Friday, June 13, 2014

Arrival (The Maddy Young Saga) - Nick Pirog

Maddy Young is dead. Or at least that's what they tell him. Imagine that when you die, you have a 1 in 3 chance of having another life; same body, same age, same place as when you died. But for Maddy, everything is not making sense. He was just a week away from his Bar exam and starting his life as a Public Defender, when he made a grand entrance into this second life of his—a place they call Two.
TRIGGER WARNINGS FOR THIS STORY:  Mentions of death and various ways to die throughout; brief rape mention, lesbophobic language and general homophobia
This story is about Madison "Maddy" Young, a young man who has died jerking off in the shower before the story has even begun.  But he doesn't find himself in your typical afterlife, but instead a facility with other people, who all have died too.  They've found themselves in a rehabilitation center in a place called Two, a world were one in three people arrive to in the afterlife.  It's just like the living world, Maddy finds, only with people who have died.  However, some things are not quite as they seem.  They surround the conspiracy of the 'Borns', people who are supposedly born in Two.

My rating: 3 out of 5 stars.

I liked the overall sense of style to the story, but I have to say that Maddy's constant comments to JeAnn, someone he only assumes is a lesbian, which are often pretty derogatory.  Well, overall his internal monologue is often quite misogynistic.  Unfortunately, I feel this is supposed to just be some sort of 'endearing characteristic', in which it 'adds to the comedy'.  It doesn't.
Unfortunately it seems that there was no editor in the making of this, as there are just over 100 pages and a handful of typos that are very easy to spot and correct.  One or two are marginally acceptable, but it's a little... Not to mention some weird goof ups.  For instance, Darrel quickly becomes Maddy's new close friend, but Maddy mentions that Darrel and he are friends... chapters before even introducing Darrel by name, apparently.  And he starts one chapter by rehashing what happened in the last chapter.  I wouldn't exactly expect a reader to forget everything that just happened in the last chapter.  Maybe it was to add to the tone and style to the story, but it fell flat.
Speaking of the length of the story, there is absolutely no payoff to this story.  This was not a full story, it was the exposition.  The author set up the premise, created some potentially interesting characters, got me invested in the overall plot - then ended on a cliffhanger.  Not a good cliffhanger either; absolutely nothing is resolved.  There is no climax.  There is barely even rising action.  It just ends with an author's note asking the reader to buy the second installment.  I'm not impressed.
However, I did initially enjoy the diversity to the story; the rehabilitation facility is filled with a lot of people of color, of all ages.  However, the only people of color who seem to remain in the story is Dr. Raleigh and Darrel, who both are, in my opinion, more interesting than the protag.  But that is neither here nor there.  And the author seems completely fine with adding queer characters - if only he would stop with the homophobic remarks.  But, despite the remarks, JeAnn, who is, unfortunately only insinuated to be gay by Maddy, is extremely professional and likeable, so there may be hope? Hopefully.
To be honest, I got this story while it was on sale, for free, and read it in a little over a day.  While I actually did enjoy a lot of the story (the premise is extremely interesting, the plot twists are compelling, and I'd like to know what happened to Berlin, the little girl), I probably wouldn't buy the second installment unless it also briefly went on sale for free.  It doesn't quite seem worth it to reward a guy for writing misogynistic and homophobic remarks that really seem to be his views on these topics and for setting up the reader to pay again for the actual story.
I'd give it a 3 out of 5 stars.  The idea is extremely good, the supporting characters are intriguing, the protagonist tolerable, and the writing pretty good, but the problems mentioned above are pretty serious for me.

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