Violet Heller, his desperate mother, is joined by Ali Lateef, a missing persons specialist, in a desperate attempt to locate her son before psychosis claims him completely. As the stakes grow higher, Lateef gradually comes to realize that this is more than a case of a runaway teen: Will Heller has a chilling case history, and Violet - beautiful and enigmatic, harbors a secret that Lateef will discover at his own peril.
©2009 John Wray; (P)2009 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
"The novel has a thriller-like pace, and Wray keeps us riveted and guessing, finding chilling rhetorical and pictorial equivalents for Will's uniquely dysfunctional perspective...The suspense is expertly maintained, straight through the novel's dreamlike climactic encounter and heart-wrenching final paragraph. The opening pages recall Salinger's Holden Caulfield, but the denouement and haunting aftertaste may make the stunned reader whisper 'Dostoevsky.' Yes, it really is that good." (Kirkus starred)
Lowboy, the nickname of the novel's main character, owing to his proclivity for riding the New York subway "low" underground, is on a mission. The opening pages establish the timeframe for this mission: it must be accomplished in a single day. Thus Wray meets one of Aristotle's requisites for good storytelling--the unity of time.
Wray's writing is excellent in almost every other respect. The pacing is perfect and keeps the reader on the edge of his/her seat. The dialogue is at once humorous and touching. Symbolism runs consistently throughout the novel.
I find that the vivid metaphors of the book sometimes range beyond the brilliant and into the obscure or opaque, but this doesn't detract much from the overall writing.
The significance of this book is that here is a writer who understands the mind of a person in the grip of psychosis, who is seeing the world that we see through the veil and shade of the disease. The writer captures both the fact of the madness, and the actual BANALITY of it all, which is an impressive feat, whose worth should NOT be overlooked or taken lightly. But it is for just this reason that character development may seem spotty to the listener, the characterizations two dimensional, even, at some points, empty.
You may think, oh, this is BORING - but there is a POINT to this - its not just bad writing. The listener has to look past this - there is a method to it. To chalk it up merely to bad writing would be a MISTAKE. DON'T MISS THE POINT, because its quite the opposite. The writer is showing you how people with this disease see and interact with the world. I don't think I've ever seen another writer attempt something like this so artfully, and with such subtlety.
There are two surprises lurking in the book that are not revealed until towards the end of the book, with the very last one at the very end. The last one, especially, took my breath away because I didn't see it coming, and I was paying attention, caught up in the narrative of what was going on - so I was totally FAKED OUT.
The writer knows his subject, and does a GOOD JOB. It starts slow and really ramps up at the end, but its subtle, and you don't realize how engrossed you really are in what is going on in the book. I think these are the kinds of things you want to see in a book, and as a bonus you get to see someone who can really express how mentally ill people see the world. This is no small feat, and I think that the presence of these things in the book is a CLEAR indication of a good, if not an EXCELLENT, writer. I would definitely recommend this.
This book has its merits, I liked a few turns of phrases, but on the whole I would rate it not worth the trip. If you are looking for a subjective fictional account of schizophrenia, this might be the book for you. You might also check out _The Eden Express_ by Mark Vonnegut if you're an avid tourist of mental illness, such as myself.
That said, I will probably check out the author's other works because I'm a glutton for punishment and he's obviously talented.
Most of the book took place on the NYC subway and I listened to it mostly on the subway. This along with a good narrator added to my enjoyment of the book. It had its humorous moments and a few points where I wanted to find out what would happen next, however the build up to the event was always greater than the event itself. The book tried to find a balance between character development and plot, but I felt this dual attempt resulted in a mediocre job of both. The end of the book was also a disappointment, but I always have a bone to pick with books that just end. I had high expectations for this book based on the prior reviews and was let down. If you're looking for a summer read, nothing particularly difficult or thought-provoking, then give it a shot. But don't expect to be wowed.
If the book had lived up to its description, the book would definitely have been for me. I am fascinated by stories of mental illness, how they affect the suffering individual as well as those around him/her. I don't know who else would have enjoyed this book more, considering it seemed to be right up my alley, so to speak.
The story moved at an incredibly slow pace. The critic's review that is posted underneath the synopsis claimed that it moved at a
It was droning, boring, and didn't differentiate much between characters.
Most of them.
If you are looking for a dark, mystery/thriller with a mental illness component, this is not it.
I found the characters interesting, and the narration fine, but in general, i thought this book was slow. I did read some reviews that stated that, but sometimes, you have to see for yourself... I usually read crime-fiction, so this is not quite my thing and maybe that's part of the problem. But I have to say that the ramblings of a crazy person, though interesting in small bursts, can get old quite quickly.
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