Dino and July were best friends at one time. That friendship ended and now they are enemies. Now July is dead and Dino is lost. What happens when July sits up in his parent’s funeral home, alive but no quite? Can they fix what was broken? Or will their feud cause a rift in the world itself, stalling death and destroying life as we know it?
The reason I like Shaun David Hutcinson’s books and stories so much is because he knows how to write characters. His characters are vibrant and full of life (no pun intended). He creates people you can find in any place in the world and feel like you can connect with them. Any story that can create characters that I can understand is a story I am going to enjoy.
Dino was a great character. He is one of those people I can relate to really well. He is someone who wants to make sure the people around him are taken care of and are understood. He is willing to put aside what he wants or likes in order to make others happy. He is pretending he is going to join the family business to avoid the conflict with his family.
He spend so much time trying to keep the peace and please others he is losing himself. I understood him because I am much the same way. I define myself by how the people around me are doing. If I can help them and make them happier then I assume I am happier. I forget that sometimes you have to find your own way and find what you want. Sometimes you have to define yourself in your own terms and hope others understand. And if they are people who love you and care about you they will understand.
Now July is Dino’s opposite. July is harsh and brash. She is someone who is going to fight you at a drop of a hat. She is someone who will tell you what she thinks, could care less about what you think and is going to tell you why you are wrong. She is the kind of person that when you first meet her you are going to be turned off by her attitude. You are going to think her rude and selfish.
What Hutchinson does is show that she has a softer side. Right away we see that she cares about her family. Throughout the story you see her reasons for her actions and you realize she is willing to fight for those she cares about. She is just lost. She needs that softer and kinder hand to temper her down. I loved her character because she was complicated. While she was annoying and harsh I understood her. I liked that we see that life is not easy and understanding people is complicated.
Hutchinson has a tendency to put in slight bits of the supernatural or the otherworldly in his books. In we are the ants it was aliens but you never wanted to quite understand the aliens. The larger story dominated and you knew the aliens were there and were important but you didn’t focus on them.
Unfortunately that didn’t work as well in this book in my opinion. I wanted that deeper connection to the story so I didn’t constantly wonder at the reason that July was back from the dead and why no one else was dying. That is touched on but never explained. I found myself wondering about it the whole book unlike we are the ants where I barely registered the aliens purpose.
I think that is largely because this book felt like it was a lot of running around in circles. They went from one place to another and had a heart to heart conversation over and over again. I felt like we could have done all of this really well in a short story or even a novella. I think the larger format made it so we had to rehash ideas too often and drug it out. I think I would have connected more if the story had been shorter.
While the plot didn’t hold my attention it didn’t throw me out of the book. It didn’t make it unreadable and I wasn’t just waiting to get to the end. There was nothing that really stuck out as parts that I disliked. It was a quick read that hit some powerful notes.
I gave the book three stars. While I loved the characters and the development of them I just wish the plot had been a bit more robust or the story had been shorter.
“People, Like cats are obsessed with boxes. Cats are content to squeeze their own furry assess into boxes clearly too small for them, whereas humans take sadistic pleasure in trying to shove one another into boxes.” (pg. 14)
“Mirrors are liars. They never show us what’s truly there. They show us what we expect to see.” (pg. 134)
“Men who’ve been taught that emotions are a weakness, and they’re never to show weakness, or they bottle it up and camouflage it with laughter or anger or silence.” (pg. 171)
“Even when she didn’t know who she was, she fought for the right to screw up and figure it out on her own.” (pg.235)