Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Book Review: Westlake Soul by Rio Youers

Westlake Soul by Rio Youers

243 pages Chizine publications

I discovered this novel from author Nick Cato's top ten books of 2012 where it took his top prize. It is also blurbed on the back cover by one of the most respected horror writers alive Peter Straub. I looked through quite a few Good Reads reviews and the worst review I found was three stars. I went into as blind as possible, not even reading the back cover description. Glad I didn't.

Westlake Soul is not a novel that sounds thrilling plot wise, it is the story of a champion Canadian surfer named Westlake. He is in a surfing accident that leaves him in a vegetative state. This is like modern sarcastic Johnny Got His Gun. You see Rio Youers is an excellent writer takes the story of a man and a vegetative state and makes it funny and compelling. It is also suspenseful at times, and tragic.

Westlake sees himself as a superhero with the ability to use the 90% of his brain, most humans can't use. Too bad he can't use the 10% we take for granted. His family attend to broken body, while he travels around the spiritual realm. The stress of seeing their Westlake only able to drool is hard on them and they are thinking about letting him die.

Westlake Soul is a powerful character driven slow burn horror novel. Others might tell you it is not a horror novel, but I found it to be very much a horror novel. It would not work if Rio Youers was not a gifted writer. This is not an easy story to carry over 200 plus pages but he pulls it off. The story is powerful because the characters are rich, the events are both funny and tragic. Very impressive debut novel.

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