I don’t watch reality t.v…well not really, I do love me a good ghost show. I’ve always been interested by the supernatural and paranormal, so that’s why I was so excited to check out A.D. Wills‘ novel, (Para)Normal Society: Island Complex.
Oh, and here’s a link to the vlog too!
We meet Curtis, he’s not a paranormal “specialist,” or medium, or any of the usual ghost-fighting types. In fact, this isn’t quite a ghost story, at least not in the usual sense. Curtis has the ability to go into someone’s conscious (or subconscious) and brings up feelings, memories, etc., for people who are hurting. I know this sounds harsh, but I interpreted his abilities–and use of them–almost like a form of tough love.
We first see him in action as he helps a young girl confront her insecurities about being wanted and love. As Curtis puts it, he’s the “key,” he can unlock a door, but he can’t make someone go through it to confront their worries and fears. This type of interaction comes back much later in the book–after the bulk of the novel being an investigation into the disappearance of this girl’s identity and memories, and on the way, finding a menacing entity that feeds off negativity.
I thought this was an interesting plotline, I feel like with most paranormal/supernatural stories, there’s some entity that’s simply terrorizing someone or some town. But Wills’s story takes that narrative and spins it. I loved reading as Curtis and his god-sidekick Yana uncover the mystery of what this entity is really doing. Remember the girl who lost her identity? They call her “Gray” and she’s central to the story; without her, the entity wouldn’t be feeding off the town’s negativity and turn it into some bizarre-Twilight Zone-esque utopia.
I really enjoyed the plot overall and especially liked the allusions to Curtis’s past and how he came to be a pseudo-specialist. I would totally read his back story and future adventures, and I’d love to know how, where, and why Yana fits into them.
Also well done were the characters–I liked Curtis’s mild self deprecation and awareness; Yana was a funny yet strong female character; Gray, however, was a little more complicated. She’s developed, but she has more of a character arc than anyone else–she starts out (and maintains, to an extent) fairly innocent. She doesn’t remember who she is or what she’s doing, with time, and a little help from Curtis, she’s able to recover some traumatic memories, and essentially becomes dependent on Curtis, but not for the reason you think. I wanted a little bit more from her though, I just feel like she could have played a bit of a bigger role in the story, especially given that she’s central to it, but overall, I think the lack of in-depth exploration of her allowed the plot to move at a pleasant and effective pace.
I’d definitely recommend the book to those who do like paranormal themes/stories. If bullying is triggering for you, be warned that there is some severe bullying at one point, so heads up. Overall, it’s a solid and entertaining read.
That’s all I’ve got for now! Be sure to look out for next week’s posts on Goose Summer by Carol Samson!