The Only Good Indians

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 19 May 2020

Member Reviews

Stephen Graham Jones’s new book shows the unfolding fate of four close friends, American Indians of the Blackfeet Nation, who seem to have run afoul of something in the spirit world. I say “seem to” because the author is skillfully strategic in how he unpacks the story and how he presents reality (blending a hard-edged reality of life for Indians on and off the Reservation with the surreal in a way in which the reader isn’t quite sure what’s real.) 

This is horror, and it chills and terrifies as horror readers might hope for, but it’s not just horror. (By that I mean it’s not the gruesome elements that make the book, they just make it more visceral.) The story builds characters that one is fond of and can empathize with, and it even sneaks in a moral (which is the best way for a story to have a moral.)   

We learn about the demise of the first friend, Ricky, in a prologue -- an end that everyone believes resulted from Ricky getting beat to death by some modern-day cowboys outside a bar. There is a ten-year jump cut, and the first half of the book tells us about Lewis, who has moved off the reservation and is living with a pretty caucasion woman that everybody – including Lewis – realizes is out of Lewis’s league.  Lewis is increasingly losing his mind. We know that, but what we can’t be sure of is whether it’s the run-of-the-mill kind of losing one’s mind, or whether it’s the kind of crazy that is the only reasonable response to an even more insane world. 

The remainder of the book tells us about Gabe and Cassidy, the two friends who’ve continued to live on the reservation and are still in close contact. Gabe, we learn, has a failed marriage that resulted in one child, a girl with prodigious talent for basketball. He’s prone to over-drinking and was issued a restraining order to keep him from going to his daughter’s ball games – an order that fails to keep him from attending but succeeds in getting him to tone down his expressions of pride and support. Cassidy is shown as the responsible one, but one is led to believe that is the recent result of a relationship with a woman, Jo, who has had a calming influence on him.  Jo’s success in straightening out Cassidy creates a strain in the bro-mance between the two friends. 

I don’t read much horror, but was hooked by this book. The characters are developed and interesting enough that one isn’t just waiting for the moments when the axe drops (that’s an expression, don’t expect actual axe-induced fatalities.) In between, one is enrapt with questions like whether Gabe can thaw his relation with his daughter, and whether the next generation will end up better off, worse off, or the same as that of the four friends. Throughout there’s this issue of the characters having one foot in the past (traditional Indian tribal life) and one in the modern world, and that is an uneasy and unappealing spot to be in – too little of the community and confidence of the tribe and too little of the wealth and well-being of modernity. 

I highly recommend this book for fiction readers.
Was this review helpful?
The Only Good Indians is a one of a kind horror novel. Stephen Graham Jones has a very unique writing style that almost makes me question what part of the world he’s from. 

 The story follows 4 Indian friends as a sort of horrific coming of age story that mixed Indian folklore and culture in a very spellbinding way with twists and turns. I couldn’t put this book down and I’m extremely glad that I was able to read early. Can’t wait to pick up my copy when it comes out in may.
Was this review helpful?
Aw man, nobody is as bummed out as me.

The Only Good Indians was a book I coveted so hard, it hurt. I mean, look at that cover. And we all know I love my horror with a good social commentary.

Anyway, I couldn't get into it, try as I might. I picked it up several times over the last few days and just cannot read more than 2 pages at a time. The writing style is just not my cup of tea. HOWEVER I urge anyone who's interested in the premise to give it a try and see if the writing style works for you. The great thing about this book is that you'll know right away if it does. Unfortunately, 30% was as far as I could go, but by no means is this a bad book, it's just not to my taste.
Was this review helpful?
Review Copy

This was both an easy and a difficult book to read. It started out very slowly, didn't really get moving until about almost 30% in, but then...then...it kicked in. It's a story that hopefully will teach people that not all beliefs are the same and one (or some) may be as correct as another.
Was this review helpful?
Woah. This book is insane. Rarely does a book leave me feeling as horrified as this one did. Slow pace but I think that made the shock of what was happening in certain scenes even better.
Was this review helpful?
Stephen Graham Jones' upcoming horror novel, The Only Good Indians is an #ownvoices story of several Native American men in Blackfeet Nation and how one decision has affected them in their current surroundings. These four men are battle against a vengeful deity of some kind that is seeking revenge on this group. It seeks out those who love them and the closest people in their circle—and doesn't have sympathy for who it takes down.

My review will be short, because obviously it's a negative one, but I really think that many will actually enjoy The Only Good Indians . I think this was just a bad combination of me and the author's work. I just could not get into the writing style provided in this novel, and it left me frustrated and confused at times. Sadly, it turned me off from anything going forward with this story. We are just a bad combination. 

However, the societal commentary that The Only Good Indians provides eye-opening portrayals of Native Americans in America. Although this book was not for me, I think anyone interested in a good ole horror story should definitely give it a try. You can't like them all!
Was this review helpful?
The Only Good Indians is unlike any book I've read, and I read a LOT.  The plot concerns four friends, members of the Blackfeet tribe.  The four hung out since they were kids, struggling with addiction, poverty  and the other trials of living on the reservation in North Dakota.  A "great idea" goes horribly wrong and soon people start dying - people closest to the four involved.  Jones puts you right in the middle of the lives of Ricky, who dies in the first chapter, then Lewis, Gabe and Cass (Cassidy) writing with humor, great character develpment, then very vivid descriptions of the disasters that begin to happen to each of the men, ten years from the day of that first incident.   Jones paints a vivid picture of life on and off the rez and of the people who try to escape, then rise above the hardship they were born into.  The three remaining men, grown up and trying to live a good life have to deal with the consequences of actions they''ve all but forgotten.

This is an excellent horror story - not the most horrific or scary that I've read, but pretty darn close.  The ending was very satisfying, poignant, but believable.  I'd like to read other works by Stephen Graham Jones, but I'll make sure its light out when I do!!
Was this review helpful?
The book was very unique.  I just had a hard time getting through parts of it because of the way it was written. 
Because of that awkwardness, I did not feel that I could rate this higher. However, I know that many people found this book frightening so I don't want stop anyone from picking this one up.

Thank you to Net Galley for the chance to read and review.
Was this review helpful?
Seeing the many positive reviews, I expected a good read. This was not it. I made it through half of the book before just giving up. My opinion is definitely in the minority so you may like this book.

The Indian life described is bleak. The four main characters were trying to hold onto the old ways when they went out hunting for elk before thanksgiving. Lewis could not believe the elk he shot through the spine was not dead. This is the start of his undoing.

The story just didn't hold my interest. I received an Advanced Reader's Copy from Simon and Schuster through NetGalley. The opinions expressed are entirely my own.
#TheOnlyGoodIndians #NetGalley
Was this review helpful?
I am going to be an outlier in review of this book. Lots of great reviews, I just wasn't feeling it and it was a struggle to get through this one. I like a good horror/thriller/mystery and this one just wasn't it for me. 
I appreciate and understand the supernatural aspect with the elk, the revenge, the "karma" so to speak, but it wasn't scary, it wasn't gory, it wasn't mysterious - it was wrapped in an obscure writing style that tried too hard to be something it just wasn't for me. 
I am grateful for the ARC, and I got through it, but it was not a fave of mine by far.
Was this review helpful?
I had previously read another novel by Stephen Graham Jones and loved what came of it, so when I saw that this new novel was available, I jumped at the chance to get a preview, and I certainly wasn’t disappointed. I think the horror of the novel was memorable, it was visceral. Jones brought injustice up to the plate and eviscerated it in a terrifying way that spanned generations. I think the brutality of it all managed to never be too much, even though there were times when it was beyond unsettling. The ending was one of my favorite parts, because it dragged us back from the horror and into the reality of it all again. This novel will make you uncomfortable, it will make you worry and laugh, and it won’t let you put it down.
Was this review helpful?
Four Native American men decide to go on an elk hunt on a reserve meant for tribal elders only.  During the elk hunt they not only kill the entire heard, they kill a pregnant cow.  When they are caught, all four men are banned from hunting again.  Ten years later, the dead elk decides to seek revenge on those that killed her and her calf.  

This book will make you wonder if the tragedies that occur are due to mental illness or if Native American mythology is real.
Was this review helpful?
So, I feel a little guilty about this one. I REALLY enjoyed the writer's style, language, characters, and imagery and tried many many times to keep pushing through reading the book.  There's just too much animal suffering described (way too well, thanks to this awesome author) for me to stomach it. Which makes me really sad. I'm going to read some of Stephen Graham Jones' other books though, because I liked the writing so much.
Was this review helpful?
This was great story and I really enjoyed the book. Stephen Graham Jones is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors. The story is from 4 different perspectives all connected by 1 event in the 4 men's past. Toward the end as it switches focus and ties everything together it becomes a different story again and very intriguing. Highly recommended. I will be reading more of Jones' work for sure.
Was this review helpful?
So, this book is not *bad*, it just isn't for me. I'm not a fan of surreal horror that doesn't feel grounded in reality enough, but I know many people really like that stuff. (For example, White Tears by Hari Kunzru.) So, not my jam but I can see it really being other people's cup of tea.
Was this review helpful?
This is the first book  I've read from Jones but definitely not the last. I kept thinking of what Ann Radcliffe said about horror writing while I read this; roughly that "terror" is the feeling that precedes an event, while "horror" is the revulsion felt during/after said event. Jones absolutely nails both of these again and again throughout the narrative while veering in and out of 3rd person close which I appreciated. As a reader, I like getting as close as possible to multiple characters instead of being stuck in one mind. 
There were some places where the prose got sticky and I found myself reading and re-reading passages to make sense of them which kept me from 5 stars but not sure if that's just his style or things that a copy editor might massage out before publication.
Was this review helpful?
Four American Indian hunting illegally on tribal elder land run afoul of a dangerous entity in Stephen Graham Jones' latest, The Only Good Indians. This book is a fantastic trip, mixing the classic horror trope of a pissed off entity of nature with some timely social and environmental commentary. Graham Jones expertly utilizes different point of views and characters to flesh out the story, and each main figure in the story has a complex and often sympathetic backstory. 

Of course, a horror story wouldn't have legs if the scares weren't there, and Graham Jones does not disappoint here either. There are various passages that are difficult to read, and the creeping tension in the first third of the book is a particular highlight. Despite the terror, it's the book's ultimate message of cautious hope that ends up being Graham Jones' finest accomplishment: the ability to stare bleakness in the face and see glimmers of light. 

**I was given a copy of this book by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. My thanks to Gallery, Pocket Books**
Was this review helpful?
I will be honest.  I found this book a little confusing and it didn't hold my interest.  I am a tough read, this I will admit.  A book has to grab me from the start or at least suck me in after chapter or two.  This did neither, and for that I am sorely disappointed.  I've seen the good reviews it has gotten by members of the horror community, but frankly it did nothing for me.
Was this review helpful?
This book shook me to my core. I am rarely ever frightened by horror novels. Usually the descriptions of the terrors are too vague, the characters so blank you can't bring yourself to care about their fates, and the climaxes predictable and forgettable. But this is not the case with The Only Good Indians. Jones has written a work that struck me in a way no other book has, and I'll be sure to have an irrational fear and deep respect for elk for the rest of my life.
Was this review helpful?
Having read this author before I was looking forward to this one. Graham Jones writes with a beauty that few authors can match and this book was the same. Since I was familiar with this one and being that I was given an advanced copy I saw this through to the end, however i probably would have quit on it otherwise. While I'm not familiar with the symbolism of the elk in this story, I went with it but didn't find a satisfying solution here. This element and the Native American culture in it are things Graham Jones expects you to keep up on, there is no hand holding if you don't get it. 

The back half of the book was even more scattered for me. While I love the prose I just can't imagine a reader I would reccomend this too unless they are big fans of the author.
Was this review helpful?