Title: (Para)Normal Society
Author: A. D. Wills
Published by: Independently published
Publication date: 19th Aug 2020
Genre: Psychological Fiction/Supernatural
What if our emotions, thoughts, and mental struggles could take form?
Curtis Yakimura lived a simple, if not purposeless life, until Yana, a meddling Goddess, took a piece of him for herself. Now, Curtis can see all of the strange and dangerous anomalies that take form from our mental struggles, and emotions. As Curtis tries to deal with his own anxieties and insecurities, he now finds himself stumbling through trying to solve these strange cases that seem to enjoy bothering him. Curtis receives a mysterious tip from a friend about someone on a nearby island claims to not know who they are, or where they came from. Curtis and Yana arrive at the island to investigate what seems to be a case of lost identity, but everything is fine, and no one suspects a thing. It doesn’t take long before this case becomes much more complicated than either Yana or Curtis could have anticipated. Along the way, Curtis is challenged with his own mental struggles, but will he succumb to them? What is the mystery of the island? Confront the deepest parts of your inner self, and find out.
I was given a copy of (Para)Normal Society: Island Complex by author A. D. Willis. My thanks go to A. D. Wills for the copy of the book.
In the spirit of transparency I’d like to announce up-front that this book ended up in the Did Not Finish pile and I only made it to 44% of the book before I couldn’t hack any more of it.
As a reader I appreciate a few, relatively small things; well-written, relatable characters and a plot that makes sense. If one of these is missing then I can usually struggle through a book to the end. Sadly, (Para)Normal Society was lacking in both of these departments.
(Para)Normal Society is narrated by main character Curtis Yakimura, a character that is somehow 2% dead. He has the ability to see peoples emotional traumas as oddities and aberrations to the living/normal world. These take on the guise of all manner of things; cats, bubbling pools or more mundane objects. The premise of this is surreal and actually rather interesting. However, Curtis is not a reliable narrator. His approach to whats going on around him is blasé. Written in the most passive way and I just couldn’t connect to him. Every time he speaks or presents information we’re given wishy-washy sentiment in the manner of ‘I guess,’ ‘I suppose.’ or ‘I don’t care.’ To make things worse, whenever the reader is close to discovering something interesting the story concludes with ‘But that’s a tale for another time.’ If these stories are picked up again later, I don’t know. (I put down the book when I turned to my husband and said ‘If this character leaves me hanging with anther ‘I guess’ then I’m going to call it a day. Two pages later…), but being deliberately kept in the dark felt like bad and lazy story telling.
The other characters; The Goddess of Fortune, Yana and Curtis’ best friend ‘Dungeon Master’ weren’t much more appealing than Curtis himself. There was a strangeness about Yana and her attachment to Curtis – which I never discovered the explanation for – and her treatment of him that bordered on cringy and uncomfortable to read. Dungeon Master was no better, a smug video-game addict that can hack developers systems to download games before they’re released, only to print out a cover of scantily clad women. These are just not characters that I could understand or relate to in any way. They offered me very little enjoyment in the time I spent with them. Of course, Curtis doesn’t care about them either so again, why should I as a reader feel invested in them?
The setting of (Para)Normal Society was intriguing and one of the easier to digest elements of the book. There is an imagination to it that was captivating and I would have loved to explore the concepts in the book further, but after being passively denied details that would enhance the depth of the characters for (more or less) the first half of the book, the inclination to discover just wasn’t there.
The plot felt erratic and vague. There was something going on. An investigation of sorts into one of the oddities surrounding a woman posting about not knowing who she is online. Which leads to Curtis leaving his home town on the train with Yana. The plot bimbles along with the couple encountering ever increasingly strange individuals; which they seem to either delight in tormenting or ‘not caring’ about.
It felt like an uphill battle to get as far as I did with (Para)Normal Society, in between not having a clear picture of what was going on and a bad narrator in Curtis, I was left struggling. My biggest gripe though was if the main character doesn’t care about their story, then as a reader, why should I?
Unfortunately, a flimsy character narrating in a passive manner, leading the reader to be as uncaring about the story as the lead is. A unique and interesting concept that’s been let down by it’s cast. Sadly, for me this was a DNF at 44%.