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Harrison Squared

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From award winning author Daryl Gregory comes a thrilling and colorful Lovecraftian adventure of a teenage boy searching for his mother, and the macabre creatures he encounters.

Harrison Harrison—H2 to his mom—is a lonely teenager who’s been terrified of the water ever since he was a toddler in California, when a huge sea creature capsized their boat, and his father vanished. One of the “sensitives” who are attuned to the supernatural world, Harrison and his mother have just moved to the worst possible place for a boy like him: Dunnsmouth, a Lovecraftian town perched on rocks above the Atlantic, where strange things go on by night, monsters lurk under the waves, and creepy teachers run the local high school.

On Harrison’s first day at school, his mother, a marine biologist, disappears at sea. Harrison must attempt to solve the mystery of her accident, which puts him in conflict with a strange church, a knife­wielding killer, and the Deep Ones, fish­-human hybrids that live in the bay. It will take all his resources—and an unusual host of allies—to defeat the danger and find his mother.

320 pages, Hardcover

First published March 24, 2015

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About the author

Daryl Gregory

134 books1,205 followers
Award-winning author of Revelator, The Album of Dr. Moreau, Spoonbenders, We Are All Completely Fine, and others. Some of his short fiction has been collected in Unpossible and Other Stories.

He's won the World Fantasy Award, as well as the Shirley Jackson, Crawford, Asimov Readers, and Geffen awards, and his work has been short-listed for many other awards, including the Hugo, Nebula, and Sturgeon awards . His books have been translated in over a dozen languages, and have been named to best-of-the-year lists from NPR Books, Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, and Library Journal.

He is also the writer of Flatline an interactive fiction game from 3 Minute Games, and comics such as Planet of the Apes.

He's a frequent teacher of writing and is a regular instructor at the Viable Paradise Writing Workshop.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 309 reviews
Profile Image for carol..
1,504 reviews7,568 followers
August 27, 2018
Review posted permanently (with photos!) at
https://clsiewert.wordpress.com/2015/...


Harrison Squared. Formally known as Harrison Harrison. Or, to be exact, H²×5. Despite some consternation about the name, it is an excellent book. However, followed so quickly after reading Kraken, I will note my suspicions of the order Teuthida. I'm just saying--I'd think twice about visiting the Tentacles exhibit at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Or stick with the jellies.

"'There are questions in that book,' the professor said. 'Important questions, buried in page after page of interminable droning. Isn't that always the way, though?'
'I was kind of hoping for answers,' I said.
'You can't have quality answers without quality questions,' he said."

Harrison has decided to accompany his mom on her research trip to Massachusetts. Unfortunately, he's sixteen, which means attending the local school for the month or two the project will take. Harrison has a healthy degree of suspicion for the atmosphere in his (hopefully) temporary school. With good reason: the building looks more like a tomb, there's morning religious services in an incomprehensible language, and the cafeteria ladies are gutting live fish in the back of the kitchen. Action picks up fast, so in the interest of avoiding spoilers, I'll say while it didn't head in entirely unexpected directions, the plotting makes interesting work of intertwining Harrison's past with his present circumstances.

I loved the characters, from Harrison, to the librarian, to Lydia, to Aunt Sel. Told in first person, Harrison's voice is perfect, a blend of naiveté and intellectualism that works perfectly for the child of two scientists. The school staff is suitably odd in vaguely creepy ways. Take Mrs. Velloc, who "seemed to be constructed of nothing but straight edges and hard angles, like the prow of an icebreaker ship... her nose was sharp as a hatchet, her fingers like a clutch of knives." But Mom is a counter-whirlwind of force: "'Thank you,' Mom said. It was the 'thank you' of a sheriff putting the gun back in the holster after the desperados had decided to move along." I worried a little when Aunt Sel appeared--there was so much potential for the trope-ridden clueless adult--but it turned out my worry was completely unnecessary. Aunt Sel was a delight, and most certainly a new role model for me: "For lunch, Aunt Sel refused to consider the food court ('Because all the food has been found guilty'), and led us to a Mexican restaurant attached to the mall, where she could order a margarita."

Mood was spot-on for me, balancing humor and horror, slowly adding tension and then leavening it. I was pleased to note an absence of maudlin sentimentality that I feel so often ruins a young adult book for me. It is fairly comparable to Gregory's novella We Are All Completely Fine, in tone and events. Having read that book, it was especially intriguing knowing Harrison's eventual destination, and learning about the road he traveled to get there.

I love Gregory's writing; for me he hits an enjoyable blend of clever description, interesting characters, fun dialogue and nicely paced plotting. I highly recommend reading both Harrison Squared and We Are All Completely Fine.

Just beware the tentacles.



Thanks to NetGalley and Macmillan-Tor/Forge for a review copy.
Profile Image for Dan Schwent.
2,863 reviews10.5k followers
February 6, 2017
When he was three, Harrison Harrison lost his father and his leg in a boating accident. Or was it? Now, at age sixteen, he moves to the Massachusetts town of Dunnsmouth for his mother's latest research project. When she goes missing, Harrison quickly finds Dunnsmouth has more than its share of secrets...

Harrison Squared was a tough nut to crack for me. Aside from the missing leg, Harrison Harrison was kind of a Gary Stu. Also, I hated his implausible name. Who the hell would do that to their kid? Anyway, despite being a curmudgeon, I wound up being entertained by it.

Taking place in a safe, Pat Boone version of HP Lovecraft's world, is a fish out of water, coming of age tale that happens to include a nerfed version of the Cthulhu mythos. Harrison struggles to fit into a school of fish worshipers only to have his mother disappear. The rest is a Hard Boys mystery featuring fish people and their townie cohorts trying to open a portal and summon Urgaleth.

The writing was standard YA fare. The kids are smarter than the adults, everyone has overly clever dialogue, etc. While I knew Harrison would live, there was a sense of jeopardy at times. The ending was a little too easy but the book had series written all over it so I wasn't all that surprised. There were some Lovecraft references that I thought were hilarious. "My people do weird things with geometry," or something to that effect.

I thought the supporting cast were more interesting than Harrison. Aunt Sel, Lydia, Lub, and some of the others really livened things up. I wouldn't have minded learning more of The Scrimshander's past, however.

Although it wears its influences on its sleeve most of the time, if there had to be a young adult Cthulhu mythos tale, I'm glad it was this one. Annoyances aside, I wound up liking it. I could see it being a gateway book into deeper and darker things. Three out of five stars.
Profile Image for Kelly (and the Book Boar).
2,394 reviews7,266 followers
March 16, 2016
Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/

3.5 Stars

“You know what killed the cat? Me.”

Thirteen years ago Harrison Harrison (or Harrison Squared, if you prefer) and his family set out from the shores of Dunnsmouth for a three hour tour . . .

Palm Springs commercial photography
(*sings A THREEEEEE HOUR TOUR*)

when a storm kicked up and stuff and things happened that caused Harrison to lose his leg and his father to lose his life. Fastforward to the present where H2 and his mother have returned to Dunnsmouth in order to for his mother to research the Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni - or in layman’s terms the “colossal squid” . . .



You’re probably thinking: “I’ve seen enough Hentai to know where this is going!” To which I reply – ewwwww. Good grief you perverts, does everything have to be nasty? It’s a young adult book for cripes sake!

Because this is a young adult book, the leading male is a . . . . you guessed it YOUNG ADULT. That means he’s stuck suffering through as the new kid at high school. Let’s just say his classmates aren’t too interested in making new friends . . .

Palm Springs commercial photography

Ha! Just kidding. They aren't that bad. Lucky for Harrison, not everyone in town is a d-bag (especially after his mother goes missing like IMMEDIATELY after their arrival) and he’s able to enlist the help of his new buddy . . . .

Palm Springs commercial photography

in order to figure out exactly what happened.

After reading We Are All Completely Fine I was most definitely interested in seeing what else Daryl Gregory’s crazy brain could come up with. When I heard that he would be taking the leading male from a very grown-up sort of story and putting him in the wayback machine in order to create a YA novel my curiosity was really over-the-top. I’ll be the first to admit that I wasn’t sure Gregory could pull it off – but boy did he. This was a solid story and since it was written by a guy NOT known for young adult books, he didn’t fall into the tired trope of a stupidass love story. Nope. This was all about solving the mystery, building the world of Dunnsmouth, filling the reader in on H2’s (and the town’s) past and leaving enough breadcrumbs for there to be a future with the series. That’s really the only part that lost me. I am a fan of the standalone so I’ll be a jerk and round down due to the potential for a part two.

If you have a youngster in your life who appreciates a little action and adventure, I highly recommend this one. You might even want to read it too, because Gregory is pretty awesome when it comes to dialogue . . .

“Superheroes wear masks – they don’t try to get credit for everything they do.”

“Aquaman doesn’t wear a mask.”

“Lub, I hate to break this to you, but no one cares about Aquaman.”

“Wow. Hurtful.”


Hehehehehe.

Man all this talk about fish is making me hungry!


Profile Image for Mimi.
691 reviews187 followers
April 3, 2018
Harrison Squared is perfectly autumn and perfectly Halloween, which is why I'm now putting up a short write-up that I wrote awhile ago. Out of season. In spring. Over 2 years after having first read it.

Anyhow, this is another fun read by Daryl Gregory. I'm convinced he can write anything and I hope he does--write everything, I mean--because he's got a great way with words, well-timed humor, and a way of turning familiar, tired, old tropes into something new and exciting. They're still tropes, but he makes them fun to read.

This is my 4th Daryl Gregory book (Afterparty, We Are All Completely Fine, Raising Stony Mayhall), and I still find him exciting. It's still exciting to see his name on the new release list, and I'm still trying to make room in my reading schedule for his latest, Spoonbenders.

Every autumn, I try to plan a vaguely Halloween-themed reading list, but rarely follow through because I'm a mood reader, forever destined to follow whatever the mood calls for. So I pick up whatever that "feels right." Some years I get lucky and end up with vaguely autumnal books, and other years I get typical YA paranormals (because people keep recommending them). This year, though, I've been lucky in my picks. Almost every book picked up from the beginning of October to now goes quite well with Halloween. They all have that quintessential chilling undertone that I always associate with this time of the year, and this book is among the best of them.

In short, I was thinking about this book today and so just wanted to briefly recommend this book to anyone queuing up their autumn reading list. There's a good blend of creepiness and humor, and the characters and setting are a lot of fun. If fishy dodgy small towns, open water, Lovecraftian sea creatures, and urban legends are any interest to you, I would highly recommend this book.
She looked up at us. “Who are you?”

“I’m Rosa Harrison,” Mom said.

“This is my son, Harrison.”

“And his first name?” She stared at me with tiny black eyes under fanlike eyelashes.

“Harrison,” I said. Sometimes—like now, for example—I regretted that my father’s family had decided that generations of boys would have that double name. Technically, I was Harrison Harrison the Fifth. H2x5 . But that was more information than I ever wanted to explain.

[...]
Dr. Herbert waved. This gesture was made a bit threatening due to the fact that he was holding a scalpel, and the sleeve of his coat was streaked with blood up to the elbow. His uncovered eye blinked wetly at me. “Have you taken biology?” the doctor asked.

“Freshman year,” I said.

“Oh,” the doctor said. He sounded disappointed. Suddenly he brightened. “Have you taken cryptobiology?”

I grinned. “In my family, cryptobiology isn’t a course, it’s dinner conversation.”

“I like this boy!” Dr. Herbert said.

[...]
This was the problem with a small school in a small town. Not only did the students all look like each other, they’d all developed the same nervous tics. It made me wonder about inbreeding. Take off their shoes, and did they have webbed feet? Was the weird-looking fish boy who’d stolen my book just a relative on the more damaged branch of the family tree?

[...]
Oh no, I thought. Physical Education.

And then I realized it was even more horrible than that. The boys began to pull on swim trunks. This wasn’t just PE; it was swimming.

Some of the boys glanced at me. I stood there, holding my backpack, not moving. I was not about to get naked in front of these ignorami. I waited until one by one they made their way out the far exit. When there were just a handful of boys left in the changing room, I went out to the pool.

[...]
I stood up and stifled a yelp. The pale shape coursed toward the edge of the pool at tremendous speed. At the last moment, the water broke, and the creature threw itself onto the deck. It slid a few feet, then threw out its arms and rose up on its belly like a walrus.

It was a man. A bald man, fat and white as a beluga. He smiled. “Who’s ready for laps?”

[...]
“When the supernatural turns out to be real, it’s not super natural anymore—it’s just nature. Yes, it may be strange, uncanny, or frightening. It’s always scary to find out that the world is bigger and more complex than you thought.”

[...]
They were all sure they’d fulfilled their holy duty and that the destruction of the human world was nigh.

Cults. They always thought the glass was half-doomed.

Cross-posted at https://covers2covers.wordpress.com/2...
Profile Image for Kaora.
549 reviews279 followers
May 16, 2016
My parents saved me. My brain can make up all the scary stories it wants to, but I know that much is true.

Harrison Squared is a prequel to We Are All Completely Fine, a book I thoroughly enjoyed, so when I saw it on Netgalley I had to pick it up

Harrison Harrison is terrified of the sea ever since an incident as a toddler left him without a leg and without a father. So when Harrison and his mother move to the strange town of Dunnsmouth he is less than thrilled. His mom, a marine biologist is searching for a colossal squid, but when she disappears it is up to Harrison to uncover what is really going on in this town and to overcome his fears to save his mother.

Daryl Gregory and I have had a rocky relationship. I did not enjoy Raising Stony Mayhall, but after accidentally picking up We Are All Completely Fine and loving it I decided to give him another chance. And I sure am glad I did.

Harrison Squared was a great read. While short, I feel like it did a great job developing the character of Harrison, and setting up the plot. While I feel like some parts were a bit slow moving, overall the creepy town and monsters Harrison encountered kept me interested.

I didn't enjoy this quite as much as I enjoyed We Are All Completely Fine, but I feel like I got a better sense of who Harrison Harrison is. There are so many characters in We Are All Completely Fine, so I enjoyed the background on him. You don't need to have read WAACF before you pick this up, it did make me want to go back and re-read it so I can apply what I now know of him, so this may be better to read first.

There are a few unanswered questions and the ending was open ended, so there is potential for a sequel, and I hope there is! I'll definitely be picking it up.

Cross posted at Kaora's Corner.
Profile Image for Magdalena aka A Bookaholic Swede.
1,911 reviews763 followers
January 9, 2016
I was looking forward to reading this book, so, of course, it only took me months to read it. But anyway, the first time Harrison Harrison was introduced was in the novella We Are All Completely Fine and now it's been a while since I read the book, but stuff about his childhood came back to me while I read this book. But I must admit that I feel a bit inclined to read We Are All Completely Fine again now that I have read this book.

Harrison Harrison or H2 has his mother calls him has been terrified of water since he was very young and the boat he and parents was on capsized and his father vanished. Now he has moved to the town Dunnsmouth because his mother who is a scientist is locking for a squid, or at least that's what she has told Harrison. But Harrison discovers that not everything is as she has told him when it comes to the boating accident when she goes missing on a trip out on a boat. Now he must find his mother before it is too late.

I had some problem connecting with the story and the characters in the beginning, but around 50 % into the book then it's starting to get really good. It was then everything started to get more intense and questions is starting to get answered. This may be YA, but the story is darker than I'm used to when it comes to YA. The book started out OK, but it turned out to be really good and the ending is wonderfully open for a sequel!

I received this copy from the publisher through NetGalley in return for an honest review! Thank you!
Profile Image for Mir.
4,781 reviews4,985 followers
June 16, 2017
Fun, and better than the average YA (although do teens these days know Lovecraft? Dunno) but not as compelling and distinctive as the best Lovecraft, or as rich and original as Gregory's better novels. I doubt this will stick in my memory the way Pandemonium did. Still, a perfectly adequate book.
Profile Image for Melki.
5,583 reviews2,310 followers
July 25, 2022
Sixteen-year-old Harrison Harrison has moved with his mother to a strange town in Massachusetts. He attends a very weird academy where look-alike students seem to share a hive mind, and he's definitely the odd man out. His mom goes to sea every day searching for a rumored giant squid. Then one day, she disappears. When the locals' echoes of "I'm sure they'll find her" turn into tidings of "The search has been called off," Harrison realizes it's going to be up to him to find and save his only surviving parent.

I started out really enjoying the quirkiness of this one, but by the three quarter mark, I was only reading to finish it. I'm not sure why the magic dried up but it did. Perhaps Lovecraft fans or younger adults would like it more.

My favorite parts were Harrison's visits to the school library.

. . . I enjoyed the quiet, and the presence of these old tomes. Books were always waiting. Hoping, silently, that someone would take them from the shelf..

"I was just thinking, it's like the books are watching me, wanting me to pick them up, but they're too polite to ask."

"Of course," the professor said. "The best books are always reserved."


A-ha-ha! Library humor.

And, then there's this line, tossed off by a would-be-hero anticipating a certain death:

"If I don't come back, donate my books to the library."


I think I want that on my tombstone.
Profile Image for Lyn.
1,847 reviews16.3k followers
July 12, 2019
Harrison Harrison. Harrison Squared. H2 to his mom.

Actually he’s Harrison Harrison the 5th as this is a family trend going back generations, in a family where the members wait to have children as long as possible and who maintain a dynamic level of autonomy and narrative personality.

And so begins Daryl Gregory’s 2015 YA backstory to his character from We Are All Completely Fine.

And it’s Lovecraftian, painted with strong brushstrokes by a loving hand.

Harrison and his mother, a marine cryptobiologist, travel to the isolated, rural Massachusetts town of Dunnsmouth, patterned beautifully after Lovecraft’s Innsmouth. There we see the strange and eldritch covens and the thinly disguised families of fishy people.

And here is where Gregory makes his money – he tells this with a wink and nod. I smiled frequently and laughed out loud a few times to boot. If this were made into a film, I’d want Tim Burton to direct and in the style of Beetlejuice. It’s darkly comedic and atmospheric, but with style all it’s own.

And …

TWO, count ‘em, TWO scene stealing characters: Lub and Aunt Sel.

I love it when a writer develops a character into a show stealer and Gregory out did himself here. The dialogue and characterization are very good throughout and I also love the way he writes.

Another great outing with cousin Daryl and if you’re a speculative fiction fan who has not read him yet, do yourself a favor and check this one out.

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Profile Image for Paul Nelson.
609 reviews136 followers
March 15, 2015
Harrison Harrison the fifth or Harrison Squared, so named as a bit of a family tradition is 16 years old and about to be dropped off for his first school day at Dunnsmouth Secondary school in the curious little town of Dunnsmouth. Opting to stay with his Mother who is rocketing into her latest adventure and obsession, the fuckmongus and very giant colossal squid.
 
The opening chapter begins with tentacles and teeth, at three years old Harrison nearly lost his life. He describes the memories, fragmented and reconstructed to fit the traumatic moment his Father was killed and he lost his lower leg, saved by the only thing left in his little world, his Mother.
 
Back to the present, strange things occur, something is not quite right with the town of Dunnesmouth and it starts with the eccentric behaviour of the kids at the school. Pretty soon the bizarre, turns to calamitous when his Mother is lost at sea in a pelagic tragedy.
 
In comes Aunt Sel, who is definitely not parent material but still managed to be one of my favourite characters, a looker, a drinker, a spender and caring in a not too fussy kinda way.
 
Things are afoot in the caves under that school and that's beside the swimming lessons, cult worshiping and the odd monster. Bring on the bone carving knife of the Scrimshander and possibly the best name for a bad guy I've ever heard. Rescue is the name of the game, friends come from where you least expect and the villains of the piece are, well, bloody big.
 
Harrison Squared is a very well written and entertaining story, if I was to categorize it, I'd say a YA urban fantasy and there lies my only issue with this story. It was like a toned down prelude to the author’s first story set in this world, We are all Completely Fine and that was a bit of a shame. Almost like an episode of the A-team but with school kids, loads going on, lots of action, explosions aplenty but no-one ever dies, they do of course but you get my drift. No-one swears, I never felt uneasy and the darkness alluded to was barely touched.
 
Recommended for people who like young adult fiction but if like me you're after something more, something a bit darker then it might not be for you.
 
I received Harrison Squared from Tor Books & Netgalley in exchange for an honest review and that’s what you’ve got.
Profile Image for Yodamom.
1,975 reviews194 followers
April 1, 2015
Four big fishy stars-Young Harrison Harrison is moving to a new town with his big water creature research obsessed mother. Not something he really wants to do but the other choices are much less appealing. Almost immediately he is left alone when his mother needs to go off on one of her research trips to track giant creatures. He is quickly placed in the local school, which is not at all the average school. He is treated like an outcast, unable to communicate with these odd students. The town is isolated, his rented house even more so, no internet, no cell phone service. There is a mystery that effects him in this location one he will soon encounter and his dreams or nightmares may may come true.






The staff at the school are all really off center. Weird off beat, unusual in their lessons. The library was my favorite room, you will find a great mystery there.



I loved it. It is a book for all young adults to old souls. The adventure is waiting, bring your swim suit and jump in.
Profile Image for Mogsy (MMOGC).
1,988 reviews2,583 followers
April 26, 2016
4 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum http://bibliosanctum.com/2015/03/13/b...

I’m always on the lookout for good Lovecraft-inspired horror, and so when I stumbled upon the description of Daryl Gregory’s new novel Harrison Squared I just knew I had to check it out.

When Harrison Harrison (nicknamed Harrison Squared by his scientist mother, because geek humor is the best kind of humor) was a toddler, his family’s boat was capsized by a giant tentacled sea monster. Officially, the authorities said that it was a sharp piece of metal that claimed Harrison’s leg, and that the storm was what drowned his father, but Harrison knew he did not imagine or hallucinate what he saw that terrible day.

Now sixteen years old, he travels cross-country with his mother to Dunnsmouth, Massachusetts, a quiet seaside town where everything seems creepy as hell. His school is like a labyrinth out of myth, the teachers don’t seem to care whether he shows up to his classes or not, and the other students are like the Children of the Corn. The first night in town, his favorite comic book gets stolen by some weird fish-boy. Then tragedy hits when Harrison’s marine biologist mom goes missing at sea. Refusing to believe she’s dead, Harrison goes investigating. Pretty soon he’s gathered about him a group of unlikely allies to battle the nightmarish Scrimshander, an ancient Dunnsmouth legend come to life.

Why do I love the Lovecraftian subgenre so? For the atmosphere, of course. As a setting, Dunnsmouth perfectly embodies the rural, insular feel of Lovecraft country, belying the terrible secrets kept under wraps by its townsfolk. The horror featured in these stories tend to involve cosmicism and the occult, which is psychologically so much more effective. Daryl Gregory delivers all these aspects, combining both fantasy and horror elements in a neat little package. There’s no small amount of weirdness in the plot, which is usually something I can’t tolerate, but Gregory somehow renders it into a conceivable, real-world everyday kind of weird that his protagonist Harrison takes in stride…so I did as well.

The book will also do well with both adults and teens, striking the perfect balance for crossover appeal. On the surface, Harrison seems to be like a lot of other kids his age, struggling with a volatile temper and his desire to fit in at a new school. But gradually, the reader will learn that he’s also not your typical teenager. Harrison is very well written and convincing; his quiet resourcefulness both charmed and intrigued me, and I sympathized with his fear of the ocean and felt for him when his mom was reported lost at sea. So much of his life has been shaped by the boating accident when he was three years old, and unraveling the mysteries behind his character ended up being as much fun as keeping up with the story itself.

Gregory also rounds out the cast with several fantastic secondary characters, including Lydia, a fellow classmate from school; Lub, the half-human-half-fish boy; and last but not least, the most memorable of all for me was Harrison’s Aunt Selena who arrives in Dunnsmouth from New York City to take care of Harrison after his mom goes missing. Breezing into town in a flurry of silks and designer clothes, Sel was not at all what I expected, but it sure made me wish I had more relatives like her.

I had a great time with this book. It’s not a heart-pounding tale of horror, but rather a well-paced delectable mystery that’s also a fun adventure filled with lots of unexpected twists and turns, while exuding an eerie vibe. I enjoyed uncovering the secrets of Dunnsmouth with Harrison and his strange but really cool group of friends, and hopefully there will be some sort of follow-up to this book and that we won’t have long to wait for it.
Profile Image for Althea Ann.
2,232 reviews997 followers
March 21, 2015
I very much enjoyed Daryl Gregory's 'We Are All Completely Fine.' (https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...). Seeing that this was billed as a prequel to that one, of course I picked it up!

In 'We Are All Completely Fine,' we meet Harrison Harrison, who's part of a 'survivors' therapy group, and learn that he was once known as the Boy Hero of Dunnsmouth. Here, we go back to Dunnsmouth, and find out exactly what happened, ten years ago.

Now, either there's going to be another chapter in the story of Harrison and Dunnsmouth (I think there might be), or some details don't quite match up between the two books. I'm not going to worry about that too much, though. Each book stands on its own merits - but they're very, very disparate books. The style and feel of each is totally different. (I also don't really feel that the Harrison we see at the end of this book quite 'matches up' with the Harrison we meet a decade later.)

'Harrison Squared' is much more clearly an homage to Lovecraft, through-and-through. It's also much more a YA novel, and not just because the main character is a teenager. It's also, much, much funnier. That's not to say that there aren't some truly some spine-tingling and eerie moments of bleakness - but it's also a pretty humorous book, especially for fans of Lovecraft.

Harrison Harrison, a regular teen from San Diego, comes with his mother, a scientist, on a research trip to San Diego. The trip is expected to last a couple of months, so he enrolls in school while his mother gets started on oceanography stuff.

The school is a dark and weird place, the students oddly silent, and the classes seem to cover bizarre subjects. (Can I just say how very, very much I love the school in this book? It's done amazingly well. Especially the pool... that just raises the mundane and universal suckiness of P.E. to a whole new level.) However, Harrison buckles down, gamely, to make the best of it... until, abruptly, his mother goes missing (and is presumed dead).

In her absence, Harrison's cosmopolitan Aunt Sel swoops into Dunnsmouth, and Harrison learns some disturbing things about his family history - including the accident that killed his father and caused him to lose his leg at the age of three. It was no coincidence that his mother came to Dunnsmouth... and Harrison is impelled to try to find out why his mother disappeared. He might be able to get some information about what's going on from his strange and unusual classmate, Lydia (think a combination of Lydia from Beetlejuice and Wednesday Addams), who hints that his mother is far from the first person to disappear from this town.

Many thanks to NetGalley and Tor Books for the opportunity to read. As always, my opinions are solely my own.
Profile Image for Rachel the Book Harlot.
175 reviews45 followers
Want to read
January 25, 2015
Not feeling that cover. In any case, this is the prequel to We Are All Completely Fine...but at $12.99 for the kindle version, I'm going to say that we are most definitely not all completely fine. Goodness. What is up with the pricing of these books? Mama is not paying that much for a digital version. Will purchase it at some point, but at a reasonable sales price. Sheesh.
Profile Image for Kimberly.
1,657 reviews2 followers
November 21, 2015
4.5 stars.

Harrison Harrison--or Harrison Squared--is a character I was first introduced to in Daryl Gregory's outstanding novel, WE ARE ALL COMPLETELY FINE. In this new novel, we are presented with a prequel, of sorts, showing us events that Harrison faced in the town of Dunnsmouth, Massachusetts as a young teenager.

The first thing that I thought it vital to know: this novel is not of the same intensity of WAACF. As it is the story of a young Harrison, it is told in a young-adult style. You won't find a lot of gruesome descriptions or "bad" language here--many of the scenes leave that up to the readers' imaginations. Considering that this is from the point-of-view of a younger boy, I personally found that this works in the story's favor, as it makes Harrison's character that much more authentic.

Knowing that this was more of a YA Lovecraftian-Fantasy novel ahead of time actually heightened my enjoyment, since I wasn't expecting anything else.

Yes, this is Lovecraft's famous Dunnsmouth--home to the Deep Ones, Elders, and Gregory's own horrific creation, the Scrimshander! Harrison is "sensitive" and tuned into some of these supernatural beings as a result of a toxic encounter with one as a toddler--an encounter that ended with his leg being bitten off, and his father killed. Now Harrison's mother has returned with her son...only, the creatures that populate the town besides the common humans have not forgotten them...

If you don't mind the YA viewpoint, this story is an original, captivating novel of creatures both old and new. Personally, I'm hoping that Daryl Gregory plans on writing more detailing the lives of those characters he first brought to us in WAACF.

Recommended!
Profile Image for F. Paul.
Author 333 books1,758 followers
January 18, 2015
I was sent an arc and found it a complete delight (despite no buoy being named "F"). Even if you're not an HPL fan, you'll enjoy this expertly paced story, packed with engaging characters (especially Harrison's Dorothy Parker-esque aunt) in the New England town of Dunsmouth. And then there's the lagniappe of all those Melville references -- priceless.
Profile Image for Kate.
480 reviews17 followers
March 2, 2016
4.5*
*Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.*

Harrison Harrison has moved to Dunnsmouth where his marine biologist mother is doing research on a giant squid. WIthin a few days his mother has gone missing whilst out at sea and Harrison is left with a feeling that the strange town is hiding something. As he uncovers the towns history and secrets he soon sees that this is no small conspiracy and that it connects to a tragedy from his youth. With the help of some of his strange new classmates and friends, Harrison finds himself pitted against a strange cult, a knife wielding maniac and ancient monsters.

This is a prequel to last years amazing We Are All Completely Fine and whilst it's a YA novel and therefore a different tone to it's sequel, I thought it was a cracking read.

Whilst I enjoyed Harrisons character in WAACF, I thought he was more engaging as a teenager, the story is told mainly from his perspective and I loved his voice throughout the novel. Aunt Selena was another character I liked and probably the other main strong character in the book.

Another thing I thought the author did really well with was the detail he put into the book especially the mythology that he used and he seemed to touch on various cultures which I thought he blended in really well. The lovecraftian elements were done well and again I thought the attention to detail really lifted the story.

I really hope the author visits this character again for future projects as he was a lot of fun to spend time with.

Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Lata.
3,434 reviews180 followers
November 3, 2017
First book I've read by this author, and I really liked this. There was a good mix of humour and mystery and a little horror. I found myself rereading many sentences because they were clever, amusing and well-written. Harrison is a good guy, and I want to know what happens after the end of this book, because there are several unresolved plot points, and a developing friendship between Harrison and Lydia that I liked, and Aunt Sel is a hoot.
Profile Image for Kaisersoze.
602 reviews29 followers
March 15, 2015
Last year, hands down, my favourite read was Daryl Gregory's We Are All Completely Fine. It ticked every box I have when it comes to enjoying a book - horror or otherwise. So when word trickled down that Gregory had written a prequel featuring one of the main characters from that novel, I could not have been more excited.

All of which is to say, I doubt I was ever going to dislike Harrison Squared. As long as it retained a semblance of the fantastic concepts on display in the original and stayed true to the character of Harrison, I was going to be a happy reader.

And so I am. Gregory, however, seems to have decided very early on that since Harrison Squared is about a young character, then it may as well be a completely different genre from the horror-thriller he produced with We Are All Completely Fine. So much like your favourite band putting out an album that completely defies what has come before it, Gregory here constructs a YA dark fantasy. Yet the quality of writing is the same, and the mystery behind what is happening at Dunnsmouth (and who takes his mother) is captivating enough to keep the pace brisk.

Yet the real star here is the character of Harrison. He's just the right amount of 16 year old - yet one with a determined head on his shoulders, a righteous path before him, and a healthy streak of snark that makes him fun to read. Not that Gregory slouches in the supporting character department. Aunt Selena is a colourful force who has Harrison's back, and the other "people" he slowly comes to recruit to his cause are all equally memorable. Perhaps the same can't be said for all of the antagonists - other than the frightening Scrimshander - but their plot is sufficiently grand to make for an exciting finale nonetheless.

I'm sure many will be disappointed that the YA tropes of no swearing and relatively little violence are in play, but the overall narrative is strong enough to make these "oversights" forgivable. At least in my book.

The long and short of it is that Harrison Squared will appeal to most anyone who can make the necessary adjustment to their intensity setting after reading We Are All Completely Fine. Go in knowing you're not up for the same dark, horrific ride, but rather one that is a dark fantasy in nature, and you should have a good time

Here's to more from the universe Gregory has created - be it YA dark fantasy or straight out horror. I'll take whatever I can get...

4 Overly Large Squids for Harrison Squared.

The preceding was based on an eARC made available by Tor books through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

Find this review and many others like it at Horror After Dark
.
Profile Image for Liz Barnsley.
3,385 reviews977 followers
March 15, 2015
A few months ago I read a fantastic litte novella from Daryl Gregory called “We are all Completely Fine” – in which we met Harrison as an adult when he joins what turns out to be a particularly unusual support group. I was so engaged with it that I truly hoped that there would be more set in that world which was beautifully imagined so I was truly delighted to find “Harrison Squared”.

It is a terrific way of doing it, We Are All Completely Fine showing Harrison (just one of a whole bunch of amazing characters) when he is all grown up with all the experiences of that, now here with Harrison Squared, a novel that could be Young Adult or adult or both showing just one of the incidences of his youth that made him who he is.

This book had me snorting with laughter in places – Harrison is a witty, ironically drawn character who is also forced to grow up fast – he is determined and often fragile, but so very likeable and engaging that he anchors the whole story giving it a highly addictive quality.

Add to that a really beautifully drawn fantasy world – urban fantasy really, where underneath the norm are many layers to be discovered. When his mother brings him to Dunnsmouth, Harrison is thrown into a weird and off kilter situation in his new school – the kids there are decidedly strange and the teaching methods are, erm, eclectic to say the least. When things go wrong at home, Harrison is sure the answer is somewhere within the depths of the town and sets off on a mission to discover just what is going on.

Cue a whole load of creepy and eerie shenanigans, a developing friendship, Harrison facing his fears head on and generally a stonking good yarn that will have you reading into the early hours of the morning. In a way it is very old school – bringing to mind the monster movies of my youth with a Hitchock flavour that I loved, beautifully written and ingenious throughout. And yes, very Lovecraft. Wonderful!

I love Daryl Gregory’s characters. We Are All Completely Fine was chock full of brilliantly drawn people, authentic despite the fantasy flavour and Harrison Squared is no different. I ADORED Harrison’s Aunt, she was so funny, a character you wish could be in your real life with her observations and eccentric yet grounded outlook on life, her interactions with Harrison was one of the real strengths of this novel, their relationship is truly compelling.

Overall then a brilliant read – Highly Recommended from me and never before have I wished so hard for more books in a “series”. I hope that Mr Gregory brings us back to Harrison’s version of the Universe many times in the future. I will be the first in line.
Profile Image for Rinn.
286 reviews216 followers
January 23, 2016
I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review. Also posted on my blog, Rinn Reads.

I’ve been flitting about this review ever since I read the book, unsure what to really say about it. So this will probably be a short one!

The premise for Harrison Squared is an unusual one, to say the least. The protagonist, Harrison Harrison (hence Harrison Squared), moves back to the town of Dunnsmouth with his mother, a marine biologist. Having lost his father when he was younger, Harrison is very close to his mother, and after his first day of school in this new town, she goes missing.

Okay, so maybe that doesn’t sound so unusual – a Young Adult mystery tale. But what was so different about Harrison Squared was what inspired it. The stories of H.P. Lovecraft, and his tale of Cthulhu, were obviously great inspirations for Daryl Gregory, and the town has a real Lovecraftian vibe to it. It was so refreshing to read a paranormal Young Adult tale without vampires, without werewolves, but instead with sea creatures as the main element.

It was also interesting to have a protagonist with a disability – Harrison only has one leg. I can’t think of many save perhaps She is Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgewick. Additionally, I have read so many Young Adult books with female perspectives that it was actually quite nice to read one from a male perspective instead.

I did have a couple of issues with the book. The conclusion was definitely quite rushed, the ‘villain’ felt a little too comedic to present any real threat and the school kids of Dunnsmouth felt a bit Midwich Cuckoo creepy at first, but that soon changed. I think it would have been even better if many of them stayed that way, keeping up the feeling of something within the town not being quite right.

However, this was a good, solid read, with a unique and rather strange premise. Definitely something to delve into if you’re looking for a fresh take on Young Adult paranormal fiction.
Profile Image for Kimberly.
1,657 reviews2 followers
February 20, 2016
4.5 stars.

Harrison Harrison--or Harrison Squared--is a character I was first introduced to in Daryl Gregory's outstanding novel, WE ARE ALL COMPLETELY FINE. In this new novel, we are presented with a prequel, of sorts, showing us events that Harrison faced in the town of Dunnsmouth, Massachusetts as a young teenager.

The first thing that I thought it vital to know: this novel is not of the same intensity of WAACF. As it is the story of a young Harrison, it is told in a young-adult style. You won't find a lot of gruesome descriptions or "bad" language here--many of the scenes leave that up to the readers' imaginations. Considering that this is from the point-of-view of a younger boy, I personally found that this works in the story's favor, as it makes Harrison's character that much more authentic.

Knowing that this was more of a YA Lovecraftian-Fantasy novel ahead of time actually heightened my enjoyment, since I wasn't expecting anything else.

Yes, this is Lovecraft's famous Dunnsmouth--home to the Deep Ones, Elders, and Gregory's own horrific creation, the Scrimshander! Harrison is "sensitive" and tuned into some of these supernatural beings as a result of a toxic encounter with one as a toddler--an encounter that ended with his leg being bitten off, and his father killed. Now Harrison's mother has returned with her son...only, the creatures that populate the town besides the common humans have not forgotten them...

If you don't mind the YA viewpoint, this story is an original, captivating novel of creatures both old and new. Personally, I'm hoping that Daryl Gregory plans on writing more detailing the lives of those characters he first brought to us in WAACF.

Recommended!
Profile Image for Daniel.
658 reviews41 followers
July 14, 2020
It seems I was suffering a bit of derp with this book. I basically finished We Are All Completely Fine and said oooo! same character? BUY NOW! And never between that moment and the time I started reading it did I connect the obvious dots that should have told me this would basically be YA. I don't generally read YA books with hetero leads, but I'm glad I did this time.

As someone who only needed a small taste of Lovecraft to scratch him permanently off my to-read list, there were doubtless numerous references that went right by me unnoticed, so I can't comment on how that part comes across. For me the biggest echos were Percy Jackson, probably entirely because of the water connection, but in contrast, while there was a bit of the gang-of-kids vs the evil adults angle I still felt it was very much Harrison's book and not an ensemble thing. That said, all the characters were great, Lub and Aunt Sel being particular favorites, and I could easily see this being a Percy Jackson/Stranger Things style netflix series.

My only disappointment is that there are no more of them at least so far.

4 and something, rounded up. I won't even begin to try and justify why it took me so long to finish, it's 2020, I think that says it all.
Profile Image for Jason.
1,179 reviews252 followers
April 20, 2015
4.5 Stars

Harrison Squared by Daryl Gregory is a fun piece of Young Adult fantasy. I am a huge fan of Daryl Gregory and have loved much of his work. He excels as an author by appealing to a wide base. This book reminded me of something that Andrew Smith would write (He is one of my very favorite authors), and that is a huge compliment. Harrison Squared is a wonderful read due to the wonderful characters. Gregory has created a fun bunch of kids and adults. The setting is fun and full of a quirky atmosphere.

Harrison shines as he tries to fit in to his new school. He is trying to find his missing mother while attempting to control his temper. He has trouble making new friends. Gregory has added in a heavy dose of humor to make this a fun read. There is a ton to like about this book that would appeal to both adults and young adults. The ending is satisfying. I wish that it were longer.

I am a huge Daryl Gregory fan and this fast read is a perfect example of why. Highly recommended...
Profile Image for Lindsay.
1,240 reviews219 followers
August 21, 2015
Brilliant, funny and disturbing YA lovecraftian fantasy.

The blurb pretty much says it all and I can't really add to it without spoilers in terms of plot description.

The characters in this one are brilliant, with the general feeling of people just getting on with their lives, albeit as denizens of place with more in common with Innsmouth or Dunwich from Lovecrafts stuff. And there's so many characters that just make the story like Lub or Rachel and Isabelle.

The only problem I have is one I see often when I dip into the YA field: there is absolutely no indication on this book that it is the first book of a series or at least that there's a second volume to complete the story. The book is still a whole novel with a satisfying conclusion, but there's an epilogue that shows that the real action is just getting started.
Profile Image for Tammy.
800 reviews134 followers
March 18, 2015
The nitty-gritty: A hysterically funny Lovecraftian horror story, perfect for both teens and adults.

“What? You think I want you to go to school? Then who would entertain me? This place is stultifying. True, if there’s any news, they can tell you in school just as easily as here, but how much better to spend your time with your most beloved relative? I can teach you how to make a decent Bloody Mary.”

“You’re not a very good aunt.”

“Pardon me, but I’m fantastic. The best aunts aren’t substitute parents, they’re coconspirators.”


It’s nearly impossible to write this review without referring to another book by Daryl Gregory that I recently reviewed, We Are All Completely Fine. Harrison Squared is a prequel of sorts to WAACF, although you certainly don’t need to read one to enjoy the other, and the order that you read them in shouldn’t affect your experience either. I’ll talk more about the relationship between the two books later, but I do want to say that if I didn’t know any better, I would think these books were written by completely different authors! Gregory is a talented writer indeed, to be able to switch gears like he has in Harrison Squared.

I haven’t read H.P. Lovecraft in many years, but reading Harrison Squared brought back memories of Lovecraft’s shadowy worlds, filled with sea monsters and fish-like people. Gregory captures the tone of Lovecraft perfectly, but he adds a dimension all his own with laugh-out-loud dialog and brilliantly drawn characters. Harrison Harrison (or Harrison Squared as he calls himself) has just moved to the seaside town of Dunnsmouth with his mother Rosa, a scientist who has been awarded a grant to research the colossal squid, which she thinks lives in the icy waters of Dunnsmouth's sea. Harrison reluctantly starts school at the local Dunnsmouth Secondary School, a dank and dark stone structure with endless winding corridors and even creepier students and teachers.

But one evening when Rosa is out on the water working on her research, the boat is capsized and Rosa disappears at sea—or does she? Harrison is determined to find out the truth and get his mother back. With the help of some very unusual friends, Harrison follows the clues and uncovers a truth even bigger and more dangerous than he can imagine. It’s not safe in Dunnsmouth, especially for Harrison and his mom.

I think the biggest surprise for me was the humor in Harrison Squared. Gregory’s dialogue is so funny, and Harrison’s voice is so engaging, that I couldn’t help but tear through the pages. Harrison has had a bit of a strange life already, so he’s somewhat familiar with things that are odd. When he was three, he was out on a boat with his parents when it was attacked by a large sea monster, which ended up drowning his father and nearly killing Harrison. (Harrison lost a leg in the incident and now wears a prosthetic.) Or was it a sea monster? Harrison’s memories of that time are fuzzy to say the least.

And wow, the characters in this book! I don’t think I’ve ever run across so many well-developed and lovable secondary characters. In fact, many of them stole the show from Harrison, which is hard to do because he’s such a great character himself. I don’t want to give too much away, but I can’t write this review without mentioning Lub the fish boy, who stole my heart from the moment he opened his mouth (full of teeth!) Despite his, err, differences, Lub becomes a great friend to Harrison and helps him in more ways than one. I also adored Harrison's Aunt Sel, who takes over as his guardian after Rosa disappears. Aunt Sel’s arrival in Dunnsmouth is like a breath of fresh air, and believe me, the dank and fishy smells of town could certainly use someone like her! At first I thought, “Oh, poor Harrison! He’s got to put up with his aunt from the big city.” But she won me over, and she’ll win you over too.

Gregory adds many Lovecraft references and touches that a true HPL fan will have a blast spotting them all. I particularly loved the name of the town—Dunnsmouth—which I believe is an ode to Lovecraft’s famous short story, The Shadow Over Innsmouth. He also pays tribute to Moby Dick by having Rosa, like her counterpart Ahab, search for the illusive monster who killed her husband. Gregory begins each chapter with a line or two from the famous poem The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, which fit perfectly with both the tone and subject matter of the story. Do you know where the expression "to wear an albatross around your neck" comes from? Well, you will after you read this book!

For me Harrison Squared at times had that magical Harry Potter feel to it, with its mysterious school and wonderfully imagined characters. I can’t find any evidence that this book is the start of a series, although a very abrupt ending (which is really the only thing I have to complain about) left me wondering if Mr. Gregory has more adventures planned for Harrison and his friends.

Which brings me back around to We Are All Completely Fine. A very important character shows up in both stories, the terrifying and deadly Scrimshander. In Harrison Squared, he’s a much more real and immediate character, but even though he’s merely referred to as someone from a character’s past in We Are All Completely Fine, he was just as terrifying. I loved both of these books, but We Are All Completely Fine is much, much darker, with a gritty violence that may turn some readers off. For those of you looking for a highly entertaining adventure with plenty of slimy creatures just waiting in the shadows and lots of mysteries to solve, then Harrison Squared is not to be missed.

Big thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy. Above quote was taken from an uncorrected proof and may differ in the final version of the book.
Profile Image for Yzabel Ginsberg.
Author 3 books101 followers
March 15, 2015
(I got a copy through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.)

A good story (definitely a 3.5 stars more than a 3), but one that also confirms once again that, in my opinion, "Lovecraftian influences" don't go too well with "written for YA audience": they need to be too downplayed, and end up too remote from the usually bleak, no-hope tone the original stories used to have, combined to the feeling of Sublime (in Burke's meaning of this word) elicited by the appearance of Old Ones and various eldritch creatures. In turn, the novel was interesting, but...

I didn't experience the same fascination I had when reading We Are All Completely Fine (the novel where H2 appears as an adult, along with another victim of the Scrimshander). The ingredients were here, only it didn't seem there was much of a sense of danger, in a setting that begged anyone, reader included, to run away without ever looking back. It would have been better if it had been upped to real horror, and not, I suspect, downplayed to fit a younger public. (Especially since teenagers can very well read and appreciate genuine Lovecraft stories—I started reading those when I was 15, and it never was a problem.)

On the other hand, this book introduces characters I liked reading about. Selena was funny, yet definitely here to support her nephew in spite of the way she first appeared as "childish": not the air-head she seemed to be, but a grown-up and serious woman, simply with a punny take on life. The kids had more depth than I would have given them credit for at first—including Lub, who kept making me smile but whose own approach on life must somehow have made lonely, in regard to his peers. And there was not a hint of romance between Harrison and Lydia (although everybody insisted she was his girlfriend, both made fun of this and dismissed it immediately). It's refreshing enough in a category where every boy and girl always seems to find his/her "soul mate" two days after the beginning of the story.

The setting itself, Dunnsmouth, also hit the spot as far as "gloomy" and "creepy" were concerned. The strange atmosphere at school, the weird subjects (non-Euclidean geometry? Making nets? Uh...), the kids who all look like each others, the teachers with strange behaviours, the mysterious library with its equally mysterious librarian... These were well-rendered. No matter what, both in terms of settings and characters, I still found the Scrimshander as fascinating as ever. An urban-legend villain without a definite face, half-hidden under the brim of his hat, popping out of nowhere, performing gruesome magic by engraving bones with portraits of his victims... I thought he was intriguing in WAACF, and he remained fascinating here.

Conclusion: a good novel, only one I wish had upped the stakes where the horror element was concerned.
Profile Image for Niki.
691 reviews108 followers
August 23, 2017
"When the supernatural turns out to be real, it's not supernatural anymore- it's just nature"

What a ride! This book is really, really good. I really wanted to avoid using this particular word, but here it is: it's Lovecraftian fantasy at its very best. Usually, "Lovecraftian" is paired with "horror", but there aren't many horror scenes in this book; I think that "fantasy" fits it better. (Note: I wanted to avoid using "Lovecraftian" because calling every bit of fiction that involves sea monsters or tentacled monsters that is pretty boring... but really, it is. Let's admit it)

The plot and premise are a modern take on "glum town by the seaside hides a secret/ everyone there is probably in a cult", which is written as realistic as possible, without outrageous plot twists or too much of a predictable plot. Especially the end feels SO satisfying; a bit bittersweet, but satisfying. Aren't bittersweet endings the best?

The characters are probably the best part of the book. Harrison Harrison, our protagonist, is a POC, and also disabled without being disabled for the sake of it; he is likeable and feels well-written, since he does the best he can while also trying to conquer his fears. I think that he had some pretty good character development from the beginning to the ending of the book. The rest of the characters are also well-written, especially Lydia , who, if I may add this, is NOT a romantic interest for Harrison, even though she may seem like one at first. Their relationship remains purely platonic through the entire book. Even Lydia herself pokes fun at the readers' expectations at one point:

Harrison: "There's one thing that doesn't make sense [in our cover story] [.....] Why'd you do all this for me? This was my problem, not yours"

Lydia: "Because we're in love" [she said flatly] "Everybody thinks so"


The supernatural (or should I say "natural", according to the quote in the beginning of the review?) creatures are also great; I only wish that we could have learned more about , though.

So yes, this was a very enjoyable read. Totally worth it.
Profile Image for Sebastien Castell.
Author 40 books4,061 followers
July 12, 2015
Daryl Gregory is rapidly becoming one of those author's whose work I know I'll enjoy whether I think it's in one of my preferred genres or not. His style is brisk and easy to slip into, his characters quirky and sympathetic, and best of all, the relationships between them gives you a sense of watching broken people during the first moments of what will become life-long friendships.

Like Gregory's other books, Harrison Squared is hard to pin down from a genre standpoint. On the surface, it's a young adult horror novel, however there are loads of moments that read (to me, at least) as references aimed squarely at adults--nostalgia for things imagined if not actually experienced. I think I would have enjoyed the book even more had it been a bit longer and had more space to develop some of the plot twists and relationships. That said, if I have to choose between a novel that moves a little too quickly and one that moves too slowly, I'll take Gregory's style any day of the week.
Profile Image for Stephanie.
1,274 reviews22 followers
September 4, 2022
Harrison Harrison, or Harrison Squared is on his way to the small town of Dunnsmouth, Massachusetts to accompany his marine biologist mother on a research trip. She is searching for a large squid who shouldn't be this far North. Soon after Harrison's arrival and a very strange first day of school in a cathedral like building with unwelcoming teachers and a student body that all seems to look the same, Harrison's mother disappears at sea. Harrison lost his father and a leg in what seems like an awfully similar accident when he was a toddler. Since then, he has had a healthy fear of the water. Now, Harrison is determined to find his mother, no matter what. As he digs around Dunnsmouth, Harrison begins to discover a strange history of the town: a series of disappearances and people left in comas for no reason, a worship of an unknown set of gods and beings that aren't entirely human. With his new friends, Harrison is determined to find his mother and battle the monsters of Dunnsmouth.

I have always loved Daryl Gregory's writing and how it completely envelops me into the setting. Harrison Squared is no exception; I could easily imagine the dreary, sparsely populated coastal town and the people there. Another brilliant aspect are the characters. Not everyone that you would expect to be a monster is, and some of the things that should be easily identifiable as monsters aren't. Harrison is far from perfect, he is fearful and has a short temper; yet, his determination, curiosity, and open-mindedness are perfect for the strange tasks he must complete. Some of the side characters were amazing as well, Lydia, Lub and Aunt Sel were all great to get to know. I liked that the horror and monsters were teased out slowly, they were so ingrained into Dunnsmouth that it wasn't obvious what to be afraid of all the time. An intense an exciting ending only left me wanting more from Harrison and the crew.

This book was received for free in return for an honest review.
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