John Cleaver on his own would be fascinating, but the story itself is also great. Wells manages to set up a situation where John is the only person who can actually cope with the problem at hand (or at least, he thinks he is, and I didn't disagree with him) and while the supernatural aspects of the story might not appeal to everyone, I quite enjoyed them. Apparently this is the first in a series, and I'm definitely looking forward to more!
Friday, May 28, 2010
Dan Wells wrote a piece about this for the "Big Ideas" series on Whatever, and the concept intrigued me. John Cleaver is a sociopath, but Wells manages to make you empathize with him. His level of self-awareness makes him really interesting, he knows that if he just goes along with his impulses that he could really easily become a serial killer, and yet he has decided that it would be a bad thing to do, and so he has come up with all these rules to follow in order to avoid it. It is a far more mature approach to the world than most people ever manage, and yet he still comes across as a very believable (if weird) teenage kid.
Obviously the title is intriguing, and I had seen several rave reviews of it, but it was finally Nancy at the cottage urging me to read it that pushed it over the edge and onto my reading list. Even then, it arrived home from the library just as I was leaving on a trip, and by the time I finally picked it up, there were only a few days before it was due back. Luckily it is a nice quick read and I had an afternoon handy.
I love the style - it is written as a series of letters mostly to and from Juliet. It is set just after the second world war in London and Guernsey - and island in the English Chanel that was occupied by the Germans during the war. It is sweet and charming, and mostly about how people cope with catastrophe, and how they go about recovering afterwards. The story was great, but my favorite bit was the epistolary style. I really enjoyed getting to see the story from the point of view of what people decided to write to one another. You miss out on great big chunks of the action, but you get a really interesting perspective on what's actually happening.