This is an interesting book that is ultimately not really for me, though it has some things going on that made me glad I read it. Even though it left me unsatisfied and mostly puzzled as to what the point was, I never wanted to stop reading (listening) to it, and I was fully engaged the whole time, which is not something you can say for a lot of three-star books. I put off writing this review very much on purpose because I was hoping the story would sort of gel in my mind, but time has not meant clarity here. The only thing it has meant is that I’ve forgotten details that would have made it easier to write this review.
For such a small book, a lot is packed in here (and this may have been part of my problem). There are three timelines that we follow, as well as some, er, interludes. The three timelines are Bo at age 8, Brandon at age 28, and Blue at age 48. Bo is biracial and dealing with sudden death of his mother and the behavior of his emotionally absent father, Brandon has just been laid off and finds himself working for a tech company with a mysterious and charismatic founder and nothing seems quite right and weird shit is happening, and then there’s Blue who is participating in a documentary about the unethical company Flux and what happened to result in the deaths of several people. I’m gonna let the blurb take over for a sec here:
“Intertwined with the saga of a once-iconic ’80s detective show, Raider, whose star has fallen after decades of concealed abuse, the lives of Bo, Brandon and Blue intersect with each other, to the extent that it becomes clear that their lives are more interconnected and interdependent than the reader could have ever imagined” (emphasis mine).
Those three cleverly disguised people are all the same person. Obviously. Now you can get on to the really important part of the book, which has nothing to do with guessing whether or not all three of these characters, who are clearly all the same character at different ages, are the same character at different ages. The interludes are from Brandon’s POV, told in the second person as he is addressing his favorite character from the TV show Raider. It’s very important that he’s talking to the character and not the actor because the character meant a great deal to a young Brandon (both being biracial Asian men), and a large part of the book is Brandon working through his feelings and musings about this TV show and its production and the plotlines of the show itself, as well as what it meant to young Brandon. This does tie back in to the overall narrative, and quite cleverly. The bits about this fake TV show were absolutely my favorite parts of the book, and they had the most resonance in terms of meaning for me as well.
This book is trying to do a lot more than trick you about the MC’s identity. The fact that it’s so easy to guess that these people are all the same person at different points in his life means there was no need to try and trick readers* and have them focusing on that instead of what they should have been focusing on, trying to piece together the other wackadoo shit that is going on this book, and make it make sense. I mean this literally and metaphorically. It is never clear (at least it wasn’t to me) the specifics of just exactly what went on at Flux and what happened to Brandon (time travel milk?? what?), not least because his reality has been messed with, and we are never let in on which parts were real and which weren’t and what happened in the missing spaces of his life.
*To be clear, I’m not saying the author is trying to trick readers, I’m saying the publisher was as a marketing gimmick. It’s pretty clear once you read the actual book that he probably meant the reader to know from the beginning, or to guess really soon after starting.
It would be a fool’s game to try and piece this book together now, five months out from finishing it, so I’ll just leave you here with the final thoughts that this book was a really interesting experiment, but it sort of failed for me because I wasn’t able to make the mental leaps the book wanted me to in all the parts necessary to make the story work as a whole.
I would read more from this author, for sure.