So, this book. I don’t even know where to start with this book. I suppose I’ll start with how I came across it. One of my close friends recommended this book to me, which surprised me, because she told me it was scary, and she doesn’t do scary. So I knew before even starting it that it HAD to be good. And, it was. It was so good. I devoured this book. It only took me 8 days to finish, and let me just tell you, this is a dense book. I was a champ for finishing this in 8 days, and I say this because I want you to know what you’re diving into if you so choose to.
Now, to attempt and explain what this novel is about; I really don’t even know if I can. This is the combination of three different stories about three different people that all kind of become one. Johnnie finds a manuscript of a novel that a man that was living in his apartment complex was working on up until he dies, so Johnnie decides to take on his manuscript and spruce it up for publication. Little does Johnnie know that this man’s writing is going to take him down a dark road he will wish he had never started upon.
Where do I start with my actual review of this piece now? I guess I’ll start by giving you fair warning of what you might choose to embark on. This book will mess with you. There were times when I felt like I was going crazy. This is a horror novel above all else. It’s not the horror that’s associated with ghosts and things that go bump in the night, though. This is a deeper kind of horror, a darker type – the psychological kind. Danielewski’s writing is very advanced and, ultimately, a critique on the human mind and the way we deal with life. So, if you like horror, deteriorating mental states, and existentialism, this book is absolutely for you.
As I mentioned, Danielewski’s writing is very advanced and excessively dense. But, this works very well for the type of story he weaves together. The writing does a beautiful job of moving the plot and story along. His writing is often vulgar and straightforward without any sugarcoating. If you are looking for an easy read, this is not the text you should be picking up; however, if you are looking for something more challenging that has writing that has the potential to change you, this book is undeniably for you.
Talking a bit more about this story, it is definitely one that is going to have you guessing what will happen next. This book is full of twists and turns that you will not see coming. There are some parts that seem to drag, but everything that Danielewski puts in this book works to move the storyline forward and comes together to connect the dots of what is happening to the characters, their families and their friends. Though this story can be dense and slow going at times, it is never dull. The characters are, at their base thoughts, extremely relatable, and it is easy to fall into the abyss while reading this novel, which, coincidentally, is a concept this novel focuses heavily on. I would find myself opening this book at say 4 o’clock and then not looking at the clock for hours, being surprised that the clock had changed to 7:30.
Another thing I want to touch on before this review is over is the layout of this book. This is a book you HAVE to read in print. It doesn’t even exist in an e-book because the formatting is so screwy, so you don’t have any other choice anyway. And by screwy here I actually mean beautiful. I’ve never read a book that has been laid out like this, and it adds so perfectly to the development of everything between these pages. Danielewski has created a whole new way to experience a story, and it is brilliant. You will feel suspense like no other flipping page after page.
Since this novel is so unequivocally so hard to put into words, I am going to leave this review here, even though my review has been a little bit of a mess, kind of like the book, so it’s very fitting actually. I could talk about this book for ages and still find more to talk about. This book will make you question things, all kinds of things: about your life, about others’ lives, about the world around you, about your very subconscious. I am not going to force anyone to read this, but I am going to encourage you to. If this sounds like it is up your alley, please pick up this novel; pick it up; open it; read it; enjoy it. So, if you’re so inclined by this review, go get lost in the abyss for a few hours and find out who you will come out as. It won’t be the same one you went in as. I’m going to leave you with a quote from the introduction of this book:
“This much I’m certain of: it doesn’t happen immediately. You’ll finish and that will be that, until a moment will come, maybe in a month, maybe a year, maybe even several years. You’ll be sick of feeling troubled or deeply in love or quietly uncertain or even content for the first time in you life. It won’t matter. Out of the blue, beyond any cause you can trace, you’ll suddenly realize things are not how you perceived them to be at all. For some reason, you will no longer be the person you believed you once were.”