Monday, October 7, 2013

Book Review: Bullettime by Nick Mamatas

Bullettime by Nick Manatas
209 pages Paperback Chizine Publicactions

This is an excellent short but powerful novel, from young raising star in genre fiction Nick Mamatas. This author first got on my radar from being on panels throughout last year's HP Lovecraft fest. I enjoyed his take on things and had a few short conversations with him. I knew I wanted to check out his work. While more interested in his forthcoming book and Stoker award winning novel Move Underground, it was Bullettime that came across my desk first. I very glad I dug into this interesting book which is fast read, infact I really read in two days (A week apart, but two days of serious reading) Yeah it's short, but I read it that fast because it was engaging and funny at the same time.

This is dark humor no doubt, with a serious subjects like mental illness and school shootings I got the impression that a lot more is going on in this novel than on the surface. I am pleased to feel that some elements might have gone over my head, in the personal elements Manatas brought to the story of a bullied kid from his hometown.

This novel is the story of David a Jersey City high school student going to school in the shadow of NYC. He is bullied constantly and he is parents are only barely more than insane housemates. Things change a bit when he meets Erin, who he starts a relationship with, but could not really be called a girlfriend. The story jumps around in time exploring possible out comes as Manatas explores possible outcomes choices he may or may not make leading to a violent reaction to his school experience.

I laughed a lot during this novel, but I also found many parts disturbing. It is an effecting work, as it should be. Mamatas has a way with words, a biting wit. The book makes a lot of comparisons between Prison and high school. Speaking as someone with experience with both I find these comparisons to be hyperbole, but one the narrator would make so I can live with that.

I had a strange meta moment while reading the climax of the novel that envisions a mass school shootings. I was at work at the time, supporting a assisted living cilent. He was eating his lunch in the Clackamas town Center food court. It wasn't until I was sitting there reading book that I looked up and realized that it was the same spot where I was sitting a year earlier when a youth came in the food court and shot three people. He was only bimped out of the national headlines when another psycho upped the insanity by shooting up a elementary school in Newtown less than a week later.

I respect the fact that this weird genre piece is tackling a tough issue like school shootings, but it is possible that is so well written the message way fly straight over the heads of the kids who could really use the message. Hell, perhaps I am over stating the message. I am new to this author I not sure if message is his thing or not. The one thing I am sure of is I will read more Nick Mamatas and suggest you check out his fiction too.

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