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Posted August 16, 2012
Nick Mamatas' brutal and brilliant new novel BULLETTIME should b
Nick Mamatas' brutal and brilliant new novel BULLETTIME should beWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
shelved in every High School library in America. It won't, which is a
pity. Though not intended or marketed as YA, one can all too easily
imagine the ruckus this little book would ignite among librarians and
administrators, as it contains many core elements usually found in YA
novels, only ramped up to a level of nightmare that is very real and
painfully familiar to angst-ridden teens: David Holbrook is ignored by
self-pitying, ill-equipped parents who allow him to be bullied at
school, and worse. David copes by slugging down buckets of cough syrup,
enduring his daily beatings and humiliations in a sluggish
dextromethorphan haze, and it is during one of these trippy, unhappy
mornings when he meets Erin / Eris, a new girl / old Goddess who both
dazzles and offers new torment to our luckless (and doomed) teenaged
protagonist. The reader learns in short order that David truly * is *
doomed, for via the all-encompassing scope of the Ylem, “the canvas
places are painted on,” David is able to “live every decision and detail
of an infinite number of me,” zipping back and forth from first to
third-person narrative, zooming-in then back out on all the possible
trajectories and conclusions of his life—all of them bad. While Mamatas
gleefully delivers scenes of unrelenting teenage hilarity and horror,
the book is at times a sober meditation on the nature of predestination
and possibility, and though often cruel, it is a book not entirely
devoid of hope. Some early reviewers complained that the supporting
characters were superficial and one-dimensional; I found this not to be
the case. Mamatas understands too well the engines and forces that have
shaped David's parents, for example, but he does not confuse that
comprehension with sentimentality, the easy escape of lesser scribblers.
Mamatas is concerned with the very serious matter of lives too brief and
deaths very final, and the author seems willing to risk appearing
callous rather than offer flimsy reportage of the human condition.
BULLETTIME is not a happy read, its laughter at times too black even for
the gallows, but it is an energetic and vital book. Highly recommended.
Posted August 2, 2012
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