Friday, July 12, 2013

Review of Mask by Kerry Nietz

I normally dislike stories told in sentence fragments, but Kerry Nietz made that practice work for me in this quick, page-turner, sci-fi thriller. One can feel the constant, breathless terror of the hero who keeps reciting mantras about the good society and about himself. Somewhere past the 80% mark of the novel, the hero stops trying to hide from or side with the terror, and actively fight the terror. And when he does, he starts thinking in complete sentences. I don't know if that is a deliberate stylistic choice or not, but to me it symbolized the hero's brain working again as he stops gibbering in terror. For a while, the hero had sided with the terror, not so he could provoke terror in those around him, but so that terror would overlook him. I found that to be an extremely believable motive. The ten-year-old girl was odd. But since some of us are odd, I accepted her oddness. Her uncle went so far past odd, I had a little difficulty with his weirdness. He seemed over the top to me. Yet over the top may have been needed at that point in the novel.
The final boss monster battle was slightly less disgusting than the final battle in the Galactic Mage trilogy. Oh, and speaking of disgusting, vegetarians, be warned. There is so much close up grilling of meat in the book that it will read to you not as sci-fi or thriller, but will seem to you like horror. The grilling scenes were integral to the plot as the hero is a fry cook in the day, yet I found myself getting faintly nauseated with the many descriptions of spattering fat. I had to eat a lot of cold, crisp lettuce after finishing the book. I finally found out what the Japanese girl meant when I laid out a huge Thanksgiving turkey for a group of Japanese friends, and she said she couldn't eat because the volume of food I laid on the table filled her up. I think she meant what I felt after closing the book: overwhelmed by a sensory experience. Weekend Warrior grill chefs and fry cooks should love the many descriptions of meat.
I lived in Seattle for six years long ago, and have sons in Kirkland. I got a kick out of Kerry's mentions of Seattle. I thought transmogrifying Sea-Tac into See Tee was funny.
People who like fast-paced, dystopian, sci-fi thrillers will likely love this book.

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