz book too (the first of the spellman files) and enjoying it so far. you’ll have to let me know how heads you lose goes.

  36. November 10, 2011 7:13 pm

    Ugh, creepy! Bedbugs really gross me out, so I’m sure this one would be huge on the creepy factor.

  37. November 10, 2011 8:53 pm

    can’t do bugs…just can’t do it…ewwwwww!

  38. November 10, 2011 8:55 pm

    I don’t know if I could read this!! Amazed you could get through it!

  39. November 10, 2011 9:20 pm

    I’m not sure I’d be able to sleep at night if I read this one. It sounds very creepy!

  40. Stacy permalink
    November 11, 2011 3:13 am

    I saw the display of this one at BEA & wanted to be brave & read it…. Needless to say I have lacked courage & enough bugs spray, calamine lotion, benadryl, etc. To be able to read it yet!

  41. November 11, 2011 12:45 pm

    Oh my, I really think I need to read this one!

  42. November 11, 2011 1:47 pm

    Ack! I don’t think I can read this book after your review and that trailer! lolol Oh boy what a creepy book. But I’m really intrigued because it seems the author has done a fabulous job writing this book and creating a creepy, skin-tingling atmosphere! Still..I don’t like bugs as it is….

    I don’t know if there’s a Cranberry St. in NYC but Susan’s husband either makes a lot of money or else their apartment is definitely infested with bugs! The apartment in the trailer would be very expensive in Manhattan even in this economy! That’s the other thing…I want to know if Susan is right or losing her mind!

    This is a terrific post, Kathy!

  43. November 11, 2011 8:45 pm

    I kept seeing this but avoiding it because I know I’d freak myself out over the bedbugs thing. (Mr. Jenners watches a show about exterminators and whenever they deal with bedbugs, I have to leave the room.) I love books where you’re not sure if the narrator is crazy or not and it keeps you guessing. Still, bedbugs … not good. Sounds like a good RIP read.

  44. November 12, 2011 12:18 am

    I’m so glad you loved this one as much as I did. I couldn’t stop myself from reading it even when I was itching. Great review!

  45. November 12, 2011 10:04 am

    There are bedbugs sprinkled on the pages to creep me out as I’m reading? I don’t know. I’m sure I’d feel them crawling all over me at night!

  46. November 13, 2011 7:35 pm

    I have to say, the title turned me off of this book, but your review has me considering it..I mean I like a creepy book.
    Thanks for the wonderful review.

  47. November 14, 2011 8:07 pm

    Eek! Creepy! it sounds really good but not sure I want to read it or I might itch all night long sleeping about bedbugs.

  48. November 19, 2011 3:31 am

    I want this one!

  49. November 29, 2011 8:15 pm

    I love books with all that tension but if I read this I think I would be SUPER paranoid that I had bedbugs, LOL! I’m already itchy just thinking about it!

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