Monday, June 4, 2012

Guest Review: Where Things Come Back, John Corey Whaley

*This review is by my friend Rachel.*
I was seventeen years old when I saw my first dead body.  It wasn't my cousin Oslo’s.  It was a woman who looked to have been around fifty or at least in her late forties.  She didn’t have any visible bullet holes or scratches, cuts, or bruises, so I assumed she had died of some disease or something; her body barely hidden by the thin white sheet as it awaited its placement in the lockers.  The second dead body I ever saw was my cousin Oslo’s.  I recognized his dirty brown shoes immediately as the woman wearing the bright white coat grasped the metallic handle and yanked hard to slide the body out from behind the silvery wall.
“That’s him,” I said to her.

I did this book for my Book Talk, and I really enjoyed it. It’s about Cullen Witter, whose brother Gabriel goes missing, and at the same time a man comes to their town, claiming to have seen the extinct Lazarus woodpecker in this town.  Basically, the book shows the combination of these two events on Cullen’s life.  The really interesting thing about this book, however, is that it also followed the seemingly unrelated subplot of Cabot Searcy, who becomes obsessed with an obscure book in the Bible when his college roommate commits suicide.  It doesn’t seem like much of a plot, but it is.  The author wove the two plots together really well, so you slowly saw how they were connected, and by the end it was glaringly obvious.  The ending did leave a lot of questions unanswered, but it did so in a satisfying way; it could have gone on longer, but I at least finished it satisfied.
Except for the occasional chapter, the book was narrated from Cullen’s perspective, and the author played with his mind really interestingly.  He would make whole chapters about a dream Cullen had, but you never knew it was a dream until zombies started eating each other.  These weren't really my favorite chapters to read: I prefer the more literal.  But it was really cool to see how the author could convey so much of what Cullen is feeling without (almost) ever saying it directly.  In general, all the characters seemed really real, and they acted like real humans would act, rather than how we would think real humans would act.  For example, if my brother went missing, I would expect myself to be upset constantly.  But in reality, shocking as it seems, there would be some times when I would forget that he was gone, or at least act normally. Cullen did this, and many other things that contributed to that sense of reality.
Overall, this was a really great read, if not necessarily the “best” book out there.
228 pages, 4.5 stars.

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