“He opens his mouth to say something. You are nervous, but that is only because of the impending doom. Because of people who are more than just regular people, and the battle of good versus evil that approaches them, and, since you have been among them, in your own way, you are more than regular people. In this way, he can never understand you. Can never hurt you.”
– You Are an Object/Fredrick James, Strange
(Well, this turned into a very long rant.)
I used to follow the website “You Are an Object” religiously but I eventually could not keep up with it. There was one story however that kept me coming back periodically just to see if the author would update it and to my surprise, when I checked back the other day I found the author had published a book based on that story. I bought is immediately. And I was very disappointed. What reviews exist for this book are so good that it leaves me conflicted when I say: I really did not like this book.
The book is told from the point of view of Sebastian, a shy, self deprecating 20 something hopelessly in love with his neighbour. Sebastian’s room mate comes to him one day and tells him she has psychic powers and in that way, Sebastian becomes involved with her and a group of others like her as they try to figure out what is behind the high death rate at a local hospital, soon finding themselves up against an ancient cult led by a monstrous otherworldly creature. That was a difficult summary to write, and perhaps it does not make much sense and seems a little all over a place, but to be fair to me, this book does not make much sense and is quite a lot all over the place. OK, I admit, initially I enjoyed this. Its written in second person which is a little unusual, but James has a real knack for description and he made it work. Initially, its beautiful, really, and often heart breaking. I loved Sebastian, and I loved all the subtle ways James alluded to his longing, and to his loneliness. But the pacing of the book is haphazard and the next thing we are sitting in a church basement with a bunch of strangers, being told that we know them, having to act like we understand what they are talking about when they discuss what is going on. I think that was when the book began to lose me, and it never managed to draw me back in.
The book continued on its erratic course, jumping time lines, or just skipping huge chunks of time, as the plot becomes
messier and messier sorry, develops. To make it even more confusing- it flicks around the point of view of several characters and honestly, several is too much. I struggled to connect with these characters, as I was too busy trying to figure out who was supposed to be the one telling the story. Although it would become apparent the viewpoint had again switched, most of the characters read the same. I wish the book had really focused on Sebastian- had kept the book from his point of his view. It is, shockingly, possible to develop other characters without switching to their point of view. Also I admit, what I really wanted was to see Sebastian to grow and for his life to change in ways that may hurt but would ultimately mean he had more confidence and he had his love, through this strange new world he had found himself in. Be the hero, you know? It seemed so much that it would be that book but that was not what I got. The book compromises of three sections and there were dramatic shifts in tone from section to section. The first section was the strongest, the middle less so, and by the end section I was not enjoying the book at all.
This is a reasonably long book, but it came across like a lot was missing, the beginning was rushed, actually it was all rushed, the author was trying to do so much. Too much. It was messy and confusing. The writing style did not help this. It was quite chatty and conversational, which initially was OK, but soon got old. Soon it was like listening to someone rambling on and on when you just asked a simple question. And they don’t even bother to answer your question, in the end. The writing style almost becomes irritating, its so obviously trying to be cool, to be deep and emotional and clever. There are also repeated lines and phrases- you could make a drinking game for every time a character said “like” or “amen.I know I had to resist throwing the book against a wall with every amen. It just.. there’s something so fucking pretentious about the writing. It worked in those snippets, and for the first bit of the book but eventually I just wanted to be like FOCUS. This book needs editing. Or better editing, whatever. I’m fairly sure there were spelling and grammar errors, too.
The random violence in the book was also jarring, not in a good way. There was a bunch of gore and violence thrown in there without abandon. The author got seriously trigger happy, such that it was probably a good thing I gave up caring about these characters early on, with said characters being killed off left and right for reasons I don’t understand. Certainly, none of the characters left seemed to care. Perhaps the author had also become tired of having so many viewpoints.
but seriously, violence and ‘daring’ to kill a character or two off does not necessarily make a book dark or edgy or anything at all.. There’s a little thing called impact, which this book lacks.
I dunno. Maybe I just don’t get it. But for me, this book has a bunch of reasonably interesting ideas that never quite come together. It just seemed that James had a bunch of separate plots and tried to cram them into one book and it did not work at all. This book tries, tries very hard and quite obviously, but ultimately fails. I honestly cannot believe those beautiful short stories came together to form this.