Lucy stood beneath the sign for Jubilee Bay and looked northward along the tracks. Some days, when the fog was light and the sun shone weak and sickly
Lucy stood beneath the sign for Jubilee Bay and looked northward along the tracks. Some days, when the fog was light and the sun shone weak and sickly over the city, Lucy climbed to the roof of the highest building in Morningtown and tried to see the ocean through the garden of hollow-eyed skyscrapers. The pickers said the sea crept closer every day, sometimes swallowing yards of land overnight, the corpses of abandoned neighborhoods disintegrating with every hungry gulp.
oh my god - i just got my SECOND literary subscription box from quarterly, and it is amazing! somehow, against impossible odds, both boxes have had three books that i have neither read nor own yet, but that i still really really want to read. book angels do exist!
however, the physical box this time out is too small for maggie to sleep in, and she is displeased. displeased, but still determined to get in there.
incidentally, you can see that last box they sent in the upper-left hand corner, which maggie still sleeps in. but not this time, cat. not this time....more
So I’ll know I did something bad, but I won’t know what it was.
YoWill I remember what I did?
But will I know that I’ve forgotten it?
So I’ll know I did something bad, but I won’t know what it was.
You’ll know you made the decision to come to this place.
“this place” is the town of caesura, known colloquially by its residents as "the blinds;" a gated community for memory-wiped criminals, a prison where you’re free to leave, but to which you can never return, fully aware that what waits for you on the other side of the gates most likely wants to kill you.
i’ve read sternbergh’s Shovel Ready, but still - foolishly -haven’t gotten around to reading the sequel - Near Enemy, but this book here is an altogether different creature. Shovel Ready is great - it’s a noir/sci-fi mashup with a really staccato pacing and it’s a helluva ride, but this one shows he's got some serious writer-range. it’s a much more densely-plotted piece of psychological crime fiction, with deeper characterizations and a strikingly original premise that starts out strong and only gets stronger as it goes on.
it revolves around an alternative form of witness protection; a system in place for eight years at the start of the novel, in which criminals and witnesses to crimes have chosen to have their memories selectively erased, and are relocated to a town in the middle of nowhere, texas, where, after providing the authorities with the information needed to put some very bad people away, these very bad people themselves are given new names and allowed to live out their days blissfully unaware of their own dark pasts, cut off from internet, phones, all contact with the outside world, and given a second chance to make a life for themselves among others all living under a policy of “don’t ask, don’t know, can’t tell,” not even knowing if they were the victim or the perpetrator of a terrible crime.
what could possibly go wrong?
the book covers a monday-friday timeframe, and oh, what a difference a week makes. it opens with the shock of a gunshot, but then recedes into a sort of dramatic anthropology, slowly acclimating the reader to the town’s history, its rules and inhabitants and its day-to-day routines, but as threats surface and secrets are revealed and the very foundation of the experiment is threatened, things start getting mighty intense, and once it hits that sweet spot of rapid-fire reveals and escalating violence, it just careens you through the story relentlessly and it is so, so electric.
this is a very high four star - i love it like crazy and i have minor complaints only, which i’m a dick for even mentioning, considering how much fun i had reading this book, but i know that years from now, someone will post a comment on this review and it will help my self-memory-wiping brain remember more details if i write the whole spectrum of reactions. there’s a little dip in momentum, in what was presumably a calculated decision, but it bugged me as a reader, even though i appreciate the irony of its being itself a caesura: the unruh backstory, while interesting and necessary, was a little draggy, and was dropped right into the middle of a rising action-cliffhanger i was desperate to see resolved, and i was all tensely coiled through this backstory i would have been interested in, but ended up reading pretty distractedly, wanting to get back to the situation unfolding in the “now.”
and there are a couple of things i didn’t buy, most notably (view spoiler)[regarding the public reading of the files by rigo and santayana. i understand perfectly how shocking it would have been for these people to learn the details of their pasts, but, as horrifying as they were, to be driven immediately to suicide by them seems a bit drastic, and the expectation by the agents that this would be their response seems an unlikely one to anticipate. it was a risky move, considering that these people, with latent muscle-memories of violence, would see this exposure as a threat and the ‘normal’ reaction would be ‘remove this threat by any means necessary.’which ultimately happened, but while one person driven to suicide might be acceptable human behavior, two seems like writerly indulgence for dramatic purposes where no additional drama was needed. (hide spoiler)]
but that's all just quibble. this book is a wonderfully weird ride, and that action - phoar. cinematic and glorious. i could do with a sequel to this, and i promise i will read the sequel to that other one. deal?...more
there are so very many enthusiastic superfans of Peter Pan out there, and so very many retellings and variations of the story have been published to ethere are so very many enthusiastic superfans of Peter Pan out there, and so very many retellings and variations of the story have been published to entice these superfans. and before we go any further, let me out myself: i am not one of them.
i don’t dislikePeter Pan, but my only exposure to the story has been through the disney-filter, and i was never really keen on any of the disney movies with people in them - give me The Fox and the Hound or The Aristocats any day, but Sleeping Beauty? snooore. so, while i saw the cartoon, and i read the little disney picture books about peter pan, i was never really driven to seek out the original, which i expect, given what i know about the disnification of other stories, is very different from its source material.
all of that is to say that even though there are likely many references and allusions here that i didn’t catch or understand the full significance of that will no doubt delight you superfans, i still really enjoyed this book.
i'm fond of the ‘villains redeemed’ genre that gregory maguire popularized and to which so many other authors have made offerings, and it's amazing to have such a wealth of retellings of beloved stories to satisfy readers’ cravings to revisit their favorite characters, no matter what shape the retelling takes, or how successful it is as a book on its own. i am myself a superfan of Wuthering Heights, and will read any and all retellings, even if they are atrocious. as many of them are.
but fear not, peter pan kids, this one is a million miles away from atrocious. which is not surprising, considering how popular this author’s Alice in Wonderland retellings are, both of which were bought excitedly by me, only to sit unread on my shelves, because we have already established that i am the worst.
but i read this one, so ppbblltt! and it is such a fun, bloody ride.
here we have jamie, the future captain hook, and the first boy peter chose to join him in his world of adventures and eternal youth and endless irresponsibility. since then, jamie has been peter’s right hand man boy, his first and most special friend, and has witnessed the arrival of so many other chosen boys over the years. and he has also been responsible for burying them. because - fine print - eternal youth is not the same thing as immortality. and on peter’s island of fun and gleeful romping, there are also pirates and crocodiles and the many-eyed and illnesses and … the battles. and while one of the most appealing characteristics of boyhood is the freedom from thinking about the future, or consequences, or anything other than what the next adventure will be, jamie has started to feel the weight of his actual years, and is troubled by peter’s short memory when it comes to all of the unnecessary lives lost to dangers sought out for no other reason than a lark, an adventure, a game. which simmering disquiet is already beginning to complicate their friendship and is made worse when peter brings back a boy who is way too young for peter’s rough-and-tumble ways, and jamie feels responsible for protecting him from the many dangers of the island, not the least of which is peter’s easily-bored carelessness, jealousy, and inherent lack of remorse.
it’s a really interesting dynamic, as jamie assumes the parental presence lacking in these boys’ lives even before they were abducted, and peter is just collecting temporary playmates, like a kid with a jar full of frogs who forgets to punch airholes in the lid.
it's a clever twist, a great character study, and did i mention all the carnage? it’s like Lord of the Flies with a much higher body count.
i am very eager to finally grab those two alice books from my shelf, as soon as the mighty stack of promises allows....more