Monday, November 26, 2012

Guest Review: This Book Does Not Exist by Mike Schneider

Once again my awesome husband, Jason, from Invasive Species Radio and Dead Man'z Kassette has stepped up to the plate and provided me with a review (because I have been seriously slacking lately!).  I'm going to start integrating more of Jason's reviews because he and I have different tastes when it comes to reading and that will provide you (my wonderful followers) with reviews for a larger variety of genres.  Jason also does music reviews on his blogs (check out the links above) if you care to take a peek.

On to the review......

Ok you know that whole “recommended for you” section on Amazon? Within this advertising assault on my wallet was a blurb for a $0.99 self-published titled This Book Does Not Exist by Mike Schneider. The title and the cover depicting a Polaroid style photo with the eyes and mouth obscured by what looked like a vandal's marker intrigued me. Plus, it was cheaper than the 44oz Diet Pepsi at the local gas station, so what the hell.

This book is your standard 20-something love story. Boy meets girl, boy starts long distance relationship with girl, boy loses girl in alternate dimension which then spills out into our reality inadvertently causing WWIII.

Ok maybe it's not that standard.

The story starts off with a first person account of how the author met a girl named Naomi (by the way, witnessing a suicidal idiot jump off a roof together is not a great omen for romantic success) and continues on for the first ten percent of the book detailing the troubles and tribulations of trying to get on the same page. When finally Naomi agrees to move into the author's apartment in L.A. (he's a struggling screenwriter), he goes to meet her at the airport and she doesn't get off the plane. Worse, she doesn't answer her phone, and anyone the author texts, Facebook messages, or tweets about it has no idea either. Then a few days later he gets a friend request from a mysterious gentleman named Geppeto W with the message: “I can help you find Naomi, but not unless you come to Ohio.” Which happens to be where the couple grew up.

Geppetto turns out to be the keeper of something called The Door, which I type in bold here because The Door for some reason is always typed in bold in the book. The Door appears for people when they “are falling in or out of various stages of love”. Seems like Naomi had some doubts and wandered through, and Geppetto found her suitor to test his resolve about the relationship. Thus begins a whole bunch of screwy scenarios involving the author trying to find Naomi, or find out if he's even really in love with her, or find out if he's just been slipped some really bad hallucinogens.

The book has some really interesting concepts about perception and reality, and had at one point a really interesting e-book technique of breaking down the “fourth wall”, where the author/protagonist talks about posting a YouTube video, and instead of describing it, the link for the video is right there on the page, just a finger tap away on my Kindle Fire. These technical and conceptual ideas however, are sadly more thought out than any emotional storytelling or character development. The author always drops cultural references in the story. What music he's listening to, or movies he's seen, as if what a person likes is the same as what a person is like. Also I wish the nightmare scenarios of The Door were more creative and tied to the character's past, but instead the author uses some recent historical incidents as a backdrop. I can only guess this was done as a way to make us identify with the character and recognize what he's going through, but it feels to me as a lost opportunity to define the character more.

Overall it was an interesting book, but nothing to really rave about. It was a great idea, but a great idea does not make a great story. Whatever door the author decides to go through next, I can only hope he decides to take a different hallway.

Two red-white-and-blue Bic lighters out of five.

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