Publishing Info: April 28, 2009 by St. Martin's Press
Genres: Adult, Alternate Reality, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: April 14, 2012
Seventy-two-year-old August Brill is recovering from a car accident at his daughter's house in Vermont. When sleep refuses to come, he lies in bed and tells himself stories, struggling to push back thoughts about things he would prefer to forget: his wife's recent death and the horrific murder of his granddaughter's boyfriend, Titus. The retired book critic imagines a parallel world in which America is not at war with Iraq but with itself. In this other America the twin towers did not fall and the 2000 election results led to secession, as state after state pulled away from the union and a bloody civil war ensued. As the night progresses, Brill's story grows increasingly intense, and what he is desperately trying to avoid insists on being told.
It was a short and quick read at less than 200 pages, but concise enough that Aster didn’t need more than that. I actually think it was the perfect amount of story. I loved the alternating stories of Brill’s life, his family, his past that keep interrupting the story he is trying to tell. He’s dead on when he says that “the mind has a mind of its own” and you can’t really keep such powerful thoughts and memories at bay. The story of Owen Brick that he creates keeps the story suspenseful and pulls the reader in. We all know by now what a fan I am of dystopia — really just alternate worlds themselves — so an alternate America was too intriguing for me to pass up when I first read the description of this book. There aren’t a lot of details about this warring America, but the message is clear and seems like it could have scarily accurate possibilities if that were to ever happen. I liked that the story still stayed first person in Owen’s point-of-view so the reader is just as clouded in mystery as he is in this strange world and what will happen if and when he gets back to his “real” life in the United States that we all know as our real world.
What makes the story even better is that there really are no loose ends. It’s a concise story that doesn’t draw things out with details, wraps up the fictional story of Owen Brick’s world, and then finally concludes with wrapping up all the details, fills in the blanks, and answers all the questions of August Brill’s world by his explanation to his equally haunted granddaughter.
I really enjoyed this book. Just four stars because it didn’t completely knock me over, but it was extremely thought-provoking to me and I really enjoyed how you can see how Brill comes up with the characters for his Owen Brick story once you find out all of the “characters” in his life story. Some powerful stuff towards the end of the book as we find out more info about his wife and his granddaughter and that kind of stuff sticks with you! I’d definitely recommend it – It’s not a waste of your time, and it’s quick to read so you’d finish it in no time anyway!