Adrianne/Adrian moves back and forth through recent time, switching sexes and situations—always with the same people, albeit in different roles—with each life interrupted and restarted by a mysterious computer code that he/she is occasionally vaguely aware of. The one love in her/his life is Antoine/Antoinette, who appears in a variety of roles such as lover, sibling, and friend. But sooner or later, Antoine/Antoinette is always lost. As the fragments of story grow larger and more complex, Adrianne/Adrian continues changing, but Earth remains the same dark place, haunted by an event that alters or kills most of the population. Gradually the protagonist comes to understand what’s happening and step into the role of savior for the mysterious Elysium. Brissett’s punch of a debut is bewildering at first, but never so confusing as to frustrate the reader, and repeating elements and symbols help tie everything together—not neatly, for so much of the world is broken, but enough. Brissett deftly handles the challenge of a multitude of characters all being the same people in a multitude of places that are the same place, while exploring complicated questions about identity. (Dec.)
The main character of this first novel is Adrianne, except when it is Adrian. She/he moves through life with the same people around her/him, although they also randomly change gender and roles in her world. She/he loves and loses Antoine/Antoinette, is friends or lovers with Hector/Helen, lives in a modern city or a dystopian wasteland. And there is a mysterious computer code that interrupts her/his life, resetting the players and changing the setting, with each permutation of the world growing darker and more in need of saving. VERDICT The novel's unsettling and unusual structure works because Brissett skillfully seeds symbols and repeats elements to carry the reader through each version of the world. Just as the heroine/hero slowly comes to realize what is happening to the world, so, too, does the reader. It will inevitably bring the movie The Matrix to mind; this is a weird, however, original play on reality.